Monthly Archives: December 2011
2011 was quite a year. There were so many fun, adventurous moments. Moments filled with laughter, moments filled with tears. Overall I look back on 2011 with wonderful memories and a sense that I lived it to the fullest.
Looking ahead to 2012, I see the best year ever. So many things that will be taking place, I’ll share those as they come along, can’t give too many spoilers away Here’s to you 2012 and all the amazing times that lie ahead!
2011 in review. There were some first time experiences:
And of course, continuing all the things I already love:
Peace out 2011!
There was a slight detour on our camping/caving expedition. We had everything packed and loaded. Then we began talking out our trip. The Doctor and I have both been wanting to re-paint the inside of our house. With both of us being home for the next 5 days, we thought it would be the perfect time to paint the house.
I know, how do you go from awesome road trip to painting a house?!?! With the original plan being taking the motorcycles up, then one of the bikes being down, we just decided to save that trip for when both bikes were up and running.
Since we were already in “do something/adventure mode” we did end up spending the day at Fantasy of Flight. It is located right outside Orlando, FL.
If you have an interest in planes or know someone that does, this is the place for them. The Doctor use to have his pilot’s license and flew regularly. He has flown on many different types of planes (too many for me to remember to list here). My experience is much less. I have only flown on commercial airlines. The smallest plane I had been on was an 18 seater when I flew from Tampa to Key West.
We got a late start getting there but were able to pack in almost everything they had to see. The last part of the day was the best, so I’m going to start with that!!!
Out on the Tarmac there was a company, Waldo Wright’s Flying Service. They offered to take you up on a New Standard D-25. Since I haven’t been in an open front cockpit, I wanted to go up. I made our reservations for the last ride of the day (there were some tours that we wanted to go on that only happened once during the afternoon so we didn’t want to miss those).
It was AMAZING!!! Nothing better than the wind in your hair!! I put a video of the take off on Flickr. Here are a couple of pictures:
Perfect way to wrap up a day full of airplanes and knowledge!!!
Now before we went airborne, we visited their two large showrooms full of planes. Fantasy of Flight is home to the world’s largest private collection! So there was lots to look at. Here are a couple of pictures. If you want to see more, check out my Flickr page. I have almost all the pics from the day there.
One part of Fantasy of Flight that I really liked was the Immersion Environment. This area was set up from early flight into World War II. It was a self tour that lead you through these time frames. They had it set to the actual environments the planes flew in. The attention to detail was amazing.
In a B-17 from the actual war, you got to experience how it was for the crew on board. They had “dummies” set up as real crew, complete with audio and wind as if you were really there during a flight.
The part that I thought was really cool was the bomber area. As you would stand on the plank where the bombs were stored and look below, a video screen underneath you would open up to release the bombs. As this happened, the wind would kick on in that area. When the doors would close, the wind would stop.
Aside from seeing the planes on display, they also offered different tours. There was the Wood Shop Tour, Restoration Shop Tour and the Tram Tour. We did the Wood Shop and Tram Tour. Unfortunately, the Restoration Tour was closed as everyone in that department was on vacation.
The Tram Tour gave a “behind the scenes” tour. During this tour, we were able to see restricted areas. This included the backlot, runways and the maintenance hanger. There wasn’t anyone on site working in there today but it was really neat getting to see where they kept the planes and the set up they had to work on them.
Finally, the owner of Fantasy of Flight, Kermit Weeks, did an aerial demonstration. He took up a P 51C. This plane was a thing of beauty! He would come zipping by us as we stood on the tarmac watching the show. The engines roared as everyone just sat there in aww.
If you get a chance, look up Kermit. We interesting history regarding him. After he landed, he came out on the tarmac to talk to us and answer questions.
The day may not have been filled with two wheels but at least we got to kiss the sky!
Today was spent making the food menu for the trip, going over our route and getting the oil and filter to do an oil change on my motorcycle. We also went to the gym to work on our fitness some. That was definitely needed after pigging out during the holidays!
