Art at the casino and other things…

Being close to a casino was fun…someplace to go every night if I wanted. I didn’t go every night, but 3-4 times a week I’d bike over there and wander around. The place also had a theater on the grounds so I caught up on my movie watching. In mid January, there was an exhibit from Italy in the main meeting hall. The da Vinci exhibit. Very interesting. Suggest you visit if it comes to your area.

Ooo, cool. Lookie there.

Ooo, cool. Lookie there.

The exhibit was of both his artworks and his inventions. The artwork consisted of authorized reproductions of his famous works and the inventions were scale models and full sized models of his inventions. All created by Italian craftspeople. Exhibit has been traveling around the world for years. I got lucky that it was here in tiny Parker, Arizona.

Scale model of a lifting machine.

Scale model of a lifting machine.

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On over to Parker, Arizona…

So now I was ensconced in Parker, Arizona, really enjoying the warm air, the river, the bars, the casino, the long bike rides around interesting areas. Ahhh. It’s great just hanging around and staying warm. Parker is only 4 & 1/2 hour drive from Rosamond, but it’s elevation is only 423 feet, whereas Rosamond’s elevation is 2300 feet. So there’s a big difference in winter weather. Hot in summer, mild in winter, whereas Rosamond can be pretty darn cold in winter. Snow even. What I wanted tho, was the mild winter weather. Why should I suffer?

View of the Colorado River.

View of the Colorado River. That car is actually right on the shore. There’s a slight drop off to the river, not much of a slope.

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More from Beatty…

My stay in Beatty was great, not only was the weather outstanding but the local company in the form of real people was more interesting than television. Can’t beat that. Maybe a Seahawks game could, but that’s about it.

One afternoon we were sitting around bs’ing and this burro and her little one wandered down out of the hills for a visit. The elder burro’s stomping ground is up in the hills and the entire town of Beatty. Everyone around me seemed to know her and her baby and as she wandered into the RV park it was obvious she was a regular in the park as she headed straight for us. The three of us were sitting outside the mini store at the picnic table just talking at the time. The guy that actually worked in the store jumped up, ran inside, and grabbed a sack of carrots.

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Working at Amazon’s Workamper Force…

I was staying at Fallon RV Park, (no web site) and the Amazon warehouse was in Fernley. It’s around 30 miles away, and like I said last post, I did try to find somewhere to park my RV in Fernley with no luck. For the first time in many years, I had to get up at 5AM, dress, eat, check my em, then go to WORK. Gah! Not fun. The 10 hour work shifts weren’t all that fun either. Then the warehouse is sooo large that getting to break rooms, or lunch rooms, took such a long time that you’d end up with a shortened break. And you have to go through a metal detector whenever you leave so I soon found out that I’d have to get a plastic belt to avoid having to remove and replace it 4 times per day. The kind of belt that holds up a guys pants. Turns out that the stores don’t carry all plastic belts any longer. They use to, but I couldn’t find any. Eventually, one of my co-workers mention I could find plastic knapsack clips and braided belts in the sports sections of WalMart. I could, I bought, and made my own plastic belt. That saved some time heading to break, lunch, and home.

What I was doing is ‘Picking’. In the morning, you’d walk in the plant and pick up a UPC bar code scanner. The scanners have the old Microsoft CE software in them so they were always giving us trouble. Anyway, after the meeting and stretching, you’d turn it on, and it would check via WiFi where you were to go for that session. Then you’d walk over to the area and start picking product (go to Amazon dot com to see what kind of products) and loading it in tote bins. Which when full would be placed on conveyors. Super boring work. The facility is so…behind the times. They don’t even have CD/DVD automatic picking carousels. Such an easy product to handle automatically…but here instead, we humans were trying to sort through randomly placed CDs in a shelf bin looking for the right one out of 5 or 10. Nor do they have automatic pallet wrappers, which are an industry norm…they’re still having 2 people wrap them with clear plastic by hand. I was not impressed in the least with Amazon’s seemingly antiquated warehousing techniques.

