29 December 2011

Amazing Technology

About ten this morning as I was having some coffee in Scottsdale, Arizona my daughter texts me for directions using her Blackberry.  She is in Nevada heading for Salt Lake City. I did a quick google for Mapquest and used my iphone to let her know that I-15 was a straight shot.  So, whether serious or not (I tend to believe she was serious) she asks where the nearest Starbucks drive-thru is. My wife has an app on her android called Coffee Fix so I text my daughter to find out what exit she is near... after her response; we figure she is pretty SOL until Mesquite... so I text her the location in Mesquite and she thanks me.

My wife and I look at each other and almost spontaneously smile and say can you remember when...  I remember when we took my great great Uncle to town for some supplies and he saw his first TV in 1963... we both remember punching batch cards and leaving them in the basement of of a building at the University of Wyoming so the computer could run our programs... remember our first Apple II... our first cell phone I carried in a bag... I even remember getting crystal radios at Christmas as a kid and was amazed by the technology... I still get amazed by technology.

14 November 2011

11-11-11 Wheatland, Wyoming

I was a little tired from being at the local grocery store most of the day.  Returning to the VFW hall with the remaining Buddy Poppies and the can of donations for our veterans; it seemed like just another Veterans Day.  Not that Veterans Days are mundane by any means, its just that on this particular day I was taken completely by surprise!

As I was walking down the sidewalk toward the hall, I noticed two girls kind of looking around, a little out of place at 4 in the afternoon.  They noticed my approach and came directly toward me.  My first thought was they were looking for someone and I was going to see if I could help.  Just before they got all the way to me the one girl started to go on about forgetting the paper that she had something all written down on and sounded like she was apologizing to me for being here unprepared.  Then they both said that they came here to tell me Thanks for Serving and that they appreciated my sacrifice for our country.  We exchanged a few more pleasant words and parted company.  After dropping off my items in the VFW hall, I went back outside and the girls were gone.  Amazed that two young ladies would come out in the cold just to tell some stranger thank you, I got in my car and went home.

40 plus years ago I served with the Marine Corps in an unpopular war in southeast Asia.  When I returned from Vietnam, I remember the protesters outside the gate spitting at us... then my first job interview where the owner of the gas station called me a baby killer and to get the hell out!  Never was I thanked for my service; these two young ladies really blew me away.

Isn't America fantastic!  The change in attitude toward our veterans is amazing!  The pride, patriotism and kindness that somehow these two young ladies were able to share with me will be cherished for the rest of my days.  Who would have thought that you would find this type of Americanism in Wheatland, Wyoming.  It's my turn to say thanks... to these young ladies and their parents, teachers and our community for instilling values some believe are lost.

Just before the Chili Supper at the 4H Building

The following are a few pics of the 236th Marine Corps Birthday Dinner on 11-10-11

The Birthday Ball in Wheatland was a great time.  Prime Rib dinner; traditional cake cutting and the passing of the cake from the oldest to the youngest Marine present; toasts with a traditional rum punch; Singing the Marine Corps Hymn; the best was sharing the evening with Marines and family!

27 October 2011

On Going Battle with Delta Airline @delta

On the 15th of October I sent Delta a complaint (see my Post)- WOW - I finally got a response!!  Their feeble response is in italics... My response is at the bottom...

Anyone else having less than satisfactory experiences from Airlines?

On Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 10:58 AM, Contact Delta <ContactUs.Delta@delta.com> wrote:
Dear Mr. Shelton,

RE: Case Number 4659444

Thank you for writing regarding you and your wife's recent travel experiences with us. On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines, I sincerely apologize for letting you down in so many ways.

Let me begin by saying that we take your concerns very seriously and I am truly sorry for the inconvenience you have been caused. Please know Delta is committed to providing our most loyal customers with the excellent service you deserve and have every right to expect and I acknowledge that we fell short of our goal on these trips.

Our goal is to surpass your expectations in each and every way. Your comments were good examples of how our aircraft maintenance, cabin conditions, and in-flight entertainment systems affect our passengers who travel with us the most. While the monitor malfunction that occurred onboard Flight 269 was not a safety threat, as the necessary safety instructions are also included on a placard in the pockets of all our seats, I do apologize for any concern you felt as a result. Rest assured the safety of our passengers is our number one priority and our future course of action is based on feedback like that which you have provided. We are taking your concerns very seriously and I have shared them with our Corporate Leadership team for internal review.

With that being said, I recognize your request for reimbursement of your pet boarding expenses along with a partial refund of your airfare. However, regretfully, I am unable to completely fulfill your request. We do understand the grave impact itinerary disruptions can have upon prepaid expenses but we do not indemnify our air transportation customers against the loss of expenses with other companiesAdditionally, I am unable to provide a refund of your airfare on an already flown ticket.

