Hello from Scottsburg, Indiana

Hello from Scottsburg, Indiana

Thursday morning  – March 3, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

I am in Scottsburg to teach a three day Mechanical Drives Class for NTT.  I have been staying at a Holiday Inn Express property just off I-65 and just across the highway for the class location (Google Map).

When I accepted this assignment a couple of months ago, Pat and I got excited about driving here.  Well those plans turned to mush when the weather got very marginal.  So at the last minute I booked a flight and came on my own.  The decision not to travel by car was probably a good one, but right now the weather is great both here and at home.

This was a very unusual class.  It was arranged through a continuing education arm of Purdue.  The facility that the class was held at is community vocational training center.  The actual customer was Morgan Foods who are vendors of canned soups to WalMart (and others).  They are a family owned business that been in existence since 1899.    The unusual part of the class was the fact that all of the students were production workers and had almost no experience with maintenance processes.

The class started off well and the students were anxious to learn about all of the mechanical components we cover (bearings, belts, chain, couplings, gears, etc).  The first two days of the class were lecture with the third day devoted to doing all the hands-on labs.  The “lecture” part of the class went well.  The students asked great questions and seemed anxious to learn.  The labs were going reasonably well until an HR person came to the class.  He told the class that they would all be given a trial maintenance position within six months.  I thought that was a great gesture by the company.  However I talked to the group after the HR person left and they were all very negative.  There were lots of dynamics going on within the company and somehow what should have been a positive offer was construed to be a slap in the face.

The end result is that the student’s attitude towards the labs became a real issue.  They were not at all interested in the processes and treated the equipment rather badly.  I had to bounce around to each station and make quick repairs to offset the damage they did.  Nothing major, but all I could hear was almost continuous hammer blows to the equipment.

Fortunately they were respectful to me and were very good about helping me load the equipment into the two huge shipping crates.

This is the last NTT assignment I have on the calendar for several months.  I blocked out the middle of the year so that Pat and I could do some travelling and I could devote some time to my projects.  I am very happy to take a break from teaching.  I have been tempted to pull the plug entirely, but I enjoy the work and the money helps fund my play toys.  I guess I will hang in there for a while longer, but I will definitely cut back on accepting offers.

That is all for this trip.

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Hello from Vancouver, WA

Hello from Vancouver, WA

Sunday Evening  – February 13, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

Pat and I are in the Portland, OR area so that I can do some classes for Boeing.  Our hotel (Candlewood Suites) is across the Columbia River in Vancouver, WA (Google Map).  The Boeing plant is just off I-84 east of Portland.  It is about a 20 minute drive from the hotel to the plant.  We chose this IHG property since it is a suite and has some amenities that allow us to fix some of our meals in the room (including a full-size refrigerator).

This trip changed rather suddenly.  I was scheduled to teach two classes this week, but the instructor who was scheduled to teach the same classes last week had a health issue.  Originally I was going to fly out today for the three days of classes and then fly home Thursday.  NTT was in a bind and “sweetened” the pot and that together with being here a bit over a week and a half justified flying Pat with me.

The classes I am teaching (both weeks) consist of one day bearing and two day lubrication.  Both of these are Boeing classes that NTT contracts to teach.  The bearing class is kind of a hodge podge and I end up teaching from three PowerPoint presentations.  That combination really covers some detailed territory.  The lubrication presentation is very detailed but one PowerPoint covers the material very well.  It is interesting that we cover the same subjects in some of our NTT classes, but for significantly shorter periods.  For bearings I spend perhaps 4 hours of class time and lubrication perhaps 3 hours.  When I first saw the schedule for the Boeing versions, I wondered what in the heck I was going to do with all the extra time.  However the material has expanded to fit the schedule and it works out well.

The classes start at 6:00 AM, so I set the alarm for 3:45 to do a bit of computer work and make the trip to the plant (about 30 minutes).  When I return mid afternoon, I am ready for a nap!!

As is often the case, we stop at Trader Joe’s and stock up on food that we can prepare in the room.  I get salads for lunch at the plant.  We have several meals of crackers and cheese.  We also eat out once in a while.

We flew here on Sunday February 6th.  Our flight took us just to the north of Mt Hood which is a magnificent snow covered mountain very close to the Portland area.

