Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Thursday evening  – November 5, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am back at NTT for four days this week.  I am producing a live on line (LOL) four day OSHA class.  This is a really interesting class for a lot of reasons.  First of all, all of the students are NTT personnel.  It is called an OSHA 30 hour class.  It is strictly regulated by OSHA and the attendees receive an OSHA certification card at the end of the class.  Because it is strictly regulated, that adds yet another level of complexity to the producer activities

In addition to being an interesting class for the reasons listed above, it is also interesting from a content standpoint.  Lots of good information to digest.  It is also good from the standpoint of learning LOL presentation techniques for my benefit (assuming we ever sell a LOL class that I can teach).  Lastly, it is great to experience other instructor techniques.

As I mentioned in the last post, there are a lot of hardware and software details that almost boggle the mind.  The most demanding part of the assignment is getting three monitors set up with several software platforms, then set up proper window views of all the software on those monitors depending on what the instructor needs.   After that, the remote students must be logged in and any communication problems resolved.  That whole process takes about two hours.  For the rest of the class time, the producer monitors the software to make sure the students are using all the tools we use to teach the class.

Again, from the last post:  the producer position pays less than half the instructor rate, but it is still decent income and will fund my “toy” budget, hopefully at level that will keep me active in the shop .  In addition, it will not involve air travel and is less demanding than teaching.  Also, as I mentioned in the last post, our sales for the classes I teach is really in the toilet right now.  I think the producer assignments will be a good alternative income generator.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Tuesday evening  – October 20, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am back at NTT for three days this week.  However, I am the student this time.  After three days of training I will be certified as a Live On Line (LOL) training producer.  The producer is the hardware/software/student/instructor support person to assure that the online training session goes smoothly.

There are a lot of hardware and software details that almost boggle the mind.  The most demanding part of the assignment is getting three monitors set up with several software platforms, then set up proper window views of all the software on those monitors depending on what the instructor needs.   After that, the remote students must be logged in and any communication problems resolved.  That whole process takes about two hours.  For the rest of the class time, the producer monitors the software to make sure the students are using all the tools we use to teach the class.

The producer position pays less than half the instructor rate, but it is still decent income and will fund my “toy” budget, hopefully at level that will keep me active in the shop .  In addition, it will not involve air travel and is less demanding than teaching.  Also, as I mentioned in the last post, our sales for the classes I teach is really in the toilet right now.  I think the producer assignments will be more frequent.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Thursday evening  – October 1, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

I am teaching a class this week at the NTT office.  The class is shaft alignment and it is a two day class (Thursday and Friday).  This is the first time I have taught a class since late October of last year!  Before COVID, several of the classes I was scheduled to do cancelled due to lack of sales.  When COVID hit, it really dried up.

I had mentioned in a previous post that NTT was working very hard to establish a market for Live Online Training (LOT) via zoom and other software.  I am certified to teach LOT courses.  I had a fairly large project to convert/develop one of our classes for the LOT platform.  My work on that project was completed several months ago, but NTT has not finished the work they need to do to sell it to the customer.

The course I am teaching this week is live in the office with two students.  It is a rather intensive lab oriented course and could not be taught via LOT.

As is generally the case, NTT is putting me up at the Staybridge Suites.  It is a part of the Holiday Inn/IHG group, so I get my points and it is a fairly nice place.   Before COVID they had the best hotel breakfast and evening snack/meal of any hotel that I stay at (with the exception of some of Pat’s resort trips that she earns).  Of course now, that benefit is mostly not present.  I stayed here in April and half the hotel was shut down and no meals/snacks of any kind.  Now both sides are open and they have a bit of a breakfast.

Unfortunately I do not have any classes scheduled for the rest of the year.  It is possible that something will develop, but I will not hold my breath.  Sales in the Mechanical group have not been very good for the past couple of years and I don’t see that changing in the near future.  Guess that means more shop time {grin}.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Bonneville

Hello from Bonneville

Tuesday evening  – August 11, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

I am starting this post while sitting on the salt at Bonneville (Google Map)

Bonneville is right on the Utah/Nevada border at exit 4 on I80 close to Wendover, UT/NV.  For those that know me, you know that this is a very special event for me.  I first came here in 1990 and have made several events since then (see picture of hat with the buttons attached).

I had hoped that Pat and I could drive the bus with my 59 IHC truck on my trailer, but just ran out of time to get everything ready for the trip.  The truck would have fit in so well with all the crazy vehicles that show up at Speed Week.

Instead I rented a car (Audi A5!!!) and have been camping out of it.  This is what I did last year and I have it down to a science.  I sleep in the car (reclined passenger seat) and fix freeze dried meals for breakfast and dinner.  Sleeping in the car is not all that bad.  Both rental cars have seats that recline almost flat.  While it gets hot on the salt, it cools off significantly in the night and I have to put a blanket over me.  Surprisingly I sleep pretty well.

I left Evergreen Friday and drove to Price UT where I stayed at the Holiday Inn.  I arrived on the salt around 11:00 AM Saturday about the time the racing started. 

The salt this year is pretty good.  Over the years, a mining company has been pumping the brine off the flats and the salt thickness has gone from maybe 5 inches 30 years ago to less than one inch now.  Supposedly they are now taking the components they want out of the brine and pumping the salt back.  The condition of what is left of the salt is mostly a function of the rain.  Last year the salt was very wet and the course conditions were not good at all.  This year it has been dry and I have not heard any complaints.  Indeed, one car just went 460 MPH and lots of records are being set.

Bonneville is a mix of exciting sights AND sounds of the race cars as well as an amazing car show that all the spectators bring.  The car show is unlike any that you will find anywhere.  Many of the cars are very old primitive “hot rods” and early customs.  Almost all of them are pretty basic (almost read crude) construction and that fits me just fine {grin}.

As a part of the tradition of car camping the past two years, I drive to the salt just before sunrise and then fix my favorite coffee (Peets) using a special K cup device and boiling water from my camp stove.  Watching the sun rise and drinking great coffee on the salt  — it does not get any better that that. 

Sunrise on the salt


Morning coffee on the salt

Today I left the salt about 11:00 am and drove to Rock Springs, WY.  I had thought about returning via I80 for a change of scenery.  The fact that I70 is closed due to a fire made my decision easy.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off on Hello from Bonneville

Hello from Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon, CO

Hello from Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon, CO

Monday afternoon  – June 29, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

We are in the Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon in our trusty old bus.  Our location on Google Maps is here

We arrived Sunday 6/21.  We are in site 40 in loop “C”.  Of all the spaces we have stayed in, this one is probably our least favored.  That said it is still a great site.  Many years ago the campground was devastated by Pine Beetle.  All the gorgeous pines had to be cut down.  We noted that the new pines have really filled in and the vegetation is close to what it was when we first started coming here.

For many years we have come to this beautiful campground – usually for a period that includes the Fourth of July.  This year our reservation ends tomorrow (6/30) since we thought we would be flying to Hawaii for Pat’s earned trip.  It turns out that trip has been postponed till next spring.  Reservations are hard to get here, so we will not try to extend. 

As has been the case for several years we make our reservations so that we can camp with daughter Kelly and her family.  Actually I should clarify that Kelly makes the reservations since it is very cutthroat process and you need to be online at exactly 6 months prior to you arrival date and then it is not always guaranteed that you will get a spot in the area that has water and power.

We have had a very large range of weather here.  It has been close to 90 degrees at times but it is very cool in the night.  Indeed, I saw one reading of 37 degrees when I got up.  We had to put on our sleeping bag as an extra cover to keep us warm at night.   We have also had quite a few rainstorms – almost every afternoon.  It has cleared up most of the evenings so that we could have a campfire.

This has been a pretty laid back stay.   Many of the things we tend to do (shopping, movies, etc.) are closed or we have chosen to avoid, given the COVID 19 situation.  On Wednesday (granddaughter Madison’s birthday) we did take a pontoon boat out on the lake and had a ton of fun.

