Archive for February, 2007

Snow Days…

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Weather: 30°F (-1°C) With snow flurries.
Road Conditions: Slushy, snowy mess.

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Emily’s first snow angel of the season. At least she’s having fun…

So here we are in the dregs of Winter. One fairly large snowstorm hit us this past weekend, and they are forecasting another for later this week. You folks in Denver know exactly what I’m talking about… one after another after….

Hopefully, this will all begin to melt by the middle of March, but here in Minnesota, you never know for sure. The only thing I am certain about is that this isn’t scootin’ weather.

Scarlet O’Baron is tucked away in the garage, alongside Frogwing, and both of them are hooked up to Battery Tenders. Sure, I could ride, if I felt I had something to prove, but I did that last year. No sense in pushing my luck.

Besides, things are going to get a little hectic around here in the next couple weeks. Tomorrow, my wife Amy goes in for surgery on her leg. Nothing catastrophic, but it is going to put her down for several days. I’m going to have to pick up the slack; cooking, cleaning, and taking care of our little snow angel, Emily, as much as I can while still going to work every day.

I’m not sure how to treat this situation here in the blog. I’ve just come off a vacation, of sorts. But I will be driving straight home from work, to take care of things here at home, and my rambling ways are going to be curtailed for awhile.

Still, I have a few things that I’ve been thinking about, and once I get the girls tucked-in at night, I may feel like sharing some stories or observations with you. Think of it as exploring new territory.

Rambling will recommence as soon as possible. Until then, bear with me…

The 5 O’clock Horror Show

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Weather: 31°F (0°C) Under partly cloudy skies.
Road Conditions: Dry and salty.

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Scarlet pauses in front of that other city, Minneapolis.

The name of this blog implies that I do my rambling during rush hour, which is true. However, the point of my rambling is to find a way around the typical rush hour gridlock, and search for adventure on the way home from work. So far, so good…

However, there are two distinct rush hours here in our Twin Cities. The earlier one is predominantly blue-collar, and it takes place from 3 pm to around 4:30. This is when I ramble the sidestreets, because most of these folks make a beeline for the freeways. The sidestreets allow me to keep moving, with occasional stops for signs or lights, but I never get stuck in gridlock.

If I stop at a restaurant on one of my ramble plans, I always stay until well after the White Collar Yuppie Rush starts at 5 pm. Why? Because by that time, the freeways are a hopeless mess, and the cell-phone yacking, SUV-driving scum let their GPS’s guide them through these mazelike streets which I took so long to explore on my own. They overwhelm the street’s capacity in a hurry, and become stacked up behind these stopsigns and signal lights until nobody can get anywhere!

Normally, I try to avoid this situation like the plague. But last night, I had no choice…

I worked a bit later than usual, and I had a couple of stops to make on the way home. But my wife Amy had a doctor’s appointment at 6:30, so Scarlet and I found ourselves having to navigate home through the legions of Lexi and battalions of BMWs. It was one of the hairiest missions we have ever taken on.

What is it with Yuppies and their need to control everything? Multi-tasking behind the wheel, they still saw us in their rearview mirrors as we stalked them, setting up a pass.

This happened several times; as soon as we pulled into the left lane, they would either speed up with their considerable V8 torque and run right up on the next line of behemoths, or actually pull over into us, essentially trying to run us off the road! Apparently, they are so comprehensively insured that they can risk manslaughter of a scooterist on a public street in front of many witnesses.

Why? Because of course, the witnesses are all of their own kind:

“Of course she ran him over, your Honor! The little hooligan was trying to PASS her! On a SCOOTER! This just cannot be allowed. We must keep these people in their proper place, which of course, is behind us!”

Since Scarlet doesn’t have the ground clearance or suspension of Frogwing, I had to get very creative in my tactics for getting around these monsters. Many times I cursed my mittens for muzzling my middle finger. But in the end we did it… We made it home in time. And since my lawyer is out of town right now, that’s all I’m going to say.

Ramble Plan Golf: Doolittle’s Air Cafe

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Weather: 36°F (2°C) Under clear skies.
Road Conditions: Briny wet with some clear patches.

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Scarlet waits on the “flightline” at Doolittle’s Air Cafe.

It felt so good to get back in Scarlet’s saddle after more than a month of commuting by truck.

That four-wheeled routine of driving down the long, dark tunnel of freeway in the mornings, and getting stuck in gridlock every afternoon was weighing heavily on my soul. Existential Gravity ruled my days, and I could tell that I was slowly becoming one of them: the pitiful sheeple who do this sad routine every working day of their so-called lives.

So when the weather forecast told of highs in the forties this week, and lows in the twenties, it was all I needed to hear. I spent the weekend out in the garage, making sure Scarlet was ready to go. I even started up Frogwing and let him run for awhile, to circulate his oil and charge up his battery. Hearing his steady thumping heartbeat charged up my batteries as well. It was pure, mechanical therapy, and the perfect way to end my little vacation.

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A P-51 Mustang dives upon diners from the flag-draped ceiling.

Doolittle’s Air Cafe sits at the gateway to all of my Ramble Plans. Only about a half mile from work, it is a popular lunch spot, and hosts some of our company’s after-work functions. It’s very convenient for when I need refreshment after a hard day in the cubicle, and I’ve become something of a regular there over the past several years.

The aviation theme is what originally attracted me to this place. I’ve been an airplane buff even longer than I’ve been into motorcycles. My first mechanical exercise ever, was the construction of a Revell plastic Spitfire model, at the tender age of seven.

I flew that little fighter plane all over my world for the next year or so, until one of my cousins introduced me to the joy of fireworks. The old Spit’ met a spectacular end when the fuel tanks were hit by enemy fire, late on the 4th of July, 1971. There was no parachute. This happened on the shore of Mud Lake, Wisconsin; but in my mind it was thirty years earlier, and we were on the bank of the Thames.

Anyway, the ceiling of Doolittle’s boasts many large models of aircraft both old and new, military and civilian. The walls are painted in a style once called “nose art”, in the spaces where there aren’t classic aviation prints hung in fancy wood frames. It is the kind of place you would hope to find close to a local airfield, but never do.

And the food… well, the food is definitely airworthy.

I chose my selection from the appetizer menu, because that’s what I usually do. At the time I stop by, it is too soon for dinner, and I have a ways to go before I get home. The Chicken Quesadilla is the perfect combination of light and spicy. Topped with a tangy chipotle sour cream, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions, it is also a fairly healthy dish. They present it well, and I always order a side of their fresh salsa.

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Doolittle’s Chicken Quesadilla appetizer. One of my after-work favorites.
Go ahead, click on it… you know you want to.

They also have excellent Buffalo Wings, and the few times I have actually eaten dinner here, I’ve never been disappointed. I can recommend the Walleye Sandwich or Steak Fajitas from firsthand experience.

There’s been a bit of a shake-up at Doolittle’s lately, due to the use of that particular name. One of World War II’s best-known heroes was Jimmy Doolittle, who conceived and led our first bombing raid on Tokyo shortly after we entered the war. I don’t know all the particulars, but I do know that they are going to be moving away from the aviation theme at this location, to something they are calling the “Woodfire Grill”. It will still have the same basic menu, but I know the decor is going to change.

I’m glad I was able to present this place to you in it’s current incarnation. I don’t know what they are going to do with the various airplane models, flags, and beautiful aviation prints when they redo the place, but I would like to take this opportunity to call “dibs” on that beautiful Spitfire print that adorns the west wall…