Monday, March 29, 2010

Trip to Birmingham

We dropped the girls off at church early Saturday morning for their mission trip. Then Mr. H and I were off on a trip of our own.

We left the house about 7 a.m. and headed north. The trip up I-65 was mostly uneventful. There were 2 moments that stand out. As we were passing through Prattville, Mr. H thinks he saw one of his heros: BamaRider. The man we saw was not on a bike, but the face through the driver's side window looked a lot like Mr. Boutin. There are some tasks that require even the most avid rider to take alternate transportation.

The 2nd stand-out event was memorable for different reasons. We were solid traffic somewhere between Jemison and Calera, I think. Mr. H was in the left lane because we were coming up on some slower moving cars. A red car came up on the right side behind the slower car and acted like he was going to pull in front of us. He wasn't quite quick enough and lost his opportunity. We moved on past the car at the back of the line and the next thing you know, that red car is passing us on the left WITH 2 WHEELS IN THE GRASS AND THE OTHER 2 IN OUR LANE!!! WHAT AN IDIOT!!! I couldn't believe what he was doing. Someone with less experience (translate that 'me', if I'd been riding my bike) might have lost control and been seriously, if not fatally, injured! It still makes my blood boil. What was he thinking?!Well, it took a bit for my blood pressure to go back down, but eventually I calmed down. We made it to Birmingham without further incident or celebrity sighting and headed to the BMW dealership. Bogart's Motorsports sells BMW, Ducati, Triumph, and KTM motorcycles as well as Vespa scooters. They had 2 BMW bikes with the lowered seat position and lowered suspension: a 2010 F650GS and a 2009 G650GS, both of which allowed me to put both feet on the ground (just toes, however.) The salesman tried really hard to get us to take one home that day, but I KNOW I'm not ready for that yet. Our objective was to see if it fit, and both of those did. My objective now is to get ready for the day I CAN take one of those (or something similar) home.

After a quick lunch, we headed to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. What a cool place! The approach to the museum itself is a twisty driveway about 3/4 of a mile long. As we drove in, we passed 3 red Corvettes, as well as one black one, going out. There was a Corvette club meeting there that day. As it turned out, they had the 5th floor reserved for a banquet, so we didn't get to look at the displays up there. But the other 4 floors were enough to keep us occupied for the rest of the afternoon.

I found a bike I absolutely love. It's a 1969 BMW R60 U.S. Beautiful...
Hey! If we'd been outfitted like the bike below, the guy in the red car would have thought twice before trying to cut us off in traffic!

My favorite display was the 'round world bike record set by Jim Rogers (Investment Biker) and Tabitha Estabrook. This is Tabitha's bike. You can see the headlight and windscreen of Jim's right behind hers.This case has a copy of Jim's book, "Investment Biker", their international driver's licenses and a post card with a map of the route.

As I was looking, Mr. H came up beside me and said, "You know, it's crazy, but if I asked you to do something like that with me, I believe you'd do it." He's right.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bikes and the Deer Slayer

We had to go to Mobile today to get the Deer Slayer. She was finally ready.

She was supposed to be ready a few days ago but when the guy at the body shop opened the box of the replacement headlight, he said it looked like someone had dropped the box. It was in worse shape than the one being replaced. So they ordered another one and it took a while for it to come in. And we didn't want her out until all the paint was dry!

Mr. H needed to get some fluids for his bike so we went by A&B Cycle in Mobile. That's where he got his ST1300. While we were there I spotted this bike:

It's a Honda CRF230M, and it looked like it wasn't too tall. Then I did something that would have been unthinkable a few short months ago: I grabbed the bar, threw my leg over and stood it up. I was right. It wasn't too tall! But it wasn't too comfortable, either. It's essentially a dirt bike with street tires, but it's something that fits me.

I think that encouraged Mr. H. We still had an hour and a half before the body shop closed, so we stopped by Halls Motorsports. That's where Mr. H got filters and such for his Suzuki. They carry Yamaha bikes, too. I saw this bike first:

The Suzuki TU250 fits me very nicely, too. It's very close to the Honda Rebel that I'm considering now. The most noticeable difference to me was foot position. The Rebel has the foot pegs farther to the front, like a cruiser. The TU250 has the pegs more directly underneath you. (Remember standing up on your bike pedals when you were a kid? If you go over a rough patch of road, standing on the pegs keeps your spine from absorbing all that jarring. That's not possible when the pegs are out front. However, on a bike, it's best to avoid all those rough patches in the first place!)

