Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

Don't Drink and Drive.

You might hurt someone.

And the cops will pull you over.

I read this past week somewhere that a DUI arrest is very very expensive.  After all the bills are in it costs $10,000 dollars if you are convicted of drunk driving.  Be careful tonight and avoid a major hit to the wallet:  find a designated driver, call a taxi, or even the police and they will make sure you get home safely.  I think we are in much better shape than when I was out running around in my 20's and 30's.  It was a different world back then.  Now everyone agrees when you tell them to be safe and I think a lot of people stay home.   But even with the increased public awareness,  people still get drunk and hop into a car thinking they can make it and won't get caught.   Last year down here they had mandatory "wolf pack" stops and the troopers were checking everyone for all kinds of things.  There, now, I'm done with my public service announcement.  

Good Riddance 2012 and Welcome 2013!

From all of the staff at Existing In BFE, Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Most Unique and Thoughtful Gift This Year...

And the Winner Is.......................

Longtime readers will note with some disdain my affection for blizzards, snow and most things winter.  I yearn for snow, I long for a 8-12"'er, I miss the snow angels, Missy prancing around like a pup, and the general feel for Christmas a good snowfall provides. Granted, I don't like these in March, but then that goes with the territory, so to speak.  I also don't like the furnace kicking in every 25 minutes to provide life-affirming heat, with an equally affirming bill at the end of the month.  

Readers will  also remember that I have several websites where I can visually eavesdrop on current conditions.  There is a webcam on the Arsenal Bridge in the Cities, one in Macomb looking at the Courthouse, one along the Mississippi River around Muscatine, and, my favorite, at my old college Iowas Wesleyan which actually has four looking out over the campus.  Does it help that I watch these blizzards and feel for my brethren?  Yes, I'm wearing shorts, and the windows are open, but I really do feel for you guys.  Yes, I miss the snow.  I'm hoping my love of blizzards will help my karma, which must surely be in short supply (the good Stuff) because of my winters in Flucktardia.    


Down to visit the family the current Mrs. Blythe's sister and niece, Patti and Amy, joined us for the holidays.   They hail from Indianapolis and were more than happy to visit shortly after the last Midwest blizzard.  They spotted this item somewhere in Indiana and brought it down for me to enjoy.  They remembered my whining about the white stuff and how much I am talking about it and miss it. It is a container of snowballs!  And it will never melt in the squalid heat down here.

Soft, but kind of crunchy snowballs that will be put to great use this winter.  We already tried them out with each other on Christmas day and I can tell you they throw well without the usual mess.  I am so grateful to them for providing me a way to replenish my karma cup.

Rest assured, loyal readers, that when you guys are shoveling or driving in that white stuff, and barely able to see where the road is, I'll be right there with you, snowballs in hand ready to share equally in the fun and pain.  I swear.

Oh, and Patti and Amy had to cut short their visit to get back to Indy before the next blizzard which fell somewhere on Christmas night and yesterday morning.  Thanks for the gift, guys, it will help my frame of mind all winter.  SNOWBALL FIGHT, ANYONE? 

Don't forget to get a picture of your Christmas Tree for the blog next week.  Send them to

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Send your Christmas tree pictures sometime this week and it will be featured next week on Existing in BFE.

Send any other interesting pictures, stories or comments to: OR  

For inclusion on the regular feature, Cub Reporter Monday.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

From Our Family To Yours...

A Very Merry Christmas Holiday Season

Letter To Santa:

