Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pennant Chase Over

Well, the A's won tonight, but it is a little bit too late. Tuesday's loss knocked the A's out of the playoff chase and yet again an opposing team celebrates on our field. Ugh.
There's a lot of spin about the A's good season and all of that, but if we don't make the playoffs, I'm not happy. We were in the drivers seat at the end of August and we don't finish.
Its even sadder that the crappy Giants lasted a day or two longer in their race than we did in ours. The Giants of all teams. Ugh and ugh again.
I'll add that the Giants won me my bets at work. I'm owed dinner from Rich and a soda from Pete. I told these guys the Giants are old and slow and I wasn't kidding.
I fully expect a division crown from the A's in 2006 and something better than a bow out in the first round, which we did four years in a row before gagging to the Angles the last two seasons.
Since I'm not going to the Arizona Fall League this year, the long baseballless dark time begins.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Guess you need to be sure the ice is thick enough before you set out on your drive.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A's have fine farm teams

I need to note that last year's Modesto club won the Cal League. Most of those players moved up to the AA Texas League where our team is in Midland. Sure enough, Midland won the Texas League this year. We're in store for a fine group of studs coming up in 2-3 years.
Also, each level of A's minor league team, from Vancouver to Sacramento, was in the playoffs this year. Its great to be an A's fan.
Meanwhile, the Giants continue to be sorry.

Tells it best tells about the lies in Iraq better than I can. Maybe my misguided right wing friends like Todd and Mike K can have a look.

Raiders loss

I've not blogged about my love of football and the Raiders. I think we have a lousy team and we'll be lucky to win 6 games. We will win more than the Niners, so life isn't all bad.
I don't understand on the last drive of the game why we don't look to Randy Moss, who is one of the top three pass catchers in the league. On the last play of the game, Collins throws to a double covered Porter while Moss is in single coverage. And, someone else was open.
Still, Porter almost came up with the game winner, but that's the story of the Raiders the last few years. Almost

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Constitution Day

Just a reminder to you all that today is the acutal birthday of our nation as we know it. The Constitution was ratified Sept 17, 1787. The greatest document ever written.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gas and the RV

I've been asked about the gas mileage in the RV and the cost to drive the beast on the last trip. I drove 3793.3 miles and used 469.13 gallons of gas for an average of 8.03 mpg. This includes using the on board generator to run the coach A/C while driving. The dash air cannot cool the whole coach. This did affect the mpg for the tanks I used the generator and the totals.
I had three tanks over 9 mpg and the highest tank reading was 9.65. The lowest was 6.8 and I had 5 tanks in the 7's.
I spent $1256.10 on gas, and that averages out to $2.678 per gallon. That's the weighted average, the average of the pump price was $2.667. On last year's trip, these figures were between $2.000 and $2.010 per gallon, so gas went up .67 per gallon in a year, or about 33.5%.
The Katarina price spike got me only at the end of the trip. While in Las Vegas, gas went up .06 a gallon overnight.
The highest price I paid on the trip was $3.159 in Tonopah. I paid $2.849 in Beaver, UT when I had the shocks replaced, and that was the two highest prices I've ever paid. Everywhere I went on the last two days of the trip gas was over $3 a gallon. I'm sure if I waited a week or two later to take the trip I would have been gouged worse than I already was.
There was a guy on the outskirts of Fallon, NV that was charging $3.669 a gallon while everyone else in town was .60 cheaper. He wasn't pumping any gas when we drove by.
Each mile driven on the trip cost an average of .33.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Macha is horrible

It is easy to second guess any manager or coach, but in Macha's case this is a first guess. Zito had thrown 118 pitches and had two on and one out in a tie game against Cleveland. Macha goes out to the mound and leaves Zito in with Calero warmed up and ready to go.
I knew disaster was coming, and sure as hell Zito serves up the three run bomb and the A's go on and lose.
Why oh why didn't Macha pull a tired Zito out of the game? Ugh.

Roman at is much more bitter than I am about this turn of events. Though I'm not happy about the three run homer, I wasn't surprised.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

And finally.......

Here's Mallory and Leandra at Dorothy's House in Liberal, KS

Mallory and Sandra

Here's Mallory and Sandra at Royal Gorge

Tree Rock

Here's a shot of Tree Rock, in Wyoming. The wagontrains came past this site first and the railroad used it as a reference point as well.
Old US-30 passed by not too far away either, and now the tree bisects I-80.
The tree grows right out of the rock. I'm surprised vandals haven't got to it yet.

Another shot of the Gorge

Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River

Me and Mallory

Here's Mallory and I on the Royal Gorge Bridge. God, do I look fat!

