Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (6): Town of Chinle

Chinle (a Native name) at the northeastern corner of State of Arizona, close to New Mexico border is a small town with the majority of the population Native people from Navajo Nation. The said nation apparently is divided to different tribes but I didn't investigate further. There are a few things that have made this neighbourhood a town and those are franchised businesses, hotels and fast food restaurants and one supermarket. The main reason people would go to Chinle is either visiting Canyon De Chelly National Monument or going to New Mexico. This is a dirty town with rundown dwellings, garbage all over the streets, old cars and old buildings. There's no light at night but the building lights. I wonder if that is very hard to provide especially that it is not a big city.
A view of the gift shop at Holiday Inn of Chinle or as they like to call it Trading Post back to the days that Native people traded their hand-crafted items with what Europeans offered. The store was closed at the time.
I stayed at this Holiday Inn which looks nice but had the same problem of another Holiday Inn when we visited Deer Lake in Newfoundland & Labrador. The room is nice and cofortable but the mattress and pillow was the worst. I didn't have a good sleep the night for that matter which affected my performance in the coming days. At night I was parking the car and bringing a few items to the room and I saw an animal in the parking lot. I at the first glance thought it was a Fox or Coyote but it was none! It was a stay dog probably belong to a Native family nearby or belong to nobody. That's been the first time I saw a stray animal in the public. Apparently there's no licencing and registration for pets on the reserve. Due to the problem I had in Sedona's Views Inn with the internet I first didn't even try to get connected so I asked the receptionist a Native girl if there was any computer for public use and she pointed at two sets at a corner. I sat at the desk and tried to sign in to my account but both websites indicated that they suspected I'd be the actual owner of the account and didn't let me in. 
Holiday Inn in Chinle is located at a nice corner and in a nice building. The room is nice and has everything but the mattress and pillow ruin your night.
I was tired so I went back to the room and tried the internet on my laptop and it worked. So apparently there was an issue with the router or any other device at Views Inn but it's too late to bring that up. 
The hotel cost didn't include breakfast so I checked out as soon as I could in order to reach my next destination before it was too late. Before leaving the town, I decided to get a breakfast and I checked into a local Burger King. It was a very disappointing experience: A very bad and tiny breakfast sandwich with a coffee cost something around $5 or more! While in the parking lot getting ready to leave a scary young Native fella with tattoos below his eyes and everywhere else approached me and gave me a old version of same story you probably have heard over and over: I'm here with my fiance and mother-in-law and we're heading to Colorado. I maxed out my credit card. Would you help me with a few dollars? I told him that I was leaving the town myself after staying with a Native friend and spent the last few dollars I had on gas and the coffee. He thanked me and went to someone else, a Native for help. 
Stray dog at the parking lot of Holiday Inn. I was afraid first to approach but then I realized that the poor animal was probably hungry. I couldn't get a better shot.
Another thing I saw in the town when I was on the road to Burger King place was a sign reading Site of Technical University on a lot. That will probably be there if you visit the town in 5 years from now unless it's knocked down but I understand that someone is trying to bring more business as well as education to this town but really what kind of technique could be thought in this university which is good for the Native people? Let's leave it to Navajo people to decide. 
(Photo, top: While in the Burger King parking lot, an emergency vehicle stopped and its crew, Native people, went inside for a breakfast. I took this shot from their vehicle)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (5): Canyon De Chelly National Monument

