Monday, October 19, 2009

Cold Race Saturday 10-17

The sun is actually shining in a clear blue sky. It is still a chilly 51° according to my Google homepage. Just having a bright day raises my spirits. Hopefully things will warm up a bit this afternoon and I can resume work on getting the fire hydrant fixed up. I’m also cleaning up the latest bricks to haul out to the brick swap this weekend.

This entry is to chronicle the regatta from this past Saturday. I’ll document brick stories later!

Saturday October 17, 2009 broke as a gray, damp drizzily rain kind of day. What conditions to drive to Huntsville for a regatta. We had been training for this race in rainy conditions, so we should be prepared. I met Trish at the boathouse at 8:00 a.m. We then drove to Huntsville in my truck.

We did not have to be on site till noon to rig up the sweep. We had enough leeway time to allow us to stop at a Waffle House. Since I already had home fries, bacon and egg for breakfast; I just had a regular Waffle. It was so good, and the coffee was so hot I did not want to leave!

Back on I-65 we drove to exit 328 and took rt 36 to Hobbes Island. Along the way I spied an antique complex. We had enough time to spare to stop and browse. There was not much there I was really interested in, but the merchandise was beautifully displayed. There was a gas heater pumping out heat Trish and I huddled around. This was the warmest we would be for quite a while! The lady at the shop wished us luck in the race as we left into the spitting rain.

We easily found the regatta site. The weather was definitely not cooperating. The wind picked up, gray clouds seemed to hover ever lower, and the dampness permeated into my bones. A positive point was the rain had stopped. I was thinking; “What the Hell am I doing here? I should be home where it is nice and warm. Instead I’m going to tempt fate with the Tennessee River!”

We found where the Alabama Crew boys were set up along the river bank. Some sweeps passed by. Seeing those rowers battling the elements brought everything back into perspective. As a team we have all been in training for this event. I think of how many hours I have spent on the Concept II rowers at the Y for this 5K head race. There is no way I’m going to let the weather deprive me of the chance to make that work and sweat pay off.

The more I learn of my teammates, I realize how unique each member is. It takes a certain type of person to have the dedication and drive to attempt this sport. A tee shirt I once saw pretty well summed it up. “Rowing, if it were easy they would have called it baseball”

Enough people were there to where we were able to get the boat pretty much rigged up by the time Jason and Alison got back from lunch. There are adjustments that need to done by the coaches. The number seven seat was the only rigger that had to be changed. Everything held from the last race.

I went with Alison, Jason, and Robin to view the course and see the updated from the “official’s station”. We were told how the course had been shortened to 4,500K because of the dangerous conditions at the start. For whatever reason I was suddenly hungry. There was a concession tent run by the Huntsville Rowing Club which had warm (I can’t say Hot!) Chic-fill-a sandwiches. That should hit the spot and give me some extra energy. Usually I enjoy anything that has a fried greasy crust to it. My nervous energy was such I could not taste anything. But, that sandwich did fill me up.

We stayed warm in Will's car till race time. I looked like a street person when it came time to strip down for the race. My socks were heavy wool hunting socks, maroon spandex tights topped off by my black spandex rowing shorts. A long sleeved thermal undershirt, a Pendleton wool shirt with the collar turned up and top button fastened, a dark grey tee shirt over that, and to top it all off: a gray do-rag. Since I was in the bow seat, I had the boat number “88” pinned to my back. As a team we obsessed about having a uniform to tie us all together. In these conditions, we just wanted to keep our core temperatures up. How the kids can survive in their sleeveless spandex is beyond me!

My stomach was in knots as we shoved off the dock. When we left the shelter of the docking area and entered onto the Tennessee River panic almost set in. This river was HUGE, the current was FAST, and there were whitecaps. We are so spoiled rowing in the Black Warrior River. That body of water is so calm even under bad circumstances. These conditions are the worst I have ever rowed in.

We did rotations and drills to the start of the course. We were rowing against the current so we had to row easy so to save our strength for the race. The starting area was a mess. Now I understand why the course was shortened. This is an open area that under today’s conditions is a mess of currents. The Alabama novice crew was 83. We got to cheer them on through the “chute” as we waited our turn. The race marshals’ rule here and you have to follow their orders. For whatever reason, they did not allow us to enter upstream from the “chute”. At the end of the “chute” is where you want to be up to speed as that is when your time starts. They had us turn right into the entrance of the chute. We were not up to speed when our time started.

