Yellowstone!

What can I say besides Magnificent!!   It was a beautiful 90 minute drive in to the park entrance, surrounded by mountains and traveling through a lush plain alongside the Yellowstone river.   We got on the road about 7:15 amidst chilling and breezy skies.

The town of Gardiner is at the North entrance, really cute little town with lots of shops.   Entering the park, you immediately begin a steep ascent up until reaching Mammoth Springs.

Yellowstone is a driving adventure (and for those younger and healthier, can be an impressive Hiking adventure).   All through the park are pull-offs and also many side roads leading to larger parking areas and scenic vistas.  The scenery is so varied, mountains, plains, wooded, open fields, volcanic rock, steep cliffs, rivers and rapids.

SCenic PICS

Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 primarily to protect geothermal areas that contain about half the world’s active geysers. At that time, the natural state of the park was largely taken for granted. As development throughout the West increased, the park’s 2.2 million acres of habitat became an important sanctuary for the largest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48 states and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The abundance and distribution of these animal species depend on their interactions with each other and on the quality of their habitat, which in turn is the result of thousands of years of volcanic activity, forest fires, changes in climate, and more recent natural and human influences. Most of the park is above 7,500 feet (2,286 m) in elevation and underlain by volcanic bedrock. The terrain is covered with snow for much of the year and supports forests dominated by lodgepole pine and interspersed with alpine meadows. Sagebrush steppe and grasslands on the park’s lower-elevation northern range provide essential winter forage for elk, bison, and bighorn sheep.

We were able to see lots of Bison (including Owning the road!), a fox, several Ellk and a Bobcat.

 

One of the most famous landmarks is Old Faithful, the well known Geyser.   There are many others throughout the park and some areas are covered with them.  Throughout the park you will find geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mudpots.

We made it o see Old Faithful but just missed the eruption by minutes.   It was 2 hours before the next projected event so we took a couple “quiet” pictures and moved on.

 

What else can I say, we only had one day, you could spend several here.   If you ever have a chance to visit Yellowstone, Take It!

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Travel to Bozeman MT (Livingston)

Here we are again, back on the road!   It has been a great trip so far.   The next two days are travel up to Bozeman MT where we will spend a few days to see Yellowstone, Service the truck, laundry etc.

The first day we made it to Provo Utah.   We traveled up US Route 89 and we are so glad we did.   This has been some of the best scenery of the entire trip, even better in some ways than Sedona!!

We checked out at 5:15 local time and went around the corner to fill up our coffees at Dunkin Donut (and had an obligatory donut).   Heading out of town, we were not very far out (maybe 15 minutes when stop to admire the mountains with snow on top.  We were pretty impressed at the time.

Continuing north, we drove about an hour to the small town of Cameron.  It is a Navajo town and they have a well noted Hotel, Restaurant and Trading post.  We stopped and paid them a visit.  Very nice place and Huge gift shop.  As we drove North, the Mountains to the west just kept getting more impressive.  That is the direction of the Grand Canyon (you can reach the South Rim from Cameron).   About 10:30 we began climbing a series of switchbacks and the rock wall was right beside us! Then we opened to a wide view to the west!!   Magnificent!!!   The view was towards the Colorado River and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We stopped and took these:

Then continued and went through a red rock pass and began the descent to Page AZ.   The view ahead opened up to reveal Gen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.

We had breakfast in Page and then continued across the Colorado.  There was a scenic overlook that we took which opened up to some gorgeous lake views created by the dam.

 

Continuing on RTE 89, we passed over into Utah, heading West to Kanab and more switchbacks, turning North.   We had many more scenic views as we passed between Bryce and Zion National parks.  Around 4:00 pm, we stopped for the night in Provo Utah, just before Salt Lake City.

 

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We got up early on the 9th of May and reviewed our options.  We had planned to travel to Bozeman and use it as a base but on further review, we would be closer to Yellowstone and get better Motel prices in Livingston.  It was a bit further but close enough to make it in one day.  We also decided to spend 4 nights so we could enjoy Yellowstone, relax some, and get the truck serviced and last laundry done.  I booked a room online before departure.

