Monday, February 20, 2012

It Seems Determined...

It seems determined to be Spring here.
Remember these?
They used to look much like this..
Robins have been sighted.

It still seems early for Spring, but it is difficult to argue with a robin.

On my ride this morning I saw a gargoyle. I don't think sighting a gargoyle has anything to do with the coming of Spring.
He appears to be a year around resident, but it was the first time I'd seen him.

Still there are places that look pretty barren.

 All brown and gray.
But, even in those places if you look closely there are signs of Spring.
Especially, if you ignore the ice.
And, it's okay to ignore the ice as long as you don't overlook it or are surprised by it.

Only time will tell if Spring is really here, but it is pretty obvious it is trying to be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Festival of the Wolf*

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. The young man who often works the dinning room in the Cafe where I have lunch asked me if I was doing anything special to celebrate. I told him I was going to sacrifice two male goats and a dog, smear the blood from the goats on my face then wipe it off with wool dipped in milk. Next, after cutting thongs from the sacrificed goats I was planning to run around flogging women to promote fertility.

When I finished there was a silence--not awkward, but not comfortable either. Eventually he spoke, "That's rather elaborate isn't it?" I couldn't help but laugh. I went on to explained to him this was the way the Roman's celebrated the Wolf Festival every year on February 15. That is, until 496AD when Pope Gelasius banned the festival and declared February 14, St. Valentine's Day.

Happy  Festival of the Wolf!
* I originally posted this as a comment to a post on Living Among Tourists. I often think I write better comments than I do blogposts. Thanks Martha for bringing out the best in me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Chilly Day in February, Part 2

I've been wanting to take some photos of the MacArthur Bridge for some time. I travel near the bridge most mornings. In the morning the rising sun and traffic makes taking photos difficult. Some mornings with the fog hanging over the River it seems the bridge disappears into the clouds, which would make a great photo if the light wasn't all wrong.
This is nearly the view I have each morning.
At one time the MacArthur bridge was a car bridge as well as a railway bridge. Actually, I've learned it started its life as a car bridge even though it was originally built to break a railroad monopoly. (Click here for more about the bridge) It hasn't been a car bridge for a long time, but you can still see the evidence of its earlier dual purpose existence.

Here appears to be one of the entry ramps.
At one time Rte.66 used the MacArthur Bridge to cross the Mississippi.

Now all that is left are the remains of a bridge abutment and the barricaded on and off ramps.

War Memorial Park is not all that far, as the crow flies, from the MacArthur Bridge. It is very near where I work and given my interest in history and buildings I'm rather surprised I've not spent any time there. This day I didn't spend much time, but we are now definitely acquainted. 
Finding myself at War Memorial Park really did come as a surprise. This is something that happens again and again when I'm riding. At times I'm convinced it is Miss Billie who is the one really in charge and I'm just along for the ride.
One of the statues guarding the entrance to the large monument.
The words along the facing of the large monument say: World War Memorial.

Sadly, the World War they were commemorating was not the war to end all wars after all. And so, across the street are both a memorial to War World II...
And to Korea.....

I hadn't known there was such a nice view of the St. Louis City Hall from the War Memorial Park.

Now I do.

There was only one thing I had hoped to accomplish when I set out on this ride. I wanted to scope out the new location of a restaurant which at one time had meant a lot to me and to my family.  

When I was first introduced to Sameem's it was located on S. Grand Ave. After the divorce Sameem's came to be where my kid's, their families, and I gathered for Christmas Day Dinner and other special times. I took Heather To Sameem's the first time we went out. But, time brings change and the owners of Sameem's decided to move out to Baldwin and change their name. We tried to embrace this new location, but it never seemed quite right to us. And, last Christmas we even went to a different place for our dinner.

Now they're back in the City. They are in the area called the Grove and they have gone back to the old name, Sameem Afghan Restaurant--no more Kabob Palace.

Their new address is 4341 Manchester Ave.
The new location is smaller than either of the previous two. There are just a few tables. When I went in to say, "Hi," there was much hustle and bustle which, on the one hand, surprised me since it was late afternoon. But on the other hand, they have always seemed to have a healthy catering business and it made sense the kitchen would be busy with it being a Saturday.

I only got to talk briefly to Qayum, one of the owners. He told me they couldn't work out a lease on the place out in the county. I, for one, am looking forward to having them closer.

I had left the condo around 1330CST. By the time I returned at 1645CST it had warmed up to 28F/-2C. I didn't see any other bikes or scooters out and about. Pity, other than the wind it was a delightful day to ride....

The man in black.
If you had the right gear.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Chilly Day In February, Part 1

It was another Saturday and Heather again was headed to the office. She asked me what I was planning to do with my day, but before I could answer she said, "I know what you're going to do. You're going to ride aren't you?" And, of course she was right. She is always right. (Yes, she does read this blog.)

I  found my way to Carondolet Park....again.
It was a crystal clear blue day. The temperature when I left the condo was 25F/-4C. It became clear to me very early on that I had one too many layers on.

I was getting warm and feeling perspiration on my brow. Not a good thing anytime, but especially bad on a cold day ride.

There is a shop I've seen off Morganford called Plaza Pastries & Donuts. I'd never been there and now seemed like a great time to head in that direction. 

The shop sets back off of Morganford and it was a bit of a chore to navigate the one way streets.

When I walked in I told the woman behind the counter I'd been wanting to see what this shop was about. She apologized for being sold out of donuts. All she had left were cupcakes and a couple of cookies. She told me it had been a very busy morning. I assured it was okay since I was there mostly to shed a layer, that I'd been overheating. She was incredulous. She told me when she saw me pull up she thought to herself how cold I must be and here I was telling her I was too warm. No way. I invited her to touch my forehead which was still "glistening". She commented, "Wow, you are hot." I thanked her for noticing and we both had a good laugh.

I took her last chocolate-chip cookie and sat down at one of the two tables. As I ate my cookie I chatted with Aletha. I learned how all this started because her mother was looking for a place to have a daycare. They founded that on one corner of the building, then came the donut shop and next the restaurant which is located in front of the shop and on the main street. While we talked I got to meet her husband. He was working in the restaurant. It is only open Saturday and Sunday for breakfast and lunch. The donut shop is open everyday but Monday. I'm thinking Heather and I need to check out the restaurant some Saturday morning.

Alas, Aletha was shy about me taking her photo. And, I wasn't going to use her name until she gave me a business card with her name on it. Then, I figured it would be alright. She and her husband seem like really good people.

I geared back up with one layer less and headed toward Downtown.
(To be continued)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Rainy Day Road Trip

Heather had to work last Saturday. It was a chilly and rainy day and seemed like the perfect sort of day to check out a few things I've been wanting to for awhile.

My destination was near Moscow Mills, Missouri a small town off of Hwy-61. It would be a relatively quick drive out there taking the Interstate and major divided highways, but what would the fun be in that. Besides one of the things I wanted to check out was an alternate route to St. Charles, Missouri where my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter live.

If I was taking Miss Billie this would have been an all day affair. I didn't have all day, so the Yaris was the ride of choice. I had "Googled" my destination and chose the options of no highways and no tolls.

The directions routed me down Kingshighway. I'd forgotten how many stoplights there are on Kingshighway. As far as the eye can see there are stoplights.

The first part of the drive was all urban. And, while I drove by some wonderful old structures, most of the route was through some of the more tattered and worn areas of the City.

I eventually crossed the Missouri River on Lindbergh Ave. This was the first time I'd ever crossed here. It appears it would be a good place for Miss Billie and I to cross this great river, but I certainly wasn't much fond of the route to get there. There has to be a better way.

Through the magic of photography I finally am leaning.
Once I turned on to Route 94 the terrain changed. I was on the flood plain between the two great rivers. It was wetlands, farmland, and all very, very flat.

The green isn't grass even though this was on a sod farm. I think it was some sort of  fertilizer they put on the grass to force it to grow pretty.

The mist and fog can even give an air of mystery to a power generating plant.

And, I didn't find this sign hard to believe at all.

I know what it is like to be snowed in. I suspect the folks who own this house have some experience with being flooded in.

West of St.Charles the terrain changed and it was more hilly and wooded.

My first destination was Lincoln Power Sports outside Moscow Mills.

But first a little history. One of the things I love about Miss Billie is her 16inch wheels. Another thing is her gas mileage. These were two of the three things which led me to chose the Symba. The third was the ability to experience shifting without having to bother with a clutch. Miss Billie has an automatic clutch. I wondered if I'd like shifting. I'd driven manual transmission cars and trucks up until a few years ago. I was convince if I got an automatic I'd miss the control that shifting gave me...that I'd miss going through the gears. When I did get an automatic I found I didn't miss any of that. I'd be quite happy to never own a manual shift car again.

But, what about scooters/motorcycles. I thought the Symba would be a nice way to experiment. My first scooter was a twist and go. I liked it and my suspicion was I wouldn't find shifting scooter/motorcycle any more essential than I found it to be in a car.

I will admit I've always felt Miss Billie was meant to be one of two scooters. The Symba is close to perfect for my daily commute and for puttering around the City.

