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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday was a music and food day with Rich McKay with whom I played in college.  He has a couple of really funny movies:

Cathy and Bob Celebrating with Rich and Jeanne

Frobisher Bay Volunteers Practicing at Marist College 1966

I hope you enjoy them as much as we.

When you take on a project that is bigger than you've tried before the most important resource to have with you is your emotional commitment to stick with it through thick and thin, and equally important, learn how to dance.  The square dance, which I do not in fact know and have not and will not try, despite some encouragement from Cathy, is a good example of the circling we must do and the in and out and out and in actions of the entrepreneur executing a plan.   Be flexible.  1966 was a good year for me - I ran successfully for the Student Government President position on the platform "New Flexible Ideas".   My opponent, with whom I later became a room-mate and good friend to this day, was a few years older than I and it seemed like a good theme, even then, there were the 'you don't understand me' difference among the ages.  But Walter Maxwell was a huge help to me personally and politically.  He help me grow up before graduating in 1967.  He had been in the service and had more discipline in his little finger than I had in my entire being.  So flexibility if an important characteristic of the successful business person.  Set the goal, and move with the environment as it changes.  And remember that a foe today can be a friend and ally tomorrow.  

I had to walk some tight ropes on this ride - shoulders that consisted of a white line while dump trucks whizzed by.  Same in business.  There are times when all is well and on track and then there are others.  I always followed the golden rule of business - control your expenses and yourself (or business) when times are good.  Control can mean lower them, or, broadly speaking, know where your money is going and why it is going there so that you can make decisions knowledgeably when the time comes to conserve.

At one point in the rain on US 1 in Key Largo - it was pouring as in tropical pouring - and on the south bound side the shoulder was six to 12 inches outside the white line, but it was jagged and dropped off 4 or 5 inches due to erosion.  I would never ride this shoulder even in good weather.  In these cases I put myself in the roadway and ask cars and trucks to accommodate my situation; they all did on this trip.  So I switched to the north bound side and road south, a no no for bike riding (always ride with the traffic so you deduct your speed from their speed if you get hit)  which was fine for a few miles but then became a construction site.  So I walked for two or three miles over the junk, around big holes and twice into the roadway running around barriers.  But I was walking.  The situation demanded that I change my tactics and required some concessions to the 'market'.  My day was a bit longer as a result, but I got where I wanted to go.

Likewise, I've had love affairs with banks and I've had long drawn out battles with banks.  Which is fine since the bankers do not share our business objectives and don't reap the same benefits we do when risk turns into rewards.  Eventually we reached an accommodation.  This required an emotional commitment and flexibility and a willingness to sacrifice all I had in order to stay the course of my business.  We have all been there in one way or another.  Sometimes it is difficult at home or hard on our families, but to succeed you must be prepared to play hard and long and it is good to have allies at home who can take the smoke and noise.  On this ride Cathy was willing to support the goals and my objectives.  She worked very hard to help make it happen.  In business over the course of 20 years she did the same, working  and investing so our family would benefit in the end.  I worked hard for Cathy too.  Both of us had the emotional commitment to making it happen and we both remained flexible as the business unfolded, expanded and gained strength and endurance.

Most texts will discuss the details of good planning and the myriad alternative actions business people can take.   I have tried to stay completely away from these issues since knowledge is a resource that you have to acquire in order to go forward in business.  Some times its simple and sometimes complex.  Just watching other businesses that are successful is a good place to start.  It helps if you have some business training, but I think in hindsight it is just as important to have the personal stamina.  I bet there are plenty of folks who have been unwilling during difficult times to say pledge the house or borrow more on credit cards when the situation demanded these actions.  I understand this completely as ones home is something very special.  I think too that the unwillingness to take aggressive action like plunging into credit card debt  when needed (for good reasons like buy a needed replacement machine or buy a booth in a trade show that leads to more relationships) leads to the unraveling of the business.  There will be times when you will face sleepless nights and hand ringing so be prepared emotionally.  "Spend" your emotional currency as best you can.

So we are off today to plan the return trip, which has a bit more time since I got to Key West a few days before we planned.  Our broad approach is to take more internal routes home so we can visit more towns and relax in more downtowns and see the south that I have come to love dearly.  We both share an interest in history and hopefully we can learn more as we go.  Although a bit arcane, we now know the difference between alligators and crocodiles, a fact that eluded me for 61 years.  Ok, here it is: alligators prefer fresh water and crocodiles salt.  And the alligator has a pointed snout while the crocodile has a square snout.  If you want to add to this give me a ring.

I'm lighter now, BobsBikeWb.JPG (171854 bytes) with miles to go before I sleep.



Sunday, October 28, 2007

IMGA0468.JPG (170210 bytes)

Speaking of 1000 words, here we is.   And there were another 1000 people speaking 1000 different languages waiting in an informal line to have their picture taken.  America must be a very desirous place to come to for every place we visit there are many vacationers.

Cathy met me at the bridge into Key West and I got a big kiss welcoming me.  She had ridden ahead to scout.  Then we headed to Rich McKay's so he could join us for the final three miles to this monument commemorating the southernmost spot in the USA.  Funny thing is up the block there is a house on the corner with a sign that reads "southernmost house', and to its right facing east is yet another house with a plaque that reads "southernmost southernmost house' and still to its right is yet another house that I had nothing to state or commemorate.  So too Rich says that there is another place now that is further south than the monument, which by the way stands some twenty or so feet from the water so it shore is not as far south as it has to be to make a statement about being southernmost.  Cathy is off to visit Fort Zachary Taylor while Rich and I make music and while there may in fact cross the southernmost spot.  Here is Rich and Bob before Rich gets to do some doctoring on the picture: IMGA0467.JPG (120913 bytes) The old thumbs up in this case is not only for the trip but for the many years we have been apart.  Rich has been living in Key West for a long time - he moved here after getting his Masters.  Rich is one of the few pioneers left in the country that chose first what he wanted to do "be in music" and then found a way to support this choice.  He has six CD's published and if you want to hear some good stuff he wrote and sang you can reach him at richinspirit@earthlink.net.  By all means he would like you to buy a CD or two.  He has dedicated his life to bringing peace to this world and getting a CD or two of his will assist in this process.

For Weight Watchers

BobsBikeWb.JPG (171854 bytes)

About Signs in Business

A sure sign of a problem in a retail business is any sign on the door that announces the owners preference in regard to bathrooms, solicitation or language.  Come on in is the only acceptable sign and you might add 'we do what you want or in the case of bathrooms, 'we happily provide this service'.  Come on now, go take them down or put them up.   Think like a customer, think like a customer, think like a customer.  Go out side your store, close you eyes, run your hand from your hairline to your chin thereby changing characters and come on in like a customer does and critique the owner.  Critique the owner.  Then have five glasses of water and two cups of coffee, all 12 ounce, go back out side and come in while evaluating the efficacy of the 'Bathroom is for Customers Only" sign.  I know this a fair amount of time and effort spent on early training, but it still slays me to see so many 'no this or no that' signs on doors.

Another sure fire sign to Cathy and I that the owner is unhappy with the income of their business is a sign not working properly.  If there is any maintenance that you are putting off for lack of money - maintenance, not rebuilding - then this is a sure sign that some kind of change is needed to get revved up again, and restart building momentum..  Read the section in this site about Keys for Success or go to Sell More Coffee for starters.  If that does not get the juices going, then go again to How To Open A Coffee Store for more fat for the fire.  And if there is not a supply light bulbs in the store to immediately replace one that stops working, or a person to change the light bulb, then you have required reading on this site and the two above.  Your store must always look inviting.  Like it or not, money spent on light bulbs is a sure fire way to keep the light bulbs fired in your imagination.  

End of Sign Sermon

The Final Day

So we pulled up to his home, went to the door, and of course he didn't recognize me in my bike gear and helmet.  After a few seconds he did though and we were off to the races like no time intervened

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Perfect Day to ride, clouds, tailwind some bike path and seven mile bridge.  This bridge was like a wind tunnel, the tailwind pushing and the passing cars, buses and trucks and motor homes pull you along.  I switched to the third ring up front and slowly built momentum to 21 mph, then pushed to almost 30 mph on level ground, then up a rise and down the rise at 30 ish - I was too focused to take more than one look at the speedometer.  It was fast.  Then I held 25 for a long time with the help of the momentum coming down the rise and all the other little help from my friends.

Long Key last night was right on the Ocean.  Look IMGA0447.JPG (122861 bytes) out the left front window, IMGA0448.JPG (122813 bytes) the front window and of course IMGA0449.JPG (114852 bytes) out the right front window.  The wind was blowing all night long at 15 to 20 and it was a grand night to just stand outside and feel the surroundings, which I did twice, once at 12:15 and once at 4 am.  The tide was low around 4 and it looked like a blowout tide in New Jersey or like the draining of the ocean when you are about to get hit with a tsunami.  Despite this morbid thought it was a beautiful thing to behold and feel.  The moon was about half and bright the first time.  Clouds were rolling in at 4.

Cathy woke me around 6:30 to join her watching the sun rise out the front left window which is east.  So we are facing South South East.  I took some good pictures of IMGA0459.JPG (128524 bytes) the shore line to our right and if you look very closely at this picture observe the house on the far left point.  Then look at this IMGA0462.JPG (126915 bytes)  which is the house with my zoom lense.  You can see the man on the front porch from a very long distance away.  I took some movies of a sailboat way out there.

And then took some movies of the actual ride along a path over a channel.  I focused the movie camera over the fairing and talked and shot away.  Here is a sample.  (Sample to Come when I get home because the movies take a long time.  Next rainy day I might try it again here.  I have to convert them to a microsoft format so I can edit them.)

Seven mile bridge comes right after Marathon which they bill as the midway point in the keys.  Marathon I'll bet has some nice area's, but I didn't see much from the bike path or in the center of town on US 1.  To give it its due, it was cloudy.  I liked a lot the small town, Layton, on Long Key, a general store, food mart, Italian Restaurant and a gas station and 15 real estate offices.  But it was still almost quaint.  The Long Key State Park was terrific and the first time I remember camping on the ocean.  

I've seen too many horror movies in my life and was thinking of the one where there is a fog on the ocean and a clicking sound, like someone running a stick along a picket fence, and then your friends start to disappear.  Or the one where the family is riding along a bridge at night and the giant squid reached over the bridge and removes the people from the car, then spits the car out on the bridge.  Or then again there is Moby Dick with whales chasing you.  We passed Whale Harbor in Islamadora, where our friend Nick Ruemeli fishes with his friends.  We passed the Hampton Inn too where he stays. 

We had pizza last night from one of only two stores we saw on the ride back from picking up the lost phone, and stopped because it had two stolen Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike signs.  I thought if he went to that trouble his pizza must be pretty good - obsessed you know.  It was to me, but not to Cathy.  Thin crust was a bit 'cardboardy' but good sauce and the cheese was browned on top.  I like it like that.  So Cathy had one piece, I had four, and we threw two away, which is only seven so who had the other piece?  Could it be Shadow Warrior?

Right now we are sitting at the laundry in the Sunshine Key Encore RV 'resort', that costs $68 a night, has 500 or more sites and has us about three feet from US 1.  We looked at changing but did not since they have a large group in and they brought there own band and have permission to play 'til they drop, which last night was 1:30.  I certainly don't think this resort  is worth the money for us, but the position on the route is perfect for a push off tomorrow, the final day.

The final day?

Holy mackerel, the final day.  I'm going to try to film the entry into Key West and the touching of the Southern Most Point.  

I guess in business, with determination, foresight and farsightedness, planning and execution you can do just about anything you set out to do.  If I can do this ride, you can do what you do. 

I have a magazine about the internet elements for a business to improve its internet sales including blogging, key word optimization, search engine optimization,  podcasts, movies through YouTube and social networking to mention a few.  I think it is good to become well versed in these tools, and I plan to do so.  This ride has been telling for me in terms of a semi-blog, this log.  I needed to have your input more and had a form but not a way for you to post directly, which the experts say is appropriate so that you don't get vitriolic kind of stuff.  Not everyone likes your ideas or the way you present them.  

Its like my thoughts on Fair Trade and American workers and Coffee Pickers.  I'm afraid that the concentration of money increases the likelihood the pickers will become extinct in time, like cotton pickers.  And my thoughts about flavored coffee bean sales.  There are a lot of roasters out there who are obsessed with the idea keeping it 'pure', in re origins and straights.  I don't share this view as I love the business of coffee and I see the product line much broader.  Remember we are all at this to make a living.  Sure we love coffee, but it would be really good to have enough customers to share that love, kind of like the sixties.  

There are many good causes out there and all we have to do is find the one that fits our personalities and purposes.

So Tomorrow Is The Last Ride of This Leg.  Far Out.

"Lost and alone on some forgotten highway, traveled by many remembered by few.  Looking for something that I can believe in,  my life is worth living, I don't need to see the end"; Sweet Surrender, John Denver, before he forgot how to Fly Away.


Friday, October 26, 2007


Morning, Afternoon Ride

Raining like crazy and no riding yet today.  This is a first for the trip, so it hard to feel badly but cabin fever is setting in at the moment.  My body is revved up for riding not sitting.  I did encounter a few downpours and fast moving storms along the route but nothing in the morning before riding out.  I'll wait it out as the chances of it going on all day are slim.

You can hear far off rumbling but no lighting yet while www.weather.com warns to watch out for lighting.  I was wondering if they gave directions for watching out for lightening.  Perhaps the old method of holding a golf club.  I read yesterday another book, Shadow Warrior, by Gotcher.  In it, Doc, the hero and the man who became known among the Apaches as Shadow Warrior,  is running for his life in the mountains when he feels the hair on the back of his neck go  up followed by a tree coming down right nest to his head.  He was not watching out for lightening.  He recalled his wagon train days on the prairie where there was no shelter but in this case he was in a forest surrounded by fir trees that I bet blocked the view of the lightening.  He said he heard it either, just the static and hard wood on his head.

It is a good read, Shadow Warrior.  It takes place in 7 days beginning with a random meeting of Doc and Gunsi's War Party, where they just happen to be shooting the same deer simultaneously.  They both hit the bugger, Don on a horse gets to the deer first when he first sees the blood on the arrow protruding from the dear deer.  He reins in the mustang he is riding and heads back to the woods but two young Apaches appear suddenly and attack.  He reluctantly kills them both which is really bad since one of them is Gunsi's younger brother.  Doc lost his mustang in the encounter and runs now on foot with the Apaches, 19 of them at this moment in hot pursuit.  But it turns out Doc was a runner in his prairie days and he can out run them for a while.  Seven days later there are two Apaches, Gunsi is gone, six decided to give up the chase and rest were dead from gunshots, arrows or landslides and cliffs.  Doc is one heck of a mountain man and in the end he got the horse.

The folks next to us are living in the cuddy cabin of a short speedboat, with a bimmani set three feet above the windows, on the boat for sunny days not rain, so there is a wide opening through which the rain is blowing.  Four adults, we think, and a very large boxer.  They all smoke and it is just hard to understand how they can take it.  I'm sure they like scuba diving, which is what draws people here, and I'm wondering why they are sitting here in camp and not on the water or in the water where they can stay dry in a scuba outfit.  My friend Nick Ruemelli would be out at the reef  or deep diving a wreck.

While we folks in 2007 stop everything when it rains, Doc and the Apaches just kept going and going.  I don't think their dogs had red raincoats and muzzles.  I was just thinking the Ruby looks so dainty in her red raincoat and muzzle.  Muzzles have a way of putting people at disease.  It works every time.

We are hoping that mail and Coffee from Heaven reach us in Key West.

Afternoon Ride

The rain never did stop, nor did it look like it was going to stop, so it was either ride in the rain or drive south today and drive back tomorrow to continue riding from Largo.  I opted to ride in the rain.  IMGA0445.JPG (126076 bytes)  This one is taken just before kicking off.  IMGA0446.JPG (124227 bytes)  Squinting, sitting on a towel on a rubber backed rug, garbage bag to protect my back, hat to keep drops off my glasses.  None of it worked.  

Kelly at Florida Greenways and Trails told me that the bike trail in the Keys would take me from the state park in Largo to the State Park in Long Key.  Technically she is correct.  But for a very important couple of miles there was very heave construction going on and I ended up walking a few miles.  The highway is divided by a wide green area here with intermittent turnarounds.  I'd reconnoiter every once and while but the south bound lanes had no shoulder and what was there was jagged, and about a 2 inch drop to the grass and glass.  Much too dangerous in the rain.  So I opted to walk and ride on the packed corral where possible.  I figured if I a lost a tire I'd call for assistance.  www.floridagreenwaysandtrails.com or 877 822 5208 is the info to contact them.

The trail from Plantation Key to Long Key is superb.  There are places that use it as a driveway for bay front home and in some places it has drainage problems.  But I guess this is true of Florida, period.  Only once did I find a hole in a puddle the hard way.

On one reconnoiter I took the bike and myself to the center of the highway in a turnaround.  The south bound lanes are higher by a few feet than the north bound lanes so I could see a bit of a way.  I fell in the center of a turnaround.  I have no idea how, but in a flick the bike was on its side and just missed being under me.  Lucky.  And unlucky.  I dropped my  iphone and did not realize if for 15 miles.  Too late to go back for I figured it was at the spot the bike went over.  Later that evening Cathy and I did return and found it just about at the spot.  Too bad that it still works.  I would never ever buy one again.  Hear that Steve.  It has pizzazz but it is fragile.  Two days ago I dropped it on its face, in the case they give you and the glass cracked.  I'm holding it together with scotch tape.  Hear that Steve.  And it does not take short movies.

And holding it while speaking is awkward, and the speaker is not nearly loud enough.

The rest of the way was just wet.  Nothing wild.  

The absent phone was a real bother to me for if Cathy had a problem, or if I one there is no way to communicate.  I will not ride off without a phone.  And I'll write down in my head and wallet Cathy's cell phone so that if by chance I can find a old land line I can call.

The keys below Largo are very nice.  Lots of big homes on both sides of the road.  Tonight we are in Long Key State Park and I'm guessing the land here is no more than 100 yards wide and includes the park, the highway and some greenery.  

The motor home is parked literally 3 feet in front and 2 feet higher than the Atlantic.  Clearly there are reefs that protect this area in normal weather.  But it must get swamped.  I also wondered where the Flagler Railroad was located as there is not a sign of it here.  You may know that it was demolished in a hurricane and a train full of people were lost.

My legs were heavy at the end of today ride.  I'm not a walker.  I should probably take a days rest but I am anxious to get to Key West.  So tomorrow I'll peddle down to Sunshine Key and the Sunshine RV Resort.  They have 500 or more sites and its supposed to be a pretty nice place for $68 a night.  

So goodnight all.  "Let the sunshine, let the sunshine, let the sunshine, in".  

I hear they have a parade planned for me tomorrow, something called Fantastic Festival where everyone paints up their bodies.  But I'm going to miss it by a day.

Two more rides.  And, to more rides, salute!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Key Largo, Florida.   A big day, but still more to come in Key West.  I'm splitting the keys into three more rides of roughly 30 miles each.  Next to Long Key, then Big Pine Key, then Key West.

Walk In The Park Ride

Key Largo is really a very busy place.  I had to walk my bike across two lanes of traffic and waited at least five minutes to get across.  I was hoping some kid would stop traffic for me, but lo, no.  So another person took the plunge and I followed him.  

I left Homestead after stopping at the Raceway Convenience Store where Salvador made a superb Cuban Coffee.  Its the first I've had in years, other than my own.  He is from Mexico and this store is clearly dead center of a Spanish Neighborhood.  I tried to bring my Spanish up but it failed me in the short time I had.  He was keenly interested in the trip, and he was only the second person to offer my the coffee at no charge.  Dan at Jumpin Java did so as I was leaving you may recall, and Salvador did it without blinking.  I think it is clear that Rodney King had the right idea - getting along with each other.  If so, then I've got to get to speak again Spanish.  A great big part of this nation is Spanish now, and although America has always insisted upon learning English, this may take a few generations because of the size and scope of the Spanish speaking population.  I'm thinking if the kids can speak it at home and then everywhere they go, it will take some time to speak English, perhaps a few generations.

One of the customers of Raceway took a real interest in the bike, and gave me a few No Way's when I told him what I'd done.  He knew the days route and he was concerned about the riding along the expressway to Key Largo.  He was right for the first 10 miles.  The second 10 is under construction and some really nice blacktop is down and much wider.  With the tail wind it was a blast again.  There is nothing like riding a bike downwind.  This is especially true of mine with the fairing acting as a sail.  At one point I stopped pedaling and was continuing along at 8 miles per hour.  I had momentum so its not quite right to say its an 8 mph wind, but It helped me mostly cruise at 18 mph.  What a ride.  And the customer from Raceway was a real delight to speak with, he was excited for me, and wished us well.

