Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March On Two Wheels

31 Mar:  We are anticipating a wonderfully (?) early start in order to enjoy a pleasant visit with Greg & Cindy at Windley Key tomorrow ... picnic lunch, walk in the woods and dinner at Islamadora Fish Restaurant on the wharf.   The manatees and Tarpons were huge.   Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  Thank you Greg and Cindy for a very lovely day.  They even waited at the state park gate which was locked after 6pm when we returned from the restaurant.  Tony the gatekeeper had left a nice note telling us to call  him and he'd come to open the gate so that we could leave.  Thank you Tony.  After Ron placed a paper napkin over a bolt and also disconnected the heating wires to the seat the electrical system stopped malfunctioning.  The bike didn't even catch on fire once.  We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale by 8:45 PM.  Tired!

30 Mar:  Ron found that a Blogpost app is supposed to make adding pictures a snap (pun indeed intended), but Cynthia managed instead to delete the entire March post.  Ron retrieved what you see by clicking on the Google cached search result for "Where is Ron."  Cynthia is pondering becoming board certified as a forensic genealogist by first taking a 14 session online prep course from Boston University; the course is pricey.

29 Mar:  Walking was hot.  We ventured to the Verizon store to determine a fix for adding photos from the iPad to the blog but left without a fix.  Ron found a 10 mm wrench at ACE hardware, and we enjoyed Smoothies at Smoothie KingCynthia posted several pictures including a couple of the alligators and complained that it was such a hassle to post pictures from her iPhone and iPad.  Isn't it just too strange that Google has begun making decisions very hostile to some of their most loyal users?  It must be that the principals and founders are no longer using Blogger or Google web sites or Picasa (which is now gone !!).  Too bad that they have idiots making idiot decisions now - probably lawyers or professional managers or professional administrators.

28 Mar:  Ft Lauderdale Marina: Ron rode to the Fort Lauderdale BMW dealer; this is their busy season, so they cannot make an appointment until a week from Thursday.  The problem had not appeared in the six miles to the dealership, so Ron rode north on I-95 for five miles and back to the hotel without experiencing the problem, so it may be related to the non-standard terminal block installed for Cynthia's heated Gerbings suit. Ron plans to buy a 10mm wrench and fix it himself.  Jerry and Judy invited us to their home for the afternoon, where we spent much time discussing the last time Ron was at their home (still unresolved).  Jerry and Judy emphatically recommended ubiquinol for anyone taking statin drugs (like us).  We all enjoyed lunch at Sweet Tomato.  Cynthia is overjoyed that her grandson is doing better.  We walked to Pelicans Landing for dinner but the salmon was a smaller portion and not as good as last night.

27 Mar:  Naples, FL to Fort Lauderdale, FL on old U.S. highway 41 south & east to 997 north (Krome Road) to U.S.27 north to FL 818 east to U.S. 1 north to the Fort Lauderdale Hilton at the Marina, near the beach and the airport.  The 110 mile ride was pleasant with some excitement upon seeing live alligators at the Big Cypress Swamp visitor center (adjacent to the Everglades).  Traffic was light and especially surprisingly light crossing Miami to Fort Lauderdale.  First priority is to get the bike to a dealer tomorrow.  We walked over the bridge to Pelican Landing Restaurant for a great salmon dinner with mango salad.  Mmmmm.  It was fun to watch a huge yacht docking next to the restaurant.  Ron will enter the Pritikin Longevity Center cardiac rehab program while Cynthia does a wellness and back therapy program.  Hopefully we will become longevitized.

26 Mar, Sunday:  Naples, FL, Sitting beside the swimming pool having a late lunch after a very, very lazy morning.  The weather is lovely.  After lunch we ventured forth on a  2 mile walk;  Jim and Joni called to let us know they are grandparents for the second time.  Cynthia's friend Annie dropped off a copy of the book Hidden Figures that was made into a movie about the early NASA  "computers" working behind closed doors (black female mathematicians).  Cynthia finished the book before midnight.  Cynthia's brother-in-law, Dr. Robert M. L. Baker, Jr., received the highest award offered by the space industry for his mathematical  research, but he was not familiar with these women.

25 Mar: Breakfast at Denny's with Vic and Nola in Lake Wales was followed by a visit to MIT alum Drew, BD and Beth and Jolly in Venice, FL  It was fun to see their new home half a block from the airport and three short blocks from the beach and to enjoy lunch beside the Myakka River.  Cynthia scarfed down key lime pie without sharing a bite.  On to an evening in Naples, FL with another Iowa couple, Dave and Annie at the Bay House Restaurant, right across the street from our hotel.

