Changed the header image to one of the photos taken last weekend at the J Strom Thurmond Dam. I have a somewhat similar shot of the Emperor, but not similar enough to do a rotating banner.
I guess if we drove both cars up there, put the camera on a tripod, marked the spot and systematically took two photos, drove both cars home, edited the photos — nah, not worth it. I guess I will have to put a Miata photo up here sometime again though, what with the domain name I have.
Wait a minute, maybe mr-sonata.net is available…
Started down, went up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1079
From Exodus 20:1–17 in the New King James Version of the Christian bible.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
- Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Penn Jillette’s 10 Commandments for atheists:
- The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.
- Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings.
- Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself.
- Put aside some time to rest and think.
- Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children.
- Respect and protect all human life.
- Keep your promises.
- Don’t steal.
- Don’t lie.
- Don’t waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it’ll make you bugnutty.
Issac Asmimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, humanized:
- A human may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A human must obey the laws given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A human must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
The Golden Rule:
- One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1080
The MMC met for our monthly dinner, with a shouted over the din meeting, at Pickles Grill & Cafe in Martinez, GA. We had like 20 people there (18 more than showed up for the last event) and they put us at one long table (which is a strange predilection for this group), so conversation was possible with only the nearest 5 people. The others got nothing more than a wave.
With a name like Pickles you knew they had fried pickles as an appetizer, so I tried some.
My first experience with fried pickles occurred at Razzoo’s and it went a little like this: pickle chip number one made me wonder who thought up this vile food item, number two didn’t taste half bad and numbers 3 through 30 were great. Those guys were crinkle cut dill chips not much bigger around than a nickle and were a perfect one bite sized, easily popped into your mouth.
The offerings from Pickles were large dill pickles french cut style so that they came out about the size of a flattened Pringle. When you bit into it there was no way for your bite to cut and separate the pickle so you ended up with half the coating and the whole pickle slice in your mouth and half the coating still in your hand. Cutting them into smaller pieces fared only marginally better because the coating would fall off in the dipping sauce…
The hazards of eating with a group of 20 are many and we caught nearly everyone. If they were trying to serve all of us at one time, it failed. We got about 3 or 4 dishes served and then it would take about five more minutes for the next wave. Diner #1 was about done eating when diner #20 got their meal. If they were just trying to get the orders out as they were ready, that failed as well, as our pork chops were luke cold and the couple across from us got a rare steak in place of the medium well they requested. Those that requested loaded baked potatoes (smallest baked spuds I’ve seen served at a restaurant) only got them semi-loaded. We got the cheese, bacon bits and scallions, but no butter and sour cream while someone else got just the opposite.
They at least split the checks for us without adding an automatic 18% tip, but at least three couples bills were off in one way or another. The menu was varied and interesting and the food did taste good, so I’m betting that if you went as a couple or maybe two couples the dining experience would have been a whole lot better. I know this, if we were to ever go back to Pickles I won’t be ordering the fried pickles.
Started down, went up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1082
It is about 12 miles from the town of Robbinsville on US129 to where Deals Gap and its 318 turns begin. Up until then it is mostly smooth, mostly flat and mostly straight (well, straight enough that a Miata can run the distance at 55 MPH easy, but in other vehicles your speed may vary.) About 3 miles from the start of the curvy stuff we were barreling along, me & Donna in front and Kurt and Karen not far behind when out pops a small bear cub from the left side of the road.
I take my foot off the gas and tap the brake to slow down. He is probably just going to cross over, but he hears us coming and starts running, not continuing across mind you, but in the same direction of travel as us. I’ve slowed down now to around 30 and both Donna and my head are swiveling looking for the momma bear, because this guy looks huggable sized, maybe 30 — 40 pounds and might not be alone. We don’t see anything but the cub running in the left lane. Just about the time I think he is headed back to the left, he takes a hard right and disappears in front of the car.
I’m going about 20 miles an hour at this point and I’m waiting to feel us run over it, but all we hear is a bump sound and the next thing we see is the small bear sliding down the pavement in the left lane. He skids about 10 feet down the road to a stop in the middle of the left lane. I come to a stop about 10 yards ahead of him. I check my mirror, it looks like Kurt and Karen have stopped pretty much right beside him, and the bear shakes his head a couple times and walks off back to the side of the road from which he came.
Kurt tells us later that as he got to the guardrail and went to duck under, the poor thing bumped his head. He was probably still a little stunned. As were the four of us.
