Walking in a Winter Wonderland in Georgia

Here’s the bottom line up front:

On Friday we received 15” of snow. Yes, in Georgia on December 8th, we were ground zero for an historic weather event that dropped snow over a large swath of northwest Georgia. More on that a bit later.

The Days Leading to Snowmageddon II:

The early part of the workweek was pretty normal other than having my first two physical therapy sessions at Pinnacle Orthopedic on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

As for all that stuff that I ordered last week, the replacement glass, LCD display and frame for Debbie’s broken cell phone arrived on Monday. It took me about 30 minutes to get it installed, but the phone sprang back to life as good as new and I was then able to recover some 300+ photos that were on the phone and moved them to Debbie’s new phone. So, for that alone it was worth it. Now I just need to decided if I want to transfer my service over to Debbie’s old phone since it’s actually a newer and better model than the one I’ve been using for several years now.

I think it was Wednesday when the new DirecTV receiver I ordered through Walmart arrived, only to discover that it was of no use to us given “new information” on the packaging that was not provided on Walmart’s website; boo hiss. So, that will be going back for a refund and we’ll continue to search for a way to update our Satellite receivers that won’t cost a fortune.

The new entertainment system receiver arrived on Thursday along with the new Canon Elph 190 digital camera. The camera is perfect! Call us old farts, but there are just times when it’s a lot easier to have a real, compact camera at your disposal to snap off photos vs. using the larger and more awkward to hold and shoot smart phones. Best of all, this camera allows us to transfer photos to our cell phones and laptop computers via a WiFi connection.   As for the receiver, I discovered that I had a bad HDMI cable running between the receiver and wall-mounted TV through the wall.   It was Sunday before I was able to get out of the house to get a new HDMI cable which has now unleashed all of the new receiver’s capabilities… so worth it.

Thursday night we headed over to Henry’s Louisiana Grill for dinner, something we’ll do about once a month when the mood strikes on a weeknight since we can usually find several empty seats at the bar. Such was the case on Thursday and we had an amazing meal; just what the doctor ordered! The appetizer included four locally produced smoked pork ribs and home-made cole slaw and our entrée was blackened Mahi Mahi over linguine and veggies. As always, we shared our plates as neither one of us can eat an entire appetizer or entrée anymore.

And now, Friday’s weather….

On Thursday the weather guessers began to post winter weather warnings that called for up to 1” or 2” of snow that might collect on lawns but was not expected to have any street accumulation given the above freezing temperatures we were experiencing. By Friday morning’s 5:45am drive into work there was some freezing rain falling but it was indeed melting on impact with anything that it touched. As the morning went on the folks who arrived at work a bit later were reporting that snow was falling and by noon a check of the traffic cameras on-line showed a growing amount of snow accumulating, especially out in West Cobb County where we lived. The local schools and government offices all put out notices that they’d be closing down at noon and that’s never good.

Given a variety of factors, rather than hanging in at the office and “hoping” the afternoon driving conditions wouldn’t be an issue, I opted to jump out into the self-created traffic mess at noon and headed home where I’d finish out the work day by telecommuting. Traffic was, indeed, a mess and I was having all kinds of traction issues with the tires on my truck, more so than the motorists around me. There were several times where I was certain I was going to slide into other cars, noting that after coming to a stop my truck would just start sliding on any kind of incline. This was close-in to Marietta where the snow fall was not as heavy as it was out in our neck of the woods so my thinking was traction would improve the closer to home I got. Such was the case, but it still took 1.5 hours to make the 30 minute drive. That 1” to 2” snowfall on lawns was now 3” of snowfall on the roads around our house and our driveway when I finally made it home and I was never so glad to be at home and with Debbie as the snow continued to fall with no end in sight. Photo at left below was taken around 2:00pm; the one on the right at 4:00pm.

I was able to get on-line and finish out my work and, to be honest, it may have been an easier drive home had I stayed at the office until 4:00pm… but too had to know and I had no regrets for leaving when I did. My truck may look like a 4WD vehicle but it’s not and I’m now wondering how good the tires I have are on snow: a change may be needed. Nevertheless, it was pretty clear we’d be staying in Friday night… and most likely on Saturday as well. Thankfully, we always have more than enough food on hand to cover us for several days so there really wasn’t any reason to even consider heading out as we watched the snow continue to pile up on everything to an eventual packed height of about 12”. I say 12” but I’m fairly sure over 15” of snow fell, much of the early snow melting and while the rest of the falling heavy wet snow simply became packed down and compressed by its own weight.   It took a heavy toll on a lot of our trees and shrubs, some of which will bounce back others… probably not.

  

Saturday’s Situation:

Throughout the evening we lost power several times for a few minutes but only once was it long enough for us to break out the candles. However, after going to bed we must have lost power for 5 hours based on the clocks, where the only indication to us was a very cold feeling house when we woke up around 6:00am and realized the power had gone out. The power thankfully came back on around 6:30am and once the furnace fired back up we were good-to-go for the day. Sadly, late on Friday our Comcast / Xfinity internet service went off-line and remained off-line as of Saturday morning. Thankfully, we still had cell service and our TV’s run off satellite receivers and were not acting up. Amazingly, it was still snowing when we got up.

   

I had to spend some time outside knocking snow off some evergreens at the road’s edge that had been weighed down so much that they were blocking 2/3d’s of the road. There was no point in shoveling the driveway since (a) my left hand didn’t need that kind of aggravation, (b) we weren’t going anywhere, and (c) the sun and daytime high temperatures would make short work of it by Sunday when we “might” want to venture out.   So, having done what I could short of cutting down the bent over evergreens – something that is likely in the near future – I went back in the house where we both remained for the rest of the day.

We busied ourselves with finishing up holiday decorations by putting the electric candles in 14 of the 15 front windows, hanging the wreath on the front door and putting up the associated spotlight, and attaching the pulls on the garage door light fixtures.   I worked on my Christmas letter, but couldn’t finish it since the internet was still down and just about all of my photos are now stored on-line not on my computer’s hard drive: I may have to rethink that. I also moved about 200 additional photos off of Debbie’s old cell phone to her new one that were “trapped” as attachments to text messages.

Toward evening I improvised and made chicken strips from a fillet as we were out of chicken wings. Sadly, I discovered that while bone-in chicken wings take 10 minutes to cook in the deep fryer, chicken strips only need about 5: so yes, we had chicken jerky. It was tasty, but I was reminded of the family eating the grossly over-cooked turkey in the movie Animal House’s Christmas Vacation. But, the fries were really good! And so were the margaritas. And, if that weren’t bad enough, when talking with my mother earlier in the day she jokingly suggested that I make a batch of shortbread and son of a gun, that’s what I ended up doing. Again, I didn’t quite nail it as I used a baking dish sized for a double batch, not a single and the very thin shortbread got a little toasty around the edges. As the day came to and end we still didn’t have internet access and so we couldn’t watch the last college football game of the day, as it had to be streamed from ESPN3. I could have probably done that via my cell phone to our Smart TV but we opted to watch some Christmas movies and Thor, instead.

Sunday’s Situation:

I was up with no hope of returning to sleep at 5:30am and headed downstairs so as not to disturb Debbie who as of 8:30am is still sleeping soundly. Still no internet access from Comcast / Xfinity and word is we won’t have it back until this afternoon. It was a brisk 23°F in the morning but clear and sunny with a high of 41°F predicted. So, as expected, a lot of the remaining snow that the sun could get to began to melt away. The snow that’s in the shadows, no telling how long that might remain short of getting several days with highs in the upper 40’s or 50’s, which actually is in the forecast.

   

As far as what we did to stay busy while fighting off cabin fever, I made a second batch of Scottish shortbread: it may have been my best batch yet! I made a point of doing a really good job of creaming the butter and then adding in the powdered sugar in the Kitchen Aid.  Once that was about as well-combined as was possible I switched over to the dough hook and used the Kitchen Aid to fold in the flour, even though the recipe says to do it by hand.  The Kitchen Aid did a great job of folding in the flower, perhaps too good!  But, I was able to get all nicely distributed in the smaller baking pan and, no kidding, it was easily the best-tasting batch of shortbread I’ve made in my 30 years of making it.

Knowing that I’d have to get out and drive to work on Monday morning, after lunch I ventured out in the truck to see how the local roads were and to pick up a few things I needed back at the house.  At the top of the list were some HDMI cables for the wall-mounted TV, as I was pretty sure the one I originally installed was somehow damaged.  I also needed to pick up a new BluRay / DVD player as the disc carrier on the very nice one I bought a few years back no longer wanted to open.  I suspect that having it  sitting under a video player may have collapsed the case just a millimeter or so, but enough to put it out of commission.  This ended up being a successful project as the new HDMI cable solved the connectivity issues and since I’d put a pair of conduits in the wall, I was able to use the old cable to pull the new cable into place.

At Debbie’s request I also replaced about 30 dark bronze Christmas ornaments on our tree with 30 brighter red ones just to perk-up the tree a bit.  While I liked the bronze ones since they were part of my original tree design, she was spot on with perking up the tree: it looked a lot happier with the red ones.

