Bus Driver Jim has been an eclectic computer programmer and photographer since the early seventies. A recent twenty year stint in the transportation industry has earned him the handle and this blog is a documentary of his life and travels.
My truck Jack has only been stuck once, and this is the spot. It happened several years ago when Riley came up from a Wyotech break in Laramie with a couple of buddies.
He wanted to four-wheel up in Teton Canyon so I tossed him the keys. Half an hour later he called me saying they were stuck. Turns out they went flying around this corner, slid into a six foot snow bank and bottomed out bad. We drove up and rescued the boys. :-)
So what does Riley do this last weekend? Bend (break?) a tie-rod out wheeling with the Pacific Northwest Jeep Club! At least he wasn’t stuck :-)
It’s great that we can drive four miles up the road and be in bear country, and art country! The Driggs Digs Plein Air (outdoor painting using natural light) event is going on now and we ran into a couple of artists up in Teton Canyon today.
Before taking off on my latest trip I was online, checking out the finest hat in the world, the Tilley. I even had Steph measure my head. I completely forgot about it and a package arrived today with a birthday present from Steph in it. Totally surprised!
This hat has an owners manual and a two year replacement guarantee against theft or loss. It fits perfectly and my poor old favorite fishing hat is now heading to the bottom of a drawer somewhere. :-)
I was having breakfast with my grand-daughter Shelby in Dana Point a few days ago and told her that I see her little mug every morning when I get out of bed. I told her it was a picture of her and brother John resting their heads on Riley’s shoulders.
Just in case she thinks I was kidding, here you go Shelbs:
Here’s the original :-)
And more from a road trip back in the previous decade…
btw: That shot of Riley and Shelby in the dark blue vehicle, that’s our girl Lucy!
All of the traveling I’ve done this summer has altered my perception of home. As I rolled through the beauty of the dry farms yesterday afternoon I thought of all the places I’d been recently and realized I hadn’t seen anything as beautiful as this.
I was also comparing the large cities that I survived and realized Teton Valley kicks their butt in so many ways! The people that live in these cities have lost sight of what living peacefully is like. Southern California is the worst: the fast cars, the silicone body parts and the general pretentiousness is really crazy. They fly around the freeways like lunatics while submitting themselves to hours locked in traffic just to reach their favorite giant multiple story fitness club.
San Francisco has charm but the traffic and the pace of life doesn’t allow them to enjoy it. Oregon has a beautiful coast but the cities (Portland, Salem, Eugene…) suffer from the same overcrowded strip-mall syndrome that seems to be synonymous with city life in America. Utah and Arizona are really just big hot deserts consisting of sand and sagebrush, with an occasional city.
All of that was in my head as I came into downtown Driggs and looked at our one stoplight with relief. Having seen life outside this valley I realize there is no other place I want to be. It’s great to be home.
I love driving my age. Owning two great old 5-speed Mazdas has taught me their sweet spot, which is three thousand RPM, equating to 65 MPH. These girls love to cruise at this level, they get terrific gas mileage, and last a long time. Steph’s Lucy sometimes gets 40 to the gallon and my new girl Jill gets 30.
Having just returned home from a wild west road trip I can attest to the sixty five philosophy! If you’re in a 70 or 80 MPH zone everyone passes and you can check them out! It’s entertaining and sometimes they make eye contact and share a hand gesture…
The wear and tear on the vehicle and tires is minimal and by going slower than traffic, they pass you and move on, creating a nice safety bubble on the highway.
I just turned 66 and I notice the speedometer has adjusted accordingly…
I pulled up to a gas pump off I-80 this morning, somewhere between the Bay Area and Sacramento, and had a funny thought:
“I don’t know where I am, but at least I’m out of there!”
My buddy Betty recently commented on the fact that I had no beach shots. Well, I was just waiting for the Pacific Ocean beaches to have nobody on them but me.
Ok, the Elephant Seals were hanging out, but they live here on this nude beach!
I had my breakfast cereal at Big Sur and Calamari for lunch at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Then I drove to San Francisco.
I was heading to Grant and Skoge’s place out on Masonic but I missed a critical exit and dropped into downtown at the beginning of rush hour. No problem I thought, if I can find Van Ness I can find Geary and then Masonic. Besides, I survived L.A., I can handle this.
