Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Nova Scotia?

I've had more than one person ask me why I chose to head to Nova Scotia next June. Normally, I just tell them that I heard that it had the prettiest roads in all of North America (i.e. The Cabot Trail). In a sense, that's true, because that's what first got me looking up that way. In fact, Alexander Graham Bell is quoted as saying "I have seen the Canadian and the American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland; but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all." But as I've learned more about Nova Scotia, it's started to run a little deeper than that.

I still don't know that much about the path my family took to get into this country back in the 19th century. All I really know is that the Abbotts were once the MacNabbs. I also know that they came to the US from Scotland via Canada. Until I started learning more about Canada, I hadn't really given it much more thought than that. Now that I know that the majority of the Scottish emigrants from Great Britain came through Nova Scotia, I'd really like to experience as much of that country as I can. For all I know, I may end up passing right through a town where one of my great-great-grandparents lived before they decided to venture down to Michigan.

Monday, September 24, 2007

6000 Miles

Well, I was a little lax. I was very diligent about noting where I was when I hit the 4000 and 5000 mile marks on my bike. All I know about the 6000 mile mark is that it happened on my trip to Morton's BMW in Fredericksburg, VA. Based on the number of miles on my odometer right now, I was probably along I95 North between Richmond and Fredericksburg, most likely right around Kings Dominion.

I know I'll hit the 7000 mile mark during my trip to New Hampshire, so I hope I'll remember to hit the Waypoint button on my Garmin when it happens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another decision on a whim.

While I'm done with online gaming, I do still miss spending time with the old core group of guys I had played with for so long. One of the reasons it was finally so easy for me to quit playing was that we had all gotten scattered to the winds as a result of a twisted love triangle involving a few of the younger people in the group. For any WoW widows or Everquest widows out there, your spouses don't play because the games are that phenomenally interesting. They play because they're part of a network of people that respect them and want them around.

For people who grew up without much of a social network, or for those of us that were the embarrassing black sheep of the family, finding yourself with a group of people that size that wants you around is a hard thing to let go of. Based on that, there are really only a few ways that they'll stop playing the game that gives that emotional reward: the group collapses, their real life falls apart so much that gaming becomes impossible, or they find something else in the real world that gives them a feeling of accomplishment. For me, it was a combination of the first, followed by stumbling across an ad for a BMW R1150R.

Now I've decided to use my newly revisited real world hobby to go visit the people from my old one. Chesapeake, VA to Center Sandwich, NH in one day (on 10/19), followed by two days partying with all of the old people I spent so much time "with" on ventrilo, and then back again in one day. The last time I owned a motorcycle, I had been riding for almost a year before I tried something like this (though that was still almost 100 miles shorter). This time, I'm doing it about 12 weeks after I purchased my new baby. I guess the fact that I regularly go head out for 6 hours or more a day every weekend already makes the 12 hour trip seem a little less intimidating......having a real bike helps too.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

So freaking funny

I have been a Sabrina Matthews fan for about three years, ever since I first caught her Comedy Central performance. Unfortunately, living in Virginia has made it a little difficult to ever see her perform live. After a year or so, I had given up on even looking at her schedule, since the occasional NYC show always happened at some point that I couldn't get out of town. So I'd just settle for re-watching her special on my Tivo periodically.

Then the stars began to align. First, she got a little coverage on Last Comic Standing. Sadly, she didn't make it far, though I wasn't terribly surprised by this. Her jokes require a little IQ to understand, which doomed her on network television. However, seeing her on TV prompted me to take at look at her site again. Lo and behold, she was heading to Norfolk, VA to perform..........on a gay casino riverboat cruise.

Now, deep down, I don't really care whether someone is gay or not. But after a very uncomfortable trip to Miami a few years ago, I wasn't very eager to be stuck on a 3 hour boat cruise with a bunch of gay men. But then I decided that no amount of being treated like a piece of meat could possibly outweigh being able to finally see Sabrina live. Besides, now I'm older, grayer, and about 20 pounds heavier.

Once the show came to an end, I had learned a few things. First of all, I feel so bad for the gay men and women in this area. That was the homeliest looking bunch of men and women I have ever seen. I didn't think any cities were allowed to have that many overweight, ugly, tacky gay men at one time. It was like a fat Village People convention.

Second, I have learned that I am actually capable of acting like an idiot fan. Over the years, I've stumbled across a few actors here and there. But not once did I feel any need to walk up and bother them. Even when I was riding a ferry back from Seattle after a long night of partying and saw Chris Kattan, I just didn't feel any need to stand up and walk over. But put me on a boat with Sabrina Matthews, and I'm right there saying the typical clich├ęs: "I love your performances so much", "I've had your act saved on my Tivo for 3 years", "I'm so glad you were able to make it out here to the boonies", etc.

The final thing I learned is that Sabrina Matthews has to be the funniest comic I've ever had the fortune to see live. I go out of my way to see stand-up any chance I can, from local stuff to people like Ron White and Janeane Garofalo, and none of them made me laugh like she did. It was simply amazing how she handled being on the top of a tiny little riverboat, just a few feet from all the people there. It felt almost like she was just sitting in our living room performing, and she took every quirky thing that could possibly happen on a boat full of gay men in stride. By the end of the show, I thought I was going to pass out from laughing so hard.

