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Old 07-11-2015, 06:02 PM   #51
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Re: golddog runs around

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awesome pictures
Thank you. It's the one artistic-like thing I have some ability at. Can't draw even stick men, can barely play an ipod, but I like to think I do o.k. there.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 09-07-2015, 02:10 PM   #52
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Took a drive for the US Labor Day weekend. Started out by going to Cripple Creek, west of Colorado Springs. This is one of the three mountain towns which has limited-stakes gambling in Colorado.

I liked it better than Black Hawk/Central City. Seemed like more of an actual town, with some casinos, rather than BH/CC which is more just casinos.

Anyway, started out at the Wildwood. Long wait, only one table in going. Just about to leave and they call me. They have a smaller game than BH/CC, $1-2 blinds with a $20 limit on betting.

Nothing really of note. Turned a flush with an open-ended SF draw but my opponent folded to a check-raise. Maybe should've just called, as the room had an hourly $50 high hand jackpot, which even a Q high flush was in contention (K flush had won the hour before).

Wandered down to Midnight Rose, where I was staying. Got in a $1-2/100 game. Two big hands lost me most of a buy-in, one I butchered and one I got unlucky. Oh well.

The next morning, got going. Light was quite bad, so no good pictures. Here's a place I came across in southern Teller county as an example:



Should've been able to get a better picture, but I didn't sleep well and wasn't in the mood. Just kind of wandered down through the mountains to Conejos county, which was the last county in Colorado for me to visit.

Went into New Mexico, with the intention of staying in Taos. Came across the Gorge of the Rio Grande along the way, which was a pretty nice view.



Taos not available, so went on a little drive through the mountains. Couldn't find anything available, ended up in Raton.

Next morning, started wandering through NE NM.



A little clearer weather, so some pictures came out better.





A lot of high desert, buttes and mesas



A couple of antelope



Wandered into NE OK, to Black Mesa State Park.

The green layers didn't expose as well as I liked. I wonder what deposits make this coloration.



This is the place I'd been in July, where a Park Ranger gave me a hand-drawn map showing some fossilized dinosaur footprints, and the marker where CO, NM, and OK come together.

After my hike then to the top of Oklahoma, it was starting to get dark, so I didn't see the other two. Went by them today.

The dinosaur footprints weren't anything amazing. 5 or 6 dinner-plate-sized indentations in the rock. However, there was a guy there who said he taught paleontology at Barclay College in Kansas, so he told me a bit about what they thought had come through. Had a nice chat for about 20 minutes on general scientific principles as well as getting some of the stories from him specific to this (they think the dino was about 5-6 feet high and 3-4 feet wide based on the size and spacing of the prints).

Looking at their website, it appears to be a Quaker school, which probably explains his beard-and-no-mustache look. He was also telling me he thought he'd found fossilized human footprints nearby which raised the question, "did human and dinos co-exist?"

I was pretty surprised to hear this, both coming from someone who's a professor, and from our discussion, where he seemed to have a pretty rational approach. To be fair, he didn't suggest it was true, he'd found these things, and was doing more research to try to gather evidence one way or the other.

Anyway, I thought this had long been case closed, but I'm certainly no expert.

Wandered on to the geographical marker which is nearby and had my lunch there. Pretty peaceful, just out in the scrubland with nothing around.



It turns out that New Mexico has a fence on this border. Insert your own politically-oriented joke here.



The other side of the marker



After that, just kind of drove back to Denver. Plugged along the county roads till I got back to blacktop, then state & US highways, just going along seeing the countryside.

Seems like most of the tiny little towns are going away. A few houses, no business to speak of. Lots of abandoned farmhouses, everything from what looked like old, adobe-brick settler-era houses to wood frame and siding construction, probably early 20th century. All going back to the land.

Anyway, don't have any trips planned. This will probably be it for a while.
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Old 12-28-2015, 05:20 PM   #53
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Had a week's worth of vacation time to 'use it or lose it' before year-end, so decided to drive up north for Christmas instead of fly as usual.

Was able to see old friends along the way from my previous life in the Midwest, so that was nice. Always good to see the remaining family and friends up north too.

Not much to discuss. On the way up, took a detour to New Auburn, WI. A friend of mine found a book by Michael Perry (his amazon page), which she thought I'd like, having grown up not too far away.

I can give a recommendation of the two I've read, but not really sure how to describe them. He writes about living in this small town and being on the volunteer fire department, which can be both tragic and uplifting, as well as more generally life around town.

Anyway, took a couple photos for Tracy of stuff from the book, like the volunteer fire hall.



Got up north for a few days. Didn't see the sun for four days. Unfortunately, met up with a lifelong friend who told me that he & his wife had split. They'd been together 18 years, married 11. He's the kind of guy who takes things very well, but it's been really tough. I tried to console as best I knew how, hope I made things better.