I was pretty much a quiet afternoon at the house after that. My little field trip confirmed the roads would be OK for Monday’s commute to work even after the deep freeze that was coming over night.  Our Comcast / Xfinity internet service came back on around 4:00pm in the afternoon, having been off-line since Friday evening.  Frankly, the only reason I missed it was because I couldn’t update my blog on-line…  anything I needed to such as communicating with friends or Email could be handled on my smartphone.  And, while I picked up all the things I’d need to make pizza for dinner, Debbie had also requested guacamole and chips for an afternoon snack.  Well, that afternoon snack and a couple more margarita’s pretty much took the place of dinner.

All-in-all, not a bad weekend and good that the snow storm hit on a Friday afternoon so that we could just sit back and enjoy the day. Had it come during the work week, I’d have been on the computer in my office doing Skype meetings all day and while I like working for a few hours at home, day-long-stints in the home office aren’t my favorite as there are too many other things I’d rather be doing that are close at hand.

Post Accident Update:

We’re still waiting to hear from the insurance company handling the claim as to whether they intend to total or offer payment for repair of the Honda Goldwing. Amazingly, the claim’s adjuster from The Hartsford had first attempted to do the estimate from Connecticut using photos taken by their contract vehicle storage facility in Cartersville, Georgia. No surprise that he was not able to fully assess the damage so now an independent claims adjuster will have to do a physical inspection and estimate which was likely be further delayed due to Friday’s weather.

Me, I’m on the mend. My left wrist and back continue to remind me that I’m not 100% just yet. But, with any luck the orthopedic doctor will confirm that what I have in my left wrist is some soft tissue injuries not a scaphoid fracture and that should allow me to ditch my brace on Tuesday and regain guarded use of my left hand. The physical therapy and daily stretching exercises are helping to eliminate the tightness of the strained muscles from neck to my knees, and that’s a good thing.

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Double-Header: Two Weeks Worth In This Edition!

To our readers who keep up to date via Facebook or what gets posted to my blog between the weekends, y’all may know we had a bumpy week before Thanksgiving, hence the delay in updating the blog.  To those who only get the weekly updates there’s nothing to get too concerned about… stuff happens and we’ve seemingly had a little grey cloud hanging over us. But, it’s how you deal with it that matters and in this regard we’re still doing just fine as there have also been a lot of bright spots.

With that, here’s the latest from Westwick Way:

Last Week – Debbie’s Black Eye:  As mentioned in last weekend’s update, Debbie was working in the backyard two Thursdays ago and inadvertently bumped the side of her face into a barb on a very large Yucca plant blade.  The barb punctured a blood vessel next to her eye. The resulting black eye remains and is somewhat darker now than it was a week ago.  The discomfort faded quickly but it continues to be a great conversation starter.  Based on everything I’ve read, it will another week or two before it completely fades but let’s be honest: it could have been much worse had it gotten into her eye!

Monday – The Tundra & Garage Had a Coming Together: Debbie called me on Monday afternoon to chit-chat a bit, which was a little unusual.  However, after a couple of innocuous topics she let me know that when she was backing the truck out of the garage it was parked in such a manner that the right side rubbed up against the garage door trim.  Having bumped the garage door myself in the past, I know that getting the big truck in and out of the garage can be a challenge.  When I arrived home I quickly realized it was a bit more serious than just a little paint transfer. Again, it happens.  On Tuesday she stopped by our friend Jerry’s body shop and got an estimate for fixing the damaged door along with the right front damage I did about 2 years ago and the rear fender cover which had a few scratches from other close encounters.  I’m still mulling over if it’s worth it to have everything fixed on our 11-year-old truck, or to do just the door or nothing at all.  I’ll probably to see if our paintless dent repair guy might not be able to tackle the door as the next step. And, if only to prove the point on how a bad park job can make it a major challenge to get the truck out of the garage, I ran into that same angled-in condition this morning on the way to work and it really was a nail biter navigating the truck out of the garage without rubbing up against the garage door frame.

Tuesday – The Honda F6B & Me: On Tuesday evening as I was enjoying a nice ride home from work on the Honda F6B, a very senior motorist neglected to notice my huge black motorcycle as I slowed and stopped to make a left turn and rear-ended me.  20171121_174843The bike and I both got a little banged-up; thankfully, I got off easy compared to the bike.  To make a long story short, the police came and cited the motorist for following too closely, the Honda had to be removed from the road on a flatbed wrecker as it was not drivable and Debbie came and picked me and my belongings up.  We stopped by Kennestone hospital on the way home just to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself and left with some anti-inflammatories, pain killers, muscle relaxers and a splint on my left wrist and thumb for what “could” be a scaphoid fracture.  I’m still a bit sore and displeased about the whole thing, but on the mend as we begin to sort through the insurance claim process, noting we’re still working through the claims process on our October 2015 motorcycle collision in Daytona.  Yes, that also involved a very senior motorist “not seeing the motorcycle” that Debbie and I were riding.

Wednesday – A Better Brace?  As you can image, the mummified hand thing was impractical at best given that my appointment with the ortho office wasn’t until the following Tuesday given the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, after leaving work a bit early because (a) I was really tired, (b) the office and plant were nearly vacant, and (c) it was nearly impossible to type with my left hand all wrapped up, I stopped by the pharmacy and found what I thought would be a more practical thumb stabilizer that would allow me to dress and do other things while still minimizing stress on the scaphoid bone / joint in my left hand. It turned out to work really well, at least to my thinking. It held my thumb in a very stable position and served as a reminder that I shouldn’t be putting stress on the joint by lifting, pulling, twisting or doing anything else with my left hand.

With my new brace it also made it easy to shower, dress and function… so much so that we headed over to Loco’s for dinner where we ran into our friends Billy & Dava, which made for a nice night out. I needed that, and a little tequila to quell the stiffness in my back and a bunch of sore joints.

Thursday – Thanksgiving Day:  As we do just about every year, we headed off to Debbie’s mother’s house for a family gathering and potluck brunch buffet.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, they’ll typically end up with 30-40 people gathered in about two, 300 square foot spaces which is always interesting.  As in the past, we went in separate vehicles so that Debbie could get there a bit early to help with setting things up and then stay later to help with cleaning up. It was good to see everyone and Debbie’s mother was actually having a pretty good day: she recognized everyone and had a fairly strong grasp on all that was going on.  Jacob was there and looked well, which is always nice to see.  I was good for about an hour, but headed home to relax a bit as my body was still a bit sore from Tuesday’s little incident.

Debbie arrived at home around 1:30pm and after relaxing for a short while we headed off to spend the afternoon at our friends Ryan & Jeannette’s home with their family and a few friends for the afternoon & evening.  Yes, once again, me and my brother from another mother we’re enjoying the day, and after figuring out what my phone’s camera was doing, clicked off a selfie that we posted out to our other friends as a Thanksgiving greeting. Jeanette and everyone else who helped with the meal outdid themselves with their food preparations, as there was easily enough on hand to feed an army of people: the 11 of us who were there barely put a dent in any of the dishes.  We also celebrated our friend Patti’s birthday and recent engagement to Brad, which was fun.  We really had a great time and it was good to be out on an evening that we’d typically just spend quietly at home.

Friday – Lunch with the Kids:  Rather than making the kids feel obligated to stop in for yet another Thanksgiving gathering since they still have two or three such gatherings to attend each year, we have made our annual celebration with them a day-after Thanksgiving meet up for lunch.  Debbie makes a point of planning a meal that is as far-removed from Thanksgiving fare as possible, i.e., Italian, BBQ, hot dogs & hamburgers, etc.  This year we opted for steak and salmon and it really was a hit with everyone.  We spent the better part of a three hours visiting and it was a grand time to be sure.

I my spare time I filed a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on-line just to get that process started; ugg.  And, to the extent that I could, I worked to get the original wheels from our Road Glide cleaned-up so they can either be sold or at least go into storage in good shape, noting the garage was suddenly looking pretty empty with the BMW now sold, the Honda sitting at the towing company’s storage lot waiting to be inspected by an adjuster and our Road Glide Ultra was sitting down at Atlanta Harley-Davidson ready for pick-up after being dropped off a week ago for some engine tuning.  

Saturday – Bringing the Harley Home: I tried to wean myself off of my muscle relaxers on Saturday, but quickly realized I was a bit premature: it would be a few more days before that would be prudent.  But, on the bright side of the healing process, my lightweight thumb stabilizer gave me enough movement in my left hand to enable me to head down to Atlanta Harley-Davidson and pick-up the Road Glide.  So, after grabbing a little lunch with Debbie over at The Red Eyed Mule we drove over to Atlanta Harley and collected ‘Silver’… which is now what we call the Road Glide: yeah, I know.. how original. We had Black Betty, Blue and Blue II and now Silver Starr, or just Silver.

Anyway, David did his magic with Silver and after installing a more efficient air breather was able to tune the stock motor to increase the horsepower from 78 to 83 and the torque from the mid-90’s to 105.  It’s a far cry from Blue’s 97 horsepower and 113 foot pounds of torque, but it more than enough power for how we’ll actually ride this bike.

The ride home felt really good, as I truly was able to operate the clutch without putting any pressure on my thumb joint or wrist by pulling the lever back with my fingers braced by my palm.  The weather was lovely as well, so for at least 40 minutes I’d have a taste of what normal felt like as I ferried the bike home to the garage where it will sit for the next few weeks until I’ve given the all-clear by the ortho.

