For a change of pace, it is back to me and what I do for a living. I am an architect. I design houses along with additions, renovations and historic preservation. This has been my occupation since graduating from college in 1979.
There is a house that I designed that is currently under construction. It is turning out to be the favorite of all the houses I have done as it combines the qualities that I find important in my work. The design is done in an Old Florida style. Simple shape, wrap around porch, white siding, metal roof, etc. It evokes houses built in the state in the early 1900's.
The clients are a young couple. The husband is the son of clients I have worked for since 1988 and this marks the fifth major residential project I have designed for the family. Any architect would be thrilled with such a relationship.
The property is in Jacksonville, on the St. Johns River in my neighborhood of Avondale. The river location is where The Ortega River and Fishweir Creek joins the St. Johns, with views from every side of the house (thus the wrap around porch). It would be difficult to find a better piece of property in Jacksonville.
We had some issues in getting the building permit. The site is deemed to be in a flood plain that involves moving water. So this house sits on concrete pilings. These extend 35 feet into the ground. In addition to that the minimum floor elevation of the house is approximately six feet higher than the ground was before construction, making for many truckloads of fill before beginning the work. But this height enhances the views and presence of the house.
The contractor is a fine friend of mine. He was given the contract after I suggested to the owners that his company would be the best choice for the work. They have done a spectacular job so far.
With the ongoing construction, the house gets better every day. I don't usually like visiting my construction sites, but this one draws me to visit often.
A few weeks ago. The entry side.
View from the entry side of the house. View to Fishweir Creek.
Yesterday, view of house from mechanical screen wall at back of garage.
With an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000 lurking just over three weeks away, I have to get started on scooter preparations. Last night I took the wheels off Vanessa to take to Mike McNeil for new tires. He will do that today, then the same for Razzo tonight for its tires tomorrow.
After that, I have belts and rollers coming from George's Scooter Parts Co. I will do that next week along with oil changes. With that, we should be ready to take on Florida.
My new garage has decent lighting. Enough to make it a good workshop.
Once a year the scooter club puts on a picnic at the house of one of the members. This year we had it at Sue's house in Arlington. This tradition has been going on since I joined the club several years ago. One year it conflicted with a funeral I attended, but I rode the scooter to the funeral in a dress suit, then stopped by Russ' house on the way home to join in on the fun.
A few days before the party, I got a call from my friend Jim Mandle. Jim lives in Hernando, about 120 miles southwest of Jacksonville. He wanted to come up to the gathering but was going to drive because of he would have to get home in the dark. I offered for him to stay with me so he rode up, catching some rain around Starke.
But he made it and we enjoyed the visit.
This year it coincided with Boris' 50th birthday. Sue made him a cake to help celebrate.
We all had a nice time and made it home safely.
Jim right behind me.
Sue and Elaina
Karl, Bobby and some of the wives.
Kevin, Rick, Karl and Grace Ann
Dining and visiting with Boris, Shaw and Jim.
Kathy and Jim
Chris and Boris. These two, along with Russ, founded the club.
This week Russ chose Ramirez Restaurant in Orange Park for our weekly outing.
We hadn't been there in several years but he was looking for fresh places for the new people.
We gathered at the warehouse as usual and the weather was nice, for a change. Cool and comfortable.
I led and the route was through Riverside, Avondale and Ortega, then a blast down US17 to Orange Park. We rode through the shops of Avondale, over the draw bridge into Ortega, then down the beautiful Ortega Boulevard, where I have designed at least 25 projects over the years.
We were seated in our own room at the back of the restaurant. Service was slow, but OK. The food was decent and a little expensive, but I had the chicken and shrimp special and we all shared appetizers.
I was hurting all the way there and back, but it was still fun.
Scooters all in a row
With riders. Me on Rocket.
Heading out. The warehouse is in an area undergoing massive changes.
The once vacant building across the street is going down, making room for something new.
Our warehouse is going to go the same way soon.
At the restaurant. Mike, across from me, had his appendix out the week before me so we had war stories.
I had the first post op visit with the surgeon today. As can happen, it is the day that the soreness was better than it has been in a long time. I even spent two hours on my feet measuring a house immediately before the appointment and felt fine through the entire time.
He said I can do whatever I want now, but be careful of the remaining two hernias.
I need to mow my lawn.
And prepare two scooters for the Iron Butt with Bill Dog.
Today I decided to get back on Rocket and ride around the neighborhood.
I have found that not riding makes me feel our of sorts. Just the thought of getting on the road on a scooter was enough to make me feel much better.
