Thursday, September 29, 2011

A quick discussion of our most recent journey

Awright, awright. Finally, a bit of discussion about our little road trip which saw the Barco Crew embarked in the family truckster; a furren made roadster with way too much coolness to be left at home in the garage. 13 states were to be visited while we had a few free days between jobs.

Departure was at the crack of 0515, but we were already awake, anyway. We left in the dark and made good time to Interstate 10. The Roadster wants to drive above 80 mph, and it is difficult keep this smooth riding car at or near the 70 miles required by the local gendarmes. Or keeping the car on the ground, for that matter. About an hour later we veered North on I-75 heading for Atlanta. The Plan was to miss any and all of the traffic normal to the Atlanta area, especially the commute version, which is said to be quite slow.

0800 found us exiting in Cordele, Georgia which apparently has the Jimmy Carter National Historic (Plains) area nearby. BFD.

We stopped for refueling at the local Shell Station and loaded aboard 8.55 gallons of Super Shell. No steak knives were offered to us despite the $34.05 cost of the fill up.

No wonder people are so down on the petroleum conglomerates. We. Want. Gimme's!

These are no longer given as premiums for your loyal purchase of a fill up (At participating dealers)

Anyway... I walked into the dreaded Micky-D's for some sustenance. (I never do the drive through, takes too long and one never knows what is going on behind that window) I bought three Sausage Mick Muffins ($1.00 each!) and a pair of apple pies. (Didja get the pun?)

You guys are no fun anymore, really.

So chow was acquired for less than five American Beer Exchange Chits. And said food was indeed scarfed down while zooming North on the Interstate. I have no pictures of this since I am sure there were unsightly crumbs all over the front of my tunic.

I hear that fighter pilots will have a bowl of cigarettes for breakfast followed by a candy bar while in climbout, after a loud and short takeoff.

Not us. We're helicopter types and we believe in having a nutritious brekky, and all while doing 75 mph in very low earth orbit.

At 1000 we noticed busier traffic schemes and we hugged the left lane of the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) lanes since there was two of us aboard. Not counting "Nancy" the Navigator, who was shrilly telling me to be in the right hand lane to make it to our exit! Nancy is unaware of the new fangled HOV lanes and assumes we would be driving alone, anyhow.

At about 1030 I asked my favorite person (Besides me!, come on now...) "When do we get to the bad traffic?"

"Oh, we're already past downtown, we will be in Dalton in no time," She pleasantly revealed.

Dalton, GA. is the Carpet center of the world. Some dude with a last name of Pennington is the Mayor. I bet he is retired from the Air Force, too. Maybe blogs a bit, I wonder...

We decided to hit the local Shell Station for a top up of Premium before we get somewhere and find gasoline is 'spensive. 8.6 gallons goes into the fuel pipe at a cost of $33.39. There were no knives, again. But I could buy a special Men's "Addiction World" welcome baggy which has a six pack of Busch, a Penthouse, pack a' Marlboro's and a bag of pork rinds for $10.00! The Lady's version has wine coolers, Cosmo, Virginia Slims and a pint of Hagen Dazs.

I'm lying, again. No fun for any of you!

I got a coke and some Mike and Ike's. You guys are a really tough audience.

Back to the mission:

The sun was really beginning to come out from behind the clouds and the day was looking loud and clear. By 1345 we were on some proper mountain Interstate and I was enjoying the handling of our finely crafted road car (with corinthian leather on the seats and half of the steering wheel, oh I get so excited!) and was passing cars effortlessly. Two hours later we were about 45 miles South of Louisville where we stopped at a local gas station. There we loaded about 13.9 gallons of premium along with two bags of chips (with cokes!) for our Tea Time Snack. $54.68 that did cost for such abundance, oh yes.

Louisville was a bit more crowded traffic-wise at 1630. We moved along at a good pace through town and got a chance to look at some of the Commercial Buildings, one of which was the Headquarters for the Company the Mrs worked for up until a few days before. Heh.

The City of Louisville is on the Ohio river, and it is a very good looking city from the Interstate. I could also see some Boat Marinas nearby, so if we ever did have to move there, we could bring the Barco. I think Fort Campbell is not too far away, so we could use the Commissary and AAFES, too.

We were trying to decide whether to push through to Chicago, or at least Indianapolis. The traveling clock had us at over 12 hours on the road and there was going to be commuter traffic at the very least in the latter mentioned metropolis. At 1745 we stopped in Greenwood and checked into a Hilton Garden Inn. The clerk said we had the last available room.

It seems there was some sort of NATO Exercise going on and I didn't doubt it; there was buzz cuts and polite people with bad hair everywhere. A nice young lady (who was clearly in the service) actually chatted with me as we waited on an available computer in the business lounge. (She thought I might be with that group...)

"No, just a bad haircut from NAS Jacksonville, I'm not in the service." Was all I quickly mentioned before I got on the computer and could disengage.

I'm such a chicken-poop geek. Leave it to me to run away from da wimminz.

