Blogs. Gotta love them. I have actually started blogging on three different subjects since I returned from the Tex/Mex border, and never finished nor posted 'em. It's been a busy several weeks.
For those of you that really, really badly want to keep in touch I would encourage you to add the ol' Pirate to your friends over at Facebook.com. Just search for the email address "PirateJohn@aol.com" and my real world persona should pop right up.
Seemingly nothing will stop Daytona Bike Week, whether it's the shifting sands of local politics or a world wide economy rapidly going down the drain. Still, a reduced-content Bike Week isn't exactly a sign of good things.
A few years ago the City Fathers (and some would argue a few City Muthas) on the Daytona Beach City Council decided that they wanted to limit Bike Week and the associated noise and traffic congestion. The same Powers That Be even hinted - strongly - that if the bulk of this disorganized event were to move away from Daytona Beach then it wouldn't break any hearts.
Fair enough. Just sometimes you have to be careful about what you wish for. Because you might get it.
When the Daytona Beach City Council were agitating to reduce the scope of Bike Week the big Harley-Davidson dealership that was located near downtown Daytona Beach announced that they were going to move their facility to a spot at the intersection of US 1 and I-95, out in what was then the sticks near the not-so-big metropolis of Ormond Beach, FL.
Since then Destination Daytona (http://www.destinationdaytona.com/) has grown into a multi-hundred acre site that encompasses not only Bruce Rossmeyer's glittering H-D dealership, but other bike dealerships, a hotel, a truck stop, specialty stores and so forth.
With some of the traditional biker bars and camp grounds not too far away on US 1, much of the emphasis - and traffic - of Daytona Bike Week has indeed shifted out of Daytona and into Ormond Beach.
The bottom line is that on the final Saturday of Bike Week you could really tell that the crowds that used to line and congest Main Street were somewhere else. Either they were on US 1 (which was backed up for miles when I rode across it on I-95) or everyone stayed home to save their nickles and dimes.
My gut feeling is that attendance, in general, was well down. Forget whatever official stats come out because most of them have a vested interest in promoting a healthy Bike Week. There simply weren't as many folks out and riding in and around Daytona Beach as in previous years.
Trust me folks, when attendance is down at Bike Week this country is in a world of hurtin'
There are plenty of folks that have been going to Daytona for decades and decades, and who plan their yearly vacations around this one event, which is a sacred rite of passage for motorcyclists. So if those folks are staying home ... well, you do the math.
Here's one of the downtown Daytona Beach streets, which used to be just absolutely packed on Saturday:
Even the cops looked bored (notice the "Rent Me" sign on the cop's Segway wheel):
One of my many passions in life is Formula 1 auto racing.
One of my few frustrations in life is Dish System satellite television.
Dish System simply isn't geared up for folks that are full-time RV'ers. They expect you to have a satellite installation at your home, and then they will be happy to sell you a second installation for your RV.
So I went without satellite TV for a few months until I discovered that Dish has a pay-as-you-go system that supposedly doesn't care where you are hidin' out.
In theory, that works for me because the only times that I want to watch premium channels are when Formula 1 runs on the Speed Channel, every second week or so.
That's the theory. The reality is that Dish's billing computer has been down for over 24 hours for "routine maintenance" and I wasn't able to get the Chinese (Shanghai) Grand Prix broadcast.
So I wound up watching the F1 telecast at a bar, and struggling to hear over the sound of the juke box. Nice.
What did catch my attention, and frankly astounded me, is that there is a new team on the track. Not only a new team, but in a sport where winning dynasties take place over years and decades, they have won the first two races of the season!
So what's the story? Where did these guys come from?
A few months ago Honda suddenly announced that they were withdrawing from F1 after a lackluster few years. It would appear that the former Honda team manager, Russ Brawn, was able to quickly put together a financial package and he bought the team. Renamed Brawn Mercedes, the team proceeded to junk the Honda engines and struck a deal with Mercedes for the same engines that had been going into the Mercedes-McLarens that won the World Championship last year.
Previously written off as has-beens and non-performers, drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barichello seized the opportunity.
The results? Button and Barichello were 1st and 2nd at the F1 races in Australia and Malaysia, and then 3rd and 4th respectively in China as the Renault/Red Bull team - itself one of the newer teams - decisively demonstrated that they had the preferred solution for the heavy rains of Shanghai.
This is going to be an VERY interesting F1 season!
Note that the Brawn cars are so new that they don't even have proper sponsors, although Virgin did have some lettering on the cars in China:
Supposedly Russ Brawn pulled the team together in 6 weeks. Just amazing!
On a personal note, I'm about at the end of my maintenance projects here at the Jacksonville workshop.
Tie downs for a motorcycle have been added to my trailer and I'll test that out in a day or two by taking the red GS down to Tom High's shop in Deland so that he can swap engines.
The flooding in the Midwest has eased and at this time there is no reason to think that FEMA will need any subcontractors to help with the specialties that we are trained for.
So I am probably going to have to start taking a hard look at making some $$$ to fund future travels and future projects.
The real estate business here in Florida is past being dead (think in terms of the corpse moldering) and with a large inventory of unsold houses there isn't much hope for a rapid recovery, although I will have to say that Northern Florida seems to be doing better financially than Southern Florida.
Soooooooo ... I've been making some serious noises about going back to Texas, where the economy is obviously better. Deb agrees.
I'd really like to go back to the Rio Grande Valley. The only problem is that the Rio Grande Valley looks like one of the tougher places to get a job if you aren't bilingual. So is it better to move from one of the better economical areas in a depressed state to a tough place in a better performing state? That may be a lateral move but at least it would put us within a few hundred miles of Houston, where the economy obviously is thriving.
It would also put me on the border where I can ride my motorcycles and explore. Tough gig!
On top of that Deb's Mom is in a hospital in Memphis as I write this and Deb has traveled to Memphis to be with her. Deb's father is in the later stages of Alzheimer's so Deb and her family have their hands full.
Stay tuned. If Deb's not back in a few weeks I may be firing up the Bluebird to head to Texas by way of Tennessee. Beale Street, here we come!