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(Postings are most recent first)

January 26, 2015

Well we pulled in at home about 4:00 PM this afternoon.  Since the weather forecasters called for sunshine and warmer than normal temperatures, we elected to take the scenic route from Winnemucca north.  This route took us to Burns, Oregon where we hit U. S. 395 and then to John Day where we spent last night.  From John Day into Newman Lake today was a long haul!  While 395 from Burns into Pendleton is mountainous and crooked, the scenery through Malheur and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests is spectacular.  Wouldn't want to do it on bad roads though!

Glad to be home where we don't expect to hear news reports of pedestrians being hit and killed by cars every day!  During the five nights we spent in Las Vegas, there were at least four vehicle/pedestrian fatalities!  If memory serves, two of those were 'hit and run'.  Spending some time walking the sidewalks along the strip provides a quick lesson in 'Las Vegas drivers are nuts!'  Speeding and red light running seem to be a contest in which most every driver participates.

So, this is it.  Long, sometimes tiring trip, but well worth the experience.  The SHOT SHOW is a spectacular event, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world!  As I reported before, you will continue to read stories about the SHOT SHOW and some of the exhibitors with whom I talked in my regular newsletters to come.

I think I'll close the SHOT SHOW 2015 page with a brief gambling report.  Ann didn't win any money.  I didn't win any money.  Of course we didn't lose any either, as we never made a wager of any kind during our Las Vegas stay!

January 24, 2015

It's not quite 3:00 PM and we've stopped at a nice hotel on the outskirts of Winnemucca, NV.  The place is called Candlewood Suites and just less than one year old.  Each room has a kitchenette with full sized refrigerator, two burner stove, microwave, dishwasher, and sink; the most amenities of any place we've stayed on this trip.

Rick was playing Expedia.com so he researched lodging for us when he found out Winnemucca was our destination for the night.  As we were admiring the beautiful scenery between Tonopah and Battle Mountain, NV (not!), he texted that we should check this out when we got here.  Thanks, Rick!

This will be the last post to SHOT SHOW 2015 until after we get home.  Should be two days out, depending upon weather and road conditions.  Rick just texted Ann from our house and says everything is in order there.  I guess it rained most of last night and all the snow is washed away.  Good to hear.

January 23, 2015

Just in case anyone has been following this drivel, you did not miss a post from yesterday.  I took the day off!  Ann and I
slept late, had a leisurely day, traveled to Hoover Dam and back, and spent the evening with a friend who was Rick's best buddy during high school days back in Papillion, Nebraska.

Dan Miller and his wife Joni, after spending several years in Wisconsin, decided to quit fighting the winters, sold the snow blower, and moved to Las Vegas just over a year ago!  Dan came directly from work to our hotel and we spent several hours reminiscing about the old days and bringing us all up to date on recent happenings.  Ann and I have kicked ourselves all day today because we didn't think to get photos of Dan and us together before he left for home.

I did not venture to the SHOT SHOW at all yesterday.  My body had about all the walking it wanted over the two days I spent there.  I have more photos and many press kits from some companies I want to do further stories on, and that will come in the content of future regular newsletters on the site.

Press kits today sure aren't the press kits of years past!  Many now come in the form of flash drives and a credit card sized plastic thingy with a flip-up tab that plugs into a USB port.  These contain company and product information along with contact persons for more info if needed.  The press kits along with the SHOT SHOW App on my I Pad should give me everything I need to do several articles on the companies and products that are of interest.  So stay tuned!  You ain't gettin' rid of me that easy!

Our trip to Hoover Dam was accomplished pretty flawlessly, in spite of the traffic and the fact that I had not been there since I was 16 years old!  Ann had never seen the awesome sight, and truly awesome it is!  After 9/11, traffic across the dam was severely restricted with vehicle inspections and complete prohibition of certain types of vehicles.  The dam was and is considered a possible terrorist target.

With a major U. S. Highway crossing over the dam, this created serious traffic tie-ups and re-routed the prohibited big rigs for many extra miles.  In January 2005 dam bypass construction began, resulting in a new bridge across the canyon below the dam.  The bridge and bypass was opened to traffic on October 19, 2010.  That bridge is also an awesome sight!  So awesome and so high, that Ann declared that if I drove across it, she wasn't goin'!

