Posted tagged ‘travel’

Heber Valley Railroad

October 7, 2019

Our major excursion for today was riding on the Heber Valley Railroad. The Heber Valley Railroad is located in ESE of Salt Lake City.

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Heber City is located ESE of Salt Lake City.

We arrived just in time for the 11:00 AM departure. To say that the passenger cars are old, is definitely an understatement.

Once everyone was on board, the train sets off rumbling through the countryside with a toot,toot,toot every time we came to a RR crossing. Halfway to our destination somewhere in the middle of nowhere stopped to allow a few train robbers to board and harass all the passengers with a “hands up!!”.

So we were rumbling along at a speedy 15 mph (I checked my phone’s GPS app). I can’t imagine what it would feel like to speed along at 40 mph. We lumbered along through the Provo canyon. Lots of beautiful views.

After an hour and 15 minutes we reached our destination at Vivian Park. Most folks got off the train to stretch their legs and then lined up at the two bathrooms. All that bouncing around got my kidneys going good. It felt good to pee.

So the engineer detached the locomotive and headed down a siding to get to the other end of the train for the return trip.

So the engineer gave us three toots of his whistle at 12:40 to tell everyone to get on board or risk walking home. Then, another three toots and we were off back to whence we came. Great fun.

Here are some pictures:

Salt Lake City Tour of Temple Square

October 2, 2019

We arrived yesterday in the SLC area. Today we had breakfast and then took the UTA train to Temple Square. Our tour guide was Bob Lunt who is Laura Lunt’s Dad (Laura is Neil’s wife). Temple Square is the geographic center of the city of Salt Lake City. Click here for the Wikipedia entry.

We met Bob at the Temple Square train stop. Our first event was a free organ recital at noon. They have a huge pipe organ. It was about a 30 minute recital. Outstanding.

Then we did a tour that started at 1 pm. The tour was led by two lovely young ladies that were serving the Mormon church. Bob would add his knowledge to the discussion. There are many beautiful buildings. Non-Mormons are not allowed into the main temple. Here are some of my pictures:

Then we went to the 10th floor of what was once the Hotel Utah and is now LDS offices. They have a couple of restaurants on the 10th floor. Here are a few pictures from up high.

Bryce Canyon National Park

September 30, 2019

This will be our last day in Southern Utah. Tomorrow we head north to Salt Lake City to visit with our son Neil and his wife Laura. Today we toured Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is not as crowded with visitors as Zion. Nevertheless there were plenty of people there.

Bryce and Cedar Breaks are different than Zion in that you view the rock formations from the top of the mesa. In Zion, you are down in the canyon looking up at the rock formations. It is not better or worse, it is just different.

There are many trails to do. Seeing as the elevation is about 8000′ ASL, I get short of breath real easy. We mostly just walked up to the fence to view the hoo-doos and other magnificent rocks. There are signs warning everyone not to climb over the fence. Duh! It’s a long way down. That could hurt.

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get to Bryce. If I had been smarter, I would have checked out of our hotel in Hurricane and reserve a room up nearer to Bryce. Maybe next time, though I doubt we will be back. Next trip might be to Grand Canyon. I’ve been wanting to see that for a long time.

We have a National Park Senior Pass that is good to get into any National Park site for free. We bought it about 5 years ago on our trip to visit Joshua Tree National Monument. Without the pass we would have had to pay about $50-$75 to each park to get in.

First stop after clearing customs (oh, I mean the ranger station) was to the Visitor Center/Gift Shop. We watched an interesting 25 min video about the park. Then we spent about $50 on refrigerator magnets, shirts, drink coasters and other assorted memorabilia. It would have been easy to drop another c-note on this stuff (books, videos, calendars, mugs, etc.)

Bryce Canyon is named after Ebeneezer Bryce who is one of the early Mormon settlers in the 1850’s. Click on this link for more info on Bryce.

I just finished writing a few more postcards. First on our list was cards to our grand-kids Jonathan and Sarah.

Okay, here are some of the pictures that I took.

Zion National Park

September 27, 2019

We were bright and early so that we could get to Zion to snag a parking space. We arrived at about 9 AM. Two lines of cars waiting to pay the park ranger. We have a National Park Service Senior pass that we bought 6 years ago at Joshua Tree National Monument. Good for lifetime free access to National Parks. Definitely a good deal, otherwise entry would have been about $50. Here is a link to the Zion Web Pages.

So we managed to snag a HP spot not to far from the visitor center. Zion banned private cars from accessing the park about 20 years ago. Instead they have many shuttle vehicles taking people from the visitor center to various jumping off places in the main canyon.

We went to the visitor center to buy a few post cards and refrigerator magnets. One can drop a ton of dough in the visitor center. Paula bought a couple of shirts and a tote bag. I wrote two postcards to the grandkids. We escaped with only $66 on my Visa,

Then we hopped on the next shuttle leaving the visitor center. We got off a couple of times to walk around and take pictures. We did one short hike down to the Virgin River. There are easy hikes and not so easy hikes. We stayed to the easy hikes. During our ride along the trail, we often saw several deer. Drivers were quite aware of the deer. No deer were hit. They just looked up and said “Ho hum, more visitors”. It’s a good place for deer to live

Enough of my blather. Every you looked there was someone with a phone in their hand looking up at the sky and peaks to take a picture. I wonder how many pictures are taken at Zion every year? Here are some of my pictures:

Travel Day 1

September 27, 2019

My wife and I left San Pedro Thursday morning at about 9 AM bound for Utah. One of our goals is to visit with our son and his wife in Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s a little bit much for one day’s travel. Many times we stop in Las Vegas for the night and continue on in the morning.

This year we decided to do something different. This year we decide to visit Zion National Park in Southern Utah. We are staying in a hotel in Hurricane, UT. The distance for this leg is about 430 miles. That’s about the most I can do in a day’s drive.

So we do about 120 miles or about 2 plus hours before stopping. We stopped in Barstow and got a couple of iced coffees at Starbucks. Did a little bit of walking to stretch our legs. Emptied bladders and on the road again.

We stopped in Primm, Nevada to stretch our legs and go to the bathroom. Primm is right across from the CA-NV border. The change in view is drastic. Big tawdry casinos on both sides of I-15.

Next stop after another 125 miles we stopped for gas in Mesquite, NV. Price of gas drops dramatically once you leave CA. Goes from about $3.89/gal to under $3/gallon.

We pulled into our hotel in Hurricane, UT at about 6pm. Unpacked and we went out to dinner at a local steak house. Paula and I had a delicious grilled pork shop and a glass of wine.

Back to the hotel. Getting up on Friday early to head for Zion. Parking lots fill up early. Next post will be all about Zion. We will be in Hurricane until Tuesday when we head north on the I-15 to SLC.

Ramona

August 5, 2018

So today we were about to start for home from our visit to Escondido, CA for the Grand Organist Reception last night. So we wanted to do something more than just head back up the freeway to LA. We decided to take a side trip up to the small town of Ramona, CA up in the NE corner of San Diego County.

So our friend Roberta suggested we head up to Ramona. This is a small town up in the middle of nowhere. We had a nice scenic drive. By this time of year, most everything is brown. So we got there in fine time. Stopped for gas and Paula went for a walk. She found a Masonic Lodge, then we drove around and we found a second lodge. Two lodges in town. I’m impressed.

 

 

So here’s some info on Ramona. Seems to have many businesses. There was a Dunkin Donuts!. Don’t even have one in San Pedro. Also had a Starbucks, Albertsons and gas stations. I filled up the Nissan. Seems like the mileage is running about 30 mpg.

So I said to Paula, “I think there was a song written about “Ramona”. So I did a search on YouTube and found a couple of ditties from back in the day. Here are the links.

First is a song by Bob Dylan named “Ramona

Next was a song by David Whitfield also called “Ramona“. Released in 1961.

And finally, “Ramona” by Louis Armstrong.

Wheels Up

May 17, 2017

Well we arrived safe and sound in Boston last night. It was a long day. We were up at 0500 to get ready. We had a light breakfast, showered and got dressed. We got Mary up at about 0630 and got he breakfast ready. By 0700, our care giver had arrived. I gave her the nickle tour. We explained once again to Mary where we were going and when we would be back. She looked like such a lost soul. But for our sanity, we have to do it.

For these trips we hire home care people from a company called CarenetLA to take care of Mary. They do a great job. When we first started to use them a few years ago, we only had them during the day. Now, we need them to be there 24/7.

By 0715, we were out the door and heading to LAX. Our flight was at 1115. We were concerned about traffic and SNAFU’s related to Delta’s gate move from gate 5 to gate7. Local news people were saying allow extra time, so we did. So that means with normal traffic, we were through security with 3 hours to wait. Groan. But it sure feels good to be out on the road.

I am getting to really detest air travel. I mean really, really detest it. Air planes are more crowded. When was the last time you saw an airplane half full? So Paula and I went to the bathroom and looked for a place to sit and wait. Departure lounge was packed. People sitting on the ground. So we headed to the Starbuck’s and got some coffee and a blueberry scone to share. Managed to find two seats.

