Monday, October 14, 2019

Void 2019

The Void Rally first launched in fall of 2005 and other than skipping 2009, it has been the second weekend of October over the long holiday weekend.  Jean and I have been part of every Void since its inception.  It's a great way to finish off the rally season and get into the fall which is my favorite time of the year to ride.
This year's Void theme was food based; I started in Georgia again.  Our bonus list looked like this, with too many possibilities and no real workable plan.

Then the other shoe dropped on Wednesday morning.... or should I say the Blue Plate Special hit the service pass [those who ever worked in food service will get the reference].  Other than a couple nearly undoable combos for us Georgia starters, we were left with the Blue Plate Specials- either fast food or chains.  The fast foods were progressive and once you got past 10 they got very very valuable.  The chains were variable points based upon the regular bonus location you obtained just before the chain.  In either case, you had to string at least two regular then the Blue Plate to get the sequence.  This meant that planning had to be crisp as if you had to drop one bonus while en route, you really had to drop three to get back into the correct pattern again.  After a couple of hours of "new" route planning at my motel in Florence, SC, I had a new route.  Still needed tweaking which i could do Thursday night before and after the starters dinner in Thomasville, GA.
Having made my motel reservations for my rest bonus, I tweaked my plan to put the best chain restaurant option as close to my route as possible, making sure I didnt use one more than once.  The plan was to get to my motel up near the NC/VA border in a 90 minute window Friday night.  If  I arrived before the window that opened up a new Saturday route into the finish, anything inside the window left my plans intact and anything late, well, I had no plan for that....yet.
My route cards assembled, everything is loaded into my Garmin and Pocket POI for the phone, plus a crib sheet of the remaining chains in case I need them if things go awry, like a Olive Garden closed or something and I am ready for the off at 7:20 at the gas station adjacent to the hotel.  First stop, local employer Flowers Foods.

Then the Waffle House in Ashburn which required a receipt.  Oddly, Waffle House wasnt on either Blue Plate Special List.

 Blue Plate #1- Shoneys
 Then off to onion country.

 Then off to Pawleys in Columbia, SC.  At this point, I should probably mention that the huge disparity among the point totals for the various starting groups was due to the Fast Food option on the Blue Plate Special.  For the PA and TN starters, this was more available choice as their bonus locations were closer together geographically, making the stacking sequence quicker.  For the GA starters, it could be hours between bonus stops until you got into Virginia which was close to the finish line in Fredericksburg.  This was a near 3 hour run between these two bonus locations.
 Off to The Olive Garden [insert Mrs Wolowitz's voice] for Chain #2.  This was one exit from my motel the other night.
 Fork, NC post office.
 Then the Cast Iron Kitchen just up US-17 from where the Cape Fear 1000 used to be hosted out of.

 Chain #3, Pizza the Hutt
 Mount Olive Pickles is the largest independent pickle maker in the nation.

 Then the Rockin' Comet Diner.  This is where I discovered that my rally camera's flash would not work.
 Chain #4.  This is one chain I have never been to.

 Chapel Hill on a Friday night.... yes there was a lot of foot traffic but I figured on that in my plan.
I arrived at my motel 9 minutes into my window, which took the big option off the table for the morning.  My plan had fallen into place almost perfectly.  Something told me tomorrow would not be as cooperative. 
Just after starting my rest bonus for the full 6 hours to maximize my points, I try a camera reset.  Carefully removing the SD card first, I hit the reset.  And just like that, my camera is no longer in full manual mode; I have no idea how it got there, but's no longer there now.  Adjusted the resolution to the correct size, made sure the clock and date were correct.  It's all good.
 Next up, my nemesis from last year: the Milk Carton on a Post.  I came prepared you bastard.  Parking across the road where there was a slight incline towards the dairy plant, I pointed all my lights at the stupid carton.  Mocking me, as my lights fell about 5 feet short on height to get up to the carton.  groan.

 Chain #5.

 At this point, I was following the blue line on the phone that took a shortcut between two numbered state routes in Virginia, with a Fedex truck on the lead and deer in abundance.  Even with my earplugs and at a fair distance behind  the truck, the unmistakable thunk of metal against animal filled the early morning air.  After about 10 minutes of trying to help out the Fedex guy [he was fine, the truck had a big dent on the right bumper] without good cell coverage, I said I hate to look like I'm bailing on you, but I'm in a timed scavenger hunt and the clock is ticking.  He waved me off; I knew it would all work out.  Off to an old red street car, turned into a diner, now abandoned.

