Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Party

Before Margaritas 

After Margaritas 

Mexican Hat Dance

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mill Site Canyon

Once again, I joined Bob "The Grayfox" Micklick and a group of his jeep friends on a ride northeast of Queen Valley. Bob and I have this gentlemen's agreement whereby I pay for the gas and he keeps me alive during the ride. If I die in a fiery crash or am crushed and mangled beyond recognition, I get a complete refund. He even promises to mail the check the same day!

An "Oops" moment

Wench to the rescue

Panoramic view at the end of Hardt Tank

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Believe It Or Not!

Occasionally, you come across a sight so rare as to defy the imagination...

John riding a $159.97 bicycle

And for my friends in colder climes...

Two roses and a thorn

Saturday, December 28, 2013

First Day Back

After a restful nights sleep, I awoke refreshed and ready to start a new day. While cleaning out the storage compartment of the toyhauler, Jimmy stops by to say "hello" and to catch me up on the happenings in the park. After a quick power nap, a neighbor invities me over for a home cooked "poor boy sandwich" for dinner. Then a quick ride around the park in the RZR and I run into Karen and friends. After lunch I walk over to Keith and Jayne's to hear what they have been up to since our time together in Colorado. And then I stop by Bob's RV to see how he is doing after the bone marrow transplant. Finally, Noah swings by my neighbors with a fifth of Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon which goes surprisingly well with a "poor boy sandwich".  All in all, a great first day back out west!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Arizonian RV Park

I have returned to the Arizonian RV Park for the winter. After eleven days on the road and a long setup process here in the park, I am one tired puppy so this will be a short post.

During my recent stay in NC, I found that one of things I missed most was the socialization and camaraderie of the RV parks with active seniors like myself. It is particularly nice to go back to a place where you get to see friends from previous years.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Roswell, New Mexico

Having met a number of individuals in my travels that I strongly suspected of being from another planet, I have journeyed to the center of extraterrestrial activity here in the USA - Roswell, New Mexico. If you are wondering why a semi-rational person like myself might believe in such phenomena, you only need to spend a winter at the Arizonian RV Park... but that is a story for another time.

I actually chose Roswell in order to see a different part of the country on my way to southern Arizona and to put it in the "been there, done that" column. In as much as I had never been here before, I imagined a small, dusty town in the desert selling cheap alien memorabilia. What I found is a good size city (population ~50,000) with all the big box stores and franchise restaurants you could imagine plus an eight screen cinema. I figure this is as good a place as any to spend Christmas on the road this year.

PS - they still sell cheap alien memorabilia...

Sunday, December 08, 2013

"Rotating Snakes" Optical Illusion

Click on image to enlarge for a better view

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Google Maps & Street Views

While playing around with Google Maps, I came across a unique application that uses the Google Maps API to locate the geographical coordinates (latitude & longitude) for any place on Earth. It provides two ways to search, either by moving around the map and zooming in, or by typing an address if the place is unknown. The default location is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.

To find coordinates by moving around the map:
  1. Drag and drop the map to broad location.
  2. Zoom in for greater accuracy.
  3. Drag and drop the marker to pinpoint the place. The coordinates are refreshed at the end of each move.
To find coordinates using the name and/or address of the place: Submit the full location (number, street, city, country). For more popular destinations, you need only to type in the name of the city or place.

Once you have found your location, click on the person icon above the + sign and drag it to the map. Photos will appear on your map which you can then use to explore the area. And in the case of the Desert Museum, you can take a virtual tour of the grounds.

Find latitude and longitude with Google Maps

Latitude Longitude

If you think English is easy

Consider the different pronunciations and meanings of words that are spelled the same...
  • The bandage was wound around the wound
  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail. 
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests. 
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Moab Base Jumping

Okay, you're sitting in your favorite recliner enjoying a cold beverage, wondering what you are going to do for excitement next summer. I may be able to help with that. Perhaps, base jumping from one of the rock towers in Moab is what you are looking for. The following video really starts to get interesting at around 3:20...



I think this may be one of those "hold my beer while I try this" moments.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Map of Travels

Office Max was having a sale on Microsoft Streets & Trips 2013 so I spent the big bucks ($19.99) and updated my old version. As a way to familiarize myself with the new software, I created a map of my travels for the last two years as a full-time RVer...

