Hello from close to Salina, KS

Hello from close to Salina, KS

Sunday afternoon– July 25, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

We are in a beautiful Bureau of Reclamation Campground about 30 miles from Salina, KS (Google Map)

We 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).

With our senior discount, this campground is a very low cost “place to stay”.  The hotels tend to jack their prices up for the event.  Also, most of the good hotels book up quickly.  The downside is that the internet connections via cell phone suck.   Indeed, we will be driving towards Salina this afternoon until we get a decent signal so that we can upload this post and do some other internet intensive stuff.

We stayed here in 2016 for the same show.  That year we drove the bus and pulled the Durango.  This year we have the Dodge truck and camping trailer.  I had hoped that the truck with the Cummins diesel engine would have gotten better mileage, but we had a ton of side and headwinds the whole trip.  The truck computer said we got 9.3 MPG which is still not too bad for our combination.  I reset the computer for my two trips Salina (truck only) and it indicated over 20 MPG.  It will be interesting to see what we get going back.

There were well over 1500 cars registered for the event.  Some, like me, probably register but don’t bring their cars.  The park is huge, but almost all of the participant parking areas (many on the grass) were filled up on Saturday.  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”.  No matter, they are all fun to see.  I have included a couple of pictures.

I have started to get the 56 back into a condition that will allow us to drive across country so that I bring it to the show again.  Over the years, I did a lot of patching of systems to keep it going, but those patches catch up with you and the rebuild project is pretty daunting.  Over the past couple of years, I did quite a bit of work on the paint and body (the paint was in terrible condition), installed a new cooling system, and I am in the process of upgrading the air-conditioning system, and totally rewiring the car.

I would love 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 would 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.

We are staying over an extra day to relax and enjoy the campground.   On our way here we stayed in a campground in Colby, KS and will stay in a campground in Burlington, CO on the way home.  Salina is close to 500 miles from Denver and that is more than we want to drive in one day.

When we had the bus, it was easy to pull into a WalMart to stay the night.  Our current trailer electrical system does not allow “off grid” camping –  thus dictating staying in a campground.  I am in the process of updating the electrical system with an inverter that will make us independent of the “power pole”.  I almost got it completed for this trip, but ran out of time.  We have another issue of not having a generator for the air conditioner, but that will be a future project.

 

That is all of this post.

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Hello from Dillon, CO

Hello from Dillon, CO

Saturday evening  – July 10, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

We are camped in Heaton Bay campground for our annual two week stay (Google Map).  Our daughter Kelly makes the reservations in December on the first day they are available on line and they are sold out the first day.  Her family is camped relatively close in the same loop.

This year we are in our new-to-us 26 foot Passport trailer (see pictures later in this blog).  We arrived here June 28th and will depart tomorrow.  Our site number is C40 and it is a great location.  Because we have limited black tank capacity we have been using the “outhouses” as much as possible.  They are large with concrete floors and the camp hosts keep them very clean.  It is a bit of a walk uphill to get to them, but we need the exercise.

Getting ready for this trip was a big effort.  I spent parts of several days trying to troubleshoot the refrigerator that would not cool.  I tried every method listed in the manual and then some.   I finally decided that it was a problem with the control board or the actual cooling circuit.  The fridge was only made for two years and was a new technology that was fairly quickly dropped from the product line.  The control board is no longer available.  So, we installed a new fridge.  It was a real challenge to get into place, but the rest of the installation was pretty simple.

There were lots of little maintenance items on both the truck and trailer to get it ready for this trip.  Little may be the wrong term.  They were simple but time consuming.

Then there was the big move-in.  We had to sort through all the bus stuff to decide what we needed to take.  We loaded maybe a 1/3 of the stuff.  In addition to the bus stuff we also had to load all the basic items.  Pat had ordered new bedding, towels, toaster, etc.  Of course, I had to load a bunch of tools in order to be prepared for the “unknown”.