Once we got all our errands ran, we returned home to get the packing completed and loaded into the saddle bags. As I was doing this, The Doctor was doing all the necessary checks on our bikes to make sure they were ready to go for the trip.
He came inside to deliver some bad news, the Concours would not be ready for the trip. NOOOOOO!!!! The rear tire was in bad shape. He knew it was nearing the end of its life but we thought it had a bit more in it. Not so much. There is a puncture in the tire that isn’t safe to drive on. The new tire will not be here by tomorrow morning
Due to this, our trip game plan has changed just a bit. It is still happening but it will be on 4 wheels instead of two. Kind of sad as I was looking forward to this two-wheeled trip but safety first. Don’t want to risk anything happening out on the road.
So tomorrow morning we will load up the SUV and begin our four-wheeled adventure to north Florida for some camping, caving and whatever we find along the way. I’m a super big fan of flying places but nothing beats a good ol fashion road trip. So many interesting places can be found along the way.
The prepping for the last road trip of 2011 is underway. The Doctor and I are heading out tomorrow morning toward the Florida Caverns State Park.
Earlier this year I did a trip to Chattanooga, TN for some caving, white water rafting and zip-lining. Caving has been on my bucket list for years so it was nice to cross it off the list (as well as white water rafting). Zip lining was on the list previously but I was able to cross that off last year in Costa Rica.
Since The Doctor hasn’t been caving before, we decided to check out the Florida cave system outside Tallahassee. From Tampa to Marianna, FL it is about six hours via interstates. Since I’m not really an interstate fan, we are going to take US 19 all the way up.
Our plan is to leave before sunrise Wednesday and see where we end up. Find a local campsite and make camp for the night. Wake up Thursday and finish up the rest of the way. Thursday night we are going to splurge and get a hotel room close to the caverns so Friday morning we will be close to them.
There are hiking trails and canoe rentals at The Florida Caverns State Park so Friday after the caving tour, we will either hike, canoe or head back down toward Tampa. Goal Friday night is find another campsite. Then Saturday make our way back home.
I’m so excited for this road trip! It will be my first extended road trip on the FJR. Perfect trial run for March when The Doctor and I are planing on spending 8 to 9 days on the road somewhere. That trip destination has yet to be determined.
Christmas Eve officially started my 10 days of vacation. I haven’t had 10 days off in a row since summer break in high school. Saturday and Sunday were spent with friends and family enjoying the holiday festivities. The rest of the vacation deserves some special time with my loves, The Doctor and FJR
I was really feeling being around and in nature today while The Doctor was feeling more city-ish. So we compromised, today we would drive around town doing this and that then Wednesday we would take off on the bikes for a camping/caving/road trip!!
We were both on different missions today. I am in the market for a new helmet while The Doctor got “The Itch”. So our this and that’s for the day involved motorcycle stores for my helmet search and dealerships to quench his thirst for a new bike.
I put my head in quite a few helmets today. Looking for the perfect Cinderella/glass slipper feel helmet. You never realize how many different feels helmets can have until you start sticking your head in them!
Arai, HJC and Shoei OH MY!! Out of all the helmets I tried on, The Shoei Qwest is the winner. The minute the helmet came over my head, I knew this was the one. It was that perfect moment, the moment I realized this was it. I continued to try on other helmets but none of them could compare to the Qwest.
I wasn’t able to get a picture of the Qwest while we were in the store but here is the link: http://www.shoei-helmets.com/Helmet.aspx?QWEST&h=20&t=1
Not to mention I wasn’t a fan of the color scheme of the one they had in stock. I’m a basic color kind of girl, nice light gray or silver is right up my alley. I would love black but a black helmet in the Florida heat would be a huge mistake!
I plan on ordering the helmet in the next couple of week so once it arrives I’ll let you know what I think of it.
For The Doctor’s bike search, we hit a couple of places today. The one shop we really wanted to visit was closed The Doctor was there this past week where he test rode a couple BMW’s as well as a Ducati Multistrada. As of right now, the Multistrada has taken the lead.