 Coffee pot diner.  Apparently the spout used to emit steam.
Chain #6
 Pink Cadillac  Crushed velvet seats, Riding in the back Oozing down the street...
 At this point, I get to ride one of my most favorite roads in this part of the world.  VA-130 between Natural Bridge and Lynchburg. link to VA 130  I'm hauling ass up this short but awesome set of mountain twisties as the temporary signs start to appear... Incident Ahead......Fire Response.... and finally Road Closed.    Grrrr.  The trooper at the turn around spot says the diversion is go all the way back to Buena Vista, head east on US 60 [by no means a slouch], and catch 29 in Amherst to head back to Lynchburg.  That's all well and good, but it's a 28 mile detour that takes 45 minutes plus 29 southbound is closed between Amherst and Lynchburg..... grrrr.  Like I said earlier; Friday went too well....  Oh and there was a bicycling festival in Farmville to add some fruit to that cake.  Bicyclist assholes everywhere.

 Chain #7- The Red Lobster [insert Mrs Wolowitz's voice again]
 Some Real BBQ.  Smelled real good too.
 The old Silk Mill in Orange

 Chain #8, the Ledos attached to rally HQ.

All that's left is to be scored, eat some dinner and be entertained by Salty.  Remember those early options?  Undoable combos etc?  Well Bill Connacher rode from Thomasville to Long Island with only one bonus stop, bagged the Empire Diners plus the combo, then stacked on a couple of chain sequence and just demolished us.  
 Spot tracker

As a post note, I got ride through a lot of the rural deep south this time.  I've been out west and the number of abandoned or soon to be ghost towns is stunning.  But out west, most of these towns are based on a single business: a grain silo, railroads, or the extraction industry and were constructed as boom towns.  Once those close, the town goes too.  In the south however, these places have existed for over a century in some cases three centuries; businesses have come and gone.  Generations have lived in the same towns, but now they're dying rotting from the inside out.  Shuttered businesses, abandoned store fronts, houses collapsing under the weight of kudzu vines.  It's depressing.  I'm not sure on the exact socio-economic reasons for why, but hundreds of these little towns that dot the landscape wont be around in 25 years unless something drastically changes.  Two consecutive generations lost to the scourge of drugs; first crystal meth and now opioids.   I can see the anger and anguish in the locals faces; their way of life is disappearing and they feel the need to blame someone or something for it.  This a human reaction.  That's a dangerous cocktail and a recipe for disaster if mixed incorrectly with money, race and politics.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cabin Update

Been a while since we did a cabin update.  One of the tricks in dealing with using flooring as ceiling planks is how to hide the seams between the sets of planks.  We tried flush, butt end matching that was a nightmare.  And thus a solution was born: 1 bys in poplar, comes in 12 foot lengths which is perfect for this situation.

Seams and the coverage

Painted to match the walls.  Turned out pretty good actually.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hammy Rally- Tipsy Goat

Hammy loves his goats; in all shapes and forms.  This fall, those goats were drunk, like Henry Clay drunk.  So was the birth of the Tipsy Goat Rally. 

Goal: acquire breweries, wineries, meadiaries and distilleries.  No limit; Hammy apparently hasn't learned from the monuments or the mufflermen or the.... you get the point.

If a rider had chosen to do so, there are nearly 100 breweries/brewpubs in the metro-DC area.  This is page one of the Google results:

this is my [Spot Link]

First stop, food face.

Flying Dog
Barely and Hops
Jug Bridge [it's a thing in Frederick, google it]
Dragon Distillery
Idiom Brewing
McClintock's Distillery
Tenth Ward
Olde Mother
Midnight Run
Flying Barrel
Hidden Hills
Milkhouse has it's own Little Library
Elk Run
Black Ankle
MISC Distillery
Ellicott Mills
Heavy Seas
Sagamore Spirit
Diamondback Brewing [it''s a local turtle]
Checkerspot [it's a butterfly]
Nepenthe [it's a drug to bring forgetfulness, the Poe's The Raven]
Full Tilt
BC Brewing
Royal Rabbit
Gunpowder Brewing
At the Shrewsbury exit, I took a short break to regain my senses and get hydrated.  The day started out chilly and quickly got hot.
Bella Cloice
Four Springs
Crystal Ball
There were two in downtown York, one couldnt find [turns out it was on the alley of the street address] and the other I just forgot

Liquid Hero
Stony Run along with Bailee's homebrew supplies [it doesnt count]
Columbia Kettle Brewing
Iron Hill- one of the chain
Medusa Meadeiary
At this point in downtown Lancaster, I switched from the GPS going to Yoders [which showed plenty of time to continue to work the remaining six stops or so in Lancaster] to Waze going there, which said "dude, you're already inside your window; roll."  So  I did even passing up a stop that added only 2 minutes to my route.

I arrived at Yoders with about 15 minutes to spare considering at 4 pm a rider was time barred.  After getting my score of 60, dinner to be had and awarded third for my efforts, just a couple of points behind second and third.

thanks Hammy!!