At one point he said I came into town at just the right time, so I think he just needed somebody to have a beer with and let it out. Glad I could be of service.

Other than that, drove up to Cloquet, MN and took a couple pictures of the only gas station that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for a different friend who likes that sort of stuff.




Not sure why a gas station in BFE northern MN was his design, but there it is.

Took off Christmas night to try to avoid the big storm coming up from the south. Mostly missed it, ran into a little snow, then thick fog, then lots of wind as I made my way south and then west.

Since I had time, I got off the interstate and wandered around a bit. Noticed at one point I wasn't too far from the geographical center of the lower 48. Being a bit of a geography geek, I went over there.



But it was really windy and cold, so I didn't hang around.

I did not find the world's second biggest ball of twine while in Kansas though.

Went up to Red Cloud, NE for lunch, then back to the interstate. Made a stop atOle's for an early dinner. By this time, the wind had mostly subsided, so it wasn't a bad drive back to Denver.

Back to work tomorrow, then Phoenix in January.
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:39 PM   #54
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Oh, forgot the poker.

After driving across Nebraska and visiting with some friends in Omaha, went over to Council Bluffs and played at the Horseshoe. Took a while to get seated, and after I did, the tiredness hit. Only played a couple of rounds before it was back to the room.

Seemed like an ok room. A quiet table, no banter. A couple of guys watching Nebraska win the women's volleyball championship.

The next night, after seeing people in Des Moines, got up to the Diamond Jo casino at the very north of Iowa on I-35. Played a few hours. A continuing run of 94o, J3o, etc. Never could get anything going, and the few hands I did play, I was overly nitty.

More friendly, at least some discussion around the table. Mostly shorthanded, 6 players or so. I think it was a Sunday night, and the weather wasn't nice. I'm not sure it ever gets busy, though--there's no town around. I assume it draws from Albert Lea, MN and Mason City, IA, those are the only places with any population to speak of around. I think they had four tables in the room.

Disappointed to have to pay for the beer I had. Maybe it's because I asked for something local-ish, so it wasn't a Bud/Miller/Coors, not sure.

Anyway, it was an ok place to stop but not worth traveling for.
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Old 01-14-2016, 07:45 PM   #55
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Out on the road again, using up mu floating holidays. Turns out United was willing to sell me a plane ticket to Phoenix for $216 for three days plus the weekend.

Flew in, drove down to Kartchner Caverns State Park on a friend's recommendation. Now it's my recommendation too. Pretty nice tour, you go in and get a good talk on how they found the place, the things they're doing to keep it as pristine as they can, and how caves and the features form.

Unfortunately, no pictures. They don't let cameras or phone in the cave.

After that, drove to Bisbee and spent the night. Pretty nice place, reminded me a lot of the mountain towns in Colorado--small road twisting up the hillsides, building packed in everywhere they can put them.

I was surprised to see snow in SE Arizona. There was a little in the shadows in other places, but Bisbee actually had accumulation--looked as if it's snowed at least a few inches.

Anyway, had a nice stay at this funky little motel just up the hill from town:


Kind of an old-school vibe. Simple, but clean room, comfortable bed, did the trick.

Wandered around Bisbee that evening, went to their brewery for a couple beers (good) and another bar for one (meh). But it's o.k., was a nice night out.

In the morning, went down to this border town called Naco, but there was nothing on the US side, and didn't appear the Mexican side had any more to offer. Cruised along the border, sometimes literally in the shadow of the fence. Saw this along the way:



Don't know if "Old Faithful" is just a joke, or if it springs up on a regular basis. The birds made use of the sign, anyway.

Anyway, the fence runs along for miles and miles between towns.



Went down to Douglas, meaning to park and walk over to see a little bit. Unfortunately, got on a road which didn't let me turn to parking and drove into Mexico.

Went around the block and came back, at which time the US border agents hassled me a little bit. Explained the same thing to multiple officers, that I made a mistake and came right back, but they had to hold me.

At one point in the little parking area, the guy took my passport and said, "be right back." After 15 minutes, I got out of the car. A different officer directed me toward an area I could stand, and I mentioned to them this isn't good customer service. "Be right back" implies a couple of minutes; if it could be more, set that expectation.

When the original guy came back, he (of course) said "we can detain you for up to two hours, so fifteen minutes isn't much." Yes, your incompetence in setting my expectation is made up for by the fact your orginization isn't as incompetent as it might have been. Sigh.

Anyway, drove along some back roads in SE Arizona and SW New Mexico, checking out the scenery, but mostly there's a lot of nothing.




