A Travellerspoint blog

Driving Through Beautiful British Columbia Canada

Vancouver to the Yukon Territory

Hello from the Yukon,

Since we left Vancouver BC it seems like we have been driving and driving and well…….driving. Looking back I guess it has been a bit over 1500 miles through British Columbia and into the Yukon. We left Vancouver and took Canada’s HWY 1 to Cache Creek where we picked up the 97 which becomes the Alaskan Highway in Dawson Creek. We encountered some fairly rough road just outside of Prince George and by the time we got to Dawson Creek the #*&@ing motorcycle lift was leaning backwards once again. Only this time it had bent the battery box and radiator reservoir so far backwards it pulled off one of the coolant hoses to the engine and I had antifreeze sprayed all over the engine, the back of the bus and the Jeep in tow. After everything I had already been through with that thing I was about ready to just make someone in Dawson Creek a proud new owner of a lift and a Harley but we decided to try once more to correct the core problem. We found a company that did fabrication work and we spent a day removing, reinforcing and reinstalling the motorcycle lift. I knew the roads in our future were going to be even more rough than the ones we just encountered so after we got everything repaired we decided to rent a storage room in Dawson Creek and just leave the motorcycle behind. We will pick it up on the way back.

With the motorcycle lift reinstalled and the bike in storage we got back on the 97 which becomes the Alaskan Highway (Mile 0) at Dawson Creek and began our journey North. Overall the Alaskan highway is much better than I feared. I had heard such horror stories about the trip from my uncles when I was a small boy that I had envisioned it being a mud wagon trail with people broke down every 10 miles or so. That is not to say it is like a US freeway. It is a two lane road which is under a great deal of construction in the summer months as you can imagine so we encountered many instances where the road was reduced to one lane with alternating traffic which slowed us down quite a bit. More problematic was that there are many areas that are just gravel. Not native gravel but rather a spread layer of about ½ inch rocks. When we stopped at Liard Hot Springs for the night after a day of heavy gravel roads I went back to look at my Jeep which is being towed behind the motorhome and it had rocks in just about every crevice and maybe 3 or 4 pounds of rocks on the hood and roof. That is where I gained an appreciation for why some people had taped cardboard or other covers to their tow vehicle windshield. Needles to say with all those rocks on the jeep a good number had hit the windshield and pretty much trashed it. I counted 12 cracks of at least 5 inches each, two large bullseye cracks and probably more than 30 typical star cracks. So the windshield will definitely need to be replaced I am just trying to determine when I want to do that so I don’t have to do it twice.

Overall however the drive has been spectacularly beautiful. We were just talking about how in the states we drive a long way to see a beautiful mountain lake and how rare they seem to be but here it seems we pass 15 to 20 of them everyday and they are all gorgeous. One major disappointment we had was that from Vancouver to Fort Nelson we hadn't seen any wildlife…NOTHING. We had seen about 100 warning signs making drivers aware of Moose, Elk, Caribou and Deer but we were thinking those were just for the tourist and all the animals had left the area. Then just North of Fort Nelson we saw three Moose, two Black Bears, one deer, a group of wild Horses and some other smaller yet to be identified animals along side the road. Maybe the highlight was a heard of Bison maybe 75 or so next to and crossing the road. We had to stop for them and slowly work our way through the heard so I shot a short video that I think you can find here

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Well we are now parked in Whitehorse which is the capital of the Yukon Territory. We are working on our plans for the next few days but there is quite a bit to see and do near here. Skagway and other cities are within driving distance so we may use Whitehorse as a hub and leave the motorhome here while we spend a few days checking out the areas around here.

Let’s get to the pictures of the road trip through beautiful British Columbia.

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This picture was taken in Dawson Creek. Besides supporting the oil fields in Alberta the main crop grown in Dawson creek is Canola which results in these beautiful yellow fields.

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As I mentioned above Dawson Creek is where the Alaskan Highway starts.

