Thursday, July 31, 2008

Videos and photos posted

I spent a while last night uploading videos and photos. I've done my best to insert them in the appropriate spots. Check the posts below and re-read our adventure.

Everybody Was Kung Foo Fighting

I forgot to mention in my post yesterday that the day started with Finn and Frampton getting attacked by a stray dog. Luckily, the dog was old and apparently didn't have any teeth. But I didn't know that as I was walking to dogs over to the car shop, where Gene was already stationed. Both Frampton and Finn were on leashes, and we were walking in front of a liquor store that is in between our hotel and the car shop. Doesn't Alamosa sound like a lovely place? Oh, and we are staying in what is supposed to be the nicest hotel in town.

Anyway, I digress. I was walking past the liquor store with the dogs when I saw about 15 feet away a very large boxer/bulldog mix that was not on a leash. It approached us despite me telling it "no" repeatedly, and sure enough, a scuffle broke out between my dogs and that dog, which quickly escalated to a full out fight, right there on the side of the road. I kept pulling my dogs forward, and we tried to run away, but the stray kept attacking Finn particularly. It was awful to say the least, and I really thought the dog might kill Finn. I yelled for help, and several cars pulled over and people ran out to help us. One of the people who helped us was a traffic control officer, and she told me to call animal control, which I did. The owner of the liquor store came out and identified the dog as his. He told me that the dog had no teeth, which made sense because when I looked Finn over, he had no puncture wounds despite being repeately bitten. I don't know why the dog didn't have any teeth, but I'm thankful that it didn't. I made a written report with animal control, and will see how that pans out.

You already know about the radiator issues that happened yesterday, so I won't go over it again. But there was one more problem that arose after my last post. We have a repair warranty on the vehicle. Despite making all the arrangements for the shop to be paid directly by the warranty, and the shop agreeing to be paid directly by the warranty, at the end of the day, when the vehicle was ready, the shop owner refused to release the vehicle to us unless we paid him about 1k, directly and immediately. Of course, the warranty place was closed for the day. When I attempted to discuss with him that his employees had already set things up to get paid (and may have already been paid) by the warranty, he got about five inches from my face and began yelling at me in some foreign language. (Gene had already had words with him, so I was trying to handle things. (And I have never seen Gene have words with anyone, so this tells you a little about the owner.)) We ended up paying the guy just to get our car back, left the property and immediately called the police to file a complaint.

The good news is that we finally got out of Alamosa, CO, after being stuck there for four days. We left at approximately 9:30 last night, and we drove as fast as was legally possible and as long as we could prop our eyelids open to get as far away from that awful town as possible. We drove to Montrose, CO, where we stayed the night, and drove all day through Utah to make it to Twin Falls, Idaho. Tomorrow, we hope to make it to Portland, OR. Despite losing four days of our trip to car repairs, we are almost back on track.

I am not going to mention that town in Colorado anymore. Gene and I decided that it is basically a curse word, although we haven't exactly figured out what context in which to use it. I suppose we could tell someone to "GO TO ALAMOSA!" if they had offended us in some way. That might work.

Thanks for all your well wishes. Hope that you are doing well.
(Oh, and thanks SB for the care package, which we have used in its entirety, and thanks Denise for the chocolates, which kept us fed and sane that afternoon we were stuck on the side of the road.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Still here. . .

Going on four hours now, sitting in the same spot. . . waiting. . .

Comedy of Errors

So, we are still in Alamosa, CO. Right now, I am sitting in the lobby of our "hotel," surrounded by all of our luggage and two passed out dogs. I've been sitting here for about three hours, while Gene is over at the car repair shop. We checked out of our room because they said the car would be done today, so I've been sitting here since 2 p.m.

They got the radiator and reservoir parts in this morning, and have been working to replace them. The mechanic told me that when the dealership in Tallahassee serviced my car just last week, they didn't fill up the coolant, which cause the crack in the reservoir, which cause the radiator to blow. He also says that I didn't know the coolant was low because the wiring for the signal light on the dashboard was disconnected. Hmmmm, interesting. I called up BMW in Tallahassee, and they of course have a completely different story.

Gene just called from the car repair shop and I could tell from his voice that something might be wrong. Apparently, while they fixed the car and it is running fine, they forgot to reconnect the wiring that allows you to open up the hood from under the dash, and they can't figure out another way to get the hood open. While I thought at first Gene was simply joking with me, I quickly, and sadly, realized that he was not.

