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)

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)

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)

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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Hello from Waco, TX

Hello from Waco, TX

Wednesday August 17, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

We are in what is called Waco North at the Holiday Inn (Google Map).

This is the first major stop on our journey to New Orleans for Pat’s conference.  We decided to drive to the conference and make a couple of fun stops along the way.

Waco was at the top of the list for our stops.  We are big “Fixer Upper” tv show fans and, of course the show focused on the Waco area.  We had planned to visit Waco in 2019 with some of her family from the Corning, IA area.  Unfortunately, she was badly injured in a UTV accident just prior to the planned trip and her recovery precluded the visit.  We kept the visit on her bucket list and this is the first opportunity we have had.

Our hotel is about 17 miles north of the center of Waco, but every Holiday Inn property we checked was fully booked.  Indeed, we got the last room at this location.  We booked three nights so that we can explore the area at a leisurely pace.

I was kind of surprised that Waco was booked up his time of year when it is so hot down here (well over 100 degrees each day).  Well, it turns out that this is move-in week at Baylor University.

Our journey here began on Monday when we traveled to Raton, NM.  From there we drove to Childress, TX.  We had planned to limit our travel days to less than 400 miles and those stops fit the plan.  They also had Holiday Inn properties.

If you have followed my blogs, you know that I have developed a love/hate relationship with Holiday Inns.  They have become very expensive in the past few years.  I have made three trips without Pat in the past year and tried some low-cost alternatives, including Motel 6.  Those stays were very marginal albeit about half the price of HI.  For this trip I just could not subject Pat to those kinds of rooms, so we are back to our old faithful — Holiday Inns.  We “love” the consistent good quality rooms (mostly).  However, the hate part of the equation includes the cost factor, and the drastic reduction in the value of rewards points.  I am at the platinum elite status, but that does not seem to result in any significant benefits at least in recent years.

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

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Hello from Bonneville, Utah

Hello from Bonneville, Utah

Sunday evening– August 8, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am sorta cheating a bit.  I am actually in Green River, UT on my way home from my frustrating trip to Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I would normally have been at the Salt Flats tonight, but terrible rains threatened to cancel the weeklong event.

My trip to the Salt Flats was via I80 with an overnight stop in Green River WY.  I used a hotel finder application that led me to a less than stellar hotel.  Very worn-out room and the furniture was stained.  At least the bed gave me a decent night’s sleep.

As I approached Wendover UT (Bonneville is considered to be located in Wendover) I ran into some rain.  It turned out to be a pretty heavy rain.  As I approached what is called the “bend in the road” where everybody camps, I could tell that there was a major problem.  The least amount of rain causes the area to become a quagmire.  All the campers were trapped in the mud and some of the tents were flooded.

Rain at Bonneville is not always a problem.  The moisture percolates into the salt/soil fairly quickly and, with a little breeze and sun, the remaining moisture evaporates quickly (assuming it is not a boat load of moisture).

I went down to what is called “the end of the road” where the road ends and the salt begins.  There were some volunteers there and I bought my badge for the meet.  They were optimistic that the weather would let the salt dry fairly quickly.

I located a good camping spot up on a slight mountain road where tons of campers were located.  The surface was level and covered in very small gravel (no mud).

I went online and found that they canceled the Sunday session but were hopeful that the rest of the week would be OK

Into the early Saturday evening, the sky was clear and the temperature was conducive to evaporating the water on the salt.  However about 8:30 a storm (rated severe by the weather bureau) seemed to come out of nowhere.  First it was terrible winds followed by a torrential downpour.  This rain was about as severe as I have encountered and it lasted for close to an hour.

The wind blew my air mattress several yards away and, in the process, punctured a hole in it.  Between the weather and the deflated mattress, I was left with no choice but to sleep in the truck – not fun.

I could tell that the event would be delayed by at least another day and that would have only given me a very short time at the track since I had to leave mid-day on Tuesday.  So, reluctantly, I pulled the plug and started home.  That turned out to be a good decision since they cancelled the meet as of this afternoon.

What a bummer for everyone – especially the racers who had already set up in the pits.  They will be facing a terrible mess to get their stuff packed up.  Some have large “compounds” with all sorts of support equipment.  They, like all of us, spent significant dollars to get there.  The weather forecast was not all that accurate.  I checked it before I left and it looks like very minor rains on Friday and not all that bad the rest of the week.

It is especially frustrating, as the salt condition (prior to the rain) we rated as good.  Over the years a local mining company has really damaged the salt and in recent years the salt condition has been anywhere from marginal to terrible.  So, when you get decent salt, everyone is overjoyed to say the least.

For the past two trips to Bonneville, I have avoided I70 since they often close Glenwood Canyon.  However, I really get bored with the Wyoming route.  I checked and they say there are no road closures in Colorado.  So, I came what used to be our normal route and stopped here in Green River UT.  How about that, two Green River stops in two different states {grin}.

