Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Today is the most dreaded shopping day of the year. My wife and I considered getting up at 5 am to go shopping but decided at 8 am that we would pass. Think about that one for a moment, you'll get it.

In any event, I started the day by making pancakes for my family, after which, my wife and I did go shopping, but we went to places that aren't exactly known as high cost shopping destinations. We started out at "The Dollar Tree" in the Golden Triangle on Lititz Pike. We then went to Michael's Arts and Crafts to pick up some craft stuff for my wife so she could make some Christmas gifts for our relatives. After that, I had to take her to physical therapy, and we went to the Olive Garden for Lunch.

I am very glad we did not try to go to the mall today. the mall parking lot was packed, and people were parking accross the street at the Olive Garden, just to have a space to park.

After lunch, I took my wife to Jo-Ann Fabrics for some more craft items. I was then able to impose upon her to let me go over to Lancaster Honda to look around.

Lancaster Honda has two Ruckii (the plural for Ruckus?), two metropolitans, and a SilverWing on the showroom floor. They also have two 150cc scooters and a sport bike by United Motors on the floor. The UM scoots are Chinese built, and the build quality seems so-so. I will say that they seem to have a good amount of floorboard space, but it's angled inward, which felt a little uncomfortable on the ankles for me. Perhaps I'll take one for a test ride and give my impressions here. The scoots do have the fake ABS common on Chinese scoots, which is little more than a pass through valve and makes the front brake less responsive than it could be. Of course, I've read that the valves are easy to remove, making braking much less slushy.

Well, I am off to take my son for a ride. In the meantime, here are some photos for your perusal:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kymco picks up the slack...

There's an interesting article I found recently, detailing some new Kymco models. The writer, of course, is very excited about Kymco's new 700cc scooter, and that is what he primarily writes about; however, what interests me is not the 700cc, or even the 300cc below that, but rather, the new 125cc "naked" motorcycle.

As I have written previously, there is a tendency in America for motorsports companies to focus on large displacement bikes. That is fine as far as it goes. Many Americans like big, noisy, smelly vehicles, and that is their right; however, there are some of us who prefer spunky, perky, small vehicles with less noise but plenty of character. I happen to be one of the latter.

A 125cc motorcycle may not get a lot of street cred from the hard core biker crowd, but a smaller bike offers nimble maneuverability that no Harley cruiser can match. They also offer greater fuel economy, which has always been a big factor for me when purchasing a vehicle.

The small displacement niche has been neglected by most other motorcycle companies, so it is nice to see Kymco filling some of the holes. Certainly, there are several scooters available under 250cc, but I'm only aware of one other motorcycle currently in that range (Kawasaki, Eliminator 125). Again, Kudos to Kymco!

There is a fourth vehicle mentioned in the article, but I am not terribly sure of my feelings about it. It's a small electric scooter concept with a top speed of 15 mph. At 0.5 horsepower, it's not much of a scooter. The limited range is also a problem. I'm not one to mind the low speed, personally, but from a safety perspective, I'd not want to try riding one in traffic or even down the side of the road.

Electric vehicles make sense from a theoretical perspective, but in practical application, there are few that offer the range and power of a gasoline powered vehicle, in fact, I can only think of one, and that is the Tesla Roadster. There are some that show promise, but aren't quite there yet. Take the Vectrix Scooter, for instance. The Vectrix has the styling of a maxi-scooter, and the power of a 150cc gas scooter, but it doesn't quite have the range that one would want for longer rides. The top speed of 62 mph is also a bit disappointing, though it is more than sufficient for casual riding. Unfortunately, due to the limitation of top speed and range, the Vectrix is relegated to the role of daily commuter and errand runner with little flexibility for long range cruising.

In time, perhaps better batteries and better electric engines will overcome these speed and range issues, making electric scooters a more realistic alternative to gas scooters.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some people think I'm crazy...

Including my wife, but she's held that opinion for years.

I rode my scooter in to work this morning. It was about 25 degrees or so when I woke up and my car was all frosted up. It would have taken longer to defrost the car, so I just started the scoot, let it warm up for a minute while I bundled up, and took it to work.

My nose and chin were a little chilly when I arrived, but otherwise I got there in one piece. I did notice a few patches of what may have been black ice, but I was able to avoid them fairly easily.

I stopped at the Neffsville flower shop on my way home and the ladies behind the desk chuckled, but were more than happy to help me find a small flower arrangement that would fit in my scoot's topbox so I could take it home to my wife. It's a nice little bouquet actually, with hydrangea and lillies mixed with a couple sunflowers. Very autumnal.

