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.