Hello from Guffey, CO

Hello from Guffey, CO

Draft Started Friday September 6, 2023 (First post of this travelogue)

Updated and posted 9/11/2023

We again made our annual trip to Guffey, CO to spend the Labor Day weekend at Pat’s brother’s amazing place.  Jeff and Julie built this wonderful home on 60 acres in a very peaceful location about 10 miles west of the small town of Guffey.  It is so beautiful and quite here.

Jeff and Julie’s daughter and her family were here as well as all of daughter Lisa and her family.


The Shepherd and Kassel camping vehicles

We drove there on Thursday 8/31.  It is a bit over a two-hour drive from our house.  The drive was uneventful which was a good thing. On our trip to Monument Valley and Williams, AZ our truck overheated and we had to turn around and return home (later making the trip in our Mazda).  I completely rebuilt and upgraded the cooling system and it functioned flawlessly on this trip.

We enjoyed all the family time with endless meals and fun discussions.  We also took the time to set up a target practice day that was a ton of fun.  I finally got to shoot my new Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver (.357 magnum) as well as my Marlin lever action 30-30 rifle.  These are my treasured weapons that relate to my TV heroes from my childhood days.  It is funny that the two Kassel grandsons love to fire these weapons as well.

The Target Practice Gang

My Lever Action 30-30 — Do I look like I was having fun?

Most everyone left on Labor day, but we stayed until Thursday (9/7) and enjoyed our time with the Springs.

On this trip I wanted to test our ability to “boondock”.  We parked in a field and had no connections.  We had installed two solar panels and took both a small and large generator.  The results were mixed.  The solar did not keep up with our electrical demands.  Admittedly we are somewhat power hogs, but I had hoped to do a bit better than we did.  We ran the large generator a couple of hours each day and that kept us at an acceptable level.  I am exploring our solar options, but I am concerned about the cost/value ratio.  We did pretty well with our water situation.  We were conservative and as a result our water supply was sufficient for the week and the holding tanks were not full.  We were close, but we got by.

Our trip home was a bit of an adventure.  We had planned to fuel up in Hartzel which is maybe 30 miles from the Springs.  When we got to the station we discovered that one our tires had disintegrated!  Fortunately an employee of the store helped us mount the spare and we departed about an hour later.  We have no way of knowing what caused the tire to fail.  I check the tire pressure each day before we leave.  It is possible that we picked up something that punctured the tire or that the tire simply blew out.  The rim had some cosmetic damage but should be OK.  We will be getting two spares (have to buy one extra rim) but I need that comfort level as we will be taking two long trips in the next couple of months.

Anyone want to buy a used tire?

That is all for this trip.

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Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Draft Started Friday August 25, 2023 (First post of this travelogue)

Updated:  August 28, 2023

We are staying at the Red Rock Casino Resort in Las Vegas (Google Map)


We are here for Pat’s Stampin’ Up! Leadership conference.  It is a2 ½ day event that started Thursday afternoon.  This conference is for the higher-level demonstrators.  There are approximately 700 in attendance.

We left Evergreen Monday and drove to Grand Junction where we stayed at a Holiday Inn property.  Tuesday, we drove to Cedar City, Utah and again stayed at a Holiday Inn.  Wednesday we drove to Las Vegas.  The scenery on this drive is amazing.  We never get tired of the drive.  We drove the Mazda on this trip.  Later this year we hope to be heading this way in the truck and trailer with travel on into the LA area for some car/racing events.

The Red Rock Casino and Resort is an interesting facility.  It is located about 10 miles west of the strip in an almost rural area (no other casinos around).  It is a huge facility that seems to cater to large meetings and is family friendly.  It has two Starbucks and a food court.  Unlike the hotels on the strip, the food and coffee prices are not jacked up too badly so you can find a decent food variety for “affordable” prices.  The casino is huge and has very modern slot machines and several game tables/rooms. 

Red Rock Casino and Resort

Our hotel room is on the 18th floor and has a great view of the Las Vegas Strip (see photo).  We are what seems like a half mile from the elevator {grin}, but we just tell ourselves that we need the exercise.  That said, my back issues have come back with a vengeance (about a month after my Epidural injections) and it is difficult to walk long distances (indeed, sometime even short distances).

View of Las Vegas Strip from our hotel room

Update 8/28.  We left Red Rock Sunday and headed to Richfield, UT, again staying at our normal HI property.  Today we drove to Grand Junction and are staying at the same hotel we were at on the way out. 

