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Author Topic: Are we there yet?  (Read 1607 times)

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Offline Howdy

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Are we there yet?
« on: October 30, 2017, 01:58:20 pm »
How have I gotten involved in doing another road trip? 

     Is it itchy feet, rolling stone disease, or just plain stupidity?  I hope it is just a phase I am going through as I cross the country watching the miles roll by.  Yes I enjoy road trips. Yes I have always wanted to visit every state and experience the amazing diversity of people.  Yes I have a few screws loose.  I blame it on attending Pigroast's and taking me away from my wife and family for more than one day after so many years of never being away from them.  Anyway, here I go again...

     Thursday I fly out of Portland early in the morning, change planes in San Francisco, and arrive in Atlanta that evening.  I will be met at the airport by a fellow who has just purchased a van and needs it brought back to Portland.  Leaving Atlanta I then travel north a few miles and pick up a boat whose new owner needs it delivered to San Francisco.  I then head for Monroe LA. where I load up a motorcycle that belonged to a friend's recently deceased son to bring it back to Portland.  As recovering the motorcycle is the focus of the trip everything else is a way to make it affordable. 

     I then head West taking the lower route across the country through Dallas, visit the Carlsbad caverns in New Mexico, take a tour of the Airplane Graveyard in Tucson, pass near San Deigo, up the California coast line to where I drop off the boat near San Francisco, and back up the coast to Oregon.  All told it should take me about ten days as I like to take my time.  It's gotta be a form of mental illness my wife tells me as I never make money on these trips.

     So does anyone have any ideas of places I need to visit along the way?  Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Offline Grizzly

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 02:30:02 pm »
Sounds fantastic Howdy. I'm going to take lessons from ya and see if I can do something like that. As long as you can break even it's all good I would say. I need to pm you and ask how you make contacts for these. I'm trying uship and have one trip lined up but I need to learn how to do cross border driveaways so I can see more country and do longer trips.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 07:23:01 pm »
It's good to hear that you will be on the road again Kim.  Of course the FF requirement is that you document the trip and spread it here for us to enjoy.  ;D  Safe travels. 
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2017, 09:35:57 pm »
Howdy is here and spending tonight in our Guest House before he continues his travels.
 

 
Howdy and Marty visiting and discussing the "FF Traveling Spoon".  He will go to Church with us tomorrow morning before traveling on to Monroe, LA.
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Offline Howdy

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2017, 10:12:35 pm »
The Artist Van Goes Down The Road

Here I go again, proving my wife has more brains than I do and giving the world another exmple of the lengths a fella will go through to help a buddy.  My good friend needs to recover his son's motorcycle from Monroe LA and have it brought back to Portland OR.  He wanted to fly down with his wife and rent a Uhaul truck for the road trip home, but he was worried about the toil his wife would go through being cooped up with him in an uncomfortable truck, alone with him for a week and his ability to make such a trip safely.  I started looking at the Uship website for a way I could help.  As he wanted to make the trip I was looking for someone needing a truck delivered to the Northwest so they could travel in comfort and share the cost of getting the motorcycle home.  Several bids later and time was running out so he booked airline tickets for themselves and was going to fall back on the Uhaul truck.  After thinking about the trip, his wife's ability to be on the road with him, and the cost/benefit of paying someone else to bring the bike home I found a van needing to come from Atlanta to Portland.  We talked about it and decided it would be better if I made the run alone and they would fly to Monroe for his son's service and help load the bike into the van then fly home while I made the road trip. 

So I won the bid, set up the trip and made reservations to fly into Atlanta and pick up the van.  After communicating with the van's owner I added a small boat that needed to be delivered to San  Francisco which helped with the cost of the trip.  Things were locking into place and plans were made.  Away I go again. Life was good!  My wife gave me her blessing (again) and the trip was set up to travel across the Southern route across the States from Atlanta, to somewhere in Northern Alabama for the boat, down to Monroe for the motorcycle, across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, up the coast of California to San Francisco, then Portland.  About 2500 miles and I get to see more of the country, whoo hoo!