As soon as I entered the small town of Chinle I directly followed the GPS and headed toward the destination: Canyon De Chelly National Monument. It didn't take me long to get to the parking lot of its visitor information center and I got in. I guess if I remember correctly all of the US Forest Service people in there were Native people, possibly from Navajo Nation whom are the people of the area. After a little chat with the lady, I learnt through her how to get to south rim and drive through to see whatever was available. I did a little shopping in their gift shop. Prices are a bit high especially for someone like me who has an exchange rate of $1.29 for his or her currency but that's the case through all the US nowadays and was the case throughout the entire trip. That was why I refrained from over-spending. Whatever I spent was just for essentials and I guess I will have a post for just what my expenses were which I truly believe not many can travel like that. 
Anyways there are different lookouts throughout the south rim and they all give spectacular views. Surprisingly I saw Native people at almost all parking lots trying to sell their handcrafted items. I of course was not there to purchase anything. The Lady wouldn't wear any jewelry of that kind, not that she dislikes them. She's just not a found of foreign jewelry of any kind. Other stuff such as sculptures and paintings are normally good first of all for people who spend money on these type of items, secondly for someone who wants to decorate his living room. For me who lives in a tiny rental apartment that would look silly. 
Hundreds and hundreds of bottles and cans are scattered through the State of Arizona and particularly the town of Chinle and Canyon De Chelly. I guess I heard that recycling places unlike Canada does not pay anything to the collectors and for that reason people don't care bringing them in! This type of Pepsi can I believe was discontinued a long time ago but apparently has been sitting on the grounds of Canyon De Chelly for a long time as it's rusted and will be sitting for many more years unless these Native people overcome decades of their laziness! 
Millions of years of stream going through the cliffs and rocks moving up and down has created a wonderland. It is incredibly beautiful but similar to most North American national, state of provincial park, people live in the park and here in case of De Chelly the Native people or Navajo people are the ones who do the most damage to the environment. They drive their trucks everywhere, trow empty bottles and cans and other garbages and have no respect for the environment. In fact if I had hauled all of the cans and bottles I saw during my trip to a bottle depot in Alberta, I would have been able to make big bucks! So I enjoyed the view and tried to avoid the Native because they were peacefully and patiently were sitting on their butts waiting for the rich tourist to sell their stuff to. 
At one point you reach White House Overlook which in fact is a trail-head for White House Ruins on the bottom of the valley. It is a very easy hike down but very beautiful. The path is well-maintained and you can see many hikers but it's not over-crowded similar to other popular hikes you see. The major hikers on the trail are Native people who come in large groups and they look at you meaning that you're not supposed to be there. This looks like a pilgrimage to them. people, majority of them normally great to each other in hiking. I've seen it everywhere and by majority I mean at least 90%
Another amazing view of the cliffs of Canyon De Chelly. You can see tire marks on the bottom of the valley and that's where the Natives drive their trucks. I think it would have been much nicer, had the visitors not to see anything by nature but I guess it's hard to make people understand that a unique environment requires much attention or will go bad! I will have to have more post about the Natives and I will have on particular about a Native girl who was shown on TV weeping in regards to the land that the oil companies have leased for Oil Sand ore extraction in Alberta
There I didn't see one single Native giving a smile or nods as a sign of salutation but that's how they are. The hike or walk down to the White House Ruins which is a very beautiful place to see is about 01:45 round-trip. That includes frequent stops for photography because you just cannot pass without taking pictures of all the beauty in and around. I saw people from everywhere and it was a surprise how they have found it. I talked to a young couple who were trying to get to Grand Canyon and they had come from England! I also heard people talking in German and as I said a big portion of the population comprised of Native pilgrims! As I was closing to the site - which is separated by a fence - I saw a few vendors in the area. One of the a Native woman in probably her early or mid 30's - as it's hard to guess how old these people are - greeted me and showed me a bear sculpture that she claimed she had made it herself. She was asking $35 for it. She showed me how to hold the bear so its healing power could be towards me. I told her that I would consider that and would come back to her later after I got my thought together! I later on saw similar bear with different painting on it in different locations. Stores were asking around $39 for it. I of course never bought one because things such as this are never on my list. 
As I said the White House Ruins are separated from the visitors by a fence and that's good because if they had not done it, it would have been gone by know! I'm very happy that I had the chance to go down in the valley and visit the ruins because that is the only place in the entire Canyon De Chelly, which people could visit without a permit from Navajo Nation or guide. In fact just a few meters away from the ruins' fence there was a sign which prohibited the visitors going beyond that point without a guide unless they wanted to be prosecuted! That path were leading to the other parts of the valley and I'm hundred per cent sure that there were a whole lot more to see but my plan was just to have the day in there. I went back up and tried the other overlooks one after another. 
White House is the ruins of that dwelling which is seen in the cliff above that brick building. That of course is not the only ruins left from the first inhabitants of the area. That's the only one I visited and available, as I said in the post, to visit in South Rim without needing a permit from Navajo Nation.
As I said there were people who lived there as well as a few visitors. I almost forgot to say that the canyon was a place that the Spanish and Native people collided a few times and in fact the name is a sort of Spanish name translated from Native language of the original inhabitants. I unfortunately didn't have the chance to check north rim my plan suggested to spend half a day in the area and I'm happy again saying, that I did that. Normally 2 days are required to see the entire region and by two days I mean one day for each rim plus extra time for available hikes and breaks. 
(Photo, top: Amazing cliffs in Canyon De Chelly National Monument. A palace to enjoy and to remember if we exclude the Natives, not all of them, who may bug you during your visit. US Forest Service has No Vending signs at spots and truly I didn't see any vendor on those places but there are at other places here sitting and waiting and I should probably not use this metaphor but they look like Buzzards! It is a bit of exaggeration but it's sad too see such a beautiful and unique place is filled with garbage and no Native does anything to clean or improve that)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

