Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hello from Ontario, CA

Hello from Ontario, CA

Saturday  evening,  November 15, 2014   (First post of this travelogue)

I have traveled to Ontario to teach a Mechanical Drives and Shaft Alignment class.  This is what is called a “regional” class where folks from various companies attend the class in a hotel.  NTT also offers “On Site” classes where we teach at the customers business location.

This class was held at the Holiday Inn Express (here).  The class only had four students, but that made for a great group. 

I had NTT make plane reservations so that I could stay over Saturday and attend one day of the National Drag Racing event in Pomona.  When I was the “Blower Belt guy” at Gates, I attended quite a few races at this rather historic track.  I had hoped to see several old friends, but the pits were very hectic.  I did get to briefly say hi to a good friend who is also a major Gates customer.

Friday after class, I decided to visit the NHRA museum.  It is not a huge museum, but they have a significant number of historic race cars.  Many of those cars were racing when I first got interested in drag racing (over 50 years ago).  Lots of fun memories.

The weather has been pretty decent – mostly 70s during the day.  Unfortunately, I left Pat in the middle of a record setting cold spell in Denver.

Tomorrow I catch a very early flight (6:05 AM) back to Denver.

That is all for this trip.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Drafted Saturday morning,  October 18, 2014   (second  post of this travelogue)
Posted Wednesday November 12, 2014

Note:  Sadly, a few hours after I worked on this draft, we learned that our nephew (Michael Spring) had been killed in a tragic ATV accident.  He was a wonderful 35 year old man full of life and it has been very hard for us to even start to get back to our normal activities.  That said, I wanted to finish the documentation the rest of our trip.  The following is what I had prepared for posting with only a few added details.

Well, can you tell that I have writers block?  About my only excuse is that I was having fun at the Eagle rally and in Iowa and did not find the time to post another blog entry.

First I will try to catch up on Branson.  We went to two shows.  The first show was Mark Chesnutt.  That show was attended by most of the rally attendees.  We also went to see Mickey Gilley.  You may recall that we went to the Gilley show the last time we were in Branson (two years ago).  At the time he was in the fairly early stages of recovering from paralysis due to an accident in his home.  This time, his recovery was notably better.  In spite of his physical limitations, both shows were fabulous. 

One of the rally attendees did an excellent job of documenting the highlights on her blog:  (link)

Wednesday (10/8/14) we headed to Iowa.  That is about 400 miles.  We have done it in one day, but we chose to take a leisurely two day jaunt.  Good thing, as we encountered more tow dolly problems.  We ended up staying at a Walmart in the north Kansas City area so that I could work on the dolly.

Let’s catch up on the tow dolly problems.  Just before we got to Branson, my walk-around inspection revealed that we had lost an axle hub cover and most of the liquid bearing lube was lost.  We unloaded the car and Pat drove it the final 30 miles.  During the rally, I changed the hub covers to the Bearing Buddy technology which is used on many boat trailers and is a grease based system with zerks on the hubs.  I also had to change the disc brakes and have the rotors turned.  All seemed well until we got close to KC and got a low tire pressure warning on the dolly.  Fortunately it was a slow leak and we were able to add some air and limp to the Walmart.  I changed that tire with one of the two spares I carry.  Then, just before we got to our destination in Iowa, we got another warning.  The newly mounted spare now had a slow leak.  I changed that tire and we made it to Prescott, IA (our Iowa home away from home).  It turns out that the two spares that had slow leaks were the tires that had to be repaired on our last trip to Iowa (road grinding debris caused punctures in both tires on that trip - story here).  This time the tire shop determined that the small tire size coupled with the high pressure (90 PSI) caused the tire repair system to fail.  We ended up buying two new tires.

We had two fun events during our stay in Iowa.  The first was attending a play at the newly restored opera house in Corning, IA.  The “play” was really a musical related to Route 66.  It was a great show with fun music.  The restoration was well done – it is great to see small towns devote the efforts and dollars to retain parts of their history.

The other event was dinner at the Prescott fire station for fire prevention week.

During our stay, the weather was very cool and rainy.  Indeed, some evenings were cold enough I had to turn on the heater.

Bill and I worked on his daughter and son-in-laws motorhome.  It would not start and we finally diagnosed a failed fuel pump.  Unfortunately the pump is in the tank and the tank is huge.  We were able to remove the tank (with a lot of grunts and groans) and then drag it to the shop.  Bill got one of his tractors and lifted the tank so that we could drain about 25 gallons of fuel (about 200 pounds) from the tank.  We ordered the replacement fuel pump, but it did not arrive until after we left.  However, Bill and his son were able to install the empty tank  without too much trouble.  Once filled with gas, the motorhome started right up.