I did have one terrible moment.  As we were pulling into our camp spot (tight spot to get the bus into) my power steering quit.  Of course, I suspected the worse (bad pump) but decided that I should replace the hydraulic fluid filter to see if that would solve the problem.  That in itself is a challenge since I have three major hydraulic circuits and three filters.  For some reason I decided to pull one of the filters to look at it – like I could tell anything by looking at the filter.  The next day I decided to do some testing on the pump and to do that I needed to start the engine.  I then went back and crawled under the bus to check the hydraulic fan and looked over to see a HUGE amount of hydraulic fluid raining on the ground.  I quickly shut off the engine but by that time I had pumped well over a gallon of hydraulic fluid on the ground.  Turns out I did not get the filter properly seated.  I did get the three filters ordered and went to Walmart to get a bag of kitty litter to finish cleaning up the oil (I had sopped up quite a bit with paper towels but there was still a bunch left on the asphalt parking pad).  I ended up using almost two bags of kitty litter and lots of scrubbing with my shoes to get most of it cleaned up.  What a mess.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Hello from Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon, CO

Hello from Chatfield State Park

Hello from Chatfield State Park

Wednesday evening  – June 10, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

We are in the Chatfield State Park campground site 168 –  in the bus no less!!!  Our location on Google Maps is here

This is a quick shake down trip that will let us sort out any issues from the bus sitting so long.  We are relatively close to home and chose this campground since it had full hookup (more about that later). 

We had planned to drive to the Sterling rest area which had a full dump system, but that would have been 150 miles each way and we did not want to spend the time or fuel dollars.  We decided to stay here for a couple of nights.  We are dog sitting Benny, but he is used to the bus and has done fine.

While I have encountered a few small problems, I have resolved most of them.  The big issue was the black/gray/fresh water systems.  I am not good about recording when I dump and I had lost track of how full the black tank was.  Turns out we must have emptied it on our last trip (not counting the traumatic trip to Guffey where Pat was badly injured and we did not spend a night in the bus).  The gray water tank has a manual site gauge on it, so I knew where we were there and it was not big deal.  The most problematic tank was the fresh water tank.  The water in that tank had been sitting for a couple of years.  While I keep a fair amount of chlorine in the tank, it quite obviously needed to be drained and flushed.  Having full hookups here allowed me to get all the tanks squared away.

This is a great camping spot.  The other campers are several yards away and we have a full view to the south.  The fun part of this spot is that it it very close to the RC Plane field and we got to watch lots of aerobatic flying including some model jets.

In a bit over a week we will head to Dillon to spend a few days with the Bergmans.

That is all for this trip.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Hello from Chatfield State Park

Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Drafted started:  Monday evening  – May, 18 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

It has been a long time since I last posted, but that reflects the fact that I have not travelled since November.  With the present COVID 19 situation, I am not sure when Pat and I will get to travel, or when I will travel for NTT.

I am working at the NTT office for three days doing some training for our Live Online Training program.  Over the past couple of months I have had an assignment to develop our Bearings and Lubrication class so that it could be presented as an online class. 

While it might seem like a fairly easy conversion, the project was pretty complex.  This three day session is for us to learn to use all of the technology and equipment.  We are using Zoom as the primary platform, and a second software package called Canvas that lets us do polling questions and several other functions.

I was really impressed with the hygiene measures that NTT has implemented.  We had to wear masks when there were more than six people in a room and a limit of 10 people max to a room.  Our temperature was measured and recorded each morning that we arrived.

As I finish this travelogue, I have to say that I have mixed thoughts on the online training process.  On the one hand it is really difficult not to have face to face contact and interaction with the students.  On the other hand, there are some really neat tools the NTT has adopted. 

For sure, it will really cut down on the time we spend on the road.  Almost anywhere I go, it takes a day of travel to get to the site and another day of travel to get home.  For a two day class, I spent the better part of four days of my time. 

For the first session or two, NTT  has mandated that we do the training from the office.  That is fine with me, since I will not have to be concerned about the equipment.  Perhaps later I will be able to do the teaching from home.  Traveling to the office only takes about an hour, and they put me up at a hotel close to the office.