Before he takes the leap on the Multistrada, he wants to test ride the Ducati ST4s. Our search on Craigslist in FL has been a bust. There was one for sale in the Northeastern US The Doctor mentioned. I could see him flying up to get it and taking he sweet time getting it back home!
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!
The Doctor and I had two stops to make on this beautiful and sunny Florida Christmas. It seemed like such a waste to take four wheels on a day like today, so we jumped on our bikes and hit the Christmas stops in style!
In order to get to our respected places we had some choices of which roads to take. One option is to head down U.S Highway 301. It goes straight from our house to both stops. This was the easiest of the two options but it involves lots of stop and go traffic.
Option two was the scary beast that upon our last meeting scared the crap out of me!! This coming from a girl who has rode her enduro up the side of a mountain in Costa Rica with a hard mountain wall to one side and a cliff to imminent death to the other.
What could be so scary?! Interstate I-75. This interstate runs from Southern Florida up to the Canadian boarder were it terminates in Sault Ste. Marie (Thank you Wikipedia for that last bit of information).
Growing up in Florida, my life was spent on I-75. Whether for daily use or traveling, living in Tampa, I-75 is a majorly used interstate. Morning traffic reports always report some sort of accident, I have been stuck in traffic on this interstate due to some sort of accident. It’s just one of those roads. In a car, I have no problem with this interstate. On the back of a motorcycle, no issues. However, with me at the helm, it has been a slow battle.
The Doctor and I took a road trip a few months back over to Orlando and I-75 was part of that trip. Check out my blog this week “Bikes and Flying. I’ll go into detail how I-75 became my arch nemesis.
Yesterday though, the fear was gone. I got on the bike and told myself, “You Got This”. We made our turns and began to merge onto The Beast! Since it was Christmas morning traffic was light. It was like the planets aligned and my prayers were answered, when I hit the apex of the on ramp and I-75, there was a perfect gap for me to dart over to the far left lane. THANK YOU!!!!!!
The ride was quite enjoyable, so much different from the last ride where I swear I left “my balls” at the on ramp. Traffic was smooth and it seemed like everyone was relaxed. We made our way to our first stop then before we could blink, it was time to move our to my family’s Christmas extravaganza.
Every year we all gather at my aunt and uncles house in Zephyrhills, FL (yes, same place the water is from). It is always fun going there. As with every family, there are all the little kids and grand kids running around playing with their new Christmas gifts. The kitchen is filled with smells of turkey, ham, sweet potato pies with walnuts on top and every other delicious food you can imagine.
While all this is going on, the “grown-ups” all sit around joking and sipping on grown up beverages. It is very cool going over there because both my cousin Jason and Uncle Dave work for Harley. You get those two and The Doctor together and the motorcycle and shop talk never stops.
After the food coma, gifts being opened and amazing Red Velvet Cake, which is my favorite cake that either my aunt or my cousin Jason’s girlfriend make every year for me, I’m so spoiled. My cousin’s girlfriend trained at the Le Cordon Bleu in their Bakery and Pastry Arts Program. Some of the cakes she makes, I can’t even describe. I put a couple of pictures at the end of the post, she is phenomenal.
Sorry, went off track there, Red velvet gets mentioned and my minds spaces out.
After all the Christmas festivities, it was time to load up the presents and enjoy the lovely night ride home. The perk of having sport-touring motorcycles is the saddle bags. Perfect amount of room to fit all the gifts in.
We said our good-byes and hit the open road. We took U.S Highway 301 straight back home. I may have conquered I-75 during the day on the way up, but I wasn’t ready to push my luck at night. One day, eh night, I will hit that on-ramp to I-75 with nothing but the street lights and car head lights to light my way. Until then, I’m perfectly good taking other ways home
This time last year I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be seen. The week leading up to this point was by far the sickest I had been in years! During the day I felt somewhat decent, enough to go to work. However, when I would get home from work, I would have a fever of 101/102. I would fall asleep as soon as I got done showering and wake up in the morning, fever would be gone so would go into work. This pattern continued until Thursday night.
