Kevin Standlee: Fandom Is My Way of Life
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Kevin Standlee's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
    12:35 am
    Detroit to Chicago: Fast and Slow
    With our train to Chicago not scheduled to depart Detroit until 3 PM, we had a late check-out, and didn't have to rush. In fact, we even had a chance to collect the only station on the People Mover that we'd missed in our use of it throughout the week.

    Twice AroundCollapse )

    After packing out of the room, we took a taxi to the Amtrak station. The cabbie must have been angling for a bigger fare and wanted to take us to Dearborn, but we didn't see any need to do that. Detroit's station is a single track, and the delayed train to Pontiac came through when our train to Chicago should have come in, causing the Chicago train (Wolverine #359, running on a special schedule due to track work) to run ten minutes late.

    Despite high-speed running, it never got any betterCollapse )

    We have this routine down now in Chicago and walked down to the Holiday Inn. They upgraded us again, but not to that crazy conference room; we have a nice two-room suite, which Lisa suggested would have been ideal for exploring Chicago if we had several days instead of less than eighteen hours. They also gave us a 1 PM checkout, which is convenient for our 2 PM departure on Tuesday.

    After dumping our bags, we walked over to Chicago's Greektown (there appears to be a pattern developing in our food tastes) and had a quick dinner there before returning to the hotel. There's no included breakfast here, so we'll need to get up early enough to go get breakfast; however, with the train station only two blocks from the hotel, we're pretty confident that we can make things work.

    Current Mood: content
    Monday, July 21st, 2014
    2:03 am
    Detcon 1 Day 4
    Up front: I took at lot of photos today and will not try to post all of them here. They are all in my 2014 NASFIC Trip album on Flickr, and they are all captioned, so feel free to go look if you want to see more than what I posted here. Also, the photos are all CC-licensed, so you're welcome to take copies for yourself if you want them.

    Winding It DownCollapse )

    All too soon, it was time for the last program item, the Closing Ceremonies.

    And Now, the End is Here...Collapse )

    After the Closing Ceremony, Lisa and I headed out to lunch, returning for a third time to the New Parthenon restaurant.

    Beware of Flaming CheeseCollapse )

    By the time we waddled back from lunch, tear-down was nearly done, it apparently having gone pretty smoothly. However, a job turned up that we could do: there were six mobies and a wheelchair than needed to be shuttled down to the "motor lobby" from the third floor so that the vendor could come collect them. Lisa, I, and a young woman whose badge read "Trouble" but was not at all like that drove the mobies carefully and got them to our destination without running down anyone or crashing into anything.

    Hanging the DogCollapse )

    Just before midnight, we bade farewell to everyone (with cries of "see you in London" to some) and hustled down to the People Mover, which closes at midnight on Sunday. There was a guard starting to lock it up, but he said we could still make it, so I dropped quarters into the slots and we trotted up to the platform where there was a train waiting for us. We rode to Joe Louis Arena, where the train stopped and did not appear to want to move. A guard boarded, asked us where we were planning on getting off, and when we told him Cobo Hall (the next stop), he radioed the dispatcher to release our train for one more stop. The train continued, announced that it was going out of service, the guard let us out a side door, and we returned to our hotel.

    Our train to Chicago on Monday is at 3 PM. The hotel has allowed me a 2 PM checkout, which is wonderful because it means we don't have to pack up until after breakfast tomorrow instead of rushing around tonight.

    I admit that I was was somewhat skeptical of coming to NASFIC and to a great extent originally considered it an excuse around which we could wrap a cross-country train trip. However, it was something much more in the end: a very good and fun convention at which I enjoyed myself a great deal. Tammy and the crew that she recruited deserve all the kudos they can get for having done a fine job with Detcon 1.

    Current Mood: happy
    Sunday, July 20th, 2014
    1:54 am
    Detcon 1 Day 3
    The first two mornings we were in Detroit, when we went down to the restaurant for breakfast, we waltzed in and sat right down, with most of the others there being other fans. Saturday was different. There were large family reunions booked into the hotel, and the restaurant was packed. We had a twenty minute wait to be seated, but we did get fed. However, by the time we had eaten, it was already time to put on our baseball gear and walk to Comerica Park for today's NASFiC Baseball Fan Outing to the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians game.

    Take Us Out to the Ball GameCollapse )

    After the ball game, we bade farewell to our fellow SF fans, most of whom had to get back to the convention sooner than us, and went to Greektown where we had a late lunch at the same place we ate yesterday, the New Parthenon restaurant.