But first I had to make sure that I could push it around and get it on the stand. So I tried these things in the garage and driveway first. No problem. Then rode to my barber for a haircut. She was busy so over to Southern Roots for an early lunch, then back to the barber. She gave me a solid cut before I headed to see the guys at the Scooter Warehouse. Then back to the office for this post.
Everything is looking good.
Bumps do hurt a little, but I found that if I sit up straight, the pains are minimized.
I was supposed to ride to Vogel State Park in North Georgia tomorrow morning with Mike. The ride was to attend the Fall Gathering of the MP3 crowd (a few who still ride the three wheeled scooters). I don't have one but like the group and enjoyed attending the last two, once on my Honda a year ago, then on Razzo in the spring.
But my slow recovery has left me uncomfortable and unable to ride safely.
It is a real bummer, but I will be riding again soon.
I went into the hospital on Thursday for repair of my first hernia.
It was originally scheduled to have me show up at 5:00 AM, but was changed the day before to arrive at 9:00. Much better.
Sarah and I arrived then and went straight to the surgical admitting area, where they took me in almost immediately. The nurses were all very nice and helpful. Surgery was supposed to be at 11:00 but they didn't take me until Noon.
Waiting patiently. Love the socks.
I was wheeled up to the final surgical prep area where I said hello to one of my old clients, a urologist who was going to operate on the young fellow at the adjacent bay.
The anesthesiologist came in first to tell me what they were going to do. The admitting nurse had told me that that doctor was a woman, so when a man showed up, I let him know that I was looking for a woman. I let him know that I was fine with either.
Then I spoke briefly with my doctor. I asked him if he could go ahead and do both low hernias in this procedure, but he said that the pain would be too great and suggested that we stick with one. He was right.
So the anesthesia nurse administered the anesthe...............................................
I woke up with another nurse asking questions in recovery. Then I urinated and they let me go home.
In the recovery area.
That afternoon was ok. with medications still keeping things calm.
I slept ok and awoke feeling quite good. That would change as the day progressed. It got worse to the point where I never felt good. The best thing to happen was that, at 11:30, I got a knock at the door. It was Community Courier, with lunch for Sarah and Me from our favorite lunch restaurant, Southern Roots. They sent it over without anyone asking. They are very sweet and it was appreciated very much.
Our delivered lunch. It was perfect.
Sarah had to go to Orlando Saturday morning for the night. I let her know that I would prefer to have her home, but could make it on my own. It freed me up to watch football all day Saturday and Sunday. I thought I would like it but got bored after a while. Football doesn't hold me like it used to.
While she was gone, My friends Kellie and Gregg brought me lunch both days. They are great friends.
The pains have changed as the time moves on. The hernia pain has almost gone away completely. The remaining pain appears to be related to the skin cut but will continue to improve.
I had been hoping to ride to North Georgia this Thursday for the MP3 gathering at Vogel State Park. The surgeon thought I could do it if I really wanted to give it a try. I am feeling much better today, but certainly don't want to do anything to harm the repair. I might have to pass, but if I feel great on Wednesday, I might just go. We'll see.
Last night I couldn't get to sleep. The big hernia was emitting a pain greater than I have ever experienced. It wasn't constant but the smallest motion could set it off, so fear of pain became the highlight of the evening.
Sarah came to bed around midnight. I wasn't asleep but was moving my hands and arms trying to find the one pressure point that would relieve the pain. That movement had her seeking another place to sleep after a short stay.
All the Tylenol in the world couldn't help this one.
I have been operated on once. It was for a detached retina in my left eye. I was awake for part of the procedure and it hurt. But the surgeon, my friend John Sullivan, was spectacular. After the surgery and two months for the fluid in the eye to refill, I have full, clear vision in the eye. That was around ten years ago.
Recently I developed a pain in the groin area. I posted here that it turned out to be the newest and biggest of three hernias that have developed. Surgery is scheduled for early Thursday morning to repair this one. We will schedule work for the other two as the need arises.
The eye and the groin. Could I find any more sensitive areas than these?
It hurts to the degree that I will put up with the hospital and surgery to make it go away. It is starting to impact my ability to ride my scooters, and I have some cool rides scheduled for the next three months.
I know that I have quality medical care and that I will get first class treatment. But they did ask for my Living Will.
Sunday's 7 BSC ride was to have breakfast in Bunnell, Florida. The route was to start in Fleming Island, head south on 17, turn to 100 in East Palatka to Bunnell. Breakfast was at the State Street Diner, a first for us. We had passed there many times but Russ thought it would make a good destination.