Dear Santa,
How are you? How is Mrs. Claus? I hope everyone, from the
reindeer to the elves, is fine. I have been a very good boy this year. I
would like a Go Pro Helmet Cam, a Canon T1i  camera with both lenses,  and an iPhone 5 for
Christmas. I hope you remember that come Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas,
Mike Blythe
* * * * *
Dear Mike,
Thank you for you letter. Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the elves are all
fine and thank you for asking about them. Santa is a little worried all the
time you spend riding your bike and texting. Santa wouldn’t want you to
get fat. Since you have indeed been a good boy, I think I’ll bring you
something you can go outside and play with.
Merry Christmas,
Santa Claus
* * * * *
Mr. Claus,
Seeing that I have fulfilled the “naughty vs. Nice” contract,
set by you I might add, I feel confident that you can see your way clear to
granting me what I have asked for. I certainly wouldn’t want to turn this
joyous season into one of litigation. Also, don’t you think that a jibe at
my weight coming from an overweight man who goes out once a year is a bit
Mike Blythe
* * * * *
Mr. Blythe,
While I have acknowledged you have met the “nice” criteria,
need I remind you that your Christmas list is a request and in no way is it
a guarantee of services provided. Should you wish to pursue legal action,
well that is your right. Please know however, that my attorneys have been
on retainer ever since the Burgermeister Meisterburger incident and will be
more than happy to take you on in open court. Additionally, the exercise I
alluded to will not only improve your health, but also improve your social
skills and potentially help firm up that belly that looks like you have spent all your time in at McDonald's or Three Birds Tavern.
Very Truly Yours,
S Claus
* * * * *
Now look here Fat Man,
I told you what I want and I expect you to bring it. I was
attempting to be polite about this but you brought my looks and my friends
into this. Now you just be disrespecting me. I’m about to tweet my BFE boys
and we’re gonna be waiting for your fat ass and I’m taking my helmet cam,
my Canon DSLR, my phone, and whatever else I want. WHAT EVER I WANT, MAN!
Meat Leader
* * * * *
Listen Biker Boy,
Seriously??? You think a dude that breaks into every house in the world on
one night and never gets caught sweats a skinny gang-banger wannabe? “He sees
you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake”. Sound familiar,
genius? You know what kind of resources I have at my disposal. I got your
shit wired, Jack. I go all around the world and see ways to hurt people
that if I described them right now, you’d throw up your Totino’s pizza roll
all over the carpet of your lanai room. You’re not getting what you
asked for, but I’m still stopping by your crib to stomp a mud hole in
you’re ass and then walk it dry. Chew on that, Petunia.
S Clizzy
* * * * *
Dear Santa,
Bring me whatever you see fit. I’ll appreciate anything.
* * * * *
That’s what I thought you little bastard.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Straub Park Christmas

The Christmas tree we put up in our homes, apartments or whatever you have represents the center of your Christmas universe.  It is the place that holds the most beauty.  Our trees represent what we give to others, as a piece of ourselves, our love and devotion. Holly, my sister-in-law sent us a picture of their tree and I thought it would be nice to share them everyone.  So, please, send me a picture of your tree and I will post it on Existing In BFE sometime this next week.  

Send them to either or

And now, instead of Cub Reporter Monday, let's visit Straub Park in St. Petersburg.

It was a somewhat boring Saturday night so I hopped on the bike and went South to check out the decked out holiday boats docked at Maximo Marina. It was a wasted trip, however, since only one was lit and they must have been having a boat parade somewhere because I saw one leaving the marina. But not easily discouraged I set about and decided to go downtown to the public marina. Again, nothing much too spectacular but Straub Park was full of people and all lit up, so I parked and strolled over to check it out.

This is all I got down at Maximo, but this simple decor caught my eye.  I like this a lot.  Not too flashy, not hard to do and it makes a statement of sorts.

I decided to ride on downtown to see if any at the public marina had any interesting lights.  I then ran into Straub park which is very close to the Vinoy and right across from the marina and right down from the Pier.  The centerpiece of Straub Park is the nicely lit and rather large Christmas Tree.  What I found was a throng of nighttime revelers, having a fun stroll through the park to see the lights and to just be outside.  A beautiful evening, warmish but not hot.  

This is the dripping light ornaments you may have seen from last year's Christmas blog.  It's back and impressive.  There is a movie of it at the below.  

Cool walkway to see Santa.  

Santa and his bored elf.  Be sure to catch the movie below.  Old Santa is dead tired and keeping track of the time.  Poor old guy. 

It'll soon be over Santa.  You look like you could use a rest. 

This is a display at the Pier.  

After I saw the park decorations I called Brendan and asked if he wanted to meet me at Three Birds.  He and Lee came on over (they are within walking distance), and we had a nice time with a few beers and conversation in between the too loud band.  

