Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hello from Grand Junction, CO

Hello from Grand Junction, CO.

Wednesday morning July 20, 2011 (third travelogue of this trip).

Monday, we went to my favorite breakfast restaurant (Lambs Grill) and had breakfast. We then went to the Mormon Family Library and worked with the wonderful folks who really seem to want to help you with learning more about your family genealogy. At noon, I went over to the Mormon Tabernacle building to hear a wonderful organ recital.

The Tabernacle building architecture (something like a fancy huge quonset hut with rounded ends) looks very much out of place in Temple Square, but the organist demonstrated why - the acoustics are absolutely fantastic. He dropped a pin on a wood block and you could hear it all over the building. The organ is unbelievable. It was originally built in the 1860s by Joseph H. Ridges. It has been updated several times, the largest of which was done in 1948 under the direction of G. Donald Harrison. It has 206 ranks, 11,623 pipes and is organized into 8 divisions played from a five-manual console. Needless to say, the recital was amazing.

After lunch, Pat went back to the library and I did some work in the room. Pat did not make huge headway in her quest to explore our family genealogy, but she did learn about more resources. I suspect she will return to the library in the future.

Yesterday we drove to Grand Junction. Our original plan was to make our typical stop in Green River, UT. However, that stop is quite a bit short of the half way mark and we wanted to get closer to home. We booked a room at the Hampton Inn, but they upgraded us to the Marriott Springhill Suites (same owner). The room is very unique but well done. The hotel is brand new and the folks seem quite friendly. The hotel is on Main street which has undergone a huge reconstruction. There are many sidewalk cafes and great local restaurants. We went to the Rockslide Restaurant and Brewery and had a great meal (ribs) which was neat since we were celebrating my birthday.

We had a lot of fun strolling by the sidewalk cafes. They had a lot of people enjoying their leisurely dinner. However, just as we got to the room, a huge rainstorm (more like a monsoon) hit with almost no warning. We had to wonder what all of the happy diners did

That is all for this trip.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hello Again from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Hello Again from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sunday evening July 17, 2011 (second travelogue of this trip).

The Stampin' Up! Convention concluded Saturday, late afternoon. Pat tells me that there were 3,300 attendees. That is up a bit from last year but down from several years ago where they had to divide the convention into two sessions and around 7,000 demonstrators attended. They, like everyone else, are suffering from a “soft” economy. There is no doubt in our minds that they will thrive when the economy improves.

I have been able to find a wonderful local restaurant for breakfast – Lamb's Cafe. The food is great and reasonable and the coffee is the best I have tasted in a restaurant. In the evenings I have been going to a pub with a sidewalk seating area. The draft beer is local (several varieties) and the sandwiches are great (take half back to room for lunch the next day).

I have been amazed at the number of local beers available. Somehow I pictured Utah as being mostly Mormon and anti drinking. Sure not the case. The beers run the gamut from very light to dark stouts. The ones I sampled were great.

I have been doing quite a bit of catching up on computer work during the day. Still way behind on some reading projects, but I will probably never catch up on those. The Marriott charges $12.95 per day for Internet access, so our air card is really paying for itself.

On Friday I drove about 40 miles north to the town of Hooper to visit a good friend of mine. Kent is another bus nut and a really great guy. He is really struggling with cancer and I worry about him all the time. He seemed to be doing reasonably well and continues to plan for the future – including several big bus projects. We had a ton of fun talking about all kinds of things and then went to two car shows in Ogden. We then went to a local hamburger stand that is famous in the area. Great burgers.

We are staying over a couple of days so that Pat can spend a day at the Mormon Family History Library. She has said several times that she wanted to spend a day there to see what resources are available. As was noted in a comment to our last post, the reputation of this resource is extremely good. Pat has been working on our family genealogy for the past few years and hopes that she can get some new information to expand her work.

We did not have anything scheduled today, so we just relaxed. Pat is absolutely worn out from all the activity and it was fun for me to cool my jets as well. Still got some work done, but at a more relaxed pace. My new fire detection system project is really consuming a lot of time right now. I sure hope it is worth all the work. The system performs very well and the total system is far superior to anything on the market, but it will be more costly. The person we are developing the system for seems to have good contacts.

I tried to attend the practice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Thursday night. The information in Temple Square says they practice most Thursday evenings, but not this past Thursday. I then went to hear the organ recital on Saturday. I could not tell if it was a normal recital or not, but I was a few minutes late and they had locked the doors. I should be able to attend one tomorrow and I will be on time {grin}.

That is all for now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hello from Salt Lake City Utah.

