Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Daytona 500 2013

Daytona 500 !  It has a magic sound. I have watched it on TV for  years.

I belong to  The Rovia Travel Club. They had a package tour for two to the Daytona 500, they call it a Dream Trip. It was for a three star hotel, race tickets, transfers to and from the airport in Orlando Florida, the race and hotel. My travel agent could not touch the price. I wanted to go.

I have a new friend and he is an old drag racer. He knows all the cars,teams and owners. I have been going to and participating in drag racing since the 1950's. I convinced him getting out of Utah in February was a good idea. The package was ours.

We arrived at the airport at  4 am for a 6:30 am flight on Delta Airlines. When we got on the air plane it was snowing HARD. They deiced us twice. As we started to taxie the 2nd time the cabin filled with smoke. They held us up and the crew turned on fans , the smoke cleared. We decided the smell was the deicing fluid. After deicing us again the 2nd officer came out a looked out the window at the leading edge of the left wing. The captain said he was looking for ice. At least he looked older, maybe this was not his first flight. Off we go, we are going to take off this time. OK, settle down Florida here we come. SMOKE again this time it will not stop. An alarm goes off. CLANG !!! CLANG !!! The flight attendant sitting in front gets up and opens  the restroom door, it was full of smoke and the alarm in there was going off. She slammed the door. It is not a good sign when the crew loses their cool. She opened the cockpit door. We  had been able to see out of the front of the plane as we loaded passengers. Now the cockpit was filled with smoke and we could hardly see the pilots. The captain announced we were returning to Salt Lake City as he made a steep right hand turn. We did't have a choice, FAA REGS say when a fire alarm goes off you put the plane down. Now people were breathing thru their undershirts. I had a big scarf for my friend and I to use. Jackets were over heads. Some people were looking on their smart stuff to see if this could cause cancer. Kids were crying. It was not a fun place to be. You could not see the seats in the back of the plane the smoke was so thick.

Back at the airport they got every one off the plane , " please take all your carry on and personal items with you. You will not be able to get back on the plane."  Delta ask us to hang around the gate area. Salt Lake City Fire Trucks arrived and parked behind our plane. Also the   Haze Matte Fire Department crew with Que Tips arrived. They were going over that plane inch by inch. Even inside the engine intakes. A different  plane arrived, a new crew was found and we left around noon. This cost us a day in Orlando. Delta gave us $25.00 to spend on food in the airport and $50.00 Airline credit months later when I called and complained and not before. I do not believe they would have given it to you if you would not have asked. They said it was a weather delay. It made the local news in Salt Lake City. The Delta Flyer Card personnel were helpful in getting our credit vouchers when I called and complained. Talk nice and carry an air line card.

The Avis Rent a Car people were fast and we did not spend a lot of time in the airport in Orlando. My friend was raised in south Florida so he thought he knew how to get around ..... well there are new roads and highways, toll roads, some just numbered different. He is old and male, men do not ask for nor listen to directions. A deadly combination I learned. The Avis man explained where Lake Mary was and how to get out of the air port and what numbered highway to take. I paid extra for a GPS, I knew I didn't know where I was.  I was tired and put him in the drivers seat, Mistake. I had no idea where we were, getting out of the air port was fun, it was like the Kingston Trio's MTA song, round and round. With no horizon - it was dark -  we took off on the wrong highway in the wrong direction. "I know where we are, I just have to find ..."  After the 2nd toll booth I had had all the fun I could stand. I ask if we could ask the toll taker if we were headed toward Lake Mary ? Oh No we can't do that, why ? Just 'cause. Bull - when I saw the next toll booth I told him either we are asking or I am shutting the car OFF. OK ? I can see the keys in the ignition ! OK ! So the toll lady told us to flip a u turn and go back and catch the next exit. We found Lake Mary and our Hotel.

We checked in to our Marriott Hotel at 11:30 pm my time. Their night clerk was a hoot. He would not look at me as we checked in. He was very busy typing." Yes mam your room is ready" Typing typing. Every time I ask a question he handed me a room service menu. I decided he was taking inventory. Do you have a restaurant in the hotel? "Here is our room service menu you hang it on your door and we will deliver breakfast to your room between 6 and 8 am. Typing typing  I ask if they had bell service ? Yes. .... Did he think it  was a rhetorical question ? More typing. Is the bell man on the property ? Yes. ... Could you call him ? Oh, do you want a bell man? yes.

