Hello from Reno-Sparks, NV

Hello from Reno-Sparks, NV

Monday evening – October 1, 2018   (Fifth  post of this travelogue)

We arrived at the Holiday Inn in Sparks yesterday – a day early.  This is an older Holiday Inn property, but still a nice location.  They put us on the 9th (top) floor because it is supposed to be quieter.  I think many Holiday Inns reserve the top floor for their loyal customers.  Location is shown here:  (Google Maps Link)

Normally our training rooms are on the first floor, but they are remodeling that part of the hotel, so we are in a large meeting room on the 9th floor just down the hall from our room.

Our trip from Klamath to Willits, CA was beautiful.  We went to the Redwoods National Park Visitor Center and watched a great movie on the amazing redwood trees.  I have included a couple of photos from the park, but they simply do not do justice to the scenery.

Road through Redwoods (Medium)

Pat beside redwood (Medium)

Redwood trees are incredible.  They can grow to be over 20 feet in diameter and 350 feet tall.  The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.  The following link is an excellent source of information about these trees:  https://www.nps.gov/redw/learn/nature/about-the-trees.htm.  The following are quotes from that site:

Fossil records have shown that relatives of today's coast redwoods thrived in the Jurassic Era 160 million years ago. And while the fantastic creatures of that age have long since disappeared, the redwoods continue to thrive, in the right environment.

California's North Coast provides the only such environment in the world. A combination of longitude, climate, and elevation limits the redwoods' range to a few hundred coastal miles. The cool, moist air created by the Pacific Ocean keeps the trees continually damp, even during summer droughts. These conditions have existed for some time, as the redwoods go back 20 million years in their present range.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires.

We stayed in Willits, CA Saturday night.  That was a 200 mile drive, but it was a tough drive (albeit beautiful).  There was no Holiday Inn, so we stayed at a fun little motel:  The Old West Inn.  The rooms formed what looked like an old west town (see photo).

Fun motel in Willits CA (Medium)

Unfortunately, about 10 miles north of Willits, the traffic was stopped due to a road closure.  It turns out that there was a fatal accident a bit ahead of us.  I have attached a photo that was taken by one of the first folks at the scene.  When we did get to drive past the wreckage it looked just like the photo, except the lumber was cleared off to allow one lane of traffic to pass and the truck fire was extinguished.  The truck was northbound and lost control.  The semi (southbound) tried to avoid them, but ended up hitting them directly in the driver door.  Sadly two women in the pickup perished.

Fatal Crash north of Willits CA

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Klamath, CA

Note:  Somehow this did not get published on the 29.  

Hello from Klamath, CA

Saturday Morning – September 29, 2018   (Fourth  post of this travelogue)

Yesterday we drove a bit over 300 miles, but it was a long day of driving.  We left Tillamook before 9:00 and got here at 6:00.  We made a stop for lunch and I took a quick nap.  US 101 is a very scenic highway that has a great deal of Pacific Ocean viewing.  Significant parts of the route have speed limits less than 40 MPH and the maximum limit is 55 MPH.  In terms of time it would have been quicker to travel east to I-5 and drive south, but the scenery would not have been anywhere near as spectacular as what we experienced.

Pacfic Coast in Oregon 2 (Medium)

Pacfic Coast in Oregon 1 (Medium)

We are staying at a Holiday Inn Express on points no less!  (Google Map Link).  It was the only Holiday Inn on our route yesterday.

This hotel has a beautiful entrance with vast amounts of beautiful redwood.  The entrance leads to the hotel on one side and a casino on the other.  We ate at the casino last night.  The front desk rated it great, but we thought it was just barely OK.  After dinner Pat went to the casino (surprise!!!).  She came back  to the room an hour or two later after having won over $300!!

Holiday Inn Klamath CA 1 (Medium)

Holiday Inn Klamath CA 2 (Medium)

Our motel in Tillamook was pretty old and very “plain”.  We did not sleep well, and we discovered the next morning that the bed had a plastic liner.  I guess the best that could be said was that it was a place to “hang our hat”.