And hour later I had been in the Castro District, up on a big hill via Market Street, all the way along the Embarcadero, with thousands of tourists, through Fishermans Wharf with millions of tourists and I still hadn’t found my streets. Hey, it’s been a long time since I drove this insane town!
I finally got there and Skoge (my friend of 40 years) and I had a great time playing with her I-Pad. So, as to my opening comment, San Francisco was “there”.
I hooked up with my lovely young grand-daughter Shelby this morning and met her husband Vince. I had to let the guards run my drivers license through the Homeland Security super computer before I could reach their house on the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Vince is a Marine sniper veteran, launches mortars and is a really nice kid! They have a great house on base, two dogs, and a sweet BMW bike in the garage.
Shelby and I went to breakfast at a very popular place in Dana Point while Vince met up with his visiting parents, also in Dana Point. Shelby had Crepes while I had an insanely good Eggs Benedict made with Hawaiian pork. Had a great visit and she caught me up on family news including the fact that I have twelve grand-kids. Ok, call me just a little bit out of touch, but hey! I live in Idaho!
Shelby and I said our good-byes and I started my Pacific Coast run from Dana Point at 1030 and didn’t stop until now in Los Alamos. The trip was intense as I was doing it on a beautiful L.A. Sunday, and the number of people that were flocking to the beach blew my mind! Going through the twenty mile stretch of Malibu there were thousands of vehicles and people (I want to say millions…) jamming into each beach. It was a relief to reach Hwy 101 where I was able to let Jill loose and cruise :-)
I’m including a couple of Coast shots without the madness…
It was 98 degrees as I pulled out of Lake Havasu City Arizona at 0430, determined not to stop until I found a stretch of land not comprised of sand and sagebrush. I think I overdid it because I just now ran out of land.
The homeless couple who visit Teton Valley in the summer told me to forget San Diego as a starting point for my cruise up the coast. They suggested La Jolla, so that’s where I went.
A pretty place, but crazy. Maybe I’m not acclimated to Southern California yet but four-way stops with a lot of people crossing all directions just doesn’t work, and I’m just an old Idaho guy who yields to pedestrians instead of using them as target practice.
Speaking of traffic, I-5 was quite entertaining. I hung out in the outside lane doing 65 and watched the show. They drive real fast and aggressive, cutting each other off constantly, like this is just the way they drive here.
Anyway, it turned out I couldn’t find the Coast Highway from La Jolla so I moved North to Del Mar. A few things I observed: The beaches cost $7 dollars to use, per vehicle, and there were a ton of people paying that fee. The drive is tortuously slow with ill-planed stop signs and very long lights. Holy traffic issues, Batman.
Ahhh, having fun in the desert! I blew through Vegas during morning rush hour by following the route 93 signs to Kingman, AZ. The last time I came this way I had to grind over the Hoover Dam on a two lane road. I kept waiting to hit the dam site but they built a freeway over the mountain, sweet!
It’s been a year of extremes for me, from -35 in the dead of winter to, yes, you guessed it, 119 isn’t a mile marker :-) Coming out of Needles CA into the Mojave desert my car thermometer topped out at 119. The windows were down, doing 65, and the sun wasn’t shining on it. Crazy!
Dead tires litter the landscape everywhere. I’m not concerned, I have four sweet used tires I picked up in Kent, WA. Ok, make that two. I stopped in Kingman for an oil change and when Jill was up on the lift the owner of the shop called me over. He pointed out that two of those used tires were starting to fall apart. Why yes they were… Visions of me on the side of the road in the middle of the desert, unloading my truck to change a tire caused me to fork out my debit card for two new tires up front, with the two decent used ones in the back. It’s still risky, but check this out:
The name of the shop is All American Tire. That caught my attention as I do a lot of business with All American Tire and Brake in Victor, both with our Trpta busses and my personal vehicles. So I asked the owner if this is a chain. He said no, this is the original and we have another one in Victor Idaho. :-) What a small amazing world. The guys who started the Victor store all migrated from this little shop in Kingman Arizona. Everybody here knows everybody there and once the word got out shop people were walking up to me smiling and saying “So, you’re from Driggs?” Holy coincidence, Batman!
btw: The last shot is the new freeway that bypasses the Hover Dam. Also, I’ve been thinking about this latest coincidence in my life with American Tire. I was going to skip Kingman and head to Bullhead City for the oil change. How I rolled into this city and swung into this location totally blows my mind. And I didn’t notice the name till later!