It was still dark as we went through Salt Lake City on I-15 North so we did not see much but on the other hand, we got through before Rush Hour which was a good thing.   As daylight was approaching we began looking for a spot for breakfast.  When we head out early, we really enjoy a sit-down breakfast as it breaks up the day and the drive.   We passed through Ogden and Brigham City when I spotted a sign for JC’s Country Diner.  We pulled off in Tremonton Utah and found the restaurant.   Great Choice!!  We really like this little local places for breakfast.  Lyn had the 2 egg breakfast and I had biscuits and gravy.

We crossed into Idaho a little after 7:00 and at Idaho Falls jumped off to Rte 20.  It seems like each day, I keep saying the scenery is getting better…   and wondering how that can be.   Again, today is no different, majestic snow capped mountains and gorgeous lakes!   The Grand Tetons to our right and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.  As we approached the West entrance to Yellowstone we stopped and took a couple pictures and a few as I drove.

 

From here we took 287 up, crossed into Montana, up through Ennis and at Norris took Rte 84 over through Bozeman and I-90.  A short 20 minutes on I-90 brought us into Livingston and our motel at 1:30 pm Local Time.  After checking in, we stopped at Chrysler and got a service appointment for Friday.

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THE Grand Canyon!

Words cannot describe this place!!!  Even pictures do not do it justice!!   The Grand Canyon is considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of World.  It is one of those places you just have to visit.   I am in awe at each overlook that we stopped at.   Due to crowds etc we decided to go early.   It was about an hour and a half drive and we departed here about 6:30 and arrived at 8:00.   The visitor center was closed until 9:00 but we did not need anything there.  We parked at the visitor center, just a short walk to the shuttles.  We decided to use the free shuttle system and it was an excellent choice.

They have a village shuttle (Blue Line)that loops the village itself.  One of the stops is a transfer at Hermit’s Rest.  You transfer to the Red Line which takes you out along the South Rim to an overlook called Hermits Rest, then returns to the transfer station.  On the outbound leg, it stops at 9 overlooks and you can get off, walk around hike to another or take photos and picked up the next shuttle.   You can get off as often as you like and shuttles pass by every 15 to 20 minutes.  Great way to get directly to some excellent viewing points.

When we were finished, we road it back to the transfer and took the Blue Line back to the visitor center.  The Blue has all its stops around the village proper.

On the way home, we stopped in the town of Williams AZ, 50 miles from the Canyon and 25 from Flagstaff.   Cute little town with lots of shops and history as it was on Route 66.

 

 

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Standing On A Corner….

In Winslow Arizona…..

Today is a somewhat down day as in take it easy for us.   We decided to take a short 40 minute drive out to the town made famous in The Eagles hit “Take It Easy”

“Well, I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl my Lord in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me”

We departed about 10 in the morning and drove the 40 some minutes to the town on the “Original” Route 66.   Small and quiet we parked across from the famous corner and people watched a bit.   Grabbed a sandwich for lunch at the little diner across the street.  We sat outside on the street corner and ate, then went and took our pictures!

According to Glen Frey, the second verse of “Take It Easy” refers to the time when Jackson Browne’s car broke down in Winslow, Arizona on one of his trips to Sedona, and he had to spend a long day in Winslow.   In 1999, in responding to the lyrics that made it well-known, the city of Winslow erected a life-size bronze statue and mural commemorating the song at the Standin’ on the Corner Park. The statue stands near a lamp post, the male figure securing an acoustic guitar between his right hand and the shoe of his right foot. Above his head, a metal sign, crafted in the style of U.S. Route shields, displays the words “Standin’ on the corner”. The mural on the wall behind the statue is that of a storefront, and includes what would appear to be the reflection of a red flatbed Ford pickup truck driven by a blonde-haired woman. The second floor of the mural features an eagle perched in one window on the left and a man and woman (apparently the man on the corner and woman in the truck) embracing in another window on the right.  The site has become a landmark that attracted many visitors to the town.