Somewhat worrisome to the ability to continue to generate needed power from the dam is the low water level in Lake Mead.  Just eyeballing the rock walls upstream of the dam, it is apparent that the water is at least 50 to 60 feet below historical levels.  There are some predictions that the pressure differentials created by the low water level may at some point restrict the ability to run the turbines.  Continued drought and high water usage from farther up the Colorado River are said to have caused the lack of water.

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Hoover Dam - From   Top   to   Bottom


Bridge that now routes US Highway 93 around the dam.


Ann overlooking the Dam

Fish above Hoover Dam.  This is at max telephoto as the water was probably 150 feet below us, but judging by the relative size of the canada geese swimming around with the carp, this guy had to be approaching four feet long!

Today we traveled from Las Vegas to Tonopah, Nevada, with an excursion into California in order to pass through part of Death Valley National Park.  Hard to believe that people actually crossed that wasteland before paved roads and bottled water!


Me and one of the strange rock formations in the valley.


This ain't as low as it gets.


Ann at 190 feet below the sea at Furnace Creek Visitor Center.  (The lowest point in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level.)

Desolate Death Valley

Well, I better get this uploaded to the website so we can plan our route for tomorrow.  Right now the thinking is Winnemucca tomorrow night, but that is subject to change.  Good to know Rick is taking care of things at home, so we can be flexible with our route as well as time of arrival back at Newman Lake.


January 21, 2015

Started my day at the SHOT SHOW by arriving at the Press Room about 10:30 AM.  There was a press conference scheduled for 11:30 to showcase a new 2016 Nissan TITAN pickup truck.  TITAN Chief Product Specialist Rich Miller presented the new truck's features to a packed Press Room, chief among them being a turbo charged Cummins Diesel V8!  This is Nissan's first diesel pickup offering, and this in a half ton vehicle.  I know of no other manufacturer who offers a diesel of this class in anything smaller than a three quarter ton truck.

I won't go into all the touted features, but some that impress are the 12,000 pound towing capability and built in provision for a 'goose neck' hitch.  Others include a rearview camera, the ability to check trailer lights and turn signals from behind the trailer via the remote key fob, and other electronic gadgetry that rivals top of the line luxury cars!  By the way, we were told this is a fully USA made vehicle.  (www.nissanusa.com)

This image was taken from a nearby TV monitor.  The actual truck was on the showroom floor.

As a reminder of the small world in which we live, the couple who sat beside me at the press conference, Stephen and Jaque Miller,
turned out to be the parents of the above mentioned Rich Miller of Nissan.  Furthermore, Stephen graduated from the University of Idaho in Moscow, enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Fairchild AFB.  They left Spokane in 1974, just after the start of the World's Fair.  They had driven up from Phoenix to attend their Son's press conference.

Rich Miller of TITAN Nissan

After the press conference I began more walking through the two levels of exhibits.  As I had seen the specific vendors I had on my 'to do' list yesterday, today was more of a walk around and check out things that caught my eye.

I should point out here that a great many of the firearms and accessories on display were of the tactical persuasion.  The AR's and AK's have spawned an incredible demand for these types of firearms and every imaginable add-on, trinket, and do-dad.  I didn't spend a lot of time perusing these items as my interests lie elsewhere.

This does NOT mean that I am going to badmouth those who buy and use this stuff.  As someone historical once said about the First Amendment, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll fight to defend your right to say it."

I feel exactly the same way about the Second Amendment!

I always appreciate skills of which I am incapable, and one of those is metal engraving and inlays on firearms.  A display case that contained many examples of such art was located in the Baron Custom Engraving booth. www.baronengraving.com


Engraving and inlay on an early lever action.

Another item of interest to many of us Southpaws is the fact that left hand bolt action rifles are not made by every manufacturer.  While there are more 'lefties' available today than ever before, once we get beyond Remington, Ruger, and Browning there aren't that many out there.  Even then the available calibers are usually much more limited than in the right hand actions.

Of course, custom and semi-custom makers such as Montana Rifle Company and Cooper can supply left handed guns, but buying other less costly major brands off the shelf of your ordinary gun shop; not so much.

McMillan Firearms, long known for their aftermarket gunstocks, moved into the rifle manufacturing business in recent years.  I looked at some displays of their 'hunting' rifles and talked to a couple of reps.  They tell me the rifles will be available with left hand bolts and the price point will be in the neighborhood of $5,000.  Of course these will be custom firearms.  (www.mcmillanfirearms.com)


These McMillan guys were some of the friendliest folks I met.


Shortly after visiting with the McMillan folks I spied another booth with displays of replica firearms from our own frontier era and beyond.  My historical interests lie primarily in the old lever actions of the 1800's, and there were a number of those on display.  I had not heard of this company and am not sure of the pronunciation, but I could spell it 'cause I could see it!

The Chiappa Firearms company is an Italian enterprise founded in 1958.  They now have facilities in Brescia, Italy and Dayton, Ohio.  For more information visit their website at www.chiappafirearms.com.

Replicas of some of the guns that won the west.

I finished my tour of duty with another look at Wolfe Publishing Comany's booth, hoping to have a chance to visit with more of their writers.  I spoke with Mike Venturino yesterday and he was there again today with Editor Dave Scovill, and writer Lee J. Hoots.  Since they were all busy with other conversations, I elected to take another look at the Cooper booth and return in a few minutes.  Alas, Scovill and Hoots had disappeared so I didn't get to talk to them.  (www.riflemagazine.com)

Again, I'll post some photos showing some general views of the activities, to illustrate the staggering size and scope of this operation!



Since today was most likely my last visit to the Show Floor, I'll close with what Ann and I thought was a pretty spectacular sight in the Venetian Hotel on the route to and from the SHOT SHOW.  In the area they call the Canal Shops the ceiling is painted and lighted to appear as though you are looking at the sky.


The great outdoors that ain't outdoors at all.

Tomorrow we plan on taking a drive to Hoover Dam and back, then spend the evening visiting with a friend from our Nebraska days.  Likely head North on Friday.

January 20, 2015

Holy Mackerel, it's BIG!  Today's news outlets indicate that the SHOT SHOW will draw some 60,000 people, including exhibitors, buyers, media, and others.  As previously reported, these masses of people are not members of the general public, but can only attend if connected to the industry in some way.


I arrived early this morning in the NSSF Members Lounge and planned my first visits to some exhibitors I wanted to see.  The chore of locating an individual company's booth among two floors, some thirteen acres of space, and over twelve and a half miles of aisles would be a daunting task were it not for a special app for my I Pad sponsored by Daniel Defense.

Armed with this app and logged on to the venue wide Wi-Fi provided by Nissan, one only has to scroll through the list of exhibitors, tap the location button, and a map of the show area appears with the location of the subject highlighted in red.  The only problem then is planning the route to avoid a lot of backtracking to see whom you want.  I didn't always plan too well today, which is why I walked an estimated 400 miles!

These pictures do not do justice to the vast spaces one senses as you walk through the doors into the display areas, but perhaps you can get some feel to the mass of humanity involved.  For more 'official' photos, see (www.shotshow.org)

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Long aisles and lots of people.

My first stop was at the Wolfe Publishing Co booth.  I subscribe to two Wolfe magazines, 'Handloader' and 'Rifle'.  Other than 'American Hunter' which comes by virtue of my NRA Life Membership, I have reduced my magazine subscriptions to only one other shooting, reloading, and hunting related publication.  This is down from the more than half dozen others in years past.  My loyalty to 'Handloader' and 'Rifle' comes from the quality of their writers.  In my opinion they are among the best in the business. 

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Wolfe Publishing Co. Booth - Writer Mike Venturino and Me

My next stop was not on my agenda but the concept of securing a firearm in a lockable holder that securely and permanently mounts in a vehicle or elsewhere, keeping it safe from children or other unauthorized users, yet quickly available in case of need happens to interest me.  JOTTO DESK, (www.jottodesk.com) a new company out of Rogers Arkansas is marketing such a device.  The simple mechanism is released by either a keyed lock or a fingerprint recognition device.  I'll be following up on this to see where these items are available.

Jotto Desk Booth - Keith Goble, Sales Manager

Some of you may have followed my writings about the Cooper semi-custom rifle I bought last year from Cooper Firearms in Stevensville, MT.  I stopped by the Cooper booth to say hello to Laura Kelly and Mike Hudgins.  (www.cooperfirearms.com)

Cooper Rifles - The Western Classic on the left is like mine except right handed.

Laura Kelly and Mike Hudgins of Cooper Firearms

Montana Rifle Company's booth was next on my agenda.  This is a Kalispel, Mt company that is another part of the growing firearms industry in northwest Montana.  This is a company that I did a story on a few years ago when I first started becoming serious about owning a custom or semi-custom rifle.

Montana Rifle Company

Another booth that caught my eye as I walked by was Taylor's & Co. Inc.  Not only are their vintage replica firearms of interest, but their spokesman in the booth was a colorful character as well.


Deke Rivers - Taylor's & Co.

Another maker of replica 'old west' firearms is Cimarron Fire Arms Co.  Their booth attendants were dressed in period apparel and included a  'cowgirl' guitarist who entertained with strumming and vocals for the passersby.


My last stop of the day was at the Hornady booth.  I've been familiar with this Grand Island, Nebraska company for many years, and have used their products since we lived in Nebraska in the mid 70's.  The company has grown from a bullet maker to marketing their own full line of ammunition, reloading equipment, and accessories, picking up several other companies on their journey.  In recent times they have partnered with two or three major gun manufacturers to develop some new, innovative cartridges.  They have also pioneered in propellant developments that are able to exceed standard velocities of many common cartridges without exceeding industry standard pressure levels.

The common denominator behind most of these developments is an engineer named Dave Emary.  I had the opportunity to speak with Dave today, and the conversation turned to the question of why I have been unable to find Hornady ammunition in .280 Remington caliber.  The answer is, they haven't had a run of .280 ammo in over a year and a half.  Explanation:  "With the ammo shortages of recent times, we had to concentrate on the most popular calibers like .223 Remington, and the less popular calibers suffered," Dave said.

Dave Emary

I'm gonna close today with just some random pictures that I took as I wandered around.  We'll see what tomorrow turns up.




January 19, 2015

Spent the day getting oriented to where and how to access the Sands Expo Center, which is the venue for the SHOT SHOW.  Did explore the hallways of Expo yesterday and found that the venue is HUGE!  Of course we couldn't enter any of the exhibit areas because everyone was busy setting up for the Tuesday opening.

As I indicated yesterday, our hotel, the Best Western Casino Royale, was chosen as being within walking distance of the Expo Center, but that don't mean it's easy to get there!  The route is a couple of blocks north on the Strip, then through the Venetian and Palazzo hotels which are the home hotels for the show.  What with their huge casinos, and many shops on several levels, it is a veritable maze to navigate.

The Media Center did open today at noon, and I took the opportunity to explore the features there.  There is a business center with all the amenities, as well as free Wi-Fi sponsored by Nissan.  It appears that coffee and water are perpetually available and plenty of work space for writing, emailing, and printing.  Press kits for many of the exhibitors are also available in the Center.

There is also a lounge for NSSF members.  It opens in the morning at 7:30, so I will plan to explore that as well.  Here we are supposed to have the ability to purchase lunch, snacks, and refreshments before, during, and after the exhibition hours.

I have a list of a dozen or so exhibitors that I plan to visit tomorrow, as well as checking out interesting displays as I travel around trying to find those on my list.  Looks to be an interesting week!

Contrary to our dining experience in Cedar City, Ann and I did have excellent fillet mignons at the Outback restaurant here in the hotel last evening, and southern fried chicken at Gilley's tonight.


Only spied one individual that looked familiar, but he wasn't all that talkative when Ann tried to strike up a conversation.

January 18, 2015

Left Cedar City with a clean car and cloudy skies.  Guys and Gals at the car wash did a fine job on cleaning the car yesterday, but their recommendation for a steak and seafood restaurant didn't go as well last evening.  They directed us to a place called Ninja's, a Japanese steak and sushi place.  Ann had tempura fried shrimp and I added some scallops, crab, and fish to my tempura plate.  The salad was excellent.  I'll say nothing more except we ain't goin' back!

We deliberately planned a short drive today so we could take a couple of side trips into Zion National Park between Cedar City and Las Vegas.  First stop was the Kolob Canyons entrance where we took the 5 mile scenic drive up the canyon.  Saw no wildlife except Ann, but it was a pretty drive.


From the Kolob Canyon scenic lookout.


