Sunday, January 17, 2016

Taking Snoopy back home to KSC.

It was time to return Snoopy to the Kennedy Space Center this weekend.  But because I had ScooterBob too, I brought him along too.

We rode the 175 miles from Jacksonville to Titusville, where I had dinner with Bob Arnold, the now retired Pad Rat.

Then on Saturday, Bob had arranged a special appearance at the space center where we had an escorted visit to the Saturn V and Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibits.

Me, Snoopy and ScooterBob in Titusville

ScooterBob at the Space Center

And with his friend Snoopy

We also met with a real astronaut, Rodolfo Neri Vela, who accepted Snoopy back to the center.

Rodolfo, Bob and Snoopy at the hand off.

Because it was Snoopy's day, ScooterBob stayed with my scooter, but had a good ride.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Amelia Island

Scooter Bob, Snoopy and I rode to Amelia Island today.  I had a meeting with clients at their house that I designed.  It is under construction on the ocean on the island.

Riding up there is one of my favorite rides in the area, as it goes along the north side of the St. Johns river to Fort George Island where it turns into A1A heading north through Little and Big Talbot Islands before reaching the south tip of Amelia Island.  The Talbots are largely left natural while Amelia is constantly being developed, but not terribly.  The town on Amelia Island is Fernandian Beach, an old, historic town that draws people for events like the annual Shrimp Festival.  Most of the core of the town is restored buildings that make up stores, bars, restaurants, bed and breakfasts and a hotel.  There is also a beautiful city hall and post office along Centre Street.

Sitting proud on Razzo's seat at the coastal marshes between Big and Little Talbot Islands

At the entry to American Beach.  This beach is notable because until the late 1960's, this was the only beach in North Florida open to black people. One of the unpleasant parts of living in the area is the segregation and racism that took place for so long.

ScooterBob and Snoopy enjoying the beach.

ScotterBob at the project house.

And on a canopy road near the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Sunny Day in Jacksonville

Snoopy arrived this morning.  It is the most beautiful day, so I thought I would take both Snoopy and ScooterBob out for some photos along the St. Johns River.

Snoopy riding ScooterBob while riding my Rocket.

ScooterBob on the river.

Snoopy and ScooterBob with downtown Jacksonville beyond.

Nice little machine.  I was worried it would roll off into the river, but it didn't.

Snoop and Bob

Both in their cabin.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Scooter Bob in Georgia

Today, the Seven Bridges Scooter Club traveled to Darien, Georgia for our weekly Sunday ride.  Seven left Bojangles at 9:00, eight if you include Bob.

We met up with the fine group we call the Georgia Boyz at Steffens in Kingsland, Georgia.  Five more joined us there, including two new riders, Anna and Chris.

This narrow bridge crosses the St. Mary's River.  Georgia is on the north bank.

ScooterBob on my Honda at Steffens

Heading up the Sidney Lanier Bridge near Brunswick

From there we went to Darien for lunch at B&J's Seafood.

The gang and ScooterBob at B&J's

Chris and Anna, the new riders.

I got some nice photos from the 200 mile ride..

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Seven Bridges of Jacksonville

The Seven Bridges Scooter Club of Jacksonville, in preparation of our annual Seven Bridges Ride, had a test ride today.  The theme of the ride is to cross all seven bridges in Jacksonville that traverse the St. Johns River.  To make it more of a ride, this year we are including the Shands Bridge near Green Cove Springs, making the entire route approximately 85 miles,

It was cold (for North Florida) and misty for the entire ride.  Better weather coming soon.

I had ScooterBob, so he came along for the ride.

Shands Bridge near Green Cove Springs

Buckman Bridge, I-295 in Jacksonville.  THe bridge is 3 miles long.

Climbing the Fuller Warren Bridge, I-95 near downtown

The Acosta Bridge downtown

A stop at Friendship Fountain on the south bank downtown.  Russ, me and Karl

ScooterBob at the fountain with downtown across the river.

The Main Street Bridge Downtown

It lifts, so steel grating.

Heading to the Hart Bridge

On the Hart Bridge.

The big truss bridge with cables at the center span.

About to climb at the Mathews Bridge.