    A Bit of Food TalkCollapse )

    We went back to the hotel, set our baseball caps aside to dry, and I returned to the Marriott, leaving Lisa to wash her hair and get cleaned up a bit.

    Evening at NASFICCollapse )

    As I was heading back up to the 69th floor after the Masquerade, I realized that I didn't have my membership badge. Thinking that I'd dropped it somewhere in the ballroom, I retraced my steps back to the 3rd level, but couldn't find it. Then it hit me: I returned to the Minneapolis party, found Lisa, and she handed me my badge that I'd left in care of Kuma Bear while we were having our pictures taken. This was a case of so many people knowing me on sight that I'd simply walked past most security without realizing I didn't have my badge.

    With the badge situation squared away, Lisa and I made a round of the parties.

    NASFiC Chair and Party HostCollapse )

    It was too late for the Food Court tonight, so we headed for Greektown again, where we ate at the open-all-night place next to the New Parthenon. It was okay, and I'm glad we went, but it's nothing special.

    We could have jumped on the People Mover (and completed the set because the section between Greektown and Millennium Center is the only section we haven't yet traveled), but with full stomachs, we elected to walk back to the Crowne Plaza. It was pretty late, and yes, we were still in our costumes from the convention, but as long as we kept to well-lit streets we felt pretty safe. It did not take long before we were back in our hotel room being very grateful we could take off our shoes and socks. I think that we have logged more than 15,000 steps every day we've been here.

    It was a good day at Detcon 1, albeit one where much of our convention day was spent off site. I apologize to my fellow SJ in 2018 bid committee members for not pulling my full weight with our activities at the convention. I've been taking it relatively easy and enjoying myself instead of working. and trying to not feel guilty about doing so.

    Current Mood: happy
    Saturday, July 19th, 2014
    1:55 am
    Detcon 1 Day 2
    Lisa and I took the first half of today off from the convention for a mundane task: laundry. We're about halfway through our trip and we were starting to run out of clean clothes. I previously had tracked down a coin laundry only about 1 km from the Greektown People Mover station, which is not impossibly far away. After breakfast we packed our laundry into a couple of bags and rode the People Mover from Cobo Hall (across the street from where we are) to Greektown, then walked down Lafayette to a decently equipped laundromat. As a bonus, they had a pinball machine, so we were kept occupied for the time it took us to do a couple of loads of laundry. On the way back, we stopped and had lunch in Greektown. Instead of taking the People Mover back to the hotel, we walked, as we needed it after the nice lunch.

    The convention day was more than half over, but we finally headed over there after changing into our WSFS jumpsuits from Chicon 7.

    Here Comes the WSFS Wrecking CrewCollapse )

    After seeing programming, Lisa and I actually had enough time to look through the Dealers Room and associated Exhibits except the Art Show because Lisa would have had to stow her backpack, which contains her tinnitus-masking sound generator as well as travelswithkuma. Near the back of the room was the list of all past NASFiCs and an invitation to sign in and to collect stickers from gerisullivan indicating how many NASFiCs you have attended — in my case, four five, including both Detcon 1 and CascadiaCon where I was Fan Guest of Honor.

    We found our way up to the Con Suite on the 69th floor for a while, then later went down to the food court (the big lunch meant we weren't that hungry) with pcornelius. After dinner, the Parties awaited. We made the rounds of the parties, except for those too loud or too drunken (or both) to appeal to us. Among those we visited were the Finland in 2017, DC in 2017, and New Orleans in 2018 parties. We ended the night at the Slan Shack: a suite used for programming during the day and being hosted by Geri Sullivan as a faanish party that night; It was open and airy and comfortable, and I was was glad to be there. I'm afraid that I sort of took over one bay of the suite for about an hour of a heavy duty SMOF session; on the other hand, what started as a relatively small discussion with Dave McCarty dealing with mechanical issues with WSFS committees on which we serve morphed in to much longer and more complex conversations as more and more people arrived, seemingly drawn to our discussion of Business Meeting arcana such as my contention that we seriously overuse Objection To Consideration when there are other, kinder mechanisms for trimming our agenda of obvious non-starters without dropping parliamentary 16-ton weights on well-meaning would-be participants in the process.