  

There has however been some confusion about the location of original incident that inspired the story in the lyrics. In an interview with Matthew Ziegler, Browne related that it took place in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the Der Wienerschnitzel (now the Dog Haus) at the corner of East Rte. 66 and Switzer Canyon.   According to Browne, a girl cruised by in a Toyota pickup and looked at him and the image stuck with him. Browne had told Frey about the girl in the truck, and Frey then used the incident to add the line about the girl to the song. Browne however also stated in an interview with Los Angeles Times that it was always Winslow where his car had broken down, although “the image of that girl driving a truck was an image that came from east” (i.e. East Flagstaff). The lines are therefore an amalgamation of two different events.  If you remember from a previous post, we ate at the Dog Haus!

We headed back home around 1:00, after a nice relaxing visit to a Route 66 Memory!

 

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Trip Up to Flagstaff

This leg of the trip involved 2 destination stops, one scenic drive and our arrival in the Flagstaff Arizona area.   We spend one overnight in transit in the Phoenix area.

We departed 5/4 just before 7 am, having had breakfast at the hotel.  We did not stop for coffee as we had enough at the motel.   Reasonably short drive today, only going up near Phoenix.  Our destination was drive through Saguaro National Monument to see the Giant Cactus.  11:10, we arrived in Tucson and got off the highway.  In about 10 minutes we reached S Kinney Rd which would take us into and through the park.

The scenery here is rugged and breathtaking, the land so desolate and these giant Saguaro plants reaching toward the sky.  At 9:00, we reached the Bajada Loop Drive..   a 1 lane dirt road that takes you up into the mountains and back down.   It was not a long loop, only took about 40 minutes to drive it and passable by any car.  We continued on through the park and around 10:00 am hopped back on I-17 towards Phoenix.  There was near zero in lodging past Phoenix so we made sure to find a spot on the North end of town.  We grabbed lunch at Red Robin in Tempe and stopped for the night at 1:30 pm

 

This leg of the trip would take us into Flagstaff after a stop at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument and then a drive on Route 89A through Sedona!  We hit the road at 6:30 am Local on 5/5 and headed North, stopping 10 minutes up the road at a Denny’s.  Had a nice breakfast, had the coffee mugs filled and got back on the road. As we drove, the mountain views became more impressive.  We stopped at the Sunset Point Rest Area about 8 am to take a short break and get some pictures.

 

Back on the road, we continued on I-17 until 9:00 where we exited the to go to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument.   Here is where the Indians, referred to as Cliff Dwellers, built there villages high into the red rock cliffs.

We spent just over an hour here then got back on the road, in only 10 minutes exiting I-17 for SR 179 and then 89A.   In the Village of Oak Creek they had a village fair and we stopped for Lyn to do some browsing before continuing on up to Sedona.  We grabbed an Ice Cream and continued on enjoying the amazing views.  I must say, you cannot put these views into words.  I can only say that this loop up 89A is clearly the most gorgeous driving scenery I have ever seen.

We got into Flagstaff shortly after 1:00, checked out some motels and selected the Econolodge.  Booked a room but could not get in for an hour so we when and got lunch at this cute little Hot Dog Stand on Route 66.  Turned out it was an inspiration to Jackson Brown for part of the song “Take it Easy”.   (I did not know that when we ate there)

We had our own inspiration at lunch.  We decided to slow down a bit and smell the roses. WE have some LONG driving days and some medium days where we had things to visit at the end of the. That may have worked when we were 40 but at 70, not so well..

We are going to eliminate some of the western stops, picked the most important ones to us to keep and are re-tooling our Plan. We will spend more time enjoying what we want and less time trying to get everywhere. I equate it with going to all u can eat buffet and taking EVERYTHING that looks good and then not being able to eat or all or enjoying what you did eat cuz you are too full. That was our mistake in the plan….

We are starting today, adding an extra day here in Flagstaff…. We are going to drive out to Winslow AZ, see the “Standing on the corner statue and have lunch.  Also, we are likely taking old Route 89 North from here instead of taking all Interstate.  It is supposed to very scenic.

Overall this new plan will be more relaxing and more fun!!!

 

 

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Delay??

There are 2 phases to this post.   The first is that I have been getting sicker daily and based on symptoms the last 2 days, felt I likely had a sinus infection.   It would not be getting any better soon without an antibiotic.   I elected to stay and extra day here in Sierra Vista and visit an Urgent Care Clinic.  Looking on the internet, found the High Desert Clinic just a few miles down the road so we stopped at the office and extended our stay an extra day.

