Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nine Rocks to One Corner of the World

Met PhatPat (Pat Leonard) right off 495 at the Shell Station precisely 7:30 (doesn’t that sound so official). After the obligatory photo op we headed for Augusta, ME. North Country Harley Davidson was our destination. Pat needs only 3 to complete the tour, I need 4. We slabbed it to Augusta

Off the slabs and onto the back roads for Acadia National Park, but not without stopping for Pink Floyd. Pink is a Tag You Are It Rally that OSJ started to replace his normal season long rally. Pat and I were too late on Pink; someone else has grabbed him and posted up Ben and Jerry’s in Vermont, which is definitely not on the way.

The obligatory entrance photo to Acadia

The are 9 stamps (these are not the rocks) in the Park at 7 different locations. I feel for the IBA NP Tour these should be counted as 7 different places, we shall see if they are in agreement. This is my second visit to Acadia and this place is one of those 1000 places you should see. Hey on page 20 in Patricia Schultz’s book she has this place listed. I am going to have to return here a third time to really see this place, but that’s ok.

Video of Acadia National Park 2:25 Minutes (enjoy) .
Click here to watch "Acadia-National-Park"

After spending 3 or so hours at Acadia we needed to make some tracks for Caribou, ME our next destination. According to Garmin on ETA was 10:30pm. To add some variety to trips sometimes the GPS thinks I am on an adventure bike. This road went from pavement, to choppy pavement (not atypical for Maine) to hard packed dirt got narrower then the hard packed dirt turned to ruts and fist size stones (not the greatest for 2 sport tourers) then narrowed so you couldn’t turn around. After about 7 miles, I just know this road is gonna take us no where and we are gonna have to turn around and do this POS road all over again. I hate when I am right and I hate when I forget to take pictures like in situations like this. Sigh

At this place we decide I95 is a good decision and we head out on the highway. Well of course it raining off and on, the bugs are having a Shindig of some sort, they were dressed to the Nines (nope this isn’t the rocks). In Houlton, ME we pulled into to a gas station to get GAS of all things. I got into a conversation with the woman at the counter and she warned me about the Bullwinkles that also liked to party on the roads we were headed on. We decided to find a place to stay. I would of figured DIRT under our wheels would be over, but Houlton town decided to rip up RT 2A. Wet mud is slippery. !!

We spent the night at the Scottish Inn. Apparently there was one heck of a storm that I slept thru. Well the morning was not bright and not particularly warm. At least it wasn’t snowing. We had a great breakfast here and of course I bought a mug for my diner collection.

=====Here Comes the Sun and 9 Rocks to Boot========

Right down the street on Route 1 is the Maine Visitor Center. We drove around the parking lot looking for the FIRST rock. I wasn’t about to give up and I went into the VC. Well Pluto is so small they moved it inside. The folks in several communities between Houlton and Presque Isle erected a largest scale model of our solar system in the world. Pluto is located exactly 33.2 miles from the Sun. ( )







Earth (3rd rock from the Sun)




You too can have a fulfilling career in Slow Stop Sign Administrator

Now the real purpose of our trip was to visit Plourdes in Caribou, ME for our stamps. With this one I have 2 to go and Pat has ONE !!!. That is going to cost me dessert at dinner some night.

With the major mission completed for this trip we were foot peg fancy and free. Pat wanted to find the beginnings of Route 1. Pat lived in Florida and has the end point in Key West and he wanted the begin point, so up Route 1 it is. We both wanted to visit Madawaska which is one of the corners for the Southern California Motorcycle Association tour. . This ride involves going to each of the furthest corners of the US (sans Alaska) in 21 days. One day I will do this ride. It is about 10,000 miles.

We stopped at this place which was very prominent from the distance on the way Madawaska

Pre Grand Opening of Madawaska Four Corner Monument

Route 1 Begin Point Fort Kent, ME

Pat and I headed down Route 11 for home. It is 1:30pm and miles to home is something like 500 miles. My ETA is 11:45pm. Pat is closer than I am, but not by much. Route 11 is supposedly a scenic route. While it does have some very scenic spots, it is also chock full of frost heaves which just rattles you teeth and brain.