Click on map to enlarge

It's fun to look back and remember all the places I have been and the things I have seen and done. Am looking forward to doing more of the same in 2014.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Now We Know What Could Go Wrong

Back in February I posted the following excerpt from a speech given by Dr. Barbara Bellar on Obamacare entitled "What The Blank Could Possibly Go Wrong"...

"So let me get this straight. We are going to be gifted with a healthcare plan that we are forced to purchase, and fined if we don't, which reportedly covers 10 million more people without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman doesn't understand it, passed by Congress, that didn't read it, but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a president who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese and financed by a country that is broke. So what the blank could possibly go wrong?"

I think we are now beginning to understand "what could go wrong". And I am afraid this may only be the "tip of the iceberg".

Friday, November 15, 2013

Password Manager

You probably have noticed that a number of websites are requiring passwords of increasing complexity. It was bad enough when I had to remember simple words but now when they want a minimum of eight characters including upper & lower case letters, numbers and signs and the end result looks like "3Gf@xq83!", I have to write them down somewhere and then find a secure place to store the list. Unfortunately, I am at that stage in life where I sometimes forget why I walked into a room so the above did not seem like a good idea.

The solution, of course, was to find a good password manager that was both secure and easy to use. After researching a number of products, I finally chose LastPass, a free online program that integrates into your browser and then saves and fills "logins" for an easier, safer web experience. If you are using this or another password manager, I would be interesting hearing from you in the comment section below.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blingstar Vertical Doors

My friend, Mack, installed a set of Blingstar remote controlled vertical doors on his RZR and then made a nice video of how they work...

video

If you load your UTV into the back of your truck, this is the only full-size door that I am aware of that will open for easy exit.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S III

I finally upgraded from my old Droid X 3G phone to a new Galaxy S III 4G. The tipping point was Best Buy selling the phone for $49.99 (regular price $99.99) along with a $50 gift certificate which was applied to the cost so that I essentially got the phone for free with a 2-year contract extension. The new plan gives me unlimited talk/text minutes with double the data, wifi & hotspot connections at 10 times the speed of the 3G network for about the same price as the previous plan.  All in all, a pretty good deal!

The phone, itself, has exceeded my expectations. The screen resolution is outstanding and it is loaded with free features. One built-in app that I am playing with is the ability to take a photo and then have it automatically uploaded to my online Google Picasa Album. Traditionally, when I make a credit card purchase, I keep the receipt to match-up with the next billing statement. Now I snap a picture of the receipt, it is automatically uploaded to Picasa and I have no paper hard copies to fool with. Wonder what they will think of next.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

National Park Service

Quote from The Weekly Standard: “It’s one thing for politicians to play shutdown theater. It’s another thing entirely for a civil bureaucracy entrusted with the privilege of caring for our national heritage to wage war against the citizenry on behalf of a political party.”

Saturday, October 05, 2013

National Park Closures

Whenever the current administration wants more money, they try to inflict as much pain on the public as their bureaucracy will allow. They did it with the sequestration and now they are doing it again with the government shutdown. Consider the following examples by the National Park Service:
  • On Tuesday morning, seven National Park Service employees were seen erecting and tending to a barricade around the World War II Memorial, an open air, unguarded site in Washington, D.C. One NPS employee was operating a forklift. There usually are not any NPS employees working at the World War II memorial. It cost the taxpayers more to close the Memorial than to keep it open.
  • The NPS has closed the Grand Canyon National Park even though the State of Arizona has offered to pay for it. A similar offer by the State of South Dakota to keep Mount Rushmore open has been rejected by the NPS. Considering the revenue normally generated by these two parks, their closure is costing taxpayers more money, not less.
  • Lastly, here is a quote from an angry Park Service ranger taken from an article by the Washington Times: "It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation. We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
The gates at the WWII Memorial have been wired shut to keep veterans from moving them...


Update (10/7/13):  Click here to see a list of government actions that are designed to inflict pain upon the public.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Terry & Gail Visit NC

Last night Terry called to let me know they were driving down I-95 today on their way to Myrtle Beach, SC. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to hear the latest adventures of this "life-in-the-fast-lane" couple...


we arranged to meet for lunch. It was an absolute delight seeing them again and getting caught up with each other since riding together in Utah. You meet the nicest people RVing.