More on the American Sniper: Pure Hoex

I heard a few things about this Kyle guy after I watched American Sniper. I decide to do more research on him to see who really he was. As I indicated in the movie related post, I was not very impressed by the movie. There were two reasons that I wanted to watch it:
1- It's made by Clint Eastwood.
2- It's about Iraq War. Unlike many I was not and am still not that sorry for Iraqis and what happened to their country. 8 years of my childhood and teenage years were spent during Iran-Iraq War, a devastating which was started by Iraqi forces invading Iran in Sep. of 1980. I believe that there was no tie between Iraq and Al-Qaeda not for the same reason that mostly believe. Al-Qaeda was established by Americans when they wanted to help the so-called Afghan Mujaheddin to fight the Soviets. But weapons of mass destruction were at the very stages of development by Iraq years before the US invaded. So I was not unhappy that Iraq's infrastructure was destroyed, its army was wiped out and their civilians were killed. I saw footage of Iranian POW being shown in Iraqis streets while people cheering and jumping up and down! Something never an Iranian did to one single Iraqi POW during the devastating 8-year-old war. 
Nevertheless I also believe that wars such as Iran-Iraq are created between nations by the US and its allies to weaken countries so they could be ruled easily. We're not going to go to the detail here though. 
With this introduction I was directed to what a few people said about this Chris The Lair Kyle guy. Jesse Ventura, the former Governor of Minnesota and the one who had a role in one of my all time favorite movies, Predator, have said interesting things about this guy. Being a Navy Seal himself, Ventura said: Who could Kyle be a hero? Who could someone who shot others from a hide-out be hero? He was a soldier and was trained for that. So what's the big deal? Could  an Iraqi sniper who shot our soldiers be called a hero by Iraqis then? The other interesting thing is the lawsuit that Ventura had again this lair lair, pants on fire. There's no doubt that this guy was an average Texas boy who normally goes to bars to drink, pick up girls, fight and such. I mean, who wouldn't in the US? Then he was probably bored and out of work and said to himself: Let's try this. He goes and due to his physical and mental strength, no doubt, he becomes a Navy Seal and is deployed to Iraq. What's going in there is in his book but it doesn't matter what he says in his book because now we know that he was a liar so we can't trust what he has written! I was going to buy his book to see what he has written and how it is different from Eastwood's movie but now I know I wouldn't have to waste that few bucks! 
How do we know he was a lair? Trough Ventura's lawsuit. He claimed he had punched Ventura in a well-known Navy Seal club (or similar social gathering place) and had knocked him down. I even watched part of his interview and he said he had done it with a smile on his face. Obviously he never did and for that reason Ventura filed a defamation lawsuit against him. He died or better to say was killed before the verdict comes out but Ventura won. He was not even in that place at the time Kyle the lair and other his fake witnesses claimed that he had been knocked down. So he fucked up but average Americans don't know that because what he mainstream media broadcasts is what the rulers of the country want. They wanted to make a hero out of him similar to Tillman and Lynch, two other faked tools and they quite succeeded because you probably have seen clips of his funeral in Texas where people are lined up at both side of the street waving American flag. I also saw the reaction of people when I was watching it in a movie theater. There was a fat huge fella with his probably temporary one-night, maximum a few month stand girlfriend and he was explaining each part of the movie with excitement to the girl and they were watching the Kyle guy with admiration.
Another story of him is that he claimed to be on the roof of a dome in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit and damaged the area, shooting looters! There's nothing more stupid than this someone could ever say! Since when looters are shot from distance without even being charged and prosecuted? Maybe he follows the footsteps of Obama who sends drones to kill people without charging and putting them on trail! 
In addition to that Kyle did not have a good relationship with his wife. Now was that because she repeatedly asked him not to go back to Iraq, as they showed in the movie or there were other reasons. We know that people in North America, especially the young, when get get married, they are very intolerant of each other. One slip and they are separated. So I'm not surprised that they had issues and they wanted to split. 
Overall this guy was a big screw up and a giant hoax. As Ventura said Pentagon wanted to make a hero out of him and sell it to the public and they succeeded but no doubt he was another lie similar to many others that the US Government have provided so far so they could rule the country and everywhere else much easier.
I wanted to buy the book and see how different it was from the movie and I also had the plan to purchase the DVD when it came out but know I cancel both. There's no way I waste a few bucks on a lair' story. 
(Photo: Who do you think this guy is?)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Higher Cost of Food

I did a little grocery shopping the other day in a Safeway supermarket. The following is what I bought:

1- A dozen Eggs, $2.99
2- Monterey Jack Cheese, .0.0825 Kg, $9.99
3- Jar of Olives, $10.42
4- Four Gala Apples, $3.08
5- A bag of 4 Lbs. Orange, $3.99

The total cost was $30.47 and you see that I have not purchased any meat, vegetable or Topical fruit, Chocolate or packed snack, and Ice Cream or novelties. I used to buy Lucerne Yogurt from Safeway too: $2.5 for each cup, different types and of course I never eat disgusting sugary so-called fruit Yogurt but the bastards has increased the price of those to $3.18 for each cup. So I said fuck it!
They previously had this excuse that the transportation cost is. Now that the price of Crude has gone below $50 and gasoline is sold for a little over $0.93 per liter, I don't know what their excuse is! This time for fruits and vegetables which come from the US they might say the US dollar is stronger but what about Yogurt, bastards? The milk is from Canada and the transportation is in the Canada. So what the fuck is your problem?! $30.47 for 5 non-major items.

Now look at what I purchased from another supermarket, this one Calgary Co-op:

1- Vanilla Whole Grain Loaf, $4.99. This truly is a good item and is on sale at times for $3.99. Not very big but makes 4 or 5 servings for an individual. I put Peanut Butter and Honey on it and eat it with coffee. Sometime without them. Not offered anywhere else as far as I have seen.
2- One large Red Grapefruit. $1.49.
3- Tomato Hot House, 0.37 Kg, $1.62
4- Four large Avocados, $3.92 ($0.98 each).
5- Two Astro 2% Yogurt, $5, $2.5 each, on sale, normally more expensive. I bought them instead of that bastard Lucerne Yogurt.

Total: $17.02. Again there is no fancy or major item in this list. I really do not know what to do any more. Have cut any possible cost, I could have.

(Photo: I took this picture in Basha's Dine Market in Chinle, northeastern Arizona. Unlike what is expected at this corner of the state, everything was available and mostly at a reasonable price, including Iceberg Lettuce which is my favorite. Here in Alberta you can not get for less than $1.49 for each and that's when it's on sale and it's old. Normal price is over $2 for each. Some blame drought in vegetable-growing areas of the US to be the reason. Wonder why it has no effect on the lettuce in Arizona?!)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (4): Sedona to Chinle, Long and Scary(!)

The drive to Chilne in the northeastern part of the state was scary, long and exhausting. If the car had been broken, I would have been in the world of shit, particularly after Flagstaff. From Sedona to Flagstaff I was on the same Inter-State highway (I-17) and kept myself to the rightest(!) possible. Having the previous experience now(!) and being day, it was much easier to drive. 
I had a short stop at Flagstaff to go to restroom at a Mobil gas station and huge liqueur store. Then drove east and then north and northeast started. Roads were so remote and empty that you could drive for minutes without seeing a single car. No service and only Native people houses on the land as it is all Navajo Nation Reservation. I was scared to death about gasoline as the gauge was showing half-empty (One might want to say half-full!) until I reached this place called Burnside and bought more than 3 gallons of gasoline (that's how they measure) from this Chevron gas station. 
From there it was easier because I had gas and I was on a major road, US State 191. Native dwellings all at both sides of the road could be seen. Mostly run down. Cows and horses scattered all over seem to be one of a few businesses that the Navajo people are involved with. No sign of planting something, no agriculture maybe due to weather or soil. Wonder what they ate 1000 years ago when there was no supermarket to go to. There was also a Burger King adjacent to the gas station and a few other businesses all ran by Natives and customers both Natives and passengers from different states who were going to Chilne or further up north in the state. It was also a meeting point for the people who were going to New Mexico in further east. 
I stopped at this gas station right before turning towards east in Flagstaff to use the restroom. It was not believable the number of different alcoholic beverages they had and the variety of them. It is the same with the supermarkets. Wonder that is why Americans drink much although not sure who drinks more: Americans or Canadians but I do no that nowhere in Canada alcohol is as available as the US. Gas Stations are provided by different companies and each have a different price. There's a Sinclair across from the street that you can see its sing in the photo. None of them operate in Canada
I ordered a cup of Joe from this Burger King place that I just described. There was a Native man, probably around 280 Lbs. and I'm not making fun of him but seemed that ordering coffee was out of ordinary at that corner of the state but he accepted my order very politely and went to the back with a cup while had one finger almost in it(!) and came back with the coffee after a few seconds! I wanted to throw it out and believe me I guess I was charger close to $2 for that coffee but drank it! 
(Photo, top: I like this photo and all of the photos I have taken from Arizona. Who says desert is not beautiful? Stranagly-shaped rocks, cliffs and mountains, birds, animals and other creatures. All of both sides of the road almost everywhere I was to in Arizona was separated by a barbed wire fence meaning it was a private property, unless it was a national park or a national forest. This private property as explained above belongs to Navajo Nation, the Native Americans who have been living in the Arizona for generations. You can see the fence at the right side of the picture and a few of their homes in distance at the same side. I didn't know what their reaction would have been, had I taken a picture from their property from a close distance. Probably would have not been so good. I didn't want to be shot so I refrained from doing that and limited myseld to shots similar to the above)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (3): Sedona and Surrounding