Our trip home was uneventful.  We left Iowa on Wednesday (10/15) and made our usual stop in North Platte and then drove to evergreen the next day.

That is all for this trip.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hello from Branson, MO

Hello from Branson, MO

Drafted Tuesday evening,  October 7, 2014   (First post of this travelogue)
Posted Thursday morning 10/9/14

We are at an Eagle Bus rally at the Branson Lakeside RV Park (map)

We left Evergreen on Sunday 9/28 about 9:30 so that we could get to Goodland, Kansas in time to watch the races.  We stayed at the Walmart that we have stopped at several times in the past.  On Monday we drove to El Dorado, KS and again stayed at the Walmart.  

From El Dorado, it was a short 150 mile drive to Nevada, MO where we stayed at…… Walmart.  We arrived early enough to do quite a bit of genealogy/grave decorating.  This is the area where Pat’s grandfather was raised and there are quite a few of his relatives buried in various cemeteries.  We made a large loop up through Butler and down to a cemetery in Virgil City.  That “loop” is about 200 miles.

On Wednesday we drove about 150 miles to Branson.  On the way, we had an issue with the tow dolly and had to unload the car and drive it the last 35 miles or so.

The Eagle rally was well attended.  I think the count was 21 Eagle buses and an assortment of other types of buses and motor homes (maybe 30 units total).

This post is getting old, so I will end it here and update the events in Branson in a couple of days.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hello from Sacramento, CA

Hello from Sacramento, CA

Friday morning,  September 19, 2014   (First post of this travelogue)
Posted: Sunday evening September 21, 2014

As happens too often, I started this post and was not able to finish it till I got home.

I traveled to teach a four day class.  The first two days were bearings and lubrication and the last two days were shaft alignment.  This is a “regional” class which means that it is held in a hotel and the students are from various companies.  I really prefer this type of class (as opposed to an “on-site” class held at a company with their employees attending).  In the public class, you often get better discussion because of the varied backgrounds.

The class is being held at the Holiday Inn Express (here).  The meeting room was very large for our small group (5 students).  That is great, as we have to set up the shaft alignment labs and that takes a fair amount of space.

In the past, the shaft alignment class used rather simple tools (straight edges, calipers, and dial indicators).  When the class had somewhat experienced students, it was difficult to fill the full two days.  We recently added laser alignment equipment and that really makes the class powerful and fun!

For a change, the travel went well.  The flight out was typical, but I had a good seat.  When I went to pick up the rental car they said that the company had reserved a premium car.  That is not the norm, but the lady that does the scheduling had a special offer and gave it to me.  The bad news was they did not have a premium car so I had to “settle” for a Camaro {big grin).  Sure wish I had had an opportunity to “open it up”.  The flight home was about half full and I had a great exit row seat. 

My fun rental car

I arrived in Sacramento early Monday afternoon.  That allowed me to drive the Camaro up to Nevada City to have dinner with a great friend.  It would have been a good route to have some fun, but the traffic did not permit very aggressive driving.

That is all for this trip.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hello from Holyoke, CO

Hello from Holyoke, CO

Monday evening,  August 11, 2014   (Second post of this travelogue)

Holyoke? – there has to be a story about our location.  More later.

Yesterday we left Prescott a bit later than we planned (about 2:00PM) and thus decided to take a more leisurely drive home.  If we drive the car, we usually go straight through (10-12 hours with a few potty and meal stops).  In the bus we drive at 68 MPH (safer and best mileage).  At that speed we take two days.  This time we are breaking it up so that we are taking 3 days.  Last night we stopped in York, NE (at the Wal Mart, of course).  Tonight we are in a gravel lot at a huge grain elevator in Holyoke, CO (map). 

Our route from Prescott was a bit different from our norm.  We decided to avoid all the construction on US 34 (and the possibility of more flat tires) and go north on CR N61 then CR H20 to IA 148.  From there we took IA 92 to I 29.  That is a lot of back roads, but it was a pretty easy drive. 

Holyoke is not on our normal route.  I had planned to stop at the rest area in Julesburg, but we were fairly early and I thought there could be an issue with staying too long (many have a 10 hour limit).  So, at Ogallala, we took the exit to try to find a place to park for the night.  Quickly, the town ended and we were on a two lane with nowhere to turn around.  I decided to continue south and then head west when possible.  The route took us down NE 61 and then on NE/CO 23.  The two lanes were good in some areas and pretty darn rough in others. 

Tomorrow we will travel a short distance on US 6 to Sterling where we will dump the tanks at the rest stop and then head home on our normal route.  This detour was really not all that far out of the way.

It is kind of nice to drive shorter distances.  It is also fun to drive on some of the two lanes and see the small towns.

That is all for now.