tnrkitect: (Default)
*tap tap* This thing on?

It's been just over a month since I last posted anything here. I know, bad me, no cookie.

I can't guarantee that postings will be more frequent, at least not for the next month. HOWEVER, there is a good chance that they will be for at least a two week period.

You see, in less than a week, Jessica and I head out for a GRAND ADVENTURE! We are taking a trip to Idaho to visit Jessica's sister and to spend a couple of days in Glacier National Park. This will be great in and of itself, but to really put the whipped cream and cherry on top we are taking the train out and back with a sleeper compartment the whole way! :-D

Many of you are aware that I am a big train buff. I enjoy traveling by train,  I enjoy model railroading, & I love the sound of hearing the trains going past the house about 1/2 mile away.

Jessica enjoys trains too, and much prefers the thought of traveling by train to flying. I say prefers the thought because although she has traveled extensively growing up, it was always by car. She has never flown or taken a train (save a short 30 min tourist railroad trip).

So, we are taking the train out to Idaho via DC and Chicago and coming back via LA and New Orleans!

We plan on taking LOTS of pictures with the recently (Christmas) new (to us) camera: a Canon Rebel XT DSLR - 8 MP with two lenses, a SIGMA 70-300mm and a Canon 35-80mm. We will have two memory cards, a 2 GB and a 32 GB one so we shouldn't run out of storage :-)
Plus, in case we do, I will have the laptop with 1 TB external drive along to dump pictures onto and compose blog posts on. :-)

I have also gone ahead and splurged on a 1 year pro account on Flickr to have a place to share pictures online that won't try and steal the pictures the way TwitPic tries to do.

So, we hope to take lots of pics and document our trip, but don't expect me to be online too much, as we will be spending most of the time looking out the windows and enjoying the trip!

(And for those that are worried about the furball known as Annie, my mom and sister will be house/cat sitting to ensure she gets her kibbles, litter box cleaned, and skritches :-)

tnrkitect: (Default)
Flying out in the morning to La Crosse, WI. I and a colleague are going to kick start an energy survey at an installation in the area. We will hit the ground running first thing in the morning Wednesday, and (hopefully) finish up around 5 pm.

Being a southern boy, I am SO glad that they are having a heat wave right now, with the temperature supposed to be in the mid 40's on Wednesday!

That evening, I will also take the first steps at marking an item off of my "bucket list" † namely, I will purchase two Amtrak Rail Passes for Jessica and I to take an around the nation rail trip later this summer. :-) The reason I am purchasing them in La Crosse is that there is a staffed, full service Amtrak station there, with a ticket agent that can help me book everything. Since it is the first time I have used a rail pass, I would prefer to have someone I can ask questions of when I am purchasing.

A rail pass, for those not in the know, is a pass that allows a certain number of trip segments within a certain time frame. A segment is defined as any time you get on and then get off a train. It could be a short 1 hour trip to the next town, or a longer multi-day trip across the country. The shortest duration pass is the 15 day pass, which allows up to 8 segments. There are 30 and 45 day passes available as well, which allow 12 and 18 segments respectively. In pricing out the trip, a 15 day rail pass will save us about $600, so it is definitely worth the additional hassle!

Our plan is to take the train to go visit Jessica's sister, who is currently teaching at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, ID. We plan to get a roomette in the sleeper car for all segments of the trip, which aside from granting us beds to sleep in, and a shower we can use, it also gives us free meals in the dining car while on board.

Our route will be from Birmingham, AL to Washington DC on board the "Crescent". If the train is on time in to DC, we will have about 6 hours to sight-see in DC before we board the "Capitol Limited" bound for Chicago. We should have about 6 hours in Chicago, before we board the "Empire Builder" headed for Spokane, WA.

Spokane is the closest station to the University of Idaho, being about 2 hours away. My sister in law has agreed to pick us up, even though the train doesn't arrive until 1:40 in the morning!
We will spend a couple of days visiting with her ans her boyfriend, before she drops us back off at the station for the trip home, the long way around.

We head from Spokane to Portland, OR, where we have a short layover prior to boarding the "Coast Starlight" which takes us to Los Angeles. We then will take the "sunset Limited" to New Orleans, then finally board the "Crescent" again to return to Alabama.

All Aboard!



† The 2007 movie "Bucket List" was about two terminally ill cancer patients (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a list of things to do before they die. This concept has been appropriated by many, who have compiled lists of things to be done before their death.
tnrkitect: (Default)
The sea is a capricious entity that must be treated with respect, and occasionally, given tribute. Today, she decided to take tribute from me. While wading in waist deep water, she sent a large wave that knocked me over, then another came immediately afterwards that stripped my glasses from me, down to decorate Davy Jones Locker. So, new exam, frames and lenses were obtained this afternoon. The tribute was a bit pricey, at just over $350 all told. I think she was mad at me for not visiting for over a decade.
tnrkitect: (Default)
And heading to the beach. The water is bath water warm and clear. No jellyfish or anything icky like years past. Taking care to avoid sunburn too, again experience from years past inform this decision. ;-)

Pictures when I am back home and on a speedy connection again!
tnrkitect: (Default)
This week is THE big week of the summer for me.

Monday, I take the last of my ARE's, Programming Planning and Practice. I will have to retake the Structural Systems ARE again in late August / September, but the initial round of exams will be over.

Wednesday, I have another birthday. Although my dad will be here (and Jessica will be too, of course) it won't really be a big thing. I am old enough now that birthdays tend to just be another day in passing. Plus, I will spend most of that evening packing.