Nevertheless, in an effort to show you how truly sorry we are for the negative travel experiences, I have issued you and your wife each an Electronic Transportation Credit Voucher (eTCV) in the amount of $150.00. Please note the voucher number and associated Terms and Conditions will be arriving in a separate e-mail. I encourage you to add Delta Air Lines to your receiver list so the voucher document is not misdirected to your spam folder. Please keep the voucher number and the Terms and Conditions since the number is required for redemption. It is also important to remind you that there is no Direct Ticketing fee for reservations confirmed online at delta.com.

In closing, I hope I have been able to explain any concerns you have about the service you experienced and our commitment to prevent a reoccurrence. As a valued SkyMiles member, your comments are critical in our efforts of becoming the premier global airline with a leading presence in the world's major markets. We appreciate you and your wife trusting your business to us and we look forward to the opportunity of serving you once again under better circumstances in the near future.


Heather Bennett
Coordinator, Corporate Customer Care
Delta Air Lines

Dear Ms Bennett,

I really expected Delta to blow me off... your feeble excuses are sadly the state of corporate America.  As you have probably already predicted there is a slim chance that I would ever meet your terms and conditions for your pitiful voucher.  Your statement that your company is safety minded leaves me laughing; thank you for that.

I see that Delta still refuses to grant our travel points SkyMiles acct #2127108229 . I guess SkyMiles is just a ploy for people to think they are "valued" ; so, please don't say that I am a "valued member" when it is perfectly clear that I am not!

Now that I have vented regarding your lackadaisical email.  Who is the next person to contact or voice my request to?... if this were a phone call I would be asking for a supervisor... quite simply who do I talk to now to re-submit my complaint?

Thank you,
Joe Shelton

23 October 2011

BlizzCon 2011 - gamers paradise

We have been playing World of Warcraft (WOW) for over 6 years; at various levels of intensity. Today we would be defined as casual players; we have been in raids, RP guilds, several guilds over time, level 85 characters in different classes, and was once a pretty fair PvP player.

So, we decide to go to BlizzCon 2011... Even the Hilton was excited!  Carlos the Food and Beverage Manager was a fantastic guy... the rest of the hotel... well not a favorite

Who attends this intense following? I would say the majority of attendees are male, 20 something; some old farts like us, some kids, some families, and young ladies... And there are those that dress the part.

The lights, smoke, artwork is awesome; electronic marketing at it's finest!

The large models incredible...

It was great to talk with the designers and directors... Would I do it again? Maybe, depending on the venue and how active a player I might be in the future.

Did I mention it was in Anaheim, CA near Disneyland? an added bonus...

19 October 2011

Map update

This Tripadvisor map is a fun little app on I found on FaceBook It has some limitations but as a general overview does the trick. I see some wholes I want to fill with pins!!
This Tripadvisor map is a fun little app on I found on FaceBook
It has some limitations but as a general overview does the trick.

  1. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, USA
  2. Lhasa, China
  3. Longyearbyen, Norway
  4. Port Lockroy, Antarctica

15 October 2011

Greece on Strike

You may or may not be aware of the strange way the people of Greece are protesting. They have rolling strikes by those that provide services to the country. One day the metro workers, the next might be the antiquity workers, next might be the airport workers, etc. 
I can understand their frustration of no longer being in control of their economy; it really sucks. The European Union has a base made from rich or advanced product based countries like France and Germany. Greece has a lot going for it but it is simply not of the same development. Being in the EU, they cannot correctly value their money and to me, a non economist, non bank guru, it seems really stupid for them to try to keep up with the Jones' so to speak.
So out of frustration, the people are reverting to rolling strikes and using (or abusing) any power they may have. Point in case, @Delta flight 133 Athens to JFK on 13 October 2011 was supposed to leave at 1120; a mechanical failure delayed the flight 6 hours... While sitting in the airport lounge, I noticed each departing flight was delayed somewhere around 4 hours due to "air traffic control restrictions". After waiting 6 hours one would think we paid our Greek dues; but, no! The air traffic controller needed to have our last farewell with an additional 3+ hour delay. Needless to say some moronic passengers raised hell instead of rolling with the flow. One guy got out his mandolin and entertained... What a trooper he was and it was excellent music too.
Back to my riff with Greece... Rolling strikes that must be advertised a minimum of 24 hours in advance and only last a day really won't do too much for your cause. You need to revamp your government; but then, who doesn't need that advice... I think all the governments around the world could use a revamp.
When you mess with the people that bring tourism monies into your country, you get bad mouthed like I'm doing now. I would suggest replacing your government (we need to do the same). And get hell out of the socialistic EU economy, be your own country!

@greece, @greek, ATH

Delta Debacle @Delta Fail

Damn I am getting old... I hate complaining!  Here is my story about Delta Airlines...