I even got a pic of the scoot in front of the shop. It looked very "old world" parked in front of the brick building.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The weather outside is frightful

But I went for a short ride on the scoot this afternoon anyway. It was a nice ride, despite the cold, and the roads were all clear.

When I went outside this morning, I found about an inch and a half of light floofy snow on the Silver Streak. I had to run to work and my wife was going to help me with the shopping, so we took her car, but not before I got some pictures of my poor scooter all covered in snow.

The fact that the snow was not laying on the road did not stop a couple of folks from having an accident along the intersection of Rt 272 and Landis Valley road, shortly before my wife and I got there. It amazes me how even the threat of snow seems to throw Lancastrians for a loop.

We did see some beautiful scenery along the way. it's too bad that winter shots don't come out as well as they could.

After I finished up at work, and we returned home, I took the scoot for a short ride. Since the roads were clear, I had no trouble with skidding at all, and got to see some remarkable wintry landscapes.

Scoot safe and enjoy the weather!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back to normal!

Well, sort of.

My wife is finally home from the hospital. It has been a rough week, but hopefully, now that she's back, things will start to feel normal again. I'm sure she will keep me busy with housework, which I'll be happy to do.

Our one cat is already sitting behind her on her pillow purring contentedly. He was lost without her here.

Sometimes we get so used to having people around, that even though we love them dearly, we don't appreciate them as much until they have been away for a while.

Monday, November 17, 2008


The weather outside is...freezing, but it hasn't kept me from gettin' on the scoot to ride.

People keep asking me if I'm cold, and after my teeth stop chattering enough so I can answer, I say, "No, not really."

That's not 100% true, in fact, I hardly feel the cold. It helps to have some facial fur and a heavy coat, and my windshield is priceless. I also wear several layers. Even my feet don't seem to get cold due to the nice fairing in front of them, despite the holes in my Crocs (Yukon style). Yes, I know, Crocs are technically a sandal and are nowhere near being protective gear, but they are insanely comfortable and I'm on my feet at work for 10 to 12 hours some days, which requires a comfy pair of shoes.

Getting back to the topic of winter clothing, It's possible to ride a scooter in cold weather and not feel the full effect of the low temperatures. I wear a simple canvas jacket from Wal-Mart, with a hooded sweatshirt and at least one more shirt under that. On my hands, I wear a pair of suede leather driving gloves with a fleece lining. For pants, a pair of blue jeans does the trick, again, because of the fairing.

When riding in the cold, the wind is your enemy. Unlike a motorcyclist, a scootster's legs are protected from the wind. A decent windshield (the taller the better), ensures that one's chest is protected as well. It's also important to have a decent helmet with a face shield. Some scooters come with hand shields, but if yours is not equipped with them, heavy leather gloves are recommended.

Leather seems to be one of the most wind resistant materials. If you need any proof, look at cows, they wear it all year long. Unfortunately, if you're like me, and you can't shell out $300 for a leather riding jacket, heavy materials are good. I'm partial to canvas since it's very sturdy. The trick with woven materials is to layer them. It works well for hunting, and the concept transfers well to riding a scooter.

I rode my scoot over 40 miles today. The temperature ranged from around 30 degrees when I awoke, to 40 degrees in the afternoon. With all my gear on, the weather was little more than a mild inconvenience.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Driving me buggy!

If you've read this blog at all, you've come to realize that I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. If there's one thing Lancaster is known for, it's the Amish and their unique way of life. They are, for the most part, a relatively quiet people who keep mostly to themselves, unless they need to interact with the "English" for trade or whatnot.

I've known several Amish folks, and the vast majority of them are decent, hard working, peaceful people. The Amish primarily use horse-drawn buggies for long distance transportation (meaning, a few miles or more). It is customary to carefully pass an Amish buggy, but unfortunately, many of the folks who come to this area as tourists, and many who've lived here all their lives, have no idea how to pass them safely.

This afternoon, I was trying to go visit my wife at the hospital, and I was fighting the clock, trying to get there during visiting hours. I had the poor fortune to get stuck behind a lady who decided to follow a buggy for almost a mile. When she finally passed it, she decided to travel far below the speed limit. It took 30 minutes to travel 6 miles, which put me far behind schedule for getting to the hospital, which is two hours away. Since I was riding the scoot and it was cold and windy, I decided to just turn around and head home.

I do love this area, but sometimes the local drivers test the limits of my sanity.

As a note about the above picture, if you are not familiar with the Amish, that buggy is actually not an Amish buggy. In this area, we have Amish, and Old order Mennonites. The Amish use grey buggies, while the black buggies belong to the Mennonites. There are other subtle differences between the two, and there are many many different flavors of Mennonites, of which the Amish themselves are an offshoot. I could fill several pages with explanations of the differences between the two, but I don't really feel like it at this time, and it's not the focus of this blog anyway.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Well, I took my motorcycle test today, and got very wet.

