8,100 miles through 19 states in 15 days. Yeah, I’m crazy. :-)

It was a great trip. I saw everything I wanted to see:

  • Rocky Mountains
  • Cascade Mountains
  • General landscape of the western states
  • National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD
  • Microsoft Campus in Washington
  • Did I mention the mountains?

got everywhere I needed to get on time, and accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish:

  • recorded enough clinics to be able to add streaming videos to PROBIRT at regular intervals for the next year
  • took a break from the daily grind and did something different while still doing something productive

No tickets, no accidents, and no need for the AAA Plus membership I signed up for a few months ago. Ol’ Bessie (1997 Saturn) did a fine job as long as I fed her a quart of 5W-30 every 3rd or 4th fuel-up. She hit 100,000 miles in Washington.

Weather was great for most of the trip. Other than driving through a storm in the Midwest with tornados that killed nine people the first day of the trip and a few short snow squawls, weather was extremely tame.

Most Memorable Moments
Stopped for gas in Salina, KS. An SUV full of teenagers/early twenties at the next pump tried to drive off with the pump handle still sticking out of their tank. They got about 5 feet before their memory was “jarred”…literally. The driver bounded out red-faced, finished the fueling and left. Duh.

1. The Pacific Crest Trail (a long distance hiking trail that runs from Canada to Mexico through WA, OR, and CA) was under 6 to 10 ft of snow in the OR and WA passes so I didn’t get to even set foot on the trail. :-(

2. Stopped at Mt. Rushmore on the way through South Dakota. The weather was pretty clear until I got near the top of the mountain where the air became thick with fog. This was all I could see of Mt. Rushmore…nothing.

Some Statistics
Highest price paid for gas – $2.61
Lowest price paid for gas – $2.27
Total number of Famous Dave’s (a BBQ rib restaurant) in the USA – 140. Number I saw – 7. Number I stopped and ate at – 4.
Number of places I wouldn’t mind settling down in – 6
Number of mountains I saw and would like to hike – ∞

Visited some neat people:

  • Stopped at the Votaw Tool Company for an hour on the way to Texas. It’s always a treat to visit their efficient operation and chat with John and Carl.
  • Although I still didn’t get to meet his wife (starting to wonder if Cynthia really exists!), it was great to see Larry Mueller again. Larry covered another three topics on video tape despite still waiting on me to edit the other 10 hours or so of clinics we recorded in September.
  • Met Bob Baier and his wife Monica in a quaint little Texas town (now THIS was how I had pictured Texas!) for breakfast and a half day of video taping some excellent info on care and maintenance of band instruments. Bob sent me off with his copy of “The Devil’s Horn”, a history of the saxophone. I, of course, devoured the book in the spare minutes at the hotels and had it read by the time I reached the National Museum of Music in Vermillion, South Dakota. Perfect timing – I got to see examples of some of Adolph Sax’s horns mentioned in the book.
  • Met Rich Feldman and his wife, Diane for the first time. On my way through Oregon, I stopped at his shop where he showed me some cool tools and tips. Couldn’t get him to do a video clinic this time around. But I got him for the next video tour…if he resists, I’ll just threaten to divulge his boroscope antics. :-D Went to breakfast with Rich and Diane and laughed my head off. They’ve got a twisted sense of humor…just my type.
  • In Bellingham, Washington David Laws picked me up from the hotel and took me to a cute cafe with live, acoustic guitar music. With David being a fellow avid hiker, we exchanged some trail stories over omelets and French toast. When our trekking appetite was satisfied, we headed to his home and shop where he did a very comprehensive clinic on fitting and silencing rotary valves. Afterwards, we took a hike with Lucky the Wonderdog on the trails behind his house past waterfalls and a fish hatchery. Absolutely beautiful area! Came back to some Quiznos subs (my favorite!) his wife Judith had picked up. Afterwards, I reluctantly left to head east away from this beautiful part of the USA, but not without first trying to coax Lucky into going with me. :-)
  • Made a quick stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at West Music for Peter Hart and Ben Schildgen to do a “Time Saving Shop Tips” clinic in between their hectic schedule and a pile of horns.
  • Met Ed Strege at Badger State Repair in Elkhorn, Wisconsin for a tips and tricks marathon. I had seen him give his clinic at a NAPBIRT convention and knew it would be a fast-paced, content-rich clinic. Little did I know that the 1.5 hour clinic was only a small portion of what he had prepared. We split the taping into two sessions with lunch in between for a break where I got to know “the man of many talents” better. Did you know Ed played drums in a combo band up until a few years ago? And that he had once been a locksmith and had had a t-shirt business in addition to being a repair tech? Ya just never know.

Didn’t get to take a whole lot of pictures of the mountains and such…there weren’t many places you could pull off the road at scenic areas. Here are a few: