So after 3 days the AC system in our network operations room has been fixed. The room was horribly warm during this time with temps in the 85-90 degree range. In order to keep our servers from overheating we rented portable AC units and pointed them directly at the server racks. Even though the room temps were way above what they should be, the server internal temps stayed safely in the normal range thanks to the auxiliary AC units.
You may recall part of my shitty Monday post was the fact that a red triangle warning light popped up on the Prius which typically indicates some sort of serious problem with the vehicle. After I reset the ECU with my code reader I have been driving the car every day to see if the problem reappears, it hasn’t. I do still plan to do some long overdue maintenance on the car this weekend including changing the transaxle fluid, inverter coolant and replacing a dead headlight, again. If another headlight goes out I am going to put LED bulbs in there instead.
My buddy Joe from Maine messaged me last night about something that popped up on his Facebook feed. It was a post from the official Acadia National Park account reminding people that “*eRiders, please take note: Segways, Hoverboards, and eBikes are considered motorized vehicles and their use is prohibited on Acadia’s carriage roads. Fines begin at $130 per person” Joe joked that I was lucky I did not have my second run in with park rangers since we rode our EUC’s briefly in the park.
When I read some of the comments regarding the post, I found myself getting annoyed. Riding an e-bike or an EUC has no more impact on the park than a regular bicycle. The same rules apply to anyone in the park, if you ride in a reckless manner that endangers others, no matter what you are on, you deserve to be reprimanded. However the fact that you are on an e-bike, Segway, or other electric powered vehicle does not predispose you to dangerous riding behavior, which is the point some commenters were trying to make. It’s just another reason for my disdain for the way national parks are run to further grow in size.
I spent a good portion of last night fighting with my CR-10 printer, trying to install and use a mirror tile as my print surface. Even though I love the capability of the my new 3D printer, functionality wise, my FlashForge Finder is much more user friendly beyond a doubt. Most of my attempts at printing on the CR-10 resulted in filament spaghetti all over the print bed.
So we stayed last night in a funny named town called Orono. Cindy found a place to stay named the Black Bear Inn. It had a rustic style but a very dated décor with moave carpet, lots of wallpaper and even a working phone behind the toilet. It was big and clean so that was good enough for me.
We went out to dinner in Orono which evidently is a college town (Univ of Maine). There were a lot of small bars and eateries. I drank a couple craft beers and both Cindy and I enjoyed our dinners quite a bit. We both got a pretty solid night of sleep which was a good thing since we had an active day planned today.
We took advantage of the free continental breakfast but sort of wish we didn’t. The coffee and orange juice tasted very odd and we left 75% of a muffin that was absolutely tasteless. Oh well, overall I still liked the place and it was one of the least expensive rooms of the trip.
We wanted to get up and out this morning as we were heading to Acadia National Park and most importantly Cadillac Mountain, the recommendation of my gym buddy who grew up in New Hampshire. The reason we drove all the way to Orono was to minimize the drive to the park. In retrospect we were glad we did. Originally we planned to stay in Portland which would have been a 3 1/2 hour drive to the park. From Orono is was more like an hour and a half. You will see why that was so important as the story progresses.
The drive in was scenic. We took route 3 which was under heavy construction. It’s a two lane road with one lane totally ripped up in certain sections. For a period of over a half mile we were basically off roading, something the low profiled Ioniq is not designed to do in the least. My buddy Joe, who lives in Maine told us on Facebook that this was literally THE busiest time of the year to visit the park which didn’t make us happy. But still, I figured it’s Maine, how crowded can it really be? The answer was, very.
We picked up our $25 park pass which Joe also warned us to make sure we got else risk a $130 fine from the park ranger system. I surely was not going to give them a reason to fine me, again. The drive in the park itself up to the top of Cadillac Mountain was very pretty. We saw a LOT of bikers trying to grind it out up the steep, steep roadways. It looked pretty miserable.
As we went up we caught some brief beautiful glimpses of what awaited us up top, we were anxious to get there. As we approached the top we saw numerous signs warning cars to not park on the shoulder. As we got closer I realized why that was such a problem, parking was at a premium. We actually got a bit lucky and came upon a car that was just backing out as we approached. Others were not so fortunate and had to just slog around the lot being parking spot mongers, a role I despise.
Once we got parked and headed onto the granite structures we got our first full look at the amazing view where you see the Atlantic Ocean wrap around you. It ranked right up there with some of the most beautiful spots in nature I have ever visited like the Grand Canyon and Ireland.
Cindy was like a kid in a candy shop. She loved ascending and descending the rock structures. She was consistently 50-75 feet ahead of me. It’s very cool how there is such an immense area up top you can explore. Other than a few roped off vegetation areas, you could go almost anywhere.
We stopped at the visitor center and grabbed a few items including some blueberry soda that my stepmom, who was just in Maine, told us about. She said it was some of the best soda she ever had, she was right. Cindy and I both enjoyed it as we continued to climb around.
At one point Cindy said she saw a little girl picking berries from an evergreen looking bush on the ground and eating them. She was concerned the kid was going to get poisoned and her dad had wandered far away. It turned out she was actually harvesting wild blueberries albeit the plant looks different than any blueberry bush I ever saw. The little girl actually directed us to some of the bushes and we picked a few to sample. The berries were very small but damn, they tasted like blueberries, crazy.
So we got our fill of the beautiful views and we had a mental clock on us as we only had limited time available at the park as we had to start pushing back south this afternoon due to our tight schedule. Cindy had wanted to see another area of the park called Jordan’s Pond which supposedly had trails that would be good for EUC riding. When we were in the visitor shop up top a park employee warned us that parking down there is very difficult as you get later in the day. (It was close to noon) Wow, she wasn’t kidding.
So as we descended the mountain and approached Jordan’s Pond we ran into a lot of brake lights. There was a grumpy looking older woman park ranger stopping traffic. Evidently the lots were full and she was only allowing vehicles in once one left. A lot of people gave up after sitting there 15 minutes and we were close to doing the same. We caught an unexpected lucky break when the woman actually waved us through. We found exactly one open spot in the lower lot and felt very fortunate to have grabbed it.
So when I looked at the map I saw a trail that was along the lake. I assumed that was what we were supposed to be riding on. We geared up and headed down a steep hill to the bank of the lake. We quickly discovered this was not a trail to be riding on. It was narrow, somewhat treacherous, and filled with park visitors. We headed back up to the car and regrouped. We decided to ride to the upper lot where another visitor center/restaurant was located. Through some luck we got pointed in the direction of the carriage trails which are wide, packed gravel roads that are used heavily by bikers. That was what I was looking for.
I was having a great time cruising the scenic trails. Cindy was not. She was feeling unsure of herself riding on the surface. We still put in maybe a couple miles of trail riding which was cool. We were asked about the wheels a ton, just like we have been pretty much anywhere we rode on the trip. People are just fascinated by them. When I get back I plan to get eucarmy.com stickers made that I can stick on the wheels to make it very easy to tell people where to get more info from.
As we were making our way back to the car on a path more designed for walking than wheels I had to step off the wheel when I hit a high lipped root or stone while going very slow. I tried to grab the wheel to keep it upright but I had the seat on it so the handle was not accessible. As a result the wheel dropped to it’s side as the tire spun rapidly, adding a few more battle scars to the exterior. Mechanically the wheel seemed fine as I rode it back to the car.
We pulled out of Acadia National Park knowing we could have easily spent two full days there seeing all the natural beauty. As we stopped for lunch on the way out we talked about how miserable it would have been if we stuck with our original Portland plan. The three and a half hour drive would have meant we would have arrived at the park right at the worst possible time. We likely would have spent almost our entire time there trying to find a f’ing place to park.
So we are now doing a pretty strong push back south, having reached the turnaround point in our journey. We have a room booked in Worcester, MA, instead of staying in Maine like we originally planned. Putting in the extra time now will set up our last three days of travel to be more enjoyable with a little time to relax and breathe.
So after the crazy and frustrating day of trying to drive around and park in Washington DC we were looking forward to getting up to Connecticut which is slightly less metropolitan. Of course in order to get there we had to go through the outskirts of NYC which was a traffic mess as well. Cindy actually drove us through the last part of the day, including the NYC part. She handled it well.
The drive from Rehoboth to Washington DC to Connecticut had a couple common themes, traffic, parking and tolls, lots and lots, and lots of tolls. We paid an obscene amount of money for the privilege of driving on clogged, shitty roads. We are pretty sure we spent around $60 on tolls alone yesterday, plus another $15-$20 to park in DC, for 50 minutes. I found it very, very annoying.
So there was one bright spot, Cindy found a nice and affordable place to stay in Fairfield, Connecticut. It had a very hipster feel even though it had modern colonial styling. The room was clean and comfortable. Within walking distance was a diner where we scored a late night supper. I then crashed in the room and played Hearthstone till almost midnight, it just felt like a good way to unplug from what was a very stressful day in many ways.
We woke up this morning to glorious weather with temps in the low 60’s with low humidity. It felt fantastic. Although we didn’t have time to do any formal EUC riding I did hop on the Msuper and zip around the hilly parking lot for a few minutes which was fun.
So I did the driving into Boston. I am not sure why either of us thought driving into large metropolitan areas would be a good idea for this trip. There are few things that annoy me more than trying to navigate a vehicle through city traffic.
So in an effort to avoid the parking fiasco we had in Washington DC, Cindy was doing research on parking in Boston and the research did not look promising. Parking in the city seemed to be problematic once again. Cindy found some parking app where you “reserve” your parking ahead of time. I told her to go ahead and book something.
So to get to this garage we literally made no less than a dozen turns onto various congested one way streets. It felt like we were doing a death spiral. So finally we thought we were close to our reserved parking garage. The app had built in GPS support which you were supposed to use to direct you to the spot. Well the problem was in a large city, big buildings can make GPS problematic and it was for us. The directions seemed to be lagging and would change wildly all of a sudden.
Well we saw a big P for parking sign. I was a few feet past the entrance when Cindy barked out that this was it! I slammed on the brakes and Cindy jumped out, stopping the car behind me so I could back up and swing into the garage. We pulled in and told the Hispanic attendant we had reservations. Cindy showed him her reservation on the phone and all appeared to be well. We unloaded our EUCs and headed out into the streets of Boston.
I expected Cindy to be very conservative riding around the city but I was surprised it didn’t take long until she was up on the Msuper carefully riding around countless obstacles and human beings. Sure she got off and pushed it more than I did but overall she did much better than I expected.
We made our way to Boston Commons, Boston’s version of Central Park. We figured that would be a great spot to zip around on the wheels, and it was. There was one problem. About a half hour into wheeling around I spotted a sign that said no skateboards or bikes! That seemed pretty stupid and I wasn’t sure if it only applied to the inner, more narrow paths where the sign was posted or everywhere. We still rode around the park some more but tried to stay more to the outside border where there was more room. Worst case a cop tells us we need to stop and that didn’t happen.
Evidently Boston is another town where EUC usage is as rare as a Yankees fan. Everyone was looking at Cindy and I rolling by in disbelief. I heard countless, “that’s cool’s”, “look at that’s”, and “what is that’s” as we zipped around. I told Cindy that really, an experienced rider on an EUC has less impact than a cyclist. The amount of space used is the same as a person walking and an experienced rider can go at walking speed, or slower. I was able to weave my way through people with relative ease, even on the big Monster.
We also went over to the Faneuil Hall area, a popular shopping/dining area that Cindy was at once before. Shopping while on an EUC isn’t very practical so I told Cindy to just go in and do her thing as I didn’t really care much about the stores. I sat outside and guarded the wheels while I took in more of the Boston scenery.
We had our parking spot till 2:45. We were paranoid about having problems getting back to the garage so we allocated an hour to do so. Instead we were back in 10 minutes. We spent the time enjoying some ice cream from a nearby store while we chatted to more interested bystanders about the wheels.
So when we got back to the entrance I had the first inkling that things may not be right. Cindy’s parking app said we were supposed to be parked at 275 Washington Street. We parked at a garage at 75 Devonshire around the corner. I pointed this out to Cindy but she speculated that maybe the Washington address was just another entrance to the same garage.
