Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fast Refund FastLane

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about my FastLane account being charged while my bike was in transit to Salt Lake City. It also happened on the way back. Looking at my statements I figured I spend about $60+ on tolls that were in error. The hard part was how I get my money back.

Called FastLane and they told me to write a letter detailing my problem and enclose proof that my FJR was in transit during those days. I asked how should I send it or if they had an email account I could send my documents. The woman told me I could mail it or send via fax.

I wrote a letter, gave them my account, enclosed the FastLane statements and proof that the bike was in-transit. I then faxed it with out any persons name on it. I pinned the letter to the wall where I work as a reminder to check to see if I needed a follow-up letter in the future. I figured I would be writing again.

Sitting at work, my cell phone rings. I generally get very few calls on my phone. For some reason I decided to answer and it was FastLane telling me they had reviewed my account and reversed all of the tolls that were charged to me while the bike was in transit. They said I would see a $39 refund to my credit card and the rest of the credits would reside in my FastLane account.

We always hear how inefficient state workers are or how lazy they are. I do NOT prescribe to this philosophy and that phone call proves why I don’t . Government workers work just like the rest of us; they are given some work responsibilities to execute on a day in and day out basis and for the most part strive to do a good job.

FastLane job well done and Thank You.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blowing In to Acadia

Not wanting to sit around again this weekend, we decided to head for Acadia National Park for a stamp. A stamp you say, well this stamp shores up the Northeast corner of the US for the National Park Tour Silver Certificate. While we have til August next year to grab this, better now than letting time get the better of us. After all it is only 300 miles away.

We didn't leave early, but we did get under way by 9am. First stop was Giff's garage to check the air in the tires. Good thing because it has been 3 weeks since we really rode the FJR. Both tires we in the 30's.

Our charted course takes us to Portand, ME via Slabs. Having made this trip a million times (a slight exaggeration) and sun time being limited, wanting to ride up the coast after the traffic congrested areas and grab some historic places, the slabs seemed like a logical choice.

Being still Foliage Season (mayber), we called a couple of motels in Ellsworth to see if what the general availability would be. Priceline was no help to us this time. The Ellsworth Hotel was full, but they are only 59 and if you mention you saw them on the web you got 20 off. We ended up making reservations at Jaspers, just in case places were full. As it turned out we would have been fine. Having to go from city to city at the end of the day is no fun and we almost got stuck once in this area. Something about a lesson learned.

The weather was suppose to be sunny, but for the most part on Saturday, it was cloudy.

One very very sad note. I got a call from one of my kids to tell me they were taking my brother in law, John, off his ventilator. John have been fighting various cancers and heart problems for the last 10 years or so. He was placed in the hospital about a week ago. It was indicated then that this was his last go around. I did not go to see him, because I choose to remember John for who he was from the last time I saw him sitting at his dining room table versus him lying in a bed with tubes and machines hooked up to him. Then came the call Saturday night and I knew what it was for before I even picked it up. John died around 930pm Saturday. While I am saddened by his departure, I am glad the pain he was suffering is gone now.

Back to the trip, I didnt even bother to take the camera out until we got off the Maine Turnpike in Brunswick for our first photo op. The US Custom House in Bath Maine was built in 1858.

In Wiscasset we grabbed a few more pics.

Little Red Schoolhouse

US Customhouse

Now this is a first for me. Red's Eats with no lines. Reds always has a line that stretches to almost the bridge. All for their lobster roll. I am glad I am not into lobster roll, so I have not had to wait in line at Red's. You will find this place in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die.

This could be a new chase object for me. Fort Edgecomb is just over the bridge from downtown Wiscasset. As soon as you get over the bridge, hang a right. It was built in 1808 1809.

Got to have at least one water shot while traveling up the coast

In Waldoboro we grabbed the Town Pound, the Theater and the Custom House. These are all on the National Register of Historic Places.

Had some coffee at this Moody's. Now this is suppose to be a Maine icon. I had one of the worse breakfasts I have ever had here. Today, I bought one of their cups for my Diner Cup Collection and the person handling the register was about as good as that breakfast I had here 5 years ago.