We are just north of the Redwood National Park.  US 101 goes through part of the park and the Google Map lists it as the “Redwood Highway”.  Should be a beautiful drive today.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Tillamook, OR

Hello from Tillamook, OR

Thursday  evening – September 27, 2018   (Third  post of this travelogue)

Well, I survived the early mornings at Boeing.  Both classes went well.  Today we left Everett and drove a bit less than 300 miles to Tillamook.  We left the hotel about 9:00 and figured we would not face huge traffic jams – yeah right.  Everett is north of Seattle so we had to go right though the center of town and that is always a challenge.  We often say that Seattle traffic is among the worst. 

We chose a local motel here in Tillamook:  Western Royal Inn (there is no Holiday Inn in Tillamook).  Google Maps Link

We chose to stop here for two reasons.  First, it seemed like a reasonable distance to drive today.  But most importantly we wanted to tour the Tillamook Creamery.  When Thomas and Klara were staying with us, they got us hooked on Tillamook ice cream bars and sandwiches – the best.  The tour was fun and, of course, we had to have some ice cream after the tour.

Tillamook Creamery (Medium)

Now to catch up a bit.  On our drive from Spokane to Everett on I90 we crossed the Columbia River Gorge.  The views from the overlook on the east side is amazing (see photos).  The Gorge is close to Ellensburg, WA.

Columbia River Gorge 2 (Medium)

Columbia River Gorge 1 (Medium)

One of our very special friends Ed Hackenbruch (and Stevi) saw in our blog that we were driving to Everett and suggested we drive down to Duvall, WA where Ed was born.  Further he suggested we have dinner at the Ixtapa Mexican restaurant and have “Chicken No Name”.  Tuesday after work we drove down there.  The drive was about 25 miles and very scenic with huge trees along the highway.  We did, indeed go to the recommended restaurant.  The Chicken No Name is listed as an appetizer, but the waiter convinced me it was a meal and indeed it was a great meal.  We split a churros dessert and it was to die for.  Thanks Ed.

Ixtapa Resturant in Duvall (Medium)

For the next few days we will travel along the pacific coast on US 101.  We have traveled on parts of the highway before, and it is beautiful.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Everett, WA

Hello from Everett, WA

Sunday evening – September 23, 2018   (Second  post of this travelogue)

We made it to Everett a day early (Saturday).  The drive consisted of two 400 mile days and two 300 mile days.  The trip was a bit quicker than we thought since the speed limit in both Wyoming and Montana is 80 MPH.  The weather was good until just before we got to Seattle and then it poured rain (really, rain in Seattle?). 

After we left Butte, we drove to Spokane and stayed at the old standby:  HI Express.  As I noted, we get a few benefits from my Priority Club status, but mostly we know that we can expect a decent room, and a good breakfast.  This trip there was an exception to that.  Our stay in Buffalo was not good.  The room was poorly prepared, the front desk person was not at all polite and the WIFI sucked.  Fortunately that is the exception.

We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Everett (Google Maps link).  I have stayed here before and it is a “middle of the road” HI Express.  Since we arrived a day early, they had to do some maneuvering so that we could stay in the same room for the rest of our stay.  That resulted in our being assigned a handicap room.  We have stayed in handicap rooms several times and it is always an adventure.  Everything is set up lower for wheelchair access.  The closet bar is about 3 ½ feet off the floor.  Doesn’t matter, it is a good place to hang out.

Over the next three days I teach two classes.  One is on lubrication fundamentals (two days) and one day on bearing fundamentals.  Both of these classes were developed by a consultant to Boeing and NTT has now taken over the classes.  They are quite different from the NTT lubrication and bearings chapters.  The lubrication is much more detailed and, frankly, the bearing class is a mess.  We have had to add some of the NTT material to make the class useful for the students.

I have had to put in several hours on this trip sorting out the details that the previous consultant presented in both classes.  I think it will go well, but it will be hard to make them “smooth” presentations/discussions.

To top things off, the class starts at 6:00 AM and I have not been a morning person since I retired {grin}.

