It was a very short work week since the 4th of July fell on a Tuesday. However, those were perhaps the longest three days I can recall. But, on the bright side, I’m taking off the coming week so we can visit my folks in Pennsylvania ahead of a tandem cycling rally on the 14th through the 16th that is being hosted a mere 45-minutes from my parents home. So, it will be good to get four days with them, then make the short drive down to Manheim, PA, on Friday morning for three days of group tandem rides with friends whom we made over the past 20 years during prior tandem rallies in the Mid-Atlantic States and other tandem cycling interests and events.
TUNDRA UPDATE: The Upper Control Arms Have Been Replaced!
Before making that trip the Tundra still needed to have its upper control arms replaced. So, the BIG news this past week was finally getting that done! The parts are not in high demand given our Toyota Tundra is a 2006 model so they had to be fabricated which pushed their installation back a month from when I ordered them back on 9 June. It was an anxious wait as the parts did not arrive until this past Thursday ahead of a 9:00am appointment at 4 Wheel Parts on Friday, 7 July. Talk about not having much margin for error! I held my breath that the parts would fit and that nothing else would be discovered during the removal of the original upper control arms and ball joints and the installation of the high-end aftermarket Camburg upper control arms. The call came in at 1:40pm, your truck is done and ready for pick up!
It’s been great having a front end that no longer creaks, clunks or shudders as it put the first couple hundred miles on it over the weekend running various errands. Again, a great relief this we’re depending on the Toyota Tundra to deliver an uneventful 780 mile drive to Pennsylvania on Monday and to get us back home the following Monday. While we could have taken the Honda Accord, it would have been a tight fit to get all of our luggage as well as the tandem bicycle into the trunk. Anyway, we’re cautiously optimistic that the Tundra’s front end has been properly sorted.
The rest of Friday was pretty much a normal workday other than running the truck over to the repair shop and having Debbie meet me and then run be back to the office. I was probably gone all of 30 minutes and was on a conference call for the entire time. In fact, I began the meeting in the office, switched over to my cell phone and was back in time to finish the meeting in the office. Debbie picked me up around 2:30 to collect the truck and after that I decided to run a few errands as I had pretty much all of my weekly analysis and reports submitted before I left the office.
Now, as much as I’d really like to be on a true vacation for the next week the truth is it will be a work-cation. I’ll likely do a teleconference at 7:30am on Monday and at 7:00am every day thereafter and still be cranking on the analysis and reports throughout the week. Ugg. With that in mind, we were both very much in need of our Finally a Friday celebration over at Loco Willy’s and we had a grand time. Most of the usual suspects were there and I even remembered to get a photo of the Three Debbie’s: my Debbie, our long-time friend Deb and a new addition to the line up, our new Deb. Sadly, I should have made it a photo of the Four D’s, as our friend Dava wasn’t in the photo.
We didn’t stay all that late which is a shame because as we later learned, our friends all over-achieved so we missed out on some interesting goings-on.
As much as I wanted to get out and cut the lawn which had gone to seed in the front yard, I knew I’d need to wait until Sunday as it would be a full week before we’d be back and I could harvest it again. So, with that off my plate the order of the day became getting in some two-wheel therapy, something we’d not been able to do the 4th of July weekend. The first session was on the tandem bicycle on what was a very warm and balmy morning. The temps weren’t too bad being in the upper 70’s but the humidity was nearly 90%. It felt really good to be back on the tandem and so long as we kept moving it never got really uncomfortable. We were back at the house around 10:30am and I suggested that we switch into motorcycling-appropriate attire and head off for a “Tour de Harley Shops”.
Our first stop on the 90-mile loop would be The Red Eyed Mule for lunch. It had been a couple of weeks since we’d had a Jake’s Big Daddy and the timing was perfect… so was the burger! Always good to see Enrique and the rest of the crew and so good to be treated as regulars and friends when we come in.
As usual we split the burger and passed on the fries and onion rings, (A) because it’s just too much food for us and (B) we’d end up eating two burgers and the fries or rings if we ordered them. So, there’s a method to our meal splitting regime.