Thursday night I took a shower and as I cleaned out my ears, there was blood. I’m not a doctor but this was a very bad sign. So our Christmas Eve was spent at the doctor’s office to see what was wrong with me. The Doctor (the boyfriend one), came with me. He is actually the one that made me go. I was being a little stubborn about going to the doctor but with blood in the ear, he didn’t give me the option, I was going to the doctors.
So the doctor looked me over and delivered the bad news, ruptured ear drum. Now surprisingly this didn’t really upset, what upset was when she said that I couldn’t go in the water for two months. The Doctor and I looked at each other and my heart sank.
Now you are probably asking yourself, it’s December and you are being told you can’t be in the water for two months, what is so heartbreaking about that? Who goes in the water in December?
Well a few months early, the Doctor and I got into Kite Boarding. In Tampa, kite boarding season is from September through May/June. So being told in December, prime kite boarding time, that I can’t be in the water for two months was heartbreaking.
I have to admit I was more upset about being banned from the water for two months than the ruptured ear drum. I’m slightly twisted it appears. After we left the doctor’s office, we picked up my prescriptions and headed home. I proceeded to sleep for the next couple of days. Meaning I slept through Christmas
After a couple of days of antibiotics, I was feeling much better! Finally!! My ear was off but I at least was feeling better. If you have ever had a ruptured ear drum, you know how it goes. I had no gauge of volume. I would either talk really loud or really quiet. In restaurants this was especially fun. My balance was off kilter for a bit but luckily that didn’t last too long.
So for two long months I spent bundled up at the beach while The Doctor kite boarded. I’m a do-er. I like to be involved and I like to do stuff. Sitting around watching is not my forte. It was torture!!!!!
However, it worked out for The Doctor because I made a great kiter girlfriend. If he needed a different sized kite pumped up or a different board, I was on it. Other kiters got to enjoy my being stuck on the beach as well. Helping people launch their kites or landing them. I usually help out when I can anyways, but being permanently stuck on the beach, I was able to be more of a help then when I would be out kiting.
Below are some pictures from one of our days out at Skyway Bridge.
I have to end this post stating, the day that I was cleared to re-enter the water, I left work at 4:57pm and hauled you know what to the kite beach. By the time I arrived, I had about 15 to 20 minutes to ride before sunset. The Doctor, the amazing boyfriend that he is, already had my kite pumped up and the lines ran for me.
I rode every second I could until nature made me stop. It was such a rush to be back on the water again. Two months may not seem like a long time, but not being able to do something that you love to do during that time frame makes it seem like an eternity.
Soon I will post about our kite boarding adventures so make sure to check back, I am planning on getting how we got into kite boarding/lessons posted next week.
As for right now, it is off to The Doctor’s dads house for Christmas Eve lunch. Wish you all a happy holiday!!!
Leaving off with Part I, Apple Pie Moonshine. Yep, that is where we left off
After we left the mechanics we headed to the campsite. About a mile from the campgrounds, the engine died while we were driving down the street! NOT AGAIN! Fortunately, The Doctor made a mild adjustment to the coil (paid attention to him that time!) and we were back in business!!!
Few minutes later, we arrived! 10 hours after leaving home, we made it!!!! Before anything was unpacked, we grabbed the moonshine and all took a couple of sips. It was so delicious after the day we had.
Next step, get the fire roaring!
The rest of the crew arrived shortly after we did. This is when the true fun began. It was quite entertaining watching three guys “try” to put a tent up. Attempt one resulted in this:
Once the tents were up, it was time to hit the trails for some night riding. Head lamps were mounted and ready to go. With this being the first time mountain biking for the other girl and the first time at these trails for the others, we stayed to the blue trail systems. Challenging enough to have fun in the dark but easy enough to where no one would break their necks.
When the riding was done, we showered up and got our beverages on! We stayed up late into the night laughing and having a blast. Didn’t even notice the drop in temperature. The next morning however, the low temperature and leftover effects of the night before were very obvious!
The Doctor and I were the first to rise. He is a good man and got the fire restarted.