I have been eating most of my meals in the room for the past year or so of classes.  I stop by a local Trader Joe’s and pick up things that I can microwave.  The food is good and easy to fix.  We made a trip there today and had Chicken Piccata tonight.  It was very tasty.  My expense reports reflect the cost savings and that makes NTT and Boeing happy.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Butte, MT

Hello from Butte, MT

Thursday evening – September 20, 2018   (First post of this travelogue)

This is a very special trip that will include teaching two NTT classes.  The first class will be in Everett, WA (Boeing) and the second will be in Reno, NV (a public class).  I will discuss these classes more in subsequent posts.

The reason this trip is special is that Pat and I rented a car and we are driving to these assignments.  We have planned the trip so that the driving will a somewhat leisurely pace.  For example, we are taking 5 days to drive from Denver to Everett – bit over 1400 miles.

We left our house Wednesday (9/19)  at 6:00 AM and  arrived in Buffalo, WY about 2:30.  As will be the case for most of this trip we will be staying at Holiday Inn properties (some perks since I am a Platinum Elite member).  Today we drove to Butte, MT  (Google map link).

The trip started off pretty well.  When I went to check  on the car they had planned to rent us, I asked for a hatch back type car (easier to load the luggage) and they offered to upgrade us (no charge) to an almost new Volvo V60 AWD (see photo).  While Volvos are not quite as exotic as they once were, this one is VERY nice with lots of bells and whistles. 

Volvo Rental Car

More in future posts.

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Hello from Victoria, British Columbia

Hello from Victoria, British Columbia

Thursday afternoon – July 26, 2018   (Fourth post of this travelogue)

We are in our last port before we arrive in Seattle tomorrow for the end  of  our cruise.  It has been a great trip.

Tuesday the ship arrived in the Tracy Arm Fjord.  We sailed to the end of the Fjord and then the ship made several 360 degree rotations so that we  could see the many glaciers and waterfalls.  At times the bow and stern of the ship looked to be less than 100 yards from the rock walls. 

I have included some pictures, but this is truly the case where photos do not do the scenery justice.  One of the issues was sun glare blocking one of the major glaciers.

Glacier at Tracy Arm Fjord (Medium)

If you look carefully you will see the glacier in the background

High Glacier at Tracy Arm Fjord (Medium)

At the top of the picture you will see a glacier and in the foreground you will see the stream from the glacier

Large Ice Calf at Tracy Arm Fjord (Medium)

This is a rather large "calf" that makes you think about the Titanic

The weather has been amazing for our two excursions and the Fjord journey.   We were told that there are only around 100 clear days in Alaska and we hit three of them.   Yesterday at sea it was very foggy and you could not see all that far.  Today in Victoria, it is again clear.

We are not doing an excursion here.  We had thought about signing up for the high tea at the Empress hotel, but the tour was booked.  We had gone there for tea on our last excursion to Alaska (2004) and it was great, but we are not disappointed that we were not able to do it this year.  Indeed, we decided to stay on the ship and relax.

I believe I mentioned that Pat earned this cruise.  Stampin’ Up! is an amazing company and they treat their demonstrators very well.  While she has to work her tail off to earn the trip, once earned, EVERYTHING is paid for (air fare, cruise, gratuities for the crew members, etc) for both of us.  This is our 12th trip with SU.   Most have been cruises, but a few have been destination trips (Fiji, Thailand, and Hawaii). 

This cruise line has “formal” dinner dining, where you sit at the same table with the same folks each night.  As it turns out we started out having three other couples at the table – all from Germany and all SU demonstrators!  Fortunately, they all speak English very well and we have had great conversations this past week.  Unfortunately one couple moved to a different  table,  but we have really enjoyed the remaining two couples.

When I say “formal” dining, that is a bit of a stretch.  The do have two formal nights, but it is not enforced and many men ignore the suggestion of suit and tie.  In my case, I had to – the cleaners gave me the wrong shirt and it was about 3 sizes too small {grin}.  I did wear my sport coat and a nice shirt, but no tie. 

That is all for now.

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Hello from somewhere off the coast of  Canada


Hello from somewhere off the coast of  Canada

Tuesday evening – July 24, 2018   (Third post of this travelogue)

Wow, we have some catching up to do!!