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When the US Army Corps of Engineers built this roadway to Alaska back in 1942 they built this rather odd bridge. While it is a typical truss style wooden bridge of the era this one is curved.

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Here is Susan on the wooden bridge. Notice the curves. On the Bridge decking I mean. 

From Dawson Creek we took a small side trip to an old restored gold mining town called Barkerville. It was very well presented and very representative of gold mining towns from the era. The next three pictures show some of that little town.
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We stopped at a small restaurant for lunch at the Toad River Lodge and they boast the worlds largest collection of baseball caps. I guess no one checks up on such claims but they have more than 8000 hanging from just about every wall space in the restaurant. I donated one of the two I had just received from the folks who worked on my motorcycle lift.
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This was a funny although somewhat serious sign next to our table.

The next six pictures are just some random photos we took from the moving motorhome as we drove through British Columbia.
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This was what my Jeep windshield looked like when we stopped at Liard Hot Springs for the night….SIGH!

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This was the board walkway from the park to the Liard hot springs. It was about 700 yards over swamp lands to the actual pools.

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Here are the pools where we took a dip. Not very deep but quite hot….and a bit stinky like sulfur.

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Here is a sign we noticed after we returned from the Hot Springs.

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Here is a picture of a baby Moose we took from the bus window

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Here is a picture of a heard of Bison we had to wait for to cross the road. They weren’t intimidated by the size of the motorhome at all.

Here are three more scenery shots taken as we drove North through British Columbia Canada.
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We stopped for lunch at Watson Lake and they boast the largest collection of road signs. They have them all on posts called the road sign Forrest and have them from roads all over the world. Amazing what some people collect.

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We finally made it through BC and now in the Yukon

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This is the very neat little place we are staying in Whitehorse

Well that’s the update so far.

Next we plan to travel around here a bit then head on into Alaska on our way to Denali National Park.

Take care and stay in touch,

Tom & Susan

Posted by Trainwater 17:26 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Seattle WA & Vancouver BC

More of the Great Northwest

Hello from the Great White North

It has been almost a month since my last blog entry and while our geographic location has not changed dramatically since my last post it seems like we have done quite a bit. We travelled North from Portland into Seattle where we stayed on the East side of the city in Issaquah WA. From there we explored both downtown Seattle as well as a day trip to the city of Wenatcheee which is on the East side of the Cascade mountains and as such enjoys a much dryer climate and warmer weather than the greater Seattle area. We also we able to take a small side trip over the Olympic Peninsula to stay with some friends we used to work with in San Diego. They were such wonderful hosts showing us around the beautiful areas of Port Ludlow and Port Townsend.

While in Seattle we found a very promising house for sale back in Bend Oregon so we retraced our steps a bit and returned to Bend for a couple of weeks to re-investigate the housing market there. It turns out the house had some issues so we returned to Seattle to continue our adventure. While the house in Bend didn’t work out the loopback allowed us to meet up with our friends from San Diego who were visiting Seattle as well as a friend I went to college with and had not seen in many years. It was great being able to visit with both of those guys and their families once again.

Once we left Seattle (for the second time) we headed North to Vancouver British Columbia where we stayed for three days. Vancouver is a much larger city than I envisioned. There are a LOT of high rise buildings and the Canadians are always a very friendly bunch. We visited the famous Capilano Suspension bridge which was built originally in 1889. Well those are the highlights of what we have been up to.

Let’s get to the pictures and show you some more details:

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This is a picture of the famous Snoqualmie Falls East of Seattle. This 270 foot water fall is one of Washington state’s most visited attractions. Very Cool!

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At the top of the falls is the beautiful Salish Lodge where we had lunch with our friends overlooking the falls.

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I am really into model airplanes and as we travel I try to visit different model airplane fields. This picture was taken at a model airplane field at Mary Moore park near Issaquah WA. You can see Mt Rainier in the background.

