The Swiss Ball Creed (for DPR)

This is my swiss ball. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My swiss ball is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My swiss ball, without me, is useless. Without my swiss ball, I am useless. I must sit straight on my swiss ball. I must sit straighter than my co-worker who is trying to outwork me. I must outwork him before he outworks me. I will…

My swiss ball and myself know that what counts in this marketplace is not the faxes we send, the noise of our printers, nor the typing we do. We know that it is the buildings we build that count. We will build…

My swiss ball is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its valves and its ridges. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my swiss ball clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before God, I swear this creed. My swiss ball and myself are the defenders of my company. We are the masters of our competitors. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is DPR’s and there is no economic slowdown, but construction!

Moab winter adventure

This summer I read about Wall Arch collapsing at Arches National Park in Utah.  That got me thinking that I’d sure like to see the remaining arches before they fall.  Laura and I decided that would be this year’s holiday adventure.

Saturday – Left early in the morning and drove 518 miles to Las Vegas.  Stayed at the Palms Casino.  Nice rooms, horrible food at the restaurants.  Didn’t win millions so we still have to work.

Sunday – Drove 460 miles to Moab Utah.  The scenery on the drive through Southeastern Arizona and then Utah was spectacular.  It snowed pretty significantly the week before, so the snow covered canyons were really something.  After arriving at Moab we turned on SR 128 and drove 17 miles up a narrow canyon that followed the Colorado river.  The sun was setting so the colors were simply amazing.  We stayed at what used to be a working ranch, now the Sorrel River Ranch on the banks of the river.  Our room was in a small cabin away from the main lodge.  The food, staff, and accommodations were great.

Monday – It snowed quite a bit overnight and there were still a few flurries when we woke up.   Temps were in the high 20’s.  The weather looked iffy for the day but we decided to at least see some of the park before the storm got worse.  The drive back out the 17 miles through the canyon was a little slow as the plows hadn’t cleared the roads yet.  At the park the ranger advised us not to head down to delicate arch as the road wasn’t plowed and it was pretty steep.  We stuck to the front area of the park… Balancing rock, the Windows, Turret Arch, petrified sand dunes, etc…  By about 3pm the storm was getting worse so we decided to call it a day.

Tuesday – Snow again overnight, but blue skies when we woke up.  Today was the big hike day.  The goal was to do the primitive loop, and then Delicate arch.  We first hiked out to Landscape arch.  Pretty amazing that it remains standing as thin and long as it is.  We then hiked about a mile or so down the primitive loop only to run into a sign indicating the trail was closed.  We turned back and then started down the Eastern side of the loop so we could see the Fins.  A stop for lunch, then hiked down to Pine Tree and Tunnel arches.  Back to the car and then drove down to the Delicate Arch trailhead.  After the miles we did previously, the hike to Delicate arch put a little strain on the legs.  About half of it is an uphill climb up slickrock and then eventually a narrow snow ledge.  The view looking across at the arch is really something.  Late afternoon sun turned the rocks an amazing reddish pink color.  We hiked back down to the car and then did one last stop at the Fiery Furnace overlook.   We finished off the day with a stop at the Moab Brewery (yes, alcohol in Utah!).

Wednesday – We had a third day of hiking scheduled for several secluded canyons.  We spent several hours agonizing over the weather.  That night and Thursday a significant storm was scheduled to blow in and we were worried about making the drive back to Vegas on Christmas day in a large storm.  The hotel manager agreed that it wouldn’t be the wisest move to drive in that storm and refunded us our room for that night (very nice of him since he had no obligation to do so!).  We cut our hiking short by one day and drove back to sin city.

Thursday – Spent the day at the casino, relaxed, drove out to the Hoover dam, saw a movie, and still didn’t win millions.

Friday – Drove back home.  Took 99 instead of I-5 this time.  Still can’t decide which is better drive.  Another great trip and we’re both glad we saw most of the famous arches.  There’s so much to see and do in the Moab area we could easily spend another week there.

