A few of you have sent an account of your experiences – good or bad – over the years. I have always enjoyed reading these, so finally, I have decided to share with you something significant that happened in the Ginzery household this year.
This past March it was my fiftieth (yikes!) anniversary of being in this wonderful country and in June Mary and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. We had to celebrate these momentous milestones with more than just a greeting card or a dinner out.
As most of you know, motorcycling has been my passion ever since 1981, when I bought my first one, a 1981 Yamaha Maxim 550. After picking it up at the dealer, which was located at the intersection of Route 95 and 1, an extremely busy road even then, I was faced with making a left turn on a four-lane road to go home. Mary had already left in the car. I didn’t think I had sufficient experience to venture across three lanes of traffic, so I chose to make a right-hand turn instead. Motoring along my self-confidence soared with each mile under my belt.
Next thing I knew I was miles from home with not a hint of wanting to go home and a few miles later I pulled into the driveway of Bob and Jane Schreiber, a friend and a colleague at the time. I showed off my new toy and as usual, they shared in my happiness and made me realize that Mary must be worried by now. I headed for home, my self-confidence now spilling over the brim. I was an experienced motorcyclist!
I came back down to earth the next day when my brother-in-law, Ty asked me if I wanted to accompany him and some of his friends for a little ride to get a couple of their bikes inspected. It was early on during this ride that I failed to completely negotiate an s-curve and went off the road, barely avoiding being impaled by a bent-over sign-post. Ty saw the whole incident happening and was wondering how he was going to tell his sister how her husband died when, miraculously, I managed to avoid the obstacle and drove back onto the pavement. By the time I remembered that I should be scared, it was over and I tried to act as though nothing had happened.
Since then many other incidents happened, with some ending nicer than others but I am still alive and still enjoying the freedom of being on two wheels, albeit at an admittedly slower pace.
Digressing aside, the way we decided to celebrate these auspicious events was to have a special sidecar rig built using a 2008 Kawasaki Concours 14 hooked to a Hannigan sidecar. Once completed, we would then drive it cross-country with no time-lines, very few schedules to keep, visit friends, family, and motorcycle dealerships (BMW, Kawasaki and Moto Guzzi), attend motorcycle rallies and see National Parks along the way. The yearly international rally for the BMW club I belong to was in Gillette, Wyoming, a town that represented the West in my mind. Our motto for this trip, as well as all others in the past was that it was all about the journey and spontaneity was to be the order of the day.
We left on the 10th of July and arrived back home on 11th of September, covering 12,342 miles. The western-most city in our travels was Vancouver, British Columbia. We met some wonderful people, saw gorgeous scenery and made some life-long memories. We had a communication system built into the helmets so we could make each other aware of points of interest. We sang a special song to each other daily and fell deeper in love with each other. We took over 700 digital pictures and kept a daily journal along the way on the laptop. This wound up to be a 46-page Word document, containing 118 pictures. I am currently working on converting it to be put on the web. There is already an “introduction” to this celebratory trip out there under smithjon.com/geza/. Please view it and feel free to give us feedback email@example.com. The pictures have also been uploaded to Picasa.
Mary and I wish you a healthy, joyous and love-filled Christmas season. May you spend it with family, friends and loved ones.
Fondly thinking of you all,
Mary and Geza
As many of you know, our vacation in 2008 was a unique one. We covered over 12,000 miles in our sidecar and saw many sights, met many wonderful people and made many life-long memories. If you are not familiar with that trip, please let me know and, for a small fee, I can send you the CD. The only down-side was: How do we top it this year?
I am not sure we topped it (you can be the judge) but we sure had fun trying.
This past June we packed the sidecar again and set out to visit the Florida Keys. There were a few planned stops along the way, the first of which was in The Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, to attend the Kawasaki Concours Club’s national rally. The weather was horrible when we got there, so instead of camping we stayed at a resort in one of their last two remaining rooms for $190 a night. As I always say: “Thank God we can afford it!” We had no choice but to pay it and were damned happy to be out of the weather. The rain stopped by the next morning, so we got a chance to look around a bit. We stopped by the campgrounds, which would’ve been our accommodations were it not for the rain and were very happy about our expensive rooms. The sidecar was a big hit and there were always people milling around it, looking at it
from every angle, asking questions ad infinitum.