Cindy was happy at first when she saw the attendant parked her car right up front. Her happiness turned to anger when she saw her car was flush against the wall behind it although it looked like there was a towel or something wedged in between. She was sure the back of the car would be damaged but when they pulled it forward we saw there were also two big rubber traffic cones back there that provided additional padding, the car was fine.
So now all we had to do was show the ticket we were given and we should be good to go, right? Wrong. The attendant was confused that he did not see our reservation on his list. As soon as I heard this I knew we for sure parked in the wrong garage. I also knew that we now had the pleasure of being charged for parking, twice. In total we spent almost $60 on the parking but what the hell, I’ll just throw it into the basket with all the ridiculous toll charges.
Speaking of tolls. In Massachusetts they still toll the fck out of you but they do it by the disgusting toll by plate system. Basically if you do not have an EZ Pass they charge you triple the rate and they charge you often. At least a half dozen times we ran underneath trusses with license plate cameras which will result in bills being mailed to the house in a few weeks. If I were my dad, I would throw the bills in the trash and dare them to come to Florida to collect their $20. I will not be surprised that if we rack up over $200 in parking and toll charges by the time we get home.
So despite the shitty traffic and latest parking adventures, overall Cindy and I had fun. I really love being able to sightsee and travel around these areas on a single wheel. Until you do it yourself it’s hard to understand why it’s so much fun.
We are now well into Maine and plan to crash in a town called Orono near Bangor. Staying there will put us closer to Cadillac Mountain which along with Rehoboth is one of the feature stops of the trip. Maine is soooo different from most of the congested northeast. We are looking forward to crisp air, breathtaking views and more one wheel cruising. After tomorrow we begin a relatively high speed descent back down to Florida with a few scenic stops along the way.
On our way into Rehoboth we went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, something I have seen a number of times but new to Cindy. I was a bit shocked when they asked for a $15 toll to cross the span but I guess inflation has kicked in since the last time I was here.
We stopped mid-span at the visitor center. I was surprised when I saw this sign posted multiple places. Evidently at the end of the summer they are beginning a five year project to construct an additional tunnel. In the process they will be eliminating the mid-span visitor center, permanently, leaving only the fishing dock intact. I was a bit saddened by the news but an employee inside said it was necessary to increase capacity to accommodate the roughly 4 million vehicles a year that travel on the bridge.
The tail part of the drive into Rehoboth seemed to drag on, we arrived at our hotel about 6:45. After our terrible lodging experience in Charleston, Cindy was concerned the EconoLodge that we reserved for two nights in Rehoboth would be shitty as well. She saw a couple online reviews that used the same “disgusting” adjective Cindy used so frequently to describe the Creekside Lands Inn.
When we went into the lobby the clerk confirmed our room as two queen beds with smoking. Cindy immediately freaked out and said we wanted non-smoking rooms. When we reexamined the printed out confirmation slip it did clearly say SMOKING. The woman said it isn’t that unusual when you book rooms through third party sites. They flash a low rate and in very unnoticeable text they mention it’s a smoking rate. Evidently this was another example of that practice which seems moronic to me. If a bunch of people get mislead about what their room is it’s only going to piss them off and make them very unlikely to use your service again.
So staying in a smoking room was not an option. The problem was they had no other non-smoking rooms available except for ONE suite. Well we had little choice in the matter since the error was technically ours and not theirs. We agreed to the extra $30-$40 per night charge. We hoped the upgrade would make the odds of the room being nicer more in our favor. Our gamble did seem to pay off. Sure the room looked like it hadn’t been updated since 1989 but at least it was clean and everything works. We were quite glad to not have shitty accommodations for our only two night stay of the trip.
So we had been in contact with Todd as we approached. He had arrived a few hours earlier. We agreed to meet up at the Rusty Rudder for dinner, the spot we hoped to spread my mom’s ashes at. There have been a number of things that have changed since I was last in the area and one of them is how you park. They have this system where you pay with an app which is just stupid. I miss the good old days where you throw a few quarters in a meter and you are good to go.
The Rusty Rudder, which I likely have not patronized in over 20 years was much as I remembered it but maybe slightly bigger. We sat on a covered portion of the deck. It was the first time I saw Todd and Caroline since my Dad’s 70th birthday party in January. I had not seen Mindy and her daughter McKenna since my sister Meghan’s wedding which was something like three years ago.
We all enjoyed a couple drinks and a nice dinner. We decided we would try to do mom’s ashes now as the weather forecast for Monday was pretty awful with strong storms predicted to roll in most of the day. I contacted my sister and quickly got her up on a Skype connection so she could be a remote part of the process. Unfortunately the audio of our connection wasn’t great, she had a hard time hearing us.
It was dark so we decided to walk out towards the end of the fishing/boat pier. Cindy handed me the water soluble bag of mom’s remains while she read the same touching poem she did at her original memorial service in Naples. After she finished we said goodbye to mom one last time as I released the bag into the dark water below where it quickly vanished from site. Of course it brought tears to our eyes and we did one last group hug. I was glad and relieved that FINALLY her remains were dispersed in an appropriate place instead of sitting in the office. Mom loved the beach, sun, and water all of her life. For her to be a part of all three things now feels right. I can only hope somewhere she knows, and is happy.
We decided to meet back up in Rehoboth on the boardwalk. Todd was staying closer to the beach than we were so they met us as we were in the midst of Cindy playing a few games of skill. We originally hoped to play some mini-golf at Ryan’s which is on the roof of a building but they had closed for the night shortly before Todd and the kids arrived.
It was very interesting for me to see how much things have changed in the last 15 years, roughly the last time I recall being in the Rehoboth area. Thankfully the feel of my favorite childhood vacation spot remained but there certainly have been a lot of changes along the way. There have been entire new shopping districts created, roadways reworked, condos/hotels erected and of course the irritating new parking system enacted.
So since golfing was out the kids played a bit in Funland and we said we wanted to ride the Haunted Mansion, the backbone ride of Funland which has been around for 38 years, meaning I rode it during my prime childhood years. I needed to go put money in the parking meter to extend our time. Unfortunately it was a long, long walk back to the car. I bet it took me close to 30 minutes before I got back. By the time I did everyone was in the long line for the Haunted Mansion.
