Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

I have been extremely busy at work.

Although I've not been able to post very much or keep up on my regular blog reading, being busy is good. With all the gloom and doom associated with the economic melt down, I'm thankful. There are multitudes that are not as fortunate.

For the past 3 weeks almost, the weather in Ohio has had a Suck Factor near the top of the scale, at least for riding. Frigid mornings, overcast skies, rain, sleet and snow with only a smattering of sun. Yet, I am thankful because my home is warm and dry and my car still gets me to and from the grocery store where the shelves are always full.

I am amazed and disheartened that as Americans we take so much for granted. In our capitalistic lifestyles we have come to expect that whatever we want, it will be available. Enough warmth, enough food, enough shelter, money, peace, toys, time. We expect with an entitlement attitude and then complain to whoever might listen when there isn't enough.

Were it not for others before us, our lives would be vastly different. And I'm grateful.

A friend sent me a link to a web site called The Gratitude Campaign which features a short video about expressing gratitude toward active military personal. This is not about whether the Iraq war is just or whether we should be there.

Its about saying, "Thanks."

And then that got me to thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday and being thankful for a lot of things.

So, thanks for stopping by and sharing your stories, insights, tips and tricks.

Here's the video.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hello Holla Shalom привет bonjour

Today is World Hello Day!

= = = = = = =
(from www.worldhelloday.org:)

November 21, 2008 is the 36th annual World Hello Day. Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace.

World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973. Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.
= = = = = = = =

A lofty goal for 36 years. And look where its gotten us.

Prob'ly be better off riding on two wheels. That seems to promote peace and tranquility in me!

Ride Safe!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Long Weekend - Part II

This is part 2 of a 3 part ride report. Part 1 can be found here.

One of the best things about our long weekend away from home was being able to sleep in. Usually, even on Saturday mornings I rise before daybreak, either out of habit or out of necessity. But not this particular Saturday.

We didn't hit the road until about 11:00 and that was after breakfast at a Portsmouth Bob Evans restaurant. It was another bright and sunny day, although the morning air was cool.

Today's journey would take us through Manchester and Aberdeen and Ripley, believe it or not. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Our destination was probably Springfield, Ohio. The plan was to take US 52 westward following the Ohio River until either Ripley or Cincinnati and then turn north. US 52 between Portsmouth and Cincinnati was a major highway at one time. It is still well cared for but traffic is light and almost entirely local.

We left Portsmouth and traveled through Sugar Grove, Kennvale, and Buena Vista, all just wide spots in the road. About the time we got to Kennvale, I realized that my fuel gauge was blinking. In my excitement for the day, I had forgotten to fill up in Portsmouth before we left and now the tank was down to about half a gallon left.

That much fuel will normally take me about 30 miles. No problem. Or so I thought. We had to ride all the way to Manchester before we found a gas station. According to specs, my tank holds 4.1 gallons and I pumped 4.02 gallons into it.

Serves me right. I was paying too much attention to the scenery and not enough attention to important stuff, like fuel.

On impulse, I turned north on US 68 at Ripley. As soon as we got more than a couple of miles north from the Ohio River flood plain the elevation rose and the landscape flattened out. When terrain is flat roads tend to run in a straight line. This part of US 68 is like that.

Flat, wide, open areas dotted with an acre or two of trees here and there. Most of the fields had been harvested so we could see for miles.

Mt. Orab, Greenbush, Fayetteville, and Willmington are some of the towns we passed through.

It was somewhere between Willington and and Xenia that I recalled something that Dave (I think) commented on elsewhere in this blog: Young's Jersey Dairy Farm.

Teresa had never been to Young's before so I knew it would not only be a surprise but a nice treat, too.

The Young dairy farm started in 1869. They started selling milk from the farm in the 1950s. Then came ice cream and a bakery.

They now have something for everyone especially if you like ice cream or have young ones that find petting and feeding corralled goats, sheep, calves, ducks and geese enjoyable. Their website says they served approximately 1,150,000 customers in 2007.

Teresa and I spent about an hour on the farm enjoying some creamy frozen delights while we watched other people doing the same.

Then it was back on the road again, headed north through Yellow Springs, Xenia and then to Springfield.

