Looking back at the latter part of last week and the weekend the one thing that stands out is the weather: the heat is on! Yup, after a fairly mild winter and spring I was quickly reminded we live in the deep south this past weekend. It was in the 80’s leading up to the weekend and by Friday afternoon it finally reached a point where riding home on the motorcycle with my leather jacket on was no longer an option: it went into the saddlebag for the first time this year. Saturday’s pre-noon time tandem ride saw us getting home with temps in the mid-90’s and humidity still hanging in the 70% range. The temps moved into the mid-90’s by the mid-afternoon with at least a nice breeze blowing to cool things off. A late night out on Saturday had us well behind schedule on Sunday with our tandem ride beginning right around noon as the temps were already into the 90’s. The 25-mile, 80-minute ride pretty much sapped the energy out of both of us. So, yeah… it’s amazing how your bodies need time to acclimate to even moderate temperature changes. 80’s were not bad at all, but those 90’s… wowzer!
With the weather report out-of-the-way, here’s a look back…
No, our weekend didn’t begin on Thursday, but we did both take off the afternoon so we could go and visit with our financial advisors in Atlanta. I collected Miss Debbie from her office at 2:00pm and with amazingly light traffic, we were down in the financial district at 2:30. We killed a few minutes in the truck before heading up to visit with Steve and Reg and spent the better part of an hour and a half catching up on life in general, our current investment portfolio’s performance, recent changes and discussing updates to our going-forward plan, noting Plan A — retirement last winter — didn’t happen as hoped. Our healthcare costs are the current obstacle so Steve and Reg are going to re-run our numbers and see if they can set up a specific sub-account focused on generating sufficient earnings to cover our annual healthcare premiums as a way of eliminating some of my retirement anxiety. Which reminds me, I need to run some new models and send the summaries to Steve so they can do their re-calculations. Anyway, we really like our advisors — both as friends and trusted advisors — and are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
With our meetings behind us, the challenge was now making our way home during Atlanta’s afternoon commuter traffic: ugg! What a mess that was: I don’t know how people do it every day. It took us twice as long to get back to Debbie’s office as it did to get to the North Peachtree area. Back at her office we collected her little red car and headed for home. I decided to make a stop on the way to the house, but threw out a text to suggest we have dinner out at Henry’s Taste of Louisiana in nearby Acworth. Yeah, it was the right call!
As has become our habit when we go to Henry’s, we orderedoff the blackboard instead of the menu. The appetizer was natchitoches meat pies with red beans, rice and remoulade followed by a Caesar salad and for our entree we had blackened swordfish over Mexican corn topped with Peruvian sweet pepper cream sauce. Oh my… yummy stuff and always so nice that we can split everything. Just a great way to wrap up an afternoon with my sweetie.
Friday was a work-at-work day for me, so nothing special there. Well, that’s not exactly true as I rode Blue to work instead of Betty or the BMW which was kind of nice, mostly because I had to run an errand at lunch and having the big touring bike with the hard saddlebags makes hauling stuff around a no-brainer. The only downside of going out mid-day and hoping on a motorcycle is you just don’t feel like going back to work once you start to get a wind therapy going: it’s addictive in that regard.
Anyway, I was able to make it through the day and we toasted the end of the work week with our friends David & Deb at Loco Willy’s… I know, there’s a shock.
Actually, once we were on our way to Willy’s I discovered I’d been subscribed to a discussion list with our motorcycling friends and they’d been coordinating dinner reservations at a new place on their side of town. Sadly, I hadn’t seen the invite until we were headed to Loco’s and, well, Friday’s at Loco’s is nearly our equivalent of going to church. Saturday nights we’ll go just about anywhere so long as it promises to be either amazing food or just the right crowd. But Fridays, those are tough to give up for a “hope it’s good” experience. Anyway, we had a good time passing text-messages and photos back and forth with our friends at the other restaurant… something of a virtual dinner party!