    Just before Midnight, Lisa pointed out that we really needed to head out and the conversation broke up. The People Mover runs until 2 AM on Friday/Saturday morning, so we rode it back to the hotel. Some of the other people on the car knew that there was an SF convention in town and asked if we were supposed to be the Ghostbusters. "Not quite," I said. They were very friendly about it, I might add.

    Tomorrow is Baseball Day, as we have tickets for the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians game. Kuma Bear is sad that it isn't the Seattle Mariners playing.

    Current Mood: tired
    Friday, July 18th, 2014
    3:07 am
    Detcon 1 Day 1
    With few specific commitments to Detcon 1, we didn't have to get up super early, other than we had an included breakfast that ended at 11 AM. After breakfast, we set out for an easy walk around downtown Detroit to see where things were at rather than heading straight down to the Marriott where the NASFIC is at.

    Detroit PhotosCollapse )

    After our mini-sightseeing walk, where we also scoped out restaurants at which we might want to eat (and tried to confirm that they would be open nights and weekends), we went into the Ren Center and eventually found our way to Registration. The Ren Center is a maze of circular passages and ramps, and it's a bit disorienting to find your way there.

    I picked up my materials quickly, but photo ID was required and Lisa had left hers in the hotel and none of the people at Registration personally knew her. There was nothing we immediately needed, so we stuck around in the free areas until I connected with Detcon 1 chair Tammy Coxen, who went by Reg and told them that Lisa was who she said she was and that this should be enough to give Lisa her badge. We're grateful to Tammy for her help.

    My rant about photo ID and convention membershipsCollapse )

    After a little while longer, it was time for lunch, and we headed back to a place we spotted earlier near our hotel.

    People Movers and Old TrainsCollapse )

    After lunch it was back over to Detcon for the first tranche of panels, which included an Old Time Radio demonstration, with old episodes of X Minus One and other SF/F related shows played over restored old tube-type radios. I enjoyed sitting for a short time in the dark with my eyes closed and listening to the shows. After that, we were on call to help decorate the Montreal in 2017 Worldcon bid party for tonight. Lisa and I had the one characteristic needed: we're both tall, which makes it much easier for us to hang the Canadian flag and the flags of the ten provinces and three territories around the room.

    What Beautiful Suites You Have HereCollapse )

    After helping decorate the room, we left the rest of the set-up to the remainder of the Montreal bid committee present and instead went down to the Opening Ceremony.

    It's Officially a NASFICCollapse )

    After Opening Ceremonies, we needed to eat. A couple of restaurants in the Ren Center food court (which mostly cater to the lunch trade) agreed to keep longer hours for NASFIC, so we did our part to show that we appreciated this by getting sandwiches from Subway. Then it was back up to the Ambassador Ballroom for SF Jeopardy!. This had one of the J! game systems with remote controls, clickers, and score boards, but Lisa and I thought it could have used better production values like those we bring to Match Game SF. Also, the host of the show allowed himself to be taken out to dinner and kept out so long that the 10 PM start was substantially delayed, which didn't help attendance. Lisa and I left around 11 after the first round and went upstairs to check out the parties. I stopped by the Boston in Christmas 2020 Worldcon bid party, the New Orleans in 2018 Worldcon bid party, and the DC in 2017 Worldcon bid party before returning to the Montreal in 2017 Worldcon bid party I'd helped decorate four hours earlier. I never did get up to the 69th floor, even through the inter-floor stairs do work.

    The next thing I knew, it was 1 AM and I'd been merrily discussing Worldcon, WSFS, the Hugo Awards, and sundry other matters for two hours. We called it a night and walked back to the Crowne Plaza. While not an actively dangerous walk, there was one homeless encampment, and I would recommend not traveling alone; however, Lisa and I walking together did not feel threatened on the well-lit streets of downtown Detroit.

    Tomorrow we have few commitments again, although I probably need to spend time behind the San Jose in 2018 Worldcon bid table. (We're only doing a bid table, not a bid party.) Lisa may spend time helping with the Luna Society table as well. But we need to allow time to see the Art Show and Dealers Room, which from our initial glances at them look very attractive.

