Sunday, February 12, 2017

Having Some Fun and Doing it With Safety

From Ajo to Oregon and Back

I hinted in my last post that we accepted a safety training job that would take us to back to Oregon for 13 days in the coldest part of the year - January!   Our good friend Mark has volunteered to take us up to the airport and bring us back.  We failed miserably at remembering to take PHOTOS.  I think we were preoccupied with the details of the trip and the training, and seeing family and friends- well that's my excuse...

We got up early on Sunday morning and finished packing our bags, had a light breakfast and secured the bus, including turning off the water at the park's water spigot.  We left the heat on at a low setting on the thermostat, closed the window blinds.  We had already secured all of out outdoor equipment; chairs, tables, awnings etc.  Mark was right on time to pick us up at 9:15 AM and the 2 hour trip to the Phoenix airport was uneventful.  We had already "checked in" on the web app for Alaska Airlines, and printed our boarding passes and  routing tag for our one checked bag.

Once we got to Sky Harbor Airport we dropped off our checked bag at the ticket counter and headed for the TSA lines.  When you check in on-line with the app, you can do a TSA pre-screen that allows you to get in the fast lane at TSA. The pre-screen just amounts to reading and agreeing to the TSA rules for baggage and carry-ons.  In 1 minute we were through the arch and in the gate concourse.

The flying time up to Portland is 2 hours and 8 minutes.  We decided to fly into PDX rather than Medford for several reasons:
I-205 through Portland on Jan 13th 2017

  • Medford is famous for getting fogged in this time of year
  • Car rental is cheaper in Portland
  • Driving down we could stop and see family in Salem and pick-up our training materials in Eugene.
We had excellent exit row seats and the flight up was very pleasant.  We flew a landing pattern that took us down the Columbia river and as we made our turn over the city on final for landing we could see that the recent snows had not melted off yet.   Portland was still under a blanket of white!

Joan had already arranged for a car, so we headed for Dollar where we picked up a 2016 Toyota Corolla.  After a few minutes of familiarization in the parking garage, I was ready to head south through Portland on I-205 for Salem.

Image result for toyota corolla cruise control switch
2016 Corolla Cruise Control
Those of you who know us, know that we drive a 2005 Honda, so a new car has much more technology to learn.  We were amazed at how the car could be made to lock onto Joan's iPhone and start playing our tunes, display our contacts list, and probably much more.  The LED headlights were amazing!  The brilliance was excellent and the cut-off to keep the lights out of the eyes of an approaching car was a straight horizontal line- nice!  One thing I did not like was the way the cruise control worked.  Instead of being on the steering wheel, it was under the wheel on a short stalk on the lower right hand side where my fingers brushed into it all the time, knocking us off cruise until I could do a resume.  I hold my hands on the wheel at the 4 &8 position as recommended anytime there is an airbag in the wheel.  This keeps you from having your hand/arm punch you in the face if the air bag deploys.  Well, that puts my fingers where they brush the Cruise stalk all the time.  End of rant.

We planned to spend an extra day in Salem, and it was great to be able to see mom and my two brothers.  Mom is going to be 96 in April and is still living on her own in an apartment in a retirement center.  My brothers and their families took Joan and me to Olive Garden where we commandeered the largest table in the place.  It was awesome to see them all.  Joan and I were all bundled up, as we were used to the warmer "summer like" climate of southern Arizona and the sub-freezing temps in Oregon affirmed our preference for the nomadic life of the snowbird.

Joan and I drove to Medford on the 18th, stopping in Eugene to pick up the class materials for the 3 trainings we would be presenting over the next 5 days (not including the weekend).  We looked for an interesting restaurant in Eugene for lunch.  We drove to Cafe Yum! only to find it closed on Wednesdays, however, across the street was the Mediterranean Network Restaurant which looked intriguing.  We got a table and ordered the sampler platter for two which gave us Pita bread, hummus, baba ganouj, dolmathes, fresh vegetables and falafels.  We both had plenty to eat, and if we could have found a Starbucks without back-tracking we'd have been in heaven.  As it was we stopped in Cottage Grove 21miles south of Eugene and indulged ourselves a the Starbucks in the Safeway.

Best Western Horizon Inn Medford, OR
The rest of the trip to Medford was like driving on auto-pilot, we have done this stretch of I-5 many-many times.  We arrived in Medford at around 4 PM and checked into the Best Western Horizon Inn for a 4 day stay.