The first ten miles had raised reflectors in the shoulder, and at the very beginning there was a very large sign announcing the yeat to date there were 14 deaths on the road.  Then came signs telling the drivers to be patient, there was a passing zone coming up in three minutes.  For the amount of traffic today 14 seemed pretty low to me.  Who knows how many are in the water and never found.

Salvador in the shop was also excited about the ride and he face lit up when he realized what I was talking about and he immediately provided the coffee free.  "Never Take What you Cannot Give" is a saying an old friend of mine repeated many times.  So I'm sending a thank you to Salvador from KMO.

We are staying on Key Largo in the State Park for 30 dollars.  Its a weekend and so made reservations ahead at Long Key in a state park for 30  and then on Saurday at Sunshine RV resort on Pine Key.  This one cost $68 which is the most we have spent along the way and I hope it is worth it.  My rides each day on the Keys are only 30 odd miles, and the final day will be 39 or more to the goal post at the southern most point.

Rich McKay offered us his front yard for camping and we will take him up on the offer.  Its been a long time since we saw each other and he is going to put some new strings on his Martin so he must be anxious to sing too.  He sounds just like he used to, and it is hard to see him over 60.  Rich is a real free spirit and has lived his life like that.  


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jack the Hustler and I had a few good laughs.  On the way down from Kendall to Homestead I was stopped by a light.  This very tall, trim shabbily dressed black man was sauntering toward me with a big grin on his face and a few singles in his hand.  He also had a spanking new Fed Ex box.  I figured I'd been panhandled before and if ever I had seen a setup, it was this.  So I beat him to the punch.  As he got nearer I ask "Buddy can you spare a dollar".  Old Jack with wicked smile said, "I prayed hard today  for sixteen dollars  and I got seventeen.  I tried to give one back but they would not take it".  He finished, "so you can have a dollar", and he handed it over toward me.  He laughing by this time and me pretty hysterical.  We were putting on the style for the crowd of ladies at the wheel of the BMW's and assorted Japanese cars, many of whom had just handed over a dollar or two to Jack, who opened up the inside of the Fed Ex Box to reveal his prayer for the Final Sixteen.  I could not take his hard earned money and the back of our hands touched lightly and knowingly as we passed  each into our own memory.  I have the feeling that I was in the presence of a master who could change color, character and context as fast as a chameleon changes color.  He was a man of means by all means, and "King of That Road", for sure.  Its the Busway along US 1 from Kendall to Homestead.  

I no longer ask people their names.  It seemed to get in the way of a good exchange.

I just made it into a gas station/convenience/deli/clothing/repair shop today and only one of six employees spoke 'ingles'.  After a few futile efforts I was able to translate towel to Towal, and I got one.  It was then raining like a hackneyed Niagara Falls, which is to say loud.  I don't understand how all that water can disappear so quickly, but it does - makes the alligators happy I suppose.  

I was starting to tell you about Tim the Thinman who approached with the ordinary and normal now, Nice Bike conversation.  He was about five foot six or so, dirty t-shirt and pants to match.  Its noon now so you'd expect that for an outside working man as it was raining (like Niagara Falls) and it was time to gather at the old gas station for lunch, and people were coming out of the woodwork, but in this part of the country there is no woodwork, its all concrete block work, so I use the term very loosely.  But you know what I mean.  I'm guessing they were all spanish speaking people because in order to order anything inside you had to speak the local lingo, which is not, by any stretch, English. 

I might have said before that I was gleeful as I left Georgia; for in the bottom half of the state Cathy had noticed that the signs were all in English, and not a one, even in the state park, was in Spanish.  I asked the guy at that gas station if it was true and he gave me big knowing grin.

So Tim the Thinman wanted to know about the bike and I told him and then told him I had come all the way from Upstate New York.  At first he just kept talking, but then he let out, "on that",  "on that" quizzically.  I told him I was well over, well, the limit, and had lost plenty of weight on the trip, which was one of my purposes.  He found this hysterical and I think he did not believe it.  He then told me not too long ago he was over two ten, and I guess he meant overweight, but had lost some in the last six months.  He did not look sick, so I'm thinking he was without job, home and food.  In any event he got his can of beer in a white bag here and was on his way on foot.  He left me wondering how all these brown or white bags are so obvious but still thought of for cover from the police and law against oven alcohol containers.

I got my ice cream today at the Alamo, the day before the Mexican's attacked.  It was a stronghold with bars on the window and one inch glass, slid to the side, I guess to protect.  The ride on the bike path today was also a fortress.  Fences topped with barbed wire were on both sides of the road and bike path.  The road today was a road for only buses, nothing else could legally drive on it and there were at least three passing police cars and one police car stationed behind a service station but on the busway to keep it that way.  I was tempted at first, but then realized the bike path was pretty good, not much glass, flat, and pretty smooth.  Written on a concrete block wall, about six feet tall was the word 'hint" like this 

--------------------- hint ---------------------hint     (no line)                     hint.  I figured some kind of gang warning.  And the people I did see at the bus stops were not at all friendly, and one little girl of about eight walking with her mother jumped a foot in the air when I rang my bell.  She turned and looked at me in fear of her life.  She was startled, and that was on me, and she was scared.  There are a fair number of places south of Brooklyn fortified like this,  But I gotta say I never felt I was threatened directly, except as otherwise noted before.  Something must be going on in Southern Florida for Cathy thinks the local people are not at all friendly, which means they don't know when to make or not make contact with anther human or non human.  And there was a billboard she saw that pictured a man in jail and the statement "I'm 38 and my gang ain't helping me".  Or something like that.

I try to smile at everyone I pass, with some exception, and I find here that about half acknowledge it.  The young men will have nothing to do with it and they are busy holding up there pants.  They studiously ignore me, but I see glances at the bike.  I get anxious when they ask how much it cost before anything else.  So this must be a very poor area and the need for money great, or, the cost of drugs substantial.  It would be better they go back to cleaning windshields than packing six guns.  But in truth the area, in places, feels like what I would think a western town without a sheriff is like.  Not immediately a threat, but walk fast, keep your head down and don't stop for anything and don't ride an Easy Racer Tour Easy bike that no one has ever seen before.  But  you know what I say to that.

Hail to the King.

Tomorrow I'll hit the Keys.  Man oh woman I'm sure it will feel good.  Cathy was telling me she thinks it is amazing, and when I asked what she meant by that, she said the amazing thing is that it seems so normal and that I am not exhausted and just keep going.  This is the energy I was trying to define the other day.  Today I realize that my Brother Bill,  Doctor Johnson, or Dr. J for short,  who is a superintendent of schools in Rockville Center, Long Island, a wealthy district with demanding constituents, has at least this much energy.  He's been there for twenty five or thirty years which is unheard of in the education business.  In my home town we go through Superintendent's every three years or so - they don't finish their contracts.  He once told me they love him because he has created a good solid district, with a high school rated 40th in the Nation, and the result has been a higher than average growth in the price of homes.  So he has single handedly raised by billions, the portfolio's of the locals.  And he jogs about six miles a day, at 11 o'clock at night after school board meetings and other community affairs.  He runs in marathon's and 5k's and the like.  I'd say he works his butt off at least 15 hours a day, and he seems to love it, and has achieved a very good reputation in the State of New York.  And he is not the only other family member to have the energy.

My Brother Paul for sure has it in spades.  He says he was given challenges and overcame them and that it is different from creating challenges to meet.  I disagree.  He has the energy.

Brother Gerry goes the distance every day too.  He was a chef, trained at the CIA in Poughkeepsie, NY and opened a couple, or worked at a couple of restaurants in NYC.  One was Jane Street Seafood, where he ran a kitchen that served several hundred patrons a night.  He said the kitchen is like a sawmill, big buzz all night with people going in every which way.  Very distracting and intense.  So he left for Kauai after he married Barbara and honeymooned there.  They sold everything and moved.  Now he builds cabinets from Koa  wood and builds houses.  He has constructed a couple of his own and all of them withstood Iniki, the pacific hurricane that blew all the greenery away and put 2 x 4's through houses like bullets through butter.  He and his family had an inside room for this purpose and with mattresses they survived as did his house, and the others he built.  Gerry did great and wonderful things for me in my life and I miss him; he is a strong man in every way.  He has faith in himself and the future and just keeps going.  He also, says Paul, will make three appointments on any given day all at 10 AM.  No kidding.   See you at 10, so he too must be one of a few who can be in three places at the same time.  Go Gerry.  He has the energy and focus and drive.

So too my sister Mary, but she would kill me twice and dance happily on my grave if I wrote about her, so I will not.  She lost a twin sister many years ago and I think that this is the worst kind of thing that can happen to a person.  Identical twins are not alone.  But now she is.

My Daughter Jennifer has the energy, and My Son Paul has the energy and my wife Cathy has the energy.  So I think it runs in families.  When challenged at a young age to perform in ways you might not like or can not actually do initially, you develop this energy.  Some too are born with it.  And some get it both by trial and error and by birth.

And I think too Jack has the energy and displays it in an extraordinary way.  So too do entrepreneurs who are successful.  We are a bunch of people blessed with certain obsessions that we will not give up.  We are blessed with drive.  We are blessed with vision and we are blessed with the back-handed strength of never being satisfied.  We must always find or have a better way.

Yesterday I passed Hiatus Ave in Pembroke Pines.  It struck me.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not 10 minutes out of Delray Beach I ran into Gizzi's Coffee.  

The ride today was very nice - Delray Beach, Boca, Pampano and then even Fort Lauderdale was pleasant.  I rode through the historic section of Hollywood which is very nice and then rode West to the nearest campground in Pembroke Pines.  This is off 820 on Flamingo Dr.  Its a Broward County park that is huge, and the sites are beautiful and large.  

In Fort Lauderdale US 1 goes through a short tunnel, which I chose to go through.  It was a real thrill.  Only one person chose to honk like crazy as and after they passed me on the  upgrade at the end of the tunnel.  At the opening to tunnel there is a sign "Share the Road with Bicycles", which led me to believe it was bike friendly.  While the downhill was a trill, the uphill required great exertion to get the hill out of there.  It is not at all bike friendly and I should have known better.  

I spoke with Cathy at mile 31 or so when she told me the closest camp was 10 miles out of town, all the way on Hollywood Blvd.  Knowing that this was downwind made it a no-brainer.  Off I went.  There a three or four roundabouts on Hollywood Blvd. and its a pleasure known only to bikers to ride around them in traffic.  I would love to try Rome.  Perhaps Tuscany is more my level.  A nice remote village.  The historic area of Hollywood was very nice and the other end of 820, which is Hollywood for a long way but is straight as an arrow and renamed in the suburbs, is really very modern and growing.  The malls out there are all new and there are more under construction.  The only thing lacking is an ice cream store.  Even the Dunkin Donuts did not have its Baskin and Robin's

US 1 exits Fort Lauderdale at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport so in addition to the tunnel I ended up on a six lane superhighway with a large shoulder.  Its the first large shoulder I've had in perhaps a thousand miles and brought a smile to me face as we say in Ireland.   And the city threw in jets flying directly overhead as they took off.  Nice piece of work.  Not bad though since the time was 1:30 and the traffic was very light.  If the shoulders were cleared once and while of debris, mostly glass, then it would in my opinion be ok to ride these monsters.  I've ridden Route 55 in Cumberland County, New Jersey several times and it seems to be ok for an experienced rider.  You don't get much warning as cars approach from the rear at high speeds, but it gets you there faster sometimes.  I sure would not do it as part of this ride.  US 1 and Route 17, while not your backwoods kind of roads, do get you to many towns and in my case coffee houses.  Of course Florida is not Georgia or the Carolina's, but their grass is green and sky is blue and the clouds are white and the Sun is the hottest I've ever experienced, including my sailing days, which is another story, for another time.  

Cathy and I were talking about renting a Trawler type boat to come down or go up the inland water way.  That was on our list when we were active chartering 40 foot sailboats, but the sailboats have very slow hull speeds which would make the trip onerous.  I can go faster on the bike.  But one day...

I am really close.  Tomorrow I plan to be in Homestead, the to Key Largo, Marathon, Pine Key, and Key West.  I will probably rest a day in Key Largo, I need to get to the Keys, so that the ride down will be more enjoyable.  

There are a lot more scooters out there folks.  They get 65 mpg I'm told which is just a touch about the Prius I owned before this trip.  But they are lot less expensive than the Prius, which cost me $25,000, way over priced for the size vehicle, but I bought it for other reasons.

America in Florida looks an awful like America in NJ.  All the drug stores are here not counting ours, Rite Aid, and I wonder why there are so many drug stores in this country.  It is a sure sign that the price we pay for drugs supports expansion and the requisite capital.  Macy's in Pembroke is huge, the whole mall takes a long time to drive around.  A long time.  Applebee's has the same appetizer we love, Veggie Pizza and the steak was pretty good too, NY strip with garlic herb butter sauce spread liberally.  With French Fries.

I forgot Florida was THE state of hanging ballots until I saw a sign for Bush Real Estate, which I doubt is theirs, but this is hallowed ground.  I only had one senior citizen looking down when she went by me and darn near forced me to spread myself liberally around the pavement, which would not be good.  She must have been preparing for 2008.  Boy it is grand to forget about CNN and the Daily Journal, and Newsweek and Time and the Sunday Morning shows with coffee and Danish.  Every once in a while I buy USA today, and I think I rode by one of theirs and Gannett's printing plants.  I should have stopped in to their plant, and to the other papers and radio stations I saw along the way in order to get some publicity.  But I think this trail will have to be thought through and a plan devised to maximize the available exposure.

In one sitting I read the story of Trapper Nelson, a colorful guy who went wild, kind of for the camera's, in Jupiter.  He lived in the outback along the Jupiter River amidst alligators, black widows, and rattlers.  He started a zoo and a jungle habitat and folks went out to see him and his 'ranch' for many years until he got fed up and quit.  Its an interesting story.  In 1968 he died while in the midst of selling the 1000 acres he amassed by paying back taxes and taking the properties of other less fortunate people, for $1500 an acre.  The author claims houses in Jupiter were selling for $25,000 then, but this doesn't ring true for I purchased in Kingston, New York for $17,000 my first modest home and Kingston is a far cry, meaning less expensive, than Jupiter, and, it doesn't have alligators.  The funny thing is that a nephew of Trapper's lives, or lived, in Waretown, New Jersey, just south of Tom's River.  Waretown to those of you readers who may not share my love of bluegrass music, is the New Jersey concert and jam capital of bluegrass in NJ and has been written  up in the New York Times which makes it a true story.  Right?  or is it Left?

Did you know that alligators live only in America and China?  My sources are generally reliable.

What am I gonna do when I get home and don't have a ride to do in the morning?  Cathy and I were talking tonight at dinner at Applebee's that cost us ten dollars more than our housing for the evening,  and I realized that this is my kind of ride, I love it.  Every day is an adventure into new territory.  Some folks drive to their destination and and then ride home.  I prefer this. Yet, because of the weather I had planned to drive to Oregon and head East to pace the change to winter.  And am I glad I did not do that.

I guess in business we all have to decide to go forward or go back every day or to stay were we are every day.  Cathy said 'fantastic' when we talked about being only four day's from Key West, yet it seems quite normal to me.  Just a bunch of consecutive 40 or more mile rides.  It sure beats riding in circles in South Jersey, more properly called Loops by bicyclists.  Its get a bit boring after awhile.

The thought occurs to me that this ride could be made into a business that is indeed a help to people.  That is, lead rides like this for people who looked like me at the start.  I bumped into a scooter rider at a traffic light and we had the regular nice bike nice scooter conversation, when he asked me why I was doing what I am doing.  To him I responded "to loss weight" and told him the before and now story.  He told me he would love to do it but he doesn't have the time.  This fellow was easy 290 and not trim like Trapper Nelson, who was compared in the fifties and sixties to Tarzan, I guess Johnny Weismuller.

Another regular conversation goes, "What is that?" and I reply "a bike" and they say "is it electric?", me, "nope", just pedals.  Then with a big smile they say "well don't break the speed limit", which I did today.  

At a high school the limit was 15 while the light in the center of route 820 was blinking.  It was blinking.  A huge 18 or so wheel cement truck and I were stopped in front of about 100 kids from this school when the light changed to green.  I gave the truck a head start and then pounded away in 29, which is the center front ring and the rear smallest.  Its a slow start since you have to really push to get the bike going at that gear ratio, but once it gets going, it goes really fast and in no time I was breaking the speed limit at 18 and I easily trashed the cement truck.  Cheers.

Then Joe Smoker, again at a light, starts the usual 'nice bike' conversation and we get around to what I'm doing.  He is incredulous and all he can say between puff's is "aren't you inhaling a lot of exhaust", and this said with a pained expression.  I simply could not resist explaining it was a lot less painful than the cigarette he had in his mouth, and I told him the before and now story of how I smoked 5 or more packs a day, nothing in moderation, or, in other words, I was the character who gets off the phone and looks around and finds three cigarettes going in three different ashtrays, all near the phone.  When I smoked, I smoked.  I never put one down.  Put it out, light it up.  I quit at $1 a pack I think.  I can not imagine today having to explain to the kids why they can't go bowling with a cigarette in your mouth.  So Joe Smoker then tells me he is going to quit next year.  Off I went with a cheerio and good luck exchanged by both of us.  He was a nice fellow.

"Sometimes I live in the country.  Sometimes I live in the town,  Sometimes I take a great notion, to jump in the river and drown", Verse 2, Song, Goodnight Irene.  Goodnight all, and Joe.



Monday, October 22, 2007

Between Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach I was propositioned again, and had  three local folks in cars telling me to get on the sidewalk, and one just shouting something obscene.  One man wanted to know how much my bike cost, and I think he was trying to decide if it was worth the effort to steal it.  I told him it was a gift and I thought worthless.  Another dude riding thankfully in the opposite directions and on the other side of the street with dreadlocks blowing in the wind, shouted "nice bike', lustfully. There were more to feed my paranoia.  Lastly, there was not a single police man or woman to be seen anywhere, except Delray Beach.  I can understand why they aren't there.  Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach were, on the other extreme, very nice.  People walking around in suits and cocktail dresses at 2 pm.  

In Lantana I met Vince, a weathered man of perhaps 65, retired and mightily proud of his decision 30 years ago to salt some money away in the union pension plan that now pays him 650 dollars a week.  At first I thought he was a threat, but the owner/manager of the convenience store, from New Delhi, told me "Vince is a good guy, he will be there if you ever need help".  So I talked a bit with Vince, mostly listened and it turns out he does know a lot about the Hudson Valley as he helped build the major highways up there.  Route 84, the extension connecting the Massachusetts and New York Thruways were two he mentioned and knew about the high security prison along route 84 at Fishkill.  

The fellow who was pondering my dropped helmet in Delray Beach was starting to call someone as I drove up to retrieve the helmet, which I foolishly left on the seat of the bike on the bike rack of the motor home as I drove away.  We chatted briefly and he coined the phrase Helmet Without A Head, a possible title for a treatise on War.  The War would be a good beginning.  Not to get into this again, but not only did the German People kill six million, 6,000,000 Jews, they also murdered 4,000,000 Russian POW's and 2,000,000 Poles, and another 1,000,000 or so people who were 'different' or forced laborers.  This does not include the other 40,000,000 people who fought in other Armies or civilian deaths.  So Helmets Without Heads seems like a good way to think about this obnoxious thing we call war.  The Helmet Man and I laughed a bit and he said he didn't know who to call, but he was going to call someone, and he was serious.  I did not ask who he had dialed.  The helmet was sitting the gutter so I'm thinking he might have thought an accident, perhaps unreported took place there.  We'll never know, but his phrase may live on and he could have made off with the Helmet easily.  Thank you Helmet Man of Delray Beach.

I stopped at Bicycle Wayne  for a new helmet and tubes and to see if there new types of pumps, which there are not.  So I'll stay with the jury rig I have for my big standup pump.  The Giro Helmet fits well and has a few technological improvements, like Velcro holding the pad to the top so they can be cleaned and the straps have a device that exactly fits the helmet to your head, which is good.  Then I almost gave it away.  Left it on the seat after loading up the bike on the motor home and knew then that I should not leave it there to do anything.  But I did and we made a successful return trip to Delray Beach to find it in the street with a fellow I'm sure was about to claim it as salvage.  A helmet without a head attracts attention.