    Current Mood: pleased
    Thursday, July 17th, 2014
    5:00 pm
    Good Auto Repair News
    This afternoon while Lisa and I were walking around Detcon 1, I got a phone call from my regular mechanic in Fremont with the diagnosis on the engine problem with the Astro. We went in worrying that it might be a valve problem or a clogged fuel injector, the word was much better news: One of the spark plug wires had come off. This is of course an easy fix. (It's harder on the Astro than some vehicles because you have to pull off the "dog house" cover inside the van to get at the spark plugs.) My mechanic will store my van on his back lot until the day we come back to the Bay Area; we'll pick it up late when we get back; then we'll come back that next afternoon to pay for it and retrieve the spare set of keys I left with it. We definitely dodged a mechanical bullet this time.

    Current Mood: happy
    1:05 am
    On to Detroit
    Our train to Detroit left Chicago right on the advertised, but unfortunately a combination of conflicting freight train movements, ship movements (open drawbridges), and track work caused extensive delays, and we didn't get to Detroit until around 11 PM. It also took a while for a taxi to arrive because we were the last people off the train and everyone ahead of us scarfed up all of the available taxis. A friendly cabbie showed us what he thinks is the best way to get between the Crowne Plaza (where we are staying) and the Marriott (where NASFiC is happening).

    The unexpected thing about a high-end hotel like the Crowne Plaza is that apparently most of the hotel rooms here have only showers, without bathtubs. Lisa really wants a bathtub. The first room we had didn't have a bathtub. We went downstairs and they tried again. The room they gave us was nicer, being a small suite with a separate living room, but still has only a tiny shower-only bathroom. After discussing our options with the hotel, Lisa said that she'd tough it out in exchange for having the otherwise nicer room.

    On the bright side, my Platinum status gives us free breakfast. There is also what is described as a 24/7 Refreshment Lounge, but it was locked up and dark when we had a look after checking in close to midnight. We also don't know downtown Detroit, and unlike downtown Chicago, it doesn't look like there are convenient 24-hour places where we could go get something tonight. We'll do some exploring tomorrow, inasmuch as the convention doesn't get going until later in the afternoon. And that is good because we're tired from travel and need to get some sleep, albeit that we need to be up early enough to get the included breakfast.

    Current Mood: tired
    Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
    11:07 am
    Boardroom Bedroom
    As I mentioned after we checked in last night, our hotel room was possibly the strangest in which I've ever stayed. Here's the "living room":

    One step from bedroom to boardroomCollapse )

    It's a full-size boardroom table. This room would be big enough for an SFSFC Board of Directors meeting if you added some chairs. There is a standard-sized bedroom beyond this room, and an ordinary bathroom attached. There's also a microwave/refrigerator/sink in this over-sized parlor.

    A significant fault: to get from the bedroom to the bathroom, you have to go through this boardroom parlor with its hardwood floor. This is not fun in bare feet. The room would have worked much better if the bathroom attached directly to the bedroom, with a half-bath (toilet/sink) near the front door entrance to the parlor.

    There being limited space in the bedroom, we stacked our luggage on the boardroom table. (I thought of leaving it there for the photo but decided to make things look nicer.) We actually don't like the room that much and asked for a standard room, but apparently this was the very last room they had and the only reason they didn't "bounce" my reservation to another hotel was due to my platinum status.

    With a better configuration, this would have been a wonderful room if I were chairing a convention here.

    Our train to Detroit leaves at 2:50 and we have a 2 PM check-out. We're about to pop out for breakfast, then come back to the hotel and get our luggage and roll back to Union Station, after having had 7-8 hours of sleep after all.

    Current Mood: amused
    1:26 am
    Made It To Chicago
    Our train arrived in Chicago at 11:45 PM, just short of nine hours late. Lisa and I walked to the Holiday Inn (although I think it might not be officially a legal sidewalk we used), and I'm pretty sure we were checked in and in our hotel room long before most of the people with missed connections at Chicago had been processed.

    Per my previous post, it's just as well I wasn't angling for a hotel room and a trip tomorrow. All of the people who missed connections to the Michigan Service trains are riding buses to their final destinations, poor folks. I'm better off at the hotel, even though it's strange.

    The hotel room we have is crazy. It's actually a ten-person conference room with a board room style table with an attached bedroom. We don't actually like it, but it was the only room left. I must get a picture before we leave. We requested a 2 PM check out so we can sleep in tomorrow, which we need desperately.

    My smartphone froze up shortly after my previous post, and I didn't know how to reset it. (Hold Power + Volume Down for ten seconds; but I couldn't find that out until I was back at an internet connection that does not depend upon the smartphone.)

    Longer report later, maybe, if I have the energy. Now I must try go get some sleep. We're still happy we took the train, even though the schedule was mucked up.

