"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Monday, September 27, 2010

"tanks" for the memories

Friday morning I checked out of the motel and attended my last 1/2 day of class. We had a short review and then some closing remarks from the Northern Zone Training Manager for my company. During his talk he asked the class to nominate one person who showed them the most leadership and positive attitude during the class. I was shocked when I was nominated and the class all decided that I was the "man". The training manager presented me with a coin bearing the company logo and seal. I found out later that the coins are a limited edition and each "zone" only gets 10 coins to present each year. I was very honored to not only receive the coin but also to be recognized by my peers. It was pretty cool.
We all had to take an assessment test covering all the items we had learned in the past week. The test is taken on line and is graded as soon as you finish and hit the "submit" button. I missed 3 out of the 50 questions for a 94. I passed !! Whoo Hoo!! Now picture me doing a "happy dance" :-).
As soon as I completed the test I was out the door and headed towards home.
The wind was howling today and the weatherman said a cold front was moving through. My little car was tough to keep in my lane and I kept thinking "I'm glad I'm not driving an 18 wheeler in this stuff". I did see a truck towing a 5th wheel and the wind had ripped off part of the outside bedroom wall. They had pulled off and were using duct tape to make temporary repairs. They had traveling companions stopped helping them and looked like they had things well in hand or I would have stopped and helped them.
I made it home shortly after 6pm. Rudee was waiting for me to arrive and after a quick change out of my work clothes we went out for a quick dinner and then back home where we turned in fairly early. I was pretty wiped out and I was really looking forward to a nice nights sleep in my own bed :-)
Saturday was unpacking and laundry day. We did manage to take a nice motorcycle ride in between all the work though.

Sunday we were up early. We were meeting our motorcycle friends for a scheduled ride to a museum. We met them in Lebanon and our first stop was to a gentleman's house who is a retired welder and now creates yard art and displays them at his house. He was quite a character and took us all around his property showing off his "art". He had dinosaurs, birds, turtles and just about anything else you could think of and they were all made out of discarded metal. Pretty neat stuff but I forgot my camera :-(.
Our next stop was in Crawfordsville for lunch so I was able to make a detour and pick up my camera. That was a good thing because our next museum was a "private tour" of the Ropkey Armor Museum ( http://www.ropkeyarmormuseum.com/) just outside of Crawfordsville Indiana. The museum is a private collection of military vehicles and equipment and is owned by Mr. Ropkey himself who welcomed us.

The museum is actually a very large pole barn behind his house and is quite extensive. He is a former tank commander and his collection leans heavily towards military armor but he does have several aircraft, trucks, jeeps and even a Viet Nam era patrol boat and UH1 "Huey" on display.

This was a "hands on" museum and you can touch and feel as much as you want. It was awesome being so close to these massive machines. He even had a Japanese tank that was captured by the Marines during WWII.
We spent probably 2 full hours touring the museum. If you are ever in this area and enjoy history, especially military history, this place is a "do not miss"!

Rudee and I dropped the bike back at the 5th wheel and hopped into the Dakota. We had decided to drive to Lebanon and combine dinner with watching the Colts play Denver. We arrived at the 32 Warehouse just in time for the game. We enjoyed our dinner and it was nice to watch the game on a "big screen" projection TV. We were able to cheer the Colts on to a victory. They are starting to look like the "contenders" we have come to expect after a pretty miserable opening game loss.
Monday will be my first day using the new computer system "live" They are supposed to start me out slow to help me get used to using it, we'll see how it goes. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

still in Ohio

I'm over 1/2 way through with this classroom stuff .... whoo hooo!! I'm ready to be back home. I am staying at a Hampton Inn right behind the office where our classes are being held. My commute takes all of 2 minutes:-). The motel is pretty nice but I sure do miss my own bed in our comfy little home.

So far the training has gone well and I am getting more and more confident using the system. We start our classes at 8am and end at 4:45pm with a 45 minute lunch break. I have eaten lunch at the office cafeteria each day and have been pleasantly surprised with how tasty the meals have been. They don't have a large menu, just a few deli type sandwiches and a daily hot plate special. Yesterday the special was 2 tacos with beans and rice. Today I had a turkey manhatten with corn. Pretty good stuff :-).