Standing in line gave me plenty of time to reminisce. It just seemed so weird looking around at what was one the core highlight experiences of my childhood. Funland was a bit different than it was in the late 70’s and early 80’s. They used to have a TON of arcade games in the covered areas of the building that complimented the rides and games of skill. The arcade games are entirely gone, replaced with mostly kiddie rides. That was the great thing about the boardwalk, there were three or four arcades you could choose from. Last night confirmed that the arcade I knew as a kid is officially dead, killed by the high end gaming consoles of today.
So as I Cindy and I got on the ride I was curious if anything had significantly changed. The answer I came back with was “very little”. The ride is nearly identical to what I remember as a kid and that isn’t a bad thing. It was fun to once again worry that the skeleton that was holding a hose shooting water across our path would stop just in time or not to keep us dry. All the corny silliness was more or less intact which I appreciated. Although I knew the ride so well that nothing scared me, Cindy was not so lucky. She screamed and jumped more than once.
So after the ride Cindy and I were really beat. We had been on the road for roughly 12 hours and both were running out of gas. We told Todd and the gang we were packing it in for the night but we would get ahold of them the next morning to maybe hook up for lunch at Grotto’s. After taking showers I enjoyed my best night of sleep in several days, pretty much sleeping straight through the night until the sun came up.
When we woke up Cindy immediately flipped on the weather channel. The outlook was not good. It wasn’t if it was going to rain hard or not, that was a certainty. It was a matter of how long it would take to get here. I told Cindy I wanted to get moving so we have some time to eat and then ride the wheels around the boardwalk, one of the highlight rides I imagined on the trip. The skies looked foreboding but nothing was falling. After eating breakfast we threw the wheels in the Ioniq and headed for the beach.
At first Cindy was very hesitant riding up on the boardwalk, there were a LOT of people up there walking, running, and riding bikes, all likely with the same idea as us, enjoy some time outside before the storms blow in. In addition to all of the human obstacles, riding one direction went into a massive headwind which made riding more challenging. As a result early on Cindy was stepping off the wheel a lot and walking around some stuff however after we rode around for awhile she was doing much better, S’ing back and forth around people with relative ease. She always underestimates her ability on the wheel and gets mad at me when I express more confidence in her riding skills than she does herself. I really enjoyed riding the boardwalk area and if it was solely my decision I would still be up there right now, in the rain, lol.
So we got off the wheels and went in some stores on Rehoboth Ave. T-shirt creation/shopping was another highlight of my childhood memories here. I loved getting t-shirts made with those cartoonish muscle car images on them. The process seemed magical as the shirt store worker transformed a plain t-shirt into something cool in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t find any cool car decals but I did have an Eagles shirt with a Punisher logo made which is pretty sweet.
So we contacted Todd and let him know the mini-golf was open and we could get in a round hopefully before the storms started. He said they would walk up so we could give it a go. It started to rain around hole four or five but never hard enough to make us quit. We went into high speed Putt Putt mode and finished 18 holes in probably less than 25 minutes. Despite being rushed it was still fun to get a round in. Cindy beat me.
We then walked to Grotto’s which was a few doors down. It’s been a decade and a half since I last had Grotto’s pizza and I missed it. It’s some of my favorite pizza on the planet. Since it was lunch I did not indulge in any big beers but I may add that to my to do list for this evening. Todd and Mindy both had already checked out of their hotel and had to work tomorrow. They planned to make a pit stop on their way home at the Tanger Outlets. We told them it was great to see everyone and encouraged them to make a Florida trip sometime in the winter.
Ironically, my friend and former co-worker Cheryl just happened to arrive in Dewey in the last hour or two. I have not seen Cheryl in eons and she has never met Cindy. We hope to hook up for some more Grotto’s with big beers this evening before we shove off for Washington DC early tomorrow morning.
This brief return to Rehoboth has been filled with a variety of feelings. Finally departing with mom’s remains was something I really wanted to do because I have felt guilty for a long time about not honoring her wishes sooner. Although I think she would have been ok with that dispersion happening in the Gulf of Mexico, doing it in Rehoboth certainly is even more special as it held many great memories and happy moments for her as well.
Of course to try to fully engage and enjoy in the area much more time would be required. That is a luxury we just don’t have right now. I am glad to at least been able to reconnect with an area that was borderline sacred to me at one point and time. I’m not sure when I’ll be back again….
So the drive to Charleston was uneventful. The Ioniq has proven to be quite the adept and comfortable long range cruiser. The great gas mileage, comfortable seats with more legroom than the Prius, and tech like Sirius XM and intelligent cruise control makes the miles pass by easily. We did almost 500 miles yesterday and it was not a big deal.
We pulled into our motel, The Creekside Lands Inn with the hope it would be half decent. However as soon as I saw it was a place where the rooms have exterior facing doors I knew it was likely to have problems. During my various road trips over the last decade or more, a hotels/motels with exterior facing doors are usually shitty, almost without exception.
The lobby didn’t seem awful but certainly was nothing impressive. The clerk said our room was by the pool which can be a good or bad thing. In our case it was the latter. So I am not sure how many seconds it took from when we entered the room until Cindy first uttered the word “disgusting” but it wasn’t long. It was a word she relied heavily on the rest of the night.
The place looked like it was an old, shitty, place that they tried to refresh with some poorly executed facelift items. For example they had a newer granite countertop and sink but the bathroom had a dilapidated toilet right next to it with a toilet seat that was so old the finish was peeling off. The tub had a rust spot on the bottom of it and the faucet in there was not attached to the wall, it was just hanging off the pipe. The door to the bathroom was stained on both sides extensively by who knows what. When you looked at the edge of the door you realized that half of the guts of the door were missing for some reason. Closing the door completely required you to lean into it with your bodyweight.
However the most egregious thing of all was revealed when you looked up, and saw daylight. The ceiling of the bathroom was comprised of large wood “tiles”. Evidently years of bathroom moisture had warped the wood resulting in a couple inch gap that gave you a clear view of cinderblock and daylight.