We then drove down the road about a mile and pulled over to look at the nose of the Emperor. Amazingly enough the only sign anything had happened was that that side of the bumper was wet from where I probably knocked the water out of his fur (it had been lightly raining in the area today.)
Coincidentally, about maybe five or ten minutes before this happened, Donna had remarked to me that she was going to be keeping an eye out for bears and deer and such because we are pretty much in the middle of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest no where near any civilization…
Started down, went up, went down, back up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1085
I had picked out a neat looking drive for us to do today called the Cherohala Skyway — Joe Brown Loop, from a page off of the Tail Of the Dragon website. But it was so foggy this morning that we opted to do the loop backwards, hoping the fog would clear up later because the first section was straighter, flatter and views less scenic, the middle section wound through rural woods and the final section was the Skyway with lots of scenic pullouts.
The plan worked nearly flawlessly, except for the confusion caused by trying to read the descriptions in reverse order. First, we had a touch of trouble finding our rural road out of Murphy, NC, but that worked out well for a needed potty break. And then we couldn’t find the dining place in historic downtown Telico Plains, TN, but that worked out fine because we stumbled on a BBQ place that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. But the sun did come out after lunch, allowing top down motoring for two thirds of the group as we drove the Cherohala.
After we completed our 166 mile loop, Kurt and I topped up our tanks at the Shell station in Robbinsville and there was talk of heading back to our hotel, but John and Jackie still hadn’t transited the famous “Deals Gap,” so we headed north on US129 to make the trip. On the way west we made it about 8 of the 11 miles at speed until we caught up to some traffic and had to creep to the dam overlook. The trip back wasn’t half as nice as it seemed like only a couple minutes along we ran into a pair of cruiser bikes who refused to exceed the ridiculous posted 30 MPH speed limit and wouldn’t pull over to let us break the law. It got so slow that I actually had to get into 1st gear going around some of the switchbacks. The plate on the bike was from Ontario, thereby shooting major holes in the whole Canadians Are So Polite theorem.
After our Gap Run we all headed over to Fontana Village for dinner as tonight they were having a sea food buffet that included crab legs. I have to say we were all impressed with the food and atmosphere of the Village. Our somewhat negative memories and attitudes towards this place came from perhaps a decade or so in the past, but someone has been investing some money here and from what we could see, spent it well. Donna and I are even thinking that when we come up this way next time we’ll try renting one of their cabins.
Started up, went down, back up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1087
This morning the three cars of the MMC went their separate ways and probably at separate times. Kurt & Karen were headed back via Helen, GA, John & Jackie were planning on lunch in Spartanburg and we were just headed home. We arrived there 6 hours later after a gas stop, 4 driver changes and lunch. Total mileage for the trip, eight hundred fifty four and seven tenths. Took three tankfuls of gas for around $90 total and averaged a touch over 33 MPG, which is pretty darn good for the kind of driving the mountain roads bring out in a sports car.
Ever since the Purple Whale got a dragon sticker after his trip through Deals Gap, the Emperor has been whining about getting his own. He already has a diamond shaped one on the inside of the trunk lid and he has been driven through the gap about 2 dozen times to the Whale’s once, but his jealous carping was just too much. So to keep the sniping between the two cars at a minimum, one gold dragon sticker now resides on the Emperor’s
butt trunk lid where the little geocaching one once did. Of course I had to wash off all the road crud (and bear fur) before applying said sticker.
Started up, went down, back up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1089
Like we did a couple months ago when we drove the Sonata through the Dragon we opted to buy a couple photographic souvenirs. High resolution photos are great, but like local news anchors opinion of HDTV, they can be a little too great. In the little thumbnail to the left, the looks on Donna’s and my face make it seem like we are not having a good time, our expressions make it appear like driving the Gap is serious business*, like we aren’t having fun. Well, we were, and if you click on the thumbnail to look at the full image, reduced to 640 x 360, the frowns are not so noticeable.
*Which I guess in certain ways it actually is.
In the second photo we bought, at least Donna was smiling (my expression is pretty much similar in both) as it was taken on the return trip and knowing where the photographer was allowed her to get her smile ready and even sneak in a parade wave. Once again the high resolution was a slight determent, because when you view the photo at 100% it allows you to notice that the vampire teeth are dirty and count how many leaves are stuck in the grill…
While creating wives, God promised man that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world.