The clinic opened at 9:00 am and we were there when it opened.   I got signed in and waited my turn.  Very pleased with the service, I was in and out in 1 1/2 hours.  The doctor confirmed sinus infection and gave me two prescriptions.  Hopefully I can start to feel some improvements in 24 hours.  Medicare covered all but $37 of the prescriptions and I was pleased with that.

The 2nd phase, well we have had a couple long driving days and next week it looks like we will run into some more.  We have decided to try and shorten these by adding an in between motel stay where needed to take some of the edge of the long days.

So that is the delay factors and we are good with that.  Tomorrow, back on the road to Saguaro.

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To Arizona

We are taking a day and 1/2 to get over to Arizona.  Staying near Las Cruces NM the first night and then into Sierra Vista on the 2nd day, at least that is the plan!

Sunday 4/30:
We departed San Marcos right at 4:30 local time.  There was thunder and lightning in the air as we got started and right after pulling out of the lot we got a small bit of hail.  We headed down the service road to a Gas & Convenience store, grabbed some coffee and hit the road south on I-35.  At 4:45 we exited onto highway 46 to cut across to I-10 and bypass San Antonio to the north.  An hour later we arrived at Boerne, turned onto 87 and followed it over to I-10.

At 7:50, we stopped in the town of Sonora to get breakfast.  We spotted Sutton County Steak House, cute little place that served breakfast.  Lyn got an Omelette and I had the Biscuits & Gravy…

Back on the road at 8:30 we continued on I-10.   It was pretty sparse and there was rocky formations that were interesting.   There was not much in services so we decided to fuel up in Fort Stockton, no knowing what we would find between there and El Paso.   In this area, the landscape changed, getting showing even less vegetation and more rocky terrain.   It was not real picturesque.

As we approached El Paso, the scenery changed, showing more growth and mountains in the distance that were nice to look at.   We grabbed lunch on the outskirts at 12:40 local time.  (we had gained an hour as we passed into Mountain Time).   We looked for a motel but they either did not meet with our needs or we were discouraged by the ridiculous traffic.  We finally decided to skip it and continue on to Las Cruces (our original plan) and landed at a Quality Inn & Suites at 2:27 Local (Mountain) Time.

Monday 5/1
We got up at 6 am local time.  Both of us are feeling under the weather and we only have a 4 hour drive left for today.   They have a continental breakfast here so we headed on down there about 6:30, ha a nice little breakfast and then checked out.   Grabbed some coffee up the street and was on the road by 7:20.  Two hours later we crossed into Arizona.  Local time is only 8:30 as they do not recognize DST.   Gets confusing!

The Arizona scenery has not changed much, very desert like with mountains surrounding.  About 9:30 local we stopped at the Texas Canyon rest area.  Beautiful rock formations!

 

In Benson, we got off I-10 onto Route 90 which which take us to Sierra Vista.   THe scenery was as I remembered.

When we reached Huachua City, the main road from when I was here was just a service drive and there was a new 4 lane highway.  We found the old trailer park where I lived, pretty well all but abandoned now.   This was my street…

And this is the entrance to Fort Huachuca…   also MUCH changed in 44 years!

WE got to the motel at 11:30 but could not check in yet, so we went down the road to Denny’s and had lunch.   We then drove around town a bit, wow, so much larger than when I lived here.   The population in 1970 was 7000 (I was here 1971-73) and it is now 45,000.

 

Tuesday 5/2
Today we spent over in Tombstone AZ.   It was scenic 20 mile winding ride over from Sierra Vista.   Very scenic looking at the mountains in the distance…

We arrived in town, drove around a bit and landed at Boot Hill where we also picked up some literature.

 

We went to the OK Corral for the Gunfight and museums etc.   Then we walked the streets to check out various shops and establishments.

When it was time to eat, we settled on Big Nose Kate’s Saloon…  Nice atmosphere, entertainment and reported to have good food.  We were not disappointed, ordered a Patty Melt with Frys, superb and HUGE!

  

After our meal, we headed down the street to catch the stagecoach tour which we enjoyed.  Then it was a pleasant ride back to the motel.

Tomorrow we head to Saguaro and Phoenix….

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8 Days Of Texas..

