Saturday, April 27, 2013


One little hatchling has made an appearance. Not even strong enough to cheep, just lift its little head. Hope momma comes back with food soon! Oilburner is thinking of going to buy some worms...


Monday, April 22, 2013

Out for an Excursion, Though Not a Ride

It was beautiful riding weather this past weekend. The temperatures were perfect near 72F, wide blue skies, slight breezes light enough give you a whiff of the blooming flowers. And we didn't ride.

Of course, people are constantly telling us that there is more to life than riding. I guess I have to agree with them, but that doesn't mean that I always want to do much more with my life than ride.

This weekend was a change. There has been some crazy stuff going on in life lately, and it was a wise idea to have a relaxed weekend and just take the 4 wheeled vehicle some place.

Years and years ago we learned of a place in Alabama called the Unclaimed Baggage Center. This is an interesting business paradigm that purchases the unclaimed baggage that the airlines are not able to get back to their owners. (You can read about the process on their website.) They have discovered some unimagineable items in luggage they have purchased, from African Tribal Breastplates to live snakes. They purchase the bags, catalog and clean the contents, and put them up for sale. (This is legal as the airline has already reimbursed the bag owner for the lost luggage.)

We had never traveled there as it was on the cusp of a day trip vs an overnight. It is about 3 1/2 hours away by car, one way. When we had puppies, I didn't want to subject them to us being gone for that amount of time. So we never went. Of course, by the time we lost our beloved puppies, we had forgotten about the place.

We were reminded of it a couple weeks ago when some friends wanted to go. Again, we agonized over making it an overnight trip. But truthfully, there isn't anything in Scottsboro, Alabama that one would want to see, other than Unclaimed Baggage. Going there for just that seemed a waste of a good weekend. (Though there are a couple of good roads on the way, just add another 2 hours to the trip to get to them.)

We also had to question if we should ride or drive. Riding would be more enjoyable, but the saddlebags are only so big. What if a canoe had come in that just had to come home with me?

Well, we decided last weekend was the one, and instead of staying in Scottsboro, we would hop over another hour to Chattanooga, TN for an overnight trip. Now, to ride or drive? As much as we would have enjoyed riding, we wanted to relax and spend some time together.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center was interesting. At one time it may have been an hodge podge type place where you could uncover some phenomenal deals because someone didn't know what they had. With the popularity of the internet, ebay, and amazon everything can be discovered quickly and can be priced competitvely. Though deals can still be found on items that are not mainstream yet and people don't know what to look for. (Case in point, our friend found a bluetooth headset attached to a charger. It was placed in with all the chargers on a large peg board. For his knowledge of what the item was, and his eye to actually spying it, he would never have seen the $140 bluetooth headset that was priced for $16 amongst the hundreds of other chargers.) However, for iPad's and iPhones, they darn well know the market price for those and price those items accordingly

Not being a big clothes shopper, or handbag user, much of the place is lost on me. Though even I could see the attaction of some name brand handbags for $2. I am just more attracted to electronics. The bags and bags of chargers wasn't appealing, as I had no interest in sifting through them, so I sauntered over to the camera counter. There were oodles and oodles of point and shoot cameras, mostly just slightly used looking. I love seeing the rows of colorful cameras all lined up like little soldiers. But my passion lay in the DSLR cabinet. You could take your pick of Nikon or Canon. I can't tell you what Nikon models were there as I'm not up on those, but there were plenty of Canon's with many Rebel models well represented. Yeah...unfortunately my eye was captivated by the 7D...

We also went to the Lodge Outlet, makers of fine cast iron cookware. I am a firm believer that all women should own a cast iron skillet. For self defense. ;) (No pictures, I don't know what is with me and my missing camera lately.) I did happen to purchase a skillet for pancakes and a couple jars of jam.

Our only form of sightseeing was this cool bridge in South Pittsburg, TN that Moose thoroughly enjoyed. Moose was less than thrilled to see the Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station. Though it has never produced any electricity and has been sitting for more than 20 years, even supplying spare parts to other reactors in the area.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hosting a Few More

Back in December and January, Oilburner and I had the great fortune of hosting Rogey of All Things Rogey delight.  We had a great time getting to know Rogey in person, showing him parts of the US he hadn't visited before, and watching him take his first fledgling ride on US roads.  His concern was getting accustomed to the opposite road rules here, and if he could overcome them.  (Like I have any doubts.)

Well, today we are hosting a few more guests, but they will be staying a little longer.

We have a screened patio attached to the house.  For the most part, it has been extremely effective at what it was designed to do, keep bugs out.  In some cases it hasn't been so effective at keeping things in.  Case in point, the first time we had some friends over with greyhounds that had never encountered screens before.  One of their pups decided it would be easier to use the screen opening rather than an actual door.  I mean, they had to wait for the door to be opened, after all.  (Luckily the screen was old and ripped easily.  That instance has given us hours and hours of amusement.)

Over the years I have replace all but one of the screen panels.  Our lawn care folks are making it necessary to focus on getting that done, as they didn't care that their weed-eater shredded the bottom of it.  Tsk, tsk.  Replacing that screen hasn't been on my high priority list as it has been winter and we don't have too many little bugs yet.

We've had the occasional bird manage to get caught in the screen room over the years.  Not sure how they were able to get in.  Probably something to do with those replaced screens.  So we weren't too surprised to find another bird in the patio room the other day.  With the rip in the one screen, and the loose, ripped panels in the doors, the place is far from impregnable.

