police presence on independence weekend

Before we left town, I saw someone I used to work with at the TV station in Lubbock post from her own trip up Route 66 with her family that the state troopers were EVERYWHERE!!!  So I decided that, with it being a long weekend with July 4th at the end of things, and with knowing from past TV stories that law enforcement steps up efforts when a holiday makes for a three day weekend, that I was going to take notice and see how many of our fine law enforcement officials were on the roads.
First, Texas.  Now, I understand that Texas is the second biggest state in the country in terms of land area.  However, I left a town of 14,000 (Hereford), drove through a town of 15,000 (Canyon), and another of 190,000 (Amarillo).  Couple that with the other 100 or so miles on I-40 to the border, I only saw ONE state trooper.  No sheriff deputies or local cops were spotted.
Oklahoma wasn’t much better.  I didn’t see any law enforcement officials from the state border all the way in to OKC.  The next day, we get on the Turner Turnpike to Tulsa and one state policeman was hanging out at the toll plaza.  Then on the Will Rogers Turnpike, there was actually one state policeman clocking for speeders.
Missouri gets the blue ribbon.  From Joplin to Saint Louis, I saw 18 cops.  One was even sitting on an overpass over the highway clocking people coming down the road, undoubtedly radioing to someone further down when they spotted offenders.
In Illinois, I saw 6 cops.
Indiana sported two of their finest…in the last 20 miles.
Ohio?  Considering we drove through lots of civilization with the Cincinnati area, I was disappointed to see none.
Missouri knows how to make it safe!


So, we hit the road to go see Tara’s sister, Tammy.  Our first stop is in beautiful lovely…middle of nowhere…Oklahoma.  You know it.  It’s that long, lonely trek through the barren, desolate areas of Texas along I-40 from Amarillo allllllll the way to Oklahoma City.  You get to drive through Indian reservations.  The cool thing is that is was a lot less dusty and a lot less brown than my drive through the Indian reservations of Arizona a few weeks ago.  Shoot, it was a lot less brown than Texas is right now (not counting the areas that are black due to wildfires).
The hotel we ended up landing with Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” feature ended up being a historic hotel in downtown Oklahoma City called the Skirvin Hotel that is now run by Hilton.  These historic hotels are nice surprises, especially considering that you know Hilton has done everything to restore the place, while keeping with modern conveniences.
The Skirvin was right downtown in Bricktown.  We get off the Interstate and 1) they’re doing a bit of construction downtown, and 2) it looks like we’re possibly going to have to fight the zombie-pocaplypse.  Downtown looked practically empty.  When we finally find the hotel, we start looking for where the self-park is located.  Another fail.  We finally decide to valet park.  It was a great decision as the valet parking staff at the Skirvin is one of the best in the industry in my opinion!  The attendant on duty told us exactly where the self-park was (but Tara and I still agreed to valet because it was a pain in the neck).  He was also able to tell us that the meters on the street were free for the holiday weekend.
Being July 3rd, I was surprised that OKC was having a fireworks display that night.  We could hear the concussion shots from our hotel room, but it took us a moment to figure out it was the fireworks.  There were storms developing in the area, so we thought it was thunder at first.
Once we raced out in to the street to find the fireworks, the valet attendant was able to tell us we could go up on the parking garage of Santa Fe Plaza to watch.  It was actually on of the highest points around with an unobstructed view.  It was a pretty nice fireworks display.  (It was better than we would have gotten at home…can anyone say “laser show”?)  The fireworks finale looked and sounded a little like battle explosions with shells and mortars.  However, the highlight of the show was Mother Nature’s addition!  We had several lightning strikes in the distance.  We even had a couple of cloud-to-cloud strikes overhead.  We were lucky that no lightning struck anyone on the top level of that parking garage!

headed home, continue the work

Denver to home was an interesting, yet not so interesting drive.  I go through a lot of nothing on this drive.  When I got to Trinidad, the speed through some construction they were doing on the interstate was 35 mph.  Totally unnecessary.
I get in to New Mexico, and one of the first things I see is a sign that basically says “100 days and nights, cops out in force”.  Within the approximately five miles from the border to Raton, I saw three people pulled over already.
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So back home, I’ve taken some days to decompress.  I turned down the job I was offered in Portland.  Just today, I found out that the TV station I interviewed at offered the position to another person.  I still can’t find a phone number to get a hold of the place in Utah (but then again, they still haven’t called me).
Yesterday, I went to Tulia (about 50 miles one way) and interviewed with the management at a rule telephone cooperative based there.  It was a really good conversation.  The job I was interviewing for is a technical job.  There’s certain certifications they want in a person that they would hire, of which I have none.  However, I have a lot of the experience they are looking for.  I tried to impress that I want to learn more if they’ll give me the chance to do so.  I also really tried to play up the fact that I have coop experience.  I’m not too sure they will come across anyone else that has that kind of experience, so hopefully that will be a positive.  At the end of the interview, I was told there is currently no time frame for hiring, but sooner is better than later.  I told them that it was only fair to let them know my wife told me the same thing!
We’re due to make a trip to the Dallas area sometime next week to do the job hunting if I haven’t received an offer by then.
I’ve also had a friend from church tell me a company he used to work for that had to downsize out of Amarillo is staffing back up.  That’s another thing to check on.