Zion National Park, this view from near the visitor's center just inside the South entrance.

Finally hit Las Vegas about 3:00 PM.  We had chosen the old Casino Royale Best Western Hotel for our stay as being close to the SHOT SHOW venue, but following their online directions to the place was a challenge. It turned out that we could have driven into the hotel directly off the Strip, but that entrance had apparently been under repair when the directions were posted on their web site.

Damn glad we don't live in this mess!  Not only did the traffic suck as compared to Spokane, but the mass of humanity walking the streets and crowding the hotels make an Old Hillbilly feel out of his element.  I do have to admit that the rush hour stuff we drove through in Salt Lake City on friday evening was worse though.

Of course, it is a Holiday Weekend with MLK day tomorrow, but still we could do with a bit less elbow rubbing with strangers.

We took the opportunity to take a walk and find our way to the Sands Expo Center where the SHOT SHOW will occur, and checked in with the Media Desk.  Found my credentials in order, and will now play tourist and await the Tuesday morning opening of the big show!

January 17, 2015

(You didn't see yesterday's post until today.  The wi-fi at the Hampton Inn in Provo didn't like my FTP client so I couldn't post to the web site until arrival in Cedar City this afternoon.)

Traveled into Cedar City, Utah today.  Arrived at our Comfort Inn reservation about 2:00 PM.  Gonna do more relaxing today, as the last two were long and covered lots of miles.  Woke up this morning to the first sunshine we'd seen since we left home.

Little Heifer and I shared a laugh at ourselves remembering the last time we stayed at the Provo Hampton Inn.  We came into Provo that day driving through snow that really started coming down about the time we hit town.  We thought it prudent to find a place to bed down even though it was still fairly early in the day.  So, we first stopped at the Elks Lodge to take stock and see if they had lodging recommendations.  This Hampton Inn is only a few blocks down the street, and the Elks people touted it, so there we stayed.

It had been snowing hard and fog made the visibility very limited as we drove through Salt Lake City and into Provo, so we were unable to see much of the scenery.  Next morning we awoke to nearly a foot of snow, but much improved visibility.  Imagine our surprise when we looked out the window to find a giant mountain of the Wasatch Range nearly within spitin' distance!

Took the opportunity to snap some photos with the I Pad as I walked to the car this morning.


Wasatch Mountain Range Outside our window  in Provo, UT.

Got the car washed this afternoon.  Had plenty of road crud on it after the past two days.  On to Las Vegas tomorrow.

January 16, 2015

Here we are in another nice Hotel.  This time a Hampton Inn in Provo, Utah.  Stayed here a few years ago.  The rooms are nice and staff friendly.

Had some interesting travel from Ontario, Oregon today.  We woke up to 3 to 4 inches of snow and temperatures just above freezing.  The snow was wet and melting as we pulled out, so Interstate 84 was mostly bare and wet all the way to Interstate 15 north of Salt Lake City.

Did have one stretch where there was enough slush in the left lane to make it dangerous to try and pass the big rigs, so we followed a string of them for 8 or 10 miles.  Wasn't too slow though, as the truck speed limit is 70 mph on I 84 in Idaho and Utah. The limit for cars on that stretch was recently raised to 80 mph, so one could make good time.  Imagine my surprise when the most snowy stretch was near the town of Snowville, Utah!

The Caddy handled like a dream, and eats up that 80 mph travel!

Looking forward to a more leisurely day tomorrow as we  only plan to go as far as Cedar City, which is only a couple'a hundred miles down the Interstate from Provo.

January 15, 2015

Our first day of travel is behind us.  Camped at Holiday Inn Express in beautiful downtown Ontario, Oregon!  No snow yet, but the weatherman says "Possibly 1 to 3 inches by morning."  May get to try out that 'all wheel drive' feature in the new Cadillac.  More later.

January 12, 2015

Here is the first installment of my reporting on the 2015 SHOT SHOW:

On January 9th my Media Credentials for the Show arrived in the mail.  Since our initial information was that credentials would be received in mid December, Ann and I were beginning to be concerned that they wouldn't arrive before we begin our road trip to Las Vegas.  We haven't set a firm day and time for departure, but we intend to allow plenty of time in the event bad weather and/or road conditions cause delays or re-routing.

More to come as we prepare for departure.