I called Tallahassee BMW, and they confirmed that you have to either take off the fenders, or bust through the grills, in order to get the hood open in this situation. Gene says the mechanics have the wheels off, and the fenders are coming off. But they still might not be able to get to the mechanism. I can tell now that Gene is mad because he can hardly speak.

I hope someday we can laugh about all of this. Actually, I have laughed a little already but I think it is just deliriousness (if there is such a word) from being in Alamosa for four days now, with no car and nothing to do.

Hope all is well with all of you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tears in my Lemonade

The radiator is busted. We are here (in Alamosa, CO, aka "The Most Unfriendly Town in the USA") until AT LEAST tomorrow. Excuse me while I cry.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Catching Up and Making Lemonade

So, just to back up for a moment. . . We left Springfield, MO on Thursday, July 24 and traveled to Dodge City, KS. On the road, we saw that crazy art that Gene posted photos of below. It was strange, to say the least, especially since there wasn't a soul around. We let the dogs run down the dirt road and around the perimeter of a farm at the end of the road, as we drove alongside them. Here is the video of them tearing it up.



The idea behind running them this way was to calm them down before we checked in to the bed and breakfast in Dodge City. The B & B was doing us a favor by accomodating our dogs, and so we wanted them tired and on their best behavior. Unfortunately, Frampton tore off the large pad on the bottom of his left paw, which left him feeling pretty bad. When we got to Dodge City, we cleaned up the wound and bandaged it up. Framp was a good patient.



We arrived in Dodge City around dinner time on July 24, and we stayed one night at the Boot Hill B & B. It was a lovely place, and the proprietors were soooo nice. Apparently they have a home in Spain as well, which we hope to visit someday. You can see video and photos of the B & B here.





Dodge City was cute, and we had fun. Gene pretty much described it all in his post. The museum was very well done, and had lots of interesting information about the history of the area. There are photos and video here.









We left Dodge City on Friday, July 25, and traveled to La Veta, CO. On the way, we visited Bent's Fort, a really neat place that used to be the largest structure of its kind between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. Back when the west was being settled, Bent's Fort was the only mid-way stopping point on the Santa Fe trial, and so it attracted lots of different sorts of people who were passing through. More information on Bent's Fort at http://www.nps.gov/beol/, photos here.




Late on the 25th, we pulled into La Veta, CO, a teeny tiny town in the southern part of the state. We stayed at an old timey "cabin," which is where Gene published his last post. The cabin was more dormitory style than cabin, but it suited our purposes (although I did wear my flip flops in the shower. . . it was pretty scary). We also could not walk our dogs after dark because of bears. Gene wanted to sleep with the windows open, but I didn't want to wake up snuggling with a bear. There is video of the place here.




We left LaVeta early the morning of the 26th. The plan was to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park, then the hot springs of Pagosa Springs, then settle into a cabin by a lake just north of Durango. On the 27th, we were to visit Mesa Verde and the Canyonlands of the Ancient, then settle into another cabin in Moab, Utah. On the 28th we were going to spend the day at Arches National Park, then go on to Salt Lake City on the 29th. I was really excited about it, as this was supposed to be the portion of the trip that was less driving and more vacation.


Unfortunately, things don't always turn out as we planned. We arrived at the Sand Dunes National Park the morning of the 26th. It was amazing. . . huge sand dunes in the middle of a mountain valley.




We took video and several photos, which you can view here. Also, more information about this awesome park here. Frampton's paw was bandaged but he was getting around just fine. About 2/3 up the way to the peak, we pooped out and went back down to the bottom.









On the way out of the park, we decided to visit Zapata Falls. We turned off the main road, and began to follow a dirt road up to the falls. It wasn't steep, and we took it slow. All of a sudden, the temperature gauge shot up to red and the light came on, indicating that the car overheated. We immediately pulled over, and discovered that we were out of coolant. This surprised me and frustrated me since I had the car serviced before we left and specifically requested that all fluids be topped off. (Ironically, during the service, they discovered that the temperature gauge was broken, and replaced it. So while I was mad at those folks about the coolant, I also recognized that had the temperature gauge not been fixed, we probably would have blown the engine.)

Over the next couple of hours, we would allow the car to cool down, fill up the reservoir with water, then try to start the car up, but would only be able to drive a couple of miles before it overheated again. We managed to make it back to the main road leading into the park, but were still in the middle of nowhere. We called AAA to come out with coolant, but they would only tow us. We called the park service, and they sent a ranger with a few gallons of water. We were hoping that the ranger would get there before AAA, and that we could just add some more water and be on our way. That isn't what happened.