The balance of the day was spent finishing up the wheels that I’d been working on for several weeks, watching some really good college football games, having dinner at Loco’s and then dropping back in on Ryan & Jeanette who were at home sorting through their Christmas decorations and seemed to need a little distraction.

Sunday – The Nutcraker:

Sunday’s highlight was going to see Charlotte in the Georgia Dance Conservancy annual Nutcracker ballet at the Cobb County Civic Center in the afternoon.  This would be the second of several holiday events that keep the kids and at times the grandparents running around.

The first holiday concert of the season was back on 15 November, and I’m not sure why I didn’t mention it in my previous blog.  But, Caroline’s Ford Elementary School choir put on a joint choral concert with the Kennesaw State University women’s choir to kick off the holiday season. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to actually attend the concert at the University, but they streamed it over the internet so Debbie and I were able to sit in our family room and watch Caroline on the big screen TV using ChromeCast to broadcast the life video feed from my laptop to the TV and also take screen shots so we’d have photos of the concert; how cool was that!

Anyway, Sunday afternoon saw us at the Civic Center with the extended family: Wesley, Julie, Caroline, Charlotte (when she wasn’t performing), Vivian and Julie’s parents Belva and Patrick and her brother Michael, his wife Catherine and their two little ones, Anderson & Avery and her niece Ireland.  Charlotte was one of the little lambs in Marzipan during ActII, which is why she has a little black nose in the photos.  It was a delightful performance and Charlotte is really quite the little dancer.

After the ballet we headed home and pretty much cocooned for the rest of the day, having dinner (hot wings) and watching pro football.  I also sent off a note to one of the local attorney’s who specialize in motorcycle personal injury cases as we learned that you really have to have legal counsel anymore if you have injuries that require medical care, not matter how minor… if only to deal with the insurance companies trying to claw back their costs.

Monday – New Phone For Debbie: Back to work…  so we can play on the weekends!  The only “gotta do” I had on my personal calendar was having a teleconference with my soon-to-be attorney for this most recent collision and the related personal injury claim.  Regular readers may remember that Julie’s brother Michael has been handling the personal injury claim for Debbie’s injuries from our October 2015 collision down in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is probably several months to a year from being settled.  Yeah, it takes that long and is that complex nowadays.

The discussion with Steve M. went well and I’ll be pleased to have him representing my interests in our claim process. He’s originally from New York and began his career in the District Attorney’s office in New York and Atlanta and after 25 years of civic service went into private practice doing criminal defense and personal injury law, specializing in motorcycle-related personal injury representation.  I’ve actually spoken to him casually a few times over the years as he’s a regular sponsor and/or host of many charity events around Atlanta that the motorcycling community support.

I also poked on the insurance company to see if my claim had been assigned to a claims specialist as I would have thought they’d have been anxious to get the motorcycle moved to one of their contract storage yards vs. paying $30 a day to the towing company plus other fees: they do add-up quickly.  They confirmed the claim had been opened and a claim adjuster now had the case and would likely be contacting me later in the day.

It was shortly after that call that Debbie rang me up to chat and to let me know that her cell phone — which she was talking through — had been dropped and now had a cracked LCD display that was unreadable.  So, she could still make and receive calls through the phones at the house which are connected to the cell phones through Bluetooth technology.  I suggested that she make time to head over to Costco to see about a replacement, but she had to go over and sit with the grandkids for a while so that might not happen today.

I ended up leaving work a little early so I could go over to Costco and see about getting her a phone so that she wouldn’t be without.  After going over the available models and finding what I thought would be a good phone for her, I headed to the cashier’s to purchase the phone, which would then be brought over to the cell phone kiosk so it could be configured by the sales reps.  When I walked back to the Kiosk I found my sales gal talking to a pretty little blonde… MY pretty little blonde!  Debbie had arrived and was just telling the gal her story and she was starting to connect the dots when I walked up.  Yup, we’re that tightly wired.  Anyway, we got her set up with the new phone and headed on our way back home.  Later that night I ordered a new glass face, LCD and frame for her broken phone so that we’d be able to get some data off that phone that wasn’t stored on the cloud, e.g., photos, contacts and the like… things that were worth a lot more than the $60 cost of the new screen, which I’d be able to install.

Tuesday – Doctor Day: Tuesday was all about follow-up visits with the orthopedic hand specialist in the morning and then my primary care physician in the afternoon.

The ortho was still not exactly sure what was going on with my wrist.  It could be that the scaphoid does have a slight fracture but is hard to see in the X-ray or that it’s just soft tissue injury. But, rather than doing the MRI the prognosis was hold off for two more weeks and see if it heels on its own.  Of course, to ensure the heeling process went as planned he replaced my lightweight thumb stabilizer with a very rigid, high-tech brace. It was better than the mummification wrap I received in the ER a week earlier, but make getting dressed and doing a lot things that I could do with the soft brace nearly impossible. Oh well, at least I could take it off for showering and it probably would make sure I wasn’t doing things that I shouldn’t be doing, like lifting things or, well… riding a motorcycle.  I was also strongly encouraged to spend the next six weeks doing physical therapy a coupe times a week to address my back strain, which I would do this time as I blew it off after the October 2015 collision and that was the wrong thing to do.

My afternoon appointment was a non-event. My primary care physician reviewed everything that had been done and recommended so far. But, she also shamed me into scheduling a physical in January, as I was way overdue.

Wednesday – Addressing the Honda:  In addition to scheduling my physical therapy and crossing paths with an old friend, Denise, while doing so, I also sent off an Email to the claims specialist to inquire as to the status of the property claim for the damage to my Honda motorcycle and to let them know I was retaining legal counsel for the personal injury portion of the claim.  The claim rep called within the hour and that got the ball rolling on getting an adjuster assigned to the case, getting a release for the motorcycle’s movement to their contract lot signed and the like.

In parallel I called up Freewheeling Powersports in Douglassville, Georgia, who specialize in Honda Goldwing maintenance and repair to make sure they’d be able to take on the bike repairs if it wasn’t totaled; they would.  And, I also stopped by the storage yard to take a look at the Honda in the daylight.  Yeah, it was beat up pretty well.  Closer inspection showed that a lot of the body panels had been damaged and the rear end of the frame did take a really hard hit, so that’s a bit bothersome.

Thursday – Caroline’s 2nd Choral Concert:  Thursday was a busy day, so busy that I could only work a half day.  This was because I’d be driving over Roswell, Georgia, to meet with my attorney to execute the retainer and review the data I’d been compiling since the collision back on 21 November.  Again, another great meeting; more to follow.

The trick was now to get back across town to run a few errands, get home and pick up Debbie before heading to Caroline’s 2nd Christmas Concert, this time at a local middle school around 7:00pm.  While I was at the house I shared some additional information with the adjuster who’d be working on the bike’s damage assessment & repair estimate.

As for the choral concert, we had a wonderful time seeing all the kids as well as Julie’s folks, Belva and Patrick and the concert was very cute: there were even sing-alongs! I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that they were singing traditional Christmas songs, including Christian standards.

   

When the concert was over, Patrick and Belva headed off for Athens, Georgia, where they’d spend Friday before heading back to Atlanta to watch the Georgia vs. Auburn SEC Championship game.  Wesley had been nice enough to buy them a pair of very hard to get tickets to the game as part of a business buy he and his partner were making related to their mortgage company.  Wesley had to take Vivian home as she was up against her bedtime while we went to the concert reception with Julie, Caroline and Charlotte.

Once the reception was over and the girls headed for home, Debbie and I headed over to Loco Willy’s where our friend and long time Saturday & Sunday barkeeper Brian would be having his last shift before moving to Florida. We wanted to see him and bid him well on his new journey and, well, we needed dinner.  We had a great visit with him and a bunch of regulars were there as well, so it was a good night to be at Loco’s.

Friday – Working the Claim on the Honda:  I worked from home for a couple of hours on Friday morning and about the time I had that wrapped up I received a call from the adjuster regarding the Honda. We talked about the bike’s history, things to look for related to the accident and related to it being a “Signature Edition” bike with custom paint and recent upgrades that I’d made.  As expected, he asked that I send along supporting documentation for the upgrades or accessories that are now part of the bike which took up the rest of the morning.

As lunch time rolled around Debbie and I headed over to The Red Eyed Mule for our off-Friday lunch date before returning to the house and knocking out some yard work.  In my somewhat dinged-up condition I had to modify my technique for yard work by using a leaf blower instead of a rake and the mower with the chipping shield on  to grits up leaves and then without the shield to pick them up vs. using the real chipper.  Of course, two days later it doesn’t look like I did a thing as the yard is once again covered in leaves.  Debbie was busy out in the backyard placing yard art and plants in a variety of different places: she’s definitely got a vision.

Being a Friday, it was definitely a Loco Willy’s night… but this would be the first Friday without Brian.  However, our friends Ryan & Jeanette joined us along with another friend, Marsha, so we ended up at a table instead of the bar which pretty much took the bar and the loss of Brian out of the equation.  We had a very nice time visiting with our friends, a great meal and called it a night around 9:30pm.

Saturday – Shopping On Line & College Football:

The day started out with me attempting to do business at a couple local stores.  Walmart didn’t have the small compact camera that I wanted in stock and Best Buy no longer staffs a check-out counter and, instead, has customer service folks pulling double-duty solving problems and doing check-out.  That seems like a good idea until you have only two customer service folks and both are working with clients who have challenging needs. Yeah, after 5 minute of little to no progress I left the $500 receiver at the counter and walked out of the store: I’d just get it on-line with the camera.