Fire is cool

Charlie built this campfire at Lake Coldwater.

Page 7

After Breckenridge, we headed west on I-70 on our way home. Glenwood Canyon is a famous stretch of scenery that is the prettiest stretch of Interstate in the country. I-70 [asses through Grand Junction and then into Utah. This is some of the most desolate parts of the country. Only Green River breaks up miles of nothingness. And Green River State Park is where we dry camped for the night. (boondocking is just parking somewhere in the boonies, or at Wal Mart, but dry camping is camping in a campground without hookups but usually a bathroom/shower.)
Then it was off to Vegas. Of course there is always something with the money pit that RV's are, and we found this out in Utah. I was getting some odd tread wear on the front tires and the handling was suspect. So, I had the shocks replaced in Beaver, UT for a paltry $600. Nothing on a RV is cheap. But it did improve the handling and ride.
Once in Vegas, we stayed at the Oasis. The Oasis in on the south end of the Strip, about a $20 cab ride from Ceasers. This place is about the nicest place we've stayed at in the RV, it is nicer than Tiger Run. They have two pools and a hot tub as well as a fully stocked store and an 18 hole putting course that winds through the property. They also have a shuttle to the Tropicana that runs 5 times a day.
We took the shuttle and ate at the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM. This is Mallory's favorite place to eat so we appeased her. Next door to the MGM is the highest indoor climing rock in the world. 75 feet of terror!
Well, Mallory (who is 10) paid her money and took her shot. (I'll add that you can stand on the second floor which is at street level and watch the climbers.) This is a time that I was sorry I didn't have my camera as Mallory climbed the rock at a slow and steady pace and made it all the way to the top, where she rung the bell to a hearty round of applause from the 15 or so people who were watching.
We stayed at the Oasis for a few days and made one more excursion to the Strip. The volcano at the Mirage hasn't changed, you really need to be standing in front at the rail to see all the flame come out on the water. If you stand too far back you miss that part. The volcano still stops traffic.
One thing I'm disappointed about is the pirate fight at Treasure Island has been changed to some silly dancing and women vs men silliness. There's still cannons and fire and all that, but the pirate fight was much better.
After Vegas, we headed north on US-95 and made our way to Truckee, where Sandra's dad and step mom live. A quick overnighter and we were home.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Page 6

After the Gorge, we headed north on CO-9 and made a nice drive through mountain scenery. This took us to Breckenridge, CO, where we stayed at a fancy resort, Tiger Run. Breckenridge is a yuppified Tahoe. At 9600 feet of elevation, Breckenridge gets over 300 inches of snow every year, and even in the summer one can tell this is a ski resort.
Tiger Run is north of town, and Mallory and I drug Sandra ("I don't ride public transportation") on the bus that runs between Frisco and Breckenridge and we took it right into town. Oh, and the bus system in the county is free!
We walked up and down the main drag as ominous clouds swirled overhead. Suddenly, the skies let loose with lightning and thunder right over our heads. The hail came down in pea sized pieces and some slushy snow even fell. We took cover under an eave and waited for the storm to pass. It mostly did and we continued our trek in town.
Tiger Run cost $51 a night and though it is a really nice place, I think that's mostly a resort price and if we were not in Breckenridge, they wouldn't be able to get that kind of price. Actually, the vast majority of the spots were taken by park models.
A "park model" is a single wide modular that can be put into a RV or mobile park. They're not that long maybe 30-40 feet at the most. The park models at Tiger Run all looked like little log cabins. Each spot is individually owned like a condo complex, so what many of the space owners have done is to buy the spot (let's say $80k) and then put a park model ($50k+) on the spot and bingo, there's your weekend/vacation cabin.
Our spot was at the end of a row and we were surrounded by park models. I didn't mind so much but we kind of felt out of place.
One spot we were not out of place was at the indoor pool and spa. This was pretty cool as the weather had changed that day and it was cold enough to put the furnace on in the coach both nights we were there.
Tiger Run even had live music on Saturday night. All in all a nice place to stay, they just charge top dollar and they seem to get it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Royal Gorge 3

You can see the Arkansas river and a train chugging through the Gorge.

Royal Gorge 2

A view from the tram.

Royal Gorge 1

A picture of the bridge standing at the tram station. There's a tram that takes you across to the other side.