i-70 corridor

Headed out from Salt Lake City Wednesday morning…
The drive from Salt Lake to Denver is a series of going through different canyons, gorges, and man-made passes through mountains.  I took US 6 up over Soldier Peak first.  This brough me back down through Helper.  I remember Uncle Paul told me last time when Tara and I both were there last Spring Break that the town was named Helper because an extra train engine was needed to help trains get up over Soldier Peak.
Once I got to the junction with Interstate 70, I stopped off in Green River to get lunch.  I was lucky to get my order in when I did, because a senior citizens tour stopped for lunch about 3 minutes later.  It was also in Green River I noticed a “No Littering” sign that said the max fine was $100.  In Portland, the max fine in the most green city in the country was $6250.  In good ol’ Texas, it’s $350.
So I get in to Colorado, and I see this…
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The Colorado River is in a major flood stage.  The water was way up on trees, right up under bridges, and 70% of it is white water.  Past Grand Junction and in to the river valley through the Rockies, the water level almost covered the railroad tracks.  I heard that the water in Oregon was moving fast because of late snow melt.  I was told in Utah that they might see flooding because of late snow melt.  In Colorado, I actually got to see it.  Up close, even.  If you’re on my Facebook, I posted a video I took while in Glenwood Springs.  I saw several rafts going down the river.  I even saw some guys surfing the white water.  They said it was some pretty good action.
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Through Glenwood Springs Canyon, it was slow going since traffic was 2-way on only one half of I-70.  Further on, I got to Vail, and was close to some of that snow that still hadn’t melted.  I stopped at Vail Pass, and I got right up at the same level with the snow.
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More videos on Facebook, I threw some snowballs.
I spent more time than I normally do when driving by myself, but I don’t think I violated my normal MO.  All the stops I made and time I spent were on things that caught my attention.

graduation & checking one last possibility

This morning, everyone in the house was up early.  Rachel’s graduation was scheduled for 10am, but she had to be there by 8:30.  We left the house at 7:45 because we had to pick up Aunt Lori’s mom first, and then make it to the University of Utah campus where the graduation was being held.
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I caught this absolutely adorable picture of Uncle Paul and Rachel as we walked towards the Huntsman Center.
Inside, the place reminded me of a smaller version of the Frank Erwin Center in Austin (otherwise known as The Drum).  There were 760 graduates.  Everyone was dressed for the occasion, including faculty.  It’s the first time I’ve seen faculty in full regalia for a high school graduation.  It’s also the first time I’ve ever heard a student doing a speech at graduation that quoted a German philosopher.  Wow!  The entire ceremony was a really enjoyable presentation.
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The one other thing that I was surprised at?  The guys and the girls were sat seperately.
After eating and getting back to the house, I went and checked on the job I had applied for in Salt Lake before I left on this trip.  I couldn’t find the phone number of their corporate office.  But I used the address I found yesterday afternoon.
It ended up being pretty easy to find.  However, when I got there, no one was willing to talk to me.  What I was told was that they don’t contact people until at least 10 business days after the application.  I would have been up in arms about it, but I was told they actually do interviews over the phone if necesarry.  Otherwise I was going to have to stay in Salt Lake a little longer.  I believe the 10 days are up possibly tomorrow or the next day.
I ordered pizza tonight for everyone.  It was the least I could do since Uncle Paul and Aunt Lori have been so giving while I’ve been here.  They are such amazing people.