I was very interested in the changes that had taken place along US 1 since the last time I was here.  Most of stores along 1 after North Palm are shuttered with concrete or closed.  There a slew of them for rent and empty.  Wayne told me that if I survived the Hood in Riviera Beach I'd probably survive anything.  He actually did not say this, but I think it characterizes accurately my take on it after talking briefly with him.  This emptiness continued in Palm Beach and then into W. Palm as well.  I can tell by the gas stations.  If they are shuttered, the indication is its an iffy neighborhood.  If they are open but shuttered or covered with steel you can draw your own conclusions.  If they only have bulletproof glass and a bank drive-in draw it is probably a good neighborhood to ride through.  Cathy actually called me from mile 31, I was at 25, and wanted to come pick me up for safety reasons, but I declined.  I did however begin to pedal faster and raised the speed to 14 and 15 into the wind for about 5 miles.  I also choose not to stop for groceries.

I'm pretty sure I saw at least one drug deal go down.  And for sure a young working girl wanted attention so things have changed big time along 1, aka Federal Highway and at times, ironically, Dixie Highway.

In Palm Beach proper, and I believe it was downtown there is an explosion of condo's going up.  In one two block stretch there were four monster buildings being erected in concrete I guess to protect against the occasional hurricane.  They look to be beautiful.  Delray Beach was quite something, with people actually sitting street side in the cafe's.   It was very pleasant, and if I liked real Philadelphia Cheese Steak I'd have stopped at 5th and Atlantic, at Al's Famous Cheese Steaks, but I don't.  Besides, there is a Starbucks being outfitted there and it makes me sick to see so many of these things going up.  My Darling picked me up a few minutes latter at this intersection.

So a few sprints were added today and it felt good and I'm beginning to think I'm goldbricking a little when the old headwind rears it nasty head.  Perhaps it is self pity.  Tomorrow I'll try it again and maybe get a few extra miles.

I'm getting close to the Keys.  Tomorrow we will camp in Hollywood and the next day, after driving around Miami, I'll bike from Coral Gables to at least Homestead.  We received a copy of a book with RV camps in Florida and it will be a big help in planning the rest of the trip.  The lady manager of tonight's campground, which was the third we tried (no dogs allowed at the other two) is from New Hampshire, has been down here for 13 years but in May is going Home.  She misses the four seasons and Christmas.  Christmas, she said, is just not Christmas without the cold.  I'm getting excited about reaching Key West and I'm beginning to wonder What's Next?

We will be going home for the holidays and then in January we are planning a scouting trip to North Central Florida.  Then I've got to gently discuss the rest of the legs of the possible trip around the country.  Mixing the coffee stores and the biking is logistically unfair to Cathy and I will have to I think separate them.  Right now she is basically driving, shopping and picking me up.  Both of us would like to have more time together and more time to actually see something beyond tarmac and concrete.  1 is not the route to see coffee stores.  And I'm thinking that to really get to a lot of independents you need to drive, not bike, and cover states, not just a route like this.  And I'm convinced it is a worthwhile endeavor for me, KMO and the independent store owner.  Perhaps too we could make this an annual event where I lead or anther person leads a ride down the coast to celebrate independents, with publicity so the independents can take advantage of it.  We also need to build a big book on how to best compete with the giants as the giants are growing rapidly.  Clearly the concept of community involvement and knowing your customers is critical and so are the basics of the right product line, food, drive-in, wi fi, and big smiles.  I have to ponder this for I'm not satisfied at all with the Keys to Success section.  Help from you would be appreciated.

Remember the Donkey too.

So, Hollywood, Homestead, Key Largo, another key and then bingo.  Bingo is big in this area as are Arcades which I'm beginning to think are legal gaming halls.  Not sure.  Perhaps on the way north we can check it out.

I drank 10 large bottles of cold water today and kept up pretty well.  I ate less - one honey bun, my obligatory p and j sandwich, and an orange.  I was starving at 4 pm.

Also wearing the new dress shoes I purchased.  They are brown and it looks a bit dorky.  But they are far more comfortable on the bike for song periods.  Can you believe it, my feet, which never, well almost never touch the ground.

My left foot did hit the ground when I was riding into Titusville.  I was approaching the bridge into town and my wheel got stuck in a groove between two slabs of broken and cracked concrete, which is not good at all,  A very fast left foot dropped instinctively let me recover.  I was going perhaps 15 mph and the cars to my left were going at a good clip and I'm sure breathed a sigh of relief when the foot hit the ground.  I think this is a case where the recumbent I ride with low center of gravity and very low pedals saved some warlike wounds.  Bravo Easy Racer Tour Easy.  Any other bike, recumbent or upright I fear would have gone down as it would have taken too long to get the foot down, and in some cases like the lay down kind of recumbent, impossible.



Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mush, Mush, Crack -  Mush, Crack - Mush Mush, Crack - Crack Crack Crack.  We are in a Florida State Park just north of Jupiter and Juno Beach,  And the highest point in this area is claimed by this park to be Hobe Hill, just a drive and a nine iron from here.  It is 86 feet above sea level and with its 27 foot observation tower is over 100 feet.  I think Mike's Mountain in the pine barrens is a bit over 120 feet without the tower.  Remember Mike was the fellow, a real piney we met on a back woods trip to the pine barrens, who showed us around the back woods and then brought us to the highest point in the barrens.  We named it Mike's Mountain.  Today, riding on US 1, up and down what I guess used to be sand dunes was a blast from the past, at least a month since I've encountered such hills, not counting bridges, some of then so steep it made me weep.

I left late again, waiting out the rain we had this morning, and had cloud cover most of the way.  That is really good.  Only one downpour this time and I'm in civilization and got cover in a new mall that had no tenants.  This was about ten minutes after I had fixed the first front flat, which took no more than 15 minutes.  The timing of the rain was really good.  It lowered the temperature a bit and for a short time the wind died.  Headwind all day today.  Wind out the east and I'm headed south, not due south, but south east along the coast.  

The forecast is more of the same this entire week and I'm a happy camper looking for cloud cover again.  I love rain and I love clouds.

Cathy just smacked her funny bone - why do they call it the funny bone?  Its the size and form of this motor home.  Every once and a while its gets real small.  We must close cabinets and put every item we use back where it came from or we will be black and blue.  Which we are.  And my legs have grease permanently engraved.  I can't figure out how it gets from the chain to my leg since I'm not aware of it happening.  

I am dying for a good cup of coffee and even though it is past six we are going to make a pot to have with some muffins.  I did not get to stop in any independent stores today and  I am concerned about Starbucks because along this stretch of US 1 they stand out like a sore thumb.  Sure they helped us get going, but now it seems they are trying to corner certain markets.   I suppose one reason they get the great sites is that they have the money and resolve to be willing to drop $500,000 to a Million on these sites.  I'd think an awful lot before doing the same, and as laid out in Up the Organization in the chapter on  Decision Making, while I toss and turn, or, since I am not a retailer, while you toss and turn, they act and take the site.  

Lets remember always that they have a limited product line and don't serve the local folks and there is no way the CEO of Starbucks is involved in your community.  They want only big money and big education.  So we can end run them.

John Chrisham has written a new book about an NFL football quarterback who gets named The Goat, the biggest goat in all time in the NFL, and then joins an Italian NFL team in Parma, Italy.  It is both hilarious and serious, and an easy read.  I picked it up around five  yesterday, took two hours off to watch another chapter of Burns' The War, and then finished it around 3 AM, and still got up and rode 39 miles.

How? my brothers ask.  Where does Bob get his energy? they ask Cathy.  I am at a loss to even understand the question but I can tell you all that I'm not always energized.  There are periods that I believe we all have when its hard to get up to do what ever it is we are doing, again.  I look back and see that there are clear two and three year cycles in my behavior.  Golf is a good example, I wanted to improve and did get to a respectable 9 handicap.  Then I went to Ireland and Scotland, played the British Open courses, played bogey golf and in one case shot 80 at Carnoustie, or 82 or 84, and then came home and stopped playing.  I reached a goal, and thereafter it did not seem to be the same.  The down side of this is that I was playing the game for a specific reason and a specific goal, not for the love of the game as the PGA wants us to believe.  I was driven by a force I don't really understand.  In business I'm a better innovator than administrator.  If it takes longer than a few years, I am not the person to do it.

In my banking career I remember a fellow who was the marketing VP for the bank, Grant Lewis was his name.  He was a scratch golfer by the way.  Really good.  But he and I had a heart to heart one day and he said he saw that I stayed only a couple or three years in the different jobs I had in the organization and he frankly told me he thought he was a better marketing person than I was when I filled that position before him.  I gave him the opening to be frank, and he took it, but he was wrong.  Another fellow became VP: and controller after I left the position, and he too thought he was a better controller (some call it Comptroller, the money guy).  He may have been right since my training was more in marketing than controllership, but I had the broad picture pretty well and I thought of myself as a Marketing Controller, a person who could see how profits were made and expanded, and while I was in that job we changed the accounting systems, got new computers and had much better information systems and planning.  After a few years, I had to move on.  I had to move on or I would get crazy out of boredom.  So I did move to another position, this time running a region.  The point here is that there are certain personalities, like mine, that seek change and change is the engine that drives us.  Perhaps fear of failure then kicks in and we immerse ourselves in the new work to compensate.  I'm not sure of that idea on fear of failure, but I am sure that I love to work on new things.  It is exciting to me and I love it.  It is the reason I love business.  I love too the business of coffee.

I think we make good entrepreneurs.  Changing, adapting, moving left and then right and then around again, is what we do.  Administration may not be our strength.  Some folks start businesses and then their administrative instincts kick in and rules become policy and I think these are the folks who believe in earnest that restrooms are for customers only and that employees do not have to clean up after other people.  This is not to say they don't succeed, but in the end the more rules and policies you have the harder it is to do business.

I have always been in trouble with my wife Cathy who knows more about personnel management in her little finger than I do in my whole body and mind,   But for a long time I resisted putting a policy manual in place and in fact I never did.  The reason was that it took away some of the flexibility the company had.  This did create some issues, like folks not sure of their vacations, but we dealt with those as they came up.  I'd rather spend my time on marketing and expansion.  So in my judgment you and I must beware of the trap of good work on issues that are not relevant to the business of the business which is getting new and satisfying existing customers.  

Say it again Sam.  The business of the business is getting new and satisfying existing customers.  Give the Customer What They Want, always.  And don't dare say, "its not the policy'.  When you hear this said, jump up, jump up and then down, and do it again until everyone is listening or at least watching.  Then say it again, Sam: Give the Customer What They Want. 

Always give customers what they want.  Never say We don't do that... find a way to do it.

And if you are too tired to do this, than get away for a while and come back and do it.  Always.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Great riding day, cut short by a flat tire.  I'll tell you a secret about the Secret.  I was thinking flat all morning long, and knew I should not be thinking flat because then it would happen, and, it happened.  Can I say s...  Well s....  It wasn't so bad changing.  I was across the street from a campgrounds so had plenty of safe space, and my bike is supported by the back of the seat and the fairing so its easy to access and remove tires, even the back tire is not a problem.  I found the source of the leak, but no debris, and checked for penetratioin, and there was none so I just changed the tube, not the tire.  I'm carrying a couple of extra tires and wheels, just in case.  So Cathy came  back with the air pump and I was on my way again in about an hour.

I guess my legs are getting stronger and I'm not really pressing for distance.  I thought I'd get fifty today and would have had I not had the flat.  At mile 36 heavy rain fell and Cathy was sitting there with motor home and I could not resist cutting it short.  I no longer am concerned about getting to Key West by the end of the month.  My to go mileage has been off by at least a hundred miles which I realized when I saw a sign Miami 166 miles (now less)  I know its 165 from Miami to Key West so the two add to 320 miles less the distance from the sign.  Today is the 20th and all I need is 30 a day to arrive by month end.  

Some of my daily routines are filling up the tires first thing, getting food and water together, wallet, camera and telephone and two pairs of shoes.  The bike is carrying a lot of weight, which has been offset by my weight loss.  I think I'm still losing but I'm afraid to go get weighed for fear I have not.  

Today was along the inland water way, known here as the Indian River and it was magnificent scenery.  I was surprised at the absence of large expensive homes and the large number of mobile homes and smallish homes but Cathy pointed out that in this area there is not much to do and very few restaurants.  I think too the water is very shallow as there are virtually no boats in for 20 odd miles.  Clearly it will change over time as the citification of Florida continues.

I bought the Ken Burns documentary, The War and we are watching it a disc at a time, each about two hours in length.  Last night there was a film strip of a patrol along a mountain side somewhere in the Pacific.  Suddenly, the lead soldier was hit.  He momentarily looked surprised, stunned, then looked to his right at what appeared latter to be a severe drop off.  He collapsed to his right and then pitched head long into the brush.  It was horrible.  This is I believe the first time I've seen a person get shot and know it's real.  I may have seen one on television during the Vietnam War but it would be a distant memory if I remembered, which I don't.  This was a real shock it was so real, which sounds lame, but you could see the soldier die in a second or two.  I've been very close to death of a loved one, my brother Doug, who died in my arms after a terrible accident and it isn't something you forget, ever.  (Unfortunately Paul and Gerry were there and witnessed the whole thing too and I'm sure endure the same feelings.)  The men who fought WWII must have suffered greatly to see so many comrades and friends and enemies die.

Last night the film described as a howl the reaction of a wife to the dreaded telegram telling her of her husbands death.  My sister Mary howled when she drove up the driveway to my fathers house and was faced with the news of Doug's death.  I'll never forget that either.  His funeral was surreal, with the Army supplying men to shoot  - I can't at this moment recall the name of the Salute they give, but they fired rifles.  And his hearse was a Fire Truck from the East Rockaway Fire Department and for some reason I remember a piper.  My parents were very well known in East Rockaway and there were very long lines at the funeral home wrapping around the block.  Doug had fought in Vietnam, was a popular fireman and he had been wounded in Nam and had a purple heart.  And he died doing my Dad a service.  So it was a bit tragic and attracted a great deal of attention.  There are some things that leave an indelible mark, and the men of the second world war have them in spades.  I owe them plenty and so do we all.

There are humorous stories too about Doug.  One story I may have related already but I'll repeat.  Doug was on R and R in Hawaii, Honolulu I think.  So he and 100 other GI's are waiting in line to use the single phone they had access to.  Doug finally gets to the phone and calls home and my Brother Gerry answers.  You have to know to get the humor here that my folks had seven children and we lived on three floors in an old Tudor home in East Rockaway Long Island.  We were not rich, but had what we needed.  The way we communicated in the house was with telephones.  Before cell phones we had lines on each floor (this had something to do with the kids creating large telephone bills), which may not be entirely correct as we may have had just a couple of lines on the first and second floors.  But that is not important.  What is important is that we all hated getting someone to come to the phone and would call upstairs from time to time and use the phone as an intercom.  So back to Hawaii and Doug and Gerry.  Gerry answers.  Doug says "hi Gerry get mommy".  Gerry, forgetting where Doug is, says "get her yourself,       and      then      he     hangs     up".   I can see Doug  incredulous, holding that phone and hitting with it anyone who made any attempt to take it from him.  No way Jose.  I'm still laughing and it brings tears to my eyes.  Its a classic Johnson story that I hope my grandkids will tell their children.  Doug was a good guy, big hearted and stubborn.  Served his country, served the community as a fireman and other ways and was just a good 'ole likeable guy.  There were a lot of people there because he did right by them and served them well.  Hummmm.

The burns documentary is well worth the time and the money.  Paul, I'll send  it when I'm done.

The only coffee I had today Cathy made in the motor home, and it was great coffee, my original blend of South American, Indonesian and African coffees.  Well balanced and well roasted by the folks at the plant.  Nice work.

Ruby has a problem.  In Florida there are these 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch sticky things that are seeds for some plant or tree and litter the ground.  They stick to anything I guess to get traction and travel to new lands.  Well they stick to Ruby's feet and after a few moments she can't walk it is so painful on her pads.  And Cathy spends a ton of time pulling them out.  So we are going to get her shoes, to go with her red rain coat.  She is at heart a good dog and we love her and she is a fantastic traveler, staying in place, or standing and looking out the window for hours.  If someone comes close to the vehicle, believe you me we know it.  She is very protective.  But that is what the Standard Schnauzer was bred for.  Protect and defend, and she does.

Tomorrow the forecast if for scattered thunderstorms so I'm not sure if I'll ride.  The wind is from the east at a good clip.

If there is an idea today it is: do your homework and serve the community well.  People will come.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Good ride today, made up for a shorter distance yesterday.  Today was 51.  So I'm at 1,168 miles which surprises me.  And I'm sure I'll be in Key West before the end of the month.  Its less than 200 miles to Miami, and then another 165 to Key West.   I was saved too from dehydration at a Kangaroo station and I have to say the best service of late came from two of these stations.  If you want more on this please read here

Better coffee day too.  I had a double espresso at Krysti's Koffee and Smoothies got some good pictures and stumbled on what I think is a really good promotional idea.  Christine of Krysti's has a truck with her stores information on it.  I've searched my memory banks and can only think of one truck that had this information, and that's a truck with a mobile drink bar.  But I think this should be a prerequisite for all coffee retailers.  Its a perfect opportunity to get your name out there, and your web site out there every day, plenty of times.  I think this is a just do it kind of idea.  And to get a bit carried away.

Better, get a mule and  use it to get to work every day (ha ha, fat chance).  

If I were retailing I'd do this immediately, something unusual to get some buzz and press.  Like a mule (painting on the car).   I don't want to get carried away with this idea, but if you want press and buzz why not go to work using the same transportation Juan Valdez used?  Just for a couple of days anyway.  I know I know this is a bit extreme, and I'd not want to go too far, but can you see it?  Think of how Virgin Air announced it was going to compete with British Air for the transcontinental business in England.  Branson drove a Tank, an Army tank up to the headquarters of British Air and pointed the big gun a the headquarters. He made the front page of every newspaper in London.  

Now if you are thinking the way I'm thinking perhaps we should rent some tanks and Visit Starbucks. ... Sure it is a grandstanding kind stunt, but Branson owns an island in the Caribbean and it never hurts to follow good business techniques.

I rewrote My Brother Paul, Paul.  I'm realizing that some of my late night writing needs proof work and a rewrite and I'll do it time permitting.  I'm sure Al Caltabiano will like that.

Krysti's was a very good experience and look at the idea that came from it.  I hope some of you will share with each other and maybe form an informal alliance to talk ideas for promotion.  It will help you gain traction and confidence in your actions.  

I keep running into stores without a major commitment to selling whole bean coffee, with bins and grinders and scales.  And more important, I keep running into coffee bars that think flavored coffee beans are not to be seen in a real coffee store.  No way, says Juan.

Flavored coffee was my first introduction to "Gourmet" coffees many years ago.  Friends of ours had it and served it after dinner at a big to do kind of dinner in my life before coffee.  It was a hit with the folks at the table.  Little did I know then that one day I'd be writing this paragraph extolling the benefits of giving customers what they want to independent coffee entrepreneurs, who don't want to sell flavored coffee.  That is, don't want their customers to get the best flavored coffee they can for home consumption.  What will we do, have take out syrup or Syrup Delivered to Your Door 24/7?  

People want to drink flavored coffee at home, for dessert, for morning, for lunch, when entertaining.  Get a job to cater coffee a the next political event.  Have caraf's of  your favorite blend and then add Hazelnut and Jamaican Me Crazy, which many folks I've met with have not heard of, and it is the best selling coffee that I know of.  Beyond any other coffee.  I am not saying abandon the expertise you have developed over the years at barista, or fancy drinks prepared with pizzazz.  Just that there are a lot of people out there who want to get to your stores to enjoy flavored coffee with syrup.  And they want it for home.  Go to your supermarket and see how many flavors they carry.

If your roaster is honest, they will concur with what I say.  Unless they are so committed to espresso drinks and origins that it is against their interest sell flavored coffee.   But you will know better because you have read this, and you I hope will do some homework and go to supermarkets and ask the folks there.

And a word on single origins.  Some of these new origins are just fantastic in the cup.  I remember the first auction some years ago, and we bid on a couple of new origins and the one I wanted went for 21 dollars a pound, way more than I was willing to pay.  This is well and good for the auctioneer and George Howell who I have the utmost respect for as a roaster, a consultant and a cupper.  But ... Blends and Flavored coffees outsell single origins by a mile.  You may love Brazilian coffee, but I dare say there are not many who do.  That is, served by itself.  But in blends it is fantastic.  

