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.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Form vs. Function: My Scooter is My Horse

When I was in the first grade, I remember a day when the nun went around the room near Mothers’ Day asking each of us to name something our mothers did for us.  While I awaited my turn listening to each of my classmates’ typical responses of, “My mother washes my clothes,” and “My mother cooks my food,” and so on, even then at the ripe age of six or seven I had a flair for wanting to offer an answer that would be unique and that would put a big smile on the nun’s face.  (I think of the scene of Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” handing in his composition about what he wants for Christmas and imagining his teacher writing an “A” with many pluses as his grade.)  Unfortunately I don’t remember that day and my answer to the nun with stark clarity because she was so tickled with my response, but rather because of the deep shade of scarlet that my face must have turned when I felt it burn with shame when I offered, “My mother cleans up my toys for me when I’m finished playing,” only to have the good sister scowl at me and strictly admonish me that it had better not happen again because it was MY job to clean up after myself.  Well, according to the nun it was. 

What I leaned that day was to hide the fact that I’m lazy and would gladly let others clean up after me, and I continued my already firmly established habit from the primary grades in school of being a slob for most of my life. 

I got away with “preferring function over form” at home because despite the nun’s embarrassing me in front of my 49 classmates, Mom kept right on cleaning up after me.  Till the day I left Mom and Dad’s house to get married every now and then Mom would turn my bedroom upside down and I’d get home from class to find everything that she expected me to put away stacked in layers on my bed.  That was the closest to doing my own cleaning up that I ever came.

I never had to worry about having a messy classroom for most of my teaching career because I was mostly an elementary science teacher, and a cluttered science room was a sign of a lot of learning going on.  Dirty test tubes and beakers and such scattered in layers just added to the charming ambiance and proved that I wasn’t only lecturing about science but rather getting the kids involved in doing science.  And I was the only guy on the faculty most of the time, and guys seem to get away with being slobs more than ladies do.  Sometimes I almost think the gentler gender half expects us to leave our things lying around, and I'd hate to disappoint them.

My daughter and my student, Angela, clearly enjoying one of our classroom dissections of a relatively fresh fish.  That the fish parts likely stuck around until they were shriveled and literally stuck to something probably wasn’t one of my clearer assets, but neither did it bite me on the ass.

I’m still not treasured for my keeping things at hand (I’m better at euphemizing than I realized.) but the Mrs. isn’t either and as long as there isn’t stuff growing from the dust on my junk, my clutter doesn’t oft get me into too much trouble.  I’d like to show you a neat little nook from which I do most of my writing and such, but the truth is I still sit amidst bunches of things that I might just need at any minute when I’m here at the PC.

My computer corner.  I can easily put my fingers on hundreds of things if I need them, from fingernail clippers, to screwdrivers, pliers, ointments, magnets, cables and patch cords, et al. without exerting more effort than it takes to rise from my chair and extend an arm.

What does any or all of this have to do with scooters?  Plenty.  I realized only today after making a run to the pharmacy, and after having attended the Whiskey Dick scooter rally last weekend, that my Piaggio is my faithful steed rather than my Rolls Royce. 

At the rally there were dozens of slicked out shiny bikes to see, most of them well kept and buffed up for us to admire.  Although numbers of riders might have had them loaded to the gills with the accoutrements of travel while they were on the road, they were of spartan decor lined up in the lot.  The last time my scooter look as good as most of the scooters there, was on the day that I brought it home from the dealership.

It’s always a lot of fun to check out the other scooters at a rally, and many of the riders take a good deal of pride in the appearances of their bikes which are forms of aesthetic expression as well as utilitarian means of transportation.

My scooter is my horse and it gets me to where I want to be much more economically than the car, especially around the city where I often have to make short runs to pick up various things and to get to appointments of varying kinds.  Sometimes I just like to take it out for a "gallop."  Either way nobody will ever mistakenly call me a Nancy 'cause they're not going to see me sitting around figuratively brushing my little horsey to make her coat shine.

Cluttered with the crate and different means for attaching things so they don’t bounce out or off, my scooter is strictly functional.  I don’t much care how it looks because I don’t have it out there to win any kinds of prizes for its appearance.  No, I don’t abuse it, but neither do I spend hours washing and waxing it like the forty-something who never grew up across the street who spends more time making his trucks and cars shine as he does drinking and being ornery, all of which he does very well.