Wanting to fly out of Portland to Atlanta took some looking until I found that Priceline had the best price but I would not know the details until I booked the flight.  But the price was good (about $100 less than anyone else) and I could lock out Frontier Airlines (fool me once but never again) so I paid the piper and got a pretty good flight via United Airlines with a connection in San Francisco.  Getting to the Portland airport by five AM caused some worry until I found the local light rail commuter train would start running at four AM and get me there just before five.  One train, no connections and I only had to pay $1.25 saved me plenty over having a car service pick me up.  Of course Murphy's Law raised it's head as the train had difficulty going up a minor grade and had to make several runs at it with the wheels slipping and squeeking but it added only about 30 minutes and I made it to the airport just fine. 

At the airline desk I checked a bag and wandered to the gate to wait.  After waiting a long time I kinda thought it would be a good idea to make a pit stop before getting on the plane.  I returned just 20 seconds after the crew closed the hatch and I missed the plane. 

United staff did everything they could and found me a ride an hour later through Denver but I would arrive in Atlanta an hour earlier than my bag going through SF.  The first leg I had a window seat and was able to doze most of the way.  In Denver I was given an okay seat on the isle in the back but after asking the flight attendant I was able to move to a premium exit row seat next to a window at no added cost.  Thank you United! 

Flying above the clouds gives a fella a completely different perspective as the blue sky was bright with sunlight and the white clouds were rather solid looking below.  Seeing ridges, bumps, valleys and vapor floating around makes the thought of hitting something more solid something to think about.  I kinda figured the pilots knew what they were doing and we enjoyed a pleasant flight all the way.  Dropping down into Atlanta required passing through the clouds until the ground was in sight much too close. 

My bag finally showed up an hour after I got to Atlanta so I called the van's owner to come pick me up.  It took a while as he thought I was not expected for a few hours yet but the evening was pleasant and I enjoyed chatting with other folks waiting for their rides.  At long last he arrived and meeting him was comfortable as we knew what to expect from one another.  He checked me out with the van and sent me on my way.  As the hour was late I stopped for dinner and made hotel reservations.  The old saying “You get what you pay for” really proved true as I chose my hotel based on location and price.  On another trip I learned Motel 6 may be a good place to stay but my experience proved different.  So this time I chose Econolodge, another chain to avoid in the future.     My room was a wonder, I wondered why the ceiling was blistering, why the door had a quarter inch gap around the edge allowing light, wind, and noise to flow through, why the bathroom wasn't condemned already, and why the light bulbs were only 40 watt.  The last I came to understand it was to add mood lighting for the bugs crawling across the walls and ceiling.  The room was non-refundable and I was stuck with it as it looked like the best of the place.  While trying to find the place I passed up so many nice looking hotels I need to stop looking for lodging based on cost even if I am trying to pinch penny's. I don't need much, I want to feel safe, find a clean room and get a good nights sleep.  It can't be that hard.  $50 dollar rooms are not worth it.  I need to start looking for better places and pay what it takes.   

After a “nights” sleep (the bugs were quite) I set out to retrieve my credit card forgotten at the restaurant last night.  The restaurant opened at 11 AM so it was a late start.  I loaded the boat's address into “Miss Direction” my GPS and hoped I was headed in the right direction.  Now I was hoping to be able to pick up the boat but as the seller had not received his payment yet that was still undetermined.  Mail would arrive late in the day and the seller refused to release the boat without getting his money.  Not that I could fault him however the buyer had more than a week to pay and still no check.  Of course the buyer (my client) also had told me the boat would be road ready with good tires and a spare, freshly greased wheel bearings, and ready to go. 