But traveling across the Missouri River to get to St. Charles necessitates riding on the above road. It is rather an adventure. A bigger bike/scooter would certainly make riding over the Page Extension a much more enjoyable experience. Plus, I have in mind I want to photograph every Circuit Courthouse in Missouri. I could do that on the Symba, but it would take some time...some very long time.

I pretty broke, but it doesn't cost anything to look. Lincoln Power Sports had a new 2008 250 People S. I wanted to sit on it.

I didn't have them pull it out. I just wanted to sit on it. Last Fall I test rode a Genuine Blur 220i and my knees kept bumping into the handlebars. Not a good thing. I wondered how the People would be.

It fit me fine and it doesn't have a big bulbous butt like some maxi-scooters do. Also, it has 16 inch wheels and the color is certainly right.

While I was there I also sat on a Xciting 500i. I wasn't expecting too think much of this scooter.

I was surprised how comfortable it was. Heather thinks it looks to "insecty". That's not a problem for me. However, its butt is awfully close to being bulbous and its tires are smaller than the People. Heaven knows it would certainly take me anywhere I wanted to go. Truthfully, I suspect the People would take me anywhere I want to go and use less gasoline getting me there. And, gas mileage will be an important consideration in any future purchase I do make.

Perhaps on a day when it isn't raining I'll go back and  test ride the People.  It doesn't cost any more to test ride than to look does it?

I tore myself away from things that were shiny and made my way back to St. Charles and a visit with da' kids.

I suspect if I had a People 250 S or even that Xciting 500i I'd just have to ride it over to St. Charles more often to visit them, don't you?

Saturday, February 4, 2012


David Masse over at Life on two wheels, the scoot commute recently published a post about, in part, his original intentions for starting a blog (click here to read the post). Responding to his post and reading the other comments prompted me to reflect on my own beginnings as a blogger.

I wanted to start a blog to get back into the discipline of writing. But, what to write about? Well, I knew I wanted to explore the surprising turn of events that brought me to riding a scooter. But, what shape was that to take? And, if it was to be about riding my Symba, was this all I wanted to focus on?

I tried to write a mission statement. It kept eluding me. Since I wanted the direction of my blog to be clear and well defined, I refused to start until things ceased being so nebulous. Finally, I realized if I waited until I achieved clarity about the direction of my blog, I would never start. So, I came up with a name, Twists and Leanings, and took the plunge.

I still haven't found a clarity of subject matter for Twists and Leanings that I am completely comfortable with, but in many respects the blog seems to be sorting itself out. I have a sense of direction I want to go with it. Along the way I, also, discovered I really wanted a daily journal of my riding (or not) to work, and I wanted to make a daily commitment to writing. Since these two objectives didn't fit well with the other ideas I had about this blog I started another. Thus Did He Ride Today? was born. Yes, I went from not being able to start a blog to having two of them...go figure.

I feel my writing is improving. Recently, I had a post I was actually pleased with on Twists and Leanings, rather than merely satisfied. More importantly it seems stories are beginning to seek me out. When I first started blogging it was a chore to figure out what to write about. Now, the challenge is finding the time to write the things I want to.

From talking with other bloggers I've come to believe it is a blessing that statistics mystify me. I just don't quite understand them. I've heard from other bloggers, including David, stories of spending lots of time pouring over the statistics and wondering about traffic. I know when folks actually started leaving comments on my postings I found myself constantly checking my email to see if a new comment had come in. And, if I got no comments on a post, I found myself wondering what I did wrong.  I've come to see if the post is true and touches me that is all that really matters here. Comments are still very important to me, but not as a gauge to how well I'm doing. Rather, it is because I've found my responses to readers comments often have a depth the post itself only hinted at. Thanks to all you who comment. You do really bring the best out in me.

One of the surprises of blogging has been the role photos have come to play in my postings. Before I began blogging I didn't even own a camera. Now I'm rarely without one. I have a waterproof Fujiflim XP that lives on a lanyard around my neck when I'm riding. And, another Fujifilm Finepix I carry in my pocket. They are supposedly the same camera, but I'm here to tell you, they are not. Even though they are simple point and shoot cameras both have their strengths and weaknesses.

But the most wonderful surprise about blogging has been the relationships I've developed with other bloggers. In October Heather and I headed north to Minnesota to meet up with Chris from Everyday Riding. (Click here for the post about riding  three up on a Ural). When folks at work asked me where I was going for my vacation, I told them I was going to Minnesota to see a friend I'd never met.

The smiles tell the story Photo by the beautiful and mysterious Mrs. Everyday Riding.
Since starting this blog I have made other friends I've never met. I hope the twists and leanings of my life take me down the roads that will lead to my encountering many of them face to face.

So, until we do meet...
Be safe.
Be passionate.
And, love extravagantly.