The bag hanging from the mirror bars by a bungee cord ensures that my stuff from the pharmacy will get home in one piece and dry even if we happen to encounter less than stellar weather on the ride back.  Nope, it’s not going to win me any “best dressed” awards for the Piaggio, but it does its job perfectly.

If, in the end, my kids dump a bunch of my “stuff” in my casket with me because they think I’ll be happier with it throughout eternity, good for them!  And good for me in as much as any post-mortem continuation of self consciousness would deem it to be a good thing for me to have it with me and to know they thought enough of me to think I’d be happier with it. 

Note to self...  Give some thought to being cremated, having my ashes placed in the space beneath the scooter seat, and then having them bury the whole enchilada!  Wait!  The Piaggio is Italian...  The whole cannelloni!  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The "Whiskey Dick" Scooter Rally

It was a pleasure this weekend past for my sometimes pillion rider, Susan, and me to spend some time with friends and the great folks at the “Whiskey Dick” scooter rally sponsored by the “Middle of Nowhere” scooter group in Stroudsburg, PA.  Though we weren’t official attendees spending the entire weekend there, we felt most welcome after I wrote to Adam, one of the head honchos in the Middle of Nowhere group, asking if we could spend some time visiting and he extended a gracious invitation for us to come down for as much of the rally as we wanted to include dinner on Saturday.

There are always plenty of curves at a scooter rally that are guaranteed to catch the eye and put a smile on one's face!

Although we spent a lot of our time with our friends, the Marshes and Mitkowskis, we also got to say hello to other scooter acquaintances and to meet some great new folks as well.  If you’ve never been to a scooter rally, it’s hard to describe one.  Everybody is very friendly, cordial, and welcoming.  When you shake hands with a person you’ve never met before it almost feels as if you’re with a long time friend who’s known you for years and is welcoming you back rather than greeting you for the very first time.

This is our friend, Carl, who first introduced me to the joys of riding in and being a part of a scooter group, with his son Carl IV.  He belongs to a wonderful family in which his parents, and his sister and brother-in-law, are also scooterists.  Carl and his wife, Megan, were married at the scooter rally that they hosted two summers ago, and it was our great honor to be present and to share in their joy.

There was no traditional gymkhana at the rally, though there were “races” of the sort where it seemed that nobody was genuinely competing while running the course, but simply having fun, and since fun is the point of the whole event, that was just fine.

Though not really competing in any way I could really make out, the riders in the "races" all seemed to be having a blast.  I've never run in a gymkhana nor any other kind of scooter reindeer games 'cause I figure that my athletic ineptness would show, even on a scooter. 

We were tired and needed to leave before the raffle was going to be held so we gave our tickets to our friend Jen and wished her luck ‘cause she was hoping to win a full face helmet which was known to be one of the prizes.  Imagine our thrill when we saw a picture of her wearing the helmet on Facebook along with her thanks to us for leaving her the tickets.  It always feels good to help a friend and we were most happy that she won! 

There isn’t much more to chatter about, so I’ll finish with a few favorite pictures from “Whiskey Dick.”

Some folks travel remarkable distances to be part of a scooter rally.  These guys really impressed me by coming down from Boston!  I'm not sure if they rode or towed their scooters, but either way they spent a good number of hours on the road to get here.

Scooterists represent a neat cross section of humanity, coming from all sorts of different backgrounds but blending together seamlessly in the spirit of shared interest and enjoyment.

Trish, on the left, celebrated her husband's and daughter's birthdays with us at the rally.  I'd post a picture of him too, but with where he had the party balloons, I'm not sure that he'd appreciated the recognition here.  That's Carl's wife, Megan beside Trish.

Here are Susan, Jen, Rich, and Barbara camped out to enjoy the "races" and visiting with other scooterists.

Eric on the left and Adam on the scooter were among the organizers of Whiskey Dick.  Congratulations, guys, on a job well done!

It's always a lot of fun at a rally to check out the various scooter makes and models that are represented and to get photos of the different rides on display.

There's Bill Viney, owner of  Scoot Carlisle in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, having some fun on his "horse."

Did I mention that there are always a lot of fun curves to check out at a scooter rally?  Oh, I believe I did.  Hehehe.

A great time was had by all, including this old geezer!

Our thanks to all involved for organizing a great event and for welcoming us to be a part of it!