Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's been a long time.

I haven't touched this blog in a year and some days. I was supposed to be writing about some of the branch offices I visited on a regular basis and I failed in that. But, I can always re-start the project.

I don't believe I mentioned anything about the Spokane office. A friend of mine, Terry, was the branch manager; having been an estimator at our Roseville office as well as being one of the wranglers on the annual De Anza trail ride. He had also been working for me back when I was working for Solari in Reno. We had a good history. His brother, Bill, was the same man that had invited me to join the wranglers and we had met while working together at Saint Mary's in Reno. Bill was now the warehouse manager of the Spokane office.

I landed at the Spokane airport after taking a flight to Portland and then taking a connecting flight. That's not my favorite way to fly as it's a good way to lose luggage but there were no direct flights. I secured a rental car and made the long trip into town. The office was in an industrial area east of downtown Spokane and hard to find. But I did and we had a small reunion before settling down to the task of showing some stubborn people how to use a computer and our estimating system. I was there for a week and after the first day I told Terry that it would require that week to train just one person. I would have to schedule another trip for the the other training required.

And so it went; I would fly to Spokane at least 4 times each year which gave me a chance to experience a lot of the scenery and a lot of the weather. Spokane is very close to Coeur d'Alene Idaho and a trip to the lake there, if you had free time, was great. In fact, all the scenery in the valley was great. And then there was winter. The airport sits on land quite a bit higher than Spokane and there is a long, curved and steep drive to negotiate. Easy driving during the summer but very nerve wracking during a winter storm. 

During one winter trip, Terry invited me to watch a hockey game. It was a semi pro team and a nice arena. It was very cold when we drove into the parking lot, probably close to 0 degrees.  It was very exciting game, especially so when a flying puck made it over the glass and hit a concrete beam above me, ricocheting down onto my thigh. Ouch! That left a bruise. When the game was over, Terry took us down a stairway shortcut and we opened the door and suddenly it was like getting hit in the chest with a sledge hammer...-28 degrees. I've never experienced cold like that. -10 was as cold as I had ever been. I was glad to see the heater on in my hotel room...

Another Spokane memory. I had worked on IT projects off and on during this time in my career and Mike called me and said as long as I was in Spokane, would I mind working the weekend to install a new network system in the offices? I certainly would enjoy that; it was something different for a change. On Friday, instead of getting on a plane, I went to work moving computers and helping the IT crew with whatever was needed. We worked long hours on Friday and Saturday and by early Sunday morning we were through. Ron, the 'boss' said we ought to go over to Coeur d'Alene and look around. The 3 other members of the crew had never seen this part of the country and they were quite happy to be making a road trip. 

When we got to the lake, Ron noticed that there was a float plane that offered flights over the lake and the surrounding mountains. Ron decided he was going to call Mike and 'tell' him that as a bonus for getting the job done over the weekend, Mike should pay for a floatplane tour for us. Mike agreed and then we found that just 4 out of our party of 6 was brave enough for the trip. It was an older plane with a big rotary engine and I was going! I had never been in a floatplane before and I had a front seat as we took off. It was so smooth! Then the pilot got us to altitude and circled the lake as he described in detail what we were seeing. The first thing we noticed were the large number of logs floating on the surface. He said they still logged where they just had to toss the logs into a river and the logs floated down to the lake. They were then gathered up and made into rafts and floated to to the mill. The flying was fun and then there was the suspense of the landing on water. It was smoother than the takeoff. 

After that we decided to drive into Montana, a short trip, just to say we had been there. All in all, it made for a great weekend. 

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