Then I saw this bike:

A Suzuki GS500F....Ooooooo! I had no idea that a bike like this would come in a size that fit me. I was wearing flip flops and was able to get this bike up from the side stand unassisted. (that's my criteria for if a bike is too tall) This is billed as a beginner bike and Mr. H seems to agree. Very nice.

Then, parked right next to the GS500F, was this one:

This bike is a Yamaha FZ6R. It is definitely the heaviest bike I sat on today. When Mr. H sat on it, I noticed the pink and gray decorations on the tank. "Hey, this is bike is too girlie for you!" I told him. The salesman at Hall's told us that the previous owner was indeed female and had lowered the seat to fit her stature. Mr. H also informed me that this bike was off limits to me until I had been on the road on some other bike for at least a year! Something to dream about, I guess.

By the time we had looked at all these bikes, it was getting time to go get my car. I'd been calling the body shop every day since Tuesday. She would have been ready Tuesday or Wednesday but the shop discovered that a headlamp had cracked and ordered a replacement. When the replacement arrived and the box was opened, it looked like the box had been dropped. The new lamp was in worse shape than the one to be replaced. It took until Friday for the job to be finished and then the paint needed to dry. Saturday morning, she was ready to go. And I was more than ready to get her back.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


There is such a sense of satisfaction that comes from creating something. And the degree of satisfaction is proportional to the involvement in the creative process.

I finished a scarf this week. It's not the first thing I've knitted, but it's definitely the best. I like the color, which I found on a clearance table (added bonus!) I like the feel of it. But mostly I like it because I designed it. I picked the needles to make it the size I wanted. I made it exactly as long and as wide as I wanted.

And when I was finished with the knitting part and it still needed a little 'something extra', I searched the web for a crocheted edging I liked. I had to figure out how to space the crochet stitches with the knitted rows. It took thought and planning, but I stuck with it. Am I pleased with the result? You bet! Even though it was not cold yesterday, I wore it anyway. I picked out something to wear that would go with it.

When the Father created us, He made us in His image. First and foremost, He is the Creator. We all have some of that. It's not always manifested in forming something with our hands. Sometimes it's creating something to hear from dots on a page. Sometimes it's creating pictures in the minds of others using words. It might be creating order out of chaos using computer code.

Find your creativity. It's there. Then you'll have an idea of how the Creator feels about you. He made you. He picked the color of your skin, your eyes, your hair. He made you the size He wanted. And He wants to show you off as His. He wants you to wear His tag: God's Child.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grillin' on the Road

There are some things that you just don't see very often....

In fact, there are some things that you just don't expect to see, ever.

On our way home from church this morning, we saw one of the latter.

We had some around the big curve on Will Howell Road and could see a wagon up ahead. Now, it's not unusual in George County to see wagons on the road, pulled by a single mule or a team of mules. (Our wagons aren't square like the Amish ones though. They are more like the Conestoga wagons you see in western movies. ) In fact there are official road signs warning when you enter areas they frequently travel (along the same lines as deer crossing and children playing signs.)

What you don't expect to see is a smoking charcoal grill mounted to the rear and one of the passengers turning steaks and burgers.

Dr. T, I don't think this qualifies as rurban: it is rural all the way around!

Note: we passed the same wagon on the way back to church that afternoon and took a picture. Here's the link.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Today's Ride

It was a gorgeous day today. I spent the majority of it with just Mr. H. He needed some cables and other stuff for his EWI connection at church, so we headed to Guitar Center in Mobile. We got there at 9 and discovered they don't open until 10. So we decided to kill some time at Academy Sports. As we were looking around I discovered some boots that I thought would make good riding boots. The price was right, so I got them.

We got the stuff Mr. H needed when Guitar Center opened and then headed to Lowe's for something else he was looking for. After we go home, we decided to go riding. I'm so glad I got the boots this morning. I have been using my hiking boots for riding because they are the heavist, tallest footwear I have. I thought they were sturdy on top (for shifting gears), but boy, was I wrong. These new boots are great. It's much easier to shift when wearing shoes with a stiff upper.

View Larger Map

I had to put all those markers on the map to show the exact route. Google Maps kept wanting to show a different way to get from where we started to where we ended up!

if the map doesn't show above, here's the link to the route of our trip.

I really had no idea where I wanted to go once we got on the road. After a loop around Shipman Firetower Road, Mr. H had a suggestion. "How about I show you the best biking road in George County?" So off we went. (if you don't want the exact route, feel free to skip the next 3 paragraphs!)

