Tuesday, November 30, 2010


...with 19, with 19, with 1985.

Yes, those are song lyrics, and yes, if you know your Bowling for Soup, our kids in high school do tell us we're uncool.

The Friday after Thanksgiving has become the universal day for class reunions, now that in this day and age, people scatter across the globe, and Thanksgiving is the best shot at catching the most people "at home." And so it was, that the mighty Whitehall Zephyrs Class of 1985 had assembled once again.

We got maybe 40-50 classmates out of a graduating class of 100-some, which ain't bad. KevAndDonna had to bail out kind of early (see below) but it was really a great time catching up with folks not seen in many, many years. We had people from all over the map, including Jill Weaver who made a trip in from Hong Kong! I have to admit, most of us looked pretty damn good for as far past our prime as we are. Good times...

Some of those folks actually follow this blog, and over the last couple weeks we've been told by more than one person that we've been, to borrow a phrase, "falling down on the blog." Indeed, we posted nothing about the charity rides we've done, a couple group rides to check out some cool old-time machinery, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, a wild time at DelMarVa Bike week, our second Nickelback concert, and the crazy story of how we ended up in VIP seats at an Eddie Money concert.

Oh yeah, and the Penn State game the morning after the class reunion.

So, yes, we've been a little preoccupied. We'll get to most of that stuff ASAP, I promise. But not this Saturday; we'll be in NYC enjoying the festive hustle and bustle, the tree, the skaters, and all the stuff that goes with it.

I was going to put a teaser picture of each in this post, but in the process, I ran across a picture that we took while actually doing work on the house earlier this summer. We don't think we keep up with the neighbors, and in fact we live pretty modestly. We do, however, like cars. And motorcycles. Between us, we insure seven cars and two bikes, but aside from the family bus, the rest are being slowly inherited by kids. Anyway, when we had to move them all around to get at the garage ceiling, the place looked like a used car lot, but for cool stuff only. So, we took this picture. I feel kinda sheepish showing it, and I am acutely aware that pride comes before a fall. But it makes us appreciate what we have, and why we work so hard. Come see us at East Penn Automotive!

Monday, November 8, 2010

CHOP Toy Run

OK, so we are way behind on the blog here. Instead of letting our stories continue to pile up in our photo folders just to keep them in order, we're going to have to put up this post while it's relevant, and then go in and sneak the others in between where they belong. Whenever that happens...

The annual ride to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is supposed to be the largest rolling toy run anywhere. We've each wanted to take the cold ride to Philly for years before we met, and in fact, as seen below in Previous Adventures of KevAndDonna, we had taken a PTO day last year a few days in advance to ride down and evaluate the situation. I forget exactly why we didn't end up going, but I suspect weather.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Anyway, this weekend worked out well for us. The weather was going to be cold, but sunny. It was also Katrina weekend. Trina has done the Allentown toy run since she was old enough to hang on, and I was thinking she had liked the idea too. But damn, November gets cold. Allentown, you can see from the house. Philly is an hour on the turnpike.

It got almost to freezing by the time we got layered up, and off we went to meet the 'boys.' We were by far the last ones there, as expected, and had just enough time to plow through breakfast before heading for the turnpike. We could still feel all our parts when we put the kickstands back down, and from then on, it was pretty comfortable. After a quick warm up in Dave and Buster's, we wandered around until noon.

The ride to the hospital is on the other side of the city, and they shut down the Vine Street and Schuylkill Expressways
From CHOP Toy Run 2010
to get the thousands of bikes through. You're directed into the parking garage, which is a cacophony of loud pipes, the wailing car alarms they set off, and over-rich exhaust fumes. From there, it's a short walk to the main entrance. Where if, like us, you have never experienced it, you will soon be deeply humbled.

Biker people love the image of being hard core folks with kind hearts. Even though it's kind of a cliche, and there is at least some element of Wild Hogs thrown in, there really are biker clubs showing in numbers, from the serious to the truly nefarious. Ultimately, it is exactly what it looks like: real people from all circumstances, trying to do good for whatever their own reasons are. And when they see kids who are living in circumstances much worse than their own, for reasons undeserved, looking down on them through their windows, it's a lot of emotions. In the bright, airy lobby, dozens of kids are waving, clapping, making music, and making us feel a whole lot more important than we are as we walk through their lives. We realize that, as we climb aboard our toys and head back to our own lives, they go back to their rooms excited for only the little that we've left for them.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Back on the bikes, we decided to leave the group and head back across the river to South Street for a cheesesteak at Jim's. It was pretty early yet, and we figured if we stayed away from the stadium, we'd avoid the Eagles crowd before kickoff. The ride over was easy, and we found a place to park, but the line was around the block. We didn't wait in it for long before choosing one of the less famous places to be voted "Best Cheesesteak in Philly" by someone. By the time we got back on the Schuylkill, the sun was getting about ready to close up shop, and it was quickly getting pretty damn cold again.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Sometime before our exit, 106 miles from breakfast, the motor went silent , telling me it was time to click the gas tank over to reserve. When that happens in the passing lane at 75 mph, you start getting slow really fast, so that's something you want to be good at doing efficiently. We really had to get home, plus neither of us had clear eyewear, so I crossed my fingers as we sped past the gas station and made a beeline for Coopersburg. The only other gas station is 3 blocks from home. I don't know if there's enough left to get me back there, but there was enough to get me here.
From CHOP Toy Run 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Good, Clean, Dirty Fun

Another overnighter for KevAndDonna this past weekend, down I-81 to Hagerstown, MD. Of course, Kev can't simply blast down the interstate if there's a little time to do some wandering, so we jumped off about 2/3 of the way down and availed ourselves of the road less traveled. Well, one of us did, anyway.

This was a club ride led by yours truly. For years, Ed and Eddy hosted this ride to Hagerstown Speedway for some good, old-fashioned Saturday night dirt-track racing. Racing at its purest, flat-track is, having its roots at horse tracks and county fairs from the day the second combustion engine was used to drive a wheel. I was always fascinated by these fearless men broadsliding their machines thru the turns elbow to elbow at triple-digit speeds, and always wondered if I myself could cut it. (Fortunately, I have even less money than I do brains, so I never got to find out.) Anyway, this was the year I finally decided to make the time and just go.

The year that Ed and Eddy didn't make the run.

So, I decided to host it myself. A few members showed up to ride along, but as was foreshadowed in the first paragraph, (foreshadowing: classic plot device used by gifted writers to build suspense) Donna was not one of them. Not being able to leave at our meeting time, however, was not enough to keep someone like the Donna we know and love from making an easy 150-mile jaunt down the interstate on her own. The other five of us got to the hotel too early to check in, so I freelanced a quick ride to a nearby diversion, and by the time we returned from our visit to the "first" Washington Monument in nearby Boonsboro, Donna pulled in to the Days Inn right behind us.

After a nice dinner, we had a great time enjoying the spectacle that is AMA Grand National flat track racing. Just a good old, country-style Saturday night with a beer and hot dog, watching the ol' boys have at it. Simple fun, for a couple thousand simple folks like us. It's stuff like this that makes us just stop for a minute and realize how truly natural we are together, and how lucky we were to find each other. And why we can never let go.

We still have a bunch of fun things planned before summer runs out on us, and a couple of them include strapping the bags to the fenders again. We do an awful lot of things awfully well together, but that's what we do best.

Monday, July 19, 2010

You Like Adventure?

If you are visiting this site, it's most likely to follow our travels and see what kind of adventures we get ourselves into. And if you enjoy that, have we got something for you...

As you see on many of these posts, this bug is hereditary. Kevin's dad and mom often make appearances on these pages, because they do what we do. Only better. Enjoying a life of active retirement, Mom and Dad took a month to ride to California and down the Pacific Coast highway a few years back. Last year, they toured Mexico.

Now, they're at it again. To see some truly amazing pictures from the 49th state (Alaska, for those who didn't ace History) click on this link to their photo albums.


There is no narrative (we get the inside scoop via e-mail) but the pix are worth thousands of words anyway. They had 2 bouts of bike trouble, both solved without help, and are getting *lots* of rain. They had to abandon a plan to go to the Arctic Circle due to the road being washed out for a week. But the rest of the story is all good, and the images are simply amazing. We're jealous...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jersey Shore

No, there's no Snookie and no Situation. But, it was two teenage girls on the loose at the beach, with a single parent trying to keep the whole thing under control. Relaxation, or a recipe for disaster?

If you know our girls, then you know the answer. We are blessed with daughters who on the whole are good people who we don't have to worry too much about. Yes, they can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but we've seen other kids their age and we are grateful for the ones we have.

Katrina loves Wildwood, and has been going there every summer for as long as she can remember. I can pretty much turn her loose, and she knows where everything is and where to come back to. Courtney was just there a week ago on a day trip, but hasn't had a vacation at the beach for a few years. This would be the most time by far that our girls have spent together, and the first time they'll be out together by themselves, if that came to pass.

It did.

We spent our arrival day walking the boardwalk and spending rolls of quarters in the arcades, then the girls took off without Dad that night. The next day we spent on the beach until the rain chased us away, then we took a drive to Cape May and boarded the boat for a dolphin-watching ride around the cape. While flirting ruthlessly with a cute teenage deckhand, Katrina got the same blessing that Courtney had the day before: shat upon by a seagull! The nice deck boy ran off to get a paper towel, and Katrina somehow survived the embarrassment.

The next day, we got ride passes for the amusement piers, and rode all the roller coasters and what not. Katrina and Dad did the Sky-Coaster thing, where they hoist you up halfway to the moon and let you swing like Superman from a cable. Courtney, in her words, chose to "watch from a safe distance." We had a nice seafood dinner, and this time Dad met up with the girls on the boardwalk later on.

Not that we were expecting anything different, but it was good to get the kiddies together and let them do their thing. As much as KevAndDonna were clearly meant for each other, having kids that disapprove of us, or snipe at each other, would make a good thing more difficult on a day-to-day basis. But that is not the case. We really have it good, don't we?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gettysburg 2010

KevAndDonna are back home again (didn't know we were gone, did you?)

If it's the second week of July, then it must be Gettysburg Bike Week. This one we were really looking forward to, for a couple of reasons. Donna has been at every GBW for probably 5 years now, and Kev killed a bunch of brain cells there a few years back at a state HOG rally. Last year, we went together for the first time, and the circumstances were a little different - the two of us, instead of a bunch of girls on the loose.

But that turned out like we knew it would - us completely in our groove, hair down and having just the best time together. We are ridiculously good together anytime, as you've read here often, but anything that includes the words "bike" and "week" is the perfect setup for us lovebirds. We are each in our natural element, and together we're like trouble on wheels. We feed off each other. It really is the coolest thing.

This year, it was us, two *different* girls, and another couple from the HOG chapter. No rain to speak of, lots of time in the saddle on Saturday, lots of fun off the bikes at night. And, Donna got her Boogie Lites fixed while we were there.

Replacing that light pod took forever, and kept us walking in the sun all day. Then, our nighttime plans got screwed by the Comfort Inn. Last year, we saw that hotel being built right next to the biggest party in town, and we staggered past it on the way back to our own hotel. This year, we knew we had to stay there. But, in an ironic twist, they complained to the borough and the LCB about the plans for the massive outdoor party next door at the Pike Tavern, which put the kibosh to the whole reason we stayed there in the first place. Bastards.

We did go inside the Pike one night for the DJ, and Saturday we just drank in the parking lot for free and watched all the bikes roll in and out. They actually slid a letter under each guest's door explaining their position on the whole thing, but the end result is that we're going elsewhere next year. We'll be off the bikes regardless, because we'd like to survive to ride again. We got a late start on our lives to begin with, and now that it's finally getting good, we don't want it to end.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Photo Albums

All photos from every post this year are kept in our Picasa web album. Click the permanent link at right -->

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Speeddemon - Not Just an E-Mail Name

It's the 4th of July weekend, and our holiday plans got all cattywumpous on us. What was going to be the traditonal celebration of the twins' birthday at the lake house, was turned by kids' schedules, work schedules, and exes' holiday plans, into a hodgepodge of different activities. Donna ended up there eventually with some kids, and the rest of the time we filled very easily (imagine that!)

Among other things, it allowed us to pull something from the 'one day' list and plug it into the schedule: Friday night street drags at Island Dragway. For a while, I had run every car I owned no matter if it barely broke 75 mph in the quarter-mile. The '88 Mustang easily the fastest with a 14.21 sec / 96 mph best, until I traded it in on a baby girl in '93. I never had anything else that quick, and I haven't been back to the strip for a while, but with a new Mustang in the stable, it was time for that to change. It took a year and a half.

The two things I knew about this car before I even drove it was that the shifter was supposed to suck, and it the overhead cam 4.6 was supposed to be stronger than the old pushrod 5.0 I had. They were right about the shifter, but the engine didn't really feel like an animal compared to the old one. Lively, but not overly impressive. Now we'd find out the truth.

On the first pass, the car was spinning the tires through second gear, but still seemed to be getting on down there in a hurry. At the finish line, it looked like an honest 100 mph on the speedo, and at the timing shack, the slip showed a 13.81 sec / 102.5 mph run. Humbled the old car, right out of the box. No traction, no finesse, no knowledge of what the car wanted, and precious little cooldown time. Damn!

I mention that, because with modern EFI cars there is a huge difference in performance between a cold engine and one at operating temperature, for a number of reasons. You would spend many hundreds of dollars on go-fast goodies to double the improvement that a bag of ice and some patience would give you for $1.99. The old car had been run many times, and had put up its best numbers in November.

Today, I did try to leave some cooldown time, but I 'm not very patient. I made a bunch of runs, but never got the car to go quicker than the 13.41 that it clocked on the second pass. It did run 102 mph effortlessly, and hit 103 and change a couple times. Chalk the variance in ET up to minute driving differences in the first 2 seconds of a run, and a balky shifter. Clearly, I was dead wrong with my seat-of-the-pants evaluation. This car is potent, but in a deceiving way.

The part I enjoyed the most, was a result of the sparse car count that night. For 2010, the Mustang engine has again become 5.0 liters, by enlarging the SOHC 4.6 that's in mine. I don't like the the restyled look, and if I was really obsessed with going fast, I'd be driving a late-model GTO instead. Anyway, when some guy showed up and started hot-lapping an electric blue 2010 GT, I figured it was time to see how much difference the extra motor made, and if a good driver could overcome it. I watched him take a few runs to figure out the car, and despite steady improvement, I hadn't see him run any quicker than me. So, I did what a man's gotta do.

I came down out of the stands, went to my car, and lurked. When I saw him coming up the return road, I pulled out and headed for the staging lanes right in front of him. He followed me up to the tree, we staged the cars, and I left on him so bad at the green that Donna thought I red-lighted. Had him by a train length, and then the 2-3 shift failed. AGGGHHH! THAT GODDAMN SHIFTER!!! I tried and tried, ultimately deciding to drop it right into 4th and, all I could do was watch the bluebird motor on bye.

I followed him right on through, and we lined 'em up again. By now, he's running consistent 104+ trap speeds, indicative of his slight edge in power, and his ET's keep dropping. I gotta get him. The tree flashes green, and we drop the hammers. As we get them up into 3rd (ever so gently...) things settle down, driving gets easy, and its a just a matter of who's reeling in the finish line faster. I know that's him, but he's back there pretty far and will run out of racetrack.

He does. The red win light comes on in my lane, and when we get to the timing shack, I see that he covered the 1/4 mile a couple hundredths quicker than me, but I was out of Dodge first at the green, and negotiated the first 60 feet quicker, too. Ha!

I'm assuming he will follow me back for a tiebreaker, and he does. We pull in front of the stands together for the third time, and carefully put the cars in the beams.

A hard launch, and with the tires operating just beyond the edge of traction, I yank second, gritting through the crunch and countersteering through the sashay. This time, in second gear, I could see that powder blue SOB in my peripheral vision. I wondered if I was dead meat. I hit third, looked over for real and saw that any lead I might have was small, and shrinking. By the time we got to the stripe I was pretty sure the win light would blink on in his lane.

The tale of the tape showed we both had good reaction times, but his was noticeably better. I out-finessed him through the first two gears to make it up and then some, but I couldn't get far enough in front that he wouldn't be able to eat up the difference in time. He nipped me by 3 hundredths of a second, which was probably as close as two cars went through the traps all night. But a win is a win. And he had two of them.

As much as I want to go out and put a transmission in this car, the monotony of commuting back and forth to work in it will soon shove me back into reality, and it will be forgotten.

Until I see another electric blue Mustang.

Dora Rides Again

For Father's day weekend, Katrina and Dad had a plan to get out of town on the bike together, and enjoy some good bonding doing Dad's favorite activity. A kind gesture by her, but no great sacrifice - this wasn't her first overnighter. We've done a lot of cool things together on the bike over the years, and we've always enjoyed them.

We decided to go to Plymouth Rock, and Cape Cod if we had the time. As always, we make an honest effort to avoid blasting down the interstate all day, but we do what we have to. It's not our fault they put the places we want to go so far away. This works for Katrina the fashionista - she loves to pick out stylish girlie wear bearing logos from Harley dealers she's been to all across the map. It's a biker thing.

This ride added Rhode Island and Massachusetts to her resume, and she got a shirt from both. It was a lot of hauling ass the first day, and we avoided what would have been a major rethinking of the plan, in escaping a closed Merritt Parkway by sneaking off an exit earlier than we planned, pointing the bike the wrong way down an onramp and heading for our freedom. We eventually got to Buzzards Bay, MA and across the bridge onto Cape Cod in the late afternoon, got a souvenir, and headed up the coast to Plymouth.

Again, another place I've found that was way cooler than I anticipated. It's not a big city, and not really a big area, period, and it was bustling, but by no means overrun. We easily found enough space to park a Sportster, and took a walk to see the distinguished stone. What was cool was the harbor had a million spiffy white pleasure boats anchored in the shallow water. We've been to marinas but had never seen a postcard scene like that before. Felt almost like we were in the Meterranean, but instead surrounded by old American money.

I wanted to make the next day much easier, so we backtracked westward into the setting sun, and ended up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. That, because it's up I-95 from Providence next door, where we found a festival of some sort, but didn't find a hotel room. The next day we popped back into Massachusetts for a visit to Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. I don't make this up.

From there, we boogied across Connecticut through Hartford, Waterbury, and Danbury, and crossed the Hudson over the Bear Mountain Bridge. This is a cool ride that she and I had to excise from a past itinerary, and one that I had wanted to do for a long time. It lived up to the expectation, and was worth delaying our return home. That return came a few short hours later, and before you know it my kid was back in the car heading away from me again.

On the way up, we took our pictures at the state lines new to Katrina, like we always do. And within minutes, they were on the World Wide Web. Kids... Despite having to tell her she shouldn't be sitting back there Facebooking at 75 mph, it got me to smiling. I remember her as a little girl when the only bike she would get on was Pop-Pop's huge, whisper quiet land barge, and then we had to stay in the yard. She soon was riding that one around the block, and eventually ended up going to Brownie camp on it - and that was all the way on the other side of Allentown! Since then, we've been an awful lot of places together , in 10 different states. We've also spent very little time in rainsuits, which is kinda cool.

Now she's going to be a senior, and I'd imagine there won't be too many more of these. She is really a great kid, and she's truly a chip off the old block, which makes us really close. I always told her mom that she got her girl, but otherwise my genes went in there and beat up hers and took their lunch money. Trina and I are cool and I'm really really lucky to have her. I don't think she'll ever be too far away.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rolling Thunder

So, our Memorial day weekend starts with us tired as dogs, sitting in the rain, watching an extremely impressive display of precision and dedication by the Marine Corps. We finally had to put up the white flag and call it quits, but really all we could do was escape to the shuttle buses, because they wouldn't be taking us back to the bikes until the parade that we had been watching was over.

The group itinerary still had a visit to the WWII memoral planned that night, but as we waited for the second wave of buses, the rest of the gang came to the same decision we had.

The next day, we slept in a little and ended up going to a party at Fort Washington H-D, before meeting back up with everyone at another dealer party in Fairfax. Back in the city, we walked the Wall and and hit up the vendor stuff for a while, rode through an empty businss district to dinner at a Thai restaurant, then got our nighttime visit to the WWII memorial. This was a pretty damn profound moment there with the Washington Monument hovering a few hundred feet away, and the Lincoln directly opposite, facing it from a across the reflecting pond.

This was followed by drinking activities.

In the morning, we passed up the 5:30 departure by those members who were involved in setting up Rolling Thunder. This would have put us in the very front of the 'civilians,' but we settled for the middle of the pack and left at 8:30. That, um, didn't work.

What that did do was get us there pretty much at the exact moment that the main parking lot became full. Now, it would be no disaster to be at the front of a string of connected auxiliary lots., but unfortunately, this is not at all what happened. As traffic was diverted away from behind us into the second lot, our group of strandees ended up in the front of a remote parking lot that was not seen by another bike until the process finally reached it and poured it full as the last bikes rolled in much, much later. Out of hundreds of thousands, we were among the last thousand or two to leave the Pentagon. We did have plenty of time to check out the 9/11 memorial. It also gave us the opportunity to see the last few minutes of something that has become a well-traveled internet video: a solitary Marine in salute as riders pass by his elbows for over 3 hours. We've seen this salute become a tradition; this time we verified it ourselves from the tail end. Culminating a weekend of remembrance, a very solemn symbol of what makes our nation great.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

So, it's the 4th of July weekend as I have enough time to actually put up a post about Memorial day. Jeez... time flies.

Way back when, we spent Memorial Day weekend in Washington with our HOG chapter, who went with the Vietnam Vets and 2nd Brigade clubs. These guys really have this down to a science, and we get to see and do a lot of things in three days. It was a great experience, and it made for a really cool weekend of celebration and reflection.

Thursday night, we had gone to see Bon Jovi at the New Meadowlands stadium after work, and it rained. The show went on, late, but it was a rockin' show and a great time. I thought the PA could have been better, but they were tight and you knew all the words. Good times.

So, with traffic, we got home around 3 and figured we'd ride to DC by ourselves when we got up. We had originally planned to ride with the boys, but it was way late so we just figured we'd take the express route and catch up with them when we could.

The dogs weren't having that, though, and figured it was a workday. Hey man, it's Friday and all. Feeding time at the zoo. I got a bug up my ass like I do sometimes, and next thing dogs are outside peeing and people are getting dressed. We hit the diner and fueled up next door as the guys were getting ready to pull out. We got off to an OK start, but then it started raining about halfway down, in Gettysburg. We hung in there, visited Arlington Cemetery, and then actually ended up going back out with them immediately after checking into the hotel.

That night, they were going to the Marine Corps Evening Parade at the barracks, and that was probably the one thing I really wanted to do that weekend. Parking at dinner was a circus. First there was a call to move bikes that were about to be towed, then some knucklehead in a Benz failed parallel parking, and knocked a bike over into another. That fiasco ended about as well as it could have, and we found ourselves at the barracks as the sun was setting. That was going to be really cool, until it started raining pretty hard the second time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Never Sit Still

So it's been almost a month since we've posted, and not because we didn't do anything. We did *too* much and didn't have time to blog. In between working on the house-merging project, we've seen a Bon Jovi concert at the New Meadowlands stadium, spent Memorial Day weekend in DC and rode in the Rolling Thunder demonstration, took a ride in the Catskills, and spent a long weekend at Lake Wallenpaupack. And graduated a kid.

This weekend, Kev and Katrina are off to New England for some sightseeing and good Father's Day bonding. Donna also will get Gina out on the bikes for some girlie bonding as well. Sunday night, we'll shut the bikes down and go to bed for work Monday.

It would be nice if some of these activities got their own posts. Not saying they won't, but I wouldn't hold my breath. More time doing, less time typing.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pix are up!

Finally... we know. We have sort of a busy lifestyle.

Click on pic at right ---> to go to the album


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Trip Report & Lessons Learned

Once again, we are home from a week on the road - poorer according to the bank, but richer in life. And, also once again, we have proven some things we already knew about life, and learned some new ones.

As I have always done, now done jointly, we pick a destination or event within a week's ride, then look for the things along the way that we want to see and do. That's the benefit of riding there and not to the airport. What ends up happening is, we find things we weren't expecting (which is the whole idea) and savor some moments a little extra, then end up cutting out some stuff to make up the difference. We walked on the beach, but didn't spend any time laying in the sun. Didn't get the bus tour of Kennedy Space Center. We would have liked to tour a real plantation, and spend more time in Savannah - which was the original destination of the trip before we decided to add Bike Week and a shuttle launch. We always have a reason to go back.

But, we had zero bike trouble, and 3 drops of rain. That in itself pretty much guarantees a great time.

Harley makes a big deal about the emotional aspect of their product. Their marketing people paid attention in class, and they know to "sell on the benefit." Embellished, yes, but not made up; there really is a sort of bond that forms between rider and machine, and between riders, out on the road. Annie and I have been through 55,000 miles of anything and everything together, and Donna 35,000 with Lucy. About 20,000 of those miles have been racked up between us together. There are ups and downs.

This week, our girls cruised Ocean Boulevard side-by-side, idled through the oldest port cities in America (St. Augustine is supposedly the oldest,) danced in lock step through gusting winds, and roared nose-to-tail through a moonless, inky Carolina night. They finished in a sprint and never missed a beat. Hasn't always worked like this, but it's a beautiful thing when it does.

We know we are good... no, great, partners in crime together. Donna feels what I'm going to do before I do it. I know when she's not expecting something, and give her a little extra warning. We know when we can relax, when to be alert, when to take a break, and when to make miles. We get it.

Everyone has something they'd rather be doing. Some people fish, bowl, walk through the woods... some live for their kids or grandkids; all causes no more or less noble than our own. We all work 5 days a week for the other 50, because we have to. We respirate and metabolize endlessly to survive. But for us, this is the essence of actually living.

The rest of the pictures will be sorted and linked to in a day or three. Promise.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Home Sweet Home (Part 2)

OK, we lied.

It's more of a harmless lie, and we honestly were kinda telling the truth when we said it. So don't hate.

We arrived in Allentown at 4 pm: 23 1/2 hours after we pulled out of Daytona Beach Harley-Davidson 1,015 miles to the south. In other words, we now both have our Iron Butt membership.

The mission prep and early phase didn't go well. We were feeling under the weather (for reasons unknown that had nothing to do with drinking, I'm ashamed to report) and Donna didn't really sleep at all the night before. Not what you want before standing in the sun for hours, and then leaving on a 1,000 mile day.

But with the late checkout, we were able to stay indoors until about an hour and a half before launch. Then, we found a nice shady spot just 2 blocks away (100 times less crowded than the park, to boot) and there was a nice breeze blowing in off the water. My escape plan worked to a T, and we sat in traffic for all of 4 minutes.

We decided to stop at Destination Daytona 60 miles up the road and get our documentation together, just in case. We did that, got back on I-95, and went as far as we could.

That wasn't as far as I thought we needed, however. I had hoped to make about 400-450 miles by around midnight or so. We packed it in as soon as we hit South Carolina, only 5 hours and 270 logged miles. We were beat.

We did set the alarm for the 5 hours break I figured we could afford, and agreed to decide what to do when it rang. We'd have 700+ miles to go, and no time to slow down. At 2:30, we were packing back up and downing a cup of coffee. By sunrise, we were in Charlotte, NC. And it was getting steadily colder, and damp. We were adding layers of clothing. I put the bottom of my rainsuit on as makeshift chaps and we ate the only meal we would get - a McBreakfast swallowed in 10 minutes.

At that speed, every 100 miles was a necessary fuel stop, and with it a reassessment. We always had kept or made up precious minutes, and always decided to continue. By noon, we were still in northern Virginia, but within range and on time. The last two stops were in PA, and by then we were heads-down determined, battling aggressively against the gusty crosswinds. We made up almost 10 minutes on each run, and coasted into Allentown at 4 pm with 25 minutes to spare.

It will take months to process the submission and get our patches and certs, but we proved Donna can do it. On Sportsters. She did it without an iPod, which I shudder at the thought of, and without a windshield, which I would never even consider. She's unbelieveable. And, she's mine!

So, we're home safe and sound. And, more importantly, home together now. Life is good.

I'll put up the usual final post with all the stuff I forgot to mention, and lessons learned. And photo albums.

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 14, 2010


Atlantis lifted off as scheduled at 2:20 pm on a beautiful Florida afternoon. We found a great spot to watch two blocks from the hotel in someone's backyard, where about 40-50 other people had gathered. In general, the folks in Titusville seem to get used to this occasional influx, and nobody gets too excited.

It was awesome.

We hi-tailed it out of there and are in Walterboro, SC for the night. We're going to try to get up early and beat feet out of here, so that's it for now. We'll update / summarize when we get home, and put up a bunch more pix. In the meantime, here are a couple photos of the 3-minute spectacle we rode 1,300 miles to see.

3... 2... 1...

We are here in Titusville a block from the water and about 8 blocks from the park from which we intend to watch the launch. The parking lot there was full last night already, and I'm not sure we wont be 1,000 people deep when we walk up there. The town is turning into a madhouse.

But we're here! And, the weather looks very good.

We got in yesterday and checked into the world's shabbiest $140 motel. The weekly rate is like $160 here, and we're certain that's where most of their tenants come from. Monthly, is more like it, until they get evicted.

We unloaded, and headed over to Kennedy Space Center. We didn't book our tickets too far in advance, and thus missed out on the bus tours, which in hindsight would have been the thing to do. Oh, well. So the afternoon was spent browsing and simulating, then we came back to find the motel filled with more people like us (and a foursome on Hondas swapping lies in the parking lot.) We got our Chinese (mandatory on each road trip) and stopped at the ABC store for two beers and two coolers. One of each remains unopened this morning.

We both feel like crap for some reason, and a day in the hot sun is going to do us no favors. They're predicting 300,000 in town for this event, and a 3-hour traffic jam to get out. The 1000-in-24 for the ride home is out, because we're not going to take a great vacation and make it end in misery. We'll still get home early Sunday afternoon with smiles on our faces instead. We did negotiate a late checkout and so will be enjoying the a/c until an hour and a half prior to launch.

The news says with the few low-lying clouds in the forecast, we're a 70% likelihood for a go at 2:19.

Go, Atlantis!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daytona Beach

As has become the routine on our trips lately, we made up some time yesterday on the interstate after lagging behind schedule. We left Savannah, stopped for a T-shirt, and boogied down I-95 to Daytona. We did get off below Jacksonville to take a ride through St. Augustine, which we're glad we did, but we didn't pay to drink from the famed Fountain of Youth. US-1 was too many traffic lights, so it was back out to the "big road."

We got to Daytona Beach to find it way, way emptier than we expected. It was a good 85-90 degrees, sunny, and the place was almost desolate. We rode up and down the strip looking for a place within walking distance of somewhere to eat and have a drink, and ended up with a great deal on a beachfront view.

We took a walk on the beach, got showered, and had a burger at the beachfront cafe next door. Then a hike up to Main Street to hang out at the Boot Hill Saloon (Better off there than across the street) and all the biker joints that line both sides. We didn't realize all the biker-specific places that operate year-round on Main St.

Anyway, we slept in a bit and then headed south for the last time. Only 5o more miles to go to Titusville and Kennedy Space Center.

Scenes from Daytona

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Southern Charm

We said goodbye to Kevin and Karen and headed for Georgia, by way of Charleston and Beaufort. Weather was kinda gray but there was little chance of rain, and we didn't get any. Route 17 was pretty light and there's not much to see but pine trees.

When we got to Charleston, we were glad that we decided to stop. We parked the bikes and took a walk around, and it was really neat. The highlight there was all the stately old homes along the water. Really cool, and too bad we only had an hour or two to spend.

Then we got to Savannah, and realized we made the right choice on where to spend more time. Wow. This is one cool place.

We came in the "back way" along the river, and found ourselves surrounded by 10,000 big trucks hauling sea containers. You should have seen them stacked up to the moon for miles.

We're in a deluxe hotel right on Bay Street in front of the City Market,
which is where we found the neatest candy store. We checked in and got showers, then found Paula Deen's restaurant, which was only 2 blocks away. We opted for the Riverwalk, instead, and had our fancy meal for the trip along the water. For the first time I can remember, I left with food on my plate. It was good, but we had torn through a couple appetizers, oysters, soup and salad, and that was all we could take. We both had pie, though :)

The one thing I will say is every city has its own character, and this one seems to have borrowed one from New Orleans. Not that you can't tell them apart, and yes there's some "low country" mixed in there, (and it doesn't smell nearly as bad!) but the menus look pretty much the same.

Which reminds me, Donna had her first praline, and her first boiled peanuts this week. I had my first raw oysters. Mmmm...

We're off to Daytona Beach next. The way this morning is going, we'll probably end up taking I-95 just to get there early enough to spend some time on the beach. We tend to make stuff up as we go along.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Off Again

We like to stay in the same place for a couple days when we go away, because it's a little less packing and a little less getting up and loading up. We spent two nights here in Georgetown, which let us enjoy a full day at Bike Week.

Which we did. We had a quiet lunch on the water in Georgetown yesterday, hit all the party spots, and got in early. Now, we're heading to breakfast in Charleston, and we'll see what time we get into Savannah tonight.

We have some cool pictures, which hopefully we'll get to upload from the camera and post tomorrow.