Okay here’s the deal. Normally, I would prefer to book a non-stop flight. For hour outbound flight from LAX to BOS, that would mean either a flight that leaves very early like 0700 or 0800, gets into BOS at about 5 pm, just in time for rush hour. Or we could take the red-eye leave at 10 or 11 pm and get into BOS at 0600. So we were stuck with the in between option. Booked a flight that left at about 11 am with stop at Minneapolis-St Paul change planes for the final leg to BOS. Taking the 0800 nonstop means getting up at 4 am to get to LAX by 0600.

The other choice is the red-eye. Leave LAX at 10 pm and arrive in BOS at 06:30. No good choices

So. the last couple of three years we have decided to splurge and book first class. If one is careful, you can get a reasonable price. It eases the pain a bit but the flight was still packed. Airlines generally have about 3 levels of coach. Each level up gives you a little more leg room, United calls it “Comfort Plus”, NOT! So with first class, I don’t have to pay for baggage, don’t have to pay for food or drink on the flight. And you get a little bit more attention from the stewardess.

Actually the food on both legs was pretty decent. As soon as I sat down on the LAX-MSP leg, stewardess gets me a gin and tonic. Excellent.

So I made the reservations back in February, well before the recent dust ups on United and American. I picked Delta for no other reason that we had used them before and they weren’t bad. I think that any of the few major airlines are capable of doing bad things to there customers. You pick one and you take your chances. You just hope that noone had a melt down on your flight.

So we arrived in MSP on time. I get off the flight and look at the departure screen to see where our gate would be for the MSP-BOS leg would be. Arrival gate was G21, our departure gate was D4. Oh FxxK, I say. MSP is a huge Delta hub. It would be hard to imagine a longer hike between gates. So we get on the moving walkway and head for D4. Halfway there, an airport shuttle driver took pity on us and asked if we would like a lift. Oh yes, please we answer. So off we went. Got to the gate. Delta had just started to board.

So we landed in BOS on time at about 9:30 PM and headed to the rental car bus. At Logan, the rental car companies share a common facility. Got up to the Avis desk and gave my credit card and driver’s license. I had requested a Ford Escape SUV.  They didn’t have any Ford Escapes. So they give me a Ford Expedition for the same price. Are you kidding me? That car is like a tank. It is huge. The major problem is that I will have to return it with a full tank of gas. I shudder to think what that’s going to cost me. Avis is officially on my shit list. There are other rental car companies in this world.

And one more thing. Every time I rent a new car it takes me a day or so to figure out how everything works. I get into the car and it takes me 10-15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the headlights. I can’t find out all the switches because the garage is dark.

And another thing. Man it gets dark out here. As we headed out Rte 2 into the Exurbs the ambient light god darker and darker. It’s not like that in LA. You have to get out into the desert to get that kind of darkness.

And finally, we are now back in the land of Dunkin Donuts. Though, the first Dunkie’s that we saw in the airport was closed. Not that I needed a coffee at 10 pm. Time to dust off the Dunkie’s App. Time to make the donuts.

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Morro Bay

October 9, 2016

So a couple of months ago, I asked Paula what she wanted to do for her birthday and our wedding anniversary. She suggested that we do a two day road trip somewhere in California. So we decided to drive up the CA coast to Morro Bay. Morro Bay is about 200 miles from LA. It is a small sea side community. So our plan was to drive up to Morro Bay on Thursday on rte. 101. It takes about 5 hours including an hour for lunch.

2016-10-09-14-55-23So for us to get away for three days means that we need to get care givers arranged for Mary. At this stage of her life, we can’t leave her alone. So we sent an email to carenetLA.com to arrange.

On the ride north, we stopped at town called “Buellton” for lunch. We ate at a restaurant called “Pea Soup Andersen’s” which was apparently famous for its pea soup. So we decided, what the hell, we’d give it a try. The waiter told us that we could have free refills on the soup. Apparently the record is 17 bowls of soup. My word, that’s a lot of soup. We politely declined and had just one bowl each. Very tasty. Though, truth be told, the pea soup that I make is better.

Rte 101 tends to hug the coastline through Santa Barbara and Ventura. The route turns inland after Santa Barbara to avoid Vandenberg AFB. (We went there last year for Mike’s promotion ceremony.) Then back to coast through Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande’. Lots of surfing along this area.

So we decided to stay at the “Ascot Inn at the Rock“. A nice little hotel with a great view of the harbor. Included free breakfast and free WiFi. Breakfast was decent. Scrambled eggs and sausages, toast or cold cereal. Our plan was to have a nice dinner out, then on Friday go up to tour the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. We ate at a place called “Dorn’s Breaker Cafe“.

Needless to say there are sea food restaurants here. We found a nice place within walking distance. Paula had broiled haddock and I had saute’d scallops. I had a tasty martini before dinner and a glass of sauvignon blanc during dinner.

They had a roof top deck set up for evening get togethers. I took a couple of pictures. The sea gull was seemed to be very used to people. I think he was expecting to be fed. There is a huge rock formation out in the harbor. Quite distinctive.