So, yeah, once I was back at home I knocked out the purchase of a new Sony receiver for the family room’s entertainment system with all of the current technology; our old Yamaha was just not cutting it anymore with just a single HDMI port, no Bluetooth, no WiFi, etc.

The Canon Elph 190 is another technology leap for us, as my old Nikon camera’s software was so old that it no longer worked with my Apple laptop. So we’ll now have a 20 mega pixel camera with WiFi, etc. in a week or so.

And, to hopefully sort out our DirecTV issues, I’ve ordered a new receiver to replace our — wait for it — ten-year old family room receiver.

About the time that I had all of that done Julie dropped off Vivian and Caroline as she had to take Charlotte to a Christmas parade where Charlotte’s gymnastics school would be participating in the mile-long parade. Wesley was unavailable as he was headed to Mercedes-Benz stadium for the aforementioned SEC Championship game with Georgia vs. Auburn.  We had a good time with the girls who pretty much play on their own now days. Gone are the days when you had to keep them entertained.  But, little Vivian likes to cuddle up now and again and that’s always a treat.

Saturday night ended up becoming something of a night-out for us, for better or worse. We knew we’d be going to Loco’s for dinner, but were pretty much planning on coming on home afterwards vs. joining friends for the band 3 Left Standing at SuBourbons, as I really wasn’t in prime shape for dancing.  Well, son-of-a-gun if we didn’t end up at SuBourbon’s. It was a wild time, to be sure, as it often times is.  We made it home just after midnight and, what happens at SuBourbons stays at SuBourbons!  Seriously though, we really had a great time. There were a few moments when a few of us may have pushed the limits of socially acceptable behavior, but life’s short so what the heck.

Sunday – Christmas Tree Time

Sunday ended up being a stay-at-home day, for the most part.  The primary goal was getting the Christmas tree up and when you’ve got one hand in a brace that’s not as easy as you might think.  But, I persevered and by 3:00pm we were with tree. There may be a color change on some of the ornaments before next weekend, but it’s pretty much “done”.

We took all of our meals at home, including our Sunday night wings & fries feast. And pro football was an ever-present part of the day’s background noise and entertainment.

That’s about it for now…  Just one more photo of our 3 little angels hanging out with Santa.

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Our 2017 Road Glide Ultra…

Pretty much done…  for now!

Obvious changes are the chrome forks and wheels with the Metzler ME888 tires and the addition of the chrome Motolights that were donated by our Road King, Blue.  The engine received a more free-flowing air cleaner in conjunction with a dynamic engine tune, so it’s running better than it ever has and about as strong as a stock 107″ Milwaukee 8 motor can.

Less obvious are the Rinehart slip-on exhaust pipes, the removal of the top case luggage rack and the top case being moved 1.5″ back to give Debbie more room since the Tallboy saddle I acquired moved me back 1.5″.

The Klock Werks windshield, new grips, mirror, come chrome covers for Debbie’s rear footboards and a U.S. Air Force derby cover round out the visible changes.

I found a nice cellphone holder from CIRO and put a USB port right next to it on the right handlebar.  Still need to get Debbie her CIRO cup holder, another nicely designed accessory by Aero Rudd, the son of the Tom Rudd, who created Drag Specialties, Kuryakyn and  helped to get CIRO up and going… albeit with some legal wranglings with his former company Kuryakyn, now owned by Motorcycle Accessories Group (MAG).

No, it didn’t take much but there’s a lot more I could do, such as upgrading the mediocre sound system and making some additional performance upgrades to the motor.  However, for now I think we’re set.

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To Fix or not to Fix… Tundra’s a Little Banged-Up.

A couple years ago I tagged the always hard to get in and out of garage with the right front bumper of my truck. Having had the exact same damage from a different source repaired in the past, I knew that would be about $400 and have just lived with a crude touch up to the paint since it’s really not that noticeable.

I’ve also tagged one of those big orange traffic barrels that was sitting out of place and unavoidable with the same right front corner and the right rear wheel well flare, leaving a few tattoos even after buffing out the worst of it that’s about $200 to repair.

The other day I was informed the right rear passenger door had an unfortunately close encounter with the same garage door frame which can’t be buffed-out and that’s about $800 to repair.

It’s nearly a 12-year old truck with 140,000 miles worth around $13,000, so do I drop $1,600 into cosmetic repairs or just learn to live with the newest dent? Or, do I go to a salvage yard and try to score a black, right rear passenger door in good shape? Decisions, decisions…. It’s always something.

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Getting Ready for Thanksgiving and Still Messing With Motorcycles

Good grief, can it really be Thanksgiving week: where does the time go?

At times it feels like work days drag-on while evenings and weekends fly-by. Such was the case this past week.

Monday saw more work on the motorcycle in the evening after getting my hands on a critical tool that had somehow gone missing from my tool box. Funny how certain sockets just seem to disappear.

Tuesday included a visit to Hellbender Harley-Davidson so that I could pick up one more tool that had gone missing and to order some shiny spacers that are more appropriate for the chrome wheels. Sadly, those had to be ordered.

Wednesday was a catch-up night at home for Email, banking and trying to understand what was clearly a new vibration on the Road Glide that came with the new wheels and tires. At the same time, the bike just doesn’t seem to be running as well so it will likely be time to place a call our service advisors Kelly & Ray at Atlanta Harley-Davidson to see if our tech, David, may be able to work some magic with the new bike.

Thursday was interesting in that when I came home I found Miss Debbie sporting a very nasty and painful black eye. She had apparently been planting seasonal annuals in the backyard right next to one of two very large Yucca plants that were originally planted in front of the house by the builder some 25 years ago.  I’m not sure why I transplanted them vs. getting rid of them, but there they were.  So, it was late in the day and Debbie was tired after a busy day when she started to plant her annuals. As she stood up and stepped to the side to get a better look at her work she inadvertently backed into the Yucca plant and caught one of the needle-sharp barbs about half an inch from her eye in the fleshy part of the orbit!  Yikes, talk about a close call.  However, given how capillary rich the face is, the barb nicked one that gave Debbie one heck of a shiner and a sore eye.  After making sure she was otherwise OK and had been icing her eye I made a point that the Yucca plants would be gone tomorrow: I think she thought I was kidding at first.

Given the drama of the day and the late hour, it seemed like dinner out would be the better choice so I offered her a choice of Henry’s or Loco’s. After taking a look at Henry’s special she suggested Loco’s so that’s where we went.

We ran into our friends Billy & Dava and shared a corner of the bar with them along with a nice, fresh salad and Loco’s Wrap.  It was the perfect meal and we had a really pleasant time chatting with Billy & Dava, Christian and a few of the other regulars.  I stopped in and picked up a bag of frozen peas and another of frozen corn so that Debbie would have some better-fitting ice packs for her eye and we finished up the evening with Debbie icing her eye and listening to Thursday night football.

Given it was Thursday, I knew Atlanta Harley-Davidson was open late so I gave my service advisor Kelly a call and confirmed that I’d be able to drop off the Road Glide on Friday so that our master technician, David, could take a look at it once he had some free time, noting he’d just returned from a factory training class in Milwaukee.

Friday began with me up early resuming my efforts to restore the salt-air-blasted wheels that came off our Road Glide while Debbie was upstairs doing her Jane Fonda workout, as she does just about every morning at 7:00am: no sleeping the day away for my sweetie!!

It was around 10:30am when I saddled-up on Silver for the ride over to Atlanta Harley-Davidson with Debbie following so we could drop the bike off.  More details, below, in the motorcycle update section.  However, suffices to say, David had a pretty good idea why the bike was suddenly vibrating with the change in wheels and tires, and it wasn’t the wheels at the top of his suspect list.  As for the anemic engine that likes to stall now and again, there’s an app for that!  So, I’m feeling pretty confident that we’ll be able to get Silver squared away.

While I was chatting about the bike with David and Kelly, Debbie had been inside the store checking out the apparel… at my suggestion.  I was pretty sure she’d find something and she did: it was as cute as a could be.  Well, a piece of clothing is just a piece of clothing until it’s put on, at which point it takes on the characteristics and personality of the person wearing it… so yeah. When Miss Debbie puts on something that has the potential to be nice, it usually is.  The lovely gal working the apparel side of the house at Atlanta Harley-Davidson was also kind enough to extend a promotional discount that would be offered on Saturday to us on the top so it was a huge coup!

Before heading out I took Debbie by the audio system demonstration display, where they had a stock Harley sound system installed on a rack with three other progressively “better” systems and Debbie was amazed at how different they sounded.  We’ve been spoiled by what is probably a Stage II sound system on Blue so I’m pretty sure that’s what Silver will eventually get too as the sound system really is pretty weak.  Oh yeah, it’s always something.

From Atlanta Harley-Davidson we headed off to The Red Eyed Mule for our every-other week lunch date.  Bless her heart, the wonderful gal who works with Enrique (her name escapes me at the moment), she knows there are a lot of great things to order at The Mule and always offers up a suggested change to our usual… but we are absolutely hooked on Jake’s Big Daddy, done-up medium rare and split because it’s just too darn big for either one of us to eat all by itself!

