Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hello from Hatch, Utah

Hello from Hatch, Utah

Wednesday evening August 28,  2013   (Sixth travelogue of this trip).

I am including a couple of additional pictures from the front porch of our cabin in Zion.  The first one is another view of the cliffs on opposite side of the ones in the photo from yesterday.  This photo was taken in the morning sun today.  The other photo is of the mule deer that were grazing just outside our cabin.  If you look closely, one still has spots.

Another View From Our Front Porch in Zion

Deere Just Outside Our Cabin in Zion

I have never had a “bucket list” of places to visit.  Indeed, I (and Pat) have been able to visit some of the most beautiful places on this amazing planet.  That said, if I had a list, Zion would be on it.  I simply don't have the skills to describe the beauty of this National Park.  It is huge and every turn of the road yields another “Kodak Moment”.  This is one place that I wish I had a much better camera.

Today we drove through the rest of the park including the huge tunnel with windows cut into the side of the mountain.  We got a bit of a late start and did not want to short our visit to Bryce.  Thus we decided to try to find a place to stay in this rather sparsely populated part of Utah.  We finally settled on this small motel in Hatch (see photo).  It is not much to write home about, but it will serve the purpose.  The motel is part of a complex of businesses and is called Hatch Station (map).

Our Motel In Hatch, UT

There have been several miscellaneous observations/comments that I have wanted to discuss:

Weather:  We have had quite a variation of weather.  Bonneville was the typical 90+ degrees, but very dry.  When I taught in Las Vegas, it was very hot.  When I would get in the car, in the late afternoon, the car outside thermometer read anywhere from 108 to 111 (the “official” LV temperature was often reported a bit less).  Seattle was very comfortable (high 70s – low 80s).  It is interesting to note that the several times that I have been there in the past couple of months, it has not rained and the weather has been great.  The locals are quick to point out that they do not have a “rain forest” type of climate.  When we returned to Las Vegas it was very comfortable and rainy.  Indeed it flooded in parts of town the day that we got there.  Mesquite was also rainy and in the high 70s to low 80s.  Zion was comfortable (didn't pay attention to the actual temperature).  It is also comfortable in Hatch.

Speaking of rain, the Zion area had four days of heavy rain before we got there.  The were many places where mud and sand was washed onto the road in very large quantities (needed large equipment to clear the roads).

Rooms: we have stayed in just about every kind of motel/hotel room you can imagine.  We payed over $110 for a Holiday Inn Express in Craig, CO that only had one hard chair in it.  I had to sit on the luggage to work on the computer.  As I noted, the room in Mesquite was very plain.  Our cabin in Zion was also pretty basic and did not include a TV (in that setting who needs TV?).  This room is also very basic, but acceptable.  Some of the rooms were pretty old. A few had carpets that were stained, but we “think” that they were all clean.  These rooms sure make us wish that this trip was being made in our bus {grin}.

Space Needle history:
  Both the Space Needle (link) and the Pacific Science Museum (link) structures were built as a part of the 1962 World's Fair.  The city had considered tearing both down after the fair.  We visited both and are thankful that they have been preserved.

That is all for now.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hello from Zion National Park, Utah

Hello from Zion National Park, Utah

Tuesday evening August 27,  2013   (Fifth travelogue of this trip).

Today, we toured Zion National Park and tonight we are staying at the Zion Lodge in the Park (map)

In researching the area, we ran across a great guide on touring the area by car (link).  We have some very good friends who full time in their bus and they really explore the areas they travel to and we live vicariously through their email “blog”.  Today we felt like we would make them proud with our explorations (are you listening Stevi and Ed?).  We will detail those travels in our next blog.

Our main reason for this post is to show you our cabin at the Zion Lodge.

Our Cabin at Zion Lodge

View From Our Front Porch

Tonight we sat on the porch and saw a deer wander by within 20 feet and two small foxes scamper through the parking lot in front of the cabin.  We met one of the workers here who really studies each place he works.  He said the main lodge burned down many years ago, but our cabin, and the ones surrounding it, were the original ones built sometime between 1927 and 1929.  The feeling of being surrounded by the shear walls of the various kinds of rock and all of the beauty is beyond description.  Indeed, the photos we have taken don't begin to capture the beauty.

It is getting late, and my pea brain has gone into overload trying to convey how neat this place is.

That is all for now.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hello from Mesquite, NV

Hello from Mesquite, NV

Monday evening August 26,  2013   (Fourth travelogue of this trip).

Sunday we flew from Seattle to Las Vegas.  We had booked a one stop flight in an effort to keep the cost down.  It turned out to be pretty smooth.  The stop was in Sacramento and we did not have to change planes.

After landing in Las Vegas we drove to Hoover Dam so that we could see the new Hover Dam bypass bridge.  From Wikipedia:  The bridge was the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States, and it incorporates the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. At 840 feet above the Colorado River, it is the second-highest bridge in the United States, following the Royal Gorge Bridge. It is also the world's highest concrete arch bridge.

