Posted in Business, Campgrounds, Dogs, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels, Weather, Wildlife

Pack Expo, Las Vegas 2017

After seeing Drew in South Lake Tahoe, our other main purpose of this trip is to attend PackExpo in Las Vegas. Pack Expo is a huge trade show covering every aspect of packaging products before shipping to retail and wholesale buyers. Pack Expo International occurs every other year, in Chicago, at McCormick Place, and alternates with Pack Expo Las Vegas the opposite years. It is always held in big convention centers with lots of space to display all types of machinery. This is one of the big venues for us to get sales leads and reach potential customers; it’s worth the time and sore feet!

We made early reservations outside “The Strip” in Las Vegas at Clark County Shooting Complex. I have read many reviews and blogs about the safety (or lack of) of the hotel RV parks on The Strip. Many had reported burglaries while staying there, both in and outside RV’s; I was not willing to worry about that while parked in the heart of the lights and noise of Las Vegas. The Shooting Complex sits on the north side of Las Vegas, at the foot of the Las Vegas Mountain Range, and outside the hustle and bustle of town. Reviews had mentioned the noise at this campground when shooting occurred; our reservations were from Sunday to Wednesday and we lucked out! The range is closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays but open to the local military for practice; this week the range was preparing for a big public shooting event the next weekend and was closed to all! It was so nice and quiet, especially at night, to sit outside and look down on the lights of Las Vegas.

Ha! Aliens greeted us at the entrance to the campground and shooting complex!

The campground has 80 paved, FHU spots all lined up in a single row, in between the trap and skeet area and the archery range, the outdoor rifle & pistol areas were further north of the campground. There is absolutely zero grass, trees or anything that even resembles green growth anywhere here….it is truly desert….the corgis had a hard time deciding where to go to the bathroom! Cactus grew everywhere around here, big fat round ones, Saguaros, prickly pear, more than I could count as well as Joshua Trees. We also saw so very many Road Runner birds and Jack Rabbits with their long ears! This time of year the weather was amazing, highs in the 80’s and low in the 50’s…..probably the best time of year to visit if you want to enjoy your trip! We would certainly stay here again.

Cactus & Sagebrush with Las Vegas in the distance

Back to Pack Expo Las Vegas: Barry went the first 2 days alone to work at different booths, I dropped him off and stayed at the coach. I was able to do laundry and clean the coach; being in the West makes everything so dusty. By Tuesday, I was ready to go to the show and see friends and contacts and so very many machines! Every year they build new tasks for robots to complete and this year was an ice cream serving robot. All you had to do was place a cake cone in a holder and select your flavor (vanilla, chocolate, or swirl). The robot arm picked up the cone, rotated around to the ice cream maker and placed it under the correct flavor spout. Another robot arm pushed the button for the correct flavor and the ice cream filled the cone. As it completed filling, the first arm moved the cone in a small circular motion to make a swirl of ice cream on top! It then returned the cone to the original holder for you to pick it up and eat! Such fun!

It just dropped this filled cone for a customer to pick up!

Another highlight of this Expo was the FedEx Drone display. They are in the testing phase of using drones to deliver packages to a designated spot in your yard. A drone-enabled truck “picks” the correct box out of the truck cargo (of a small dimension) and places it in a loading arm. That arm raises to the roof of the truck and loads it onto the waiting drone. While the truck driver is making a nearby delivery, the drone takes the package directly to your yard and leaves it for you to retrieve. They hope this will help with more rural deliveries to prevent the truck from having to back in or out of tricky driveways, allowing the best use of the truck and driver. There were also tons of machines that form bags and boxes, fill bottles, and inspect all the above to guarantee the consumer only gets what they have purchased…..no metal shavings, etc..

After about 5 hours walking the show, I was beat and ready to head back to the coach. Barry was having dinner with some of our principals and I was on my own. As I left though, I realized that I could not leave without visiting the Strip a bit. I caught the Monorail and headed over to the Flamingo / Caesars stop, wandered through the Flamingo and out onto the Strip.

You can see the Paris Hotel & Casino all around Las Vegas!

I crossed the street and waited to watch the water show at the Bellagio — always wonderful!

Music and dancing fountains of water are always a crowd pleaser at the Bellagio!

My next stop was the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to enjoy the luxury shopping in a beautiful setting. I watched the “Fall of Atlantis” animatronic show with loud sound effects including water and fire. I love beautiful shoes and stopped at every one of them in the indoor mall before I came to Christian Louboutin and attempted to enter. The doors were closed a few people were milling around, maybe waiting for them to open? Someone said, “They have closed the doors to allow Nicholas Cage to shop in private!” Sure enough, Nicolas Cage was inside looking at shoes! As he completed his shopping, he allowed fans to take a photo with him; my youngest son later questioned why I did not take a photo with him? I replied, “He just looked too scruffy to me!” A previous shopping experience in the Forum Shops put me in a store with Michael Jackson! I Love Caesars Palace!!