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These two pictures were taken at the world famous Pike Place fish market in downtown Seattle. This is the place where you have probably seen them throwing fish to each other through the air. They still do that but it seems much more for the tourists than anything else. I still recommend a visit here though because there is SO MUCH more in this market than flying fish….like some of the freshest fruit I have tasted. YUM!

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This is a picture of our friend’s children having fun on Alki beach in Seattle where we all met for a wonderful afternoon on the sand and a great dinner overlooking the ocean.

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Here is a tug boat under renovation at a dock near Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula. I really like tug boats so I try to take pictures of them when I can. In this case I was able to meet and speak with the captain. This boat was originally built in 1954.

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This was an example in a boat building class in Port Townsend.

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We saw a BUNCH of deer out on the peninsula. This one was walking across a parking lot at the old Fort Townsend State Park.

We took another small side trip out to Anacortes Washington. This is where my brother in-law is from and he spoke so highly of it we just had to go see it. It was beautiful!

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Here is Susan standing beside a cross-cut section of a 242 foot tall Douglas Fir which was estimated to have been almost 1000 years old. Susan is pointing to Ray our traveling mascot that we photograph is various places as we travel.

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This is a picture of a beautiful old Victorian home in a small city of La Conner just outside Anacortes.

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Next we packed up and headed North to Vancouver where we crossed the boarder without incident and began to explore the city. We got VERY marginal Dim Sum at a restaurant near China town then headed over to the Capilano Suspension Bridge for the afternoon.

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While kind of pricey ($34 / person) to enter the park as you can see from this in park map it is like the Swiss Family Tree House in Disneyland on Steroids. In addition there are walkways throughout the canopy of the rainforest to explore and walk through if you are not afraid of heights. 

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This is a picture of us about to cross the main suspension bridge entering the park. Very Cool place!

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This is a picture of the Port Mann Bridge on Canadian Hwy 1 we crossed heading back from downtown Vancouver.
Well friends that is about it for now. Tomorrow morning we begin our great adventure up through the Yukon and into Alaska. We don’t have all of our stops planned out just yet but we definitely want to visit Denali National Park which is about 2300 miles from here in Vancouver BC. That is about the same distance as here to Dallas Texas. Yikes!

More from the Yukon and Alaska in the next few weeks.

Take care
Tom & Susan

Posted by Trainwater 15:49 Comments (0)

Exploring the Northwest

Oregon is Beautiful!

Well…it once again seems like this blog entry is way overdue. I was about to apologize again for it having been so long since my past post but I now believe this will most likely be the way it goes in the future. Just seems to always be something going on. We have had quite a few small repair jobs on the motor home over the past several weeks. I guess it is to be expected when you bounce your house down the highway. We needed to repair the microwave oven for a blown fuse after it became unhappy being operated on the inverter as well as several sliding drawers that have flown open while on those curvy mountain roads and broke latches and slide mechanisms.

Enough of the mundane excuses! Let’s get to where we have been and what we have seen since we last talked……

From Atwater we spent a few days in the Sacramento area for our niece’s wedding and to visit family. We had a great time there enjoying homemade Sausage and wine from my uncle YUM!!!! Next we traveled over to the San Rafael area to be with our daughter who had an admissions interview for a graduate program at Dominican University. From our RV parking place we could see the prison complex at San Quentin. I have found that looking at prisons from the outside never ceases to remind me how much I never want to be inside looking out.

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This is a picture of San Quentin prison taken from our RV parking spot on the bay in San Rafael.

Next we were off to the Medford Oregon area to explore and see if that might work out as a landing spot. We were amazed at the beauty of the Rogue River. We travelled from its source at Crater Lake all the way to where it empties into the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach. It was amazingly beautiful. Here are some pics

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This was a small gorge where the Rogue River flowed through some waterfalls next to the highway.

