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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Scooter Bob hits the streets Part Deux

Scooter Bob has been patient with me so far.   He didn't even complain when I jumped in the car and strapped him in.

I know he rather ride Kimmie down but where I wanted to go it be easier to take the car and park it rather than deal with the straps, jacket, his box and a few other things.

Earlier this week I promised him we would ride around the bay and show him a UFO.  I've ridden Kimmie on Bayshore Blvd in Tampa before.   I think almost everybody in the city has driven this stretch of road at one time or another.   It's a lovely road with the Hillsborough river and the bay on one side of the road, historic and beautiful homes on the other.  It can be bumpy and nasty in parts but what city street isn't?

The city is invaded by Jose Gaspar and his Pirates once a year and Bayshore is the street the crew of the various ships in his fleet parade down.

Bob reading up on the legend of Jose Gaspar

It's best to stay far away from Pirates

Scooter Bob and I started to walk up Bayshore, it's a popular place with joggers and bikers since the road not only has a good view of the bay and the city but a lot of distance between the road and the traffic to make walking and other things safe.  Their is some dispute on the issue but it is supposedly the longest continuous concrete walkway in America.

This is one of the "go to" places I have when I bring people to Tampa.  It's always a lovely day in the city and the view really is wonderful when you're on a bike.  I'm sure Bob would have a smile ear to ear riding it.   As would anyone.

Scooter Bob checks out the road and the city in the distance.
Wistfully looking at the water.

We crossed the street and started walking back to where I parked the car.  Scooter Bob seemed to be enjoying some of the million dollar plus houses and their views of the bay and the city.   A lot of those houses dated back to the 1800's.

I love and respect the past, and in a lot of ways I wish others shared my love of the past.  Sadly I live in a state where someone where tear down a lovely historic 1830's home and rebuild it by putting in a modern all glass monstrosity.  

Spanish Colonial from the 1850's
There was still one more place I wanted to stop.  This is not on my "Go To" list because frankly its part of an "adult entertainment" establishment.   However the UFO on top of the club is one of the last examples of Futuro buildings.   Futuro was a "fad" in the field of Architecture in the late 1960's.   UFO's and space travel were all the craze so it's no wonder that some people would try to make a UFO home.  

Tampa had at least two of these homes within city limits at one time but one was destroyed by the city and the second one....well that ended up being the VIP lounge I understand.  

I'm including it here however because it is so rare and unusual it deserves recognition.  The fad of the Futuro home was exactly that.  A fad and they quickly passed into history.  Still though it's an interesting and unusual story.  Plus how often does one claim to see a UFO in broad daylight?

Bob and I headed home.  Our next stop would be on the back of Kimmie and a bit out in the country.  But sadly this would be at least a week before our next adventure.   Say tuned as they would say.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Scooter Bob and I hit the mean streets

Always helpful, Scooter Bob checks out my new kitchen tiles.

"Yes, Scooter Bob?"

"You know that these tiles are heavy right?   Given the fact that I'm really beat up and broken from traveling all over the world I'm surprised you're putting me to work.  Plus I'm a wooden scooter, no arms...makes moving these things difficult.  NOT that I don't appreciate your hospitality and all."


"I wanna get out and ride, raise a little hell."

"Scooter Bob I thought you were a quiet introvert!  Ok, we'll go.   Just remember to put on all your gear.  ATGATT or nothing my friend!"

ATGATT for Bob is bubblewrap and packing peanuts wherever he goes
I decide to take Scooter Bob in and around Tampa some.  I would show him some of the more interesting sights in my hometown of Zephyrhills and then take a gentle tack towards Tampa.  It's about a 40 minute ride into "the Big Guava" depending on traffic and the route I take.   I figured it be good for us to ride Bayshore Boulevard for a bit.   That has some fantastic views of the city and the water as well as some lovely historic homes.  Maybe depending on the time we stop in Ybor City and introduce him to a friend or two of mine.   If time permitted I might show him some other things.  I never really know where Kimmie will take, us.

"STOP!" Scooter Bob yelled in my ear as I screeched to a stop.  He was off the bike in a flash and standing at a door.

"So what's this?  Where does it lead?"

"Zephyrhills is fill of little tiny doors Scooter Bob.  Some are more decorative than others.  No one knows who does them or why they are there.   Some times they show up, Sometimes they don't.  People will sometimes leave little notes or clues to where the next one is hidden."

"Cool, a mystery."