We hoped that there might be a follow-on gathering somewhere but nothing came to pass. Debbie and spent a good part of the evening visiting with Paul S., always a pleasure. It must have been close to 10:30 when we decided to pay a visit to the 2 Monkey’s Tavern about 1/2 a block from Willy’s. A lot of the Willy’s regulars seem to enjoy 2 Monkey’s, mostly for the Karaoke so we figured we’d see what all the buzz was about. We found Paul S. and Kevin inside and spent about 1/2 and hour listening, watching and even doing a little dancing. However, as Paul & Kevin both noted, it was a much younger crowd than they were used to seeing and it made for a very different experience. Couple that with a heavy dose of cigarette smoke and well let’s just say we probably can put a check-mark next to that one in our ‘places we’ve visited’ book.
I’m told by Miss Debbie that it was still pretty late when we finally got home, even though I thought it was well before midnight. Perhaps that’s because we were both pretty alert and talkative once we arrived home which made for a very nice late evening at home before calling it a night.
I let Debbie sleep in a bit and headed over to Lowe’s Home Center where my special order carpet padding had come in earlier in the week. The 1/2″ thick Stainmaster breathable Rubber XD material should do a good job of keeping the carpet from “walking” while protecting the wood floors and making the area rugs feel a lot more plush. Debbie was up shortly after I returned home from Lowe’s and ran off to do some errands while I installed the padding under the area rugs in our family and living room.
The family room was a piece of cake to install but I was once again faced with having to levitate the grand piano in the living room to get the padding under the carpet. Fortunately, my initial success in using a small hydraulic jack to lift the legs of the piano during the wood flooring installation came in handy for this project. Again, probably not an OSHA approved method, but thankfully I think I’m done moving the piano for the foreseeable future.
With the area rug padding project out-of-the-way and Debbie back at the house the most important thing on our agenda for the day was getting in some time on the tandem bicycle. We wanted to be out by 9:30am, but didn’t leave the house until closer to 10:30am when the temps had already started to climb into the 80’s. It was a moderately hot, balmy ride that gave us both a good sweat. We did the usual 25-mile loop from the house as we continue to try to build up base mileage and, well, acclimate to the warmer temps now that summer is right around the corner.
After relaxing for a few moments and grabbing some lunch at the house Debbie headed out to run some errands while I turned my attention to yard work. Yup, timing is everything and I was able to enjoy the mid-day heat while edging, trimming and cutting the front, side and rear lawn areas. In fact, after getting the front yard finished I decided to take a rare break and enjoyed a ‘cold one’ out on the breezeway before tackling the side and rear yard. Yeah, you know it’s hot and sunny when a light-colored long-sleeve shirt seems like the better choice than short sleeves or going without a shirt.
I had the yard finished up about the time Debbie returned from running her errands and we decided we’d both take a little down time to catch a few rays in the backyard. There’s nothing like getting a nice controlled dose of Vitamin D when you have 30 minutes or so at your disposal.
After cleaning up from our day-long sweat fest of cycling and yard work we headed off for dinner at Loco Willy’s. It’s funny how our friends behind the bar can either read our minds or just know our habits: Brian called it… Willenburger! Yup, we were both needing some iron and have really nailed the right combination of toppings for our burger, making it one of our favorite meals at Loco’s. It’s right up there with the Ahi Poke, blackened fish tacos and ribs.
David & Deb joined us shortly after we arrived so we were able to enjoy their company along with a few of the other regulars but, in general it was a quiet evening at the bar… far less hectic and a lot more quiet than on Friday nights.
After dinner we headed over to visit with Ryan & Jeanette so we could check out their freshly re-landscaped backyard and refinished deck. Several other friends had already been by to visit during the day and three of them — Mike & Bettiann along with Patti — were still there when we arrived. It was really a special treat to get some time to visit with Ryan, Jeanette, Mike, Bettiann and Patti in a backyard setting where the conversation didn’t have to compete with the loud din of a bar or party. The still warm evening temps made a dip in the pool almost mandatory as the night progressed, followed by a return to the deck and conversation that latest well beyond midnight. Just a great evening, to be sure and we eagerly await future invites to similar, smaller poolside gatherings at Club Kar!
Given we were out pretty late on Saturday night, the day started a bit later than normal for both of us. I was up around 8:00am and did my best not to wake up Debbie as I headed downstairs to see what types of projects I could tackle outside in the garage.
Sadly, the first thing I had to do was to buff some scuff marks I collected after clipping an orange construction barrel. It was apparently knocked out of line on a narrow section of road as we left Loco’s and headed over to our friend’s house on Saturday night. I’m starting to think my depth perception when wearing contacts isn’t quite what it is when I’m wearing my glasses as I’ve found myself occasionally brushing the right side of the garage frame, curbs and running over “Bott’s Dots” on the right side of the truck since switching to contact lenses. Regardless, it’s a bit disconcerting and something I’ll have to look into during my next eye exam. However, in this instance, it was clearly a case where one of the barriers was sitting a bit further out in the lane in a long-line of barriers and I just didn’t pick up on that. Most of marks buffed out, but there are some that remain that I’ll just need to accept as part of the 11-year old truck’s patina.
Once I’d finished buffing the truck I thought about washing Debbie’s little car. But, before doing that I figured I’d see what the weather looked like for the coming week: yeah, rain. No sense in washing what was essentially a nearly clean car at this point.
Of course, having seen that rain was in the forecast I was now having doubts about heading off for lunch in Dahlonega on the motorcycle and began to rethink our plans for the day. We could still do a short motorcycle ride in the morning, wait for the rain to pass through in the early afternoon and then do our tandem ride in the late afternoon, but that clearly put us at risk of missing the tandem ride if the rain didn’t move through early and quickly. After checking to see if our friends Deb and David wanted to join us for a motorcycle ride and finding that they were already predisposed, we simply nixed the idea of the motorcycle ride altogether.
Instead, we decided we’d head out on the tandem around noon and in the interim I’d continue my hardwood floor project with some further ‘drilling and filling’ of voids under the existing hardwood floors for the balance of the morning. Not sure why but I will say that I’ve had a really hard time driving this particular project to closure. I’m hoping to put some focus on it this coming Friday with a goal of having the downstairs complete before the end of June. We’ll see how that goes.
We did make it out for our noontime tandem ride. At first the 94*F temp with humidity in the 50% range and a nice breeze felt pretty good. However, that was on shady roads early into our ride. As we moved into the places where the trees had been cut back away from the roads that offered no shade and kept the asphalt baking all day that “good feeling” was replaced by near heat exhaustion by the time we returned home around 2:00pm. Yeah, it was a rude reminder that as we get into the summer months we’ll need to start those rides earlier in the day. But, a hot ride is better than no ride.
Alas, there was never a motorcycle ride on Sunday and perhaps that was a good thing after all. A thunderstorm rolled through somewhat unexpectedly around 3:00pm in the afternoon as a cold front pushed down into Georgia from Tennessee and Alabama. It briefly cooled things off, but a short while later it was hot and very muggy again. Just not the kind of weather that gets you too excited about getting out and about. So, the rest of our Sunday was spent at house finishing up honey-do’s and other weekend chores ahead of the work week.
As cocktail hour rolled around I suddenly had an urge for a frozen margarita, something I hadn’t made at home in several months and not something I’ll even order out all that much anymore. Pretty amazing considering our prior 24-year tradition of heading off to Rio Bravo (1991 – 1999) and then On The Border (2002 – 2013) every Friday night for Maggies and TexMex. Perhaps it was that amazing Margarita Christian made for me last Sunday at Loco Willy’s that piqued my interest. Whatever it was, I certainly enjoyed it! Interestingly enough, I made the first batch with silver tequila and Debbie just didn’t think it tasted quite right. The second time around I used Avion Reposado, which is a very nice gold tequila with a flowery vanilla scent that has been aged at least six months and heavily filtered to give it a very smooth, silky flavor; she liked that a lot! Yeah, well… $12/shot tequila usually is pretty darn tasty and not something you’d typically dilute with sweet & sour mix. Pretty sure I’ll just put some gold Jose Cuervo or Margaretville back in the tequila bar for future Maggie mixtures unless we win the lotto.
