Category Archives: Vacation 3

2014 summer vacation


Took my travel truck down to Rexburg today and I noticed her pulling slightly to the right. She and I are taking a big drive in a couple of weeks down to the land of sun and bikinis with an old London Bridge and there are a few mechanical things to wrap up before we go, including this new issue.

Found a great auto shop next to Walmart and told them to rotate the tires, do an align and check out my battery, which was getting old. The diagnosis was that the front bearings need repacking before an align and I needed a new battery, so I bought this monster and we’ll do the repack and alignment next Saturday.

A new clutch and main seal should also be going in next week and I’ll soon be owning Spring Break and Summer Vacation once again!

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Bag Of Tricks

I’ve finished up my little bag of travel tricks for some secure internet this summer. All of the electronics are in the bag, configured and ready to go, with the main connections coming out the top.

The bag contains an Alfa R36 repeater and range extender for my Alfa Awus036H long-range Wifi antenna. This unit acts as my primary encrypted router with a non-visible SSID and it’s connected to my netbook via Lan cable and also connected to my TP-Link wireless N150 travel router.

Here’s how it works: I fire up the netbook which talks to the R36 via browser and it presents all of the hotspots that my long-range antenna can find. I then peruse them by signal strength, lack of encryption and name (you know, netgear, linksys ;-). Once I make my choice the bag of tricks hooks up to that connection and presents a sweet little hotspot to me called nano that all of my devices are ready to talk to.

The really nice thing about this setup is the security. I sincerely doubt any punk script-kiddie trying to hack an unsuspecting laptop hooked up to a Starbucks or motel connection could break through two additional levels of passwords and encryption!

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It’s been a long winter and I met up with my co-driver Karen and our bosses from Idaho Falls today over an appreciation lunch at the Korean joint and told them this was it.

I’m now officially on summer vacation! Karen needs the last week in June and the first week in July off so I’ll cover but other than that, it’s on! I have a great relationship with my employer and they’re fine with giving me the time off in the summer because there’s not enough work for two drivers, and I’m happy to take it and go traveling.

My first trip will be to Norris Hot Springs. I passed this place coming back from Billings last weekend and it’s 158 miles (2.5 hours) away. I will park my travel truck in a quiet little spot with no hookups, soak in their hotsprings and have a couple cocktails. A perfect way to shed the winter driving blues and plan my next great adventure.

Update, I’m back!

When I entered Norris, MT into my GPS yesterday she calculated a 185 mile route. I knew something was wrong because I made a mental note of the distance home (158 miles) when I passed it last Sunday. She wanted to take me through West Yellowstone but I knew I wanted the hwy 87 bypass. When I turned on to it she recalculated and I bought a half hour.

Norris Hot Springs is a great little place and my camping spot was right at the end. I made a couple of trips to the pool, met some nice people including a young couple that worked for the Forest Department and had a fine time.

I intended to try one of their famous hamburgers made from local Montana Angus and vegetables from their garden but never got around to it. Next time…

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I drove to Casper, WY yesterday, because I’d never been there. Here’s the route. Along the way I was impressed by some awesome cliff formations and I was determined to photograph them on the return ride. I just did.

There are a total of thirteen photos in this set. (click the photo below to view the set)

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I was in Casper Wyoming last Saturday. The weather sucked, cold and windy it was, and there was a rodeo going on somewhere so all of the hotels were booked except the Bates Motel, and I got the last room. Note to self, no matter how bad you want to check out a place, do not accept a smoking room. Move on to another town.

I asked the clerk if it had been aired out and he said it was a smoking room since the place was built, and no. I pulled off the bedding, set up my computer, ignored the fact that towels had not been washed and went walking around town.

Casper’s not a bad place I suppose. The downtown is old and eclectic, it has a good bar (whose name escapes me) and it has the tallest Wells Fargo sign I’ve ever seen.

I had planned to continue East but I needed to be de-liced and scrubbed smoke free, so I headed back home. The photoset is available by clicking the photo below:

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New Friends

Sharing some good times up here at Norris Hot Springs with my new friends John and Taylor. Here’s some more photos from yesterday.

