Archive for August, 2007

Arizona Lucky and the Savoy Pizza Review

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Weather: Sunny and 78°F (25°C)… Can it get any better?
Road Conditions: Congested, as always, since the bridge collapse.

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Arizona Lucky meets Frogwing… Joy ensues.

We were supposed to get together last Sunday…

Arizona Lucky, and his Lady Luck, had come up to visit relatives and friends for the Minnesota State Fair and other local attractions. But they got so busy with these things that we finally had to reschedule for Thursday night. That meant fighting late rush-hour traffic, around dinner time, but it all worked out just fine in the end.

Both Minnesota natives, they now live in the great state of Arizona, where you can ride year-round, if you can stand the 100°F + temperatures.

Arizona Lucky writes the blog linked in my sidebar called, strangely enough, “The Great Motorcycle Pizza Tour “. This man is a connoisseur of crusts, a sage of sauces, and a Titan of toppings (Alliteration is such an ugly thing, when it gets out of control…).

I wanted to test his expertise on the best pizza within my stomping grounds, but I didn’t really have a clear favorite. My family and I kind of like a place called Carbone’s, which is close to home, but more often than not, we end up with a Take-n-Bake from Papa Murphy’s ™.

So last night found Amy, Emily, and I at the corner of Seventh Street and Lafayette near downtown Saint Paul. Savoy’s Pizza resides there, and they are the oft-recognized champions of the local pizza scene. Ask anyone, from Hastings to Hinckley, where the best pizza is, and they will likely tell you Savoy’s.

The crowd inside certainly confirmed this, when we arrived shortly after six pm.

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Don’t click on this image unless you want to drool on your keyboard.

But I won’t presume to go in-depth on a pizza critique when I know that the maestro himself is going to hold forth on his own site at a later date.

Let me just tell you that everyone at the table was really satisfied, and you can see for yourself that the pizza was packed with quality toppings. If I had to voice any complaint, it would be that there wasn’t enough sauce. Savoy is supposed to have a sublime, spicy sauce on their pizza, but I could barely detect it under the mass of toppings on their house Special pizza.

Next time, I’ll order a side of sauce for dipping.

So, that was all we saw of Arizona Lucky and Lady Luck. They will be flying back south soon, away from our unpredictable weather. Arizona might have cooled down a bit since they’ve been gone.

Let’s hope so, for their sake.

Energy Crisis

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Weather: Rain and Fog
Road Conditions: Dangerous

“You are one rugged sumbitch!”, said a coworker who prefers to remain anonymous.

This, after I rode into work this morning, in peasoup fog on the freeways. At least he didn’t call me crazy, as most of them do when I ride in the rain.

I have no photo to illustrate this post with… sorry. But I’m not Steve Williams, and our fog here isn’t a charming atmospheric effect. It is a serious hazard, especially when half the traffic out there insists on travelling at their usual breakneck speed, and the other half decides that they should slow down to a crawl.

The most dangerous condition out on the roads is caused by “speed differential” between the lanes of traffic, and motorists who don’t take heed while changing lanes. We get these idiots who barrel into a herd of cage zombies at 30 miles per hour overtake, and then make a game of swerving between them in the fog.

Frogwing has one, one, not-so-bright tail light to warn them of my presence. I depend more on the big reflective strip on the back of my Aerostich Darien for visibility in this crap.

Then there’s my own visibility to worry about. In some places I find myself wiping my visor with my finger-mounted squeegee about every quarter-mile or so. There’s no telling when a dead car or large lump of debris may appear in the road ahead, and I need to see at least to the edge of my headlight beam.

None of this explains the title of this entry, of course.

Some of you may have noticed that the frequency of postings here has slowed down a bit in the past three weeks. This is primarily due to my new, temporary job assignment to my company’s warehouse and distribution facility (gulag) five miles further from home.