Las Vegas is about 750 miles from our house and that is just a bit more than we care to do in two days – especially given my back issues.  The shorter days are just fine with us.

That is all for this trip.







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Hello from Bonneville, Utah

Hello from Bonneville, Utah

Draft started:  Wednesday evening– August 9, 2023 (First post of this travelogue)

Published:  Friday 8/11/2023

This year is the second straight frustrating Speed Week.  Last year, the day I got here the area experienced a huge wind/rain storm that cancelled the event. This year they experienced a very large rain storm the week prior to the event.   

I kept watching the posts and the weather and it looked like they were going to hold the event, but on a delayed schedule.  Under normal circumstances I would have cancelled the trip, but this was the 75th annual event.  I was at the 50th annual event and I really wanted to make the 75th.  I decided to postpone my departure until Monday (8/7) so that I would arrive on the 8th.  That was the first day of the races and 4 days later than scheduled. 

Once I saw the conditions, I was very disappointed.  The road to the pits was covered with 6 inches of water and the pits was covered with one inch of water.  They were able to get one course in reasonable condition, but it was what was called the “short course” and the speeds were very limited.  The long course was not usable and thus the big dogs could not run higher speeds.  Virtually all of the neat spectator cars did not come or left before I arrived.  The racing car count was well below normal.  That said, there were some decent runs on Tuesday.  Today the pits were in much better shape and several of the big dogs decided to run the short course to get some testing done and establish the high speed of the meet (a coveted accomplishment).  So far the high speed of the meet is a bit short of 290 MPH.  The runs were much better and I enjoyed my time on the salt (albeit less than ideal). Today I was able to tour the pits and talk to a few folks that I wanted to see.


Entering the Salt Flats with lots of standing water

I would normally go back to the track tomorrow for a half day before heading home.  Getting out there is such a terrible process, so I will probably fix my breakfast and then head out.  At least I got my 75th:T” shirt and can say I was here.

On Wednesday night we got hit with another drenching rain and terrible wind.  It knocked over several Porta Potties at the “bend” where I am camping.  Listening to the radio Thursday morning, they were still able to make runs on the one course available. 

My trip to the Salt Flats was via I70 with an overnight stop in Green River UT.  There is a relatively new Holiday Inn in Green River and I used points for the stay.  I will probably stay there on the way home.

I have been coming to Speed week since 1991.  It is a very special event for me.  Over the years I have brought various vehicles here including towing the Durango behind the bus.  However, the salt just reeks havoc on everything made of steel.  In recent years I have rented various vehicles so that our cars did not get exposed to the terrible conditions.  The past couple of years I have rented trucks so that I could sleep in the bed.  This year I am especially glad that I had a rented car as the salt/salt water is sure to damage the vehicle.

One of the fun things about recent trips is my “roughing it”.  I sleep in the vehicle and prepare freeze dried meals for breakfast and dinner.  Perhaps in a different setting these meals might not be all that appealing, but on the salt, they are great.  I even have a special coffee maker that lets me brew my favorite K cups.

That is all for this travelogue

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Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Drafted: Thursday – November 17, 2022  (First post of this travelogue)

Scheduled posting:  November 24, 2022.  Note, for some reason this travelogue did not get posted.  I am posting it on 3/15 but will change the date on the post software to make it appear that I posted it on time {grin}.

I am in Centennial, CO teaching two different two-day classes.  The first class is Bearings and Lubrication and it is a lecture only class.  The second class is Shaft Alignment.  That is a combination lecture and hands-on lab exercises.

When the class is held in Denver it is the best of all worlds in that I don’t have to fly to a destination, yet they approve a motel room (Staybridge Suites) and it is a very short drive to the office each day.

There were four students in the Bearings and Lubrication class.  The were all from the same company in Virginia (a ship building facility for the Navy) and they were all engineers.  It was both a fun and challenging class.  At least one of the students tried to second guess many of the discussions.  Still, they were great students and participated heavily.

That is all for this travelogue.

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Hello from Corning, IA

Hello from Corning, IA

Drafted:  Friday Morning  – October 7, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

Posted 10/16 with significant updates since the original draft.

We are currently camped at Lake Icaria which is just north of Corning (Google Map)

{google_map}41.04577, -94.742819{/google_map}

We traveled here to attend a “Cousin’s Reunion”.  We attended a similar event last year.