And then He made the earth round…
Here is the 640 x 360 size of the dirty mouth’d Emperor and Donna doing her parade wave.
Last Saturday’s dinner was a seafood buffet at the Mountainview Bistro in Fontana Village. The cost was $21.95 per person, but somehow when they rang up our ticket they entered an extra 21, making the cost of our meal $2121.95 each. With tax and a 20% tip the total bill for Donna and I would have been $5436.44! Fortunately this was before they got a hold of my charge card, so all this amounted to nothing more than an interesting story for this blog.
Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1090
We took the Sonata into the Whale Doctor for its 7500 mile check up and came away with a clean bill of health. It actually had a little over 8,142 miles, but we didn’t get scolded for it. Along with the oil change, fluids top off, tire rotation and wash and vacuum, they did a couple of service bulletins. The first one, left pulling (if you let go of the wheel the car would drift to the left), I told them I didn’t have the issue, but they insisted on following the procedure anyway. Number two was an ECU flash to adjust the transmission shift points, which I had wanted as I felt the car was shifting a little rough in certain gears and situations. It does seem to shift a little bit smoother now. I don’t know whether the ECU flash had anything to do with it, I’d swear the car feels peppier off the line…
By way of apologizing for having to endure the trouble of bring my car in to have these issues taken care of, Hyundai gave us a $25 Visa Gift Card. Sweet. The dealer even threw in a $5 Walmart card…
Tonight when I checked our Visa card card balance online I noticed that there were two charges on there for Delta Airlines. One for a $1500 charge and a second one for $25. The first thing I did was to ask Donna if we were flying anywhere. Then I called the Credit Card Company. They were polite and efficient about the whole thing and we will be getting some new cards in the mail within 48 hours. But they were too efficient in that I was left to try and remember who I had used that card with for reoccurring payments, because after I hung up the phone, I went back online to find out, the account was already gone.
I know it was nowhere near that many, but sometimes it feels like that when you are walking in circles, kicking over leaves, looking for and not finding a cache.
We set out this morning with a list of the 13 geocaches left in the 47 cache Risk Series. Those were all that were loaded in the GPSr so we couldn’t get distracted by other near by hides. We were out for 9 hours, walked almost 4 miles, drove almost 150 miles and found 8. There were 3 DNFs and 2 we couldn’t even attempt. One, the final cache, World Domination, we were lacking 3 numbers in the coordinates. Those 3 numbers would be found inside the other cache titled, Capture The Flag. We couldn’t find that one because its coordinates were wholly located inside a random cache in the series and it must be one of the three we couldn’t find today. Maybe next weekend…
Yesterday was a car-less day as we rode the tandem to work and when we got home we just stayed inside for the rest of the evening. The temperature Friday morning was anywhere between 35 and 38 depending on which weather source you believed. Whichever one it was we know it was down right cold bike riding in. The only thing that got really cold were our hands, which prompted a stop at a bike store in Augusta to buy some winter cycling gloves.
The Emperor passed through the 124,000 mile mark not long after leaving the garage for our trip this morning.
Started down, went up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1092
We went for a 4–1/2 mile walk in Hitchcock Woods this morning. And like last weekend at the Gap, the trees are past peak color, but there are plenty of spots that still look pretty darn good.
We drove the Sonata to DD for breakfast, the Miata to Firehouse Subs for lunch and if we had thought about before now, we could have ridden the tandem somewhere for dinner, instead we will dine at home.
The Purple Whales started the day predicted to get 125 points and were a 35 point favorite. During the first 3–1/2 hours of NFL football this afternoon the 125 fell 45 points to just 80. Fortunately for me, my opponent’s 90 fell to his now predicted 60.
Started down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1092
When we left the Kroger store parking lot to go buy some gas for the still fanged Emperor, Donna asked, “Are the lights on?” I said, “Yes. It just looks like they aren’t on because we are in a well lit parking lot.” We filled up with gas and headed home. About halfway there I noticed that we seemed to be missing the right headlight. That was confirmed when we pulled into the garage.
This is the first time I have ever had a burnt out headlight in a Miata. Not just this one, but in the first two either. Twenty two years without a headlight going bad. Watch, one of the new ones will burn out in a week and I’ll never go another year without one or the other headlights going bad.
