Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hello from Dillon, CO

Hello from Dillon, CO

Saturday Afternoon   June 30, 2012   (First travelogue of this trip).

We are the Heaton Bay Campground (map).  This campground is located between Dillon and Frisco on the shores of Dillon Reservoir.   We are having our annual family vacation.  This year is special in that we have our extended family ('81/'82 German exchange daughter and her family). 

Irina and Matthias and their three year old son Viktor flew to Denver on Thursday 6/21.  We met them at the airport and had a quick reunion before taking them to their hotel.  The next day we met them at the Cruise America RV rental facility so that they could rent a 25 foot motorhome.  They have been camping at a few locations before joining us here on Thursday.  We will be here until 7/5.  After they leave here, they will be doing some additional camping in the Crested Butte/Taylor Reservoir area.

We have kept in close contact with Irina and her family over the years.  We have been fortunate to have all of her family visit us.  Irina has made several return visits.  Pat and I have also visited Irina several times.  In 2004 Irina and Matthias joined our family vacation in Ouray, CO.  On the way, Matthias proposed to Irina on Monarch Pass!!!!  In 2005 we traveled to Karlsrhue, Germany to attend their wedding (Kelly, Damon and Madison also got to attend the wedding).

We arrived here Thursday afternoon (6/28).  Kelly, Lisa and Irina and their families will be here the full time and Judy and family will be here part of the time.

This campground was decimated by the pine bark beetle a few years ago, but it is showing signs of new growth.  It is surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides.  The campground is at about 9100 feet, so the days are much cooler than the terribly hot weather in Denver and the evenings are chilly (lower 40s).  I have attached a photo of the bus in the campground.  The photo does not do justice to beautiful mountains in the background.

Bus at Heaton Bay Campground

So far, we have mostly been relaxing and having fun with the kids and grandkids.

That is all for now.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hello from Pueblo, CO

Hello from Pueblo, CO

Monday  morning  June 4, 2012   (Fourth travelogue of this trip).

The last post had us in Brush Colorado headed to Pueblo down CO 71.  That was an interesting two lane road.  Parts of it were picturesque rolling farm land and parts were pretty barren.  The road itself was a mixed bag.  It was easy to drive, but quite rough in a few segments.  Never-the-less, it saved us driving through the middle of Denver and Colorado Springs. 

We stopped at the Wal Mart in Pueblo to pick up some supplies and it was not a fun experience.  We took the main entrance and there were cars going ever which way.  When we tried to get to the open areas of parking, we could not get pass a couple of vehicles and we partly blocked traffic for several minutes.   Fortunately the owner on one vehicle came back and moved his vehicle and that allowed us to get out of the traffic.  If the driver had not returned to his car, we would have had to unhook the “toad”.  That would have been a huge deal with the tow dolly and a car with a dead battery (you have to leave the key in the accessory position and that takes a toll on the battery).  While Pat did the shopping, I walked the area and found a very easy exit route.  As they say, “we got the heck out of Dodge”.

We arrived at the track late afternoon and parked close to the dragstrip return road (map).  If you zoom in on the map, you can see the dragstrip and road race course.  That proved interesting, since they had a Friday night drag event.  We got to see a lot of neat cars and I got to walk the pits to “rubber neck”.  When we went to bed, we were concerned that the cars going down the return road would keep us awake, but we went to sleep quite quickly.

Saturday and Sunday I worked as a  volunteer “corner worker” on corner 9.  That is a fairly “active” corner with several people overshooting the corner.  There were two of us at the corner and we were kept pretty busy displaying the yellow flag.  Sunday they seemed to have a better handle on the corner.  We did have a car drop a bunch of oil on the track going into our corner.  That got interesting.  I was displaying the debris flag and telling the cars how to avoid the trail of oil.  I watched a car ignore my direction then quickly spin right at the apex of the our corner {grin}.

Being a corner worker is a mixed bag.  You are right on the track and get to observe some neat racing, but you are on your feet eight hours a day.  I used my scanner, with headphones, to monitor the control frequency, so I was quite informed about the race and the "inside" information.  Saturday, we had terrible dust storms and a bit of rain.  Sunday was hot (91 degrees).  They really treat the volunteer workers very well.  We wear all white and the racers go out of their way to thank us.   We get to go to the head of the line for a free lunch, and the special Saturday night barbeque  (catered by Bennetts Barbeque).

I have attended races here before, but this is my favorite event.  It is the Trans-Am Invitational which brings out both the neat vintage cars, as well as the “big-bore” cars which include Corvettes, Mustangs, Can-Am, etc.  In addition there are “exhibition”  vehicles.  At this race, there were older Indy Cars and some very high performance Porsches.  A typical lap time for a fast vintage car (such as a BMW 2002) is about 1:45 (one minute fourty five seconds), the Indy cars were doing it in 1:34 and a very fast, modern Porsche did a 1:31 lap. 

