Experiences in a limo!

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I know I talk about transportation a lot…the pros and cons of not driving, taxis vs. Uber/Lyft, why riding a bike is so much better, so on and so forth. But maybe it’s because 90% of my time is spent NOT in a vehicle so that when I experience traveling by vehicle I usually have something to remark on about the experience. Especially when my recent experiences have been in an awesome freaking limousine!

Of course the reason we had said amazing limo is because we were out for a bachelor’s party. One of the number one reasons ANYONE gets a limo! Also one of the best excuses to get one. This particular bachelor party was planned by me for my brother. He’s finally taking the plunge, and I couldn’t be happier for him! His soon-to-be-wife is awesome! Such a sweet person and so outgoing and caring. He’s lucky to have her. I hope I find someone like her!

Anyway, so these type of events take some serious planning and there are a lot of limousine services out there that try to sham you and show you the vehicle you assume will be the vehicle you end up with, and then you realize this is their “show” limo. The ones you usually end up with are not nearly as nice or modern, the radio may or may not work, and there really isn’t a fully stocked bar inside the limo like they make it seem with the “show” limo. Scam artists all of them!!!

Ok, so not ALL of them. This particular limo company came recommended from a good friend of mine who had been involved in another bachelor party and said it blew him away! I’m always skeptical of these kinds of services because of the high cost involved and because of the fact that in a lot of cases you get a very small return for your good faith in them.

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The Positives of not Driving

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So, we all already know that I don’t drive…at least the ones who took the fucking time to read my article on bike! But I thought I could expand on that thought process in a slightly different way.

Yes, I am car”less”. Yes, I use my bike for a lot of my trips. Yes, I take the bus most everywhere. No, I do not want to change any of it. I may get a car for long road trips at some point, but there’s a train for that too, right? Eh, I want to go everywhere, so yes, at some point I will get a car. But, believe me, I am in exactly NO hurry to do so.

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I love not driving. It was definitely an adjustment having owned a car my entire life. We Americans love our automobiles. It definitely has the appeal of independence we all crave. It is literally our heritage. I get it. I understand it. I feel it. Not driving myself, at least initially, felt pretty damn weird. Actually, at first it felt very European. I’ve traveled through Europe and have used their public transit systems, some of which are awesome, some of which are ridiculously lacking in efficiency. Regardless of the quality of the system, when I first started using public transit stateside, it felt very foreign, in a European sense. It felt very adventurous.

Obviously, all romanticism fades after a while and my amorous feelings towards public transit eventually fell victim to human nature as well. I began to identify the bus, not with a sense of adventure, but with a sense of necessity. It was how I got to work. It helped me get where I need to go to make my life work. It lost its initial luster, but it simultaneously morphed into something completely different and unexpected.

There are most definitely a lot of things about driving that I miss. Conversely, there are many things I most definitely do NOT miss in the slightest! A lot of my friends live in much smaller cities and none of them can believe I don’t want or own a car. My buddy who lives in the same city as me can’t even believe it, but he drives for a fancy limo company so it’s his job to drive. His opinion is not objective on the matter!

I do miss being able to drive with my windows down and stick my feet out of them and listen to music as loud as I want and not have to worry about anyone else’s personal preferences. I also miss not having to be beholding to a schedule. To be able to come and go as I please whenever the feeling arises. To be able to transport multiple items, bikes, groceries, friends, kids, small animals, whatever I want.

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Living in the Midwest vs. surviving the Southwest

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So, I wasn’t born in the southwest. I was born in the Midwest. Anyone that is familiar with the differences between the two areas of the country can tell you they are endless. They might as well be on different planets. The Midwest is so lush and green with no shortages of lakes, rivers and streams throughout. The seasons are clearly defined to the degree that you immediately know what season it is upon arrival there. Spring time is wet and cloudy with moderate temperatures, the Summers are hot, humid, and short (typically about 3 months of the year), Fall is cool, crisp, and extraordinarily colorful, and Winter is what winter should be; bitterly cold, snowy, and beautiful.

In contrast, the desert couldn’t be more different if it were actually on a different planet. It in no way resembles the Midwest, besides the fact that human beings reside there as well, but even they are very different looking too. The desert is vast, and its vastness can be seen stretching out for miles before your eyes with very little blocking your view. It is very barren of living things, besides cacti in every direction a lot of dust and anything that could or might poke, prod or bite you. Rattlesnakes are fairly common, especially in the spring when the sun starts to warm around midday. There have been several instances when my daily hikes were abruptly halted because of a rattlesnake in its striking pose that had been sunbathing on the hiking path. None of these meetings met with any real danger and these are fairly harmless interactions because, thankfully, they know you’re coming and start their rattle long before you actually get within sight of them.  Shooing them off with a stick or taking a wide berth around them is the best way to avoid any more serious complications to your hike.

Scorpions, spiders, lizards, coyotes, javalinas (wild pigs), burrows (donkeys), and various other scary looking and potential downright dangerous insects, reptiles, and animals are just a few examples of native creatures of the southwest that could potentially greet you at the turn of every cactus you pass. Not to say that the Midwest is devoid of dangerous insects and animals, I just rarely came in contact with any that made me literally stop in my tracks and go the opposite direction…in some cases in a full on sprint!

After moving to the southwest with my non-tinted windowed car, I quickly learned why every other car around me had their windows tinted. Not only does it lower the heat index in your car while parked, and while driving for that matter, it also dampens the glare of the ever-present sun. One of the friends I made while living there I made from talking to him while he worked on tinting my windows. He has a very profitable window tinting business that, according to what he told me, is made up of mostly recent transplants from other areas of the country that don’t experience the same constant sun and heat as the STW.

Talk about devising an awesome business module around absolute needs of an area, he got it pegged. I think he could maybe do better if he sold sunglasses as part of the service as well, but he has more than enough work on his hands as it is. He’ll be fine!

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Why Pink Floyd used to scare me… :/

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So, there is no debating how awesome the band Pink Floyd was and continues to be to this day. But, there was a time when I was younger that they scared the living bejeezus out of me!

I grew up in a religious family, which explains a lot to anyone that experienced a similar upbringing. Rock n’ Roll was “the DEVIL’S music!”. To be honest, there was a time when I agreed with that weird, extremist view on secular music. Pink Floyd does have that dark, sort of haunting, yet atmospheric and tempting sound that as an impressionable child could easily be perceived as “spiritual/evil” given the improper information and influences. That paired with the fact that my first real exposure to Pink Floyd was when I was maybe 10 and I watched the video documentary/fictional movie “The Wall”. Unable to truly put what I was seeing into context with the overall message being delivered, the scary imagery and dark nature of the film convinced me that everything that I “knew” about Rock n’ Roll must have been correct.

A close friend of mine owns a pool table moving service in Phoenix, AZ and Pink Floyd, being his favorite band, can often be heard blaring from his truck while he transports tables to various homes and businesses.

One of the scariest parts of the film was when Pink is sitting in his bed staring at the Wall he had trapped himself behind, so dark and grimy and isolating. As Pink’s futile attempts to break through the wall result in blood running down his hands and a broken spirit and loss of soul, the dark symbolism behind this scene really gripped me with fear. Such visceral imagery and symbolism throughout the entire rock-doc kept me awake at nights on occasion.

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Transportation pros and cons

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Having grown up in a town of less than 200,000 people, the need for a far reaching, efficiently run public transportation system was never much of a necessity for me. And, considering it was not a major city and everything was grouped rather close, there was really no need for it. It was, however, spread out and just big enough that unless you lived in specific areas, walking or riding a bike wasn’t an easy means of transport either. It has since changed and the city has grown more densely packed and easier to get what you need close by regardless of where you live in the city.

Since moving away, I have lived in several major cities with transportation systems that are either barely existent or too complex and intricate to navigate. Chicago, with its L-Train system and various subways, is one of the best managed and most efficient systems I have used. The free trolley downtown is also ingenious and is great because it makes the city beyond Michigan Avenue that much more accessible. The train system stretches so far outside of the heart of the city that I would have to say that it is probably the best I’ve experienced to date, given how accessible it is and how sprawling its reach extends. Phoenix, on the other hand, is terrible. At the time I lived there, I didn’t have a full dependency on public transportation, which is a good thing because I couldn’t imagine what all that would entail.