After our late lunch it back to the house where I’d spend the rest of the afternoon gathering up some of the leaves that had decided to call our front yard home.  I sometimes feel like we end up all of our own leaves and half of the neighbors as well: what’s the deal with that?  I was able to stuff three 50-gallon bags with pretty much all of the leaves from the front yard, less the big island under the four trees that I’d save for Sunday as my truck also needed to be washed before the day was done.  With this silly daylight savings time thing there just wasn’t a lot of sunlight left for the afternoon…

We headed over to Loco Willy’s a little bit early, like around 5:30pm and had a pretty good time. I say pretty good as the vibe is always a little off when the regular crew working the bars are out and the replacement players are on deck.  Don’t get me wrong, the folks that cover for the regulars are as nice as they can be, but they just haven’t been around us long enough to be “like family” and that sort of changes the vibe.  But, we had our best friends, David & Deb, to visit with and after all, it was Friday!  But, given the somewhat subdued vibe, we headed home a little after 7:00pm, with an eye towards either going to the theater to see the latest Marvel release, Thor: Ragnarok unless one of our friends had a better idea.

I think it was about half an hour after we arrived home that our friend Ryan posted something that prompted us to invite him to drop by the house for a little tequila tasting, noting that we do have 18 different kinds of tequila on hand.  It was probably 45 minutes or so later when he rode up and it was about another 45 minutes later when his lovely wife, Jeanette, joined us.

Of course, by then Ryan and I had already sampled several of the really nice tequilas in our collection so we were in fine spirits. Debbie was enjoying some of my Camarena margaritas while Jeanette was good with the Maker’s Mark.  Sadly, we don’t really keep much in the way of snacks in the house so we resorted to one of our good old standby’s when some type of food was needed:  grilled cheese sandwiches made with Hoop cheese on Pepperidge Farm “very thin” bread.  They don’t make for a huge sandwich, but it’s a mighty-tasty sandwich.  I’d lost track of the time and offered our guest room to Ryan & Jeanette but they said they were “good to go” and we all called it a night.  And what a great night it was!!  It’s quite rare that we have visitors, so it was a real treat for us and something we’ll need to do more often… albeit, with a few more provisions in the house.

Saturday got off to a bit of a slow start for both of us given that we were up late and had clearly enjoyed being at home and not having to be concerned with a drive-home from Loco’s or anywhere else. But, we definitely had places to go and things to do.  I had a few things to finish up out in the garage while Debbie began to knock out a little laundry.  After having a little bit of lunch we finally got our things together for an overnight trip to our little get-a-way resort in the North Georgia mountains. The primary purpose of the visit was to celebrate yet another friend’s birthday at 7:30pm that night, but there was also something of a Thanksgiving Day dinner event taking place in the late afternoon.

Now, to be completely honest, I really wanted to relax and watch the afternoon football games, but the afternoon event was a pretty good time and there were two TVs going in the lodge with the Georgia – Kentucky game on one of the sets so I was good. After dinner we checked into our condo and then headed over to our friend’s house to celebrate Jane’s birthday.  It was literally a “packed house” and we had a great time.  In fact, the time even got a little away from us as we still had to get back to our condo to get dressed for the evening dance party before heading to the lodge around 9:30pm.  I’m pretty sure that once we arrived we were both on the dance floor for the next 2-3 hours solid, with just short breaks now and again.  We made it late enough for pizza just after midnight and then called it a night.  A great time, to be sure.  We probably won’t make it up again until New Years, so good thing that we made the most of it!

Sunday was another sleep-in kind of a morning following our late night out dancing. After grabbing a little breakfast and visiting with friends at the resort’s restaurant we headed on back to the house where I had a bunch of leaves waiting for me while Debbie tended to laundry and her still very dark and tender eye.

By the time it started to get dark I’d “gritzed-up” at least eight 50-gallon bags worth of leaves in both the front & rear yard with the old, reliable chipper/shredder and also topped both the front & rear yards with the mower, filling yet another four 50-gallon bags worth of grass and leaf clippings.  Sadly, this probably represents about a quarter of the leaves that are still laying on the ground around the house that I’ll need to collect and shred before Spring.   Oh yes, it’s an odd year which means I also need to collect-up a few thousand nuts that have been dropped by our big Oak tree.

There were a handful of other little errands that I had to attend to in the late afternoon where the only one that bares mentioning is getting and installing printer cartridges in our Epson home printer: $90 for four XL cartridges!!!  Yikes.  Let’s hope they last twice as long as the $53 set.  Of course, I learned my lesson about “other ink” with our last Epson printer, so we’re pretty much stuck with the somewhat more expensive Epson inks.

After that it was time to make my sweetie her hot wings and fries for dinner, one of the things I actually look forward to each week!  We skipped it last week as I was pretty tired after a long day of working on various different projects and, as reported, we actually find our home-made wings and fries taste pretty darn good!  Never mind, it’s always nice to stay home… really, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Perhaps it’s because we go out so often on the weekends that staying home becomes special.  Hmmm.

That pretty much rounded-out the weekend for us.

Looking forward, Thanksgiving week will be a busy one.  While the work week will only be three-days in the office, a lot of the folks who work on the aircraft will be out on Thursday and then back in on Friday through Sunday so our daily conference calls will follow-suit.  In parallel, on Thursday morning will be up at Debbie’s mother’s for brunch, followed by an afternoon gathering of Ryan and Jeanette’s family and friends at their home.  Thursday night is still up in the air: Debbie’s thinking movie (Thor: Ragnarok) and I’m thinking dancing at SuBourbon’s with Grey Sunday. Of course, after two Thanksgiving meals we may both be asleep by 7:00pm.  On Friday we’ll have the kids over for our annual “day after Thanksgiving” lunch, probably having a hot dogs and hamburgers if only to break-up the turkey and dressing monotony.  Saturday is a free day, but Sunday afternoon we’ll be attending Charlotte’s ballet company’s annual Nutcracker.  With any luck, we’ll have good weather on some of those days such that we can get out for a tandem bicycle ride or two, or that I can at least get out and ride my single bike; definitely feeling the need!

Motorcycle Updates:

Anyway, I was able to get the new rear wheel & tire mounted to the Road Glide on Monday after picking up the 36mm socket I needed so that I could re-torque the rear axle.  In as much as I was expecting the first ride to be a non-event, such was not the case I’m sad to say.

After replacing the stock wheels on our 2017 Road Glide Ultra with a set of Harley-Davidson Slicer wheels and new Metzler ME888 tires I noticed a pronounced vibration in the bike that wasn’t there before I changed out the wheels and tires.  The vibration was immediately noticeable on the first ride as the bike reached 20 mph. However, it would fade away at 30 mph. Interestingly enough, it only exhibited the vibration when I was riding the bike dead straight down the road: turning to the right or left eliminated the vibration.

To see if it was related to the front wheel change on Friday morning I put the stock Impeller wheel and Dunlop D407T back on the bike and took it for a ride. While the vibration was not as pronounced, it was still there: coming on at 20 mph and then fading at 30 mph. I switched the Impeller wheel back out for the Slicer after doing my trouble-shooting with the original wheel as I was already planning to take it to my preferred local Harley-Davidson dealership for a dyno tune up to address the engine stalling issues that still persist, never mind just poor engine performance in general.

To close out the motorcycle part of this blog, I took the bike down to the good folks at Atlanta Harley-Davidson and put Silver in the capable hands of Kelly and David.  We’ll see what David recommends relative to the vibration, as I suspect it will be the tires. While Metzler has a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, returning them to our internet retailer is easier said than done so I’m almost hoping there’s an out of roundness or other issue covered by warranty such that they can be swapped for another set if they are the source of my latest vibration.   As for how the engine is running, that will likely be handled with a better induction system and an engine tune on the dyno by David.  More to follow.

In the mean time, I still have the Honda to get back and forth to work on, so that’s all goodness.  I even took Blue out for a short ride the other day to give her some exercise.  No real leads on serious buyers… so she may be with us for a while.  With that in mind I’ve had to rethink the parking arrangements in the garage such that I can free up some room if we’re going to be living with all three big bikes for the foreseeable future!!

 

 

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Fall Has Arrived…

The Weather

It’s amazing how quickly the seasons change. As expected, last week would have been the last hurrah for a trip to Panama City Beach with daily high temps in the 80’s.

The outlook now seems to be highs in the 70’s for the balance of November, then 60’s for December through January before they start working their way back up to the 80’s… perhaps by March?  If we wanted to have any fun in the sun right now we’d have to head down towards Miami or Key West, Florida and I’m still not sure those places have recovered enough for that to be a guilt-free visit. Perhaps this is why Central America is so popular!

 

The Daily Commute by Motorcycle

Anyway, it’s been cold and dreary here this past week with a few rainy days mixed in with just an occasional partly sunny day. The morning commute on the motorcycle now requires at least leather and when those temps dip into the lower 40’s and upper 30’s the heated jacket and gloves. I believe “brisk” would be a good way of describing it. Thankfully, the two “big” motorcycles that we’ll be holding onto through the winter – the Honda Goldwing F6B and the Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra – provide lots of wind and weather protection with their massive fairings so it will be one of the more comfortable winters in terms of the motorcycle commute that I’ve experienced since selling off the BMW R1150RT back in 2011.

