Wakulla Springs Ride

Yesterday while poor Studly Doright had to toil away at the office I rode my CanAm Spyder RT out to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. From our home outside of Tallahassee it’s only about 42 miles to the park, and best of all, most of the ride was on shaded back roads with very light traffic.

Once at Wakulla Springs I walked around the park, had a light lunch, and enjoyed the scenic boat ride before starting home. I had intended to take photos for the blog, but using my cell phone as a gps ran my battery awfully low, so I only snapped a few pics:

A beautiful blue heron

A not-so-beautiful, but impressive gator

A tree framed by the window of the boat

Next time I’ll take along a charger for my phone. There were so many more shots that had to be foregone.

This was my second adventure on my Spyder, and I’m really beginning to enjoy the ride. I’m much more visible to drivers on this machine, and that’s always a good thing. The Spyder has plenty of power, and I feel comfortable in the seat. The only thing I haven’t tested yet is its performance on the interstate. Soon.

This is me pre-ride on the Spyder, before I put on all my gear:

My brother commented that I look tiny on the bike. Yay! For once something makes my butt look small.

Peace, people.

Anyone Know a Good Blacksmith?

When I took my new-to-me CanAm Spyder out for a test run yesterday I never expected I’d throw a shoe. Isn’t that an event reserved for horses?

And yet as I pulled into a parking lot in Mariana, Florida, in search of a place to have lunch I felt an odd sensation on the bottom of my left foot. The entire sole of my boot had detached and slipped off onto the asphalt.

Fortunately there’s a layer of leather between my foot and the sole; otherwise, I’d have been in a barefoot pickle! I guess I could’ve bought a pair of tennis shoes or cheap work boots at the local Beall’s department store, but I’d have had to ride the mile or so back in that direction and then gone limping inside to shop. Maybe it’s time for new boots. Or a good glue–has anyone ever tried that on motorcycle boots?

I put about 150 miles on the bike today. The ride is a bit different from that of a two-wheel motorcycle. One doesn’t counter steer on the Spyder, and there’s no front brake handle. I know eventually I’ll stop reaching for the handle and feeling ridiculous when I grasp nothing but air, but it may take awhile.

The bike “walks” a bit from side as opposed to a two-wheeler, and it catches wind in ways I’m not accustomed to, but it never feels unstable. Plus, not having to put my feet down upon stopping is priceless.

Additionally, one doesn’t lean into turns on the three-wheel Spyder. I was never a knee dragger, but I caught myself in leaning mode a couple of times today, and the bike is having none of that nonsense. I kept expecting it to rap my knuckles and admonish me to “sit up straight, for pity’s sake.”

I am in love with the reverse gear, the cruise control, and the radio. My windshield is adjustable and the bike has heated handgrips, as well! Those are all accoutrements I’ve never had on a bike before.

After my ride my shoulders and thighs were pretty tight and sore. Those are sure signs I need to relax a bit more. And for those of you who don’t ride motorcycles, 150 miles on a bike can feel like 350 if you’re tense.

Experienced Spyder owners tell me it’ll take about 500 miles to really appreciate everything the bike can do, so I’m off to a great start. If only I had boots, I’d ride again today.

Peace, people.

My New Toy

Studly Doright took Friday afternoon off of work and we drove to Crestview where I purchased this beauty:

It’s a 2010 Can Am Spyder RT and it’s stunning. Both Studly and I took our riding gear along. I’d intended to ride the bike home, but after Studly took it for a test ride he suggested that I drive the pickup home while he familiarized himself with the quirks of the Spyder.

The three wheel configuration requires a completely different style of riding than a standard motorcycle, and my guy didn’t want me getting used to it on a busy interstate. I didn’t grumble much and we took separate paths home.

Once we were both back at Doright Manor Studly gave me a tutorial and I put the Spyder through its paces on the narrow, twisty roads running through our neighborhood. It’s a blast, and while I still have a great deal to learn, I think the bike is a good fit for me.

Now, though, since the Spyder is definitely a “want” and not a “need” I have to get rid of four extra items on this 17th day of February, in order to meet the requirements of the Minimalist Challenge. Might be time to clean out the holiday closet. First I’m going for a ride!

Peace, people!

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.