As we finished up our Maggies I pulled out the deep fryer and began our Sunday wing fix. Given a fairly busy schedule over the past few weekends that had us out and about we’d not been to do that. However, now that I’m rediscovering my grill and outdoor cooking I decided to set-up the deep fryer on the grill rather than making the house smell like a short-order diner: that worked really well. The sweet potato fries didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped so we’ll go back to soaking spuds in cold water all day our Sunday evening wing fix but other than that, yummy stuff!
After that it was a rather quiet night at the house. About the only thing extracurricular we did was to put Debbie in the driver’s seat on all three of the motorcycles so she could better understand why I always have to acclimate to Blue when I’ve been riding the other two bikes. Well, more to the point, each and every time I switch bikes there’s a mental adjustment that had to take place as they’re all very different from a rider’s perspective. Perhaps I’ll do a more detailed blog entry on that… Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Anyway, it was an eye-opening experience for Debbie as she didn’t appreciate just how different the riding positions were. It wasn’t my intent to get her interested in the prospect of learning how to ride a motorcycle, but it may have done just that. I don’t know if she really wants to get her own bike, but I can easily see it might be a great experience for her to take a Rider’s Edge course down at Atlanta Harley-Davidson if we can find time for her to do that.
I spent the rest of the evening updating our Florida toll road SunPass on-line and trying to find a place for us to stay in Orlando on our way through to Key West in early July. As mentioned before, Debbie’s employer provides her with 19-20 days off each year, be they vacation, personal, sick or otherwise. However, 10 of those days must be used during the Christmas and 4th of July holiday weeks when her employer shuts down all operations. So, whether the timing works for us or not, we’re boxed in to taking vacations during those weeks – when the cost of travel and lodging are at premiums – and must then figure out how to carefully use the balance of those other 9-10 days one or two at a time in conjunction with weekend tandem & motorcycle rallies as well as for medical appointments, taking care of grandkids, etc. Yeah, 9 days doesn’t go very far. Anyway, that’s why the 4th of July week has been a travel week for us for as long as Debbie’s worked at YKK.
Getting back to our trip planning, we wanted to stay at the Hilton’s Tuscany property where we’d had such a great experience last year but found they were already booked. In fact, our #2 and #3 choices were also booked. I ended up finding a pretty good rate on a room at the Hilton Orlando, also a 4 Star rated hotel with a well-reviewed poolside bar. The latter is really the key to a great visit for us as we really enjoyed staying on the property relaxing and taking our meals pool side at the bar. So, fingers crossed… we’re thinking the menus, quality of food and levels of service will be similar to Tuscany: it’s what we’ve come to expect from Hilton!
However, while our Key West plans are coming together nicely, finding a way to join some friends in Jamaica where they’ll renew their wedding vows this summer failed to deliver a solution. We were able to get Debbie’s passport and found there were still rooms and seats on flights available, but between my work commitments and Debbie’s employer’s vacation practices the best we could hope for was a quick out and back leaving Friday night and returning home Sunday night, which just didn’t pass the sanity check for the number of hours we’d be in transit vs. enjoying time with friends at Jamaica. Moreover, we’d thought my Amex annual companion pass would have covered ½ of the airfare, but the way they’ve scaled back on the passes, they’re now only valid for flights between the 48 contiguous United States. The latter has also put a kink in our Hawaii trip next year since it’s also outside of the continental U.S.. Again, just not what we’d had in mind when the initial plan was hatched last winter. At that point we were looking at a full week and floating a few holidays along with some unpaid days off when that practice was just fine with Debbie’s HR department. Since then, unpaid days off have become a problem too. Anyway, we’ll be there in spirit and perhaps we can figure out how to get a live video feed so we can be there for a virtual wedding experience! We’ve not given up hope of “being there” in some shape or form… hey, maybe we mail out life-size cut-outs for the photo ops and reception! Ugg… I wish there was a way short of spontaneous retirement for both of us.
Well, that’s about it. More than you wanted to know. And, did I mention that it’s been hot?