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Back in Rosamond, planning a trip.

After arriving at my brother’s place in Rosamond, I met the neighbor Brennen when he wandered up to say hello to my brother. We all enjoyed a sit down with beer by the pool and he offered to let me park my RV in his front yard! Nice, reasonably flat area to park. No more parking on a dangerously steep hill. A spot from where I could run a cord up to Dan’s house and plug in and run my battery chargers. Too long of a cable run for much of anything else, like the refer, but I could go down there in the mornings for some computer time and TV time during prime time (my brother doesn’t have a TV in his house). So, we struck a bargain and I gained a new friend. He and I liked the same bar too so we’d go down there quite often to relax.

While there at Dan’s, I finally broke down and bought my first brand new computer. For years, I’d been given past-their-prime computers by clients when I’d sell them a new one so I was always on the back side of the technology curve. Mainly to save money. My new one is a Quad core AMD with an ASUS mobo, 500gb HDD, DVD/CD, etc., and a top of the line PSU. Nice. Really screams. Does HD movies and such without a hitch.

Bennen invited me to join him one Sunday at a golf course at Tehachapi (Tah-hatch-a-pee is how we pronounce it here in the area). He has a friend that lives in the gated community nearby with it’s own golf course. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want a gated community clear out here in the boondocks. There probably wasn’t any more crime near here than inside the gates. Tehachapi only has a 3600 population. Who they were trying to keep out is unknown. The farmers nearby maybe?

Anyway, here’s some pictures of our trip there and the golfing.

Mostly desert on the way to Tehachapi.

Mostly desert on the way to Tehachapi.

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More from Silverton, Colorado…

As I mentioned last time, Silverton is a really neat town. The RV parks have all the normal services you would want, the view all around the valley the town is in is spectacular, and there are many services you might need for a visit. Including hotel rooms, restaurants, bars and the like. I really enjoyed it here. But the reason for my visit was to take the Durango & Silverton Railroad trip down to Durango. It’s a narrow gauge RR. You can catch the train in Durango but it seemed like it would be more interesting for me to do the trip the other way around. I’d stumbled onto this train trip on-line when using my mapping program to look for places to go after visiting Aztec. My mapping program showed it and since it was so close…

During my wanders around Silverton, I’d stopped at the RR station and asked the nice lady about the various offerings for a ride. Everything could be arranged on-line but I just could not figure out there what I wanted to do. Go visit their web site and click on ‘Book Now’ and you’ll see that they have soooo many options that you kind of need to talk to someone. Anyway, with her help, I figured it out and bought a one way train ticket to Durango, (bus return to Silverton). She told me that Presidential class was sold out so I ordered a 1st class ticket ($175 vs. $189 for the Presidential class). The trip was for the next day. When the time came, around 11:00am, went back to the train station and got my ticket, then walked to downtown where the train had already arrived but was allowing passengers time to wander the town. I talked to the conductor and indicated I’d like to upgrade my ticket should someone decided to stay overnight in Silverton. He didn’t think that would happen but an hour later, he lets me know that it was looking good. When all aboard was called, I was ushered into an empty car. Comfortable, nice seats, with the added advantage that I could open any of the windows for a breeze if I wanted to. Guess he felt that it wouldn’t be much fun for me sitting all by myself in an empty car so after the train had completed boarding, and left the station, he moved me back into the Presidential car. There were only 1 or 2 empty seats back there so I considered myself lucky to have one. I offered more money, but he said it wasn’t necessary.

Pretty nice there in the Presidential car. Free drinks, snacks, comfy seats, all in the last car of the train so you could sit out in back and watch the scenery go by. It was too early for alcohol but later maybe. Plus there were a couple free gifts; a very nice coffee mug and a heavy fabric tote bag. I figured that all the free stuff I got (that hadn’t come with the ticket I’d bought) was worth around $50. Thanks to the staff of the railroad. By the way, everyone associated with the RR was very nice, accommodating, and helpful.