Note to Gail: Did you visit the SBB Biker Bar in Murrells Inlet? Will I be seeing photos of you on the walls/ceiling the next time I am there?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ronald Reagan Quotes

  • The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
  • Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have made a difference in the world. Marines don't have that problem.
  • I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandment's would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.
  • Government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem.
  • The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.
  • Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
  • The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.
  • It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.
  • Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Staples Gets It Right

About a month ago, I wrote about "Walmart Madness" where the local store refused to match their online price so I bought the item from Best Buy. This afternoon, I drove to Staples to purchase an 8GB flash drive that was advertised for $5.99 on their website. Once again, the price in the store was higher. This time, however, the manager, without any prompting on my part, said "I would be happy to match the online price". As a result, I bought the drive and walked out of the store a happy customer.

When I arrived home, it occurred to me that if I was going to complain about poor customer service, then I should applaud good customer service. In my opinion, Staples got it right and Walmart got it wrong.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Play On Words

  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
  • When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.
  • A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
  • When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U.C.L.A.
  • The batteries were given out free of charge.
  • A dentist and a manicurist married; they fought tooth and nail.
  • A will is a dead giveaway.
  • If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.
  • Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.
  • A boiled egg is hard to beat.
  • When you've seen one shopping centre you've seen a mall.
  • Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
  • Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.
  • If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.
  • A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.
  • When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
  • The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
  • He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
  • Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
  • When she saw her first strands of grey hair, she thought she'd dye.
  • Acupuncture: a jab well done.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rest Easy, Fellow Citizens: The Feds Are On The Case

Dave Barry is one of my favorite humorists so when I came across one of his articles satirizing absurd government actions, I could not resist the temptation to post the following excerpt:

On May 11, two employees of DeBest Inc., a plumbing company, were working at a construction site in Garden City, Idaho, when they heard a backhoe operator yell for help. They ran over, and found that the wall of a trench - which was NOT dug by DeBest - had collapsed on a worker, pinning him under dirt and covering his head.

"We could hear muffled screams," said one of the DeBest employees. So the men jumped into the trench and dug the victim out, quite possibly saving his life.

What do you think OSHA did about this? Do you think it gave the rescuers a medal? If so, I can see why you are a mere lowlife taxpayer, as opposed to an OSHA executive. What OSHA did - remember, I am not making this up - was FINE DEBEST INC. $7,875. Yes. OSHA said that the two men should not have gone into the trench without (1) putting on approved hard hats, and (2) taking steps to insure that other trench walls did not collapse, and water did not seep in. Of course this might have resulted in some discomfort for the suffocating victim ("Hang in there! We should have the OSHA trench-seepage-prevention guidelines here within hours!"). But that is the price you pay for occupational health and safety.

Unfortunately, after DeBest Inc. complained to Idaho Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, OSHA backed off on the fines. Nevertheless, this incident should serve as a warning to would-be rescuers out there to comply with ALL federal regulations, including those that are not yet in existence, before attempting to rescue people. ESPECIALLY if these people are in, say, a burning OSHA office.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Custom Icon For Your Smartphone

Historically, when I wanted to view my blog on my android phone, I would press the 'Browser' icon and then either type in the url or call up 'Bookmarks' and then look for the appropriate link. As this is a little cumbersome and time consuming, I thought there should be a better way and sure enough, there is.

Here's how you can very easily create an icon shortcut on your home screen that will take you directly to the webpage of your choosing:
  • First, create a traditional bookmark for the webpage that you want to link to.
  • Then, return to the home screen and press-and-hold (in an empty space) to bring up the 'Add to Home screen' menu and select 'Shortcut', then 'Bookmark' and select the desired bookmark.
That's all there is to it.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Polaris RZR XP 1000

Here's an entertaining video of the new Polaris RZR XP 1000 being put through its paces. At first, I thought they had hired my friend, "Utah Terry", as their driver but no, it was some other less skilled professional.



Click here for more info on the new machine.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

RV Repair

Somewhere on the trip from Colorado to North Carolina, I lost the cover to the refrigerator vent on the roof. I figure I either drove too close to a tree branch or a giant bird of prey took it (probably, the latter).