On the Mathews Bridge

Approaching the last, and largest bridge, the Broward Bridge, commonly called the Dames Point Bridge.  It is a very large cable stayed bridge.

On the Dames Point Bridge.

Back at the soon-to-be former scooter warehouse with Boris Loose, the best scooter mechanic around.  Boris is moving to Sanford near Orlando.  The 100 year old warehouse is in a fast growing part of town and will be demolished ti make way for apartments and retail soon.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dueling Scooters

As an architect, I get to specify materials for the houses I design.  One of the products that gets used often is a line of plumbing fixtures called Waterworks.  It is a very high end line with very expensive fixtures and tiles.  But they always look great.

Last Christmas, after giving a ride to the Florida sales representative, she gave me a metal scooter as a gift.  It is much tougher than ScooterBob, but lacks the personality I can feel in the wooden scooter.

ScooterBob has arrived!

I was so pleased to see the box awaiting my return home last night.  Thank you Sash!  It was sitting on the table on our front porch.

I brought it in and opened it to find much memorabilia along with a second box containing the small wooden scooter.

It was quite a relief.

Today is raining and a workday, so the little guy is working with me this morning.  I am looking forward to having it travel with me on a couple of rides this weekend.

 The front wheel is coming off, needing a quick glue fix that I will do soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bright, bright lights on a waning winter's day

Time passes. Memories fade.

That may be the most poignant fact of our lives.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

ScooterBob Coming My Way

It looks like the little fellow is coming my way.  Not sure of the dates but David Masse says it will be here soon.  If fortune works out, it may be here at the same time that the Modern Vespa Snoopy, a space traveling stuffed dog that must soon go back to NASA, will be here in Jacksonville.

I am hoping to deliver Snoopy to NASA, on my old Vespa GT that I call Rocket, at Cape Canaveral in late January.  These dates and plans typically change dramatically, but I can only hope that ScooterBob will be on the same ride.

Rocket and Me in Hyder, Alaska at the beginning of the 2014 Scooter Cannonball Run.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bant â Scooter Bob i Aberystwyth!

Hey, Chris, I've been thinking...

Yeah, Scooter Bob? What about?

Well, you know, I don't want to sound ungrateful... I mean, I appreciate your letting me stay at your place for so long and keeping the fridge stocked in beer and everything... but, well, since I'm a wooden scooter I don't really drink beer. Or anything else for that matter. And I'm not really a homebody, either. I'm a travelling sort, Chris, and I'd really like to do something.

Like what, SB?

Like go somewhere. We're here in Wales, aren't there any interesting places to go?

Sure. Loads. Arguably, Wales is home to the best motorcycling roads south of Hadrian's Wall.

OK, that sounds like my sort of thing. Let's explore some of those roads!

Good idea, SB. We'll head up to Aberystwyth, about 100 miles north and west of Cardiff. Hop on the back of my V-Strom. The road to Aberystwyth takes us first through the post-industrial towns that line the Welsh Valleys. Coal, steel and all other sorts of useful things used to pour from these valleys. To a certain extent, it could be said that the Industrial Revolution started here. Certainly it could be claimed that the labour movement got its start in Wales. Legend says that the reason socialists choose to be represented by the color red comes from a blood-soaked flag that was waved during a workers' riot in Merthyr Tydfil many centuries ago.

Wow. Interesting! Why aren't we stopping to take any pictures?

Because it's depressing. There are many warm-hearted people in the Valleys, but I honestly can't understand why they stay here. I'd rather be dead than wake up every morning to find myself "living" in some of these Valleys towns.

That's pretty extreme. Ooh, where are we now?

This is Brecon Beacons National Park, one of Wales' three national parks. Not too long ago it was awarded Dark Sky status, which means it's a place to try to escape the light pollution that blights so much of the UK. Even out of the park, though, Mid and West Wales offer good stargazing. My wife and I were up here for my birthday back in March. The temperature fell below freezing but I stayed out, staring into the night sky, until I couldn't feel my toes.

The roads that curve and roll over these hills are pretty fun.

They are. Well, they are when the sun is shining, at least. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen nearly enough.