Scenic Rest Stop along Route 11

Around 5:45pm we decide we would stop at the famous A-1 Diner in Gardiner, ME. This place was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. I had a Reuben with horseradish sauce. It was GREAT, pricey but GREAT. I call to make sure A> they are open and B> to make sure we can make it there on time. They close at 8:30pm; Garmin says we should arrive at 7:30pm. This pic was taken at 7:26pm.

After diner, we headed out on the highway to slab it home. I arrived home at around 12:30 because Garmin doesn’t know about the repaving of 496 from Westford south which has all shoved into 1 lane. Trip for me was 1,178 STEPENDOUS miles.

Some Back Posts you may Have Missed

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Conservation and Art go Hand and Throttle

Saturday, June 21st around 7:30am I left N Uxbridge with 3 destinations in mind. First would be a visit to Granite City Harley Davidson as part of the HD’s ride New England program. ( ). I reached GC around 11:30 got my stamp. While I was waiting patiently for the person at the cash register to finish up with a bunch of Canadian customers I saw a rack of coffee mugs with Twin City HD on it. Now I have been to at least 24 dealers and generally find the merchandise way to expensive to buy. I turned over the cup and it was 10.95. When I got to the register, the girl rang in 3.00. Wow something at a HD dealer that was actually cheap. Oh how did I know they were Canadian, I didn’t understand a word they were saying and it sounded French to me, so I assumed they were not from the Middle East.

During the winter, I was pondering where I was going to go this season on the bike, especially since OSJ wasn’t going to have a treasure hunt. One of the things I came across was NH Historic and Roadside markers. Now I have a Garmin file with all of these markers as WP’s and when I see one I generally stop and take a picture. Long term objection is capture all 175 of them.

Next stop was the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP in Woodstock, VT. This site center around the mansion and home of 3 people with a common theme of Conservation through out their lives. Marsh (the original owner) wrote one of the first books on conservation called Man and Nature. It is my understanding that Billings purchased the farm and land from Marsh and put Marsh’s theories into practice by reforesting Mt Tom where the farm is located. Now Laurance Rockefeller came into possession of the farm and donated the land to the National Park Service in 1992. Laurance was also a conservationist, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his role he played in conservation. Of course I got some INK here.

Next stop was Saint Gaudens NHS in Cornish, NH. This place was Augustus Gaudens home and studio. Gus was a turn of the century sculptor, whose statues are located through out the US. He also was the designer of the 20 gold liberty coin, known as the Double Eagle. INKed here as well. This is one place everyone should visit and the roads to get here are pretty good as well. For about a 2:45 minute video click the link below.

During my travels I stopped at 5 diners, The Milford Diner in NH, Farmer’s Diner in Queechee, VT and Lindy’s in Keene NH, The 4 Aces in West Lebanon, NH. This is another passion of mine. I had a great burger at Lindy’s and ice tea all for a whopping 4.30. Unbelievable eh ?? and of course I had to add to my Diner Cup Collection with a purchase. I did stop at the Miss Bellow Falls Diner for a hamburger, but alas they were closed.

On the way home I passed thru Troy, NH and I was a wee bit on the fast side apparently. I was was given a reprieve from the officer who told me to watch my speed. Phew !!!. Actually the road went from 55 to 35 and I never saw the sign. He was sitting right on the change of speed and took that into consideration and I think my gray hair might have helped too. . Next I need to get a big AARP sticker for the bike. ( ) . He must have read my previous blog entry on Connie has Harley Envy, because as I was preparing to leave, he said "by the way nice bike".