No real plans for the remaining two days, other than to reconnect with an old friend Saturday who lives in Phoenix. Tomorrow, I'll start heading back that direction, maybe go back the caverns and see if I can get on the other tour option.
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Old 01-15-2016, 11:23 PM   #56
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Got up and went through the mountains of SW New Mexico and SE Arizona today. Kind of a crummy day for pictures, mostly gray skies. Not quite overcast, but bad light. Some nice scenery out there, though. (Plus, again, a lot of nothing).



Ended up crossing the border at Nogales, went over, walked around a bit, had a beer, then came back.



Got up to Tucson for the evening. Called my friend in Phoenix, told him that I'm going to try to go up to Kitt Peak National Observatory for a tour tomorrow, and to expect an afternoon/evening call from me. Then, we'll figure out what to do.
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:35 PM   #57
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Re: golddog runs around

dope thread man!
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Old 01-17-2016, 11:44 AM   #58
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dope thread man!
I don't know about that, but thank you. I hope people are enjoying it, and at least one person is inspired to get out there and get some new experiences.

The next day, I took off from Tucson and went up to Kitt Peak National Observatory to take a tour. That meant going through lots of desert scenery.






Then up the mountain to the observatory.



On the way up the mountain, the check engine light on the rental car came on. I read the owner's manual, it looked like that's signaling an emissions problem. Decided to check the oil just for kicks, it seemed pretty empty.

Oops, now what? We're out there; about 16 miles from the nearest even crossroads gas station. Well, here I am; it's not likely to get worse in the last few miles to the top; hopefully it's just signaling emissions due to the thin air.

The tour is led by a docent (a volunteer who knows about all the stuff), adn we had a young man who was working toward getting into the Astronomy program at U of A. It's a very nice tour, if you're into that. There was only me and this young woman from Austin, so we got a real good look at things, and didn't have to hustle through.

You actually get to go into the solar observatory, and see some of the works (behind glass, of course).



It wasn't being operated right at the time we were there, but the tour leaders were able to give a very good explanation of how this giant reflecting system focused the light to gain the image.

There's also quite a good display in the visitor center about a number of subjects, and one other telescope you can go inside and read displays about (looking at it behind the glass again).

Apparently there is some kind of program people can come up at night occasionally, and there's some access for amateurs to look through a scope.

As you can see, it's actually a collection of several observatories:



Different colleges or consortiums maintain them and figure out how to share the time.

Before starting back, re-checked the oil, still seemed low. Drove pretty easily to the gas station, bought a quart, poured in a little, waited for it to settle, checked, etc, until I was convinced the oil was o.k.

Still the light didn't go off. Well, if it's an emissions problem, not a fix I can make. So on I went.

Some more desert.



Sometime on the way up to Phoenix, the light went off, so I felt better about things.

Drove around trying to find a hotel, couldn't find anything reasonably priced. (I later found out the Rock n' Roll Marathon was the next day, plus Green Bay was in town playing the Cardinals in the playoffs, so I imagine demand was high). Finally found a place, and paid way too much.

Was able to connect with somebody I used to work with when first out of college and his wife, who'd moved to Phoenix 26 years ago, and we hadn't seen each other since 1995, Brian said.

A really nice evening at Four Peaks (a brewery/restaurant in Tempe), then over to the Whole Foods for one on the way home. Yep, their Whole Foods not only sells beer, it has quite a few on tap--maybe 20-ish. The one by my house doesn't.

Security at PHX ridiculous this morning. Luckily I couldn't sleep and got there way earlier than necessary, so no worries for me, but 25 minutes to get through security at 7:20 on a Sunday morning can't be a good thing.

Just getting ready to head back now.

Not sure what the next trip will be. While on the road, I got an email from my travel agent that we should begin starting planning for a trip to see what the penguins are doing in 2017. We'll see if that comes together.
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:36 PM   #59
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I was asked to write about my trips to Australia. Unfortunately, I cannot find a folder of pictures from my first trip. I found a few in my screensaver, but I think I've lost most of them. Oops.

Because of that, some of these pictures may be from trip #2.

A bit of background: one of my former co-workers convinced me one night some years ago (while a group of us were out for after-work beers) that I should go sailing with them in the British Virgin Islands.

Both before and after our working together, Bob was in the defense industry. After we worked together, Bob took a position in Alice Springs, Australia, where the DOD has a large presence.

While down there, he & Christina organized a couple of sailing trips for the gang: one to the Whitsunday Islands off Queensland (this subject), and one to Tonga (a later tale I don't think I've written about before).

So, a group of us found our way to Australia from the states and connected in Airlie Beach, where we got on the boat and sailed the Whitsunday Islands for a week or so. Great fun, saw some fish and coral. Not like the barrier reef, it's just off the mainland, but most of the islands are undeveloped.

Really nice to see the stars out there. Just like in the movies or TV, seeing the Milky Way across the sky. One of the crew is an amateur astronomer, so he was able to point out the different stuff for us.

