Friday, August 31, 2007

Elmwood Cemetery Full Moon Tour

Tuesday night Donna and I attended the monthly full moon tour of historic Elmwood Cemetery in downtown Columbia. It is a beautiful cemetery, which is home to 20,000 bodies, 400 of whom were Civil War soldiers. We had previously visited the cemetery during the day, but this nighttime tour was something new for us.

Three historians dressed in historic clothing led our group of 40 around by lantern and pointed out the graves of several interesting people. There was a woman who was very prominent at the time who unfortunately died on the eve of her wedding; she was buried in her wedding dress. There was a gentleman who was buried right next to four of his slaves, which was quite uncommon. We saw the grave of Maxcy Gregg, a general in the Civil War, who despite usually making good judgement calls, erred badly at the Battle of Fredericksburg and lost his life and the lives of many of his men. We heard the story of a gentleman who agreed to fly in a hot-air balloon only after consuming a large volume of liquid courage; he was so inebriated that he fell out of the balloon and landed in the cemetery. He was not hurt, and vowed that day never to touch another drop. :-)

Our guides also explained the meanings of some things that are commonly seen on tombstones, such as an obelisk tombstone is significant because it points to Heaven; an urn on a stone recognizes the finiteness of life; and an inverted torch signifies a life that was cut short.

It was a very neat tour and definitely worth the $10 fee. It is handled by the Historic Columbia Foundation, and is held on the full moon night each month; call them ahead of time to register, as they do cap the number of participants at 40.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mid Ohio Superbike Races

This past weekend I rode my VFR to OH for the annual Mid-Ohio Superbike Races; this is the third year in a row that I have ridden up to enjoy this weekend with Daryl, Pat, Rob, Bob, and others. This year it was Bob and Martin from MI; Daryl, Sheila, Rob, Keith, and Marie from Cincinnati; Pat and Tony from KY; Adam and Margaret from update NY; and me.

We stayed at the Travelodge in Marion, OH, which is about 60 miles north of Columbus and 30 miles west of the track in Lexington. I had a good trip up; it was about 625 miles and took me about 11 hours. I took I-77 up into OH and then took secondary roads to get around Columbus. Southeast OH is Amish country, and I passed two families in their horse and buggy; I waved to both but did not receive a wave back; perhaps that's just their custom. I also saw several caution signs warning of buggies on the road, as well as evidence of lots of horse and buggy travel, if you know what I mean. :-)

I stopped in WV for lunch, and this coal barge was right behind the restaurant. I also saw lots of little chunks of coal on the roads that I suppose had fallen out of trucks.

The Travelodge is right next door to Steve's Dakota Grill, a restaurant that we have all enjoyed in the past, but this year we were all a bit let down. After dinner we retired to the hotel for an evening of kicking tires and telling lies.

Saturday morning we had breakfast across the street at Tim Horton's; we usually stop about halfway to the track at a little restaurant called Eileen's, but Bob had passed by the day before and found to our chagrin that she is currently closed for remodeling. Tim's was a good substitute, though.

We had a good day of watching qualifying and two races, along with a good deal of time spent wandering around the vendor exhibits and looking at all the attendees' bikes.

Check out the Boddington's beer can covering the oil filter behind the front wheel. At least he has good taste! :-)

Not sure what this bike started out as, but quite unique now.

Cool paint job!

Cool scorpion sculpture made out of engine parts at the Scorpion helmet booth; check out those pincers!

Adam and his girlfriend Margaret chilling. Adam says he once fell asleep like this; I'd be afraid of falling off the bike!

Our bikes parked next to the track

We made it back to Marion and headed out for dinner; in years past we would have gone to Steve's again, but since we weren't too impressed this year we walked down the road a piece to a place called Ralphie's Bar and Grill; we were all quite pleased with our our food this time. We enjoyed a nice evening of camaraderie, continued at the hotel with more beer. A couple arrived on a Harley and came over to hang out with us for a while; they were pretty cool.

Sunday morning we awoke to rain. It started out pretty light, but by the time we finished breakfast over at Tim's, it was starting to pick up, but fortunately it never got real heavy. When we got to the track, no bikes were running yet; they were waiting to see what the weather was going to do. So, we spent more time wandering around the vendors and exhibits until the announcement was made around noon that they were calling it a day. Photo of folks at the track.

So, we all packed up and said our goodbyes. I had reserved a hotel room in Zanesville, about two hours from the track. The rain got heavier and heavier as I progressed, and it was to the point where I was having a great deal of trouble seeing where I was going. I finally exited the interstate just as I came upon a traffic jam; while filling up with gas I spoke to a local who also rides a VFR (though he said he was glad he was not on it that day!) He told me of a good route using backroads to get around the traffic, and he said the weather was a good deal better heading in that direction, so I continued on, and he was right; the rain pretty quickly slowed to a drizzle and then completely stopped.

Once I got checked in I laid everything out to dry, enjoyed a nice, hot shower, and then had a lazy afternoon of drinking coffee, reading, and watching TV. There was a Subway right next door, so that covered dinner. It was actually a very nice afternoon.

Monday morning I headed out and enjoyed some local twisty roads before getting on the interstate. Shortly after getting on the interstate, I came upon heavy rain again, but I continued forward; it kept up for an hour or two, and then the skies opened up to a beautiful day.

While passing through WV I saw a sign for a scenic overlook, so I stopped to check it out.

The rest of the day was good for the most part; I caught the tail end of one shower, and then I stumbled upon another one in Charlotte right at rush hour. I exited and made it underneath a Hampton Inn awning just before the bottom absolutely fell out; it seemed like a stereotypical summer shower, so I waited it out; it was gone in about ten minutes. It had a nice side-effect of lowering the temperature, as read by the thermometer on my VFR, from 105 down to 80. During my final two hours it managed to creep back up to just past 100. I've got one word for riding in heat like that: Camelbak! It's a water bladder you wear on your back and drink from a hose, which is perfect for a motorcycle. Mine holds 2 quarts, and I drained it once and then half again! I honestly wasn't all that hot, even wearing my full riding gear.

Not the best trip due to the rain, but it was still fun, and I look forward to going again next year.