Many of you know we just returned from a great Mediterranean Cruise.  I plan to post about it soon.
The following is a partial copy of my notes to Delta:

"Original flight DL1746 on 11Sep2011 PHX to ATL 3 hour maintenance delay.
Flight DL10 on 11Sep2011 which we barely made; had no maintenance issues, but my wife and I were separated by the aisle... how dumb to separate family members...
On 13Oct2011 DL133 ATH to JFK 6 hour maintenance delay, 4 hour "air traffic control delay" not to mention the cockroaches on the plane - I killed two for you. The flight attendant says well that happens when you have food around.  How dumb of a statement.
Flight DL269 JFK to ATL safety compromised due to lack of working systems - following sent to FAA:

"Pre-flight safety video shown to only 1/2 of the plane.  The in seat video monitors and their sound system did not work on the port side seating.  No flight attendant back up instruction was given.

In the event of an emergency, 50% of the passengers might not have been able to act or perform safely. putting the entire plane in jeopardy.

When asked about the monitors, the attendant said they tried to reset it a couple of times - sorry about that.

Four out of Five flights on Delta have had mechanical issues.  Doesn't anyone hold them responsible for there lack of maintenance?"

Final flight DL1772 14Oct2011 ATL to PHX maintenance delay of 3 hours and change of aircraft.

We were in the same clothes for over 40 hours, your representatives at JFK gave vouchers for a 3 hour sleep at a hotel and Breakfast and Dinner vouchers... yes we used the breakfast voucher... the dinner voucher only good at JFK with our flight leaving at 0800 was useless. We have spent hundreds of dollars in additional boarding care for pets.  We spent thousands of dollars to fly Business class with delta and this has not been a pleasure.  All I received was a thanks for flying with us and we appreciate your patience...

Richard Anderson keep saying "safety first" Well I'm sorry Mr Anderson I don't feel Safe!
I notice you conveniently neglected to award mileage as well.

I expect compensation for our extra expense of pet boarding and a partial refund."

One of the better meals we got was a bowl of Corn Chex!

No razor, thank goodness I had a travel deodorant in my backpack...

Google the top airlines... I was shocked that Delta was listed 7th - those listed under that must be horrid!

The 21t annual edition of the Airline Quality Report (AQR) is out.
AQR ratings reflect US airline performance based on 15 reported monthly elements in areas important to air travel consumers. (eg - OT performance, mishandled bags. customer complaints, etc.).

Top 2010 performing carriers are:
1.  AirTran
2.  Hawaiian Air
3.  JetBlue
4.  Alaska
5.  Southwest

good luck if your flying Delta!!!

Ride to Bosler and Back

Just got back from a ride to Bosler, Wyoming and back with my friend Blackie Budd.

the road work on Wyo 34 is going to be great when it's finished. 

 Subille Canyon will be a much safer road to travel... it has always been a great place to view wildlife,

Saw lots of antelope and some fox near Bosler.

Way up on top it's a special kind of beauty, a place where you use what you have.

This was back in July just saw it was never posted

17 September 2011

Gijon y Vigo

I wonder if there is a way to politely find out whether your tour guide sings. Here we are a captive audience in the bus heading back to the ship when the tour guide announces over the loud speaker that he will now sing for us. Singing without music on a good microphone is difficult at best... I can assure you that soloing on a bus PA system really sucks.

The entire day in Gijon seemed to be for the pleasure of the guide... He would look around and decide; we will go in this direction... I think there was no direction in mind other than "I have this sigh for people to follow and I will tell them if they do not keep up (I will sing) and they will be lost for eternity. But then, I am probably being harsh, after all he gave us 10 whole minutes to look inside a church... We walked through (or we were paraded through) the open market "twice". With his little sign raised high, for all those lowly market people to see his power.

Thank god our tour was canceled in Vigo... We walked and shopped and asked for directions; had hot chocolate at a street cafe. Vigo is hilly so our legs got a great workout.

If you plan to stop along the atlantic coast of Spain... Bilboa and Vigo were great to visit... Gijon could be skipped.

Sailing off to Lisbon this evening; I'm looking forward to Portugal.

15 September 2011

Bilboa, Spain

I have never thought about placing a town in a certain location to help defend it from pirates.

I'm impressed that a city has so many buildings from various architects from around the world... Wow. Just hosting the Guggenheim museum is extraordinary; especially since the city constructed the building in addition paying the Guggenheim foundation for locating a museum here...

I guess I'm not learned in the art world... I just don't understand modern art; but I'm damn glad I went. I feel so refined now ;)

Cherbourg France

Utah Beach & Saint Mere Eglise

To experience these places that are so memorialized from World War II... 21 bunkers spread along the area overlooking Utah Beach... Huge canon; concrete reinforced bunkers... Unbelievable open spaces to land at and fight across. One can only imagine how difficult it must have been.