Arriving in San Marcos, we will be here for 8 days….    summaries of each day follows…

Day 1 – Saturday 4/22
We ate breakfast at the Continental Bar at the hotel (Red Roof) and then headed over to Ralph’s place to visit.  James and Dianne came down from Mountain City to visit.  We had a nice time and enjoyed socializing with Family.  They both seemed well and it was nice to catch up on things.   Sharon and Denny were not able to come up but we are expecting them tomorrow.

We broke early afternoon and went out to eat.  The choice for the day was San Marcos BBQ in town.   Great food!!   After eating, we toured the old part of San Marcos (we were all in the truck) and passed some of the old places they lived.  Then it was back to Ralph’s before we all broke for the evening.

 

Day 2 – Sunday 4/23
Same scenario as yesterday, breakfast at the hotel then over to Ralph’s place.  James had church obligations and would not make it down today but Sharon and Denny were coming up for the day.  They live in San Antonio.  When we got to Ralph’s, we found out there Daughter Lucynda was coming with them also.
Again, great visiting and all…..  Today, Lucynda suggested we at at Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant.  They have been in the area but this one in San Marcos was new this year.

  When we broke up here, the Massey’s headed back to San Antonio and we were joined by Lyn’s cousin Trissy and her husband Randy.  We wandered over to a local watering hole in town (Zellics) and had a couple drinks before we headed back to the room.   It was another great day with Family.

 

Day 3 – Monday 4/24
On the way over to Ralph’s, we stopped at Hobby Lobby and picked up some flowers for Lyn’s (and Ralph’s) mothers grave.   Ralph went with us to go down and place the flowers on the grave-site at the cemetery.   Then we went back and waited for the others.

 

Lucynda did not come up as she had to work but Sharon and Denny came up and James and Dianne came down to visit.  We had a very nice visit today and shared old stories.   For lunch today, we decided to do Chinese.   Ralph rode with Sharon & Denny and James & Dianne rode with us to the Taste of China.   After a good meal, we headed back to Ralph’s before breaking for the day.

 

Day 4 – Tuesday 4/25
Today James and Dianne invited us all up to their place in Mountain City, 20 minutes or so North of San Marcos.   We drove up there to visit and were soon joined by Sharon, Denny and Ralph.  James and Dianne have a beautiful home but an even more beautiful Yard!!!   Landscaped nicely and full of bird feeders, nesting boxes and Birds Galore.   So much fun to sit out on their patio and watch the birds.

James grilled up some pork sirloin steaks and Dianne made a bunch of fix’ns.  We had a great meal and the social time was superb.   It was a beautiful day to spend outside.

 

Day 5 – Wednesday 4/26
A very Sad day for us…   Brian, our trainer and who was watching Snuggles called us to say that Snuggles had died of an apparent heart attack.  He was almost 12 years old.  More later in a separate posting but needless to say this put a real damper on our trip, and we did not go back to sleep.

Today was a “do your own thing” day.  We usually do some sight seeing and gives everyone else a chance to get things done for themselves.   We had planned to run to Luling and visit the Zedler Mill.  Then we would head down to Gonzalez and visit the Gonzales Jail Museum.

The Zedler Mill, which is the only remaining example, was established in 1874 as the Luling community’s grist mill. A simple stone dam was built by Leonidas Hardeman and two brothers, John and James Merriweather – all three from Tennessee. … It was known as the Merriweather Mill at that time.

The Gonzales Jail, built in 1887, the jail closed in 1975. It is now a museum of Gonzales County law, order and transportation. Features rebuilt gallows, original cells, sheriff’s and jailer’s quarter.

On the way back, we decided to get Chili Dogs from the “Chili Dog Stand” in San Marcos.   Called Ralph to see if he wanted any and he said yes so we grabbed the dogs and fritos and stopped at Ralph’s place to eat before heading home.

Day 6 Thursday 4/27
Cuzins Day!    Lyn’s cousins (The Majors) were coming each to visit.   We met our clan at Ralph’s and then met up with the others over to the San Marcos Barbecue.  We were joined by Bill and Oscar Major along will Bill’s wife Barbara.  Also joining us were the cousins Marsha and Denise.

We had a really great time and I hope we can do something like this again next year when we return.