Mark’s Used Motorcycle Sales

Speaking of motorcycles, I’ve finally started to see a little interest in our 2013 Road King CVO after being out on the market for a week or two. I’m guessing some are just tire-kickers, but there might be one or two serious buyers out there given some of the questions I’ve received. Of course, they’ll come with low-ball offers as everyone always seems to latch on to the “Low” and “Average Retail” pricing that NADA provides, but they never bother to do the math to see what the “High Retail” would be for the really nice bikes like ours that create the “Average”. In our case, the low retail for our year-model Harley is $13,500 with an average of $17,500. Well, the missing factor in that equation is about $21,700, or just a little less than what I’m asking. And our $21,900 asking price is for a motorcycle with about ½ of the mileage you’d expect to find on a four to five-year old touring bike and it comes with an Extended Service Plan that’s worth about $1,400. So, I think we’re priced well for the market; time will tell.

What Else Did We Do This Week

Aside from the recent over-abundance of motorcycle related activities, there’s not been too much going on around the house.  Debbie has been busy planting fall annuals around the house and everything looks lovely.  She’s also been extremely disciplined about getting up each morning and getting in a workout and working her way through each room in the house and giving a really good top-to-bottom cleaning.

I was able to sell a few extra odds and ends on eBay and will continue to do so until we’ve sold off as much of it as we can, e.g., bicycle parts, motorcycle parts, clothing that no longer fits but that really is too nice / limited edition stuff that doesn’t really need to go to Goodwill; their executives are making Health Care industry executive pay: what a racket. I need to do like Debbie and work my way through every room in the house, the attic, garage, shed and various cabinets around the house with an eye towards reducing “stuff” : we way too much stuff.

After FedEx lost the first set of tires that I bought on-line, the company sent out a second set last Tuesday that arrived on Thursday afternoon.  We’re now trying to make sure that if the original set ever surface they get returned to the warehouse instead of delivered to our house!

Debbie had to run over to the kids house a couple times last week to sit with Vivian as Julie and Wesley were having to run Charlotte and Caroline to activities in opposite directions.  This has been one of the really nice things about Debbie being retired, as she’s available to help out the kids and her family now and again.  It’s amazing how much her stress level has been reduced and it’s really nice not having to work around two work or vacation schedules. When we want to go somewhere, we go!

On the kilt front, I finally narrowed down the kilt I’d like to get to go with my Crail jacket and vest: the final candidates are the Black Scottish National tartan and the Black Isle tartan.  I think Kathy at Atlanta Kilts is also throwing in one other tartan candidate and all three fabric swatches should arrive next week.  It’ll probably take 4-6 weeks for the kilt to be made over in Scotland, as it will be a fairly high-end kilt on par with the Crail jacket and vest.  This will provide me with something I can wear instead of a suit and tie, at least during the winter.  The utility kilts continue to be a weekend favorite for at least one of our visits to Loco’s and while out running errands.  Middle aged crazy… I suspect.

After getting home a little early from work on Friday I was able to do most of the 12,000 mile service on the Honda F6B, e.g., changing the oil & filter, rear differential gear lube, checking all of the various nuts and bolts, inspecting other fluids and the brake system, etc.  The only two things I still need to do are to replace the air filter which is about a 2-hour long job now that I have the air filter.  And then change out the hydraulic fluid in the brakes and clutch systems. In as much as I’d like to do those myself, I’m thinking it might not be a bad idea to have one of the better Honda dealers do that service so they can give the bike a good going over and also make sure a recall notice that may have included our Honda F6B was taken care of.  I’ll hopefully find time and the patience needed to change out the air filter one night this coming week, or perhaps next Sunday as it looks like it may rain again.

As the work week came to an end we celebrated Finally a Friday at Loco Willy’s and had our friend Chuck on hand, which was a real treat.  His better half, Julie, was down in Mexico for a two-week vacation with her mother and daughter so Chuck was needed to get out for a bit.  We had a great time just shooting the breeze and talking over plans for next spring’s rallies, etc.  The usual suspects and our partner’s in crime, David & Deb, were on hand along with Billy & Dava. Just a good crowd and a good vibe, which is always nice.

I was up early on Saturday morning and took the chrome wheels for the Road Glide and new tires up to Ken’s Tires in Woodstock.  On my way I was able to dump my 3-gallon container of waste oil at the local Quick Lube garage; amazing how much waste oil do generate you’re maintaining a fleet of four motorcycles that all received a moderate amount of use and having just serviced the two biggest bikes in the last week my cup had runneth over.I arrived at Ken’s about 5 minutes before they opened at 9:00am.  David & Crystal arrived a few moments later and after letting them get their store open and ready to receive customers I wandered in to confirm they’d be able to get my tires mounted by mid-day.  

Talk about a really nice couple, it’s great when you find these niche businesses where the folks who are working there are the owners: it makes for a completely different and far more satisfying experience.  Anyway, they had the tires mounted, balanced and ready to go shortly after noon which was perfect as we’d be headed back through Woodstock later in the day on our way towards Dahlonega in the North Georgia mountains.

Back at the house we knocked out a few more weekend errands before getting ourselves ready to head out-of-town for an overnighter in the mountains to celebrate a friend’s birthdays.  Sure seems like there have been a lot of birthdays to celebrate up there of late!  On the bright side, that also says we have a lot of really good friends given how many birthdays there ARE to celebrate!

About an hour after picking up the freshly mounted tires and wheels at Ken’s we were at our little mountain retreat just in time to watch Auburn knock the tar out of the Georgia Bulldogs.  It was a cold and gloomy day, which made it perfect for watching football and visiting with friends.  Sadly, college football season is drawing to an end in the next week and then after a few weeks of bowl season we’re done until late next summer.  Perhaps that’s why College football keeps its luster year-after-year: it’s too hard to get burned out when the regular season is only 10-11 weeks long.

Anyway, after dinner we spent a few minutes getting settled in our room before heading off to a friend’s house where we’d be celebrating Charlie’s birthday.  Again, we seem to have at least one of these birthday parties every month and are probably missing at least one a month as well: there’s only so much time in a day and we have a lot of places to be!!!  But, we really enjoyed getting together with our fairly close-knit group of friends for a while as we celebrated our friend Charlie.  I think it was around 8:00pm when we headed back to our condo to relax a bit and to get ready to do some dancing at the lodge: they always have great DJ’s who keep us on our feet from 9:30pm until midnight when it’s pizza to the rescue.  Just a great night out!

We were up and on the road by 10:30am on Sunday, which put us back at home by noon.

My primary goal for Sunday was to get the old and new front wheels swapped out on the Road Glide. The long-pole in the tent for my project ended up being the need to clean and polish all of the aluminum or steel bolts and bits that gained a light coating of rust or corrosion during our three-day visit to Daytona back in October.  I also discovered that both of the front axle covers set screws had been “damaged” during either their installation or last week’s service visit. By damaged, one of the set screws appeared to have a broken-off allen wrench end wedged into it and the other one’s hex head flats hand been rounded off.  I was able to get them both off, but getting the damaged set-screws out proved to be a real challenge.  My other challenge was dealing with my 6-year old J&S motorcycle lift’s hydraulic bottle jack. For whatever reason, the hydraulic jack was no longer holding full pressure, which precluded me from using “precise” height adjustments to make aligning the wheel, fork and axle a bit easier.

After getting the front wheel sorted out I began to pull apart the part the back-end of the bike so I could change out the rear wheel.  The latter involved removing the saddle bags, the saddle bag support from the right side of the bike and both of the slip-on mufflers so that I’d have full access to the axle and axle ends.  I’ve found it’s a lot easier to use a 36mm impact socket and impact driver to remove the rear axle than any type of wrenches.  It also makes putting the proper torque back on the bolt all that much easier.  But, after getting the saddle support and exhaust off the right side of the bike I decided to call it a night, as it had been a long day and it was getting close to dinner time.

As I thought about what all I’d need to do to make our hot wings and fries I realized that what I really needed to do was call an audible: let’s just go to Loco’s to get our wings!

While Debbie probably would have been just as happy to stay at home in the comfort and warmth of our home, she gladly accepted by offer and off we went around 6:00pm.    Loco’s wasn’t all that crowded, which was a good thing as we were able to find a couple of seats at the bar that weren’t getting blasted by cold air every time the front door opened.  As always, there were a few other regulars there to visit with and the wings and fries were tasty.  Not as tasty as the ones we make at home, but at least I didn’t have to cook and clean-up afterwards.  A good way to end a good weekend.

On Monday night I was able to finish getting the rear wheels swapped out on the Road Glide. As with the front wheel, the biggest consumption of time came with having to clean the rear brake rotor and various bolts that had gotten either rusted or corroded in Florida before they went on the new rear wheel or back on the motorcycle.  The rear disc brake rotor took a lot of work with very fine steel wool and polish to bring back, as did all of the other raw metal parts on the back of the bike. It was time well spent as those things, left unchecked, would just continue to get worse over time. On the bright side, by the time I was done everything was looking as good or better than it did when the bike was new!  It still needs another deep cleaning, but it’s definitely much improved over how it looked after the Daytona trip.

Tuesday night will likely be dedicated to polishing the wheels that came off of the Road Glide, now that they’re off the bike and a lot easier to work with.  I pulled the brake rotors off the front wheels last night and they’re definitely in bad shape for being two months old with just 2,000-miles of use.  They’ll clean back up, but wow!   I’ll need to think about what to apply to the bike before we head back to Florida’s coastal areas again.

