Sunday, December 28, 2008

Putting 2008 to Bed, Almost

When the roofers left last week on the day before the snow was supposed to start flying, they moved the jack supports in the alley alongside the house so I'd be able to get the snow blower out to the front sidewalk and back. What a good decision that was on their part because if they hadn't I'd not have been able to get the bike up to the street from under the deck, and with the high temperature in the 60s today and most of last week's snow gone, it would have driven me batty if I couldn't have taken a long spin today.

It was a great day to ride! I got back only this morning from a trip which began on Christmas evening, and even as I came west across I-84 I could feel the call to get back on the scooter which had been idle for one day short of a month. The roads were perfect except for the huge mounds of plowed snow, like this one at the far end of our street, which might not disappear entirely until sometime in late March or early April.

I had ridden for nearly an hour when I looked at the time and realized that our baby, home from college, would be ending her shift at the nursing home in a few minutes. I texted her to ask if she'd like to take a ride with me, and I'd hardly pocketed my phone when her affirmative reply arrived. I was across the river but near the bridge, and I got back to the house just as she was getting out of the car from work. We took off after she changed her clothes and we rode for almost an hour and a half going nowhere in particular.

Though we don't talk much when we ride, I enjoy my daughter's company immensely when she accompanies me like this. I know she's having a good time back there, and even if it's not the kind of interaction two persons usually engage in when they're spending time together, I like that we're doing something together nonetheless. Too soon she'll be out of school and starting her own life. I don't want to keep her a baby, but I do plan to savor what time we have left to do enough dad and daughter things to remember fondly in the years to come.

I think when I ride. I think long, and hard, and deep. In 2008 my wife and I discussed some potentially life changing possibilities. I thought a lot about them, especially today being in the kind of pensive mood that usually overtakes me when another year is about to come to an end. Too often such mental meanderings lead me back to Frost's rider in the snowy woods on a dark evening with promises to keep and miles to go before he sleeps. And even as I roll through the miles, I wonder - how many more to to, to go, to go before I sleep?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

White (for) Christmas

The white stuff officially arrived yesterday to bless those folks who think a white Christmas is worth having. I'll take a green Yuletide over the white variety every time because a lack of snow doesn't need to be shoveled nor blown. I'll admit that snow has the potential to look pretty like here on the deck planter...

...but on the street, pretty it ain't!

And when snow on the ground means that I'm grounded from riding, Bah Humbug!

The construction stuff you see beside the covered scooter? They started putting a new roof on the house last week. It's half done and here's hoping those tarps up there stay put before the next round of 2 - 4 inches arrives overnight and tomorrow.

There's some silver lining behind a snow day, however, and that would be the girls being home and baking Christmas cookies. Even better is when I get the first samples from the oven!

I don't know, with the hustle and bustle, if I'll be back here before the big day to post a Christmas wish, so if I don't here's wishing everyone who reads these words a very merry and blessed Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate the day itself, I hope something about the magic of the season will touch your heart in in a special way.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Class Reunion

Susan, a dear friend who now lives in western Pennsylvania, asked if she could borrow me to be her date to her 30th high school class reunion back here in the east. It was last night, Friday the 28th, in the Poconos and I was thrilled to accompany her because I never went to any of my own reunions and always wondered what they were like. It was a magical evening. The Sycamore Grill in Delaware Water Gap provided a lovely setting and a delicious meal. I haven't heard a live band since dee-jays took over at providing music at parties and the guys in the Who Knows Band who were cranking out the tunes for the evening gave us many of the songs with which we grew up. Though I was a stranger to all but Susan, I felt like one of the class. Everybody she introduced me to was super friendly and graciously welcoming. I even took to the dance floor with Susan a few times though I dance like I have two left feet.

Marty, one of the classmates, made this banner of all the folks who sent in their pictures. That's Susan, two heads down from the leftmost part of the "W" in the black V-neck.

I got back this afternoon, having spent the night at Susan's mom's house, and headed out on the scooter to the new Price Chopper to get some shrimp and scallops for supper.