    Current Mood: exhausted
    Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
    3:40 pm
    Checking In From On Board
    I've spent much of the past two days with very limited connectivity, mostly consisting of taking photos and posting them from my Twitter account (@KevinStandlee) when the phone could raise a signal. But this afternoon the train is in places that are close enough to cell phone towers that I could get my computer online again. I've put the photos I've taken so far in their own Flickr Album.

    The train is running more than eight hours late, after a six-plus-hour late departure from Oakland, slow orders and maintenance along the line, and no real way to make up time. We'll be lucky to get to our hotel in Chicago (two blocks from Union Station) by midnight tonight. In a sense, I sort of wish I could have guaranteed that this would happen, because I could have then booked our trip to Detroit via Chicago as a continuous ticket with a Chicago connection. That would have cost the same number of points as the trip to Chicago alone rather than being a separate purchase. Then, when Amtrak failed to make the connection, they would (I hope) have put us up in a hotel for the night and sent us out on tomorrow morning's Wolverine to Detroit. (As it is, we bought a hotel night tonight in Chicago and purchased the Chicago-Detroit leg separately instead of using points.) However, you (a) can't guarantee a sufficiently late arrival to score the free hotel night and (b) there's always a chance Amtrak might have decided instead to put us on a bus to Detroit instead, and if there's one thing we can't stand, it's buying a train ticket to be put on a bus.

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Sunday, July 13th, 2014
    11:20 am
    Maximum Hotel Utlilization
    As expected, the worse-than-usual late arrival of Amtrak #5, the westbound California Zephyr (12 h 34 m late, arriving at the Emeryville terminal station at 4:44 AM this morning) has significantly delayed the departure of eastbound #6 (which uses the same trainset). When I awoke briefly just before 6 AM, I confirmed that train wouldn't be leaving until after Noon, reset the alarm, and went back to sleep. As I write this, the originally scheduled 9:10 AM departure has been pushed back to 2 PM.

    On the bright side, this means that we got to sleep in this morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, and we are getting pretty much the maximum possible use out of our free Hilton night, as they have let us extend our stay until 1 PM. A side effect is that, by charging the breakfast to the room, I've goosed my HHonors account back to life and do not have to worry about my remaining points (enough for one more free night) expiring for a while.

    Current Mood: relaxed
    11:12 am
    Lisa Wins an Award
    I have mentioned before that Lisa (user handle KumaBear) is an enthusiastic participant in ActiveWorlds, a virtual-reality platform that has been around since the Dark Ages 1995, where she has been building the virtual town of Bleakwood. Last night, the ActiveWorlds user community presented the Cy Awards, which are voted upon by the users to honor achievement in different categories. I'm pleased to announce that Lisa's Bleakwood won the 2014 Cy Award for Virtual Art Design. (You may have to choose 2014 if you go to that page; I don't see any way to directly link to the specific year.) Lisa was not able to attend the awards ceremony (she didn't bring her AW-enabled computer on this trip), but sent an acceptance speech to a good friend to read on her behalf. Lisa is chuffed, as the British say, and I'm proud of her.

    Current Mood: pleased
    Saturday, July 12th, 2014
    9:32 pm
    The Pause Before the Train
    I got up early enough this morning in Yuba City that Lisa stayed at the hotel (check-out time 11 AM) while I ran off to do errands.

    A minor comedy of errorsCollapse )

    We got to Emeryville just before 2 PM and moved into the Hilton Garden Inn for one night. This was the all-ashore-that's-going-ashore moment, as anything we aren't taking to Detroit with us needed to stay in the van.

    Multi-taskingCollapse )

    The eastbound California Zephyr, Amtrak train #6, is scheduled for a 9:10 AM departure tomorrow morning, but I don't think it will be leaving on time. When I checked at Emeryville than the Zephyr still does not serve breakfast on the morning of departure — it used to do so years ago, but stopped some time ago — the agent warned me that today's westbound train #5 was running so late that it probably will delay the outbound departure tomorrow morning. That's because today's inbound trainset is turned and forms tomorrow's outbound consist. When I checked after dinner, I found that today's westbound #5 is running more than twelve hours late and is currently predicted to arrive in Emeryville shortly after 4 AM tomorrow morning. It is very unlikely that they will get that consist cleaned, supplied, turned, and ready to depart by 9 AM tomorrow. Unfortunately, we probably won't know just how late it will start until we get up tomorrow morning.

