Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell 2010

With temperatures in the mid 40's this afternoon, I had the pleasure of ending the year with a scooter ride. It was of usual length and I rolled along familiar roads, but it was a good ride in that I sat atop the saddle with that typical grin I wear when I'm on the BV, God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world.

I had one of my favorite, old cameras with me, having fixed its broken zoom function a couple of weeks ago with a few tiny pieces of electrical tape bridging the gap between the external button and the functional spot on the PC board that needed to be filled. I'd missed using it because I never really came to love the Olympus that had taken its place while it was in dry dock. The Oly tends to shoot dark and, as with all of the brand, has a difficult time focusing in low light. As you can see, the old one still does nice work, subject matter notwithstanding.

Before I took up the pen (i.e., took a sip of soda before starting to type here) I gave my posts here from 2010 a second look, poring over some in their entirety and skimming the others. Most noteworthy right up front was that I wrote just a little more than half of what I wrote last year in terms of the number of posts. I'm not sure why that was though I suspect it's because when I'm most serious I tend to clam up. This year, with only its few hours left, had more than its share of seriousness with which to contend, and the issues that were faced were not the of sort which I chose to share here. I didn't feel disappointed in myself for writing fewer posts. I wrote the ones I felt like writing when I was in the mood to write and in doing so I fulfilled whatever it is in me that gets its due when I crank out something I like. And I knew there wasn't anybody out there pouting over his coffee on the many days when I had nothing to share here. If I felt that anybody was hurting on the days that I didn't or couldn't produce anything, I'd shut this whole pony show right down completely 'cause it would have become work rather than a labor of whimsy.

My life would be much easier if I weren't a hopeless Romantic of sorts. My perception of pathos is painfully remarkable. As I took up the camera this afternoon and caught this scene through the viewfinder, all I could think of was that the scooter looks so sad being at the picnic grounds in the winter to see all the tables bare and alone inside the pavilion. Where are the people and balloons and plastic forks and knives? Where's the laughter, and frivolity, and camaraderie? How easy it was to "blame" the scooter for feeling these things when I knew that I was merely finger pointing, but with my own heart contending with closing another year of my life, it was just better to pretend it was the BV being so darned pathetic.

It was in August, just as school was about to start up again that I wrote, "All too soon Halloween will come and after that things will rush by. Thanksgiving! Christmas!" And here it is! Christmas vacation is almost over and can the telltale signs of Spring be all that far off? By shifting my own position and point of view and moving the scooter just a few feet backward, the view is now one of joyful anticipation.

Once again, the wonder of anthropomorphism paves the way for all sorts of emoting. Now we see the scooter "looking out the window" and thinking ahead to the days of warm sunshine and merriment in abundance.

It looks ahead, into tomorrow, into 2011, with childlike glee. As do I!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

To whomever finds himself here and celebrates Christmas, may you have a most blessed, peaceful, love-filled Christmas with those whom you love.

I was dreaming of a dry Christmas and got my wish, so although I had nowhere to go except to Aunt Betty's to cut her ham I just had to take the scooter out on Christmas Day for no other reason than because I could.  Anybody noticing those few extra seconds of daylight in the past few days?  Me neither, but wait till they start adding up!

Merry Christmas!  God bless us, everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Under a Week Till Christmas

A week from this very minute, Christmas 2010 will be over with a hasty tip of the hat to those folks who believe that it goes on for 12 days. When all the pretty paper is in the garbage and the fun things with which it was wrapped are out in the open, when the turkey is gobbled, when the stars come out and the tree lights are turned off with a heavy heart, it's over. But, for now, take that morose preamble and stuff the turkey with it because Christmas is still nearly a week away and I'm in an unusually festive mood this year. The short days and long nights are nearly at the turning point. I haven't had to miss a day of school because of rotten weather. Most of my shopping is done. Tra-la-la-la~LAAAAAA~la-la-la-la!

It wasn't a good thing when my baby (who'll be 21 in a few weeks) came down this morning and begged off on going to the early Mass in hopes that by the time the later one rolled around her migraine would have passed, but her having done so afforded me the opportunity to think for five minutes about if I wanted to go out in the bitter cold (20 degrees F.) on the scooter, and to ride for the hour or so after pondering it. The air was crisp and clear and the ride itself most invigorating! I knew where I wanted to go for a change, so off I went.