We needed a new Price Chopper like we need another flood. The old one was friendly and small. We knew where everything was and it made for a quick shopping trip. The new one's in an inconvenient area with more traffic and it's so close to the Wegman's that it's practically copied from that it simply wasn't built to accommodate us, but rather to make the store more competitive. No doubt P.C.'s going to hang onto its lease at the old location to prevent another supermarket from moving in and make the whole plaza into another dry gulch like it did across the river when it closed its old location and built a new store not far away. I detest businesses that are all about themselves with little regard for the folks they pretend to "serve."

Tomorrow's forecast calls for a wintry mix of precipitation so the scooter will stay under the deck. We'll be taking our baby back to school anyway, though, so there wouldn't have been much opportunity to ride even if it were to be warm and sunny. She brought a girl home with her for Thanksgiving who lives too far away to have flown home just for the long weekend. She's a wonderful kid and I love being her daddy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Last Saturday I got a call from our elder daughter's boyfriend of four years, asking my blessing for him to marry her. I assented happily; he's a good man (for having put up with her for her entire college career, among other things). I didn't know he was a romantic. He proposed by serving her breakfast, her favorite meal of the day. The scene even featured a squirrel, her favorite animal. They drove up earlier to show off the ring even though they weren't supposed to visit today because they're going to the Eagles' game tonight. We're all very happy and excited.

I took my second annual Thanksgiving ride this morning. The temperature was a few degrees shy of 40 so I suited up with long underwear and my new ski mask face saver and headed out at around 8:30. As I did last year, I went to the parish church cemetery where all four of my grandparents are buried along with many of our distant and close relatives and so many of the people whom I remember from church and the neighborhood from when I was growing up. On this day of giving thanks, especially, I'm mindful of the gratitude I feel for their having given me a childhood worth remembering. I don't "visit" them as my parents are wont to describing what they do at the cemetery. Rather, I simply remember and quietly whisper my thanks, confident that somehow the Lord communicates to each of them my sentiments.

My cousin and her husband left this Thanksgiving card for her daddy - my mom's brother Joe and my godfather. He left us when my kid who got engaged today was still in utero and I miss him still, along with all the others who gave my life a richer color once upon a time ago.

I rode to the nearby state park which is one of my favorites for fall photos, but this late in the season with the deciduous trees barren, it's just a place at which to pause and to ponder. Our baby, home from college, worked at the nursing home this morning, and if she hadn't been at work I'd have taken her with me for the ride. I miss having somebody behind me enjoying the ride as much as I do.

I did two things on the bike today that I'd not done before. Having no idea what possessed me to try the first stunt, 'cause I'd never even thought of it before, I stood up while riding down a flat, easy section of road. Though I didn't dare to stay on my feet more than a few seconds at a time, it felt fairly awesome to do it. I don't know that it's illegal. The drivers of local delivery trucks (The milk man, the rag man, the huckster, and Pauly Wender, the baker, to name a few.) when I was a kid often drove from stop to stop while standing.

Riding into a parking lot to turn myself around inspired my second novel maneuver. As I rode in a circle to bring myself back to where I'd entered the lot I found myself exhilarating in the lean which was steeper than my usual easy turn around a corner. I kept the turn going through a number of tight circles and practically laughed aloud because it felt so neat.

A Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bit and Piece Riding

Yes, I've been riding, but not the sort that one blogs about. I've been zipping here and there on short trips when I can, avoiding the freezing temperatures and the dangers of black ice at night and more or less using the bike to get around than to joy ride. I did make it out over the past weekend for a while just for the sake of riding, but not on as long a trip as I'd have made if the weather had been nicer, and not on the sort of ride that I'd take off the gloves for in order to snap pictures of where I'd been 'cause I'd not been anywhere particularly nice in terms of scenery.

I do wonder about riding on snow. I know there are some guys who do it, but isn't it horribly slippery? I don't even like driving on snow with the car so I don't see myself giving the white stuff a whirl with the scooter just to say that I did it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Riding Again

Nothing beats a weekend without rain in the forecast for riding these days, but precious weekend hours are all too short before another work week looms on the horizon. Hopefully it'll be a quick week. After parent conferences tomorrow afternoon and evening I'll have Tuesday off to recuperate and to start packing. I'll be taking another road trip next weekend, though in the cage, to visit my friend in western Pennsylvania. I love my mini vacations out there once a month or so. They're rejuvenating!

