This was our first Friday together at home when I didn’t have to go in the office which was really a treat. Now, as most of my off-Fridays go, I started off the day in the home office at 6:30am doing the weekly reports I do pretty much every Friday. Around 8:00am I heard Debbie up and moving around and after finishing up my last Email for the morning I went down to see if she rested well and what she had in mind to do for the day. It was really nice seeing her all relaxed on what just a few weeks ago would have been a work day. Instead, her days now begin with a healthy breakfast and usually include a 25-mile bicycle ride or walk up Kennesaw Mountain that has her looking and feeling far better than she has in quite some time. She was definitely in need of a change after being in the place doing the same thing for 14 years, often times biting her tongue through personnel changes. I can definitely relate to that as I’ve also been in my own position far too long and carry around similar, self-imposed stress. Of course, given that Debbie’s retired the logical question others ask is, “So, how much longer will you be working?” Sadly, it’s an easy answer: “As soon as health care becomes affordable.” In other words, not any time too soon.
Debbie had some things she wanted to do around the house so while she did those I set about trying to clear two items off my to-do list: what to do about the backyard and getting the fluid’s changed on Blue II.
On the landscaping, after thinking long and hard about what to do and whether or not to do it myself I decided to ask the same folks who did our front yard to tackle the backyard project. It’s only about one and a half pallets of sod (750 square feet), but there needs to be a lot of soil prep done before hand. So, after running the numbers on what the Zoyza sod would cost, renting the equipment I’d need to work-over the soil, etc. and the amount of my time it would consume at a time when I don’t have a lot of free time, the quote Monica & Rich provided looked really good. We’ve given them the OK for the project and we’ll be anxiously awaiting notification as to when the transformation will take place since it’s likely a one-day job. However, it will make the useable size of the backyard significantly larger and easier to maintain in the long run. More to follow.
After talking with Monica on the landscape, I turned my attention to changing the fluids on Blue II as part of her 10,000 miles service and working off most of the other recommended and required service items. I got most of those done by 10:00am when it became time to head off to run some errands with Debbie; again, this was a first for us being together on my off-Friday.
Debbie joined me for my usual run over to Costco, then we dropped off my 1974 Omega Seamaster watch for service at Jared, followed by a stop at The Red Eye’d Mule for a way overdue lunch date. Back at home we were able to get in a 25-mile tandem ride which — while it was enjoyable — was not as enjoyable as it could have been due to unusually heavy traffic and more than our fair share of inconsiderate motorists: more on that over on my other blog.
Back at the house and after the tandem ride, Debbie headed out to do some shopping while I finished up the oil change on Blue II and then gave her a good wash from the top and from the bottom, remembering that a couple of weeks back she went through a 2′ deep creek and ended up with a pretty healthy coat of muddy water residue. I really didn’t want to drop her off at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) for her new tire change covered in mud.
Friday night was the usual Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s.. and yes, it was a kilted Friday night. As we were headed home we both wanted to get out and do some dancing, so we popped in to check out the band at SuBourbon’s: great band, but only a couple of songs in their 1st set were tunes we could dance to. We went down the road a piece to see if Paddy’s had a band that was offering up more dance music and completely struck-out with that. So, we ended up heading home a taking in the most current episode of Archer before calling it a night.
I got out early to do a little work on the tandem before our morning ride, i.e., changing out Debbie’s saddle, putting on a new drive chain and adjusting the shifting. After that I mowed the lawn as rain was in the forecast for Sunday. I had the lawn done right at 9:20, 10 minutes ahead of our appointed tandem ride time. The tandem ride was good, but no records were set. I just don’t have my legs back under me the way I’d like and, well, it seemed like we had headwinds at every turn: is that even possible? After getting back to the house, placing some calls to my mother and uncle to see how they were doing and then grabbing a little lunch and a shower I headed off to get the tires changed on Blue II. Debbie had a bunch of errands that she wanted to take care of so we’d likely not see each other until around 5:00pm.