Anyway, a couple of pictures I was able to find from the sail:





One of the few places that was developed was South Molle Island, which had a resort on it where we stopped for a drink one day.



The little parakeets would just fly up land on your shoulder, which caught us by surprise when we first arrived. Their feet are actually kind of sharp.

After the sail, I continued on to Sydney for a few days. Did some tourist stuff like the bridge climb (nice), went to Manly and Bondi beaches.





I stayed over in Darling Harbour, which was nice. A few blocks from Star City, went to the casino one night, and a block from the ferry pick-up, which gets you around the city very easily.





After Sydney, I flew up to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One guy I worked with when first out of college, and another guy I'd met through Wooi Kee had moved back to Malaysia in the interim. Figured while I was kind of on that side of the world, I'd get up there to visit.

The first night, we went out somewhere and drank too much. The next day, Wooi Kee had set me up on a couple of tours around KL while he was working. A few people jumped in minibus and got driven around. The morning tour was around to some museums, the king's palace grounds, saw Petronas Towers over there, a few other things I don't remember. The afternoon, we went up to some limestone caves (Batu caves maybe), which was pretty interesting.

The day after, the three of us went up to Betong, Thailand for the weekend. It was pretty interesting to see a different culture.

Betong is a little town in the mountains of southern Thailand, just across the border from Malaysia. There was some of the strip club scene like most Westerners think of Thailand, but we were able to get away from that too.

One day, we went out in the countryside, where there was a series of tunnels. In the 1970s (I think), there was a communist uprising in southern Malaysia, and they used these tunnels as their headquarters, hideouts, etc. That was pretty interesting, to see how they lived back in those days. Plus, the trail went through the jungle, which was the first jungle I'd ever been in.

Anyway, just outside of that area were some shops and a restaurant, where we had lunch and some drinks to pass the afternoon away.



Had some fresh fish and chicken along with various other local things like bok choy and rice. The owner came out and had a drink with us, and told us that she'd been with the communists back in those days. Came back out with a picture of her in uniform with her rifle.

Wooi Kee and Raymond next to some bikes at our hotel in Betong



and a shrine we went to one day. I don't remember the religion. Wooi Kee's family escaped China during the communist takeover there. I think Buddhism is popular there, but I don't remember.



After a few days, we headed back to KL, where I caught a plane. Naturally, to get from KL to Denver, we go through Tokyo, then Dallas. Beats me, that's what the route was.

An overnight to Narita, on Malaysia Airlines (quite nice). I had several hours, which was fine, as I had to get my bag, go through customs to go out and re-check when American Airlines opened up in the morning.

The flight to USA #1 not so great. First, the drink cart comes around, and I order a beer. That'll be $6 for a Kirin. Um...ok. First international flight I'd been on where a drink wasn't free.

The plane was older and not comfortable, the entertainment system wasn't working, just not a pleasant flight back. Got from Dallas to Denver eventually, though.

Next time: trip to central Australia.
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Old 01-26-2016, 10:35 PM   #60
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OK, after the big trip in 2008, I went back to Oz in 2009 to visit Bob and Christina. As mentioned, they were living in Alice Springs, right in the middle of the continent (and in the middle of nothing).

After flying out of the horrible Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, 14 or so hours later I found myself in Sydney again. If you're ever going, Sydney customs is an experience. They don't really have the lines and queues like we have here, it's just whoever pushes to the front.

One of the really nice things about the airports in Aus and NZ is there is a little shower room somewhere. After flying all night without really sleeping, you do feel a little better after getting washed up and having a change of clothes. So, pack a towel.

Had some time, wandered around a bit, and caught the flight to Alice Springs. Got my bags, met Christina, went out to the car and got to see Lenny again (for what turned out to be the last time. Glad I got one last visit and some scratches in).



We went around town a bit, seeing some things:



I guess this is the eponymous spring:



Of course, being so tired from the trip, I forgot my zoom in the car, so only had a long shot of the roo:



Eventually, we went back to the place they were staying in Gillen:



and hung out on the patio:



It's a pretty nice gig, if you work in defense and don't mind being in a small (~25000) town in the middle of nowhere, and two days from USA #1. Apparently, they pay salaries on a par with American salaries, and provide you with housing. While the houses aren't anything epic, they are fine. Also not much to spend the money on.

Over the weekend, we took a trip out to Uluru, Kata Tjuga, and Kings Canyon to see the outback. Australia has a lot of nothing out there; a lot of places, there's no town for many hundreds of kilometers. Every few hours, they'll have a roadhouse, which is a gas station, bar/grill, small motel & campground, convenience store, that sort of thing.



Since we were in the middle of nowhere, Bob let me drive on the 'wrong' side of the road for my first time. Turns out, the instruments are opposite, too: so, the first thing I did was the 'American Wave', turning on the wipers when I was trying to hit the directional.