This Santa at Three Birds looked like he had had a beer too many. 

Watch tired Santa here check the time.  Long night for this guy.  He's got another long one coming up.

I have mixed feelings about street entertainers/beggars.  They are talented, fun and no doubt bring something of the art world into our lives.  My problem is that everyone has their hand out around here.  You can't stop at any business without some guy asking for change.  You get to know who they are by how they are leaning against a building and how friendly they are to you going IN, so they can soften you up when you come OUT.  That's the nature of the beast in the city, I guess.

It was one of those really neat and fun spontaneous things that happen to come together with a phone call.  I turned this lemon of a night into something memorable.  Have a great Christmas everybody and I wish you all a good night.  Oh, and don't forget to send me a picture of your tree.  I will be taking attendance!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Send Me...

Send me a picture of your Christmas Tree and I'll post them this week!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Tin Butt Ride - Part 4


Welcome back to the final installment of the Tin Butt Run.  It's been a long day and we're on the final leg of our trip.  We have to get a third piece of documentation from a Hess gas station not too far from Tampa, but along comes Bushnell and, whoa!, I'm about out of gas.  Bushnell by the way is the home to one one of Florida's two National Cemeteries.

Now, let's talk gas, shall we?  Goldwings never need gas.  Never seen one gassed up except to look normal to other motorists.  I think they are actually run by a little nugget of uranium.  These bikes are camels!  Then you have the other sport/hybrid type bikes along for the trip and they can go forever on a tank.  Fuel conservation is one other claim to fame, that and making anyone look like a 17 year old.  Then there is mine.  It is a huge 1900 CC that drinks gas like Lady Gaga seeks goofy.  I heard a Goldwing can go 200 miles easy, and a Ninja can get 50-60 mpg.  Me, maybe 25-30 miles per gallon which comes to about 100-150.  More if I want to wait for the light to come on, but why tempt fates.

Around Bushnell I slowed and caught tail gunner Steve and warned him I may be dropping out to gas up.  He then talked into his squawker and before you knew it, the Leader of the group turned into a place to get me gassed up.  Wow.  Now this was unexpected because this was not technically a "led" ride, and there are prizes for fastest return times.  Nice.  Anyway with a full tank we head for Tampa, and St. Pete right after that and Lucky B's B-B-Q.

But first, it's Tampa.  AND I DON'T DO TAMPA.  But this afternoon I have no choice.  I started partial puckering about 12 miles out, and by now, with the outline of Tampa, I'm in full power pucker.

There is no Buc's football game this afternoon so can't explain the traffic.  Someone later said that's the way it always is now that they funneled so and so road into such and such lanes.

Lions and Tigers and Skyscrapers, oh my!

Bumper to bumper, or in our case, fender to fender traffic.  After a long hot day, now we have to contend with Tampa's blistering roads.  Still fun, though.  Always on a bike.

Fred taking our little group into Lucky B's on the final moments of our Tin Butt ride.  Now for the party!

Other things of note on the trip:

At one point we were cruising along and I noticed in my peripheral vision a banner draped over a fence that read something like Merle Haggard's home or birthplace.  I went by too fast and missed it.  When I got back to a computer I looked it up and this is what I found:  Along Highway 50 past Mable, Florida on a fence is written "Home of Sire Merle Hager, Jr."  Country Music Merle Hager Jr. (son of grand champion Merle Hager) is a 30 inch tall jack (male donkey) who resides at Greenfield Farms, the home of the Dinkie Donkies.   Jeez, deaked by a dumb-ass dwarf donkey.

In a twist of irony:  Brendan's new roomie and former fellow Screaming Eagle Robert Jumper just arrived in Florida and we crossed Jumper Creek around Brooksville.

There are a couple of Medal of Honor winners buried at Bushnell, and did you know there is one buried in Monmouth Memorial Cemetery by the airport and park?

I bought a new helmet a couple months ago and I miss my old-school duct tape on the visor to block the sun.  Looks like I'll have to do some modifying.