On a side note... Sometimes these trips don't go as planed.  On earlier trips I have driven critter infested wrecked RV's after the junk yard refused to take them, made trips to find lost lost family members who didn't want to be found, and vehicles lacking in enough towing power to get the job done.  When accepting the job to transport the van I was careful to limit my search to something with a trailer hitch as it was necessary to tow a boat.  My van client confirmed the van was properly equipped so we locked in the deal.  When the van's new owner picked up the truck, it did not have a hitch.  Not his fault, it was just misrepesented by the previous owner.  My client knew I would be pulling a trailer so he was willing to have a hitch installed but as he didn't need one could I split the cost.  What was I to do?  The next day I was to fly out and it was too late to secure another ride.  It would cost me around $250 to get the hitch installed or $1500 to cancel the boat and get a black mark on my Uship record.  Guess who gets a shinny new hitch?  At least it would be installed before I picked the van up.  (It was a difficult job to run the wiring my client told me as the interior had to be taken apart and new wiring was required.  At least the client got it done the way he wanted and there was no questions about the job.) 

So here I was looking at the boat and hearing the seller grumble about not getting paid.  It is a pretty little boat looking all bright and capable.  Too bad the check was lost in the mail.  Now the seller was a”good ole boy” and his language was colored with terms and words my grandmother never had heard.  I learned a lot and nothing I could ever repeat without getting baptized all over again. After several telephone calls we learned the mailman still had the check out for delivery so the seller set out to find it.  I went to the bathroom (too much more about that later) and soon he was back with the check, grumbling about it probably being a bad check but I could take the boat.  Of course he had no idea about the last time the bearings were serviced and there was no spare tire and I needed a different size ball for the hitch.  A quick trip to the local Walmart and the boat was on the road.  At last.

I was able to go down the road until I was too tired to continue.  I pulled in behind a business and got a couple hours sleep.  As I could not use my CPAP breathing machine because the 12v power was keyed to the ignition I did not sleep well.  Then the upset stomach I had been fighting made itself top priority.  Have you ever tried to travel with the runs?  It's not fun.  And it takes many changes of clothing of which I had few.  Let's see... two days travel, three changes of clothing, yep I will be doing lots of laundry.  So here I am having just crossed into Mississippi and sitting at a Cracker Barrel eating white rice.  Hope it works.

Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2017, 08:10:11 am »
What a (mis) adventure.
Looking forward to further narrative.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2017, 09:33:32 am »
At least you had good company in one state.  ;D
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 09:44:05 am »
Howdy,

   Pretty cool. I share your opinion of Econolodges in general. Only hotel I ever stayed at where I stayed awake all night to make sure the neighbors did not steal the tires off my pickup. I think they are listed as Sanctuary Cities for bugs. If you ever have a trip through Southern WV plan on overnighting with us. We live between I-64 & I-77 so easy to route through here, we have 4 extra bedrooms most nights and we have a working washer and dryer.
Howard Green
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Offline breederman

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2017, 11:25:54 am »
I stay in hotels alot as in at least once a week. I will not stay in  .  A econo lodge even though they are on my favorite rewards group. Microtell is often no more money and they tend to cater to working guys. I e early breakfast etc.
Together we got this !

Offline Magicman

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2017, 02:18:18 pm »
After our lunch together, Kim hit the road at ~1:00 this afternoon destination Monroe, LA.  He has some scary pictures on his camera.   :o
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Offline coxy

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2017, 03:24:27 pm »
great story   8) but you could have left out the crap part  :D

Offline Howdy

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2017, 05:25:12 am »
One of the highlights of this trip that I was looking forward to is finding Lynn (Magic Man) Davis his wife Pat, and Marty the Wonder kid.  I know Marty is wonderful but he is also very skilled at problem solving (at least my kind of problems).  More on this later.

Lynn was kind enough to invite me to stop by if I could spare the time and spend the night in his guest cabin.  Such a generous couple to allow strangers (who you calling strange?) to rest and recharge in their very comfortable lodging.  I arrived just at dinner time (not that I had planned on it but luck is nice to have) and Marty joined us at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant.  After dinner we chatted in their beautiful home and Marty was able to decipher my cellular telephone enough to retrieve pictures no one else could.  All during my travels I have carefully documented the wandering of Magic Man's Spoon and it's adventures.  However I know the Forestry Forum requires pictures so I was stymied as to how to show the sojourn of a spoon so far from home.  Now that I have the photographs I can post the places and things the spoon has been up to.  Watch for it on the Forum.