  

Day 7 – Friday 4/28
I was sick last night and still am today.  I stayed here to relax in the morning while Lyn went on over to visit her siblings.  She called me when they were ready to go eat and picked me up on the way to Mana’s for Mexican.

 

After eating we all went back to Ralph’s (us, Sharon/Denny & James/Diane).   They later went home We hung around a bit and waited on Trissy and Randy.   When they called, we headed into town and met them at Italian Garden.   Excellent food and good prices.

    

After dinner, we stepped outside to find our truck had been towed.  A couple phone calls and $100 and we had it back.  (Yes, were parked illegally!)

Day 8 – Saturday 4/29

This was our last day in town, as always we took everyone out to a meal before we left.  We all went up to Grins and had a great visit with a good meal.  Afterwards, we went outside and said our goodbyes.   Back to the motel to pack for our early departure on Sunday.

 

 

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Snuggles – RIP

 

Our wonderful Snuggles is gone all too soon.   He was going on 12 but we were not ready.  The worst part (in my mind) is we were 1000 miles away on vacation when it happened and we never got to hold him and say our goodbyes.  He was staying with his trainer Brian when it happened.  I got a text from Brian asking about our vet at 1:30 (he appeared to be having a problem breathing)   We sent that info and at 2:45 sent a text asking him to call me if he took him in.   I wanted him to know that Snuggles had a few  workup at the vets in case he took him to his vet (much closer).   In just a few minutes the phone rang, it was Brian and Snuggles was gone.  He just fell over while Brian was getting his shoes on…   and he could not revive him.

Obviously, we were in shock.  Brian was crying, we were crying.   Brian loved him almost as much as we did.  Snuggles was a people dog, wanted to be by people, loved by people and gave back so much love.   He followed us everywhere and the eyes in the picture above was our Snugs..   always looking at his people!  He was the same way with Brian and followed him everywhere.   After we collected our thoughts, we contacted Godley Animal Hospital and made arrangements for his cremation and they will hold his ashes till we return.  He often walked the fence line around our little yard and we called it Paw Patrol.   We will scatter his ashes along the Paw Patrol and he will rest with us in the yard we all loved.

Snuggles was special in so many ways.   He was spoiled and he knew it…   when he wanted something, he would sit there and stare at you with those eyes and if you did not respond, he spoke to you!  Yes, it was a bark but he was speaking and he was determined to get you to react.  He loved scraps from my breakfast (eggs/toast/oatmeal).  He hated his collar clanking on the bowl/plate and expected you to put his scraps on a paper plate.  For oatmeal or poached eggs, after he finished he still wanted to lick the bowl/plate but barked when it was time to move or rotate it so he would not clank!   That was so funny.

He loved rubs…  his head, his back and especially under chin and his belly.   When he wanted his belly rubbed, he just flopped on his back with his legs up and wiggled!  He loved to cuddle and lay with you…  not to be held but to be near and get rubs.   He loved riding, in the Ural, in the car or to take a walk.   When you got the leash out he bounced all over with excitement.

He could be stubborn….  when we worked with him if he did not want to obey, he would just sit and whimper or bark.   He hated having to sit on the wet grass, did not even like walking on it!

You get the drift….  he was special and we loved him so much.  Missing him everyday.  Snuggles, We Love You   RIP

 

   

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Travel to San Marcos TX

Day 1
We began our epic adventure by traveling to San Marcos Texas.  Our 30 day Western Tour begins with an 8 day stay here to visit with Lyn’s family.  The first day, we planned to get to Meridian MS., then Palestine TX, leaving us a short drive on day 3 into San Marcos.

We got on the road right around 4:30 am and and headed out I-16 across GA.   As we approached Macon (6:30 am) we hopped on route 96 and then picked up route 80.  At 8:45, we crossed into Alabama and then stopped about 9:00 am at a Waffle House for breakfast.  We passed through historic Selma at 11:40 and stopped at McDonalds to grab lunch on the road in Demopolis AL and then crossed into Mississippi at 1:15 and then hopped onto I-20.   We passed through Meridien and then stopped in Newton for the night, about 30 miles further.  We grabbed some dinner and filled the fuel tank before settling in for the night.