Tomorrow is our last full day of classes, Friday we do a review and then have to complete (aka: pass) an online assessment. We are scheduled to be done by noon but I am hoping we can get out a little early since I have about 6 hours to drive.

We have been having trouble with our water heater in the 5th wheel. It quit working a couple of weeks ago and we had a mobile technician come out. He had to order a part and finally got it replaced today. Rudee had to leave right after he left so she was not able to test it out. Hopefully she will have lots of hot water for her shower tomorrow.

No big plans this week end except to catch up on my weeks worth of laundry :-O. If the weather cooperates I'm sure I can convince Rudee to take a motorcycle ride in between loads :-). I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 20, 2010

off to Ohio

This week end we had a great time with Nick. He stayed both Friday and Saturday nights sleeping on the couch. Saturday morning we introduced him to geocaching. He was really excited when Rudee told him it was a "treasure" hunt and was not too disappointed when he found out the "treasure" was just trinkets and the fun was in the hunt and the find.
I had picked out several caches in the area and we ended up finding all but 1 of them. Nick caught on pretty quick. We have two Garmin handheld units that we use for geocaching so he got to operate one and guide us to the "treasure".
We ended up back home in time to get ready for the Saturday night races in Putnamville Indiana.
One of Rudee's co-workers races his car here every week end so the rest of her team felt like it would be a great outing for the office. They even had t-shirts printed up with his picture on the front so he had his own rooting section :-).
We were supposed to meet everyone at a restaurant at 5pm and have dinner and then go to the races. When we got to the restaurant things started falling apart pretty quickly with several people canceling out for one reason or another. We ended up with only the three of us and one other couple. Oh well, their loss because the races were great!!
Jimmy (Rudee's co-worker) won his heat race and then started on the outside of the first row in the feature race. He ended up coming in second but was battling for the lead the entire race. It was really exciting.
Nicholas enjoyed the race cars and was on his best behavior. He is really growing up to be a nice, well mannered young man. We were both very proud of him.
We made it back to the 5th wheel shortly before midnight and we all headed straight to bed.

Sunday we made a little later start than normal since we had such a late night. I had my suitcases already packed and after loading them into my car we all went to breakfast. Rudee and Nick followed me in the Dakota so we could head separate ways after our meal.
I was driving to Cleveland Ohio today for the start of my training on our company computer system.
We had a nice breakfast and I hit the road shortly after 11:00am for my long drive. Rudee and Nick followed me for a few miles before turning off and heading for Nick's house.
The drive was pretty boring since it was all interstate. There sure did seem to be a lot of road construction going on. At least it was Sunday and the traffic was fairly light except around the larger metro areas.
After turning North from Columbus I noticed a definite change in the trees. The leaves are changing a lot more here that at home. It sure did look like Autumn here.
I arrived at my motel and got checked in about 5pm. Plenty of time to get settled in, eat some supper and be ready for the Colts game to start at 8pm.
The game was a lot better than last weeks and the Colts won by a large margin.

Today has been my first day of class and things went pretty well. The class seems well organized and we have a lot of hands on practice with training laptops. They are using my computer as the class demo unit so everything I do is up on the big screen for all to see (Yikes!!) , The best part is I get even more hands on practice rather than just sitting and watching someone else move from screen to screen while they teach us where to locate everything we need.

The office here is pretty large and they have their own cafeteria. I plan on eating lunch here everyday where I can relax some after a quick bite. Sure beats having to fight traffic just to rush around to wolf down a greasy burger somewhere and then rush to get back to class on time.

Only 4 more days of class left. I am trying to just be a sponge and "soak it all in". I guess we'll see how much "absorbed" once I start working on the system for real. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 17, 2010

teaching an old dog new tricks

In preparation for our change over to our "new" computer system I have had to take some additional on line training. That is pretty much all I have done since Wednesday, course after course on the companies web page.
I have finally finished all the assigned pre-training courses and am getting ready to travel to Cleveland Ohio for my week of "official" classes.

I will leave Sunday around noon for the 6 hour drive. I want to get there in time to watch the Colts play. I will either watch the game in my room or maybe hook up with some of my co-workers and go to a sports bar and watch it there. I'll just have to see how it all works out.

