Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dallas, Texas

Alison and I took a short trip to Dallas last fall.  I had a training class for a new certification in Dallas, Texas during the first week of October and I was able to work my magic to bring Alison and Lyla along with me.

We were excited to see Angie and Hyrum again.  They were able to make the drive up from Houston to join us in the festivities and we were sure glad that they did.

The Rangers were fighting for a spot in the playoffs and Alison and I were thrilled for the chance to visit another MLB ballpark.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with us and the game got rained out.  Hyrum and I still paid to park at the stadium and even went in and sat longingly in our seats during the downpour, but it was all for naught.  The game was rescheduled, but unfortunately it got moved to a Sunday, so our tickets went to waste.

The game was a day game and that night we had tickets to see Les Miserables at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.  Amazingly, (and luckily for us), my good friend Sean from high school and his wife Makenna live in Carrolton, Texas, which is just north of Dallas.  We dropped Lyla off at their house and zipped to the performance hall.  Sadly, we were seconds late to the show and got there just after they had closed the theater doors.  We had to wait 10 minutes for the first break before we could sneak in and find our seats.  The Performance Hall was amazing.  It felt like we were in a European Performance Hall.  Bass Performance Hall opened in 1998, seats more than 2,000 people, has 4 balconies (we were on the floor) and has amazing acoustics.  We were thrilled to be able to go to the show while we were there, and we certainly couldn't have done it without Sean and Makenna's help.

On Sunday we visited a sacrament meeting in Fort Worth before brunch in downtown Dallas.  While down there, we picked up a walking audio tour of the JFK assassination sites.  I've been very interested in JFK's story ever since we visited the JFK Presidential Museum in 2005 and I read the 710 page book The Death of a President about the assassination.  It was really interested to finally see the places that I had read so much about.

Monday came and we dragged ourselves to the iconic Texas State Fair.  Luckily, Al's iconic boyfriend Big Tex hadn't yet erupted in flames, and we were able to sample "the world's largest Frito chili pie" in his shadow.  Highlights of the fair included checking out the Chevy Volts in the auto pavilion, deep fried Samoas, and the petting/feeding zoo where we were close-up to ostriches, goats, zebras, pigs, giraffes and a 4 hour-old baby llama.  The fair was huge, and certainly lived up to its billing.  We couldn't stay all day though, because Alison and I had other plans for the evening.

That night, we finally made it to our first NFL game.  We were there to watch the Bears and Cowboys play on Monday Night Football in the incredible Cowboy Stadium.  We were nervous about parking, because we had heard that it was generally pretty expensive (think in the range of $150-$200 and up).  Luckily for us, we were able to find a spot for $20 that was just over a mile away from the stadium.  We don't mind walking.

The game was nothing spectacular, except that Romo (the Cowboys QB) threw something like 5 interceptions.  We were sitting in the upper deck with a bunch of Bears fans and it felt like we were a mile from the field.  Luckily, there is a 60-yard long jumbotron, which makes it very easy to see all the action (just like everybody who was watching it at home on their TVs...).

The next morning, I had to get up early to leave for a class that went through Thursday.  Alison and Lyla caught a flight home, Angie caught a flight to New Orleans and Hyrum made his way back to Houston.  I stayed in Dallas for my class until Thursday afternoon, when I snuck out a little early and made it home just in time to catch the Utes game at Rice-Eccles Stadium against USC.  It sure was a fun trip and we appreciate everybody's help (watching kids, etc.) who made it possible.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Screaming Goats

I'm always late to the new fads and trends.  Maybe you've already familiarized yourself with Goats Yelling Like Humans:

If you're craving more, here is part 2.

What I found to be really funny are the screaming goat mashups with Taylor Swift, Whitney Houston and Miley Cyrus...

Goats aren't the only ones having all the fun though.  Now you can watch Humans Yelling Like Goats Yelling Like Humans:

Isn't the internet wonderful?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Work Drives

I love driving.  I don't love being stressed because I'm not getting any work done, but I enjoy listening to some good music, a good book on CD or the news and admiring my surroundings as I cruise along.

Last week I had to drive to Grand Junction, CO for a project that is just getting started at Colorado Mesa University (formerly known as Mesa State College).  Because the expenses for the trip are reimbursed, I decided to rent a car.  It doesn't cost me any extra, besides the time that it takes to pick up and drop off the car.  Even though it didn't cost me a dime, I reserved the cheapest car available, an Economy level car for $23/day (+ 1 day of airport parking).  It turned out to be a Nissan Versa, which turned out to be a bad choice.  The car was terribly uncomfortable.  It was so narrow that as I sat my butt in the chair, I was forced to lean towards the passenger seat as my shoulders were too broad against the door.  What made this so uncomfortable was that the seat didn't have an armrest and there wasn't a center console, so there was nothing to lean against and nothing to rest my right arm on.

The 582 mile drive was fairly uneventful.  I stopped at a project site at Novell in Provo and then continued on my merry way for my meeting in Grand Junction.  Once I got on the less busy roads, I was dismayed to find out that the car didn't have cruise control.  With just me in the car it always had enough power going up hills and it was a smooth ride.  After the meeting I grabbed some dinner at Famous Dave's, stopped by Best Buy to admire the new Microsoft Surface Pro and then got back on the road.

Note to self: Don't get the economy car and make sure that the car has cruise control before completing the rental.

This week I had to drive to Blanding, UT.  On Monday evening after work I walked to a car rental place downtown (Enterprise) and picked up another rental car.  This time I think that I chose a mid-size car for around $38/day (but no airport parking fees).  I had a choice between a black and silver Prius, which was a nice surprise.

Besides a little rush-hour traffic at the south end of the valley, the drive started out well and I enjoyed driving a much nicer car than the Versa.  It was quiet, it was comfortable, it had an awesome display and all the bells and whistles.  I think I even got up to around 59 mpg before I started up the canyon and hills.

Driving to Blanding is a long drive.  It's maybe 35 minutes and 19 miles further than Grand Junction, but it feels longer because even less of the drive is on the Interstate.  Unfortunately, most of my drive down was in darkness (although the moon was full) so I didn't see much of the beautiful drive between Canyonlands, Arches, Moab and Blanding, where I stayed the night.

I spent 2 1/2 hours at the job site the next morning before heading home.  This time I took a little longer route (past Hite and through Hanksville instead of directly north through Moab).  Between Blanding and I-70, I think that I only passed 3 cars.  I stopped and took a few pictures at a historical site and at the Hite overlook, because this is some of the most beautiful terrain in the world.

With such a quiet drive I may or may not have tried to see what kind of guts the Prius had.  I tried a few times, but I never could go any faster than 116 mph...  My Volt will only make it to 100 mph, but I've never confirmed this.

I like to keep my cruise control set as I drive and one of my biggest pet peeves is when you're in a no passing zone on a two lane road (say going up a windy canyon road) and you have to slow down for a slow car ahead of you (no big deal).  What irks me is when as soon as a passing lane appears, the car that has been cramping your style immediately speeds up so you can't pass them.  Once the passing lane ends they slow right back down to their slower speed.  This happened a few times to me today (you know who you are jerk in a black Honda).

One last interesting tidbit is that I passed the Amtrak train just north of Helper on my way to Blanding at nearly the exact same spot that I passed it coming home from Grand Junction the week before.  It was a weird sense of deja vu, although I was traveling in two different directions.

Below are a few pictures, with most of them taken looking out towards Hite Marina.  In better days, these pictures would be showing the water of Lake Powell, but the water is still way down.

Hopefully I'll get to stay back in the office for a few weeks, because it is hard to get work done on the road.