Since the “dragon” was close-by we decided to “slay it”. It’s a road, North Carolina 129, which resembles the tail of a dragon. It touts having 318 curves in 11 miles, making it a Mecca of motorcyclists from all over the world. There are several thriving photography businesses along the route, whose representatives take pictures of traffic going by, shortly after which those will be posted to their websites on the Internet. For a reasonable fee you can order prints of yourself for treasured mementos. Naturally, we have several samples. YouTube has many clips of motorcyclists tempting their fate going around these curves. Some are not successful and the shattered parts of their bikes end up littered on and around a large tree in the parking lot of a small motel in Deals Gap, NC. The tree is appropriately nicknamed the Tree of Shame.
The Sharohala Highway was our next adventure. This was our first trip on it and for a nasty rainstorm that blocked our progress; it turned out to be a very nice road. I would recommend this road to anyone, even in a car.
Our next stop was in Cookeville, Tennessee, to visit a friend and ex-colleague from GE Schenectady. They are both excellent hosts and they made us welcome, so that we didn’t want to continue. But our next destination, the Natchez Trace was calling us and we found it not far from its northern end, south of Memphis. This adventure too turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It is a 444-mile car-road, recently completed,
to commemorate a foot-path worn by animals in search of salt licks and the many boatmen, who worked on ships carrying goods from as far north as Hudson Bay down to Natchez. Once their journey terminated, they walked back to Pittsburg on the Natchez Trail. (I’ll pause a little while you think about this.) Parts of the original Trace can still be seen from some of the many rest stops along the way. The temperature was at least 10 degrees cooler on this road, making it perfect for us Northerners. The road is lined on both sides by trees, shielding the traveler from seeing the bustling cities and super highways. Periodically the trees are replaced by agricultural fields, which are quite often worked by their farmer owners. One of the cultural stops was to visit the Mount Locust Inn (pictured above) where one can step back in time and learn about the difficult life in the 1780s. All in all, it is a very pastoral, idyllic and relaxing drive we thoroughly enjoyed. We were so enchanted by the scenery that we forgot about two rather important pre-planned stops.
One was the SkipBarberMotorcycleMuseum but the more important was the Florida Keys. Enjoying this road for mor e than 400 miles I neglected to look at the big picture, so I didn’t realize how far west we had traveled, making the Florida Keys even farther out of reach. Once I looked at the atlas it became evident that the Keys will have to wait.
With that decision behind us we set sights on a new one: New Orleans. I had been there before, compliments of RCA, attending a computer conference but Mary had not seen the sights. As it turns out, she still didn’t because by the time we drove to the city, we were pretty drenched in perspiration (the temperature and the humidity we both above 90). I couldn’t find a place to park (we were chased from an outdoor parking lot because were on a motorcycle), so we just drove around a little bit then headed back to Baton Rouge to the air-conditioned motel room. Hopefully another opportunity will present itself and I can show Mary some of the sights I enjoyed.
We headed back to the BarberMotorcycleMuseum in Birmingham, Alabama. I had read about this place and wanted to see it, despite Mary’s objections. I don’t understand her! Sometimes she wants nothing more to do with motorcycles! The museum is part of a motor racing complex. The museum itself is a four-story building, made of mostly glass, packed FULL of motorcycles. (See picture.) There were examples of some
marques I never heard of. It is a wondrous place in which you can get lost for hours and not see the same motorcycle twice. In the end, even Mary enjoyed herself. From the top floor we were watching the Porsche club member racing around the immaculately kept track. I would LOVE to do that some day. Motorcycle or car, I don’t care!
We headed for the monument on Stone Mountain in Georgia, a site Mary wanted to see. I had already seen it, compliments of (you guessed it!), RCA, during another computer conference. There was a laser show a night but we didn’t have a bead on a motel room yet, so we passed on it.
A large BMW motorcycle dealer, Blue Moon Cycle, was the next stop. We went through their collection of BMW and other makes of motorcycles in their museum. I was shocked to see TWO examples of a Hungarian sidecar rig called Pannonia. I had seen my share of these in Budapest growing up.
