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)