We left Evergreen around noon Wednesday  (9/28) and traveled to a campground in Fort Morgan, CO.  We were scheduled to meet Pat’s brother, Jeff and his wife Julie.  However, Julie thought she might be called up for the Hurricane Ian evacuation, so they traveled further in order to get to Corning a day early.

From Fort Morgan, we traveled to Kearney, NE (Kearney RV Park & Campground) and stayed in the same campground that we did last year.  On Friday we arrived at the campground in Corning – a beautiful campground with winter rates of $20 per day!

The three legs of this trip (Evergreen/Fort Morgan/Kearney/Corning) were uneventful.  We held our speed to around 68 MPH which is a good comfortable speed.  Our mileage is not outstanding (about 10 MPG) but that goes with the trailer towing and significant wind events.

The reunion was great.  Over a several-day period, we got to see most of the cousins/relatives.

Update:  10/16/2022

On our second day out, our inverter started acting strange.  I did some work arounds, but in the end it died along with our 120V service.  We ended up having to string a cord through the window and plug it in to a power strip so that we would have some AC power (the DC hung in there as it does not go through the inverter).  We made it, but all the 120 V devices were dead (because of no 120V) towards the end of the trip.

Then, on 10/3 we took Pat to the Urgent Care unit of the hospital in Creston, IA for bladder discomfort.  The following night she had terrible pain in her side and I took her to the Corning, IA emergency room.  They admitted her and diagnosed her with a 7mm kidney stone.  The follow day they transported her via ambulance to Memorial Hospital in Omaha where she had surgery later that day.  I drove her back to the campground the next day and we stayed for a couple of additional days while she recovered.

We started home on Sunday (10/9) and arrived home Monday evening.  Pat has had some blood in her urine, but they think that might have been from traveling in the less than smooth riding truck on some horrible stretches on the interstate.

That is all for this trip


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Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Drafted: Thursday – September 22, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

Posted:  September 24, 2022

I am in Centennial, CO teaching a Mechanical Drives class at NTT.  This is a three-day class and one that I have enjoyed teaching off and on for 22 years.  When the class is held in Denver it is the best of all worlds in that I don’t have to fly to a destination, yet they approve a motel room (Staybridge Suites) and it is a very short drive to the office each day.

This is the first class that I have taught in a few months.  I made the decision to take the summer off and I have not missed teaching class one bit.  That said, it was good to get back in the saddle and it was not hard to get up to speed.

Often times when I teach a class in Denver it is mostly, or all, local students.  In this class I have 5 students all from out of state and from long distances.  More amazing yet, is the fact that they are all engineers.  When I heard that, I thought “oh boy” this will be a challenge.  However it has been one of the best classes I have had.  They have been very active in the class with good contributions and good questions.  That really makes a satisfying experience for me.

That is all for this travelogue.

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Hello from New Orleans, LA Part 3

Hello from New Orleans, LA Part 3

Sunday August 28, 2022 (Fifth post of this travelogue)

On Thursday we took a great van tour of the downtown part of the city.  It mentioned that it would include the French Quarter.  Well, it did go through the east edge of the French Quarter which is still in pretty good condition.  The guide made a comment about not going to Bourbon Street (making it clear that it was no longer a tourist area).  We drove several miles going through areas that were drastically different.  One of the areas showed some of the terrible destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina was a large and destructive Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that caused over 1,800 fatalities and $125 billion in damage in late August 2005.  The guide mentioned that the area was under 11 feet of water.

The tour also included stops at a cemetery and Café Du Monde.  Burial in the cemeteries is above ground in tombs.  New Orleans is 8 feet below sea level and the water table is right at the surface.  The tombs are beautiful and I have included a photo.  Café Du Monde is a must stop place according to most sources.  It is famous for its tasty beignets and coffee.

The tour also took us into what is called Uptown New Orleans.  This area is just south of the French Quarter and is quite a contrast.  Some of the homes are mansions and the whole area is beautiful.  As a side note, most folks, myself included, think the famous Mardi Gras parade is in the French Quarter.  It is not.  It actually follows part of the St Charles streetcar route in Uptown New Orleans.