Thursday we just cooled our jets and I attempted to “recover” for the intense 3 days of class.  Friday we took a drive down the Columbia River Gorge on I-84.  We have driven that route many times over the years and still enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Friday was kind of a special tour.  As many times as we have been to Portland, we just never realized how close Mt Hood was to the city and the Columbia Gorge.  I did a bit of mapping and it turned out that it would be an ideal one day tour.  The map below shows or approximate route.  Portland is just off the left of the map.  As you can see it was a circle drive around the east side of the mountain.  I have also included two photos.  The first is one that Pat took through the windshield as we drove towards the mountain and the second is a photo I copied off the internet.  It shows a bit more detail of how rugged the mountain is.

Our Tour Route around Mt Hood

Photo of Mt Hood taken from car

Internet Photo of Mt Hood showing detail

Lifting a bit of text from Wikipedia:  Mount Hood is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  It is located about 50 miles east-southeast of Portland, on the border between Clackamas and Hood River counties. In addition to being Oregon’s highest mountain, it is one of the loftiest mountains in the nation based on its prominence, and it offers the only year-round lift-served skiing in North America.  It has an elevation of 11,249, but when viewed from Portland at sea level, the height is amazing.

That is all for this post.

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Hello  from Centennial, CO (Belated)

Hello  from Centennial, CO (Belated)

Thursday – January 21, 2022 (First post of this travelogue)

Actually I am cheating a bit here.  It is Sunday February 13, 2022. However, I like to bookmark every “trip” for our blog/travelogue.  So here goes {grin}:

I attended what was called a beta test of a new class that NTT is working on.  My role was to offer comments and suggestions on the class.  The class is a new version of our Vibration Analysis class.  I was involved in the old version as a co-instructor.  I have been out of the loop for a couple of years and both the old and new versions have improved significantly.  I would guess that the new version will undergo further changes before it goes “live”.

Currently the class is written to be a two day class.  It appears that it will need to be expanded to a three day class to address all the suggestions from the “peanut gallery”.

It was a ton of fun to be with several of the mechanical group instructors and participate in the process.

That is all for this travelogue.

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Hello from Lincoln, NE (Belated)

Hello from Lincoln, NE (Belated)

Wednesday Evening  – December 8, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

Note 02/13/2022:  there have been several posts that somehow have not been published.  Certainly it could not be a problem with me – right? {big grin}  I think this catches me up.

Well, I am back in Lincoln to teach another class.  I am staying at the Downtown Holiday Inn Express (Google Maps).  This is either a new facility or newly remodeled.  It does not show as a Holiday Inn on the Google Maps.  It is a great facility, but they charge $20 per night valet parking.  It is very close to my teaching location, so that is a bonus.

I have been teaching another two day class (Bearings and Lubrication).  I sort of dread a two day class, as it really takes the better part of 4 days when you consider travel time.  This is the first time I have flown to an NTT assignment in well over a year.  I had a couple of assignments at Boeing in the Seattle area earlier this year, but Pat and I drove to those assignments.

This class went very well.   The folks seemed to engage well and had good input/questions.  I glanced at my “grades” and they seemed to be quite good.  The class has good content (lecture only), but it is too much material for one day but not enough to fill two days.  That could be a problem if the customer thinks they are getting short changed when we finish early.  This customer is very understanding and had no problem with completing the course two hours early.

Tomorrow I fly home.  In spite of Lincoln being the capitol, the airport is very small and does not have much in the way of amenities.  I like to get to the airport early and  have a leisurely breakfast, but it looks like the only food vendor may not be open until one hour before my flight.

That is all for this trip.


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Hello from Evergreen (belated)

Hello from Evergreen

Tuesday December 7 2021 (tenth post of this travelogue)

Note: for some reason this post was not published.  I have marked it as published on 12/7/201

Actually I am cheating a bit as I am back in Lincoln, but that is another post.  This post will serve to summarize our “big” trip.  We drove over 5000 miles and were gone a bit over 5 weeks (September 30-November 7). In general, the trip went very well.  We had almost zero problems.  We averaged about 11 MPG which seemed a bit low to me, but we hit a lot of wind and that just kills the mileage.  The truck was comfortable (ride is a bit stiff on the terrible roads back east) and had good power to deal with most any situation.  The camper did well for us, but the seating is not all that comfortable.  We looked at what they call “theater seating” which is two recliners and a small divider.  Time will tell if we make the change.

We set up a new Dish “mobile” account for the TV.  We could call in at each location and they would change the spot broadcast so that we got local versions of the national channels.  It is a bit pricey, but we only need to pay for those months where we use it.