Once we got here, we made a list of things that we needed to add to the trailer.  Then it was a trip to WalMart.  One fun thing was a small ice maker.  We got a broom and dust pan, a small portable table, the ice maker and a few other misc. items.

Camping here is a bit of a dichotomy.  When I look around all I see are beautiful mountains and trees and a couple of campers.  Yet we are about a mile from a WalMart, Safeway, City Market and tons of stores and restaurants.  We can hear (but not see) the highway traffic, but we are still in our own little paradise.

Comparing our trailer experience to our bus experience is interesting.  We really miss some of the bus infrastructure such as the big fresh water and sewage tanks, wonderful heating system (yes it gets cold at night  up here at 9,000 feet), great inverter that kept the batteries charged and a wonderful view out the front.  That said, we are enjoying all the room that the slide out provides, the power awning, the great dining nook, and the general layout of the trailer.  Of course, I am enjoying the truck – it hardly knew it was pulling the trailer.

The weather has been quite variable.  We have had days with very heavy rain and days of rather hot and dry conditions.  With our awning and portable picnic table cover, we have been able to deal with the weather conditions.  A few days we had to run the AC (after running the heater in the morning).

This trip has been a bit different from past stays here.  We have been very lazy.  That was somewhat dictated by the fact that we were very worn out and tired from the trip preparation.  Pat, Kelly, and her family played a lot of games, did some stamping and just generally goofed off.  I did a lot of reading and worked on a few trailer projects.  I also did quite a bit of “designing” of some projects to make the truck/trailer better suited to “boon docking” when the time comes.  That involved some simple CAD design work and some extensive Google research – obviously things I enjoy.

I guess that will complete this travelogue.

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Hello from Wailea, Hawaii One Last Time

Hello from Wailea, Hawaii One Last Time

Sunday afternoon – May 23, 2021   (Fifth post of this travelogue)

Well, our stay in paradise is ending today.  We have a 8:10 PM flight back to Denver.  We are scheduled to arrive tomorrow at 6:34 AM.  Stampin’Up! was nice enough to arrange for a 4:00 PM checkout and then they will bus us to the airport.  In effect we get almost one extra day!!

Yesterday I did a shore scuba dive.  It was a real challenge for me, as I have not done that kind of dive before.  In addition it was a shallow dive (34 feet) so our oxygen lasted a long time.  That is a good news/bad news kind of thing.  A long dive gives you lots of chances to see some great fish and coral, but our 50 minute dive (paddling with the fins all the time) really wore me out.  I may get a chance to do a very special dive later this year.  If I do, I will really need to do some conditioning.  This old body is not what it used to be {grin}.

Last night SU had a luau for all the demonstrators and guests (approximately 650 people).  It was a great show and the food was fantastic.  As has been the case for most of this trip, the weather was fantastic.

Speaking of weather, this side of the island has two seasons: rain and drought.  It rains quite a bit from Jan. through March and then it dries out with very little rain.  On the other side of the island it is a rain forest.  This side of the island gets about 12 inches of rain a year and the other side gets at least three times that amount.

Up until about 2017, the primary crop was sugarcane.  Large commercial pineapple farms left the  island many years prior to that.  The sugarcane farms were both loved and hated.  They provided thousands of jobs, but they became so powerful that they controlled much of the “politics” of the island.  In addition, they were not good caretakers of the land.  After they left,  the fields fell into weed fields.  Recently a large corporation purchased a considerable amount of the acreage and they are planting a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Most of that product will go for local consumption.  They are also planting large fields of coffee bean trees.  That product will be competing with Kona coffee for the premium coffee market.  All of the crops are being planted with a strong philosophy of sustainable and ecologically friendly farming.

That is all for this trip.

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Hello again from Wailea, Hawaii

Hello again from Wailea, Hawaii

Saturday afternoon – May 22, 2021   (Fourth post of this travelogue)

I guess it is time to catch up on our activities at the Grand Wailea.  Simply said, this has been a very relaxing week.  We have spent a lot of time on the verandah.  It is great for people watching and just plain enjoying the beautiful view.