Years ago I had seen a show on TV about a little village in Georgia that resembled one in Switzerland. We headed for Sautee and were not disappointed. It wasn’t quite as nice as Leavenworth, Washington, a village we visited last year but it was done very nicely. We had a nice lunch in a German-style restaurant by the ChatahoochieRiver (which is more like a large creek. I don’t care what Alan Jackson thinks). I
ordered my favorite is Wiener schnitzel (veal cutlet) and wasn’t disappointed. A nice glass of German beer washed it all down and I happily continued on the foot-tour of the village, taking many pictures along the way.
The temperatures were very high again, so we headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway, a favorite ride of ours. The road winds for 469 miles from just outside the SmokeyMountainNational Park to the entrance of the ShenandoahNational Park. We camped in one of the many campgrounds and shared some stories with a Harley couple admiring the hauling capacity of our rig.
We saw a sign for the World War II Memorial in North Carolina and decided to visit it. It was a very moving and solemn experience to all who fought on our side in the war. I highly recommend spending the better part of a day here and learn about an important era in world history. It was refreshing to see a sign shortly after entering to lay down the law. Paraphrasing it, it forbade picnicking, bike or skateboarding, as this
was not a park to have fun in, rather to reflect on those who gave their lives defending freedom.
All before too long we found ourselves among family and friends in New Jersey, then a few days later, back home. This trip was only slightly more than 4,000 miles in length but we both thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for next year to trek to another fun location.
Between our part-time job being very slow and a use-or-lose time-share week we decided to finish our June trip and visit the Florida Keys. One of the nice perks about being retired. We packed up the Honda and away we went. We spent a warm week in Fort MyersBeach in the time-share and took turns between walking on the beach, cooling off in the pool and taking side-trips. Our first air-boat ride in the Everglades was
a unique experience in a very unique environment. The gigantic banyan tree imported from India greeted us as we entered Thomas Edison’s winter home. We drove through Sanabel and Captiva Islands and wondered how some people can live so luxuriously in-between hurricanes. And one day we did drive to the Keys, looked around a little, never really getting out of the car (neither of us wanted to). We decided that
it was nice that we were here but it wasn’t for us.
We visited friends in Florida and family on the way home. Thanks to all who welcomed us with open arms, be it for a week or a few hours, we enjoyed the time shared with each and every one of you.
We had a family tragedy when our niece’s husband, in a state of depression, ended his life with a gun. We were not surprised at his funeral when hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects. We knew he was well liked. We can only say with tears on our faces that we miss you, David. The rest of this year plays out sadder due to our loss but it does go on.
In-between and after these trips we are content to stay home. Mary enjoys playing games on the computer and thoroughly enjoys her latest toy, the iPod Touch, while Geza is totally enamored with his iPhone. Before Mary bought it for him he always made fun of people our age carrying cell-phones, saying that he never thought he was important enough for someone to be able to reach him immediately. I guess all those years of carrying a beeper 24x7 for work left a mark. He never understood our friend, Sonny, who has had a internet-capable device for years, why he spent so much time on it looking at such a small screen. Now finally Geza made it over to the dark side and he is seldom without his buddy, the iPhone, checking weather around the world, the results on Wall Street or a hundred other things. Oh, yes and in his spare time Geza plays Guitar Hero in the basement with the surround system turned up loud. He can proudly say that he is capable of playing many songs on the “expert” level, on guitar, bass or now on his new drum set.
As winter is upon us with full force we are thinking more and more of spending some time in Florida during the winters. The older I get the less tolerant I am of the cold weather and of being cooped up in the house, not being able to spend much time outdoors.
We both have a lot to be thankful for this year. We’re relatively healthy (as Mary puts it: “We’re medicated to perfection.”) and happy living in our home. I thank God for all we have, most of all, for having Mary by my side. She has been my rock, my wind beneath my wings. I will not live long enough to thank her for all she’s done for me.
So, this Christmas we wish all of you the best of everything. May all your dreams come true, your fears never realized, your stockings always filled and may you be as happy all year round as you are during these holiest of holy days. God bless America and each and every one of you.
Mary & Geza
We had a blast this year!
