Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Vacation 2008 - ROAD TRIP!

( I will be adding pictures to this as I go. Check back soon )

We have a family tradition of taking a vacation over the Christmas holidays. This year started out to be going to Death Valley, but at the last minute, because of global warming or something the whole southwest got a cold snap, and we changed it to Florida. Now, normal folks would get on a jet, and be good corporate consumers going to the usual theme parks.

Screw Disneyworld, We are going to Weeki Wachee. I remember seeing endless dumb commercials about this place when I was in grade school, and apparently it still exists. Road trips are so great. No one would ever fly to a town that has a population of 5 to see one of these 1950's roadside attractions. This is the Florida equivalent of the Lizard Shows along Rt 66.

12/22/08 Evening:

Ok I am here, across the street from Weeki Watchee Springs, and the mermaid shows are closed Mon -> Wed in the winter. I will get pictures of the outside and grounds tomorrow. I need a [Florida] tag for this post just like FARK. I did get to experience a local treat, barbecued Manatee. A little sweet, but not bad. I love local road food.

12/23/08 Evening:

I made it to Ft Myers tonight, stopped at a great little seafood place on US 41 and had steamed shrimp. After freezing just 3 days ago in Joliet, I am now having trouble with the air conditioning in my room. I know, Awwwww.

12/24/08 Evening:

Today I took old US 41 across the Everglades. This road was called "Alligator Alley" and before I-75 was the only way across Southern Florida. Wow! What an interesting trip. Miles of Everglades, Vultures at the rest stops, and along the road I must have counted at least half a dozen alligators out sunning themselves. (See pictures).

There were zillions of air boat rides stands, Indian Villages, hundreds of cranes, and other birds. What a wonderfull and interesting place.

Tonight I ended up in West Palm Beach. I have to pick the kid up at Ft Lauderdale Airport tomorrow afternoon. I took A1A along the beach up here and was really shocked to see how many zillionaires there are with yachts and houses gaudy beyond reason. If there is a depression in this country, it isn't here. I am just thinking that here is where my IRA and my daughters lost retirement money is. It is wrong for these people to have so much while our country is broke, we have no socialized health care, and so many working family's are losing their homes. There is no combination of words that makes a valid excuse for this.

12/25/08 Evening:

Drove up A1A to Brevard County, nothing exciting, just killing time, then picked up the kid at the lauderdale airport. Tomorrow, the keys. Tonight, motel in Homestead.

12/26/08 Evening:

Drove down the Keys today. Stopped at Marathon key for a 20 minute ride in an aerobatic Bi-Plane. WOW! saw Marathon Key, the reef, and did some 1.5+ and 0.5- G maneuvers. What a ride. Tonight we are at the Marriott in a suite on the beach, because hard as it sounds to believe, it was cheaper than 2 rooms at the Days Inn. Go figure?

12/27/08 Evening:

Back in Florida City. Relaxed day, moseyed up the Keys, had lunch at the Cracked Conch Cafe in Marathon Key. Tried Conch several different ways, I love it. The drove up North and to the Everglades National Park. Looks like the Bush administration has the National Park system pretty low on it's list or priorities. The Everglades are awe inspiring though. If there were dinosaurs still roaming the earth, they would be here. As with other national parks that I have been to, most of the visitors were Germans, French, and Japanese. It seems that a whole generation of kids in the USA have missed the beauty of our land in favor of corporate theme parks, and in car DVD players burning the same corporate brainwashing into the kids minds as are available at the theme parks. Sad.

12/28/08 Evening:

We drove old US 41 across the Everglades today. Stopped and took a 1 hour air boat ride. The Everglades seem to me like the primordial soup of life. Insects, Dinosaurs, ( Birds ), Reptiles. and on the few patches of land, wild boars, cougars, bear, dear. The air boat is the life line, there is no way to travel without it. Any way, it was fun. Drove on 41 till we stopped in Venice FL.

12/30/08 Morning:

At Cocoa Beach. Nice places. Looks like it was the place to go to the beach in the 60's 70's. I actually like it. Yesterday the kid and I went to the Kennedy Space Center. Blah!!! what has our country come to. The dumbing down of America is just sad. Everything, I mean every exhibit has had all technical information carefully filtered to make sure nothing is left. It now costs $40.00 per person to get in, you have to go through metal detectors then be questioned and searched by a guard. I am sick of this. You now have to wait in line for ove3r an hour to board a bus to go to the Space Center it's self. I am truly saddened by the whole experience. One interesting note, the Bush administration has decided to collect and destroy every piece of information plan, specification about the Saturn V rocket booster. They say it is so terrorists can't build one. ( If you have seen one, you will know how ridicules that is) . I say it is because all patents associated with the Saturn V are public domain, and Lockheed Martin and their ilk can't fleece the American public by charging 100 times the value for each part. Anyway, don't bother with NASA if you are going to Florida.