"So anyway Bob I know you have a love of old machines and cars.  I'm thinking about showing you something else.  This place is full of antique farm equipment and such.  I think the owner makes art out of of it.  It's on the way to Tampa so we'll stop and check it out.  I've never stopped there before so it might be fun."

A few moments later our intrepid pair arrives.

"Oh darn it's closed  I suppose I could jump the fence!"

"You know you're more of a daredevil than I thought Scooter Bob...and no, your not jumping the fence.  Get down off of that!"

It would not take us long to get into Tampa directly.   I thought I would take a leisurely ride up Bayshore Blvd and show him the famed Onion domes of the University of Tampa.

"Very cool Rob."

"At one time Scooter Bob that used to be the Plant Hotel, named after Henry B Plant a railroad magnate, and dates back to 1891.  He almost singlehandedly made Florida what it is today.  During the Spanish American war this served at Teddy Roosevelt's and the rough riders headquarters.  A variety of writers and celebrities stayed there as well."

"How do you know so much about history?"

"I love to read and have a great respect for the past....their is also a historical marker behind you."

"Oh.   You were saying something about a ride up Bayshore Blvd which overlooks the water and the city?  And something about a UFO?"

"Sadly Bob that needs to wait for a few days.   I'm afraid were out of time right now."

"Bummer, but I'm looking forward to what you got planned.   I'm just worried that you'll get me in trouble with my wife.  I heard you and Bill talking about having a mermaid kiss me."

"All in do time my friend."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meeting up and passing the torch

I have to admit that I'm a little nervous as I sit and wait at my home for the arrival of Scooter Bob.

I've been following David Masse's Life on Two Wheels blog for a while and David has put a lot of miles under his wheels as he traveled and toured.  Bill Leuthold is a legend in some circles as he done several Iron Butt challenges, and has been in at least two Scooter Cannonballs.  Ken Wilson has been keeping a blog for years and is another serious rider with various accomplishments to his name.  The man helped build a school for God's sake.  Jim Mandel I'm afraid I didn't know but I did know that if was riding with this group then he must be very accomplished indeed.

Sadly however I would not be able to ride with them.  I had some prior commitments (See the Great Kitchen Remodel) and would be working later in the day.

Me?  I'm famous for trying to add a blender to the back of my bike and sell smoothies.

Myself, Scooter Bob, Bill and Venessa
Sadly it didn't pan out that way.  David's gear got shipped elsewhere (see his post about that here).  I'm not sure what happened to Ken and Jim but Bill did stop by for a few minutes and we handed off Scooter Bob.

I had thought about where I wanted to take Scooter Bob before, but a lot of other riders have taken him to places I can only dream of.  My world seems very small right now, but let us shake those negative thoughts from my head.

In no particular order I was thinking of showing him the following:

  • The largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright's work in the south.
  • Mermaids
  • A big bell tower
  • City roads
  • Big Lizards
  • A city of Ghosts
  • A city of Freaks
  • A UFO
  • The best beach in America
  • Bea and my favorite bee's.
  • A castle in a swamp
It really just depends on the weather, the time I have and a few other things.  I'm a big fan of a local program that takes "Trips on a tankful" in and around Florida as well as an avid reader of Florida Backroads e-zine.    What I'm hoping is something odd and unusual will catch my eye.  I also had every intention to reaching out to my local scooting community for their suggestions as well.

This is going to be fun.  This, I think, is what I needed.   To get out and explore again.  Hopefully have Scooter Bob around will rekindle my desire to ride again, much like the Equinox to Equinox rally did a few years ago (and where I finished a very respectable 13th).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Great Kitchen Remodel

When I first moved to Florida some six?  Or was it seven years ago?  Susan says eight but that doesn't sound right to me.  I had no intention to buy a home.

I have owned homes before and frankly at this stage in my life I was thinking that it be easier to find a condo or live in a townhome.  I would let someone else worry about the maintenance, mow the lawn and deal with roofs and other crap.

The problem I found out is that when you're more or less broke and working a job that is paying you no where near where near what you should be getting paid based on your experience and expertise, you don't have many options.  My first apartment in the city was...shall we say "ghetto adjunct" and Susan didn't feel safe there.

We ended up moving to a part of town called Westchase right after our lease ended and while we were happier there, our rent cut into our nightlife and other funds a bit more than we liked.  It's hard to rebuild your lives when you're unable to save money.  Which lead me getting my first scooter, but that's another story.