This is where the adrenaline kicked in. Will was in stroke seat. He rowed collegiate back in the 1990’s and was the only truly “experienced” rower on the crew. The water is so choppy I petrified of “catching a crab”. Robin called out strokes and counts to urge us on.

Rowing a head race is so different from sprints. You need to ration out your energy so you are not dead at the last part of the race. The bulk of the course was in the channel between Hobbes Island and the shoreline. The last section of the race was in the open river. Once we left the security of that channel we were bounced around by the rough water. We had the current with us, but we were rowing into the wind. The choppy water hit into the oar riggings nearly over the boat gunnels.

We were in the last 500 meters here. We had made the course without catching any crabs, and all went pretty well. I was paranoid at this point of catching a crab: right at the bitter end and spoiling everything for the team. I dug in and gave it all I had. I was never so relieved to hear an air horn as I was to hear that blast which signaled we had made the end of the course.

Almost at the finish line....

Rowing on the feather....Robin (cox) Will, Steve, Laurie, Dana, Ted, Rachel, Trish, and Jamie in bow with the 88 boat number on his back.

Docking and getting the sweep back to the stretchers was all done in a blur. We had competed against three other boats. As long as we were not last was all I was hoping for.

I was getting into dry clothes at my truck when I heard a “Whoop”, and cheering. I ran to the sweep to learn we had taken first place! It was a definite win… even with taking away our handicap.

Race times:

What a feeling of elation and accomplishment! We are going to have to train even harder now for the next regatta in a few weeks. The other masters teams are going to be out to kick out butts!!

What a team! Thanks to Dana's hubby Henry for the pictures!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coached Erg / Fun With the Fire Hydrant

The incessant gray, dampness and rain is really getting me down. There is nothing that can be done about the weather but I’ve had enough of these gloomy days.

Ever the optimist, I hung out a load of laundry on the line yesterday before daybreak. I was pleasantly surprised that things were pretty dry when I took them down right at sundown.

I’ve been working on getting the newest fire hydrant restored up. Once it is installed I’d like to have a fall party in the back. I was in a quandary on how to configure the base. I did not want to sacrifice any of my good signed pavers to be all cut up. Just plain cement, even with a topping of pea gravel would not have looked right. Here I go being anal again!

Then I remembered the ½ bricks I had in the fancy design. I have no plan for them; they have been stashed away buried under the ivy in the back by the Camelliea bush.

The brick saw got set up again to cut these bricks to fit around the pipe. I love doing this fussy work. I happily fussed and obsessed the afternoon away messing with this job.

Once the bricks were cut, mortar was mixed and they were installed onto the base. Plastic was placed over to protect against the imminent rain.

This morning I erged at the AquaticCenter with our coach Alison, and team mates Amy, Trish, Rachel, and Tina. I have never done a coached erg session before. Usually I just strap into the machines at the Y and go at it. Alison had a good “techno’ set of music for us to row to. I’ll have to bring in my Wing CD for the next time!

The Concept II rowers were lined up in front of the mirrored wall, the time was set to 30 minutes. The stroke rating was at a 20 and every five minutes it was brought up to a 28 and applying pressure. This was just like rowing in the sweep. Alison was the stroke seat and we all followed. It took lots of concentration to keep at the rate and not speed up.

It was a great workout. Right after the session I met a group of my old co-workers at Wrights for breakfast. This is a wonderful hole in the wall place. Their western omlette is my favourite. I get this every time I eat breakfast here. They put everything into this concoction. When you cut into it the grease just runs out. Add grits and biscuits and it is near heaven!

I made quite an impression on the boys showing up right from the gym in my spandex and ancient Nautilus Tee shirt.

From Wrights I had to head out to do shopping. My food situation at home was pretty sad. First I checked out the Alabama Thrift Store. I took a chance on a glass blender jar and cap. The cap for my old Oster blender has been missing for too many years. They are available, but by the time you get just the lid and add shipping you are up near $20.00. This was $1.50 so if it does not work out, I won’t be out that much.

Got my groceries at Wal-mart and Sam’s. There were not a lot of people out. I swear I spent more time sorting through the Fancy Feast for the cats to get the stuff they like than I did getting my groceries!

On the way home I had to make a special trip to Manna to get my Big Sky 3 grain Bread. That stuff is so good. Believe me, if I spend $7.00 on a loaf of bread that is saying a lot! It is so dense and heavy half a sandwich fills me up as much as a whole sandwich of the “mushy chemical bread”.