I blame my being Slovak for the somewhat passive/aggressive attitude that at times doesn't allow me to be happy unless I'm to some degree miserable. It seems that we're all that way here on this little piece of the planet where my great grandparents settled after that long ride across the Atlantic. I went to the county park that I often haunt in the summer, knowing full well that the gates would be closed for the winter, simply to pose the bike in front of them like some little dog waiting for the back door to open so it can make a mad dash to the yard. I set the BV on its kickstand and took some pictures. I made a phone call. I sucked in the fresh air. And as I paused there I realized that I wasn't miserable at all about its being winter with its cold, short days and long nights and occasional slop of weather because I was generally wallowing in the omnipresent realization that Christmas is just around the corner!

I'll concede that I don't appear to be smiling in this picture, but I can assure you that on the inside ol' Ebeneezer's heart was beaming to beat the band. Upon further inspection I realize that this is a lousy shot all together. I appear to be storing some nuts in my cheeks and my spider is more than a little off center. So much for composing a shot and posing for it without seeing what the camera's seeing through its viewfinder. On the other hand, if you were trolling the 'net for beauty you wouldn't be here, and if I were seeking to provide you with any more than a brief slice of my life I wouldn't be frolicking in front of my own camera. Frolic? Did I just write that? I don't believe I've ever "frolicked" for a second in any of my 52 years. I don't believe I have the frame for it. But, in any event, did I mention that Christmas is less than a full week away and that I'm taking great delight in knowing it?

Doesn't this just scream CHRISTMAS! somehow? Even without the holly leaves, somehow red berries make me want to break into a chorus of, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," every time. The little flakes of frost make the berries look like tiny ornaments. If I were pretentious enough (and not so tight with a penny) to have any of my photos blown up into big prints and hang them on walls, this is one that I'd definitely consider putting on display.

And almost as if Somebody was reading over my shoulder and sprinkling even more Christmas my way... This, just in! I broke writing between that last paragraph and this one to go to the 10:30 Mass rather than the 8:30 I'd have gone to if my daughter hadn't awakened early this morning with that headache. Father Mike was the celebrant. (He's also a biker and an amazingly cool dude.) After Communion I was looking over the church bulletin, in particular the schedule of Masses for Christmas, and felt my dander rising. With my daughter's work schedule I knew that she would want to go to the 4:00 Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and it's the last Mass I'd have wanted to attend because one has to get there around 3:00 just to get a seat because half of those Catholics who never go to Mass the rest of the year will be there in all their Christmas finery. When Mass this morning was finished Father Mike hit me up on the stairs starting with, "You can say, 'No,' if you want to, but..." I had the, "NO!" already poised on my lips when he continued with, "...would you consider being Santa at the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve?" If you could have seen my face you'd have seen the Grinch do that eyebrow thing that tells that he's up to something most devious. My answer to Father was, gesturing to my daughter, "If you guarantee us two seats that we won't have to come early for, you got it!" I'm Santa!

Now then. Where was I? Oh, yeah... After I left the park I headed back to this side of the Susquehanna River with my fingertips nearly so frozen as to make grabbing the brakes and applying sufficient pressure a little iffy. Every other bit of me was warm enough, but even with the thick, leather gloves the tips of my fingers were starting to get more numb by the minute and mile. I needed to stop at the ATM which just happens to be along the river bank itself which afforded me this peaceful scene.

The trestle spanning the river is the very same one that brings the Norfolk Southern freights to the track that runs behind my house and is known as "the gauntlet" to the trainmen who run the trains over it. Imagine being the conductor who has to walk the length of the train should it "go into emergency" and stop. No railings. No footpath between the ties. Think snowstorm. If heights aren't your fancy, as they aren't mine, the mere thought is dizzying, and I, who often digress, have done so again but without apology because I'm pleased to be writing something while full of Christmas glee.

Behind the bank is an access road that leads to the riverside bar of a local watering hole. The bar is jumping in the summer, but now the whole area can do little more than wait for the slow climb of the thermometer. The emptiness of the area afforded me the opportunity to ride the scooter right onto the "dance floor" and get this reflection of your host who's always reflecting here in one way or another.