As I noted previously, our room overlooks the chapel.  We have witnessed several wedding parties.  Apparently this is a popular wedding destination.  Indeed, we are told that one of the SU demonstrators had their wedding here this week.

We have taken two tours this week.   Both were paid for by SU   The first tour was on Tuesday  to a cacao farm and chocolate factor followed by a stop at a coconut farm to learn more about coconut farming and to do some tasting.  The second trip on Thursday was to the Maui  Gold pineapple farm.  Both tours included great lunches.

The cacao farm (link) was an amazing place.  The cacao plant is not native to Hawaii (as is the case for most trees and plants).  Indeed, the climate here is not conducive to raising the trees.  An individual took up the challenge of finding a way to create an environment that was compatible with the tree using large shelter trees and lots of irrigation. We tasted 9 varieties of their chocolate and the taste of each was amazing.

The coconut farm visit was cut short a bit because we were running late.  However, we were able to taste the coconut meat and drink the water from the coconut (very tasty).

There is an interesting contrast between the cocoa and coconut farms.  The owner of the coconut farm describes it as a “boutique farm” where the product is not profitable but the history of the process is being preserved. The cocoa farm is a for-profit venture with some significant growth plans.

The Maui Gold pineapple tour was a lot of fun.   We got to spend quite a bit of time in the pineapple fields and the guide harvested some pineapples from the field for our tasting. The taste of the fresh cut fruit is fantastic. Like the cocoa farm this is a for-profit venture.  They do some export, but a significant part of their product is consumed on the Hawaiian islands.  They only sell whole pineapples and not canned product.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Wailea, Hawaii

Hello from Wailea, Hawaii

Wednesday afternoon  – May 19, 2021   (Third post of this travelogue)

On Saturday we moved from the condo to the Grand Wailea Resort (Google Map)

I have tried to think of an adjective to describe this resort, but it is hard to find one – perhaps mind-boggling is close to a proper description.  I have attached a photo from our veranda that does some justice to this “wonderland”.

As you can see from the photo, our room overlooks the immaculately groomed grounds with the Pacific Ocean in the background.  We have spent quite a bit of time sitting on the veranda watching folks meander all over the grounds.  We have even seen some wedding parties.  We overlook the chapel and assume it is used for destination weddings.

Now to the story about the bus.  When we got back from our Seattle trip, a fellow contacted me (a follow-up call) saying that they were coming from Indiana with the intent of buying the bus.  That gave us two days to clean out 15 years worth of accumulation and make some repairs to the water system (never a problem until this year).  Daughter Lisa and Dan came up to bail us out on the second day of cleaning.  Without their help, we would never have gotten the job done.

Just as we were finishing up, the buyers pulled into the driveway.  Actually, I had a lot of maintenance check items that were not done.  The buyer suggested that we do them together so that he could learn a bit about some of the systems.  We did quite a bit of crawling around under the bus, but it was great experience for him.

They spent two nights in the bus and on Sunday (May 2, 2021) we completed the paperwork and they headed out to Indiana.  They had pulled a U-Haul trailer behind their Subaru and then loaded the car on the trailer for the return trip.  Here is a picture of them pulling out of the driveway.

I had been a bit choosy about perspective buyers.  I wanted to make sure they fully understood (or were capable of understanding) the condition of the bus and all of the systems involved.  Further, I wanted the buyer to have good mechanical and electrical skills.  I could not have asked for a better buyer.  In addition, he had been wanting an Eagle bus for many years.

When the bus pulled out of the driveway, we had some very mixed emotions.  But it was time to move on.  The bus was sitting a lot and the maintenance had become increasingly difficult for me to get “in the mood” to do.

They made it back to Indiana with only a tire pressure issue on the way.