Velma Lakes trip

This past weekend we headed out for a tune-up backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness.  The destination was Middle Velma lake.  The purpose was (other than the obvious R&R) to test out the new tent and pack for the pending Mt. Whitney trip.  I selected the route to be a fitness-check on a semi-representative Whitney elevation gain and distance.
Thursday   Left town mid-afternoon for South Lake Tahoe.  Starting about Sacramento the smoke from the 100’s of California wildfires was unbelievable.  It was like driving through a thick fog with limited visibility.   Once in South Lake I was pretty bummed – one of the reasons to visit Desolation Wilderness is the gorgeous views and it looked like that was shot.  Stayed at the Inn by the Lake.  Not the best, not the worst.  Would stay there again when looking for something cheaper than the Casinos.  Had a quick dinner and walked around a bit.   Nephew enjoyed the idea of standing on the California/Nevada state line.
Friday   Woke up and almost all the smoke was gone.  Whoo-hooo!  Big breakfast at the Red Hut Cafe and off to the Eagle Falls Trailhead.  Hit the trail about 10am.  This hike starts with about 2000 ft of elevation gain in just over 2 miles.  Everyone did great – especially my nephew who was a real trooper for the entire hike.  Arrived at Middle Velma mid-afternoon tired and hungry.  Mosquitoes arrived promptly at dusk and required full bug-hats and liberal applications of Deet.
Saturday  Fishing in the morning.  No luck.  LLW and I did a day hike in the afternoon to Fontanillis lake and on towards Dicks Pass.  Very pretty and a fun stream crossing that had Laura a bit nervous.  Back to camp to relax, eat, play "I spy" with the nephew, and battle mosquitoes.  A good day.
Sunday  A relaxing breakfast and packed up camp.  We made good time since there was only about 500 ft of elevation gain going back.  It helped that the nephew had his heart set on lunch at Red Hut again.  They close at 2pm, so there was motivation to make it back to the car in time.  Everyone did well, but certainly tired.  Two days of climbing and hiking took it out of my legs.  Made it to Red Hut in time and then an uneventful drive home – back in time for dinner.
A good trip and I think LLW will be willing to do more backpacking as long we do plenty of motorhome time as well.

Mmmmm, Barbeque

I decided to try something I’d been thinking about for a while on the grill – pulled pork (or simply BBQ if you’re from the south).  Since it was a trial run, it was supposed to just be a few immediate family members who’d understand if it went terribly wrong.  Somehow we ended up inviting two cousins, their three kids, and grandmother.  12 people in all – so much for a trial run!
Fortunately, all went well.  I used a Boston Butt (A.K.A pork butt, pork shoulder).  Made a dry rub of paprika, cumin, mustard, pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Marinated it for almost 24 hours.  I slow cooked the roast over indirect heat at about 275 degrees for six hours.  Took it off the grill and let it rest in aluminum foil in a paper sack for 40 minutes.  Added about a quarter cup of my homemade barbeque sauce after chopping it up.
It came out very moist with great flavor.  Next time it needs to be chopped/pulled to smaller pieces.  Barbeque sauce needs to have more tang, less sweetness.  I probably could have taken the meat off the grill at five hours, but the temp was only 170 in the center and the book I was using said should be 185.  I’ll definitely be doing this one again.

Petaluma KOA

We needed a little down-time this past weekend, so we took the MH to the Petaluma KOA campground.  I was a little leery of a KOA campground, but it turned out to be pretty nice.  The sites were wider than most places we’ve been.  Mostly gravel with some grass in between sites.  Easy to navigate the turns in the park and most sites are pull-through.  The camp area itself is nestled in the trees so there was plenty of shade.  Sewer and hook-ups were well maintained.  Plenty of channels on the provided cable hook-up (too many trees to use the satellite).  The campground is definitely geared towards families – lots of kids running around.  We’d certainly consider going again if we wanted a quick weekend getaway that was close.
We relaxed on Friday, and took the motorcycle to Sonoma on Saturday since there wasn’t any decent hiking anywhere nearby.  A good, relaxing weekend. 

Pay Attention!

I witnessed a horrific motorcycle crash while riding to work yesterday.  Some dude blew by me going at least 80 and obviously didn’t see the stopped traffc up ahead.  He had to still be going 50-60 when he tried to split the lanes, went into a death wobble, then pasted himself into the side of a car.  Bummer.
Shook me up a little bit for the rest of the ride to work.  Had me questioning if I’m putting myself at too much risk by commuting to work on the motorcycle each day.  I think I kept a 1/2 mile buffer between me and the car in front of me for the rest of the ride.  I was back to normal on the way home.  However, it was a significant reminder to myself that I need to be dialed in at all times, don’t get complacent, and ATGATT.