Finally, this clever shot of the front tire of the bike along with my wish that if you celebrate Christmas but haven't yet been bitten by the spirit of the season, you'll soon feel some big teeth urging your butt to embrace it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Betty's Lights

Today was the day for the annual putting up of Aunt Betty's Christmas lights. The job doesn't amount to much work - stringing a set of lights on each of four small bushes and the attaching of a wreath to the front of the house, but it's a tradition just the same. Every year I moan about doing it because whenever I drive past Aunt Betty's house on the days leading up to Christmas the lights aren't usually turned on, but I know that the year is coming when there will be no more decorating of the bushes so ever year with a heart a bit heavier than it was the year before I put my moaning aside and do the lights.

Aunt Betty lives only a few blocks away so in spite of the freezing temperatures the lights were a good excuse to give the scooter a little exercise. It didn't fire right up, but after a few tries it was purring and chomping at the bit to get rolling. When the lights were done I ran downtown to circle the public square and then headed back to the house. I might have stayed out longer, but without the helmet with the face shield - well, I underestimated the cold yet again. I'll hope for a few more scoots in between the nuisance snows and freezing temperatures - maybe even a ride after the sun sets just to admire Aunt Betty's dark bushes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Broken Tradition

Though it had been a tradition only a few years old, yesterday the old Thanksgiving ride to the cemetery was cancelled because of the lousy weather here. I still visited the family graves, but in the car, and while I was paying my respects I saw and felt the first snowflakes of the season.

As the day went on the snow got worse, eventually accumulating on the cars and soft surfaces. Though the roads and sidewalks still held sufficient warmth to stave off the build up of the falling flakes I was glad that I remained prudent and didn't take the scooter out. I might have been safe enough, but I'd have been riding scared and wouldn't have enjoyed the ride at all if I'd taken it. The forecast for today, Black Friday, fared better, so all in all I'm glad I waited to ride till this afternoon when the skies cleared and the sun reacquainted itself with Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Well, the sun's light that is; its warmth was a different story. A bit of wind made the mid 40's feel a bit nippier but still pleasant for a much needed escape. I'm glad the TSA guys who feel folks up at the airports don't do random checkpoints on streets and highways or I'd have been a sure candidate for the full body search looking like this.

Not wanting to venture far from the house lest a turkey induced nap suddenly demand my attention, I visited a few of my usual summer haunts. First was the park where I occasionally blogged with the laptop a couple of summers ago. As I walked around looking for a decent picture angle, the BV reminded me of a little kid wistfully longing for admittance to the locked playground when viewed from this vantage point. It wasn't alone in that feeling as I contemplated the cold, dark, relative solitude of the many winter nights to come between now and when we'd be on the other side of the diminishing daylight and the current school year would start winding down.

It was nearly one of those perfect moments when I paused to snap the next shot. I watched the wind induced ripples rush toward and around me as the small stream bent past the spot where I stood and for a few seconds the illusion of apparent motion overtook me so that it seemed as if the water were standing still and I was flying over it. The voice of the one I love kept me warm as we chatted through the headset to which my phone was tethered and I held on to the feeling of flight for as long as I could. It lasted for only a few seconds, but the feeling was exhilarating and made me even more glad that I'd ventured out for the ride in spite of the chill.

Back at the house it was time to peel off the layers. With the hair atop my head clipped short enough for "helmet head" not to be much of a concern, the beard makes up for it. While I was riding I could tell that the beard was being bent at all angles under the face mask part of the hat and I was glad that I didn't need to stop anywhere where I might terrify little children with the resulting grizzled mountain man look.

If I'm lucky and the forecast for the weekend holds up through Tuesday when I have to head back to work I'll manage to get in a few more glorious rides in the golden sunshine. For now, though, here comes that nap...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Quite Ready

In my nearly 30 years of teaching it had been my usual experience that a school year slugged along at a gastropod's pace until Halloween, and after that the speed increased exponentially with each passing week until the end was rushing at me seemingly too fast for me to get done all the things I'd hoped to accomplish. This year, however, has been clipping by at a fast pace from the first day running. I have to hope that somebody won't hit the brakes along the way, particularly in the spring when the days off are sparse.