If you've heard of North American Warhorse, they're practically in our back yard, and after having driven by their facility many times on the interstate I finally paid them a visit on Saturday. The place is immense and the stock of bikes, ATVs, and other fun vehicles is amazing to see.

We walked the perimeter of the place to check out the many accessories from body armor to boots, gloves, overalls, hats, carry bags. You name it, and they seem to have it. I picked up this fashionable piece of headgear that almost makes me look like I'm gearing up for battle in the Crusades rather than for a ride in the cold.

That was on Saturday. Today found me at the Lackawanna County Visitors' Center with my scooter posed in front of the building under an ominous sky. Luckily the forecast of cloudy didn't amount to anything more than just that.

I also chanced upon this piece of corporate art near the Diversified Information Technologies building not far from the visitors' center.

By the time I decided to head back to the house I was getting chilled to the bone and before I actually arrived here I was quite cold. It wasn't near freezing by any means, but the cumulative effect of the lower temperature and the wind seemed to add up. I want to take the bike to the parent conferences tomorrow evening so I won't have to worry about finding a parking spot among the early bird parents who'll be lining up to see me before I even get there, but thinking about not riding home in the relative warmth of the Neon cage nearly has my teeth chattering already.

Monday, November 3, 2008

All Souls Day

I was a terribly neurotic child. Monsters were everywhere and their favorite food seemed to be bad little boys. My parents and grandparents were quick to invent an appropriate ghoul of some sort who'd come to deal with my transgression du jour, usually after I was asleep by their telling. The boogeyman and the big bad wolf were the two creepers I feared the most, but anything scary sent shivers up my spine in the worst way.

My favorite uncle who also lived with us had this lovely image on the back of one of his record albums and I spent a good number of sleepless nights waiting for it to appear at the foot of my bed. Said uncle told me that this monster lived in the "Oakies" a wooded mile or so stretch of road not far from our house that separated the north end of our city from the south end of the next town and even in my teens when I drove at night to visit my best friend on the other side of that drive I raced as fast as I'd dare pump up dad's Fury II so as to be out of the forest before it or something worse would pop out from between the trees to even the score for something I'd done and for which my conscience bothered me.

I've spent most of my adult life thumbing my nose at the things I used to fear almost pathologically as a kid. Last night, on "All Souls Day," a day which an aunt once described as the day on which "the souls wander," I took a long ride after dark past a number of cemeteries which I'd not have been caught near as a kid even in broad daylight never mind after nightfall. I even rode through the Oakies to get to a few of them.

As a good Catholic schoolboy I whispered the "Requiem" as I rode slowly along the wrought iron fences that seem to enclose all of the older graveyards here, asking the Lord to spare from eternal damnation the souls of those who were laid to rest there, and surprisingly I felt an odd sense of peace in realizing that I was beyond that time in my life when the sight of lone red vigil lights glowing in a cemetery would have had me shaking with an irrational but substantial fear. If a wandering soul might have approached me from within the gates I believe I'd have met it with a bunch of philosophical questions I'd want answered about the other side.

It's not only the good magic of childhood, like the kinds that come with Santa, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, et al, that get lost when we grow up. The bad magic of imagination disappears too. The comparatively small fears and irrationalities that gave live some pizazz fall by the wayside just as easily, and somehow I lament the loss of them as new and real fears like the size and shape of a mole or frequency of urination wait in the wings to take their places. Oh, to be a child again! Once upon a time grandma's back porch swing was my race car, my rocket ship, the locomotive of my train. I have a scooter to be all of those things now. It just might be the closest to reliving my childhood that I'll come - well, the good parts of it, at least.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Well Suited

It's that time of year now, when I have to consider whether the opportunity to ride is worth the trouble of putting on the layers of clothing that I'll need to stay warm. I went out this morning rather light of garb, and after stopping at the ATM across the river I stayed in the parking lot till I could pull the heavy gloves, the hat, and the scarf out from their hiding places. My fingers, head, and neck were warm after that, but everything under my jeams got rather cold in spite of sitting like a girl.