While pouring in the water the ranger brought, we discovered that it was leaking (actually, more like gushing) out from under the car. For those of you who aren't familiar with cars, this could mean a couple of different things. First, it could indiate that a hose is busted, which is a simple and cheap repair that would put us on our way to the comfy cabin in Durango. Alternatively, it could mean that the radiator is cracked, or even worse, which is a complicated, expensive, and time consuming repair that would put us in the small and not lovely closest town of Alamosa.

Let me remind you here that we are in the middle of nowhere, on a Saturday afternoon.



We prayed for the best. About 3-4 hours after the car broke down, AAA came and towed us to Alamosa, where one garage was open. They looked at the car, and determined that while it wasn't a cracked radiator, it also wasn't a buisted hose. The problem is the reservoir: it has a 6 inch crack in it. The part must be ordered, the car cannot be driven, and we are stuck in Alamosa, CO, indefinitely. On Monday, which is tomorrow, we will find out where the part can be obtained, which will determine when we can get out of here. For those of you who have been to Alamosa, I'm sorry. For those of you who haven't, you aren't missing anything.




It could have been worse, though. We were able to get into a hotel, or more like motel, here only because they had a cancellation. Apparently, there were several different events here this weekend and every place was booked. So we are lucky to have a roof over our heads, and they allow dogs as well, even thought the place is really weird. It was obviously built in the late 70's or early 80's, and has this strange elevator music piped in. You can see some video of it here. Think grandma's retirement home, circa 1980, but with a lot of kids running around and random indoor pools everywhere. There is also a small "waterpark" inside the hotel. Don't ask. . . it is really bizarre. I'm going to try to take some video of it tomorrow. There is a restaurant here, so we don't need a car to get food. The bed is comfy, the room roomy, and we are making the best of it. I tried to get a rental car so we could at least visit some of the sights around here (there is an alien viewing platform north of town, just to give you an idea about the nature of our location), but all three of the car rental places were closed for the weekend.






Today, Sunday, July 27th, we were supposed to be visiting a couple parks on our way from Durango, CO to Moab, UT. Instead, we walked 6 miles across Alamosa to get a cell phone charger from Walmart (we had been charging our phones in the car, and sans car, they were dead), and I bathed the dogs and did some laundy. Tomorrow, we were supposed to visit Arches National Park, which was the portion of the trip about which I was most excited. Instead, we will have to check out of our hotel with the hope that we can leave here late Monday night (if the part is within a few hours of here, someone from the shop can drive to it then drive back). I don't know what we are going to do with all of our luggage, everything else that was in the car, and our two dogs while we wait to find out about the car, but I suppose we will figure out something.

While I'm upset about all this, I'm thankful that it wasn't worse. The car problem could have been something that could have caused an accident. We could have hurt ourselves or someone else. We were able to find a place to sleep. The tow truck driver said we probably wouldn't, but we did. There is food here, and our dogs are welcome. And while it happened in the middle of nowhere, at least we were in a valley and not up in a mountain pass. We were headed to one when this all happened. And while we may be stuck here for awhile, at least we aren't using up vacation days, or leaving folks at our jobs in a lurch.

We still hope to arrive in Portland on the 31st. Hopefully, we will be outta here tomorrow or Tuesday. We will keep you posted as best as we can. Oh, and you can find video of the whole breakdown here. Be forewarned though, after a couple hours hiking the dunes, then four hours in the sun with a broken down car, we got sort of delirious.

Ok, I'm exhausted and off to bed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Passing out in La Veta, CO

Time seems to be short these days and that combined with finding places to stay as we go along on this trip have been keeping us from updating the pass couple of days.

We got on the road from Springfield MO and went down the road to walk the dogs in Sequiota State Park. There was a cave we walked into, but it didn't go in very far. If you've ever seen the movie 'The Decent' you wouldn't want to EVER be in a cave.



We took the dogs on a walk down a paved trail afterwards and there was this huge worm creature that fell out of a tree. I've never seen such a creature, but it seemed to be mad at Lisa and tried to chase her down. Fortunately, having 2 feet to move around with combined with being 100s of times larger will always trump being less than 1 foot long.