Except for when there are sound reasons to take the car I've been keeping my pledge to myself to take the scooter to and from work every day. It's getting very brisk in the mornings, but so far the three mile run from the house to the school has been bearable without the visor as long as I keep my ears covered. Another ten degrees and I'll need the helmet with the visor, but still I'll hope to keep running the bike till the slippery stuff comes and sticks around.

I suppose now that mid autumn is here I'm ready for it. I don't like the early dark at all, but I manage to get by one day at a time with that feeling that nearly compels me to stay in the house after the sun sets. I'm still using the grill to get supper ready as often as the choice of meat warrants its use, but it does take something out of the experience when the sun is already down and I'm not sitting beside the grill with a beer while poking at the meat with a long fork or tongs, but rather running back into the house to get warm for a few minutes before seeing if it needs to be turned.

The Halloween Jack o' Lantern is still around for Thanksgiving, but it would seem that some of the little woodland creatures have been enjoying him in bits and pieces. God bless him, though, he's smiling through it all even when I'm grumping around in the house at 5:30 lamenting the cold and dark.

Fall has its occasional perks, I suppose, like this shot of a lone leaf impaled on the rake. I think it's a pretty good photo, suitable for hanging in some professional office where some decorator's pretentiousness leads one to believe that doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, and the like have decently cultured tastes. Not that they don't, necessarily, but do they really buy their own prints for their office walls? What can I say? I'm always the skeptic. I digress, but if you spend any time here other than in this visit, I know you're neither surprised nor disappointed.

And the "not quite ready" part? Christmas!

Oh! I love Christmas, to be certain, but in its own time and not just at the end of the whole Hallowthanksgivingmas season that the retailers have created. I think I could be happy enough with a well placed and properly timed sprig of pine, with a pine cone or two remaining upon it, a red and a green glass ornament, and a big, red bow. A neatly wrapped present or three, a seasonally scented candle*, a few carols on the "Victrola" (iPod docked to the stereo), and I'll be like Tiny Tim chanting, "God bless us, everyone!" all around the town with enough joy in my heart to make the new and improved Ebeneezer Scrooge appear to be still the piker he had been and the Grinch his nasty old self.

Welcome Christmas! Za ho ra moo...

In another month!

* ( I believe whoever invented those "fresh linen" scented candles should be strapped to the exhaust hose of my next door neighbor's clothes dryer for a few good cycles.)

Friday, November 5, 2010


Here we are on the verge of turning the clock back that hour that's going to make night fall much earlier for the next four months or so.  Seasonal affective disorder, here we come!

Once the sun sets the day is essentially over for me.  It's not that I can't go out in the cold and dark; I just don't feel like - not even in the car.  I eat supper and usually climb into my pajamas only to watch the clock crawl down to bedtime.

Oh, I'll fight that inclination to throw the towel in on the day as much and as often as I can, but when all is said and done I'm often vanquished by the proverbial towel and zonked out on the couch during Jeopardy.

Here's hoping for a fast, mild winter!

Monday, October 25, 2010

His Last Scooter Ride

I'm bummed...

I just read an article on CNN about a girl they're calling, "Hiccup Girl," who it seems gained some fleeting fame with a case of incurable hiccups with which she suffered for an unduly long time. It would appear that she's in a whole heap of trouble now, like facing a first degree murder charge, for luring some poor slob she met online into a trap in which she and two accomplices robbed and then killed the guy.

It was almost laughable until I read that the victim rode to the ambush on a scooter. THAT really upset me. I'll need to be extra careful now when I'm scootering out to get together with strangers I meet on the internet!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Autumn Day

One of my favorite uncles went to school (Public school! Egads! At a time when everybody else went to Catholic School) in a building that in its day housed kindergarten through grade twelve all under the same roof. Now the corporate headquarters for a local company, it sits atop a knoll nary a block from the house in which I spent most of my formative years. I have to have driven past the front of that building tens of thousands of times in my many years of living in this same neighborhood in which I grew up, but until this morning while seeking a quiet place from which to make a call after church, I never ventured into its parking lot nor got a peek at its other side. I was stunned by its simple elegance and tickled in seeing something new, yet so very old, so close to my family home.