I'm going to assign myself some homework to watch more and read more of what other roasters and consultants are saying and selling.  More to come on this most important topic.  I'm going to create a page in the site for this topic at the top l level and add to it as I go.

Let us not loss sight of the basics of this business.  The first objective is to stay in business and be happy doing it (happiness with money and freedom).   Single Origins and getting more money to farmers with Fair Trade is fine, and many cup well, but they are a single mindedness.  Blends like my original blend of Centrals, South American and African coffees have, in my opinion, a much broader appeal.  And flavors are wonderful to many of your customers who are buying them from a competitor of yours.  


Thursday, October 18, 2007

We received really good career news from Jennifer, my daughter, but we can not share the specifics until she says.  But nice going Jennifer, we are super happy for you, and Jeff and Ingrid.

I switched to US1 today and it was pretty good most of the way.  Early clouds were a big help.  It is fine with me if we had clouds for the next month as the sun is limiting the miles I can do.  I was thinking of just relaxing on the bike and riding pretty much 9:30 to 4.  When Cathy and I rode the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, NY, we rose early, got on the road around 8 and had fixed end points we had to get to if we wanted to eat dinner.  They were always 70 and really 90 mile days as we had then to ride to hotels.  So I've done that before, in 2000.  It was cooler up there, but hot.  It would be great to get to Key West before month end so we more time to hang out in coffee stores on the way home.

The bikers pulled into Daytona in spades, yet, I'm told this is a fraction of the number that show up in March for a big humdinger.  The variety of bikes and bikers is a surprise.  I've not seen anyone in a tux yet, but I'll bet some wear them.  Three wheelers are pretty common and some that look like my bike are here.  Long, low and stretched out bikes are the ones that compare to the bike.  Virtually every restaurant or bar along US 1 from this town tonight, Mims, back to Daytona has the sign "We love Bikers", or "Bikers Welcome", or "Biders welcome just don't trash my place".

I have not seen the clubs like Hells Angels.

We rode into  Titusville earlier and I spotted two coffee stores that I'll visit tomorrow.  The city is a mixture of old Searstown Malls and Miracle Mall, with JC Penny and some newer strip centers with Winn Dixie, a nice well stocked store.  The two older malls were not doing business on Thursday evening.

A launch of the Space Shuttle is scheduled for Tuesday and the folks in this park are excited, as I would be if I had time to stick around and watch.  I thought about it, but four days is too long to stick in one spot.  Cathy and I many years ago watched a night time launch of a rocet from Cape Canaveral and it was pretty spectacular, very sci fi.  Sure have watched a few on Television, but they are nothing compared to the real thing.  I'd love to see the shuttle take off and our only option is to drive back up to watch on Tuesday, which is possible.  I should be 120 miles at least down the road so we will have to see.  As I think about it, not likely.

Soon we'll be hitting the New York and real Snow Birders.  It continues to be rare to talk to local people.  I've done it, and I've heard some at the convenience stores where I buy water, but that is it.

Citgo up the road was brewing Beans Coffee, not sure who that is and did not ask.  I was a mess from the heat, and I felt it.  But it is certainly and extension of what we were writting about last night.  Competition is showing up all over.  In New Jersey I'll bet the WaWa stores do a thousand or more cups a day, and the coffee is too weak.  But their reputation in the market is that they carry a good cup of coffee.  It may be an extension of Kona and Kenyan charades they play. 



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Still in Florida, and still headed south from St. Augustine down A1A to Flagler Beach where I bailed out of the Sun.  Route 100 appeared with a sign to 95 and while I rode about 1/2 mile past it at first thinking the manly thing is to just tough it out, I finally let reason make the decision to head West to the mainland in Bunnell and a place where my savior and wife could pick me up off the pavement.  it was another 7 miles, but the wind was now at my back and the much ballyhooed cloud cover I expected suddenlly appeared.  This drops the temperature dramatically and makes riding bearable.  The sun was just too much for me today so I clocked 36 miles when I set out to do 60, although my original plan for today was to rest and have a slow day of say 20.  Campsites influenced the o utcome as did a Motor Cycle Fest in Daytona this weekend.  We didn't know it was coming and the campsites are all booked.  So I wanted to get further south today.  

Even the Laundromats are filled up.  You know that Cathy picked me up at the intersection of 100 and US 1 and she spotted a Laundromat down the street a piece.  We headed for it, Cathy went in to scope it out, thought it ok and began to get the laundry together when four motor cyclists, with ladies on back pull in to the parking lot.  Instant running to get to the washing machines first, and then the dryers.  It worked because we will be leaving in just a few minutes after an hour or so of work.  but you get the point.  There are 'bikers', not my kind, all over the place.

Some of these dudes wave, some just look at my bike, and some ignore me.  No problem, my fuel costs are less than theirs.  We were lucky to get a site to camp in Port Orange, just south of Daytona off US 1.

More to come.  Right now we are running for the hills.  Hills?  Not here. 

Each Day has taken on a character of its own.  I wrote the earlier part of today's log while waiting for the wash to dry.  We were still 30 slow miles from the campsite and had not eaten dinner,  so we stopped for some spaghetti and meatballs, for which I'm paying right now.  And when we pulled in after dark the site we had would only accept 50 amp cords and of course I could not find and now don't think I carried the proper conversion line that would convert the 50 down to 30 amp.  So Cathy called the office and they sent down a converter.  So I hope tomorrow can be a more normal day, but neither of us really know what a normal day is now.  Cathy had to drive over 100 miles today to find telephone service, come and pick me up in Bunnell, find the campground, then come get me and go back.   Not as bad as sitting in a desert though.

In Bunnell I spoke with a 72 year old bike rider who proudly explained he got his bike from a person who threw it out and then fixed it up and it sure looked good to me.  His was balloon tire bike and he used for local errands and he said he still loves to bike.  I'd seen him watching my bike and I took the initiative to start up the conversation with a comment that the bike is sure comfortable.  One thing led to another.  He spoke with a 'southern' accent but is local to Daytona.  He had just returned from a cruise to Nova Scotia, flew up to NY and he commented that the traffic up there was wild and he would never live there, but at the time we were speaking the traffic at the intersection of US 1 and 100 was thick as Progresso's Barley Soup.  The bikers convention has stirred up a lot of traffic and a lot of business and a lot of police and directors of traffic in the Daytona area.  I wish I had ridden the bike through the congestion for it attracts all kinds of attention, some good, some not so good.  But it would have been fun.  My friend the biker saw Cathy come in with the motor home and as he was leaving said " I see you have a place to sleep too".  Nice fellow but I've decided not to ask names.

I've got some thinking to do for Dan and Sara of Jumpin Java who have returned from vacation and would like ideas on how to deal with the McDonals threat of latte's and mocha's.  Mc D's has a big breakfast sandwich crowd and Dan's concerned that some of his customers will pick up coffee at the same time.  I believe in reality the McD's of this world and every cafe serving breakfast and lunch and diners and the list goes on, are competitors.  Some in the industry say they are not competition with the demographic of specialty coffee.  A Coffee House Latte drinker would not go to McD's they say, but I think they do.  Not all of America has coffee at the corner of 42nd and Broadway.  So it is all competition in my opinion.  Dunkin Donuts is certainly competition.

I'm thinking that a broad coffee line, including flavors, especially at strip center locations with food stores, or freestanding building on the way to and from food stores, and food are essential elements to success in the long run.  All suggestions are welcome and sort.

We purchased The War, Ken Burns new show, on DVD and I'm having a hard time not getting glued to the set.  I've not watched any television since we left, and I love the extra time.  It helps to with the TV food.

Tomorrow Titusville I hope.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

If I can do 40 a day it will take another 11 or 12 days to get to the southernmost point in the US.  Tomorrow I was going to rest up, but will do a 20 mile day or the mileage to the next State Park.  We are holed up in St. Augustine Beach in a KOA to receive mail tomorrow, and we needed to be in St. Augustine at 2:30 for a doctors appointment for Cathy.  Nothing serious.  So I got 29 free miles today, and have no plans whatsoever to go and start back at the Ferry.  I avoid Jacksonville, which is now my custom.  That is, avoid the big highly populated areas.  

A head wind on A1A did nasty things to my power source.  I was beginning to think about my tendons and then decided to slow down.  I went as low as 9 mph for a couple of stretches which kills me, for some reason.  But it is what the road gave. Only take what you can give, and only give what you can take.  

In Fernandina, Florida I came across a sad situation.  A local coffee store with great lettering on the front window which got my attention in the Historic District sat next to a Seattle's Best Coffee, owned by Starbucks.  When I stopped to fill up with espresso, I found the local store had closed.  SBC was going gang busters.   Please take a look at the write up on this situation.  SBC is a foil for Starbucks and they can scout out local markets without the risk of opening a store.  If you use SBC your sales data goes to the Giant Starbucks and they can pick off winners without hesitation or risk.  They know the market because you told them.

This is also true of local roasters that can compete in your market.  It is always dangerous to give them your sales data, which you do every time you order coffee.

I'm biased for sure, but it makes sense to use a regional roaster that is not interested in retailing.  Even if the roaster is a couple of days away from your location.  Two days planning is not hard to manage, but you want to make sure that the regional will ship overnight if needed, at their expense.  Our KMO motto, one of several, is to Never Let a Customer Run Out of Coffee, no matter what.  Get it out, get it to them.  Nothing hurts your sales like a stock out.  All of our key people have been in the retail coffee business and we know what it is to be in your shoes.

A1A in Jacksonville through to St. Augustine is not a bike friendly trek.  It does have a bike lane which is great to see, but pack lots of water.  There is a stretch of 25 odd miles without service, unless you knock on one of the waterfront homes for assistance.  This time of year most are not occupied.  It is hot and the sun is strong.  It is the sun that is getting to me here in Florida.  I've always had the constitution to work, run or bike in the heat for long periods.  Perhaps it has shortened my life, but I won't know that ever, so I keep doing it.  If you can do this, then go at it.  If not, go to the mainland and use the services or carry enough food and water for a long, hot trip.

The islands south of Fernandina carry the same warning from me.  Headwinds prevail, and water is scarce and unless you carry a refrigerator with you, warm.  So be prepared and the Boy and Girl Scouts leaders will be proud you retained the motto, "Be Prepared".  You know, this is probably the source of my backing up most of what I do.  In business I always had a back door.  That is, a way to unravel and restart projects should I hit an unsolvable obstacle.

Most of my customers and none of the stores I've stopped at have two espresso machines.  Perhaps they have two boilers so they are not out of business if the espresso machine goes down.  I had three single group Rancillio espresso machines that I could, and did, move around when needed.  This was true too when we expected a big event to flood the store.  A parade at Thanksgiving is what I think of.  Our in town cafe got lots of business in a very short period of time, long lines dominated.  So bringing in the second group was a plus and limited the investment in this store as it did not need 15,000 dollars in espresso equipment.  If I had one store I'd have a two group machine.  I also used the single groups at carnivals and festivals and special events where we had a booth.

Tomorrow is a light day, I hope twenty or so miles, and then I'll move to 40 again.  Its the heat that limits the miles.  If it cools down, as I planned for, I might get to 50 or more again.  This has been great fun, difficult, but it sure tells you that a 61 year old overweight person can do this ride and get back into shape for the last third of THE race.

In business, do what you want to do or you won't be happy.  If you are not happy, watch out.



Monday, October 15, 2007


Made it.  I actually felt pretty good going across the border to Florida from Georgia.  To boot it was a very narrow bridge with a grate so it took some walking, so technically I walked into Florida, but you and I know the truth.

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Nice sign, but it reminds me of the old Miami.  I am happy I was riding a bike and not carrying any produce.  Good forbid you purchased food in a Georgia Supermarket.  The agricultural police and signs were all over the place, which, given the fruit fly problem in California some years ago, I guess, makes sense.

I left Brunswick, Georgia expecting to have a 20 mile jaunt to the border, but I miscalculated and it was more like 35.  The weather turned Florida on us and rose to 85 or 86 and this days ride was difficult, especially after I ate a positively wonderful meal at Creative Catering and Deli, Woodbine, Ga.  If I was giving out prizes for the best shop, I've seen this one would get it, and I have to apologize to the other folks who run top draw coffee houses.  Please take a look at the write up here.

Well the ride was straight as an arrow.  I remember a few bends in the road, but basically it was straight from Brunswick to Florida.  I think the RV park, billed as the first in Florida, which it is, on Rte. 17, and presumably there are not too many more within a mile of the border, is in Yulee, Florida.  Sun took its toll on me today, not the heat, but the sun.  I was anxious to get out of it.

And I walked slowly into the Swimming Pool.  Now this was not rehearsed, or thought about or planned.  But here we are in Florida and it is the first pool I've been in.  What?.  Why?  It must be Freudian because it was on my mind as soon as I crossed the border.  I got a free ice cream here from Phil the person who has owned this RV Park for the past two years.  He seems happy.  

Met Gary, a 70 year old retiree who rides a motor scooter, which I thought was more a motorcycle than scooter.  It is a Suzuki and is permitted on the super highways because it has the strength to go fast, up to 90.  Gary came down from West Virginia, he has family in Fernandina, Fl, a short ride on the islands of Florida.  I expect to get on A1A tomorrow and ride through it to St. Augustine, where Cathy has resaved a spot in the KOA.  Should be about 65 miles and I hope like crazy that the off shore wind is at my back.  Today it was head on most of the way.  We have to get our mail at this spot - we stopped looking for KOA because they charge $10 more than the other private sites, and I guess we are starting think like retired folks do.  So Gary can carry his wife, and plenty of groceries in his Suzuki and I can see my next toy.  Maybe, as our machine is perfect for this kind of travel.  No bothers.

This is  a delicate matter since Cathy would kill me if she reads it.  We had a discussion last evening about the trip and how it has gone and how much time Cathy spends in the motor home doing all the things she does, which is a lot.  The meal last night took two hours including set up and cleanup.  So we have to make some changes to accommodated the increased functions we are attempting.  I'm definitely getting healthier and lighter, and we have seen many coffee shops, and I'm getting to write this site, which I love to do.  But we are not getting any site seeing or much together time, x being in the same space a lot.  So we will adjust.  Both of us are committed to getting to Key West, although my original goal was to get to Florida, then I made it Fort Meyers, and then did a Bob and changed it to the furthest point south.  

If all goes well I could be in Key West playing folk and bluegrass with my old friend, and pirate ship entertainer, and love song writer and singer Rich McKay, also a member of the Frobisher Bay Volunteers, the College singing group I had the great pleasure of playing with.  This link is to a YouTube video we did in 1989, but Rich is not there because he was hung up in Key West.  

I'm uncertain in re the route to take.  17, with all its ups and downs has proven to be a good route.  I'm going to try A1A for the first time tomorrow, and then will take a look at US 1.  So please tell me what you think.  What I think.

While in the RV Park Harold Curtis, 75, came by and chatted a bit.  He was a long distance trucker for his entire career, 1952 to 1992, when he retired.  His son he trained to drive and is now driving long distance.  Harold spends the winter here in Yulee, Florida, and in April heads to Spencer NY, where he drops anchor for the summer.  His boat is a large trailer with multiple slide-outs and he and his wife and dog live in it full time.  Not a bad idea.  Gary also lives full time with his wife in his fifth wheel.  I like the idea and I especially like the weather down here and I like the mobility.  I also like the trailer as it is much less expensive than a motor home.

But I too need mobility beyond the scooter range.  

My thoughts for the day have to do with housing.  I've ridden now 1,000 miles.  Along much of this route, 17 to be precise, there are thousands of small homes - trailers, old small buildings of perhaps 200 to 300 square feet, many falling down buildings of 400 to 1000 square feet, and a ton of mobile homes, which I think make a lot of sense for a person who wishes to put their money in places other than the great American Money Pit, AKA, a house - and it sure looks to me like there is a lack of living funds in the area bordering 17, with some obvious exceptions where the other extreme exists.  I began to get angry today and had to remind myself that this has nothing to do with me, my business or is anything I can control.  

The creative me says this might be called a neighborhood, a 600 0r 700 mile long by 100 feet deep neighborhood, of folks in similar circumstances.  Low income is the dominant demographic.  Many of the homes are well kept, lawns mowed, gardens growing, houses painted.  Others are deplorable, and still others are termite food.

In stark contrast we toured the ruins of the Huntington Homestead just below Myrtle Beach.  They were rich, but, anyone who came to their homes and gardens looking for work, got it.  They got good wages and rumor has it that the Huntington family made sure they had medical care as well as adequate housing.  Good example they set, but when they moved they gave away the house, and left no money to continue this grand tradition.

So where are the philanthropists now.  It would be so easy for them to pick single families and help them get things together.  No grand gestures,  No grand programs.  Just take a bike ride down Route 17, and start with the first house you see.  Get to know the family, understand their position in life and then make appropriate recommendations and fund them.  Perhaps there is a way we could get something started in the coffee industry.

I wrote before about issues with the Fair Trade process when so many American Families need help.  So perhaps we can put something together and start down route 17 in your neck of the woods.  Just pick one family to start with.  Understand we can not control what they want and what they need.  We certainly can influence there opinions, but the receiver of the 'funding' or help must themselves decide how to use the resources we can make available. Or, we could stick to housing.  I will do some work on this and have ideas I hope as I go along.  Lets see what Florida brings.

If you have ideas on this subject please write to me at bob@gtc3.com or 'Contact Us Now' form through this log and site.

I'll bet there are a lot more route 17's in this country and that one family at a time we can bring change and improvement here at home.

Boy did I feel good going over the border into Florida.  Its a bit hard to believe I've come this far.  And I'm looking forward to meeting up with some friends along the way now.  Colleen Kelly and friend and associate from the banking days, Diane Marlowe from High School, and with great anticipation and I hope a chance to play good music for others, Rich McKay.


Almost.  I hope the heat is the reason so many of these homes I speak of have windows covered completely.  All the windows.  I have a suspicion that some of them just don't want others in their lives for whatever reason.  

A word on white lines.  The old painted ones are preferred.  The new tape or something that is put down has ridges that grab bike tires.  In some places there are several layers which makes it dangerous.  Shoulders are needed especially if the price of gas keeps going up.

I can not imagine America without sufficient gasoline to move our cars and out butts around the country and around the town.  America is on the move and I'm thinking that if there was a credible threat to gasoline supply (how's that for a government sponsored term) the country should deal with it.  Not on a price issue, but on a supply basis, which would in term effect price, but the point is to maintain the supply of energy to keep us moving.  I think that if Americans could not move where and when they want it would create sure havoc in the country.  There is a tremendous amount of energy expended driving around and moving from place to place and I'm not talking about gasoline energy, I'm talking about emotional or physic energy.  If we could not move, the I think Kinetic energy build up would be something to behold and avoid.


Sunday October 14, 2007

I enjoyed brilliant sun shine, a nice breeze variable in strength and direction, a great surface and some pretty nice people again.

The 62 miles was not as difficult as the last 60 mile day, but that is not to say it is easy.  Its hotter today and I went through probably 2 gallons of water.  

Kelvin and Bridget drove up to me while resting in the shade in Derien, GA.  Kelvin is from that town, and Bridget is from NY I think.  They admired the bike and were interested in getting three wheeler for a member of her family.  If you are reading this Bridget or Kelvin please call me at 856 825 8213 or bob@gtc3.com and give me your phone number or e-mail and I'll get the information for you.  Start with www.EZRacers.com.

Jim was riding a new spiffy bike when I arrived at the campground and we road the last 1.5 miles into the camp.  No rest for the weary.  We chatted about biking and his experiences on a motorcycle which he has driven around the country, including Montana, North Dakota and lots more.  He is a retired insurance company staff member.  He joked that he got rid of his balloon tire, beach bike because if you notice, it is the bike of choice for homeless people.  And when I think of it, it seems right.  So he ditched his, and bought the new one from Wal-Mart who promptly discontinued the bike and the parts so he could not find a tube, until he found a local, independent bike shop where he got the needed tube.

I've become pretty particular about my bottled drinking water, which I would prefer not to use, but all the literature on camping suggests you not drink the water.  So we don't.  When leaving the KOA at exit 87 on 95, all they had was Dasani.  I don't like it for it is the only water I've seen that lists ingredients.  I asked the clerk if they had other water, and she told me that Dasani was drinking water.  She is the first and only obstinate person that Cathy and I have run into, but we thought is was epidemic at this site.  They were Really good at giving direction and not listening, which is a no no for entrepreneurs.  You must listen to your customers.  No matter what happens or what they say.  I am debating just erasing this paragraph because I am uncomfortable relating bad manners, but in business you take the good with the bad, and use the bad to learn and change.  So... here it was.