With some food in our bellies we made the short ride over to Hellbender Harley-Davidson where we visited with our friend Nick and also checked out the ladies apparel. There were about three things Debbie tried on including two dresses she’d seen over at Killer-Creek Harley-Davidson two weeks ago but that they didn’t have in her size. We almost took this very Horsetown-looking grey dress home, but as a Medium was just a little to large for Debbie. We hoped we’d find it in a Small at one of the other two Harley stores we’d visit later in the day. I will say, the new 2018 Road King Specials continue to catch my eye more so than any of the other bikes. I guess I’m just a Road King kind of guy. There was a gloss black one sitting next to a gloss olive drab green one that was really calling my name. But, with Blue already in the stable how practical would it be to replace the BMW R1100S with nearly the same bike I already owned? Now, a gently used 2009 Road King would probably be a good bet since I’d have no qualms about letting it sit out in the sun and weather all day…
Anyway, we left empty-handed and headed next for Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (or is it Atlanta Harley-Davidson? I never remember which). Anyway, I ran in the GM Jeff as I often do who has an amazing memory. When we last talked back in May we were just getting ready to head off to Panama City Beach, then the Georgia Tandem Rally before heading off to Las Vegas. Bearing in mind that Jeff probably talks to a few 100 “friends” a week, he asks me right off the back, “How was your trip?” I ask, which one? He said, “To Vegas and the Hoover Dam.”
Amazing… But that’s just the kind of guy he is and his personality shapes the way everyone treats their customers at HDA. Sadly, we weren’t able to give him any business as they didn’t have any of the dresses Debbie was interested in, nor did anything else jump out as “must haves” for her wardrobe. However, on the way out I saw a really nice-looking, heavily customized silver 2014 Road King with beach bars that was also calling my name. This would have been a pretty good candidate for replacing the BMW R1100S as my daily commuter and errand-running bike and may still be… if and when I decide to do anything. But, first things first, we still need to sell the Honda S2000. We also ran into David M., my dyno-guy and tech for Blue I and Blue II. He’d been planning on riding to Nova Scotia with some friends in August but do to circumstances beyond his control he may just end up heading to Sturgis for a couple of days and then ride the Continental Divide. Nice.
Our next leg was an hour-long, 39-mile trek over to Cartersville and Southern Devil Harley-Davidson. As we got within about 5 miles of the store we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a fairly strong sun-shower. At first we both though we’d been splashed by a sprinkler alongside the road until it didn’t stop. And not only did it not stop, it got a lot stronger despite the gobs of sunshine that we were enjoying. Oh well, it’s part of the riding experience. It was never so bad that I was inclined to seek shelter or put on our rain gear which I did have in the saddle bags “just in case.” So, if nothing else, it gave us something else to talk about. The rain stopped as suddenly as it started and a short while later we pulled in to Southern Devil. I hadn’t been too long since we’d been there and came home with a few things for Debbie, so we were hopeful they’d have what she was looking for. Alas, no luck. In fact, we were surprised by how little they had in the women’s apparel offerings. It’s hard when you’re trying to give people some business and just can’t find a way to do it. They had the same gloss black Road King Special that I’d seen at Hellbender and had it marked down from $24k to $21k. Tempting… but still, no. I’d end up putting lowers on it, adding a sound system similar to Blue and it would eventually become the bike that would replace Blue. Well, that would cause Blue to sit in the garage just like my 2011 Wide Glide “Betty” did who, by the way, has been renamed. On our way out we stopped by a food truck that had been on hand for a benefit ride earlier in the day to grab a couple of beverages, as it was hot and we needed to hydrate. Nicest guy in the world owned and operated the truck; love meeting good people! That’s one of the things that attract us to motorcycling and the Harley scene: you meet so many really nice people, not people just trying to be nice but honest-to-goodness nice folks. Anyway, Debbie decided to climb up in to the big chair to enjoy her water so I felt obliged to snap a photo: isn’t she cute! Anyway, as with the first two visits we walked away empty-handed but were at least rewarded with another great encounter and that’s the stuff that’s priceless.