Doesn’t he look like it’s still 1990?
Beautiful shoes with layers of silver fringe on the heels! If only I had $1,495!

If only we were rich, I would probably have several pair of incredible shoes in the RV, or maybe even pull a trailer with lots and lots of shoes? No, I would not, but it would be nice to just wear a pair of lovely shoes every now and then!! My feet were completely worn out by now and I returned to the coach, so tired and incredibly happy!

Las Vegas = Money & Fast Cars

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels, Wildlife

Beatty, Nevada

Today we said goodbye to the incomparable beauty of Yosemite NP and headed south and east toward Las Vegas.  Snowy mountain tops along the Sierra Nevada said goodbye to summer and hello to fall (whaaat?) and we kept them in our view throughout most of today.

Not sad to leave the gas prices in Beatty!

The drive routed us east along a pass between the White Mountains and the Inyo Mountains and through miles and miles of dry, desert lands.  Beatty, Nevada, near the Sheep Mountain Range, was just far enough to give us a nice warmer overnight stop before heading further south to Las Vegas.   As we drove along, the landscape changed from pine forests to sage brush, then, after we left California and got further into Nevada, the Joshua Tree (a type of Yucca)  appeared.  They only grow in the Mohave and Sonoran Deserts in this part of the world!!!  That is awesome!

As we got closer to Beatty, we began to see burros along the highway.  They have wild burros in Nevada and Arizona!!!

This momma & her colt were just walking along the road!

We arrived in Beatty, turned at the only stoplight in town(!), and pulled into Death Valley Inn & RV Park.  It is about the only nice hotel here and looks decent from the front, with a pool and nice tree plantings.  The RV park is next door, all gravel with very small lacy trees planted along each site — and a view of the discarded old mattresses and furniture behind the hotel.  It is small, but has 50 amp FHU’s, decent shower house, and very clean laundry house; for only $35 a night, it was a nice stopover in the desert!

After freshly made lasagna and roll and cake (!) at the local diner, KC’s Outpost, we drove out to Death Valley NP.  I visited here many years ago with my family for a spring desert bloom, but Barry had never been here.  The eastern boundary was only 8 miles outside Beatty, past the ghost town of Rhyolite, along a long straight highway.

Long thin ribbon of highway between Death Valley and Beatty, NV
View from the eastern Kiosk entrance stop towards the lowest point in the USA – 282′ below sea level

This abandoned mine was just next to the road – and No! I did not go into it!

Tomorrow we drive a couple of hours to Las Vegas!  Our first “big” city in 2 months!!

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Posted in LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

In the Mountains near Tahoe

We hiked several days into the Sierra Nevada Mountains around Lake Tahoe.  One day, Barry & I drove out to Kirkwood Ski Resort and had lunch and took a long different way back to the coach.

Blue Lake off Hwy. 88
Caples Lake
Too cold for us to swim!!
Last year’s snow!!
These enormous rocks just sit around; looks like a little push could roll them over!!
How did that round rock get left here?

Couple of horse riders in the Kirkwood Resort parking lot.

Another day, Drew & I left to hike out with my backpack loaded to get  used to carrying it packed.  We parked off Highway 88 at Carson Pass, loaded up and set off toward Winnemucca Lake.

Such very big trees!
The wind blowing Drew’s beard at Frog Lake
We hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on the way!

In the background of the above photo is a mountain called, “Elephant’s Back”….it does look like the skin you might see on an elephant!

The Winnemucca water is so very clear!
Last year’s snow is so close here…..but really it is a mile or so up!
Too much snow last year bent this young tree!

Today we hiked about 10 miles round trip, climbed about 2,000’ in elevation, and needed about 4.5 hours with all my stops to rest.  Drew was so very patient with me especially on the return trip out when this happened:

Yep, I hiked the soles off my hiking boots!

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, Parks, RV Living, Travels

Wasatch Mountain, Utah

We left Flaming Gorge and headed west and south to Wasatch Mountain State Park Campground.

Welcome to Utah!

 

Wide open spaces and strong winds = Wind Farm

This park is just south of Park City, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.  The campground is in Midway, Utah and is not easy to find with online maps, we had to drive through a couple of neighborhoods to find it!  The town has a large Swedish community and lots of cute painted buildings!