“Drawing A Blank” Day

Phone calls and searches…nothing but a blank today.  I’ve already received several calls from Salt Lake before going on this trip, but all those jobs pay $9-12 per hour.  On my own, I would barely be able to survive on that…maybe.  Today, all the jobs I tried to track down, they’re all just above my head on me being qualified.  I couldn’t find anything that would work.  I looked for teaching jobs, but nothing that would match my certification.  I looked at TV jobs, but nothing that I could swing in a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks.  Two stations had job openings.  One had all the openings directed towards human resources.  No way I’d get anyone to talk to me there.  The other station had each different opening directed to different people.  That means I might get to talk to them, but the hiring process would go past the window Tara has for putting in her resignation if we were to leave.  No good.  No good at all.
Aunt Lori took me to lunch at this Mexican food restaurant that is known for being a spicy place.  The salsa was definitely pretty spicy.  I had the smothered burrito and a soft taco that was done with a massive tortilla!  The food was absolutely wonderful.  As always, the conversation with Aunt Lori (and Uncle Paul, too) was great.  While we were there, Garrett starting texting Aunt Lori.  He was at school, and Aunt Lori told me he must be massively bored because he never texts her during the school day.  He was still texting her when she was getting gas after.  So we went and picked Garrett up from school before heading back to the house.
I decided to spend the time that afternoon trying to track down contact information on one job I applied for that would be really good.  It’s basically a corporate learning coordinator.  So I’d create online training modules for the company.  It was about 4 by the time I found what I believed to be the address.  I still couldn’t find a phone number.  At that point though, I didn’t feel like getting clothes changed, getting cleaned up, and then making the drive.  Wasn’t really enough time.  So I decided to do it after Rachel’s graduation tomorrow.
We had steak tonight.  It was interesting, because the steaks were cooked on a part grill/part smoker.  I liked the taste.  Aunt Lori also put on a movie for me to watch.  After she realized I like rugby so much, she told me the other day about this movie that was based on a true story about a high school rugby team in Salt Lake that repeatedly won the national championship.  It’s called “Forever Strong”.  Very good movie.

Drive to Salt Lake

It’s another Sunday, and I’m up early again.  My body is waking up about when it normally does.  However, being on the west coast, that means according to the clock I’m waking up reeeeeally early.  I decided to get on the road to Salt Lake earlier than planned because of it.  I was bored sitting around the hotel.  No sense in wasting time.
It was a pretty non-descript drive for the first bit.  However, after passing through Mesquite, Nevada, I saw this mountain range that I kept on coming towards, and the road wasn’t turning away.  Turns out it was the Virgin River Gorge.  It was a nice stretch of road.
After getting through Saint George, it was a drive through a series of valleys that were increasingly greener, separated by ridges the were increasingly steeper.  It was a beautiful drive.  The only thing that made it better is that I never had to go less than 75 mph on the road until getting to Salt Lake metro.  Otherwise it could have gotten boring.
I got to Uncle Paul and Aunt Lori’s house right about 1, which was a little earlier than I expected.  Aunt Lori apparently didn’t expect me there that early either.  Shortly after, Uncle Paul, Aunt Lori, Rachel, Kristi, Garrett, and I went to a testimony meeting at a ward in American Fork where there was to be a blessing for the new baby of another cousin, Jessica.  After that, we went and ate a slightly early dinner at Aunt Beth’s house (Jessica’s mom).  I got Tara on Skype so she could at least say hi to everyone while we were there.
Later that evening, I got to learn a new card game.  We also broke out the 3 Alarm Hot Tamales that Tara sent with me for Uncle Paul.  All 6 of us tried them out.
Late night, but always fun around that house!

Back To Vegas

So today, I’ve used up all my time in Portland. It’s now the weekend, and this is all travel time. I get up and go, and the first thing I end up doing is turning in my rental car. This was another experience that proved it is a small world. The shuttle driver taking back to the airport asked where I was from. I started to give him the typical answer I give anyone that doesn’t live in the panhandle of Texas. Reason why? No one ever knows anything west of a Fort Worth-Austin-San Antonio line except for El Paso. However, this guy kept on probing, until I finally told him I live in Hereford. Come to find out, he was born in Borger in 1935. His parents moved from Borger to the northwest on the outbreak of World War 2 to work for a defense contractor. Wow!!!


I couldn’t find any good breakfast food in the airport, so I got a meatball sub. It sounded good. It tasted good. There was only one problem. I had watched the weather before I left the hotel, and there was a low spinning off the coast of California. The direction of the winds was directly opposite of the direction we were flying. If you just said “turbulence”, then you guessed correctly. I had picked a flight with a layover in San Jose because the direct flights left too early or too late for my taste. The flight attendants were never allowed to serve drinks. I could have used my typical cranberry juice to settle my stomach. It made matters worse to have the meatball sub in my stomach!


I didn’t think about it until we were coming in on final approach to San Jose, but we were over the Pacific for most of that flight. I was talking to the lady sitting next to me for a little bit, and told her that caught me by surprise. I explained that my normal joke when the flight attendants explain the life vest “in case of a water landing” was that the pilot would intentionally have to aim for water for that to happen.