On our trip from MO to KS we went through all these small town, and ran across this strange place around Greenburg, KS. The pictures will speak for themselves. What is more odd, was the fact that the town seemed to be deserted. We walked up and down a few streets and never saw a person or a car with a person in it.





The complete set of photos from these signs can be found here.







We stayed in Dodge City Kansas last night at a B&B and had a blast. We checked in a were told to have dinner at a place called Central Station. It was a pretty good meal and even though the waitress dumped my whole glass of water on my leg, I enjoyed it. Out eating area was modeled like a train car.They had their annual festival called Dodge City Days which included a gun fight as well as a replica street of what was the main area in 1800s Dodge City. They had a museum that looked a little clunky on the outside, but turned out to be really nice and had a lot of good information about the area with old pictures of gunslingers and indians. I even got a bottle of some good ole Dodge City sasparilla! We packed up about lunchtime and headed out to Colorado. We had dinner at the La Aztec in La Junta Colorado and one of those places that only takes cash. I had spaghetti noodles on a Mexican plate for the first time. The waitress asked if I wanted any tortillas and when I declined, she looked at me funny and replied, "Are you sure?" So I did what anyone would do in that situation, I changed my mind and got those tortillas!

Well, i've spent almost an hour on this post and I am worn out (ask they say). Either myself of Lisa will take up where I left off next time...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

About to get on the road in Springfield MO


I stayed up late watching some show on some show about haunted places and uploaded some of the photos we took yesterday. I took a few videos, but haven't had time to upload. We're getting off much earlier than we did yesterday so maybe I'll have time to edit and upload this afternoon. If you're ever in the Springfield area, we recommend the Days Inn on Battlefield Rd. $59/night they allow pets, and the rooms are great! Anyways, I gotta run, we going to some park near where we stayed and take the dogs for a morning hike. Here are a few shots.

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More to come later...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lisa's First Post: Springfield, MO

Today we had a lovely drive from Nashville, TN to Springfield, MO. We are staying at a Days Inn tonight, which is a first for me. When you are traveling with two large dogs, you aren't exactly welcomed at the Ritz. But it is actually quite decent. . . and coming from me, that is a huge compliment. Rumor as it that I can be picky and hard to please, on occasion. But this room seems extremely clean, and is spacious. I am happy.

Staying at Brock's was wonderful, and I wish we could have spent more time there. Later, Gene will post pictures from Nashville and our drive today. We stopped in Paducah, KY, which has a neat little downtown area right on the Mississippi River. There were several museums, including the National Quilt Museum, that we could not visit because of the dogs, but they all looked pretty interesting. There was a seawall, or I suppose you would call it a riverwall in this instance, that had beautiful paintings all over it. Paducah apparently has quite a bit of historical significance, and was beginning what looked to be a fun summer festival when we passed through. Again, Gene will post the photos later.

This is my first blog entry. . . ever. Thanks for sharing this time with us. I'm off to eat some dinner.

Nashville TN, Brock's House

We made it to Brock's house about 9:30pm CST last night. He has a really nice setup up here. He can take the street he lives on and go straight into downtown in about 1.5 miles. We got to have a few drinks at my favorite establishment here, The Flying Saucer. Next, we had to show Lisa the downtown scene where all the tourist go on the weekends. It wasn't too crowded so that was nice. Lisa has decided that she wants to learn to play the stand-up bass in a rockabilly band. A few more drinks and we headed home. Brock showed us a new series on HBO that we're looking into called Flight of the Concords. Brock knows my type of humor and this show is really funny to me. It reminds me of Tenacious D, a sketch show back in the 90s with Jack Black. A movie was released last year of the same name.

Yesterday we made it to Troy AL and our cigarette lighter went out. Usually that is no big deal, but when you're on a cross country trip and heavily reliant on your GPS, that is one piece of your car that quickly becomes important. We were told about Laney's Automotive, which was run by two guys who were nice enough to take a look at it even though they had other things more pressing than fixing a cigarette lighter. I was just glad it was a blown fuse and not the actual lighter that needed replacing.

Brock has gone to a work-related meeting, but we're meeting up afterwards for brunch. Frampton and Finn were quiet and stayed in their portable cages, that have already made that purchase worth it's weight in gold. Lisa just commented on the fact that Brock has over $300 worth of hair product in his bathroom and she could stay here a week. He had a good interior decorator. It has been good to see him and I'm sorry our stay here is going to be so short. I wish I had made more time to visit him. Hopefully he will come out with his girlfriend and we can spend more time with each other.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Packing continues

By the grace of God, Emily's car died about 20 minutes after she got on the road last night and was forced to come back and stay with us. She got off about 9:15am this morning and made it home ok. Mom is supposed to be coming down this afternoon to help with the final push.