We blew right thru Rockland ME. In Camden, we grabbed this fellow creating some inspiration for someone.

We didn't stop and get a pic of the squirrel with the nuts, but did flic the button for Floyd.

Crossing the bridges over to Bucksport. The bridge behind the Penobscot bridge is on the National Register, the Waldo Hancock Bridge. If you ever get a chance, take a ride up to the observatory and visit Fort Knox. The observatory is the tallest public bridge observatory in the world.

Sun dropping, temps dropping and just wanting to get to our night destination we put the cameras away, I fought my need to keep stopping at places and we arrived at Jaspers about 6pm. Just shy of 300 miles, but set up in a great spot to hit Acadia tomorrow.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

FastLane Gone Wild

Yesterday I checked my FastLane account to see how much they have taken away from my account. As I was looking over the bill I see that I got charged 30.00 while I was in Indiana.


I haven't been there this year. WTF !!. So now I am thinking Sky, my son, used my car and went to the midwest.I asked MeAsWe where were we on the 3rd. MeAsWe said the bike was in transit on that date.

It dawned on me, the FastLane hockey puck was in my tank bag, which was in the Givi truck, which was on the back of the bike, which was on a tractor trailer.

Each time the driver went thru a toll KACHING, give the governor another 50 cent piece.

I checked August's bill and the same thing. I called FastLane and I have to send them documentation that my bike was intransit to make an adjustment.

Why is the FastLane so effective buried so deep, but seems to only work every other time when it is in the wide open.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Ride

It is not often that I ride to work because I don't particularly want to think about the traffic, the lights, the cars coming from the right and left, the school buses and I don't really have to worry about the weather either. Today my car is in the shop for new tires and brakes, so I took the bike to work. I have not ridden in about a week and half either.

First experience was starting up the FJR and hearing its purr. No coughing, no sputtering, just a nice constant purr. The first smile.

Pulling out of the driveway where I live can be a real challenge. First are the cars that park close to our entrance so they block the view of on coming cars. Second is the traffic. Most of the time there is enough of it, that you need to be cautious. This morning no car parked on our side of the street blocking any views, no traffic. I simply was able to pull out of the driveway and hit the road. The second smile.

Right turn onto Hartford Ave and I find myself accelerating and having to back off of the throttle. I am sure I was doing 50 in a most certainly a 35 and most probably a 25. The temperature is 63 and should be a bit cold, but it seems much warmer than than indicated. First stop sign no traffic and ease on thru the intersection. Hit the first traffic where RT 16 meets Hartford Ave. There is quite a bit and the line forms for getting thru the stop sign. For some reason it doesn't matter this morning. I have alot of patience and not in hurry to get any place.

Next foray is thru Bellingham making my way to I-495. A bit of traffic as usual, but no texters, sextexters, cell phoners, eye makeupers, combers that I see. Just people like me on the way to work and paying attention to the task at hand. No drama.

Right turn signal on, enter the entrance ramp to I495. One car in front of me, that is going slower than I want, but still making steady progress. We merge onto 495, my eyes looking forward, not looking to blast out into the second lane yet, after all I would have to look back and the car could all of a sudden brake. Eyes forward, we are comfortably merged and traveling the slow lane. I see my opening, in second gear, crank the throttle, 4, 5 , 6k 7k on the tach, slip into 3rd and move to the fast lane. Glance down and we are moving along at 90. There is nothing like the unbridaled power of a FJR. Smile number three for the morning.

Look down at the on board thermometer, its hoverng around 68. Almost perfect temperature for riding. Running in and out of lite fog, sun breaching the clouds and then covered back up, blurs of yellows, reds, auburns on the trees, fall is definitely in the air. Throttle back to a comfortable 70. Exits fly by, the road is smooth, traffic light and well dispersed. I start thinking of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. What a great day this would be to simply ride the road to somewhere and no where.

Pass I95 South then North, next exit is about 2 miles away and mine to take. Exit right, twist the throttle, shift to 4th. I could have downshifted without the clutch. Another blip and we are into 3rd. The exit is mine and mine alone. Shift my weight slightly to the right, drop my right elbow, push with the left hand and the bike falls right over into the decreasing turn. Throttle steady, engine purring, eyes looking thru the turn, no debris, no sand, just a smooth exit ramp. The ramp becomes a road and that road is straight marking the ride is almost over, well at least the good part. Smile number four.

As I pull into Subway for my Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheese sandwich, I say to myself I really should ride to work more often. I am sure I had a smile on my face.

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Affair with Water - Final Standings

Just this past weekend GLMC announced the preliminary standings on their season long grand tour, An Affair with Water. Below are the top 20 riders for the GT. MeAsWe came in 11th. 3 more towns would have put her in the top 10. I finished 6th down 3 places from last year, however the point spreads between the top 10 were alot closer this year than last. As I suspected the number of town captured by the top people were also lower. Looking forward to our T Shirts and next years tour.

2011 Water Grand Tour
Rider # First Screen Last State/Prov Total RotY
1 207 John JohnF Frick OH 388 50
2 333 Debbie Korolchuk FL 347 49
3 329 Annette Korolchuk MN 283 48
4 287 Beth TBONE Madson MN 273 47
5 371 Mike MikeH Heitkamp IA 262 46
6 439 Bill Collins MA 230 45
7 467 Robin Edkin NY 207 44
8 466 Wayne Edkin NY 207 44
9 208 Jim Unplugged Weatherhead MN 205 43
10 382 Keith Carlson MN 201 42
11 457 Crystal Consolo MA 199 41
12 372 John JohnL Langan CA 176 40
13 214 Jeff LSGiant Kerkow MN 167 39
14 339 Dawn Williamson WI 149 38
15 385 Ingrid Wessel IL 143 37
16 332 Kevin Morris NJ 120 36
17 470 Jeff Perkins WI 116 35
18 61 Jayd Cruzin Lindom MN 115 34
19 363 Del Del Brisson MN 105 33
20 458 Jim Masters MN 95 32

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Leaving George on the Lake

With the temps turning very fall like, there was no rush to get up early and head for home, so we slept in til 8:30 again. Down to breakfast we said our good byes to the NERds. I figured if we got out of there by 10:30 we would get home at a respectable time and have plenty of time for some visits along the way. First stop was the Petrified Sea Gardens. We had passed these once before, but I noticed the sign had said they were closed. We rode up and down the street and did not see any sign of the gardens, however I did notice some road side signs that looked like information boards you see in the parks so we turned around and stopped for a look see.

Turns out the above was Lester's park and the Landmark is Ritchie's Park, however they are essentially right next to one another. The Landmark place has been closed for quite awhile and any signs of the entrance is long gone.

Next stop was the Canfield Casino and Congress Park in Saratoga Springs. We grabbed the Casino and I started to walk around. There was this statue by Daniel Chester French, who did the Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial sculpture. After all this time I must be learning something because some of these artist’s works are becoming familiar. Fred Olmstead had his touch on the design of the park. He did Central Park. We left the park and headed out. I knew I was leaving without a picture of Spit and Spat, so I turned around and went back for these guys. Also walked over to this sundial for some pictures.

The Casino and Spa

Daniel French Sculpture

Spit and Spat Fountain

The Sundial

Not too far away is Saratoga Spa State Park. A ride down the Avenue of the Pines lead us to Saratoga Spa State Park. The park became an attraction due to the mineral springs in the area and the medical benefits from drinking and bathing in the water. We grabbed some pictures of the mineral bath places

From here we headed south on 9. We had essentially grabbed all the places for the day I had scheduled. MeAsWe said she was hungry and we happened to pass this Fedoro Diner. A quick brake and turn we were in the parking lot. We were told there were only 3 Fodero Diners remaining and I thought this was not correct, but didn’t think it was worth arguing the point. I looked it up and there are more than 3 left, with the Agawam Diner in Rowley, MA one of them. We had a great breakfast accompanied by a classical guitar player, not your typical diner fare.

Back on the road I decided we would not head across Vermont, but slab it home before the temps and sunlight ran out. All in all it was a great weekend. It was more about being with the NERds than the riding this weekend, even thou we got to see some neat sights along the way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Defiant at Fort Ticonderoga

Today we slept in til about 8:30 and joined the NERds at breakfast downstairs at Wingate. Having slept in, everybody was just finishing and getting ready to take off on various prepared rides. While I felt like we might miss out on something, I wanted to grab some historic sites and be able to stop when and where we wanted, so riding solo has it benefits as well.

After breakfast MeAsWe was not feeling great, so I settled in with the TV set to a motorcycle theme. Paul Sr and Paul Jr we having a bike build off for Cadillac. I watched this for about 2 hours and then a reality prison show came on. I decided that MeAsWe had had enough rest and it was time to go out riding. She rolled off the bed and put her riding clothes on and we headed out for a short ride.

Headed up Route 9N for some of the locations EasyEd had put together as scenic places. Passed this place in Bolton and had too turn around to add to my collection of diners. This is a Worcester Lunch Car diner. You can tell by the barrel roof and porcelin sides.

Stopped for a scenic shot of Lake George

On the list was a must see Mount Defiance that overlooks Fort Ticonderoga. The road up to the mount lived up to its name; however we were more defiant than the road. Actually we had been warned about the road of potholes, but the warnings proved to be worse than the actual ride. From up here one had a beautiful view of the Lake Champlain.

Two cannons placed by the British on the top of this mountain we enough to for the Americans to withdraw from both Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Independence. I want to know how they got the cannons up there with out being detected.

Fort Ticonderoga was a big disappointment due to the hefty entrance fee of $15. While maybe I understand the need to charge a fee, such a steep one kept us away. I did manage to get a couple of pictures from the barricade.

From here we headed for the infamous Tracey Rd NY County Road 6. The ride on CR7 to CR6 was just as nice. Tracey Rd was washed out in places from hurricane Irene, so we kept our speeds to a conservative pace. This is a short stretch of road, about 7 miles long. Tracey Rd dumps out onto RT 9 and headed back to the Wingate for dinner and called it a day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lake George on my Mind - Day One

Today we headed for Lake George to spend the weekend with the NERds (New England Riders). EasyEd has put together a great weekend. Not only did he seek out accommodations for over 60 of us, but put together riding routes for multiple days.

We headed out about 8:30am and within 10 minutes of leaving home; we discovered our mesh gear was out of season. The temps were hovering around 50 degrees. As we headed up RT 146 to the Mass Pike the Laminar Lip on the FJR felt the effects of the cold weather and decided to take it owns course to the Adirondacks. Off it flew soaring like a kite, up up and away. We circled back on the highway 2 times but to no avail it will stay hidden on the sidelines on RT 146 between exit 5 and 6. Nice way to start the weekend.

First thing I noticed was I was not going to be able to leave my visor up. Too much air on the eyes. Second thing I noticed was the wind noise with the visor down. MeAsWe also noticed an increase in wind noise and she rides with her visor down all the time. Only consolation is, it is fall and this is the time of the year I usually do ride with the visor down because of the temps.

We blasted out of MA and headed for Kinderhook, NY to visit Martin Van Buren Historic Site, Lindenwald. This became our 8th president retirement home. By the standards of the Vanderbilts located further south on RT 9, it is pretty plain in comparison. We spoke with the park ranger for awhile, who remembered me from last year when I told him about the IBA National Park Tour. Good memory or great customer service. Either way I smiled.

We continued up 9H (which turns into 9) to the East Greenbush Diner. Lunch was OK, not great, but not bad nothing special. Even the building had nothing special about it, typical Greek diner.

From there we headed into Troy to capture a couple of National Landmarks. First was the Gurley Building, erected in 1862. This building was put up in less than 8 months as a result of the Great Troy Fire. Since the late 1800’s the name W. & L. E. Gurley has been synonymous worldwide with the design and manufacture of precision mathematical and engineering instruments.

One neat thing I found in the Nuvi was it's ability to store photos and display them in addition to its GPS abilities. I copied a bunch of the landmark photos from the web to help me identify some of the building we were looking for. Previously it was a wing and a prayer the address was right. Sometimes I printed pictures of the buildings before we left. This actually worked out quite good because it is quick and efficient.

Next stop was the Kate Mullaney House. Kate’s House is nationally significant as the residence of one of America's leading female labor leaders, the young Irish immigrant laundry worker who organized and led the all-female Collar Laundry Union in Troy, New York, in the 1860s. The neighborhood was not one to just hang around for a long period of time, so we grabbed a couple of pics and scooted.

Harmony Mills was a complete industrial complex built at the height of cotton mills between 1860 and 1880. What makes these sites neat is one gets to visit and then research the history behind the building. It gives you some insight what made this country great.

From Troy to Lake George is only around 55 miles if you go the fast way. We tend to not go the fast way and decided to visit Saratoga National Historic Park. This was to grab the stamp for the NP tour. The Battles of Saratoga was the first significant win over the British that lead France to recognize the US as a independent country.

One last stop before we finished for the day was Owl’s Nest, home to Edward Eggleston. Ed wrote Queer Stories for Boys and Girls. His house is a National Landmark. I still don’t really have a clue who he is, but being there and taking a picture accomplish my treasure hunt for National Landmarks. Plus the ride there was great.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Return of the Splat Squito

Picked up the FJR from Allied Van Lines. Went over the bike and the only thing was a strap left a mark on the right muffler. Not a big mark, but a mark never the less. Boy the bike is really really REALLY dirty. And it has alot of bugs, guts and other things all over it. It is so dirty that I thought it was hiding the marks on the one of the mirrors from a tip over. Wrong mirror. Then I came across what I thought was a crack in the fairing. Turned out to be the edge of the 1300 decal. Not sure when I will get a chance to wash it, maybe right before I take it in for the grounding recall, which will be right before I put it away for the winter (oh oh i said that 6 letter word). It was good to ride the bike again after being away from it for about 2 weeks. Got a final mileage on our trip, 4,306. Not that many miles, but enough m to say we went somewhere.

I think by the time I took these photos alot of the critters dried up and just fell off. I did clear the top edge of the Laminar Lip and headlights on route thou.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Affair with Water

Last weekend, the long one, I labored thru (Labor Day) our photo's and put together 2 DVD's of pictures of towns we visited. MeAsWe submitted 199 towns and I submitted 230 towns. Based on last year we should be in the top 10, but ya just never know. I am counting on the economy, price of gas and other non related factors to boost our standing this year. Since MeAsWe was a competitor she had to be the one holding the rally towel in all our joint pictures.

We covered 17 states from California to Maine. Sounds impressive eh...we skipped a bunch between Pennsylvania and Wyoming. I am curious what next year brings. This year was a bit tougher than last year finding the water towns, plus you had to find the name on a building. It was much easier finding Tons and Burgs.

Wraps up one more national treasure hunt or grand tour.

As Pigs Fry

Smoke Chasing 2011 wrap up.

With our travels out West we were able to cover the 15 state requirement to become BBQ Pit Masters. The levels were to visit/eat at follows:

5 places in 3 states you become a Griller

3 places in 5 states you become a Smoker

1 place in 15 states you are a BBQ Pit Master

I have to say I was not a big fan or more accurately I would not go out of our way for BBQ, but I learned what I like and don't like this year. In the future, BBQ will have a place in my heart (or is that attack my heart) and will stop more often at the joints as we come across them. Oh, brisket is at the top of the list. I still don't know what good, great or wonderful BBQ is, but I do know what crap BBQ tastes like. Only 1 place had that distinction this year.

There was (or is that were) 400 entrants in the Inaugural Tour. Here's what we submitted. We did accomplish the Smoker level as well, just in case we didn't get to the BBQ Pit Master level.

MA Holy Smokes BBQ Delicatessen

NY Fireside BBQ and Grill (this was awful)

NH KC Rib Shack Bar-B-Que

CT Little Marks Big Barbecue

VT Curtis All American Bar B Q

RI United BBQ

ME Mainely Bar-B-Que and Company

NJ Jersey Shore BBQ & Catering

UT Kaiser's Barbecue

WY Bubba's Bar-B-Que

MT Beartooth Barbecue

WA The Lariat Bar-B-Que

OR Russell Street Bar-B-Que

CA Fat Daddy's Gourmet BBQ

NV Ritchie's BBQ

Who was the best...gotta go to KC's Rib Shack in Manchester NH. They be Smokin