I passed at least 100 churches today, including one that claimed to be the smallest church in the USA.  It was about the size of a small backyard shed.  The nicest one I have seen on the whole trip is just a mile north of this campground.  Nice stone work, nice properly sized steeple, red doors with floral arrangements.  Very neat and very attractive.  But I guess we should not judge a church by its building.  There were perhaps 10 advertising the next singing group, and a couple of whoppers with buses and events like Home Coming.

The schools all have huge stadiums.  The local telephone company had an interesting sign urging the local High School Team to 

Intimidate and Dominate

so I thought the head of the phone company must come from Texas.  But this is Georgia, and Georgia Tech territory so I guess it's ok to teach the youngsters good interpersonal skills for working at a chain store or McDonalds.  Where is good sportsmanship?  I played high school football for two years along side Bob Schiraldi, he at end, me at tackle and we played both ways, offense and defense.  On offense we had 'trick' lineman calls like Banana, or Tomato, which told us which fellow on the other side to block.  Bob and I did not have to intimidate the other team because we were just plain good enough to knock them aside for our fullback, or tail back, or our QB trying to scramble.  How about Excellence and knocking the other guy down instead of 'Intimidate and Domoinate'.  There were no opposing linemen who could have intimidated me or Bob, we could slip and slide and cross over and let them in a step and then blast them from the side, or trip them.  No problem if you are physically fit and quick.

I hope the coffee stores in Georgia don't take offense.  I'm not saying anything bad about Georgia Football, its good and its ingrained and I appreciate it.  Jim, the fellow above who rode into the campground with me, at age 15 took up boxing and eventually became a pro.  Even he though needed more to hit and run and jab than practice intimidation.  No one can intimidate you, only you can intimidate you.  If you are confident in your skills and actions then on you go, in coffee or football.

I watched Oz a bit on HBO until it got to be too much to take.  But that fictional prison, and I suppose real prisons, are the only places I can think of where you must Intimidate and Dominate.  Or the telephone company.  Phone companies, right or wrong in their actions,  are expert at intimidation and they dominate us.  $175 to quit because of lousy service?

In Derien I bought a gallon of water and clerk at the K store blest me and everyone she helped.  Good person.  The person ahead of me used a $50 denominated food coupon and got $39 in change.  Then she bought two $5 bets or numbers or something.  It strikes me as mean spirited for the government to take that ladies money and pour it into programs she has no chance ever of enjoying.  It is behavior  the sheriff of Nottingham would admire., 'take from the poor, give to the rich'.   Cathy and I are sitting tonight in a beautiful County or State Park of 1100 acres, sites that are actually level, staff that are generous and humorous and involved.  The last camper I saw pulled in with a spanking new Airstream and it was beautiful.  This morning across from us in the KOA were four huge diesel coaches, each of which cost over $250,000, not counting the car behind it.  Those four coaches cost over $1.000,000.  Now the KOA is not the County park but it shows the type of money involved in the camping.  The lady in Derien has little chance of enjoying this campground, which, in a round about way, she pays for.  Every state says the money goes to the elderly (who are the only people driving big coaches other than music stars) or to education.  But by using the gambling proceeds the state avoid operating expenses, so, in a round about way, that lady gambler is paying for my campground.

I had to ask Cathy why she was doing so much to support this trip.  It was on my mind today.  She is cooking, driving, getting sites, getting food, calling directions, walking Ruby, feeding me, making beds, unmaking beds, doing laundry, cleaning and every once in a while sitting.  I know if I asked her to support a trip on which I thought I could back into physical condition, she would do it.  This trip began that way, I'll ride and lose weight and we would site-see.  Then I realized I could visit a lot of customers and then I realized that I might make some contribution to other stores, by documenting the successes independent stores enjoy.  So, no sight seeing.  And a lot more work for Cathy which she does without question of hesitation.  You guys out there planning a trip like this, which I urge you to do, especially if you are near my size, make sure you clear it with the wife.  She will be very busy and must be able to drive the rig.  Which is one reason we got rid of the 37 footer pulling an F150 that held the bikes, and traded down to a more compact, but comfortable motor home.

Including the test trip to New York, we have lived almost a month and a half now in the 9 x 20 room(s).  But after a few claustrophobic days and nights it is working.  Which is amazing for us since we have so much space at home.  Perhaps we will learn that it isn't necessary to have a mini estate to be happy.  Which both of us actually knew well before we plunged on our home of 3 and 1/2 years.  Prior to our current abode, we rented a condominium for 12 years or so, and missed the huge run up in home prices, so that we could sustain Kaffe Magnum Opus.  We scarified a great deal in order to enjoy a satisfactory retirement now, which was latter back then.  So far so good, although I begin to realize that I will never completely give up business, for I love it.  Not necessarily my business, but business is what I love.  Its challenging and constantly changing and I like all of that.

I hope you do to, because you are in a challenging position, running a retail coffee operation, and the market is constantly changing.  Stay abreast of the market, your market.  Be involved in community affairs and business luncheon groups who are in the know.  Find out early if a new competitor is coming to town, or planning to come to town, and perhaps you can get the site first.  But you have to know.  Even if you don't get the site, and choose to stick with a single location you can make the necessary changes in your business to succeed with the new competitor.  As Jim the boxer said, "never did I stop moving'.  It was the only way he could survive in the ring, and it is the surest way to win in the coffee business.

Thanks to Steve Bruce for very nice note, and thanks to Daniels father for a very nice note, and thanks to Rose of Jitterz for a good note and a correction to her page.

Tomorrow is Florida, a big event on this ride.  We plan to go south on 17, pick up A1A and go over to the state parks on the coast between Fernandina Beach and Atlantic Beach.  Next day we will go to St. Augustine and pick up mail and pay some bills.  So hold your britches Amex and Visa.  The money is in the mail


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Its good riding on Saturday, fewer trucks and workmen on the way home with a belt under their belt.  Not one honker today.  Neither Cathy nor I were quite sure how to get out of Point South, a place on route 95 with the usual hotel, waffle house, mc Donald crowd.  I missed them coming in because I came from another direction and was focused on getting off the bike.

17 joined 95 and I can't ride there so I took Frontage Road, which seemed to parallel Rte. 97/17.  It did for 12 miles and then hooked up with 17 South.  Terrific, ultra low traffic, I bet 20 cars in 12 miles.  I did have an anxious moment this morning and would have liked to have had Leo Lawrence, Marine, with me.  He is in North Carolina in Maggie Valley on Vacation.  What happened is I looked in the mirror and there was a van passing a car that was a couple of hundred yards behind me.  I never heard him arrive, and he was going my speed.  After the van passed the white car, the white car continued another couple of hundred yards and then passed me and went on its way, I hoped.  I'd been shadowed, reason unknown.  It had three men in it, two sitting in the NY slouch.  My paranoid self thought they were casing me and it was only while writing this that I realized the van may have saved me and them a bit of trouble.  So thank you Van (caps intended).  I guess this is the reason I'm sticking to 17 and not going into the back road routes of Adventure Cycling.  Not I guess, it is.

Hey, just had an alligator rise to the surface of the lake we are staying at in Rolling Something.  I went over to take a picture of white birds sitting in a tree and more arriving.  As I stood there focusing up popped George.  The KOA has no warning signs anywhere, but when we asked about the critters, the staff said don't walk your dog there because little critters attract them.  Here is Alli's cousin George IMGA0361.JPG (123126 bytes) Stealthy son of a gun.  I bet this is where the seals got their start, no disrespect at all.  IMGA0362.JPG (102410 bytes) Side view as George was doing a 360.

The birds I went to photo are: IMGA0367.JPG (119923 bytes) ?  A lady Cathy spoke to said they roost there all night, every night, and leave in the morning.  This picture I was lucky to get one in flight.  The trees, three trees, are full of them.

Our next door neighbors are different, two Harley riders with pop up trailers.  IMGA0352.JPG (114295 bytes) I took this picture on the sly, stealthily so as not to raise his suspicions, but I'll ask him latter to ride shotgun for me tomorrow, until I get out of Georgia. IMGA0350.JPG (118081 bytes) This is the campground we are at tonight and it struck me that this life we are temporarily living is pretty good.  You get a different view every night and daily life is really an adventure.  We were talking earlier about the price of gas and how it did not stop motor homes, as this camp is full tonight and they say there isn't an opening within fifty miles.  I thought no matter what the price of gas Americans will move around, always.  If we can't then the government better watch out.  Can you imagine another Nineteen Seventy Three?  But this time with real limits?  I guess reality is the government knows this, and this is the reason they go all out to maintain our supplies, at any cost.

Well, speaking of Harley Davidson, today in Ridgeland, SC I was sitting at the intersection of 17 and 46 or something like it wondering which way to go, and along came Mrs. Davidson, although I didn't know her then.  She rolled down the winder and hollered, 'Need help' and I replied "where is 17?".  She just pointed to the right.  And off I went.  About a half mile latter she was getting out of her car when I passed and we got to talking.

You going to Hardeeville?, she asked.

Well, kinda, I'm headed to Key West.

You get to Florida you look up the Peal's, huh.

Who?, says I.

P, E, A, L, Peal, I gots family in Florida.  I'm a Clinton or something like that, married a Davidson (which I couldn't understand at that moment) and I gots Peals in Florida.  Family.

Ah, says I.  I'll do that.  What was your last name?

Davidson, like the motorcycle.  

I drew a blank and she knew it.

Like Harley Davidson, she says, spelling it out for me.

Then, "Here comes some traffic, you better get going, be safe out there.

I hope you can determine who said what in this conversation.  She also asked me how old I was, and after I replied she said she was 74.  "My husband's been sick for 16 years and he can't hardly live and he can't hardly die."  I felt bad for this lady, she probably hasn't been out of Ridgeland for a long time, and I don't think she has been down to Florida, maybe 130 miles south.  But clearly she was helpful so I gave her a flyer and flew.  She seemed happy and was upbeat and involved in living.

The road to Hardeeville is long, about 15 miles.  It was two lane all the way, but very few trucks and a lot of northbound Harley's, I bet looking for Mrs. Davidson.  Several stretches were treed overhead with the moss hanging down, exactly what you would expect in South Carolina and the south.  Very nice.  The surface sucked, bumpity bump bumpity bump for 15 miles and a rough, old blacktop now grey.  But little traffic so I slowed down to a cruising speed and the bumps did not bother me as much.  I was thinking about Steinbeck and his three month trip around the country.  First, it was not nearly enough time.  Second, he did not talk to enough people.  Third, he would have been better off with a bike.  He spent more time in Texas for a Thanksgiving "orgy" as he described it, meaning a lot of food - like everything  in Texas, Thanksgiving is large - then he did in New Orleans where he went to see first hand the attempted, and successful integration of the local schools.

But, like the birds I saw tonight and got pictures of:

IMGA0360.JPG (125880 bytes) the white ones have their tree, IMGA0358.JPG (125210 bytes) and the black ones had theirs.  This is not trick photography as that ability is not one of mine.  Nor is it a shadow shot of the black birds.  Rather within a hundred yards the two different colored birds roosted each with its own color without mixing.

Some might point to this as an illustration of the natural order of things, but I do not.  Birds don't think, as far as we know, but humans do, as far as we think.  "I think, therefore I am" said Thomas Aquinas, I believe.  So if we think, why can we not see each other as humans - we all came from one fine lady named Lucy who lived in Africa - for certainly today we still don't fully integrate anything.  Steinbeck I think fictionalized a conversation with a hitch-hiker, but the essence of it was that it would take a long time for us to integrate, as long as it took to intermarry and homogenize the country.  Perhaps the large influx of immigrants will speed this process.  I think Steinbeck and his hitch-hiker were real close to seeing the future, and it was 50 years ago.  Certainly we can live side by side, and I hope live well together and give each person their proper due.  The language of the country is homogenizing and everything else will follow, I think.

Then there was Leroy Johnson, the Plumber.  I stopped along Frontage Road to take a movie of a fast moving freight train, and when it's flight was over, a couple of cars crossed the tracks coming in my direction.  I noticed the driver of a white van, and we exchanged salutes.  Two hours latter I'm two blocks from Cathy who waiting in the motor home, and I'm passing Crabs Restaurant billed as the best lunch in the town of Hardeeville, when who comes out the door of the restaurant but the man in the van.  We both laughed, exchanged greetings and got into the usual conversation of "Where you going?, Where are you from?, What do you do? and oh, what is your name."  And when he said Leroy Johnson, I said we must be related somewhere along the line.  Cathy could see me stop and sit in the street talking to Leroy but she had not an inkling of what was up, so she called and asked if I was ok.  Leroy and I both got the message I guess and we said our goodbyes.  I gave him a flyer so he can tell his grandchildren about the crazy guy riding a crazy bike he ran into one day in Hardeeville.  He yelled he'd have to speak to his wife, but he'd likely call me to find out about going into the coffee business, "try something new", he explained.  He then mentioned $2 cups of coffee and his eyes lit up.

If he only knew.  I don't expect to hear from him, but if I do, he is welcome to visit the plant.

There are some very nice people in this neck of the woods and I'm glad to have met a few.  My classmate Phil Stork, who is quite something.  He organized our 30 year high school reunion and got near 98% attendance.  How many people can do that?  Not many I think.  But Phil now lives in North Carolina and he responded "what else would you expect in North Carolina?" (The South I think he meant).   I guess he is right. Its pretty nice down here, although Mrs. Davidson told me to stay out of Savannah cause someone get shot there every day, which, if she only knew is a lot better than Philadelphia, the city closest to my home. 

I had to drive across the South Carolina/Georgia border, and kept right on going,  around Savannah, treating it as we now expect to treat every metropolitan area.  I hear it is beautiful and one of the original purposes of this trip was to see Charleston and Savannah.  But it will have to be on our return trip or another trip for that purpose.   I did not like driving across the Georgia line as I wanted to call Leon Werkheiser from the line and sing with him on the telephone, "In the Pines".   It goes: "The longest train I ever saw was on the Georgia line, the engine passed at 6 o'clock, the cowl came by at 9".

Tomorrow I plan at least 50 and maybe more so that I can get into Jacksonville on Monday.  Its great riding on Sunday's because everyone is in church or sleeping in.  The weather is smashing and I hope it keeps up for a few days.  We just looked at the distance using US 1 from Jacksonville to Miami; it is 345 miles.  Then 165 miles to Key West.  The total of 510 miles I might do in say 12 to 15 days, given good conditions.  This means we will finish the southern run around October 28, 2007, which would give us more time to sight see on the ride home.




Friday, October 12, 2007

First of all I thought it was the 11th, and if not for this log, I would still think it.  The trip throw's me off a bit.

IMGA0339.JPG (118935 bytes) This is the kind of road you would like to ride in South Carolina.

IMGA0345.JPG (133063 bytes) Where you find old buildings like this one.

IMGA0335.JPG (125833 bytes) And Plantation Roads like this.

And I did a little.

IMGA0330.JPG (126968 bytes) And birds like this one with a very different call.

I'm riding the most direct coastal route I saw on the map, and it is.  It has ups and downs, some shoulders, and no shoulders, traffic, and no traffic, yahoos and googlers, and a lot of pine trees, which are plentiful in our home county.  But the sky and clouds or lack of clouds, and in general light traffic, make this a trip well worth the effort.  Today was another 56, i.e., around 60 mile day, and I plan two more this weekend and hope to get to Florida to start the week off among retired people.  Here's why.

In Revendale, or something like it, a very small town with a single long sidewalk that no one uses and as far as I remember 1 traffic light.  Well I was looking in the mirror as I approached the light and I guess I went trough a red one.  I know this to be true, for a helpful foe peeled out just as I passed.  I threw him the thumbs up, which is my new fickle finger of fate, and went on thinking he was just another southern yahoo.  But he wasn't.  'bout five or ten minutes latter I'm riding along minding my own business since this is about all I'm capable of right now, and along comes Mr. Peel Out.  He pulled along beside me and slows down to my 13 mph.  He opens the window, and shouts "do you know you RAN a Red Light back there".  I thought he was going to tell me how much he liked the bike or the ride, or my shirt or me god forbid, but nope, he was playing policeman.  I couldn't figure out what to say to this minder of my business.  What do you say, 'go jump in the lake', or 'mind you own business' or go ---- yourself, or throw him the new fickle finger of fate.  So all I could think of was "Yeah" and nothing more.  This is what after all my mother taught me.  "Tell the truth Robert and you will always feel good." but of course she did not dare call me Robert, she called me something worse, but I won't bend your ear with my Mother stories.  Yet.  So Mr. Peel Out is a bit flabbergasted by my honest, Brooklyn, New York in your face response, which to him is the ultimate Satanic answer.  I knew I did evil to this poor guy and he had to take it, or run me off the road.  So he ran.  And boy was I happy then, because I have no idea what to expect in these small towns.

A lot more honkers, and googlers who are people who ogle your stuff, like my bike, camera, iphone and wallet.  Cathy says forgetaboutit.   All they are doing is looking at the bike and wondering what happened to the engine, which around 40 miles today I was also wondering.  I thought I got propositioned by a car with a female and a ton of perfume, with a 'hey buddy', nice bike.  Christmas I ran like it was the end of the world and my life depended on it.  Two dogs today.  Both dogs were fortunate to be behind fences because I don't  fool around with dogs no mo'.  Once upon a time on an upright bike a dog in Vineland came out from the left on a narrow street and jumped right in front, or into, my front wheel.  I went down with a crack, like cracked wrist, and since then I take all dogs seriously.  I've only hit three with my Halt spray and all three noses went right to the ground.  The first beast was right in front of a church on Mays Landing Road, the other two were on a farm road and they were part of a four dog pack.  This happened during the 2007 Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival.  I hate to do it, because I'm sure it hurts the dogs eyes and nose.  But it is them or us bikers.

John Channel, aka John the Dancer called for the third time and I must say it is good to get his touch base how you doing phone calls.  John is a terrific person, always smiling, just retired I think, and a pretty good guitar playing bluegrass singing guy.  He also shines his head and dances at the shed, although he doesn't call it dancing.  Paul Petrone was also there and tells me there is only 90 miles in Georgia to cover.  Halleluiah.  Paul lost part of a finger, he says in a surfing accident.  The rope that you tie the board to and then tie to your hand apparently got wrapped around his finger and literally sawed right though the last digit.  Now this is what Paul says.  I think he was out there practicing his fiddle and the bass were running hard and just plain don't like bluegrass music.  One of those 70 pounders I think thought so little of it that he took that old finger, not unlike Jonah.  And who was it that opened Moby Dick, I remember, ''They call me Ishmael".  Moby won that battle much the same as the bass kicked Paul's butt.  Not to make light of this misadventure, for Paul had  three operations on the darn finger and I'm sure that finger hurt and the rumor is he is a pretty good surfer.  

It is a real pleasure to speak to these friends while on the road.  Today I pulled over when I heard the phone ring and called back the number in caller id.  It was John, and I was standing in front of Friendship Pentecostal Holiness Church, which I'm sure made John very happy.  He's trying to convert me to something or other.

My son Paul called today to bounce an idea off his dad's head.  Seems the phone company has his business number as an unlisted unpublished number for two years and he has paid for this pleasure.  What should he do?  Get a lawyer and sue?  I suggested he write a letter to the FCC or something and it would get the phone companies attention.  Otherwise they do their -  'yo no se'  - trip or trick on you.  More importantly, Paul cut down two huge maple trees in his side yard, which I think is the first step to another expansion of his home.  The story though was that his chain saw encountered an old piece of barbed wire that was embedded in the tree, and not visible from the outside.  The saw grabbed the wire and proceeded to run it across Paul's thigh.  About 4.5 inches into the thigh.  That could have been real trouble and Paul described it as his lucky day since it missed the artery and the tendons.  That's a real halleluiah.

I have a way to congratulate myself at the end of each days ride.  I eat an ice cream bar, which is much better than eating one of the WaWa pints I do at home.  First the pints have no consumer protection device, and some day some goon or patriot will put some junk in a few and make it Tylenol 2.  Every other ice cream maker puts cellophane or plastic to fasten the top to the pint.  Not WaWa, they need money so badly they risk your life and mine for more. Second, the pint is three times as much ice cream.  But not to worry too much, because there is enough air in the ice cream to blow up my front tire.  I know.  I was a good humor ice cream man for three summers: when I was a senior in high school and then two college summers.  Our sales went down as the amount of air went up.  But from my view I buy WaWa and not Ben and Jerry's, which I used to buy for the Cherry Garcia, because WaWa is less calories due to the low quality.  So onward and upward WaWa, and I just hope it ain't me babe that gets the headache.  I'm converting to Toll House ice cream sandwiches.