After lunch I took off in earnest to enjoy the beautiful day on the scooter. I passed by another old building here in the north end of the city - this one somewhat infamous in being the sweatshop in which I worked during the summer of my sophomore year of high school. I swear, that summer in the shoe factory inspired me to make the most of my high school and college years not only in studying so I'd not have to work in a place like that all my life, but in savoring the freedom of being a student and not having to earn my own living quite yet. No longer a working factory, the building is still home to a local business but its appearance is far removed from being the once proud factory in which many hard working folks earned an honest day's wage that could support a family.

Over the river and through the woods and I found myself at one of my usual haunts, the county sports complex. (Okay, not really through the woods.) Every year as the winter ever so slowly yawns itself into grudgingly showing some hints of the coming spring I look for the usual signs - a few tiny crocus heads peeking up from the sweet smelling soil, the buds aching to pop open on the pussy willow beside the deck in the back yard, and the gate to this park being unlocked and thrown open wide. I often visit on nice winter days, while the gate blocks the road into the park proper, and heave a heavy sigh upon seeing it there with its PARK CLOSED sign telling me that I'm once again being presumptuous in my wishful thinking.

The last leg of my trip took me west where old animal and Indian trails that carved naturally through the mountain that forms the western wall of the valley have become the roads we use today. While meandering up a twisty to where I was headed I noticed another cycle on my tail in the rear view mirrors. Usually I'm the one on the bike riding like a newbie, slowing noticeably where the twists get wicked, so it was with some degree of puzzlement that I noticed that I was out pacing the bike behind me. When I turned onto the side road that would take me to the picturesque setting I was riding to, the other bike followed me, and when I arrived and pulled into the parking lot I was even more surprised to see the other rider still behind me.

I rode to the far end of the lot, dropped the kickstand, and started unzipping the camera pouch when I saw the other rider park about midway through the lot near a stand of colorful trees. Only then did I notice that the other bike carried a passenger too. They both dismounted and took off their helmets and when I finally noticed their shapes and saw their long hair spilling down over their shoulders I realized that they were two young girls. I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw the cyclist take out a camera and shoot a picture of her bike with the pretty trees as a backdrop just as I was getting ready to do the same. The girls walked down to the water's edge and sat on a bench to enjoy the gorgeous view that autumn's paintbrush had created.

It was with regret that I decided not to approach the girls and engage them in conversation about riding, and photography, and whatever else might have come to mind. Had they been middle aged I'd have had no qualms about striking up a pleasant chat and passing some time with folks who seem to enjoy some of the same things that I do. Sadly, though, we live in a time when kids have rightly been taught to be wary and cautiously suspicious of old men with cameras. My own daughters would describe a guy like me as a "creeper" if he just came up to them and started yakking away so I wasn't going to make the day any less than perfectly pleasant for the young ladies who'd ridden in behind me. I kept my distance. I took a few pictures, savored the unique sensation of warm sun and chilly air, thanked our Maker for the scenery, and headed out.

Oh, how I hope I'll remember to look at the pictures I take on days like this one when the worst of winter is upon us and I'm feeling cabin fever to a degree that seems like it might make me hemorrhage!

I realized on today's ride that I write a lot here about the seasons - their unique offerings - their changing from one into the next. I mark and write my life, it seems, by their coming and going. I like it that way. Their coming anew each year keeps me looking forward to something all the time. Well, except for winter, perhaps. After that first dusting of snow on a windy, cold, dark night those crocuses can't bloom soon enough!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Doodle Head

"Last minute Joe!  You have to do everything at the last minute!"  I remember my dad growling that at me once when I was burning the midnight oil to get a term paper done.  To be sure, he was right; I always waited till I was down to the wire before starting on things I had to submit for a grade.  (For the record, I generally got A's.) I can only imagine the choice words he might've had if he'd checked out my college notebooks in which I doodled more than anything else.  I'm an auditory learner.  As I insisted to more than one professor, it only appeared that I wasn't paying attention.

The current blog header here features a doodle I worked on for a few days, adding to it now and then when I had a few free minutes.  The full doodle takes up an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of standard tying paper.  I guess I'd better add it here as a picture because when I change the header this post won't make much sense...

My scooter rides are a lot like my doodles.  Just as the pencil or pen tip moves toward no seeming particular end, so does my front wheel turn more often than not to take me in a direction in which I'm not necessarily  planning to go.  And, when I put down the stylus, just as when I park the bike, I can look back with a bit of a smug smile and take delight in what I've done or where I've been.