I asked Debbie if she’d be OK heading home on the Interstate just to save some time and to avoid what looked like some rain back along our usual route and she was game. As we got within 3 miles of home I could smell the ozone and feel the change in air temperature that suggested rain was falling somewhere near us. I finally dawned on me that we’d actually caught up to the storm I’d seen brewing and wanted to avoid. We got within a 1/8 mile of our home before we actually rode into the backend of the rain storm. We got a little wet, but nothing more than that. I grabbed a photo of Debbie on what was once again a beautiful sunny moment on the rain-soaked driveway we’d just pulled into: she’s a trooper!
Saturday night saw us returning to you-know-where for dinner and once again, just a great time. Sadly, the “new Deb” wasn’t there for a photo of the Four D’s. So, here now is the Three D’s: Debbie, Dava & Deb! The guy with the crewcut would be Dava’s better half, Billy; they’re a lot of fun as are all of our friends. After Loco’s we headed over to SuBourbon’s to catch the band Three Left Standing. As mentioned in a couple prior blogs, Debbie and I love to dance and Three Left Standing is one of the bands that plays LOTS of great 80’s and 90’s songs we can dance to. The crowd at SuBourbon’s wasn’t really lively early on so Debbie and I had the dance floor to ourselves and took advantage of that at the expense of not spending more time with our friend Kreg who was king enough to share a seat as his table with us. However, not to worry, Kreg knows everybody and had lots of great company whilst we danced our feet off.
We didn’t stay all that late, perhaps a song into their second set and headed home where I cooked up a couple grilled cheese sandwiches using some hoop cheese Debbie had on hand. Oh My, yummy stuff! Hoop cheese was a favorite of Debbie’s Daddy, so that makes it extra special.
Sunday’s main event was our granddaughter Caroline’s 11th birthday party at the kids house about 15 minutes from our home. We were expected at noon so that gave us the morning to work with. I wanted to cut the lawn, but it was still soaking wet from the rain that fell on Saturday night as well as a heavy morning dew. We opted to do the best thing we could come up with, and that was another tandem ride. We seemed to be a little sluggish on the climbs but were doing well otherwise for the duration of the ride and our average speed was perhaps just a tick higher than on Saturday. We only had one annoying motorist which was a pleasant and welcome surprise.
Back at the house Debbie headed up to wrap gifts and get things ready for the birthday party. No wait, she did that before our tandem ride which is why we didn’t get out until 9:30am instead of at 8:30am. Anyway, back at the house I shuffled cars around so I could put Debbie’s Honda Accord in the middle “wash” bay to get yet another weeks worth of rain-driven road grime off the finish before we headed out-of-town. I had it finished and headed up for my shower so that we’d be able to arrive at the kids house pretty much right at noon.
When we arrived we were greeted by Caroline who handed Debbie a grass skirt and said, “put this on” as she tossed a lei over Debbie’s head. I got one too. I have no idea where the Hawaiian theme came from but it was all rather cute.
I’m also struggling with Caroline already being 11 years old! I just doesn’t seem like that long ago the kids were bringing her home from the hospital. Anyway, she’s a sweetie and she loves her Nama, as we all do. Julie’s parents, her brother and his family, cousin/brother and his girlfriend and our oldest son, Charlie, were all on hand for the party. It was nice to have just the immediate family on hand and to be at the house vs. a pizza joint.
The primary entertainment was a giant, inflatable water slide the kids had rented and had set-up in the backyard that the kids absolutely had a blast with.
Given that we were headed out-of-town in just 15 hours, I disappeared from the party for a couple of house so that I could cut the lawn, do laundry, pack all of the cycling gear and run by the bank before heading back to the party to say my goodbyes and collect Debbie. My timing was impeccable as Wesley was just about to drive Debbie home vs. pulling me away from my chores when I drove up. Wesley was able to stay at the house with Julie to finish cleaning up while Debbie headed home with me so we could both catch our breath before grabbing a little dinner and finishing up the packing of the tandem and our street clothes for the week-long trip.
So, here I sit at 11:00pm still wide awake as I usually am before any long trip. Debbie is zonked-out in bed, which is where I should be. So, I’ll close this chapter out and we’ll see what we have to report by next Sunday or Monday night. We’ve got a big week ahead of us!