I discovered the loss when during a recent rain event, the GFCI tripped and I lost power to one side of the RV. Thinking the outlet had gone bad, I replaced it but to no avail. Then I noticed the refrigerator was running on gas instead of electric which caused me to look outside and sure enough, here is what I discovered...

Before

Enough water had gotten into the area behind the refrigerator to short circuit the GFCI. Fortunately, once it dried out, everything started working again. After a trip to Camping World for a universal cover, I was able to make the following repair...

After

It's nice to know that if this blogging thing does not work out, I now have a new skill set to fall back on.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Congress's ObamaCare Exemption

The Wall Street Journal has an enlightening article on Congress creating a special exemption for themselves and their staffs from the ObamaCare health coverage that everybody else is mandated to buy. Here are some excerpts:
  • The Affordable Care Act requires Members of Congress and their staffs to participate in its insurance exchanges, in order to gain first-hand experience with what they're about to impose on their constituents.
  • Harry Reid revised the Grassley amendment when he rammed through his infamous ObamaCare bill that no one had read for a vote on Christmas eve. But he neglected to include language about what would happen to the premium contributions that the government makes for its employees. Whether it was intentional or not, the fairest reading of the statute as written is that if Democrats thought somebody earning $174,000 didn't deserve an exchange subsidy, then this person doesn't get a subsidy merely because he happens to work in Congress.
  • But the statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice "Medicaid Plus" of the exchanges. The Members—annual salary: $174,000—and their better paid aides also wouldn't qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.
  • And now the White House is suspending the law to create a double standard. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that runs federal benefits will release regulatory details this week, but leaks to the press suggest that Congress will receive extra payments based on the FEHBP defined-contribution formula, which covers about 75% of the cost of the average insurance plan. For 2013, that's about $4,900 for individuals and $10,000 for families.
  • The lesson for Americans is that Democrats who passed ObamaCare didn't even understand what they were doing to themselves, much less to everyone else. But you can bet Democrats will never extend to ordinary Americans the same fixes that they are now claiming for themselves. The real class divide in President Obama's America is between the political class and everyone else.

Update 8/6/13: Click here to read The Washington Times editorial "Congress gets a pass"

Update 8/8/13: Click here to read the  latest Wall Street Journal article regarding "How the White House is weaseling Congress out of ObamaCare"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Walmart Madness

I am in the market for a wireless router so I go online and find what I am looking for at Walmart for $39. However, when I go to the local store, it's listed for $44. I figure they will give me the online price at the register but no, they will not. I cannot believe they want me to drive home, order the item online and then drive back to the store to pick it up so I ask for a manager. Surprisingly, he confirms that is their policy. According to the manager, if I order it online, Walmart.com gets the credit, whereas if I buy it in the store, the credit goes to the local Walmart. So, I drive to Best Buy and buy it for $44; that way neither Walmart gets the credit or sale. I wonder what Sam Walton would think of their current business model.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Is This The Future Of Medicine

I called my primary physician to schedule a routine physical. The earliest open date was October 1. I then called my dermatologist to schedule a yearly exam. Their earliest date was September 20. What is going to happen if Obamacare adds 20-30 million new patients to the system without adding any more doctors? Worse yet, what if the polls are correct and doctors retire early, quit private practice &/or refuse medicare insurance?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Back In The Land Of Sweet Tea

If you are not from "The South", you probably would not know that in order to get unsweetened tea here, you have to ask for it. Everyone pretty much assumes you will want it pre-sweetened with lots and lots and lots of sugar. So, you can imagine my surprise tonight when I nearly slipped into a diabetic coma after my first sip of southern iced tea in two years.

And that's not the only thing I am having to become re-acclimated to. Most of the places I visited out west were fairly remote with few big box stores, movie theaters and franchised restaurants; choices were very limited. Tonight, it took a half hour just to choose a restaurant for dinner. Guess it will take a while to get used to civilization again.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Back To NC

It has been a fantastic two years on the road as a full-time RVer. I have seen some beautiful country, met some wonderful people and experienced some amazing things. But I have unfinished business in NC that needs to be addressed so I am heading back tomorrow.