24 Mar:  Lake Wales, FL Visiting Cynthia's classmate from Iowa.  Vic is a medical doctor with great stories to share.

23 Mar:  Mexico Beach, FL - WooHoo! no helmet law. After a morning beach walk we will enjoy breakfast at the sunshine restaurant, then we pack for a charming Lake House B&B in  Inverness, FL.  We arrived on Gospel Island at the Lake House B and B about 7 PM after dinner at a nearby Ruby Tuesday's with a greatly improved salad bar.  Ron is remembering how spectacular a few of the stands of Blue Bonnets were in Texas; he revisited 16 March on the blog to do justice to them.

22 Mar:  Biloxi to Mexico Beach, FL.  We did decide to try breakfast at Beau Rivage, and it was excellent and excellently inexpensive - on half price senior Wednesday.  We started riding in too much traffic on old US Highway 90, but after 10 miles we left the traffic behind until switching to I-10 through Mobile, AL, where in the midst of the city, headed down into the tunnel, the bike "cut out" for another brief second or two with electrical warning lights flashing.  We continued across Mobile Bay, mesmerized by the view of all that water, and arrived in Pensacola where we spotted our favorite restaurant, Ruby Tuesday.  Ron called the service department at Wild West Honda, and Dan directed us to the Indian/ BMW/ Moto Guzzi Motorcycle dealership in Pensacola.  The address from Cynthia's i-pad on north West Street was not the dealership, but the clerk at that address suggested that we check the next block to the west, where we did indeed find the dealership.  The battery tested fine. Other than 51 fault codes, the service department found nothing wrong electrically, but we needed a new rear tire, and they had one and time to mount it.  That set our schedule back nearly three hours, and we departed about 5:00.  Then our luck changed, and it seemed as if we got caught by every red light until arriving at the El Governor hotel in Mexico Beach after dark at 8:30.  Imagine our astonishment to find the parking lot ENTIRELY full.  The sign on the door said, "Vacancy," and Cynthia immediately got us into room 427.  After pointing out the beautiful starry night sky, the recycler in our family immediately departed with recycling that had originated in Texas.  Today was a great day for granddaughters Lauren and Samantha, now both state licensed MA psych counselors.  When granddaughter Kira completes her MA next winter we will have 4 granddaughters with an MA in psych counseling.  Have a great day.

21 Mar:  Biloxi, MS is a beautiful white-sand-beach resort area with lots of casinos for the silver haired to spend their silver, except for us.  We don't gamble, and we avoid the smoke.   During a pleasant 4 mile walk along the beach we enjoyed conversation with a local dentist who answered questions about the partially destroyed piers - battered by Camille and Katrina.  And where is Beauvoir, former home of Jefferson Davis the CSA President?  It is 2-3 miles away on Highway 90; it is now the presidential library.  Nice guy, that dentist. with an apparent colostomy, who said his home has weathered all of the storms, yet  - "I have never had a bad day."  Our walk took us on a tour of the Biloxi Visitor Center, near the lighthouse; it is a reproduction of an original palatial antebellum mansion destroyed by Katrina.  (The lighthouse is cast iron; it survived Camille and Katrina.)  Between lovely homes along the beach highway are ever so many empty lots, spaces where homes once lived; Katrina was a killer propelling a 30-foot swell ahead of the storm.   Cynthia was mesmerized by beautiful watercolor paintings in the Visitors Center.   Beau Rivage is an impressive casino (and expensive), but our lunch took forever to arrive.  Lunch ended on a delightful note when an observant lovely lady came to our table and asked, "How long have you two been in love?" Aaaahhhh.  We are indeed in love.

20 Mar: On the road again! Biloxi, MS was a 150 mile ride that took forever just riding out of Baton Rouge due to construction and very slow drivers.  We enjoyed lunch at Don's Seafood in Covington, LA with notable Cajun items on the menu like Boudin N' Cracklins, pot boiling for crawfish, "Pastafalaya!"  How about shrimp and chicken QUESADILLAS?  Never never never use a because they take your money and don't allow modification.  The Hard Rock Hotel is home until Wednesday.  Ruth's Chris Steakhouse fed us a great Chilean sea bass meal without additional fat.