I woke up early morning and went down for a breakfast. The hotel is nice and quiet but I didn't sleep very well as my bed had been changed. Breakfast was OK. Nothing special. There were plenty but sub-par. You know American food: The quantity is always high but quality is not. They had cold boiled egg(!) toast, disgusting white floor bagel which not only sticks to your teeth but your inner wall of stomach! Coffee was not bad, Jelly and peanut butter as well as Orange Juice and Yogurt in cup. All in artificial best way of them!
There are plenty of nice places that you can eat in (At least they look nice from outside!) but I stuck with the breakfast that I have paid for! Then I checked with the information center just across from the hotel to see what else is available around. The guy gave me a few good tips but when I asked him about Canyon De Challey National Monument he said he had never been there.
So head out and then I could see the real Sedona as the night prior to that I had just driven in absolute dark. My first stop was Chapel of Holy Cross and it was by accident! I had read about that but didn't include it in my plan. I said that's just a church and probably nothing to see but I ended up in a car line going up a road reaching the church! There was an old gentleman guiding the vehicle on the top and I had a little chat with the poor lad who looked like he was above 60. He complained a bit about being tired and I showed a little sympathy. He said he had woken up at 05:00, cleaned the chapel and now he's here! I asked him what the admission was and he said nothing. I thanked him and threw a couple of God Bless(es) in my chat and left for the parking spot.
The good thing about this place that it is probably the only place in the entire Sedona that you can park for free and take photographs from around! And of course if you're a good Christian (and I assume Catholic because I saw the Pop's material) you can pray and buy a religious gift. I guess I spent a good 20 min. before getting out and checking another Arizona Tourist Information Center. This guy simply said that he had not even heard of Canyon De Challey National Monument before! So I realized that these guys either do not want to help or don't really know! I wanted to go to Red Rock National Park after that but I thought I could check the places that the guy referred to. He mentioned Dry Creek Road so when I went there I remembered I had read about this ancient settlement of Native Americans called Palatki and decided to go there. I was a long drive in the middle of the desert and mountains and they charge $5 but I still think it worth it. it might have been a settlement years ago but it is in the middle of nowhere now and these guys are US National Forest people and the majority of them volunteers. I have to write about this volunteering in North America which make the wheel of many industries, mostly services, moving. Anyway it was an amazing experience. Guess I spent a good 40 min. there apart from driving. There are dwellings of the Native people which is assumed was 2 stories at the time and hand-driven signs or pictographs which mean something. There was a gentleman, a volunteer named Mike White who was explained everything and communicating with everyone very well. There are two ladies, one older and I guess I saw a total of 3 National Forest Service people, all very nice and helpful.
Amazing pictographs of Native Americans in northwestern Sedona. The area is called Palatki and used to be a settlement for the people of Native origin. They were farmers and had orchards. And that goes back to the time which water was not so scarce in the area, some 800 years ago. Later on Caucasian/European settlers selected the area for living for a period of time after the Natives migrated to another place.
From there I drove back to Dry Canyon Road and decided to do a little hike of Devil's Bridge. This again was mentioned by the Information Center person by the hotel and it was quite a nice one. The hike is not challenging or anything. It's just heat that exhausts you. I guess mine took about 1 hour to reach this naturally-made bridge and includes frequent stops for photography. I didn't go on the bridge because I guess I have no more balls for this kind of stuff(!) but people go over and take photos. The return of course is much easier and took about 45 min.
Generally there are lots of activities that you can do in Sedona. From renting a jeep and going to the trails (in fact part of road to the trail-head of Devil's Bridge could be driven on a 4x4 or ATV), riding a Jeep or Hammer, riding horses, riding bikes, playing golf, zip-lock and basically everything you can imagine is available here. Not to mention all the bars and restaurants, gift shops, art galleries and such. Americans spend plenty for their pleasure and entertainment I saw motor-homes in camp ground of Arizona as big as a one bedroom apartment and they bring everything with them: From bikes to barbecues! That's why camping is so popular in the US (and maybe in Canada as well although I have not seen that luxury and completeness in Canadian campers yet). I have never done that but understand that when you have everything you can simply camp at the side of a road, may be not too close(!), and enjoy yourself.
(Photo, top: It's not a good picture due to the darkness on the bottom but shows the natural rock bridge called Devil's Bridge in northwestern Sedona) 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (2): Race to Sedona(!)

Immediately after I left Lost Dutchman State Park, I set up my GPS for Views Inn in Sedona and headed north. In fact I first headed west to Phoenix and from there to north. It was a very scary drive. First off people drive like maniacs and the speed limit is 65 miles/hour and gets to 75 miles/hour at some spots. I drove 60 mile per hour at the most and I was not comfortable! There are not basically many rest areas on the road or you have to get completely out of the highway and I was worried for both my check-in and getting lost. Some damn hotels clearly say in their booking information that they would not let you in past certain hours. When we went to Newfoundland last year it took longer than usual from Placentia to Twillingate. We stopped at Terra Nova National Park on our way and at Gander for dinner. It was a very difficult drive from Gander to Twillingate due to poor lighting of the road, unfamiliarity with the area (our first time to NL, like this is my first time to AZ) and stupidity of the damn GPS! I finally was able to find the road and got ourselves to the Inn and the amazing guys had left a note for us and the left the lobby door unlocked. Unlike those people some hotels, as I mentioned, have indicated what I just said above so I just kept one eye on the road and one eye on the GPS and one foot on the gas pedal and kept going. 75 miles per hour is no joke. Not even is 65! It's 125 km and 104 km/h respectively! Besides highways in Arizona or generally in the US (not that I have been to any other though) are huge! Four very wide lanes and with all sorts of signs and exits and merges. It would have been very hard to get to Sedona, Had I not installed and set up my GPS. So here's where you can see why the US is a high consumer of gasoline, not that any other country is not but long drive requires lots of gasoline and although automakers have spent millions of dollars of their budgets on research and development of low consume engines, people like to drive big pick up trucks and SUV and those damn things eat lots of gasoline. It's no the road warriors time in the US because the gasoline is cheap. It's measured per gallon in the States which equals to 3.78 liters. I guess I saw some $2.26 or similar per gallon. I drove for hours and hours and paid $20 only to get gasoline for my half-empty tank but I have to add that it was a small car, a Ford Fiesta. Other would have spent much more. The highway, which is later I learnt was an Inter-state one and No. 17 is called is well-lit but you miss an exit or take a wrong lane and you're done. I several times wanted to stop and rest but was scared! What would have happened, Had the GPS failed somehow?! I would have been able to find the road but with much difficulty. Eventually I realized that I had to get off I-17 and head towards west. I get off the highway and found myself in this narrow and dark but well-maintained road. It didn't take long that I turned north and reached Views Inn. Fortunately there was still a girl at the lobby and she helped me to check in. That was past 22:15 or something! 
(Photo: Sign shows the north-band of Interstate highway number 17 in Arizona. Of course I took this later when I was driving to Flagstaff) 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (1): Lost Dutchman State Park