I arrived at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) just before 1:00pm and checked-in with Brian, the service manager. Brian’s dad is Jeff, the GM and co-owner of the dealership, but quite frankly everyone at HDA seems to truly be part of a big family: it’s one of the reasons I like going there. Lots of familiar faces. Blue was getting a new set of tires to replace the original Dunlop D407s which, like two rear and one front Dunlop D407 that were on Blue I, cupped with 1/2 of their tread life remaining. I think my only regret with this tire change was not going with the Michelin Commander II’s. They uniformly get great reviews, but the Mezler 888’s I decided to go with are now offered in a size and load rating that works with the big Harley touring bikes. Having really liked the way they handled on the Wide Glide and because they were $125 less than the Michelins, I figured I’d give them a try. Others who have used them on the Harley CVO touring bikes have had mixed reviews where the biggest issue was lack of tread life, i.e., 10,000 miles vs. 15,000 on the Dunlops or Michelins. I guess I’ll know if I made a good decision in about 8,000 miles. Anyway, David M — the same tech who did the dyno work on Blue I & Blue II — did the tire installation and knowing that I tend to do my homework, checked with me on what air pressure to run. Based on feedback from Mezler reps who actually ride these tires we went with the max cold psi for the front & back. Word is, they wear and handle better at max psi.
While I was there killing time as David swapped-out the tires on Blue II I wandered around the showroom and did my best to find something for Debbie’s birthday. The only thing that really jumped out at me was a really nice-looking camel-colored leather jacket, but I just didn’t know if would fit or be something Debbie would like wearing enough to justify the expense: after all, even when it’s on sale Harley-Davidson apparel is never cheap. I ended up taking some photos so I could let Debbie look at it and then decided if it was something that she’d want to go and look at in person and try on.
It was around 3:15 when David finished installing the new tires on Blue II and by 3:30 I was on my way home. As for my initial impressions, the tires felt solid but the ride quality was definitely a bit more harsh with the max psi. But, then again, I was only riding by myself so I’ll wait until I have Debbie on the bike before passing final judgement and making any air pressure adjustments.
Back at home I found Debbie trying to sort out her outfit for the gathering of friends at Loco’s later that night. Before I headed off to pick up her birthday cake for the gathering she was last wearing her leather hot pants and a red lace tank top with black wedge shoes: wowzer! But, even she was a little worried it might be too much for a family restaurant, so I had no idea what she’d be wearing when I arrived home. I picked up Debbie’s cake, a balloon bouquet, a dozen roses and some plastic forks and paper plates at Publix and took it all over to Loco Willy’s so we could make sure we were able to hold the big table for our party of 16 or so. I made it back home around 5:30 by which time Debbie had changed out her outfit for something a little more conservative: some black denim shorts, her black fringe boots and a really nice ecru lace top.
We arrived at Loco’s around 6:15pm and were surprised to find ourselves almost alone in the main bar & restaurant. We’d somewhat expected to find most of the usual suspects at the bar, but not so today. So, we took our seat at the big table and started to enjoy our cocktails and waited for others to show. I think it was right around 6:40 when two couples — James & Donna and Mike & Eva — rode up on their Harley’s after a day out enjoying the lovely spring weather ahead of the coming storms. It had been a really long time since we’d seen them so it was truly extra special having them join us. I think it was Jeff & Sharon who arrived next, followed closely there after by Matt, David & Deb, Ryan, Chuck & Julie, then Arne & Monica, Robin & Rich and closer to 10:00pm Jeanette & Patti. We also had a couple of friends from Loco’s join us as well. It was a grand time and we pretty much closed the place down as they were putting chairs on the tables around 11:30pm. I’m guessing we could have gone for another hour as everyone was still there when we headed for the doors. In fact, we were so engrossed in visiting with friends that I don’t think we took a single photo or even looked at our phones on Friday night! Thankfully, our friends did!!
After our late night on Saturday we slept in a bit on Sunday. The only big thing on our do-to list was heading up to Debbie’s mother’s where they’d be celebrating a large number of April birthdays in her family, including her mother’s 81st. I seem to recall that in addition to Debbie and her mother, her father, her uncle and at least one or two of her siblings have April birthdays.
