Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hello from Douglas, WY

Sunday evening August 23, 2009 (First travelogue of this trip)

We are here in Douglas to do an installation of one of my systems plus an installation of a SilverLeaf “Glass Dash”. The Glass Dash is a full dash replacement that costs $10, 000. It basically works like a modern aircraft display with very vivid digital/analog gages, several camera channels, and lots of coach information. I will be assisting and training with a SilverLeaf engineer who is flying in later this week.

During the week, we will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express (map). Obviously we do not have the bus running and will probably not have it running for at least another month.

We left Evergreen Saturday morning and arrived here about 3:00 PM We made a stop at the Cheyenne Cemetery (map) where my mother's relatives are buried. If you zoom in on the map, the point of the arrow is at the graves of my grandparents and four of my aunts/uncles. We visited that cometary in early July with my cousin and his wife. That was quite an experience, since I had not seen my cousin since the early '60s. It was a ton of fun catching up on old times and getting some information for Pat's genealogy efforts. When we visited the cemetery in July, I had forgotten to bring the battery for the camera, so we wanted to take the pictures on this trip.

When we were in Cheyenne in July, we stopped by the beautiful new city library. They have a great genealogy department. We had also wanted to take a picture of my grandmother's home, but it turned out it was torn down for the library construction and the location was almost exactly where the genealogy department was located!

Now, back to this trip. We drove the service truck (see attached picture). We had not intended for this truck to be a “touring” vehicle. Indeed, it is not the best highway vehicle. It has a very thirsty V10 engine (10 MPG). The engine makes the truck very peppy, considering the weight. It has four wheel drive and a five speed manual transmission. It is a fairly basic truck (did not want anything fancy). Because it was basic, it did not have cruise control and I have leg pain issues if I can't move around. I did a quick install of an after-market unit and it works like a champ. Made the drive almost pain free. I really like the Dodge suspension on this truck. We have oversize tires with rather high tire pressure, yet the ride is not all that bad.

Today I started the installation. This part is not fun as it involves working under the coach running the wires and tubing for the system. In this case, it was really difficult, as we could not get the coach very high and the surface was loose dirt and lots of sharp gravel rocks. The underside of these coaches are constructed such that it is very difficult to run the conduit in which the tubing and wires are run. At least the worst part is done.

It usually takes three days to do an install and I am probably going to have to hustle to get it done in the time alloted. The SilverLeaf install is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. We hope to head home on Friday.

That is all for now.

Our service truck at the Holiday Inn Express in Douglas, WY

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Wednesday evening August 12, 2009 (Second travelogue of this trip)

Well, we are home after a relatively short trip (for us). Saturday was the last day of Pat's Convention. I drove to Bonneville (a bit over 100 miles) for the first day of “Speed Week”. It has been about 5 years since I have been able to go and I have really missed it. This, to me, is “old time” racing where huge budgets and high dollar sponsors are almost non-existent. Don't get me wrong, the racers put a lot of money in their cars, but most do the majority of their own work. There is a huge variety of classes/cars/motorcycles and fascinating “backyard” engineering. When I say backyard I say it with a huge amount of respect.

I forgot to mention that after I went to the salvage yard, I spent the afternoon with a good friend. Kent is the one who found the engine for me and has been extremely helpful on many of my projects. We went to dinner with his wife and just had a great time.

Sunday we moved from the Marriott to the Airport Inn. That location was about 40% of the cost of the Marriott. It was not as fancy but still acceptable.

After we left the Marriott, we drove to Wendover where Pat could spend some time in the casino while I returned to the salt. We then had a great buffet dinner at the Rainbow Casino and then returned to Salt Lake City.

We later learned that a racer was killed in a crash Sunday after I left the track ( I am very disturbed by the fact we lost a race car driver, but even more so, because it appears that that racing community sort of buries the fact that there was a racing related death. I posted on one of the Bonneville boards after not seeing any report and was basically told that the salt racers choose not to publicly discuss the issue. Really sad!

Monday I returned to the salt and Pat relaxed in the room. As with the previous days on the salt, I enjoyed every minute. It was interesting to note that nothing was mentioned on the public radio broadcast at the track about the accident.

Tuesday we started our trip home. We stopped again at Green River, UT and then today we drove the rest of the way home.

We continue to realized how much we miss our bus. It looks like we might have two more trips before we get the bus back on the road. Both are to do system installations, and we will be driving the service truck. It is not really a good highway “cruiser”, so the trips will be arduous.

That is all for this trip.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hello from Salt Lake City, UT

Hello from Salt Lake City, UT

Friday morning August 7, 2009 (First travelogue of this trip)

We are staying at the Marriott Downtown (map). We are here for Pat's Stampin' Up! convention. There are often 7000 demonstrators at the convention, but this year we think it is down considerably.

We left Evergreen on Monday and stopped in Green River, UT. We chose that as a stop, since my folks used to stop there when we traveled west and Pat and I have stopped there several times. We stayed in the Best Wester, which overlooks the Green River and ate at the adjoining Tamarisk restaurant. We have enjoyed that restaurant many times because of the view and the reasonably good food. The name of the restaurant is interesting. In Colorado (and many other places) it is considered a terrible invasive plant that uses huge amount of precious water.

We have a corner room at the Marriott and one window looks east onto a huge (and I do mean HUGE) construction project. The project is describe at: I can see 6 huge cranes directly to the east and on the north side, there are several more. The project spans several city blocks. And this is just the first stage. The project that we can see is City Creek Center: I talked to a friend and he made the observation that the project was the vision of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). This is their founding location and is the center of all church activity. Apparently the area was “decaying” and they wanted to make sure that the project resulted in a highly desirable location to live/work/worship/visit.

If you have been following our blog, you know that the engine in our bus needs to be rebuilt or replaced. A good friend told me about an engine at a truck salvage yard in Ogden (just north of here). I did some research on the engine and it looks like a good value, since it has been rebuilt recently. Wednesday I went up and put my computer on the engine ECM and read out all of the pertinent data. The engine appears to be what the salvage yard claimed. I ran the engine, but it is almost impossible to tell much since you can't put a load on it. Long story short, I bought the engine and will have it shipped to Denver.

Wednesday was a big day for Pat (lots of activities). I tried to do some catching up on various business (and some fun) activities. Of course, I had to spend some time being a “sidewalk superintendent”. I am having a ball watching all the construction activities from our 11th floor window and from the street level as well.

That is all for this post.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just a quick note on a couple of items:

1) I updated the previous post with a picture on my grandmother's (and her parent's) house in Greenville, OH. It was very hard to imagine walking in the house my grandmother grew up in!

2) I have added an option to become an email subscriber to our blog. My posting frequency is quite variable, and if you sign up for the email version, you will know when we post. You will get the post in an email a day or two after I post it.

We will start our next travelogue in a few days.