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When Life Throws You Lemons… Make Lemonade

So, this is actually an update to a blog entry I made earlier this week when I was not in a happy place. I was definitely challenged several fronts throughout the week and while I drifted away from “Que serasera” land a couple of times I was mindful to not make it personal and to offer an apology for getting passionate about the issue to the person(s) on the receiving end of my venting.  Now that I’ve made it through to Sunday and had some quality time with Miss Debbie, enjoyed our ‘Finally a Friday’ celebration as well as a Saturday night out at Loco Willy’s with friends I’m in a much better place and have “tweaked” the blog entry a bit after a few things played themselves out.


But, first up… the good stuff!!

Halloween & Grandkids

The highlight of the week was seeing the granddaughters all dressed-up in their outfits for Halloween. It had been a long day for me, but as tired as I was it brightened my day when the doorbell rang around 6:30pm and instead of being “just someone else’s kids” they were our little kids!

 

Caroline was dressed up as Medusa, noting that her choice of costume had more to do with her love of reptiles, snakes and dinosaurs than an interest in Green mythology. Charlotte, who has typically been a princess of some sort surprised us with her Torero, or bullfighter’s outfit. Little Vivian came as Mini-Mouse, but was quick to remove her ears and gloves as soon as she arrived.

 Charlotte, Julie, Vivian & Caroline        /      Mark, Caroline, Debbie, Vivian & Charlotte

We had a very nice visit with the kids and grandkids before they had to scoot off back home to make their “real” trick or treat rounds in their neighborhood.


As for some of the trials and tribulations:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be…

I’ve avoided taking loans and have been essentially debt-free for many years.  Yes, we rack up dizzying American Express bills each month, but just about everything I buy goes on the card and the card gets paid off in full each month.  My credit rating reflects that kind of good behavior but the “recommendations” coming back from all of the credit bureaus was to get a few more accounts and to have some recent borrowing history.  So, when we decided to buy the new Harley-Davidson Road Glide in late September and, given how the stock market has been doing, we figured it would be a good time to go ahead and leave our capital invested making 15% – 25% returns on various funds and stocks and use someone else’s money for just 3.99% interest.

Yeah, well… something apparently fell through a cracks with the financing process as my first payment date was just a few days away and I’d not received a payment statement or any other information from Harley-Davidson Financial Services since closing the deal back on 29 September.  I contacted the lender and my dealer’s business office to let them know and to ask how I should go about making that first payment, reminding them I’d never missed a payment and wanted to keep it that way, particularly since this entire loan exercise was intended to bolster my credit history not hurt it.  Three days after being told it was all taken care of and still waiting to receive my loan statements & billings so I can make that first payment I get a call which, in essence, was the lender’s debt collection department following up to find out why I didn’t make my first payment on time.  REALLY!  I guess “taken care of” doesn’t mean what it used to mean.  I vented a bit to the young man who gets to make these types of calls and he did, in fact, confirm there were notes in my file relative to some type of inquiries, etc.  However, point-in-fact was I’d missed my first payment due date.  However, I was still in the grace period so for a $3.00 fee I could go on-line and make that first payment against my Debit Card.  Yeah, well… I did just that but I was definitely not a happy camper.  The temptation to go ahead and pay-off the loan after just the first payment was huge but, I remained mindful of all the reasons why we opted to go the loan route and stayed the course.  Now, the icing on the cake came when I received my welcome letter and first payment statement on 3 November, postmarked 31 October with a 29 October payment due date: nice!  Water under the bridge and moving on….

I’m Wheely Tired Too….

As mentioned in last week’s blog, I went ahead and purchased some second-hand chrome Harley-Davidson Slicer wheels and tires for our Road Glide.  After getting the wheels and tires home it became apparent the rear tire, while still having a lot of tread life, was already cupped. This is hardly unusual for the Dunlop’s D407 tires that come on all Harley-Davidson’s as I’ve had to replace quite a few D407s on our Wide Glide and both Road Kings due to cupping while still having 60% of their tread remaining.

Not wanting to deal with the noise and vibration of a cupped tire, and also not wanting to pull the Dunlop D407 tires off of my stock Ventilator wheels, I went ahead and ordered some Metzler ME888’s from Jake Wilson at a very attractive price of just $299 for the set, to be delivered free in 3 days or less.  How sweet is that?  I think I paid $440 for my last set.  According to all of the message traffic, my tires would arrive on Wednesday via FedEx.

Well, Wednesday came and went and the “expected delivery date” suddenly disappeared and changed to Pending.  The status tracker said the tires made in and then out of Nashville before 10am on 31 October but then nothing.  So, as of Thursday Jake Wilson was running a trace on the lost shipment and I had to cancel my Friday appointment to have the tires mounted and balanced.

 

It’s now Monday evening and still no tires.  Suffices to say, FedEx is no longer the tightest ship in the shipping business and I hear this from a lot of businesses that use USPS, UPS, FedEx and other shippers.  More to follow, but once again not a happy camper.

But, Still No Bike On Which To Install Them….

On the bright side, it’s not like I even had our Road Glide here at the house until Saturday afternoon so I couldn’t install the new wheels and tires anyway.  Yup, after dropping it off at the dealership last Friday afternoon all indications were that a week later the bike had still not been touched as folks tried to sort out the warranty coverage.

During that week I’d received that call on the Saturday after dropping it off during which the service advisor making the call said, in essence, “that’s a pretty big list and we can’t really test ride bikes when it’s raining” but was otherwise told me it would be ready Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest since we’d made it clear we had plans to ride down to Panama City Beach on Friday.

Well, Tuesday came and went without a call. Wednesday came and went without a call and for a variety of reasons we decided to cancel our trip to Panama City Beach since the status of the bike was still in question.  On Thursday I called the service department to find out what the status was and was told they’d changed service advisors on our job and the service manager would be calling me in the afternoon after discussing my “list” with Harley-Davidson’s Division Manager.  Well, that call never came either.  After sharing some text traffic with my inside contact at the dealer and pretty much saying I’d be by to collect the bike on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and would take it elsewhere to get the minor issues addressed, I was assured the service manager would be calling me by 7:20pm on Thursday night.  Well, as of 8:45am on Friday no call.

Around 9:15am on Friday we finally had a voice mail on Debbie’s phone with little to no information. When I called back — like five later — the Service Manager was now on his way to a training session.  After making two calls over the next three hours and only getting a text back on the second call that said “I’m in a meeting” I finally put a call into the General Manager.  The GM called me back about 30 minutes later and, after walking through my perspective on the past week’s lack of communications, we had a path forward. Later that day I received an update that their Master Tech had headed out for a test ride and we’d know more a bit later.  It was around 5:45pm when I was told the bike would be ready for pick-up in the morning.  The following morning around 10:00am I called to confirm the bike would be ready for pick-up and it was; yippie!

We headed over an arrived around 10:45am and about 20 minutes later — after picking up the 2017 Service Manual I’d ordered when I dropped the bike off Friday a week ago — I sat down with the Master Tech and the Service manager before taking the bike.  Well, kudo’s to the Master Service Tech as he provided me with an excellent walk through of what he discovered after a thorough investigation of things I observed during the first 2,000 miles with our 2017 Road Glide Ultra that may have needed some attention.  We spent a good 30 minutes talking about each of the things I’d asked them to look at and there was indeed a story on every one of them.  Not everything was fixable, but at least there was some level of cause-effect relationship:

  1. A strange harmonic sine-wave sound above 50 mph is still a bit of a mystery; however, all indications are that it probably has something to do with the new drive belt which uses a non-rubber, rigid material. The advise was to see what happens when we change out the wheels and tires, which will also cause the belt tension to be adjusted.
  2. A sloppy “feeling” front end which is probably something that can be adjusted out with a little more preloading on the steering head bearings turns out to be a long-standing issue with the Road Glides. On our bike, one of the axle end caps was loose but otherwise all of the torque settings were within spec.  Even so, Road Glide’s steering response has historically been a bit quirky and caused several design changes, added bar-end weight and a fairing redesign.  So, once again, just something to monitor.
  3. Some stalling and decel popping/backfiring which may need an ECU update.  The bike did stall once on an uphill stop during the test ride, but it was related to the hydraulic clutch which was probably what we experienced early on as well.  However, since he wasn’t able to replicate riding in stop-and-go traffic with temps in the 80’s this will also be a “continue to monitor” item.  It is the most troubling of the entire list since it can leave you stranded for a moment while you cycle the ignition to clear the now-confused ECU that doesn’t know why the motor stopped running.
  4. Infotainment system issues that can probably be resolved by a software update. Yes, our system was way behind on software updates so the latest was downloaded and I now know how to go out and download updates so I can make them myself!
  5. An annoying rattle that is coming from the back-end of the bike; no idea what it might be as I’ve checked everything.  Yeah, it’s still a TBD item, but that’s OK. Harley’s rattle.
  6. A bent jiffy stand heel tang; it is what it is.  This was replaced.
  7. Some type of overspray on the rear cylinder heat shield that I was not able to remove with conventional chemicals. This was replaced.

So, we did indeed have a bumpy couple of days early-on, but at the end of the day the dealer’s service department met and exceeded my expectations with regard to the level of detail and time they put into working off my list as well as discussing each of those items with me. Good communications are the key to every successful experience.