Once I packed away the groceries I tried out the new blender jar. It fit perfectly! YAY!!! Now I can make my iced coffees blended up without having to hold a plastic plate on the top as a make shift lid. That reminded me so of a skit Judy had on beta from a locally produced TV show. It was called “Cooking With Esther”. This guy was in horrible Aunt Jemima blackface drag hosted a cooking show. This episode he was cooking up “chicken necks and pearly little rice”. Everything was dumped into a pot… “If you don’t have a lid, you just use a plate and put a hammer on top of it.” I have searched the internets to see if this clip is out there someplace. No luck so far…..

The rain held off this afternoon allowing me to work on the hydrant. I was able to dismantle the top cap to facilitate stripping the paint. I had enough Strypeese left over from the porch roof project last year to get me started.

I was amazed how quickly this stripper ate into the paint. There is not much on this hydrant. I think whoever installed this in that Michigan front yard all those years ago, did a good job cleaning it up. The paint removal should be a fairly routine operation.

With the paint gone, the monogram is so crisp. MIB which stands for Michigan Iron and Brass works.

I happened to check out the calendar and realized I’ll be on the road to the Brick Swap in Cleburne, Texas next week! This month is flying by…..

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday Road Trip/Columbia Graphophone

No rowing today. This message was in my E-mail box last night: Row tomorrow is cancelled due to high waters and the ramp being pulled. Damn!

This constant rain is wearing me down. Monday I drove to Tupelo, MS in the steady rain. I was on a mission to examine and purchase a Columbia “Peerless BF” Graphophone from a collector friend.

When you are a collector it seems you are always in a state of flux. Speaking for myself, I’m always working to upgrade my collection. Last June I purchased a phenomenal cylinder record cabinet: A rare style I have never had an opportunity to acquire. Looking like a chest of drawers, five drawers house standard sized cylinder records. The bottom drawer is 6” high to accommodate the new 6” cylinder records introduced by the Columbia Graphophone Co in 1906. These rare cylinders increased the playing time of a standard cylinder from two to three minutes. Columbia’s competition in the cylinder phonograph field, Edison, increased the playing time of a standard cylinder record to four minutes by doubling the record groove spacing from 100 to 200 per inch. As a consequence the 6” Columbia cylinders were only in production for a short period of time. Graphophones* and accessories related to this sort lived “improvement” are very scarce to find today. *Thomas Edison controlled the use of the term “Phonograph” which is a combination of: Phono=voice and Graph=write.

An improved Columbia Cylinder record next to a “standard” cylinder record.

The furniture factories in the early 1900’s produced vast amounts of furniture in “golden oak”. Much of this furniture was cheaply made and of questionable style. It was not till the nostalgia craze of the 1970’s that oak furniture began to be appreciated.

Early phonographs mimicked sewing machines of the day. The decals on the front that are so highly prized today were scorned by the "classy people" as being gaudy and blatant advertising. Painting the phonograph horn with flowers gave a real Victorian air to these modern players.

Hopefully I will be able to have the flower paintings duplicated to the plain horn by a talented artist....

Quarter sawn oak exposes the “ray flake” the decorative wavy pattern prominent in quartersawn wood. This is sometimes called “tiger stripe oak”. The older the tree, the larger the ray flake. Quatersawing lumber is quite wasteful; hence furniture boasting being made of quatersawn lumber was always sold at a premium. The last stands of first growth virgin oak trees were exhausted in the first quarter of the 20th century.

The tree this veneer came from must have been HUGE!

Armed with this knowledge I have a greater appreciation of the woods used in old furniture and building. The quality of the virgin growth lumber logged 100 years ago will never be equaled.

The sun is actually shining as I finish up this entry. I took a chance and hung up a load of laundry on the line before daybreak. Hopefully it will fully dry before the rain returns tonight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Big Race

This rain has been such a pain. I was finally able to dig a hole for the pipe to house the newest fire hydrant. I had saved the forms from the last two bases I constructed, so it was an easy operation to pour the concrete and level it out.

In building the brick surround, the last brick to be installed had an overhang of about 3/8’s of an inch. This will not do. Rather then relay all the other bricks; I decided to just shave off that offending excess. That overhanging brick was really not that big a deal. But, it annoyed me so that I would forever be cursing the fact I did not fix it. To make that one cut on the brick entailed me going through the aggravation of setting out the brick saw and then tearing it all apart again. I sometimes wish I were not so anal about that kind of thing. It sure would make my life easier!

