Back on Blue
In a weekend filled with highlights, perhaps the most satisfying one was finally having weather that was “good enough” to get Miss Debbie out for some time on Blue II. As a reminder, Debbie had only been back on the motorcycle once since a motorist ran into us on October 16th during Daytona Beach’s fall Bike Week. And, that December 13th ride was a very short, 20-mile ride to lunch and back.
How did she do on her first 100+ mile day in the saddle? Quoting from our morning email exchange on Monday, “I really enjoyed the motorcycle riding this weekend. That was great!!! It felt so good and I didn’t cringe a bit. Didn’t expect to though. I was relaxed and it felt great!!! Can’t say enough. That’s the only way to travel.” That’s my Sweetie!
So, despite the threat of rain and having to dodge raindrops on both Saturday’s and Sunday’s rides, with temps in the upper 50’s and low 60’s for the first time on a weekend in a long time who were we to complain about the weather when faced with an opportunity to ride!
Now, I should note we didn’t really get out on the open road and spend a couple of hours riding 100 miles. We rode Blue instead of driving the truck to get lunch and then continued my quest to find the lovely Miss Debbie a little something for her wardrobe in recognition of Valentine’s Day. You may recall we attempted to do this last Sunday and couldn’t find a single thing at Horsetown or Cartersville Harley-Davidson. So, after riding Blue down to the Red Eyed Mule and splitting a Jake’s Big Daddy, we headed over to Atlanta Harley-Davidson to pick up a new neck gator for me – noting that the one I wear to work just about every day during the winter went missing this past week – and to see if we couldn’t find something for Debbie.
We did quite nicely with a very neat top that Debbie initially didn’t think would be all that flattering; it’s now a favorite after just one night out wearing it! We also found a neat little 2-piece outfit for around the house, but once we got it home we realized the sizing was way out of line with all of the other small-size women’s wear we typically buy from Harley: I hope to get that exchanged when they open back up on Tuesday. There was also a really neat fleece jacket that she liked; however, they didn’t have it in a small.
As we headed towards home I called an audible and we decided to ignore the fact that we were running into a little light rain and headed down to Earl Small’s Harley-Davidson to see if they had that fleece jacket in a small. Well, they had the jacket but not in a small: what’s the deal with that? However, in its place we found two other tops that Debbie really liked so those came home with us too. We also had a chance to visit with our friend Nick; always so good to hear what he’s been up to and what’s going on with Earl’s and the MoCo in general. We headed home after that and I must say we were both pretty jazzed to have logged over 100 miles on Blue.
We enjoyed a second helping of Blue II on Sunday when we rode over to Loco Willy’s for our Sunday hot wing fix around 2:30 in the afternoon. Once again, great temps but an ever-present threat of rain. In fact, it wasn’t an idle threat: by the time we returned home I had wet knees and a fresh rain facial treatment since we opted to go with half helmets instead of the Shoei full-face / modular helmets.
Speaking of helmets, you may recall we picked up a new ½ helmet for Debbie last fall. This was so she’d have something a little bit cooler to wear when we were down in Florida, since going without a helmet will no longer be an option (he says with some level of conviction). While she really likes the way the helmet fits and its integrated retractable sun/wind screen, the pearl pink shell has proven to be just a little too loud for her tastes. Yeah, I was afraid of that. However, HJC offers the “Blossom” helmet in black with the same white lace appliqué and I found one for 30% off that I’ve order to replace her pink one. She’s looking forward to getting her black helmet which should be here before next weekend.
As for the pink helmet, we’ll put it out in a pre-ebay offering to our friends along with some Men’s Harley-Davidson shirts I no longer wear as we move into “spring cleaning” mode in earnest. I’d like to sell-off the black Harley, some pieces of furniture and some motorcycling gear that we no longer wear to folks who could make good use of it all. It’s amazing how we continually add clutter to our lives. Come to think of it, I probably need to purge both attics of a lot of stuff that’s been collecting dust over the last 20 years.