Went back out in the Purple Whale and drove to Advanced Auto to buy a new bulb. Before I went I checked the Owners Manual to see what bulb I needed, low beams on my year car are HB4. At the store there is an aisle full of bulbs and I searched and searched , but couldn’t find an HB4 bulb to save my life. I checked a cross-reference guide they had there and it said I needed a 9006 bulb for that application. Those they had plenty of, just not in single packs. I ended up buying a pair of Sylannia Silver Star 9006 bulbs and left the store $38 poorer.
I sure hope I’m wrong about what I wrote in the 2nd paragraph.
We have been involved with each other heavily since December of 1999, with the exception of that trial separation in 2005, and it has been a wonderful 12 years, but recently our relationship has gone stale. It’s not you, it’s me, I just don’t feel that same excitement any more. Maybe we need some space from each other for awhile?
Tonight I put our Netflix membership on hold until January 1, 2012.
They are now playing NFL games on Thursday night, but you can’t watch it unless you have the NFL Network. It wasn’t a big deal last week, but tonight I have a player going, Plaxico Burress, a wide receiver for the NY Jets. How the heck am I going, be able to root for ol’ number, er, hold on, let me look up his number, 17, that’s it. Go seventeen!
Terry Francona, the ex-Red Sox manager, announced today that he was not going to try to manage in 2012. Cool, maybe FOX will hire him to replace Tim McCarver.
Hollywood’s next “new” idea, remake the Munsters. It will possibly be a summer series on NBC and won’t be a traditional sit-com, but a visually spectacular hour-long program. I’m guessing Brad Garrett as Herman…
I’m thinking on opening a Facebook account so I get get some free porn because I can’t find anything like that anywhere on the internet.
Started the morning with a trip to Wrens, GA with the MMC for breakfast at Peggy’s. We had two different women help serve us our food, I don’t know if either was the restaurant’s namesake, but neither looked anything like Capital One’s customer service rep. After eats everyone went home.
We just took the loooooong way, 286 miles. First, we continued south on US 1 all the way to Santa Claus, GA to check on our cache (it was fine.) Then we worked our way back northeast on rural back roads carefully avoiding Statesboro (Alabama was playing Georgia Southern.) We crossed back into SC on US 301 and stopped at a new green way trail that was created out of old 301. There were six caches along the one mile “road” (we could only find 4 of them.) The trail ends partway across the Savannah River where the retired swing bridge used to meet the road.
Started down, went up, back down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1094
We set out this morning to complete the last five of that pesky Risk series of geocaches. We found 2 of the three that we DNF’d last weekend and fortunately the information we needed to find the two final caches was not in the one we couldn’t find. To find these four caches we were gone from 8 AM until 3 PM and traveled 190 miles by car and 3–1/2 by foot. I’d really like to find that last one to say we got all 47, but I’m not so sure that it bothers me enough to go back and try again.
One of the ones we did find was near the August Canal head gates and that is where the photo above was taken.
But instead I’m avoiding it. I also should be filling in the survey from Hyundai about our recent Purple Whale service, but I’m avoiding that too. Instead I’m procrastinating.
Oh, and, happy birthday Jennifer Morrison. No, not the one that is on the show Once Upon A Time, but the daughter of Donna’s older brother. Coincidentally, she is an actress too, she just isn’t starring in her own TV show. Yet.
The weather has been warmer than average around here this week, so much so that we drove the Miata to work and had the top down both to and from. Today was on the windy side and this morning as we were driving down our street we got dripped on from the trees a couple of times with left over rain drops from last night. As we approached the first stop sign an acorn hit the road in front of us and promptly bounced off the windshield with a pop.
As we left ASCO’s parking lot to come home tonight a piece of pine straw zipped by Donna’s head before bouncing off the console. The rest of the way home we put the windows up to keep the blowing dead leaves from smacking us from the sides. And the Coup de Grâce was on our street again, where another acorn barely missed our heads and landed somewhere in the cockpit between us.
This prompted Donna to say, “We should have ridden our bicycles (we had contemplated this seeing as it is sort of Friday), we’d have been safer because we would have been wearing helmets.”
Started down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1094
N 35° 14.246 W 082° 23.678
An excerpt from the page of one of the caches we hunted for:
All five of the caches are placed on two Duke Power service roads. Private vehicles other than employees and company suppliers are not allowed behind the yellow gate even though it will be open on week days. Do NOT climb on top of Carl’s Worm (large black water flume). At no time do you have to leave the service roads more than eight to ten feet to locate the caches.