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Seattle Sun

I lived in the Seattle area for years prior to moving here and despite the traffic and the big city issues I always said that when the weather’s nice, it’s a great place to be.

I’ll be there tomorrow, and this forecast has me smiling. Stay tuned for some sunny photos from the great NorthWest.

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NW Visit 1

We pulled away from our driveway yesterday at 0100 hours and arrived at Steph’s family house in Washington state 14 hours later. Jim and Sandy have an amazing new house with 5 bedrooms and a ton of space.

After dinner everyone was hanging out on the front porch watching the neighbor across the street start up a couple of old vehicles. They hadn’t met the folks yet and when I walked across the street to photograph Gary’s 1927 flatbed truck he said “jump in“.

We drove around the neighborhood a bit and then I turned the passenger seat over to Jimmy. The neighbors have bonded, and that 1952 Lincoln that Gary’s restoring is sweet.

This morning I drove up to Kent to hang out with my son Riley and his wife Jess for a few days. While waiting for him to get off work I drove to the Des Moines waterfront to smell the ocean and shoot video from the end of the pier. Unfortunately a gust of wind blew my GoPro into the Pacific Ocean. Yes, I was devastated, but tomorrow’s another day…

Click on the photo below to view the set…

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Kents Hoppin

Cornucopia Days has always been my favorite time of the year here in Kent, WA. I was stunned by the crowds today, I could barely move through them.

Meanwhile, thousands of kids were fighting and screaming trying to make close contact with the water ball.

I needed a break so I went up the hill to grab some coffee at Top Foods. This was my main grocery outlet and Riley’s first job. The old place looks great!

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NW Visit 2

Riley and Jess and I went on an event marathon today. I’ve trained my son well but his natural abilities shined through today as he navigated their new state of the art KIA from Kent Cornucopia, to Alki Beach and onto Pike place Market.

Click on the photo below to view the set…

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C Day

Yesterday was the final day of Kent Cornicopia and we decided to watch the parade this year. So Steph, Riley, Sandy and Tori and I hung out. Steph’s sister Sandy and her daughter Victoria had never attended and it’s been many years for the rest of us.

It was fun but as someone who has faithfully attended and photo-documented the Victor Idaho 4th of July parade, well, it was obvious I was not in Idaho… :-)

Click on the photo below to view the set…

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Mount Rainier

Highway 410 between Sumner and Yakima Washington wraps around the east side of this great volcano and presents a stunning view as the sun rises. We rolled by here at 0600 this morning and I took advantage of the photo opportunity.

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NW Leftovers

My latest adventure was a marvelous mix of family, sunshine, and love. Here’s my girl Tori and my son Riley, hanging out with me…


And to finish off the parade, a group of Mexican cowboys pranced their horses around and stole the show!

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NW Videos

Last Saturday I climbed into Riley and Jess’s KIA back seat and we went off exploring. From Kent Cornucopia to Alki Beach and then down to the Pike Place Market and the Waterfront, we had a great time. I pressed the video button on my camera a few times and this little composite video is the result.

At 1:52 in the video we passed a Water Taxi loading up for a trip around Alki. I used to manage that operation as a Metro supervisor and occasionally I got to drive it. :-)

Ooops, I forgot to include this one…

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Route 68

Tomorrow I embark on my next summer vacation jaunt, up into big sky country. I’m choosing this initial northern leg because my back hurts from pulling fence at my sisters house on Sunday and I figured the Springs would be a great place to turn 68.

On into Billings on Thursday, just because I like the town, followed by Butte on Friday where the Evil Knievel Festival‘s going on and then landing in Missoula on Saturday for the Farmers Market.

After that, probably down into Oregon and over to the Pacific…

This post also introduces my new app called Ploht (.com) which I wrote to facilitate my travels. Click on the map markers for more options.

  • Norris Hot Springs
  • Billings
  • Butte
  • Missoula

Here’s my other two visits to Norris Hot Springs: ( 6/20/14 ) and ( 5/30/14 ).

…and, you can see all of my routes here and all individual places here.

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