I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.
By: joealaska, 2:29 AM GMT on March 29, 2014
Watching the game before the UK - UL game (Tenn versus Mich). So far it is all Michigan. And that is good for DotMom. She is in a basketball pool and is LEADING at this point. After tonight it could change. There are 35 entrants, not bad. She usually does pretty good in these brackets. She says she is going to be on her computer for a while, and I know she is back there crunching algorithms regarding team performances...
OH, BY THE WAY, JoeKentucky turns 91 tomorrow. It seems like it was only a year or so ago that he turned 90. We may have to wait until Sunday to celebrate, when we can go out to dinner based around the time Louisville plays in the next round. That is correct, I pick Louisville.
Talked with Taylorsville State Park, a nice lady there. They have some CAMPER-IFFIC weekend on the weekend I want to pull in. The place is booked. But there is that EQUINE AREA. This park has an interesting specialty... serving campers with horses. I guess people come through with a trailer and a horse and need a place to graze. OK with me. Now I can arrive when I need to, and I get a deal until early June.
Got a call from Dutch tonight. Just a catch up call, and talking NCAA basketball. Typical FRIDAY. The container vessel is arriving late. They will be there until midnight or later, starting early, maybe 8:30 AM. I really miss that fun!!
Watching the BIG game now. Louisville is having their way with UK.
Good to be in Kentucky right now.
By: joealaska, 2:23 AM GMT on March 28, 2014
It is that time of year.
I have put it off as long as I could. But it is here.
College basketball. March Madness.
I sit here watching my school THE UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON (best 7 years of my life!) moving toward getting to The Elite Eight. They are the lowest (weakest) seeded team in the tournament at this point. And beating Stanford.
Dayton has had some very good teams back in the good old days... When I went to Dayton, Louisville still played them regularly. I recall Ricky Gallon coming through one year with his huge Afro. Then there was the time Notre Dame #2 in the country came through, and Dayton beat them. We all rushed the court. I saw a guy who just grabbed one of the nets run by, and I grabbed a hunk of net and still have it. Oh sure, there were furniture pieces burned that night, but we beat #2!! We ended up in a bar at the same table with some Notre Dame fans. We had a great time toasting each other into a late night.
But the BIG GAME is Louisville VS Kentucky, as usual. The game is in Indianapolis, less than two hours north. The place will be packed.
This year, the NCAA is forming brackets with an emphasis on geography. So Louisville plays Kentucky, and one of those teams are gone. EARLY. It would be a great year to have Louisville VS Kentucky as a possibility in the national finals That may never happen if they keep doing it as this year. Teams in the same geographical area are now all grouped in one bracket. Even if they include the top teams all in that area. And all weak teams are in another bracket...
You may have heard about Warren Buffets’ /Quicken Loans BILLION DOLLAR BRACKET regarding the basketball brackets? If you pick the entire bracket correct, just pick the winner, you win ONE BILLION. This is how a rich guy has a bit of fun.
They limited the entries to the first 15 million, one entry per household.. Not sure if they reached that number, but they knew there was no winner before the first round ENDED. There were so many upsets this year.
As well as KENTUCKY playing the best they have all year. And Louisville on a roll, like last year, but not stellar the last couple games.
Will know a lot more in the next couple days.
Dayton is in.
By: joealaska, 2:16 PM GMT on March 25, 2014
Had a great time in New York. I may even have to go back in a few years to finish up on the stuff I wanted to do. A big part of the fun was seeing my relatives Adolph and Beate. Somehow they were “lost” relatives until about 15 years ago. Now we have been making up for lost time seeing each other during family reunions and other visits.
I gave you a quick idea of what we were doing while I was there, here are a few more details.
I thought I was ready to drive to Smithtown, having looked at the map over and over. But when you are driving alone through there, a wing man would be good. I had GPS, but in heavy traffic through areas where there are many intersections, not a lot of help. Survival mode was kicking in.
I was heading for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Big bridge. I actually went over it one time already back in 1977 or so with my old cruising buddy ACK. I got on the I-94 New Jersey Turnpike. This road is known for all the friendly folk you meet and the constant one finger saluting that has a long tradition. First thing you do when getting on the interstate is get a toll ticket that pops out of a machine, you pay when you exit. But it was chaos leaving that toll booth area, and there were different exits / entrances right away. Not spread out like the west. I had a second to choose and guessed wrong. I guessed wrong and knew it right away. Now I was heading the wrong direction on I-94. OK, I got off the first exit and was going to turn around. As I exit I notice signs saying EZ PASS ONLY - NO CASH. Sounded like a lifestyle. But I knew EZ PASS (or whatever) was a toll pay system for the locals. You have to buy a special card. I had no card. I had seen these signs already, but up until NOW there were CASH lanes too, so the rare visitors to NEW YORK CITY had a way to pay.