Paula suggested we take a couple of pics of the room. Decor was a pleasant rose color.

Take a look at the links that I added. Most of them have better pictures than I could have taken. Now on to San Simeon.

San Diego

September 21, 2015

So, we just got back from San Diego. Paula had signed up to attend the Assistance League National conference at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. I had a choice. Either I would stay at home and mind Mary K or I could go along and hang out while Miss Paula went to conference meetings all day. I chose the latter.

So we arranged for care givers for Mary from Wednesday until today. We hit the road for San Diego at about 11 am on Wednesday. Arrived by early afternoon and checked into the hotel. We got a room with a view of the Dole pineapple warehouse. The view out the other side of the bay was $20 more a night. Here’s a picture. The bridge in the background is the bridge to Coronado Island.

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View of the beautiful Dole warehouse.

So I brought all of my computing gear. Laptop, iPad and iPhone. We were invited to a cocktail party at a restaurant on Coronado serving snacks and wine. I was included in the festivities. I felt I could deal with that. We tool the ferry across the bay.

So on Thursday, I joined Paula for breakfast with the AL ladies. Nobody was checking tickets so I ate for free. I had a quiet day watching people wander by in the lobby. I eventually found the Starbucks and got myself suitably caffeinated.

Friday, more of the same. We had dinner at a restaurant on Coronado called the “Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill” I had an appetizer of Scallops. Very tasty. It went well with the two martinis.

On Saturday, I decided to upgrade my iPad and iPhone to iOS V9. I seemed to have a decent wi-fi connection. I had nothing better to do so why not? Not as fast as wi-fi at home but it would do. With that complete it was time for a nap. Eventually Paula returned from her day of drinking from the firehose.

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The Assistance League ladies from San Pedro-South Bay

She got to rest for a bit. Then off we went to the big closing banquet. My ticket was $125 Yikes!!! Was I the only one who thought the prices were outrageous. Food was good but not $125 good. Cash bar was pricey too. $12 for a mixed drink. The $12 got you just the generic “well” gin, nothing fancy.

So I had dinner. Eventually I got tired of sitting there. My hearing (or lack thereof) has gotten worse over the past few years. I have a lot of trouble hearing conversations in noisy environments even with hearing aids. So I excused myself and headed up stairs to our room.

So on Sunday we had planned on meeting our friends Ron & Thelma up in Del Mar Heights for brunch. Ron & Thelma’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren came to visit. Always ready to visit with the grand kids.

They asked me if I would play some kids tunes on their out of tune piano. I was happy to oblige. Actually, the tuning wasn’t that bad. It needed tuning  but I’ve played worse. So I got out my iPhone and did a bunch of kids tunes, like Old MacDonald, Itsy-Bitsy Spider. etc.

Once that was done, we headed on up the 5. It seems that no matter the time or day there will be heavy traffic.. Today was no different. Home by 3:30 pm.

It was a fun few days. We all had fun and a blessed respite from caring for Mary. Later.

TTFN

Joe

Embassy Suites

September 14, 2015

We just got home from our trip up north to Vandenberg AFB with Mary. We were staying at the Embassy Suites in Lompoc. I will be writing a separate post on the ceremony. This post is about our stay at Embassy Suites. This is a decent hotel. The only meal we had here was this morning. The morning breakfast buffet was outstanding. First class. I’ve been to a lot of hotel buffets in my life. This one beats them all hands down.

The only issue I have is the size of the room and I don’t think there is much to be done about that. We had Mary sleeping on the sleeper sofa and Paula and I had the King size bed in the bedroom. Unfortunately there was only one small bathroom in the bedroom. That meant when Mary got up to use the bathroom at night guess where she went.

On Saturday night she was a bit confused and couldn’t find the bathroom. Often times we bring a night light. Forgot it this time. Oh well.

Of course, she was always cold. I am not turning off the AC. Not going to happen.

Travelling with Mary is getting very stressful. We can’t let down our guard for minute lest she trip and fall. She couldn’t quite figure out why it took so long to get to the restaurants we were going to.  The restaurants are ones that are favorites of Mike’s squadron and aren’t in Lompoc.  And VAFB is very isolated. Intentionally so.

All of the HP accessible locations all worked out very well. She never had to walk much more than 20 feet from car to building. The military folks were very attentive to her needs including getting her a special chair.

Mary, it seems these days, is having trouble making decisions. Paula would offer her a couple or three outfits that she could wear. She just floundered. I think this is probably the last trip she will ever go on. There is no event that I know of that she would know of or want to go to. Certainly not by air. That ship has sailed. At any rate we are glad to be home. Next trip next week to San Diego WITHOUT Mary.