With the fire going breakfast was next on the agenda. The Doctor makes this amazing Cheesy Eggs with Potatoes, so at my request, he began making it! As he slaved away over the little stove, I laid down on the bench part of the picnic table. The crisp fall colors in the tree contrasted great against the blue sky. There was also a very cool low fog rolling though.
Around this time, the other tent started coming to life, just in time for cheesy eggs!!
Finally once everyone was up and fed, it was time to hit the trails! We rode over to the little stunt area and rode around for a short time.
When were were all warmed up, trail bound we went! One of the guys with us had to be back at the campsite in an hour so we made the first ride of the day in the same general area as we did Friday night. Give everyone a glimpse of what they were riding through during the dark.
It was a great ride. I was really looking forward to the afternoon ride. This is when we were going to hit the Vortex trails and check out the stunt area. Before then though, it was lunch time!
Sadly, my friend Samantha, the other girl on the trip, fell going over a section on the trails. As she was falling she tried to catch herself but ended up landing on her wrist and her hip landed on some rocks. Needless to say, she wouldn’t be able to join us on the afternoon trip
When it was time, the guys and I made the trek over to Vortex. This was the most packed I have seen it before. There were a new set of high jumps added to the whoops area. The guys that were doing these jumps were in full gear (shin guards, full face helmets). They were insane. We stood there for a while watching them do jumps.
We sat there watching and after a bit, decided it was time to go ride! We rode some trails over on the Vortex trail system then made our way back to camp. Sunset was coming soon and we didn’t want to get stuck out in the woods without our headlamps.
Made our way back, showered and then thoughts of dinner danced through our head. Last time we were up at Santos, there was this pizza place near by we discovered. They made Ranch Pizza! Instead of using actual pizza sauce, they substituted in Ranch dressing. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds! I have been craving this pizza for the last 7 months. The moment had arrived, the moment I would be reunited with my Ranch Pizza.
I had their business card from the last trip so we dialed them up…”we’re sorry but the number you have dialed has been disconnect…”. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I got out my phone and did a Google search and came across their Facebook page (seriously, how did we figure things out before smart phones!!). On their page it sad they closed September 5th. I cried a little inside upon seeing that. So we ended up having Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut, while delicious isn’t the same as Ranch Pizza.
After dinner we just relaxed around the campfire and called it an early night. Early night to bed and early morning to rise. We all decided that we needed to get back home and take care of Sunday things before the week started. We packed up the jeeps and hit the road.
We made it home with The Jeep just dying on us once. Luckily it was as we were pulling into a gas station. Have to say at least we were fortunate enough to have The Jeep break down while we were in gas stations! With a quick adjustment, we were on the road. 30 minutes later we were in the drive way. Hello Home, good to see you again!
Time to start planning the next camping trip!
I’ll start by saying, the weekend was so much fun. The biking, the laughs and the amazing time with friends!!!
The Doctor and I were on the road early Friday morning. 9am, which is early for us! We stopped at the store to pick up the last few items we needed then officially on the road. We figured it would take us just over 2 hours to get there taking into account stopping for lunch.
Everything was going great on the way up. We hit our exit and pulled off into the first gas station we saw. When the light comes on, usually a good stopping point to refuel. Especially considering there wasn’t too much in the way of gas stations in the next 20 miles to the campsite.
As we pulled up to the pump, the Jeep made a strange shake. I was concerned but the Doctor said, “Oh, it’s just thesome kind of car part here>”. I try to learn about cars but sometimes I don’t catch a thing he says regarding them. If he wasn’t concerned, then I wasn’t going to be. He pumped the gas and I went inside to get some sweet ice tea (seriously, I am so addicted to sweet ice tea).
Gas pumped, check. Sweet tea purchased, check. Let’s go!!!!!
Started up the jeep…SHAKE…SHAKE…VIOLENT SHAKE…we were moving forward but not very smoothly. The Jeep died a few seconds later. Enough time for us to coast into a parking spot. Awesome, note sarcasm
I will say, if I am going to be with anyone when a vehicle breaks down, I want it to be with The Doctor. If that man knows one thing, he knows engines! Take that AAA. We are planners and packers. We never leave home without one of these:
With this lovely beauty, the diagnosis process begins. The Doctor figures out some possible issues that could be causing our jeep troubles. We need a part store. Smart phones are a great invention. With a couple of clicks on the phone, we located a Auto Zone 5 miles down the road.
