24 December 2013

Christmas In Phoenix

An old friend wrote about the blog, "You haven't written lately".
She stays updated on my life reading the blog, but doesn't provide me the same convenience, via blog OR Facebook.
So...  I take her comment while biting my tongue.

But her point is well-taken-
I wrote and told her much of the pressure to rant is now vented via Facebook. There's no denying that outlet tempers my urges to come here and express my thoughts.
But, although I cannot put a finger on it, there's more to it than that.
Is it because I feel "the inevitable" will now happen in spite of all my warnings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Fraser_Tytler
Tytler was right, (if indeed the quote is his).
And we are THERE.

But it's Christmas Eve.
We're in Phoenix, and good things are happening all around us.
Our son is healthy. We are healthy.
We look at the world around us and realize we are blessed in ways for which we cannot possibly thank our maker enough.

So I'll not trouble you with a rant today.
Today I just wish for you these things:
A roof overhead.
Warmth.
More than enough food to eat, shared in the closeness of those you love.

There certainly ARE indications good things are beginning to happen around us...
Because God IS in control!


Merry Christmas everyone.

29 November 2013

Pet Friendly!

When you think/thought of retiring, is/was TRAVEL big on your "Bucket List"?
It was on ours. We had visions of taking off at a moment's notice to attend some festival, celebrating the return of Starlings to Ft. Campbell, KY, for instance. (That's an inside joke right there, doncha know!)


So here we are-
Healthy enough.
Prosperous enough.
And we have more than enough machines... both two wheeled, and four.

But there's a small "fly in the ointment"...
We have this furry, black, 12-pound daughter. Part of the reason we drove straight-thru from Destin to Phoenix early this month was because we didn't want to deal with the worry of leaving Lucy in her bed in the truck while we slept in a warm, comfortable motel bed.
(Get caught sneaking her into many motels and it can get VERY expen$ive in a hurry.)
So we drove 1700+ miles, 25 hours, stopping only to eat, "rest", and refuel, so that Lucy wouldn't be forced to sleep in the cold truck.


While in Arizona, friend Max opened my eyes...
All ya gotta do is type "Pet friendly motels" into a search engine and worries about animal abuse disappear!
Most "Drury" and "La Quinta" Inns are pet friendly... at NO extra cost.
We stayed at a Ramada Inn in El Paso with Lucy sharing the Queen-size bed with us for just an additional ten dollar charge, thanks to a simple internet search.

We still have to make arrangements for her if we, as we dreamed, want to take advantage of cheap deals on "last minute" cruises, or if we want to go on a long flight.
But we now have a weight lifted off our shoulders when we're "trucking" across the U.S. with a bike in the bed of the Cummins-powered Ram.

And that's worth more than you might think to us.
Thanks Max.



25 November 2013

Destin-Gilbert-El Paso-Terrell-Home

Well, it's been an eventful few weeks.
When we departed Destin at 0900 Friday morning I figured we'd drive about halfway, then stop and spend the night. With another twelve hours or so of driving, that would have put us arriving at my son's house late Saturday night. We'd have had enough time for hugs and a little chit-chat before heading for bed.
My wife is normally a reluctant traveler, so I figured that was the way things would unfold.

We had Cary's Yamaha 650 VStar in the bed of the Ram truck. Cleaned and polished for delivery, I was pleased to depart with clear skies and a good forecast across our entire route. We crossed the Florida-Alabama State line with no traffic delays, dived beneath the bay at Mobile, then drove into Louisiana, my first time in that State since I drove from Mineral Wells, TX to Savannah, Ga. to start my next leg of ARMY flight school in 1968.

I was amazed, crossing the 18.2 mile long bridge at the Atchafalaya basin.
I was somewhat dismayed, seeing the "mile-marker 880" sign as the "Welcome to Texas" sign passed by.
EIGHT HUNDRED EIGHTY MILES TO NEW MEXICO?
Yep. But the saving grace is that Texas roads are mostly good, with relatively light traffic, and some of the speed limit signs have the number "80" on them. (Even some of the desert two-lane roads have 75 mph speed limits!)

Sara Jean surprised me. As the sun receded below the horizon she asked, "If we drove straight through, what time would we arrive?"
"About Noon their time. How do you feel about that?"
"Let's do it."

I drove until midnight while she napped. When my eyes started feeling like they were filled with gravel, she took over while I slept and gave Lucy a lap to curl up on.
Like a real trooper, she drove until 0430, (through a few rain showers that ruined all my cleaning/polishing work) where, just West of El Paso, we stopped at an IHOP for breakfast. When we got back on the road the sun was just brightening the Eastern sky and "Carmen the Garmin" said we had another six hours of road to cover.

Las Cruces. Deming. Lordsburg. Willcox. Tucson. We clicked 'em off and arrived at our son's new home in Gilbert, AZ Saturday at 1230.
He was moved in, but not yet organized. We spent the next few days getting furniture in its proper place, boxes unloaded and out of the way, and window coverings changed/improved.
Many hands make light work... in short order the place looked wonderful.

Cary came Sunday afternoon to pick up his Yamaha.
He seemed pleased with it. I was pleased to see him ride off with a smile on his face. Three nice things happened with this bike...
In selling it, the previous owner got money she needed for medical testing. I got to ride it a few miles to learn its characteristics, (which are VERY nice for a 650cc machine), and Cary got a bike that turns heads and gets compliments from everyone who sees it.
Good deals all around.


I have a few friends in the Phoenix area. In addition to Cary, there's a female High School chum of mine who Winters in Mesa. Her hubby "Max" has a nice Harley dresser, and had agreed that it would be nice to ride when we came to Arizona. I called and we agreed to ride on Wednesday. When I got "Roswell" the Suzuki out of Big Bubba's garage I got a surprise... no rear brake pressure.
Now, the front brake on this sportbike is powerful enough to lift the rear wheel off the ground in a "stoppie", so I wasn't worried about stopping power. But I obviously didn't want to ride longer than it would take to fix the problem, so I called Max and he said he had the necessary tools to bleed the rear brake to see if that would fix the problem. I left Wednesday morning, stopped by "Autozone" to buy a can of DOT 3/4 brake fluid, and continued to Max and Kathy's place in the mountain foothills of Northeast Mesa.

In 30 minutes we had the brake problem resolved.
In 45 minutes we were on the road, heading uphill to Tortilla Flat, where, after 30 minutes or so of climbing and switchbacks, we stopped and had lunch. We then continued up the mountain until pavement changed to gravel, where we stopped to take a look around.
Breathtaking. (And cool enough to make me glad I was wearing my Belstaff jacket.)
We then rode back down the mountain, waved bye-bye to one another at Apache Junction, and went to our respective digs.

Cary had mentioned we could take a nice ride the following Saturday.
I asked Max if he'd like to come along and he answered affirmatively.
I was surprised when I arrived at the designated place/time Saturday morning to see those two standing with another biker. I introduced myself and met "Nick", and cast an eye upon his Honda "Fury"...
Well worn with battle scars, but still a nice machine.

A Harley, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda departed from "Whataburger" at about 10 A.M. headed for Wickenburg, Arizona. Arizona roads are mostly smooth and well cared for. Most of this leg was accomplished at 75 mph. We stopped in Wickenburg for a little breakfast, then bade Nick farewell. He returned to Phoenix as we remaining three departed to climb our way to Prescott.

There is simply no way to describe this ride.
There are places where you can look down the mountain and see where you've made three switchbacks in order to climb the side of the hill. Some turns cannot be negotiated at speeds higher than about 15 mph.
Breathtaking views? That description does it NO justice. You have to see it to believe it!

Prescott is a neat place... kinda tourist-y.
At one stop Cary told me, "We'll be turning right at the next block."
I nodded my head, then, distracted by auto and pedestrian traffic all around, promptly forgot his warning. At the next stop he turned right, as he had warned. I looked up just in time to realize I was gonna T-Bone him on his new-to-him Yamaha, grabbed a heaping handful of that powerful front brake, and at about 5 mph, crossed a painted white line. The ensuing front-wheel wipeout put bike and rider on the pavement instantly. My ankle was twisted beneath the bike. The pain was about as intense as any I have felt in my life.
I was embarrassed. (Damn Sportbike brakes!)
I jumped up, hobbled around, flipped the kickstand down, then hoisted the bike onto the stand.
Two or three folks then arrived asking, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. Just embarrassed as heck" I lied. My ankle was killing me.
We rode a block or so to a bar, and stopped to take a breath and have a soda.
Walking was more painful than being on the bike.
Cary asked, "Do you want to go home from here or continue to 'Jerome'?"
Macho took over. I didn't come this far to wimp out. We finished our sodas and rode on.

I'm glad we did.
In spite of my pain, this ride was more extraordinary than the first leg.
I had never heard of Jerome, AZ, but I promise you this...
I WILL go back there!
Google it. (Arizona highway 89A.)

At the end of the day I had ridden 330 miles, about 1/3 of it with a nagging ankle.
When I got home I was fearful of removing my boot, afraid of how it would look.
It was SWOLLEN, but not black and blue.
Big Bubba wanted to take us to "Chipotle Grill". In agony with every step, I hobbled my way along and had a nice meal.
But my ankle woke me several times during the night, and was almost impossible to stand on the next morning. I had movement in every direction with it, so I'm assuming it's a severe strain, not broken.
(More than a week after the incident it is still swollen and sore, but improving by minor degrees every day.)


It was sunny and 70 degrees when we left Gilbert on Tuesday afternoon.
Six hours later in El Paso, when we stopped at a pet-friendly motel, it was 48 degrees.
It's easy to see why some folks LOVE to Winter in Phoenix.

The new-to-me Honda Valkyrie I bought was in Quitman, Texas.
We drove 9+ hours to Terrell, Texas and spent the night in a pet-friendly "La Quinta Inn", then arose to go get the big bike.
"Brad" was waiting on us. Interestingly, he too was selling his machine because he had medical problems to deal with.
His loss is our gain... the bike is BEAUTIFUL, and came with lots of extras:
Three helmets, (two of 'em wired with intercom hookups), owner's manual, service manual, bike cover, four quarts of oil and a filter for the next oil change.
Loading this HUGE machine with a bum ankle was a little scary, but we got-r-done.
Then it was back on the road for the leg home.

Just shy of the Arkansas line, the rain started.
And continued... for hours, until we got home.
Valkyrie got a "road bath".
Cleaning it will give me a good chance to look it over and get to know its nooks and crannies.

It was 17 degrees here the other night.
Our plan is to head to Destin in time to have T-Day dinner at the "Golden Corral" there.

It has been unseasonably cold there, so jackets may be in order.
But if I've got to be chilly, looking at the surf meet the beach will help to warm my insides.

07 November 2013

Destin To Phoenix

1756 Miles.
25 Hours.

Our son has bought a new home in Phoenix. Tomorrow we depart Destin to go help him get situated in his new digs. We'll be on I-10 for the better part of two days.
One of these days I'd love to make this drive, just for the "pleasure of the drive".
One of these days.

16 October 2013

I Call It Research


Yeah. I'm out of control.
I just bought one.
It's a Honda "Valkyrie"...
A "GoldWing without the Tupperware".

Here's the deal:
I truly am sorta doing research.
I bought "Pizza Bike" thinking the engine would be smooth and it would be a great touring bike.
I was wrong.
It isn't all that smooth. Sara Jean won't ride pillion because it doesn't have a backrest.
I should have sold it a year ago.
But I LOVE the thing. When I show up at some motorcycle rally, I'm the only guy on a Guzzi. That leads to conversation with interesting people.
"I've NEVER seen one!"
"I used to own an Ambassador."
That sort of thing.

(One of the things non-motorcyclists will never understand is the feeling of brotherhood among bikers. What a pity. Oh well, on with the blog.)

I love my wife, (like her too, MOST of the time.)
I want her to want to ride with me.
She wanted a BIG motorcycle. She wanted a backrest. She wanted comfort.
I bought a GoldWing. It was a four-cylinder, 1200cc beauty.
Then I bought another... a six-cylinder 1500cc behemoth with AM/FM stereo, CB radio, reverse gear, and electronic cruise control.
I refer to it as our "two wheeled automobile", because it weighs over one thousand pounds with both of us aboard.

IT. IS. HUGE.
(I then sold the four cylinder 'Wing.)

GoldWings are covered in plastic. Some like the look. I don't.
If you want to adjust the carburetors on the thing, you must first do over an hour's work just to expose them so you can touch 'em.
It's a wonderful, smooth, comfortable means of conveyance.
But you cannot see what makes it work. And that has troubled me from the moment we started riding 'Wings.

I've done more "research".
I bought a couple old BMW "Airheads"... a 1000cc, which I rode a few months then sold to a friend for what I paid, then an "R80RT" 800cc which still resides in my garage, (but is now for sale. Interested?)
I love the simplicity and relatively vibration-free engineering of the old Bimmers.

I bought a 90-degree V-Twin Suzuki 650.
For a twin, the bike is so smooth it's scary.

Fast, too.
But it's a chain-drive, and my ride in Hurricane Agnes convinced me I don't want a chain-drive bike for long-term use.
My son is now riding it in Arizona. He loves it.

Two months ago I bought a 650cc Yamaha VStar Classic.
It looks like a mini Harley-Davidson.
Sounds a little like one too. We LOVE the looks of the thing.
For a V-Twin it is relatively smooth.
It gets great gas mileage.
Its final drive is a shaft, not a chain.
But it's not great for two-up riding for long.
We're taking it to friend Cary in Arizona next month, where it will hopefully live happily for quite some time.

On the way home from that trip we'll pick up the latest acquisition...
The bike you see pictured above...
It's a '99 Honda Valkyrie. It has been living in a little town outside Dallas, Texas.
It has the same engine as the GoldWing we're presently riding, so I fully expect Sara Jean will also be able to snuggle into that pillion seat and nap just as she does with the 'Wing.
And with the "Valk" I can see what makes the thing motivate...
It's not covered in plastic!
We'll bring it back to Destin for more research, and I'll try desperately to keep the moisture and salt air from attacking all that chrome.
(Wax. Wax. Wax. Wax. Wax. Elbow grease.)


The 650 Yamaha will be with Cary in a couple weeks.
The 800cc BMW is for sale.
The GL1500 GoldWing is for sale.
Pizza Bike will stay, for solo riding (and attracting attention).

We're already talking about more "research" however...
We'd like to bring Lucy riding along with us.
To that end we think a sidehack outfit (sidecar/bike) would be neat.
I'm watching for another BMW Airhead, or maybe a new/used Ural would fill the bill.

Research is fun.
How can I work out being paid for this study?



12 October 2013

"Pay" TV

That's what they used to call it "way back then"...
Pay TV.
We lived in a rural community. We had FOUR channels-
CBS, ABC, NBC, and an independent channel that showed some locally produced stuff, old movies, old TV series, and on Saturdays... WRASSLIN' !
What more could we ask?
What more could we possibly need?!
What on earth could anyone offer on TV(!) that would entice someone to actually PAY for it when we had four channels, for FREE?!


Well, here we are.
At home we have "Dish Network". We've subscribed to their basic programming and have added one upgrade to get some programming we HAD to have:
The Velocity Channel for me. The Hallmark Channel for Sara Jean. I'm ashamed to say I can't even tell you what I pay monthly for the service, but I think it approaches $90 per month.
But, amazingly, we frequently find ourselves bored by the 150+ channels offered to us there, and resort to watching something we have recorded on the DVR provided by Dish Network.
As a matter of fact, we sometimes find we have filled the hard drive on the DVR and have to erase some programming we recorded (but don't really want to watch) in order to record some of our "Must see's"... the latest episode of "Deadliest Catch" or "Sons of Anarchy".

Now we find ourselves in our Southern Digs. "Cox Cable" is what we get in this condo complex.
What's offered is pretty basic stuff... local TV stations, and a few of the most popular cable offerings, (including SJ's beloved QVC!)
We missed our Dish Network. We missed our option of recording stuff to watch later.

Someone suggested Cox Cable might be able to help. "You should call them and ask!"
So we did.
The nice lady at Cox said, "Sure... we offer a DVR, and with it you get additional programming AND many channels in HD, all for a minimal charge!"

Hmmm.
"How minimal?"

"Just $28 per month."

Ouch.
"But what about "Sons?" asked my beautiful wife, in a voice bordering on whine.
I went and picked up the machine.
We are now wearing it out, and find ourselves fast-forwarding through programming so we're sure it will have disk space to record stuff we ABSOLUTELY have to watch. Sound familiar?

$90/mo. back North. $28/mo. in Destin.
Ouch again.

"PAY TV?"

Indeed
.

09 October 2013

Oh, The Horror!


My wife is a twin.
In light of the controversy about the "Washington Redskins", she realized she has been quiet too long.
She's offended by the lack of respect shown by Minnesota toward twins.
We're considering contacting an Attorney to sue for damages.
Stay tuned.

03 October 2013

Loser


For longer-term readers some of this is review, then update.

On 1 July this year I felt as if I looked like the guy in the photo above.
Ascending a flight of stairs would result in a noticeable change in my breathing.
I got on the scale and was shocked when it said I weighed more than I had before in my life:
Two hundred twenty-six pounds!
Through previous research I knew every extra pound I was carrying meant my heart was having to push blood through another mile of conduit. My "fighting weight" these days (best guess), is around 185 pounds.  If I had the discipline to drop that avoirdupois I could get rid of 41 miles of vessels my heart was struggling to pump blood through. I'm now 66. I'd like to live, healthily, into my 90's.
Ashamed of myself, I made the decision to act.

I have never had problems losing weight when I make the decision to lose. On two different previous occasions I have lost more than 35 pounds through diet and exercise.
Obviously, either I found those lubs again or they found me. How could I lose the weight and keep it off?

The answer, for me, is to weigh in on a daily basis. Getting on the scale at the same time, under the same conditions every morning indicates diet progress or setback, and gives me an immediate indicator as to what works and what doesn't.
The other thing, (once again for me), is that diet alone doesn't work. If I'm not working hard to get the weight off, it is too easy to poke something into that hole under my nose. If I have walked four miles or done some other strenuous exercise in the last few hours and I get tempted by a Dairy Queen Blizzard, I'm forced to remember how much work I'll have to do to get that ice cream off my waistline.

So, on 1 July I established my starting point. Sara Jean felt she wanted to drop a few too, and joined me in my eating/dieting regimen. A couple friends had independently recommended The "Sacred Heart Soup Diet" so we shrugged our shoulders, said "Why not?", and brewed up a big pot of soup.
We were surprised to see it suggested a BIG baked potato WITH butter the second night of the diet.
How can you lose weight eating a big potato?
But we were already weighing in daily, and the morning after all the soup we wanted to eat AND the potato, we had both lost two pounds.

Three bananas and skim milk day followed on day four.
Day five allowed 20 ounces of beef (!) or chicken, and more tomatoes than you care to eat.
Day six... more beef/chicken.
Day seven is a flush day... soup, brown rice, unsweetened juices, and all the veggies you can stand.

The morning after day seven we were surprised to see we had BOTH lost 10 pounds!
No hunger pangs... no cravings.
By the end of the week we both WERE a little bored with eating the soup, but we didn't hate it.
And how can you argue with this result?

After two weeks we swapped the Soup Diet for Atkin's, which we had both had success with previously. On it we continued to lose...
I lost four more pounds, Sara Jean lost another two.

We have been trying to walk at least two miles a day. Time and weather permitting, we double that distance.

Daily weighing has been interesting-
Up a couple pounds one day, (sometimes after cheating, sometimes, surprisingly not).
But seeing a pound on the scale you didn't expect makes it easier to dedicate a little more effort to that day's exercise program. And it's hard to describe the feeling of satisfaction to look down and see a pound, or two, gone.


So here we are at the start of October. My "before coffee and newspaper" weigh-in this morning showed 195 pounds... a loss of 31 pounds.
I intend to drop another 10 pounds, then confer with my wife and evaluate the situation.
I don't want to lose so much as to look gaunt and unhealthy.

Daily weigh-ins will, necessarily, continue for the rest of my life. I look better. I feel better. I'm wearing clothes I haven't worn in YEARS. And I can climb stairs without my heart pounding and my lungs burning.
If I gain a pound I'll starve for 24 hours if necessary to get that pound off.

How's your health?
Do you look like a Wal Mart shopper?
Is it time for a change?
My friends, it's not all that hard.
Click the link above and get started, then let me know how it works for you.
And Good Luck!


25 September 2013

Mail Call

This year we will miss much of what makes the Midwest such a wonderful place to live... leaves changing color in Autumn. We're already in Destin, and with a few trips home to check on the house, retrieve mail, and touch base with family and friends, will be here until mid-March.
Our reasons for coming down this early are twofold:
-I intend to run to the County Clerk's office and declare myself a Florida resident so my vote is no longer an act of futility, tilting at the imagined windmills on the far Northern Horizon in "BigTown", where Food Stamps and Social Security Disability checks keep folks smiling and satisfied to be unemployed. Living here more than half the year makes that an honest endeavor.
(Bein' HONEST. Now THERE'S a weird concept!)
-Secondly, we have, over the last year, befriended a young couple here.
She's nearly 24, blonde, and pretty as that "speckled pup" we're always hearing about. He's a little older than she chronologically; quite a bit older emotionally. A West Point Grad, he wears a Green Beret at work, and in less than two weeks he'll be boarding the flying silver tube for another tour of duty where folks are shooting real bullets and blowing themselves up with huge cars-full of explosives. This time he's going to Afghanistan.

They were married in July. They're just beginning to realize we have "adopted" them. We want to help him as much as possible as he prepares to once again go and support and defend the Constitution. When he's only available to her via email or SKYPE, we want to be around to try to put a smile on her face.
She and Sara Jean get along great. That's wonderful for me, 'cause you surely can imagine how much I HATE having two beautiful blondes listening to my line of crap.

My special ops friend and I have lately had several discussions about how being a warrior has changed over the years.
Obviously, MUCH has changed. But some things haven't changed at all.
Lawyers are still endangering our troops with their foolishness-
"R.O.E.", Rules of Engagement still handcuff our brave men, just as they did when we were conducting "police actions" in Viet Nam (and I suspect, maybe to a lesser degree, Korea.)
They're a necessary evil, but I think we hurt ourselves and endanger our men unnecessarily, and our enemy soon takes advantage of our honor.
Collateral damage is to be avoided at nearly ALL costs, even if those being damaged are most likely aiding and abetting the enemy. The situation is worse now than it was during the VN era- Drones and satellites are ALWAYS watching. Every radio frequency known to man is being monitored. If you make a mistake, it's only a matter of time 'til everyone in the chain of command above you knows it.


One of the bright spots of the day in VN was checking the mailbox, finding a letter with that certain handwriting, lightly scented with a fragrance that helped you remember why you were there risking your life in the first place.
Now and again there would be a note to come pick up your "care package"... Cookies, canned meats, cheese and cracker assortments, candy...
The sorts of things that were sometimes difficult to come by. This is how I learned to love smoked oysters on crackers.

I think I'll try to remind our beautiful blonde friend to write a personal, scented note now and then.

And, WE will be sending a box full of non-perishable foodstuffs, (including smoked oysters and crackers) as often as we can afford postage.
Others did it for me forty years ago.
It's payback time.

13 September 2013

13 September 2013, After Action Report:

She was sick.
But like a trooper, she reported for duty.

Her Caribbean Cruise docked Sunday. She was sick when she got off the "Freedom of the Seas".
Monday she flew home. She was sick when I met her at the airport.
At home, she puttered around and cleaned up a few messes I had made during her week of absence, then went to bed.

It was a short night.
We were up and at 'em early Tuesday. We had a long hard drive to make it to the "Two Million Bikers to D.C." rally.

We dropped Lucy off at a friend's, then headed Eastbound at 0730 hrs.
Sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, traffic was light, the only fly in the ointment was her bladder infection...
"Do you need to 'rest'?"
"Yes".
So we made a potty break every hour or so. Every stop added about 15 minutes to "Carmen the Garmin's" estimated arrival time. It's the first time my prostate irritation wasn't the main cause for our lack of progress across the map.

It had been almost forty years since I had been to West Virginia. One of the reasons for our early departure was to arrive there during daylight so we could see the vistas.
Boy, was it worth it! Sara Jean ooooohed and aahhhhhed for hours, while I wished she was behind the wheel so I could enjoy the view instead of having to worry about keeping the big brown Dodge truck with the motorcycle in the bed centered on the narrow, curvy, up-and-downhill road.
Then it got dark, and beautiful, scenic roads became stressful.
I was glad to see the "Welcome to Virginia" sign, knowing that the topography would level out and we'd reach our destination, (Manassas) in an hour or so.

We checked into the motel, then made a quick trip to Wally World for "must haves"...
Vitamin C lozenges and beer.
We were in bed at 2330 hours. Sleep came quickly.

I woke to the sound of V-Twins rumbling by outside.
A good sign.
While Sara Jean showered, I backed the truck into a ditch and offloaded the bike.
Then it was my turn in the shower.
We were saddled up and headed toward D.C. by 1100.

We crossed the Potomac at about 1130 hrs. and I was disappointed...
Yeah, there were plenty of bikes around, but not in the numbers I hoped for.
I was praying for gridlock, but traffic was still moving pretty freely. A group of bikers shouted and waved, (probably at my beautiful wife!), and we stopped to ask if anyone knew of a "plan".
No one did. But rumors abounded-
-There was a group of over a hundred thousand bikes coming in from the local Harley-Davidson dealership.
-The "Million Muslim March" was taking place at "The Mall", and after their rally they had a permit to parade down Constitution Avenue. Bikers were to remain respectful and calm, but were to start engines and REV them up as the group passed.
Well, that was better than nothing.

Two-wheel numbers kept increasing. Bikes were backed perpendicular to Constitution Avenue, and there were bikes as far as the eye could see. Big groups of bikes continued to arrive and pass on the Avenue, greeted with waves, cheers, and "V" signs made with index and middle fingers from those of us along the boulevard.
Weather was sunny and hot, but thank God there was a breeze blowing. If not for that, there would have been MANY heat-related injuries in the crowd. As it was, we watched as several ambulances passed Eastbound, lights on and sirens in use.


More rumors-
The Muslim crowd wasn't as big as hoped.
Then more rumors-

The Muslim crowd was virtually non-existent.
Numbers we were hearing were unbelievable:
60?
30?
Out of a hoped-for 1,000,000?


Hours passed.
We were sweating, but everyone was walking around, meeting/shaking hands with other bikers and visiting.
HAPPY.
Sara Jean was flitting around like a butterfly in a meadow. She never meets a stranger. I noticed several guys taking pictures of my wife. In spite of being a little under the weather, she was having a ball.


We were all united in our mission.
The Washington monument was behind us. Through a break in the trees we could see a corner of the White House a block or so away. Several bikers saluted the White House with one finger as they passed on Constitution Ave. (The confused would call them racist!) Me, I'm uncomfortable with that gesture, but I understand how we've reached this point in our history. I think division has been part of the plan all along.
That plan has succeeded in spades. (Wait... is that racist?)

1500 Hours:
Word was passed around-
The "Millon Muslim March" was a complete disaster.
There would be no parade down Constitution Ave.

What now?
Bikers shrugged their shoulders and asked one another, "Is this a success?"
Our intention was to send an undeniable message-
"We're mad as HELL, and we're not gonna take it anymore!"
Yes, it was an undeniable success.
Kick stands up, we started engines and went our separate ways, anxious to watch the news and see how the media traitors would report the day.

Of course, they reported it just as we expected-
Which is to say, for the most part they avoided reporting it at all.

But the "Million Muslim March"....
Wasn't.
There wasn't even a "Hundred Muslim March".
And those of us on bikes got a shot of adrenaline...
There wasn't even a true leader at the head of this movement, yet hundreds of thousands answered a call, mounted up, and drove several hours to be counted.

They may not want to report the truth.
But I HAVE to imagine someone noticed.
And I hope this was just the start of a process that eventually will heal this Nation.

God be with us all.

Postscript:
Sara Jean approached a young Buck Sergeant walking past and thanked him for his service. He emphatically responded, "Thank YOU ALL for running the Muslims away!"
She then told him that he should give everyone the "Peace" sign as he walked along Constitution Avenue.
To that he responded, "We can't do that. If they caught us they'd Court Martial us."

This is the world we now live in, folks.
Lawyers... thanks SO much.

11 September 2013

Quick Thoughts from Manassas Two/Too-

-Sara Jean is running a low-grade fever from an infection, (bladder?)
It seemed we stopped at every other rest area to "rest", which my prostate thought was just fine, thankyouverymuch. But a rest stop adds about 15 minutes to arrival times and that contributed to the fact we spent nearly 15 hours in the pickup yesterday.


-Considering the above, I'm more than a little concerned how we'll handle "rest" stops on our D.C. ride today.

-I could never have imagined how much we're enjoying our "Sirius" radio on these trips...
No searching the dial for a station carrying something of interest.
Just don't park under a metal canopy when you're REALLY interested in what's being broadcast.

-Two lane West Virginia roads are breathtaking... until the sun goes down.
Then they are downright scary.

-Cummins Diesel engines are awesome. We climbed VERY steep grades yesterday and "Big Brown" never had to downshift once.

-Diesel fuel is generally $.30 per gallon more expensive than gasoline.
Why?

-After check-in we went to "Wally World" to buy some "gotta haves".
Two employees we encountered there were very gruff.
It was late. Maybe they were at the end of a bad shift.
I hope this isn't an indication of the general attitude of folks here.

-We woke early this morning to the sound of V-Twin thunder rolling by.
I'm trying to imagine "two million" bikes in a town this size...
If anything close to that number show up, you won't be able to spit without hitting a bike and offending a brother/sister.
I hope we get those numbers.
I'll resist the urge to spit.

10 September 2013

Quick Thoughts from Manassas, Virginia-

We're here safely, thank you Lord.

We checked into the motel at 2300 hours. I was hopeful we'd be dizzy from trying to count bikes on the road as we arrived, but there were almost NO bikes on the road.
I suspect (hope) everyone arrived earlier to get a good night's sleep.

I had forgotten how absolutely beautiful is West Virginia!
We now are planning another trip here, just to ride them thar hills.

Off to bed now.
Prayers for a good showing of bikes tomorrow.
Prayers too for this ailing, "never waste a good crisis" Nation.

09 September 2013

TWO MILLION BIKERS !

I apologize for the paucity of posts, but I just haven't had the inclination and situation together to facilitate writing.
I'll try to rectumfy that.
Soon.

The bike is in the bed of the truck.
In the A.M. we depart Eastbound.
God willin', we'll be in Manassas, VA tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.
Wednesday morning we hope to join two million of our bestest friends on two wheels in D.C..
Denied a permit to rally, I can foresee many of us having some sort of minor problem that necessitates a stop and check.
Often.

Watch the news.
I'll wave.
I promise.

22 August 2013

"I Like The Way You Walk..."

.... said "Fats" Domino in his song "Let The Four Winds Blow".

I was thinking yesterday about a gal I dated 40+ years ago.
Pretty and pleasant, curves in the right places, I dated her for a year.
But there was something about her that REALLY turned me off, and now I'm wondering if I should be ashamed of myself for it...
She couldn't walk in high heels.
Wearing them, she clop-clop-clopped along like her feet were sticking slightly to the surface.

The thought set me to thinking about other "walks".
Except for his walk, I LOVE John Wayne.
But he walks like a horse in some Dressage exhibition.

On the other hand, my Mother used to talk about how watching Henry Fonda walk was like watching Fred Astaire dance, and she loved him for it.

I'm very conscious of my walk.
Relatively short-legged, I try to "move with a purpose" without taking mincing little steps that would make me look like a hamster on a treadmill.
I make my short legs step out as far as they can with each stride.

What about you?
Is the way someone walks noticeable to you?
Is it important?

21 August 2013

Welcome To The Stable !

Some of you have asked-
This is the latest bike I bought.
(Click it for a better look.)
It's a Yamaha "V-Star Classic".
Shaft drive, 650cc, obviously a longitudinal V-Twin.

More on all this soon
.

19 August 2013

The Swiss Army Kni... er... Motorcycle

 
Yeah, I've gone insane.
But I'm havin' a ball, so I don't intend to change.
And money? That's just a tool anway, right?

So actually I AM gonna make a change.
But it entails buying another motorcycle.

Three years ago I made the first motorcycle purchase I had made in over twenty years.
But there was a problem. Pizza Bike had no backrest, and Sara Jean refused to ride pillion on it.
So I bought another bike.
And then another.
My garage is full.
Sold a few, then bought a few more; there have been as many as four bikes under that roof. Our car resides in our drive because there's no room in the garage for it.
Tags and insurance are another factor...
It's about $200 per bike per year to keep them legal.
I dream of being Jay Leno, but I ain't quite there yet.
The only really sane thing to do is to try to consolidate... turn two bikes into one.
And that means compromises.

The bike pictured is a mess of compromises.
The "Yamaha Super Tenere" (pronounced like canary) is what is referred to in the motorcycle industry as a "Dual-Purpose" motorcycle.
That means, if you are a competent rider, you can take it out on the Interstate, or you can take it down a fire trail. It will do neither perfectly.
But it will trail ride better than any Dresser Harley, and cover 400 miles cross-country better than any dirt bike, (and carry Sara Jean as pillion.)
I want one.

(UPDATE)
All the above was written two days ago.
This morning I bought yet another bike, so we're back to four!
I don't need it, but there are extenuating circumstances for the purchase.
It's a 650cc Cruiser.

Purchase of the Yamaha Super Tenere will be put off until later.
I'll update ya then.

14 August 2013

The Well

There is a nice village in Utopia.
The community well in this village replenishes itself at the rate of 1000 gallons a day.
That means the ten families using it can withdraw 100 gallons per day each and the well will stay healthy.
Four families move into the community.
Every family continues to draw 100 gallons daily from the well.
How long before the most wealthy guy in the community is accused of being greedy and starts being fearful for his family?

(Preaching mostly to the choir, I know. Sorry.)

02 August 2013

Hot

Tired of being treated the way we're treated going through security, we've decided to forego being trapped in the long, thin, silver tube and drive rather than fly unless time restraints make driving impossible.
And it's pretty difficult to put a Suzuki motorcycle in the overhead bin, isn't it?
Big Bubba couldn't seem to find anyone competent to turn wrenches on the old BMW R80RT. He was having some sort of difficulty with it at every turn, so I had decided to take "Roswell", my 650cc Suzuki V-Twin out and trade it for the old "airhead" BMW.
In the extreme Phoenix heat the water-cooled, much newer Suzuki will be more reliable for him, and I LOVE riding the old beater BMW and have a little more mechanical knowledge to keep it puttering down the highway.
Road trip! I loaded Roswell into the bed of the truck and Sara Jean, Lucy and I pointed our noses West.

Two days and 1700 miles later, we arrived in the land of sand-for-lawns and Saguaro cacti.
It's HOT. But remember, "It's a DRY heat".
Having experienced that desert heat now on several occasions, my immediate response is-
"So is an oven".
I figured two-wheeling with 95 degrees and almost no humidity would be comfortable.
I was wrong. It's like riding next to the dinner rolls cooking in the OVEN.

There IS a benefit...
Nights are wonderful. Remove the sun from the equation and you're no longer a grape being turned to a raisin. Clear, dry air makes night riding near-perfect.

But that Arizona sun is brutal. If the temperature is above 90 and the sun is  shining, riding longer than about half an hour is not only uncomfortable, the possibility of dehydration makes it dangerous.
Big Bubba once ran out of gas on Interstate 10 and waited an hour in near 100 degree heat for the Auto Club to bring him fuel. He had no water. Disoriented, he couldn't tell the Auto Club where to come help him. When he called to tell me his predicament, from half a continent away I started making phone calls to AAA, and the State and local police.
We both learned valuable lessons that day.

The last night of our stay we loaded the old Beemer into the bed of the Dodge.
The next morning I loaded the rest of our stuff.
When traveling, I always load my computer and the transformer for it first, to insure I don't inadvertently leave it behind. I tucked it into the pocket behind the driver's seat for easy access should I need it somewhere along the line. I then walked the minute-or-so walk back to Big Bubba's apartment to get suitcases, pillows, etc. for our trip home.
Five or six legs back and forth to his apartment, and we're all loaded and ready to go.

We all hugged and said our good-byes, and two of us plus dog joined I-10 for Tucson and beyond.

Our first stop was Ruidoso, New Mexico to visit "Old Prairie Dog".
There, I grabbed our pillows and toiletries, then went back to get my laptop.
The pocket was empty.
Now I'm confused...

Maybe I just THOUGHT I loaded it?
Call Big Bubba... "Is it still there?"
Nope.
It's gone.

Someone had to be watching as I loaded the truck and saw where I put it, then in the time it took me to return with more stuff to load, they grabbed it and the transformer.
I later found they had also taken my digital camera.
Yeah, my homeowner's insurance will cover the loss. But there's a $500 deductible involved there, and the laptop was over a year old. Is it worth filing the claim?
Not to me.
I ate it.
Ordered a new laptop for $700. It came with "Windows 8", and I hate it. I was comfortable with the old laptop and miss it terribly.
I've learned another valuable lesson...
We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Sigh.
What a world we live in.
That computer was double-password protected so I don't know how anyone will use it. How much is a "HOT" laptop worth at a Pawn shop?
Same with the camera...
Without a way to recharge the battery or download the photos, what's that worth to anyone other than me?

And the worst part of it is the reminder that the country is NOT a place where you can trust your neighbors.
You have stuff? There are people willing to risk serious trouble who will take it from you, even if you just leave it for a few seconds.

How terribly sad.





21 July 2013

Catching Up

If you don't feel you have a personal relationship with me, skip this post...
I'm just catching friends up with my news.

It's been a tough Spring/Summer so far.
Stressful.
My Mother had not been well for several months. Twelve hours drive away in Pensacola, we spent as much time with her as possible while we were in Destin, then drove down a couple times to actually spend a weekend with her in her apartment, which was a cramped, one-bedroom place with too much furniture, made MUCH worse with the addition of our Queen-size inflatable airbed on the floor between recliners and TV cabinet.
Cramped quarters made things difficult. Helpers coming in the door at an unworldly hour of the morning to insure she was properly medicated made us feel like Zombies after a couple days.
Obviously, visiting Mom was not a peaceful sojourn to the countryside.

I've had a little side business I started with an old friend in 1988, mostly teaching others to fly helicopters, doing aerial photography, and other little odd jobs requiring the use of a helicopter.
The two of us fit together well... he did the administrative stuff;

I watched over the helicopter and insured the operations side worked as advertised.
A long-time smoker, he's also been in ill health for the last couple years. A year ago his health really started downhill. He's been in and out of the hospital several times.
Two months ago he died.
His wife wants no part of staying in the business of herding helicopters.
Twenty-five years of plugging along, dreaming of what we could do after we both could retire from other work and devote full-time to our business went out the door. Our little business will wither and disappear.

Mother's health worsened.
She was always someone fun to be around... sharp as a tack with a great sense of humor, she was intelligent and curious, and could participate in conversations about anything.
But we noticed her hearing failing. Then her memory started frustrating her.
She no longer participated in conversations because she couldn't hear what was being discussed and couldn't remember things to add.
She sat silently, smiled and nodded, just to show she was glad simply to be around others.
Three weeks ago my sister called to indicate she was failing.
In three days she was gone.
We buried her a week ago.
I've lost my strongest supporter.

BUT...
I take comfort in having had her in my life MUCH longer than anyone would have predicted.
Her weak heart needed help, and to that she had a pacemaker installed in 1983.
At that point NO ONE would have imagined she'd outlive my Dad.

She did.
Like a Timex watch, she just kept on ticking.
Her "metronome" pacemaker was replaced with one that measured O2 content in her bloodstream and increased her heart rate as necessary.
The battery in that device failed one morning and her poor weak heart kept plugging until they could install a new battery.
She survived hurricane Ivan and three weeks of no air-conditioning in her new Pensacola apartment, just days after we moved her there.
She was a tough, wonderful creature. Obviously, I'll miss her terribly.

I've kinda had a "one-two punch" delivered to my midsection and I'm still not recovered...
May never fully recover.
Add to my emotional stress the fact I still think my beloved country is circling the drain, and you may understand my reluctance to write here.

I HOPE things CHANGE.
It'd be nice to have some good news cheer us all up, wouldn't it?
(If you have any, share in the comments PLEASE.)

03 July 2013

The Procession

Birth. Life. Death.
And if it proceeds as it should, that "life" part should be reasonably long.
It also helps, when the "death" part happens, if the life part also makes living better for others.

Obviously, it doesn't always unfold the way we hope. Some of the saddest days of my career were those when I'd carry a very sick or injured youngster in the helicopter, then observe parents as they watch life slowly slip away from their child.
We naturally grieve when we lose loved ones, but if those departed family members or friends have "run a good race" and frequently put smiles on the faces of others, that grieving is mostly for ourselves, knowing we'll not have the pleasure of their company any more.
When a young person dies we not only lose that personal contact, we lose the promise of what might have been.

I'm headed back to Indianapolis this weekend to reunite my Mother with my Dad.
I'm grieving because I'm selfish and will miss our conversations, the ability to say "Hey Mom, what was that guy's name?"; the LOVE.
But I'm comforted by the fact that Mom's life-parade proceeded as it should have...indeed, lasted longer than anyone could have expected.

Butterfly kisses Mom...
You put smiles on lots of faces.
You ran a great race.

25 June 2013

I Am Jimmy Buffett

"So, how's retirement going?"

Thank you for asking. It's a difficult adjustment, and I ain't adjusted yet.
I miss the satisfaction, knowing my work was helping others.
I miss working with others willing to take the risk of doing what has turned out to be one of the more dangerous jobs in the world in order to save lives and help the sick.
And then there's the pain and shame of knowing I have become Jimmy Buffett.

We spent half of November, December, and January in Destin, FL, then, upon my retirment spent ALL of February and March there. Destin is wonderful...
Arguably the most beautiful beaches in the world. Seafood served in restaurants was swimming in salt water the day before being served. Cool nights, warm days... it's all too easy to sit in the sun on the balcony overlooking the Gulf while reading something interesting.
And since the refrigerator is only a few steps away, a cold beverage can be had on a whim.
But what cold beverage? Iced tea? Iced coffee? Soda pop?

We all-too-quickly got into "Jimmy Buffett" mode...
"It's five O'Clock somewhere!"
And that five-liter box of wine is just sitting there begging for attention.
"Want some grape juice?"
"Why yes dear, I'd LOVE some!"

Pretty quickly I noticed my waist band tighten, and the need to put my belt thingy into a hole closer to the end of the belt.
Both of us came back North wearing clothes that we struggled to get into. I knew drastic measures were in order, but didn't want to take on the struggle until life settled down so we could both diet.
We finished our annual Goose Round-up last week... a time of hard work and hard play, with lots of beer flowing. Saturday morning I got on the scale...
TWO HUNDRED TWENTY SIX POUNDS!
That is, BY FAR, the most I have EVER weighed.
I am 5'9" tall.
I'm MUCH too short to put that much mass on two feet.

So Sunday morning we got started doing something about it.
One of Sara Jean's friends had suggested the "Sacred Heart Soup Diet". Some years ago an acquaintance had mentioned his success with it, so we decided to give it a shot.

Monday morning I weighed in... 224 pounds.
Tuesday A.M.... 220.
So yeah, it's probably mostly water lost.
But I can already see a difference in my stomach bulk, and I've taken my belt up a notch.
Amazing.

Right now we're discussing staying on this diet two weeks, then switching to the "Atkins" diet for a couple weeks... we've had great success with it too.
I'll update ya later on what we do and the results we experience.
But one thing is sure-
When I reach my target weight I'll be on the scale EVERY MORNING, and if I've gained a pound, the pie-hole will be shut until that pound is gone. That'll take discipline, and although I've enjoyed being Jimmy for these past few months, he's killing me.

It's time to start "Wasting away..." so I don't feel like a beached whale when we return to Destin.

07 June 2013

Big Brother, (No Holding Company).

"They've suspended my license for 90 days" he said.
A flight instructor and charter pilot, it meant his income would have a huge dent in it for three months.

"How did this happen?"

"The airplane had been involved in an accident. The FAA inspector claimed the engine had suffered a 'sudden stoppage', even though the engine never stopped running. He refused to allow me to fly the airplane home without a ferry permit. It was late Friday afternoon and waiting for the office to open Monday to get the permit was impossible. I waited until he was gone, started the airplane, and flew it home."

"How do they know it was YOU who flew the airplane?"

"They tracked me through my credit card fuel-charges... Knew every stop I made."

Folks, if you are not concerned about the information now available to our government, you aren't paying enough attention.

Ugly, UGLY times are coming.
Prepare.

20 May 2013

An Unfair Comparison-


With the explosion of scandals now causing the
president(?)'s associates to spin like whirling dervishes, we're seeing more and more Obama/Nixon comparisons. This is misguided and unfair. There are STRIKING differences between the two men, and I'd like to illustrate them.

Richard Nixon could not sing like the Reverend Al Green.
It was never public knowledge that he used illicit drugs. As a matter of fact, his administration had strong anti-drug policies.
Photos of Nixon's Mother were pretty boring.
Citizens never questioned his birthplace.
Major investigative agencies never declared his birth certificate "a forgery".

His Father was a U.S. citizen, so there was never any question of his eligibility to hold the office of PoTUS.
His record in Undergrad and Grad school was public knowledge, so we know he was an EXCELLENT student.
He was NEVER denied the ability to practice law.

Richard Nixon was a known anti-communist.
Commissioned an Ensign, he then served in the Navy and was a World War II Veteran.
He sought to REDUCE the size of the Federal government, transferring power to the individual States.
He strongly supported Israel.

But he wasn't cool.
How things have changed, huh?


13 May 2013

Fighting Soldiers From The Sky

After the last election I felt like I had lost a close family member.
It has become harder and harder to post here as I watch my country go down the toilet.
Are we already past the point of no return?
The next few weeks will tell.

But I want to relate this to you here...
Some time back I posted a video of a Marine that indicated our troops WOULD NOT follow any orders to attack citizens. Some commented that Marine's video did not indicate what would really happen if the order were given to take out groups applying their 1st Amendment rights.

I disagreed at the time, and I want to relate something that will comfort those of you who are committed to the Constitution now...

We have a neighbor who is a Green Beret... a member of our elite Special Forces.
I have had long conversations with this man over adult beverages.
He related that in his Group, the name of the Commander-in-chief is not permitted to be spoken aloud.
Anyone uttering the name suffers humililiation from the rest of the Group.
An order to ignore the Constitution by "He who shall remain unnamed and unspoken" will be ignored.

When hearing this, (over adult beverages), I cried.
The country is NOT LOST.
But we MUST dig our heels in NOW.

Get your head out of where it is dark, warm, and smelly.

If you already have, help others to do the same.

29 April 2013

Anger

It's there, lurking.
Just behind that next corner.
Be careful how you approach, 'cause it might attack.

It's maybe my worst failing, and I know it. So why can't I quash it?
I watch others failing by using drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes and hold them in a sort of compassionate contempt, but know I don't want them inside my "circle of wagons".
So, recognizing how damaging this trait is, why can I not control it?

There are close relatives I no longer want to be part of my life.
In-laws are now "out-laws".
We watch the news and the anger boils up...
"If they hadn't voted for this S.O.B. we wouldn't be facing this problem."
And we've even expressed this to the out-laws. Their response?...
"I'm not really paying attention to the news, so I don't know anything about that."
Obviously.
And that's the problem you ignorant, CO2 producing poor excuse for intelligent life.
So why did you vote? You had NO idea what the candidate stood for!
There I go again.

I want to scream.
Trying to change minds, instead, I alienate.
No amount of rational argument, coming out of my angry, screwed-tight face, will change an ignorant mind that is already closed.

But how can they not see it?
Our country is being "fundamentally transformed" before our very eyes, and the only topic you can address with these people is, "Who was eliminated from 'Dancing With The Stars' last night?"

I signed that blank check...
Agreed to die fighting, if necessary, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Now I'm watching the president, Congress, and bureacrats all along the way ignore that document, enforcing "the laws we want to enforce", ignoring those they don't.
How long can this go on?
And how do I control my anger so I can make others come to the realization we are "on the brink"?


I'm open to suggestion.
'Cause what I'm doin' ain't workin'.


("Doc, it hurts when I do THIS.")

12 April 2013

"It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."

Yeah, it's been a while.
The wind is outta my sail. Like many of you, I'm dismayed at what is happening all around me and more dismayed by the fact that few folks around me seem to care. Why can they not see what is just around the corner? My son will be 30 in July and I'm furious that there's NO WAY he can experience the country I grew up in. It's gone. Forever.
Why aren't my neighbors with several kids in an uproar?


So for me, it's hard to pump up the motivation to write anything.
But much has happened and I need to chronicle it.
So let's catch up-

We spent most of the Winter in the condo in Destin. My EMS co-workers coordinated with me so I could work two weeks, then take two weeks off. Sara Jean and I headed South during the two week hiatus in November, December, and January.
I retired (really this time!) 26 January and we spent all of February and March overlooking the Gulf of Mexico from our balcony, coming home three or four days at the end of each month to grab the mail and insure that burst plumbing wasn't ruining our home here in the Great White North. With neighbors all around watching over the place, getting the mail actually was the main reason for the trip.
Did you know the U.S. Postal Service now charges a fee to forward your mail? I was surprised too.

Winter in Destin this year was wet and cool... kind of a surprise. We carried the GoldWing down our first trip hoping to get in some riding during the time that would either be impossible or uncomfortable in our Northern home.
But the damp, cool weather in Destin didn't much lend itself to two-wheeled therapy.
I did use the bike quite a bit to run short errands. But I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the salt air/spray ate up the chrome on the machine. All of the chrome now needs major elbow grease, or maybe rehab/replacing.
I now question my plan to take a newer, more expensive machine down next year.
And this Winter, if we have a repeat of last year, I may not go to the (considerable) trouble of loading a bike in the back of the Ram Diesel at all.

We still have not adjusted to retirement. I'm told by some that it may take me more than a year.
In February, when we first got to Destin full-time, I found myself rising at 0530 or so, turning on the computer and listening to our radio station back home for news and weather. (We wanted to be able to justify to ourselves the expense of spending all the money we've spent to Winter on the Gulf.) We had to mostly content ourselves with the fact our temperatures in Destin were 20 or more degrees higher than they were at home, because the wet and rainy days mostly kept us inside, happy to have the fake fireplace space heater working its magic.
No matter the temperatures, there is something about looking out the balcony window and seeing the water lapping against the shore that is good for the soul.

I applied for Social Security benefits the evening of my 66th birthday. I did this online and was amazed at how easy it was. The process was so efficient, I (wrongly) expected the checks to start arriving quickly. My first check arrived almost two months after I applied, after we had used up virtually ALL ready cash, making me sweat just a little.
But now that income stream seems to be flowing efficiently. I'm now consolidating several Mutual Funds under one umbrella so that we can also start a "systematic withdrawal plan" from them.
It's hard to describe how this makes me feel...
I started contributing to a fund in 1972 with the hope of retiring rich.
Now, 41 years later, I find myself saddened by how little all that squirreling away is gonna buy... certainly MUCH less than I hoped, considering the self-denying we've had to do for YEARS to save that money. The recent hit taken by the stock market is responsible for part of that. The fact that I started being more conservative with my investments as we approached retirement is also responsible. Looking back, not being able to see how I could have handled it differently is small comfort. But here we are, and I DO take comfort in the fact we ARE rich in many ways...
We are in great health.
And we CAN retire.
That's sayin' a LOT.
But it IS an odd feeling planning to withdraw money, rather than saving more for some future date.


What else can I say about retirement?
Well, I'm still trying to sort out a routine. I was going buggy so I went to the Destin airport to chat with the guy flying helicopter tours down the beach and volunteered my services. They really don't have much work there until the Spring-Breakers descend upon the town, and I got the feeling the young Whipper-snapper flying the R44 there really didn't want some old fart coming in, stealing time that could be logged in his logbook.
So I got no return call. Maybe next year?

And SJ and I have both added about 10 pounds to our bulk.
Cold/wet/windy days lead to laughing at one another when the question "Do you want to go for a walk?" was asked. The next step, after the laughing had died down, was to head for the 'fridge to get an adult beverage.
We soon found ourselves in "Jimmy Buffett" mode...
"It's five O'Clock somewhere, right!?"
More laughter. Well, it IS grape juice, isn't it?
And grape juice is good for you!

The weather here in our Northern home is beautiful... cool, crisp nights. Warm, breezy/mostly sunny days. Buds on the trees look like they could explode.
And, ashamed of ourselves for our "Dunlap's disease", we've actually walked more here than we did all Winter in Destin.
I've already lost four pounds. SJ has lost more.

I think this retirement business is gonna be O.K..
We just have to continue to adjust to it.
And WE either have to dramatically increase our amount of exercise, or cut back on "Jimmy Buffett" mode.
I'll update you soon on how that turns out.


16 March 2013

Paulette And Katy

Sara Jean and I play a game- "Brad Pitt is IN THE HOUSE!"
When we see someone who looks like a celebrity or a friend, one of us will announce it to the other. And we almost always see things similarly.
This morning, while searching one of my favorite sites, Imdb.com, I was searching for trivia and pics of an actress that always made my heart go "pitter-pat".
A "nagging" started in the back of my noggin.
Here's my heart-throb, Paulette:




My nagging thoughts continued until I figured out why.
See if you agree that "Paulette is IN THE HOUSE!":


That's Katy Perry.
I tried to find a good black and white photo of Katy for an "apples to apples" comparison, but failed.
Sara Jean and I agree on this one.
They could be sisters.
What do you think?

10 March 2013

Our Nation, Post-Racial

Conceited.
Arrogant.
Over-confident.
I've been called these, and worse.
I understand.
If we disagree, I'm a hard guy to like. I'll make you defend your position, and if you can't, you may find yourself wishing we hadn't met.
This attitude has cost me friendships. It has strained relationships with loved ones.
I used to think that was a bad thing.
Not any more.

Some time back a loved one said something to the effect, "I'm not gonna play that game." It wasn't intended to be profound at the time, but it had a dramatic effect on me.
I was, more and more, wondering how we could possibly be making the choices we were making as a nation. I started paying closer attention to what those around me were saying about the course they wanted to see the Nation taking.
I was amazed.
Some people are lazy.
Some people don't know history... it's harsh to call them stupid, but it's SO hard not to embarrass them when they get into Neville Chamberlain territory.

So I'm now into "I no longer play that game" territory.
Don't like me? That's okay.
Don't agree with me? That's okay too. I don't care.
I don't want you in my life.
I don't even want you dabbling around the edges of my life.

We're in trouble.
I'm pedalling as fast as I can to protect me and those I love.
If you give a flip about who fathered Kim Kardashian's baby,
I won't bother to discuss the time of day with you.
I no longer play that game.

Post-racial?
(Spit.)
Angry? You bet.
Why aren't you?


05 March 2013

Life Requires Responsibility

If you're paying "Attention to detail, candidate!", you already know some of my past.
If you haven't been curious enough to dig on your own, lemme tell ya-
I was once a Dog Catcher. (Became HEAD Dog Catcher of the fastest-growing county in the United States at the time with 28 Animal Control Officers working under my supervision.)
Ever watch Cesar Milan? He talks about "helping dogs and TRAINING OWNERS."
That's so true it hurts.
Lemme relate a story-


The gal came into the office and said she had a Momma and puppies she "needed us to find owners for."
I followed her back to her car to find the back seat completely covered by a Doberman bitch and eight pups. The female Dobie had found a way to expose her backside to a pureblooded Black Labrador retriever, and the pups were all black except for the tiny brown markings over their eyebrows.

Absolutely beautiful animals.

"You want us to find owners for these pups? Have you tried to find owners for them yourself?"

"Yes, Momma AND pups. But no one wants them."

"Well, sadly, let me tell you what will most likely happen here. We MUST keep them for five days. IF someone comes in looking for an adoption, they'll get to look at your Mom and pups.
BUT, we have VERY FEW folks coming by these days. So it is VERY likely that in five days I'll be putting your dogs into our nitrogen chamber to euthanize them."

It was like I had slapped her in the face. (And I was happy to see that reaction.)
We had a few more minutes of chat about how terrible the animal control situation was. She then got back into her car and drove home with Momma Dobie and her pups in the back seat.

A week or so later I was dismayed when I recognized her car as it pulled into our drive.
She got out of the car crying. I walked out and met her wordlessly.
I got a box for the puppies. She lead Mom to the kennel on a leash.
Momma Doberman and her beautiful pups were our guests in the same cage...
For five days.

When times get tough, money gets tight.
When money gets tight, that 50-pound bag of dog food begins to look expensive; like a spot where you could be saving a few $$$$. And a BIG dog can go through 50 pounds of expensive food in a hurry.
It's one thing to have one big dog.
It's another altogether to have NINE of 'em.
(And they make human-sized Poo-Poo too!)

Another of those jobs we need to be thinking about when we thank those who do jobs we don't want to do/CANNOT do, is animal control.
Putting those beautiful animals down was another thing that "brought on the rain".

But turning them loose to be hit on the road or otherwise neglected/mistreated was unthinkable.

Another celebrity, Bob Barker, had it right...
This was, and IS, a much bigger problem than most realize:
"Spay or neuter".

It minimizes the tears that are shed by owners,

AND by animal control officers.


01 March 2013

How Do Da Weather Know?

It takes all kinds of fruits and nuts to make a good salad, right?
Some like cold weather. (I think they're NUTS, but tolerate them for the sake of entertainment.)
Our decision to Winter in Destin came because the Florida panhandle DOES experience a change of seasons. Last night for instance, the temperature there dropped into the mid-30's. If the wind is blowing as it normally does when temps drop that low, you had better have a warm jacket handy.
And then there's the rain. It has rained a LOT the past month. The poor GoldWing has been sitting in the parking lot like some poor critter trying to find shelter, and there ain't none to be found. Mist off the Gulf is full of salt, which is taking its toll on all the chrome pieces. I haven't had much ability to knock the chrome monster down because of all the rain. I'm resigned to the fact that the poor bike will maybe need some "Kentucky chrome" added to those parts that are now brownish-orange.

Of course we watch the weather a lot, both to see IF tomorrow will be good for riding, and to see what the weather is doing elsewhere.
We've been surprised at how mild the Winter has been so far back home in the Midwest. But "mild" still means it normally is at least 20 degrees colder at home than in Destin. Cold is what I wanted to avoid.
I'll take the rain, providing it stays warmer than back home.

We came home last week to check on our house, grab the mail, renew license tags, and run errands.
We're headed back South tomorrow, provided I get the oil and filter changed in the Ram/Cummins Diesel. We've been watching the Destin weather since we got here... It's been sunny and mid 60's there every day.
Here at home? Clouds. Rain. SNOW! Down to 32 or less most every evening.
How do it know?

The panhandle forecast for our return looks like two-wheeling weather so far.
Let's see if that changes once we are back in residence overlooking the emerald waters.

18 February 2013

Tuber Shooter

It was one of those "Hey, watch this!" moments.
He shoved a potato(e?) into the end of the barrel and rammed it home with a stick.
He then unscrewed a cap beneath the barrel, sprayed a three-second spritz of hair spray into that compartment, then replaced the cap.
He shouldered the contraption, pulled the trigger, and sent the spud hurtling more than a football field's distance.
I was stunned.
I couldn't help myself... uncontrolled laughing followed.
We then proceeded to use up a $2 can of hairspray and send a $5 bag of potato(e?)s downrange in less than 10 minutes, giggling all the while.


Not really a toy, the potato slug leaves the barrel at a rate that would probably kill a nearby person struck in the chest by the projectile.
Ever fire one? It's a hoot. I recommend it.
I bet it puts a smile on your face.

But as with most anything that fires a projectile, be careful!
Detailed construction plans for one type here.