We had a great sleep in the queen sized adjustable air beds. We were up at the crack of 0500 and were able to be out the door at 0530. Great stop and now we were ready to face the misty fog and nasty road conditions on the road for Chicago.

We made a stop at Remington, Indiana for fuel and sausage Mick Muffins. $36 for 8.9 gallons of premium, but the coffee was outstanding. Soon we headed for the monster traffic jam that would be waiting for us on the Tri-StateTollway. Ex-Citing!

Especially when you don't have one of those electronic toll gizmos. Every six miles I had to dive to the right in between the wall to wall trucks to make it to the cash tollbooths. Otherwise, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has his attack cops to unnatural things to you, I'm sure.

It must have been about 1000 when we finally entered the Milwaukee area and the traffic toned a bit down. After we left Milwaukee, the sun began to peek out of the clouds and there was promise in the air. Wisconsin was really nice as we headed into the heartland of Lutheran Extremism, where religious zealots may actually welcome you into their ruthless traps of comfort and friendliness.

At 1230, we decided to get off the road in a small town of Lena, Wisconsin. Beautiful town, I could have spent a few days there. Especially on a Friday night, enjoying a High School football game!

I'm serious; That was a sweet old town of the American Dream. Lunch at McGuire's diner (Smelt and fries) cost about $7.00! I expected Jimmy Stewart to come out asking if we were ready to buy the home of our dreams, right there in town...

Refueled at the corner gas station (And I bought a Lotto Ticket for the Powerball!) 12.95 gallons cost us $51.45. (I figure that some luck, besides the obvious stuff, might hit us because we were in such a charming place)

Main road entering town as viewed from Gas Station

Entering Town

Local High School. And a good looking one it is!

We reluctantly left Lena for Mohawk, Michigan. It was a wonderful ride once we left the highway for the two laner just at the border. At Lanse we dropped the top and enjoyed about 45 miles of clear blue skies unobstructed by the roof of the Roadster. We stopped at Pat's IGA in Calumet for beer and wine and a car wash. There be dead buggins on our nice car, and since we had the only fancy pants car in all of the Keweenaw Peninsula, we better at least look presentable!

We arrived in Mohawk at 1745. PBR's were cracked at 1746 for general consumption. Overall we give this day a rating of; Great trip!

Tom and myself tried to drink up all the beer until 0030. Everyone else headed to bed at a reasonable time, like a half an hour before Midnight. Not me. I had three more last ones.

At 0700, I awoke fuzzy headed with the hops pounding on my brain to let them out. Everyone (The decent folks) was already up and drinking coffee, waffles were being created on the griddle. And bacon. Lots of bacon. Did I mention coffee?

It was a wonderful breakfast that Sue created out of nothing and she was even nice enough to offer aspirin! The Spousal Unit and her brother went out for a ride in the car. Seems that Tom left his wallet at work and needed a ride to recover his property. I am sure he heard all about him in some Japanese lookin' car with some hottie, prolly running away from home!

Off they went while I tried to reconnect with the normal living style of decent non-drinking people. It took a couple hours and a long hot shower to realize that dream. Sue just went about her business of straightening up their home while I went up and down the stairs in search of an existence without regret. Or headaches.

By eleven AM, we all hopped into the four wheel drive and made our way to the Snake Camp, out in the very wild area of the northern Keweenaw Peninsula, not far from Copper Harbor.

We went by some old mine on a mountain and looked out at Lake Superior.
By the way; Every truck in the Keweenaw is four wheel drive. And there is a chain saw, axe, rifle, survival gear and an innate knowledge of all the back roads, known as "Two Tracks". Had we not been along for a fun drive, Tom and Sue would have been chainsawing a number of logs (The presence of these logs were noted as we passed) into loadable sizes to be hauled back home. Late summer is when all Yoopers  begin to really stock away the firewood, which is free and very plentiful.

Lake Superior

Click to biggify

All this used to be a vibrant Copper Mining area

We went from the lookout to the Snake Camp. Tom purchased the rights to the lease of the ten acre camp in the middle of logging country. The logging companies will lease parcels of land to be used as hunting cabins and such in exchange for the user who will pay the land taxes and maintain the camps. Tom literally owns the cabin and other structures, while the logging company owns all  the other assets. It's a good deal for about $500 bucks a year.

While at the camp we had a few beers and some hot dogs for lunch. I was impressed at how civilized the camp was (I was expecting some pretty rough circumstances) and I could see myself returning again and again, If allowed.

Road and bridge to Snake Camp

Very nice three room camphouse which sleeps 15 (Not sure if that's 15 Americans or 30 Refugees)


Flies. Our hosts put out fly tape and they were soon gone.

No running water 'cepting for the crick. Ya gotta tote the water to the house!

No Showers. Sauna built in an old pontoon shack. Very nice inside with cedar lining!
Guess what this is?
Da' facilities. A one seater with no heat.