 I have worked in hotels and I carry a Marriott Card so I know how this works, but I will tell you we were on my last nerve. I now had three room service menus. My friend was trying not to laugh out loud. He finely turned his back.

So here comes Bob the Bell Man. He is driving the Marriott van, he has on slacks, a shirt almost tucked in and I swear he is 60 +. He shows my friend where to park and takes me with our bags up to the room. We talk about how much we will enjoy the race. I give him a nice tip. The next morning I talk to the front desk staff. Bob is the security guy, he drives the van around at night checking the parking lots and out buildings.They treat us to breakfast each morning we were with them and dinner at a very nice restaurant. Remember to talk softly and carry a Marriott card !

We drive to The Daytona Race Track. WOW The traffic is thick and backing up but they handle it.  The over head highway reader boards get us off the main roads and run us thru the country on back roads past horses, cows ,beautiful homes and farms.They park us in a field with hundreds of cars and temporary lighting. The parking attendant is quick  "Pull over here, be sure to lock your car, take your coat you won't be back until after the race.See the flags over there that is where you catch the school buses to the race. And he is off herding cars and trucks. We run in to a man selling tee shirts and buy one. At the flag site they are loading school buses as fast as they can. I counted 6 school district's buses working this Sunday. The drivers go fast and use the shoulders, turn lanes and lanes not open to traffic. They drop us off on the back side of the track and a tram takes us around to the front. We stood in line about 15 - 20 minuets. We found our seats and were pleased to be just 18 rows up from the track, so we could see all the cars as they went by. Our seats were also across from where the cars slow down to go in to the pits. I do not think I sat down for 10 minuets during the whole race. We were in the first section with a wall behind me so I was not standing in front of any one.

I have watched this race on TV many times. It goes by much faster in person. There were 5 guys behind us from all over the east coast. They were college buddy's. They come to Daytona every year and hang out for a week. One had Bush/M&M stuff on, they all had their favorites and were betting on everything, when the 1st caution would come, how many cautions, what color under wear the guys were wearing. Who would crash first, who would go out of the race 1st. They would not bet with me on Danica, they saw her as a wild card. We all enjoyed having my friend with us - he knew why the cautions were called, why destroyed cars are allowed out on the track to finish the race.They told him he needed a beer to keep up with his screaming lady, he is not a yeller, and he needed, no earned a beer for all the good information.They wished us well and hoped to see us in 2014.

The buses were waiting for us after the race. Back in the parking lot we put the seats back and slept for an hour or so while the traffic thinned out.The drive back to Lake Mary was easy.

The next day we enjoyed our breakfast and headed out to see some of Florida. I drove on Daytona Beach !! The sand is hard, it is made of coral. Years ago the 500  ran on the beach and in town. We ate lunch at Crabby Joe's and just enjoyed the sunshine. Back at the hotel that evening we got dressed up and went to dinner at Bones Restaurant.

Tuesday we drove to Cape Canaveral. OH BOY this was worth the trip. The theatre reenactment of the landing on the moon was wonderful. I got goose bumps. They load you on busses and show you the gantry's and the huge equipment that moves things around, WoW. They dropped us off so we could see all the rockets. Ya baby ! That's what it is all I think we saw the rockets 1st ... anyway the Saturn 5 Rocket is soooo big It blows your mind. I bought lots of stuff in their gift shop. It was a great day.

The trip back to the hotel, back to the airport, back to Salt Lake was OK.

I am going back this year, 2014, more later.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rowdy and the Wolves

Rowdy was a big red cow, very pregnant, and hard to keep track of .  We had a lot of fun chasing her. "She can not have her calf out in the brush, she must be up here by the cabin, so we  can help her."  My brother in law tied a large rope around her neck, and hung a small log on a rope so it would drag on the ground and tangle in the bushes and slow her down. She also had a large bell around her neck. She would still wander off.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

First Aaska Story. Early 50's

My parents sent me to Alaska from Ogden, Utah when I was 11 or 12 years old. I flew from Salt lake City to Seattle-Tacoma Airport with 2 or 3 stops between. They called it a milk run. I had a layover in Seattle, then on to Anchorage, Alaska. My uncle was living in Anchorage, working for the bureau of Land management, he met me at the airport and I stayed with his family for a few days. My cousin Mike and I played out side until 11:30 pm, the sun was still up. It was a blast !