Last Day

Today I'm driving the Texas grandkids to the airport in Panama City, Florida, for their flight home to Dallas, Texas. Neither of have them have ever flown unaccompanied, and there are some jitters. Not on their parts, mind you, but underneath this calm exterior I'm going a little nuts.

We've had a good time these past two weeks spoiling these kiddos. Doright Manor will be awfully quiet once they leave.

Bike in a Box

Poppa (Studly) Doright and I keep motorcycles for the grandkids to ride when they come to visit. All year long he searches EBay and Craig's List looking for used bikes that are just the right model and size for each child. Once he gets the bike home to Doright Manor, Studly tinkers and tweaks until the bikes run like brand new ones.

He hit the jackpot with Jackson's little Honda.

But Dominique's scooter wasn't ideal for trail riding. She'd wanted one she didn't have to shift, and that part was great, but the scooter just didn't do well in the dirt.
So Poppa began scouring local ads and found what he thought might be the perfect bike. Unfortunately it came unassembled in a box:


But it didn't take long for the bike in a box to be ready for action.

It's a pretty little off brand thing called a Viper. Contrary to what the guy we bought it from told us, the Viper isn't an automatic, though, so Dominique still doesn't have a bike.

Back to the classifieds and Craig's List we go. It's one adventure after another here at Doright Manor.

Peace, people!

Unloading the Bikes

Sometimes having fun is hard work. Today Poppa, aka Studly Doright, and the grandkids took the bikes to a local riding park outside of Tallahassee. I went along just in case a chase vehicle was needed.

Poppa made sure both Dominique and Jackson played active roles in unloading their bikes.





While the three intrepid bikers took off down a series of dirt trails I sat in the car and read for awhile. Consequently, I have no exciting photos of their ride, only secondhand tales of near misses and wrong turns. In the end, my chase car services were necessary when Dominique's scooter suffered a minor breakdown. It is nice to be needed.

Peace, people, and safe travels.

Studly’s New Toy

Studly Doright thought I should share photos of his new toy. It’s a ’72 model 350 Yamaha R5, a two cylinder, two stroke. He bought it for himself and then told me it was his birthday present from me. That’s how you cut out the middle man. Or middle woman, in this case.


It needs a bit of TLC, so I’ll be supervising the work. I do have a stake in the thing, after all.

Peace, people.

Gator in the House

I succesfully rendezvoused with our son Jason in Jackson, Mississippi, and brought our grandkids, Dominique (13), and Jackson (10), home with me to Havana, Florida. No sooner had we gotten unpacked than Dominique headed to the lake with her fishing pole, and Jackson suited up to ride his minibike.

   
 

I had a glass of wine and handed over supervisory duties to Studly Doright, aka Poppa.

Dominque caught a fish right off the bat.

 
Prompting Jackson to come join in the fun:

  
And then our resident gator made an appearance:

  
I believe I’ll go have another glass of wine within the safe confines of Doright Manor and pray that no one falls prey to our reptile friend. 

Peace, people.

Driving Home

In another life I might have been a truck driver or a race driver or even a cab driver. The act of driving is one I thoroughly enjoy. Others seem oblivious, though, to the joys.

One afternoon this week I sat at a stop light and watched as the twenty-something woman in the car next to mine immediately slouched into her seat and began texting on her phone once her brakes fully engaged. 

For a few seconds I watched her intently typing a message–most likely something earth shattering like, “LOLZ!” Or “WTF man?!” before I scanned the other traffic around me that included an unevenly loaded trailer two cars ahead and a motorcycle with a dangerously low tire in front of my texting friend. In addition a group of elderly pedestrians was crossing at the indicated walkway a few car lengths in front of me.

My texting friend noted none of this. In fact, once the light changed to green she continued to sit and text only moving forward when those behind her began honking their displeasure.

This isn’t a treatise on safe driving; although, as a motorcyclist few things infuriate me more than a driver who texts while behind the wheel. No, this is a post about noticing one’s surroundings and enjoying the drive.

