Thursday, July 22, 2010

Phoning It In

In the midst of the chaos and general nuttiness that has been the last week or so, I finally realized that I did not finish writing about my last day or so of vacation. So in the interest of finishing ONE DAMNED THING in my life, here it is.

We drove through Kentucky.
Dave had the oil changed at the Harley shop.
We went home.

Suck. AmIright? Yeah.

It appears that once you get to a state that actually touches the state you live in, things go downhill.

I have several things to blame. Laundry is at the top of the list. I was getting dangerously close to needing to do laundry while on vacation. This, my dear friends, is a cardinal sin (I'm pretty sure). Next, would be the calendar which taunted me it's "You have to go back to the real world soon. And no one will make your bed or bring you food." And finally there was the odometer, which politely told me that my ass had been sitting on this seat for almost two thousand miles.

See? It was like I had been on a week-long one night stand and it was now almost time for the walk of shame. Vacation had totally sexed me up and now was kicking me out of bed without giving me it's phone number. So really, vacation is a bastard.

I don't have any really good pictures of the last days of vacation, so instead I'll just show you what The Man refused to buy me at the Harley Shop (I don't care if we are almost home, Mr. Man!)because he obviously doesn't love me care about the condition of my ass.

So, I'm back at work now. With Monkey Butt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Almost heaven, but weirder

Ok, West Virginia. You made that John Denver song burn into my brain FOREVER.

This has to be the weirdest state we passed through on our journey. The disparity between the beautiful mountains and the harsh, belching industrial areas gave my eyeballs whiplash. And then there was the giggling. Over and over West Virginia provided a dose of crazy for my delight. But we'll get to that in a minute. First the obligatory scenic shots.

Yes, I know it looks like Virginia. You're just gonna have to believe me.

Then there was the crazy. Oh dear Lawdy, the crazy runs rampant in these parts. Here's my favorite shots of "What the Hell? Did I really just see that?".

Isn't this the best house you've ever seen? The subtle use of color. The comfort of the repeating pattern. The coordinating shed. It's a masterpiece. Better Homes and Gardens needs to hustle their asses out here and talk to these people before this trend catches on. For the record, that is not paint. It's every color of siding ever made and a few that should have never been made. It's like a giant box of crayolas that you live in. Fabulous!

Now this is fine art, folks. Giant spotted dinosaur being ridden by a cave woman mannequin carrying a compound bow. But really, it's the ivy around the dinosaur's neck that really ties the whole thing together.

Now, we need to talk about this next shot. This is quite possibly the best picture I have ever taken. And if this was the only thing I had witnessed all week, the trip would have totally been worth it. This image now lives in the happy place in my brain, so that I can go there when I need some giggle time.

DeHart's Bible and Tire. Oh, where do I begin? The Man, who was busy driving and not killing us, even did a double take and turned his head to say, "Didja get that? Please tell me you got that!".

Mr.(or Ms.) DeHart, I commend you for your resourcefulness. Now you can save our souls and our cars at the same time.

West Virgina, I love you, like that weird guy in high school that always made you laugh, but still smelled kinda funny. Yeah, like that.

Total Mileage: 1,592 miles
Times I almost peed my pants because The Man wouldn't stop: 3
Rainstorms waited out under an awning at a gas station: 1
Days left until I am home doing laundry and weeping: 1

Friday, July 9, 2010

The one where that damned John Denver song keeps going through my head

Day Five and Six ('cause we ain't that interesting, or because I'm lazy. Hard to say.)
Total mileage: 1,189
Number of times I whined about putting on suncreen: 14
Number of times I griped about my sunburn because I wouldn't put on sunscreen: 15

After spending the last few days with a relative body temperature reminiscent of a three day hot flash, I was forced to yell "Get me to the mountains, man" and we turned southeast and headed to the bottom of Virginia.

Our route took us through prime Civil War battlefields and monuments to the conflict betweeen the North and South.

But first...

We stood in the blazing sun for over an hour waiting on a funeral procession to pass through. We weaved our way through traffic to get off the main highway and spent the next hour or so waiting on traffic to clear. As it started to clear (or so I thought) I announced to the man that we could leave now and still make it to our night's destination before dark.