Yellow Springs is the home of Antioch College and a major arts center. When we passed through, it appeared as though there was some kind of street fair taking place. Live music and dancing, artists and merchants displaying their work or hocking their wares everywhere.

We continued on through Xenia and then onto Springfield. Earlier in the day, Teresa had called ahead and reserved a room in a south Springfield hotel. With only a vague idea of how to reach our destination, I ended up traveling about 5 or 6 miles past where we needed to be.

I soon realized my error and pulled off onto an exit ramp and retreived the road map. We were sitting astride Lady when a rider on a Sportster turned around and pulled up beside us.

His name was Bill and wanted to know if we needed any help. Bill reminded me of Wild Bill Hickock, or at least what I imagined Wild Bill looked like.

Bill was probably in his 50s and had long, shoulder length hair that had more silver in it than anything else. He had a warm smile and friendly eyes behind his glasses and he wore light brown distressed leathers on both top and bottom with foot long fringe across the chest and down the arms and legs. A definite western theme going on.

I explained where we wanted to be and he knew exactly where I was talking about. Bill gave us great directions to our hotel and then explained that he was a pastor of a church that held biker services and invited us to attend that evening. We thanked him, promised to give the invite consideration and turned around toward our accommodations.

At the hotel, I regretted not having access to a public PC so I could send an email. We were staying in Rick Slark's backyard (Keep The Rubber Side Down) and would have liked an opportunity to meet with him. But with no advanced email it was not to happen. Next time for sure, Rick!

We had dinner at O'Charlie's and planned the final day of our adventure.

This day we covered another 150 miles at a very leisurely pace of about 6 hours. Here's a link to the Google map. LINK Tomorrow would take us us northward to Celina and then east heading for home. We would have to cover about 250 miles on our final day and I found myself longing for an extra day on the road.

(To Be Continued)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The other day I received a voice mail on my cell. When the call came in, the number displayed looked familiar but it wasn't in my contact list so I let it go to voice mail.

I got a free minute a while later and retrieved it. The voice on the recording said I was cordially invited to a rider class reunion at the dealership where I took my MSF safety class. Free pizza, I bet.

As much as I enjoy free food, worth what you paid for it most of the time, did I really want to go? I didn't know anyone in my class from a year ago and I haven't ridden with any of them since. I don't think I can remember anyone's name.

There were 12 of us in the class. We spent one evening of about 6 hours in a class room and then 2 afternoons of 6 hours each together on the course, a 2 acre parking lot with course lines painted on the asphalt. Not much time to get to know people let alone the ins and outs of motorcycling.

Here's a picture of the "range". Since training season at this location is complete, its full of cars. But every other weekend from May until October the lot is empty except for a dozen riders and at least two instructors.

Like I said, I didn't get to know my fellow classmates but there are some events that were memorable.

A pastor and his wife were there. She had never used a clutch before. On any vehicle. She had a couple of 'fallovers' but toughed it out and completed the course.

I remember her husband, the pastor, in front of me in line to start a timed run for the final evaluation. He waited for about 2 minutes while the rider/coaches compared notes or something. During that 2 minutes, he nervously revved the engine on the Rebel 250 like he was a teenager at a stoplight waiting for the green light. 2 minutes is a long time to listen to vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom. He passed.

There was a young twenty-something lady who was a Honda motorcycle mechanic which I thought was unique. I suppose it is a good thing to be able to test ride the bike you're fixing. She passed.

A husband and wife team were learning together. They were first time riders with a passion for the 'open road on two wheels' dream. Their dreams were only half realized.

The wife dropped out of the class, either out of embarrassment or realization after an incident at the end of the first day on the course. Her story serves as a reminder for me to do a check on my attention and awareness.

Like I said, it was at the end of the first day on the training course. The course, a 2 acre parking lot at this car dealership, was bordered on the back side by cars, trucks, and SUVs that were destined for the auto auction. The vehicles were lined up where the pavement stopped and gravel began and they provided a good visual boundary for the course.

The September day had been hot and tiring. My backside was aching after spending nearly 6 hours in the saddle and I was ready to call it a day.

