Cumberland Gap Inn

I’ve got some more to write about the recent family motorcycle trip, but one of the first things I want to do is a couple of reviews.

My family (on Dad’s side) is originally from Claiborne County Tennessee, just south of Cumberland Gap. My uncle wanted to do some genealogy research on our trip so we spent the whole week in the Cumberland Gap area.

As usual, click all pix to make bigger

During our stay in the area we occupied the Cumberland Gap Inn right in bustling downtown Cumberland Gap.

They don’t have a web site up yet so I can’t link, but they are under new management. We had the privilege of meeting the new owners (as you would too if you stay there, they actually run the place…no absent management here) and they were very kind, personable and just good people all around.

They’ve been working very hard to update and improve the rooms and I have to say we were very impressed. The hotel is well maintained and very clean, the rooms are large, the beds are comfortable, and they even have a quiet little “back porch” to sit at of an evening and relax.

Perhaps not as fancy and upscale as a hotel in downtown Seattle or Portland, but they made us feel very welcome and “at home” and the accommodations were, in my book, first rate.

If you’re ever in the area on vacation or just passing through, I highly recommend a stay at the Cumberland Gap Inn.

By the way…you see that outcropping of rock sticking out from the mountaintop just to the left of the top of the flagpole? That’s called the Pinnacle.

This is what the Cumberland Gap Inn looks like from way up there.

And zoomed in with a 200mm lens.

That red vehicle there in front is The Wife’s car.

Do Not Fly US Airways

I know it’s been awhile. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and just haven’t had the time or motivation to blog.

Speaking of travel, I had our office manager book my travel for the trip I just got back from. I was in Denver from the 16th to the 26th of May, but when that trip came up I was already in Toronto. I thought it would be easier to ask the office manager to book my travel than to try to do it through a crappy internet connection from a hotel in Canada.

She books travel through Orbitz which is convenient for her, but chooses the cheapest fares it can find. I do try to keep my fares as low as possible, but there is a reason that some airlines are cheaper than others.

My flight out was with Delta, my normal choice in airlines because in my experience they don’t suck QUITE as bad as the rest, but my flight home was with US Airways.

What a fiasco.

Granted, it was a holiday weekend, but according to the experts it was not supposed to be very busy for the airlines relative to Memorial Day weekends of the past. It really didn’t seem any busier at the airports than usual to me overall (and, as I said, I’ve been traveling a lot lately).

I always check in online to make things quicker when I get to the airport. With Delta, checking in online makes things relatively painless. I did have a bag to check, but with Delta, that just means stand in the very rapidly moving “online check in” line, hand the person at the counter my pre-printed boarding pass to be scanned and give them my bag to be tagged. A very smooth process that usually takes 10 minutes or so max, even if there is a line.

OK…so when I checked in using US Airways online check in process, it seemed pretty much the same as Delta. The web site said to be there a minimum of 45 minutes prior to departure (Delta usually says 30) with bags to check. I figured a half hour cushion should be plenty. My flight was supposed to depart at 6:45, I got to the airport at about 5:00 and by the time I got my rental car turned in, rode the shuttle to the terminal (I was the only rider on a shuttle that holds about 30 people…that’s how busy a day it was) and got to the US Airways check in counter area, it was about 5:30, just as I planned.

The thing that struck me was that the US Airways counters are right down from the Delta counters. There was no one waiting at the Delta area. No one. I can’t imagine that Delta had no flights going out of Denver on the Saturday morning before Memorial Day. I believe that this is just further evidence of their superior process and efficiency.

Anyway, as I approached the US Airways area, I noted (it was hard to miss) a whole gaggle of people standing in line in front of the 5 or 6 agents they had working. They were lined up all the way across the lobby and the lines ended underneath the flight status displays on the wall opposite the ticket counters.

Hmmm. This doesn’t look good.

I found the line that seemed to be designated for Web Check Ins and began my wait.

By about 6:00, I’d gotten far enough up the line and close enough to notice that the agents were calling out names rather than just taking people in the order they were in the line. Not only that, but when the agents in the web check in line called a name, about half of the time, the person who struggled through the mass of humanity dragging their luggage up to that area, were from the full service line. The sign that said “web check in” apparently meant nothing.