Many years ago (I might’ve even been a teenager!) I read a fluff piece in a doctor’s office magazine about the connection between women and driving. The magazine, I recall, was a religious publication, perhaps Guidepost, or something similar. Something about that article stuck with me all these years, even though I couldn’t quote a single word from it if my life depended on it.

The heart of the article was that women had gained a great deal of freedom in the preceding decades (this was probably written in 1975) and that perhaps the greatest freedom outside of being able to vote was that of being able to drive, and with that freedom came great responsibility.

The author of the article noted that female drivers always looked proud and responsible, that they seemed particularly aware of their surroundings and relished their independence. The author went on to say that since female drivers often had children in tow they seemed to take extra care with their precious cargo and to spend time pointing out interesting and educational sights along their routes.

Perhaps I was young and impressionable, but I took that article at face value and decided that I’d be an exemplary driver–and I probably succeed 85% of the time. 

I enjoy engaging with the road, noting how different driving surfaces interact with my tires. I love solving the puzzle of traffic, figuring out where my vehicle fits into the bigger picture as Car A moves into the space vacated by Car D while avoiding Pedestrians X, Y, and Z. And I’m keen on listening to the engine and how the gears shift in the transmission.

When our children were small I helped them learn to read by calling attention to billboards and signs on the sides of trucks. Our youngest could spell “Toyota” before her third birthday.  And time spent at stop lights wasn’t wasted either as we sang along to the radio or counted the number of blue, or red, or white cars around us.

Maybe my texting friend will at some point look up from her screen and realize there’s more to driving than pressing on the gas pedal and steering the wheel. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get rear-ended before then.

Peace, people!

  

Just a Scary Night in Jacksonville

Studly Doright and I drove over to Jacksonville last Thursday afternoon to purchase a 2010 Honda Goldwing he’d found on Craigslist. Even though Jacksonville isn’t terribly far from Tallahassee, Studly arranged to take Friday off from work so he wouldn’t be driving home from Jacksonville on an unfamiliar bike after dark. 

Craiglist purchases always make me nervous. After all, there have been cases in which the person placing the ad just wanted to murder and rob someone by luring them to a meeting spot. As a proactive measure once we got to the designated location I stayed in the running car with my finger poised to dial 9-1-1. Studly shook his head and laughed at me. I get no respect.

Once we had the bike and title in hand, I set the car’s GPS for our hotel address and with Studly following on the Goldwing we set off across Jacksonville. Studly had instructed me not to worry if we were separated, assuring me he’d find the hotel on his own if necessary.

As soon as we got on the interstate a car cut in between us and in spite of Studly’s instructions I slowed a bit to allow him to catch up. Before long I spotted him in my rear view mirror making a move to catch me. Unfortunately, the driver of the car fell victim to a bad case of road rage and I watched in horror as he attempted to intimidate Studly.

Now, my husband is a former motocross racer. His reflexes and instincts are still sharper than those of most people I know, but this angry driver was incredibly aggressive and determined to teach Studly Doright a lesson.

When our exit popped up I hoped this person would stay on the interstate, but no, he came off right behind my husband. We immediately hit a stop light, and the driver stopped beside Studly. I was watching intently in case I needed to intervene. Studly was nodding. The driver was yelling; although, I couldn’t hear what he was saying. 

Apparently, the angry man finally felt vindicated and took a left turn as soon as the light turned green. Studly and I made it to our hotel without further incident. 

Once in our room I asked Studly what had happened. “Oh,” he said calmly, “he threatened to shoot me.”

My knees buckled. To think I’d been so concerned about the Craigslist seller and only mildly worried about the road rage guy. I didn’t sleep well that night. 

In the morning we left the Goldwing at the hotel and headed to a diner for a great breakfast. Much to my surprise Studly suggested we find a beach, so we followed the signs to Hanna Park, a gorgeous two mile stretch of powder soft sand. The tide was out, and we plucked a handful of delicate, intact shells from the beach.   

   
The walk and the clean tang of salt and sea cleared my head. All was right in the world, and I banished the potential violence of the night before from my mind. After taking Studly back to his bike we parted ways for the rest of the day. I drove down to St. Augustine to see what the outlet stores had to offer and Studly headed home to Doright Manor.