We headed to the church and turned on Barton Agricola Road. The road he had in mind was across Hwy 63 from Barton Agricola: Grain Elevator Road to River Road. What a beautiful ride! The sun was shining. It was warmer than it has been for a LONG time. There were almost no other vehicles on the road. We road to where River Road ends on Hwy 26. He suggested a road that he had told me about a few weeks ago, so he took the lead and I followed. We traveled out 26 to Hwy 57. This road follows the edge of the Pascagoula River Wildlife Management Area. It was a blast. Then we turned on to a part of Old River Road that I had never been on. From there we went east on Wade-Vancleave Road. This has to be one of the prettiest places I know. It's all wilderness, river and swamp.

We crossed Hwy 63 onto Hwy 614, but didn't stay on it long. We took a back road that put us on the back side of East Central Elementary School. Somewhere along this back route, we encountered a Sand Hill crane. (we had a close encounter with one a few weeks ago) This time Mr. H was in the lead! It headed away from him, then circled around and flew across the road between the 2 bikes. Those birds are big!

We stayed on back roads the rest of the way home: Ellis Hamilton to Gavin Hamilton Road, then Ramie Farm Road. When we got back to the intersection of 612 and Walt Tanner, we found the Sheriff's Department had 612 blocked going east. There was a big fire down that way. Luckily, we weren't going that way!

Our bike trip was about 90 miles today. That's the longest I've ever ridden. One thing about being on a bike is that you notice things. You know when there are cows nearby. You can tell which fields have been recently fertilized with chicken manure. The changes in elevation in the road are very apparent, at least on a small bike. You really have to crank up the throttle when the road heads uphill.

Today was the first time I really didn't have to consciously THINK about every little thing I did. Some of them just came naturally. I was relieved to know that it would happen. Until now, I felt like I was holding my breath every time I rode. Today I was a lot more relaxed. Now, if I could just remember to always turn the blinker off after a turn...

Friday, March 5, 2010


The Gulf Coast Choir Festival took place last night at First Baptist Church, Long Beach, Mississippi.

The day after Katrina, this is what that place looked like. They have several pages of pictures devoted to before and after August 29, 2005. The Preschool building picture is the scariest.

But that's not what last night was about. It was about the opportunity to praise God from Whom all blessings flow. They did not believe that the church was the building. They knew that they, the people, were the church. And they kept on being the church. And because they did, we had such a wonderful time singing His praises last night.

Sitting in the crowd last night, I started thinking about all the connections I saw. First of all, there was the church itself. Our pastor, Dr. T, was a member of that church when he lived in Long Beach. Through our Kentucky connections, we were able to help them get their offices re-established immediately after Katrina. Computers and other office equipment helped them organize.

Churches from all over the Gulf Coast were there. I saw someone we knew when we went to FBC Gautier. This couple moved to Ocean Springs and now sings with the FBC Ocean Springs choir. The youth pastor of church was very nearly called to Agricola 6 or 7 years ago. He and some of his students were singing with the adult choir. I remember at the time being disappointed that his call to Agricola didn't happen. But if it had, we wouldn't have met Mark and his family, who are simply incredible people!

Bel-Aire Baptist Church was there, too. Two years ago they lost their pastor, Lowry Anderson, very suddenly to cancer. He and his wife Kandi were great friends of our pastor and his wife. Both Bro. Lowry and Kandi have spoken at our church. Dr. T preached the funeral.

Another choir present was FBC Pascagoula. Twenty years ago, I rang with their handbells. Gary Anglin was the music minister then, and he's back there now. I recognized so many familiar faces.

I think the biggest connection was with LeMoyne Boulevard Baptist Church. And I don't know a single person at that church or in that choir. But that's where our Minister of Music, Nick Wolfe, was until Christmas.

And they loved him.

And they still do.

The scheduling of the choirs had LeMoyne Blvd following just after Agricola. And because each director lead a congregational hymn while his choir exited the loft and the next choir filed in, Bro. Nick was there in front of his other choir. At one point he turned to face them, like he does frequently, and my heart went out to all of them, including him. Their faces told such a story. Until they have a new full time worship leader, they will still feel like they are Nick's choir. I understand. I've had that same feeling toward pastors and other worship leaders in my lifetime. I pray that the Lord is preparing them (and the one He has chosen to lead them) for more than they can ask or imagine.

Thank you, Lord, for connecting us as Your children.