The best part of the job was getting “high” off the Sweet Olive which is in full bloom now. It is hard to believe such tiny white blossoms can emit such a strong sweet odour. The aroma permeates the house from the open windows in the back. The small olive I planted just outside my bedroom is now mature enough to have lots of blooms so I drift off to sleep now to that smell…..

Friday Rachael and I drove to Chattanooga together for the big Chattanooga Head Race. This will be the first race I’ve ever coxed and I’d been a wreck worrying about the outcome. There has been so much rain; the Tennessee River was high with a real strong current. The weather reports were for rain and storms.

Right before getting on the road, my cousin “Tootie” called and we had a nice visit. “Tootie” is in poor health, but a real trooper. She promised to pray to Saint Jude for our race to go well. She assured me they were on good terms.

Driving up just before exit 205 on I-59 the traffic stopped. There had been a horrible wreck and the last of that mess was getting cleared up. I had to get a picture to document the wait for this entry. The trucker next to us explained the easiest way to detour in case we had to get off at exit 205. What a nice guy. He wished us luck in the race! Slowly the traffic began to move, and work up to the speed limit. When we passed the guys taking up the work cones, I know we were home free for a little while.

Just outside Chattanooga we hit rain. UGH! In typical fashion it seems traffic just speeds up under these circumstances. I had to hit the brakes a few times to avoid rear ending the vehicle in front of me as they slowed to gawk at the many fender benders lining I-24.

We got to the launch site and located the sweeps for Alabama Crew, alone with our boat. Nobody was around, so Rachael and I wandered the area in search of a Starbucks. We easily found it and I luxuriated in a coffee and we split a chocolate brownie.

We joined up with the rest of the crew and got to work rigging up the sweep. I wanted to be sure we did that work ourselves. I did not want the Alabama crew guys doing that. As clubs we work together, I don’t want us to be seen as a burden by them. Jason and Alison showed up to do the technical spread and oarlock adjustments.

The weather report for our Saturday race was NOT good. The river was flowing FAST and the clouds were rolling in as we split off. The womens team booked rooms off I-75. It was awkward with me being the only guy, I sprung for my own room downtown. I got a great deal at a Days Inn not far from the race through Priceline. Ted showed up for the race so we split the room cost. For some reason I got an upgrade on the room. I’ll not complain about that.

The weather alert beeped through on the TV of dangerous thunderstorms. It figures, Ted and I had to drive to the other side of the city to join the crew for dinner at Applebee’s. What a drive. It was sheets of rain falling. Traffic was slowed to 35-40 mph at the max on I-75. I’m not that keen driving at night to begin with, let alone under these conditions. We arrived safely and joined everyone.

I had one beer to calm my nerves and water for the rest of the night. God forbid anything happen and you have a blood alcohol over .08. A bacon cheeseburger was my supper. That should hold me just fine.

Saturday morning dawned with a steady light rain. If we have to do the race in the rain, that should not be too bad. Alison wanted us at the launch site at 6:45. She wanted the entire crew to be at the Captain and Coxes meeting at 7:30. I packed in such a hurry I forgot to pack a jacket… Alison loaned me a hooded sweatshirt which greatly helped.

There were over 300 boats registered for the Head Race. The organizers wanted all the novice coxes to be in front. I was up there with the high school and younger kids. I told them we were all in the same boat!

The race course was explained and the river currents described. At this point my stomach was one huge knot. We were #18 in the race and had to be in the first wave of departing boats. We launched off a floating dock after passing the safety inspection for foot stretchers and the bow ball. We had to shove off before I even got the cox box hooked up so I had to really yell to get us turned around. I was warned of a tree limb floating just under the surface I could not see directly ahead of us. A great way to start: I was a wreck…..

Afternoon congestion at the dock:

The dock we launched from is the same we finish at. We had to row upstream the entire race course on the left side of the river. We worked through drills ending up rowing pretty much the entire distance with all eight. Alison was in the stroke seat and walked me through calling out what was needed. It takes a LOT of stamina and strength to do this kind of race: we were up against some heavy competition.

We had to get in some sort of a line upstream from the start. The 19 team was with us, we were missing the 17 sweep. Finally they crossed the river and we followed them. I hit the reset on the cox box and for whatever reason it stopped registering the stroke rate. We trained at a 26 rating Going down the “chute” This is where you build up speed and passing the line you hear “Mark” and you are in the race.

Alison coached me on the calls. I was concentrating on not riding the rudder and obsessing on not crossing a lane marker. I was constantly reminding ports to check down and starboards to watch hand levels: not having the cox box to check the stroke rate was driving me frantic.