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Here’s the conductor that let me upgrade my ticket.

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Fun in Silverton, CO

The next day, I untethered my bike and rode around town. Pretty cool place. In talking to the locals, I found that until the train started to become a tourist attraction, this town was dead. Nothing but a few old miners, hangers on, and floozies frequenting the bars. The town was swiftly dying after the mines petered out.

Then a miraculous thing happened. The train got popular. And Silverton was the destination. Pretty soon, there were 2 trains a day stopping here. The town had a revival and is now looking kind of spiffy. Still has dirt and gravel roads all over but the buildings are looking pretty nice. A few blocks from my RV was the train station and I stopped there as the train just happened to be coming along at that time.

Here comes the train!

Here comes the train!

My RV park is off in the direction the train came from. That road over there on the left of the pic is a popular trail for both hikers and jeep people. There are jeeps for rent at my RV park. In the background, you can see the road that winds it’s way down that mountain into town. Quite steep in places.

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On to Silverton, Colorado.

Aztec was fun, but it was time to move on. The plan was to head straight to Silverton, passing through Durango. It’s only a two hour trip so I hung around the RV park in Aztec as long as I could before hitting the road. Stopped for some shopping as I left town too. Then stopped again in Durango at a big box store. That all helped to kill some time. Have to do that so I wouldn’t arrive at Silverton to early. Some RV parks, (not many), are strict about check in time. Actually want to charge you an extra night if you get there too early. Doesn’t happen often, but travelers like me just plan to arrive at our next RV park after 1pm.

Passing Durango

Just outside Durango

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On to Aztec…

After Flagstaff, I traveled north then east to visit some of the country in that area that I’ve missed over the years. I’ve been to Shiprock and such, but lately I’ve traveled North/South in this area and this time I was going West/East. Since I was on a ‘this is the year of the train’ kick, my ultimate destination was Silverton, Colorado where they have a interesting train trip from/to Durango that I wanted to take. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RR has been running passengers up to Silverton for 131 years in cars behind a steam engine and I wanted to take that trip…but also, I wanted to visit Silverton. Seemed, from the internet, like an interesting town. And it appeared it had a nice RV park.

But first, I planned on visiting Aztec, New Mexico, because of the ruins of the ancient pueblo peoples village there that had a large restored kiva. And since it was almost exactly on the route to Durango, which led to Silverton, it wasn’t a hard decision to decide to stay there a few days while the weather improved in Silverton. It was fairly cold there at the time as it is up in the mountains and all.

On the way to Aztec (just 5 hours from Flagstaff), I passed a couple of places along the road that I vaguely recognized. The area seemed familiar so when I got to Ruins Road RV Park and set up, checked my stored photo albums, I found some pictures Nephew Paul had sent me just a couple weeks before that were taken at some of the tourist stops on this very road. Hah. It had been so long ago, I’d kind of forgotten about taking this route. It was kind of funny that, unsolicited, just a week before I made the trip, Paul would have sent me all those photos of a trip the family had all taken decades before in the same area where I was now enjoying a second visit. Maybe I mentioned the trip on Facebook or something.

We, (my son and me, brother Dan and his son Paul, sister Terri and her son Bruce, and our much loved family friend Maria) had made this tour in 1984 or so, stopping at the White House ruins, and the dinosaur track place. Here are a couple pictures:

The White House Ruins

The White House Ruins

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Flagstaff and beyond.

It only takes a couple hours to drive from Williams to Flagstaff, and I’ve shown pictures of that trip before so I won’t do that again here. I headed back to Flagstaff to have a little more work done on my RV at my favorite repair shop, Northern Arizona Diesel. And to visit an ancient Indian settlement that just happens to be a quarter mile from the RV park I usually stay at, Greer’s Pine Shadows. I never make reservations, usually, and this park has made me shorten my stay occasionally. This time I stayed for a couple weeks. The first week was spent goofing off, bike riding to town, and having that work done on my RV. Fairly minor stuff on the RV so I won’t even mention what it was.

The office.

The office.

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