Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Pants are way Kewl !

I am into my 4th season of my 3rd riding life. It has taken this long to finally get some mesh riding pants. My primary motivation was safety (even thou I don't wear these all the time) and the hot weather I expect to encounter in August when I take off for the final leg on the NP Tour.

These things are unbelievably comfortable and very very cool. Much better than I ever expected and I will always have a pair when riding now. And yes I expect to endure some ribbing from some of my friends and others will say "It is about time". If you do long distance riding you owe it to yourself to try these.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

It’s Saturday morning and the forecast looks unbelievably good for riding. I have a few tasks to take care of this morning before I get underway and of course it is 6am. Well some how I occupy my time until about 7:45 and I grab Steve’s power cord for his Garmin and drive to his house so that his brother can use his GPS. Ring the bell 2 times, no answer and leave the cord in Pam’s car. Now off to Bill’s place to pick up my bike that just had the valves adjusted and carbs synched. At his place around 8:45 and many people pulling up to get their oil changed and leaving because Bill has posted “Not Open” sign. Call John his son and find out he will be here in the next few minutes even though they are closed today. Now keep in mind I was ambivalent about riding today. Call it mid season burn out, but when something happens that prevents from riding I then get anxious. Go figa.

Pick up my bike and off to home to get ready for the trek. Don my new riding pants and fill my new tank bang. Geez it’s big, I bought for the big 5000 coming up. We are all set, bike is running, GPS is acquiring satellites and I am raring to go. GPS says arriving destination. WOW that was a fast trip. Out of the driveway and onto the Mass Pike. First impression of the mesh riding pants is unbelievably favorable from a cooling aspect and they are unbelievably comfortable.

Now I have ridden the Mass Pike a million times west so really don’t bother with having the camera ready. Well as Murphy’s Law kicks in I rummage thru the tank bag to find the camera. The Hudson Hornet was built by Hudson between the years 1951 and 1954 and dominated NASCAR racing in the mid 50’s. Hudson was taken over by the American Motor Company and they built the car for a few more years and resurrected the Hornet name for the AMC Hornet.

Off the Pike and onto the Route 20, which becomes Jacob Ladder around Westfield MA.

This guy has a matching sibling someplace in Connecticut. I could look it up, but I am too lazy.

First scheduled stop in Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. In the VC (visitor center), the movie about our 8th president is going on. There is a couple that arrived on a HD. She is intently watching the movie and her SO is just looking around the room wondering when this is gonna be over. I agreed with him, the movie was very uninspiring so I made this a grab and run.

Back on the road to Thomas Cole NHS. This requires crossing the Hudson River via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. As I cross, I see the toll booths on the east bound side and reminded that one of my fellow riders just about got whacked by the automated gates to prevent toll runners.

Thomas Cole was an early 1800 painter and founded the Hudson River School of Art. At the VC, I had my first stumble of the day. The person manning the ticket counter, a very pretty lady and my age too, didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked for the stamp. I showed her my book and she said she has never seen such a thing. As I was looking around there was a brochure with the sample of the sites stamp. She is very accommodating and starts going through the drawers looking for the stamp. Ahh an ink pad but it is black, another ink pad and this one is brown, we are getting hotter. Viola the stamp. Set the date, stamp the 2 books and the index card and realize the date is wrong. She immediately apologizes and wants to correct the problem. I say it is close enough. I had these visions of her riding off into the sunset on the back of my bike as we visited the rest of the parks that day. SLAP up the side of my head. I was here for about 30 minutes just gabbing away with her.

Back over the RVW bridge and even though I have EZ Pass, I pull up to the cash window, so that the attendant can control the gate. Thanks Deb for the warning, your lay down did not go in vain. In front of me is this HD with straight pipes. Both me and the attendant cringe as he pulled away and I make the comment, “I don’t understand it either" and shrug.

I am a little stylishly late for lunch with the Vanderbilt’s. Now this place is big, and the land around the estate is certainly large, but I can’t say I was in awe as I drove up. Now I am sure the architect of the place would be disappointed with that comment and the Vanderbilt’s would be out right pissed, so I will keep my thoughts to myself. There is a pay for tour, which I don’t take, but I do walk around the grounds.

Heading to the Roosevelt’s to discuss politics I pass this place and have a destination for a meal on my way home. This site has FDR’s home and presidential library. I grab my ink and head for a late afternoon tea with Eleanor at Val-Kill.

Right across the street from FDR’s is this place. I am a sucker for Drive Ins. They are dying institutions and go with Diners, Americana and the fond memories I have of the 50’s and 60’s

It is 4:15 and the VC is not supposed to close till 4:30, however it is closed. An employee walks up the path and confirms they are closed and the stamp is identical to the one over at FDR’s shack. I walk around for about 5 minutes and then notice the door to the VC is open. I walk in and ask if they mind (like I really cared if they minded) I get the stamp. The girl says I told you the stamp was the same. Well upon testing the stamp they are in fact different and I point this out to her. I proceed to stamp my stuff. I glad I trusted my instincts on this one.