It felt really good to be back on the Road Glide for the ride home and to have her back in the stable with the other horses.And, speaking of the other horses, as you’ll see below, Blue has done up for sale.  The Honda F6B will get a reprieve of sorts, as I’ll wait until the spring to decide if she’ll also need to go. As of right now, I actually enjoy riding the Honda to work: it’s a great commuter bike. The question is, is it a better commute bike than the Road Glide?  So, we’ll try to answer that over the winter.

Blue’s Ready To Go; Someone Come Buy Her!!!

On Thursday night I finally got Blue washed after riding her to work last week when it wasn’t supposed to rain: yeah,it rained. I also went ahead and pulled off my Ohlin’s shocks and put the original equipment (OEM) Harley Premium Hand Adjustable shocks back on: no sense in sending a $1000 set of shocks off with the old bike when I can use them on the new bike.  I also thought about swapping the Screaming Eagle slip-ons with their Fullsac cores with the Road Glide’s new Reinhart slip-ons just to hear how they’d sound. However, as I looked more closely at the Road Glide’s head pipe I realized Harley Twin Cam and Milwaukee 8 (M8) slip-ons were not interchangeable. Oh well, it was a good idea… and I may still try to find a set of lightly-used CVO slip-ons that have been removed from a 2017 M8 and do the Fullsac modification as I really like the way I can tune the sound of the Fullsac. Now, our Master Tech at Harley believes the Reinhart baffles can be removed and repacked so that may also be an option. Then again, I’m starting to get used to the sound of our Road Glide with the Reinharts so I may just do nothing!

Getting back to the selling, on Friday morning I snapped some current photos of Blue so I could go ahead a place classified ads on Craigslist and Cycle Trader.  With those ads either up or in the process of being reviewed prior to posting, I’m now sitting here hoping someone is looking for one of these rare, beautiful blue 2013 Road King CVO’s.  It’s been a great bike; but, as much as we like the Road Glide Ultra the Road King just wont’ see much use. No sense letting it sit and depreciate while costing me $600/year in insurance and taxes.


Unrelated to Motorcycles

Moving on to the rest of life, it was at least a fairly productive weekend with a couple of fun evening’s out.  Debbie ended up heading up to her mother’s on Thursday and would spending the night with her and coming home around noon on Friday.  That left me with the time I used on Thursday night to do the first version of this blog, but to get myself set-up for a list of things I needed or wanted to do on Friday, which was an off-day for me.

1st up was getting some parts mailed-off that were sent to me in error by BMC up in Tennessee.  They apparently had a staffing challenge in their shipping department that caused some extra, fairly expensive parts that I didn’t order to be shipped to me with what I did order.  After letting them know about that, the same challenge caused the return shipping tag never to be sent so the parts sat around an extra few weeks until I reminded them that I still had their parts.

So as of Friday, their parts are on their way back home.  I also need to send them some photos of peeling and chipping powder coat on the parts that I did order: never a good thing to have powder coating that chips off, as it suggests the prep process was flawed.  Still waiting to hear back on that.

I was also able to shampoo our upstairs hallway carpet and other high traffic areas where the 25-year old white carpet was looking a bit dingy.  It’s quite amazing that the carpet has lasted that long!  I also knocked out a few other small tasks before taking on the big project of the day: tearing out and replacing some paneling behind the utility sink in the garage.

A Small Termite Problem

It was a few weeks ago that I noticed the paneling had a mottled appearance above the sink. When I pushed on it my finger punched through the paint into a hollow space where the hardboard should have been.  Amazingly, just that small section of bead board had been infested by some type of wood eating critter, most likely a small colony of subterranean termites where once I pulled off the paneling I was able to confirm that their mud tunnels were limited to just two pieces of paneling.  The chip board it was nailed to was untouched as were all of the surrounding studs.

So, it was not a difficult repair since I had plenty of left-over bead board and 1/4″ plywood out in the shed.  It was just time-consuming since I had to caulk and then paint before re-installing the sink.  But, good to have that all fixed and looking normal again.

Lunch at the Mule & Blue’s Last Ride

About 3/4’s of the way through that project Debbie returned home.  She hadn’t eaten lunch yet and neither had I so I took a break from my project and we hopped on Blue for a final ride on her down to The Red Eye’d Mule.

I say a final ride, because as I expected, Debbie confirmed that we’re just spoiled by the Road Glide.  As much as we enjoyed our 950-mile rides down to Key West on both of our Road King CVO’s, the Road Glide is really much better suited to that type of riding.  And, in fact, just a more practical bike in terms of weather protection, storage capacity and ease of use.  So, we snapped a photo of Debbie along side Blue at The Mule for posterity and then went in an enjoyed our Jakes Big Daddy; they just seem to get better and better with every visit!!!

Finally a Friday @ Loco’s

We had our friend Bobby B. drop in for dinner at Loco’s Friday evening along with his daughter Lindsay and husband Steve.  A short while later our friends Jeff & Sharon also dropped-in.  We had a really nice time visiting with them while also bouncing around the bar visiting other regulars on Friday nights at Loco’s.  We pretty much outlasted everyone and ended up spending close to 5 hours at Loco’s before calling it a night around 11:00pm.

A Rainy Saturday

As mentioned, priority #1 for Saturday was collecting the Road Glide, which took a bit longer than expected.  It’s a 40 minute drive over to Roswell, and I ended up being at the dealership for a good 1.5 hours before making the 40 minute ride home.  Back at the house we had college football games up on all of the TVs while I tinkered a bit on the Road Glide.  It was around 2:30pm when we headed over to help our son Wesley move a couple of dressers from the upstairs to the basement: dang, that was some heavy furniture!  This of course gave Debbie a chance to visit with the grandkids, so she was in heaven.

Back at the house I continued tinkering on the motorcycles as the rain came down.  It was around 5:30pm when we headed over to Loco’s for the better part of the evening.  Nothing like being surrounded by friends and 18 TVs with all of the college games on!  I think it was around 9:00pm when we headed home to finish up the games and then called it a night.

 

It was also the change to Daylight savings time, but I decided I’d just deal with re-setting all of the clocks back in the morning since we didn’t have any pressing appointments on Sunday.

A Lazy Day… Sort Of

With the daylight savings time upon us I was in for my annual sleep adjustment period. It began promptly at 4:30am when I woke up, couldn’t get back to sleep and finally gave in and headed downstairs to finish up some work on the Road Glide in the garage. But, it really wasn’t 4:30am when I woke up, no it was 3:30am. And I knew that because the first thing I did was to go around and re-set the time on all of the “time keeping devices” we have at the house, i.e., thermostats, weather stations, appliances, 5 different décor clocks, the three motorcycles, car and truck.

I did my best not to make any noises that might disturb Debbie who had had a fitful night earlier, but who was sleeping soundly when I got up around 4:45am, er 3:45am. I was able to get quite a few things done short of cutting on some metal which I’d do after Debbie was awake.

We’d hoped that we would get a tandem bicycle ride in over the weekend, but between having to go and get the Harley on Saturday morning, the rain Saturday afternoon and then the fog and dismal weather we had on Sunday morning it didn’t look promising. So, Debbie soldiered on with her exercises in the gym while I fabricated two more tour pack relocation kits; one for our Road Glide to replace my prototype and another for our friends Chuck & Julie’s Road Glide. We’d both switched to saddles that pushed us 1.5 inches further back into the passenger’s space and my relocator plate allows you to move the tour pack back the same 1.5 inches where the only permanent modification to the motorcycle is drilling two ¼” holes in the aluminum top case rack. All of the other holes needed are already there.

Total cost was about $40 for the 16 gauge 11” x 18” steel plate, four stainless steel machine bolts, nuts and washers, a piece of hard rubber floor tile that works as a gasket between the tour pack and the mounting plate and a few other small bits and pieces. The real cost is the frustration that comes from trying to get the mounting holes to all line up.

These two kits were far better than my first one, but they’re still unidirectional in that you have to install them with the right side up otherwise the tour pack doesn’t end up sitting dead centered and plum on all four sides. I’m also wondering if I shouldn’t have taken my friend Chuck up on his offer to supply some aluminum plate since that won’t ever rust. The steel plates were sprayed with automotive undercoating that will hopefully have a good bond that also insulates the steel from moisture.

After reinstalling the tour pack on our Road Glide I gave it a much-needed washing while also tending bar for Debbie. It was definitely a Margarita Sunday so I spun up a couple blenders full using Camarena Reposado, which has replaced Jose Cuervo as our tequila of choice for Margaritas. They were quite yummy and it was exactly what we needed for a quiet evening at home.

With the Road Glide washed and dried I fired up the deep fryer and did the at-home, fresh hot wings and fries things for dinner. Thankfully, our second round of Margaritas lasted until the hot wings were gone! After getting the kitchen cleaned up I headed back out to the garage to wash the Honda F6B and then washed Debbie’s Honda Accord, which was way overdue after several weeks of rain.

Now, is it any wonder why I had a hard time settling down after pretty much going non-stop for three days!? I didn’t need to go to bed and get up for work, I needed to go to bed and keep knocking-out my honey-do list! Seriously, I felt like I was on a roll and there are about four projects that I could have knocked out with just one more day at home!!!

Anyway, it wasn’t a bad weekend, even though we had to stay at home instead of heading down to Panama City Beach. Hey, we’re both home-bodies… home is a great place to be.

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