A cute Hobbit house!
Swedish-style painted house

The campground is in a large state park that includes a golf course, and, nearby Wasatch Mountain.  The campsites are paved with full hookups and 50 amps of power, each nestled into the trees with a little stream behind.  They have very nice paved patios with fire rings set down into the ground and are easy to use. The sites are nice and clean; we would certainly stay here again!

The campground is in the trees in the foreground

We stayed here for just 2 nights to give Barry a chance to get some work done after the Labor Day weekend.  That gave me an entire day to explore the area so I headed up into the mountains!   The road in the park was newly paved and an easy upward drive; my first stop was a nice lake with hiking paths around it.

Nice lake in an open meadow.

Did you know that one aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism?  A stand of aspen trees is considered a singular organism with the main life force underground in the extensive root system. Before a single aspen trunk appears above the surface, the root system may lie dormant for many years until the conditions are just right, including sufficient sunlight. In a single stand, each tree is a genetic replicate of the other, hence the name a “clone” of aspens used to describe a stand.  Ref:  https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/tree-profile-aspen-so-much-more-than-a-tree

 

Beautiful old Aspen Trees around the lake.

I continued up, turning left and right around switchbacks, driving past the park boundary and into the Park City limit where the nice road became a very rough road (due to the loads of snow and plowing in the winter).  At the very top was a nice parking lot with multiple trail heads for me to choose.  I picked the shortest one that lead to the summit and headed upward following a heavily trafficked gravel trail.

Looking south towards Midway
Looking West toward Brighton at Silver Lake
10,000 Feet!!!!

 

Yep! I am at the very peak!!!

 

Coming down from the peak to Jupiter Lift!
I Love Alpine Flowers!

 

The Ski Patrol cabin was unlocked and this walkway out the back offered great views!
View from the Walkway

We had such a nice relaxing time at Wasatch, catching up on work, exploring, hiking and relaxing.   We would certainly return here for a longer stay!  Next stop:  Tahoe!

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Posted in LIfestyle, Travels, Wildlife

Poudre River Fun

After I saw bears in the mountains, Barry could not wait to go out into the mountains with me!  We spent a day driving northwest from Fort Collins along the Cache la Poudre River valley on Highway 14, aka, Poudre Canyon Road.  This is just a lovely drive that follows the river through the canyon alongside lots of rushing water and pull-out spots.  At one such spot, we noticed a car stopped and a man standing outside with his camera pointed upward into some rocks.  We slowed, then pulled to a stop on a bridge and we jumped out of the car to see a bear in the bushes along the river there!  Barry grabbed my camera and watched and photographed that black bear!

Barry’s bear!

That bear got tired of photos and climbed further up and over the hill and out of sight…..we returned to our much more lovely drive!

 

Yes! We drove through this Huge Rock!!
Barry – without the bear!
Very Cold Water doesn’t scare me!!!!


We found a little spot right on the river to stop for dinner, The Mishawaka.  It is a concert venue / bar / restaurant, and truly just eating here alongside that wonderful water made the food delicious!  On the opposite bank, the hill rose up high to a solitary cross but I kept watching for wildlife as we enjoyed dinner.

I would love a Chieftains concert here with this lovely backdrop!
The aftermath of a forest fire……so very sad……..

 

We left Poudre Canyon Road and climbed up and up on Stove Prairie Road that would take us back to Horsetooth Campground.  As fun as the river road is to drive, this road is equally delightful with so very much to see!

Love to see horses in a field!
Such a fun fence!
I could look at this vista everyday (unless it was snowy!)

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Broken Bow, Nebraska

We left Pine Grove RV Park and headed west on I-80 to Grand Island, Nebraska.  There we followed NE highways 2 and 92 into Broken Bow.  This is a lovely county seat trying to update from a tired old town to a vibrant city.  We camped right downtown at Tomahawk Park for RVs and were pleasantly surprised.  Though they had less than 20 spaces, each was neat and clean with long pull-through sites for big rigs like ours.  The grass was manicured so very well and our site (#13) had a big shade tree nearby.  Although we only had 50 amp service, without water or sewer, for a few days it was just fine.  The WiFi, Verizon, and AT&T service was weak.  My map program (Waze) brought us in over a low-water bridge; we made sure not to leave that way!  Barry had a business call here that turned into a second call at the same company the next day in Holdrege (about an hour south of Broken Bow) and I drove while he emailed!

First, we discovered a wonderful breakfast spot just a few blocks from the park, Prairie Grounds.  Delicious cups of milky coffee and freshly baked blueberry muffins started my day off just fine!

