9.10.15 Updated website, new adventures coming up!

I performed an overhaul on the website, correcting pages that were out of date, and updating my travel plans, which have been widely waylaid since my main adventure two years ago.

I have been traveling somewhat domestically, mostly to Las Vegas near where my parents live.  My mother was diagnosed with cancer last July, and unfortunately she passed away last month.  I was lucky enough to be with her when she passed and to be there for my father afterward while we dealt with all the details for that.  I wrote a poem a few nights ago, on the 1 month mark after she’d passed, which I shared HERE on facebook.  Feel free to go look read it.

I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling worth writing about, but coming up in the next month I am going to be embarking on a road trip through BC, Canada to deliver a pickup truck and pick up a new one, and will hopefully have several side adventures to go on, and shoot some pictures of the beautiful countryside along the way.  I will be posting the results in the next few weeks hopefully, so keep your eyes peeled for that!




Part 1 Different things to do in Vegas series: Dig This!

In the first installment of my “Different things to do in Vegas” series, I was treated to an experience using an excavator at Dig This.

The concept for Dig This struck owner Ed Mumm, former owner of a Colorado fencing company, while he was digging a well at his home, using a rented excavator. “I really began having fun” one of the posters in the shop states. “I thought other people might enjoy it, too.”

After a trial run in Colorado, Mumm brought the business to Las Vegas and it quickly became a hit! Trip advisor has honored Dig This for the last three years for its high ratings among visitors and excellent safety record giving them a “Top Attraction” rating for Las Vegas. (# 2 for our of over 400 attractions as of the date of publishing)

The experience starts off about 20 minutes before the allotted time slot. There is a waiver to sign, and a breathalyzer. They take safety seriously so no one under the influence will be allowed to operate the large equipment.

After this, an instructor gives you a quick safety talk and orientation to the machines your group will be using. Owner Ed Mumm even makes a quick appearance via a short video presentation, welcoming you to Dig This.

Then you make your way as a group to the yard. Everyone saddles up in the machines, and is set up with a wireless head set. You are in constant contact with an instructor at all times. You are walked through the function of each of the controls.

I used an excavator, a CAT 351. (with out a “thumb” on the bucket) Our first exercise, after being made familiar with the controls, was to dig. We (there were three excavator users in the group I was with) drove up to a hole that had been dug by previous customers, a pit in the ground about 8 – 10 feet wide, 15 feet long and 10 feet deep.  When I left, after mastering the use of both control sticks, the whole was a few feet wider on all dimensions, and the pile of dirt next to it, a fair bit taller.

Picture curtsey of Dig This - www.digthisvegas.com

Picture courtesy of Dig This – www.digthisvegas.com

Next we maneuvered ourselves up to a stack of large tires (tractor tires each weighing around 2000 lbs).  We then used our machines to pick the tires up and reform the stack on the other end of the track.  My machine, the only one with out a thumb on the bucket, required a little bit different process, as I didn’t have the extra mechanical advantage of grasping the tire, but instead had a “hook” the tires with the bucket instead.

Animation of Tire moving

Animation of Tire moving – David Rettke

After rebuilding the tire pyramid, albeit a bit more ‘leanier’ than the original, we moved on to basket ball.   Yes, excavator basketball.  While resting on a steep inclined pile of dirt, I was instructed to use the bucket’s teeth to pick a basket ball off the tip of a traffic cone, and then drop it into a waiting tire.

I was the last to finish my tire pyramid, but I managed to sink all but one of my baskets, easily winning that small competition. After we drove the excavators back to their original starting point, and set them in the original starting position (bucket on the ground), we made our way back to the office for a quick debriefing and awarding of our certificates of completion, certifying that we had, in addition to Digging it, totally Dug it at Dig This!

There is a small gift shop with some fun hats and t-shirts, and a few other fun items, plus you can purchase a commemorative plaque with your own picture in it.










The staff was all very friendly and knowledgeable, and made for a really great experience that anyone would enjoy.  They make the operation very clear and easy to understand, and keep the whole thing safe through some very innovative safety features, such as a remote ‘kill switch’ for each machine and constant communications.

I would definitely recommend this experience for anyone visiting Vegas.  Check out the Dig This website here for more information, prices and booking.  They also do parties/groups. (Ask about the bachelor party with the mannequin).

Dig This Facebook

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Read Reviews for Dig This on Trip Advisor

A dozer against the background of the Las Vegas Strip - picture curtsey of Dig This - www.digthisvegas.com

A dozer against the background of the Las Vegas Strip – picture courtesy of Dig This – www.digthisvegas.com


Happy Independence Day!

A year ago today, I was still in Ireland, living and helping out on a rural golf course.  There was also a small hotel (Estate house) and restaurant.  It was a diverse group that I worked with, from all corners of the world.  Inevitably they all wanted to know what I, the only American, was going to do for the 4th of July.  I hadn’t really planned anything, other than messaging friends back home to wish them well and ask for photos of our town’s parade and fireworks show. This was met with disappointment.  As if they were expecting a fireworks show to emerge from my backpack.

I realize now, a year later, that what I was doing, traveling and experiencing life, was exactly the best way to celebrate the 4th of July.  The fact that I could freely visit so many places with little fear was due to the freedoms fought for and won by our forefathers, and countless American soldiers and patriots since then.

I also realized that we are not the only nation that is free.  For me, Independence day this year is not only our day. I also remember the wonderful people all over the world that I have met who are also free.  Free of heart, free of will.  While the date itself is significant to us because it is the date we formerly Adopted the Declaration of Independence from King George the III, (a good read for the season, for those who haven’t in a while) it has become an icon of freedom for others as well.  Even in other countries, it is recognized, though not ‘observed’.  We even chose to release control of the then territory of the Philippines on July 4, 1946. Giving that new nation its start on the path, though hard fraught, to freedom.

For this July 4, I spent it in classic fashion.  A BBQ, good friends, A parade (My 10 year reunion even!) and capped it off with a firework show.  (See below).

I hope in years to come I will continue to be able to mix reports from around the world and the home front on this day.  I hope that you all had a safe and fun day celebrating, relaxing, and doing everything that makes you happy.  That makes you free. That is what people have fought and died over for so many years to give you.

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