On the way out, an emu crossed the road in front of us, but didn't see too much else.

The dirt out there is really fine sand, and a very interesting shade of red. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's like really good beach sand, but a deep reddish orange.



And eventually found ourselves at Uluru



A sundowner and some sunset photos of Uluru



Then off to the outdoor dinner Christina had arranged for us. One person told us some of the stories of the aboriginal people. Another pointed out some of the things in the sky, and they had a few telescopes set up so we could look at the Magellenic Clouds and some other things. A nice meal, buffet style. I don't remember particular dishes any more, but I want to say it was Australian things. A very nice evening.



The next day, we wanted to climb up. Drove over after brekky.



It's a pretty good trek. The little handrail is between knee and waist height, which means it's too low to be much help, but it's there just in case.

The aboriginal people prefer that people don't climb. We were kind of torn between wanting to respect them, but having the curiosity about what it's like up there.



After some discussion, up we went







As you near the top, they have a path painted on to guide you



It's pretty far







There's a little bit of scrubby vegetation on top, where there's a little crack for soil and rainwater to collect.







We figured that red thing was where they kept the paint for the stripe



Bob & Christina at the top



Then back down we went. It wasn't until now that I heard anything about Christina's anxiety with regard to steep inclines. So, we just took it slow. She did great, she's a trooper.

It's pretty amazing. The world's biggest monolith, I guess. This huge (I mean huge) rock jutting out of the desert floor.



After all that, time for a beer.



Now, if anyone goes to central Australia, make sure to pick up some fly repellent before going outside. They're not biting, they're just super annoying, always buzzing your eyes, nose, mouth, in search of moisture. Many places sell this stuff made from sandalwood (I think) which they don't like.

We drove around the rock then







This was the beast they had while in Oz. Notice the snorkel on the right windshield



Many places in the outback, the only way through for hundreds of kilometers might be under water after a rain. It's not uncommon to see vehicles with this sort of equipment which allow people to ford those low spots and not submerge the air intake.

Another sunset





The next morning, we went over to Kata Tjuta, the other rock formation nearby, and did some hikes. In the right light, they kind of look like Homer Simpson lying on his back.



Noticed these interesting looking flowers there



A very pleasant early May walk in the wilderness. After a while, Bob's ankle injury was bothering him, so he and Christina headed back while I completed the loop.

At some roadhouse, we saw this emu lying around



That's probably more than you wanted to read in one post. Next time, off to Kings Canyon, and back to Alice.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:48 AM   #61
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Re: golddog runs around

Very nice pics and write up dude
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:55 PM   #62
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Very nice pics and write up dude
Thank you.

The next day, we went over to Kings Canyon national park. On the way over, some brumbies (Australian wild horses) ran across the road in front of us



Christina said she saw some camels, but Bob and I missed them. Apparently back in the explorer days, somebody brought camels because, hey, it's a big desert. Now they're feral and considered a nuisance.

Kings Canyon is nice, quite scenic. Not like the Grand Canyon, you come in more on the floor from the outside and it's above.



Went to the restaurant/bar at the place, did a shout for some young Aussie whose birthday it was, back to the tents for the evening, heard and saw some dingoes.

Went on the hike through the canyon in the morning.









It was a nice morning stroll. We took the dirt Ernest Giles Road back east toward Alice and stopped at some meteorite craters which were just depressions in the ground



This reminds me of the road trains. Since Australia's so big and remote, it doesn't make sense to ship things by a single truck. They use what they call "road trains", which are semis with (often) three trailers in tow. The drivers blast along getting their freight from here to there, even on the dirt highways out there.

When we got back to Alice, went to Bojangles for a beer and met up with some other friends from the States working over there.



I guess this is a quite famous place, although it seems like I heard it closed since I was there. (BTW, if you're in Oz, VB FTW).

The next day, back to the airport, where I flew to Sydney again for a couple days to break up the long return. Once again at the Ibis Darling Harbour, which is a nice place but not fancy.

Just kind of beat around while there, don't recall doing anything specific. Ferry to Manly Beach one day.







I think it was on the Bridge climb from my first visit, but at some point I heard about this thing out in Sydney Harbour



As I recall, it was fortified back in the 1800s or something, because they were worried about invasion. In WWII, some American ship saw it at night and mistook it for a submarine surfacing, firing upon their fortress for the only time ever, by an ally. Sigh.

Anyway, a nice ride there and back



Some evening skyline photography











The next day, back on the plane to USA #1. Long plane ride, customs in LA, back to Denver and my boring regular life.
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:20 PM   #63
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The next day, back on the plane to USA #1. Long plane ride, customs in LA, back to Denver and my boring regular life.
Ah, but you live in one of the most beautiful states in this country, so I can't feel too sorry for you. But I understand what you're saying...whenever I return home from a great trip, the realization hits me..."back to reality".