I finally started my Arizona trip in the early morning of Sun. Unlike what I was thinking, A TSA agent stamped my passport just after a few questions.The plane was shit. Small seat and no roam for arms and legs. The entire time of the trip they served two beverages which had been predicted. Food was available for purchase but there was no entertainment system. I guess that's because you can do whatever you want to do with your computer during a certain time of the trip, In fact you could rent an iPad for $10! I have to mention that I'm referring to Air Canada. Last time I flew with this airline it was Oct. of last year and the entertainment system was still available.Nevertheless the real shit happened when we finally landed. I was very tired and frustrated both because of the damn seat (I was in between, the bastards as soon as they saw my name and realized I was not Caucasian did that) and I was bored and hungry. We landed and it appeared that we had parked in the wrong spot! The pilot was a very polite guy and apologized a few times but I know that's their protocol. After a few shitty minutes, the plane was towed and parked at the original spot! I think Phoenix airport messed that up.
It was not hard to find where the rental car place was but I had to ask a couple of guys who happen to be very friendly, polite and helpful. You get a shuttle to go to the car rental place which is about 10 minutes drive. So I'm there and there's this huge line. A guy from the neighbouring rental places calls me and tells me that he would match the price. Obviously I don't want any time wasted so I accept. After a few minutes of talking finally I realized what M. C. was talking about renting cars being expensive. I then go down a huge escalator to rental car parking and get the car. Coming out of the parking I realize how could the desert be. You can barely open your eyes. I head east because I know that's where Lost Dutchman State Park is located and on the way stop somewhere and find the place on the GPS which is now set to miles. The park is some half an hour east of Phoenix. Admission in $7 which I didn't expect but I have to pay since I have flown and driven this much! I change quickly and hit the trail.The goal here is Flat Iron as part of Superstition Mountain which is not a very tall peak. The trail seems easy but after almost 1 hour I realize I'm on a loop not the path which goes to the top! Stupid me had a map given by the crew people and I paid no attention as usual.The park is amazing with all sorts of wildlife, plants, flowers and giant cactus. I head back and get myself on the trail which goes to a basin first and then the peak. The trail is very steep and I'm very tired and hot. Most of the people I see on the trail are in shorts and girls of course with a top. Time is some 14:00 and extremely hot. I climb up the rocks and struggle I'm constipated too! I haven't had anything but a cup of stupid coffee and small glass of water since last night. It's more than 16 hours! I'm not hungry but very thirsty and my digestion system is bothering me. At one spot I sit to take a break and that's where I'm certain that I'm on the track. A guy with a big jar of water comes and he sits a few meters away from me. He cannot secure the jar and it goes a few feet down, breaks it sealed cap and spills half of it! I tell him jokingly that I would pay $20 for whatever was left! I only have a little water and there's a long way up. He grabs the jar and offers it to me stating that he is tired and cannot go up. He has been there 5 times he adds. I fill up one of my bottles and drank the rest and start going up. The damn heat, exhaustion from lack of enough sleep in the past few days and constipation all help each other to drag me down and prevent me from going up. It's very frustrating and embarrassing I have been to many hikes and passed people 10 to 15 years younger than me and never got tired like this. Here of course I passed a few but not many. Even taking my shirt off does not help much. The damn pants is too hot to but I can't walk up in underwear! I then think to myself that it was getting late and I have to go to Sedona which is at least 2 hours from here. I give up eventually and head down.Going down is not that bad. I pass the basin and get myself to a flat area. On the way back I find a banana which someone probably has put there and I eat most of it. Too late to help. By the time I get to the parking lot, the sun has gone down below Downtown Phoenix. Very beautiful place and I enjoyed a lot but not satisfied completely. 

(Photo: Superstition Mountain in the park. Even you have impaired vision you can see this from anywhere in Phoenix. Finding nothing is easier than this!)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Workplace Stories (18): Newlywed At Large(!)