The ride got to me today at around 40 miles.  My legs began to cough and sputter and generally make it known that enough was enough.  But it wasn't, so I cajoled them into thinking it was just a mile to go for 16 times.  And it worked.  I got a third wind around 50 and cruised in the last six.  Thinking of the ice cream helped me.  And it will help you too.

In business I think it is good to have a vision of where you want to be, like a Hawaiian Island, or $20,000,000 in sales or $250,000 in sales, or the best coffee in the market and have a way to measure the quality of yours and theirs.  This is where my ice cream comes in.  When you make the goal, be sure to treat yourself to something good.  Or you may not do it again.  How else do you think I can ride 30, 40 or 70 miles a day out here. " It's the Ice Cream stupid."

Who was it that coined that phrase...?

Ah, bubba.  Today there was an electrician outside an electrical supply house as I rode by on EZ.  He shouted "go bubba', which in this neck of the woods is a high order compliment I think.  Robert, our associate at KMO would know for I've heard him use the term and he spend a great deal of time in these woods.  So Robert, was he urging me on or urging me to stop?

It is very good traveling through so many states on a bike.  You get to see and hear thinks you never do in a car.  I've met people that are quite nice and very considerate.  Like the bike repairman yesterday, David is his name.   On the other hand, the man who filled my propane tank this morning I think almost killed us.  He gets is pump hooked up to my tank and cranks away.  Then he drains his line and out comes a ton of liquid gas, which scared me half to death since the Best Person In The World was in the camper.  He said "oh yeah', you can fill it with the valve open or shut, doesn't matter".  Well then why in the world do the propane experts in Millville always make sure the valve is closed?  This was not good, but I choose not to play Mr. Peel Out, and let it go.  Fate can handle this one.  

Tomorrow is Georgia, can you believe it?

10-12 end of story.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Incredible weather, dry 75 high a bit of a head wind, but the camp we picked at 48 miles was full, and so it turned into a 68 mile day.  But that was fine with me.  Around half way today screeching starting coming from up front, metal on metal and it had to be the crank case so had it replace tonight, and that was a lucky stop - head mechanic on - as he knew exactly what to do.  Got new pedals, with cleats, new kickstand - longer so the bike will stand.

I was so excited and delighted to get the bike fixed today that I neglected to get the pictures I normally get.  It was David at The Bicycle Shoppe, in Mount Pleasant.  So this is the third bike shop I've had to stop at, and all three were very good.  This one tops the list for expertise and availability.  Telephone is 884 7433 in Mount Pleasant South Carolina.

Guess where David is born.  Well, not exactly Brooklyn, but really close, Que Gardens in Queens, but his girl friend is from Brooklyn, which makes him A ok.  The waiter at Applebees was from Ohio and he says half his high school class is down here.  So again the people are on the move.

I passed only one Coffee store that was part of a Chocolate store but could not turn around on  17 at the moment.  It is in the Exchange Shopping Center on Rt 17 just south of Myrtle Beach.

Started this morning around 9, as I knew I might have a long ride today.  Commuters were on the move in the AM and I finished in the Charleston area and they were on the move again.  The day was fantastic in between.  Long stretches of highway with a two foot shoulder and little traffic.  

There are many smalls homes, cabins and roadside buildings that were once businesses that are occupied by local people and I notice that probably ten men were standing outside, along the road and they all, all, carried a cane of some sort.  About half waved.  One was a really good singer and a couple took great interest in the bike.  It attracts a lot of attention.  I got the impression that many of these structures were once occupied by slaves, which is a reminder of how close that horrible human condition was to us in the states.  I took it that the men I saw were not employed during the day, but all of the homes, with rare exception, were maintained very nicely, painted, lawns cut and just plain nice.  There are also a fair number of 'shacks' in fall down condition and they are not occupied, but one wonders why they were let go, as many have beautiful shapes and were clearly a workmans cottage as my brother Gerry the builder in Kauai describes them. 

In South Carolina there are roadside 'lean-to's' from which local artisans sell baskets.  I guess SC is know as a basket making area.  The sales take place from stalls that are permanent structures, a roof, but open sides.  Some have small rooms on the back in which to sit in the shade but most of the artisans sat in their cars along the road.  Some were women, some were men, and the baskets looked pretty good.  I thought the only thing I had interest in would be a sun protector.  The sun is still hot and burns.

Today I saw the first deer dead on the side of the road.  This is strange since in New Jersey they are all over the place.  There was a lot of deer corn sold along the route so perhaps that influences where the deer move.  If the food is free they likely go to it at their own peril.  

In McClelendville, which is 28 miles in each direction from towns of any real size, I stopped at the cross road at a country store that had to be 10,000 square feet of everything under the sun.  I was famished and purchased my first baged, turkey and cheese sandwich, but I made it through the day so it was fine.  Its good to be riding in roughly civilized areas so I don't have to carry as much water.

Tomorrow I plan to bypass Charleston - we have decided to leave the big cities to another trip.  The traffic and the time left are both issues.  So we will ride around Charleston on 526 which will save me 25 odd miles of perilous flight.  If I can get in another 40 or 50 miles tomorrow, Friday, I'll be in Georgia on Saturday.  

I was trying to remember how this trip came about, and must remember that first is an effort to improve my health by losing the pounds put on while building Kaffe Magnum Opus.  I'm a stress eater.  And two is to do it.  I guess you might say the challenge.  I can tell you there are not many folks headed south by bike along this route.  And most of the people I tell what I'm doing, which is easier with the new t-shirts and flyers, don't seem to comprehend it.  Oh is the most common comment.  Oh?  They don't understand.  The waiter tonight asked what kind of bike I had and was surprised to find it was powered by legs alone.  And peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that Cathy makes for me every day, and banana's, and oranges and apples, and today a turkey and cheese sandwich.  I've also stopped at Subways along the way for their turkey sub on wheat roll.  Why in the world am I getting into this kind of detail?

I guess this log has turned into a place to put my observations and experience along the way.  Reading Steinbeck "Travels with Charley In Search of America" intensified  my awareness of the events and people around me.  And its really interesting to me and I hope to you.

There is a wide division of wealth in this area of South Carolina.   There are many beautiful homes in "plantations", which is another word for developments.  They are not  viewed from the street, but I know they are large, new and expensive.  In contrast stand the homes I described before.  There is a lot of money in this area, and there seems to be opportunity along this route form more coffee stores.  And there is a lot of poverty, but in well kept homes.

Today I must have ridden 30 0r 40 miles in basically wilderness.  There is a large national park here, and a forest named after the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion.  Lafayette was here too, and so was George Washington, and of course Georgetown was named after the first King of America, well almost king.  Well, he could have been king, but he choose another route; he must have been a very strong person to overcome his peers desire to name him king, and to keep going during the rebellion.  I think it was six years between the first skirmishes in New England and Yorktown.   He must have been an intense focused individual to bring his army through such deprivation each winter.  In those days we now know there was a little ice age taking place around the northern Atlantic Ocean and the temperatures were much lower than now.  Hail George Washington, what would have done without you.  

So he and his kind played an important role in creating the environment in which entrepreneurs such you, can operate so freely.  I believe the first drafts of the constitution had the term 'in search of wealth', not 'in search of happiness', which won the debate.  I now ride on roads created by these men, for us.  So I plead you leaders of South and North Carolina to add a two to three foot shoulder along the road built or at least envisioned by Washington.  I guarantee you that bicyclists will come because this route is a terrific way to bike down the coast.  I don't really care how fast the traffic moves provided I have a shoulder.  In fact when there is a steady stream of cars going fast in the same direction I'm headed I get a lift from the current they create. 

Tomorrow morning Cathy and I are going to a park Cathy discovered today the has an agility course for Ruby.  I called Cathy earlier to day and she was out of breath running with Ruby through the course and I'm anxious to see it.  So we will rise early.

And speaking of anxiety, I've had a low level anxious feeling every day.  I'm thinking its because I have don't know the terrain or the people I'll run into each day.  

And, I rode though historic downtown Georgetown today and its very nice but coffee-store-less.  There are a few hundred small shops and places to eat and drink, a wharf with some small tall ships, signs 'don't feed the alligators', and a steel mill which employs a bunch of folks.  At least there are a lot of cars in their parking lot.  I've never seen a working steel mill.  This one has all kinds of equipment, but it is all rusted.  Clearly they like it like that as everything from fork lifts to huge buildings are rusted.   And the plant does not seem to interfere with the serenity on the downtown main street.

Which reminds me about  yesterday in Conway.  I saw my first southern belle.  She wore a very attractive summer skirt to her ankles, in black florals, and she had a hat on.  It was a wide brimmed straw hat and she held her right arm and hand on it to keep it on her head.   And her accent was unmistakable.  I can't tell you what they were talking about - there were two other women but not so decked out and older - but the lilting melodic tones were good to hear.  I'm guessing that the native born southerner is fast disappearing, or at least the language of the native born southerner is disappearing.

And  by golly there are a lot of white churches along 17.  There have to be twenty at least in every named place, including McClelendville that has only three fueling stations and country store.  I'm also guessing that there are a fair number of 'churches' used as tax reducers.  But this is not to say it in a disparaging way.  There are simply a lot of churches and some of them are huge.  Big brick structures with steeples rising high into the sky are pretty commonplace.  Each of these seems to have an equal amount of space for the pastors, and for recreation and recruiting.   Religion is a big part of life here, and remember the coffee house in Wilmington that remained closed on Sunday so the staff has a day of rest and attend church together.  Someone is paying for all of these structures.  Its too bad we've got so many denominations and can't merge a few, and turn the empty ones into housing, much needed by many.

Today I saw a dead snake, either that or it was resting on its back in the shoulder.  It was green on top and yellow on the bottom and I'm thinking it could probably kill.  I guessed a viper of some sort, but I'm no expert.  But when I walk along these roads and the grass is over a few inches, I walk very cautiously, and of course any time I see water or any king, covered with green, running, brown running like the Santee River North and the Santee River South, I look to avoid alligators.  They are a fact of life and I guess you just don't have swimming holes.  But where did Huck Finn live?

It isn't fair to end on snakes and alligators, but I will.




Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another very hot day and I decided to rest a second day and drive to some stores in Myrtle Beach.  We met two very different folks both successful in their own right.  Margaret Curry operates Coffee Etc. in a mall headlined by Krueger's and Letty Smith operates The Trestle Bakery - Cafe, a super successful caterer, bakery and cafe.  Margaret made sure we visited  The Trestle and I thank her for the referral.

I've been waiting for the cooler weather and it is due tomorrow so I'm going to increase the daily mileage.  I'd like to be in Jacksonville Florida early next week, and I think we can as it is only 340 or so miles.

I've never understood how folks can build a beautiful thing and then severely restrict who can use it.  Conway has constructed a terrific board walk along the downtown waterfront.  Only one car and one couple was there.  I think the reason is they do not allow bikes or pets.  The only wheeled vehicles allowed are wheelchairs and baby carriages.

But the ground is so soft, no wheelchairs could get through and I know this from personal experience.  And what will mothers do with the youngsters who ride bikes?  So it was not surprise to Cathy and I that no one there.  We have dog so we turned around and left although we struggled a bit in the very soft turf. 

In our business I think this falls in the same category of stores that have many Don't Do signs or This Is For Customers Only signs.  Like the bathrooms I've discussed already.  So think about what every sign you put up says, that is, the surface message, and what it could mean to people of various persuasions.   It is good business to understand your base and then communicate positively to it.

And, most signs are as effective as the speed limits on any highway.  Communication is two way, a person sends a message, and someone receives the message.  Then the sender has to make sure somehow that the intended message was received as they intended.  This doesn't always work, as we all know from our personal relationships.   The state police are a device that states use to make sure we get the message, but we still don't get it.  Just try doing 65 on 95.  You'll be fighting a rearguard action all day long. 

Please don't eat the daisy's tells folks that daisy's are worth tasting.

Tomorrow its off to Buck Hall camp ground in the national forest between here and Mount Pleasant, SC.  

Oh, Margaret Curry was born in Brooklyn and I think Niki her associate said she was from New Jersey.  Letty was from exit 8A on the Jersey Turnpike, aka, East Brunswick and Barbara too was from I think New Jersey.  So the Steinbeck rule continues to apply.  50 years after he forecast the homogenizing of the US, it is happening, although for different reasons.  He said TV and Radio would do it, but it is the footloose and fancy freedom we all celebrate.  Folks move around a lot in this country.   When visiting in Myrtle Beach you are more likely to speak to someone from outside the area, than a native born South Carolinian.  I can tell you one thing though, in Horry County South Carolina you don't pronounce the H.  Leave it alone or you'll be in trouble.  It is Orie  like in Oreo Cookie.

I hope tomorrow I have a shoulder to ride on.



Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Today was a personal day of rest.  We hung out, visited the Huntington Winter Residence ruins.  Tomorrow I plan to go to a camp the Park Ranger recommended, Buck Hall, along route 17.  I've decided to visit Charleston the next trip, bypass the city and head to Savannah, Ga.

The cities are just too darn dangerous.  I'm told this  isn't so for Savannah.


Monday, October 8, 2007

The welcome we got at Jumpin' Java and the help I got from Island Hoppers Bicycle Repair were a grand way to finish North Carolina.  Help, warmth, good conversation, advice and superb coffee.  I carried an iced coffee away on the bike today for the first time.  It did not last long.

Last night stayed at Holiday Inn Express to see Jennifer's show, Cold Case.  Changing the routine was a bit disrupting.  The hotel phone called my room three times starting at 4:30 so I got up at five.  Not good for me, so I went back to bed around 7 and got up at 9, late for a bike ride and visits to coffee houses. 

Then I did have one of those flats.  Picked up some glass in the rain yesterday which is the reason bikers don't ride on the grass next to road into which all the broken beer bottles have been washed by the rain.  When Dan Beasley, who owns Jumpin' Java with Sara Misiti, a fantastic couple, helped me get the bike off Betsey, it had too soft a landing.  Oops.  The really god news though is that Steve Bruce of Island Hoppers Bicycle Repair, on route 17 just south of Shallotte, took me in, and put a new tire and tube on the bike for $10, and then he threw a plastic tire iron in my saddle bag, gratis.  This is not New Jersey.

Both of these contacts with people in North Carolina I thought typified my view of the Southern Gentleman and Lady.  It was just a fine way to start today's ride and finish North Carolina..  Dan suggested I take 179 down through Calabash to South Carolina and I did.  Fantastic homes, many golf courses and access to the barrier islands.  I rode to the top of the bridge leading into Ocean Isle and got homesick.  Cathy and I lived in Ocean City New Jersey for many years and both of us loved the ocean.  The view of the ocean, and the town and jet skiers on the inland water way, were too much for me to not think of all the good things that have transpired to get me here.  And the smell of the Ocean is I guess universal.  Aroma's play an important part in our memory.

I know I've related to many people the story of how I entered the coffee business.  I walked into a Barnies Coffee and Tea in the Galleria Mall in Philadelphia, and it was deja vue.  I was the member of our seven child family who got occasionally to grind the coffee in A and P in our town, East Rockaway.  I've carried that aroma with me in my memory banks all my life, and when I smelled it in Barnies, it was instant decision and off to Orlando to talk to Phil Jones who started and used to own Barnies.  He sold some time ago to I think S and P out of Atlanta, or something similar and I am very happy I'm not with that company as a franchisee.  But the point is the smell pulled me in as it does to so many of our customers and your customers, and I've loved it ever since.

The ride to Myrtle Beach

The first 16 or so miles were fine.  Then it got very hairy.  The moment I rode into South Carolina the shoulder disappeared and I should have stopped there.  Being Bob however I pushed on to Little River and had lunch in a Subway with a bunch of hooligans.  I stood at the window and watched my bike very carefully.  No shoulders in Little River, No Shoulders in Myrtle Beach, and the local Info person suggested I go route 9 to 31 and take 31 as it had wide shoulders, which it did.  But the kicker was no bikes allowed on 31, which is nuts since it is lightly traveled and the surface and shoulder are very bike friendly.  You non long distance bikers may think it improvident to ride on a super highway, and it is, as one hit is the last hit.  But they are the best roads, and given the alternative in Myrtle Beach, the super highway looked like the proverbial walk in Central Park.  That is, ok to a point.  In any event, 9 had no shoulder and a surface like scar-face Capone, so I turned around and went back to the no shoulder route 17 which was a big mistake.  No sooner do I get back than a bridge over the inland waterway presents itself, with a sidewalk I can't see from 500 yards.  So I take out my camera, zoom in and ah, there is a small sidewalk.  So I decide to quit and call Cathy to come get me.  By this time Cathy is halfway down 31 and takes a few minutes longer than my patience could take so I walk across the bridge holding on for dear life as the biggest cement trucks I've ever seen career past and make this magnificent bridge appear to be as good as the bridges in Minneapolis.  I did get across and I bet you can write the next sentence.  So I'll quote you.  "No shoulders".  But this time the road expands to three lanes going 75 miles an hour hell bent to get home from work.  And then Cathy catches up and passes me.  But did she get off the Cherry Beach exit?  I call again and breath deeply as she is but a few hundred feet ahead, around the bend, in a Comfort (?) Inn parking lot.  So this is how I got to Huntington Beach State Park tonight.  

I'm skipping Myrtle Beach and will leave it to the golfers, one of which I used to be, and did indeed play four or five rounds in Myrtle Beach with my good friend Joe Prendergast who has since disappeared.  We played in January and the really good part of that is the water hazards are iced in the morning in January.  So your balls bounce off them.  It's hysterical and wonderful.  Anyway he handed me a ball one of those old days and it exploded when I hit it.  No kidding.  Of course he knew it would happen.  And we laughed for a long time.  That's what I remember of Myrtle Beach, exploding golf balls.

I'm sorry to you coffee house owners in Myrtle Beach.  The next time around I'll be on a Harley 1350.

Huntington Beach

So what do you think is the first thing of note we see in the state park.  You guessed it.  Alli the Alligator and his brother and sister, and if you go to this link you too will see Alli and his family. 

So I go up to the very nice lady in this beautiful Ocean front state park and ask for a site not near alligators, and she says, with a straight face, "Oh you don't have to worry", ?? "its been a long time since someone gat et by an alligator".  I could not stop laughing again.  This must be contagious in South Carolina as you can see.  Between Joe Prendergast and this lady, notwithstanding 15 years absence, nothing has changed.  Exploding golf balls.  After today I would love to play golf again, which I have not done really since I played the British Open Courses, including Carnoustie, this years site, with a 9 handicap.  I hit 82, pared Hogan's alley (no Alli's there) which is the first six holes, impressing my caddy Richard Johnson who is no relation.  And then I quit.  It was a life dream to play those courses and there is nothing, I mean nothing in Myrtle Beach that compares in any way and I am sorry to say it and I apologize to you Argentina.  There is not a dry eye in this place.

So it was a good day all around.  My training on the long island expressway and southern state parkway on long island, and my trips to NYC all paid off.  And we got to see a sunning alligator without getting et.  


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Oh the rain is cold and softly falling, upon my glasses today, and though you seem to be much drier, I rather be right here in the rain.

I got as close to church as I've been in a while, not counting our family visits with son Paul and Family.  There was a little white church, with a front porch and of all things with a ramp up one side.  I promptly visited for a while and watched crazy motorcycle riders hunched over their frames, neck at a 60 degree angle, and I could hear them think.  And it wasn't nice.  I'll never understand why then don't stop, as if it is not dangerous enough to ride dry.  My son Paul has a Harley and he and Michelle go riding once in a while, and I fret a bunch about it.  I love him and I love his wife and I love his children, my grandchildren and I would hate to see them grow up without Paul.  I left a five dollar donation with a note inscribed "Sorry about the bottle I left on the porch, and thank for a way to stay dry" and signed off with the web address for the ride.

No stores today.

In Wilmington it was beautiful, hot, blue sky some clouds light wind from the north, which sounds a lot like Los Angeles, where both Jennifer my daughter and Paul my brother live.  Tonight is Jennifer's show on CBS at 9 - Cold Case and I can't wait to see it.  We rented a room in the Holiday Inn Express for that purpose as most camp grounds have poor reception and we have not had a good cable hook up yet.  So we have not watched television, x an hour or so, since we left New Jersey on September 19, 2007.  Jennifer provides not only a good excuse to watch, but an equally good one to enjoy a pint of Ben and Jerry's and a small bag of potato chips.  Yes sir.  My weakness on both counts.  But i found a scale at the Inn and found out I was down to 252, which for me is a good number because I started this ride at 275 ish and that is on the high side of ish.  

