Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Farther Than Usual

I hadn't intended to take a long ride this morning when I left the house on the Piaggio.  I was simply taking a forgotten phone to somebody (who'd have felt naked all day without it) and then doing whatever I felt like doing.  What I felt like doing after dropping off the phone was to get something in my belly which was practically doing tricks to convince me to fill it.  Lucky for it I was in a generous mood.


When I got to McDonald's (for the cheapo menu, not the great cuisine) and sat down to munch what I'd gotten (that I'm not going to specify here lest my cardiologist ever venture in to read this) I took one look at the sky and knew that heading back to the house after eating wasn't going to be an option.  The open road was calling and after just a little internal debate I knew where I was heading - Honesdale, PA.


I visit Honesdale often enough when I'm away from the house for a few days and staying elsewhere, but then I approach it from the other direction, east going west.  Today's trip took me from west to east and it was a marvelous ride.  For good portions of it I was able to push the scooter to 80 mph just for the hell of it, staying at the posted 65 most of the time.  In spite of its being nearly 10 years old and approaching 20,000 miles it ran beautifully and without seeming effort.


It's always enjoyable to take in new scenery and this trip provided much of it.  Stretches of the trip that weren't on the expressway between Scranton and Carbondale were posted at about 45 mph, and on the scooter 45 is a very nice cruising speed at which to take in the sights and smells along the way.  Though nothing was out of the ordinary, a lot of it was new to me and that alone made it something to savor.


I didn't tarry long in Honesdale, stopping just long enough to top off the tank, hit the men's room, and adjust my boxer briefs that felt like a thong after an hour and a half in the saddle.  I snapped a picture or two and turned myself around for the ride back.  Honesdale is one of those towns that takes two parallel streets, each plenty wide for two lane traffic, and makes one a ONE WAY main drag in one direction and the other a ONE WAY in the opposite direction.  I abhor that and wonder what the hell it is that makes town planners do that instead of just keeping both streets two way.  There's no advantage to it that I can discern.


Simply because of what side of the road it's on, the westbound side of the expressway which I took back from Honesdale lends itself to some wonderful scenery overlooking the valley and drawing the eye to the mountains forming the opposite wall of the valley, miles away.  Because it was a gorgeous clear day with humidity much lower than it was before a cold front came through yesterday with some much needed rain, the eye could see clear to the horizon without the haze that often makes the view across the valley murky a lot in the summer.


I paused by a familiar church on the way back.  It's a place I remember well from a very humbling day some years ago on which I failed the "written" (i.e., computerized) portion of the PA motorcycle test because I was too cocksure that I'd studied the book well enough though I knew I hadn't.  My plan was to nail the test and trade in the 50cc Piaggio for the BV250, but after I flunked the test I couldn't swap the smaller bike for the bigger one because to ride the 250 I'd need a valid PA motorcycle learner's permit and I couldn't get that without first passing the test.  (Anyone can ride a 50cc in PA with a regular driver's license.)  I was passing by that same church on the day when I failed the test to take a phone call and remember well the shame with which I admitted to my caller that I didn't pass the test and couldn't get the bigger bike.  Now whenever I pass that particular landmark I often pause for a bit just to remember the taste of humble pie that I gorged on that day, I guess just to keep myself in check lest I get too big for my own britches again.


When I checked the odometer after parking under the deck at home I discovered that my trek was 4 miles over the 100 mile mark.  I hadn't taken a ride of this length in quite a while but today was an excellent day to have done so.  The weather was perfect, the traffic light, and my spirit in the proper frame of awareness to have enjoyed every mile of the trip.  All too soon the days of ice and snow will be here and I'll find myself looking out the window and longing to take a ride like the one I got in today.  Hopefully my pictures of today's venture will keep the smile on my face then.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Another Feather in My Helmet


I truly was going to go downstairs to get a turkey feather (from my turkey feather collection, of course) and stick it on my helmet to get a picture that would match the title of this post, but it’s hot, my legs are tired, and I’m almost ready for a nap.  Thus with much less visual fanfare than I’d hoped I present this post in honor of my having ridden the Piaggio 19,000 miles so far.  


I was pulling into my Mom’s driveway when I looked down and noticed that I was only nine miles short of the milestone, and the sky was darkening.  With thunderstorms on the way I cut my visit with Mom a little short so I could get in the nine more miles before the sky would open and drench me.   I rode about four and a half miles away from the neighborhood (Mom only lives two blocks over.) and then turned around and eventually crossed the Susquehanna to get to a relatively flat residential area where I knew I’d be able to pull over exactly as the odometer crawled over to mark the new record.  It was here that I officially marked the achievement.  