Appropriate Signage inside camphouse

Time to do some shooting
One of the Shootin Arn's .357 Taurus

We decided to put some cans and bottles out for target shooting. As guest, I was allowed first six shots. The host was stunned when I was plinking those cans off the log (without missing!) in rapid order. I explained my prowess on the fact I had not shot any firearms since 1998. I retained all the good habits from the service. That, and my shakiness was gone and I could hold a sight picture in a sorta steady way.

Bored observers

After shooting up all the extra ammo, we settled in by the fire for some beers and conversation. Tom's daughter came to the camp to visit us. She drove from Marquette where she plays hockey for the Northern Michigan University, I thought it was very nice of her to drive four plus hours in her little convertible just to see her Aunt from Florida.

Click to embiggen
I will leave everyone at the Snake Camp preparing for the evening's festivities. Hope you have enjoyed the first half of the endless travelogue!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Travelogue to come.

A video to tide you over...

Cruising the Family Truckster over the Mackinac Bridge... Please disregard my use of the Navy term for disappointment at the :37 second mark.

Hot Babe and her Chariot at Lake Superior; Isn't it cool that the background matches the color of the car? (Silverblue)
Click on picture to embiggen.

Lots of stuff going on this week. I have begun the task of putting things together for a complete report. Naturally, we had fun and someone will have to pay for all this!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mission Tasking

Off and running! Like a herd of turtles...

Big road trip begins in 20 hours, we shall make way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for to see family and an early autumn.

I suspect there will be fun to be had with Brother in Law in the Keweenaw, apparently there will be fishing and camping. We will be bringing jackets because we know it will be freezing, compared with the tropical temperatures of Florida.

The photographs and commentary will be a bit sparse at first, since I think the internet at Mohawk is dial up only. The horror...,+FL+32210&daddr=Mohawk,+MI&hl=en&sll=47.298034,-88.372564&sspn=0.034634,0.090551&geocode=Fdn_zQEdov0g-ynF7-a_ZbjliDGzbs578cozSA%3BFYPM0QId36i7-ikpXL_nlqJQTTG89k3uIzf7HQ&vpsrc=0&mra=ls&z=5

Stay tuned for more Rock and Roll radio.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor day is here!

This is the holiday weekend when people rightfully enjoy the fruits of their annual labor, and acknowledge the past efforts of those who toiled to build our great nation to what it is today.

My main memory of labor day past was that this was the time that my parents would cook steak on a hibachi in the back yard. Steak was sorta not very regular on our menu, but chuck steak made it at least twice a quarter. So the taste of charcoal lighter fluid, Kraft barbecue sauce and chuck steak will remain forever locked into the memory of the warm afternoon of Labor Day. (Barbecue sauce on a steak; Eeek!)

In the San Francisco Bay Area, namely Hayward and San Lorenzo, we would eagerly (not) look forward to a nasty heat wave that would generally begin after Labor Day. Oh yes, the temperatures will scorch even The City causing all kinds of problems which for me as a youngster, meant being trapped in school on the hottest part of Summer. Without air conditioning, either in our homes or in the cars. I really miss San Francisco!

Fast forward 38 years later: The temperatures in North Florida are down right pleasant! It is in the upper eighties and the humidity is significantly lower and this has us local going outside and rejoicing in a dry manner.

I have air conditioning in the house and all cars. For irony; Our convertible roadster has air conditioning. The wimpification of America is complete, and I am proof!

I alluded a few months ago (vaguely) to some opportunities that were upcoming. A month past, I figured that we were out of the running for that bit and said so publicly on this blog.

Not. So. Fast. Wait for it...

It seems that patience is indeed a virtue and "initiative comes to thems who wait." (That last bit is lifted from "A Clockwork Orange")

Tuesday will be a day of action and change. It isn't as big as we hoped but it is.
She Who Will Be Obeyed has worked long and hard to make some semblance of a successful career, and as the Chief Remora, I have swirled around providing support and affection. Lucky for me she lets me continue hanging around. Very lucky!

A celebratory road trip may be commencing by Thursday morning. We had hoped to go a month around these great United States, but due to tasking requirements, we will have to shorten it to Michigan's UP and Traverse City.

My fantasy search for the boat of opportunity (Remember the Mine Sweeper? It's price has dropped to $34K...) has led me to many more equally fine and fun vessels. Today's fun vessel is called "Beauport"

Only $2.9M and this former Canadian Coast Guard vessel can be yours. WANT!!!

My regret is that I only buy one lotto ticket at a time. A buck for a chance to dream...

One last cool photo lifted from the wonderful web;

Wonderful Photo by Thomas McNulty, 1980, while onboard USS Coral Sea

Please click to biggify! Look closely at the intake of that Phantom and look at the name on the plexiglass. Too. Fargin'. COOL! I went to the Coral Sea website and found stole this. I was stationed at NAS Alameda during this timeframe, and I was at the dock drinking free beer when the Coral Sea came home from this particular deployment.

Have a great Weekend and drive safe, please!