Friday, December 26, 2008
Around Thanksgiving I proposed that I take my wife to visit the Biltmore Estate while it was decorated for Christmas. We'd talked about visiting the Biltmore for a couple of years and sometimes you just have to say "now is the time" or things turn into "one of these days". So, I chuckled when I read my buddy, Michael (conchscooter) had visited a few days before us. But then again, we both have pretty good taste and ideas, so why am I suprised we both had a good idea?
As we were touring the Biltmore Estate, my wife commented that it would make a good blog post. I replied, "It's been done. Michael did it two days ago." But she insisted that I should post my pictures, so I yield to her prodding.
What can you say about a 175,000 square feet 255 room house sitting on an 8,000 acre estate that was originally 125,000 acres? Breath taking. The craftsmanship and the pure grandeur is overwhelming. Tapestries cover the walls of a 90-foot room. A two-story library with a circular staircase contains 10,000+ volumes. A Billard room, a banquet room worthy of Kings and Queens with a 40 foot dining table, an organ loft with a pipe organ, and in the basement a huge swimming pool and a two lane bowling alley. The tour for the common peasants views 30 of the 255 rooms. Pay more and you get to see "behind the scenes". Pay more and you get to walk on the roof.
Visitors bathrooms, dining areas, and gift shops are housed in what was once the horse stables. I dare to say that the stables and hay loft that now is a dining room exceed the quality of many U.S. homes. I bet someone somewhere is giggling that commoners pay to eat in their stables.
The visit was well worth the 3 hour drive. We will have to return again and take in the estate itself.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I knew it wouldn't be long. For the last three years, everytime I have talked to my Dad he has told me about looking at motorcycles. And the few times he has been thru the Atlanta Metro area, he has walked circles around my motorcycle. His eyes seemed to glisten when I let him ride the Sportster a few years ago. And, I've heard countless stories of the rides and adventures he had on his Harley 250 back in the day.
I received an excited call last night that he had been to a local dealer and had discussed a deal on a 2007 Suzuki Boulevard S40. You know, Suzuki's I-wanna-build-a-bike-that-looks-like-a-Harley-Sportster single cylinder. I ponder a bit why but then it came back to me. His original motorcycle in the 1950s was a single cylinder, and I have to admit the S40 is 650cc versus the under powered 250cc he had way back when that struggled to do 50 mph. So, it seems like it would be a good choice fo a fella 70 years old who wants to ride to the post office and grocery store. At 352 lbs, it should be light enough for him to re-adjust to riding and be suitable for in town manuevering. And, he will have to be happy with electric start since he was kicking the old 250 :) I've always been amazed that the S40 still has drum brakes on the rear. His old 250 had drum brakes front and rear, so there's a little more familiarity for him.
When I was 16, my mom had a 50cc Yamaha Champ scooter. He from time to time tooled around town on it wearing a half helmet and smoking a cigar. The S40 is at least a bit more dignified than a Yamaha Champ.
I called this morning, and he had been to the dealer and completed the purchase. So, look out Florida, the old man is back on two wheels. Here's hoping he enjoys his new bike.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
23 degrees F is just enough to make your fingers red and stinging even inside of thick lined leather gloves riding 50 mph. But I did not experience that unpleasentness this morning as I was protected with my Tourmaster electric gloves which kept my hands comfortable for the 40 minute commute to work.
Yes, you guess it. Mine is the only bike sitting in the parking lot at the office despite the fact there is now chance of rain, ice, snow, and they skies are clear.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A simple thank you to the men and women who have chosen to server in harm's way to protect the lives, freedom, and interest of the United States. To the soldiers who have never heard it, Welcome Home.
The two medals included in this post are the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States of America to those wounded or killed while serving in the United States Military. The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States not justifying a higher award. It may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S Armed Forces, distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism involving one of the following actions: In action against an enemy of the United States, While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
I was fortunate and am proud to have had two grandfathers that served our country in World War II. My mother's father was awarded the Purple Heart and two Silver Stars.
Today I salute all Veterans and thank you for your service.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The Second Annual Ride for Will was Saturday. Steven Vore rode with me this year which means, you got it, photographer in tow! :) We elected to start the ride properly, with breakfast at Waffle House.
Waffle House is personally endorsed by Steven and myself as the official proper way to start a great day of motorcycle riding.
A large number of bikes arrived, and we saw all kinds. A Harley Sportster 883 trike with the back looking somewhat reminiscent of the original Harley three wheelers of the 1950's that the Police and Ice Cream vendors used. The big long three wheelers powered by VW engines, Harleys, BMWs (none had to be towed at this event to my knowledge), crotch rockets, and even a high dollar chopper.
Of course my Buffalo helmet was a huge hit, so I granted the numerous photo requests. Who knows where my smiling mug will show up in the next few days. Forsyth County Harley mounted Deputies gave us awesome escort and traffic control, and we made our way to Helen.
Steven got us a great shot of the parking lot in Helen, and then we all got our grub on. Live music was provided and the door prizes and raffle prizes were once again off the hook.
The weather warmed to around 60 degrees F around noon with a brisk wind and it was clear and sunny after the rains the night before, which spells a great day to be riding in the mountains. So, after we finished our sandwiches, we slipped out of the festivities and headed for the Richard Russell Scenic Parkway and Wolf Pen Gap. The leaves were in their full autumn wardrobe of color and there were several riders and cagers out enjoying the day. Once across GA 180, we picked up GA 60 and wound our way down to GA 9 following a BMW cager that needed to give her car away because she simply could not drive it, running off the edge of the road numerous times tossing up gravel and crossing the double yellow numerous times with oncoming traffic. Guessing the winding roads were overloading her driving skills.
We made it home intact and had a very enjoyable days riding the twisties of North Georgia. And, we were glad to have taken part in the Ride for Will helping raise money for the Scholarship Fund.
All photos used in this post were taken by Steven Vore. Hire him for your professional photo shoots.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Thirty-six degrees F my wife's fancy digital weather station reported as I laced my boots and pulled on my riding leathers. This is the weather that causes me to pull on the thicker gloves, wear a fleece scarf around my neck, and don the fullface helmet. It's not unenjoyable to ride in this weather. It just makes you feel a bit more alive.
Until this week, I have daily arrived at work around 8am to find the parking lot jammed with cages and one motorcycle sitting to one side of a parking spot very close to the front door. Thanks to this rider's courteous actions, I slide ride into a front row parking spot. That all changed this week. I guess it's too cold for the rider that has been arriving earlier than me for the last several months. I ponder this as I noted that at one point this fall our office building had 7 motorcycles and a couple scooters sitting in the parking lot. Now there is one BMW sitting out about 5 rows back and my Harley Road King, Rosie.
As I left the house this morning, I pulled up to the red light at the intersection for GA-400 and set patiently in the line of cages in the turn lane. I see another Harley pull up to my right in the turn lane and see a guy in an open face half-helmet wearing a half-face facemask. "Nice day for a ride", he says. I chuckle. "It sorts out the men from the boys", I respond.
I do not see a single motorcycle headed the other direction in opposing traffic all the way to work. A few weeks ago, it was a steady diet of bikes. On my way home this afternoon, I passed one Honda Potamus. I guess the fair-weather riders have parked their bikes for the winter. It's a shame. There are a lot of folks living in the North that deal with ice and snow that prohibit them from riding year round. Here in the Atlanta area, we have it pretty good. If you invest in a little gear, you can ride twelve months out of the year.
I wonder how long the BMW rider will ride this winter. Something tells me I'll see his bike back on the 5th row all winter. He'll be seeing my Harley all winter for sure.
Monday, October 27, 2008
That's my charming wife on the left and on the right is a fellow blogger, Glider Rider I beat her to the punch. Some time before the weekend, Glider should get around to posting her report of the weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
I thought since Glider didn't have access to the NASCAR garage area or pit road, I should at least post a few pictures of what she didn't get to see during her weekend at the race track :)
I do what I can.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Fall is in the air in the biggest city in the South. Temp this morning was 54 degrees F and quite enjoyable. Leaves have begun to turn and display their autumn colors of red and gold. Pumpkins are appearing on neighbors front porches and that spells one thing - Apple Run.
I loaded up the family in the cage and we meandered thru Dawsonville and over to Ellijay (home of the AppleFest). Long before the R&A Orchard sign appeared in our view, I could almost taste one of their fried pies.
Once we arrived, we made a beeline to the snack counter after manuvering through the crowd of folks looking at apple butter, jellies, jams, peanut brittle, boiled peanuts, apple cider, apple juice, and bins and bins of apples.
And there they were in all of their glory, delicious fried pies. R&A Orchard provides you with a multitude of choices (12 total I'm told): apple, sugar-free apple, coconut, peach, chocolate, blueberry, blackberry, and on and on, the choices make me dizzy. But everyone in our family wanted an apple pie and the only thing that improves it is a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
After we had all devoured our fried pies, we actually bought some apples :) Good times.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
We had an great time Sunday and a good bit of money was raised for the March of Dimes. Thanks to those who contributed by sponsoring us. It was great just to get to hang out with Steven, Paul and Donna, but getting to ride Atlanta Motor Speedway up on the banking was the high point of the day. Donna told Paul "Allen was kidding about riding close enough to touch the Safer Barrier". Paul smiled and replied, "No, he wasn't!" So, Paul and Donna checked out the "Dale Jr lane" (right up against the wall and hauling). I got to enjoy the #3 lane and the Dale Jr. lane. It brought back memories to my days of stock car racing to come off turn 4 and roll in the gas down the front tri-oval. Good times.
(pictures courtesy of Steven Vore)
Friday, October 10, 2008
Now a little history of the Harley-Davidson 125. In the 1940’s, Harley was manufacturing a v-twin based motorcycle. As World War II ended, many U.S. soldiers came home with a desire to own a motorcycle and several had spent time during the war riding Harley’sWLA. Harley’s offerings stateside seemed a bit out of reach financially for most. Harley decided a small, inexpensive model would be a good way to boost sales. Part of the reparations from the war, motorcycle manufacturer DKW of Germany relinquished its motorcycle designs to the Allied Forces. Harley-Davidson received a copy of DKW’s designs, as did British motorcycle manufacturer BSA. The design was a smaller motorcycle with a single cylinder two-stroke engine. One can compare the 1948 Harley-Davidson 125 and the BSA Bantam and see almost identical motorcycles. The Yamaha YS-1 was also built from the DKW design.
The Harley 125 was introduced in 1948 with a front suspension that amounted to a series of large rubber bands and a girder fork. There was no rear suspension, but the seat was mounted on a spring. With the exception of the Harley XA, a military only model, Harley’s offerings up to this point were hand shift and foot clutch, but Harley built the 125 with DKW’s design of a left-side 3 speed foot shifter and a hand clutch and many found the lightweight bike was easier to operate. With 3.3 horsepower, the bike struggled to approach 55 mph but could log around 90mpg.
In 1951, the 125 was upgraded to a new front suspension called “Tele-Glide” which utilized telescopic forks and was a copy of the larger Harley’s Hydra-Glide front forks. Pop said that his had the Tele-Glide front forks and it was a huge improvement to the older models. He also admitted to boring the little 125 cylinder out to get a bit more power and “shaving the head a little bit”. In answer to complaints for lack of power, Harley upped the ccs in 1954 to 165.
Many refer to all 125’s as Hummers. This is a misapplication of the name. The bike became known as the 165 in 1954 and then was named the Hummer in 1955. The Hummer was named for Harley-Davidson employee Dean Hummer who helped tweak the bikes design. The Hummer did not have a battery. The bike was reworked with a magneto and was without an electric horn, turn signals or a brake light. The final Hummers were manufactured in 1959. The Harley K-model took the place of the smaller less expensive offering in the company’s lineup and was shortly thereafter renamed the Sportster.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
March of Dimes Bikers for Babies...more than 45,000 riders all across America riding to raise money to prevent premature birth and birth defects, educating expecting mothers and supporting families dealing with sick or premature babies.
I'm registered and riding at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, October 12th. If you'd like to sponsor me (by contributing to the March of Dimes), you can do so by going to my fundraiser site
Thursday, October 02, 2008
That is my Pop and his dog Jiggs. Jiggs used to ride Pop's motorcycle lying on the tank with his front feet over the handlebars. The year is 1954. He is showing off his trophy that he had just won on an easter egg hunt (yes motorcycle games). The bike is a Harley-Davidson 125.
So, yes, we've had Harleys in our families for years. It's no wonder I think that is what a motorcycle is supposed to look like.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I've been attending a class this week near Perimeter Mall. At lunch break I went over to eat at the Mall's food court. On my way out of the mall, I am walking across the parking lot (wearing chaps and a leather jacket mind you) to where Rosie was parked on the yellow hash marks in front of a light pole when a Hummer stops next to me and rolls the window down. A young lady inquired, "Where are you parked?" I smiled and said, "Just at the end of this row." She slammed the gas gusseling dinosaur killing mega-HUV in reverse and backed to the end of the row and waited for me.
I walked to where Rosie was waiting, put my coke in the cup holder and smiled. I heard the overgrown metal cage slam into drive and chirp a tire as she headed off to find a parking spot she could fit the wildebeest.
I rode off laughing and thinking....
"I sure love riding motorcycles!"
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Ok. I've been let down. Last year a group of my buds took off to Daytona for Octoberfest, and I couldn't go. So they told me to put it on the calendar for this year. I did. I even got the time off approved by my supervisor and the kitchen pass approved by my wife. Now they've decided they're not going this year. They're thinking they'll go to Myrtle Beach next year instead.
So. Who's headed to Daytona? Anyone passing thru Atlanta that would welcome an extra bike riding in the formation? Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?
I snapped a view photos, but the batteries died in the digital cam so there is only a few and a couple are a bit dark due to the flash quitting on low power.
Note that not all of the bikes are Harleys. I realize there are other bike manufacturers. A couple of us spent considerable time looking at a Victory Vision.
(photo courtesy of Victory Motorcycles and Ironhorse of San Antonio)
I think it is a gorgeous bike. I just can't get my mind wrapped around the handlebars turning and the fairing and headlight not turning with the handlebars. So, if I'm turning on a curve at night, is it shining in the woods??
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The ride begins at South Forsyth High School, 585 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming, GA (exit 13 off GA 400).
Registration begins at 9:00 am and the ride leaves at 11:00 am.
The escorted ride will go to Helen and end at Paul's Margarita Deck with raffles, door prizes, and 50/50 drawing. The ride fee is $25.00 for the rider and $10.00 for a passenger. Pre-registration is available. Fees include a "Will" patch or T-shirt for the first 125 paid entries.
Proceeds got to the Will Davison Memorial Scholarship (for more info, click here.)
For more information call Cathy Bentley (770) 889-7829 or email cathybentley at bellsouth.net
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Steven and I sat out for the 20 mile ride over to Road Atlanta and had an enjoyable ride. I still get a kick out of people at stoplights reactions to seeing a Harley and a BMW riding together.
Once at Road Atlanta, we made a stroll through vendor row and chatted with the folks at Nomar who produces and sells motorcycle tire changing equipment. Steven's beemer was needing a front tire and they made him a good deal on a Pirelli and offered to mount, balance, and change it out for free. So, we put them to work. We were quite impressed with their equipment and speed. I've never seen a dealership change a tire out that effortlessly. Their equipment and tire mounting lube made all the difference. Steven was tickled to kill two birds with one stone. Now he doesn't have to schedule time at a bike shop.
After a couple of weeks of enjoyable fall weather in the biggest city in the South, Summer returned Saturday for the Suzuki Spuerbike Showdown. It was hot as standing on the sun and shade was a premium. The vendors selling Gatorade and beer were staying busy.
We took in qualifying and consumed a couple of Gatorades while sweating like stuck pigs. Found a traditional track burger and did a little wandering the 750-acres of Road Atlanta. The track has enforced a rule that motorcycle riders, scooter riders, atv riders, etc must wear a helmet while riding on the property. So we observed geniuses complying with the rule by wearing skateboard helmets (some of which were not buckled). One guy was wearing a floppy hat with his fullface helmet sitting on top of the brim of the hat - but I guess he was technically wearing a helmet. The one that took the cake was the trail biker the was wearing a Bellsouth bump cap - again I guess that technically is a helmet.
I hadn't been to Road Atlanta in 20+ years and was impressed with the improvements they have made, including the addition of the hillside stands in turns 12-14. They've also added shuttle buses to help folks get around the huge facility, and they were a huge hit as well.
As the race was sponsored by Rockstar, and everybody wants to be a big rock star with a house on a hill driving 15 cars, we consumed a free Rockstar beverage. It tasted like a hyped up cranberry juice. I'll stick with drinking Izzie.
Racing finally got in gear around 4pm, and it was amazing to watch them manuever downhill turns under full acceleration. Despite the heat and the pounding heat induced headache I ended up with, we had a large time, and I'd recommend it to anyone. Just take some portable shade.