I wrote how we got embarrassed in the previous about work. Newlywed was completely vanished from the face of Earth after that. I didn't see he until after two days one of the other guys, whom I would like to use the Mirchi for him, told him that he had presumably left for his native land because his father was in critical condition. He added that he didn't completely the story although he had been told by the Engineering Manager. He simply stated that an emergency trip would have been not been planned for more than a week while this guy is gone for three!
Mirchi is a rival of Newlywed although they show friendly faces to each other. They talk behind each others back. Newlywed mocks Mirchi and says he once went to his native Pakistan and married a girl in a week! The whole dating, engagement and wedding took a week he says! While I'm not surprised and these things are common in East, he could have been exaggerating! 
Anyways I tried Newlywed's number the very same day I heard the story and got the voice message without any ring. So he could be away but it could be a play too. He could simply has turned his telephone off. On the same day that we were going to the fabrication shop he told me that he liked American culture because if the couple don't like each other, they don't have to stay married for ever while it's not mostly like that in East. I totally agree with him although the time has changed many things. These days couples don't remain married if they are not comfortable around each other. We'll see if any noise is coming off this immature idiot. The Mumbling Guy would be a good source to see what happened to Newlywed but he's away now. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Workplace Stories (17): Pathetic Losers

We had this visit to one fabricator a few days ago, planned for us 1 week ahead. I was happy that I could get the fuck out of the damn office and experience something. Our schedule stated clearly 16:00 as the time of meeting so we got there 5 min. earlier. We realized upon arrival that the bastards from the Client side had ditched us! According to the fabricator guys they had met them more than 5 hours earlier, had done all of the documentation and left. 
We were both so upset and pissed off! They treated us like crap and basically said indirectly that we didn't exist! I couldn't help it and said a few nasty thing about the fucking assholes and we left after half an hour.
We got back to the office and told the story to The Screamer and of course added more and more and exaggerated but not very much! He happily agreed and promised to discuss that with the fucking Client. Newlywed as well was upset and frustrated and I pilled on. We didn't talk after we returned because he was mad as me as well. He believed I had overreacted. He might have been right. I hate it when someone treats me like I don't exist. 
Anyways The Screamer wrote to the Client explaining the situation and basically complained. The interesting thing is the guy didn't even give a shit and came back with a bigger punch. He stated in his response that he had never seen such a compliant and since going to the facility early was a better idea, they had done it! 
Here was where I felt that The Screamer and all of us are nothing but pathetic losers! We can't even complain to the Client when they treat us like crap because our existence depends on them. If they do not select us to do their job, we are doomed! They are the Master and we are the Servant! Just Pathetic! I don't want to say anything about the ethnicity of the motherfucker who wrote that bouncing response to The Screamer but I can say that she is nothing but a piece of shit bastard! 
(Photo: I found this picture of a painting showing a master and his servant in a Blogger blog by accident. I hope the owner does not mind me using it here. My intention is just to depict the relationship between the company I work for [the kneeling guy] and our Client!)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another Skating Course Finished

I would have attended the last session of our Skating course next Thu.. If I have not had this trip planned. So today was my last. It was a very fun time and we both enjoyed a lot and we learnt a lot as well. Our instructor, as usual was a Caucasian young girl and she was good, but not as good as the previous level's. No complaint though. This sport requires lots of practice similar to other ones and it is much harder to keep the practice going because its facilities are limited and expensive but this year we were quite active. 
We went to Olympic Plaza several times as well Crowchild Twin Arenas. I even went to Carburn Park and Bowness Park each once at least and we had a very fun day in the Oval on Family Day. If everything goes well I would either register for Level 3 or Speed Skating. The later requires a suit and different skates but I'll see how everything goes.
(Photo: This sort of sculpture is erected by Olympic Oval and I had not seen it clearly until today(!) because we always get there when it's dark! Today with Daylight Saving and being almost in the middle of March I got the chance to get a shot of this nice gesture of a skater. He or she is at the starting line ready for the shot)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No to Fitbit Charge

We know that the giant companies in West continuously are thinking of different ways to see how they can make money by introducing new products and services that the majority of people do not necessarily need them. A good example of it is Apple which introduces a new handset every six month or so. Not that I ever have purchased or will ever posses one!
That being said, I checked the Windows Store in Chinook Center a few days ago and realized they have this promotion for Fitbit products which you can get up to $50 when you replace your device with a new one. I wanted to change my Flex and get a Charge considering that Charge calculates the elevation and related consumed energy. So I checked with one of the guys and he said if I had brought the charging cable, he would have given me $15 discount on the new device, a Charge that I had wanted to buy.
A few days passed and this time I went there with the wristband and charging cable, both. First they were not very willing to help due to the timing which was close to closure. Eventually a horrible girl came out of her hole and after a few minutes of so-called observation and calculation she came up with $7.5! I realized that she was trying to screw me up. Some people do not like certain others. There's nothing that I can do about that. I gave it up not just because she intended to deprive me from the promotion but also because that is not a big deal that I should pay more than $100 for. 
I keep doing my exercises and keep checking the results in my PC.
(Photo: Microsoft Store in Chinook Center, Calgary)