Nice trip reports, thx 4 posting.
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:27 PM   #64
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Ah, but you live in one of the most beautiful states in this country, so I can't feel too sorry for you. But I understand what you're saying...whenever I return home from a great trip, the realization hits me..."back to reality".

Nice trip reports, thx 4 posting.
Thank you, Pride. Yeah, I didn't mean to say anything about Colorado, I love it here. I meant the day-to-day grind at the workplace etc.

In other news, I've sent in a deposit for a Jan 2017 cruise to go see what the penguins are doing. Kind of strange, they don't have pricing yet. So when they come out with prices, I imagine at least some people back out.

It's a long way off and lots of things can go sideways between then and now.

Still have to figure out what to do for this year's vacation days. A few domestic ideas bumping around in my melon for this summer.
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Old 02-07-2016, 02:52 PM   #65
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Went up yesterday and booked the Antarctic cruise. Not all details in yet (I have to find my way to Buenos Aires for example), but the tour itself runs from Jan 31 2017 to February 12.

Now, I have to find something to do with this year's vacation. Leading candidates are some time around DC to see the Smithsonian/monuments etc, or more New England, neither of which I've ever visited.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:10 PM   #66
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Hey gang, if anybody's still reading this...completed travel plans to and from Buenos Aires for next winter's adventure yesterday.

I'll have a few days in Houston to break up the long return. Something like Feb 12-16 2017. If anybody is in the area and interested in meeting, I'll buy the beer.

Well, actually, I'll be somewhere else, but not too far. I'm going to get a rental car and GTFO Houston for a couple of days. Suggestions welcome.

On that note, I've also scheduled a week off for the week before USA#1 Independence Day. Tentative plans are a driving/camping trip (weather permitting) through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, that area.

Been to Yellowstone and Glacier, so I don't think I'll go to the national parks. More like hitting the state parks and mountain areas around them. But, we'll see; specifically a low-stress, no plans, just amble around trip. Hell, if the weather's bad north, maybe I'll go to New Mexico or just stay around Colorado.

Anyway, presuming the original plan plays out, if anybody has suggestions for that part of the world, or lives up there and is interested in potentially meeting for a burger and a beer, let me know.
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:30 PM   #67
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On the road again. Right now, I'm at a campground in Greybull, Wyoming. Next week off.

No real plans for this trip. Just going to drive around Wyoming/Montana area as the weather allows.

Last night after work I got a little head start and found my way to Laramie. Windy with a little rain, so I skipped camping and found a hotel. Across the street was a little dive bar. Reminded me a lot of the dive bars in my hometown.

Anyway, just kind of wandered around central Wyoming today. Apologies if any of the photos aren't worth it. Lots of glare with the setting sun makes it difficult for me to tell.

Saw a nice moonset near Rawlins this morning. My picture doesn't do it justice.



Came upon Alcova Reservoir in the middle of nowhere. Looked like a nice spot.



Went through the Wind River Canyon, which reminded me a lot of US 6 outsude of Golden.





Saw the world's largest mineral hot springs at Thermopolis.

I didn't think it was as big as Yellowstone's, but it's been a long time since I've been there. Colorful like Yellowstone's.



Anyway, here's an idea of the size



Tomorrow's plan is generally to head into Montana and wander around up there.
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:45 PM   #68
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Got up very early at the campground. Headed over toward Cody. One of the advantages of getting up much too early is sometimes, the air is just calm as can be.



After Cody wandered out Wyoming highway 120 to 296, then back on US 212 over Beartooth pass into Montana. These were marked on my atlas and scenic routes, and they were really nice.











Reminded me very much of Rocky Mountain National Park, keep winding up, up, up, going above tree and snow line, into the tundra, with quite a few spots to look back.





And the moon was setting just as I wandered through again.







Pulled off at a campsite for lunch. Warnings all over the place about bears being around and being attracted by food. Didn't see Boo Boo though.

After coming down from the pass, I was back on the high plains. Pleasant enough scenery, rolling pasture sorta stuff, but nothing picture-worthy. Did a long drive and stopped at the Ringling Bar in Ringling, MT for a burger and beer for dinner.



If anyone knows (without googling or anything) why I might've stopped here, I'll buy you a beer if we ever meet. And accuse you of being a Parrothead.

Anyway, tomorrow is likely to be more Montana mountain area. Haven't looked at the map yet to decide a route.
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Old 06-28-2016, 09:27 PM   #69
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Monday went from Bozeman down towards Yellowstone then came out a different way. Ended up at a campsite on a tributary of the Missouri north of Helena.

So the Gallatin River down.





I didn't actually enter the park. A must-see if you're in the area, I've already been to it. Followed the Madison River north.





Eventually coming to Earthquake Lake.



So named because in 1959, and earthquake collapsed a mountainside, creating a dam on this river. (which has since been strengthened up by engineers).

Here's the site which collapsed



and the Madison coming out of the canyon.



Anyway, got up to this campsite on Prickly Pear Creek (which I thought was strange, I didn't see a cactus at any time). Screwed around trying to get some sunset shots, but nothing really worked.





When it's just starting to get lightish, I was awakened by a rumble of far-off thunder. Go use the bathroom, look at the sky, then my watch, which says 4:55. I decide that the clouds are moving away.

About 5:30 I was proven wrong. Not horrible, just on-and-off showers til about 7 or 7:30.

Finally got going, saw a deer



What I think is a beaver dam



Dearborn river was a nice spot



One thing I've discovered on this trip is, when I'm really tired, if I can find a spot with a little shade and quiet, I can lower the tailbed on my truck (Ford Ranger), prop a pillow against one supporting cable, and lay down for a quick rest. I can't get asleep-asleep because I'm taller than it is wide, but I can rest my eyes.

Came across Summit Lake, which was pretty scenic



I've been feeling moderate abdomen pains and back pains all day. I think it's me getting dehydrated and camping, respectively, so got a hotel for tonight, hopefully some water/Gatorade and a bed will have me better tomorrow.

Just kind of drove up toward Glacier, then west to Libby, MT for the night.

this could be a nice photo with a little cropping



Think I'll head over into ID tomorrow, then wherever I am at lunchtime, start the trip back, taking different routes.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:54 PM   #70
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Pretty slow connection out here in the boonies (well, I am in Idaho), so probably no pictures tonight. Next time I have a good connection, if anything turned out decently.

Just kept heading north and west until lunch-ish. Figured that's the middle of my week off, now time to turn this ship around, but take a different course home.

Went by Kootenai Falls early, that was nice, then to Troy, MT. A couple that are good friends have a 1.5 yo named Troy, so I wanted to take a picture of the sign at the edge of town to send to Mike.

Nearing the town, I reached down and my phone's not there. Oh ****.

Pull off rummage around, I'd failed to secure the flap on the side pocket of my cargo shorts, and it fell between the seat and door of my truck. Whew.

Anyway, wandered into the top of Idaho and saw a sign for a scenic loop which took me into BC a little. At one of those rural bar/grill/gas station/store things, in addition to the signs for firewood/gar/beer/bait etc, I saw a sign that said "sawdust $5".

Who's paying C$5 for sawdust, and for what purpose? I'll have to ask Adam, Terence and Ross sometime, see if it's a Canadian/BC thing, or some kind of backwoods thing.

I also don't remember seeing a "Welcome to Canada/BC"-type sign at the entry. Maybe I missed it. I was in BFE, maybe they only do that at the major ports.

Anyway, wandered back into the US. Customs surprisingly polite, followed US highway 2 for a while (on which I grew up). Stuck my head in the McCarthey Athletic Center at Gonzaga to see what it's like for a successful small-school basketball program. (Unlike my school).

Ran down I90, currently at this campground just east of Couer d'Alene. It could suck (it's about a three-wood from I90), but it's also backwater. Here's hoping the traffic dies down enough that I don't notice with the aid of some earplugs and beer.

Tomorrow's plan, I think, is to journey down to Missoula, then head south and see what's across the middle of lower Idaho.
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Old 06-30-2016, 08:28 PM   #71
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In a hotel tonight with better (but still slow) interwebs, so uploading pics. Not sure if I'll get a post with some of them in today.

The I-90 campsite turned out to be kind of a bad idea. It was a real nice place with real nice owners, just in a bad spot. It's amazing how much some passing semis sound like a jet going by when they awake you from a light slumber.

Anyway, wound my way from there to Missoula to Salmon, Idaho. Some nice scenery, but not great light, and I wasn't in much of a mood due to being tired.

Tomorrow I think is more angling back toward Denver. Possibly home, but I think I might stick to the back roads one more night.
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Old 06-30-2016, 09:20 PM   #72
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On my way out of Montana, I saw the pullout for Kootenai Falls. It was real nice, if anybody's up in BFE NW MT. A couple nice hikes through the forest to the falls and a little suspension bridge.





Then into the Idaho panhandle. Saw a sign for the Selkirk International Scenic Loop or some such, so drove that.



which took me into SE BC a little bit. Creston seemed like a nice small city. Lots of art-type shops, if you're into that sort of thing. Reminded me of Taos and the like.



Sometimes, it's the little things which are interesting. Here's Canada's (or at least SE BC's) version of the warning sign upon approaching a sharp turn.



The black-and-white part certainly caught my attention.



Then back into USA#1. I actually ended up going through Spokane. Being an NCAA basketball fan from a small school, I found Gonzaga's home court. Doesn't seem as intimidating in the summer.



