Category: EUC

I figured a quick blog entry recapping the weekend was a good way to celebrate a dominant Eagles win over the Cardinals.

I again had a lot of things I wanted to get done this weekend but I did not compose a to do list mapping it out this time.  I was out in the yard pretty early Saturday, tending to the chickens needs and weeding.  I was very surprised when Cindy told me she got a call from the FEMA guy, saying he was going to be stopping by soon.  Cindy HAD just applied for the FEMA blue tarp program the prior afternoon.  Evidently they are getting caught up.

In a nutshell, FEMA will tarp your damaged roof for free.  Since I likely will not have my roof repaired for six months I may as well take advantage of the extra insurance policy to prevent water from permeating the damaged sections of shingles.  I’m not sure how long it will take until the roof is wearing a blue tarp but I bet it will be less than two weeks.

Cindy, Elsa and I headed out to our almost automatic stops at Home Depot and Rural King.  I needed a few things.  When we got home I headed outside to install some of them.  I installed a new handle/latch on one of the screen doors that was damaged during Irma, the guts of it had been damaged from all of the wind and associated slamming.  I also finally got to replace the roof panel on the chicken run that was ripped off during the storm.  The chickens now have full rain protection once again.

Saturday night Cindy and I went to the movies for the first time in a long time.  Our favorite movie theater, Coconut Point has been closed since the storm as they evidently are having a hard time finding a contractor to repair whatever damage they have.  We instead went to Silverspot which also still had some storm related issues, their high tech kiosk ticketing system was dark and they didn’t have the ability to check people in with hand scanners like they normally do.

The movie we went to see was Blade Runner 2049.  I saw the original decades ago but remembered very little about it besides it starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer.  This version of the movie was very long, nearly three hours in length. The movie was also INCREDIBLY loud, it may have been the loudest film I ever saw in a theater.  Repeatedly you could feel the floor shaking and the drop ceiling vibrating from the volume of the sound.  Cindy had to cover her ears more than once.

Those things aside I found the film entertaining  and good albeit confusing at times.  After the movie I was trying to clear up fuzzy plot points with Cindy as there was a lot going on.  The film also had the largest naked women I have ever seen on screen, I bet some of them were a 100 feet tall.  I saw the film’s week one numbers missed expectations which is too bad.  However I think that is part of the risk of doing a sequel of a film 35 years after the original.  A good chunk of the original audience is now either dead or being pushed around a nursing home.  Millenials could give two F’s about replicants or Harrison Ford.   I did find it interesting to find out the original futuristic Blade Runner film was cast to take place in 2019. Anyway, I liked it, if you are my age you will probably like it too. B+

This morning despite getting home late I drug myself out of bed at 6AM to go run at the track.  As I downed my power breakfast of two Pop Tarts I saw my weather station indicated the humidity outside was 95%.  That is lovely.  As I trudged around the track I yearned for the winter mornings where temps in the 50’s are much more common.  I am so ready for heat and humidity to take a three-four month hiatus.

I went right from running to cleaning the chicken coop when I got home.  I followed up with paying the bills and then getting ready to go ride.  I originally had a plan to go do a solo ride to DD and then get picked up by Cindy so we could go pick up and install a microwave for her mom.  My ride to DD went by quickly on my Monster and when Cindy showed up she said the install was postponed until her mom could locate a microwave she liked.  We decided to go another 10 minutes down the road to North Collier Regional Park where Cindy could go walk Elsa while I rode around some more. It was hot and sweaty but fun.

Most of my afternoon was consumed by watching the Eagles lay a beating on the Cardinals, a pleasant surprise.  After the game was in hand I tended to a few remaining household chores before punching out this entry.  I am already anticipating a busy start to next week so I am taking my writing time where I can find it.

So I have spent the majority of my 5 day long weekend as I normally do, trying to front load all of the work, projects, and tasks  so for the last portion of the time off I can chill out.  Well to finish that front loading process consumed nearly three full days unfortunately.

On Thursday I got a head start on the weekend chores by weeding and weed whacking the yard in the glorious heat and humidity of a late August Florida day.  I was pooped afterward but wanted to try to get one of my “fun” projects done, replacing the case on my Msuper EUC.  I damaged the case learning to go backwards and recently got a brand new case and trolley handle to undo the damage I had done.

Changing the case on an EUC is a MAJOR operation that requires you to take the unit pretty much entirely apart.    Of course I had never attempted such a thing but I had watched a video of the process and was confident I could do the work.

Well in the end I did indeed do the work but I hit some major delays along the way, all of which are documented in the nearly hour long video which was a condensed version of the nearly three hours I spent in the process.  In the end I found a way to circumvent my issues and the new case looks sharp.

On Friday the front loading continued in earnest.  This time I jumped on the tractor and mowed the grass, taking advantage of the relatively low standing water levels.  During the afternoon I started my second major hobby project of the weekend, installing a new logic board and auto leveling sensor into my CR-10.