Total miles on my bike for the day was 346.  Total time for the trip:  9 hours and 6

I sat with Steve, the Tail Gunner, and told him now nice it was to be tucked in by him most of the day.  I also thanked him for getting the group to pull in for gas when no one else needed to.  I admire folks who can encapsulate major thoughts in few words.  He grinned and said, "It's all about having fun."

One other note.  I am trying to get a trip to South Dakota with a few friends in 2014.  The Sutors, The McCutcheons, The Stages, and anyone else who wants to.  The bluetooth/bike-to-bike communications systems they have down here is somethign rather unique.  They chat amongst themselves and I experienced with my old car club, too.  On group car runs they had hand held CBs that they would use.  I will be attmpting to get our riders on the trip to look into this, its very neat.    

The meal provided by the Club at Lucky B's was pulled pork which was very good.  They also had some side dishes, of course and then they brought out sheets of huge brownies.  Now tell me how I could resist those?

This is the club's first lady who is due in January.  Oddly enough she won a door prize to Toys-R-Us.  The guy in the middle owns a Kawasaki Concours and the fellow on the right is Fred, Swiss or German who is very nice and drives like a bat out of hell.  He has 2 bikes, a Goldwing and a Yamaha sport bike and his favorite is the sport bike.

This is the Club President, Willy, who gave out the yearly info on number of rides and miles for the year compared to last year (both down due to weather). He also gave out the door prizes and awards for fastest and slowest times.  I got a $15.00 gift card.   They gave out 2 $100 cash prizes and a couple of $50 in addition to several gift cards from local business, grocery stores and gas stations.  All in all everyone gets something and several people got 2 or 3 items.  

View Larger Map

This is the general route we took for the day.  Since I never knew where we were unless we entered a town, this is a very rough estimate based on the towns on the certificate we received at the end of the day.  I had a smart phone so I suppose I could have found my way home had I been culled from the herd.  And that can be kind of exciting, too, finding your way out of good-and-lost, but the day was fun and I was escorted in good and healthy fashion about the land.

And finally, my certificate of achievement.  

We now return you to your regular schedule. Oh wait, it's Christmas so things are going to be jumbled the next couple of weeks.  It will be hit and miss but I swear, we'll get back on track in the new year.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 Tin Butt Ride - Part 3

Welcome back to the third installment to the 2012 Tin Butt bike run sponsored by the Bayside Rider Club. Something I forgot to mention is that this is also a charity event. Riders are to bring a toy and there is another run on Saturday to the Metropolitan Church in Tampa on the following Saturday to deliver all the goodies. More on this later.

Another one of my rear-view mirror shots that I have practically perfected from first trying it on our BFE runs.  

Beautiful day for riding back in the hinterlands of Florida.  Its an odd state: there are parts that look just like the country out by BFE and then there is scrub crap that even rattlers wouldn't live in, to swamp, to some good hills, to desolate open spaces.  And that doesn't even include forests that we rode by.    

This is the Yearling Trail area of Marjorie MacKinnon Rawling's The Yearling, which was a Pulitzer prize winning book and movie.  It's much like Illlinois' Lincoln Trail up north.  We were about 30 miles away from her home but this whole area is given the royal Yearling treatment.

Something I also need to say is, it's relatively difficult while riding a bike to reach for a camera, turn it on and then manhandle it so one hand can hold the camera, steady the flapping cloth handle and then point and shoot the damn thing all at once.  So if this picture looks ho-hum, think of the skill and danger it took to bring it to your computer.

Anticipation is also important.  One sees something that may be interesting, getting camera ready and set, then its just an ordinary truck with something maybe not so ordinary on the back.  Well drilling? 

Correction: A kind reader has stated they believe this is a truck that pours concrete to hard to reach places.    

This is the Ocala National Forest, a 383,000 square mile forest of scrub pine which is the southernmost in the US.  It is home to some endangered species, apparently not deer because the hunters were out in force all parked along the side the road all over up in this part. 

I didn't take this picture, but we saw many bear crossing signs,  I wasn't ever fast enough to have the camera ready, so I got this one off a Flicker page from Florida, and I am assuming it was taken in the area we were in.