When we started comparing notes though, we realized we had each been seeing a bird on the patio, separately.  I opened my eyes and really "saw" the patio in all it's messy glory, outside of the yellowish green tinged everything was colored from the pollen, besides the 10 year old breaking down patio furniture, in addition to the "wonderful, useful" items that we had procrastinated in taking to Goodwill (and was now caked with pollen), besides the rolled up hammock standing on end...

Wait a second...  There's a birds nest tucked into the end of the hammock!  What the...?!?!

Some little birdy had taken it as great fortune with multiple passages into our screen room, and made a little nest that was home to a little egg.  We were concerned we had scared mommy bird away since we hadn't seen her in a couple days.  We didn't need to worry long when a look the next day revealed 5 eggs.  Hmmm...

Arriving home last night I was greeted with a little head popping out of the nest inquiring about my passing.  She seems very calm though with our comings and goings for now.  Lucky, since her little nest is about 6 inches from the hinged side of our back door.

Here's a poor picture.  I don't want to completely intrude.  :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easing Into Spring

Spring has come in.  Yay.  Blessedly beautiful weather and temperatures for a couple days does wonders for my personal outlook on life.

Last week showed us winter was still trying to hang on with evenings near freezing.  However, the temperatures warmed up and the rain cleared out to produce the iconic spring weekend.

Oilburner has been traveling for three weeks, and was happy to be away from work.  He actually hatched a little plan to take the travel trailer out and go camping.  I would hear nothing of it, since I wanted to go riding.

We had thought an overnight someplace might be the ticket.  But talked ourselves out of it late Friday night.  Instead, we decided to take a day ride on Saturday with a friend that we hadn't ridden with in a very long time.  That just left us with the necessary evil of deciding where we wanted to ride to.

Cherohala Skyway between Robbinsville, NC and Tellico Plains, TN is always a big hit.  However, there was a landslide on the parkway over the winter that had taken out a good portion of roadway.  Repairs had been underway enough that one lane was open.  But Cherohala Skyway in a day is an ambitious plan, and not necessary in my mind for a leisurely opening season ride.  So I talked the guys into a scenic mountain ride to stretch the proverbial legs.

Oilburner and I have taken a few rides in the lowlands of Georgia, but it has been a very long time since we have done much in the twisties.  It was a startling realization of how little we actually have ridden the last 6 months.  The GS had its 6K service just prior to the trip to Maine last year.  That put 4K miles onto the clock, and I haven't yet finished up the 2K to the next service.  The R1200R bike has only seen a couple thousand miles as well, since it hasn't gone in for a service either.  That really pointed out how little riding we have done.

Country road curves are one thing.  Getting back into the serious twisties is quite another, when you have been away awhile.  So I urge you all to do a little warm up and practice before just wiping the dust off the bikes and hopping into the thick of things.

I found I had one major hang up that is going to require some time and practice to get back over.  I've never really enjoyed tight left-hand twisties.  In the South that generally means beautiful views off into some valley...with only trees and rocks to obstruct any forward and downward movement.  I can envision all too well my bike and I sliding off the road and tumbling down the hillside.  (Right curves are much easier in my mind as I still have another "lane" on the other side of that yellow line in case the bike slips out.)  I know, stupid thought process.  But it is what it is.

I had been able to overcome that in the past and taken many a spirited ride through the mountains with various and sundry people trying to keep up.  Not so today.  Today I had reverted back to my "learning" days and had totally psyched myself out.  There were even a couple curves that I just stood the bike up and "walked" my way around. (I.E. no leaning.)

We stopped to discuss my issues and thought about some back aches that I have.  (I carry my work stress in my upper back and neck, and my left shoulder had been paining me.)  We wondered if I was being "tender" on my shoulder and not really performing the necessary moves to lean to the left.  I also figured that I was following our friend and his style was messing with my head.  It's normally just me and Chris, and we take turns leading.  That maybe our friends rhythm was messing me up since I wasn't looking through the curves at my exit/vanishing point.  I found myself fixating on his rear tire, or just behind it.

After lunch, we hit tighter twisties that didn't thrill me.  I had already warned them I was taking it easy and just riding within my comfort zone.  I would catch up at the next turn.  Oilburner worries though.  So when someone caught me up from behind I agonized over letting the Jeep pass, knowing Oilburner would be beside himself if a vehicle were the next thing to come upon him, rather than me.  Luckily I didn't have to worry too much as I was able to keep enough ahead of the Jeep that I didn't feel pressured.  And Oilburner had stopped a couple curves down the road.  He thought I was much further behind than I was, and he was worried.  (AAAWWWW!)

Having the guys out of my sight did wonders for me.  I wasn't having to watch Oilburner nail the corners (which I did yell at him for, knowing we both needed a little warm up before going whole hog into twisty mode), and I didn't have to watch our friend and his strange ways.  (He rides a Harley VROD, what can I saw about that huge rear tire...)  I was able to concentrate on technique and go my own speeds.

So all you out there that are dusting the bike off from its winter slumber, I urge you to take a little notice of fit and feel when climbing back on board.  Think that a little parking lot practice might be in order, with a few road drills coming in handy prior to hitting the roads as if you have never been away.  Muscle memory will account for a lot.  But a little warm up is always necessary.  :)

Happy Spring.  Safe Travels.  Hope to see you on the roads this year.