    On the bright side, it now seems likely that we will have time to get a fairly leisurely breakfast before rolling over to Emeryville Station tomorrow. Of course, a late start means a late arrival in Chicago on Tuesday, but that's why we have booked a one-night layover there both directions to/from Detroit.

    Amtrak is at the mercy of the host railroads, and with an improving economy flooding the tracks with more goods, the slightest disruption can knock the People Train (as one of the Union Pacific dispatchers on the Nevada Subdivision calls it) out of its slot and make it continue to lose time on its entire trip. We like trains, but except in a few corridors like the Capitol Corridor between San Jose/Oakland and Sacramento/Auburn, riding the train requires significant patience.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Friday, July 11th, 2014
    10:53 pm
    To Detroit: West to Go East
    I worked until pretty late last night on Day Jobbe so that I could get things to where we could leave relatively early this afternoon. Because of some fretting on the SLC trip about maybe not having secured some things we should have secured (in fact, Lisa had done the things, but had forgotten it), we've developed a point-by-point checklist for securing Fernley House. If we do all of the things on the checklist before leaving, we can mostly not fret about having left the propane turned on in the trailer or something like that.

    We headed to Reno first and had an early dinner at the Eldorado Buffet (just after they opened for the evening), then headed up and over The Hill and down CA-20 to Yuba City, where we checked in to the hotel. At Lisa's suggestion, we packed an extra one-night-only bag of things into which we'll change tomorrow and then leave some stuff behind in the van. This also includes things we won't need until we get back from Detroit.

    Recap: Why We're Going the Wrong WayCollapse )

    We had a brief panic in Yuba City when Lisa thought she'd left all of her spare batteries for her white-noise-sounding radio at home. Fortunately, before we rushed back to Fernley (a 300 mile round trip), she found them, just not in the place where she would normally pack them.

    I'm glad we're on the move. Planning is good, but there comes a time when you simply want to stop planning and start moving.

    Current Mood: sleepy
    5:59 am
    Westercon Fannish Inquistion Video: Portland and San Jose
    I did not expect to get up this morning and find that only the first two of the nine Fannish Inquisition videos had uploaded overnight. I canceled the remaining seven uploads. Here are the Portland in 2016 (later selected as Westercon 69) and San Diego (Westercon 68) presentations.

    Everyone Expects the Fannish InquisitionCollapse )

    The Worldcons' videos are going to have to wait until I get back from NASFiC, I'm afraid. I guess my upload speed is even slower than I thought it was.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Thursday, July 10th, 2014
    11:59 pm
    Travel Prep
    Aside from having to concentrate on an urgent change request from Day Jobbe, Thursday was mostly taken up with trying to get things repacked and ready to go for the trip to NASFiC, the first leg of which begins Friday afternoon when we leave for Yuba City. I also finally got the Westercon Fannish Inquisition videos starting to upload overnight when I finally got a chance to head for bed.

    Current Mood: exhausted
    Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
    7:52 pm
    Day Off
    Aside from some Day Jobbe stuff and some small shopping necessary to refill our travel supplies, I took most of today off. I'll try to get videos from Westercon posted tomorrow.

    We're now considering leaving Friday evening instead of Saturday morning, because I have family and banking business in Yuba City that really needs to be done before noon, plus the logistics of our single night in the Bay Area make it necessary for us to get moving very early. This would work better if we spend the night in Yuba City and do the errands there as soon as possible before heading to Emeryville.

    I've made an appointment with my favored mechanic in Fremont that I'll drop my van at his shop on Saturday night (this can be done when nobody is there) and he'll have two weeks to work it into his very busy schedule while we're in Detroit.

    Current Mood: tired
    Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
    10:44 pm
    Along the Loneliest Road
    US-50 west of Ely, Nevada is known as "The Loneliest Road in America" and today we drove most of its length.

    Last Railroad PhotoCollapse )

    We left Ely about 9:15 AM and headed west.

    My Bathwater is Too Hot!Collapse )

    We spent nearly two hours in Eureka before continuing on to Austin. The highway traverses the Basin and Range Country, which means stretches of dead-straight high-speed highway through the basins are interspersed with twisty climbs up and down ranges. Unfortunately, the Astro is ailing and low on power, which made the drive a bit less fun, but we did make it.

    Up and Down to AustinCollapse )

    We continued west onto what I think is the longest single stretch without a town or even a gas station or rest area, although we missed the "Next Services 118 miles" sign that I think is along here.