Carl has been the keeper of the worm for the last 30 years. We met Carl on the road and he was gracious enough to answer many questions that we had about the big black water flume. Carl has maintained the new worm since it went in service in 1990 and previously maintained the old worm starting in 1974.
Water flume history as we remember it: The original water flume went in operation carrying water from Lake Summit to the Pot Shoals power plant in 1919 the same year that High Bridge was started. The original flume was made with Cyprus and the inside diameter is 7 feet and varies with expansion and contraction. The flume starts at the Lake Summit Dam in Tuxedo and is one mile long ending in a large water tank. The flume itself is always full of water.
The new Flume which went in operation in 1990 is made from Canadian Hemlock and has an expectancy of ten more years of service. The reason for the change from Cyprus to hemlock was cost. The Canadian Hemlock costs about 1/3 as much as the Cyprus.
The water in the tank is controlled by the hydro plant operators and is cut off when Lake Summit reaches a certain level. When the water leaves the tank it splits into two 5 inch lines and drops vertically for .25 miles to the Pot Shoals Electrical Plant. Each of the 5 inch flumes turn a turbine and can be shut off independently relative to the need for power or the level of lake Summit.
N 35° 13.149, W 082° 19.929
From the Pearson Falls History page:
A military man, farmer, and an engineer, Captain Pearson bought the Glen as part of a large tract of land that he wanted for his family. For years he and his heirs allowed generations of young people to picnic on the great stone table-rock that you will see at the foot of the Falls. Botanists and bird-fanciers from all over the country have come to discover and catalogue the wonders of this Glen area.
In 1931, the Tryon Garden Club bought the property in order to preserve this unique mountain Glen. Through the generosity of an honorary member and careful planning, the club members purchased the several hundred acres of this wildlife preserve. Although open to the public, the property remains under the ownership and protection of the Tryon Garden Club.
Over 17,000 people visit Pearson’s Falls each year. It is also a wildlife preserve, and outdoor laboratory for the botany departments of the surrounding colleges and universities, and the site of frequent field trips for local science classes. Pearson’s Falls is designated as a North Carolina National Heritage Site of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, a North Carolina Birding Trail Site, and is placed in the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Gardens.
N 34° 56.950 W 082° 51.065
A very cool little roadside park along the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway in upstate South Carolina that we stopped at on Saturday. It is where we found one of the 15 geocaches we found during our three day trip to the SMH for Turkey Day.
We shop at Krogers where each dollar you spend gets turned into “Fuel Points.” Every buck equals 1 point and each 100 points equals 10¢ off a gallon of gas. Simple, Right? Not so much. Each prescription, whether a $4 generic or a $50 non-preferred, gets you 50 points. Buy a gift card and you get double points, but right now for the holidays we are in the middle of a two week period where you get 4x the points.
Points not used during the month are not lost, but carried over for one month in their own bucket. When you redeem your points for money off a gallon a gas it will take from last months points first if it is greater than the current month’s total. This is handy, in case you forget to fill up before the last day of the month, you can use them up in the first week or two of the next month.
At first we didn’t really pay attention to all this and just let the fuel points fall where they may, but when we noticed that sometimes a substantial amount of points were wasted at the end of the month, we changed our attitude. Now, we have gone so far the other way, that it borders on a game.
Tonight we needed a few things at the store, we needed to pick up 4 prescriptions and we needed some gas. When we left the house we had 176 points, add the 200 points for prescriptions, we are now up to 376. Our few items didn’t look like the $24 we needed to bump us up to the 40¢ off level, so we added a $25 Panera Bread gift card. Our total came to thirty five bucks and change.
Now our total points no stood at 486!?! Oh yeah, 4 times the points for the gift card. So now we need to spend $15 to put us over the next level. Donna says buy a $15 DD gift card. “Brilliant,” I say, “We can always use one of those.”
So I go back through the self check out line that I just came from and buy the $15 gift card. When I’m done I look at my new point total, 546. How the heck…? Then we both come to the same conclusion simultaneously, idiots, you don’t get the 15 points for the $15 and the 4x points, you just get the 4x points.
Donna says, “Well, go back and buy another $15 DD gift card and that 60 points will put us just over 600 level.” At first I refuse, but finally relent, under one condition, I get to go through a different check out line.
The Purples Whale’s low fuel light was on, so the 17 gallons of gas we got for $40, would have cost us $50 without that 60¢ discount.
My head hurt from all that cipherin’.