I hope that stupid driver came down with a bad case of diarrhea followed by extreme constipation and excessive gas. Otherwise, I wish him well. 

Peace, people.

  

New Addition to the Family

We’ve been blessed by the arrival of a new family member–a beautiful 2010 Honda Goldwing:

  

The red bike in the background is my Yamaha Majesty. For the past couple of years it has led a sad life, sitting for months on end without any meaningful trips outside of our garage. Oh, Studly starts it up periodically and takes it for spins around the neighborhood, but the poor dear was languishing for lack of attention.

It’s not that I don’t still adore the bike. She’s taken me on some epic journeys, including a solo trip from Illinois to Texas and back the year I turned 50. But ten years later I’ve noticed that my reflexes aren’t as sharp as they once were, and while I’ve never been a fearless rider, I now find myself a jumpy one. That’s not a good characteristic for a motorcyclist to have.

It seems we’ve come full circle, having had a Goldwing many years ago and selling it when I declared I wanted to be in the driver’s seat on my own ride. It really is all about me. 

Studly is going to sell one of his bikes, and I’m going to sell my Majesty. We’ll still have a small stable of dirt bikes and his beloved Ole ’93.

 

Ole ’93 is Studly’s project bike. He’d part with me before he’d part with it.
  
A couple of our dirt bikes.
  
Studly’s VStrom will also be going to a new home.
 
I’m typing this while drinking a beer and watching Studly check over and polish the Goldwing.  

 I can hardly wait for our first adventure.

Peace, people.

Classic Car Dreaming

Studly Doright and I were out piddling Saturday afternoon. He’d played golf that morning, and I’d driven to Apalachicola to spend some of his money. All in all a win-win, I’d say. He made it back to Doright Manor ahead of me even after helping a friend move some items from one house to another.

When I pulled into the driveway, he was out working (playing) in his shop. I talked him into taking me out for dinner since I’d worked so hard at shopping and beach walking that morning, and couldn’t quite summon the energy to push the power button on the microwave. It’s a tough life, I know.

After dinner he subtly suggested we go grocery shopping, and I reluctantly agreed. If there’s food in the house I’ll eventually have to cook it or ignore it. Both require energy. I just am fresh out of energy lately–shall I blame it on the weather? Daylight Saving Time? Age? All of the above?

The Publix supermarket nearest our home is adjacent to a Sonic drive-in. As we pulled into the drive in we realized the first Saturday car show was in progress and the first car we saw belonged to one of Studly’s friends! Of course we pulled over to look, and for once I remembered to snap a few photos.

The car below was one of my personal favorites. I love the color scheme on this Bel Air. I want to say it’s a ’57 model, but I forgot to look.

 

 

Next is our friend, Pete’s car. It’s a ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon, hardly stock. Pete’s been working on the build for three years, and it’s a beaut. He isn’t finished with the project–work on the interior is still in progress. This was the car’s first foray into the limelight.

 

Pete had to hide his soft drink from view lest it detract from the view of his car.

Other cool cars from our evening:

 

   

  

  

swoon!

Look at the Jaguar featured in these next photos. I’d never seen this model before in person. I love the way both the hood/bonnet and trunk/boot open. 

   

  

   
  

Here’s Studly urging me to take a peek inside “The Widowmaker.”
  
    
A lone bike made it out on Saturday. This is one Studly would enjoy having in his stable.
    
   
 
Studly had to give me a brief tutorial on the Holley headers on this GTO. He was in heaven.
 
We eventually made it to the grocery store, but Studly’s enthusiasm for food shopping had been replaced by visions of engines and headers and carburetors, so I got off easy. Hurrah for horsepower!

Curves

she’d never been adept
at hanging lefthand curves;
hitting the apex just so,
leaning tight into the turn.
she’d fall out too soon,
or overshoot, rattling
her delicate equilibrium.
but let her lean right,
oh my! and the gods smiled
at the smooth transition,
steely nerves, graceful form.
she pondered a world of
only right hand curves
and ended up exactly
where her ride began.

 

I only wish I could lean left like this.

Peace, people.