The main point of this is that anyone reading this needs to follow the links at the top and go watch her stuff. If you think that is funny, you absolutely need to see her live.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What a load of crap

Radio frequencies help burn salt water

Ok, I understand that the media are desperate to find alternative fuels, because without undeveloped options around to hype up, they can't freak about global warming quite as easily. But acting like this is something ground breaking is simply mind boggling. For anyone that took high school chemistry, this is not a new concept. You can use electricity to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen and burn it. If you're really motivated, you can separate the anode and cathode into different test tubes to see the difference between lighting up oxygen and lighting up hydrogen.

Using radio waves on salt water instead of direct electricity on fresh water doesn't change the key problem with this, and I assume it's still a problem or they wouldn't ignore this issue entirely. No mater what form of energy you use to break down the water, it takes more energy to split the molecules than you get from burning what comes out. This ground breaking concept is an ENERGY SINK. It's the same thing as using $100 of electricity to create $50 of gas.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The trip planning begins.

Since this blog exists primarily as a place to keep track of my motorcycle and kayak trips, I figure this is as good a place as any to plan out my trips as well. If I'm lucky, I may even be able to get a few people that have been to some of these places suggest some detours to either see interesting places, or avoid traffic nightmares.

The first trip on the list is Nova Scotia in June next year. I'm hoping to leave on a Wednesday after work, and then get back 10 days later around Saturday afternoon. I still haven't made up my mind about what places are necessities while I'm up there, and which are optional. Sadly, I don't think I can really get in everything without about 3 weeks to kill. I also haven't made up my mind about whether I'll stick to hotels, or mix in some camping.

Day 1/2 route (Wed 6/18/2008, Thu)
Day 3 route (Friday 6/20/2008)
Day 4 route

Day 5 route (Sunday)
Day 6 route
Day 7 route

Day 8 route [Cape Breton to Halifax] (Wednesday)

Day 9 route [Halifax to Yarmouth/Portland]

Day 10 /11 route [Portland to Home]

The only thing that is really fixed is that I would need to be at Yarmouth, NS by around 3pm on Thursday to catch the Cat Ferry to Portland. I also need a full day with the Cabot Trail up in Cape Breton, and I'd like a few hours along some various parts of the Fundy Bay. Beyond that, it's not easy to narrow things down. I could just do a casual loop of the Cabot Trail in one day, or I could do half one day, make my way to Meat Cove to camp overnight, and back the other side of the Trail the next day. In theory, the Skyline Trail sounds like it would be a nice hike as well. But I suspect I'd spend most of the time on there just jonesing to be back on my bike. So the hike may just wait until I can go back to Nova Scotia with my wife.

Update: I have decided to scrap camping. If I stick to hotels, I don't have to pack nearly as much stuff. In addition, if I just make Baddeck my central point for several days, I can leave a lot of my luggage in my room, making for a much lighter ride for a little bit.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I love my bike, but...

Much like with my first motorcycle, gearing up my BMW has been an educational experience. The first thing I've learned is that there must not be that many people that take an R1150R for long trips, because almost no one makes decent luggage for it. Fortunately, since my bike is 3 years old, there's a great forum where other people have spent several years figuring out who makes luggage that fits, and which works the best.

As it stands now, I'm just ecstatic that I finally found a Hepco-Becker rack for their top cases that will actually work with my factory luggage racks. I just wish I could get as lucky with finding some used BMW system cases. Every time I find some on Ebay, someone who has never bought anything starts driving the price up at the last minute. While I'm more than willing to pay $400-$500 for plastic saddle bags if they're in good condition, I'm not keen on people that look like they're probably just shill bidders.

Fortunately, since my first real trip isn't until June, when I head to Nova Scotia, I can probably hold out until March before I finally have to suck it up and pay retail for a new set.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I've found the Deadmines


That's right, I found Van Cleef's little hidey hole while I was heading home from my Mom's new place. For those who doubt me, pictures don't lie.


Since I hadn't packed anything other than some crappy gray items, I chose to pass on trying to solo the place, and I hadn't invited a healer or tank along either. I guess I'll have to wait a little longer for a shot at a Cruel Barb.


Edit: I emailed this to a few friends that play WoW, and the following was probably the best response I got:

"
That is too funny!
"VANCLEEF MAKE YOU PAY BIG FOR YOUR TIRES!""

Damn bikers!

Yesterday was another 400 miles under my belt, and I keep learning a little more about what I need to change if I want to pull off a trip to Nova Scotia next June. This trip was a quick hop to my Mom's place for a couple of hours, and then right back the same afternoon. What's really ironic is that my only moment of aggravation was caused by some other motorcycle riders.

While traveling down Rt 460, I caught up to 3 guys on Harleys doing about 5-10 miles below the speed limit, and one of them refused to get out of the left lane. I guess he was too busy hunching over top of his fuel tank like an idiot to actually move over. I finally got sick enough of them that I split between the 3 of them to pick up speed again. It just struck me as funny that my first time splitting between vehicles on the road was because of some twit wanna-be bad asses on Harley-Davidsons.