Page 5

After our three days at Lake Coldwater, we headed west along US-50 where we stayed at the KOA in Pueblo. It was time to get our laundry caught up and watch some TV, as we had no cable or over the air reception at the lake. Oh, and I'll add that the cost at Lake Coldwater was $12.50 a night. What a deal.
We then headed west on US-50 to Royal Gorge. US-50 kind of follows the Arkansas River, which is the 5th longest river in the US.
The Gorge itself is very pretty. The bridge was built in the mid-1920's and is the highest suspension bridge in the world. It wasn't built as a highway bridge, it was built just becasue.
We drove to the Gorge and got the gorge on the wallet once there. Only when you get there do you see the admission price. It cost us $56 dollars for the three of us to see the Gorge. OUCH!
We took the tram across the Gorge and then walked around a bit and walked back over the bridge, rode the carousel and that was it. Oh, and we had lunch. About two hours at the most. I guess I'm glad we went, but still a gouge. It is doubtful I'll ever go back.

Mallory's Birthday

Here's Mallory blowing out the candles on her 10th birthday

Page 4

I drove across Wyoming and into Nebraska on I-80. Not a whole lot but prairie. Then it was south on SH-71 all the way to Limon, CO, where I stayed at the KOA for two nights. This is where Sandra and Mallory come into the picture. The first part of the trip I was solo, but I drove into Denver and picked up the two of them at DIA.
I'll say this, DIA is waaaaaay out in the middle of nowhere. It is at least 9 miles off the freeway and that's from the absolute edge of civilazation. I'll add here that I hate the Broncos. Not as much as the 49ers or the Chiefs, but the Broncos are a close 3rd.
We then started the family portion of trip. We went back to Limon and went swimming. One thing about the pool in Limon is that the deep end was 9 feet deep. This you don't see everyday, but I saw it in Nebraska as well.
Day next found us driving to Dodge City, KS. This is where my pals Charie and Katy live, as well as my goddaughter Leandra and my godson CJ. Leandra is about 21 months old as I blog this and CJ is three months old.
We all piled in the minivan and drove to Liberal, KS to go to Dorothy's House. This is a park that has a walking tour of the Wizard of Oz movie, as well as the Yellow Brick Road. The personalized bricks cost $65 each.
After Dodge City we all met back up at Lake Coldwater, which is about 60 miles south of Dodge. Yes, we got the flock out of Dodge, literally.
Anyway, Lake Coldwater is in Coldwater, KS, in Comanche County. This is one of the smallest in population counties in Kansas, and Charlie's first job in Law Enforcement was as a Deputy for Comanche County.
I'll add that I came out a few years ago and spent a week on patrol with Charlie and I sure didn't get tired of it. I've got film somewhere of us doing 126 mph with lights and siren on K1.
Anyway, Lake Coldwater was our personal lake for the three days we were there. 250 acres of nobody. 3.6 miles around the lake and all we saw was one guy that we had seen last year. He spends the summer at the lake for a couple of hundred dollars a month. That makes your Social Security go farther, that's for sure. The last night a couple pulled in across from us. It gets busier on the weekends, as many of the prime waterfront spots were taken by monthly renters who come for the weekend. Last year we stayed on the weekend and there was certainly more activity than this year.
We saw about the best lightning storm I've seen while at the lake. It was off to the south/southeast and the entire sky was lighting up with the bolts. Sometimes the clouds themselves would light up. We don't get this kind of weather out our way like this.
Later on in the night, the thunder and lightning were directly overhead. The thunder sounded as loud as a rifle shot and the lightning lit up the inside of the coach. I don't think it was too close though. I was in a storm in Canada once with my late brother and the lightning was so close the hair on our arms stood up and we heard the buzzing of the bolts as they hit the ground. I saw one hit a tree branch and took the limb off, the falling limb crushing a cooler just as the owner had shut the lid and turned away. Damn near killed him.
Anyway, after all the noise and rain, it was nice in the daytime. Even on the last day, it was gloomy in the morning and then it cleared up enough for us to go swimming in our private lake.

Page 3

I left Promotory Point and got back on East I-84. East of Odgen, along the Weber River, the road became very scenic. Not on the scale of I-70 in Colorado, but a good second to that. The river cut a canyon or two that were nice to drive through.
I then hooked up with East I-80 and continued along my way. Gas was as low as 2.13 a gallon in Evanston, WY. I'll note that this is before the Katrina price spikes.
Instead of finding a campground to stay in, I did the free thing again by parking at the Wal-Mart in Green River, WY.
In the RV world, there is much debate on boondocking at Wally World. Some RVers do it as a matter of practice while others wouldn't be caught dead in one. I wasn't the only one taking advantage of Wal-Mart's generosity, there were at least 10 other rigs in the lot.
Cities are cracking down on the free parking at Wally's. I've read on the Internet about cities that have banned overnight parking within their city limits. Many times this is a response to pressure from the local campground owners who see the number of rigs not paying for a site at their campgrounds.
Wally World has allowed this kind of parking for decades. They see 10-15 (or more) groups of people who, odds are, are coming in to buy stuff either the night before or in the morning. Wally World even has started carrying RV supplies to cater to this group of RVers.
I'll admit that I'm cheap and didn't see a need to spend $20-30 for a campsite when all I did was park, sleep, wake up, do the three S's and leave for Mc Donalds for breakfast.

