Monday, April 30, 2012

An Experiment in HDR

This weekend was for getting ready for our trip. Headed over to Giff's early to mount up the Laminar Lip. The last one blew off the bike in September on one of those cold mornings. It seems the 3M anchor are susceptible to temperature changes. This one went on with the 3M anchors, but also drilled and used nylon screws to insure this one stays put.

When I got home, it was too late to really head any place significant, so I decided to go out and experiment with the camera. I specifically wanted to play with HDR pictures and bracketing. Here's the result of my playing.

Regular shot out of the camera (pictures are clickable)

The result of combining 5 different shots together.

While it is a bit surreal, I think this will not be my last HDR photo. A bit of an explanation of what I was trying to do.

3rd Time is a Charm

Come May 12th we head off to finish the National Park Tour we started last August. Actually we are finishing the one we started in 2010 . Our basic route looks like a triangle with the corners being North Uxbridge MA, Jacksonville FL and Kansas City KS. What is the significance of the corners? Jacksonville has Fort Caroline Timucuan Preserve for a NP Stamp and Kansas (hopefully Fort Scott will work) for a BBQ joint to complete the Smoke Chasing 2012 15/15/15 Iron Gut Challenge. This particular challenge one must visit 15 joints in 15 states in 15 days with Kansas as a mandatory state. We will pick up a bunch of towns that start with U or S or A for the GLMC tour, throw in the memorials along the way for the Tour of Honor and to add to the mix National Historic Landmarks just because, the roster is full. (note all pictures a clickable)

The routing was completed this weekend, with 2 problem days. Day 2 which takes us across the Delaware Bay via the Cape May ferry. The miles are a snap; I just have a lot of stops this day, especially the memorials for the Tour of Honor in Washington DC. DC can be rather complex for riding around on bike an stopping for photo ops. At least it will be a Sunday and should be somewhat quiet.

Day 15 is simply a ton of stops (29 of them), but nothing we haven’t done in the past. The only really important stop of the day is the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville. We were at F93 3 years ago and it is one place I swore I would return to. Back then the memorial was a simple shed with a fence that people hung their personal items in dedication to those passengers that gave up their lives on 9/11. The park now has a sculptured memorial. I have said this before, but all of us should visit this site.

Day 9 takes us on RT 7 in Arkansas from Hot Springs (a NP stamp) thru 2 National Forests thru Harrison and finally to Eureka Springs. This is the shortest day at 262 miles with only 3 schedules stops. This is suppose to be a beautiful ride. I am really looking foward to this. Day 10 could be one of the longest days at 429 miles however we will be hitting OK and KS and the roads are pretty darn straight out there and we should be able to make some time. Hopefully no Performance Certificates will be earned.

Day 5, the second longest day in miles (418), takes us into Jacksonville, FL. This is the one segment I let an Interstate (I-95) become a major factor in the roads we will ride. All other roads will secondary roads. We have traveled all the way down the east coast in 09 using RT 17 for the most part, so I let the interstate slide. We needed to make time.

This will in all likelihood be my last IBA National Park Tour. This will be number 3 and a silver certificate (25 states, 50 parks with one in ME, FL, WA and CA). The only other certificates that I could earn would be Gold (which includes the 4 corners of CA, ME, FL, WA and Alaska) and Platinum which is the Gold throwing in Hawaii. We still have the southwest to go to, but right now I don’t see doing that one on a bike. Well if I were to hit the lottery and could retire, I could see heading out that way on a Spyder RT. It is going to be a challenge to keep 4 different grand tours going, but I pretty much have this down to the exact spots we need to hit.

This trip will be just shy of 5,400 miles, but with the screw ups I am sure we will be north of that. We will be on the road for 16 days with one held in reserve in case we need it. Of course Memorial Day is in the mix.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sales Leadership Club - The beginnings of a business career

MeAsWe and Me were sitting around talking about our childhoods last night. I told her the story of the Sales Leadership Club and my experiences with that organization. I used to spend hours looking in magazines and comics at the ads, ignoring the content of the rag. These ads had promises of making you millions and being able to get really neat things. There were bikes, knives, tents, sleeping bags all with point values. I remember going to my Mom showing her the picture of the gas powered Daultless Dive Bomber I could get if I joined. Back then, gas powered planes were tethered by 2 guidelines made of nylon. Tilt the handle and the plane would go up or down based on the which way the handle was tilted. They would only go around in a circle. I am sure my mother figured it was worth the 4 pennies for a stamp to get me out of her hair.

I am guessing I was between the ages of 9 and 11 when I sent my application off to the Sales Leadership Club. For your application the company sent you a brochure of various stationery with prototype names and address and placements of the headings on the stationery. Some were gold, some italic, different fonts (back then I didn't know what a font was), stationery that was pure white, some ivory, some were hues of green, purple or blue. Some had designs on the borders. Picking your stationery was like ordering a car with various options. Oh the envelopes for the stationery was included with matching return addresses on the back.

Out into the neighborhood I went with my brochure, knocking on every door. I do not specifically recall how much I sold, but I do know I sold enough to get that Blue Dauntless Dive Bomber with the white stars on the fuselage and wings.

I diligently filled out the orders, carefully making sure all of the spellings were correct for both the names and addresses. I don't remember having to put Zip Codes any place, so that made it prior to 1963. Collected the money and sent it into the company. The merchandise arrived in a larger box, with individual boxes for each customers order. I delievered each order as I was suppose to. Then I waited and waited and waited for my Dauntless Dive Bomber to arrive. And waited some more. While I am somewhat fuzzy on the details, my father must have made a call to the company asking where my plane was. What I do remember is this guy arriving at the house with the plane on a cold rainy night. The guy looked like a tall Danny DeVito, especially the hair. (how does one remember stuff like this) Who knows, maybe my dad simply ordered one from a toy store and had it delivered back then. Stores did things like that in the 50's.

The day had come. My father had gone out and gotten the gas and battery for the plane. It was a Saturday morning, he put on his brown suede casual jacket and we headed out the backdoor of our house to Gregory School. The school was a stone throw from our house. Down to the paved playground. Set the plane down on the tarmac, hooked the battery up, filled it with gas. It is my recollection that the prop was on a spring. Turn it to the left, let it go and it spun to start. First try. Pla pla pla. (you have to make the noise)

Second try pla pla pla, but there was some smoke. Third try pla ehhhhhhhhhhhhh. A scream came from the engine. I also recollect there being a throttle screw to regulate the engine. My father turned it to create this shrill crescendo; it was music to my ears.

A little background. My father was a mechanical engineer and knew all about this stuff. He had invented things for Bell Labs, almost worked on the Manhattan Project, provided stuff to NASA for the moon landing. He was a god in my eyes when it came to things like this.

The plane running, he told me to hold the plane in place. He was going to fly it first so he could teach me how to fly it. He had rolled out the 2 lines to the handle and he walked back to the end of the tether. Bent down, picked up the handle, got settled and said “Bill let the plane go”. The plane began to move, my father started to turn with the plane, it lifted and began a climb. It was flying then everything went to shit.

The plane went higher and higher, then too high, reached an apex. That Dauntless Dive Bomber pointed itself straight down and DIVED for the ground. I heard the voices TORA TORA TORA, KaBAM, it hopped, pfeeeed (then engine stopping) and I watched as the wings separated themselves from the fuselage, then silence. It was over.

I don’t remember what my emotions were. I don’t remember crying, yelling, being mad or anything after the infamous crash. Did this crush my spirit ? It must not have because there was the Recipe Card Holder Sales Story. Another story for another time.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wheels, Waves and Whales

Heading for Provincetown today for our first Tour of Honor site. Spent a little time planning the route and included USA Tour and the Smoke Chasing Tour as well. To make time to the Cape we slabbed on I-495 all the way down to the Bourne Bridge. We then routed ourselves across Sandwich Rd to RT 6, the Mid-Cape Highway. Traffic was light on our side; however the traffic going over the Sagamore Bridge was intense. I sure hope this is not what to expect on the way back.
Our first stop was Pig Out Premium BBQ and it was a bust. A great way to start the day. Grabbed South Yarmouth United Methodist Church for the USA Tour. MeAsWe indicated she was getting hungry.

Heading for South Dennis I pulled into this place for breakfast. MeAsWe had some French Toast concoction and I had the eggs with homemade hash. Our waitress indicated it was homemade deli style, which was a combination of roast beef and corned beef. How can you go wrong? Did some clowning around while we ate. 

The food shot that I always seem to forget.

One of the neat things about riding is people seem to talk to you more readily than if you were just somebody there. I don't know why this is, but it is. This older gentlemen (I can't really say old guy, because by all standards I fit into this category as well) was telling us about the wheat fields in Kansas and the fact he could get a 10 cent cup of coffee. We had quite a conversation about his travels. I have been to Kansas and we are headed back to Kansas this year for a BBQ place, so I will have to keep an eye out for the wheat. I do remember the corn of Iowa though.

Grabbed the South Dennis Library for the USA tour and headed for our next stop.

Since we were on the Cape, we stopped at the Cape Cod National Seashore Salt Pond visitor center. I have been here at least 3 times, but never watched the video. Today would be different.

The movie is actually very good. When we got out of the movie I went to the counter. This little girl just completed her requirements to become a Junior Ranger.

Picked up a surprise BBQ joint for the Smoke Chasing Tour.

Back out on RT 6, and exited not to long later for the South Wellfleet General Store.

As we headed for Provincetown I was thinking we should really grab some of the lighthouses out here for the IBA National Lighthouse Tour, but said there is always next year for that. The winds picked up as the cape narrows heading into Provincetown.

Grabbed the Pilgrim and Mayflower Compact memorial as the kickoff to ourTour of Honor.

Headed for the Provincelands VC for another stamp for the NPT. When we arrived it was closed up for the season. Since we're not in a rush and some folks on a bicycle pointed out the Coast Guard station, we just had to stop and see the Atlantic Ocean. As we approached the beach a lady standing at the entrance told us there were 3 whales off the coast you could see. MeAsWe headed back down and I went back for my Panasonic point and shoot that zooms to 10X. As I was walking down to the shore line I was saying to myself boy it is gonna be a work out to come back to the bike in this soft sand. I was right.

We spent around a half hour watching the birds dive into the sea. These seem to pinpoint where the whales were, probably going after the same fish. You would see the whale blow water and then barely see their back as they arched and dove again. MeAsWe was fascinated since she has never seen a whale before. As we began the trek back to the parking lot another couple commented on our riding gear and of course we had to stop a while. We pointed out the whales and one of the arched enough and showed their tail. They were far enough off the coast a good picture was not possible.

Headed for the last destination of the day on the other side of the bridge, Sagamore Beach. Riding back on RT 6 I said to myself that this road was really pretty boring. I also said this ride in the summer would have been a zoo. Before we crossed I realized I never marked  MapSource with Sagamore or Sandwich MA for the USA Tour. I must be slipping or we are simply doing to many tours at once.

 A view of our journey

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tour of Honor 2012 - Wounded Warrior Project

I saw this tour last year on the FJR Forum, but it only covered a few states. I remember reading Warchild's ride report and the SS1K he did. My thought then was this is kinda of neat. The tour benefits the Wounded Warrior Project, certainly a very good cause. It is also hooked up with the IBA, since there is a special Saddle Sore 1000 associated with the tour. Information on the Tour of Honor, simply follow the link.

Info on The Wounded Warrior Project

Essentially the tour involves going to specific memorials around the country to take a picture of the memorial, your bike and rally flag. We will incorporate this tour with the other 2 tours we are doing when we head south.

Our Flag

Saturday, April 14, 2012

BBQuing in the Berkshires

Life got in the way of riding this morning and we didn't even get out of the barn until 12:17pm. First thing we needed to do was pick up the FJR at Giff's. He changed the antifreeze and the plugs. I still can't believe these bikes need plugs every 8,000 miles, but I generally adhere to their schedule. Bill Giff is just as happy as he pulls the plugs and probably thinks to himself I am glad Bill (this one) is convinced his FJR should somewhat stick to the factory maintenance. With the up and coming trip south coming up, I can fool my brain (not my wallet) into a justification of sorts.

Next thing is we looked at a couple of houses this morning. This ended up more time than I could imagine. House prices are really good now, interest rates are almost historic lows and I am torn whether I should at my age be even considering buying a house. Doesn't hurt to look, just maybe I will have a house sing to me.

So with that, one phone call for MeAsWe, we can get under way. We headed out the Mass Pike just to put some miles under us and get out to the Amherst area a bit faster. We have seen everything between Uxbridge and Amherst a 1,000 times before.

Get off the Mass Pike and headed into Belchertown. I love murals and will stop for them almost everytime. This one is on a Tat place. Alot of tat places have murals and they are usually pretty neat. These are no exception, even if the first one could a bit scary.

The primary purpose (if there needs to be a purpose)(I can't remember the last time I simply went for a ride without an agenda) is USA towns and a couple of BBQ joints. I am looking for Trading Post of South Amherst. Well I found Trading Post, but they forgot to put the South Amherst in their name. So this one was a bust, but we did pick up Amherst.

We rode straight thru Amherst and UMASS Campus. With the temps in the 70's, I was looking for all the skimpily clad young girls. I just don't know about the kids these days. Not many skimpily clad girls about, I think the AMA needs to cut back on the warnings of the health risks about wearing next to nothing and being out in the sun.

MeAsWe is getting hungry. Our next stop cures the hunger pains.

I still don't know what good BBQ is suppose to taste like, but I really like the sides. The collard greens are especially good here. With the new camera my eyes have been reopened to snap away at some pictures. If I take a ton of pictures, the average cost of each shot goes down, so the camera all of a sudden cost less, right?

Anywho, some shots from Bubs.

How often do you get free stuff these days ?

Full from the sides, we head out on the highway (not really just was thinking of the movie Easy Rider)and I pull over to the side. MeAsWe says whats the matter and I respond did you see that.

So to get this picture I had to borrow a chair to stand on to see if I could get the Barbecue word in. It is barely there, but it is there. I wish I knew this place was there, I would had given it a try. We got talking to RJ (at least I assume it was RJ) and told him about the Smoke Chasing Tour. He thought it was pretty cool. BBQ joints are not abundant in NE and when you come across one unexpectantly it is all the better.

We pick up Sunderland and South Deerfield for USA and head off to Ashfield. Couple of picks of that road in MA, RT 116. I could feel MeAsWe tightening up her thighs as we got into the lower section of 116. Tough to negotiate this road and take pictures with a hand held. GoPro much safer for sure.

She did make a comment that it seemed we were moving much quicker thru these turns than normal. I nodded.

When you come into these little towns I generally have a target place that I have confirmed in Google Maps that a building or sign has the name on it. However, I find myself slowing way down (I am sure the local constables are happy about that)(or maybe they aren't, the town coffers are needing gold I hear) and just looking around. I have been thru Ashfield dozen of times, but I think this is the first time I really saw it.

Not to far away is Shelburne Falls and it starts with a "S". It is not always easy to find the name of the town on something. I settled. I think we used this last year for the Water Tour.

So I wander off for a sec and MeAsWe is negotiating a drug deal. Nicotine that is, but Matt hands her some rolling papers and tobacco. Much cheaper that way, MeAsWe starts the task at hand. Matt is getting a kick out of this as well.

Corey, Matt's friend, has some neat tattoos.

Shelburne Falls is a busy place this Saturday. Oh I am clearly standing and not parking, at least thats my story.

Off to Shelburne, which is different than Shelburne Falls, for a really uninteresting pic. Both GPS's is taking me onto I91 to get to Montague. I change the preferences and head for the back roads to get there. A much better ride. As I write this I realize that I was real lucky not to get a ticket of some sorts. The only way I could get a good pic was on the sidewalk.

Last schedules stop was Shutesbury. This church doesn't get much more New Englandlyish than this.

That was the last schedules stop of the day, but today proves to be a bonanza for BBQ joints. Take a look at this cooker. It is an engineering marvel. I wish now I had taken more pics, the backside was even more complicated.

We got to talking with Tim and his wife about his place. When he hit 1,000,000 flyer miles, Tim decided he needed to make some changes in his life. How kewl is that. I gotta give him credit for having the balls to make such a change. If you need some catering done and BBQ is your choice, here's his card.

I don't know how many times I have passed this historical marker and said I gotta get that one day. I went thru the same routine as I usually do, but this time I turned around and went back and got it.

Last shot of the night

The route and stuff