After a pleasant nights sleep Lynn was kind enough to allow me to go to church with them (I didn't even have to sit on the back row with a bag over my head).  Churches in the South are impressive buildings but it's the people that make the church a home.  I was welcomed far more than I ever expected, finding the folks to be warm, friendly, and accepting.  After the usual opening song service ther was a greeting time and the Pastor mentioned that “There is a visitor from PORTLAND OREGON sitting over there and we sure are glad to have him join us today”.  Trying to remain anonymous was not working but I like to meet and greet folks when I am at church anyway.  I enjoyed the service and afterward we went to the popular place to eat where it seemed at least half of the congregation also filled the place.  Good food and even better company.  I found rutabagas to be good eats, and gravy on rice is nice.  Catfish of course (it seems everywhere catfish can be found on the menu down here) was thin and crispy.  I just might try to find some when I get back to the Northwest. 

On the road again I have reached Monroe LA and discovered Willy's Dinner (from the television program Duck Dynasty) is closed on Sunday.  So while I am a day behind schedule I am getting the job done.  Staying the night at a Days Inn and I am a happy camper.  I pick up the bike in the morning.


Offline Magicman

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2017, 08:20:38 am »
The pleasure was ours to host Kim (Howdy) during his travels.  Anyone that has ever shaken his large warm hand knows that hospitality goes both ways.  Safe travels my Friend, and may the "Spoon" be with you.   :)
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Offline Hilltop366

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2017, 08:34:32 am »
 popcorn_smiley

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2017, 11:19:37 am »
popcorn_smiley
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Offline Grizzly

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2017, 04:16:18 pm »
When looking for a hotel I use Tripadvisor to see ratings and read reviews. I don't book there but that's where I do my search. Too many BAD rooms and I won't risk it anymore. Costs a little but a good sleep is worth it.
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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2017, 08:47:16 pm »
 popcorn_smiley  Better than a movie. 
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Offline Howdy

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2017, 11:07:00 am »
I stayed at a Days Inn and found the room to be nice for a change.  I had requested a 7:30 wake-up call but a nearby empty room had it's alarm clock set to go off at 6:00 AM.
After listening to it for almost an hour I was wide awake so I canceled my wake-up call.  Of course the telephone still rang at 7:15 so canceling it didn't do much good.  And as daylight savings time had ended the day before no one at the hotel had changed the clocks so the time was really an hour earlier.  I tried to use the hotel computer station but could not get it to power up and the desk person refused to help saying her replacement was due at 8 so I would have to wait until then for help.   

As the Harley Davidson dealership where the bike was did not open until 10 AM getting an early start was just not gonna happen.  I met with my buddy and his family who delivered some lumber so I could build a rack for the bike in the back of the van.  With the help of the workers at the shop I was able to get the bike loaded and then it was how to secure it for the trip.  Somehow the job got done and it must be working as every time I have stopped and checked on it, nothing has moved or shifted.  The bike is riding safely and I am relieved. Building the rack cost me many hours I could have been driving but I was able to hit the road in the early afternoon so all was not lost and I did get a few miles in before nightfall. 

Arriving Texas I spent the night at the first rest area and I was amazed at how well it was cared for.  The entire place was clean, fresh, and well maintained.  I chatted with a worker who explained the place was staffed 24 hours a day and the pride they took in performing a humble job showed.  Anyone stopping here would be pleased. 

I passed Dallas, Ft. Worth, and skipped stopping at any of the interesting places I had hoped to visit trying to make up lost time.  I had a reservation in Tucson that I just could not miss as it was the one thing that made this trip worthwhile. For far too many years I have wanted to visit Tucson where the US military airplane boneyard is located. On the base are thousands of aircraft are sitting in the sun after being declared surplus to current needs but held just in case spare parts or entire aircraft are needed.  It takes an arm and leg to get permission to tour the aircraft and I have submitted all my information for the background check to get a reservation on one of the few tours allowed so I need to keep moving.