I have to admit that not everyone can ride this distance day in day out, but really the plan was pretty simple.  I had lots of people tell me to get a stress test, get this, get that, check your blood sugar.  I refused not for want of caring but I knew my body and I knew that if I started short and worked up day by day I'd do fine.  It was either start slow and build up shape in Vineland and Millville and then start in October, and miss the weather, or start now and get in shape as I went.  If you are retired and have a  partner who will drive the escape vehicle, then you too can lose a lot of weight pretty quickly.  Join me on the ride.  You won't slow me down because I won't wait for you but will meet you at the days destination.  This is ok as you will not feel guilty.  As Mike said, "just do it".  There is so much wisdom in those three words it is hard to let it pass without a word.

Up the Organization has a two paragraph prescription for decision making.  Its simple again and this time only one word.  Decide.  Cathy and I were sitting in a doctors office and discussing retirement and the doctor asked what we liked to do - music, sing, ride bikes, movies, dog and dog training ...  And the light went off right there and then.  I had always wanted to ride across the country so I decided to ride across the country, starting in three weeks.  The only compromise since then is this warm up ride down the east coast.  Dan Kinkade lived on the West Coast and would join me on a ride from San Diego to Seattle.  So that will be the next leg.  The only thing is with multiple riders you must agree  on stop and start times and routes.  I'm determined to visit coffee stores - we found one while out for Mexican Dinner - there are five Mexican Restaurants in this small town - and I will visit the coffee store, Jumpin Java  in the morning as I ride out to Myrtle Beach.  But the point of 'just do it' and 'decide' stuff is just that.  

Stop flip flopping, stop evaluating your health; it is likely not too good.  Be crazy, quit a year early and go for ride in this great big park we live it.  And it is big, believe me and my legs.

We washed the motor home today - I think I'll call her Betsey - and it looked beautiful bright and brand new again.  Our tanks are empty, our sleep good, the steering works, and the route is easy, flat, and generally sunny, blue skies and light clouds to provide some much appreciated shade.  So onward and downward to Key West.

Here is the stumper of the day.  If the earth is round, which I guess we mostly accept although there are some who do not, and the equator is the middle, am I not going up hill since I am riding toward the equator?  It has to be that or it isn't round.  This means when I am going down hill according to my yellow inclinometer and legs, I am actually going up hill.  So I am doing two things at the same time and in the same place and they are quite opposed to each other.  Up and down simultaneouslyl.

You can see now what happens when you ride in the North Carolina Sun for a few days.  There is lots of time to think about things both big, small and silly and serious.

And sing.

If there are typo's tonight please tell me as I am now going to watch Cold Case.  Goodbye to you, until we meet again. 


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Another good productive day.  Dan and Colleen of Moka Joe's drove down from Jacksonville, NC to join me for a ride in Wilmington.  Together we visited three stores and walked a couple of blocks in in the Wilmington River Fest, Downtown Wilmington.  Our KOA is booked solid Friday to Sunday night, which is pretty good this time of year and tells you how popular River Fest is.

Our Ride for Independent Coffee Houses T-shirts are in and they look great.  Together with the flyer it makes it much easier to introduce the trip and its purpose.  Both help conversation.  Dan plans to hang the T-shirt in his store and I'm delighted.  

He and Colleen joining me today is a kind of validation of the ride and its purpose.

Surprise.  While riding in mid town Wilmington, I think it was Grace and 12th, we rode past a news crew filming a spot for the television stations broadcast.  I handed a fllyer to the lady, and asked them if they knew how to get to Folks, a Coffee House we were looking for.  They gave us directions and asked to film us.  

The lady asked some tough questions, like What's your Name?  In addition to answering that one correctly we got into the purpose of the ride, including the issue of Exclusives granted to the Giant Starbucks, although we did not discuss the Wilmington Mall.  I'm hoping that the piece gets on the air, and that I did not look sweaty and smudged; actually, I was sweaty and smudged.  Today especially since I had a slight chain problem and proceeded to get black stuff on hands and legs and I guess on my forehead as Cathy thought I had a bump or something.  So I know it is a news worthy topic now from an outside source.  I knew already that it was.  This trip is an effort to show how entrepreneurs like Dan and Colleen, and the owners of The Connection Internet Cafe take on the giants and become Davids to the giants Goliath.

The River fest on the water front was crowded.  It was difficult to walk our bikes in the crowd and I was happy to have two short blocks to get to the Coffee Dog in The Cotton Exchange, where we met several customers and Paula Giglio, a Yoga Teacher and part time expert Barista.  She was able, on film, to explain her Yoga while whipping up a cappuccino with whipped cream.  It looked great and you can see it here Coffee Dog on youtube.com.  A customer asked her to explain what she does and I asked to film the answer.  It is very unusual for people to do this, jump right into a presentation and be filmed.  At the end of the explanation she punctuates with a shout to the store "mocha frappuccino whipped'.  Its really good and entertaining, which is good retailing and good service and the reason you want always to face the audience.  Dance if you like.  

If you can, think about presentations like this and practice them in the store in front of customers.  Then you will be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.  Try hard to never say no to a newsperson.  Today, all three of us simply went on camera and did what came naturally.  I've told the story to others, so all I did was tell it to the reporter and tried to ignore and did not look into the camera.  It helped to have a really good reason to sweat.  I've been on camera, or, on  the spot, and began to sweat without a good reason, unless stage fright is a good reason.  Since I play and sing Irish Music and Bluegrass I've had chances to get on stage in the last year or so.  At first, in Albert Hall's shed, it was tough.  Cotton mouth and sweat.  But now its ok.  So don't worry, it happens to every one, even Barbara Streisand, I'm told.

Brother Paul called later in the day and we just connected.  He raised his couch up a few inches and it makes it much easier for him to get back in his chair.  But he had real insight as a result of this change.

Paul is a movie buff - he has thousands.  He said his experience from the higher perspective of the raised couch was similar to the experience of the students in Dead Poet's Society when the students were asked to stand on their desks and view the world around them from that perspective.  Perhaps getting into another persons shoes, or at least trying to do so, without hurting them please, would help us all.

This trip is a big help for me to re-connect with customers and lots of folks who are not customers of ours.  What I see and hear gives me a fresh view of the coffee business.  Can you believe that there are 30 or more Starbucks in Reno?  Dan related a story about a friend of Carl Starb's who started a store and then had a Starbucks open across the street and kapow.  That story is sad as we are finding out that there are many ways to compete with the Giants successfully.  Just be prepared for a fight.  And it sure makes this trip worthwhile.  If it were history perhaps Carl's friend would still be slugging it out with the Giants, so to speak.

Please remember, above all, listen to your customers and give them what they want - smiles, fast service and good coffee and drinks.  Or if they want something different, give it to them.  The secret to sales is simple.  Give people what they want.

So the TV thing  was a good and big surprise.  Now if we can come up with a way to get this kind of coverage before we get to town, it would be great.  Perhaps we'd get some more folks to join the ride.

Dan and Colleen road a tandem bicycle, and Colleen is a natural leader.  She chose the route and navigated.  And when you combine their tandem bicycle with my recumbent it makes for an interesting combination and people look, so, Thank you Al and Ric for the T-shirts and the flyer.

And thank you KOA for serving Toll House Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bars.  Oh my God they are good.  And I'm not the only one who treats themselves after a long ride, although 26 miles is beginning to look a little shorter.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Coffee, People, Office Max

We visited two coffee stores today in Jacksonville, NC.  Good People.  I'm really excited because the owner of one is going to ride with his wife on a Ride for Independents segment in Wilmington, NC tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to this immensely as it is the first and may lead to more.


Ricci Knowles is a motor cross participant and he and his wife were doing a charity event near Mountain Mudd Espresso.  They saw the Phoenix Cruiser and fell in love with it.  He works on the bikes but not sure if he rides too.  

I wanted to complain about a fleecing I got today, but I'm following the rule of positive writing.

Dave Glover is the manager of the Camp Creek Campground in Jacksonville.  He's retired from the Air Force and is a member of the Camp Work Program.  It is a web site where people can post a resume and camp grounds make job offers to them.  Normally they receive free rent and a salary and there are lots of people participating.  We could use one of them tonight in the Wilminton KOA because the electric keeps failing on the entire row of sites we are in, and it is normal NC weather.  Hot and Mugeeeee.

The ride today was excellent again.  The route took me through Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps Training Center.  There are signs along the highway alerting you training exercises should they be in motion.  I smelled what I though was burning rubber today during this segment but I wondered if it was gun powder.

Speaking of aroma's.  At my level on a recumbent, my head is just about level with the top of big truck tires and I have noticed how many have brakes that I can actually smell as they go by.  i guress they are pretty close and they move pretty fast to have to be burning brakes on the flats.

And speaking of flats, not that kind, but the good ones.  Flat land.  I'm riding what must be the great coastal plain of the eastern north American continent.  The biggest rise is the bridge over the New River.  Its a nice river and beautiful view and runs past or through Camp Lejeune.  I have a good friend who I worked with in the banking industry for many years that was a drill instructor here.  He told a lot of funny stories.  His name is Don Juhl and he latter became the founder of a credit reporting agency that he eventually sold for many many coins.  I hope he reads this and get in touch.  Or I will have to call him.  We last had dinner at the Blue Mountain Inn in Woodstock probably 8 years ago.

 So I had several thoughts.  One about the young men and women who train at Lejeune and then go off to war.  The other was about the future of the eastern coastal plain. 

In my twenties, I faced the draft but was fortunate to not get drafted as every one was cannon fodder headed to Vietnam.  All of you my age remember the nation at that time was in Love with Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and company.  Johnson decided to give up the presidency and not run for reelection.  Nixon resigned during the Watergate episode.  But he was not thought well of by many people, even though he did a great job with China, or at least we think that now.

On the side of the road yesterday there was a boot, not an Army boot, but a recreational boot, laying on its side.  It struck me then and it strikes me now when I think of it as very lonely, and I wondered and wonder what happened to the man or woman who owned it.  I'm sorry I did not take a picture, but I hope you can see it through my eyes.  Today we have young folks, and not so young folks fighting for us in Iraq.  It just doesn't seem fair to me that a few take care of the many.  Sure these folks, many anyway, volunteered, for each their own reasons.   And for sure, most of my generation was happy not to serve in Vietnam.  My best friend Jack Burke got very lucky at that time.  He enlisted instead of getting drafted and was assigned to Germay for his entire tour.  He was married to Patti, and still is, and living in Buffalo, NY and retired and serving the country by driving young kids to and from school and sporting events.  It is not an easy job, but it has benefits.  If the demographics of the armed forces reflected the demographics of the nation as a whole, perhaps it would be more fair and equitable.  But it does not reflect the demographics of the nation.  So I was thinking about all these volunteers slogging around in the swamps and woods in Lejeune, crawling in the night along the ground and coming fact to face with one of these snakes I find dead along the road (orange with black stripes).  Or swimming the New River in full battle gear.  While I would not do my life in any different way, and i regret almost none of it, I feel today for the recuits something I did not feel back then.  Then it was relief I was not over there.  Today it is empathy with the loneliness these men and women must feel waling the streets of a foreign land, knowing that there are people with deadly weapons actively trying to slay them.  We are alone at the end.

God speed warriors.  I hope and trust that our leaders are doing all they can to equip you and your comrades with the materials you need to survive and prosper in the future.  Call us if you are looking for employment when you return.

The Eastern Coastal Plain I guess, if you believe the ice is melting and seas will rise, which I do.  It just seems inevitable.  We were in the aquarium in Virginia Beach and they have a canyon about a mile below the surface somewhere off the coast.  I can't remember its name, but that is not important.  What is important is that that canyon was formed by river run off  which means that it was sea level at one point.  Sea level now one mile below the sea level.  And we are worried about three feet?  Sp I guess a few hundred years from now Renegade Tobacco in Holly Ridge, NC will not be in business selling cigarettes to old men who should know better.  Or water to a thirsty biker.  I asked the clerk how far going south was the next town, and she said "South?  Anyway, about 35 minute drive".  Not all of us think of space in terms of distance.  This lady thought of space as time.  And in a few hundred years so will have to worry about training at camp Lejeune or working at Holly Ridge, they won't be there.

So my daughter Jennifer I was thinking it would be a good Cold Case to move two hundred years into the future, and come back to a case in the distance past, 2007.  What happened to men and women who wore those boots.

There were a lot of pine trees today, a lot more than the Pinelands, where I live most of the time.

And hey, Cathy and I are learning to live in a place that is at most eight feet wide and 18 feet long, not counting the engine or storage in the rear.  8 by 18, with two bed, a full bath and kitchen and Dog.  I'd say it more luxury than Steinbeck enjoyed, but it is new.  Cathy is keeping the place organized and we both are pretty good at putting away what we take out.  You simply have to or clutter claustrophobia sets in fast.

We occasionally use the picnic tables as a dining room or kitchen, but only on cooler, dryer days.  And there are not enough of them.  My arms, from the elbow south, legs from three inches above the knee, going south to my ankles and my face not counting the chin strap from my helmet, are getting tan.  Very tan.  And I'm sure I'm still giving up some of the body I worked so hard to build.  The last ten times I lost weight I actually knew I was losing it so I could gain it back, it is so much fun gaining it back.  I'll bet a lot of people do the same thing.  Lose it gain it.   But I've tried to stop using Pepcid AC, which is a sure fire in the belly way to stop eating sugar.

So banana's, apples, peanut butter and jelly, and bagels and muffins at coffee stores and Cathy's good cooking for dinner, are the new regimen.  And of course, my dailyl dose of ice cream, which is now a bar or toll house sandwich, and not a pint or two.

Terry, your tip that WaWa had a new flavor, mint moose tracks was a good tip.  I had many thereafter but will leave the rest for your husband.  And thankfully there are no WaWa's down here.  Besides stopping pepcid  ac or your favorite belly ache medicine, stopping any visits to WaWa are another sure way to fast weight loss and a better healthier life.

Just don't go.



Thursday October 4, 2007

RideStarbucks, Alligators, Porch People, Honkers, John Meyers, Thumbs Up, Travels With Charlie, Coffee Houses Today


Elated.  Best all day road yet, downwind, smooth surface, and construction with the roadway in place but no traffic.  It ran parallel and is the new 17 South and the state is landscaping.  I thought I'd only have a 20 mile day, so I decided to run flat out, a waitress serving BOTH Cathy and I said my legs were Slam Out which is I guess a local term.  Had to ask her what she meant as I was thinking nice legs.  But no, she meant your legs must be exhausted, and they were.  This took place at a Pizza Inn, which we have never seen.  Its a pizza buffet and salad bar.  Dinner was $6.59 each, and the lettuce was shredded small, which I love.  A bargain and good service.

So continuing the ride, flat out means as fast as I could go for the day.  It ended up 30 miles as the camp tonight was south of Jacksonville, NC and south of Camp Lejeune, yup that one.  I did it in 1:58, thats one hour and 58 minutes, which is a tad over 15 mph.  For me, now, this is phenominal.  Many minutes of this day I was moving at 18 to 21 on flat ground on the second ring in front and the 9th, smallest, in the rear.

I switched a one point to the big ring up front, but decided I was better on the middle one.  Now this is not a race, and if I don't get to Key West, I don't get to key west, but I thought I'd try it out for size.  Absolutely perfect conditions so I know the Road God is watching out for me.  Someone is for sure.

Porch People

In the southern states so far it is common to see homes along even major highways with a porch, with rockers and couches, thick, full deep couches on the porches.  And sometimes there are people sitting out there.  I'm guessing that these folks may not have air conditioning.  The result is staying in contact with other people and what is going on in the neighborhood.  Today one group of two elderly porch people seemed a bit incredulous, but when they see my smile, they light, and in this case, they lit up and waved.  Since I was moving very fast today, by the time I heard the 'be careful' all I could do was put the thumb up in the universal statement of "A OK".  "I Agree".

The second group was on the left and further back from the road so I had a better longer term view and so did they.  I heard the Be Careful This is A Dangerous Road warning.  Again all I could do was flash the thumb up.

I would love to stop and talk for a while and I probably will, in fact, I will at the next opportunity.  Since tomorrow is Friday I bet there will be more porch people.


Not only did the porch people warrant a thumbs up, but the almost miraculous took place today.  A truck stopped dead in its tracks Behind Me.  Before he passed he stopped dead.  Dead Stop.  This was so unusual, and so good of him, I stopped too and moved off the road to make it easier for him to pass.  Which he did very slowly.  He was carrying a big big dirt mover with tracks that hung probably 2 feet off both sides making this truck one very wide truck, that had he not stopped, I would have been stopped involuntarily.  But who's complaining.  Thank you Mr. Truck Driver.

Another thumbs up went to two cars on 17 who honked and waved obvious 'wish I with you' waves.  Thumbs up.

Today I began to realize how lucky I am to be doing this ride. I have a purpose which is in line to needs of coffee houses today.  They are swimming with the alligators (Giant Ones at That) as we used to say meaning dangerous waters.  In the case of coffee houses it takes courage and love of the business and a love for adventure to sally forth amongst giants.  I have my health, which is a topic I am tired of talking about already and I'm only out of the office a couple of months.  Retired people or people over 60 talk about their health all the time and it is bothersome.  I'm having trouble keeping track of all the pills I take already, and I'm trying, by riding, to get rid of a couple, like blood sugar pills.  I know this will happen because I'm losing weight and eating better and will be doing so for a couple of months.  But I'm still eating daily ice cream.  Just ice cream bars instead of wawa pints of Cherry with Chocolate Chunks.  Oh I passed through Chocowinity today too.  Janice at Green acres pronounced that so sweetly I was really looking forward to the town, but it was gone before I knew it was there.  I have the best Wife in the World who is what is known as "sag wagoning" this ride, i.e., she is supporting the rider with food, water and transportation when needed and for that matter some time when it is not needed.  But the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat is there always when I need it.  I have the resources to do this ride.  The motor home, the bike, the camera, the computer, the dog, the dog training, the inclinometer, the speedometer, this web site, flyers now, and t-shirts tomorrow, and new parts for the bike like tubes, tires and wheels just in case.  I have the good fortune to have talented people running Kaffe Magnum Opus and following up on leads that do come up on this ride, and creating a new look and feel for the company while producing a couple of very large orders for the Christmas Season.  I have a brother who is watching out for me.  Paul, that is.  I have two children who are self sufficient and don't need dad around all the time serving up advice and opinions opinions opinions.  I have a dog.

Who can ask for anything more.  As the tune goes.


alligators.jpg.JPG (122919 bytes)

This was by the Alligator River in Pollackville.  This is where John Meyers and I met.  He is a bike which I knew because he rode up on bike, had helmet on, knew what the Route 17 was like between here and Jacksonville, and was a good person.  So good he asked me if he could ask me a question.  I of course being of good will answered in the affirmative.  He asked If I was Christian, I answered I was raised in the Catholic Church.  He asked if I was saved, and I answered that my son had me going once in a while to the Lighthouse Church in Cape May Court House and that it was a very good bible church with Pastor Rudy, another good man.  The he asked if I believed in the holy trinity, and I answered in the affirmative.  I can't ever remembering this happening to me anywhere else.  It was not at all objectionable, and John Meyers was a helpful, clearly loving person, who had a mission about which I have no objections.  But I was surprised.  Now mind you this took place at the Alligator River and I began to wonder if I was pushing my luck, but I still rode on down the road.  John Meyers is a good person doing what he strongly believes in and he is doing it with passion but not pushy like we get in Brooklyn.  In fact, it made me feel good that he wanted me to join him in his work.  He is a good person.

I mentioned this to my brother Paul who called earlier, christmas, much earlier so I know I have to terminate this session.  He said he and a friend Andy Crotty who has also live life in a wheel chair, and is now a lawyer and could be a doctor he is so smart, were in the park one day and were approached by a young lady from whom they anxiously waited a word.  And out it came the Word and the question, Are You Saved.  Paul and Andy had just spoken about this and so enjoyed an insiders laugh, not at all disrespectful.  Then the girl dropped her business card, and Paul, good soul that he is, bent over from his chair, and picked up the card.  While he was doing this, Andy began to laugh uncontrollably.  Why you ask?  While Paul was bent over the girl covered him with her shawl and blessed him, without his knowledge or agreement.  Now she was born in Brooklyn along with me and Steve Frezzetta, who I met earlier today.