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Easy Hike to Kananaskis Ice Cave

I had this Ice Cave in Kananaskis in my schedule, the unwritten one(!) for a bit of a time and wanted to go in the last week of Feb. but a snowfall warning stopped me. I knew the hike would be easy but considering the steepness of the path and considerable plunge of the temperature I postponed it until this weekend. I was still not sure whether or not I wanted to go last night but finally set my Fitbit's silent alarm on 05:55 and woke up on time. 
I felt beaten and I sat on the chair in the living room for about 10 min. I knew I would have gone back to sleep, had I headed to the bedroom but at the same time I knew I needed exercise. I eventually headed out at about 06:30 or something but not being mentally ready for the trip I missed my coffee stop and had to go back to get one. Then I thought maybe I should go to the south of the city and just do a little walking in a park but that sounded boring to me so I turned back and before hitting Highway 8 I felt I needed something so I go a bagel sandwich from a Tim Horton's and that way I guess I wasted some 1 hour and a half! I managed to get myself to Canyon Creek Road eventually and started the hike at almost 09:00. Some have said that the road to the trail-head of Ice Cave should be biked but I found that silly and unnecessary The road was so beautiful and although I was not there were early there was not a soul on the way. 
The road is marked by milestones and according to my information I should have reached the trail-head after 7 km but I didn't see any sign after the 4th! 
Ice column is shaped inside the cave. There were many of them but not a big one close to the entrance where I saw them
Shell Canada have facilities and equipment all around the road and in fact I guess there are the ones that I saw last year when I was going to Moose Mountain. Nevertheless the road ends at a Shell Canada facility which Authorized Persons Only sign could be seen but I though I saw the entrance to the cave from distance so I crossed to the lot and went over concrete blocks which go around the equipment area and found another sign for hikers. The sign does not indicate anything in regards to the hike but it's for fishers. I found footsteps and a narrow path going up and I was sure it led to the cave. I just didn't understand what happened to other 3 km! The path was icy and steep so I put my spikes on and continued to the top. Yes! That was the cave. The view of the valley from the top was beautiful but the bummer was that I realized had forgotten a good flashlight and my headlight does not have enough battery! So I didn't go deep enough in the cave. I found a few pieces of ice on the ground which had been obviously shaped by the droplets coming off the top of the cave. They were nice but I had come for me. No choice. I had to head back. 
I saw a few fellas on foot or on bikes on my way back and could find myself at the parking lot at almost 12:30. Very easy hike but not bad for a mild winter day. 
(Photo, top: Canyon Creek is seen from the entrance of Ice Cave. I like its blue colour)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Preheat in Welding and Similar Situations

I have written about this earlier but when I was in the engineering school, taking my first, I would call them technical courses, I was a bit terrified of the possible mistake I could do and mess up the whole production line mid-through the course. This fear later on went away. I don’t know how but maybe I didn't pay enough attention to the courses and failed a few! I really don’t remember and it doesn't matter now.
 Then starting work in the industry, I soon realized that most of the nonsense we studies in those years were only theory. No one, literally no one ever or barely utilizes them in the work and they were only good to pass hours in the classroom, pass the examinations and get the damn bachelor’s degree. Of course high-tech industry uses them but how many companies we have around the world and how many educated people we have in those companies who are really in to that.
 With that in mind I was reading the newly issued CSA Standard W59-13, that part about preheating of weld. This section has a big table (called Table 5.3) which tells you for what welding process and what thickness of base metal, what the pre-heat temperature should be.
For instance if you have between 20 and 40 mm of thickness using SMAW process and your consumables of Hydrogen Designation of less than H4, you need to apply 50° C heat prior to commence welding. This temperature should remain the same during the course welding, when the base metal is below the temperature listed the surface of the parts on which the weld metal is being deposited are at or above the minimum stated temperature for distance equal to the thickness of the thickness of the part being welded but not less than 75 mm, both laterally and in advance of welding.
 This more sounds like a stupid joke to me that if I told, no one would laugh at it. First of all who is going to check that temperature? The welder wouldn't do it because all he or rarely she wants to do is to finish the damn weld and get to his favorite bar for his beer. Welding inspector for sure wouldn’t do it. Welding inspectors are mostly a damn fool who wait until the welding is finished and then start their inspection! Unlike what is said that quality control should be proactive, not reactive, the majority of quality control actions are reactive in the industry. How about the welding supervisor? He is probably busy somewhere in a filthy office by the phone and even if he was not and really wanted to check the temperature, how would he do it? Does he have a thermometer on him?! Never!
 Even theoretically an inspection package available in the market for the inspectors does not contain a thermometer of any kind. So this is another reason as why most of the things we read in the standards, textbooks and specifications are all silly nonsense! I have a few photos of popular weld inspection sets for welding. None of them includes a thermometer of any kind. I guess I made my point. 
(Photo: A modern Welding Inspection Kit comprises of different tools but no thermometer of any kind. I have a gauge given to me by The Cheapskate, never used it so far unless for practice)