Our hotel stay has been a bit of an experience.  We (actually, Stampin’ Up!) had reserved a “river view” room.  That would be in the east tower.  However, it was closed because of water and AC problems.  They put us in a nice handicapped room in the west tower.  It had a good view of Canal street and was OK with us – until we discovered that we did not have hot water.  They then moved us to the now open east tower and we have an incredible corner room on the 28th floor that overlooks both Canal Street and the Mississippi river.

Views from our room — Mississippi River (top) and Canal Street (bottom)

The rooms are not terribly expensive (about $140 group rate) but they get you in other ways.  For example it is $45 per night to park the car.  The internet is $12.95 per day.  Breakfast is $25.  You get the idea.  Fortunately, I can use my cell phone hot spot for the internet.  The elevators are really interesting.  You enter your floor number in a keypad in foyer and it tell you what elevator to take.  When you get on the elevator, there are no button to push.  It takes you to the floor you entered.

Pat has been attending her conference the past few days.   Thursday was an evening event and the main events were Friday and Saturday.  This is a conference for the higher-level demonstrators so the attendance is much smaller than the general meetings of the past.  That said, she thinks there are around 600 folks from all over the world attending.

The weather has been crazy.  On our trip down here, we went through the Ft Worth/Dallas, TX and Jackson, MS areas.  Both had substantial flooding shortly after we passed through and were the subject of national news.  I think I heard that one of the areas got 11 inches of rain in one day.  The Texas area had been suffering from a major drought before all the rain hit.  We have hit some pretty bad rainstorms, but it has not been a huge problem.  We did buy an umbrella and had to use it a couple of times.  The rain has kept the temperature in the 80s so it has been bearable albeit very humid.

Again, this has gotten a bit long so I will stop here and probably add more details in the next post.

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Hello from New Orleans, LA Part 2

Hello from New Orleans, LA Part 2

Saturday August 27, 2022 (Fourth post of this travelogue)

Before I start in with this post, I need to make a correction to the first post.  When I mentioned the HGTV TV show from Waco, I incorrectly called it “Home Improvement” rather than “Fixer Upper”.

Now to New Orleans.  I need to set the stage for my comments later in this post.  In the 50’s my folks and I came down here three or four times.  We stayed at the historic 4 star Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street in the French Quarters.  These were magical trips that I remember so well.  My folks would sneak me into the local bars so that we could all listen to the wonderful Dixieland/Jazz music. Royal Street was one block over from the famous Bourbon Street.  Everywhere you went, you would hear the wonderful music and see happy people.  BTW, Pat and I walked to that hotel (couple of blocks) and the exterior is being renovated, but the interior  still has the grand/beautiful/historic lobby.  I have included a photo we took.

Fast forward to sometime in the early 80’s and I made a customer call in New Orleans.  As I recall I stayed downtown – probably at the Sheraton which is just across the street from our hotel.  I was fortunate enough to attend a Pete Fountain show (Al Hirt showed up as well).  That was the good part.  The bad part was that I walked down Bourbon Street and it was terrible.  No good music and mostly tee shirt shops.

Fast forward, again, to this trip and I again walked down Bourbon Street and it broke my heart.  Every corner had drug addicts, prostitutes, and panhandlers.  The streets were dirty, and the streets and sidewalks were in terrible condition.  About half the businesses were closed and those that were open were not at all related to the old French Quarter.  Canal Street is the street that runs in front of our hotel.  It a main thoroughfare and has lots of streetcars and active businesses.  That said, almost every corner on this street also has the same people problem that exists in almost every part of the French Quarter I walked to.

So much for the bad part of our visit here.  Now for the more positive items.

Monday, we went on a paddle boat ride on the Mississippi River.  We paid for the Cajon dinner on the boat and it was great.  The boat went up and down the river for a few miles.  At first, I figured that the boat was a fake paddle wheel vessel.  Not so.  It is a recreated actual paddle wheel with modern diesel/electric propulsion.  I spent a lot of time looking at the mechanics of the drive system.

Daughter Lisa works with a surgeon who is very familiar with this area.  He gave us a few tips on places to go.  Wednesday, we went to a “unique” restaurant called Jacques-Imo’s (website) recommended by Dr. Schoen.  Without question I use the term “unique” advisedly. I have attached a picture of the front of the building and you might be able to read their slogan:  “Warm Beer – Lousy Food – Poor Service “.  Of course, it was anything but that slogan.  It is a crazy upscale restaurant where you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the dining area (another photo).  Their specialty is “real Nawlins’ food”.  Pat had Shrimp Creole and I had Crawfish Etouffee.  We took a taxi out to the restaurant (several miles from the French Quarter) and rode the streetcar back.

Going through the kitchen to get to the dining area

Ok, I have mentioned streetcars twice so far in this post.  The transit system has an extensive streetcar system in the downtown area.  These are actual streetcars — as opposed to trolleys — since they run on rails.  Most of the lines have relatively new cars.  However, the historic St Charles line is a must ride.  Here is a bit of verbiage from the website:

“The dark green St. Charles streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world.   Vintage streetcars built by Perley A. Thomas Company still run along a 6-mile crescent from Carondelet at Canal Street in the Central Business District through the oldest and most majestic section of Uptown New Orleans, around the Riverbend to Carrollton at Claiborne Avenue”.

All the streetcar fares are $1.25.  Quite a bargain.

St Charles Streetcar

We rode the St Charles line Wednesday morning, and it was an amazing trip.  It turns out that that is the same line we took on our return trip from Jacques-Imo’s that evening.

This post is getting a bit long, so I will continue with more details in the next post.

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Hello from New Orleans, LA

Hello from New Orleans, LA

Thursday August 25, 2022 (Third post of this travelogue)

We are staying at the Marriott at the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans (Google Map)

{google_map}29.9523 -90.0672{/google_map}

I am going to try something new and make a link that shows our trip down here in Google Maps (Link to Google Trip Map).  Assuming that works, you can see all of the stops we made in our 1500 mile journey down here.

Before we start documenting our stay here I need to catch up on our rather quick visit to Laurel, MS.  This stop was made to explore the area where the HGTV “Home Town” show is filmed.  The show features Erin and Ben Napier, and like “Fixer Upper” they remodel/rebuild homes for their clients.

We did not take an official tour of the area, but we did make two stops that are noted in the TV Show:  Laurel Mercantile Co and the Scotsman General Store and Workshop.  The latter is where Ben’s workshop is located.  From inside the General Store, you can look through a glass wall and see the shop.

On the way down to New Orleans we stopped at a Stuckey’s store.  In the ‘60s Stuckey’s had become an integral part of the American road trip. It boasted 368 stores/restaurants in over 30 states, each offering kitschy souvenirs, clean restrooms, Texaco gas, and of course, their famous pecan based candies.  They went out of business in the 70s as I recall.  On this trip we were watching an NBC broadcast and our favorite reporter (Harry Smith) visited a “revived” Stuckey’s store and interviewed the Granddaughter of the creator of Stuckey’s.  In the interview she talked about trying to re-create the business.  It looks like they are not very far along in that process.  We did buy a couple of their famous Pecan Log Rolls.  I have included a photo of an abandoned restaurant/service station that shows what all the stores looked like in the glory time.

I will catch up on our tours of New Orleans (the good and the bad!) in the next post.

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Hello from Laurel, MS

Hello from Laurel, MS

Sunday August 21, 2022 (Second post of this travelogue)

We are in Laurel, MS at the Holiday Inn (Google Map)

{google_map}31.6854 -89.1504{/google_map}

This is our second “major” stop since it is the setting for the HGTV show called “Home Town”.  Our trip here from Waco included an overnight stop in Minden, LA.

We got to this hotel around 1:00 PM and waited for a room to become available.  Our goal was to get into the room in time to watch the drag races from Brainerd, MN.  We will do a quick tour of the area tomorrow morning before heading to New Orleans.

Our stay in the Waco area went pretty well.  On Thursday, we took a morning limousine tour (Mercedes Sprinter Van) of the Waco area.  There were 8 people on the tour and the van seats 13 so we had lots of seating space.  As is always the case, these tours really showcase the area and all the great details/sights.  The tour included several “drive-bys” of some of the homes from the “Fixer Upper” TV show.  Many have been sold by the original owners or converted into short term rentals.

After the tour we went to the Magnolia Table for lunch.  This is the business that Chip and Joanna Gaines created after remodeling the building.  It was great food and we had enough left over for dinner.  Of course, we had to have the “avocado toast” that was well documented in one of the shows (Chip was not impressed by the concoction – but it became very popular)

Friday we drove back to Waco and Pat was able to do some shopping at the “The Silos”.  Again, this is a set of businesses that Chip and Joanna created and documented in some of their shows.  It was fun to see some of the sights from the show.

That is all for this post.  More in a subsequent posts.

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