19 Mar, Sunday:  Baton Rouge, LA:  We met spring on 5.5 mile ride down the back highways and by-ways of bayou land; the views were lovely and jarring.  Louisiana doesn't have the flowering redbuds, dogwood, azaleas, lilacs that we enjoyed yesterday in north east Texas, but the bayous, trees with new lacy leaves, forests followed by miles of barren fields presented a constant kaleidoscope of change.  Poverty lives here.  Bleak, broken down homes, yards filled with trash, old cars and appliances speak loudly of lives without meaning.  Our cousin Pat joined us for dinner at the hotel.  Poor Ron could not find a fat free item on the menu.  Worse, Smoothie King had closed at 8:00, so Ron was out of luck, but the Subway was open, so he did get something to eat.

18 March:  We had a very nice day and colorful spring scenery on our ride today - except for the first 40 miles from Denton through McKinney = too much traffic, too many stop lights and quite warm weather.  Once traffic lessened and stop lights vanished, the ride was delightful.  We arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn near the Shreveport airport about 6 pm and walked to dinner at the nearby IHOP.

So, our plan is to get as early a start as we can tomorrow (without setting an alarm and after breakfast), so we should get to Baton Rouge mid-afternoon.  Ron has selected a route that stays off the interstate: U.S. 84 East to U.S. 371 East to LA 480 South (Cushotta) to U.S. 71 South to LA 1 South to LA 10 East to U.S. 61 South to I-110 South.

17 Mar:  Blessings on your St. Patrick's Day from the O'Beatty Family in Denton, Texas, where we are visiting cousin Dorothy, a gently fading centenarian   Ron gave his Williams Sound System headphones and microphone to Dorothy for her hearing disability, but it has not been helpful; he retrieved it in order to foist it upon someone who doesn't like hearing apparatus either (i.e. his beloved SmoochSmooch).  When Dorothy and Louise, her caretaker, "ran" errands, Ron and Cynthia went for a long walk in the park, Ron returned Cynthia to the hotel, and then he raked leaves from Dorothy's driveway until she returned.  Dorothy is distressed because her taxes aren't done, deposits aren't made, and because she falls asleep constantly.  She agrees that she needs to move more to help her stay awake.  Ron restored her "pedals" under the kitchen table (the cleaning people move those pedals and don't replace them).  Cynthia is now tired and it is time for bed.  Good night.

16 Mar:  We arrived in Denton, Texas.  Yes, Ron finished packing by 3:30, and it felt great to be on board the bike enjoying spring.  Wynn in England follows our routes: we rode west on highway 105 to 1774, turned north towards the iconic Texas town of Anderson, featured in many movies because of its antebellum courthouse.  Highway 90 north from Anderson brought us to interstate 45 north to Dallas.  Ron became very sleepy so we stopped at a white, rambling concrete block building with a big sign with Sam's Restaurant in bold RED block lettering and a parking lot filled with cars.  The salad bar and baked potato were indeed good, and they woke us up.  Today we passed through several fields resplendent in the verdant blue of the Texas bluebonnet.  At times the bluebonnets looked ever so much like bright blue, white topped mushrooms, and other times they looked like a blue carpet; just marvelous.  Then as sunset approached we entered into Dallas city traffic and were incredibly surprised by a spectacular sunset casting beams of light upwards from a blazing set of clouds on the horizon, leaving us ohhing and aahhing from Ennis to Dallas.  Cynthia enjoyed the marvelous Dallas skyline, recently named the most beautiful.  I should describe how weary we are, but I am too tired.  Good night.

15 Mar:  Yes, the 15th is upon us, but there is every chance that our "march on two wheels" will begin in earnest tomorrow.   We aren't sufficiently packed.  The Ides of March, the assassination of Julius Caesar, religious observations abound, and once called the devil's Birthday, it is the 15th of March, by golly.   Cynthia agrees Smooch is an adoring spouse and prolific wordsmith.  She has shipped a dress and shoes to Philadelphia for May 5; Ron is deeply concerned we haven't found navy blue pantyhose in size B.  The original Medtronic Pacemaker tester has been swapped for a small version that works with the iPhone.  Cynthia upgraded the OS on the MacBook Pro allowing the Garman GPS to complete the updated maps after a SanDisk micro SD card was added to the equation.  Ron still needs to: 1) pack hiking equipment to be sent to Jim Sweet for our AT hike in June; 2) sort fifty trillion pieces of paper for leaving vs taking with us; 3) scan and send the motorcycle service charges to Western Services Corp for reimbursement.  We are getting there!

14 Mar:  5 am on the appointed day arrived, and Ron arose to dress, eat a bowl of cereal w/ berries and ride an hour to Wild West Honda in Katy, Texas for the 18,000 mile service on our pretty, new BMW K1600GTL that we just bought last April in Sedona.  It has been a wonderful 18,000 miles, Thank God.