It started out by honoring one of Mary’s long-time-coming wishes to see the Mummers’ Parade in Philadelphia. Oldest son, Roger, spent Christmas with us with his two boys, Garrett and Nick, and left them with us while he drove back home and continued to earn a living. On the 30th of December the four of us drove to South Jersey and stayed at our favorite B&B. The next day nephew, Donnie, the owner of the B&B, and I chauffeured everybody to the High Speed Line from where Philadelphia is a fifteen-minute ride. A great time was had by all, coming home with rosy cheeks and many memories. My favorite part was the knowledge that Mary will not be asking me to take her for a while.
Nancy, the co-owner of our favorite B&B came to visit us with her two photogenic children, Carly and Donnie, who are 6 and 9, respectively. This has become a yearly event and I always look forward to these visits. We have a good time whenever they visit us and it always starts with setting up the tent in the backyard with everybody helping. Aunt Mary sleeps with them outside but first plans are formulated as to the methods of scaring Uncle Geza in the house. Using flashlights, howls, and screams, many attempts are made to accomplish this task. My plan is to do the same, so we all have a good time. Grandpas always win over younger people, so I usually wait until they’re asleep and then go to work on them.
On a special occasion Mary’s sister Sharon came up with them. It was special because she rarely travels outside of New Jersey. We were very happy to see her and were even happier when she accompanied everybody on a kayaking and canoeing outing to a nearby lake. She tried kayaking for the first time and we almost had to pry her out of the kayak to give someone else a turn.
Despite being an old fart I still cannot shed my occasional need for speed. My current car is a four-door hot rod capable of speeds of around 170 mph. While there is no place locally I can stretch its legs, I thought the next best thing would be to take it to a race track. My membership dues were paid to the Audi Quattro Club and plans were made to attend a track day at the internationally known racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York. Mary and I watched many, many races at this facility and have many unforgettable memories.
I have attended a couple of these events in the past with other Audis and have enjoyed myself immensely. The last of these was almost ten years ago, so for my first few sessions this time on the track an instructor accompanied me. Shortly after lunch I was given solo status and continued to produce massive amounts of adrenalin. I shared the track with drivers of other make of cars (Porsches, Lotuses, Corvettes and other Audis), some of which were definitely not stock. There are only a couple of areas on the track where you can pass, namely the start and finish straight and the back-stretch, the longer of the two. I was going at 100 mph at the start/finish line, at the end of which is a 90-degree right-hander and 132 mph at the back-stretch. I had to go down to the village three times to fill up the gas tank, as the car was only getting 8.9 mpg! I learned a lot about the car and my driving abilities and I think I did pretty well at keeping up with the younger guys.
Mary, of course, came with me and for the first time, she was happy and willing to be the official photographer, taking MANY pictures. She even solicited the help of some corner workers to let her know when I was coming. Surprisingly, many of her pictures were pretty good. Thank God for autofocus.
In the middle of June we departed with our friends Charlie and Peggy for a week-long journey to the National Sidecar Rally of the United Sidecar Association held in Mountain View, Arkansas. On the way we drove on the Tail of the Dragon, a public road on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, which has 318 curves in 11 miles. We also found another road called The Snake, which was awesome as well. I waved to Elvis as we skirted Memphis, managed to avoid a bad accident when someone hit a strip of tractor trailer tire tread laying in the middle of the road right next to me in very heavy traffic.
We fell in love with Mountain View, a typical little Midwest town located in the mountainous Northwest corner of the state. A sign displayed at edge of town declares it the folk music capitol of the country. We stayed at a charming ten-unit motel a block from the town square.
We had a great time exploring the surrounding area, listening to music every night at the town square and enjoying Charlie and Peggy’s company.
You can read more about this memorable trip on our website at http://maryandgeza.com/page19.php
Charlie expressed a desire to attend the so-called three-wheeler/Moto Guzzi rally held in Massachusetts, in the fall. Plans were made, routes picked and interests peaked. We met Friday morning at a New York Harley Davidson dealer, had some coffee, kicked some tires, and then set out on the four-hour-or-so ride. The weather was cool but sunny and with Charlie in the lead our spirits were high with anticipation of attending a rally none of us had frequented before.