We made a lot of improvements since buying it in 2011
I never expected to be living in Zephyrhills, home of the famed water but also famous for being a "55 and older community."  It's also an hour commute for me to work every day.  When you fall in love with a home however you fall in love with it.   My 1550 square foot home (2/3 bedrooms, 2 baths) works for me.

It sat empty for two odd years, needed a new roof, landscaping, paint, and a lot of love.   We bought it in cash.  Putting the new roof on, painting and laying hardwoods.

Since buying it my job changed.  I'm now making a paycheck that is in line with my experience and expertise.  We have completed the outdoor work that was needed.  We finally decided it was time for the kitchen.  The one project, other than the master bath, that I've been wanting to put off for the longest period of time.   Our kitchen is 310 square feet alone.   It needs new tile, new and updated appliances (our dishwater does not work at all and the stove recently lost a burner).

  That is part of the original kitchen to the left. We have not really changed anything in it since then.  It still has that wallpaper.  Those off white appliances, and the stained and worn tile.

So the great kitchen remodel begins.  Although I'm not sure if we are going to replace the countertops and cabinets at this time.   Our budget would double if we went with granite and our kitchen has a huge amount of cabinets.  To many frankly.  Forty six cabinet doors.  I had to count twice to be sure.

I'm afraid to even ask what that cost will be.  I know that new appliances and tile alone (with labor) is.  I'm thinking that can be put off for a bit longer.  The painting and backsplash we can do ourselves.

I'm not thinking of moving anytime soon.   I love to sit out on the back porch and watch the birds flutter about our various bird feeders.  I may be a city boy at heart but I do love the quiet here.  The soft breezes at night.  It does occur to me though that I've doubled the price I've paid for this home...and that equality would help me moving forward.

So as I start to think about the rest of my life, the next 20 or 30 odd years I can see myself staying here.  My only concern being if my black wine fridge is going to clash to badly with the new chrome appliances.  I'm sure if your interested in following the progress you can see it on my Facebook page.

Of course I got to get through this project first.  Then deal with some opportunities outside of work which scare and fascinate me at the same time.  Scooterbob is supposedly coming my way soon.  I wonder how he is with a trowel?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's day

Hard to believe that this day is here again.

It's hard to believe that two years ago I posted this article about romantic things you could do on a bike.

Things are the way they always are at Casa de Wilson.  Busy, confusing, hectic and at times lovely.   Sue and I have nothing planned for today, a day of relaxing and love making and just being silly for a bit.   Before another hair brained money making scheme starts or life gets in the way again.

The weather is excellent for a ride and we may try it, but right now she is having difficulty moving and climbing on the back of Kimmie may not be the best idea.  However the powers that be have blessed us with good news as of late concerning her health and as such we decided to finally start to redo our dated falling apart kitchen.

May you and yours have a Happy Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We are all in this together. Helping Ruckus Scooter Love.

Recently the very lovely Deb at Ruckus Scooter Love had a medical issue.   Her longtime partner suffered a stroke and they require some help to obtain a piece of medical equipment that would allow her partner greater mobility in and around the house.

My hope in sharing this is that someone somewhere will have this piece of medical equipment and would be willing to give it to Deb and her partner if at all possible.

Here is the link with the specifics:

Thanks guys.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

This day and age

It was a rather slow day at work yesterday and I watched the clock more than actually work.  It also gave me a chance to catch up on some blogs I generally like to read and a few of them had accepted Toadmama's Brave Bold Blogger Challenge.

In a nutshell she was challenging bloggers to write about something everyday.  The topics varied from "words you hate" to "places you want to go" to things like today's topic.   I'm still not sure if I want to participate.  While I enjoy writing and know that "writers write" this seems more like a task to me than something truly enjoyable.   I write because writing interests me, because I get some sort of weird perverse joy of my fingers clicking on the keys of my ancient desktop computer.  Writing makes me happy, even if I don't do it every day.

Plus, I know when I write everyday I start to circle back to the same old themes of money issues, girl problems and why I'm so depressed all the time.   Not exactly Nobel Prize worthy material.

But today's topic touched a nerve with me.  "Age."

I'm turning 50 in April.

I'm beginning to realize that my mother and father may not be around much longer, and that I should spend more time with them.

That my days are dwindling down as well.  That this may be as good as it gets.

Some dreams will not come true.

That Susan will not be getting any better than she is right now.

I have to accept these things.