From an engineering standpoint, it is awesome!  There are a large number of websites that document the building process that almost defies description.  The first one that I chose is (here).  This sites show several photos taken during the construction.  Pay particular attention to the huge towers that were constructed to support the cables for fabricating the two halves of the arch.  After the arch was finished, the towers and cables were removed.  The second site I have chosen is (here).  This site is quite technical, but has some great detail drawings of the bridge.

We then drove north to Mesquite and are currently at the Virgin River Casino(map).  We had seen advertising for this casino that said the rooms were $30 with one free breakfast.  We did a search for reviews and most said it was a good value and clean.  The rooms are what you would expect out of a 60-70s Motel 6.  Pat has really enjoyed the casino.  The buffet is $11.99 and is among the best we have found.  Our breakfast this morning was fantastic.  The non-free meal was a huge ham steak and eggs for $3.99.  All in all a pretty good place to relax for a couple of days.

I say that we are relaxing and that is partly true for me.  I spent a good part of the day catching up on paperwork for NTT and some other projects.

That is all for now.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hello from Kent, WA

Hello from Kent, WA

Saturday evening August 24,  2013   (Third travelogue of this trip).

Wow, a lot has gone on since I last posted.  As I noted, I taught two different sessions of what we call Shaft Alignment at the Waste Water treatment plant in Las Vegas.  By Friday night, my butt was dragging and I could not figure out why.  Then it dawned on me that I taught three 10 hour days (plus 4 hours on Monday and Friday).  When I teach, I am basically on my feet the whole time and moving around a lot.  Those long days got to me.  That said, I somehow survived {grin}. 

Saturday we flew to Seattle.  We are staying at the Holiday Inn in Kent (map).  I taught a class called Ball Screw (a very critical part of large machining equipment) on the swing shift Monday-Wednesday.  As was the case with Las Vegas, the “off-shift” hours (2:30 – 11:00) messed with my sleep pattern.

For the past three days we have been doing some really neat “tourist” things.  We bought a book of tickets (“City Pass”) that covers the cost of the major tourist attractions and saves a significant amount of money over the individual costs. 

Thursday we drove out to Mt. Rainier National Park.  Once we got into the park, the road was lined with huge pine trees.  At least one tree in the park is said to be 25 feet in circumference.  We were a bit disappointed that the majestic mountain was shrouded a bit by clouds.  The mountain is an active volcano that raises 14,410 feet above sea level.  Unlike our mountains, Mt Rainier's base is close to sea level.  This was a fun 200 mile drive.

Friday we toured the The Museum of Flight (link).  On the tour, we got to go inside the first Presidential Jet (a Boeing 707 labeled “Air Force One” when the president was on board) and a Concord supersonic passenger jet.  The Space Shuttle training craft was also on display and we got to walk inside the bay.  We also saw a 3D movie about fighter jet training at Nellis AFB.  The aircraft and spacecraft collections were amazing.  One of the best displays were the toilets that were used in the Space Shuttle and a Russian space craft.  The display had videos of the astronauts telling how the systems worked. 

We then drove downtown and rode to the top of the Space Needle and then took an Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour. 

After the harbor tour, we had a very unique seafood dinner at the Crab Pot on the wharf.  As you can see in the photo, they bring a big stainless steel bowl of various mussels, shrimp, crab, corn on the cob and boiled potatoes.  They “dump” them on butcher paper and you dig in, putting the shells in the same bowl that they set on the floor.  They also give you a block of wood and a wooden hammer to crack the crab legs.  Delicious!

Dinner at the Crab Pot

Today we toured the Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Aquarium.  The Pacific Science Center was a great visit.  It is aimed at kids with tons of interactive displays of all kinds.  The highlight of this stop was the Imax movie:  Hubble 3D.  This Imax theater is the latest technology and the movie had a very large amount of footage from the Space Shuttle during several repair missions.  Then we went to a really neat laser show that had fantastic laser “art” set to various kinds of music.  It was almost like a fireworks display at times.  The Seattle Aquarium is on the wharf and has a large number of aquariums with a vast number of different and colorful fish, sea otters and seals. 

All of our stops the past three days was fantastic. 

Tomorrow we fly back to Las Vegas and start our slow, sightseeing, journey home.

That is all for now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Monday evening August 12,  2013   (Second travelogue of this trip).

Saturday, I drove to Bonneville for one day of the 2013 Speed Week event.  I have attended several  Bonneville Speed Week events, beginning about 1990.  It is an amazing, unique event.  You see race cars of every shape, size and description.  The Bonneville Salt Flats and the surround area is awesome   and very picturesque.  The photo below shows the low level mountains in the background and a typical pit scene.  You will note all the old style cars.  There is always a large number of old style “hot rods” - many driven by some old men {grin}.   The second photo shows our rented car with the pits in the background.