We swapped lead a few times and I was leading when the gas gauge only showed one bar, so I looked for a gas station. We just entered a little town, when I saw a Stewart’s, so I pulled into a spot right in front of the door. I needed to use the restroom quickly. When I came out of the store, there was a guy looking under the bike and upon seeing me he informed me that there was antifreeze dripping from the engine. I told him that he must be mistaken but when I looked, I saw what he saw. There was a tiny hole in the radiator.
After a short meeting of the minds we determined that we could not continue, so a tow truck was called. He finally showed up and took us to the nearest Kawasaki dealer, this one in Vermont. When we got there they refused to work on it because it had a sidecar attached to it, so we continued on to the dealer I bought the bike from in 2008. They said they could fix it and so we left it there. Granddaughter Gabrielle and fiancé Marvin met us at the dealer in Queensbury, NY and we all went home. Charlie and Peggy stayed the night and the next day we continued to the rally, Charlie and Peggy in their rig, Mary in the Honda and I rode the Moto Guzzi, as Mary isn’t keen on riding solo behind me anymore.
We were on the Mass Turnpike (Mary and Peggy in the S2000, charlie and I in our respective rigs) trying to get by traffic, driving rather spiritedly. I turned up the wick a little higher to get by a group of cars but when I looked back I didn’t see anybody familiar behind me. Long story, short, there was a speed trap a while back and Mary was motioned to the side by the cop, whom I didn’t even see. They clocked her at 93 but let her go with a diminished speed of 84 in a 65 mph zone, a $190 fine, saving us $90.
On the positive side I won an award for the best looking Moto Guzzi and another for the hard-luck story of the rally. This was an expensive weekend. When we picked up the rig the next week, another $613 was added to the total for the repaired radiator.
We managed to spend quite a bit of time in New Jersey, visiting relatives, using the B&B as a stop-over on the way to somewhere else. One of these occasions was the wedding of our niece, Donna. This was her third, marrying her high school sweetheart. Donnie and his family from Ohio wanted to attend, so we made plans to have them come to the house for a two-day visit before we caravanned to New Jersey together.
Donna is a very special and popular person whose many friends came to the celebration. She really made it a special occasion for all her relatives. She even prepared welcome baskets delivered to us when we checked in the hotel.
A trip to New York City in July included a visit to the 9/11 site. The memorial is awe-inspiring and it’s hard to experience it without a tear in the eyes. There was a lot of walking and anxious moments hurrying to meet the bus for the trip home.
We drove to New Jersey in November to spend the night and continue with Donnie and Nancy to West Virginia to help celebrate Mary’s ex brother- and sister-in-law’s surprise 60th anniversary celebration. I went to bed early, as usual, after taking my bedtime medications. I developed chest pains shortly afterwards and didn’t get to sleep until 4 AM. I woke up a couple of hours later and the chest pains were still there. I decided not to go to West Virginia and since I didn’t want to be stuck in a New Jersey hospital, I asked Mary to drive us home. We went to the ER and it was determined that I was, for a short time, in A fib. I was put on a blood thinner and have been fine ever since.
Granddaughter Gabrielle and Marvin talked to us last year about moving out of Minnesota. Son-in-law Don graciously agreed to help Marvin get a job with the State of New York, so long as Marvin passed the test that he took months before. Mary and I agreed to have them stay with us for a month, until employment was secured. They came and took over the basement and the stay ended up a little longer. They brought their dog, Maddie, a pitiful excuse for a dog, a Chihuahua. As it turns out, she became the only thing Mexican that I like. So, “the young couple in the basement” moved out to an apartment of their own about 25 minutes from us and we are all very happy. She works at a Stewart’s store outside Saratoga Springs and he works in Albany installing microwaves and dishwashers, while waiting to hear back from applications to the State.
We had 19 people for Thanksgiving, most of them staying at the house, which was bursting at the seams at times. Great-granddaughter Keagan was also visiting, so there were four generations at the table. Now that they are all gone, the house seems very, very empty.
We will have fewer for Christmas, youngest son, Chris and family and Don and Catherine will be in attendance.
If you’re still with us, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year. We send all of you much love, hugs and kisses (or just a handshake, if you’re one of those)
Mary and Geza