I took the BV in on Tuesday for its annual inspection plus an oil change, and to have the drive belt replaced 2,000 miles past when it was due.  I dropped it off without making an appointment because the weather was supposed to be lousy all week (which it was) and I hoped they'd get it done within a week or so.  They called on Wednesday to let me know that the drive belt would have to be ordered and that it should be ready on Friday or Monday.  I figured that with my typical luck what would translate into them calling next Wednesday.    I was wonderfully surprised when they called today, Saturday, to let me know that I could pick it up.  As soon as I finished my lunch I ran down to get it!

Though it would have been a nice day to ride I'd already made plans with others to head to an apple festival at a not too distant orchard.

A paper on which to draw.  A crisp apple.  A scooter ride.  Being loved.  My needs are simple and I wallow in their fulfillment whether manifested humbly or with fanfare.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's So Hard about YIELD?

My dad - I love him dearly, but he has this pontificating tone of voice that makes me want to smack him sometimes, especially when he's totally wrong about something yet making it loudly known that he's the only one who's right.  "I always come to a complete stop at a yield sign!" he barked some time ago in that unmistakable basso profundo that implicitly insists that you do the same.  A decent argument ensued between dad and the rest of us about how it's not safe to stop if there's no reason to because the guy behind you, having no logical reason to expect you to stop if there's nothing coming, might plow into the caboose end of your car.  But, there's no convincing dad.

That's one wrong action to take around a yield sign - to stop completely when there is no traffic impeding one's entrance onto a road.  But there's another practice that drives me even more batty - folks moving from the driving lane into the passing lane to "be nice" and allow the guy coming up to the yield sign free reign.  

Now I'm not against being nice while driving.  I like it when somebody cuts me a break at a long traffic light and motions for me to turn left while he holds up the oncoming traffic piled up behind him.  Likewise, I often do the same for others and am often presented with the opportunity to do so when entering my own street which abuts such a busy intersection.  

What I am opposed to is having some dimwit cut in front of me as I'm zipping along in the passing lane to allow somebody to enter from the on ramp while slowing me down in the process.  I had that happen to me a number of times in my travels this past weekend which is why I'm bellyaching about it here and now.  Sure, the guy who's moving over is being nice to the person coming onto the highway, but it's at my expense!  And, it's gotten to the point where folks almost seem to expect everybody to move over for them without their having to observe the spirit of the yield in the first place.

How about from now on we all do what we're supposed to do at a yield?  Stop only if the steady flow of traffic on the main road warrants a stop, and go when it's safe to go without expecting everybody already on the road to move over for you.  Or would that make too much sense?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mildly Moist

I shot this picture last week when I got to work.  I'd left the house on the bike not realizing till I'd made it to the street from the back yard that a light drizzle was falling.  At that point I wasn't about to trade the cycle for the car so off I went hoping for the best.  I didn't get too wet and that was very good 'cause I'd've been miserable all day if I had.

I just remembered now, on Monday evening, that yesterday afternoon while I was out riding just for the fun of it I had a great idea of how to tie this photo into an introspective discourse to share with you here.  Unfortunately, that's all of the memory that came back to me and I can't recall what it was about being wet upon which I'd wanted to expound.  If it comes back to me I'll rush back here and type it up.  For now, though, all you get is the picture and my admitted chagrin.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

10,000 Mile Milestone

When I left the house this morning I thought it would be sometime later this week that I'd see myself crossing the 10,000 mile mark on the BV, not at all thinking that I'd turn it over from all 9's later this afternoon. I headed north toward Scranton along the back roads with no particular destination in mind. I remembered when I got to Pittston that just yesterday I posted here about being out on the bike with short pants and a tee shirt and commenting about how the weather doesn't at all abide by the seasons, and I stopped there to take a contrasting picture of myself today clad in long pants, a flannel shirt, and a jacket.

When I got into West Scranton I headed east on Lackawanna Avenue and headed down into Steamtown. It wasn't until I'd parked the scooter to blab a little on the phone that I noticed that the line of old locomotives that used to grace the parking lot was gone entirely. I sure hope they were moved inside to be worked on and not just to keep all of the good stuff in the fee required area of the park. Why do I so effortlessly suspect the Fed of having moved them inside the complex just to squeeze an extra dime out of us?