After Barry’s morning appointment, we drove west of town to see one of the largest feedlots in the world.  It is the Adams Feedlot with a total capacity of between 85,000-100,000 head of cattle (depending on your source).  Barry & I are carnivores and love steak and hamburgers, but it is a little unnerving to see so many animals in such a place.  The smell wafts into town almost daily depending on the wind; but the wind blows steadily enough to keep it from being overpowering.

Adams Feedlot with ground corn feed under the large cover

The next day we drove south to Holdrege, Nebraska, south of I-80 for another appointment.  Job completed, we took our time returning to Red Bow and found these historical markers.

Pony Express marker
Platte River Valley marker

Back in Broken Bow, we detoured to the Straight Arrow Bison Ranch.  A family-owned business, they keep a herd of buffalo on their range year-round as a source of meat and other byproducts for retail sale.  Although they weren’t open that day, we did get a chance to see the herd from the road.  You can learn more here:  www.straightarrowbison.com  

Straight Arrow Bison

All-in-all, Broken Bow was a pleasant stop and nice town.  We would definitely stay here again when passing through on business.

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

Around Pine Grove RV Park

After we left Lee’s Summit, Missouri, we headed north, past St. Joseph and the Iowa border, then turned west and wound our way to Greenwood, Nebraska.  Pine Grove RV Campground is a decent park, with gravelly old paved roads, lots of steep speed bumps, and gravel parking sites but no patio space, just grass and an old picnic table.  The grass was a bit hairy and tracked inside every time we took the dogs out.  The WiFi was weak, but they had an AT&T tower nearby to boost that signal.  We had full hook ups, but low water pressure, and a great view across a huge soybean field facing west.  This park has a small pool, shuffleboard and tennis courts, playground for kids, and, more importantly, fenced dog parks!  The corgis had a great time running free, barking just to bark, and getting much need exercise.  After the eclipse, we were happy to enjoy the evening sunsets out the front of the coach.


Barry had appointments east in Omaha on Tuesday and west in York on Wednesday…..so we really were working here!

I did enjoy the old cemetery at Trinity Lutheran Church during the eclipse on Monday.  My grandma used to like to walk around the cemetery in our town, checking all the graves to see if anyone had died that she had missed, looking to make sure Grandpa’s grave had fresh flowers, etc.  and I, also, like to walk around cemeteries.  This one is an old German cemetery with graves dating in the mid-to-late-1800’s.

I am related to the Schmidt family on my father’s side; my great-grandparents immigrated to the USA before my grandparents were born.  I like to check old cemeteries for any of the names in any of my family trees, and I found these graves, just not people in my tree!


We ran into Omaha and across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday evening to the Bass Pro Shop there.  It is in a big casino complex at the intersection of I-80 and I-29 and had some public outcry and controversy when they built the overpass into the complex.


These pieces of “art” grace both sides of the overpass (2 on the North and 2 on the South), weigh 70,000 pounds, shoot 60′ into the sky, and cost an estimated $3,000,000 dollars.  They are titled “Odyssey” and were designed by renowned metal sculpture artist, Albert Paley.  We are familiar with his work from a piece at the entrance to the St. Louis Zoo; titled “Animals Always”, it is perfect for that site!  https://www.stlzoo.org/about/blog/2015/09/02/public-art-contributes-our-zoos-charm   These pieces, however, tower over the overpass and the highway in a crazy, Edward Scissorhands-like presence that is almost overwhelming.

The next day, Barry & I drove west to York, Nebraska to make a business call and I had such a wonderful day!  We stopped after the call in Lincoln to see the University of Nebraska stadium.

Memorial Stadium
Husker Nation!

After that stop, I dropped Barry off at the coach for a little exploring time on my own.  Now I had time to visit the Holy Family Shrine overlooking the Platte River valley.  It was modeled after Fay Jones’ Cooper Chapel in Arkansas as a place of meditation, reflection and prayer just off I-80, and stands as a welcoming refuge from the hustle and bustle of travel.

Visitors Center Entryway planted with so many wildflowers
Water is one of the major elements here and flows from the Visitor’s Center along a pathway and into the Chapel
Leaving the Visitor’s Center toward the Chapel
The Shrine is cool, quiet and reverent inside; the only sound is the water that runs under the stone floor up to the altar. The Holy Family is etched in the glass here.

Leaving the Shrine I took a different road back to the coach and found this funny lighthouse on the bank of the Platte River.

Combination of Lincoln & Omaha?

All in all, this is an interesting place to visit; big cities nearby, yet a rural setting for the campground.  We would probably stay here again when working in eastern Nebraska!

 

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