I am anxious to get setup at the desk in the room to make last minute tweaks and test all our AV equipment for the training tomorrow.
We are also excited about seeing our good friends Doug and Kathy for dinner at McGraths tonight.  Doug and I have been friends since the early 90's and Doug and Kathy have been unfailing in their commitment to stay connected with us. Doug and Kathy have visited and stayed with us at our home in Port Orford every year, even when the house was gutted and we sat and talked in lawn chairs in the empty living room.  Friends for Life!

The next three days pass by in a blurr.  The trainings went very well and they put us in contact with more friends Curt and his sweetheart Val and Chris and his engaging wife, Deann.  We met initially through my association with ASSE (Am Soc of Safety Engineers), but the relationships are much deeper than that.  Curt and I formed a kinship back in 2004, both with similar backgrounds and passions.  Chris and I teamed up years ago to teach OSHA 10 and 30 hour trainings, and Chris like me, taught the AGC Supervisor Safety Trainings at Rogue Community College.  The six of us were joined by Chris' 12 year old daughter Aubrey at Kaleidoscope Pizza on Friday night for a great re-union.

La Quinta Grants Pass
Saturday and Sunday were lost in preparation for my next two trainings in Grants Pass for the Public Works Department.  One notable exception to the class prep, my long time buddy Mark Salter called to say he'd be by to pick me up for lunch on the go.  We had some serious catching up to do and after grabbing some tacos we drove around the countryside and talked and talked. Somewhere in the middle of the class prep, we checked out of the Best Western and into the La Quinta in Grants Pass.

Here we had two days of Confined Space training and one day of Fall Protection training at the Public Safety building off Park Ave.  My voice is holding out better than I expected thanks in part to a wireless mic. and speaker that my good friend Mike in Port Orford brought us from home, and nightly salt water gargles.

Tap Rock Northwest Grill Grants Pass, Oregon
With our training completed, we celebrated with a fantastic dinner at the Tap Rock Northwest Grill between 6th and 7th streets on the bank of the Rogue River.  Our hostess brought out a basket of warm pretzel rolls and a dab of honey butter- we were in heaven!   For dinner I had two fish tacos with chipotle mayonnaise and they were fabulous! Joan had the portobello sandwich, equally good. We spent the night in Grants Pass and at 6 the next morning, headed back up I-5.

 A quick stop in Eugene at the HQ for D2000, my employer, then on to Salem, to spend the rest of the day with family.   We took mom to Little Lois' Deli in West Salem for a real treat, and later in the afternoon my big brother Nick and I got a chance to hang out for an hour or two, something we haven't been able to do in many years.  Kathy made a scrumptious taco dinner for the four of us and Joan and I turned in early because we had to leave for Portland 6 in the morning.
At 6 in the morning on the 27th we crept quietly out of Thane and Kathy's house and regarded our now iced over car!  I'm missing the south already!  The trip to Portland was uneventful, we used the time to scrub our phone's DNA out of the car's memory, blue tooth/ contacts/ etc.  The rental car check-in was very smooth and so was the transit through TSA- that meant we had a little over two hours to wait for our flight to board.
Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant

The plane was completely full and everyone was carrying a monster carry-on.  We worried that all the overhead storage would be gone by the time we got called for boarding, but luck was with us.  No exit row seats this time, we were in the purgatory section, and the woman next to Joan had a sloppy cold- fun!

Tapas for $6
Alaska was worried that the pilot on board was would time-out on the flight down, so they held up the flight at the gate for 30 minutes while they got a replacement.  Next we waited for a de-ice spray down and finally we were good to go.  A quick taxi out, and cleared for take-off.  Warm weather here we come!  Leaving  without much time for breakfast, Joan and I both purchased a snack on the flight down.  $6 buys you a fresh fruit platter or a Mediterranean sampler with hummus and pita chips- not bad

Despite being almost 30 minutes late arriving, Mark picked us up at the curb outside baggage claim in Phoenix and we set out for some lunch.  We were heading for Buckeye on Interstate 10 west so we googled up a Panera and got off in Goodyear.  Couldn't find it where it was supposed to be so we went to Rubio's Mexican at Mark's suggestion- and it was GOOD!  As we were leaving, Joan noticed that the bakery next door was the Panera- they were so new they didn't have the sign up yet!

An hour later, we were back in Ajo and home.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

No comments:

Post a Comment