The ice machine that we put in 2 days ago has quit working and I haven't made an appt. with the carpet cleaner to come after we've moved out.

When we got back from a Roly Poly lunch, we were greeted with helicopters and police at all entrances to our subdivision. All our neighbors were outside the "what the h*** is going on?" face. Me being as nosy as I am had to go down to the house where 3 cop cars were parked and I had seen them lead a K9 unit into the area. When I got there I met a lady wearing an oxygen tank who happened to know what was going on.

LINK

Seems as though some people thought they could get away with an ATM driving a front end loader down the street with the ATM on it. The article pretty much sums it up, just think of my sarcasm as you read that article. People in Florida are stupid, actually, I take that back, not all people in FL are stupid, I have relatives in the state. But watch the headlines of news tickers and the majority of silly crimes committed come from our great state of Florida.

Breaks over, back to work...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Getting into the "last times" at least for a while...

Well, the last day at work for Lisa and I was Friday. The previous day about 20 or so of my co-workers and I went out to eat at the Georgia Brown Restaurant. It was nice getting to have a last meal with my co-workers. One of my coworkers is going to be in Portland around September due to her step daughter's wedding so I'll be able to see them again relatively soon. The daughter seems to be around our age and she works at Intel. Her husband to be happens to be an attorney and an environmental attorney at that. Small world huh?

I felt like a kid in middle school as I dropped off my truck at the office in Colquitt and had to call my Mom to come pick me up. But it was funny. So Mom and I met Lisa and my father down in Fowlstown. Dad had been mowing some land and when Lisa got there, she wanted to do a little mowing too. She LOVES to mow. I grew up mowing. Our yard was 2 acres and my father always had homes that were for sale that needed mowing, both with lawn mower and some with a tractor. I used to have to ride a tractor through town when our trailer wasn't available. I'm not sure if it was our tractor or older technology, but steering a tractor in high gear is not always an easy thing to do. It took constantly turning the steering wheel 90 degrees from left to right. That could have been due to loose steering column though. I haven't looked into that nor do I plan to. But I digress... Lisa loves it! We stayed a night down at my grandparent's pond house one weekend and she just mowed the whole time while I fished or walked around. She hasn't quite got the pattern down that is needed for a yard to look like it has been mowed, but she seems to have so much fun I hate to ruin it for her.


video

We went down to Jack Wingate's Lunker Lodge for dinner and while it isn't near what it used to be, it was a good meal and we got to spend time with my parents which is nice. We even got to talk to J.W. in the flesh which was nice.

Today has been the beginning of the 'full court press' as well call it. Lisa's BFF Emily came up from Gainesville to help and help she has been. Lisa isn't what most of us would call "a packer". She doesn't like it and has no problem letting others know how much she hates it. She is also a big fan of peanuts/popcorn; the stuffing material. Look at the passion she has for this packing material! She spoke with the guy from the UPS store and now thinks she is some expert on packing. But that is just me venting and I shouldn't do that when she isn't here to defend herself (she is getting her hair done at the moment).



It is coming along, but the time is flying by so I must go.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This move, sponsored by HP

Well, we're still packing and getting utilities turned on and off. The company I worked for turned over their inventory of computers earlier this year. I decided to keep the boxes and I think it was a good move. I will make a confession upfront. I am an addict... My crack? Boxes... Everyone has a vice, mine is boxes. I CAN'T throw them away. Over the years I have had attics full of boxes and currently at work I have a whole room dedicated to boxes, floor to ceiling. I get this from my mother, who has vices of her own, and we want go into them on this blog, but I'll say this, I can probably find clothes from every year of my life in my parent's house. So anyways, I've got about 60 boxes from HP that are really coming in handy. We bought some special boxes to pack the China and other flatware and they were very expensive (for me at least). I'm used to getting free boxes when you order something online so to have to pay $$ for them is crazy to me.
We got our house rented out this past weekend in what can only be called a classic Miller move (by the skin of our teeth). The family is a cute 3-piece and seem nice. I hope things turn out well for both of us.

We are using a moving service called ABF. They are similar to PODS, but offer the ability to use more room if needed. If you fill up a POD, you can't strap the rest to the roof.

**UPDATE** The trailer has been dropped off. It is brand new!