The chair and ottoman in the room were old, stained, dirty and gross. We refused to sit on it. Although the sheets/pillows on the bed seemed pretty clean, the bed sheet cover looked to be in similar condition to the chair. The word “disgusting” rolled from Cindy’s mouth like she had terets as she surveyed our accommodations. If the visuals weren’t bad enough the room stank big time. Evidently the large gap in the bathroom let the fresh, marshy air to flow into the space unabated.
I tried to keep a more funny/positive attitude about the place. I have stayed in shitty places before during road trips so it wasn’t that huge of a deal. We decided to go take a quick ride on the wheels on a nearby bike/running path Cindy had read about. We both agreed anything to get us out of the room was a good move.
After we got back we tried to come up with a game plan. Cindy wanted to see some of Charleston and I didn’t want her wish to not come true since we were right there. The issue was it was already something like 6:30 and we had plans to try to get on the road early the next day for the long push to Rehoboth.
We wound up walking across the street to an Italian restaurant. We enjoyed a nice meal out on the deck. Our waitress was nice and gave us some tips on what to do/where to park if we go into Charleston. We took her advice and went to grab the car. As we prepared to leave we saw the motel had filled up quite a bit and the pool area was filled with crazy kids, a preview of what was waiting for us upon our return.
The drive into Charleston was not long, 15-20 minutes max. There was ample free street parking. As we drove in Cindy really liked the classic southern architecture that was everywhere you looked. We parked near the Battery, a waterfront historical area that is a famous tourist attraction.
At first Cindy wanted to walk but then changed her mind and agreed the wheels would be the best way to take in as much of the views in the limited timeframe we had. We got there shortly after sunset so the crowds were starting to disperse but the colors over the water still looked beautiful.
As we rode around we got a ton of looks and questions about what the hell we were riding. The ride had some challenging terrain with a lot of broken up sidewalk, high curbs and even cobblestones. Cindy did a good job handling the challenges.
I expected more congestion but we had mostly smooth sailing on the wheels, many times cruising down the middle of empty one way streets that carved between the beautiful architecture all around us.
Although I was originally concerned about spending too much time there, once we started riding it was just fun. I would have stayed as long as Cindy wanted. She actually was the one to say she was ready to go because she was getting fatigued from the riding. The newly installed trolley handle on the Msuper definitely came in handy for the times Cindy decided to walk instead of ride. I’m glad it worked out as planned.
When we got back to the smelly room it was pretty much a zoo outside. The parking lot was almost entirely full and there were a lot of people outside of their rooms. Of course the most crazy and loud spot was the pool where tons of kids were carrying on.
We headed into the room, hoping the loud AC unit fan would somewhat insulate us from the noise. Cindy refused to take a shower in the “disgusting” bathroom. I was ok with venturing in there. Besides the rust spot on the floor of the tub the rest of the space was not awful although it did take a loooong time to get hot water flowing. Other than that the shower was ok.
The sleep experience in the room as you can guess was less than ideal. We had the tv on to block some noise and lull us to sleep however it stopped working for who knows why. We did our best to avoid contact with the “disgusting” bed cover as much as possible. The mattress had little to no support, I almost felt like I was laying in a hammock. We also had a steady stream of noise from the pool which thankfully subsided around 11PM. Somehow I did actually manage to fall asleep for a period of time although I spent the last few hours of the night restlessly.
We got up before 6 eager to get the f out. Cindy actually was brave enough to try out the shower this time. I took another one as well to wash off whatever may have adhered itself to me during the night. We decided to skip the complimentary breakfast that is provided, convinced it would be shitty as well. We instead grabbed breakfast at a nearby Dunkin Donuts along with coffee. If you are traveling into the Charleston area I would strongly advise you avoid The Creekside Lands Inn. It’s a dump, like a beat up 74 Vega with a new steering wheel cover on it.
We are in the midst of the North Carolina segment of the drive. We stopped at South of the Border, one of the biggest tourist traps every imagined. It is unapologetic in it’s corny approach and it just works. Cindy and I spent maybe an hour walking around. She loved the silliness that is at every turn in the complex. I have been there close to double digit times but it always manages to make me smile.
We are heading to Rehoboth via a route that takes us across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, another site Cindy has never seen before. It’s been a number of years since I crossed it so it will be cool for me too.
At some point this evening we should be meeting up with Todd and my niece. It’s her birthday today and she requested a game of miniature golf with us to celebrate. It’s a request we can certainly grant.
Last night when I got home I hit the ground running, ripping into my mental “must get done before we leave” list. I was out mowing grass until after 7:30 and did full weeding and bill paying as well. I even had time to affix a trolley handle to the Msuper to make it easier for Cindy to push during the trip. I had broken the built in one crashing during backwards practice.
Today will be one long sprint checking off list items and doing our best to make sure things are all buttoned up before we shove off tomorrow morning. As has been the case with most road trips I hope to blog along the way to maximize retention of content and minimize how much I need to spit out once we return.
This is going to be a very different type of trip than we have ever done before.
Mother nature evidently has a cruel sense of humor. When we got home Sunday afternoon we were both thrilled to see pretty much all of the standing water on the property had receded into the ground after 2-3 days of no/light rain. Heck I even took the tractor into the back yard of the coop and mowed the two foot high grass that had been poking out of the water. The chickens even seemed happier to have full access to their area without having to wear flippers.
Well out of nowhere, a tropical storm developed Sunday night and blew through our area in the last 36 hours dumping tons of rain, putting me back at square one. It frustrates the hell out of me. I can not wait for the return of winter. During that time I will need to do something to significantly raise the ground level in certain areas around the house with the chicken yard being first priority.
Despite the near constant rain I tried to be somewhat productive and changed the oil on the Ioniq. It was probably not needed yet but since we were going on a road trip I wanted to get it done. The rain forced the work to be done inside the garage which required some extra care to avoid getting oil on the floor. The procedure went smoothly. Getting access to the oil drain plug and filter is a little weird as they are hidden behind two access panels of a weird felt-like cover over the entire bottom of the front end of the car. Of course I shot video of the work since I found no other Ioniq oil change videos, a possible niche market.
It was ironic that my new large format 3D printer that I have been waiting for over a month to be delivered finally showed up yesterday. I wasted little time in setting it up. The first thing I noticed was it is far less polished of a set up than my FlashForge Finder. The controls are pretty sparse, the bells and whistles are far fewer but this printer is not about that, it’s about printing big shit.