I have roots in Vancouver. Don't talk to me about rain! So tell me about Aber... uhm... What was it called?

Aberystwyth. The name means "Mouth of the River Ystwyth." Its claim to fame is that it was a popular seaside town during the Victorian age. When the weather's good it'll still draw a decent number of day visitors. As you'll see when we get there. But in modern times it has also transformed itself into being the cultural capital of the Welsh language. The bulk of Welsh-language artists and writers and such went to university here. To the extent that it's sort of a cliché.

Didn't you get a degree in Welsh, Chris?

I did. Two of them –– a bachelors and a masters. But I went to Cardiff University. I figured a big city and a big university would offer more chances to fit in. I was wrong. I didn't know at the time how much of Welsh culture is centered in Aberystwyth. I often wonder how things could have gone for me. Anyway, look, here we are. The town lets motorcycles park for free, right on the promenade.

Ha! Wow! This is so cool. There are some pretty nice bikes here. 

Yeah, it's definitely THE thing. Riders from all over the place like to make a trip here, then they'll make their way back to wherever they started by following the roads that hug the coast. It's a pretty nice way to spend a Saturday. Or you can just lounge around and talk to people about their bikes; all the riders are friendly. And because many are Welsh they will never run out of things to say.

What are all these different flags along the promenade?

Well, those are the flags of various nations that are seeking independence or, at least, some form of greater recognition from their governments. There's Brittany's flag, the Catalan flag...

The Quebec flag...

Yup. There's a fair amount of separatist sentiment here. As I say, Aberystwyth is the capital of Welsh culture and a lot of people within that culture are, or at least purport to be, in favour of leaving the United Kingdom. Further along the seafront you'll see a mural dedicated to Owain Glyndwr, who rebelled against the English crown in the 1400s. 

And what does this say?

"I ble gei di dy gludo pan fo'r haul yn suddo?" The fact that it rhymes should clue you into the fact it's a verse from a poem –– I don't know which one –– and as such, translating it is somewhat tricky because of the issue of interpretation. Roughly, I'd say it means: "Whence shall you be carried when the sun sets?"

What does that mean?

No clue. It's poetry, SB. You can interpret it to mean whatever you want it to. Welsh-language culture is stupid for poetry. They even have their own wholly unique form of it, known as cynghanedd, which manages to turn poetry into some kind of mathematical equation. I can't stand it. 

You certainly have a lot of negative things to say about Wales.

Yeah, I guess I'm pretty jaded. A lot of bad things have happened since I moved here and I guess I can't really let go of how angry and hurt I am about them.

Bad things. Like meeting your wife, Jenn?

No. That was a good thing, obviously.

Oh, so you must mean something bad like getting your motorcycle license?

Well, no, but...

Or maybe it's the free healthcare that upsets you about Wales? Or those incredible roads we took to get here? Or those dark skies you mentioned? Or this seafront? Or those mountains I can see in the distance?

OK. I get your point, SB. Want to hit the road? We can take a different route back to Cardiff.

I hate to go. It's so pretty here. The sea looks so nice. I'll bet it would have been a lot of fun to attend university here.

Maybe. Maybe. It's pretty isolated from the rest of the world; that might get lonely. But, see these houses along the seafront? A lot of that is student accommodation. Imagine being a student with that view.


Indeed. OK, let's get rolling. If there's enough time we can stop for chocolates at a place I know in Llandeilo.

Sounds good. Hey, what's that by the roadside?

Ah, this is the "Cofiwch Dryweryn" wall. In Welsh that means "Remember Tryweryn." It's something of a rallying cry for the separatist movement. Tryweryn was a little village that the government cleared in the 1960s, then flooded the surrounding valley to create a reservoir for water to serve Liverpool. Needless to say, flooding a Welsh village to provide water for English people fuelled the separatist fire. The wall itself has earned its own kind of iconic status. Activists make sure it's repainted regularly.

You live in a place with so much beauty and unique history, Chris. You're very lucky. You really need to remember that, rather than holding onto whatever negative experiences might have happened here. 

I'm trying, Scooter Bob. I'm trying. Now hold on tight, this next section of road is pretty curvy...