1/3/09 Evening:

I spent the last few days wandering along US 98 / US 90 through Apalachicola, Panama City, Pensacola (FL), Mobile, Biloxi, then up US 49 / I-55 to West Memphis AR where I am tonight. I like that area commonly known as the "Redneck Riviera". Stopped for shrimp in my all time favorite restaurant, the Original Oyster House, on Causeway 90 in Gulf Shores AL. Stayed in Biloxi, drove past Gulfport MS, where the billions of bux given to KBR to fix Katrina damage has done nothing to this day but line their pockets. Then up North stopping at the very best Southern Cooking resturant there is, Hamils in Madison MS. The rest of the run is interstate so I will end this thred here saying that it was a wonderful time.


Please feel free to add suggestions of the weird and unusual in Florida as a comment to this post.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Big 3 Bailout

(Click the picture if necessary to see the fine print)

I am actually in favor of this bailout, not to reward the big 3, but to give them a chance to fix things. To many people and small towns in the mid-west would be devastated by their collapse. Before anyone gets started on the anti-union rant, think about how much those drones at AIG or Citicorp are making. Lots more than UAW line workers, and the Insurance workers are nothing but leaches on our economy, they produce nothing. How many Vice Presidents at the "Big 3" make more than an entire plant full of UAW workers? One more point is that the amount that the "Big 3" are asking for is less than we dump into our useless occupation of Iraq in 3 months.

I used to make jokes that GM and Chrysler were in the technical league with Lada (Russian) and Hindustan (Indian) because they still sold cars with cast iron push rod engines. I recently was corrected in this that Lada switched to the more efficient and advanced OHC design in the 80's and the Hindustan Ambassador also uses an overhead cam design. The Japanese quit making overhead valve motors in the mid 1970's but GM and Chrysler still manufacture them. I understand that the management of the big 3 think the US consumer is as dumb as a box of rocks, and all they have to do is blame the unions instead of spending money on innovation, but I hope with this bail out the tide will turn.

I drive a Honda Ridgeline, which although far superior in technology and quality to anything made by the big 3, still could be a high tech diesel/Hybrid and be getting 35 or 40 MPG instead of 22. The reason? Even the Japanese get lazy when Detroit is mired in the 1950's push rod gasoline era.

So, bail them out, and let them know that it is time to spend some of this money on engineering, and not just cutting factory jobs and giving bonuses to big shots.

This is my first political post ever. Now back to adventure and motorcycles.

Friday, September 26, 2008

September on the Spyder

I am currently wandering around the South on the new CAN-AM Spyder. At first, I was wondering if I made the right choice in getting rid of my BMW K1200GT. Now, with 4500+ miles on the Spyder, I am glad I got it, and am loving every mile of riding/driving/whatever.

More to come:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ruckus Stolen from Driveway

I have really never understood theft. It not only deprives one of hard earned money, but is a mental insult that leaves one violated.

I was out of town, and two nights ago, some one came up, close to the house, and stole my Honda Ruckus from in front of our carport.

I really liked the Ruckus, road it several times a week, and just had an oil change a few days ago.

My daughter is now feeling funny about staying home alone, I am upset, and Progressive insurance company is only going to give me about 1/2 of what it will cost to replace it. Oh, that is after I fill out an insanely complicated form, and wait a month or so, to see if the police will recover it. It is interesting how Progressive insurance company determines value. They use the NADA guide, that is out of date, and just gives an average of nation wide sale prices of used vehicles.

My Ruckus was broken in carefully, had it's 600 miles service, and an oil change at 1000, 1500, and 2000 miles. It always had proper tire pressure, was warmed up before full throttle riding, and never ridden in a way that would be hard on the brakes or suspension. The brakes were adjusted monthly, and over last winter, was prepped with Stabil. Before riding in the spring, another oil change, and thorough check of all mechanical equipment.

I maintain all my equipment in this manner, and it is the reason that I do not buy used vehicles, as very few people provide this level of attention to maintenance.

So, is the NADA price fair in my case? I say no, not even close. Another complaint is that since gas has risen so high in price, Scooters like the Ruckus have climbed in value, and are difficult to find at any price. Even if I do get it back ( which is doubtful ) I am sure it will have been severely abused.

Besides all this, KiKi used to love sitting on it, waiting for us to come home.

Sad day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Now I know how Paris Hilton feels

Crowds, everywhere I go. Asking dumb questions.

Is it as fun as it looks?


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bye bye BMW

Hello Can Am Spyder

The K12GT is 4 sale.

Well, I have 150 miles on the new Spyder, and I am sure I made the right choice. As a matter of fact, I now wonder about my new 650 Burgman scooter. I have planned on having a long haul road bike, and the scooter for shorter trips and in town.