A Nice Rig

Here's a nice 5th Wheel I saw in the parking lot at Promotory Point. The tractor is the only way to go, plenty of power to pull the fiver. More power than a heavy duty pickup. You can see just a bit of my coach behind the fiver.

Point Page 2

Promotory Point is where the Central Pacific (from Sacramento) and Union Pacific (from Omaha) met to complete the first Trans-Continental railroad.
I didn't take copious notes, but the train on the left came from Sacramento and the train on the right came from Omaha.
This is the actual site.

One thing I found interesting is that there was about 250 miles of overlapping track laid. The railroads were paid from the Government for how much track was laid, and there wasn't a meeting place designated, so the companies passed each other and kept on going, hoping for the best. It wasn't unitl the Feds stepped in and picked the Point.
Actually, the Point goes out into the Great Salt Lake. This part of the track was bypassed in 1904 by Southern Pacific, who built a causeway across the Great Salt Lake which is still in use.

Another interesting thing is that the ties aren't the same. The ties from the Central Pacific are all milled and uniform, while the ones from the Union Pacific are hand hewn and not the same. You can see the difference when you stand at the meeting point.

The actual final spike is located on the Stanford campus. The Omaha baseball team is called the "Golden Spikes."

This is out in the middle of nowhere, but I thought it was worth the detour. I took the trip on retirement mode anyway, so taking the hour or two out of my day wasn't a deal breaker.

Promotory Point

Here's a shot of the last tie put down.

Page 2

This is the Snake River in Idaho, looking upriver. Downriver from this overlook you can see two golf courses, one public and one private. I've been here twice and both times without golf clubs.

Anyway, I headed East on I-84 from US-93 and continued from Idaho into Utah. While driving along, I saw a sign for Promotory Point NHS and decided to take the 30 mile detour.

Vacation Page 1

I clocked out from work and was on vacation for 21 days. I went home and couldn't really get to sleep so I packed up the coach and by 9am was on the road.
When you drive something as stiff springed as a RV, you realize just how bad I-80 is from Auburn to the Nevada State Line. Espically the right lane. Geez what a kidney shaker. There has been construction for the last few years on I-80 and those spots are nice. But some of it is the original Interstate and it is shopworn.
About Gold Run I started getting sleepy so it was a good time to take a nap. One good thing about the RV is your bed and bathroom are always with you so it was a quick hop up into the overhead bed and off to dreamland.
After the nap, the rest of the drive was uneventful to Sparks. I do like I-80 from Auburn to Reno, it is a pretty scenic drive.
Another good thing about the RV is that you are self contained. That means you don't need hookups at a campground. The RV has a generator on board so the microwave and air conditioner can be used.
This matters, because instead of going to a campground, I parked in the overnight lot at the Nugget in Sparks. They have a specific lot for RVers to park in for free. And there's that operative word, "free."
I found a spot, ran the air and watched some of the Raider/Niner pre season game before the sleepy monster came for me.
Oh, being self contained also means that my fridge works on propane as well as the hot water heater, so the next morning I was able to enjoy a hot shower and a cold soda. Thanks to the magic of propane. God Bless Hank Hill!
I didn't cook, but ate at one of my favorite breakfast places, Black Bear Diner. I've blogged about this place before. Then I gassed up the beast and headed out into the wilds of Northern Nevada across I-80.
I-80 catches up with the Humboldt River which follows the primary way the wagon trains came across to California. Also, the first railroad across the country followed the Humboldt as well.
After a few hours of driving through the beauty of the Nevada desert, I made it to Wells and turned north for the drive to Jackpot and Catcus Pete's.
Catcus Pete's is an oasis in the middle of nowhere. I remember as a kid, almost 30 years ago stopping at Catcus Pete's on the way home from the Grand Tetons and having breakfast. At the time Pete's was the only place there, now there are two more casinos and more signs of life.
I like Pete's because the RV park is only $17 a night for full hookups. (power, water, sewer and cable) They also have a nice swimming pool that isn't too crowded during the week. I spent two nights here, and spent the full day lounging about the pool.
The day I left Jackpot a weather front had moved in and I was glad I left a sweatshirt in the coach. We get spoiled in California with our dry summers. It was wet and chilly. The picture is looking out the door in Jackpot.