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Europe Family Trip - 2019

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Europe 2019 trip..
Today at 03:20:48
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Two years in the making, planning and setting aside $ to take my Wife, Two sons, youngest son's girlfriend and my Mom (lives in TX). Six of us total.

Agenda was:

Rent a VW Diesel passenger van at the Munich Germany airport, drive:
3 days in Munich, Germany
4 days in Austria (Salzburg area)

Return the Van at the Salzburg, AU train station, take a 4 hour train trip to Zurich, Switzerland.

3 days in Switzerland

Uber to the Airport, catch ALITALIA airlines to Rome, Italy.

5 days in Rome

What did we do?

For the first two days in Germany, we did a WW2 tour of the Dachau concentration camp, then into Berchesgaden to see the Eagles Nest, Hitlers Home below the Eagles nest (he didn't live at the top of the mountain, despite most stories), all the various bunkers and hidden WW2 sites that still exist. In Austria, we spent time in Salzburg and surrounding small farming communities. We hit the Alps.

In Switzerland, we learned that that tiny country costs almost double as Germany and Austria, but our time was spent in/around Zurich, up the mountain via tram and took a steam powered paddle ship around Lake Zurich.

In Italy, we spent time bouncing between ancient Rome and a 2 hour train trip south to the coastal town of Naples.

Halloween 2013

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While I try to allocate time to document and upload photos/videos from the past few months, I thought I'd share our dogs in full costume for Halloween 2013:

Dogs of war!


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RIP Sasha : ~1994 - 2012

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Today at 4:05pm, we sadly euthanized our long time dog Sasha. We brought Sasha home from the pound shortly after our son Alexander was born.

Sasha was my constant companion on virtually all my hunting and fishing trips. Even during the coldest weather, Sasha never feared to jump into a half frozen lake to pursue duck and geese. She was mild tempered, protective of the family and although smaller than our other dogs, easily the top-dog in the house.. so much so that both my male dogs learned to pee like her (squatting, not raising their legs).

A few photos from her life:



Sasha in 1999


Sasha in 2002


Sasha in 2004 with Ferris, our new black lab puppy (we had to put him down at 3 years old)


Sasha and Ferris in 2004.



Ottercreek camping in 2007.


Christmas, 2009


Flaming Gorge camping in 2009.


Sadly, in late 2011, Sasha's age started to catch up to her and she became totally inactive.


RIP to one of the best companion dogs my family and I have had the pleasure to have in our lives.

As of 5pm on 1 August 2012, Sasha is now resting peacefully in our backyard.


Fillmore and 5th wheel saga..

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On Friday, October 21st (2011), we departed Salt Lake City for Fillmore. Our goal was to get in one more camping and ATV'ing adventure before the weather turned cold and snowy.

On the first Fillmore exit, we stopped to hit Carls Jr. for a quick lunch. Just as we parked, we noticed a guy on a golf cart inspecting every trailer that pulled into the lot. At first, we didn't think much of it.

A few minutes later, this guy was looking at my 5th wheel tires with much interest. He came over and told me that my tire tread was separating and that if I pulled my rig to the service station a few hundred feet away, his guys would gladly mount my spare. I pulled to the service station and was immediately told that all six of my 5th wheel tires were coming apart.

Initially, it looked very likely that I was in a very dangerous situation with my trailer. I was quoted $2100 for 6x Cooper "Provider" tires in 235/80 R16. I declined and we made the 2-3 mile tow to the Fillmore KOA.

Google was fired up and I researched Cooper tires. To my dismay, I learned that Cooper doesn't carry a brand called "Provider", nor did they carry my tire size. Clearly, these guys were pedaling Chinese knock-off tires at twice the price I could source replacements from Discount Tire/Sears/Walmart.

To compound matters, upon arriving at the KOA, we determined that the front electric motor for the levlling legs was not working. We had to manually crank to lower (and then raise) the legs. Additionally, the rear garage door was not sealing completely, allowing both sunlight and bugs to come through.

We settled in that Friday night and for dinner, drove the ~50 miles to Hoovers for another awesome meal.

The following morning (Saturday), we decided to sleep in a bit. Overnight temps were near freezing, so nobody was really inclined to get out into the cold morning air.

My 11am, we had the ATV's loaded and were ready to roll. Destination: Marysvale (just shy of 60 miles one-way across two mountain ranges (Pahvant & Tushar).

Our route would start at the far North/East corner of Fillmore via the Paiute 03 trail through Chalk Creek.

Somewhere near the middle of the Max Reid trail (Paiute 01), the Honda Rancher lost all brakes at one of the steepest sections of trail. My tactic: Get my ATV and my sons in front of the wife and have her just coast down using the two front ATV's at brakes. Success!