That is all for this travelogue

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Hello from Oakley, KS

Hello from Oakley, KS

Sunday July 31, 2022 (Second post of this travelogue)

I am in Oakley, KS on my way back from the Leadsleds.  I am staying at the Annie Oakley Motel (Google Map)

In this post I wanted to document a few things relating to this trip.

I broke up the travel to and from Salina by stopping about halfway in between.  I did this for two reasons.  First of all, I was not able to get on the road until early afternoon each travel day and secondly, I just did not feel up to a straight through, nearly 500 mile, drive.

On the way out to Salina, I stopped in Goodland Kansas and stayed at the Motel 6.  As I mentioned in the other post, the cost was less than half of staying at a Holiday Inn.  Of course, the rooms are very primitive but a bed is a bed.

Goodland is an interesting small town.  I drove around and sadly, like many small towns, there were lots of closed businesses.  One interesting location in the downtown area was what looked like a car lot out of the 50s (see photo).  There were several very old cars (mostly out of the 30s through 50s.  All were in less than stellar condition but many could be brought back to life.  There were several 49-51 Mercuries.  This is a sought-after car in the custom car hobby.

My choice on this motel in Oakley is a bit convoluted.

First of all, somehow I lost a day in my thinking about the show.  I have to coordinate my travel with Pat’s travel and that reduced my time at the show a bit.  As it turns out that was not a significant problem.  I did wander around the park where the show was on Thursday, but there were not many vehicles.  I spent most of the day Friday at the show and there were a huge number of cars.  I made several laps around the show until my knees and feet let me know it was time to leave. I spent Saturday morning at the show and there we even more vehicles.  Indeed, it became almost overwhelming.  While my time was a bit less than I had originally planned (erroneously), I was ready to leave around noon and start my trip back home.

The second reason for choosing this motel is even more convoluted.  As I planned the trip home I knew that I would need to stop a bit less than half way because of my late departure from the show.  Oakley Kansas seemed like a good stop.  As I looked for motels it became apparent that somehow this town relates to both Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill (local bar uses that name).  Annie Oakley was born in a very small town close to where my dad was born (Greenville, Ohio).  We have spent some time in Greenville and visited the site where she is buried (Brock Cemetery).  So it seemed fitting to stay in a motel that identified with her.

Oakley is a very small town.  Main Street is about 3 blocks long and with many empty store fronts.  The motel looks like a motel out of the 50s (see picture).  When I first walked into the room, it seemed like a Motel 6 room.  However, it became obvious that it was well equipped and comfortable.

In a few minutes I will start driving towards Denver and meet Pat at the Kassel’s when they arrive from the airport.

That is all for this travelogue.

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Hello from Salina, KS

Hello from Salina, KS

Saturday July 30, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

I am in Salina, KS for the KKOA Leadsled event and am staying at the Holiday Inn (Google Map)

I made this trip so that I could attend the KKOA Leadsleds (link to KKOA).  I have been attending this event off and on for over 35 years.  Indeed, we first drove the 56 Chevy to the 1987 event in Springfield, IL (and I had attended quite a few before that).

For most of the KKOA events, Pat has been with me.  This year she and all her cousins are having a reunion in Nashville.  I think she told me that there are 15 of them which include a few daughters of the cousins.

I dropped Pat off at the Kassel’s on Wednesday so that she could travel with Lisa and Amanda to the airport early the next morning.  I then drove to Goodland Kansas and stayed in a Motel 6.  That motel was less than half the cost of a Holiday Inn and all I needed was a bed.  I have to mention the fact that the Holiday Inn Priority points are much less valuable than in the past.

There were well over 1700 cars registered for the event.  Some, like me, probably register but don’t bring their cars.  The park is huge, but almost all the participant parking areas (many on the grass) were filled up on Today.  The quality of the cars varies quite a bit.  Many, like the 56 Chevy, are not show cars, but hold their own with a lot of the cars.  Some of the cars are true masterpieces or “works of art”.  Some are pretty crude.  No matter, they are all fun to see.

This year the weather was quite different from last year.  Last year it was over 100 degrees and almost unbearable.  This year it was in the low 80s most of the time.  Humidity also seemed low.  That made the show much more enjoyable.

The last two times we attended this event we stayed in a beautiful Bureau of Reclamation Campground about 30 miles from Salina.  Of course, that was a significant commute each day and the cell phone coverage sucked.

Each time I attend this event I get jacked up to bring one of my cars to a future event so that I can be a “real” participant again.  It might be the ’56 Chevy which we could possibly drive to the event, or it might be the ’50 Olds which we would have to bring on a trailer, as it is not set up for cross country driving.  Both need some significant work and I seem to get “derailed” from getting them completed.

I have included some pictures.

That is all for this post.  More in a second post.

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