So instead of doing the smart thing and trying a small print first, I went right into trying to print something big, a console tray for my Tacoma. I got the print started ok but when I got up this morning the one corner had lifted off the print surface so I killed the print.
Not only do I need to learn the ins and outs of the new printer, I also need to learn how to work in a new slicer software since the program I used for the Finder is proprietary. I have no doubt I will get better at it but this week is not the best one to try to do so because of everything else going on.
Speaking of everything else, I have a lot of anxiety about going on the road trip. I always have concerns about leaving the house and specifically the chickens in someone else’s care. However this time I also have a TON of things going on at work currently which makes taking a week off less than ideal. I am confident it will all work out ok in the end but I still have an unsettled feeling that I do not enjoy.
I ordered an Inmotion trolley handle to attach to my Msuper for the trip to allow Cindy a way to push the wheel more easily. I broke the built in trolley handle doing backwards maneuvers. My eventual fix will be replacing the handle and case of the Msuper but that isn’t going to happen this week for sure. This stop gap measure should get the job done short term.
So we dropped off Elsa Saturday morning at Ali’s place. Ali was nice enough to agree to dogsit her for the night while we were gone. Elsa stayed with them once before and it worked out really well. We wound up talking to them longer than expected and subsequently pulled out for the east coast later than I hoped. Originally I had ideas of leaving around 8, instead we didn’t hit the highway until 9:45.
So I tried to go with the flow. If we left early enough I had ideas that we could go to the convention first without our costumes on and then go back to the room, gear up and head back later. I figured with our delayed departure we would have to just go to the hotel, change, and then head over. I had no idea that leaving late was going to also carry a VERY severe penalty, in traffic.
The highway portion of the drive was without incident however once we entered the city limit of Fort Lauderdale we hit incredible grid lock. This was not traffic, this was a parking lot. If these sort of situations aren’t annoying enough, they are exasperated by people being idiots, thinking they are going to somehow get a few feet ahead of the poor schlub behind them. Non-stop Cindy and I saw people being assholes and it catching on in typical lemming behavior. “Hey if that guy can be an asshole, I will be too” The most egregious idiot was tractor trailer that decided to do a U-turn into the stopped traffic.
So believe it or not, we sat in this hell for nearly 90 minutes. We assumed all along that there had to be an accident on 17th street where both our hotel and the convention center was located. When we finally bypassed the quagmire we realized the problem was just HORRIBLE logistics. For whatever reason, the people managing parking at the convention center must have been absolutely awful at their job. The traffic was entirely caused by cars waiting to get into the convention parking garage. Even though we were not going to the convention quite yet we were stuck because the hotel was a mile beyond Supercon. Imagine my joy when we drove by the building and saw a line of people at least a 1/4 mile long snaking around the building in the sweltering heat, waiting to get in.
By the time we got in the room I was sort of done, I didn’t want to think about Supercon, I was just glad to be out of the damn car and out of the stationary traffic. After we grabbed an overpriced lunch on the hotel grounds, Cindy began her prep work which was extremely extensive. I knew I had a lot of time to wait based on past cons. I almost fell asleep on the bed as I just chilled out. Finally it was my time to get ready. My prep was pretty simple. I put on long pants, my thick, way too hot for Florida Soldier 76 coat, and had Cindy spray some gray shit in my hair and paint some black shit around my eyes. I bet her prep took nearly two hours.
We originally were going to take one the hotel shuttles but with all of our props we decided to Uber it over there. We were most worried about Cindy’s meticulously crafted sniper rifle getting damaged. We did catch our first break of the day when we saw the line to get in was no longer snaked around the building. I carried in my coat and mask as I didn’t want to broil wearing it outside.
So we finally got inside and had to go through “prop check” where they verify your guns can’t fire any ammunition. After that we probably were supposed to go stand in another line where they convert your QR code paper to a badge you wear around your neck. Somehow instead we got directed to a security guard that just waved us in. Since we were both fully decked out at that point I guess he figured entrance was a formality.
So it only took me a minute or two in my full costume to know it was going to be rough. Despite a ton of effort by Cindy, there was only so much that could be done to assist in comfort. She padded the mask well and added a bunch of holes to assist in breathing. Even so the temperature and humidity levels in the mask rose very quickly. Before very long I had condensation forming on the red lens inside. The heavy fake leather coat had sweat forming on my back in no time. I just sucked it up and dealt with it. I knew I was going to be hot going into it.
It took no time at all for the picture requests to start up. Cindy’s costume was especially amazing. The fact that she was painted bluish/purple with a deep, plunging neckline didn’t hurt either. It seemed like a chain reaction, once one person asked for a picture, another half dozen would ask as well, there are evidently a LOT of Overwatch players at Supercon. Cindy and I patiently posed for every picture request. If you are going to dress up like we did and not expect to be photographed a lot you are delusional. Besides being hot, the mask had the unfortunate side effect of making it almost impossible for Cindy to hear me with all the ambient noise. I had to practically scream six inches from her ear if I wanted to get her attention.
The crowd inside the hall was maddening most of the time, there was just far too much humanity jammed into too small of a space for me. It was just crazy. We were worried about someone damaging Cindy’s rifle with it being so crowded but she did a good job of keeping it in a protected position most of the time. Periodically we would just steer ourselves towards spots where there were less people to catch a breather, figuratively and literally. I would take my mask off randomly just to try to cool down a bit.
Cindy had some funny interactions with some of the celebrities there. She met and talked to the guy that plays Abraham on Walking Dead, well he used to until his character got his head beat in. She also talked to the guy that plays Eugene, Cindy said he seemed like he was high as a kite. They also had cast from the Karate Kid, the bad kid, the bad kid’s evil sensei and Ralph Macchio himself. There was a very funny interaction between Cindy and Ralph when he asked her what time the con ran until. When she told him 8PM he said “Great, two more fcking hours…” as he laughed. I am sure it has to get exhausting acting like you give a damn about all the people that come up to you asking you to wax on and wax off all day long.
The other celebrities there did not seem quite as mainstream as we have seen at other cons but we did catch a glimpse of Lee Majors right before he skipped out to take a break. Of course 75% of the people there probably had no idea who he was at this point. The 6 Million Dollar Man was one of my favorite series growing up.