Day 2
We are on Central Time now and hit the road early again at 4:30 (5:30 EDT).  Our plan called for us to make Palestine Tx and spend the night but I already could see an issue.  The GPS indicated we could easily make San Marcos today.  This was due in part to the fact that we had left earlier both days than the “schedule”.   I tend to be conservative on the planned driving time so we can easily make our destination early.  We had a full breakfast stop coming up and decided we would stop in Palestine and make a decision then.

We crossed into Louisiana just after 6:00 am and after talking to some folks back home on the radio, decided to look for a spot for breakfast.   We were looking for something different than a Waffle House and just coming into Shreveport we spotted it!!  Breakfast was at a cute little restaurant called Sue’s Country Kitchen.  They had good food and service!

We crossed into TX about 10:00 am and near Marshal exited I-20 and began heading south on Route 79.  We reached Palestine at 12:30 and stopped at a Denny’s for lunch.  The GPS indicated with a lunch stop we could still make San Marcos before 5.  While waiting for our food, we called ahead to confirm we could get our room a day early (we could).  After lunch, we fueled up and headed in the last 4 hours.  We hit some traffic coming into town (rush hour) and arrived just after 5:00 pm.   After checking in, Ralph picked us up for dinner at Mana’s Mexican Restaurant.  We were tired when we got back and decided to wait until morning to unpack…

 

 

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Hurricane Conference

April 18th Chatham County held their annual Hurricane Conference at the Convention Center on Hutchinson Island.  This was my first year to attend.  I met Steve Jonas (K4SDJ) at 7:00 am for Registration.  The Theme was Hurricane Mathew – The Aftermath.  The Welcome and General Session ran from 8:30 – 10:30.   At this point we had a breakout session from 10:45 to 11:45.   (See the Agenda Below).  I chose the class on Communications, how it will change in the county after Mathew.

From 11:45 to 1:45 was Lunch and a session on Communication Styles.

Breakout #2 I chose the session by the NWS and a look back at Mathew and ahead to 2017

Breakout #3 I chose the session on Re-entry into Chatham County after an Evacuation

I found it very informative and will plan to attend again next year!

!2017 AGENDA
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Easter Egg Hunt!

Easter Sunday, Lyn has already made the baskets for the grandkids…    the eggs are filled with treats…    We take some time to go hide eggs before the kids get here.  Pink is for Harper, Purple for Ella and Jack’s are Blue!  We hide some out front, in the living area of the house and a few out in the backyard.

The kids arrive, the little ones spot the baskets on the table but I hold them back (or at least try to!).   We go ahead and have them give Claire her gift and share a birthday card with Scott.   Then it is Basket Time….  They have fun intently examining the contents of candy and toys.

They gather the baskets now to collect eggs…   we head outside front first, then do inside before finishing in the back yard.   The kids have so much fun with this and we do too, watching their joy.  (see the pictures!)

Later we have a nice meal together and Lyn fixed Pork Chops with the fixings which all seemed to enjoy.   After eating, they were all out in the yard blowing bubbles!  A very nice family gathering for all.

 

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Storm Day

May 5th was a long day.   It began with the Funeral for Herman Cranman at the well known Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah.  We are also in a period of severe weather forecast including severe thunderstorms possibly spawning hail and tornadoes.   As part of my ARES weather service duties we activated a weather net on the local repeater.

I asked Mike Hutson (KM4SPL) to fill in as Net Control until I returned from the Funeral.  As it turned out, the severe weather did not arrive until I relieved Mike.

We opened the Net at Noon and I relieved Mike about 3:30.   I was on the air until after 12:30 am which is when the last warnings were lifted by the NWS.

Here is a blurb from the weather news…

Georgia Leads the Pack in Confirmed Tornadoes in 2017:  It seems our weather is spiraling out of control. Georgia is No. 1 in the nation in the number of confirmed tornadoes to date in 2017, according to the National Weather Service. The agency, headquartered in Peachtree City, Ga., reports that of the 510 confirmed reports of tornadoes across the U.S. since January 1, 87 of those swirled in the Peach State.

 

Here is a summary from my “after action report”.