Travels With Charlie

I'm re-reading Travels With Charlie, by John Steinbeck.  He took a three month trip with his dog Charlie around the United States of America in a 1962 truck upon which he had the manufacturer build a cabin.  I guess there were not many motor homes to select from back then.  Nor roads.  But there were people.  He gets philosophical here and there and insightful too. He suggested that the US was losing its regional cultures, this in 1962 (he died in 1967).  I never thought about it in quite this way, but today of the ten people I spoke with, only one had the North Carolina accent you would expect to hear in North Carolina.  Everyone else, the lady at the KOA, Mike at the Wilmington KOA, the servers at Annabelle's where we had lunch, the server at the UPS store where I had printed the new flyer that you can download and print from the hyperlink flyer, or Here.

Please download the flyer and send it to as many people as you can, like you e-mail list.  Just attach it to your outbound e-mail.  Ric Principato, the designer for Kaffe Magnum Opus did a very good job and succinctly wrote what this ride is all about.

Coffee Houses

There were two today, both successful in their own right.  Java Junction in a Mall Kiost, and owned by the aforementioned Steve Frezzetta, and Trent River Coffee Company, owned by Ed Ruiz.

Ed has a friend and fellow musician, Jerry Scott.  Jerry it turns out was the brother in law of John Stockton, a banjo player who played with John Duffy and Hank Walters years ago.  If I remember correctly it was in Wheaton, MD and it was every Sunday and it was Gospel.

Ed has also had John Edwards speak at his establishment, and, Harvey Ghant, who was running against Jesse Helms, which was not a good idea - that is - running against Jesse Helms.  So we were standing on some hallowed ground in the presence of some pretty interesting people.

Hallowed ground that is.  Yesterday one of the ladies from Connecticut saw my kickstand in a "holler' she said, and I immediately thought she was from Virginia, where the folks have been good enough to teach me how to pronounce hollow - the correct pronunciation is 'holler'.  Which is a strang word coming from a retired Connecticut lady.  Steinbeck said unequivocally that the US would be homogenized in time.  He was right.

Good night all.  See you tomorrow on the road to Wilmington after we visit some coffee stores in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Oh, and Jerry Scott said the first song he learned was "Using my Bible for A Roadmap", and I knew the tune.  I'm feeling elated today.  Part of the fabric.



Wednesday October 3, 2007"

Ride, EZ Racers, Coffee and Business Thoughts, People, Retirement Planning

The Ride

Oh my God what a day with roads and trucks, all kind of trucks, logging, sand, empty logging, pick ups, SUV's with telephones.  Imagine it, and I had it in spades.  17 got narrower as I got closer to New Bern, and narrower.  So at least 5 times I intentionally road off the road to avoid catastrophe.  Two trucks one northbound and the other south, and I, were going to share road at the same point.  No way Jose and off I went.  

Another was carrying large 6 x 6 blocks I'd say six feet to eight feet long on a rack under the trailer.  One of them slid to the right and was riding about four feet beyond the truck.  I am not kidding.  It was my lucky day since I had turned into a side road to take care of business, and this guy pulled in behind me.  As it turns out Cathy thought I was behind her, but I was a head of her.  She was trying to catch the truck to tell him but could not go fast enough.  They go easy 70 and more.  

If you are thinking what is this guy doing on this road, I had the same thought.   But it looks like it is still my best bet.  The problem is I can't tell from Goggle Earth the size of the shoulder.  

Today was 36 miles and the KOA entrance was right on 17, so no extra miles to get there.  .No problem really, x the concentration it took to remain healthy.  This is not a road nor ride for new riders.  I believe 17 gets better as I go, but I'm worried about Georgia.  I'm told the bridges don't' exactly match the roads so you get to jump up or down.


EZ Racers Buck Cenbejas and a few thoughts about coffee and Business

Good job Buck.  He has just now put in the mail for me:

1 front and 1 rear tire

3 tubes for each tire

1 front wheel and 1 rear wheel with the chain rings installed.

I don't like to even think about these things as if you believe The Secret, it may then happen.  They claim I believe 'if you think it it will happen'.  And in a round about way I agree with them.  In business I have always been able to visualize the way things will shape up, what the plant will look like, how we can approach certain customers and the day to day systems.  Basically I have a good imagination.

And I do believe if you see it it will happen.  When?  Who knows.  So I too believe for our company and for  yours, if you see or can picture in your mind what you want, how you want it done, when you want it, it will happen.  I am not a positive thinking advocate, nor do I jump on stage to preach this stuff.  But virtually all my life in virtually everything I've done, my imagination has helped shape the future.

This is not say that I can see the future.  There are unforeseen things that interrupt the best life.  I know this first hand as both one of my brothers and mother died accidentally about six months apart, and then a sister at age 21 died of cancer.  Nothing is cast in stone, of course this does not include the Parthenon which is cast in stone.  But someone saw that building, drew it in their mind, then communicated it and built it..

So Buck, while the bike is now cast in stone and holding up nicely, one never knows.

Which is another thing I always do in business.  I back myself up.  I give myself options.  I try to be flexible in all strategic arena's.  When I realized I was better and liked more being able to help business people succeed in what they do, I switch from retailing to roasting for retailers.  Retailing is a great business with many advantages and I enjoyed immensely standing at an espresso machine and banging out drink after drink and entertaining our customers.  What a great place and way to sell.  Talk to customers as you make the drinks.

I don't like nor recommend the manner in which Starbucks 'produces' drinks.  Their people are really production people behind the machine and the counter.  I urge you to put your espresso  machine on the front counter, always facing the audience and talk to the audience as  you whistle while you work.  No doubt this will increase your sales.

Anyhow, I was hoping EZ Racers would offer to sponsor this ride and pick up a bit of the tab for the parts, which cost $505 plus shipping.  But I did not push it nor suggest it.  I appreciate very much that Buck is getting the parts out today for delivery tomorrow so I can keep moving.  Tomorrow is Jacksonville, North Carolina and another 40 odd miles on Route 17.  

This route is now taking us further out into the Ocean, further East I think then my home.  The weather changes quickly, but despite some sprinkles today, it is sunny now, and the ride was basically dry.

I am however changing colors.

latter today I'll share my thoughts on the bike in the bike section of this site.  It really is a great bike, and it sells itself to boomers who never trained early.  No one likes a sore backside nor sore neck and the EZ racer  really plays Dr. Kildare in re these two thorny problems for bikers.  They go away.  After 50 miles a bit of a sweat it does pay to change clothing if y you continue to ride.  But the bike solves the problems that come from an upright.  Its surprising to me that more people don't ride recumbent.  .

Two ladies traveling in a monster motor home and kayaking stopped as I was preparing this morning to get underway.  They had what I thought looked like mountain bikes.  One choose to sit on the EZ Racer and I'm sure it sold her.  I did not encourage a test ride as if anything went wrong it would louse up my timing.  I couldn't take the risk.


Band every works in the KOA office.  She is a 'camp worker', which sounds like a job from WWII.  It is not.  She is a nomad, moving from place to place working at KOA campgrounds.  Nomad is good and Beverly is in high demand to work at KOA's around the country.  She is 79 and doesn't look a year over 65.  She said her genes are good and she uses moisturizer every day.

Mr. Braxton.  I am not sure of the gentleman's name but it appears on the country store just north of Vanceboro, NC on Route 17.  Nice man.  He asked what I was doing then asked how old I was and then told me to be careful on this road.  "It's dangerous".  There was another customer in his store, a much younger guy and I think a plumber.  His head was resting on his truck as he was filling his tank with petrol, so I thought he was not feeling so good, or perhaps poorly.  But he changed in the store.  He too thought 17 was a dangerous road so I told him I thought someone was watching over me and he replied "that's for sure'.  

Braxton is married fifty years and when he commented on the length of my ride, I suggested his road was a lot longer and tougher.  He nodded.

Server at the Cow Cafe in downtown New Bern.  I am quite certain he is a senior citizen and I find it a 'shame' for lack of a better word that seniors must work in their retirement years.  If like Beverly they do it because they like it and are having fun, she said she would stop as soon as it was not fun, fine.  But I am beginning to believe that this is a cover story for lousy retirement plans, and the lack of savings.  And, the run up in housing, food, insurance, health costs, and New Jersey Taxes sure doesn't help.

This morning the two retired ladies next to our camp at Tranters resort visited and inquired about The Bike.  One sat for a while to get a feel.  Both of them related the litany of folks they had to take care of the past three years and how it delayed their retirement plans.  But they have really pitched in.  Mothers are moving to assisted living and they are selling the mothers home, sisters with breast cancer needed hospice help, and old friends having surgery needed friends to get them through recovery.  These ladies did it all.  

Cathy is taking care of her mother with two of her sisters in Somers Point after moving Mae from Coeur d Lain Idaho three years ago because it was obvious she would need help.  Cathy is very good to her mother and Mae relies on Cathy for financial and personal help.  Her mother raised sever children in a small home while working full time at several manufacturing jobs.  At Wheaton she became a shop steward, and I can see how as she is a strong willed and thoughtful person.  Now however she is beginning to lose some of her memories although I think it is not true and only a cover story so she can cut off conversation when she wants to.


The kayaking ladies of Tranters Resort sold their home in Connecticut, and then sold their mothers home in New Milford.  Both of these homes probably brought in a fair sum.  They purchased a motor home and they are planning a two  year circuit of the US.  Today they are on their way to Florida where they expect to pick up an Allegro Phaeton, which is a diesel powered 40 or more foot long vehicle.  They are delighted that the storage compartments will open like kitchen cabinets and save their knees and backs, which I relate to.  And the new ones have sliding trays for still easier access.  But the list is $240,000.  And behind it they pull a car, and kayaks, and bikes, and all the toys one person could want, or need.  

But the point is they sold their home and now must make certain they invest wisely so that when they purchase another they are not shut out of the market (fat chance this  year and next).

I wish them well and began to think of real retirement. 

It kills me to be on the road and leave a perfectly nice house alone.  But my son and our friend are taking good care of it.  And the grass is being cut and the leaves blown away.  But who will play my guitars?  Guitars get better with age provided you play them.  My Martin HD28-LVS I carry with me always and play it regularly and the fullness of the sound is very good.  Techla, a professional performer with several CD's out told me at the last festival we attended to take good care of it since she thought it had a unique sound.  She is not the first person to say this, so I think I got lucky and too that I play it a lot and this helps it mature.

So who will play my other guitars.  They are lonely.

Let us all pray that Route 17 grows a shoulder overnight.



Tuesday October 2, 2007

Today was an easy ride, but unproductive in terms of coffee houses.  We found two in Washington, a city named after George Washington, but both were closed.  We visited Goose Creek State Park and it was beautiful.   Signs warned of occasional bear sightings and copperheads.  I guess its not so unusual, we have them in the Pine Barrens at home.

17 between Williamston and Washington is terrible.  The surface is fine, but the shoulder is scalloped and so not useable for bike riding.  Which left the road.  

This is Beaufort  County and I wondered if it  was the county Jackie Gleason and Burt Reynolds had so much fun riding around the back roads.  I actually passed a sheriff's car but did not have the courage to ask.

Weather is moving in and I'm not sure how much I'll be able to ride.  But the next few days distances are not all that great.  I plan to be in Willington by Friday.  Then Myrtle Beach and on to South Carolina.

Cathy and I were doing some planning today and figured if we go the east coast of Florida its about 1000 miles to Key West.  MapPoint says 992, using route 95, so we are probably looking at over 1000.  With 29 days left in October and 10 in November at best I have 39 days.   This is doable, but the weather has to stay good and my endurance get better.  There will be rain outs and rest days so I've really got to keep it over 40 miles per day.  (This is true of retailing coffee too.  Endurance and the ability to stay the course, i.e. staying power, are essential elements.) 

If the number is 1100 then at 40 miles we need 28 days to do it.  I am determined to do it.  The only thing I'd accept as a barrier is to meet more excellent coffee houses.  This takes time.

The local police were conducting a sobriety check, in the form of license checks tonight.  Good.  They need this around here.  Our greeter at Tranters Camping Resort told us they have a security problem, not a good way to start the night.  But we were out of options.  I heard from Louis Calvello at Richard Rubenstein's office today in re getting some publicity, and he is to get back with a cost benefit option.  This is good.

I had some comments today about Go Lassie Go, a song I have on Youtube.    If you click the link you can hear it.  There are now 1556 views which is much higher than expected.  A tribute to Tommy Makem is not far behind given it has a lot shorter time on the tube. 

I'm anxious to get the shirts and handout material.  We also opened two more sites www.rideforindependentcoffeehouses.com and www.RFIcoffeehouses.com but we did not publish to them today.  The question is which is more memorable.  Thanks to Fran Napoli.


Monday October 1, 2007

It felt like Monday this morning.  I ate at the Hampton Inn, typical fare, muffins and Danish and coffee.  This is not good for a ride.  Cathy made eggs too but the sugar got to me after awhile, so of course I had to have some more at Jitterz and at Acoustic Music.  Soon all of our friends in the coffee business will have to have more than sweets.

And I weighed myself this morning.  Down 16 pounds since starting in Saugerties, NY.  

Before I started today, and I knew I was looking at a 70 mile day, I had read a bit of Travels With Charlie and it struck me how very different the USA is compared to Steinbeck's trip.  Where he had a truck manufacturer make special a 'house' for him, today we routinely buy and sell motor homes.  He traveled single lane highways and here I am riding a recumbent bike on four lane highways with cars and trucks zooming by.  I am struck in NC though by their behavior.  99% of the time the vehicles move to the left to give me a wide birth.  Thank you North Carolina.

Today I stopped around 50 miles and changed my shoes.  A gentleman in a pickup stopped and asked if I had everything I needed to repair the bike.  When it does happen I hope the same person stops.  Is that not nice?  And Welcome by me.

And, standing in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn I looked up to the white moon, and there were two large jets going by it and the jets were moving at roughly the same speed.  One was much higher with the vapor trail, the other lower without a trail.  I was born in 1945, just after the WWII, and I am sorry I'm missing the Burns documentary of the war, when there were few planes, none going across the country, and Ike had not started the interstate system, since he was still in Europe putting the finishing touches on the peace.  So in my lifetime there has been enormous advances by us humans.  My iphone is one and this web site is another, and my ride is yet another.  I've been to bicycle museums and the bikes of yore had no chance of doing this.

I am hoping someone out there will get a hold of EZ Racers and have them send me some spare tires, tubes and a front wheel and rear wheel with sprockets.  Just in cases.  Like Gump I might just keep going.  It is a lot of fun, good hard work, and I am meeting people and reconnecting the business I love so well.  


I'm becoming a bit 'conflicted' by the movement to small farms and in is this area the trend to have coffee bars, without flavored coffees, and whole bean sales. Many stores are using syrups to flavor the coffee.  This was true of stores in shopping centers that also contained food stores.  Someone is giving poor business advice.

It may be great  'coffee' advice, but not good business.  I fear a product orientation has taken over the SCAA and the Roasters Guild is for sure product oriented.  Let us all not lose sight that we are in the business of selling great coffee.  It's a business and one must give people what they want.  Even if it goes against the grain of a Coffee Roaster who is dedicated to Organic Fair Trade.  Which I am, but not to exclusion of good business sense.

Now here comes the my heresy.  You don't have to know coffee inside out, nor know how to make a cappuccino with stars on top (stars??? could Starbucks have started this decorating) in order to be successful at this business of ours.  

I'm also wondering why we as an industry are so focused on getting 'appropriate' wages to farmers, which I too favor, and not so concerned about the long term effect.  I was struck today watching cotton harvests and seeing that there were no people involved other than machine drivers.  No one in the fields picking cotton.  No one in the fields picking cotton.  Is this good or bad?  I don't really care which, it is a fact, as the bankers say, a fait acompli.   Money helps Innovation and invention which lead to efficient operation.  US money heading south of the border is in the long run going to be concentrated and when it is concentrated it will lead to lower employment. 

Will Starbucks and the others, some small roasters too, that own farms in south and central America accept low efficiency for long?  What happens when there is a squeeze in this business, as there is now for Starbucks, rising milk costs and lower stock prices (I'm told as I don't watch their stock) lead to a demand on the top staff to raise earnings in other ways.  Downsize.  Pick more per person.  In the end, it will be like cotton.  It will.

I'd love to see them buy some milk farms in this or another country and improve the lot of some milk cows.  And chickens.  I've seen tons of chicken farms and seen how they are trucked.  I'd not step foot into a chicken 'hen' house.  I remember my fathers Aunt Muriel in Connecticut had chickens in her barn and we'd go get fresh eggs in the morning.  Those chickens were happy.  

What does this mean for coffee?

First, I'd say to the independent coffee houses:  Be independent.  Be different.  If Starbucks does this, then you do that.  You and I can't out starbuck Starbucks.  But for sure we can beat them in this wonderful field of ours. 

I'm concerned for our independent health for every Starbuck's that opens is one less local store that keeps in contact with local people and pours money, brain power, and culture into the community.

So I too think as I ride along these incredible roads into some magnificent towns, that it is time to fight the giants and if you are going to fight the giants  we might as well try to beat them.  This is America.  One of my purposes on this ride is to uncover how.  But time is of the essence.

I remember my reaction to Ted Lingle when Dunkin Donuts sponsored the Boston SCAA conference.  What? said I.  They are not a specialty coffee house.   But they took from the SCAA and  us members a piece of our reputations and transferred to themselves.  They were blessed by us.  Are they not now beating our brains out with store upon store?

Dunkin Donuts sponsored a convention and supplied a President of the Board of SCAA.  They have money and for sure the SCAA needs money.  But will a convenience store be next.  Why should we coffee professionals share our reputation and let a competitor with lots of money, energy, drive and manpower add to its brand the SCAA reputation.

Acoustic Coffee in Edenton runs a terrific operation.  Starbucks is on its way to Edenton and in lots of small areas along my route.  They will hurt Acoustic Coffee, despite what their customers say.  I was struck by Mary's reaction at Blue Crab to her 'loyal' customers switching to a new competitor and sitting on the veranda drinking the competitors coffee.  I'd say the reaction was a bit stunned.  And rightly so.  The competitor had come in, saying nice things, and customers told her they would stick with them, but they did not.  This will happen in Edenton.  Starbucks will be in the supermarket and will take business.

In the town in which I live there are now Starbucks.  They have a primo site in the Cumberland Mall and they do very well.  But in Vineland?  Many many years ago I had a store in the same mall, and I can not tell you how disappointed I'd be, and poorer, if I still had it, which I don't since I am now strictly a wholesale roaster supporting the retailer.  There is a Gloria Jeans in the Mall.  Good Luck.d

In the end, we are in this business to make a living.  And if sales go down, 10, 20or even 40%, will this living still be worth the effort we put into our businesses?

Today's Ride

What a day.  Cool, dry, tail wind yet again, mostly flat terrain, but some long rolling hills outside of Edonton and over to Williamston.  (notice that these towns drop the W in town - in NY or NJ it would be Edontown, or Williamstown).  A few nasty narrow high speed high truck traffic sections of Route 17, but I'm beginning to get back my riding ability.

The first 25 were a dream.  I started earlier, 9:15 and the morning sun made the colors very nice and a lot different than the afternoon sun.  I heard there were alligators in some of the swamps and that a big one had walked across the highway around Hertford.  This would not be good for the daydreaming biker.

With tougher terrain, but not bad, in the afternoon I worked harder but I'm now able to do it.  

When I got to the camp I felt great for about two minutes.  Then I was about ready to collapse, which I did.  While Cathy cooked dinner I watched the owners cover their swimming pools, and then fell asleep, Bob Trien.  

Tomorrow we are to go to New Bern, which is another 60 odd mile journey, and I'm not sure I can do it.  But we will see how I feel in the morning.


After dinner I joined the owners in the lobby of their office building and played some bluegrass for Janice.  Janice is a terrific, Southern Lady, who I think liked it.  She is not a bluegrass fan, so I had to do Irene Goodnight and Bill Bailey and a few gospel songs.  It was great fun for me to be playing grass in North Carolina.  I darn near called Leo and Shirley who host Monday night jams in New Jersey just to talk to folks who play, but I ran out of time.




This site is sponsored by Kaffe Magnum Opus, the coffee roaster.  To contact Bob please call his cell 609-247-9683 or e-mail bob@gtc3.com or bob@kmocoffee.com.  Or call the office at 800-652-5282 and the folks there will find me.