However, one slight issue, how to get there. We have no car and are pretty much in the middle of nowhere so calling a cab could take forever. Luckily for us, one of our friends were about 40 minutes away. We waited for our white knight in his pick up truck to come rescue us.
When he arrived, The Doctor and the buddy, went to get the parts! I stayed at The Jeep to keep an eye on it. Had a pretty good set up going while I waited.
The guys returned and the surgery begins! The surgery went well. We went out of the woods yet though, we still had to fire The Jeep up. We all took a deep breath and … turned the ignition.
NOTHING. We had a very sick jeep on our hands folks. So sad to see the manly jeep down for the count. So the repairs weren’t a total bust, The Doctor was able to figure out what was wrong. The fuel pump was the culprit. We started to come up with solutions to get The Jeep back to Tampa. At this point, camping trip was off.
Now while all this was going on, a very strange and slightly crazy man was roaming around us. He would talk to us but not really talk to us. He would look away from us but be talking to us saying some random things. Slightly creepy but he was trying to give us some advice on fixing cars.
In a moment when we were out of options, the nice but crazy man offered a very valuable piece of advice. There was a mechanic shop two seconds down the road! HOLY HECK, thank you!!!
The guys drove off to find this glorious shop. 15 minutes they were back with a tow line. The mechanics were nice enough to lend it to them to get The Jeep over to them. We got the trucks linked up and begin the less than half mile trek to the shop.
We made it safely to the shop. The fuel pump we needed would be arriving from the parts store in about 30 or so minutes, so the three of us just hung tight and waited. While the part was on its way, the mechanics started the process of removing the tank from The Jeep.
The fuel pump arrived but it was the wrong one!!! Really?!?! The part guy said it would be about another 45 minutes for him to go get the part and return. So we did what any stranded travels would do in the middle of nowhere.We sat in the back of a pick up truck, in a parking lot, and cracked open a Budweiser.
Finally after what seems like forever, the mechanic walks over and tells us the parts guys called and won’t have the part until the next morning. The owner of the shop wasn’t happy about this so he drove to a different parts store to get our pump.
After another hour of hanging out, it arrived!!! There was much rejoicing. The mechanics installed the fuel pump. Then the moment of truth arrived. Time to start our engine!!
The key turned and The Jeep roared to life. There was clapping and hugging!!! Then came the bill…GULP. We paid the bill and got on the road. Apple Pie Moonshine was screaming our name by this point.
Check out the next blog entry about the actual camping and mountain biking part of the trip
Almost time to hit the road!! This time tomorrow my friends and I will be sitting around a camp fire enjoying the cool weather and a few tasty beverages.
It’s been a very busy evening here in our household. I was supposed to get off work at 5pm but I got all my work caught up and we were kind of slow so I got the approval to leave work around 3:30ish. FREEDOM!!!!
When I arrived home I had the urge, the 2-wheel kind of urge. Since we had to hit the grocery store to get all the food for camping, I suggested we take the motorcycles. It was the perfect temperature out. There was a slight chill in the air but with the motorcycle jacket on it was beyond ideal.
We got all of our shopping completed and headed back to the house. If it weren’t for the fact that we had milk, yogurt and cheese in the saddle bags, I would have suggested we take the long way home. It was one of those evenings where you feel like you can ride forever.
Too much to be done though, lots of packing to do. Once we got back home it was time to get the packing process underway. A couple of hours later, and many, “where the hell did I put that last?”, all the mountain biking and camping gear was ready to go.
You read that last picture right, Apple Pie Moonshine!!! My friends are all excited about drinking some of this next to the camp fire this weekend!
Hope everyone has a great weekend! Not sure how signal will be at the campgrounds. If I can’t get a camping up date in while we are there, I’ll have plenty of stories and pictures to share on Sunday!
Until then, happy riding!