When I started out from home, it wasn't raining. I stopped to get gas at the WaWa in East Pete, then headed down 741 to the driver's center. By the time I got there, is was raining steadily, though I was not yet terribly wet.

I went into the driver's center, the man behind the counter took my info and told me to go to the back of the building. At this point, the rain was really coming down.

I pulled around behind the driver's center and waited ten minutes for the examiner to come out. By the time he came out, I was thoroughly drenched, despite my thick canvas coat.

He had me do three figure 8's, then had me maneuver around some dots on the pavement and stop at a specific spot. Let me tell you, doing figure 8's in the rain is not easy, but counter steering around the dots was easy stuff.

Needless to say, I passed, which is exciting since now I can legally ride with my son or after dark (or both).

Happy day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day off

Today is my day off. I had wanted to take a nice long ride accross the countryside, but my wife was feeling ill, so I put off the ride for a little while. I was getting ready to go, when I got a call from my son's school. Let's just say...he got a little enforced vacation...

Turns out, my son was having some difficulties due to some pent up emotions. If you've ever worked with anyone with post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you'll understand that sometimes it can be set off at the least provocation.

Here's a little history. My son was adopted two and a half years ago. He came from an abusive home when he joined our family as a foster child four years ago in September. His PTSD comes from the abuse he received from his birth parents. He's a great kid, but he has some definite struggles.

To add a little more stress to my day, when i was coming home with my son, my wife called to say she was feeling worse and the doctor had told her to go to the E.R., so, my day was all sorts of fun.

Needless to say, I didn't get a chance to ride the scoot today. I do have a pic I took on Tuesday morning though. It was a beautiful day for a ride. Chilly, but beautiful.

I can't wait for the first snow to fly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Autumn is beautiful!

You have never truly lived until you have ridden a scooter (or motorcyle, I suppose), during the autumn months. The feel of the chill wind on your face, the beauty of the autumn leaves, the crazy squirrels darting out in front of you...

Well, the squirrels I can do without.

I love the cold. I was raised in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains in western Massachusetts, so chilly weather is nothing new to me. I get quite a chuckle out of Lancaster County natives who utterly freak out at the first hint of winter weather. All the weatherman has to do is say "snow" and the grocery stores are suddenly emptied of their entire stock of eggs, milk, and bread. I'm not 100% sure why those items are so much in demand before a snow storm in this area. Perhaps the natives want to stick French toast to their tires to help with traction.

Snow has never been a deterent for me. I'm not likely to ride my scooter in it since I'm not entirely insane (a little, sure, but not entirely), but I have no qualms about driving my car in a blizzard, never mind a mild flurry.

Autumn is the harbinger of winter. The colors of autumn give way to the blues and whites of winter, the joys of snowball fights, and the pleasure of hot cocoa and a snuggle with my hunny. It is truly a delightful time of year.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Getting away from obnoxious children: Priceless

Don't get me wrong, I love my son. He's a good kid, but after supervising him for a significant period of time, I sometimes find my myself edging closer and closer to insanity. Today was one of those days. We had a water treatment system installed today and i was stuck at home, which is enough to drive me crazy by itself, but to add to it, my wife had an appointment to go to, so i was watching our son.

I had almost despaired of having a moment of sanity, when my wife suggested that I help her return some clothing to the store. So, we left our son at home for a bit (he's 12 now, so not a terribly big deal to leave him alone for an hour or two), and I followed my wife's car to the store, and then, after making the return, she stayed to shop, and I went for a ride. I was able to add a little more to the radius of places traveled on my Google map.

I went up past the lake at Speedwell Forge, which was beautiful, then went along north to Mountain Road, where I traveled West for several miles to route 72 (Lebanon Road). I then took a left onto Oak Tree Road and made my way around Manheim, then made my way home.

All in all, it was a relaxing ride.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Google maps fun!

Today was an excellent day for a ride. I rode to work, then took the long route home. I wish it weren't so dark outside or I'd be out riding som more. Sure, I'll ride at night when I have to, but I'd rather avoid it.

On a note more related to this entry's title, I found a neat little feature in Google maps and put together a map of the places I've been on my scoots. I will update this map as I expand my riding range.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sporting event mentality

Warning: This entry is not scooter related.

That said, I'm rather irritated at the mindset which seems to be prevalent in American politics. We seem to have adopted a sporting event mentality when it comes to politics, making both sides appear silly. It's almost like kids in a school yard saying, "My dad can beat up your dad!"

I have my political opinions, and I enjoy discussing them, but I don't get all bent out of shape if someone disagrees with me. I hold to the viewpoint that everyone is entitled to their opinions, whether I agree with them or not, and if I disagree, it is better to discuss it with them in an adult manner, rather than resorting to petty namecalling.

Over the last year and a half, I've watched people squabble over their choice for president, and now that the race is over, many of those who believe themselves to be "winners" seem to be thumbing their noses at those who voted for the "loser," again, much like children saying "nyeh nyeh nyeh."

I'd like to think that if the situation were reversed, the opposition would be more civil, but since I am a cynic, I doubt that would be the case.

It's really quite a shame that people behave this way, but it's become the norm in this country.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scoot to the polls!

It's November 4 and the polls are open. Go support the democratic process and make your voice heard. Not only is there a presidential election occurring, but there are also congressional seats up for grabs and state government positions being voted upon.

Here in Lancaster county, we also had a referendum for "Home Rule" which would fundamentally change the form of county government. Here is a link to a site in support of Home Rule. Unfortunately, I could not find a group specifically opposing the idea; however, a search of the forums at the Lancaster Newspapers' "Talkback" will reveal several arguments against the idea.

Regardless of whom you are going to vote for and which referendums you will support or stand against, please, exercise your freedom and go vote. If you are a scootster or a motorcyclist, I recomend that you also ride your two wheeler to the polls. This is a great day to show off your ride and build awareness that we are out here, and perhaps win some converts to a two-wheeled way of life.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Earlier today, I was at the local Pep Boys to pick up some reflective tape and a convex mirror for my scoot, and noticed a McCain/Palin campaign bus in the Home Depot parking lot. My wife and I went over and I picked up a bumper sticker and a yard sign, which I never do, but this election seems to be the most important in my lifetime so far, so I am unwilling to just stand back and not let my voice be heard, so to speak.

In any event, when I mentioned that I planned to put the bumper sticker on my scoot, the gentleman standing there suggested that if McCain is elected, I will no longer need to ride my scooter. The first problem with that statement is that regardless who is elected, gas will most likely never be inexpensive. The second issue is that he obviously does not understand that scootsters and cyclists do not ride their scooters or motorcycles simply to save on gas. The third problem with his statement is that he seems to disregard the fact that using a large amount of gasoline to get from place to place is wasteful and pointless.

The latter of the three mindsets can be easily observed anytime one goes out on the road. Yesterday, my wife and I had gone out to the store, with our son, and I watched to see how many vehicles there were with only one occupant. I was surprised, yet unsurprised, to note how few vehicles were occupied by more than one person, on a Friday night!

I'm not a proponent of man-made global warming, or man-made climate change, or whatever you want to call it; however, I do believe that as a created being, I am responsible for my own little corner of creation. I believe in good stewardship of the things over which I have any measure of control. If that means using less gas in order to save even a small amount of money, I will do so. If it means not littering and not producing as much pollution in my local area, then cool, I'll do it, but mostly, I'm thinking money here. Regardless of the price of gas, a vehicle that travels 80 miles on one gallon of gas is less expensive to operate than a vehicle that travels 25 or 30 miles on the same amount. It's simple mathematics, and saving money is saving money, no matter how much one saves.

I will never say that the government should dictate how people spend their money. In fact, I believe that it is up to each person to make their own decisions on how they will spend their money. Just the same, since this is my blog, and I can say what I please on my own blog, I will say that I am ashamed of my fellow Americans for their wastefulness.

We live in a throw away economy. We don't bat an eyelash at spending 2.00 a gallon for gas that we will use to travel a measly 30 miles on. We fill landfills with heaps and heaps of refuse. When something is no longer useful to us, it ends up in the trash. Computers, cell phones, plastic bottles and bags, cars, whatever. We use it until it's no longer useful to us, then we just dump it. Many times this stuff ends up in some third world country being dug through by kids as they search for bits of metal to sell for a pittance.

In less than a month, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. The concept of the United States of America as visualized by the founding fathers is fantastic. This country is a great one but I fear that if we, the people, continue to be so wasteful, the greatness of America is in grave danger.

I doubt this will ever be read by anyone in the government, but I will write it anyway, just in case. If America is to survive, each of us must do our part to conserve. We need to use less fuel, but also seek new sources of oil, and seek out renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.

So far, all we've seen are crappy excuses for alternatives, like ethanol. Is that the best we can do? Ethanol is water based. It's corrosive garbage that really doesn't provide any cost advantage to the user. My scooter runs like crap with that stuff in it, and it doesn't work much better for my car. Unfortunately, due to eco-nazi efforts, ethanol is the "in" thing, and I don't forsee that changing unless we, as a people, wake up and actually work to make a difference.