I hit up some of my usual summer places, but their charm isn't as charming now with winter breathing down my neck. Add to that the change back to Eastern Standard Time tonight and the earlier dark which will come with it and it's almost time to batten down the hatches and get into hermit mode till the spring thaw. Once it's dark I don't feel much like going anywhere, never mind taking the time and trouble to get myself ready to ride. Therein will be the personal battle I'll fight often for the next few months. I'll want to ride, but I won't want to go through the trouble to venture out in the cold and dark.

Last March I attended a meeting of the local chapter of A.B.A.T.E. to get a 'cycle safety sign for my tree lawn and when I first got there I feared that I had the wrong place and time. There were no bikes in the lot. After the meeting when we went out to the one guy's truck to get the signs I commented on that. He chuckled and said, "Oh, it's too cold to ride now." While I'm being lazy and staying home (and being miserable because I'll really want to be riding) I'll find some consolation in remembering that even the tough, cool, biker type dudes don't always venture out on two wheels when it's cold. Then again, temperatures in the 50s aren't quite freezing, are they?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anniversary Ride

Today I celebrated one full year of BV250 ownership by taking an anniversary ride to uncharted territory in the boonies. Well, okay, technically it's charted, but I've never been the kind to take off on roads that I don't know or haven't studied and today I did, ending up in a familiar place with a huge grin on my face when I realized where I'd come out from the unknown zone.

I headed north from home, along a road that runs through one municipality after another as "Main Street" through the length of each of them. I was headed nowhere in particular, as usual, but after a bit of riding and thinking I knew that I wanted to make a left turn past a familiar railroad yard. It would put me on a road that I'd explored many years ago, in the car, on the kind of ride where by sheer luck you land in a place that you recognize. I wasn't counting on such luck today and figured I'd just run the road to the first curious turn and then head back.

When I got to that turn, however, there stood a sign that I know wasn't there those years back when I ventured out that far. It promised that a turn to the right would put me in Scranton in eight miles. I had to take it if only to satisfy my curiosity because I couldn't imagine how it would take me there or where it would drop me off.

It was a winding road and after a short while I realized that I wasn't on a hill but that I was slowly climbing up one side of a mountain. With colored leaves falling all about me I felt almost giddy with a childlike glee I hadn't felt in ages. I wished that my daughter who's away at school was along, or the friend who visited last summer and rode around with me because I knew that each of them would have enjoyed this ride. Eventually I made it to the crest and started down the other side. It was exhilarating as I descended the opposite side of the mountain with just as many twists and turns as the ascent had featured.

At times I could see the valley into which I was descending, though I still couldn't tell where I was going to end up in it. There was nothing I could do but keep going and wondering while enjoying myself like I did when I was a little boy driving the fire engine that rolled along just as fast as my little legs could pedal it. The aforementioned grin lit up my face when all of a sudden I came around a turn to find myself at the entrance to a park to which I'd ridden this past summer, and even before then with the Fly 50. The park features the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour and the Anthracite Heritage Museum, and stands high above Scranton proper. I headed into the park and discovered an area near the museum to which I'd not ventured before. There's an old colliery locomotive on display there - just perfect for another shot of my little scooter juxtaposed beside something much more note worthily powerful.

You can tell that it's getting later in the fall because I'm back to using what I call the "Prissy Sit" on some of my rides. Typically in the warmer weather I ride with only my heels on the running board and with my knees wide apart to savor the cooling effect of the breeze on my legs. When it's brisk out, though, I'm quick to get those knees behind the body of the bike to let it do its streamlining job of whisking the wind around my sides.

Left - the summer sit. Right - the prissy sit reserved for when it's cold.

Well, it's Sunday evening now and I have the taste for another Sheetz French vanilla cappuccino. The perfect excuse for another little ride before putting another weekend to bed and getting in the groove for the work week.