Well, it was trubba. I looked for a way out, but there was none. I approached the EZ PASS ONLY lane EZ PASSlessly. I stopped for a second, some alarm went off, and the friendly folks piling up behind me were all honking HELLO . Then I saw a sign that said GO. NOT PAID. So I did. I am sure there was a picture taken of my license plate as I left the area. (I assume they did not take a pic of the front end. That is where I have the ALASKA PARK ‘N SELL plates.) I guess I will get some fine in the mail and I will refuse, knowing full well I am safe. Kentucky and New York have no extradition agreement as far as I know.
I ended up taking NON TOLL roads the rest of the way...
But you cross a bridge and they want 13 bucks. OH, they take cash there, no problem. I went north after crossing the Verrazano Narrows on The Brooklyn-Queens. I caught a glimpse of the big buildings I was approaching, not realizing this was one of those GREAT views, while driving. I was next to The East River, with the southern tip of Manhattan off to the left. 3 or 4 lanes of heavy traffic, moving at about 45 mph bumper to bumper, and I am reaching for the camera. I am on the left and correct lane. Concentrating on the driving, I hold up the camera and aim approximate. I shoot a bunch of pics, most deletable. To keep it interesting, these “freeways” are potholes with wide edges. City freeways, NYC, Chicago... are adventures with their sharp turns, low overpasses, all designed in the 1950s. Really showing their age, but little real estate to spread out and fix it.
The day we went into Manhattan was what I had been looking forward to. We took the train from Central Islip downtown to Penn Station. 45 minutes or so. When I asked Adolph what side to sit so as to get the best views, he just laughed. Not a lot of views worth photographing. Still, it was an interesting ride into town. I would hate that commute, though.
The train arrives in Penn Station in the dark and underground. So we left the train and walked some stairs and popped out into MANHATTAN. Many pedestrians ( as a kid, I thought that was a religion...) walking, many taxis honking. Buildings forming canyons. A lot of noise. The atypical jackhammers, that honking, subways passing just below. A general roar. More honking. Sirens.
Everything I see is worthy of taking a picture. The buildings are so tall that it is hard to square up a photograph.
Everyone tells me that carrying a camera signals me as a tourist, and that is probably true. All the HAWKERS would pick me out and come up as I walked by. They would push a pamphlet at me for SOMETHING. Usually a bus line that I should use, or whatever. I would say no thanks, and I noticed they were all pretty cool at that point. No more pushing. More like, OK, THANKS. It was stunning. It was something I saw all day long. I walked into The Empire State Building, and some guy at the door (working) said HAVE FUN UP THERE. I said - I will, Thanks. He said - I am sure you will! The politeness was overwhelming, not what I expected.
I know a great joke about that NY attitude, but it is not family oriented. Send me an email and I will tell it.
We did a LOT of walking. From Penn Station, east to Broadway. North to 53rd ST West. Over to 9th AV. Then south to 44th ST West, where we headed west to the East River and the Circle Line Tour Boats. It was a highlight of the trip. There was a tour guide with a microphone who had a wealth of info, and a mellow manner of delivering it. I describe it as the nightclub announcer character Bill Murray did on Saturday Night Live on a recurring role. MELLOW. But he was good. Sometimes I could not hear him, with that wind and all, but what I did hear was interesting, even for NYC. I was the only guy outside at times. My hands were losing feeling. I had a nice pair of gloves back in Red Rover an hour east...
The day before, we had the CLIMB to the lighthouse on Fire Island and the walk just to get to it, TODAY we walked a lot more. By the time we got on the boat my knees were shot. Afterward I suggested taking a cab to The Empire State Building. The cab driver was on the phone for the first 5 minutes of our ride. He was weaving and honking, where applicable. I really thought we were about to hit someone at several points, but NOTHING.
He dropped us off. We were standing right in front of The Empire State Building and looking around for it. It is hard to see it from that angle. It keeps getting narrower as it gets taller. You cannot see the top half of the building from the street. Of course, EMPIRE STATE is etched into the facade...
So you hand 27 bucks to a guy in a booth and they put you on a FAST elevator ride to the 80th floor.
NOW you get in line. Long lines, down unexpected hallways, roped in velour. Like that made it OK. A little was OK, but it went on and on. Finally we were all stuck in lines. They made an announcement that the next elevator ride up to the observation deck would be in 20 minutes. OR, you could walk up the stairs...
When you pay your 27 bucks they hand you what looks like a thick i-phone. This comes along with a pair of earphones and three feet of cord. The device was a source of info as to what you could purchase there. But I never used it and wished I had declined taking it. I considered throwing it into a trash can, but I knew it would be added to that toll trouble. So now I had to carry it around with my camera when I was trying to take pictures in the blowing rain. Not good.
After we finally headed down, I admit I was miserable. The legs were complaining. Loudly. When I have a big day like golfing or walking, I PAY the following day. Today was the day after the lighthouse. It was a painful walk to the train home. The train was so crowded Adolph and I could not sit together.
Next day, Thursday, I headed home across Pennsylvania on I -80. There were snow showers. I stayed in Youngstown, Ohio. Next day I headed northwest to Cleveland, where I wanted to take some pictures of the home my dad grew up in. I may never be back there. I found the house only through GPS. What had been a nice quiet neighborhood in the 1960s, or so, was now pretty rough. Then I left, heading for Louisville via I-71.