Out of there I review my print out of the stamps for the day and I realize there are 2 stamps that I did not get at FDR’s, so I head back that way. At FDR’s I question the person in the book store and they said the stamps I am looking for don’t exist. I press a bit and show here my list, however she indicates she is not going to help me and it is closing time anyways.

The stamps for the day are done and I am headed for the Eveready Diner for a bite to eat. Since I was late at the Vanderbilt’s, they snubbed me and didn’t provide any food. A sign on the way to FDR’s grab my attention about a historic train station. Train stations are like drive ins so I head there. I pull into this side street expecting to find the train station here and find this place.

The road heads into the woods and I find it inviting and come across this scene.

I am back at the Vanderbilt Mansion. I will say the road from the carriage house was far more impressive than the main road to the mansion.

Back of the grounds of the VM and turn at the sign for the historic train station again but go all the way to the river this time. Here is where the Vanderbilt’s got off in Hyde Park when they took the train.

At the Eveready I order chili and a meatloaf sandwich. The chili was very very good but the meatloaf sandwich was unbelievably good. Bill (not me) is sitting at the counter and during my meal we have a conversation like we have known each other for a lifetime. This is all part of the experience of riding and a very common occurrence.

With a full stomach I head for home. Now when you plan roads in MapSource you never know if the roads are going to be the right ones to travel on. Are they going to take you thru downtowns that are just stop and go, thru roads that are major shopping areas or are they going to be idyllic and serendipitous in nature. Well I hit the jack pot and if you are a rider, try these roads; you won’t be disappointed ( ). As I travel this path I come across many of those feared critters, the deer. At one spot along this great road, I spot a deer running on the other side of the guardrail next to the road, ducking under the branches, just looking for a good spot to make a quick left and take me down. They are so suicidal.

It’s dark out and estimated time of arrival home is 10pm. Now remember in the beginning of the day, I was in a riding funk and didn’t know if I really wanted to ride today. Think of what I would have missed if I had listened to my mood of the morning. At Ludlow, I pull into the rest area on the pike to be entertained by this event. Best seats in the house btw.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In my Shorts and No Where to Go

It’s Friday night and I am not sure I want to ride tomorrow, however I have this driving and compelling destiny thing called the National Park Tour. It is only mid July and I feel like the summer is quickly coming to an end and the riding season is all most over. Maybe it is my age, where I feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. Funny thing is I don’t know what those things are, but I am sure they will come to me. I am sitting at my computer and check The weather people indicate it is going to be a spectacular riding day and Sunday calls for rain and storms. OK OK we will plan a trip for tomorrow. I have gotten pretty good at planning using MapSource and calculating arrival time at each WP to insure I have enough time to get to all the spots I have selected. Maybe I should go into logistics forecasting. To accomplish this planning I built an Excel spreadsheet and export (read cut and paste) the data in from MS. I manipulate the miles and times between each location to get an overall perspective on the day. Tomorrow’s journey will take me to New York to visit some mansions and figure the trip will be around 375 miles for the day. Not long, but not too short either. This exercise is good because I have the big 5000 coming up in August. It will be interesting to see if my planning skills are executable and accurate. First leg is out the MA pike. I have ridden almost all roads west and want to go some miles under my tires. In Westfield I hang a right off the MA pike and another right to head for the back roads of MA into NY. First WP is Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, onto Timothy Cole's Home in Catskill, lunch with the Vanderbilts and finally a discussion on contemporary politics with the Roosevelt’s. New York will give me another state, bringing my total to 19 states. The plan is set, see you tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Harley Davidson Blues

I have them since I don't have anymore to chase. Today (well really not writing this on Saturday)I visited the last of the 27 HD dealers for the Ride New England 2008 Tour in Essex Junction VT. A couple of my friends have completed this and the dealership was excited that they were the last ones to sign my card. Mine was anti-climatic in that sense, all they wanted to do is close. But heck after about 3,000 miles I am eligible to win a new HD come January.

The overall objective was to get stamps and signatures from 27 dealerships thru out New England. More can be found here CLICK THIS.

A slide show can be found here of my visits Click here to watch "Ride-New-England-Tour"

My tour card.

Where the dealers are located. Note the Caribou is the ball buster one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


was the year my father was born. My father passed away today at around 4am. He was 100 years and 7 months old. He had said to my brother and sister a couple of weeks ago that he was ready. His passing was as far as we know without pain and simply going to asleep and passing to where ever we go. My Dad was a mechanical engineer and one smart dude. His idea of heaven and hell was based on the premise that all energy created is saved forever. Your thoughts are made up of electrical pulses, making them energy, being energy they are conserved forever. His theory was your dying thoughts, cumulative experiences, life actions are all created from thoughts and thus conserved someplace in this universe. That energy is your heaven or hell. I know Dad is in Heaven, because his energy was one of the best kind.

Here are some of the things that I remember about my dad. Making that Pinewood Derby car in the basement, watching him rebuild the screens on the front porch and how he carved the curvatures into the wood frames to match the hand hewed beams in front of the house, the Ballantine Ale can sliding across the glass table and him telling me it was magic, the time he shut my fingers in the green Chrysler and told me to stop fooling around (he didn't know my fingers were jammed in the door), the money he lent me for my laptop for TDS Systems, the money he lent me that enabled us to keep our house during my unemployment days, him trying to teach me how to balance my checkbook before going off to college, the meticulous preparation of bacon, eggs and dollar size pancakes on Sunday, grilling flank steak on that square grill that had the criss cross grate (I have never seen a grill like that since), putting the round Scotch cooler in the back of the car to go to St Cloud Swim Club on Sunday for a cook out, Black and White Scotch, the glasses from Daytona with his signature in gold, driving to Daytona Finishing to work during the summer, helping me to get the TR3 started, showing me how good trichlorethelyn is as a degreasing agent, him punching me over my long hair in high school, getting me that Fender Jazz Bass, picking me up at Marsha's before I could drive every Friday and Saturday night, the 63 Bonneville, never throwing away the dried up felt tip pins in his pocket protector, the pocket protector, trying to teach me to use a slide rule, drawing train set ups on paper, the New Years Eve parties at Winding Way, the fastidious placing of the lights on the Christmas tree, the pink and white portable TV on the gold stand, getting me a drink of water and having to climb all those stairs and walk all the way down the hall to that room that seemed like it was in a different part of the house (how the heck did he hear me), Parliament cigarettes, carving the turkey at Thanksgiving, cutting rye bread by hand with a knife making precisely thin sliced slices, making ice creams sodas after driving to South Orange to get Gruinings ice cream, chocolate cream soda, making toasted peanut and butter sandwiches with cheese bread, turning and replicating the spindles for the banister in the house, sleeping in his chair (their were multiple chairs over the years), going to his reunion at Carnegie Tech, driving me to Carnegie Tech for the college interview (that was the only school I didn't get accepted into), suggesting that I should become a dentist (should of listened to him), asking me for a cigarette then taking the whole pack of Luckies from me telling me I shouldn't smoke, mowing the lawn the correct way, trimming the hedges (I never figured out how he did them so level, but that goes along with the slicing rye bread), watching the landing on the moon (he was particularly attentive to this because there was a part he designed and made on board), spending the money to fly me home on Thanksgiving so I could see Rita, the white shoes and white belt, flying the Dauntless Diver gas powered airplane that I earned selling stationary for the Junior Achievement Club, making the guy deliver the plane, raking leaves into the gully along the front of the house and burning them, the green hat he wore and the brown one too, the loans he made so I could get into my houses, but most of all I knew he was always there if I needed to talk, get some advice or needed help.

Love ya, Dad, oh Mom you got there too...Hi to you too.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bootleggin Poetic History

Today I was an Ink Ho. What exactly does than mean? Well today I wanted to ride being the birthday of our great country. Read I had no place to go. My choices were I could go to work or I could go for a ride. It is closing in on 10:30am and the weather is not looking really grand out, there is rain water on the street and I am sitting here in front of the computer looking at MapSource. I figure there really aren’t any good roads to Quincy ever, so I might as well grab Adams National Historic Site today. Geez JFK and Olmstead are in Brookline, who would ever ride to Brookline unless they had a reason. Gas is 4+ dollars a gallon so I better throw them in the mix. Hey Longfellow is just a hop skip and jump away and look MinuteMan is kinda on the way home. So a plan has evolved. Not even gonna do a route, I will just as Garmin for the shortest route to each waypoint. So back on point. Ink Hoing is just going and grabbing the stamps.

I just like what this guy did, so I stopped and took a picture

Now in my past I participated in OSJ Treasure Hunt. Telescope domes where worth 700 points a piece. How could I not stop? 1400 points. Woo Hoo.

Adams is 2 stops and 2 stamps. One in downtown Quincy and the up the road a piece at the Old House. The Old House is pretty nice and has a great garden.

The slide show is 2:25 minutes
Click here to watch "Adams-National-Historic-Park"

Frederick Law Olmstead site was closed for restoration, however the gates were open and there was a car there, so of course I rode into the site. Ya know greasy mud is slippery. It was an almost Kodak moment. The person gave me a very brief explanation of Olmstead while he was looking for the stamp. Fred moved his business to Brookline in the late 1800’s. He was considered the father of American Landscape Architecture and Design. One of Fred’s works was Central Park.

Next stop was JFK’s boyhood home. Now I looked for the hidden passage ways and place to store the bootlegged liquor, but I just couldn’t find it. The kid behind the counter told me they never proved old Joe was involved in bootlegging. I told him they never have caught Whitey Bulger either.

So I hang a right at this driveway and I find myself in the back of Longfellow’s Historic Site and the VC is only 50 feet away. The place is crowded so I was in and out for the stamp.

Minute Man National Park has 3 stamp locations and each has their own stamp. Being the 4th of July, and being in MM Park, I felt this special connection as I INKED my books with step. Hey we still have Taxation without Representation. I wouldn’t exactly say Congress is representing the American public, but how can we complain, we keep sending them back to DC.

I have started collecting old railroad stations. Why you ask, because I can.

Not many miles but a lot neat places traveled to and seen.