It is interesting to note that NTT has tried to market online training for a couple of years.  There was minimal interest.  However, with the COVID restrictions, our customers have quickly changed their attitude and NTT has had to accelerate their development work.  Fortunately the company that owns NTT is a specialized college that does a lot of online courses.  They have funded our development program at a level that is quite generous.

I have now been certified as LOT instructor.  Now all I have to do is wait for our sales group to get the customers rounded up.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Alamosa, CO

Hello from Alamosa, CO

Wednesday Evening  – November 20, 2019   (Fifth post of this travelogue)

We are at a Holiday Inn Express in Alamosa (link to Google Maps)

Wow, so much catching up to do.  After we left Las Vegas we made a fairly short trip to St George, Ut.  We chose the Holiday Inn Express there, since it was close to the Zion park entrance and also because we could watch the season final NHRA drag races (none of the four professional class champions had clinched the title – so it was exciting for us).

Monday we drove into Zion National park.  We had previously tried to reserve our favorite cabin (529) but it was not available.  We considered staying in the lodge, but we could not justify the expenses.  The drive into the lodge was breathtaking as usual.  I have posted a picture, but it simply don’t convey the grandeur of the canyon.  The trip out of the park heading east is equally amazing.  There is a huge tunnel carved in the side of the mountain.  The tunnel has several openings with quick views of the rock formations across the canyon.

Typical Zion View

Typical Zion View

We then traveled to Kanab, UT which is where Stampin’ Up! manufactures most of their products.  We had toured the factory on our last trip through that area so we did not stop this time.  From there we drove to Page, AZ for the night.  I wanted to stop there so that Pat could experience the area that I had explored a bit when I had an NTT assignment there in 2015.  The primary attraction in Page is the Glen Canyon Dam (which creates Lake Powell).  We were able to observe the dam, Lake Powell, and the beautiful Glen Canyon below the dam.  Unfortunately, we were too late to take the tour of the dam.  I did that last time and it was a fantastic tour.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Arial View of Glen Canyon Dam

Arial View of Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam was started in 1956 and is 710 feet tall.  It has a total of 8 huge generators each of which has a capacity of 165,000 kW.  Sadly the frequent drought in the areas that feed the lake have resulted in a water level that is 88 feet below the capacity level.  This is about 53% capacity of the lake.  That said, it still controls the release of water so that down stream users have sufficient water for most demands.  Interestingly, the lower water level affect the ability to generate power. 

Yesterday we drove east towards Kayenta, AZ and then turned north into Monument Valley.  As was the case with Zion, I have included a photo that inadequately shows the beauty of the area.  We then continued on to Cortez, CO where we spent the night.

While the weather has been fantastic the whole trip, that has now changed.  There are winter storm warnings out for large parts of southern Colorado.  The prediction was that we would have quite a bit of snow as we traveled over Wolf Creek Pass.  Turns out the conditions were not too bad.  We positioned ourselves here in Alamosa so that we would have choices for our route home.   One choice is US 285 that runs by our house.  The other is to travel east to I 25 and then head north.  As I write this, the 285 option (much shorter) does not look good.

That is all for this post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Alamosa, CO

Hello from Page AZ

Hello from Page AZ

Monday Evening  – November 18, 2019   (Fourth  post of this travelogue)

We are at a Holiday Inn Express in Page, AZ (link to Google Maps)

As we have said many times in this blog, our hotels of choice are the Holiday Inn properties.  Over the years I/we have spent a lot of nights and have achieved the Platinum Elite status several times in the past.  Last year I/we spent over 60 nights in HI hotels and this year will be over 40 nights.  That includes my NTT travel as well as our personal travel.  Out status gets us the best rooms and the points pay for several nights a year.  Last night we stayed in St George, UT and our room had a Jacuzzi bath tub and a fireplace!

I have also mentioned that the primary driver for this travelogue documentation is for our reference and entertainment.  .  On this trip I have searched our blog many times for background information.  The platform I use for the blog is WordPress (hosted on our GoDaddy site) and it has amazing search power.  It is a ton of fun to go back and read about some of our past travels.

I had mentioned that I would document our Death Valley experience.  Last Tuesday (11/12/19), we did a round trip tour of the southern part of Death Valley.  We drove from Pahrump to Shoshone and then took the southern Death Valley entrance that took us to Badwater which is 282 feet below sea level.  One of the information signs explained that the very low humidity (and very little rain – 2 inches per year) yields the barren salt flats.  If there were more moisture the area would be a lake.

Badwater (Medium)

On next DV stop was Artist’s Palette.  This is a 5 mile drive through beautiful canyons.  About midway through the drive, a beautiful rock formation exhibits many colors which result from different types of minerals – hence the name Artist’s Palette.  The day we observed the formation, the lighting was not perfect, but the different colors were quite visible.

Artist Palette (Medium)

From there we drove to the Furnace Creek Campground area.  This area has many buildings adjacent to the campground and several displays of borax mining equipment.  Since we had been there a couple of times, we did not spend a lot of time there.  We did drive around the campground.  It is basically dry camping.  There were not many campers in the park (not unexpected given the November time frame).  Speaking of “campers”, we have noted a much larger percentage of truck campers on this trip as compared to past observations.  I don’t know if this is unique to the area or if folks are going back to that kind of camping unit.

Our last major stop was a drive (long and twisting) to Dante’s View.  This is an overlook that is at 5476 feet.  From this point you can see a significant portion of the southern part of the park.  It is interesting that Dante’s View is almost exactly above Badwater. 

Dantes View 5476 feet (Medium)

Our tour took most of the day and we drove over 200 miles.  We have said that Death Valley would not appear on our bucket list (if we had one), but once you experience it, you really want to return and enjoy it again.   We have been fortunate to have done the park tours in the early spring and late fall.  Summer could be a very marginal experience since the temperatures often reaches 120 degrees!

After we left the park we took a different route back to Pahrump (via Death Valley Junction).

Lots more to talk about, but it will have to wait for the next post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Page AZ

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Drafted:  Saturday afternoon  – November 16, 2019   (Third post of this travelogue)

Posted:  Sunday evening 11/17/19

We are at the Bally’s in Las Vegas  (link to Google Map)

Bally’s is headquarters for Pat’s Stampin’ Up! event.  Obviously this is the “justification” for the trip.  We have a great room and the facility is very nice even though it is a fairly old facility. 

It used to be that Las Vegas was a fairly economical place to visit (a LONG time ago).  Now, it is quite expensive.  The rooms rates are well over $150 on the weekends, the parking costs $15 per day and there is no provision for morning coffee except at restaurants and coffee shops ($8 this morning).  There is a food court here where things like hamburgers are available – but at inflated prices.  Most of the restaurants are very expensive.

Our stay in Pahrump brought back lots of memories.  On Monday we toured Shoshone (does not take long {grin}).  It has not changed much since our last visit.  The campground is still there and still a bit primitive, but appears to be well kept.  Still no cell phone signal anywhere in the area.

Shoshone Camp Ground

Shoshone Campground

We then drove to China Ranch.  This “ranch” is right in the middle of a Mojave Desert and yet it is an amazing oasis (link to website).  At one time it was a ranch with chickens (and one source said a few pigs and cows) that supplied the Borax miners in the Death Valley area.  Since 1920 it has been a date farm with perhaps 100 date palms of many different varieties.  Indeed, they sell palms for landscaping to contractors.  Of course we had to have the traditional date shakes.

 

 

Arial View of China Ranch

Arial View of China Ranch

Date Delivery Truck

Date Delivery Truck

 

The weather continues to be fantastic.  Some days we could see and smell the smoke from the California fires.  Here in Las Vegas it is clear and low 80s during the day.  I took a quick peak at the weather for our trip home and it looks like we could see a little bit of snow.

For this trip we rented a Mazda CX5 AWD car.  It has been fun to drive and gets good mileage (around 30 MPG).  It has a little four cylinder engine, but the turbo makes it perform very well.

Tuesday we spent touring Death Valley.  That will be the subject of the next post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Hello from Las Vegas, NV