A few minutes later I realized, to my chagrin, that if you didn’t check in at the kiosk (that I still hadn’t quite reached yet), they would never call your name. Checking in on the web is apparently just a placebo for US Airways victims…er…passengers. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that I needed to do this and was actually able to reach the kiosk, it was already about 6:05…40 minutes from my departure time.

Remember that note on the web site about being there 45 minutes before departure? Apparently it was not a suggestion. If you don’t hit a kiosk and check in (for the second time, if you’ve already done so online) before that 45 minute cutoff, they will not allow you to check in to the flight. The kiosk gives a message saying “sorry, but you’re SOL” or something to that effect.

Needless to say, as those of us who were trying to catch our 6:45 flight started realizing that we were not going to be able to do so, we got a bit irritated by the lack of organization. Several of us voiced our concerns to a few of the ticket agents, who basically told us “sorry, you’re SOL” or something to that effect. Oh…and that it was our fault that we didn’t know that we were supposed to check in at the kiosk until it was too late…stupid passengers.

Because we couldn’t check in to the kiosk, they never got our names at the desk, so they just kept merrily calling other people’s names and pretending like we didn’t exist.

Until three or four of us just basically camped out in front of one of the counter positions and (politely) refused to move until they addressed our issues…namely that we needed new tickets and this was, after all, a ticketing and check in counter.

One guy that was in our boat but not with our little rabble rousing group started making comments to the effect of “Anybody need a job? It looks like US Airways needs to hire some competent people” At which point one of the ticketing agents threatened to call security and have him removed. I couldn’t quite discern what he said that rose to the level of calling security, and I was kind of hoping that they’d call them, just to see how it would play out, but she never called and the guy eventually quieted down.

Anyway, the ticketing agents finally decided that they’d better do something with us so one agent finally started dealing with all of us who had just missed our flight. We eventually all got scheduled onto later flights, some were not happy with the flights that were available (mainly the ones who weren’t going to get where they were going until the next day), but we all got placed.

So…what they worked out for me was a flight to Charlotte (on an overbooked flight for which they had to ask for volunteers to take an even later flight) that was to arrive at about 1:30pm. Then there was a flight to Norfolk leaving at 2:35pm, but it was full and the system wouldn’t allow a Denver ticketing agent to overbook a Charlotte flight, so he booked me as a standby on that one. The next flight from Charlotte to Norfolk was leaving at 6:00pm and he also got me a seat on that one just in case.

Of course, the later flight would mean that I’d miss my granddaughter’s birthday party, but hopefully I’d get a seat on the earlier flight.

OK. Of course the flight from Denver to Charlotte was delayed (trying to figure out who was going to get on the flight and who wasn’t was another fiasco in and of itself), so we ended up getting into Charlotte just before 2. By the time we got to the gate and off the plane it was about 2:10. That meant that the flight to Norfolk was already boarding and I had barely 15 minutes to get from Terminal B to Terminal E and find the gate.

I ran…as best I could dragging a carry-on suitcase, a computer bag and an extra 40 pounds around my gut. I’m sure it was quite a sight.

I made it by about 2:20…arriving at the gate just in time to hear the announcement that there would be a slight delay before boarding. least I hadn’t missed it.

I went up to the counter for the gate (that counter served gates 4, 6 and 8, I was leaving from gate 6), and told the nice lady there that I had a standby ticket and asked what I needed to do to see if I was going to get a seat. She said that I needed to wait until the plane was boarded and then they’d see if there was a seat for me. She then asked my name, which I gave, and I believed from that, that they’d call my name when the time came to let me know.

So, we sat there for a few minutes and then a different lady, the one actually at the door for gate 6, announced the start of boarding. The normal routine ensued until it was obvious that they’d finished boarding, but no one called my name. I started getting nervous and walked back up to the desk. The lady I’d spoken to the first time asked if she could help me. I reminded her that I was waiting to see if I’d gotten a seat on the plane and she replied “OK” with a smile. My impression was that I should continue waiting…but, as I said, I had gotten nervous so I just kept standing at the counter.