When we put the bus up for sale I began looking for a 2003-2007  Dodge 2500 quad cab with a Cummins diesel engine and six speed manual transmission.  Lots of reasons for the rather restrictive search but I will not bore you with the details.  I did a nation-wide search and the pickings were pretty slim.  I could find several with a ton of miles but nothing jumped out at me.  Just after the bus left, I did another search and found just what I was looking for in Boulder, CO.  SIL Dan (owns a very similar truck) and I went up to look at it on Tuesday  (5/4/2021).  It was at a Toyota dealer and when we returned from our test drive the sales person said that he was getting calls from all over the USA.  I was not surprised, since it was in great shape and had less than 100K miles (that drive train is good for well over 300k if properly maintained).  I immediately signed the paperwork.  I felt terrible that Pat did not see the truck before I bought it, but I knew that she would understand.  I picked up the on Friday (after they did their safety inspection).

So the next part of the puzzle was a camping trailer.  I told Pat that she had complete decision making responsibility for choosing the trailer.  Our granddaughter, Molly, immediately became involved as our “consultant”.  Each day she would search Craigslist and update an on-line spreadsheet for Pat’s review.  In many cases she prepared a good/bad list for the trailer components.  We took her to look at three trailers (actually one day we looked at several on one lot).  On Thursday (5/6/2021) we looked at a Passport trailer and Pat (and Molly) fell in love with it.  We picked it up on Saturday (5/8/2021).  I have included a picture of the combination.

So, if you followed all the minutiae, we sold our bus and bought a truck and camp trailer all in one week.  That is a lot for these old folks {grin}.  Now the fun begins.  We need to load the trailer and I need to get acquainted with the systems and do some maintenance items.

I will get back to the travelogue in the next post.

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Hello Again from Kihei, Hawaii

Hello Again from Kihei, Hawaii

Friday morning  – May 14, 2021   (Second post of this travelogue)

The title says “again”, but actually all of the posts will be from here.  I did not say in the first post that Kihei is on the island of Maui.

I wanted to talk a bit about our 2003 trip here.  Pat had earned a cruise around the islands and out to an “international” island.  We had planned to go a week early and daughter Lisa and her family were going to spend that week with us.  Like this trip, we left Evergreen in a snow storm.  When I say snow, I really mean SNOW.  We had 6 feet of snow the day prior to our scheduled flight (see photo).  Pat was in constant contact with the travel agency and they finally advised us late the day that we were scheduled to leave that Denver International would be re-opening late in the day and if we could get there, we could catch a flight to LA.  I told Pat there was no way we could make it, as I was having a terrible time plowing the driveway.

Well, we did make it (even drove down our tight twisty canyon road that was only plowed to one lane).  We made it to LA with no problem, but of course, could not make a connection to Maui that evening.  They got us on a flight the next day and we made it just fine, albeit a day late.  When I talked to the condo manager, he said I would still have to pay for the day we missed.  I told him the situation and he said if I could prove it, he would not charge us for the day we missed.  I sent him the photo below and we were not charged {grin}

Now for this trip.  We have really been cooling our jets.  Our AirBnb is a nice place with a great little patio that we have been enjoying to the max.  The weather could not be better and the trees and shrubs outside our patio are gorgeous (see photo).  If you look closely, you will see beautiful flowers in the top of the tree in the foreground (you can click on the picture and then zoom in).

Yesterday we had a fun situation.  We have been long-time members of The Ghost Town Club of Colorado.  During Covid they have switched to Zoom meetings each month.  We were able to “attend” the meeting from our condo.  It was interesting because the meeting in Denver was at 7:30 PM but that is 3:30PM here (four hours difference).

Tomorrow we move to the Grand Wailea Resort to begin being treated to all the luxury.

I will cover the story about the bus in the next post.

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Hello from Kihei, Hawaii

Hello from Kihei, Hawaii

Wednesday afternoon  – May 12, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

Well,  Pat and I are on another adventure.  We are in Hawaii for a trip that Pat earned.  Actually she earned two trips to Hawaii, but the 2020 trip was cancelled and combined with the 2021 trip.  We came early and are staying in an AirBnB located here:  Google Map

We will be here for 4 days and then move to the Grand Wailea Resort for 8 days.

This area is a bit familiar to us.  In 2003 we spent a week in a condo with daughter Lisa and her family. The condo we stayed in is located about 2 miles north of where we are staying now:  Google map.  The condo appears to be the same layout, but probably updated a bit (info here).

Our flight here was a mixed bag.  We left the house at 6:30 to catch an 11:45 flight.  While it took us three hours to get to the concourse and have a good sit down breakfast, we still had plenty of time.  Yeah right.  Hawaii has a very strict COVID policy.  You need to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of departure and fill out an extensive on-line questionnaire.  Once the questionnaire is filled out they issue you a QR code.  At the airport United had a special area where you could be pre-screened.  They recorded your QR code and negative test results document.  Once that is done, they issue you a wrist band so that you do not have to be screened upon arrival in Hawaii.  My paperwork went just fine.  However, they could not see Pat’s health history record on line, in spite of the fact that she was issued a QR code.  Fortunately one of the United folks helped us (real thrash)..   We got on the plane just a bit before they closed the door.

The flight itself (direct to Maui) was not bad at all.  We had upgraded our seats and had the equivalent of business class seating.  We had tried to get the same seating returning to Denver, but it did not appear to be available.  I used the plane’s wifi and was able to book the same seats for the return flight.

We left Evergreen in a snow storm and arrived in Hawaii to absolutely beautiful weather.  We have been sitting on the porch soaking in the light breeze and wonderful temperatures as well as the beautiful scenery.

In the next couple of posts, I will recall a bit about our 2003 trip and tell you why we will have to change the header photo (spoiler alert, we sold the bus).

That is all for this post.  More to come.

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Hello from Green River, UT

Hello from Green River, UT

Wednesday evening – April 14, 2021   (Seventh post of this travelogue).

Well, we are on the home stretch now.  We should be in Evergreen tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s travel should be about 5 ½ hours of driving and a bit less than 350 miles.  It doesn’t sound too bad until you factor in fairly significant snow predictions in Colorado.

Our stop last night was in Ely (pronounced eee-lee).  Ely has a very large mining operation just west of town with three very large open pit mines.  The mines span almost three miles and the tailings are many stories high.  They mostly produce copper, gold and molybdenum.

Our trip today was a bit of a challenge from the standpoint of potty breaks.  We drove about 150 miles and over two hours before we could find a town with a restroom.  Actually Pat had to go to the post office and plead with them to use the facilities.  I did the normal man thing down the road {grin}.  On highway 50 in Nevada there are just no towns and almost no rest stops.  We did find one area marked rest stop, but there was not even a porta-potty on the property.

As I noted above, we are in Green River, Utah.  This has always been a great travel logistics location for us.  It is a nice drive to and from Evergreen and we have stayed in Green River many times over the years.  Several years ago we were thrilled that Holiday Inn built a hotel here.  However, it did not last long and soon became another brand.  That caused us to travel on to Price when we were travelling to Salt Lake City in order to stay at a HI making the drive longer that we preferred.  As I made plans to stay here tonight my search revealed that HI has just opened a new Holiday Inn Express Woo Hoo!

Since this might be the last post for this trip, I thought I might summarize the trip a bit.  We left Evergreen March 16 and will get home on April 15.  We have spent 30 nights in hotels – all Holiday Inn properties.  Five of the nights were paid for by accumulated points.  All of the nights in Sumner were paid for by NTT.  We have driven around 3,000 miles.  In general, the weather has been pretty decent for our driving days.  Tomorrow may be the exception.

That is all for this trip.

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Hello from Reno, NV

Hello from Reno, NV

Monday evening – April 12, 2021   (Sixth post of this travelogue).