Push through the legs, upper body swing, tap out with your elbow and the never ending DON’T RUSH YOUR SEATS was my harangue through the race. I was in constant apprehension of Rachael catching a crab….EARLY ROLL UPS!!! Melissa WATCH YOUR RELEASES…. GET A BIG STRETCH!!! At the 3,500 meter mark was when things began to blur. Rachael noticed it, when my calls went off. I was sweating, my vision was getting blurred and that lightheaded feeling was hitting me. Was it from hyperventilating or the pressure? I had to hang in there and finish the race. I recovered and we completed the race without any real mishap. The crew did well and we stayed on course.

We did not row strong and as a consequence did not place. But, we were not last. We were 5th out of 7. Basically we accomplished what we originally set out to do which was to complete that first head race in one piece.

The weather held for the rest of the day. It did not rain on our race, we completed it without mishap. I need to thank cousin “Tootie” and Saint Jude. They both came through for us!

Jamie Tina Rachel, Melissa

Rachel, Amy, Tina, Melissa, Trish

Our coaches Jason and Alison with the Alabama Crew boys..

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rainy, Wet and Gray Days

I was beat after my last road trip and did very little on Saturday except to unload the hydrant off the back of the truck. Doing that job alone was an aggravation of makeshift ramps etc. It is all awaiting installation whenever the monsoon season ends.

Sunday was one of those all day rains. The rain would vary in intensity, but it was steady all day. There were eight hardy souls that showed up to row in that miserable weather. We were one short of taking out the eight. We were just getting ready to disperse when Bill showed up from Birmingham. He mentioned to Robin that he would like to join us for a row. We never expected him to show up with the weather being so rotten.

We had enough to go out. I was rowing port in the four seat, and Bill from BHAM was in the five starboard seat just in front of me. My teeth were chattering from the rain and cold as the bow pair rowed across the river. Alison coxed without a cox-box. I was the go between to the bow section of the sweep as to when to drop out or join in.

Once we got to rowing my core body temperature warmed up and I began to feel better. We rowed as far as the overlook where boats can dock on the riverwalk, and we turned around. The wind had picked up and the rain was falling sideways!

We rowed sixes back to the dock. Bill did pretty well rowing with us for the first time, but sorry to say he got banged up with my oar when he transitioned in wrong or did not hold the set far enough up on his seat. I’m able to get a real good stretch rowing port. I always try to get my outside hand on the oar to reach over the gunnel. This section of the row was with the current which was pretty strong from all the rain. We flew down the river with that headwind added in.

We spun the sweep around to dock so we were rowing into that headwind and against the current. My God that was a first…. The wind hitting the oar blades and that force of the current really slowed us down.

Even though we were soaked to the skin it was still a rush. Taking the sweep out of the river, “up and overhead” made sure we were thoroughly drenched when all the water poured out of the sweep and over us.

Once home I striped off the wet clothes and luxuriated in a hot shower. After supper I lit the gas lights and relaxed in the Morris Chair. Daggy and Stump took turns lounging in my lap. I had the Jack Benny Show playing through my stereo speakers and enjoyed a glass of box wine. It was just like old times

Monday was another dreary gray day. It was damp and chilly for the entire day. I finally broke down and turned on the furnace. It only had to be on for a bit to clear out the dampness.

Things around here always seem to go on the blink at once. I had three different clocks I had to tear into. Anything mechanical is bound to mess up. When you add age to that equation and it is pretty much a given. It is hard to think my grandfather clock is approaching the 200 year mark.

Today broke as another gray misty day: I showed up for rowing practice at 5:15 a.m. in my sweats and thermal underwear. It had warmed up a lot from Monday so those extra clothes were really overkill. It was still foggy and mist was hanging over the river. Both oar trees were filled as the novice men’s teams are on the water now. The river is at full capacity for rowers now. I was barking out orders to get off the dock as fast as possible.

This morning I was cox of the women’s racing boat and was a wreck trying to keep with the other two sweeps. Alison was going crazy trying to coach three sweeps at once. Our big race is Saturday which has me thoroughly wigged out. I have to resign myself to the fact that all we want to do is to make the race in one piece and be happy with that.

I really wish that all the rowers would take turns at coxing. You learn so how the boat handles and realize how to adjust your rowing technique to affect the course of the boat. From what I’ve learned, if the rowers can keep the sweep on course it cuts through the water easier and faster than depending on riding the rudder.

It was supposed to clear up this afternoon and I took a chance and hung a load of laundry on the line early this morning. Those clothes were just barely damp when the sky opened up at 1:30 and they were thoroughly drenched again.