We are picking up our grand son, Nicholas, tonight and he will be staying with us this week end. We have had the girls over a couple of times and now it's his turn for some one on one with us. I want to take him out and teach him how to geocache. We will plan on doing that Saturday plus he has been wanting to take a ride on the Harley and his Mom and Dad gave me permission so we will be taking him on his first motorcycle ride too. Here is a photo of Nick, he sure is growing up fast.
The weather has been very pleasant here in central Indiana. We have even had the furnace on a couple of mornings to take the chill off when the temps have dropped into the low 50's.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to blog next week during my training. I plan on taking the netbook with me and hopefully will have some time one evening to update the blog. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 10, 2010

snake charmer

Saturday night we had a small adventure at Bally's Casino. We had both played some on the machines but since we had such a busy day sightseeing we were both tired and by 8pm were ready to head back to our room. Rudee suggested we stop in a little deli type restaurant they have at the main entrance and get a sweet treat to take back and share before turning in. We decided a piece of cheesecake looked pretty good. As the girl behind the counter was dishing it up I wandered into the seating area and came face to face (or foot to face LOL) with a copperhead snake. YIKES! This thing was about 18" long and didn't seem too happy to be out in the open in the middle of a restaurant. There was an employee standing there trying to decide what to do. He asked one of the waitress' to get him a broom and when she saw the snake, well that's the last we saw of her :-). Someone, maybe the waitress who had fled into the kitchen, threw out a large metal serving bowl and he was able to drop it over the snake trapping it.
I'm not sure how they handled it after that, we took our cheesecake and got the heck out of there.

Sunday morning we checked out of the motel and rode north through Memphis and turned west into Arkansas. We took the interstate through the busy metro areas but finally exited onto the more scenic state roads after getting away from all the population. We headed North towards Missouri as the temperatures started rising. Looked like another 90 degree day. We passed by a lot of cotton fields that appeared ready to harvest. They reminded us the snow that is sure to come soon (how depressing is that).
We arrived in Sikeston Missouri and decided to spend the night there and go to Lambert's for dinner. After checking into the Holiday Inn Express we headed for the pool to cool off. Unfortunately the pool was a little too cool ....... brrrr, we didn't stay long.

Monday morning we were back on the bike and heading towards home. We took US 60 into Kentucky which is a nice winding road that angles toward our next destination Evansville Indiana. We crossed over several rivers including the Mississippi, Tennessee and the Ohio before arriving in Evansville. Another great day on the bike.

Tuesday we turned the bike towards home. The weather today was calling for scattered showers and we could see the clouds building in the distance. The rain chased us all the way to within 3 miles of Rudee's parents house in Plainfield when it caught up with us and we got a good soaking. Lucky for us we were close to their house and the rain only lasted for a 10 minutes before moving on.
We unloaded our luggage into the Dakota and Rudee followed me over to the Harley dealership where we left the bike for it's service appointment Wednesday.

We both enjoyed our trip and were a little sad that it was coming to an end. We will pick up the bike Wednesday evening after work and then try to get settled back into the groove of things here at the KOA. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 6, 2010


We locked up the 5th wheel and hopped on the bike as soon as work ended Thursday. Rudee followed me to Plainfield in the Dakota which we are leaving at her Mom and Dad's until we get back.
Wednesday we have the bike scheduled into the shop for it's 10,000 mile service so we will be dropping it off Tuesday on our way back through and needed the truck to drive back home. Wow, that first 10k went fast. We have only had the bike for 15 weeks. We sure have been doing a lot of riding but I sure do miss it when the temperatures are in the teens and the snow is flying.

We dropped the truck off and Rudee's parents followed us to a local restaurant for dinner and then we pointed the bike south.
Our goal was to make it to Evansville. Once we were away from the Indy suburbs we made good time. We just missed seeing an accident south of Mooresville In. I noticed people hitting the brakes ahead of me about 1/4 of mile and saw a big dust cloud just over a small hill. When we topped the hill there were two cars smashed and one of them had been knocked into the dirt median (hence the dust cloud). The people were just climbing out of the wrecked cars and others were stopping to help. There was no safe place to pull the bike into so I continued on while Rudee called 911 and reported the crash.
We didn't make it to Evansville before it got dark like I had hoped but we arrived safe and sound shortly after 9pm. We checked into the Baymont Inn and called it a night.