Hello from Salt Lake City Utah.

Thursday afternoon July 14, 2011 (first travelogue of this trip).

Before we get started on documenting this trip, I want to mention that I have not given up on adding more details and photos for our family vacation in Dillon, CO. We had a blast and I want to tell the readers a bit more about our great time. Maybe next week.

We are in Salt Lake City for a Stampin' Up! Convention. Pat attends each year. I have accompanied her twice. The last time was in 2009 (documented here). We are again at the Marriott Downtown (map).

As was the case last time, we have a corner room that overlooks the continuing construction of the huge reconstruction of downtown Salt Lake (details here). Most of the huge cranes are gone, but the construction continues. I am still able to do a little “sidewalk supervision”.

We left Denver about noon on Sunday (7/10) with the intention of taking a leisurely, scenic drive in the PT Cruiser. We chose to take US 40 through Colorado and Utah. We enjoy this route as an alternative to the interstate. We stayed the first night in Craig, CO at the Hampton Inn. It was a great experience as the room was very nice and the employees were quite friendly. They even gave us a tip about a great Mexican food restaurant.

Our next stop was Park City. We had decided to try the Hampton Inn again, but it was booked. We decided to fall back on our “normal” choice: Holiday Inn Express. It was your typical Holiday Inn experience which is just kind of OK.

The drive from Park City to the Marriott is about an hour, so we did not leave Park City very early. As usual, Pat was a bit behind in getting her swapping cards read for the convention, so she worked on them at each of the motels.

Swapping cards is quite a tradition at these conventions. Most attendees prepare between 100 and 200 cards and then trade them with other demonstrators. It really gives them a large base of ideas for cards they can prepare for their workshops.

Pat qualified for the VIP level at the convention. That gives her access to a large room in the Salt Palace Convention Center where she can relax (yeah, right). It also qualified both Pat and I for a special tour of the Stampin' Up! headquarters and distribution headquarters. It is a huge, beautiful new facility that Stampin' Up! paid cash for. The distribution facility is huge and extremely well equipped. At the time of our tour, they were filling two large UPS trailers for the day's shipment. We were transported both ways in beautiful Prevost Buses (for the readers with buses, that is our bus content).

Pat is on the go from basically sun-up to sun-down. There are tons of activities and, of course, meeting new and old friends. While she is attending the activities, I am trying to catch up on a bunch of work/projects. I have also been taking long walks and viewing the amazing Temple Square which is just a block from the hotel. On the walks, I was able to scout out a great historical, local restaurant for breakfast, and a pub with sidewalk tables and a huge variety of beers and good sandwiches for dinner.

That is all for this post.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hello from the Oakland Airport.

Hello from the Oakland Airport.

Thursday Evening July 7, 2011 (first travelogue of this trip).

First of all, these next few posts will be a bit confusing. I did the first post from Dillon for the family vacation and was too busy to do any further posts. I will catch up on those posts – hopefully next week.

On Tuesday 7/5 we left the campground early and drove home so that I could get ready to fly out that night. Some of you who know me, know that I always try to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours early and usually 2.5 hours. Well, as I headed down the mountain, I hear that I-70 was closed due to an accident. It was in an area where there is almost no alternatives. The sad story is that I missed my 6:45 flight and had to take a 9:45 flight.

I got to Oakland about 11:00 PM and rented a car. I had loaded my destination (The Marriott in Walnut Creek) into my Hand held GPS. Only problem, was that there was a lot of construction at my first exit (big work lights that blind you and an exit you can't see). I ended up taking the Bay Bridge to the island in the middle. There, the construction had closed my entrance back on the bridge going the other way. It took me a bunch of time to get back on track and I arrived at the hotel at 1:30. Had to get up at 5:45 so that I could get to my appointment.

This trip was to present our new fire detection and suppression system to a very large potential end user. We did all of the preparation work at the suppression vendor's shop and that worked well, as their shop was well equipped..

The project has grown in complexity by a factor of at least two – depending on how you categorize the project changes, the factor is really more like three. I had spent a great deal of time during our family vacation to make a detailed display and test all of the new components.

The preliminary testing yesterday went exactly according to our design. Today the customers came to the shop for our presentation and then we traveled to their location to do an simulated installation on one of their large pieces of industrial equipment. Again, the system functioned flawlessly.

The project is a huge technical success and I think the customer was very impressed.

Unfortunately, the team dynamics are a real mess and I am very frustrated. These issues are not new. I would love to detail a few of the issues, but that would not be very professional.

I can only hope that I can find a way to continue working on the project.

That is all for this trip