Temperature was 41 degrees, but the rain suit and the fairing cut the chill satisfactorily.  The full moon was spectacularly clear and Venus hovered just off her shoulder while a jet trail balanced the picture.  (YES, a jet trail in the night sky !!)  After half an hour, sunrise awakened gradually and beautifully.  It started in the rear view mirror as a pale rose below a clear blue which grew rosier and redder as the blue faded.  By the time the Grand Parkway turned south, the red was fading and the blue was gone.
 The plan was to park the bike in the service lot so that it would be cool when the mechanics began work.  Don't try it; that lot is gated to keep motorcycles in (or out).  A La Quinta hotel sign stood about a block away, so Ron walked there to inquire about the rates.  They are within our budget, $89 / night weekdays !!  The desk clerk graciously invited Ron to enjoy coffee or breakfast and allowed him to sit and sift through papers looking for his Western Maintenance Contract.  He thoroughly enjoyed the warmth of the hotel.  If we had known, we would have booked a night or two there to avoid the cold and the early departure.  We MUST remember that this La Quinta is our solution for appointments at Wild West Honda.

At 8:30 Dan, the chief mechanic, arrived on his bare BMW GS to open the gate.  He says the service will take all day - as expected, and he IMMEDIATELY said that they don't work with service contracts, so the bill for this service must also be sent to Western Service.
Thereafter Ron made himself at home in the waiting area, ate the few pretzels he brought and started reading paperwork from his mail delivery.  (I must tell Clarence that the article about Springbok jigsaw puzzles was entrancing.)  When his stomach began growling, "feed me," Ron attempted to avoid Hooters by eating a tiny apple and a tiny orange, leftovers from the last hotel, but  by the time this post was finished, it was very apparent that that hadn't worked, so OFF we go to Hooters w/o adult supervision.
Cynthia's comment:   What a bummer "we" cannot post photos on Blogger via IPad.
Cynthia is off having a girlicure and running errands in Montgomery, TX.

Cynthia, my beloved SmoochSmooch, I just sent you this e-mail and read your replies, then started to update the blog .... and my e-mail to you is already here !!  You are incredibly quick.  Smooch.
Do you like the changes I made to improve the prose?  I love you.
13 March: Montgomery, TX. Rx ordered, packing continued. Ron completed his asset allocation.  Busy packing.  Ron is being honored by the Swedish American Council on May 5th in Philadelphia.  Cynthia solved the mystery about her great grandfather through DNA.  Thirty plus years of research that DNA ultimately resolved.

12 Mar, Sunday:  Hempstead, TX,  Cynthia preached a sermon on prayer at the First Christian Church.  The singer was really off the charts marvelous.  We enjoyed lunch with the members at the Mexican Restaurant next door; they prepared grilled chicken breast for Ron without oil.   Now off to Jon's new home in Montgomery to prepare for departure to Miami Wednesday.

11 Mar: in Brenham, Texas, Ron is delighted that his installation of 16 GB memory and a 1 Terabyte SSD hard drive seems to be working well (this note is typed on that computer).  It is raining Again! and again - Imagine that in April !!  Ron was able to dodge between rain drops to take paperboard & plastics to the convenient downtown recycling center.  The rain on color radar looked ominously solid, but in fact there have been several substantial breaks.  The rain is forecast to continue throughout the day and night and the temperature will drop overnight.  Last night Ron prepared for today's rain and being sequestered by purchasing his cereals and Cynthia's protein bars, knowing we won't make it to a restaurant.  The Comfort Suites breakfast offered hard boiled eggs and oatmeal packages we brought to the room with bananas, oranges and apples.  Cynthia is writing a sermon on prayer.  It is a cozy day.

10 March: On the road again!  We regretted leaving the historic Menger Hotel, replete with ghosts and fabulous food; we departed San Antonio with wonderful memories of our time with Sistah Carol.   An early phone call from Bob's BMW in MD answered our questions about insurance billing.  On the DNA burner, Cynthia discovered a high match to her brick wall; she is bouncing off the ceiling waiting for a reply.   By 3:00 PM we arrived in the ice cream capitol of the US, Brenham, Texas, the home of Blue Bell. Cynthia will preside at Sunday worship in nearby Hempstead, her former address.  We will catch up on computer projects tonight and tomorrow because 100% rain is forecast.

9 March: School is out!  Forensic Genetic Genealogy was worthwhile because our presenter Debbie Wayne did a terrific job.  Certificates were awarded.  A Rambo descendant's mother-in- law was a participant; she arranged a Skype session for her son-in-law who lives in the Netherlands.  Cynthia thoroughly enjoyed the face-to-face time with their 14-month-old.  Ron sent him missing documentation to his lineage.  Sistah Carol made her plane on time; she arrived home safely in Illinois.   We are so tired.  Good night.