When you stand on the starting line, you can see the race cars disappear over the horizon.  The sound of one of the higher performance, fuel (nitromethane) cars is beyond description.  This year there were 515 cars registered for the event.

All of the pits and the starting area are open to the public.  The attendance fee is only $15 for one day and $40 for the week.  In previous trips, I  usually attend for several days, but this year I could only attend on Saturday – the first day of racing.

Sunday we drove from Salt lake to Las Vegas – a bit over 400 miles.  We arrived in the early afternoon.  We are staying at the Rio (map).  They would not let us check in before 4:00 PM, so we went out to the water treatment plant where I am teaching.  We were able to set up the lab equipment and get the room ready for today.

I am teaching shaft alignment to to two different classes this week.  The morning class begins at 6:30 AM and the afternoon class begins at 12:00.  The morning class i from Monday to Thursday and the afternoon class is from Tuesday to Friday.  It is a bit different scheduling arrangement, but I can make it work without much adjustment.  Both classes are rather large for what is termed an “on site” class.  That will make the labs a bit crowded, but that should not be too big of a deal.

That is all for now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hello from Salt Lake City, UT

Hello from Salt Lake City, UT

Friday evening August 9,  2013   (First travelogue of this trip).

Well, this was almost a trip in our bus.  Originally, we had planned to go to Bonneville and then drive the bus to the Seattle area.  Part of the Bonneville visit was to meet with the owner of a new streamliner that I designed the belt drives for (blower and power to the differentials).  It turns out that they will not be at Bonneville for this event (Speed Week).

Then NTT offered me a couple of classes in Las Vegas during Bonneville week.  That really messed up our plans, but we could not turn down the money.

So, we decided to drive a rental car to Las Vegas, via Salt Lake/Bonneville.  The choice of using a rental car was based on not piling on more miles on our already relatively high mile cars plus the fact that we would not have to worry about car problems.  The cost is partly offset by better mileage, and offsetting funds from NTT for the equivalent flights and rental car for the week (perhaps 40% of the cost).  We will then fly from Las Vegas to Seattle for the second week of training plus some sightseeing.  We will return to LV and take a leisurely, tourist route home.  At least that is the plan now.

We left Evergreen Thursday (8/8) afternoon and drove to Craig, CO.  We stayed in a Holiday Inn.  Kind of a strange room, as the only chair was the desk chair.  I sat on the luggage and Pat sat in the desk chair.  Considering that we were paying over $100, we were not happy.  They said that all of their rooms were equipped the same way.

Today we drove to Salt Lake and are staying in a Holiday Inn Express(map).  We made sure that the room had a desk and second chair.  We told them our story and I guess they took pity on us.  We are in a suite with a total of three chairs and a couch (for $90)!

We have had a lot of folks tell us about Cafe Rio.  We looked them up and drove to Tooele, UT to have dinner there.  It is a Mexican restaurant where you order you plate like you do at Chipotle.  The food was great!

Tomorrow I will drive to the Bonneville Salt Flats.  That is about 100 miles one way.  The event (Speed Week) goes all week.  However, I will only be able to go for one day.

That is all for this post.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hello from Kent, WA

Hello from Kent, WA

Sunday evening August 4,  2013   (First travelogue of this trip).

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am going to be in and out of Seattle several times over the next few months.  This trip is to “audit” a course  at the Auburn Boeing facility.  The course has a strange title:  Ball Screw.  Ball screws are a major component in large machining equipment.  They are the component that controls the movement of the part being machined. 

Auditing a course means that I am doing the final preparation to be able to teach the course.  In this
course, we do a complete inspection of one of the ball screws (both on the machine and with the screw and nut mounted in a lathe).  The machine we were working on was a Cincinniti Milacron T35 5 axis horizontal mill.  It is about two stories tall.  We removed the “Z” axis ball screw.  Fortunately the students do all the work, as it was a tough job.  A critical part of the installation is to set the thrust bearing backlash.  If it is not set correctly, the machine controls will “go crazy”.  While we set the thrust correctly on this ball screw assembly, one of the students left the bolts in the ball screw nut too loose, and the machine went crazy.  It is exciting to see the main machining table (probably 2000 pounds) jumping back and forth and making a terrible noise!!

The class was held on the second shift (2:30 – 11:00 PM).  That takes a bit of adjustment.  It seems funny to be eating “lunch” at 7:00 PM.  By the third day, you get used to it. 

I left Denver on Monday evening and stayed at the Holiday Inn in Kent, WA (map).  I have stayed here before.  It is an older Holiday Inn, but has very friendly employees and the rooms are OK.

As is often the case, I am completing this post from home.  We left Seattle Friday late morning and got into Denver mid-afternoon.

All in all, a pretty good trip.

That is all for this trip.