The work I do there is high-pressure and relentless, lifting sometimes heavy boxes and taking fine measurements on intricate parts. I spend most of the day on my feet. All of this, of course, under urgent time pressure.

After several years of the cube life, this comes as a shock to the system. So, after work, I am worn out both physically and mentally, and my enthusiasm for Rambling is considerably dampened. If this were not a temporary assignment, I would be shopping my resume around right now.

Add to this condition the fact that the weather has been grey and wet non-stop for the past two weeks, and you can see where the dearth of postings originates.

But, the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild has decreed dry weather for this weekend. Let’s hope they are right. Arizona Lucky and his Lady Luck are coming up for a visit. It would be nice if the weather cooperated.

So, bear with me through this difficult moment. It won’t last, but I will.

I am, after all, “One rugged sumbitch”…

“Rattle My Bones” Rally: Mission Abort

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Weather: Rain all day long.
Road Conditions: Crowded and wet.

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Kent Aldrich’s mirror-festooned Stella leads the Blocker Squad.

My first scooter rally, and I missed it.

Well, I didn’t exactly “miss” it, I just chose not to ride. Why? That is a complicated question…

Kent Aldrich and friends have worked very hard, for at least a year, to put this event together. The Twin Cities have a wonderful history of large, vibrant scooter rallies. But the group that used to organize these events, “The Regulars” scooter club, have all but disbanded in recent years.

Another case of “Nothing Cool Ever Lasts”, I guess…

Anyway, Kent and friends have picked up the torch, and put together an incredible 4-day rally which offers every type of event that other rallies around the country have done, and they have hundreds of local scooterists coming out to attend.

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Yarusso’s Italian Restaurant hosted the pre-ride breakfast.

As I have mentioned previously, Kent had stopped me twice in traffic; once on the Baron, and once on my Vespa, to invite me to this rally.

Then, I found another green invitation tag hanging from Rose’s handlebar when I parked her at the Blind Lizard event on Nicollet Island. There was no way I could miss this thing, even though this is the weekend of my 44th birthday, and my family had Plans for me.

So, even though the radar showed a huge green blob of precipitation headed our way, and the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild were all in agreement about the certainty of a wet weekend, Rose and I rode down the hill into Saint Paul, to Yarusso’s Italian Restaurant, for the start of today’s rally.

The photos you see on this page were all taken there.

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The view down Payne Avenue, in front of Yarusso’s.

Now, I do not own a Fishtail Parka. The closest I can come is my Aerostich Darien suit, and that is what I chose to wear this morning.

This suit keeps me dry in all but the heaviest of rainstorms, even when I have the cooling vents open. I wore my Guidegear boots, with a fresh coating of waterproof spray, and brought along my Aerostich waterproof glove covers as well.

In other words, I was totally prepared for anything the weather threw at us. Gear-wise, that is.

But, when the rain came, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to take the “Scoot-n-Shoot” (Thanks Kevin!) photos that were going to be the mainstay of my rally coverage here. Then, I started to think about the impact that the closure of I-94 would have on sidestreet traffic around the metro area.

Riding in the rain is bad enough, but riding in heavy traffic in the rain is just the pits.

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The Stella “Atomic Fireball” really stands out in a crowd.

The rainy ride would end in a party at Scooterville, complete with bands and food and a gymkhana in the mud… tempting stuff, certainly, but not my cup of tea these days.

What I learned today is that I am essentially a solo rider. I don’t care to lead, and I definitely don’t care to follow anybody else when I ride on my precious weekends. The work week takes so much out of my soul that I have to be very selective about how I recharge my batteries during my time off.

This “Rattle My Bones” rally is definitely a Good Thing. It will show the box people out there that scooters are a new force on the road, growing in direct proportion to the price of fuel. I wish everyone who goes on it a great time, and a safe ride.

But I have decided to stay home with my girls this weekend, and see if I can do something to treat their DDD (Daddy Deficit Disorder) condition. Celebrating my birthday with family is the Right Thing for me to do.