Yeah, I may have jumped the gun on that one. We managed to catch up to the procession within a matter of minutes and were forced to sit in the full sun on the highway, sweating like a beer on a tailgate at a tractor pull in August. I spied a road ahead with a sign for a battlefield exihibit and pleaded with The Man to turnoff the highway and drive down the shaded road. I figured if nothing else we could kill some time and give the GPS a chance to re-route us away from the traffic. We made our way down the road, enjoying the slightly cooler air and the fact that we were actually moving. Moving! With air and everything! Divine! We rode probably four or five miles, then NOOOOOOOO!!!! we were right back where we had started. The road had simply looped around and took us right back where we started. Except that we were now five miles farther BACK and had to sit through the same traffic we had just left. This may have been when I started crying. Hard to say, I've blocked it all out. Eventually we passed the cemetary and slowly began to speed our way south as traffic began to thin out.

At the bottom of Virginia, we turned into the entrance of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. There is a ranger station at the entrance of Skyline drive, where a (Ranger) (lady in a Smokey the Bear hat) (State Park Employee) nice lady gave us maps, took our ten bucks and issued us a warning. Apparently the previous day, a motorcyclist was hit by a bear. WTF? No, he did not hit a bear in the roadway. THE BEAR RAN OUT OF THE WOODS AND HIT HIM. I can not even imagine the conversation with his insurance company. Does one need special Giant Attacking Bear coverage? Luckily, at the next gift shop I found a T-shirt answering all my questions.

No, it does not come in adult sizes. Yes, I asked. And of course, I will be searching online for one that fits me, because this is possibly the best T-shirt ever!

The next day and a half were spent riding through vista views and views of vistas and scenic wonderlands of mountains. What can I say? It was cool and refreshing and clean and peaceful and beautiful. There were wonderful granola-cruncy hikers, complete with eco-friendly shoes and tattered backpacks. The ride was a calming balm to the hustle and stress and smog of the recent cities. It was cool streams and woodland charm.

We traveled through curves and tunnels and the best parts of Virginia. I recommend that everyone take a drive on Blue Ridge Parkway at some point in their lives. It will renew your spirit.

Tomorrow's agenda: West Virgina. It's all that you have heard, but weirder.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot for Teacher

Day 4: Washington, DC
Temperature: 102
Likelihood of heat-induced brain trauma: 75%
Likelihood of me fanning my T-shirt so vigorously that I inadvertantly flash a senator's aide during his lunch: 90%

I'm feeling not funny today, so this post is likely to be full of suckage. But whatev. I'm committed to finishing this thing. I jotted down a few notes yesterday, so the chances of this being mildly coherent are up slightly. So at least there's that.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, Capitol Building. We parked there and died. Not really, but now that we were no longer moving, the air seemed stifling. (Gah, I need spellcheck. Is that right? Stifling? Doesn't seem right.) Looking around the Mall, we personafied typical tourists, all gape-mouthed and whatnot. As we stumbled towards the big fancy buildings, this approached us.

This is Dave. Everybody say hi, Dave! Dave is a high school science teacher and may have saved our lives. He kindly offered to pedal our sweaty asses around the Mall for an undetermined amount of money. Dave drives a Pedi-cab when he's not teaching science to adolescents and works for tips. Since we have cash and looming heat-strokes, we take him up on his offer.

I'm quite sure that Dave is the hot teacher at his high school and all the girls giggle whenever he talks about positive ion attraction and big bang theories. He is a fountain of information and told us more about the area and buildings than we could have gotten from any tourist-y booklets. Since he knew we were in town for only a few hours, he filled us in on which places were best and which would not be worth our time.

I have lots of pictures like this. I didn't want to lean too far out of my seat and take a chance on swaying the Pedi-cab rickshaw thingy, thus causing Dave to get irritated and throw me out, leaving me to die along the street.

After pedaling 2/3's of the way around, we disembarked, paid the cute teacher and started to head into the first of many Smithsonian biuldings. This is when we overheard Dave the Cute Teacher negotiating with his next client. He offered to take the couple HALF the distance we had just ridden, for well OVER the price we had just paid. Clearly, we are cheap and he is re-thinking the whole "working for tips" thing. But in our defense, he told us to just pay whatever we thought was fair. Meh. I hate being cheap. I also hate being guilted into paying more. FAK!