There will likely be fewer posts to my blog as I slip back into my mild-mannered, mudane alter ego. In the interim, I will have to live life vicariously through the adventures of my friends so get out there and make me proud. If all goes well, I hope to travel back out west sometime next year.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fourmile

The Fourmile Travel Management Area is located just east of Buena Vista and consists of 100,000 acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. The area offers a variety of recreational activities from ATV and motorcycle riding to hiking, biking and horseback riding.

I joined Keith, Jayne, Larry and CJ on their quads to explore the northern section. It was an easy, scenic ride right up until Larry did a 360 rollover. After the dust settled, there was some bent metal, broken glass and busted tupperware on the ATV and one really nasty gash in his arm (stitches will be needed). Most guys would have thrown up and asked to be medevaced to the nearest trauma center. Not Larry, he slapped a couple of band-aids on it and said "let's ride". I am beginning to think those dirt bike riders should be required to pass an IQ test before getting their motorcycle endorsement.




One of those mountain clans you read about in Stephen King novels

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rock Climbing & Rappelling

I went for an afternoon drive on some of the counties back roads and came across a church youth group practicing their rock climbing skills. They were kind enough to invite me to join them but in a rare moment of sanity I politely declined.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dodged A Bullet

On the six o'clock news I see "Highway 24 Closed By Mudslide between Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Highway". This is the road I was on just a couple of hours ago. Once again, clean living pays off.

Local news coverage photo

Update: Here's a video of a vehicle caught in the mudslide...

Pikes Peak

First, the bad news, good news. The bad news is the aluminum spline in my RZR's steering wheel was stripped and the nearest Polaris dealer is ~100 miles away in Colorado Springs. The good news is the nearest Polaris dealer had just installed a performance steering wheel on a new RZR and sold me the factory original for $40. If the replacement goes well, I will be back "on the off-road again" by tomorrow.

In as much as Pikes Peak is on the way to Colorado Springs, I took the opportunity to put it in the "been there, done that" column. The Pikes Peak Highway is one of the most famous roads in the U.S. and deservedly so - the views are stunning (you can see the curvature of the earth). Although I did not have a problem driving my 22' dually to the top, there are some severe switchbacks (you can see your tail lights) and sizable drop-offs with no guard rails that might make someone with a fear of heights nervous - in which case you may wish to consider the Cog Railway.

Corvettes coming up the mountain

One of the switchbacks

COG Railway
The highest I have been without being in an airplane

You can just see the curvature of the earth

Panoramic view from the top
(click on photos to enlarge)

About half way down the mountain, there is a mandatory brake inspection which is done with an infrared gun. If your brakes are over 300 degrees, you have to pull over and let them cool. My brakes were 170.

Lastly, this is "Beware of Bears" country...

I suspect it is because they are terrible drivers

Monday, July 08, 2013

St. Elmo to Tin Cup Pass (almost)

Jeff, Larry, Keith and I trucked over to St. Elmo intending to ride to Tin Cup via Tin Cup Pass (12,154'). All goes well until we get about a half mile from the top of the pass. Then I hear a strange sound coming from my RZR and a moment later I have no steering. Not exactly the position you want to be in when you are at 12,000+ feet on a winding mountain trail.

It turned out that the steering wheel had separated from the steering column spline. Unfortunately, I needed a 24MM socket to tighten the nut and I had nothing in my tool kit that would do the job. We finally hammered the wheel back on the spline in order to give me enough control to drive back to St. Elmo and load it up into the truck. It appears the RZR will truly be an "off-road vehicle" until I can get it fixed.

St. Elmo, Colorado

Sunday, July 07, 2013

In Memory of Don Leimkuehler

Don Leimkuehler, my neighbor and good friend at the Arizonian RV Park, passed away today. Don and his wife, Judy, made sure this old bachelor did not go hungry this past winter. We shared some great times together along with the great food. They were in the process of selling their business in order to do some extensive traveling including another season in Arizona. Once again, all too soon, I am reminded that we need to make the best of the time we have left as we do not know what tomorrow will bring. My sincerest condolences to Judy and their family.

Colorado Rafting

Buena Vista is a mecca for white water rafting. You see buses hauling rafts everywhere. Today, I met Sherry and Mike (my cousin's family from Florida), who were taking a half day tour on the Arkansas River...