One of the downsides of attending in costume is you really do not get to take in very much at all. Between picture requests and just getting moved along by human rivers it was really hard to spend a lot of time looking at stuff. Again, we knew that was just the way it was if you dress up so I can’t complain about it. I felt happy that all the work Cindy put into the costumes was being recognized by all of the attention she was getting. The detail she went into was nuts when putting the stuff together.
We had fun meeting other people dressed up as Overwatch characters and took a lot of pictures as groups. Unfortunately again, when you are the picture subject matter, you don’t get too many pictures yourself. A few times we handed my phone to a nice bystander that took some shots for us.
They also had some cool sets that you could take your picture on. We got pictures on a Star Wars, Star Trek, and a military set, they turned out cool.
So we walked around, mostly in character up until 7:30, a half hour before the main area closed. Cindy and I were both beat so we decided to call an Uber to shuttle us back. Ironically just as we were about to catch the car, a young girl we met in our hotel lobby was outside as well, looking to get back to the hotel. Cindy said she could hop in the Uber with us if she wanted. After verifying with her dad it was ok she accepted the offer which worked out well for her.
I was not very happy with this Uber driver. For some reason he felt like late July in Florida did not require AC. Instead he had his window down all the way. Since the drive was only roughly a mile it wasn’t worth making a stink about but I thought it was odd. My annoyance with the guy clicked up a few more notches when I realized today that he charged us a 27 cent “waiting” surcharge. The thing is he was only waiting because he didn’t come to where we were, we had to walk 75 yards to him, so he charged us for it. Idiot.
When we got to the room we were beat, really beat. We shot a brief video summarizing the experience before we began the clean up process.
So I let Cindy shower first as she obviously had more work to do than me. When it was my turn I grabbed a wash cloth, soaped it up and started trying to scrub around my eyes to get the black gunk off. Well all of a sudden I got a severe burning sensation in my right eye, I couldn’t open it from the pain but I immediately tried to flush the eye with the shower water. It hurt really, really bad. It took awhile until I could keep the eye open and when I did, the eye was bright red. I am not exactly sure what happened but I think I either got some of the black make up or the stuff that was in my hair into my eye. All I do know for sure was it felt like battery acid. I stopped the eye cleaning process and still have black marks around both eyes which I hope will come off with normal cleaning cycles.
It was approaching 9PM by the time we got all cleaned up but we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. We decided to check out a place on the hotel campus called Pelican Landing which overlooked the water that goes under the 17th street drawbridge. We sat along the rail so we got to watch the boats traveling back and forth. It was cool. We had a waitress originally from Russia, named Olga. The food was good but pricey, a theme repeated during our stay, more on that soon.
On the way back from eating we found our car in the parking lot and pulled out the two EUC’s. We thought it would be safer to keep them in the room with us. We rode them around the parking lot a little bit before riding them up to the door of the room. It was fun. It wasn’t fun trying to get into the room.
The keycards or more accurately the door lock they are used on was very glitchy. You could not simply insert the card and remove it to get the door to open. It required a very specific angle and speed of insertion and removal. It took us no less than a dozen tries until we were successful. There were other things about the room that were not up to what I would expect by Hilton standards like a toilet seat that was half broken, a towel bar that would fall to the ground when you pulled a towel off of it, a box of tissues that were drenched, and a bathroom fan that sounded like an airplane motor with a spun bearing. It didn’t take me long to pass out Saturday night, I was exhausted. I didn’t sleep as soundly as I would hope but it wasn’t terrible.
Randall made arrangements to come meet us for breakfast Saturday morning. Originally we hoped he would bring his EUC to ride but his tire was out of air and he misplaced the valve extender that is needed to inflate it. We caught up and had a nice breakfast at another in house restaurant although again, the dramatic premium pricing was pretty disgusting. $80 for three people to have breakfast is just stupid in my opinion.
We walked around the grounds a bit and showed Randall our room. We then walked out to the Prius to get out the wheels. While Cindy was putting on her safety gear I told Randall he can jump on the Msuper to give it a try. He was a bit wobbly but was able to stay on it. We bid Randall farewell as Cindy and I headed out for a quick ride back and forth over the bridge.
The ride wasn’t very tough, the hills we faced in Marco Island were much steeper. The views on top of the bridge were very scenic of course. Cindy was feeling beat up from Supercon so we were done riding in 20 minutes or less. She did agree to ride down on the dock with me by the multi-million dollar boats which was a cool way to finish up the ride.
So the checkout at the hotel put an exclamation point on the overcharging fiasco. The quoted $125 per night rate mutated into a bill of nearly $300 after the overblown food charges and annoying add ons like $30 for parking. I am not sure how some hotels think that parking is an ala carte add on option but it’s fcking ridiculous. But the bottom line is people keep paying it so they keep charging it.
The drive back to the west coast felt long. We drove through multiple periods of severe rain but also had blue sky periods as well. Elsa was very happy to see us of course. She got a stellar report card from Shugs. It made Cindy and I happy to know Elsa can stay with them and adjust so well since she will be doing it again for over a week soon.
When we got home we dug into unpacking and attending to the chickens since we just had the coop closed last night and opened this morning. All the chicken chores had to still be done. I was happy to see that almost ALL the water behind the coop has dried up at this point. Sure there is plenty of black muck left behind but if we get lucky enough to have some more dry weather that will eventually turn back into dirt again I hope.
I took tomorrow off as well to do more house chores and change the oil in Cindy’s Ioniq, readying it for the upcoming road trip.
So this was the third “con” Cindy and I have attended. As I was sweating my ass off in the costume posing for picture after picture I tried to evaluate if the effort, time, and expense was worth the experience. My answer to that is conditional. Would I do it by myself? Hell no. However Cindy is PASSIONATE about costume creation, she absolutely loves it. If you saw how much thought and time she put into her costume and mine it would be hard to believe. I think she also likes that people at the conventions recognize/appreciate her effort as the picture requests would indicate. Because I know she gets so much out of it I am happy to support her by agreeing to go to these events. But I did learn a hard lesson that above all, comfort needs to be a primary consideration when choosing costume options. If you are uncomfortable wearing something pretty much the entire time it just isn’t worth it in my opinion, no matter how cool it looks.