What are Duke/UNC/Kansas/etc afraid of, they won't go up there?

Anyway, Spokane didn't seem very nice, but to be fair, I came in on highway 2 and left on I-90. Didn't see much of it. Gonzaga's campus did seem really nice though.

Then just past Coeur d'Alene to the campsite for that night.
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Old 07-03-2016, 11:25 AM   #73
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After leaving Coeur d'Alene, I took I-90 to Missoula, then US 93 down to Salmon, ID.

On the way there, I stopped in Darby, MT, to visit Montana's smallest brewery. Some scenery on the way:



and the brewery



deer crossed right in front of me as I was leaving town



Follow the Bitterroot River up to the pass



and down to Salmon, where I stayed for the night. Nice little mountain town.

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Old 07-03-2016, 12:04 PM   #74
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After leaving Salmon, I followed Idaho highway 28, which runs kind of southeast along the Bitterroot mountains. I imagine it would be a pretty good drive on a motorcycle or performance car. Long, straight stretches with no traffic; really a place to open it up.

Nice scenery too.



At one point, I noticed this big cloud of dust across the valley. Not the right shape to be a dust storm, couldn't figure out what it was, until I got close enough to see



that I'd come across some cowboys herding the cattle along. Somebody should play the theme from Rawhide now.



Birch Creek was a nice view





A little way east of Idaho Falls is an overlook to the Snake River





Then over near Swan Valley I came across this field. Not sure what the plants are, didn't look like potatoes, I don't think.



Down into the Swan Valley/Irwin metropolis:



It was right at noon. Normally, I just find a quiet spot like a town park or a pullout if rural, and make a sandwich from what's in the cooler.

I have a close friend named Irwin, so I decided to buy a lunch instead. Went into the South Fork Inn and Grille there. Failed to take a picture, here's their website:

http://www.southforkinnandgrille.com/

Anyway, got to talking to Ian, the owner. Turns out he was familiar with my hometown up in Wisconsin from his days working the 'salties' (sea-going vessels). He & his wife Karen own the place. Super-nice people.

So in addition to having a good burger, one of those really nice serendipity moments. Just because of the town's and my friend's name, I stopped where I normally wouldn't, and met some really good folks, having a very nice conversation.

Anyway, back on the road, I pretty much blasted along. There's a significant amount of empty in Wyoming.

Got down to Rock Springs. When gassing up, noticed this bar occupying the other part of the building from the gas station:



I guess Jewish cowboys need a place to go for a beer too. Mazel tov!

At this point, it's about 4:30 PM. I could either get a hotel or push on, which would get me back to Denver late, but not super-late.

Decided to push on. Looking back, I should've stayed out there, then taken the back roads into Denver through Steamboat etc. I-80 across Wyoming is significantly empty and not particularly scenic.

An exit or two down, I saw a sign for Superior (which is the name of the town I grew up in, in Wisconsin), so I pulled off to check it out.



Even deader than my hometown. Went into what seemed to be the only place of business, the Horse Thief Inn. A nice little small-town bar. They had a shark on the wall



which the owner had caught on a trip to Cancun. He told me some stories of pulling in this 354 pound beast as well as a bunch of sailfish, showed me pictures on his phone, it was generally just a nice time.

As a bonus, they had Samuel Adams on sale because "nobody ever buys it". So I has their next-to-last one for $2, then, just to clear out their inventory, they sold me the last one, plus the last seven Shiner Bocks for $4. Into the cooler they went for later.

From here, I pretty much blasted through to Denver. Caught a pretty fierce storm near Rawlins, stopped in Cheyenne to get some fireworks for the neighborhood kids, but mostly just cranked along. Got back about 11 PM Friday.

So now Sunday morning, pretty much caught up with laundry/house chores/etc. Tomorrow's the national holiday in USA #1, then back to work Tuesday.

It turns out I need to use a fair amount of time off before the end of the year. I'm kind of thinking of a trip to the DC area late summer/early fall to see the monuments and visit my sailing friends. Haven't done any planning yet, but I expect to have some other sort of travel in that time frame.
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Old 09-03-2016, 11:43 AM   #75
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Beginning the next trip. Sitting at DIA, flight for DC leaves in about an hour.

Plan is to get over there, meet up with some friends who live on their sailboat on the east side of the bay. Spend a day or two there, a few days just driving around without a plan. I think the rental car goes til the 7th, then in to DC for a few days. Back here on the Monday following Labor Day.

Have US Capitol and White House tours scheduled, the rest of the time will be spent seeing the monuments and Smithsonian.

Looks like the storm Hermine is heading that way too. A bit offshore, but that could throw a wrench into plans.

I've never been in a tropical storm/hurricane. It will be a new experience.
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