Next we went up to Crater Lake where even though it was about 70 degrees outside there was still a good amount of snow on the ground. The lake was formed almost 8000 years ago when Mt Mazama erupted leaving a 6 mile diameter crater where its peak used to be. This may be the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. The water filters out most of the other colors besides blue from the ambient light leaving what looks to be the most spectacular blue looking water I have ever seen.

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Here is Susan at the rim of the lake.

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Here is a shot of the lake. Amazingly beautiful!

Next we traveled over to the Oregon coast to visit Brookings and Gold Beach. The trip from Medford actually takes you back into Northern California redwoods and on the way back we stopped for a few hours to explore the redwood forest.

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This is the old bridge at Gold Beach Oregon. We really enjoyed the coastal cities of the Southern Oregon coast.

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We stopped at one beach on the way back to let the dog run on the beach. Funny after living in San Diego his whole life I don’t think we had ever been on the beach before. He learned quickly that drinking sea water was not a good idea.

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Here I am on our first stop in the redwoods. We found about a 5 mile drive on a dirt road back through the forest so we took the top off the Jeep and just enjoyed the magnificent redwoods.

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Here is Susan standing inside the trunk of one of the fallen redwood trees.

Next we travelled more East to the city of Bend Oregon. Bend had been one of the citied we were really interested in learning more about as a potential retirement location. We found it charming although its recent popularity has caused it to be not quite as affordable as we had hoped.

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The Deschutes river flows right through town and the city has done a wonderful job of developing multi use facilities and parks on the river. This picture was taken on a Sunday afternoon from sidewalk restaurants on the river while a concert in the park was going on nearby. NICE!

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This is a picture of the Cascade Mountains viewable just West of the city. Beautiful!

Our next stop was McMinnville Oregon to visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum. This is the museum that now houses the Hughes Spruce Goose which I never got a chance to see when it was in Long Beach. The museum was amazing. When you pull up you see two 747 aircraft with the Evergreen logos on them. One parked in the front of the museum complex and another on the roof of one of the buildings. Cool! Here are some of the MANY pictures I took at the museum.

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A partial picture of the Spruce Goose with one of the original Spirit of St Louis aircraft to give you some idea of the size of this wooden aircraft. Amazing!

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A picture from inside the Spruce Goose looking toward the tail showing the wooden bulkheads.

OK Just a few more selected pictures of the many many aircraft at this amazing aviation museum. If you like aircraft I would highly recommend a visit to McMinnville!
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Next we travelled North to Portland where we have stayed for the past week. Portland is a funky little town but we really enjoy that kind of environment. We were driving around last Saturday and stopped at a street festival and Saturday Farmer’s market. It was a visual circus of just about every kind of person, dress and behavior you can imagine. Quite a show.

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Here is a picture of one unicorn and a ballerina…… I think

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Here is a local favorite called Voodoo Donuts. It has become a cult Must Do for visitors and locals alike. The line to get donuts can stretch for blocks. They have many types of donuts but the original is a voodoo doll shaped donut complete with a pretzel pin stuck in the abdomen and red gooey filling on the inside. YUM!

We took a day trip from Portland over to the coast to see the famous cheese factory at Tillamook Oregon.

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Here is a picture of the cheese factory at Tillamook. They receive more than 1.7 million pounds of milk EVERY DAY! This amazing amount of milk produced about 167,000 pounds of cheese per day.

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Finally here is a picture of our mascot “Ray” the hedgehog at the Tillamook cheese factory.

Well that about does it for now I think. Next we travel up to the Seattle area where we plan to stay through the 4th of July and then travel on into Canada on our way to Alaska. Not sure when I will get time to do another blog entry but we will keep taking pictures of our adventures and sharing them when we can. Drop us a note anytime we always enjoy hearing from you and learning what you are up to as well.

Take care….
Tom & Susan

Posted by Trainwater 14:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Road Back West

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Chicago & Colorado

Wow!