The Can Am Spyder can do it all. so. I am thinking.

I am going to Ohio tomorrow, and am going to take the Spyder. When I get back, the 06 K1200GT goes off to Motorworks in Chicago to be sold, unless some one offers me a reasonable sum for it before I put it on consignment.

My kid does not want the Burgman, so I need to choose keeping it for a change of pace ride, or unloading it and just taking the hit. We will see about that when I get back, but the Spyder really can do it all.

This is also the end of an era for me. For 11 years now I have had one BMW or another. Being BMW free will be a little different, but the folks at the Chicago Region BMW club allow members even if they ride something else. And they are nice people.

More later......

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Scooter

The DR200 has been replaced with an 07 Burgman 650 scooter. This thing is really kewl!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ride Around the Pond 08

Click here to see the pictures from this trip

Last Tuesday afternoon, I thought I would take a ride up to Michigan. I ended up going a little farther.

Tuesday night I stayed in Lansing, then Wednesday morning I headed to Port Huron/Sarnia and crossed over into "The Great White North" at the Blue Water Bridge.

I followed the Huron Coast along "Cottage Country", then headed to Tobermory, ON at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Tobermory is the SCUBA capitol of Canada because of the interesting geologic formations and water that is crystal clear. I had a wonderful White Fish & Chips dinner (gravy on the chips) and the next morning boarded the Chi Cheemaun ferry to Manitoulin Island.

Big boat, not just a little river ferry. The crossing took about two hours, and I got to hang out with a few fellow bikers in the cafeteria. When we got to Manitoulin Island, the weather started getting cloudy, and by the time I reached Espanol at RT 17, it was raining. I road all day in the rain till finally giving up at Wawa, ON. I got to see both old and new Wawa Geese.

Friday I road through torrential downpours headed to Thunder Bay. Roads washing out, water running like rapids over the pavement. At one point, I was riding through about 8" of water running across the road when I looked upstream and saw a giant log headed my way. I was lucky and it sailed across the road, just behind me.

Saturday, was perfect weather, and I left Thunder Bay for Duluth, MN. Only complaint was that a Customs Officer wrenched open my top case, as I was trying to explain that you have to push the lock button before you grab the handle. He obviously didn't care and finally snapped it, and it opened.

Route 61 from the border to Duluth is just awesome. When some one had to come up with a name for that giant, cold lake, the only one that would fit would be "Superior".

I met a couple of Limeys making tea, riding Honda Trans-Alps, going around the world for a year. Then I had to stop at Aerostitch.

I kept going, and stayed the night in Osseo (Pronounced like Accio broom) WI.

Sunday was the blast home, rain, hot, and I had enough for one ride.

Total 1986 miles.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Wrong Bike.

Another YouTube. I posted this in the CRBMW forum ( ) and no one commented. I thought this is really great!

KoKo the Clown

This is a classic. The Groove Tube is one movie that gets better with age

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Geek or not?

Gps mounted on my new honda CRF200L and my Honda Little Ruckus Scooter. So the question is, is this to geeky?

Monday, April 21, 2008

CRBMW Meet to Eat

Sunday was the first CRBMW club Meet to Eat event. It was originally set for the Hawg House in Malden Il. It worked. Six of us showed up and this is really good considering that it was a short notice ride, and Malden is located in BFE.

The Hawg House turned out to be one of those 'Harley Only'kind of places, so being only 8.1 miles from Ladd, and in Ladd is Rip's Chicken, we all left the 'Hairy Eyeball' Hawg House and rode to Rip's for a late lunch.

Two Points:

1: Rip's has the best fried chicken in Illinois, and prolly the entire Planet Earth.

2: I have never understood the attitude of some Harley riders about motorcyclists piloting other brands. After all it is the Harley riders that are riding third world, pushrod motor junk.

You would think they should be happy that other bikers would gladly include them in conversation, and the love of riding. I don't find this phenomenon with other riders that have 'third world' motorcycles like Urals or Royal Enfields, it is just Harley riders. They, the Ural, Royal Enfield, etc riders just like the uniqueness and have fun. I don't understand why the Harley Davidson riders feel they are any different.

Oh well, it was a great day, in any case.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Today it is at 37.79 degrees North. North of that, no more dandelions.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rendezvous Memphis

My friend Bob McMullen was raving about this place because he is also going to the NOWRA show in Memphis. He told me that some one or other on the food network was all gaga about this resturant and their 'dry ribs'.

So since I am here early, and I will be busy Monday night when Bob and his bride Vicki will be having dinner at the Rendezvous, I figured that I would just go down there and try it.

% Drum Roll % These are the best ribs I have ever had in my life. % Drum Roll %

I am sort of a road food affectionato, as you can see by my picture and other posts. I think nothing of getting on my bike and riding 1000+ miles for shrimp, or 800 miles for Hamils BBQ. I now have a new destination.

