Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ohio and a great new app

We arrived on Thursday on the eleventh day of the heat wave here in Wilmington, Ohio (about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati).  It's a nice Thousand Trails resort, although a bit smaller than many.  Our site is nice with lots of open space around us.  After our initial setup in the heat we headed to the indoor pool where thankfully the water was very cool.  Ahhhh...
This morning (Saturday) I was reading some CNET reviews of the editor's picks for the best android apps when I came across one that instantly became a favorite.  It's called TVFoodMaps and it uses the GPS location on your phone to bring up a list of restaurants, bakeries, etc. that have been featured on the food network or travel channels.  When I first started the app, it brought up several interesting places within about a 45 minute drive.  We picked the Blue Ash Chili Restaurant after watching a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives segment on YouTube.  Watch it HERE, and you'll know why we hopped on the bike and headed toward Cincinnati.  We indulged in the Chili Philli and the 6 Way (spaghetti, chili, onions, beans, cheese and fried jalapenos).  A side order of fries and thick onion rings finished it off. You should have seen the smiles on our faces.  Fantastic.
Of course when Val saw that a few miles away was the Sugar Cupcakery featured on Cupcake Wars, well, she almost steered the bike herself to get us there.  S'Mores cupcakes.  Valrhona chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache.  Lavender Lemon cupcakes filled with homemade lemon curd and topped with lavender cream cheese.  We brought four home with us.  Two are gone.  The other two will be gone in a little while.  Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that new app is not such a good thing.  Man I'm full.    

Old man stuffing his face...
Half of the Blue Ash.

The Sugar Cupcakery in a quaint part of Milford, Ohio.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flight 93

Today we hopped on the bike and rode to the Flight 93 memorial sight.  They are due to complete phase one on September 11, 2011 so we could only look from a distance.  It was a very emotional experience when the volunteer explained how the plane came over the hill to our left flying upside down at 40 to 50 feet off the ground at over 500 mph before crashing a couple hundred yards from where we stood.  She went on to explain that if the plane had traveled two seconds more it would have struck a school building.  There were a lot of people visiting the site, and I'm sure that many more will come for the phase one opening.  Phase two is set to be complete in 2014.  It will be a 40-50 foot set of walls.  Phase 3 is going to be a 93 foot tower with 40 large wind chimes.  It should be beautiful.
After we left, we used the Garmin to find a local state park and headed out for a 20 mile ride.  When we arrived, we found the park entrance locked so we took a left at the next street.  That took us to the Forbes State Forest where we traveled a long way down a gravel road before finding a trail that looked promising.  We hiked to the Beam Rocks overlook where we ate our lunch and relaxed.  Val especially liked the chipmunks that were scurrying about as we ate.  Don't tell anybody, but they seem to like potato chips..
It was wonderful to get out in the woods again and it reminded us of how much we need it.

Flight 93 Memorial construction.

Flight 93 came over the hill to Val's left.

Sign overlooking the site.

Beautiful ferns on our hike.

The overlook with the camera on the ground effect.  

Val refused to jump over this and had to go around.

One of Val's little friends enjoying a chip.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

BMW's Everywhere

We headed out Friday morning for Bloomsburg to attend the BMW international rally.  It was great to get back to the rally after two years.  It kind of feels like motorcycle home with all those quiet beemers around.  It did seem that there were less attendees this year which I attribute to the fact that it was, how should I put this... HOT!  I felt sorry for the GS (off-road BMW) riders who were competing on the GS course where they go through water, mud and sand and over large rocks, hills and logs.  Quite a few of them fell on the course but they always got up and finished. One seminar we attended had to be moved to another building because of electrical issues.  The seminar was held in an un-cooled agriculture building which was open on both ends.  After thirty minutes of sweating profusely in a completely still 107 degrees, we had to leave.  But my heat record was broken on the trip to our hotel room that afternoon where we hit a section that was 109.  Of course by the time we got to the hotel it was a bit cooler... at 104.  Which was also the temperature of the first two hotel rooms that the Ramada Inn tried to put us in.  Umm, no.  Not going to happen.  The third room on the first floor was cool and after a brief swim, we walked about 1/2 a mile to an Italian restaurant called Booty's Place where we had excellent pizza and draft Yuengling lager.
The next day we headed back to the rally in cooler and cloudier weather.  A very nice change.  We attended a morning seminar on the new K1600 bikes which are truly amazing.  This is a 6 cylinder motorcycle with incredible horsepower and torque that weighs about 200 pounds less than a Goldwing and other big touring bikes.  One of the best features is the adaptive headlight system which moves the beam as the angle of the bike changes, both up and down and while leaning, so that your headlights follow the road even when going around curves.  We saw a demonstration, and it was incredible.  I resisted taking a test drive on the 30 or so K1600's they had there.  I was really afraid that I would like it too much.  And in case you're wondering, it costs just under 26 grand fully decked out.
So the change in weather helped on day two at the rally and we headed back to Hershey in the late afternoon glad that we'd made the trip.  Next year the rally is in Sedalia, Missouri.  Hopefully it's a bit cooler.

The first model of BMW from 1923.

I couldn't find a beemer from my birth year of 1955 so this 1954 model will have to do.

The new K1600 GTL.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I know. It's been a long time.

Since it's been quite a while since our last blog, I thought I would fill you in on our plans and hopefully get you interested in following our travels again.
We finally finished up in Virginia, said farewell to friends and family (although we missed several of you, sorry) and headed to Lebanon, PA for this week.  We're riding to the international BMW motorcycle rally in Bloomsburg tomorrow for two days which should be fun.  We attended two years ago in Johnson City, TN, but didn't make it last year in Redmond, Oregon.
Today we traveled on the bike to Port Clinton to have a new rear tire put on the bike. I had noticed a very slow leak and Val spotted the culprit, a small nail embedded in the center.  Argh!  The tire only had about 3,000 miles on it, but plugging a bike tire is iffy at best, so a new tire it was.  And as for the ride?  The temp hit 106 degrees with no clouds.  Just a wee bit too hot.
And that was our second tire problem this week.  While going around DC on I495, the tire pressure monitor indicated that an RV tire was losing air quickly.  Within 30 seconds it went from 85 to 30 pounds.  We pulled over as fast as we could and, sure enough, we had a flat on the street-side rear tire.  We were precariously parked on the side of a curve with  DC traffic flying by.  Val called our road-side assistance folks and they said that it could be 90 minutes before help arrived and that they would send the State Police to help.  But luckily for us, a VDOT Service Patrol Truck arrived, put out cones and helped me change the tire.  An hour later we were on our way.  What a great free service offered by VDOT.  As soon as we got settled in Hershey I emailed VDOT and thanked them.
We are scheduled to leave here on Tuesday and head to Ohio for about a week.  After a brief stop in Michigan for another try at fixing our levelers, we head to the Badlands of South Dakota.  Hopefully that's enough to peak your interest.  You'll have to check back to find out where we head after that.  A hint is that many people we've met say it's the most beautiful place they've ever seen in the United States....

Here's a photo that Val took of our current location in Hershey.