One last stop before I made it home. The Mountain Laurel (at least that’s what I think it was) was in full bloom in Leominister State Park. I passed this one spot that contained a blizzard of white flakes across a pond that was so spectacular, I had to turn around and take a pic. Now this photo does not do justice to what I saw thru my eyes. Maybe the photographer is an amateur

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Kids are All Right

From time to time I will speak about my kids so it is right to introduce you to them. From left to right we have Danielle then Skyler and then Tavana.

Danielle was suppose to be Kyra Rene and she was on 5.28.1986, but on 5.27.1986 her name was changed to Danielle Marion. Her grandmother was also born on 5.28 and her name was Marion. Supposedly the lady at the Framingham Union convince the mom not to name her Kyra Rene. Since I thought Kyra was such a neat name, I convinced Dani (maybe it was more coercion) to name our Lhasa Kyra.

Skyler was suppose to be Zachary, but just before he was born his aunt and uncle was involved with a battle between Webb Lake and their plane. They survived the tumble so my ex and I felt it was befitting to name him Skyler John. Of course Sky was for the sky. He was born on 9.26.1991. John is for my father.

Tavana Mary was the first and born on 12.31.1982. Her name was essentially made up (or so we thought). At first it was Naritavana, which was way to complicated and even I didn't know how to spell it. So after a couple more derivations on the name it became Tavana. Mary was for her grandmother. Her Uncle Tom gave her the nickname T because he was never quite sure how to pronounce her name and she is still called T from time to time. Tavana was doing a report sometime around the age you would be in 5th or 6th grade. Well low and behold she comes across a name in a book Tavana ala Nui or something like that. The book was written in the early 1900's and the person in the book was polynesian. Go figa !

Aren't they a great looking ? And they are really good kids, most of the time

Tink Tink Tink Cure

They say a picture is worth a thousand you can't mis-speel anything

Tink Tink Tink

That is the sound that occurs when you take the keys out of Kawasaki Concours and they slip out of your hand and fall down into the fairing hitting the valve cover, engine cylinders, and exhaust system before they come to rest somewhere you simply can't reach in and get them. Then it is time to listen to the sound of 10 screws coming out of the bottom fairing pan.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Runnin on Empty

This weekend I competed in the MinuteMan1000 24 rally. (this might be a separate post). I am in Whitney Point, NY about 30 miles east of Cornell University my last rally bonii of the day. It is 224 miles according to my Garmin from Whitney to Northampton, the finish line. I can make it without having to stop for gas..Woo Hoo. Fast forward to I91 between exits 17 and 18. Only a few miles left. Bike begins to sputter, I switch to reserve, the bike fires back to life, I check in a rally HQ at precisely 6:12. On the Connie, reserve always comes on at the 225 mile mark.

The next couple of hours is spent talking about our experiences, just walking around to get the stiffness out from sitting on our bikes for the last 24 hours. Finally breakfast is served right around 10:30 with the award ceremony that follows. Award and certificates are handed out, I run into a fellow NP Touring member that I have never meet before from Fredericksburg, VA. We chat about chasin stuff, and how we file things and stuff like that. We say our goodbyes and its off to the bike to go home.

I am riding down I91, exit right to the Mass Pike, had to interpret which way to go East or West (after all I have been up for nearly 30 hours at this point), choose the right way and heading for home. Push the Garmin and see it is 20 more miles to the exit. Ride abit, boy I am tired, maybe I should pull over into the Service Plaza and rest. No point finishing a good run at the rally with a crash because I am tired. Pull in. Go to McDonalds and get one of their $1 sweet teas, proceed to the picnic tables across the parking lot, bike is in eyesight of me and proceed to doze off. (Why is it important that the bike be visible if I am going to fall asleep)

There's this jumble at the table. Someone else has sat down at the picnic table and wakes me up. Time to go anyways. Walk to the bike, take glasses of, put helmet on, put glasses back on, put riding jacket on, start bike up, mount up and we are good to go. Now don't forget where I am. Ride around the parking lot, make a right turn toward the entrance ramp, ride past the 20 or so gas pumps at the service plaza, accelerate a bit and make my way onto the Mass Pike.

Riding along, thinking what a smart rider I was for pulling over to rest rather than fall asleep on the bike. Sppp Sppput SSpit. Ah the bike is sputtering, reach down to turn to Reserve, What's this, it's already on Reserve, look at the tripometer that I was set at each gas fillup. It reads 283 miles, aw FUCK, I am running out of gas.

So here I am, out of gas and watching the trucks and cars zoom past me on the Mass Pike. It felt like be on one of the corners of a NASCAR race. Yeah I ran out of gas on a curve. Hey I have RVRoadHelp and I get to finally see how this works (always try to find a silver lining in the clouds) . I call, go thru their menu, which they ask me if I want it in Spanish or English (in spanish they ask me this), and get...

"all of our agents are busy assisting other customers right now, you are important to us and we will answer you call in the order it was received"...

"all of our agents are busy assisting other customers right now, you are important to us and we will answer you call in the order it was received"...

"all of our agents are busy assisting other customers right now, you are important to us and we will answer you call in the order it was received"

you get the point,

Jerome: Hi my name is Jerome (i might be making the name up), Can you tell me your name and membership number"

Me: blah blah blah, ME Thought Bubble, we do they ask for this when you had to plug it in before you even got a chance to get to the point to wait for someone to take your call, Do they really need it or is it because it has been so long they forgot the number I plugged in. ME Make Note to Myself lie the next time they ask about your membership number.

Jerome: What kind of vehicle to do you have

Me blah blah blah

Jerome: How can I assist you today

Me: I have run out of gas

Between Jerome and Me we establish I am right by Exit 10 on the Mass Pike, in Auburn, MA.

Jerome: You will have to call the Mass Turnpike Authority, you are on a limited access road.

ME: You can't help Me ?

Jerome: I have the number here. No I am sorry we are not authorized to go on the Mass Pike.

ME: So you can't help me.

Jerome: I am sorry

Me Thought Bubble I really don't believe Jerome gives a rat ass about me, being stuck on the Mass Pike, out of gas. The price you pay for stupidity. Drats

Well I call Tavana, she is home and is more than willing to come to her Dads rescue. We establish she and Jeff (her boyfriend) has to head west a bit so they are coming East on the Mass Pike. I am waiting, realizing it is really hot out here, wondering when the next vehicle will swing wide and take me and my bike out. I say to myself, I sure hope they come in Jeff's truck so it it visible for the oncoming traffic.

So down the road comes this huge truck and pulls over. Well aren't they nice, maybe it is one of the highway guys, but the truck is not yellow. Hey hey hey, Its Jeff and Tavana in a dump truck. Now this thing is huge and sure is visible on the highway and if anything hits it other than an 18 wheeler we are safe.

The rest of the story is anti-climatic other than Tavana bringing a bottle of water, which was really nice of her. She is always thinking!! So thank ya T, I love ya.

Moral of the story: Running out of gas is stupid. There is no moral to this story !

Does Anybody Know What Time It Is..Does Anybody Care?

Thats was a great Chicago song, but in Rallies time counts. It is the one measurement that is absolute…well sorta.

This is the final chapter on the MM1000. If you read the previous blog, I mentioned 20 seconds. I pulled into rally HQ at 6:12. They gave me a card and said proceed to the scoring tables.

Being brand new I had no idea what to expect. I went into the room just to scope out what was going out. There was a long table with 6 people sitting at it, all with laptop computers in front of them. After scoping the “Officials” out, I left to organize myself and make sure I had everything. Inside my clipboard and tank bag are the documents and receipts I needed. I grabbed a roll of scotch tape that I had brought with me specifically for taping the receipts to a piece of paper. Hey I am an accountant, I am used to providing documentation to folks.

First organizing point. Compare the Fuel Log I kept to the receipts I have. Check the receipts to make sure they all have the mileage written on them. Tape the first receipt to the log, then second staggered over the first, third staggered over third, etc etc.. Compare the log for completeness. First task complete

Second, tape the Beginning Rest bonus receipt to the Fuel log, find the second one and tape in a staggered manner like the fuel receipts. Task Complete

Reread the Rally book for the bonii I completed and make sure the Date, Time and Mileage is on all rally book entries, make sure I have complied with all of the written word. Reading is FunDaMental !!!

Tape the receipt for the Grade A, Dark Amber Maple syrup I purchased in CT to the fuel log. I realize I left both the syrup and my camera on the bike. Back out and grab these items. As I approach the scoring room, I flashback to those days when you enter your final exam room, SATs and CPA exams. "Hey this is only a game", I say to myself, I let the air out of my lungs and walk in.

All of the scorers are busy, so I take a seat against the wall and just start to daydream. One of the scorers is freed up and he looks at me and says, You ready?. Well here goes wish me luck.

It is at this point I realize I am really really tired. This is it. Nothing I do from now on will affect my outcome of rally. He asks me for my digital card out of the camera and plugs it into the reader attached to his laptop. I tell him it is easy. I only went to the Poison Ivy locations, Only 8 locations to verify. He goes thru these and makes a comment “Quite impressive, I haven’t done anybody that completed all of these” Wow this is a good sign, I think to myself.

Next he verifies my fuel log. All ok, everything is going great. He then is flipping the beginning and ending rest bonus receipts back and forth. He does this about 5 or 6 times and gets up. He says I’ll be right back. About minute later he comes back.

Me: “Is there a problem”.
Scorer: “Sorry Bill, we can’t allow your rest bonus”.
Me: “Why not”
Scorer: “You were not there the prescribed 2 hours”
Me: “What, Yes I was”
Scorer: “Your beginning receipts says 12:38:50, your ending receipt says 2:38:30.
Me: “Let me see them” I look and see there it is, 20 seconds shy of 2 hours.
Me: “You are going to disallow this for 20 seconds?”
Scorer: “Rob (the rally master) says I have to”

I now know why the Rally Master is referred to as the RB or Rally Bastard.

At this point I realized my score is cooked. Without the 5,000 points I can’t possibly obtain a good position.

He picks up the syrup. Again he gets up. WTF !. He comes back and Rob is standing over him this time. Bill the syrup was made in Canada and it had to made, bottled and sold in New England. I said let see that. I grab the nearest sharpie turn the bottle over and where it says PRODUCT OF CANADA, I put a “, Mass” next to it and say See Made in Mass. He chuckles. He has me on this one.

Fast forward to the award ceremony and the Rob, the rally bastid is announcing how everyone did.

In 10th place Bill Collins with 14,010 points in the Rally class. Now my real score is 19,010 in my mind. In 9th place ….. with 15870 points… 6th place we have ….with 18400 points, in 4th place we have Wayne and Robin Edkin with 21,000 points. So those 20 seconds cost me 5 places and 5th overall.

Today as I write this, I keep reminding myself …it’s just a game; it’s just a game …ohmmmmm ohmmmmm.

Final Thoughts: I achieved all of the objectives I set out to accomplish and in my mind I can say I finished 5th, but to all others I have to say I finished 12th. Somewhere between the award ceremony and the posting on the internet, I lost another 2 places.

Will I do this again? Isn't gluttony a deadly sin, do I need to say more? BAG!.

20 Seconds over Whitney Point

The 30 seconds over Tokyo with the Enola Gay did far more physical damage that my 20 seconds but 2 dates and times will be remembered by me for a lifetime. First time is 12:38:50. This is the time on my receipt for the start of my Rest Bonus at Whitney Point NY. The next 2 hours will be spent off the bike for a much needed rest. Wayne and Robin are also taking their rest bonus at the same location along with a guy with a really nice looking K1200RS Another guy pulls in on a BMW GS bike and is on his way to Itaca. He asks if there is anything he should know. I say to him, just make sure you get the right statue and he dashes off into the night. Across the street is an open Subway shop and I have a much needed sandwich. I really haven't had a thing to eat all day.

Well it's finally here, it is time to begin the final chapter on this rally. I have calculated (or should I say the GPS has) it is 229 miles from Whitney Point to Northampton. I can make it without stopping for gas. I look down at my clock on the bike and it is 2:35. The next 3 minutes seem like an eternity. I have also calculated that I might be a tad over 24 hours, which will cost me 10 points for every minute I am late up to 1 hour over. After that you are disqualified. By my rough estimates I have 10 or so minutes to make up.

It's now 2:37. It's amazin how much you can think of in a minute. Finally the clock rolls over to 2:38. In goes the credit card (at the beginning of all credit card transaction it lays down the date and time stamp), I push the button for credit...machine goes "waiting for authorization....", Please select the grade you want. I push 87, it says begin fueling, I lift the pump and turn the handle on and the gas spews out of nozzle into the tank. It takes $5.38 of gas. I wait for the receipt to print. Look for the Date/Time, Locations and Gallons on Receipt, write the Odometer reading from the bike on the receipt, enter my info into the Fuel Log for the rally, close the tank up, put the tank bag back on the tank, put the key into the ignition, start the bike up, take my glasses off, put my helmet on, put my glasses on, put my gloves on, and throw my leg over the seat, put the kickstand up, pull the clutch in, drop to first gear, and finally move. Now how long was it from the time of the credit card swipe to the time the bike moved, keeping in mind that I have not left the gas station. Stay tuned for the scoring table results

For the next 3.5 hours I fight fog, darkness, unannounced gravel roads, unannounced move left on our interstates, grogginess, and just plain being wore down. THe GPS took me out RT206 snaking its way thru the NY countryside to I88. ( I am sure this is great road to be on during the day, where you would say this is a road everybody should try. At 2:45am this is not a great road. It is narrow, winding, up and down hills which holds the morning fog very efficiently (note I did not say nicely). At the first turn from the gas station which takes you onto RT206, the town or state has ripped up all the pavement to put something in. Not only is there no pavement, but there are plenty of holes in the road to contend with along with the dirt and gravel, plus this road is going up a hill. Sometimes you even ask yourself why do I do this.

During these last hours, I pass a bunch of signs with the deer icon on them that says 1/2 mile. You know the one that has them prancing about. I pass thru these cautionary zones without incident and wonder when Bambi learned to read and wonder if they comply with the signs or are they rebels wandering outside these state mandated caution zones. I know some don't comply because there are plenty on the side of the road taking naps. You would thing they would rest in the woods.

Some of the nicest riding times in a riders life is when the sun has not shown itself but is coming up for the day. It is just light enough you can see down the road, the sky has purples, yellows, oranges on the horizon, the air is cool, crisp and new. It is peaceful and tranquil. Life is good !

For these last couple of hours I have either been following Wayne and Robin or they have been following me. After we have both fought with Rt206 we finally make it I88 which will take us to the MassPike and into Northampton on I91. Someplace on I88 they have reduced the road to 2 lanes one for eastbound and the other for westbound traffic. At this point I am following Wayne and all of the sudden the bike is jumbling (this is kind of like onomatopoeia jumbling). I realize neither one of us are really on the road anymore. The single lane highway has swung left and we are sorta in the berm. Well I will tell you it was not talent that kept me up, it was sheer luck and that angel that flies with us on our bikes. I will say I did not feel compelled to get on the brakes, because this would have surely brought me to kissing the dirt below me. While this seemed like a 4 minute adventure, I am sure it was more like 10 seconds. Both of us swerved left and were back up on the pavement and we continued on a merry way. Phew and thank you angel.

On I91 heading for exit 18. Maybe 3 miles for the HQ, bike sputters, I must be at the 225 mile mark, reach down turn the Resever on, bikes fires back up and we are good to go. At 6:12 I cross the rally finish line. They hand me a card to take with me to the scoring table. I am back, completed 1000+ miles, have 8 bonii under my tires and maybe only 9 penalty late minutes.