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.