Friday we boarded the Cruise Ship “Explorer of the Seas”.  This a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that can accommodates over to 4,000 passengers – huge.  It has 6 engines with a total capacity of over 102,000 HP.  There are 15 decks and it is over 1000 feet long. 

Stern of our ship (Medium)

Saturday was an “at sea” day.  Sunday (July 22) we arrived in Juneau, Alaska.  We had booked an excursion that included whale watching and a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier.  Our  tour started with a bus ride several miles to a dock where we boarded a fairly large boat.  During the roughly 3 hours on the boat we saw some beautiful scenery and got to see a few whales.  We were a bit disappointed as the whales did not stay on the surface for long.  Their dives were between 7 and 20 minutes, so our viewing was limited.  We did see a small pod of Orcas which included a baby and a couple of distant sightings of humpback whales. 

The bus then took us up to the Mendenhall Glacier which is located about  12 miles from Juneau.  It is said to be about 13 miles long.  Sadly the glacier has retreated quite a bit in the past few years.   The visitor center was built close to the glacier and the glacier is now about a half mile away.  I have included a photo.

Mendenhall Glacier (Medium)

Sunday we arrived in Skagway, AK and took our second of two excursions we booked.  This one included a bus ride over the summit of White Pass (on the Klondike Highway) and down the far side to the Yukon Territory border.  The Klondike Highway runs from Skagway to the town of White Horse in the Yukon Territory.  A few miles after we left Skagway we left Alaska and entered British Columbia, Canada. At the Yukon border we turned around and headed back up the pass.  We then stopped for lunch the Yukon Suspension Bridge.  The pedestrian bridge is 200 feet long and is 57 feet above the Tutshi River.

Yukon Border (Medium)


Yukon Suspension Bridge sign (Medium)


Yukon Suspension Bridge (Medium)

We then drove to Fraser, British Columbia, where we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route train.  This is a narrow gauge railroad that was started in 1898 and completed in 1900.  It ran from Skagway to Whitehorse.  It was started during the gold rush but completed after the mining became a very small economic factor.   While the bus ride was very picturesque, the train ride was spectacular.  The route is very twisty with some sharp turns and lots of places where it was a shear drop off down into a very deep valley.  Along the way you see the remnants of the old steel cantilever bridge (see current and historic pictures).  Looking at the bridge, I am sure glad it has been retired.

White Pass & Yukon Route train (Medium)

Old Train Trestle (Medium)

White Pass Steel Cantilever Bridge (Medium)

Skagway, and to a lesser degree Juneau, epitomize the term tourist towns.  Skagway is home to gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.  The population in the harsh winters is about a 1,000 and that doubles in the summer.  We only travelled through the town via the bus, but it looks like a fun place.   It even had some “madams” hanging out of the second story windows.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Seattle

Hello from Seattle

Thursday evening – July 19, 2018   (Second post of this travelogue)

Well, we survived a very interesting train trip from San Francisco (actually Oakland) to Seattle.  Our train departed essentially on time (9:40 PM).  This is a popular Amtrak train (“Coast Starlight”).  We booked a sleeping room.  Once we got to the room we were a bit surprised at how small it was.  There were two small bunks and barely enough room to change your clothes.  That said, once we got settled in, it was not too bad.  Of course, I had to get up in the middle of the night and risk my life getting out of the bunk {grin} and then traipse down the hall to the bathroom.  While we did not get as much sleep as we would normally get, it was not bad. 

We had heard that there was going to be work on the track and we would encounter a delay.  The train stopped in Klamath Falls, OR and we parked on the tracks for around two hours – maybe more.  We could disembark the train and walk around that part of the town.  I was able to get a photo of our train (see below).

Coast Starlight Train (Medium)

Because of the track delay, coupled with what seemed to like several slow areas, the result was us getting into Seattle at 11:23 (about 3 ½ hours late).  That was not a problem, but we were ready to get off the train.

The sleeping car accommodations included meals in the diner.  That was a lot of fun.  There was a SU demonstrator that we met in SF and we had lunch and dinner with them.  The meals were pretty darn good and served in a formal (think linen) setting. 