What else can go wrong? I was putting the mission shelf clock back together after repairing the slipped click spring when I heard an E-mail bling in. This mail was from Priceline wanting feedback from my trip to Chattanooga. WTF??? I’m going there this weekend. Pulling up my paperwork I realized the room I booked for the race was for Friday October the 3rd!!!

I can’t blame anybody for that one but myself!!! Fortunately I was able to get another room for Friday night at the same cheap price.

On two I want my bow pair in and my stern pair out…. one……and two…bow pair in, stern pair out!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October Brick of the Month/Fire Hydrant Pick Up

The time has really gotten away from me this fall. I totally missed my monthly “Brick of the Month” feature for September. I’m a bit late for October, but here October’s brick.

This is a new hand made brick crafted by Rich Nagy I acquired this at a brick swap auction of the International Brick Collectors Association last year in Wellston, Ohio. It sits on top of the computer armoire in my bedroom. The motto: BRICK SMARTER THEN YOU THINK pretty much says it all!!

Last Thursday, October 1st I took off for a road trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan to pick up my latest treasure: a rare fire hydrant manufactured by the Michigan Brass and Iron Works in 1902.

I left direct from rowing practice and drove to Anderson, Indiana only stopping at one horrible flea market. I had covered some 575 miles when I checked into the Motel Six.

Friday morning I was on the road very early. There was a steady, heavy rain pouring down. The kind of rain I HATE to drive in. The inky black wet road swallowed up the white fog and lane lines. I lucked out and was able to follow a truck that was going at a reasonable speed. I’d much rather take my time and have somebody else “break the road” for me.

I was just south of I-80 in when I had to pull over for a breakfast. There were no Waffle Houses, so I had to settle for a Cracker Barrel. I was so wound up; I just needed a hot coffee to start out. There were a few early birds in the dining room. A wood fire was burning in the large fireplace. I was seated right by that. That heat felt so good!

I jumped as my cell phone went off! That damn thing drives me nuts! It was Bob, the seller of the hydrant. We worked out a rendezvous spot to transfer the hydrant from his truck to mine: a Perkins at exit 20 on I-94. Knowing all is lined up I relaxed and enjoyed a heavy breakfast.

The rain had let up some as I got back to my truck. It stayed misty, gray and overcast my entire trip to Kalamazoo. I found the Perkins with no trouble. I called Bob on my cell. I’m getting pretty good at using that thing: I even programmed his number into the memory under “fire plug!”

Bob works nearby: he showed up in no time. Fortunately I had straps in my truck to make moving the hydrant easier. It weighs a LOT! Bob related how he happened on the hydrant. It was in the front yard of his house which is located many miles from any water main. He was so sick of mowing around it. His wife suggested he list it on E-bay to see if it was worth anything. Bob had inquires from all over the country on this. I beat out a guy from Philadelphia who wanted it badly. At least I’m not the only crazy person scarfing up fire hydrants out there!

With that weight in the back of the truck, I felt a lot safer on the wet roads as I headed back home. The further south I went the more the weather improved. It was a straight through drive to Bowling Green where I checked into my old stand-by Motel Six. There must have been a lot going on in the area as the weekend rate was $55.00. I was too beat to pound the pavement for a cheaper place. The location is so good. I was able to walk to the Outback for a greasy bacon cheeseburger and happy hour price beer.

Saturday I was on the road at 5:00 a.m. This drive to Tuscaloosa I’ve done too many times from this location. Pilot Gas stations usually sell the cheapest gas. They have a special on the charge receipts from the pump, 16 oz coffee and any fresh baked good for $1.00. I took advantage of this special filling the truck and myself at Franklin, KY and Decatur, AL.

All in all the traffic was not bad and I walked through the front door of my house at 9:45.

To a “normal person” driving nearly 1,600 miles round trip to acquire a fire hydrant is totally insane. “Normal” is something I’ve never claimed to be. I like to think I’m living my life as I want, no matter how crazy it looks to outsiders. I spent 30 years at GM on the factory floor planning, saving, and daydreaming how I would live my life when freed from the “golden handcuffs” that chained me to my job.

I’m freed from the golden handcuffs and my life since retirement has been very good.


About Me

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Retired auto worker who can now spend too much time restoring his 1922 Bungalow Home. I'm involved in a number of varied activities from collecting bricks to rowing with a masters rowing group. This blog is to share different aspects of my life on my Facebook page. I've kept an on-line journal for eight years.