 As always, when I cross off another thousand miles, I take a few pictures of where I was at the time so when I’m decrepit enough to ride little more than a rocking chair someday, I’ll be able to remember where I was and when I was there to knock off another thousand miles.  
 

Looking ahead now to 20,000 miles!





 On a sadder note that has nothing but everything to do with my riding a scooter, my beloved Aunt Betty left us two weeks ago.  It was her husband, my Uncle Andy, who I mentioned in my very first post, who first introduced me to scootering when I was still of pre-school age.  He and his brother-in-law had rented a couple of scooters just to ride on around the valley, and he gave me a ride on what I remember as a gorgeous emerald green classic looking model.  We didn’t go far, but it was an awesome ride to me, and for all my life, till I was in my 40s, I hung onto that memory as one of the best of my childhood.  All those years later, it was a huge factor in my deciding that I wanted to get a scooter. 

Uncle Andy died in 2002, and for the past 14 years Aunt Betty longed to be reunited with him.  Yes, she knew what the price of that reunion would be, but still she knew that she wouldn’t really be happy again until she was back in his arms.  When my dad, her brother, died in 2012, she wanted to be with him too.  As she was dying all I could think of was how happy she’d be.  I was sad.  I cried when I realized that I’d not see her again in this lifetime.  Moreover, though, I rejoiced in the unshakable faith that she’s exactly where she wants to be. 

Two weeks before she was taken to the hospital from the nursing home where she’d lived for the past year after breaking a leg and never really recovering her ability to walk alone, we took her to her home for one last visit before putting it on the market.  She, my sister and mom, and my cousins shared a last meal with her there, and afterward I posed for this picture with her, the last in which we’d be together.  

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.  May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.  Amen.



And just like that I got home from my next ride and there on the grass was lying a blue feather.  Into my helmet it went for the picture I'd intended at the beginning of this post!

 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Impromptu Snack Time: Yank's Franks


It was my pleasure a few days ago while scootering through Ashley Borough here in good old Pennsylvania to come upon this simple sign on the right side of the road directing my attention to the establishment on the other side.  Although my speed allowed me only a quick glance across the street, my eyes were quick enough to catch “Chili Dogs” on the curbside sign.


Having just gobbled down a couple of McDonald’s sausage burritos less than an hour before I wasn’t hungry in the least, but the promise of sampling a new chili dog was sufficient for me to promise myself that I’d stop in Yank’s Franks for a quick sample on the ride back.


I rode to where I’d intended, a spot where a main road was being detoured to see what in bloody blazes they were working on that required the closure and then retraced my ride back to the small restaurant where I’d hoped to tickle my taste buds on something new.  Stepping through the door was like taking a step back through the portal of a time machine.
 

Absolutely unassuming, the place delighted me at first glance.  There was nothing fancy except for the computer on the front counter.  From behind the tall counter in the back of the place a voice like the Wizard of Oz’s rang out asking me what I’d be having.  I ordered my single chili dog with extra yellow mustard and had a pleasant wait while the gentleman behind the counter (presumably "Yank") finished the order of the guy in front of me and then tended to my need for a new dog.


As I waited I asked the wizard if I could take some pictures for my blog.  Though he declined being in a photo, he welcomed me to take as many as I’d like of the place.  I snapped a few shots of the walls apparently “decorated” by satisfied customers, got my dog, paid my buck fifty-nine and proceeded to the outdoor seating area, a set of stairs leading to what appeared to be a boarded up doorway next door.


The weather was perfect and as I sank my teeth into my afternoon treat I drank in the beautiful day, the sunshine, and the voices of kids happy to be out of school and walking home from the bus stop with science fair type tri-fold cardboard displays clutched tightly.  The dog, with a red sauce based chili, was positively delicious!


With my dog in my belly I snapped a few more pictures of the outside of the restaurant and headed back to the scooter.  The proprietor, seeing me getting ready to take off called through the open door to ask me what I thought of the dog.  I thought it was very nice that he was hopeful that my snack was to my liking, and I was thrilled to tell him that I thought it was excellent with my assurance that I’d be back for more.


If you happen to be motoring through Ashley, PA someday, stop by Yank's Franks and treat yourself to one terrific chili dog.  You can tell Yank that Joe who writes the scooter blog sent you.  He might not remember me, but I hope it'll put a smile on his face just the same.