Interesting way to get the raft into the water

I think we are looking at future Olympians here

One last wave goodbye

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Chinaman Gulch Loop

Keith and Jayne, friends from the Arizonian RV Park, called me earlier in the week to let me know that they were camping up on a mountain just east of Buena Vista. Today, Keith, Larry, Jeff and I rode CR-1423 (a 50 inch trail) to the Chinaman Gulch Loop (an advanced ATV & 4WD trail). There were some interesting "pucker points" along the way...



Who says there are no "real men" left...

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Midland Tunnels

After dinner I took a short drive over to the Midland Tunnels which were created to allow passage of the Midland Railroad to and from Leadville and the Roaring Fork Valley. Today, the tunnels are open to travel on CR-371. The interior of the tunnels remain stained with coal-fired soot from the narrow gauge's steam engines.


Cottonwood Pass / Taylor Park Reservoir

Drove west across the Continental Divide via Cottonwood Pass (12,126') to the Taylor Park Reservoir to check out the Taylor Park Trading Post as a possible base camp for future OHV riding. As you might imagine, this being the 4th of July, the park was packed and ATV/UTVs were all over the place.

One interesting feature of this area (Chaffee County) is that it has more 14,000+ foot mountain peaks ("fourteeners" or "14ers" as the locals refer to them) than any other county in Colorado. This makes for some very scenic country.

View from the Continental Divide
(that's snow in the foreground)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Casto Canyon

Cecil and I hauled our machines down to the Casto Canyon trailhead off highway 12, a few miles southeast of Panguitch. The first 5-6 miles of the ride is a narrow 50 inch trail that winds its way up through a beautiful redrock canyon; it's like riding through Bryce Canyon. Originally, we had intended to take the Limekiln loop back to the truck but that part of the ride was so mundane as compared to what we had just experienced, we turned around and went back the same way we came.





If you would like to ride this area, I would recommend picking up a free Panguitch Loop OHV Trail map. There's a lot more trails here than we were able to ride in one day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Government Grants

Despite a nearly $17 trillion federal deficit, our government continues to spend taxpayer dollars in ways that defy common sense. Consider the following grants that were recently posted on the government website www.grants.gov (click on links to see actual posting)...
I would like to think that at some point our elected officials and bureaucrats will come to their senses and stop this madness but more and more I am coming to the conclusion that is best expressed by the comedian Ron White when he said: "You can't fix stupid".

Friday, June 21, 2013

Notes From An Inexperienced Chili Taster Named FRANK

Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off, mainly, because no one else wanted to do it. Also, the original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking directions to the beer wagon. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting so I accepted. Here are the scorecard's from the event:

Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili 
JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.
JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili 
JUDGE ONE: Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.
JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to walkie-talkie in 3 extra beers when they saw the look on my face.

Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili 
JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.
JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.
FRANK: Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced.

Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic 
JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Sally, the bar maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb. bitch is starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear-waste I'm eating.

Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover
JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
FRANK: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. •••• those rednecks!

Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety
JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.
JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!

Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili 
JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am worried about Judge Number 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
FRANK: You could put a ••••••• grenade in my mouth, pull the ••••••• pin, and I wouldn't feel a damn thing. I've lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my ••••••• mouth. My pants are full of lava-like shit to match my goddamn shirt. At least during the autopsy they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful. •••• it, I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the ••••••• 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili 
JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed out, fell and pulled the chili pot on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it.
FRANK: --------------(editor's note: Judge #3 was unable to report)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

50 Inch Trails

In my opinion, the 50 inch trails are the most scenic and the most fun of the Paiute Trail System. Today, we rode some of my favorites: 54, 53, 33, 89. One moment you are in an Aspen filled forest, the next moment it's an alpine meadow, then a burn area and so on. The variety is truly remarkable. If you do not like the scenery now, just wait five minutes.

Good, not-so-clean fun

Unique boardwalk across a marsh

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Terry & Gail Are Moving

To a cozy, one bedroom, no bath fixer-upper in the mountains southwest of Marysvale...


The amenities include a view to die for in the front of the house...


A waterfalls out back...


And given a bear was spotted about a half mile from here, I suspect they will be having fresh game and fish for dinner every night. Please call ahead for reservations.