We loaded up our guilt and plowed into the first building, surrounded by middle schoolers on field trips and Griswold family vacationers. First up, the Air and Space Building.

Then the Museum of Natural History


I think this one looks sneaky. I suspect that dinosaurs were assholes like that.

And that's when it happened. You know how you can go somewhere, somewhere far away, somewhere no one ever goes and then you see someone you know? Well there he was. My Ex. The Milkdud himself.

Hi, Asshat.

After that, it was time to change buildings and hope The Milkdud wouldn't find us. The Museum of American History. (My apologies for the poor quality of pics, it's really dark in there and my camera is ashamed of the fact that it is smarter than me.)

You can almost smell the napalm and weed.

I have oodles more pictures, but I'm afraid this is turning into a slideshow at Aunt Liz's house of their trip to Bumfuckville while eating crappy appetizers and inhaling Uncle Raymond's second-hand cigar smoke and beer farts.

A few more buildings later, as our blood reached the temperature of lava, we headed back to Chesapeake Bay and comfy beds and air conditioning.

Stop back by tomorrow, there will be bears, hikers and funeral processions. Not neccesarily in that order.

Bye Dave! You'll always be my Capitol Crush!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mr. Man Goes to Washington...But First, The Beach!

Chesapeake Bay...Day three. After spending the night in a wonderful room with working locks on the doors (Thank you Baby Jeebus), we woke with visions of Beach! Sun! Sand! Charming Seaside Village! Scenic Lighthouses! We donned our fashionable beachwear and skipped merrily outside. (Note: The Man will be be all up in my business about that one. He. Does. Not. Skip. Fine, whatever. Duly noted, Sir.)

After a cup of coffee and some continental breakfast in the lobby, we then WALKED (geesh) outside and were hit with an ass-hot wave of air that threatened to melt my non-functioning ovaries and sear our flesh from our bodies. But we were determined. We had traveled far. We would see the beach or else.

Scattered up and down the bay side of Chesapeake Bay are lovely little towns, all with beach access. We traveled up the coast stopping at three different places to enjoy what they had to offer.

The breeze was deceiving and the air was clean, and once again all was right with the world. The horrors of the MOTEL WHICH SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED AGAIN was temporarily erased from my skeeved out brain and I was again in a vacation-y type of mind. We walked down the pier and talked about the local architecture and watched kids playing on the beach. We sat on benches looking at local maps and stood staring out at the bay. It was nice to stop for awhile and just not move.

But, there's only so much of this stillness that can be tolerated. It IS vacation after all. There are things to be seen.

One hour later found us at the edge of Washington, DC and also the edge of a heat stroke. Buzzing along at 55 mph, the heat isn't usually an issue. No, the issue came later. In DC proper, so to speak. First there was this.

The entire length and breadth of Pennsylvania Avenue is under construction. And yes, this is the route that we took into the city. Sign-holding, neon vest-wearing men were everywhere. Plus each and everyone of them were looking at us like we had lost our mother-trucking minds to be in this traffic and in this heat and in this city. (Grammer is my forte, obviously.)

Push onward, Mr. Man...we're almost there. We are almost to the center of the politcal world, where movers and shakers think deep thoughts and are charged with the care and mantainenance of this great country. The Great and Powerful Oz will see you....wait, that's not quite right.

Back to the story. With the assistance of one very nice traffic cop, we found a place to park next to the Capitol Building.

I just realized that if I post pictures and write about the entire day, that this would be a long-ass post that would have you wanting to cancel your internet subscrpition after you scoop your eyeballs out with a melon baller. So I'm gonna stop here. But come back tomorrow. Because I need to tell you about running into someone that I know. Plus there will be more pictures. So come back. Pretty please?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A New Bright Shiny Day

After spending the night fearing for my health and safety, not to mention dousing my entire body in 38 gallons of Purell, we headed out for rounds of antibiotics...I mean a hearty breakfast. Making our way eastward we proceeded towards the coast, with our only planned stop for the day being York, Pennsylvania.

Now you may ask what is in York that would attract two happy vacationers? Why it was the birthplace of Christine. Are you still puzzled? Christine is the name that The Man has given to his motorcycle and York is the home of the Harley-Davidson factory where it, I mean she, was born.

We arrived there that afternoon and signed in for a factory tour. We were only allowed a limited tour since the factory was currently making the 2011 models and they had not released them to the public yet. We browsed around the lobby until the tour was ready to begin and after a short introductory movie, we were fitted with protective eyewear and earpieces so that we could hear our tour guide.

Let me be the first to say that this may not be a girly-girl place. But on a coolness scale, this place still rates pretty high. The large machinery, the cool robotic technology, the brawny men walking around in tight shirts......wait. Where was I? Oh yeah, the gorgeous paint colors, the acres of bright shiny was still enough to hold this girl's attention.

No cameras or recording devices were allowed inside the factory, but I have a few pictures from the lobby that show the process.

Pieces and parts

Frame (This factory only makes the larger touring bikes.)

The Man gets a look in his eye when he's surrounded by this much chrome. It's the same look I get when I walk in a designer shoe store.

It's starting to look like....something?

What I find completely amazing about this whole thing, is that it only takes them two hours to build one of these beautiful pieces of machinery. No matter what paint color, no matter what emission stardards (different countries have different requirements), no matter what bells and whistles you require, it's still two hours and out the door. Hell, I can barely get ready to go out in two hours! But then again, I'm an older model and they don't even make some parts for me anymore.

After again succumbing to the lure of the gift shop, we loaded up (I pushed The Man kicking and screaming) and headed back out on the road. Rural Pennsylvania is actually quite pretty and I enjoyed the scenery until we crossed into Baltimore.

Word of warning: Do not announce that you are from Indiana while in Baltimore. Especially if you are wearing a Colts shirt. They are apparently still quite bitter.

We tossed a coin, or followed a tractor, or came to some conclusion that we should head south. Another hour of so of wandering around found us here:

We did it! We made it all the way to the coast! We were on Chesapeake Bay and there we would stay for the night. In a real room, with clean sheets and hot water and eveything! Room service! Soap! Down-filled duvet on a king-sized bed!

Edited to add: Mileage totals Day 3: 853 miles
Condition of hind-quarters on a 1-10 scale: 6.5
Median Outdoor Temp: 418 degrees Farhenheit (estimate)
Number of poor meal choices: 3

Tomorrow - The Beach

Friday, July 2, 2010

Night of the Living Dead

So...where was I? Oh yeah, headed out of Pittsburgh and towards a rainstorm.

We don't generally travel on the bike at night. Especially on the Interstate. Traveling east from Pittsburgh, and smelling the rain coming, we consulted the GPS for the nearest reputable motel. Judging from what the Garmin had to say about our position, and what Google weather said was headed our way, we weren't gonna make it. Everyone knows that the storms this summer have been horrible and this one prominsed to live up to that reputation.

Next best scenario for us was to find somewhere to ride out the rain, preferably under cover from the storm. We took the next exit that looked like it contained some form of human life and hoped for the best. Lo and behold, we spotted a sign for a "motel", and Sweet Baby Jesus I use that term in the loosest way possible.

Dear readers, I have been known to exaggerate in the past. (Shocking, I know) I can embellish and pretty up a story with the best of them. But, my darlings, but...I could not make this up. Not even close.

It was called Motel 3. As in half as good as a Motel 6, I presume. But it seemed to be the only thing for many miles, so we took our chances and stopped at the office, almost praying that there were no vacancies so that we would be forced to sleep under a bush or in some hillbilly's barn.

There was a vacancy and this is the point is the story where I get to warn you all. Ask for a look at the rooms if there is any doubt in your minds. We were foolish, dear readers, and forged ahead into the unknown. After being asked TWICE if we wanted the room for the "whole" night (shoulda been a clue to the type of place we were renting) we assured the front desk "clerk" that yes, we did indeed want the room for the "whole" night. 'Cause we're indulgent and on vacation. Ha!

In retrospect, this place seemed to be a landing ground for contract and day-laborers. Or hookers. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish. We parked the bike so close to the door that no one could enter but us, took our things inside, and promptly proceeded to freak the hell out.

My writing skills are sketchy at best, so let me woo you with pictures to accompany my words.

Note the fine draperies and fine imitation wood paneling.

No Gideon's Bible here. Or a phone book to call for help. But the busted smoke detector was a nice touch.

High quality electronics and furnishings make this place ultra-homey.

Thanks for the warning, creepy desk-clerk lady.

I saved the best for last, of course. Lord, give me strength to post these without the nightmares starting again.

Yeah, I think I'll just hold it. Or pee my pants. Either is preferable to this.

And the piece d' resistance....

Please, I beg you, don't tell my mother I stayed here. I just couldn't take the lecture on top of the nightmares. I foresee my therapy bill going up in the near future.

I promised that we didn't sleep a wink, and remained fully clothed all night. We were up before first light and took off outta there like our asses were on fire. So that's how we escaped western Pennsylvania without becoming dead, infected, or sex workers. All future rooms for the vacation were clean, furnished and did not contain chalk outlines of past residents on the carpet. We now prefer our motels to have at least three stars, not three STD's. ***Please remember, there was a storm a'comin, so WE HAD NO CHOICE.***

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when The Man gets to see where his baby was born.

Day Two, which means that I'm cooler than you.

Day two in Cleveland may have been one of my favorite days of the whole vacation. But then again, it was vacation, so all my days were favorites. After a quick breakfast and checkout, we proceed to the place where cool lives. (Do the kids still say cool? Groovy? Neat-o? Gah, I'm old.)

Located on Lake Erie is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And folks, I was there. I got the pictures to prove it. And about a hundred dollars worth of stuff from the gift shop. And when I say pictures, I mean that the ones some punk forced The Man and I to pose for before he would let us in. And then proceeded to charge us twenty bucks to take them home.

But back to the story...this place, full of all it's wonderful things, well, it had me at hello (from the ticket counter). I stood next to John Lennon's piano and marveled at the wax dripping down the side from the candles he liked to burn while he played. I oohed and ahhed over Patti LaBelle's beaded and jeweled dress. I swooned for Les Paul's guitars. We laughed at pictures and remembered album covers that we hadn't seen in twenty-five years. I said a silent thank you to the powers that be in front of a Janis Joplin display, and was saddened by a black fedora and sparkly glove worn by Michael. I have laid my hands on Johnny Cash's tour bus and read hand-written lyrics scribbled on scrap papers and cocktail napkins from Jim Morrison. I know now just how tiny Mick Jagger is because I stood next to his stage clothes from tours past.

One wall is posted full of correspondence that passed between Hunter S. Thompson and Rolling Stone Magazine. It's worth the trip just to read the wit, sarcasm and uncensored talent from his pen. I felt surrounded by talent and music and joy. There is no way that I could relate all the fantastic things that this place holds, and I encourage everyone to make the trip. There is truly something there for every music fan. I left with a full heart and a smile on my face.

A mere forty-five minutes south of Cleveland is Canton, OH. For those of you not in the know, I am a huge football fan. Pro Football. None of that college crap. Or Arena Ball. Or especially soccer. I mean good ol' American NFL Sunday afternoon and Monday night football. Always have been, always will be. Amen.

In Canton is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This might not mean much to most of you, but to me it was damned near better than bourbon. The Man and I walked through the hallowed halls with the images of those that we watched as kids and remembered as heroes. One particular section contains the busts of all the inductees. This is where the trouble started. And by trouble I mean that I may have rubbed myself on the bust of Joe Montana to the point that The Man threatened to leave me there. Or have me arrested. Or started filming sports porn. Hard to say.

After prying me away from the display, we toured the rest of the building (only getting lost once) and made our way out. After taking some obligatory pictures of the field outdoors and The Man in front of the building, we tore ourselves away and headed towards the next adventure. Where you might ask? Hell, we didn't know. We had general direction in mind and that was it. Our not-well-laid-out-plan took us to Pennsylvania. Down towards Pittsburgh we headed, still chatting about all the great things we had seen and no real plans for the the next day. Pittsburgh came and went and still we headed eastward. It was getting dark and storm clouds were starting to form ahead of us. It was time to find a room. But none were close by according to our GPS. Whatever would we do, dear readers? Well, our shelter for the night is a story in itself. So I think I'll save it for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Total Mileage - 548 miles
Condition of Ass on a 1-10 scale - 8
Total Number of Time The Man called someone to come and get me - 1