Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ride To "New" Work

Here's my working class scoot Mule, parked in our classy new workplace. We have actually laid claim to a parking area designated for "Scooters Only". Had Jeff and Dreamcrusher not been at lunch, the photo would have been of three scoots instead of one.
I've been on another marathon schedule this week, and hope that after our grand-opening on June 1st, and 2nd to get back to more normal hours. Too much work and not enough rest makes for one edgy dude. Even though you try not to bring work home with you, there is a lack of spirit and energy that comes with running too hard, and too long. And this shows up in how you act, or react at home. One has to remain a "cool cat" to keep loved ones happy during times of edginess. So far, so good.
The upside is that my daily commute has doubled in distance, and this gives me a chance to unwind, and take the slow road home.
Being that the new store is on the East side of town, just outside city limits, we are now county residents. The store is on Highway 101, and I end up getting to run the scoot up to speed a little bit, rather than the slower speeds inside the city limits. Unless...I take a little side route on what used to be called "Bay Loop".
A little exploring led to much surprise as I tooled around this undeveloped oasis between work and town. There are great views of both the Olympic Mountains, and the Strait of Juan De Fuca, and the cool thing is that you can see the sights through fields of grass and trees. There are still old barns and farm houses, and the roads (not streets) wander in a curvy, up and down way, rather than the flat boring grid of city streets. It is by no means a big area, but it offers that rural touch that will make putting around on a Summer lunch hour so much nicer. I'll post some photo's soon.
Well, one more week of controlled chaos before the big opening celebration, then hopefully we can settle into a more normal stride to take us through the Summer months. And as more folks are being impacted by the high fuel costs of travelling further to work, maybe we will see more scooters in the "reserved" parking area. All others will be scoffed at!
Have fun,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Modern Vespa Calling...

You know, it seems that the majority of riders in our neighborhood that choose scooters as their two-wheeler of choice, have gravitated to the modern Vespa and have nothing but rave reviews to share. I'll admit that this has had me thinking of ways to join the bandwagon, but the one major hurdle to overcome is always going to be the almighty and elusive dollar. I'd have better luck finding Bigfoot in a supermarket produce aisle than coming up with the scratch to afford another scooter.

I'll have to put the modern Vespa idea on hold until we cover some low-hanging debts, or until I find a fruitful money tree growing in my back yard.

I won't complain though, since I have a sweet vintage Vespa already, and my steady workhorse Honda Big Ruckus. As stylish and pretty as the newer Vespa's are, the Ruckus is rugged and masculine. With the utility vehicle looks and capability of hauling a sizable load, the BR is more like a Jeep than a fine Italian sports car. Not forgetting that Steve Williams used his Vespa to haul a Christmas tree, I still view the modern wasp as more of a sleek, well bred piece of rolling art. And I really want one.

Coming from this part of the country, where logging trucks and dirt haulers still rule the roads, it makes more sense to stick with tradition and ride a utility-look scooter. I mean, where else can you find hickory shirts, suspenders, Carhartt pants and "Romeo" slippers as everyday dress wear? Do I want to stand out like a sore thumb? The answer is YES! I may not have a drop of Italian blood in my veins, but the doggone modern Piaggio, and Vespa world is calling, and I'm just staring at the caller ID deciding whether or not to answer.

As I scroll through the blogroll looking at Steve, Gary, Orin, Harv the Roadbum, "Vancouver" Dave and so on, my desire to keep up with you "Vespisti" brothers increases with each blog post I read. And I do read them all. As I've said before, when I get into something, I usually go all the way. least for now, as I look at my huge financial roadblock, I at least have something to dream about and plan for. And sometimes half the fun of achieving a goal like this, is in how you apply yourself to making it happen.

I think that today is a good day to start making it happen.

Have fun,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Workin' To Ride

I figured that I'd better post something quick before a layer of dust covers my blogspot. The total all-out effort to get the new store open has taken every bit of my free time, and I'm officially pooped. With the exception of Mothers Day, a good number of us have been working seven days a week, with 12 hours a day being the average. And every grumpy minute has been worth it. The new era for Hartnagel Building Supply begins tomorrow when we officially open at 7:00. I'm ready.