8 March: Continuing studies on autosomal DNA and YDNA took care of all the sessions.  Very helpful.  Tonight is the banquet and a lecture by an attorney/geneticist.

7 March: Forensic DNA Workshop in San Antonio.  The hotel is old and famous; Robert E. Lee rode his horse into the lobby and gifted the Menger's two year old daughter with a gold locket she wore all of her life.  The food is excellent.  This morning we covered basic DNA Genetics; in the afternoon, ethics, business considerations were discussed.  Cynthia's cousin Justin had dinner with us at the Texas Land and Cattle steakhouse.  Ron had a baked potato dry - they were unable to grill even salmon.  We won't be back.

6 March: San Antonio, TX - Menger Hotel. Sistah Carol arrived from Illinois before we got to the hotel because our GPS quit functioning causing us to flounder downtown not finding the hotel until Ron asked a carriage driver for the location.  We spent the afternoon on the famous River Walk that has changed significantly with the addition of high rise hotels.  None of the colorful fiesta dancers and mariachi musicians were present.  We toured the Alamo feeling a heart tug with 6 March 1836 being the final Siege of the Alamo; a color guard presented revile and Taps at dusk.  The opening reception was this evening.

5 March, A quiet day with the computer and IPad.  We walked to Smoothie King to drink lunch, walked all 5 levels of the hotel floors and lifted weights in the fitness center.  Evidently exhausted, we napped.  Sistah Carol arrives at noon thirty from STL tomorrow.  She will take a yellow cab to the hotel where we will be excitedly awaiting her arrival.

4 March, We checked out of the Hampton Inn/San Marcos to make a run for San Antonio when the color radar gave us a 2 hour rain break.   The Hilton Garden Inn/San Antonio has space available for two nights at the same low rate.  We choose the Garden Inn over Hampton because the Garden  makes egg white veggie omelets.  Hampton Inn has the standard vendor buffet.  We receive free breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn plus points.  Factoring in the cost of buying breakfast at $12-15 apiece, our hotel room costs drop to $75 - 80 with the Hilton breakfast.   Light rain began falling 5 minutes away from our hotel but we arrived dry.  Shortly after checking in, heavy rain started falling.   Ron put on his new Marmot rain gear to go shopping.  The best hotels are next door to a Smoothie King.  We lunched on fat free Smoothies.  The fitness center has a nice selection of equipment.  We used the weights.  The hotel has five levels that is helpful for exercise, too. We walked each level 3 times using the stairs as steppers.  Duke and NC are playing a terrific game tonight.

3 March: On the Road Again!  Breakfast was followed by two trips to the storage unit and a return trip to Magnolia Diner to locate Ron's pack he accidentally left on the floor by our booth.  Thankfully, no one noticed it.  Now the ride SW towards San Antonio, our home for the next 7 days.  The earth Is putting forth - magnificent azaleas, 🌺  flowering cherry trees and best of all, Texas bluebonnets bordering the roadsides.  We traveled the Texas Independence Trail on Highway 105 west from Montgomery to Washington County, the birthplace of Texas March 2, 1836.   105 continued through Brenham, the ice cream capital of the world (home of Blue Bell Ice Cream)  we looked but we did not buy.   Leaving Brenham on Highway 290 west, we Turned at Highway 71 southwest driving through the antique capitol of the US spread over small towns of Round Top, Warrenton and Winedale.   At Bastrop, Cynthia booked reservations at a Hampton Inn in San Marcos where we are ensconced for the night and maybe tomorrow if the rain doesn't relent.  It's been a fun day.  Good night!

2 March: Happy a Birthday Texas!  Pack - Pack - Pack! Magnolia Diner fed us well. Cynthia boogied off to The Pharmacy, Lab Corps and Dr. B.  Ron had new keys made for Jon's house ultimately converging at the storage unit.  We shipped a box of work out clothes to the Pritikin Center for our April 2 week stay; a box of clothes went to Philly for special events; now we are packing for San Antonio.  Tonight we had a lovely dinner with Roxanne and Julie.

1 March: We leave Texas the end of next week until next December.. Yes!  Yes! Yes!  Good news on every front.   The Dow rose 1K points.  A new wave of optimism meets the morning.  We slept good. Jon had breakfast with us at the Toasted Yolk. Both of us enjoyed dental appointments and recycling. Packing for the years travel is upon us.    Thank God Thank God Thank God.