I guess I didn't realize just how far behind I was on this blog until I read my last post (and received some moderate prodding from friends and family to update this thing).

Needless to say we have covered a lot of ground since my last post.

As I write this entry we are all the way back on the West coast and continue to have a great time exploring new places and meeting interesting people along the way. But I seem to be getting ahead of myself.....

We arrived in Pittsburgh to attend the college graduation of our niece from Duquesne University and to see family and friends. We had a GREAT time there! The weather was just perfect and I was able to off load the motorcycle and get some time exploring the wonderful two lane roads in Western Pennsylvania with my brother in law. We took in a Pirates home game at PNC Park and had a great time.

When we left Pittsburgh we stopped in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and then up to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. We then travelled to Chicago where we completed the clandestine operation to surprise Susie with the unexpected arrival of her daughter Kate from San Diego for Mother’s Day. We also went to see the play “Book of Mormon” at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago. It was well done and very very funny.

From Chicago it was pretty much a straight line drive along Interstate 80 for Northern Colorado where we wanted to spend a few days to check out the area as a potential place to retire. We found the views of the Rocky Mountains breathtaking and the small towns of Loveland and Fort Collins charming and potentially a place we could live. Of course it was late May not late January but we had a good time.

Once we left Colorado we hopped back on I-80 and continued West toward Sacramento and then South to the Atwater / Merced area where the 16th annual giant scale radio controlled airplane meet is held every year. While I do not have room for any of my giant scale airplanes on the motor home, my friends from San Diego showed up with extra airplanes for me to fly. It was great to see those guys again and to get to fly models at such a wonderful venue.

Well that pretty much brings me to where we are now. We will spend about a week in the Sacramento and bay area’s attending my niece’s wedding and getting caught up with family and absorbing the local offerings.

Our current plans are to head North from here into Oregon and Washington and then into Alaska.

I want to say I will do these more often but I somehow seem to find a lot of things to consume my time even when I am not driving.
Well let’s get to some pictures of our trip………

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This is a picture of the outside of PNC Park as we approached it to attend a Pirates baseball game. It is an amazing stadium and we were fortunate to have wonderful sunny weather for our visit.

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This is the view of the city from the inside of the park. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city when the sun shines and they have done a great job of capturing the skyline of the city with this baseball park.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has been on my bucket list for some time. I was surprised how small it was. Not that I was disappointed but it just wasn't as grand as I had envisioned it.

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In the early days of professional football players would be recruited to play for a team but for some reason they did not want to be known so they would were a helmet like this one on the left to hide their identity. The hard rubber nose guard on the left was frequently removed during the game and held in the hand to provide a harder fist to hit their opponent with.

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This is a picture of the coolest hologram I have ever seen. The ring in the picture was a hologram but it looked very real. Amazing!

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This was one of the marred and scratched helmets’ worn by Raider Left tackle Art Shell during his any years with the team.

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This is me in front of the Hall of Fame. Another bucket list item checked off!

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This is a picture of Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cleveland as we made our way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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This is Ray our mascot sitting on the sign to the Hall of Fame.

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This sign is just outside the Hall of Fame and outlines the earliest beginnings of the term “Rock and Roll” and how it began at a local Ohio Radio station.

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One of many tributes to Elvis in the Hall of Fame. We thought all of the exhibits were very well done!

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These are the fur covered drums used by ZZ Top. Not sure but the fur might be their beard hair as they looked very much the same.

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A very early picture of the Rolling Stones. Just one of many tributes to the band in the Hall.

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When we arrived in Chicago we were starving for some good Chinese food so off to China town to get what we had been missing.

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We went to Millennium Park to stroll around the grounds and look at “The Bean”. It is a chrome sculpture that provides very interesting reflections of the skyline and the building around it.

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This odd picture was taken from beneath the bean which produced many multiple reflections resulting in the image you see here. Sort of like a house of mirrors.