Given that the weather was pretty awful, we spent the better part of the day doing inside things like upstairs hallway drywall finishing, laundry and writing part of this blog entry. It was around 11:00am when Debbie headed off to her mothers and I followed about an hour later. The original number of expected guests was around 60 but the cold, wet and stormy weather kept a good many of those away, so there wasn’t a huge parking issue at the house when I arrived. The food was set up in the breezeway which was living up to its name: it was 62°F and breezy though there. I think a lot of us were in denial after having a couple of weeks of unseasonably warm weather and slowly but surely a lot of folks began to migrate into the house after the first pass through the buffet line. By the time Debbie’ mother blew out the candles on her cake I’m thinking all but a handful of the 25 or so family members were now congregating in the house. That would be Joyce, Debbie’s mother, flanked by her great-granddaughter Caroline (son Wesley’s 1st daughter age 10) on the left and her grandson Charlie (Debbie’s oldest) on the right.
I think it was around 2:30 when I left as I had a few things I still needed to get done before the weekend was over. Debbie stayed to help with clean-up and to visit with her family a bit more, which is why we tend to take separate cars on our joint visits. I ran through a number of really strong showers on the way home but didn’t have too much traffic. However, when Debbie made the same return trip 90 minutes later it was a different story as weather-induced accidents had some of the interstate’s backed-up.
I was able to just about finish off the 10,000 mile service on Blue II once I got home. It turns out that I somehow overfilled the oil by about 3oz on Saturday so I had to use my trusty garage-use-only turkey baster to extract that errant oil from the crankcase: it’s a lot easier than trying to do it via the drain plug! I also had to remove and clean the air induction filter, rain cover and housing. Just about done with all of those checks. I also finished up most of the drywall repair on the upstairs hallway ceiling such that after a light sanding it will be ready for a fresh coat of ceiling white paint. Unfortunately, that’ll probably have to wait until June when I’ll have a full weekend day at home without any visitors or disruptions given the need to have a variety of ladders and risers littered about the stairway so I can tape and paint the 18′ tall ceiling above the stairway landings.
I think it was around 5:00pm when Debbie arrived home and after she had a brief nap we headed over to Loco Willy’s where we split the Ahi Poke for dinner: it was just the right amount and type of food after the very calorie and carb heavy lunch at her Mother’s house. It wasn’t all that busy at Loco’s, but a good number of our friends from Loco’s who had been partying hard all day on Saturday were at the bar doing the hair-of-the-dog thing so we were not lacking for entertainment. The Ahi hit the spot and so did chilling for a bit. I should note that on the way to Loco’s we spoke with my stepdad Bill to see how he was getting along — noting he’s been somewhat going it alone for the past week after my mother landed in the hospital and rehab after fracturing her pelvis in a few places after a nasty fall. He sounded great and like mother, was eagerly awaiting her return home. We spoke with my mother on the drive home; again, she sounded really great and is also looking forward to getting out of the medical treatment facilities and then getting healthy / back into a somewhat modified routine back at home.
That was pretty much the weekend. We finished up laundry and I’ve burned a few brain cells hacking out the rest of this weeks’ blog entry. Looking ahead, we have Debbie’s actual 60th birthday on Tuesday that we’ll still need to celebrate and then one final Debbie Fest weekend where we’ll slip away to the mountains where I’ve secured lodgings on Friday and Saturday night.
As mentioned before, we’ve reached a point with work, etc., where we sometimes feel like we just need to get away from the things that we do most often — too much time in the home office, taking care of the house, cycling, motorcycling, working on the bikes, hanging out at Loco’s, etc — and just treat ourselves to a true weekend escape. The timing is perfect as it will come on the heels with a lot of great time spent with friends and family celebrating Debbie’s retirement and birthday and will be followed up a few days later with a trip down to Panama City Beach where we’ll be with several of our “biker family members” at Thunder Beach for four days and nights. And, as mentioned in a prior blog, we have a fairly full calendar of weekend events through Saturday, June 10th with just a few days at home. So, doing our best to get the most out of life!!!