The head flight attendant on this flight was one of those who liked to crack jokes. You know how the line goes if you’ve been on even one flight… “We don’t ever anticipate a loss in cabin pressure…”


This one continues… “…because if we did, we would have called in sick today.” HAH!!!


I leave rainy Portland that’s sunny, and I land in sunny California that’s rainy.


I get back to Las Vegas, and I find out it’s one of those rare weekends that Garth Brooks is performing…just 2 blocks down from my hotel…and I don’t have the money for a show ticket……………………


I get all of my bags and head out to the parking garage. I pay my parking at the express pay kiosk. (I knew parking in Vegas would be expensive compared to home, but it still gave me a little sticker shock when I paid.) I get five feet from my car and start thinking about what song I am going to play once I get my iPod plugged in…




That iPod was in the front pocket of my netbook case….that I set down on the seat on the plane and never picked it up before I left. I toss my bags in the car and take off fast for the terminal. Long story short, it took what felt like forever to get anyone to help me. Thank goodness, they called the gate and someone had picked up the netbook and left it at the gate. I get a pass to go back inside security. This time I actually have to go through the body scanner. Once I get my netbook, get back out to the car, and get to the parking booth on the way out, it had been about 50 minutes (read: another $3) since I first paid my parking.


I get to the hotel, the one cool thing is there was free valet parking.


The rest of the night is pretty boring. That’s that.

Go figure. Portland can actually be sunny.

Friday, I woke up to lots of sun.  At least it was more than what I had experienced in the last two days of being here.  I started out with a 2nd interview at the “marketing” firm.  The guy I interviewed with this time was smaller than me, younger than me, and wowed that I used to work in television because “he took a couple of broadcasting classes” while he was in school.  Oy vey.
I then tried calling a couple of the TV stations in town.  One station, I couldn’t raise anyone on the phone that could do anything for me.  The other station, I at least got to the news director’s voicemail.  I went to find the station that I called first.  It was out in Beaverton.  The studios were out in a business district.  Looked like a nice place.  However, the visitors parking was absolutely full, leaving me no place to leave the car legally to get out and go in.  After a few minutes, I got a return call from the news director at KATU.  He was willing to talk to me, so I headed that way.
The conversation was a good one, and I believe that there is a chance things could work out if he wants to have me come work there.  One thing he told me was that he always makes it a point to talk to job candidates who go the extra mile and come to Portland on their own.  Before I left, I explained it would be about a week before I could get work samples to him.  The only thing I have available without getting in to a TV station to edit and make dubs is a set of video files from a special I did in Savannah.  But my hard drive went on the fritz the day before.  I can’t get it fixed until I get home.
I went to the same Chipotle I have the entire I’ve been here tonight.  It’s across the river in Vancouver.  When I turned off the 205 on to 14 heading east, I was met with a different view than the past couple of days.  There, in all it’s majestic splendor, was Mount Hood!  All I can think to tell you is that it is better looking in person than in pictures.  But hopefully these pictures will give you the idea.
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I never saw Mount Hood before today because it was so cloudy, and the clouds were so low.

First Full Day In Portland.

It seems like the sun comes up a 5am here.  That’s a lot of hours of sunlight.
It was pretty easy to get out and going to my 8:15 am appointment.  However, 5 minutes away from the hotel…I forgot a copy of my resume as requested.  Ugh.
The traffic in Portland is pretty laid back for there being so many vehicles.  While there were always a lot of people around in traffic, there was never really traffic gridlock.  Everything just flowed smoothly.  That was unusual to me for what I’ve experienced elsewhere.
The place I interviewed this morning is the same type of place I interviewed at in Vegas.  However, their client is Qwest.  I know about what Qwest does.  Makes me feel like I could have a leg up.  I was invited back for a second interview tomorrow.  I don’t actually have to go to a Home Depot for this one, so I accepted the interview.
I headed back to the hotel after that.  I didn’t want to sit around there trying to find more people to contact, so I decided to go find a McDonald’s and get a bite, because practically all McDonald’s have free wi-if these days.  The one I found had free wi-if, but no power plugs.  Fail.
While I was finding this McDonald’s, I missed the turn in, so took the nearest street to find a place to turn around.  I ended up finding Marine Drive.  It’s a street that follows right along the river, which happens to take you right by the airport.  There was someone taking pictures right at the end of the runway.  At further places to pull off, there were people just parked there and chilling out.  I guess that’s where people go to get away during the day?  I finally find one of these pull-offs where I can turn around, and it has a “No Parking” sign.  Turns out all these pull-outs where people were parked had these signs, too.  No one was coming to do anything about it though.
I made some more calls and emails this afternoon, but to no response.  You’d think people would be more open if they are trying to fill open employment spots.