We got to our Airbnb about midnight.  We had told the owner we would be late and the door has a code, so we got in with no problem.  The place is a converted garage, but well done.  It is very small, but all we need is a bed and bathroom.  As you can see in the photo it has a nice “patio” and I have spent some time there working/playing on the computer.  Here is the Google  Map link for the Airbnb (link)


Our Airbnb in Seattle (Medium)

We are about a half mile from several restaurants.  We had brunch at the Varsity café and it was great.  We had large omelets that we could split and have tomorrow before we leave for the ship.

For dinner, we considered taking Uber down to the dock area for seafood, but instead decided on ordering Pizza delivered.  That was a good choice.  The pizza was good and they had cans of IPA beer that could be delivered.   Below you will see a picture of me having my fancy birthday dinner {big grin}.

Birthday Dinner (Medium)

As was the case in SF, the weather is nice and cool here.  I have had my sweatshirt on all day and it is very comfortable on the patio.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from San Francisco

Hello from San Francisco

Tuesday morning – July 17, 2018   (First post of this travelogue)

We are on our  big summer trip thanks in good part to Stampin’ Up!  Pat earned an Alaska Cruise and we decided to broaden the adventure a bit.  The cruise sails out of  Seattle on Friday, but we wanted to try something a bit different before the cruise.  We chose to have SU fly us to San Francisco and then we plan to take the train to Seattle.  The Train is the “Coast Starlight” and is said to be a very picturesque trip.  We depart tonight at 9:39 PM and arrive in Seattle about 8:00 PM tomorrow.  We booked a sleeping room, so it should be pretty comfortable.

We flew out Sunday morning and took an Uber “Pool” ride  to the hotel.   That was pretty interesting.  There were 5 passengers and luggage in a Honda Pilot.  It all worked out  fine and we got to see quite a bit of the area as the driver made his stops. 

Our hotel is the Holiday Inn Express, Fisherman’s Wharf  Google Maps Link

This is a typical Holiday Inn Express, but because of the location, is it obscenely expensive.  However, we decided to splurge since we are within a couple of blocks of some great tourist areas including Fisherman’s Wharf.

Sunday we ate a late lunch, so we were not all that hungry at dinner time.  We walked down to the wharf and shared an amazing dessert waffle at a famous bakery. 

Yesterday we planned to take a “hop on  hop off” bus around the area, but Pat woke up with a pretty bad migraine headache.   We opted to cool our jets and then have a great dinner at Alioto's – a famous Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant.  We went early a got a great window table overlooking the bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.  It was a great meal.


View from dinner table at Alioto's  (note Golden Gate Bridge in background.

View from dinner table at Alioto's (note Golden Gate Bridge in background.

Our table at Aliotos (Medium)

Meal at Aliotos (Medium)

The weather here is rather cool (high 60’s).  We had planned to “layer” for the Alaska part of the trip and it sure worked out well for here.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Phoenix

Hello from Phoenix

Draft Started Thursday evening – June 7, 2018   (First post of this travelogue)

Posted Sunday June 10 2018

This was another trip to present an NTT class.  It was what they call a regional class which means that it is held in a hotel and folks from various companies attend.  The class was Mechanical Drives which covers bearings, belts, chain, gears, couplings and other mechanical components.  This class was held at the Holiday Inn Google map link.

Mechanical Drives is a three day class – in this case Tuesday through Thursday.  There were only 5 students with is not so good for NTT, but great for me.  We have a total of 5 different trainers for the various types of mechanical components and that takes up a lot of space in the room (four extra tables).  NTT ships this equipment in two very large crates that weigh a total of 1500 pounds!

Three of the students traveled from out of town – two from Pennsylvania and one from Canada.  It is always fun to have  folks from different  companies and parts of the country.

It is always a challenge to get all the equipment packed up and then make a dash for the airport.   Fortunately the students are always good to help.   The equipment is packed in large Pelican cases and it takes quite a bit of effort to get all the parts of each trainer in the correct location. 

I was able to get to the airport in time to have a quick dinner.  It was a fairly late flight and I got home about midnight.  That sure makes for a long day.

That is all for this trip

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