Anyone that is familiar with the geography of Phoenix knows that it is a large, sprawling mass that stretches far out into the surrounding desert and mountains. The central downtown area is not actually that large, so there are other pockets of the city in areas like Scottsdale and Tempe, where ASU is located, or Glendale, which is not as densely developed but still houses millions of residents, and areas like Sun City on the northwest side of the city with all of its retiree snowbirds, that until the last few years had very few ways of accessing it. Two semi-major roads run into it and they are nearly always slow moving because of the large number of residents in that area, and because the median age of drivers on the road is 65 years or older, which, as we all know, translates to much slower commute times.

Going back to transportation, it has been over 3 years since I’ve lived there, so I can only speak of the time in which I did live there and my personal experience with it at that time. It was around the same time that they first introduced the light rail system. What a complete and utter joke this huge investment of taxpayer dollars ended up being. It consists of one (yes, one!) rail that runs south from about 5 miles north of downtown Phoenix and then heads horizontally through the center of downtown and southeast through Tempe and finally ends on the border of Mesa. I understand that every city, when it comes to huge transportation investments, has to start somewhere and then expand from that point. But, it the light rail doesn’t even go to the airport. Sky Harbor INTERNATIONAL Airport! Somehow, they didn’t find it necessary to have the light rail run directly to and from a major international hub. It must be nice, however, for passengers trying to get to the airport to watch the planes taking off from their comfortable light rail seats as they ride smoothly parallel past the runway. How considerate that the department of transportation thought of the cities’ residents that are possibly new to the area and don’t have a friend that can drop them off or pick them up at the airport to help them avoid having to pay for an expensive cab ride.

There are great examples of efficiently run and dependable systems, however, besides Chicago. You’d have to travel northwest to cities such as Portland and Seattle to find them though. These systems, while not perfect, do serve as much better examples of what every major city should strive to accomplish. In Seattle’s case, rail systems run directly to and from the major airport, as well as to the other major parts of the city and even extends all the way to Vancouver, BC, with stops at all the towns in between. That rail system, paired with a public bus transit that reaches nearly every neighborhood in the city, combine to stretch extremely far outside of the city to some rather remote locations that without a personal vehicle would be rather difficult to reach.

I realize that this is mostly a monologue about how terrible Phoenix’s transit system is and less about shining examples to the contrary. But, keeping up with the nature of how most people share experiences, the negatives always tend to stand out more. Sue me.

The importance of properly fitted bedsheets…

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Bed sheets: who knew they could be so important?

So, my ex-girlfriend was a bit of a neat freak…and that is officially the understatement of the year. One word literally describes her to a T. It starts with an “A” and ends with a “nal”.  But, with that being said, I definitely am squarely on board with her when it comes to proper bedding, and primarily properly fitting sheets.

As I said, she is my ex, which means that when my ex became my ex, she took all our properly fitting sheets along with the whole damned bed. What I was left with was a bed that was basically given to us, but which did not come with its own properly fitting bed sheets and comforter and such. So, I had to improvise. I dug out my old comforter from my previous stint as a bachelor and my ex, clearly showing pity on my new state of bedding affairs, gave me some sheets that she definitely had not used in a very long time. They were the backups to the backup’s backups. But I thought I didn’t care. It doesn’t matter. Sheets are sheets, right?

How could I have been so badly mistaken?

Now, I have never been a light sleeper until more recent years. After having a child that requires you to be up constantly at every hour of the night, you begin to expect to be up at the slightest hint of a disturbance. Improperly fitted sheets are the absolute worst thing for anyone that needs certain conditions by which they can feel most comfortable and at ease. As much as you try to secure them before you get into your bed, it is always a complete and utter waste of effort. Your feet will still get tied up in them. They will not stay secured to the corners, even though you swear you had them securely wedged under the bottom box this morning when you made the bed. They will find their way around your neck, at least if you’re a mover in your sleep as I am. The worst thing is you literally have to get out of the entire bed to re-adjust said sheets. The ultimate inconvenience!