Happy ridding, all!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

Sundays are made for rides and naps, and today was a perfect day for a Sunday afternoon ride at the nap's expense. I stopped at one of the local Sheetz stations to fill the Bubba Keg with French vanilla cappuccino (Apparently I'm hooked on them now.) and an old timer approached me to talk about the scooter. We talked for nearly a half hour with me answering his questions about the Piaggio and him telling me about riding a Cushman in '53 when he was in the Army. Before we said our goodbyes he told me about a road parallel to the one I was on. In spite of my having lived here all my life and having traveled the familiar road so many times, I never knew about the other one he told me about. Of course, I had to take it to where it doubled back to the familiar one a few miles up the line.

I found this lovely pair of what I assumed were his and her scooters parked in a driveway along the new road.

I paused at this familiar place later. The foliage still has something to be desired and I'm not sure if I'm being impatient this year or if the fall colors are deliberately waiting to emerge for some reason.

When I stopped here to get this pretty shot I felt an awful pang of missing my baby. The week before she left for school we rode down this road together and I remembered hunkering down in my seat so she could experience the wind in her face and the unobstructed view. She's doing well, though, so in spite of missing her, I'm glad she's having a great college experience so far.

All good rides must come to an end, and mine generally wind down with some view of the valley spread out before me as I ride back into it. Here's one I don't get too often because it's on the other side of the river, a little farther south than I typically venture over there. The railroad bridge is, unfortunately, out of use or I'd likely camp out there now and then to catch a big freight train coming across the Susquehanna.

Another work week looms. The rain which had been predicted for tomorrow is off so I can take the cycle to the all day inservice I have to attend. I hope it's a short week (Okay, they're all the same length, but you know what I mean.) because on Friday I'll be heading to Altoona to visit the famous Horseshoe Curve again. No, I won't be taking the bike out because getting there via the back roads would take too long, but I'm looking forward to the trip just the same.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Glowing with Pride

The bike is back from the shop, and after two days and a good number of miles it's not leaking. Yet. I'm afraid to breathe, thinking that as soon as I do I'm going to cause it to drip so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and turning a little blue.

I brought it back before supper yesterday and then rode a bit in the evening to give it a good run. When I stopped at Sheetz for a French vanilla cappuccino and pressed the button to work the electric latch so I could open the seat, I was miffed to discover that the button wasn't doing anything. I used the manual latch release and got the seat open only to discover that the inside light was out of its fixture and also not working. I popped the light back into place, but didn't really expect anything because I'd already suspected a blown fuse as the culprit guessing that the guys at the shop took out the bulb when they were working "under the hood" so as not to drain the battery and then accidentally shorted it out when putting the bulb back in place and forgot about it afterwards. Sure enough, when I removed the small side panel to access the fuse block, one of the 15A fuses was popped.

I hit up Wal-Mart after work today, got a pack of fuses, and much later, after riding all over the place, I finally made it home and replaced the bad one. Ta da! My first self repair job! Okay, so it's not really impressive, but for me, it's progress.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Boxed In

Other than the daily commute, I've not been riding much lately. Seasonal affective disorder seems to be coming early this year. I don't have a diagnosed variety of it, but I do seem to take a hit in spirit when starts getting dark so early as it's doing now around 7:30 PM. Though I enjoy riding around through the local municipalities in the dark, there's only so much road riding that cuts it. I much prefer cruising down country roads which seem to be going nowhere and taking a long time to get there, but in the dark those kinds of roads aren't much fun.

Besides, the bike's back in the shop. The coolant drip wasn't fixed after all and within two days of getting it back the last time, there was the stain on the concrete under it again. When I picked it up last there was no evidence of a leak under it where it was sitting in the shop's lot, but alas! Bringing it home seems to jinx it. I am getting disheartened and a bit disgusted, though. I like the folks at my dealer's shop and I understand that diagnosing these things is sometimes a crap shoot, but I don't like making the trip back and forth because the only way to get there is through the city and with the traffic lights and stop signs I could be 20 miles away on the interstate in the same amount of time that it takes me to get there.

We did our annual apple run to Binghamton, NY yesterday. It was a little early compared to most other years because our October weekends are pretty much booked already, and it wasn't the same without the girls, but it was nice nonetheless. There was a light rain most of the day and I noticed many fewer cycles on the roads than usual, even when it's raining. Gee! It's not THAT cold yet though I've been needing a jacket to ride lately!