Pretty uneventful ride into southern Utah. Salt Lake City seemed like one very long strip mall separated by a busy six-lane freeway.
As I headed out into the badlands it opened up to an 80 mph speed limit, which means nothing to me since I drive 65. It’s interesting that Utah doesn’t have separate speed limits for trucks, so I got passed a lot by those big boys.
The Rest Area parking spot that I located on my Bing Map was open, so here I am. It’s cloudy and I’m getting a break from the sun, but it’s muggy. And the Beany Weenies and bread were great!
I’m writing this from a table at the Rest Area, scoping out the next big step on my WalMart Special 2013 Road Atlas. I’ll post this tomorrow from civilization.
Next stop is Lake Havasu City in Arizona off the Colorado River. Who knows what’s going to happen there, I’ll keep you tuned… My biggest concern is the next day (Saturday?). I want to get down to Interstate 8 (Yuma AZ, El Centro CA) so I can start my coast trip right above San Diego.
There is a road (95) that runs from Parker AZ, through Quartzsite AZ, on down to Yuma and I8. It goes through the Castledome Mountains (looks like desert to me) and there are no stops along the way. If I disappear from the radar, send them that way :-)
Assuming I survive that I’ll head West to just North of San Diego and start my trip up the California Coast. Holy hotness, BatMan!
I’m heading out tomorrow morning for what should be The Big Trip. First stop is in southern Utah, on through Arizona, and then I start making my way up the West Coast.
The bugs have been worked out of Jill (my truck home away from home :-) and I know my travel routine now. Breakfast consists of my great cereal mix (shredded wheat and granola) with soy milk. Lunch, should I choose to indulge, is tuna in packages with mayonnaise in packages sandwiches. Dinner is a cold can of beans…
I’ve bought a much bigger cooler which will hold my V8, soy milk, and my Fiji waters. Temperatures in Arizona are hovering around 108 so I’ll be buying a lot of ice.
Tomorrow evening I will be kicking back in the southbound I-15 Rest Area off mile marker 44, south of Cedar City, Utah. Drop by my truck if you’re in the neighborhood!
We were driving back home on Sunday when I passed a Washington state trooper sitting in the median. He immediately pulled out as I drove by and then pulled me over. I knew I wasn’t speeding because it was a 75 zone and I keep my speed at 65. I had my license ready for him and Steph was gathering paperwork, as he approached my window.
I should note here that I have a super clean commercial license, I’ve passed an FBI fingerprint background check and the truck is licensed and insured, so I wasn’t sweating it. I should also note that I don’t wear a shoulder strap, which is why he stopped me.
I explained to him that I have a condition (known as Costochondritis) which emulates chest pain and is caused by irritation of the junction of the ribs and breastbone. For a long time I thought I had heart issues but by putting the shoulder strap behind my back, they went away. He told me I should go to my doctor and get a note. I told him I don’t have a doctor. Am I supposed to put the note up to the window every time I pass a cop?
Anyway, he gave me a warning and I proceeded on. It got me to thinking whether shoulder straps really are required by law. As far as I can tell, in Washington state, they are not. Here’s what the Washington State drivers manual says:
“If your vehicle has a two-part seat belt system, be sure to wear and properly adjust them both, with the shoulder belt over your shoulder and not under your arm or behind your back.”
The key wording there is “be sure to” as opposed to “you must”. That’s like your mom urging you to keep your gloves on while playing outside on a cold day. You’re not going to get spanked if you don’t!
I’m loving this Summer of doing whatever I want and going wherever I want to go! But, being a programmer at heart, sometimes I need to hunker down within the elements of my crazy fast computer with the huge flat-screen monitor, and write code.
So, here’s a little something I whipped up today: The Map Ruler! Drag the marker around to create a line between two points, showing the distance between the points, then continue to drag either point around and have fun!