If I remember correctly, the exercise were were learning required us to accelerate to about 20 mph and on the instructor's signal, serve to the right or left, straighten the bike out and then stop.

Almost all of us had completed the task and were gathered near the staging area about 250 feet away from where the exercise was held. That's when we heard the commotion.

The wife had completed the exercise and was instructed to turn right after her stop and then park at the staging area. For some reason, she never made the right turn and ended up planting her Rebel into the grill of one of the auto auction vehicles.

It was a good thing she only had a few feet between where she started and the cars. She wasn't able to get up much speed. She survived her first crash but opted not to participate in the rest of the course the following day. (To her credit though, she did accompany her husband.)

She wasn't injured and according to her the only thing she hurt was her pride. In explaining what happened, she said she just zoned out. She was hot and tired and lost her mental focus.

At the time, I thought, "Wow. That'll never happen the me." Wrongo, Bozo! When I'm travelling the same road everyday, and am familiar with every curve, seam, patch, and lane change, its easy to let my guard down and my mind wander.

You know you're lucky when you're still upright on your bike but can't remember the last few miles.

Has it ever happened to you?

Ride Safe!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm busier than a... well, let's just say I'm really busy. The company has had a bit of a growth spurt and we have several new employees starting in the next few days.

Each of those people need PCs configured, accounts setup, and what not. Top that off with two other projects that I'm involved with and some personal commitments, and I've run out of time for the blog.

I have 2 or 3 posts in the edit phase waiting for some pictures and other touches. Those will have to take a back seat for now.

Give me a few days and I'll get caught up.

Ride Safe!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is voting day in the United States and by tomorrow, half of us will be disappointed.
Regardless, vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Long Weekend - Part I

The plan was only a rough sketch and even then only covered the first day of our trip. There have been some places I've always wanted to visit or travel through and Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the opportunity to do just that.

Friday morning I slept in and we didn't leave the house until almost noon. The destination this day would be Portsmouth, Ohio. Normally, a trip to Portsmouth would take about 3 hours, but I had plans to stretch it out to about 5 or 6.

The sunshine was brilliant and the air was cool as we traveled SR 37 to Lancaster. I love older, nostalgic downtowns and Lancaster, while small, has been revitalized and is quaint and inviting.

We traveled US 22 to Circleville and then US 23 to Chilicothe and then Piketon. Chilicothe was the first capital of Ohio. Piketon was the home home of a uranium enrichment plant, I believe, that closed up shop and left a nasty mess to be cleaned up.

At Piketon, we turn west on SR 32. This would take us into Brush Creek State forest.

While the trees in northeastern Ohio have pretty much moved well past their prime fall colors, southern Ohio still has some great variety.

After a few miles on SR 32, we stopped at a rest area for a chance to stretch our legs. I walked over towards a bench in a grassy area when Teresa shrieked and said, "You've got bugs all over you!"

Asian lady bugs were swarming in the area and every step we took scattered dozens of them. That explained the condition of my windshield after we started riding again.

We turn north west on SR 73 for a few miles until we stopped here:

There was good news and bad news about the Serpent Mound State Memorial. The bad news was that the museum and gift shop were closed for the season, since Labor Day. The good news was that the parking was free.

Areal photos of the mounds led me to believe they covered several acres, but in actuality the site is much smaller and easily walked.

I wondered if any ancient Indian ghosts were upset by our presence. Perhaps, but they never spoke up.

After a pleasant time with the entire memorial to ourselves, we departed and followed SR 73 south and east through the Brushy Creek and Shawnee State Forests.

The roads were in great shape with almost no traffic. The combination of tree lined shoulders and the late afternoon sun created a strobe effect of light/dark, light/dark as we rode. Almost mesmerizing.

After about another hour we approached Portsmouth. Portsmouth is another of those quaint, historic towns that time seems to have forgotten about.

Except of the local state community college and the new bridge, of course.

We checked into our hotel about an hour before sunset. We traveled about 150 miles and meandered around for about 6 hours.

One incredible day down. Two more days to go. Could it get any better?

(To be continued:)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How do you know if your 3 day weekend was spent wisely?

When you travel 550 miles, through a dozen and a half counties, and are still longing for another day.

More details later...