We are slowly making our way back home.  After our stay in Newport, OR, our next stop was Klamath, CA.  As noted in the title we are in Reno, NV tonight.  Our stays in Newport and Klamath were both Holiday Inn properties and both were significantly less that acceptable.  As I mentioned, the Newport facility was over $250 with taxes.  The room was very plain Jane and the things like wash clothes were limited to two.  But the crowning blow was that the shower did not have a shower curtain!  I discovered it as I was getting in and too late to have them do something about it.   In Klamath we had a room close to the front desk (101).   Only problem was that it was next door to the food prep room and they got a very noisy delivery at 11:47 PM.  The very loud banging lasted several minutes.  Then at 4:00 they started prepping the meal and that was again very noisy.  I am not sure what they were doing at 4:00 since there were no hot entrees.

We had planned to drive through the Redwood National Park after leaving Klamath, but we somehow missed the turn off.  Since we had been through the park several time we decided not to turn back.  Today we drove into Lassen Volcanic National Park.  However, we were not able to do much sightseeing since the road was closed about 10 miles from the entrance due to snow pack.

Now for some quick comments/observations.

  1. We rented a 2021 Kia Sportage. It is a nice looking car that drives well.  It is a bit basic, but not to the level of annoyance.  Photo later in this blog.
  2. One of the reasons I like to stay in Sumner is the beautiful view of Mt Rainier. Mt Rainier’s elevation is 14,411 feet, but the base is close to sea level.  It is the tallest single peak in the lower 48 states.  I posted a photo taken from our room in an earlier post of this series.
  3. All along the Washington and Oregon Coast there we lots of Tsunami warning signs with directions to go to higher ground in the event of a Tsunami. We wondered how we would know if there was an event.
  4. All of our nights so far have been in Holiday Inn properties. It is amazing all the different ways they deal with breakfasts.  Some do not have any hot entrees.  Some put the entrees in a special box.  Some hide the coffee and only let the employees serve coffee in their cups although one would put it in my Yeti cup if they witnessed me wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe {grin}
  5. US highway 101 is a very scenic route. The Washington and Oregon coasts are beautiful (see photo below of Seal Rock).
  6. Potty breaks have been a bit of a challenge on this trip. We were on the Interstate most of the way to Sumner, and we could use the normal Interstate rest stops.  However on 101 and for Interstate emergencies, we could no longer use fast food restaurants since most have closed their dining areas (and restrooms).  We have gotten creative a few times and used National and State campgrounds and city parks that have outhouses.

 

Kia Sportage

 

Seal Rock Oregon

 

More to come.

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Hello from Newport, OR

Hello from Newport, OR

Friday evening – April 9, 2021   (Fifth post of this travelogue).

I survived another week of teaching at Boeing and now we are slowly heading home.  We are currently at the Holiday Inn Express in Newport, OR (Google Maps)

This week I taught three different classes:  two bearing classes and one shaft alignment class.  Each class went well.  Sadly there were only two students in each class.  There are two causes for the low attendance.  First is the COVID 25% restriction and the second is the fact that the maintenance staff has been reduced to bare bones levels and the managers can’t let their folks attend classes because of the low coverage for the necessary work.

Today we left Sumner with the intention of staying in Tillamook, OR.  We made that stop in 2018 (this post).  Our plan was to have some ice cream at the Tillamook Creamery and say in one of the local hotels.  Neither plan worked out.  The lines for both the Tillamook Creamery tour and ice cream store were very long and the few hotels in the town were all booked up.   We did a bunch of searching of hotels in nearby towns and nothing was available.  We then went to our trusty Holiday Inn App and found this hotel in Newport about 70 miles south of Tillamook.  It is a typical Holiday Inn Express, with the exception that the cost is over $200.  The Washington and Oregon Coast are very desirable tourist areas and the prices reflect that.

We had laid out a slow trip home with a couple of fun stops.  The plan is to get home about mid-day next Friday.  Since we drove farther than we planned today we may shorten our trip by one day.  We will see how far we make it tomorrow before we make our final plans.

More to come.

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