Sunday, July 24, 2011

True amusement

Friday was a very hot day to spend walking around Hershey Park. With a heat index of 115, the weather was truly brutal. The youth group had planned this outing for several months, so there was no changing the date. Armed with a hydration plan and sunscreen, the boy and I set out on the Sabre to meet the rest of the group at the convergence of routes 72 and 322.

Riding through Lancaster, Lebanon, and Dauphin counties during the early morning was not too bad as the thermometer had not yet hit its apex. We had only a slight issue upon hitting Hershey when I became distracted by the smell of chocolate and stalled the bike. Oops...

Arrival at the park was met with a sweet surprise as I was waved in past the outer lots to a space nice and close to the entrance. Riding a motorbike has its perks.

We joined our youth group at the church's van and headed into the park. At this point, the sweat was already rolling off in buckets. We stopped for water (which we were provided with at no extra charge), and headed to the first roller coaster of the day, the Fahrenheit. It was an interesting nauseating ride, but not as bad as the Wildcat, which I did not enjoy all that much. I like wooden coasters generally, but the wildcat provides a bit more jostling than I prefer.

By the time the night was through, we had been on every coaster in the park (except for the sidewinder which had gotten stuck), and I found myself chuckling at the speed claims for each of the coasters. One of the coaster operators proudly proclaimed a top speed of 56 mph, and I thought, "I can do better than that any time I want, and I don't make myself nauseous in the process!"

On the way home, I topped that speed several times as we happily buzzed past the fields and forests on the way home. With as much as it costs to go to an amusement park, it seems rather silly to spend that money when I can go further and faster than any of the rides at Hershey Park, and see more countryside, while spending a whole lot less in the long run.

There's also the unfortunate side effects of walking around an amusement park and up and down stairs in 100 degree heat. Two days later, I am unable to walk without severe pain in my legs and hip. I don't have as much difficulty after riding for hours.

So, I'll continue to enjoy my back roads and hills in solitude, rather than milling about with sweaty masses of humanity. Others may choose to do otherwise, but I will be content.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Flora on the roadside

Scooting down the road offers great opportunities to see the things on the roadside and beyond. Enclosed vehicles have roof supports (and the attached roof) that impede a good view. Here in Lancaster County, at this time of the year, there are flowers a-plenty on the roadside.

These yellow flowers are what my dad used to call wild mustard. Whether that's what they really are or not, I do not know, but they grow on the roadside not too far from the place where I work.

Then there are cornflowers, which are all over the place. It's interesting to note that most of them are blue (cornflower blue, oddly enough), but every so often, There will be a plant with white or lavender blooms. There is such a wonderful diversity in all species, as designed by the Creator, even in such little things as flowers, and all the way up to humankind.

Morning glories are often found on the roadside in Lancaster County. Here we see a mound of them above a stone culvert.

Riding a scooter provides so much opportunity for relaxation. The flowers are just the tip of the iceberg.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's the difference

I'm going to hypothesize a bit and possibly do a little intellectual wandering, so pardon my ramblings should they occur.

In the spring of 2008, I was able to convince my wife to let me get a scooter because gas prices were rising rapidly. They weren't quite $3.50 yet, but they were getting there. After gas rose above $3.50 a gallon all remaining 50cc scooters vanished quickly from showrooms and none of the dealers for the mainstream manufacturers were able to replace them until much later in the year, with the exception of a few of the smaller upstarts like Kymco, SYM, and Genuine, though they would get snapped up almost as soon as they rolled off the truck. Chinese scooters were available in abundance and many folks availed themselves of these with varying results.

Gas topped out (around here) at just a bit over four bucks a gallon toward the end of summer that year, and suddenly there were plenty of new 50cc scooters at the Honda and Yamaha dealer, but alas, the Japanese manufacturers were too late to jump on the bandwagon and many of those 2009 scooters still sit, awaiting the backside of a happy scootster.


Well, here's my theory, or theories really. First off, Gas prices haven't rocketed up as quickly. Certainly, they rose fast enough to cause some concern, but not nearly as fast as they did in 2008. Add to that the current drop in prices to under $3.50, and we can guess that folks may be breathing a little easier.

The second difference is the lack of disposable income for most Americans. We just plain don't have the extra money to spend, so it might take a bit more than gas at $3.50+ to force us to make the move to two wheels. Despite promises of economic recovery from our president and his doting followers, no such recovery has taken place, and unemployment remains high.

So, what will it take to get folks back into buying small motorbikes and scooters? Gas at $4.00 a gallon? $5.00? I guess we will just have to wait and see.