Here I am pondering the vicissitudes of life at the rest area just inside the NY state border on I-81.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Night Rider

In having gotten the BV250 last October and not having had the opportunity to take the course which would score me the motorcycle endorsement on my license until May I was essentially a reverse vampire for over half a year in having to be back home each evening before sundown. With dark arriving in this part of Pennsylvania between 4 and 5 PM when the days are shortest, I didn't have a whole lot of time to ride anywhere after work. Add to the mix that I had to take my daughter to and from school on my own way to school every day and that I couldn't carry a passenger without the official "M" and I was even more limited. Factor in the bad weather days as well and my riding dance card went empty on a lot of days and even for a few weeks at a stretch when we were in the middle of "enjoying" the kinds of temperatures that melted the road ice by day and then froze it up again at night.

I like riding after dark not only because I can thumb my nose at the old limitation but because I find it uniquely peaceful. Yeah, there's the alertness that has to be a bit more keen when the sun is down, but overall there's a special kind of serenity I find in night riding, even now when it's chilly enough to need a jacket. The riding introspection that I wrote about a long time ago seems even deeper in the dark. I can't say that I'm figuring much out by way of personal philosophizing, but I do enjoy chasing after my thoughts as they lead me to wherever they're going. When I'm not so tired as to be falling asleep on the couch before Jeopardy's over, I'll be out and about by moonlight when I can be!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Short Line

I've been, for the most part, absent here since school started.  I've been productively busy with my school work and it feels good, but I still miss all the time I had during the summer to do whatever I wanted to do - mostly nothing.  I wish every working person could have the time off that I have each year.  Having done nothing else except teach since I got out of college, summer vacation has been a part of my life for nearly my whole existence.  I don't understand how most folks keep going week after week, year after year, with only a few weeks off now and then during which to rejuvenate and maintain their spirits.  I'm still somewhat lamenting the start of the new academic year though I've been back for three weeks now. Right about now in the first term is when I start getting used to it.  I hope it kicks in soon.

I rode this morning just for the fun of it - something I've not done much of since I started commuting on the scooter.  There in the middle of town, near what was once upon a time the right of way for three major railroads that ran through the city when my grandparents were coming of age, I found this engine just sitting there.

It belongs to the valley's short line that services a number of local businesses, and once a year it brings the Barnum and Bailey Circus into town.  The same set of tracks runs right behind my house and often enough I see this engine in service as it chugs up and down toward the various branches lugging boxcars and gondolas to wherever they're going. Crossing above this set of tracks out back is a main line leased by Norfolk Southern from Canadian Pacific and a number of long freight trains go through each day making the house rumble and never failing to touch my heart with their horns playing their distinctive diminished chords at jet engine volumes.  Working on the railroad always seemed like one of those romantic kinds of jobs to me.  Adventure!  Excitement!  Noise!  But, summers off?  Nah!

This old Casey Jones wannabe will stick to his BV250!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Well, I got the bike back after I came home from my mini vacation yesterday, but all I could do was park it and wait for today and its rotten weather to be over.

On my way to work this morning (in the old cage) it looked like Armageddon and when the skies opened up the rain fell in sheets.  When I got to the parking lot which was picking up rain faster than it could drain the wind made the whole surface of the lot look like a lake.

I hate being at the mercy of the elements.  I know winter's coming with its own bag of lousy weather stuff and I hope I won't have to keep the scooter off the streets for too long.  In spite of driving cars for over 30 years I feel way more at home on the bike.  A car is just something to get me from place to place.  On the cycle it's about getting there.  Well, when it's not raining, at least.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Western Pennsylvania Get Away Weekend II

On the road in Shanksville, Pennsylvania - The Flight 93 impact site.

Western Pennsylvania Get Away Weekend

On the road in Shanksville, Pennsylvania - The Flight 93 Memorial Chapel.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It's been since early spring when I took the scooter out of winter dry dock that I've had a very slow coolant leak under its middle. At first there seemed to be a definite correlation with my use of the Battery Tender™, but after I stopped topping off the juice for a while the leak started up again. I left the bike with the mechanic for a few days in May, but not a drop leaked out. Now, with the warranty about to run dry in October, I need to have whatever it is fixed.