Friday we left early since this was going to be a big travel day. The weather was perfect and we stayed on the state roads winding our way toward S.W. Tennessee. I really can't remember our exact route, I set the GPS and just followed it. we did skirt the northern edge of the land Between the Lakes. I'm sure this area would be getting busy for this holiday weekend.
We eventually ended up on US 51 and followed it into Memphis where we found US 61 and continued south into Robinsonville Ms.
We had reservations at Bally's Hotel and arrived there with enough time to cool down and freshen up before finding a place for dinner.

Saturday we left the motel shortly after 10am and headed into Memphis. Our first stop was the Peabody motel where we saw the ducks in the fountain. The motel has had ducks in their fountain since the 1930's. They live on the top floor and twice a day the "duck master" leads them onto the elevator and they ride either to or from the fountain. Not a bad life for a duck huh :-).

We also took a walk down the famous Beale Street. The street is lined with clubs and restaurants and this is the self proclaimed "birthplace of rock and roll".

We had some lunch at one of the Bar-B-Que joints before heading out again.

We took a short ride a few blocks to Sun Studio where Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl (as in Perkins) and Johnny Cash all got their starts. The studio conducts a tour and we were going to take it until 2 busloads of people pulled up and piled in. The place was so packed with people that we had to leave or we were going to freak out with claustrophobia.
Our next stop was the National Civil Rights Museum which is housed in the Loraine Motel near downtown Memphis. The Loraine is the location of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was shot while standing on the 2nd floor outside walkway.

We then did a drive by of Graceland which is Elvis' home (in case you are under 40 or have lived in a cave for the last 40 years LOL).
We visited and toured Graceland a few years ago so decided to pass this time and headed back towards the motel.
Rudee wanted a nice meal and US 61 is lined with bill boards advertising all the meals available at the casinos so we headed towards the Hollywood Casino. On the way we made a detour into the Fitzgerald to check it out. They have a parking garage so we were able to park the bike out of the sun. Toasted buns are nice on cheeseburgers but I don't like mine toasted on a motorcycle seat :-),
Fitzgeralds was a nice place and we saw a sign for a sale on a T-bone steak dinner in their steak house so we decided to stay there and have dinner.
The steak was pretty good and we played some of the slots while we were there and had some decent luck with those and walked out a few $$ ahead of the game :-).

Sunday we are checking out and heading north once again. Our plan is to follow the Mississippi River into Missouri and maybe even catch a roll in Sikeston. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

dodged a bullet?

We had a nice time at the picnic on Saturday. The weather was perfect and there was food galore. We enjoyed our meal and visiting with everyone.

Sunday we met Steve and Trish Suter in Lebanon and took a nice motorcycle ride with them. The weather had warmed back up though and by 3:00 we decided being back at the 5th wheel sitting in the a.c. sounded pretty good :-).

Our son Matthew and his fiance' Mandie came by Sunday evening and we spent some quality time with them.

We have had some changes in recent weeks at work. The first one was when I reported back to work from vacation I found out my immediate supervisor had been demoted.
This really didn't surprise me too much because they seemed to have at least one too many supervisors and since she was from the "old" company it just seemed logical.

So that leaves 4 of us from the "old" company that do the same job being integrated into the bigger company that bought us out.

Today my new boss called me and told me they had made some more cuts and I thought "OK, here I go".
Instead he told me that they had given walking papers to my old supervisor and one of the other guys. So I guess I dodged a bullet for now. My boss seems to think things will settle down some from here though. I sure hope so because working with a dark cloud over your head for the last 2 years has been a real pain and pretty much effects every aspect of your life. I guess the only thing I can do is keep up on my work and continue to do my best from day to day.
We are still doing training for the "new to us" computer system and I will be going for a week long training in a few weeks.

Rudee and I did make a decision on our destination for our long Labor Day Week End. We are going to try and get within 6' of Elvis :-).
Yep we are heading to Memphis Tn. We took a short trip there several years ago and toured Graceland. This time I want to see some of the other sites and hope to get down to Beale Street, The National Civil Rights Museum and maybe even see the ducks march at the Peabody Hotel.
We are leaving right after work tomorrow and will spend the night somewhere on the way down.
We plan on staying off the interstate as much as possible and just taking our time and enjoy the ride. I'll keep you posted.