Hunters were everywhere in the woods. How they managed to spot a deer is amazing considering how close they all were to each other. Deer to hunter ratio had to be 100:1 (100 hunters for every deer).

We returned to camp after sun-down with temps in the 40-50F range.

That evening, we discussed the situation with the 5th wheel tires. I went out and inspected and determined the tires would be able to handle the 140 mile return trip home.

We departed early Sunday morning and didn't exceed 55mph the entire trip home. We arrived without incident. Seems to me that tire center in Fillmore has a pretty interesting (and unethical) racket: Scope out every trailer, spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), then when they hook somebody, they increase their tire prices by $600-800 over normal retail.

The quest for replacement tires is underway and the 5th wheel goes back to Motorsportsland for service on Friday. What an eventful weekend. It would be nice to have one outing with the 5th wheel not end with maintenance/repair issues!

For years, we've disliked the layout of our backyard. It was over grown with fruit trees, rotting railroad ties and spruce/juniper bushes.

In May/June of this year (2011), we decided it was time to do a bit of cleanup, starting with our 8x10 shed.

Stage 1: Relocate the 8x10 shed from the N/E corner to the N/Central section of the yard. We had no idea how much work it would be to relocate a shed. The ground was soft and muddy from weeks of rain.

At first, we purchased 4x 12' lengths of heavy duty PVC and attempted to roll the shed. Considering we had to push uphill in mud, we had no success. I even tried hooking my winch cable around the shed (winch on my ATV) and that didn't work.

We then decided to rent an industrial fork lift. 6' forks are the longest available and we needed to move the shed lengthwise. Unfortunately, the 6' forks broke through the floor of the shed and damaged the framing.

The fix? Gorilla tape wood studs to the ends of the forks, making them 10' long. SUCCESS!





With all the heavy equipment in the backyard, the grass (what was left of it) was devastated. We needed to get the grass restored before the dogs made an even larger mess. What to do?

Initially, we thought we would just leave the lawn and put seed down, but that didn't seem to be an acceptable long-term option. The search for a landscaper was on.

We decided more work was needed. Off I went to Diamond Rental to get an excavator. I tore out all the railroad ties, many of the fruit trees and all of the juniper and spruce bushes. We'd never seen the back fence before and it was eye opening just how poorly it looked; another project exposed.



With all the debris hauled to the dump, we were ready to replace the sprinkler system, put down fresh top soil and begin laying sod. We trenched 2-3' deep to run the new lines (satellite TV, power to my sheds, phone lines, etc) and had two dump trucks full of top soil delivered.

After grading and leveling, it was time to lay the sod. The yard was looking so much better already!


I went to the Park City area and secured landscaping rocks from Brown's Canyon Quarry and put them in the new planter areas.

Next it was off to Bland's nursery & garden center to find some nice matching gravel. We found an excellent Gold lava rock. 20+ loads later and things were shaping up.


Next up (for next year); Trex fencing and a pave-stone patio.

What a difference a few months and much back-breaking labor can make!
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My senior management team at work decided to attend the MDM West trade show in Anaheim, California as part of our Sr. Mgmt retreat. After the planning and trade show, some adjourned to Disneyland, while two of us took our rental car and drove south to La Jolla.

That evening, my wife and kids flew into San Diego (from Salt Lake) and joined us in La Jolla (La Jolla Cove Hotel).

The weather was in the mid-70's and full sun. It was nice.

Upon arrival, we noted the news crews and circling news helicopter. The front desk indicated that a great white shark was spotted and that the beach was closed while they looked into it. The closed beach didn't appear to stop the surfers, kayaks and swimmers/scuba divers.

Day 1: Legoland. A few photos (can you spot the real buldings from the Lego buildings?)



















The hotel was located right on the La Jolla Cove. We were on the 3rd floor. Sunsets were amazing:






The Cave at the Cove:






The 2nd day, we decided to take a short drive to the UCSD Scripps Oceanographic Institute Aquarium. Suffice it to say, we should have just gone to SeaWorld as we had originally planned. A few photos:













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Herriman fire

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This fire has been raging since noon on Sunday (19th) and is less than five miles south of our house. Last night, because the smoke was so thick, we prepped the 5th wheel trailer, put the hitch back in the bed of my truck and prepared to evacuate -- not so much because of the fire, but because the smoke was so thick.

Sourced via the Salt Lake Tribune

"It's chaos," said Salt Lake County sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson as he helped move residents out of their homes.At least 1,400 homes had been evacuated as of midnight and some had caught fire, said emergency responders who descended on Herriman from across the valley and pushed through crowds of onlookers.