Plan B for Daytona Bike Week has been set aside as all of our friend’s schedules are pushing them to the 2nd weekend on 10-13 March. Sadly, we’ll be back in the market for a place to stay and at present that’s making for 40% bump in the cost of a hotel room. Our friends and motorcycling mates Jeff and Sharon have been keeping an eye out for other accommodations that could house the eight or so of us headed down to Daytona for the long weekend and the prices still seem to be pretty darn high. There were some attractive-looking homes for rent, but between the cost and not having enough rooms to house everyone without having some of our unaccompanied friends do the couch whale thing, nothing looks all that attractive… yet. We’re thinking that by the time the cancellation windows begin to close around March 2nd there will be a few places coming open and/or the HotWire deals will begin to get a bit more attractive. So, we’re biding our time and if nothing opens up at a reasonable price, then I guess it wasn’t meant to be and we’ll head somewhere else.
As for Panama City Beach, we’ll have to revisit the accommodation plans there as well to make sure everyone has a room who needs a room. I believe we’re still far enough out that we can get good deals on condo’s in the same complex that we’ve stayed out about 5 out of the past 6 trips. So, more on that to follow.
As far as the rest of our weekend, I’ll try to be brief (yeah, right).
Finally a Friday
Last Friday was one of those days I thought would never come; just a very long week. But, I’d also planned on making it a tea-total weekend as I’ve found that my weight is sneaking up given we’re not getting in as much cycling as we typically do in the winter what with all the rain we’ve been having.
Yeah, well…. cocktail hour arrived and I decided I earned one. As on almost every Friday, we joined our friends at Loco Willy’s and had an exceptionally good time. It was our friend Stewart’s birthday and as they did last weekend, Clark & Gene decided to be generous with the Fireball. Stewart graciously accepted the liquid-gold gifts while we steered clear. It must have been 10pm when we finally left, having had a grand time visiting with Joe, Paul, Clark, Gene, David & Deb, Stewart & Teresa and the usual suspects behind the bar: Brian, Christian, Billy, Maddy, Brittany, Sara and Madeline. I’m sure I’ve left out a few folks, but you get the picture.
At some point during the day or evening our friends Carrie Ann & Bobby had sent us a text inviting us to join them at a nightclub and billiard hall in Woodstock, Georgia to see our friend Stacey and his band, “The Wanted”. We took the 20-minute side trip up to Woodstock where we found Carrie Ann & Bobby, Sharon & Jeff, Cowboy and Stacey’s wife Marla near the back of the bar while Stacey and the band did their thing up on stage. As you’d expect, it was a smoky place so we weren’t really able to get into the idea of spending a long time there, but it was long enough to visit with our friends, catch up on what they’d been up to and hear their plans for a Saturday morning motorcycle ride. As much as we wanted to jump on the ride opportunity, were found ourselves on the fence with the ride as Debbie needed to take care of some personal business around 8:30am and we were hoping to take advantage of the nice weekend weather and get in morning tandem bicycle ride with a motorcycle ride in the afternoon. Anyway, that was our plan for Saturday, and plans can always change. With that, we headed on home to air out our clothing and rest up for what was shaping up to be a busy Saturday.
Saturday, a Day of Epic Proportions
Saturday morning ended up having a bit of a bad, sad start for Miss Debbie. She’d planned to go and submit her passport paperwork at one of the local post office drop-off points, but had no idea they’d all be packed. Worst of all, being government offices, let’s just say the federal employees at these places don’t have to worry about repeat customers, customer feedback or any other naturally occurring market forces that drive customer satisfaction-focused behaviors when “end of shift” times approach.
Our plans for a morning tandem ride quickly faded when she called at 9:00am to let me know she’d finally arrived at the Passport Office and was 22nd in line; Yikes! As 11:15am rolled around the text and phone calls from our motorcycling friends came in to see if we’d be joining them: alas, that wasn’t going to happen as Miss Debbie had dropped off the grid with her quest to submit a passport application. So, we thanked our friends for checking on us and bid them a safe day of riding, really wishing that we could have joined them at some point.