Now to catch up on Gettysburg and Philadelphia. In Gettysburg we spent a day visiting Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.  The two highlights of this visit were the great movie:  A New Birth of Freedom narrated by Morgan Freeman and the Cyclorama painting of the Civil War.  We spent part of another day taking a bus tour of the National Park.  It was a great adventure.

We were disappointed in our potential visit to Philadelphia.  It turns out that many of the places we wanted to visit were only open certain days (Covid) and were not open when we had a day to tour.  We thought about taking the Hop-on Hop-off bus, but the logistics of finding a parking spot (together with the closed attractions) put a damper on that.  Instead, we just cooled our jets in the great campground.

Pat is working on a report of the cousins reunion and I will publish it when she completes it.

That is all for this trip.


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Hello from Lincoln, NE

Hello from Lincoln, NE

Thursday Evening – November 4, 2021   (ninth post of this travelogue)

Note, for some reason this post did not get uploaded.  I am uploading it on 11/20/21.  There will be at least one more post for this trip.  BTW, we made it home on Saturday 11/6

We are at the Camp A Way campground (Google Maps)

We arrived here Monday which gave me a day of downtime before I started teaching for the University of Nebraska facilities group (Wednesday and Thursday).  This class was our Bearings  and Lubrication class.  I had a project last year to update the manual and slide presentation and this is the first class that has been taught since that project was completed.

It was a major milestone to reach Lincoln “in one piece”.  We have been on the road for over a month and travelled over 3500 miles so far.  We have only had some very minor issues and we hope that continues for our last two segments of the trip.

We were concerned about internet connections on this trip, but with only one exception we were able to connect through either our AT&T cellphones or Verizon MiFi.  We try to avoid campground wifi systems since the security on these systems can be very suspect.

The weather continues to be cool and moist.  The humidity is very high and nothing seems to dry in the camper.  I looked at the weather for the two day trip home and it looks to be pretty good.

The class here in Lincoln went well.  There were 13 students and that is a fairly large class, but manageable since it is “lecture” only.

The Boeing class in PA got off to a rough start.  My contract indicated that I would be teaching one class and Boeing expected me to teach another.  I had prepared for the class noted on my contract (the same class as the one here in Lincoln) and the change in plans caught me by surprise.  Fortunately I had taught the class (two day lubrication class) at Boeing before and had the PowerPoint slides on my computer.  The class worked out pretty well.  Boeing restricts the class size to 4 students due to Covid distance restrictions.  That said there were only two students attending.  They were great students and quite understanding of my frustration caused by the mix up.

I still plan to post “tourist’ type details about our stays in Gettysburg and Clarksboro, but that will happen in another post.

More to come

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Hello from Kellogg, IA

Hello from Kellogg, IA

Sunday Evening – October 31, 2021   (eighth post of this travelogue)

We are at the Kellogg RV Park (Google Maps)

I might normally skip this stop and post at the next stop, but this is a great experience.  I will post two photos of this campground.  The first will be a long shot with the camper in the foreground and the second photo will show the building in the background of the first photo.  You will see that they bill themselves as “Iowa’s Best Burger Café”.  We ordered dinner and I walked over and picked it up.  I had a great burger and Pat had a good tenderloin.  We had malts as well.

A second great part of this stay is that our site is out in the open and we are able to get DISH network via our dome.  That has allowed us to watch the drag races from Las Vegas.  This is the next to last race of the year and is really important from championship points standpoint.

Our drive today was pretty good.  It was short (about 230 miles) and the weather was good except for troublesome wind most of the way.  It alternated between a side wind and a head wind.  I could really feel it while I was driving.  It was also cold – about 50 degrees and very high humidity.

Our 1300 mile thrash across country is about over.   We have a bit less than 230 miles to go to get to Lincoln.  That will put us in Lincoln on Monday and gives me a bit of “downtime” before I teach on Wednesday.

I mentioned in the last post, crawling around in the mud trying to troubleshoot my trailer tail light problem.  I have included a photo of one set of clothes I wiped out in the process {grin}.

More to come.

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Hello from Peoria IL

Hello from Peoria IL

Saturday Evening – October 30, 2021   (seventh post of this travelogue)

We are at the Fondulac Park Carl Spindler Campground in Peoria, Il (Google Maps).

We are on our somewhat frantic push from my Boeing assignment in the Philadelphia area to my next assignment in Lincoln next week.  It is about 1320 miles and we are about 450 miles from Lincoln.

When things calm down a bit, I will document our stays in Gettysburg and Clarksboro.  However, I thought I would make a few observations about the last few days.