More of the Ocala National Forest.

Sometimes it just doesn't work out but at least in this one you can see me holding a camera in the rear-view.  Such skill.  Such dexterity.  What a dedicated blogger.

You may have to click to enlarge this one.  It was huge building with massive acreage.  Horse farm perhaps? 

Interesting old wooden tressle-type bridges along here.

Our 2nd mandatory stop was Cactus Jack's in Salt Springs somewhere.  They advertise it as the "Best Watering Hole In the Forest" and it was a pretty cool place.  

Nice bar ambiance.

What this money means I don't know but the bar maid looked tough and wouldn't advise anyone messing with the dough.

Some of the riders in the group.  

One of those bars where there is something to look at everywhere.  

Even a tree that grew up through the floor and they just made a table out of it.  

You might think I'm kidding about the geezers and their Goldwings, but here you have Bill who is at least 86 on the left and Fred, from Germany on the right who isn't too far behind.  Nice guys and run as fast as they can.   Fred told me that he wanted to ride a motorcycle when he was a kid, but his father forbade him.  He said they were too dangerous, and then when his Father died, he finally started riding.  I asked him if we could magically bring his Dad back, would he go for a ride with you, and Fred said, no, definitely not.  He simply did not like them.  It stemmed from an accident Dad's buddy had when he was a kid, and he died.  

This is my documentation saying I was there, and it was pretty neat, too.  We got a free drink by showing her our route direction sheet, and she gave us all these as proof we were there.  Nice place.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Tin Butt Ride - Part 2

Navigating around the edges of Tampa turned out to be OK, basically, with a few exceptions.  What you don't want happening is to get stopped by a light while half the group is past.  Then that makes you leader of the pack, and for me (and the others) that's a bad thing.  That's pit juice-inducing stuff there.  You bet, in Tampa or boonies and I end up leading, no way.  Back in BFE I was the designated leader (Dear Leader) and didn't mind it if I was comfortable with my comprehension of the destination.  But here, its a little iffy outside of St. Pete.

First pit stop.

Here we all had to get some form of receipt or documentation.  The place really sucked though because I always fill up (those Goldwings never have to) and it didn't take cards.  Here was my history with this place.  I try to gas up but nothing happens.  So I get in line.  Naturally everyone is in line for the can or to get their receipt, so I stand in line forever.  When I get up to the clerk he can't speak English so I say, I need gas and it won't accept my card.  Middle Eastern gibberish.  I then walk out and see someone gassing up and I ask them, and they tell me you pre-pay.  I said, OK, so now I get back in line,  wait forever and I say I need gas at pump 2.  He says, in difficult English this time, "How much?"  I say I don't know I haven't filled up yet because you don't take cards.  I give him $20.00 and he gives me a piece of paper and clicks on some keys.   I go outside to get gas, and the pump works so I fill up.  Now I have to get back in line again to get my change.  By now I have to go to the bathroom, so I stand in line there, too.   

Another thing to remember is that all of the groups and bikes are following the general same directions, so throughout the day our numbers in the group may lower or swell depending on pit stops, people getting lost and such.  This is Jack on his Kawi ready to fly.

Perhasp some of the most scenic traveling I have seen while riding with this Club.  Majestic vistas, overhanging oaks with Spanish moss, and like the picture below, desolate barren fields.

The thing that drew me to this picture is next to the trees in the far back ground is an old empty house and next to that is an old water tower.   

One of my patented rear-view mirror shots.  I like these because it gives you a front and rear view.  

Lake Griffin up by Leesville.

My butt is still fresh and I have feeling.

Very scenic area back here.  Good roads, not a whole lot of traffic either.

We stopped somewhere around Groveland and only in FLorida would you ever see a pink water tower.

Mustard, collards and turnips.  Why would you ever stop?

In one of my many gas fill stops I noticed these young men with a 4-wheeler ATV in the back of their small pick-up.  They were buying ice and beer.  Lethal combination.   

I apologize again for the choppy shaky camera system I have, but until Santa graces me with a Go-Pro camera, this is what you and I are stuck with.  And I have it on pretty good authority I'm not getting one.