It was about 45 minutes later that I finally heard from Debbie. As it turns out, after waiting in line for 2.5 hours and having watched them turn away folks at the door from 11:00am on — leading her to assume she and the other folks who were being allowed to continue waiting would be served — when 11:45 came it was “sorry, you’ll need to come back” for Debbie and several others who’d been patiently waiting their turn. Debbie was on the verge of tears when she called to tell me of her plight and let me know she’d be on the way home after stopping at the grocery store.
I was out working in the yard knee-deep in piles of leaves feeding my gas-power chipper when she called so I immediately began to think of what we could do when she got home to lift her spirits… it certainly wasn’t yard work. The first thing that came to mind was cycling, but with the less than ideal weather we were having and because neither of us had eaten lunch yet, the better plan was to hop on our Road King (Blue II) and head down to the Red Eyed Mule to grab a burger for lunch and then take her shopping if the weather held-out. The weather sort of held and that’s exactly how we spent the afternoon!
With dinner at Loco Willy’s just about permanently etched on the calendar, our evening’s plan seemed pretty straight forward. That was until I received a text from Carrie Ann who, along with Debbie, had apparently talked about inviting their dear friend and fashion consultant Misty to join us over at Loco’s for dubious reasons. Talk about setting yourself up for an interesting and entertaining evening. Yeah, well… that’s what we did.
Our evening started visiting with our friends David & Deb and Stewart & Teresa, which quickly expanded to several other regulars from 6:30 – 7:30. We’d just finished our dinner and were enjoying the company of our friends when Misty and her friend Nina showed up to join us and we had ourselves a 3-alarm party. It was about 30 minutes later when Carrie Ann & Bobby along with another couple — Bobby & Carol — showed up and joined us for what ended up being a really crazy night at Locos: I would go so far as to say it was epic!
I think it was about 11:00pm when Misty & Nina, Carrie Ann & Bobby with their friends Carol & Bobby headed home as the craziness — aided and abetted by several different characters, some whom were the regulars and quite a few who were just passing through — finally subsided. I’ll summarize by simply invoking the Vegas mantra of, “What happens at Willy’s stays at Willy’s”! Before we headed out Debbie and I realized we were actually still a bit hungry. Our friend and barkeeper Brian suggested an egg, bacon and cheese on Texas Toast sandwich and that’s what we had. It was just what we needed after a long night of way too much fun and a couple of rumbly tummy’s.
Sunday was mostly a day of chores all around. Debbie headed out to get groceries while I knocked out the laundry and returned to my yard work. I’m always amazed at how many leaves seem to find their way onto our yard and in behind all of our small trees and shrubs. I ended up with five massive leaf piles, one of which I decided to burn while I attacked two of the others with my chipper.
It had been raining off and on so the burning process was a smoky, slow affair which worked well in parallel with my chipping activity. It took me about the same amount of time to slowly feed the burn pile as it did to chip the other two. All the while Debbie was out getting groceries and running errands. It was about 2:30 when she returned. Being a Sunday and still nice enough to ride the Harley, I knocked off from my yard work, got cleaned-up and we took a short ride over to Loco’s for some hot wings and NASCAR. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon, even though we ended up out in the smoking section / patio where four of the Sunday regulars were puffing away on their stogies. Yeah, kinda like a flashback from Friday night for us. Oh well, it’s all part of the landscape when you find a place you like that’s popular.
Back at home we both put our feet up for a while in between finishing our afternoon indoor chores. It must have been around 4:15 when Ryan and Jeanette – who’d been in Florida hanging with the Mouse all week – sent out a note inviting us to join them, Carrie Ann & Bobby, Jeff & Sharon & Patti for dinner at a nearby tavern. We arrived around 5:30 and spent a good hour or two talking over various trip plans that were quickly coming up on the horizon, e.g., Daytona, Panama City, and a few other emerging opportunities. Not sure that we’ll be able do everything given both constraints on our vacation time and discretionary funds earmarked for vacations but would certainly like to. So, we’ll have a lot of homework ahead of us, as we also have some vacation time we’ll need to use for visits up north to see my folks and we have a pre-paid week in Hawaii this year unless they’ll let us extend it until 2017.