The little puddles seem to form overnight when the cycle's been sitting the longest. This is about the worst that the drip gets.

Some mornings I find only a quarter sized spot and other mornings there's nothing at all. The coolant level is still near the max, so there's not a whole lot dripping out. Nonetheless, engines aren't supposed to leak, not even a little.

This might as well be an intestine for all I know about the underside of a motor vehicle, but you can see the greenish drip about to fall. The gasket it's poised under, though, doesn't seem to be the source. You can see that the black thing above it is all wet and I'm suspecting that the source of the leak is somewhere inside whatever the black thing is.

So, amateur mechanics, what do you make of it?

In addition to getting the leak fixed, I need an oil change and an inspection too. Speaking of which... I bought the bike last October and the inspection was due in April. I took it in then and had it inspected, but the new sticker was only good until October. They explained that it was because of how Pennsylvania doesn't allow motorcycle inspections in the winter. I'm still confused. Hopefully this time it'll be good for a full year.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Around the Corner

If you've ever heard of CBXMAN, they're only about three miles from here and I might have gotten a scooter from them if they'd been open on the Monday when I went shopping. You snooze, you lose. They didn't have Monday hours in their showroom and I wasn't about to wait another day because I had the go ahead from the Mrs. and I was ready to buy. I saw this full page ad for Cbxman in the local paper a few days ago and I think I'm glad they were closed that day when the good folks at Team Effort were ready, willing, and able to set me up with a bike.


These machines aren't exactly the name brands I see often on the scooter forums and I'm thinking they're better suited for guys who know what to do when they're up to their elbows in oil and grease than for guys like me who don't know how to do much more than twist and go. I've said it before, and I'll say it over and over again - a cycle is only as good as the available service one can get for it.

Now I don't know if Cbxman services the scooters they sell locally, but it's a moot point for me. They didn't get my business because when I was ready to shell out the dough they were busy doing nothing. Who closes down shop on Mondays except for barbers and bakers?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Would You Eat This?

Would you try eating this?

Being on two wheels for over a year must have made me more adventurous overall because there was a time when I'd never have tried to eat something that grew spontaneously from near the mulch bin in the backyard, especially when that something looked all warty. The plant that produces these fruits not only started to grow down past the tomatoes, but it quickly climbed and took over the fence separating our yard from the next. The fruits are plentiful so there was no way that I was going to let them go to waste if I could help it.

I researched gourds online and found them to be described as inedible not because of being poisonous or unhealthy, but simply because they're said to be bitter and unpleasant tasting. I cut one of these things open and sampled the pumpkin like flesh and it wasn't bad at all. We added a little bit of one of the fruits to our summer zucchini soup recipe and when we all lived to talk about how good the soup was we made another entire batch with just these yellow guys and it was equally delicious.

I still don't know what they are, exactly, but as long as they taste pretty good, we'll keep taking advantage of the bountiful supply of them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Road Calls

I went to a wedding reception in Bedford, Pennsylvania this past weekend as the date of a friend and because I went straight from home to the reception I got to the hall well ahead of everybody who was coming from the church in Berlin. I sat in the car looking at this scene while I waited for my friend and the others to arrive.

In front of the church in the picture is a road, and as I sat there many motorcyclists rode through the scene. There seemed to be an inordinate number of them compared to the number of cycles you think you'd see on a typical road on a usual day.

I don't know what it was about the road itself, but as I watched the cyclists riding past while I sat there in the old cage I felt as if the road was calling to me to ride it. There was just something about it that made it seem like riding it would be better than riding most other roads. It was an odd feeling. I know that given the right circumstances - like being on my scooter and not in a full suit and tie I'd have been out there myself running up and down this peaceful little stretch of western Pennsylvania and experiencing something that I knew would be sublime.

Although I'd love to post something here daily, I know that once school's in full swing next week that's going to be nearly impossible. I'll give it my best shot to post as regularly as I can even when the weather has me "grounded" and writing about any old thing that rides through my head.