While I was working the corner, Pat “holed up” in the bus and had a great time.  She got some Stampin' Up!  work done, did some reading, and caught up on recorded TV shows.  Unfortunately, reading is a bit of a problem for her right now.  We had hoped that her new glasses that had been prescribed for her cataract surgery would really improve her vision.  It has not, and she is having a hard time reading.  We have a doctor appointment this afternoon to see what is going on.

Now lets talk about our Internet connection while we are on the road.  We have discontinued our HughesNet satellite service – both at home and on the bus.  The satellite speed has degraded quite significantly over the past few years.  At times it was slower than a good dial up connection.  At home we use Comcast cable and it really is very fast.  About a year ago we got a Verizon air card as a backup to the satellite and for when we travel without the bus.  We also reasoned that we could use the air card in place of the satellite in the bus, and also use other wifi networks at times (like our relatives in Iowa).  We also have internet via our iPhones as well.  We understand that their will be situations where we do not have cell signal, but we will have to face that problem when it occurs.

Recently we upgraded the air card to a Verizon 4G LTE unit.  It turns out that creates all kinds of problems, many of which are Verizon based.  That is strange, since the card is a Verizon branded product.  It turns out that the major issue is that the software has a hard time dealing with a 4G modem when only 2G or 3G is available.

I spent several hours over a few days trying to get things sorted out so that we can get online.  First I tried to connect the air card directly via our computer and that resulted in huge problems that are well documented on the Internet.  I finally gave up and started working on getting the air card connected to our Cradlepoint router.  In order to do that, I needed to update the firmware for both the router and the interface with the air card.  That is fun to do when you have to download the firmware with a very sporadic connection.  In any case, I finally got the connection working and we have networked access to our email and the Internet, albeit a bit slow at times.

Now, back to this trip.  Yesterday was our shortest drive that we can recall – about 500 yards {grin}.  It turns out that we had to vacate the track area so they could lock it up Sunday night and I did not want to drive back to Evergreen last night.  I had checked with the track folks and they said we could park just outside the locked gates.  Worked out very well. 

In a few minutes we will head home.

That is all now for this trip.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hello from Brush, CO

Hello from Brush, CO

Friday morning  June 1, 2012   (Third travelogue of this trip).

We are at the Shell truck stop in Brush Colorado (map).  Wednesday night we stayed at another Shell truck stop in York Nebraska. 

It is impossible to detail all of the activity that took place in Iowa.  Pat's brother Jeff and his wife Julie were there for a few days as was our daughter Lisa and her family.  We all went to the auction on Sunday (5/27) and had a great time.  Monday night we had a mini-family reunion at Pat's cousin's (Danny and Terri) house.  It was great weather for the picnic and we really got a chance to visit with some relatives that we don't get to spend as much time as we would like.

Saturday night we went out to eat at a favorite restaurant – Pizza Ranch in Creston.  After dinner we toured Creston to see the huge amount of damage that a tornado caused a few weeks ago.  The hospital and college had major damage and many houses, apartment buildings and businesses were extensively damaged.  Many will have to be torn down.

Pat and Jeanne did quite a few family things while Bill and I did some farming.  For two days I ran the hay baler.  This baler produces the 6 foot round (1600-1800 pound) bales.  During the two days, I made over 60 bales!  This part of Iowa is quite hilly and a couple of the bales rolled down the hills or followed me as I tried to close the rear door and start back on the windrow.  I think I took about 10 years off of Bill's life, but he did not yell at me {grin}.  We also did some other repair work.  Kind of felt like a real farmer (yeah, right). 

As usual, the meals were fantastic.  We ate out a couple of times, but most of the meals were home cooking with great Iowa pork and beef.  Lisa's husband Dan even introduced the Iowa folks to his great green chili.

Wednesday we reluctantly left Iowa and headed towards Colorado.  We had planned a three day drive to Pueblo.  We ran into some pretty good rain after we left Prescott and decided to cut the day a bit short and stop in York Nebraska.  Yesterday we drove a bit over 350 miles and ended here in Brush. 

From here we will take Colorado 71 south almost all the way to Pueblo.   It will probably not be the best highway, but we will avoid all of the traffic on I 25 through Denver and Colorado Springs.  Besides, we like to get off the interstate highways once in a while.

We are heading to Pueblo so that I can serve as a volunteer at a major vintage car event      ( ).  I used to attend these races with a good friend and really missed the events.  I decided to volunteer as a “corner worker”.  In preparation I attended a two day “Crash and Burn” training class in March and did some training at a drivers training class at Pikes Peak International Raceway in April.  I really enjoy this kind of racing and being a corner worker puts you right in the middle of the activity.  I listen to the race control radio channel with my scanner and that really adds to the experience.  Besides, they desperately need volunteers.

That is all for now.