So although Cindy and I ride our EUC’s a lot we haven’t been doing any practice and that is an important distinction. When we are cruising around on the weekends we are basically just enjoying the ride and taking in the scenery. However when you have designated practice sessions, that is when you actually get better at doing stuff and it’s something we haven’t really done much of at all lately. My last concentrated practicing was when I learned the basics of riding backwards months ago.
So after dinner I randomly asked Cindy if she was up for some driveway practice and she said she was. She took her Inmotion outside and I rode the Monster. Cindy worked on her turning, slow riding, control, and the first steps towards backwards riding. I worked on some backwards riding, one legged riding and mounting, yes mounting.
Free mounting on an EUC is something I learned a long time ago with one catch, I really only learned how to do it one way, with my left leg on the pedal and the right foot on the ground. I have gotten very adept at mounting and dismounting that way so I neglected to really work on doing it with the legs flipped around, I need to. Being a one trick pony when getting on and off the wheel affects your ability to turn and do emergency maneuvers. It makes sense why I am so much more comfortable making left hand turns than the right hand variety. The EUC muscles on the outside of my left leg are much more developed.
So I worked a lot on getting on and off the bot with my legs reversed. I felt like I was transformed back in time as my body just was not comfortable mounting from the other side. I could also feel the muscles on the outside of my right leg getting worked in an unfamiliar way. By the end of the half hour or so session I was getting better and better from that side, a testament to why I need to keep practicing.
I also did a little one legged riding where I would lift my right foot totally off the pedal for a brief period of time and balance myself and the bot on one leg. It’s a bit tricky and puts a lot of torque on the supporting leg but I could do it at a basic level. Finally, I did more backwards riding practice, something I have only done a little of on the big Monster. I felt shaky the first few attempts but again, by the end of the session things were smoothing out. It was a real fun session and reminded me why regular practice beyond normal riding is a requirement if you want to keep getting better.
So the Big D made his latest blunder yesterday, deciding now was the perfect time to alienate the LGBT community by declaring the military no longer will allow transgender individuals to serve. One of the reasons were the “tremendous medical costs” the military would have to deal with? WTF??? Our military which routinely pays $400 for a toilet seat is now concerned with medical costs for a few transgender members of the service? Is there a rash of people that were joining the military so the government could pay for sexual reassignment surgery?? Come on, this is just stupid.
Sadly myself, and a good portion of the country I imagine is getting desensitized to buffoonery in the White House since it is literally a near daily occurrence. The dangerous side effect is people just shrug their shoulders and move on while things at the top rot from the inside out.
Saturday morning Cindy and I decided to get our weekend 5K run out of the way. It was a rough, rough run. The heat, humidity, and my body’s refusal to feel comfortable at any point during the run made for a miserable half hour. We endured it and that is all that matters. I almost did not endure the yard work that followed when we got home.
My legs felt especially dead during the run and that sensation increased as I walked around the yard picking weeds. Even with using my normal technique where my elbows are resting on my knees/thighs as I pull countless weeds, my legs and back were just weak. When I moved onto weedwhacking I really hit the wall. I felt dangerously tired at times. More than once I just stopped to try to rest for a moment as the sun was melting me from above. By the time I walked back in the door my tank was absolutely empty. I jumped in the pool to try to cool down my body temperature rapidly. We then did a coffee run with Elsa which helped artificially restore some of my depleted energy reserves.
I did a decent amount of 3D printing Saturday afternoon. I did my first printing with a new filament type called PetG. Supposedly it offers some of the benefits of both ABS and PLA plastics. I got a green translucent variety that looked cool. I had a hard time getting the print to stick to printing surface but after a few tries I was able to print out this EUC mudguard. Unfortunately when I tried to test fit it on my wheel the one support snapped. I plan to try to print the guard again with some more outer walls and infill for more strength.
I also did multiple prints of the prototype mudguard for the Monster. I have been working with my EUC buddy from Finland who has been designing the mudguard in Fusion 360 based on the measurements and pictures I have been sending him. He makes some changes, I print it out and then do a test fit and provide feedback which is used for the next revision. We are on rev 6 at this point and I think we are almost there.
On Saturday night we watched Hacksaw Ridge, a true life story of amazing bravery, endurance, and heroics during the World War II land portion of the Japanese campaign. It seems almost superhuman to have endured what this man did. It’s a movie everyone should see to give a true sense of just how awful war really is and why it should be mankind’s goal to eliminate it, even if it is a pipe dream. I give it a solid A score, Cindy rated it A++.
Sunday morning I cleaned the chicken coop and much like last week, again was disgusted with the amount of pure mucky areas. The sod I laid last week helped but other disgusting areas opened up. I was again motivated to buy a bunch more sod to address the mess. However unlike last week, my calls to the home improvement stores all had the same answer, “Sod is gone” I plan to take the truck to work on Tuesday, sod delivery day, so I can grab a bunch more to throw around the chicken yard.
We headed out for an EUC ride mid-morning and met up with Daniel and Katie at the park in Pelican Bay. I looked up and suddenly saw Katie riding backwards, easily. She said she had practiced backwards a couple times. Well her couple practice sessions resulted in her being MUCH more proficient and comfortable going backwards than I am. She just has natural ability to ride an EUC, something I definitely don’t have. Repeatedly during the ride she flipped into backwards riding with ease.
It was hot as hell so keeping moving was a priority. As soon as you stopped the heat and humidity was stifling. Again we swapped around wheels to a degree. I rode all four of the wheels at one point or another. It’s amazing how different the riding experience is between the wheels. I definitely prefer a bigger wheel at this point.
After lunch I immediately headed outside to do the best I could mowing around the standing water. It looked like it was going to rain on me multiple times but it thankfully held off. There were certain areas where I just rammed the tractor through mud bogs, relying on momentum to keep me from getting stuck. A good portion of the yard is just a muddy, disgusting mess, I hate it.
I chilled for most of the rest of the day, meddling around in WoW attending to the needs of a half dozen virtual beings. It’s odd how being so busy in the game translates into relaxation for me, but it works.