It was clear and cool. But it quickly changed. Snow suddenly, then covering the freeway. Traffic slowed for some reason. When we accelerated my tires were spinning right away. I looked at the road and it was shiny wet on a base coat of snow. NO TRACTION. So traffic moved out and was going way too fast. So I backed off the guy I was following, and let any idiot who wanted to cut in front of me. Then DAMN. Sure enough, brake lights everywhere. There were slight movements. But we sat there for over an hour. Finally we moved, where 5 lanes were made one, and we were sent off the freeway. A bunch of the wreck was on that bridge. Getting back on was a mess, as the intersection was not designed for leaving and re-entering the freeway at the same point. Huh.
I saw 6-8 big trucks, a couple tour busses, and a bunch of cars that were involved. They had towed away some vehicles before they let us through. I heard there was a whiteout, from DAD who saw something on The Weather Channel about the pile-up. More likely high speed during high slickness.
FINALLY we were moving. In two hours it was sunny and had gone up from 30 degrees to 55. The wreck was at 10:30 AM. By 2:30 it was 70. When I pulled into Louisville, it was 73.
I opened the patio door and let the cats out to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
Sorry. I rambled.
Had a great time!
By: joealaska, 1:17 AM GMT on March 17, 2014
I currently sit in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. Tomorrow should be easier, at least shorter. I am headed to Long Island New York to see my cousin and his family. He has tickets to a hockey game (Islanders) for Tuesday night, and he wants to take me to Bethpage Park where there are many golf courses, including the famous Black Course. We will be doing the tourist gig, and that is just fine.
Today I ran into weather in West Virginia. Wet snow. It was hard to see, as the traffic was raising a cloud. I assumed the road would get slick, so I slowed down. But it never seemed too bad, just the visibility. Suddenly I popped out into clear weather and dry roads. There is no snow here yet, but I think it is coming tonight.
I listened to a few mintes of radio in West Virginia and they played DOWN IN THE BOONDOCKS.
Tomorrow I enter at Verrazano Narrows Bridge, go by JFK, then out to Smithtown. It is the roundabout way to come into the area, but less traffic. When I leave, I am going to go straight down town. Traffic or not.
Last week I was taking care of the LEGGS work. I found an acceptable place to get a tow dolly to drag RED ROVER around the USA. Tow dolly means the front two wheels are off the ground, the rear wheels are turning. I also got RV insurance. Finally, I talked to a nice lady at Taylorsville Lake State Park Looks like that is where I will be spending May. They are OK with an extended stay, and give a nice discount.
Just need to pick the specific site. The campground is full the weekend I want to arrive for an event. But it clears out after that. Working on getting in there somehow, even just dry camping for the first couple days. This particular park has no WIFI so I need to take care of that. Probably Direct TV.
One day I will be sitting outside that pig having a cold one watching the sun go down. Seems like a long time away...
Updated: 1:18 AM GMT on March 17, 2014
By: joealaska, 1:58 AM GMT on March 11, 2014
SUNDAY... A week from today I will be on the way to Long Island. Drive a good day, pull over somewhere for the night, then finish the ride next day. I anticipate pulling into Smithtown sometime in the afternoon. Making a loop of it and returning via Cleveland.
Yes, I agree. The blog is stuck in a trough of inaction. I have mainly been concentrating on the details of moving out of the apartment and into the RV. A couple days ago I checked out some RV campgrounds. A couple were in state parks.
First was Taylorsville Lake SP, about 35 miles southwest of Louisville. The location is good in that it is not really near an interstate. People will have to WANT to go there, versus stopping in for the night. The campground is closed until April 1, but the gate was open and I rode through. The grounds were well maintained, and I noticed each space seemed to have plenty of room. Open spaces backing up to trees and forest. First place I looked at and it seemed to be worth considering.
I headed north to Shelbyville via many winding narrow Kentucky roads. A typical state map does not help here. There is a maze of these back roads here, and the map can only put in so much. I went with dead reckoning, not really lost, but not sure where I would pop out of the woods. It was a good day for a ride, and I was in no huge hurry. I checked out Guist Creek in Shelbyville, more of a boat dock than a campground. I moved on, north again to Carrollton on the Ohio River.
General Butler State Park. I have some history here, having camped out there over a weekend way back in high school. I also played the golf course just last year. This place is about 50 miles away from the folks house, but it is all interstate. This campground was more in the trees than Taylorsville. But the sites seemed to be pretty close to each other.
I am guessing these parks will not be very busy at that time of year, will be finding out more info tomorrow and make a reservation somewhere.
I need to stay somewhere for about 5 weeks. These parks ain’t cheap. They do not offer extended stay rates. As a matter of fact, they limit your stay to 14 days. Hopefully there will not be many campers and it will not be a problem.
Never a dull day.
TUESDAY... A great day ijn Louisville. 70 degrees, a bit overcast, and a good breeze. Dotmom had a friend who is an Rv owner, so w all met for a question and answer session. Very helpful.
Then I played the first 9 holes of the year at a local municipal course, Crescent Hill.
Nobody got hurt.
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