Review Items
⦁ Repeater choice: We have an ARES repeater but as most are not used to using or monitoring it, I chose to conduct business on the prime area repeater, 442.700. This would provide direct access to the majority of people, especially as they left places of employment to head home. There was a couple discussions on air regarding the choice, I explained my logic for now and that to use the 146.970 in the future we need a plan to drive traffic there. One commented that 442.700 was likely the best area coverage. This will be discussed further with local ARES Leadership, NWS and the CARS club.

⦁ Directed Net: I chose a non directed net as radio communications was not so intense as to prevent me from accessing as needed. The local traffic that appeared was typically discussing the events.

⦁ Effingham Repeater: I monitored the 146.745 ARES repeater as well and for items of importance to those communities, I directly provided data. This worked ok but I believe it will be more efficient in the future if we open a separate Net on that Frequency. I have a few thoughts on how this could work and will discuss with the EC of Effingham in conjunction with Skywarn.

⦁ Obviously, and we are just getting started so it is understandable, but we will be needing more help. This includes: Skywarn training, Trained Net Operators in both Skywarn and Net procedures, better communication with all counties (I have only heard from 2). We should also have a Net

 

 

 

 

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Loss of a Hero!

Last night, Sunday April 2nd,  we lost one of the Greatest Generation…. Herman Cranman passed away at the age of 93.  Grandfather to our daughter in law and Great Grandfather to our 4 grandchildren by Scott & Morgan. I always enjoyed sitting and talking with him at gatherings … Scott called us this morning to inform us his passing.

 

The following is the tribute to him from the 8th Airforce Museum..
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Passing of a dear friend, WWII veteran and museum volunteer: Herman Cranman

Herman Lewis Cranman, 93, of Savannah, Georgia and husband of Helen Schmalheiser (Small) Cranman, died Sunday evening, April 2, 2017, after a brief illness.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, he was the son of the late Philip Cranman and the late Jeane Litman Cranman. He joined the Army Air Corps during his senior year at Benedictine Military School. Herman graduated Bombardier school as a Second Lieutenant serving with the 15th Air Force in North Africa and Italy, earning the rank of Captain before he was discharged. During World War II he flew 34 missions over Nazi occupied Europe. His bomber group participated in some of the most dangerous missions over Ploesti, Romania and other enemy targets and they were often escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen. Herman was shot down over Hungary on July 14, 1944 and held as a Prisoner of War in Germany until he was liberated by General George S. Patton in Nuremberg on April 28, 1945. He was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the POW Medal. As a legacy for his family and community, Herman also authored a book, “A Measure of Life”, documenting these events and his family’s history.

Herman and Helen were married on June 17, 1945. He was a member of Congregation Agudath Achim and Congregation Mickve Israel. Herman was active in several civic and community organizations. He was a past Commander of American Legion Post 135 and a former docent at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force.

Herman studied many years to earn his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) certification and was a leader in his profession. He was a former owner of Cranman Insurance Agency, Inc. Herman was former president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Savannah, the CPCU of Georgia and a former board member of the Georgia Independent Insurance Agents.

With all of his accomplishments, Herman will be remembered most as a kind and decent man who was a wonderful husband, dad, grandfather and great-grandfather. His patriotic love and support for his country were second to none.

Herman volunteered for many years at the mission experience sharing his story of WWII and his love story with his then girlfriend, now wife Helen. He always glowed with pride and love when telling their love story as experienced before, during and after the war. Helen wrote to him while he was in training, stationed in Italy and then a P.O.W. To hear more about Herman’s experiences please read his book “A Measure of Life.”

This is a painting by Helen Cranman featuring Herman’s forced march in the Winter of 1945 as a P.O.W. It is on display in the museum’s library.

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Region J Exercise

Region J is a Hospital Area in SE GA and that is the group that I am affiliated with regarding emergency communications.   It is made up of 14 Counties including Chatham which is where I live.   On Thursday April 23rd, we had a full scale simulated exercise throughout the region and incorporating Elements in other areas of the state.

The exercise has been in planning for a while and I was actually part of the planning team since last September.   It simulated an impending Hurricane and I was in the radio room next to Incident Command at Memorial Hospital.  It was a full day exercise to practice protocols in our emergency plan.  Overall I think the exercise went very well and was another opportunity to hone our skills.

 

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