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This is Susan at a Chicago hot dog stand with a sign telling her she should not put ketchup on her hot dog. She didn’t listen 

Next we were off to the Loveland / Ft. Collins area of Northern Colorado.

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This is a picture of wild Elk grazing right next to the parking lot we stopped at up at Estes Park just West of Loveland. There was a lot of cow Elk just about everywhere.

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This is a photo of one vacant lot we looked at with a short range view of the golf course and a long range view of the Rocky Mountains to the West.

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This was a picture we took on the drive somewhere in Utah.

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This was a snap shot of the model airplanes my friends brought from San Diego to fly at the event in Atwater California. It was great to see them again.

Well…….

That is about it for now. I will try to do this a bit more often in the future.

We always enjoy hearing from you all so please feel free to leave a message on the blog website or drop me an email directly at trainwater157@gmail.com

Take care
Tom & Susan……….at large

Posted by Trainwater 16:08 Comments (0)

The Road to Pittsburgh

Nashville TN, Louisville KY and Dayton OH

Hello again from the road.

Since my last post we have been putting some serious miles behind us. We travelled from Austin up through Dallas, Little Rock and back into Nashville where we spent another couple of days to do some things we weren’t able to do when we were there just a couple of weeks ago. Next we travelled up through Louisville Kentucky and into Dayton Ohio to visit the US Airforce Museum at Wright Patterson AFB.
Lets get to the pictures…….

While in Nashville we had a few local spots we wanted to checkout for some live music and libations.
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Our first stop was Puckett’s grocery and restaurant in downtown Nashville for dinner and some live music. Very fun time and very good food.
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Our next stop after dinner was a short walk down to Broadway to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Tootsies is a very popular night club and also very small. You just gotta squeeze in and wait for a band break to upgrade your position. We enjoyed watching a few local bands that were very good.
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The following night we had reservations to the famous Blue Bird Café where we saw four song writers performing “in the round”. It was very neat to be where so many performers have played and been discovered.
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Our next stop North was Louisville Kentucky where we spent the night. Later that evening we went to a night time tour of the old Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Wavery Hills has been touted as the scariest place on earth and has had numerous extensive studies examining it for ghosts. So a night time tour seems appropriate. While we did not see any ghosts this is a pretty freaky building.
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This is the front of the Waverly Hills sanatorium when we arrived just before dark for our tour.
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Here is one of the gargoyles from the rooftop.
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Here is a picture of the building when it was operational back in the 1940’s
Next we travelled to Dayton Ohio to visit the US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB. I took almost 600 pictures there but don’t worry I only picked a few to post here. This is one of the most expansive aircraft museums in the world and if you love airplanes this place is a MUST visit.
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Here is Susan standing next to a tire from a bomber. I didn’t record which one but as you can see from the size of it….a big one.
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The museum has a large number of aircraft displays like this one where a situation is presented with surrounding statues and props that really add a level of realism to the presentation of the aircraft.
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Wright Patterson houses many of the original aircraft that served as Air Force One for previous presidents. This is the aircraft that took J.F. Kennedy to Dallas and on which Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president. Jacquelyn Kennedy ordered one of the bulkheads cut out to accommodate the casket of the president on their return to Washington DC to prevent storing it in the baggage area.
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This is a very cool F86 Sabre with the skin removed showing the complex systems and plumbing in the aircraft.
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This is a scale mockup of a 1970’s era nuclear missile launch control room
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This is a model of Sputnik I which the Russians launched into Earth orbit in 1957

Well… like I said I took a TON of photos of aircraft at the museum. If you are interested in any of them just drop me a note of which one and I will be happy to forward them to you.

Next we are off to Canton Ohio to visit the NFL Hall of Fame and then onto Pittsburgh for Susan’s niece’s graduation and to visit family and friends. Current plans are to travel toward Cleveland and Chicago after Pittsburgh on our way back toward the West coast but who knows.

Until next time……..

Tom & Susan
….at large

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