Meanwhile, as many as 250 evacuees waited for updates at a Red Cross center at Herriman High School.

Melissa Kula said she and her husband packed their car while they watched flames rise over the ridge behind their home on Muirwood Circle. When they pulled away at 8 p.m., flames were almost to their backyard.

"I'm devastated, to say the least," Kula said, tears welling in her eyes. Her family had lived in the home since June. As of Sunday night, she assumed it had burned.

Authorities could not confirm which or how many houses had burned Sunday night. "Upwards of 100," homes were in jeopardy, said Unified Fire Authority Chief Michael Jensen.

The blaze started during a National Guard training session when a spark from a soldier's round ignited dry brush, said Utah National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Hank McIntire.

"They knew immediately and they got on it right away," but did not have enough manpower and equipment to contain the fire, McIntire said.

From Camp Williams, the fire moved into Arnold's Hollow of Rose Canyon and jumped over a dirt road that had previously acted as a barrier on Camp Williams' northern border at Black Ridge, said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Brad Taylor. Bulldozers were digging up fire breaks to the fire's east to keep it from spreading into the valley, but Taylor said they would not be effective until the winds die down.

Over Memorial weekend, we made the 5 hour journey South-East (30 miles from the Colorado border), just off I-70 at exit 131. Our goal was to enjoy a new section of the San Rafael Swell (the Swell) and camp along the North side, instead of our usual location near Temple Mountain and Goblin Valley. The North side is chock full of great off roading adventures, to include :The Devils Racetrack, Buckhorn wash/draw, Head of Sinbad and many others. The most enjoyable and challenging area of riding was easily the Devil's Racetrack. Although I knew about this location, we didn't plan on riding it until we stumbled upon the trailhead. With us were my 15 year old son (Alex), my 12 year old son (Nick), my nephews (Zach, Skyler), my neice (Megan) and my brother-in-law and his friend Jeff. I decided to ride up for the first 3 miles or so to determine if the kids could make it. There were a few rugged stair climbs and slick rock sections, but after that, it seemed to level out. I turned around and indicated that we could probably get the entire group up. What a mistake that was... A few photos from the trip:




This guy was stinking up the area and completely blocking the trail. I had to winch him off the trail.

Underneath him were frogs, apparently eating away at the underside of this sheep. Carnivorous frogs?


Our first planned ride and Zach’s machine blows out the CVT belt less than 2 miles from camp!


The “Head of Sinbad”


Rest break along Coal Wash:


One of the many natural arches we encountered:


Zach and GF climbing the rock pile.


Spectators at the top of the Devils Racetrack.


Well, it wasn't the end of the world, or even of all life as we know it. Not even a close encounter of the third, or even fourth kind.

But a bright light in the sky just after midnight Wednesday morning certainly got the attention of skywatchers in northern Utah.

The light, described some as a bright green glow that may have exploded in a bright display, was a meteor, NASA Solar System Ambassador Patrick Wiggins told Fox 13. Scientists say the meteor traveled into our part of the heavens from the northeast.

The space rock, possibly a late arrival from the recent Leonid meteor shower, also may have created some sonic booms; there were even some unconfirmed reports of car alarms being set off by the cosmic visitor.

No injuries or property damage were reported, but it by all accounts it was quite a show, seen in northern Utah, Idaho and Nevada. 


The photos below are after and before photos from my home surveillance camera showing just how bright the sky was illuminated:


News reports also claim strange circle (almost like con-trails) were seen over Tooele county this morning. The photograph below was observed by me East over the Wasatch early this morning (and to the West over Tooele County), but I also saw the same thing while hiking yesterday around 1400 over Tooele County. I DO NOT believe these strange patterns were resultant from the meteor, as I saw them yesterday -- hours before the meteor explosion:

Those of you that know me, know that I've recently been looking to trade-in our 31' Jayco Class-C motor home (31SS).

A few weeks ago, we signed a promissory note ($73k) for the above trailer. What I didn't know at the time (before we took possession) was that my 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 (6.7L Turbo Diesel) simply didn't have the GCVRW to manage this 18,000 pound triple axle trailer.

My truck has a GCVRW of 20,000 pounds, of which the truck = 7500#, leaving me almost 7000 pounds over weight on the rear axle and frame (trailer=18,000 + truck=7500).

Knowing my engine could easily haul the weight, I was still concerned that my brakes, frame and rear suspension would be massively overloaded -- we backed out of the deal.

We've now started to look for used (2001) Diesel OTR rigs. We've found Volvo's with 10-19 gears with over a million miles on them for under $5000 and we're tempted.

Road trips just won't be the same after trading out a 31' Class-C to a detachable 42' toy-hauler. be continued!

 Where is James King?


Language Translation


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