We left Clarksboro and made stops in Washington, PA and Richmond, IN.  Today we made the drive from Richmond to Peoria.  Each leg was about 300 miles.

The weather has not been kind to us.  First, there was a “Nor’easter” this week that caused a great deal of flooding  in the NJ and PA areas,  We got quite a bit of rain but did not get the brunt of the big storm.  The past three days we have been driving in some pretty bad rain.  Now that we are in Peoria, it is pretty decent.  That said, the campground is partly flooded and a couple of the campgrounds we called were closed due to flooding.

Yesterday we went through four states: PA WV, OH and finally IN.  Seemed like forever in the rain, but we made it without issues.

I have been battling a problem with the turn signals on the trailer since we left Clarksboro.  I traced it down to a problem with the truck.  I have spent quite a few hours under the truck in the rain.  Got soaking wet and last night I slipped in the “greasy” mud and did a couple of great headers – one in front of Pat {grin}.  At three AM this morning I woke up thinking about the problem. I thought surely they would not have the trailer turn signal lights on individual fuses.  Well, of course, some far out engineer outdid himself and did just that.  All the work under the truck and wiping out a couple of sets of clothes, and it was a simple fuse that took a couple of minutes to change.

Yesterday we were in Richmond and made a stop at Camping World to get some parts for the tail light problem.  On the way to the campground (near Camping World), a semi went off the road and destroyed a power pole.  No big deal, except the wire dropped on the truck and camper.  It did not get tangled up in our unit.  I think it was a communication cable, but it sure got our attention.

More to  come.

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Hello from Clarksboro, NJ

Hello from Clarksboro, NJ

Draft started Sunday Evening – October 24, 2021   (sixth post of this travelogue)

Posted 10/29/2021

We are at the Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA Holiday campground (Google Maps)

I started this post, but did not get a chance to finish it.  Life has been hectic and now we are on the road heading towards Lincoln for my next NTT assignment.

This post will mainly document where we stayed while I taught at Boeing.  As time permits, I will add some discussion about our tours in Gettysburg and a bit about our stay in NJ.

More to come

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Hello from Gettysburg, PA

Hello from Gettysburg, PA

Friday evening– October 22, 2021   (fifth post of this travelogue)

We are at the Artillery Ridge Campground (Google Maps)

Tuesday we had a laid back day and only drove around the huge campground.  The property is about 5 miles long and has been in the family since 1957.  They opened it to the public in 1960.   It has two large lakes and several camp areas, most of which are dry camping/tent sites.  It turned out to be a great campground.  By Wednesday were the only campers in the facility.  I suspect that it gets rather crowded on the weekend.  They have jeeps, horses, and canoes for rent.  There is even a sand beach on the lake.

Wednesday we toured the Shenandoah National Park.  We entered from the north.  Our first stop was the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, where we got to experience a great ranger presentation that focused on how the early settlers farmed and preserved their food.  We then continued along Skyline drive to Skyland Rustic Resort where we had a great lunch.  Skyline drive is very much like the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is a very twisty road with beautiful views of the valleys far below.

The mountains in this area are quite different from those in Colorado.  They do not have the same elevation raise, but we saw a sign showing an elevation of over 6500 feet.

Yesterday we drove a relatively short distance to Gettysburg (about 100 miles).

This will be at least our third visit to Gettysburg.  The first was in 1980 in our VW bus with all the girls.  Lisa even commented that she remembers being here.  It was a wonderful visit.  At the time they had cassette tapes you could play in your car radio.  It told you where to drive on a map and then gave you a narrative about the battle at that location. Our tour was close to a great sunset and the sights were so impressive. Attached is a fun photo of that VW.

If you scan out a bit on the Google Map, you will see that we are less than a mile from the battlefields.  This campground would fall into the “OK” category.  That said, because of the location we had to pay $79 last night and $99 tonight!  As has been the case in most locations on this trip, it is not easy to find a camp spot – especially on the weekend.

We are still working on getting the trailer modified to make it more suitable to the way we are used to camping/traveling.  We are not able to “boon dock” which would really make our travels a bit easier when we are going cross country.  It is so convenient to pull into a Wal Mart and spend the night without having to set up the trailer.  I have installed an inverter to supply 120V power off the batteries, but the wiring is not completed.  Also, the water supply tank is pretty small.  I will add a second tank over the winter.  Staying in campgrounds is not all bad – except for the cost and the resources needed to find one.  Not worrying about power and water (and to a degree sewer every so often) is pretty nice.

More to come

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