1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Soup, Salad, and . . .

We were on our way up to the Spring area by about 9:30, making a stop for gas before we got onto I-45. We made really good time, with light traffic and no slow-downs. A nice easy trip.

We were meeting up with the Debi & Ed Hurlburt, and Janice and Dave Evans. Or so we thought.

Turns out that with the first nice, dry day in a while, Dave found the call of the golf course irresistible so we went ‘Daveless’ at today’s get-together.

Olive Garden Group 20220127

Most of us had their Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks, a long-time favorite of ours.

Though Janice had to leave a little early, but the rest of us hung around until almost 2pm, a typical 3 hour lunch for us.

And as usual, we’ve already scheduled lunch for next month too.

Then coming home we made an HEB stop for a few things, finishing up with Ghirardelli Hot Chocolates from Cowboy Coffee. Perfect on a cold day.

I knew it had been a while since we’d been to an Olive Garden, and checking the blog showed that the last time we went to one in this area was back in December 2010 when we got together with a bunch of folks from the original Alvin Opry.

But I had forgotten about our most recent visit, when we visited NYC back in December 2019.

Check it out.

Jan’s Gonna Need A Bigger Freezer . . .

On our Saturday, December 7th, in New York, we spent the day riding buses. Gray Line buses like this one.

Gray Line Bus

Thursday afternoon when first visited Times Square, we purchased a pair of 24 hour Gray Line bus passes from one of the many vendors on every corner.

They listed four Hop-On Hop-Off tour routes: Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn, and a Night Tour. They also offered a Boat Tour, but since we had already visited Ellis Island  and the Statue of Liberty in 2009, and we were doing a East River/Hudson River Night Time Dinner Cruise the next day, we didn’t plan on doing it.

We planned on taking all four trips, starting with the Downtown one that first left out at 9am, with buses every 30 minutes afterwards. And luckily the starting point was diagonally across the corner from our hotel, so very convenient. So after another run at the hotel’s breakfast buffet, we were on the corner at 9am for the first bus, along with a lot of other people.

We actually didn’t plan on doing any hopping-on hopping-off. We just wanted to see the city, as much of it as we could. Unfortunately, we managed to chose the coldest day of our trip . . . to ride in an open-air double-decker bus.

The Downtown Tour was a pretty good overview of the city landmarks, taking in Times Square. Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Financial District, Battery Park, and South Street Seaport.

In the low 30’s, plus of course the wind chill factor, I could only take a few photos before I lost feeling in my fingers, so all you get are these four.

We were kind of surprised to see Christmas trees being sold on the sidewalks, but they seem to sell everything else there, so why not?

NYC Christmas Tree Lot

I did get to play with the really nice zoom on my Panasonic FZ80 while we were passing the Empire State Building.

NYC Empire State Building

NYC Empire State Building 1

NYC Empire State Building 2

And that’s all the photos I got that day. With my gloves on I just couldn’t operate the camera.

Finishing up our first tour in about 2 hours, and ending up back in the Times Square area, Jan had been wanting some New York Clam Chowder, and Google said there was a place on the next block that had it. But Google was wrong, and when we got there, they no longer served it. So we didn’t stay.

What we did do was to backtrack a block and have Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks at the Olive Garden we’d passed. Really good on a 35° day.

Back at the hotel we napped a little and then were back out at the bus stop for our Uptown Tour. It covered Central Park, American Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Harlem, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim and a lot more on the famous Museum Mile.

The Uptown Tour pretty much just segued into the Brooklyn Tour, which covered the Botanic Garden, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Antique Furniture District, Fulton Mall, The Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza, Cadman Plaza, The Brooklyn Public Library and much more.

Back at the hotel in the late afternoon, we crashed a bit, and then had a little supper at the dinner buffet, since we’d also had lunch. Then we just goofed off for a while until our 8pm Night Tour. It included a subset of the other 3 tours, like the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Rockefeller Center, Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, but at night.

Then it was back to the room, tired and happy, with Jan’s Fitbit saying we’d done over 5 miles today.

A couple of days ago there was a news story about a 75 year old Utah women found dead from natural causes in her home. But the surprising thing was that they also found her dead husband . . . in the freezer. Along with a notarized letter saying his wife didn’t kill him.

And with a little checking, the police found that he’d been dead for about 10 years, since the last time anyone saw him was the spring of 2009. Apparently she had told friends that he’d run off and left her.

Well, of course, all the commenters on Facebook and a lot of the blogs thought the wife had done him in, and the letter must a forgery. But as I told Jan, I thought it had a simpler, more benign explanation, even a loving one. Turns out the husband was being treated for a terminal illness by the VA. and had his last appointment in February 2009.

I figure the husband, knowing he was dying, and wanting his wife to be able to continue receiving his VA and SS benefits after he died, planned the whole thing, including the freezer part. The wife had received almost $180,000 in the last 10 years so it makes sense that the letter was just so his wife wouldn’t get in trouble.