Miss Direction my GPS took me on a wander around the hills and valleys after leaving the Interstate hwy down two lane roads and away from civilization into the oil fields where every one drives a truck with a big bumper to ward off damage from wildlife crossing roads at inopportune times. As the hills flattened out I could see for miles and all around me I were candle like flames glowing in the night from the many oil wells burning off natural gas as waste into the air.   When at last I reached the town of Kermit I pulled into a truck stop and slept what was left of the night only to awake a few hours later to rain and 39 degree temps.  As long as I stayed under the blankets I was snug but if any exposed flesh quickly chilled requiring me to tucke myself in tighter. 

Morning came much too soon and away I went hoping I was getting closer to Carlsbad Caverns. Seeing the world through a five inch screen has it's limitations so I never was too sure that my GPS was not taking me on a wild goose chase.  So of course Miss Direction gave me a thrill ride and I soon was traveling down muddy dirt roads on a short cut rather than take the long way through Carlsbad NM.  I did have some faith as the road signs also indicated this route.  Miles later I discovered the road I was on was closed ahead and signs indicated a detour.  I still had faith in the signs so after twice getting turned around and reduced to traveling under 20 miles hour I was hoping the boat would survive the ruts and potholes.  Somewhere in the journey I spotted a taillight on the trailer dancing and dangling by one remaining wire and hiked thought the mud to remove it before it was lost for all time.  Hopefully somewhere along the road I can get it repaired or find a replacement.  After an hour of lost time I found myself back on the main road I started on so when I got to the shortcut this time I stayed on the main highway to the town of Carlsbad.  Highway traveling and no shortcuts!!! 

Arriving at the Caverns after driving up a winding road into the clouds was a relief.  Visibility was almost non-existence and when I got to the end of the road I found a parking lot and a building somewhere in the distance.  Following the path took me to the visitor center where I was surprised by how open and inviting it looked.  I wandered the exhibits getting the lay of the land before wisely deciding on taking the elevator down to the cavern.  I could have walked natural path that hearty explorers took to travel down the 750 foot drop required to reach to beginning of the caverns but being a little older and much less adventurous I chose the easy way.  Probably the best decision I could have made given that the park rangers don't get paid to haul damaged tourists around.  Once down in the depths of the earth I found a well designed and people friendly setup.  The main cavern is the only one accessible to the public and is an extremely large chamber filled with incredible formations, pools of water, well placed lighting and it's so quiet and large a person never feels closed in or crowed for space. There is more than a mile and a half of comfortable paths (it's that big) to keep people from climbing around the fragile formations and it can handle hoards of people but during my visit I mostly wandered alone.  I have always had a passion to visit caves and this one is a wonderful example.  I used my Lifetime pass I purchased when I traveled through Yellowstone National Park so it did not cost me anything to visit.  About the best $10 bucks I have ever spent.   

Tonight I am in El Paso TX and after dinner I have gone to the movies.  Tomorrow I will arrive in Tucson and try to talk myself into a tour of the airplane boneyard.  I had reservations for Tuesday but with all the delays I will arrive Thursday.   Hopefully I can find someone with reason who can see I had an approved reservation already and only want to change it by a couple of days. As the reservation process takes a minimum of ten days to process to complete the background check getting a new date would take too long for this trip.  Visiting the boneyard was to be the highlight of the entire trip and I will be very disappointing if I have missed it. 



Offline Magicman

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2017, 08:12:36 am »
When Howdy stopped by for a visit he was bearing gifts.  A beautiful mug which I immediately "re-gifted" to Marty,
 

 
and this bowl which has become my favorite morning cereal bowl.  I could have a contest; Name that Cereal??   :)
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Offline Darrel

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Re: Are we there yet?
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2017, 10:10:30 pm »
I like road trips, thanks for taking us along Howdy.

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