Rendezvous in Memphis has better tasting ribs than anywhere else. I like ribs, there are plenty of places in Chicago that have good one, and since I do business with a Kansas City company, they always try to impress me with some place or other there, which to be honest, are pretty good.

Sorry, Chicago, and KC, you lose. The dry seasoning that the Rendezvous uses is just perfect to bring out subtle flavors in the meat. It is not overpowering, and no where near the KC style where you are eating baked sauce with some meat underneath.

Discoveries like this are great.

More Loretta Lynn

Road trips are so great.

I was driving west on I-40 and thought it was time for lunch, not knowing what I was getting into, I pulled off the road at Buffalo TN.

This place is so corny that it is fun.

Go Loretta.

Loretta Lynn

Her store

Friday, April 4, 2008

Software Development

Anyone that has never been involved in software development seems to think it is a sterile, orderly process. Well, it isn't.

It involves frustration, supprise, chasing bugs that more often than not, the fault of the development suite, and saying bad words.

The ugratefull customers still complain, even when the work is pure genius.

But when a project is done, or as done as it's going to be before it is shipped, there is joy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

45 degree ride

Great day.

45F seems to be the magic number where riding a motorcycle becomes tolerable. At 50, well , no more car. Forty really is the lower limit for me to spend a day on the bike.

I wonder what others here think is the magic number?

Leave a comment.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Life is good

To cold to ride?
Relax with kitty!

City of Joliet

Closed stores, closed factories, closed prisons, affordable housing.

Click here to see full screen slide show

I just thought that I would take a moment, to show all of you a little information about the City of Joliet where I have lived since 1995.

Joliet is one of those old "rust belt" cities that was destroyed by the economic policies of the Reagan administration. Unlike many other similar towns that have come back from the ashes, Joliet just never has.

Our mayor is an ex cop, with all of the foresight, creativity and imagination that police are famous for. The city council has been in power forever, and since some of them own slums and run down dilapidated buildings, nothing is done to improve the character of our town.

Sure, we have fallen for the same scams as other "rust belt" cities. A casino or two , a NASCAR track, a pretend minor league ball park. These same edifices can be seen in downtrodden towns all over the Midwest.

Our city council has also helped shift the property tax burden to our homeowners by giving away huge breaks to companies building big warehouses that employ nothing but a few low wage fork lift drivers and the like. Why are we subsidizing half price deals on property taxes for "Dollar Tree" and their ilk, when they give us nothing but more truck traffic?

Until the voters here change our city government in a sweeping replacement of almost all the council and our mayor, then you and I can expect the same.

At least we really do have affordable housing.

Suzuki DR200 Top Box

Low cost, works great.

The kid is usually so fashion conscious, but she has no problem riding a motorcycle that looks like it's right off Main Street Ho Chi Minh City.

One more thing, Don't these pictures seem similar?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

War with Squirrels

I know this is off topic, but anyone with a bird feeder has prolly shared my frustration matching wits with your local tree rats.

I thought the location of my feeder was squirrel proof. Haaa! There is no such thing as squirrel proof when sunflower seeds are at stake. They are very very smart, and relentless. Our red squirrels seem to be more aggressive than the gray ones, but it was a small gray variety that discovered climbing up the siding on the corner of the house, then jumping for the feeder. The red squirrels were closely observing this, and next thing I know, there is a red squirrel "hiding" on the back side of the bird feeder while dining.

Important Update 03/27/08

The squirrels have won! Two squirrels jumped on the bird feeder at the same time breaking the cheaply made chinese item in half and sending it, the seeds, and the squirrels crashing to the ground.

Now I must decide if I want to increase our trade deficit and obtain another poor quality Chinese product to feed our birds ( and squirrels ), or simply admit defeat.

New Addition

Spring is almost here, so I thought it was time to even out the stable. I had a 2005 Honda Big Ruckus, and it was fun, but ever since I got the Suzuki DR200 Dual Sport, ( was for me, but my kid sort of appropriated it ) , I was thinking light dual sport.

So , off I went to my local Hondakawayamazuki shop , and there, there on the showroom floor was a new Honda CRF230L.

Well, I'll save the explanation, and you can see by the pictures what happened.

Even though it was cold today , I put about 40 miles on it.

Now I cant wait for warm weather.

Monday, February 25, 2008

February Uggh!

I am getting riding fever. The bad thing about living in the North is the riding season ends around Thanksgiving, and starts, well , I'm waiting.

Every time I see the temperature hit 40F, I start to think, I could, I really could.

Then we get another snow storm like today.

All I can say is: Waaaaaaa!

Oh, one more thing, isn't it just kewl that our cat matches our kitchen floor.