Up until Friday, I had been riding every day. My office space needed to be moved, so the family truckster has been pressed into service to cart my junk across town. I've got one more load to haul tomorrow, then I'll be back to scooting every day. The shock of watching my fuel gauge drop to the six o'clock position has me missing my Mule after only 2 days.

I had one highlight on Friday when Orin O'Neill dropped in on his way from Seattle to Victoria B.C. on his '05 Vespa PX150. Orin's trip to the Garden City Scooter Rally is being updated daily at his blogsite, . I suggest that you take a peek, as his writing style is quite good, and very entertaining. In my opinion, Orin is a true scooterist, and it was a pleasure to spend a few brief moments with him on a very hectic day. Anyone that rolls the stretch of highway that he did, with a top speed of 47 mph, and comes across as cool and collected as he did, earns top honors from me.

Now that I have finally taken an afternoon off, the rain has begun to fall as steadily as my energy dwindles. All I want to do is find a spot on the couch and see how far I can sink into it. If I can pull it off, I'll try to take Wednesday off to catch up on my yard work, and maybe take a spin on my Vespa. I'll be ready for an "Old skool scootin" fix by then.

Have fun,

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stuck In The '60's

Yep, that's me smoking up the yard, warming up Ol' Blue. Dressed in my new Fishtail Parka and aviator goggles, I've almost got the look of the '60's Mod down. I don't think that I will push it too far by adding mirrors and spotlights to the scoot though.
After a short warm-up, I'm off. Since it's Mother's Day, I kept my personal playtime to a minimum. But I did have a nice ride around the west side of town, and saw a new scooter in a driveway that I hadn't seen before. Just like the weeds in my yard, they're popping up everywhere.
Now, before I babble on too much, I want to say congratulations to Gary Charpentier on the purchase of his brand new Vespa. The "Rush Hour Rambler" joins the Vespisti of the world, and I look forward to following his blog posts with his adventures in scootering.
Now...back to babbling. The parka has become a bit of a conversation piece around my little circle of cronies. I end up trying to tell the story of how the Fishtail parka wound up becoming a signature article of clothing among the scooter riding youth known as the Mod's back in the 1960's in England. Since the story is colorful, but a bit long, I end up handing the coat over to my bored listener to try on. I then give a verbal tour of all of the bells and whistles, and benefits of this "extreme cold weather" vintage U.S. Army issue parka. I encourage you to look up to read the well documented story, and check out some cool photo's.
I was finding that the prices on these vintage gems ran over $200.00 on some web sites. I ended finding a cool place that had the 1980's issue, that is constructed better that the early "true collectors" edition for under $48.00. I had passed this hot tip to my old pal Jeff, and he scored one within the same week. After seeing how he looked astride his Vino, decked out in ol' skool cool, I called my wife from work and asked that she order one "right away"! I've been wearing it everyday since.
With our sunny days starting out at around 40 degrees, I feel that the parka passes the test so far. The true test will come this winter, but I don't mind waiting for that. But the parka is warm, and if you tie up the mid waist draw string, you won't catch any wind blowing up under the "skirt" as I found out on the first ride. You also have the option of tying off at the legs to better secure the jacket from wind lift.
In all, it's a lot of fun looking back to the past and researching scooter culture, and following some of the paths that others have blazed on little two stroke smokin' steeds. There is a ton of history surrounding the scooter lifestyle, and I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg. But with my parka, at least I'm dressed for it.
Have fun,

Monday, May 07, 2007

Blue Metro Blue's

It's official...the beginning of the big push to get our new store set and ready to open in the next two weeks is ON! I'm looking forward to working every day until we are operating smoothly in our new digs. The only reason that I'm home right now with the opportunity to post this entry, is because I'm working a split day, and I will go back for my second round tonight. A quick scooter ride, then a spin with the lawn mower should fill up the void between shifts.