Why you ask?

Because on Thursday, after I get off from work, Jessica and I load up the convertible and head south on vacation!

We are spending a little over a week at my grandparent's place on Sanibel Island

We leave on the 18th after work, and drive back on Monday, June 29th. I have the 30th off to recover, and will be back at work on July 1st.

Since it is my grandparent's place, all we have to do is get down there and fed ourselves. Considering that the cheapest rate on the island (according to expedia.com) is $133 per night (9 night stay, so $1,197 +tax), this generosity of theirs makes the vacation affordable. They are actually going to be staying at a condo on the mainland that my uncle owns while we are there, so we get to see them as well.

Anyways, it is a LOOOOONG drive down there. Knoxville to Sanibel is 816 miles, an estimated 12 hours and 40 minutes via interstate.

BUT.

We. Have. A. Convertible.
(and we like to use it)

We are not taking the most expedient route from here to there.

We are planning on going from Knoxville to Jacksonville, AL the night of the 18th, where we will stay with Jessica's parents. At ohmigoditstooearly 6:00 a.m. we will be hitting the road. This of course means that we will be getting up even earlier. Well, I will at least. I think Jessica and her mom will sleepwalk to the car. ;-) Oh yeah, this segment of the trip Jessica and I will be joined by her mom, who is traveling down to pick up the car she let her sister borrow for a while.

Our plan is thus:

Since we have a convertible with tunes (see last post), 12 days of vacation, and a long drive to get to where we are going we have decided to take the road less traveled, and make the journey part of the vacation rather than just trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

We are NOT going to use the interstate. Instead we are going to use the old highways that people used before the interstates came to pass (Think Route 66 for those heading west), and, whenever those are 4 lane divided highways, if possible we will divert to the two lanes that parallel them.

We will be taking U.S. Highway 431 for the first leg of the trip, stopping off briefly to say hi to mom in Wedowee, AL, then heading down through Roanoke and Opelika to Eufaula. However, rather than stay on US-431, we will cut a corner by taking AL-169.

In Eufaula we will hop across the Chattahoochee River into Georgia and head over to Cuthbert on US-82. There we turn south on GA-216.

He go through Arlington to where GA-216 dead ends into GA-37 just before we get to Elmodel.

We follow GA-37 to Camilla, GA where will will be stopping for lunch at Camilla Java, a cute little coffee shop across from the courthouse in downtown Camilla.

After lunch, we will take Old GA-3, instead of the new GA-3, since the new one is a 4 lane divided highway, while the old one is a 2 lane. they both go the same place, so easy choice. :-)

Because we are on the old highway, we will drive through (instead of around) Pelham, Meigs, and Ochlocknee until we get to Thomasville, GA.

In Thomasville, GA-3 joins up with US-19 which we follow on south. GA-3 stops at the state line, but US-19 continues on to Monticello, FL. We keep going through Drifton, FL which is really nothing more than a bump in the road that happens to be at the junction of at least 3 different rail lines.

Shortly thereafter, we cross under I-10, to Capps, where US-19 joins with US-27.

We keep going, on through Lamont, Eridu, and Secotan until we get to Perry.

Just past the Perry-Foley Airport and Bucell Junction, we turn towards the coast by taking FL-361, otherwise known as Beach Road.

FL-361 takes through Keaton Beach and past Fish Creek on our way to Steinhatchee, FL on the northern bank of the Steinhatchee River.

It will be about supper time, so we will stop and eat at Roys Restaurant, a Steak and Seafood restaurant overlooking the River and the Gulf of Mexico.

After dinner, we will get back on FL-361 and cross the river into Jena, FL where FL-361 becomes FL-358 as we head back inland.

We leave FL-358 in Jonesboro, where we get back onto the combined US-19, US-27, and US-98.

We keep heading south, passing through Cross City, Eugene and Old Town, and cross the Suwanee River at Fanning Springs.

In Cheifland, US-27 splits off, but we will continue on south on US-19 and US-98.

We will pass Otter Creek and through Gulf Hammock until we get to where FL-336 begins at a curve in US-19 / US-98.

FL-336 will take us to FL-40 which takes us over to Dunnellon, FL.

In Dunnellon, we will turn south onto US-41, and head down through Holder, Hernando, Inverness, past Floral City, until we finally arrive in Brooksville where Jessica's Grandmother lives, which is just north of Tampa.

We will all crash there for the night.

The next morning, I get to meet relatives form her side of the family for the first time, and that afternoon Jessica and I will head on down to Sanibel Island.

Depending on when we leave and how we feel, we may break down and take I-75, but (right now at least) I would prefer to still stick to the old roads.

We plan on taking LOTS of photographs, not only of the time spent on the island, but also the trip down and back.

When the week is over, we will head back north on Monday June 29th, and most likely take I-75 the ENTIRE way. Yes, this means we will go through Atlanta Traffic. Depending on when it is and how we feel, I may map out an alternate route. We will deal with that on the 29th. ;-)

I have Tuesday the 30th off, and I have no doubt I will need it to recover from the vacation. Then it is back to work on July 1st!

Note, for those that were wondering, my Dad is coming up to house sit and take care of Annie while we are gone. He also will be taking care of our garden, which is doing great. The green beans are in, and the snap peas are just starting to be harvestable. The first tomato will probably ripen while he is here, and I have no doubt that he will be harvesting some of the Radishes. ;-)

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tnrkitect - Musings of an Unconventional Mind

June 2011

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