At least they had one steam engine up and running complete with the bells and whistles that allow me to close my eyes and remember when an occasional iron horse still ran through downtown Wilkes-Barre, sometimes on a Sunday morning when dad was driving grandpa to the church where he was the organist and I went along for the ride. The very best of those Sundays were the ones when I got to see a train and chomp a still warm slice of rye bread from the bakery on Market Street.

From Steamtown it was back to the house for a lunch of haddock and halušky, and then a cat nap before running over to the school for a short ceremony. It was after that when I glanced at the odometer and realized that the big rollover was well within reach and after I thought about the weather forecast for the next few days I knew that if I didn't do it today it might not be till Thursday or so that I'd be able to reach the milestone. And so I headed for the hills, quite literally running up a road that climbs a mountain and heads out to a section of the boonies not all that far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. I completed the circuit that brought me back to the foot of the mountain from where I'd made my ascent, glanced at the odometer, and promptly ran right back up the mountain to make the same run again and put me darn near close to the big turnover.

It was with a modicum of calculation and a good degree of luck that I managed to drop the kickstand exactly on the 10,000 mile mark in a place where stopping to get some pictures of the happy occasion would be easy. Not only did I land off the road as the dials turned over to the exact number, but I managed to do it in a pretty spot with some flowers in the background too!

And here it is! At 3:50 PM I completed my first 10,000 miles on the BV! The inset shows the first picture I ever took of the odometer when the scooter was just a kid.

At about 65 miles per gallon, it took around 154 gallons to get me here. In a few weeks I'll celebrate the third anniversary of the BV's homecoming. I don't know if 10,000 miles in three years is a little or a lot of riding compared to the average two wheeling bear's travels, but for me it was just perfect!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

First Autumn Ride

If you saw my last entry about the last ride of summer, there I was last weekend in jeans and a flannel shirt.  Ironically, here I am for the first long ride of the fall, but in short pants and a tee shirt.  I swear when I was a kid the seasons knew their times and places.  Back then it seemed that summer and its oppressive heat ended on that last day of summer vacation, and when school started the next morning, the temperatures were in the 50's where they were supposed to be and I was wearing a jacket.  It wasn't too many years ago that I remember taking a picture of a lone rose blooming on the bush at the foot of the back stairs two weeks before Christmas. I'm ready for autumn to get here with the colored leaves and all that, and for it to stick around already!

I set out this morning when the girls, both of whom are here for the weekend, were still in bed.  By the time I'd gotten ten miles out of the city that first cup of coffee was ready to escape and it was while tending to that that I decided where I'd head for the remainder of the morning before scooting to mom's and dad's for lunch.  I ended up having the breakfast snack I'd picked up on the potty break in a cemetery somewhere between Glen Lyon and Mocanaqua that I visit now and then simply because it's wonderfully peaceful there and a nice stop on my way south.

When I got to Mocanaqua I crossed the river to Shickshinny and retraced part of the route I took last weekend.  I'd remembered passing by a boat launch access road last weekend, but I'd been rolling too fast then to stop because the traffic was somewhat heavy and the road kind of appears out of nowhere.  Today, though, I had US11 to myself and I noticed the access road with plenty of time to slow down and make the right turn.  There were a good number of boat trailers there with it being such a beautiful day and all.  The sun was shining, the river was calm with only a breeze stirring the surface gently, and the only thing missing was the color show on the trees which were still mostly green.  I plan to head back when the oranges and reds pop out because the setting will be perfect for some delicious autumn pictures.

I was going to make mention of "Indian Summer" up there and then didn't in case there are some who'd lament that I didn't call it "Native American Summer," but then, after writing Mocanaqua and Shickshinny, it doesn't make much of a difference because the Indian heritage of the valley is inescapable with the Susquehanna running its length, punctuated by places bearing the names that its original citizens gave them.  Though my ancestors all came from Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s there's a warm connection to the valley's native citizens who forged the trails which are now our main roads.  When I'm out in the middle of nowhere on the cycle enjoying the natural beauty of this little piece of the planet I sometimes imagine that it's not all that different than it was a few hundred years ago when the valley's original settlers savored the same sights that grace my own eyes now.

Between then and now, when I'm miles from the house with nothing around except what God Himself made, only my horse is a little different.