About that time, the lady who had been at the door for gate 6 walked up to the counter and started fiddling with a computer. She noticed me standing there and she asked “can I help you?” I told her I was waiting to see if I’d gotten a seat and she replied: “Oh yes, I’ve got an empty seat for you. When you’re on stand by, you need to speak to the gate agent. I didn’t even know we had any standby passengers for this flight.”

I didn’t have time to be angry because she reprinted a boarding pass with a seat assignment and hustled me out the door before they could close it up.


Don’t the people that are all working the same counter talk to each other? Isn’t there a process for this? If the process for a standby is for the passenger to talk to the gate agent and ONLY to the gate agent on the gate for their flight, why didn’t the lady at the counter that took my name tell me this? And why the heck did she take my name in the first place if she wasn’t going to give it to the other gate agent? And then why didn’t she tell me this the SECOND time I approached her about it?

US Airways…strike two.

OK…so I got on the plane. It was a small plane with only two rows of seats on each side. No problem there. It was completely full (after I took the last seat). No problem there. The cabin air conditioning wasn’t working. BIG problem there.

They disconnected the ground A/C unit in preparation for leaving…AFTER which the pilots or someone decided they needed more paperwork filled out. We sat there for about 15 minutes or so with the cabin getting hotter and hotter, until the flight attendant (I wasn’t tempted to call this guy a stewardess anyway, so there’s that) finally asked for the ground A/C unit to be hooked back up. I’d guess it was close to 100 degrees in the cabin by the time that happened. I was actually feeling a bit woozy and nauseous from the heat. I can’t imagine how badly the older passengers were suffering.

I’m not sure the ground A/C ever actually got hooked up because I felt no discernible difference, but at least it didn’t seem like it got any hotter after that, so maybe they did.

Anyway, after about 30 or 40 minutes in the sweltering heat while the flight crew finished up a little paperwork (or at least that’s what the flight attendant told us they were doing…was this some sort of new, surprise paperwork they’d never had to fill out before? Because it seems to me that if they’d been doing this for, say, more than a week, they’d know what needed to be filled out and have it done before boarding the passengers, but what do I know, I was only in Aviation for 21 years) we finally got underway.

The cabin A/C units generally run off bleed air from the engines, so I was expecting, as soon as the pilots got the main engines online, that the cabin A/C would kick in and it would start cooling off.

Silly me. Apparently the A/C was completely non-functional, not just unable to operate under the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). It did cool off slightly once we reached altitude, but it was already so hot in there, that it really didn’t make much difference, and since there was no fresh air forthcoming from the little air nozzles above our heads, it was still very stuffy for the entire flight and never got below probably 90 degrees. Luckily, it was only a little over an hour flight time so no one died of heat stroke during the experience.

Strike Three US Airways.

I’d normally call “You’re Out!” at this point, but the adventure wasn’t finished quite yet.

I finally arrived at the Norfolk airport, was greeted by my relieved, smiling wife and we adjourned to the baggage claim area to claim my bag.

Or not.

It was still in Charlotte.

Strike Four.

Now you’re REALLY out.

The ironic thing is that, when the ticketing agent in Denver was setting up the whole “standby on one flight, seat on a later flight” thing, he warned me that my bag would be placed on the earlier flight whether I made it onboard or not. If I ended up on the later flight, I’d have to get my bag from the US Airways baggage counter rather than pick it up from the carousel.

Apparently he was sadly misinformed. I’d call strike 5, but after a while it just gets silly to keep counting.

I’m not even sure that my bag made it onto the 6pm flight because they didn’t call to tell me it was in Norfolk until this morning.

At any rate, we finally did make it to at least the tail end of my granddaughter’s birthday party, and my bag arrived from Charlotte so I was able to collect it today, but that was the single worst travel experience of my very long, very extensive traveling career.

I will never fly US Airways again, I don’t care how cheap the tickets are. Some things are simply more important than a few dollars. So now you know why I titled this post as I did.

And yes, I realize that this is the longest post I’ve put up in months. Sometimes anger and frustration can be a great motivator.

I am the 53%

Great counter to the “99%” nonsense via Lawyer with a Gun.

Here’s Mine:

I’ve been working full time since I was 16 years old (that’s 31 years for those who are counting).  I joined the Navy at 17 and served my country for 21 years, spending long periods overseas, away from home and missing birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.

I’ve worked two jobs more than once to make ends meet when it was necessary.  Twice I had to take jobs that required me to commute 250 miles from home during the week and return home only on the weekends.  I did it because it’s my responsibility to take care of myself and my family, not anyone else’s.

I completed an Associate’s degree with a 4.0 gpa and no debt by taking courses one and two at a time and paying for it as I went…while also working 50 to 60 hours a week.

The longest period of unemployment I’ve ever experienced was five weeks.  During that time, I made it my job to find a job.  I worked 8 to 10 hours a day doing nothing but searching for jobs, submitting resumes, going to job fairs, walking in for “informational interviews” etc.  I did not apply for unemployment because I had my emergency savings to live on during that time.

I took the first reasonable job offer I got even though it wasn’t a job I wanted;  it is MY responsibility to earn the money I need to live on, even if it’s not doing what I want to do.  I used that job as a springboard to future employment and am now happily working in my chosen field at a good company at a good salary.

I’ve raised two children who are now adults and are both employed, self-sufficient, contributing members of society.  I have four beautiful grandchildren which is really irrelevant to this rant, but I just like to boast.

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  My life has not all been sunshine and roses and I face new challenges every day.   I do not expect the government, the Banks, Wall Street or anyone else to deal with those challenges for me.  That’s my job.   I am the 53%.

Phishing Warning

I usually post these things as a humorous thing, to demonstrate how ridiculous they generally are, but this time I’m posting it as an actual warning.

I got this e-mail this morning (posted as an image, to show the whole thing, the link is dead):



This one worries me because it’s actually pretty well done. The English isn’t ridiculously bad, the grammar is pretty much correct, the “reply-to” address isn’t in nigeria (although it’s probably a dead address, since they chose a different route). It even includes a legit looking logo at the top and a friendly reminder to protect your password to lend credibility.  How ironic is that?

It concerns me that some people with less experience on the net may fall for this one, click the link and enter their information. I did not follow the link to see how professional the actual phishing page itself looks, but if it looks legit at all, some people will fall for it.

This one was easy for me to recognize as a scam because I don’t have a Wells Fargo account. But if someone does have an account and gets an e-mail like this, the biggest indication that the e-mail is fake is by hovering the mouse pointer over the link.

The author of the e-mail can change what text is displayed in the link, while the destination of the link is someplace completely different. Hovering your mouse pointer over the link, causes the actual destination of the link to pop up in a “tooltip” box, or possibly down at the bottom in the status bar.

Here’s what it looks like when I hover the mouse over the link using my e-mail application:

As you can see, the destination of the link has no relationship to what’s printed in the e-mail.  This is an immediate indication of a scam.

I’d be willing to bet that if you reply to this e-mail, you’d get “address does not exist” failure.  They created the “reply-to” address out of thin air, just to make it appear as if the e-mail came from someone at Wells Fargo.  It didn’t.

Here’s the most important tip I can give:  Never, Ever, Ever click on a link from an unsolicited e-mail and enter any sensitive data in the resulting page.

If your bank really does want to verify your information, they won’t send you to some unusual page and ask you to enter your account info, they’ll ask you to log into your account and verify the information there.

If you get an e-mail like this, and you really do think it’s legit, call your bank and ask them if it’s actually from them.  If it’s real, they’ll know it and they’ll be able to tell you so.  Most likely, it’s not…no matter how realistic it may look.

Petitioning your government for redress of grievances

I doubt that this is news to any of the few regular readers left here (considering my lackluster blogging performance over the past year or so), but just in case any of you haven’t heard about it:

The administration has started a petition web site that allows citizens to submit petitions requesting legislation. If those petitions achieve a minimum number of signatures, the whitehouse will supposedly release a statement on the subject.

Now, I strongly doubt that the Obama administration would seriously consider submitting legislation regarding my pet issues, but, hey, if nothing else, something like this could clue him in that passing legislation (or executive orders, which is his (unconstitutional) legislative tool of choice) in opposition to them might be a bad move politically.

An any rate, there are a few petitions that have been submitted that are worthy of our support, if you don’t mind registering to do so. Might as well face it, if there is a government list that we would want to avoid being on, if you’ve ever bought a gun from a dealer and had a NICS check run, you’re probably already on it.

Anyway, again if you’re willing, here are the petitions that I know about. There may be more:

Support HR822, the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

Repeal the prohibition in the FOPA to own automatic firearms produced after 1986 (Firearms Owners’ Protection Act)

Lead the way in removing silencers from the National Firearms Act.

Lead the way in removing arbitrarily designated “short-barreled” rifles and shotguns from the National Firearms Act.

I never thought I’d say this…

…but I finally found a rap song that I like.

This is in response to the recent flap about some rapper I’ve never heard of saying “F- the troops” in a “song”.

As a vet myself, even though I wasn’t Army, I can say that the artist in this piece is right: When Soulja girl dissed the Army, he dissed my brothers and sisters.

I’ve got your backs shipmates.

Fair warning: if you don’t like bad language, don’t play this.

Hat tip to Irons in the Fire. If it weren’t for Firehand, I’d have never heard about this story and probably would have never found a rap song that I like.

Quote of the day


Well after fifty tries
I got a real surprise:
A job that now relies
On bloating peoples’ thighs.

Each morning I arise
And clean sleep from my eyes;
I head to work that ties
My life to apple pies.

“Perhaps you would like fries?”
My clients I advise,
“Or maybe Supersize,
And get a Nobel Prize!”

Barack might improvise,
But doesn’t realize,
The jobs his plan supplies
Michelle would criticize.

I can only dream of being that creative.

Well played oh humble Bard.

From comments here (and the post is worth reading too).

People of the Gun

I meant to post about this days ago, but things just kind of got away from me and I never got it done.

It seems that Jeff over at Alphecca…creator of the People of the Gun web site…has gotten sponsorship and a new host for the tribe.

The theme is what it always was: A tribe of firearm owners and bloggers; just ordinary Americans, many of them your friends and neighbors. We believe in and practice the constitutional and natural right to protect our families, ourselves, and our homes., an online ammunition retailer with great prices and a bangin’ selection (sorry, I couldn’t resist) has become the new home People of the Gun, of which I’m a proud member.

You can find the newly designed and hosted web site here, and you may notice the updated banner in the sidebar. 

And if you’re not a member of the tribe…why not?

I suppose I should mention…

…that I was on Blogtalk Radio last night.

I would imagine most of my readers already know about B B & guns on blogtalk radio so I probably don’t really need to mention it…but just in case:

Bonnie and Breda were gracious enough to invite me to join them in discussing the GPal fiasco on their show last night.  I hope I didn’t sound like too much of a nimrod.

Thanks to B&B for inviting me…it was fun, and I think this is an important issue that needs to be publicized.

Be sure to listen in live next time and join in on the Chat room discussion.  7pm Eastern on Thursdays.

The Gunpal/Gpal saga continues

Pretty much everyone should be well aware of the GPal (formerly known as Gunpal) payment service’s long standing, chronic and well documented problems.

Basically, they seem to have no problem receiving money through ACH and credit card transfers, but getting it back out can be a bit…um…problematic.

They have an entire forum area at dedicated to their company.  Recently, however, it’s basically turned into a place for everyone to report that they’re having exactly the same problem as everyone else.

Their Customer support is non-responsive both through e-mail or telephone and no one seems to be getting any straight answers.

If you checked any of the links above, you’ll find that either CEO Ben Cannon, or someone posting as “GPalVP” has been assuring everyone over and over and over that the problems have been fixed…but this has been going on for months now.

I am now numbered among the victims of the GPal scam.  Fortunately, the amount they owe me is much smaller than many, and I’m not the proprietor of one of the businesses that GPal has reportedly bankrupted, but it’s still pretty annoying.  I requested the $80 and change in my account to be transferred to my linked and verified bank account early in August.  On August 13, the transfer appeared on GPal’s web site as “completed” and my account balance went to 0.

As of this date, I still have not recieved payment to my bank.  How complicated is an electronic transfer to complete anyway?  I’ve been using ACH to pay my bills for going on ten years now without a single glitch.

At any rate, I signed up for an account on last night, and left a message on this thread* basically saying that we’ve been as patient and understanding as we can be.  It’s getting beyond that now; and so I asked if anyone had considered a class action lawsuit and suggested that it may be the best option.

*Update: the link isn’t broken per se.  They deleted the entire thread.  Covering tracks so to speak.  I have screen shots of the administrator admitting that he’d deleted posts from the thread and I’m pretty sure the thread OP has screen shots of the whole thing in pdf format.  I really don’t know what they think they’re accomplishing with the deletions, other than removing all doubt about what type of business they are running over there. /Update

Within 10 minutes, my post had been deleted.  When I tried to post another comment, I got the message to the right.

Signed up, posted a single comment (a comment that contained no accusations, no personal attacks, no name calling, no foul language, no offensive language of any kind) and was banned within ten minutes.

That’s GOT to be some kind of record.

Not only is GPal having major problems.  Not only are they refusing to admit that they are having problems.  Not only are they repeatedly misleading their customers by claiming that the problems have been fixed when they so obviously have not…they are actively deleting, and in some cases allegedly editing, forum posts to prevent people from talking about it and organizing to get some sort of satisfaction.

I was one of the early proponents of Gunpal/GPal and I’d like to say that it’s still a good company but is just experiencing some growing pains right now…but I simply cannot do that any more.

I removed the Gpal donation link from my sidebar, rescinded my recommendation to VCDL that they switch to their service and hereby offer the following warning to gun owners everywhere:


They have demonstrated themselves to be unscrupulous and completely untrustworthy.  Not because of the technical problems…but because of their inept, incompetent and flatly dishonorable handling of the situation from the beginning.

They are simply NOT the kind of business that I would recommend entrusting your money to.  Even if they get their technical problems ironed out, their handling of this situation has led me to the conclusion that they simply cannot be trusted.



I am going to begin looking into the possibility of a class action brought against this service.  Even people who’ve eventually gotten their money have been harmed by the delays and runaround they’ve been given.  Several small businesses have reportedly been forced to close their doors and people’s very livelihoods have been put at risk.

This is unacceptable.

If you have been a victim of Gunpal/Gpal and are interested in participating in legal action against them, please e-mail me so we can coordinate efforts.

They may be able to delete posts and stifle discussion about this on their own forum, but they can’t stop me from talking about it here.

Update: re deleting the previously discussed thread, this is just too funny.

Click to make bigger

If you don’t want to bother with the link or the image, it’s a posting to the Calguns GPal forum from “GPalVP” and opens with this gem:

In an attempt to ease some of the anger, I tried to let people post whatever they wanted again.  it is not working so we are going back to a tightly controlled GPal forum

That’s just funny right there…in an infuriating sort of way.  Allow me to provide a literal translation of what he’s REALLY saying:

“We haven’t fixed the problems and people are still having to wait months to get their money from us (assuming they get it at all).  In lieu of telling our customers what was going on and what we’re doing to fix it, out of the goodness of our hearts we decided to grant our dupes customers the privilege of saying whatever they wanted (unless you suggest a lawsuit, of course…that one we deleted immediately) on this forum we’ve so generously provided you to use since we can’t be bothered to answer the phone or respond to e-mails.

Instead of gratefully accepting this gracious and benevolent gift we have bestowed upon you, you ungrateful b*st**ds just couldn’t stop complaining about us stealing your money could you?  Well, the party’s over now kids.   You should feel privileged that we even acknowledge your presence at all.

Now, if we’ve been holding on to your money interest free for no less than six weeks, you grovel sufficiently, and post the “support ticket” number that we provided you when we began ignoring you, we MIGHT have pity upon you and gift you with the return of your money.

Otherwise: bite me sucker.”

Allow me to take this opportunity to reiterate something I said earlier:


Oh, and GPalVP? If you happen to read this post…your sig line? Here, I fixed it for you: