A New Bright Shiny Day

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Jul 3rd, 2010
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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 chrome…it 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

Ohio Sucks…Except for Cleveland. I heart Cleveland.

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Jul 1st, 2010
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Vacation Day 1. Better known as the day we get the hell outta Dodge. Both The Man and I are suffering from serious burnout by the time vacation comes around every year. We are cranky-pants and short-tempered. I was not my usual ray of sunshine. *snort* But Joy! Elation! Happy-happy! Vacation has arrived.

The plan was to roll out at seven a.m., bound for parts unknown. Or Ohio. But what happens when we make plans? Chaos and mayhem, that’s what. I was awakened at 4 a.m. by a horrific thunderstorm. And I’m pretty sure I could hear laughing in the background somewhere. We both laid awake until 6 o’clock listening to the storm, until we could bear it no longer and turned to the weather channel to see how bad it was going to be. We got lucky and the rain quit by 8:30 and we were able to hit the road by 9. Freedom was ours. With a wary eye on the gray clouds, we proceeded to Cincinnati. Which I believe is also known as the armpit of the Midwest. From Cincinnati we turned north and made our way through Ohio.

A little background for you. My dad used to pave roads for a living. He was an asphalt man. I understand the concept of road repair and construction. But Ohio, you shouldn’t really tear the fresh hell out of a road and leave the speed limit at 70. It causes people to believe that they can drive at least seventy. Or ninety. Crimeny, there were Nascar wannabes racing for the finish line all over the goddamn state. And near me. Which made me feel stabby. I don’t want to feel stabby on

I don’t have many pictures from that first day because as I said before, Ohio sucks. But rolling into Cleveland that evening was divine. The architecture is amazing and the peoples are friendly to a fault. Lake Erie and the pier were a refreshing sight and we took an enjoyable stroll down the pier on our first evening away.

After a wonderful walk, we went in search of lodging for the evening. We got a reasonable room with all the normal amenities and cleanliness. I trotted down the the restaurant and ordered a pizza to munch on while Dave unpacked our gear and found his favorite channels on the tv. I thought a barbecued chicken pizza with some monterrey cheddar and red onions sounded nice, but the smallish Vietnamese gentleman has trouble understanding what I wanted. After pointing my way through the menu, and determining that I did not want a smalleeeee, but a lahgeeee, he kindly offered to bring up my food to the room when it was ready. Wonderful!

Thirty minutes later, our food arrived. Now, most everyone I know has eaten at at least one Chinese buffet in their lives. You know that very red-colored barbequed chicken they serve? The one with the unnatural color? Imagine that laying on a puddle of pizza sauce and sprinkled with some cheese. Run that through an Easy Bake oven and throw some raw onions on top. Kinda reminds me of the crap we invented in our kitchen in college from things leftover in everyone’s fridge. Either we were really tired and hungry, or just didn’t care becuase we were on vacation. Yup, we ate it. And didn’t care. This was about the time that I noticed something about our room. Something different. Something out of place. Something that didn’t belong.

In case you didn’t spot it, here’s a closer look.

I promise this was a nice place. Marble floors in the lobby and leather club chairs. And pine tree air fresheners.

Spoiler alert: Day 2 was so cool, that we are now way cooler just by default. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Vacation Totals Day One: Miles ridden- 373
Condition of ass from riding on a 1-10 scale – 9
Number of times I lost, misplaced, or forgot something – 2
Number of times I cared that I lost, or forgot something – 0

Stay tuned, it gets way better.

How to pack the whole world in a Ziplock bag

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Jun 8th, 2010
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So, in a few days the man and I are leaving on vacation. Being the free spirits that we are, we will not hesitate to jump on the Harley and zip off for ten days with no particular destination. Yep, ten whole days. On a motorcycle. Two of us.

While on the surface this sounds idyllic, let’s look at the practicalities. Here is our mode of transportation for said ten days.

Notice the failure of adequate packing area? Holy crap! And this has to hold everything for TWO people. The last trip was for seven days, and I’m pretty sure I had to buy new underwear to make it through. Now it’s time to make a plan of attack on this issue. Let’s start at the top and work our way down. (That’s what he said.)

Hair and various products to make it not appear like a taxidermied pelt. Travel size washing and rinsing agents are readily available. And cute. Various blowing, drying, curling and straightening tools. Not gonna happen. Most reputable motels with the exception of Chunky Bob’s Love Palace provide hair dryers, so I guess that just leaves curling my hair around empty beer cans before bed every night. It’s like recycling, folks! Hopefully the motel dumpster will provide enough Old Milwaukee cans to leave me looking like I’m ready for civilization.

It takes a daily plethora of potions and volatile solutions to prep this face for the world. I will be culling this down to the bare basics. I will only be packing the necessary items needed to not scare and/or scar children and/or small animals. The rest of world should just look away.

Clothing. Herein lies the problem. Sure, we could skip on undies and ride commando, but over a thousand miles on a small leather seat with the seam of your new cool jeans wrapping around your ovaries makes one testy. Seam chafing your labia majorly? Seam rubbing the jay off your vajayjay? “Insert your own disturbing phrase here.”

Since we will not be attending any grand affairs or red-carpet events, comfy jeans and cute tops will suffice. Throw in some t-shirts for the man, and we will be all ready for All-You-Can-Eat-Barbeques and roadside flea markets.

Shoes. There will be arguments over the packing of shoes. Namely cute shoes. I choose to live in denial for now. Or at least until the fighting begins.

Various technological devices. *sigh* Dear Laptop-on-which-I-am-typity-typing, I will miss you. Please do not think that I have abandoned you for another. I promise to return to you with tales of wonder and will google all the places that I’ve been. I will upload pictures for you to see and download any new music that I find while I’m away. Yes, the new camera and the newer ipod will be making the journey with me, but only to keep me amused while we’re apart.

The man will probably make me pack practical things like rain suits and sunscreen. I will argue for cute shoes. He will win as soon as I realize that it’s vacation and I dont’ care. Just don’t expect any pictures of my feet.

Damned memories

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Jun 3rd, 2010
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Something today sparked a memory. This evening in the course of dinner conversation the subject of cussing arose. Now, while I personally am a BIG fan, and a veteran in the practiced art of cussery, I generally frown upon the chirren blaspheming. As they morph into the teenagers that will be the death of me, I’m sure the words will become more frequent. It’s part of growing up and expanding and finding boundaries. Fortunately, that’s not the story to tell today. (“Cause I’m long-winded, ya know.)

When the eldest was about four years old, one of the hilljack aunts decided that she needed a parakeet for Easter. Sidenote: I don’t like birds. As a matter of fact, I hate birds. Especially up close. Or in my house. Yes, it’s irrational, blame Hitchcock. Whatev.

Unknown to the hilljack aunt, she had purchased the world’s oldest parakeet. Guiness Book of Records old. Ought to be drawing a social security check old. I didn’t know feathers could wrinkle – old.

Fast forward a couple of weeks full of me cussing birdseed in the carpet and annoying bird noises at 5:30 AM to one bright Saturday morning. I had planned to take the chirren to see their grandmother for the day, and in the process of breakfast, face-washing and clothing the offspring, I look up to see one dead bird in the bottom of one messy cage. Thanks to it’s height, the kiddos hadn’t noticed it yet. Being the non-dealing-with-shit type mom, I rushed us all out the door and into the car. One quick cell call to the hilljack husband to DEAL WITH THIS, was placed entirely in code. Or pig latin. I can’t remember.

Remember the hilljack? Milkdud? That dumbass that I was married to? Yeah, that one. Well, he decides to go one a mission to find an identical bird to replace this one, hence leaving the chirren clueless and happy. It was a nice thought, I suppose, but we all know that those never play out well. Seeing as how he has the attention-span of a gnat on meth, he disposed of the WHITE BIRD WITH BLUE SPOTS, and purchased a BLUE BIRD WITH WHITE SPOTS. (Big diff, dud.)

The eldest childs comment to me upon seeing the new bird for the first time?
“Someone painted my damned bird!”

*At this point the mother went outside, crawled in the backseat of the car, and laughed until the pee in her pants almost dried.

It wasn’t that kind of revival

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May 17th, 2010
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Today I had to have a Come to Jesus talk with other people. Twice. No, this wasn’t religious in any form. It was more along the lines of “Straighten your ass up, or I’ll make your life hell” kinda talk.

The first group was my employees. How I managed to hire a full dozen people that never matured beyond second grade is beyond me. The meeting was productive and I think that some necessary changes should help make everyone’s day’s easier, but sweet baby Jesus, they are a loud bunch. Ex-inlaws loud. Monster truck rally loud. I think I still have a little reverb going on inside my head.

The second talk was with my eldest. She’s testing her boundaries as a teenager and pushed too far again tonight. There was the standard “Oh shit, I’m caught” moment. The five minutes of yelling time. The requisite twenty minutes of pouting silence, and then the hour long talk. Or should I say TALK. (It deserves capital letters.) My daughter seems to be under the misunderstanding that I should be her friend. All her friends are BFF’s with their mothers. Their mothers understand. Their mothers share.

Ok, listen kiddo. I’m not your friend. You have plenty of friends for that. I’ve met them. I’m your parent. It’s my job to make sure that you grow up to be a respectable human being that can take care of herself. Someone who will consider consequences before she acts. Please understand that when you’re older, I’d love to hang out with you, but right now it’s not in the job description.

Years ago, my cousins were causing some trouble. They were teenaged boys and involved in many stupid acts that teenage boys can get into. There was drinking, drugs, pregnancy scares, wrecked cars, detentions, arrests and boot camps. When their mother, my aunt, was filling us in one evening on the latest escapades of debauchery, she made a statement that has seared into my brain. She said, with all the nonchalance she could muster, “Well, someone had to be Charles Manson’s mother.” Ummm….really? She was excusing herself for everything? No-second guessing? No regrets?

Now what my child did is nothing compared to the cousins. It’s a blip for an otherwise good kid. She goes to school, her grades are excellent, her friends are not wanted by the police. But did I over-react by not being her friend? I don’t think so.

And dear Bette, if years down the road you ever read this, I love you but I was right. We can be friends now, but back then you needed a parent.

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