I told Jan that it’s something that I would do for her if the time came, but I think she’s gonna need a bigger freezer.

Thought For The Day:

Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept stupid people the way they are, the courage to maintain my self-control, and the wisdom to know that if I act on it, I will go to jail!



North Platte and The Bailey Yard . . .

North Platte, NE had long been on my bucket list because of the Bailey Yard and my love of trains. And as it turned Jan was just about as fascinated as I was.

2017 was our last year of full-time traveling in our RV, and our last time gate guarding.

The end of an era, I guess. Though we didn’t realize it at the time.

June 12, 2017

After sleeping late, we had our coffee, OJ, muffins and a quiet morning, talking about what we wanted to see while we were here, and also our schedule for the rest of this trip.

We did some shifting around, dropping a couple of stops, and adding to a couple of others. The main one we dropped is a stop in Waco for a couple of days so Jan could visit The Silos and Magnolia Market of Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’. But we decided to do that as a day trip up from the Colorado River TT when we’re there.

I also got our reservations for the Riverside RV Resort in Bartlesville, OK so we can visit Ree Drummond’s Mercantile in nearby Pawhuska, OK.

About 1pm we headed out to visit the Golden Spike Tower and the Bailey Yard, something that I’ve wanted to do for a good while. And Jan was looking forward to it too.

But on our way, we first scouted out the station that I found on Google Maps Street View yesterday, and it looks like we’re good to go when we leave here on Wednesday.

North Platte NE Diesel Station

It has separate diesel pumps on the right side and plenty of room to get in and out, as well as hitching up the toad. Even better, as I said, they also have the cheapest diesel around at $2.25 a gallon.

The 100ft Golden Spike Tower is visible from a long distance on the flat countryside so it was easy to find.

Golden Spike Tower

There are two observation decks here, an open balcony on the 7th floor, at 83 feet, and the 8th floor, an enclosed deck at 95 feet. Admission was only $6 each for us seniors, so a nice deal.

The stats for this place are amazing. With over 315 total miles of track, the Bailey Yard stretches over 8 miles from end to end and covers over 2,800 acres.

Bailey Yard

The yard handles about 155 trains a day, with over 70 of them coal trains, totaling over 10,000 railroad cars.

Bailey Yard 2

The Diesel Repair Shop handles over 750 locomotives a month, with each doorway leading to an area for a different type of repair.

Bailey Yard Repair Shop

And here are the finished locomotives lined up and waiting to be assigned to an outgoing train.

Bailey Yard Engine Lineup

This is the Sand Tower, where sand is loaded into the locomotive’s hopper. The sand is sprayed on the rails right in front of the wheels in cases where, due to rain, ice, or snow, the rails might be slippery.

Bailey Yard Sand Tower

This is the fueling area, going through over 14 million gallons of diesel a month. Now I don’t feel so bad about my 150 gallon tank.

Bailey Yard Fueling Station

One of the most amazing things here are the two Hump Yards, one for east bound trains and one for west bound ones.

A string of cars are pushed to the top of the hump, a 34ft high hill.

Bailey Yard East Hump 4

Then one or two at a time, the cars are released at the top and start to roll down hill.

Bailey Yard East Hump 3

As the car(s) come down they are automatically routed through multiple switches and slowed down as necessary by ‘retarders’, I.e brakes along the rails.

Bailey Yard East Hump

Bailey Yard East Hump 2

At the bottom of the hump, one of over 3000 cars a day, they end up being routed into the correct train, ready to be assigned an locomotive.

Bailey East Hump Yard 2

And all that magic is done from this building, the Bailey Yard Control Center.

Bailey Yard Control Bldg

In this building every one of the 985 switches in the yard can be controlled remotely. Even more amazing is that many of the locomotives moving cars around the yard are also under remote control.

Bailey Yard Control Room

When is why you see signs like these around the yard.

Remote Control Locomotive

Leaving the Golden Spike Tower we drove around to the backside of the Bailey Yard to get a side shot of the East Hump and the cars rolling down the hill.

Later, after driving around town for a while, we stopped off at Fort Cody, a combination Buffalo Bill Cody Museum and Gift Shop.

After it was right up the road to have dinner at King Buffet, a Yelp 4 Star Chinese Buffet.

King Buffet

And the reviews were certainly accurate.

King Buffet 1

A good selection, with small portions, constantly changed out, so everything was fresh and hot. Our favorite Hot & Sour Soup was really good, as well as the iced tea.

Even better, with our 10% Senior discount, it was only $7.50 each, plus our drink. If we were going to be here longer, we’d certainly go back.

But tomorrow night’s Italian.

With our stay here in Nebraska, we can now mark that state off on our ‘RV’d In’ list, leaving only Kansas, which
we’ll be able to mark off on Thursday.

Of course, that still leaves Hawaii, which we’ll do as soon as I can find a dry route.

Thought for the Day:

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” – P.J. O’Rourke



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