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I eventually gave up on trying to make my ex’s charity move work for me. I removed the sheet and now lay directly on the mattress. I know this isn’t a sustainable method, especially when I start dating again. But for now, whatever I need to do to avoid having to be resuscitated because I have inadvertently asphyxiated myself in my sleep is going to have to suffice.

Some would say I’m lazy for not just going to the store and buying properly fitting bedding, but I think it’s more forgetfulness. Either way, the lesson is clear: bed sheets…get the right ones…or you will pay for your decision…and it won’t be pretty…or restful. Choose wisely your course of action!

Bikes!

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How my life has changed since owning a bike

It seems odd to me that this is the first time in my life that my sole means of personal transportation is not a car, but a bike. Having always considered it as simply a recreational use “vehicle” I never thought it possible, actually the thought never even occurred to me, that a bike could be all I need. I think it’s part of the American consciousness and our constant strive for independence and success that we feel that a car is necessary and expected for us to feel that we have achieved something. I think at an earlier time in my life I would have felt embarrassed to not own a car, like it was some sort of personal negative reflection on me. “Hmm, what did he screw up so badly in his life that he can’t even buy a car? Seriously? Get your life together, man!”

The fact of the matter is that I am perfectly capable of owning a car and have always been. But, I am in a place and a position in life that I simply do not need it. I have everything I need a very short walk away, and anything else beyond my immediate neighborhood can be easily accessed by using public transportation. I take the bus to work, which picks me up literally outside my front door and drops me off literally a block from work.

All this convenience having been noted, I have had the desire to own a bike again for some time. There are some things that I can accomplish or reach on a bike that would require too much logistically speaking to reach using public transportation. I was lucky enough to find an amazing Cannondale 3.0 1993 road bike from a neighbor close to me that buys and repairs/restores old bikes to resell them. The awesome color contrast of the midnight blue frame and the bright white tape on the handle bars makes me stand back and admire it often. The components are so solid and smooth I never have any trouble shifting through the gears. One of my favorite features on the bike are the stick shifters. They are positioned on the down slope of the frame below the center bar. A sort of throwback to early Shwinn bikes and others that had the stick shifters on the handle bar post. It makes shifting a little more work than the modern style shifters that are integrated into the handle bars which makes it unnecessary to move your hands. While I can appreciate that awesome new technology, I am a bit of a romantic and love the nostalgic, antiquated designs of old bikes and the effort they required. The payoff is worth the effort, most definitely.

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I love my bike like it is an extension of my body. I have put several hundred miles on it in the month that I have owned it and will continue to rack up the miles. It has enabled me to see places and things that would have taken much longer to see or experience otherwise. It gives me a sense of freedom and also helps me notice things along the way that I had not noticed by car previously. It also inspires adventure. I can go places I hadn’t considered before and then quickly and easily return from them. It also keeps me healthy and reduces my carbon footprints. As I once told a skeptical friend “I’m taking back all those years of emissions one stroke of my pedal at a time”. He now owns and rides a bike almost as much as I do. Bikes are the new sexy means of travel. Here’s to hoping the trend continues!

Like a bonfire, just kick back and smell the awesome!

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Hey all, so welcome to my site! This is all about sharing experiences and concepts to help others in their efforts,  personal struggles, achieving goals, etc. I personally have seen and experienced many things in my life and have encountered some excellent men, women, boys, and girls along the way…and saw some pretty rad stuff while I was at it. It is through the wonder of modern technology via the internet that these experiences can be shared in great detail.

Although this site is primarily about experiences I’ve encountered and the people involved in these experiences, I will also share others experiences as they were conveyed to me. “Story Time” if you will! Knowledge and understanding comes in many different forms and ways and by having an open heart and mind to others and their personal journeys and what they learned along the way.

Some of the best moments I’ve had in life was sitting around with friends and just simply talking. I know with the previously recognized conveniences of technology it is easier to disconnect and become completely absorbed in our tech devices than it is to just sit and have a conversation with a stranger. At least for some. I personally love meeting new people and hearing about all of their experiences and the things they’ve done or achieved in their lives. It inspires me to do more, and do it with flare!