A mulled cider
Yesterday I left work a bit early, they don't want us to work overtime and I had managed to put in a 42 hour work week without realizing it.  So I decided to grab a drink at my favorite watering hole in Ybor City; a wonderful little bar called Cigar City Cider and Mead.  It's a great diverse crowd there and my favorite bartender, Bea, was working and yes; that is actually her real name.  I was into craft brewing well before it became popular and with ciders and meads you can do so much more with flavor than you can beer.  Plus if I see one more crappy ass "craft IPA" I'm going to scream but that's just me.

"Rob," she said, "you are going to love's peach mixed with scorpion peppers!" and without even asking she placed a small glass in front of me.   At first I was not sure about it as the peppers overwhelmed my nose but then as I drank it the cooling peach taste filled my mouth.   A slight tingling sensation on my tongue came next.  The heat from the pepper was muted and soft and left more of a warming sensation than a nasty bite those peppers are famous for..

"Damn it! Bea that's good."  A friend of mine called and offered to join me.   It had the makings of a very good night.  One drink would lead to three and then I be off like some mad dharma bum.  The night always holds such promise for me when I'm in a city.

I went home instead.  I had to be responsible, I had to get up in the morning and do one of my routes I do for extra cash.  Plus I didn't want to leave Susan all alone.

I was going to act my age.

This weekend I plan to go for a ride on Kimmie and spend time with my Mom and Dad.  My father is in his 80's and has outlived one of his two sisters already.  We don't talk much, more to him and I being cut from the same introverted mold.  I see a lot of my father in me as I grow older, both physically and mentally.  My father made decisions that would help his family and as I look back on my life I don't see us wanting anything as children.

My brother and I somewhere in the 70's
My father does not remember some things that I do growing up, perhaps the stories I tell are embellished some.   Perhaps he simply does not remember or feels that he has no need to relive certain moments.  I remember him telling me that he would always pick me up if I was drunk in high school.

I got drunk in High School at a party and he came and picked me up.  No questions, nothing was said.  Just a feeling of disappointment from him because I did something wrong.  I never got drunk in high school again.  Nor have I ever drove my car "a bit toasty."

Mom was always the driving force, the motivator it seemed to me.  She was the one that always seemed to be striving for something better, something more....something other than what we have today.   I see a lot of her in me at times.

My mother was always there and we talk for hours as I was growing up.  She had a rough childhood and lived under abusive parents.  She made the decision to break that cycle with my father and with my brother and I.  I admire that strength it took her to do so.

My parents used to go out a bit when I was young.  I realize now that they were in their 30's.  When I was in college they were in their early 40's. They were young and so very full of life.

I remember my youth and it was not that long ago.  I traveled to places like Chicago, Los Vegas, New York.   I toured with the Grateful Dead for a few weeks one summer, I ended up traveling overseas for a bit and visited exotic lands.  I've been wanting to get back to Asia ever since.

The lovely Sue
As for me....I'm turning 50.  Buying Kimmie may have been a mid life crisis.  I don't have a mortgage on my home.  I have two car payments, growing medical bills and a sense that the system is rigged against me and the knowledge that Susan is not going to get better.

Her medical issues are varied and scary.  The biggest scare, her possible multiple myeloma cancer, has faded into the background but we are faced with multiple issues that may end up taking her from me sooner than later.  Or worse, leaving her a shell of the strong independent woman I fell in love with all those years ago.

I frankly don't know if I have that strength to face what is to come.

Then I think how that woman stuck with me through the worse things that have happened in my life, how I was encased in ice unable to move emotionally and she saw me out of that darkness.  That love she has for me can not be denied.

I've been married twice now.  One I regret, the other I do not.  Terri is a good woman and if things would have been different I would still be living with her.  Still married to her and possibly with a kid or two.  Dogs running about in the yard.

My parents on their 50th.
I have no children and when I was a younger man I didn't think I wanted any.   Now that I'm older I regret that.   I also regret that I don't have more friends, part of being an introvert I suppose.  I've also lost friends to time, fights that were/are over stupid things, and disease and accidents.

Love changes over time.   My parents have been married for over 50 years and they have both told me at times they have not loved each other.   You find a way to fall back into love.  I don't know if Sue and I will make it that far.   One can only hope we do.

  Turning 50 I suppose makes me officially "over the hill."  This one hurts, much more that it probably should.  I suppose it's all just part of growing up and growing older.  You have to accept the limitations that age brings, and acknowledge that time marches on.