Like the EUC work, this project required me to rip into the hardware in a pretty significant way.  I once again had a lot of struggles with the install.  A lot of the problems came from my relative inexperience with 3D printing hardware but as I usually do, I managed to find my way to the finish line in a circuitous fashion.

On Saturday half of my day was consumed at work.  I had to replace the two main backbone switches in our NOC, another part of our renovation project.  Doing so required me to unplug every wire connected to the old switches, install the new switches, and then run new wires in a more organized and orderly manner.

I asked Cindy if she wanted to come in to help as I could use her to help me document the connections so I didn’t miss anything.  She said sure and we decided to bring Elsa with as well.  Elsa was a bit freaked out being in a foreign environment and did not want to be out of eye contact of myself or Cindy.  It took awhile but eventually she settled down enough to take a nap while we worked. For the most part the work went smoothly and having Cindy there easily helped me shave at least 30 minutes off the job.

After the office work was done we ate lunch at Panera and then stopped at Rural King and Home Depot for some more supplies.  By the time we got home it was after 3PM so the majority of the day was eaten up.  Last night we vegged out while trying to continue consuming the backlog of DVR content we have from being away on the roadtrip.  If I didn’t have EUC’s, 3D printing, and WoW as hobbies I would be able to get through shows faster but to be honest, I’d rather have other things to help split my attention between.

We had some incredible lightning and thunder Saturday night.  At one point I thought a bomb went off in the atmosphere.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a ball of light out of the bedroom window and what seemed like 10 seconds later the shockwave hit and it hit hard.  Even inside you could feel the power of the blast, it did not seem like thunder from normal lightning, it sounded like a bomb.

All weekend I have had various episodes of limping and walking like a geriatric.  Regardless I tasked myself with getting up early this morning and going out to run.  I think I may have run lap 6 twice but either way I did somewhere around 5K of running, once again feeling very labored to do so.  I need to just keep pushing myself to get out there.  Even though things hurt the first few laps after I warm up the pain sort of fades and general discomfort sets in.

A little later in the morning Cindy and I headed out to ride our wheels.  It was my first chance to give the Msuper a thorough test after all of the work.  It seemed to ride normally which I was very happy about.  Katie and her friend Kendal joined us briefly on the ride but their one wheel ran out of battery power so they headed back early.  After the ride we made another Home Depot pit stop as well as a stop at Micahel’s for Cindy to grab some crafting supplies.

I currently have both 3D printers cranking out two different projects and I hope to be able to take a good portion of the rest of my time off doing exactly what I would like to do. We will see how that turns out.

This week I received a new type of 3D filament, NinjaFlex.  It is a flexible filament that is rubber like and very strong.  My plan was to use it to try to print an iPhone6 case for myself.  Because of the way the extruder is set up on the CR-10, the FlashForge Finder made more sense to use although a phone case is pretty much the maximum size object you can put on it’s print bed.

Cindy and I made multiple attempts to get the print job going but each time we had issues either with adhesion or clumping.  I plan to put down a fresh layer of tape on the print surface  and then relevel the bed and try again.  It would be cool to be able to print 3D flexible objects but it isn’t a high priority.

Yesterday I also received my replacement Msuper case from Ewheels to replace the battered and bruised shell, a side effect of learning to ride backwards.  The new case is a cool black matte finish which I think will look really sharp.  Unfortunately to swap the case requires a total teardown of the wheel which is going to be a major endeavor.  I have to see when I gather the motivation to take it on.

Tonight we are once again hosting the draft party for my fantasy football league.  Last night I did the technical work, getting the laptop connected to Skype and the new TV.  After work we will do the major furniture relocation required to host a dozen people in the great room.  It should be a good time as always.

This morning I popped off the last piece of the EUC stand I 3D printed.  It’s thick and strong in order to support the weight of a unicycle.  I am confident it can hold my 45 pound Msuper.  I am not quite so sure how it will hold up to the 60+ pound Monster.

My next printer mod should be here today, an auto leveling kit which includes a new logic board for the printer and a special sensor that is mounted with the extruder.  Supposedly once you get this kit installed and dialed in correctly, bed leveling problems become a thing of the past.  Although to be honest, lately the Cr-10 has been pretty consistent with it’s prints doing it the old fashioned way.

I took off Thursday and Friday for multiple reasons.  First it will allow me to recover from the fantasy football draft party that I am once again hosting this year.  I normally drink and eat way too much at these events so it will be nice to not have to roll into work the day after.

Taking these two days translates into a five day weekend for me since Labor Day is Monday.  The extended time off will allow me to tackle a number of projects both 3D printing related and other things rolling around in my head.  For the next few weeks at work there is going to be weekend work as some staff is moved from the temp building back here and another set of staff relocates to the temp building for a period of 3-4 weeks.

 

 

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.