13 September 2011

Florence and Jack

Many of you know by now that Florence passed on 9/12/2011 @ 8:38 AM

It was just Florence and I in the room the day my dad died.

Dad was laying there in hospice in Cheyenne. I had read or someone told me that sometimes people need to know it is ok to go. Dad had made it his purpose to take care of Florence and seemed to be hanging on to the threads of life for some reason. I got close to the bed; not knowing if he could hear me and told him that it was ok to go, that I would take care of Florence. He opened his eyes for a moment as if understanding what I had just said and then he died.

I have since that day tried my hardest to be true to my word and today, being half way around the world is very difficult. I know that Dennis an Carol will take care of the arrangements, but it's still hard to be away.

I'm glad she is finally at peace with the world and gone to a better place

Getting to England from Phoenix,Arizona

Have you ever run through an airport to an empty boarding area; the gate agent yelling "what's your last name?"... Another agent running down the jetway to hold the plane...damn that was fun!!

We were on time (ahead of time) for our Delta Airlines flight out of Phoenix heading to Atlanta on 9/11/2011... The plane was 50 minutes late arriving; not to worry, we had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta... We board the plane, close the doors and there is a mechanical problem... The ground crew fixed the problem as people with close connections were reassured. We close the doors and back out of the gate; stop; another failure- so we return to the gate and the ground crew works some more... This time the ticket agents for Delta board the plane and talk to individuals about hotel rooms, etc as they will now miss their flights. We are getting down to a 30 min layover and are reassured that all is well connecting to our flight to Heathrow... The pilot made up some useable time in the air and we are cautiously optimistic; land in Atlanta and guess what? A plane is in our gate... The clock is ticking... We race off the plane in terminal A find our way to the tram that takes us to terminal E... Yes stoping at B, C, and D along the way... We race to catch our plane and the boarding area is empty. Fun time Delta!!!

We get to England hours later and find the ship greeters from Holland America cruise lines and we wait at the airport for an hour and a half while others clear customs... Finally board the ship fir a relaxing cruise... What's next?

11 September 2011

Travel on 9/11

We had just started traveling before 2001. 9/11 certainly changed the routine. The cautions and observations have evolved over the past ten years.

One thing that has not changed is my desire to travel. I figure if I quit traveling or change plans due to the tragedy of 9/11 then the terrorists have won.

They haven't won; I'm flying on 9/11

02 September 2011

Magic Rope

Getting ready to head out for a long cruise. One of the items we always pack is Magic Rope!  Shock Cord is the elastic cord that makes tent poles stay together.

Its kind of like taking along Duct Tape... we use it to keep doors shut and keep doors open and to secure gear... it can be a clothes line... while on the Bark Europa we tied the fan up so it wasn't pointing permanently at the floor.  It can be used a shoe laces; braided into a belt or web net; we have kept bags from sliding all over the place.  I'm sure we will find new uses on this next adventure.

do you use Magic Rope? how do you use it (please keep comments family friendly)

09 August 2011

Ft. Laramie, Wyoming

This unique area was first noted in 1812 by the Stuart party that were taking dispatches from the new post near Astoria Oregon (founded by Lewis and Clark) they traveled through South Pass Wyoming and wintered in the area where Fort Laramie now stands.

Fort Laramie then Fort William was founded in 1834 at the convergence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers.  It was one of the main locations for civilization in the frontier west along the Oregon Trail.  From the time of trappers moving west and the discovery of the Oregon Trail through American Indian uprisings stretching from the Dakotas to Colorado the Fort's area of influence was huge in such a wilderness. 

The history of this area and the fort is rich and includes famous names like Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, the American Fur Company (owned by Astor), Red Cloud, Kit Carson, the explorer-missionary Father De Smet, and Augustus Johann Sutter and countless other noteworthy frontier icons.

Interestingly the Fort was at first not a military fort but a convenient location about half way from the rich beaver area of the Green River and the last steamboat landing on the Missouri river. a place where traders could take rest and libations; trade with others or even make their way deeper into the frontier or head back to known civilization.  In 1841 a competing entrepreneur built a second fort, not of log and timber but of adobe and was named at first Fort John, honoring John B. Sarpy the captain of the party working for Lancaster P. Lupton of Colorado the names Fort John and Fort William waned to the more popular Fort Laramie as we know it today and the American Fur Company finally dominated the trade in the area.

After a long and colorful history and the steady migration toward Oregon and California President Polk and congress sent the military west to protect the travelers along the Oregon Trail (1846). It wasn't until 1849 that the military purchased the buildings at Fort Laramie. Just in time for the gold rush migration to California where 50,000 migrants traveled west each year.

Of course compounding issues were the American Indians and that is a story of itself.  By 1890 with the railroads by-passing the fort, the Indians pacified, and the general progress and change of migration the fort was finally abandoned.

I'm glad I've been to the fort a few times; I always learn something new about our history with each visit.