I saw something that bummed me out on Saturday. A young guy that is just getting his feet wet in the world of scootering was riding to our store to show Jeff his brand new blue and white Honda Metropolitan. It just happened that Jeff and I were standing in the front parking lot when Jeff noticed this fellow coming down the street. Here's this guy with a big grin on his face proudly coming to show off his new purchase, then WHAM!! he lays it down on the street. Since there were cars lined up in the intersection blocking the view, I could see him as far as his entry into the right hand turn, then he dissappeared. But there was no mistaking the noise of heavy plasting meeting tarmac. I told Jeff that his friend had just "ate it", and started hustling over to the street. About then, I saw a very embarrassed, and shaken young man pushing his freshly scarred scooter over to the sidewalk.

I didn't see what happened, so I won't assume anything. I spoke to the guy long enough to see if he was alright. Jeff hung with him as he collected himself. I checked the damage on the scoot, which was just some hard scrapes on the leg shield edge, and the engine cowl was ground down pretty good, but no visible breakage. I think that the real break may have been in this lads trust of his own skills for riding. And this may be a good thing, because he will now have to decide if he wants to continue riding, which should include training and education, or if he wants to stay clear of the horse that just kicked him off. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I'm reminded that as playful as one may feel while astride one of these joymobiles, the pavement still has very little give when you come down hard to meet it. As a true flag waver for the joys of scootering, and as someone who has gained some respect in our local scooter community, I also need to promote the absolute need for safe riding practices.

As much as this young lad had a wake-up call, I heard it too. I've got some work ahead of me. And I'm not talking about my round the clock schedule at "work", I mean "work" as in connecting the new riders with the best safety information, and direction towards training that we have available. I don't see and meet everyone, but if I keep some safety literature, and business cards of the local MSF trainers in my tour-pack, then I will at least have something to share. Or...take the time to get myself trained, and do it right. This might be my next "Calling". We'll see how it goes.

Have fun,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Extraction Day!

I had the nicest visit with my new dentist today. It was determined back in January that my genetic make-up deemed it necessary that I get to enjoy partial dentures. Woo,Hoo!! So at 9:00 am, I shook hands with Dr. Johnson. Since he's new to the clinic, he had some time on his hands. And I had his hands in my mouth for an hour and a half. Two fillings, and two extractions later, I wobbled out of the office still half lit on the nitrous oxide that had kept me mellow during the drilling, yanking and fretting over how much this was going to tap me out-of-pocket. My insurance doesn't cover much more than a "drive-by" type of visit.

One thing for sure though, I'm glad that I didn't go "cowboy" and ride the scooter. No amount of deep breathing to clear my head when I was done was going to put me in a clear enough frame of mind to ride. Sometimes driving the family truckster is the right choice. I say this because, if I could have possibly eaten anything at all, I should have eaten some words that I had spoken just yesterday.

A co-worker had lined up a ride with his Dad to and from his dentist yesterday for a root-canal that he had done. I had bragged that I've driven, ridden motorcycles and bicycles from the dentist with no problem. Then along comes today, and I have a "problem". I owe him one.

The Doc did tell me though that I could not go back to work today. I had turned him down on getting pain meds, so he told me to go home and do "nothing" for the rest of today. I made some mumbling phone calls and told everyone that I was going to sit this one out, and promply fell asleep for a couple of hours. After coming around again, I puttered around the backyard wishing that I could go for a ride. I think guilt would have won though, because I don't think that I should play, if I can't work. So scooting will have to wait till tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow, if the UPS man shows up for our pal Jeff, I hope to post a photo of his newly purchased Fishtail Parka that I had posted about a while back. J.B. scored one online for a great price. For you fans of the Mods and Rockers era, you might recognize the handsome jacket. Who knows, my eBay savvy wife might surprise me with one of my own if she is impressed enough with Jeff's. This old rocker might have a little "Mod" in him after all!

Have fun,

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