    Stop and Read the Historical MarkersCollapse )

    By now we were getting fairly tired and wanted to get home. We didn't stop in Fallon, as we go there regularly, but instead pressed home to Fernley, where we arrived at about 5:45 PM. With the exception of a couple of blocks in Fernley and a short stretch of streets in Salt Lake City (plus a bit of back-and-forthing in Ely), our entire trip of 1,127 miles was continuous and did not repeat any segments.

    We unloaded the van, got some take-out pizza, and vowed to try and take it relatively easy tomorrow. Of course in my case that depends somewhat on how much work has accumulated at Day Jobbe. But we can't rest long, because the NASFiC trip begins this weekend and we thus have only a couple of days to do laundry and reset for the next adventure.

    Current Mood: tired
    Monday, July 7th, 2014
    4:47 pm
    To The Trains in Ely
    I wasn't in the least disturbed by the intern staying in the room across the hall from us in the Nevada Northern Railway bunkhouse getting up at 5:30 to go wake up the steam locomotive (which requires a great deal of TLC before its 9:30 departure). Lisa and I could sleep a couple more hours after that before starting our day.

    Train Day in ElyCollapse )

    Upon return to the museum, we joined the tour of the back shop area, which was fascinating. The Nevada Northern has been described as one of the best well-preserved heritage railways in North America, and their shops still have the heavy equipment necessary to make almost everything they need, save things like the electronics for their old diesel locomotives.

    We spent more time touring the shops than the original train ride, and by the time we were done, we were also very hungry. Stowing our cameras in the bunkhouse, we walked over to the All Aboard Café & Inn, which is a half-block from the museum. There we had some of the best hamburgers we've ever eaten. Lisa raved about how they managed to cook the meat well done without charring all of the flavor away. They are also a B&B, and we had a look at their rooms. Lisa picked out the one in which she says we should stay the next time we come to Ely. The prices aren't cheap, but the rates are less than what we paid for the hotel room in Salt Lake City and includes breakfast, which if it's as good as the lunch we had, makes it a real bargain.

    Back to the MuseumCollapse )

    Copper mining has resumed, but the railroad no longer hauls ore or even finished concentrate up to the now-UP connection at Shafter (on the former Western Pacific; the former Southern Pacific connection was at Cobre to the north). We asked and one of the museum people told us that they've made a $17 million TIGER grant request to rehabilitate the line so that they could start hauling again. I'm in favor of this not only because I like trains and because it would open the prospect of excursions over the entire line up to Shafter, but because of all of the heavy trucks it would remove from the highways out of Ely. I hope they manage to get the grant money to get the rest of the railroad open again.

    After a full day at the museum, we returned to the bunkhouse and its air-conditioned room, where we could take off our shoes and relax for a few hours. There are other things to do in Ely, but we're footsore and tired from Westercon and railroad tourism, so we'll have to put them off until a future visit. Besides, we only have three days at home after we get there tomorrow night before our NASFiC trip starts, so we have to try and pace ourselves.

    Current Mood: tired
    Sunday, July 6th, 2014
    11:10 pm
    On the Lonliest Road
    US-6 is not a busy road, even after it joins US-50 in Delta UT (a metropolis by comparison to most of the places between Utah Lake and Ely), and the speed limits are high (except when it climbs over the numerous twisty passes necessary to traverse the Basin and Range Country), but it's a long way to Ely, and it took a long time to get there. In fact, it finally dawned on me that we weren't going to a hotel with a 24-hour desk, and before we got to Delta, at one of the places where there actually was cell phone service, we called ahead to make arrangements for our late arrival.

    We traveled through some spectacular scenery, but besides being in a bit of a hurry, the camera was buried in the back of the van so we didn't take many pictures. We did make one stop for photos that I will post when I get a chance later, but suffice it to say that I was impressed by this desolate but beautiful area. But we couldn't dawdle too much, because we had a date with the Nevada Northern Railway Museum Bunkhouse.

    Instead, photos of our home for the next two nightsCollapse )

    When we got to the bunkhouse, we loaded our stuff into our room and settled in for our stay. We have tickets on the 9:30 AM steam train excursion from East Ely, after which we'll have the rest of the day to explore the museum/railroad. We're really looking forward to it, so I'd better finish this entry so we can get some sleep.

    Current Mood: tired
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