I rode Rocket and passed 68,000 miles during the ride on 100 between Palatka and Bunnell. It was perfect except a stumble and stall leaving the rest stop in East Palatka. But it cranked right back up and ran great all day.
The State Street Diner turned out to be a good destination as the ride down and back were good, especially the stretch on State Road 13 heading home. Food was good and all had a nice time.
Heading out from McDonalds in Fleming Island.
First stop in East Palatka
Leaving the stop, where Rocket stumbled
and stalled, but restarted and was fine
Turning off 17 onto 100 to Bunnell
Along the straight, but nice 100.
Turning onto 1 in Bunnell. Me and Kevin.
State Street Diner
Karl, me and Rick waiting for the group to enter the diner.
The gang inside. We were later joined by the Georgia Boys too.
Which way home? Looking up the distance to the next turn,
206 to Hastings so we could pick up 13. No GPS today.
Me and Kevin back on the road.
We had to stop just south of St. Augustine to put rain suits on,
then rode through a medium rain but it stopped and we unsuited on 13.
Yesterday I had a meeting with the owner and contractor for a cool house that Scott and I designed on the ocean on Amelia Island. It is a forty mile ride along the north bank of the St. Johns River and through the state park at Little and Big Talbot Islands. It is among the best rides available in the area.
I decided to take Rocket. It has been perfect since Boris discovered the broken vacuum line, and was perfect for the ride. I got there right on time, taking 50 minutes into the wind.
We visited for two hours going through all the concerns that the owner had on the work. I hope it brought him comfort because the jobsite was clean and the workmanship was very good. There were a couple of areas that needed attention, but that is the usual condition of projects at this phase.
The house is looking great. It sits up about four feet higher than the previous house that was destroyed by a big storm in 2005. The view over the dunes to the Atlantic Ocean were fantastic. The porches will offer great use of the property and the house will sit proudly on its site.
Before heading home, I checked the Weather Channel on my phone. It looked like I could make it without getting wet, but big storms were approaching. At every turn on A1A and Hecksher Drive, I would either panic or feel great, depending on the look of the sky. It was very dark in spots, but light in others. I could see for miles so it was a little hard to determine if they were close or not. As I turned south onto I-95, I could see rain falling to the west. I got hit by a few drops but made it home safely. It took 45 minutes, maybe a scooter record for me, as the weather gave me impetus to hurry.
Rocket on site. The second floor framing has not begun.
View from the living room. This is a two story space.
The round porch. A little added flair to the house.
the main porch. Narrower to allow light and views.
After a very busy summer, and with a lingering concern that the racing Fireball would be poorly received, we have decided to turn the event into a simple overnight ride from Jacksonville to Apalachicola and back.
We will follow the same route that I have been using on two visits this year. Those were nice rides to meet Ken and Jim the first time, then another ride a couple of weeks ago to meet Ken and Gary. The route takes us out US90 to Maclenny, then south on 121. I like turning off on 130 for the back way to Lake Butler and will probably lead the group this way again. We will probably stop at the big Marathon station in Lake Butler to let the old guys rest. Then back on 121 to 18 into Fort White. From there we will continue west on 27 through Branford and Mayo to Perry where we will stop for fuel, and maybe lunch at Deal's Oyster House.
From there we will go west on 98 through several small communities until we begin riding along the gulf south of Panacea. That begins the beautiful part of the trip through Carrabelle and Eastpoint to Apalachicola. It is an easy 240 mile ride that should take around seven hours as a group ride.
We will be staying in the Gibson Inn and eating as many oysters as possible.
Should anyone want to join us, check out the 7 Bridges Scooter Club Facebook page and look for the events tab. Then join in on the fun. Or just let me know here.
The road to the beach at St. George Island State Park
There is an old restaurant in Jacksonville's Southside that has been in business at the same site, in virtually the same building, with virtually the same menu, since 1939. It is called Beach Road Chicken Dinners.
I have lived in Jacksonville for my entire life, almost 60 years. Ever since I can remember, the road it is on has been called Atlantic Boulevard. My mother, who was raised just a mile west of this place, said that Atlantic Boulevard used to be the only road to the beach and had the name Beach Road until it was fancied up by the city to become the important sounding Atlantic Boulevard. Atlantic Boulevard runs from Southside to the beaches. The length is nearly 20 miles. When I was young, it was two lanes with nothing on it for most of that length. It is now, and has been for years, almost completely built out for its entire length. It is home of nearly half the car dealerships in town along with neighborhoods and strip shopping centers. Not a nice scooter ride at all.
Last night, 7 Bridges Scooter Club chose Beach Road Chicken Dinners as our destination for the weekly Tuesday dinner ride. It was a short three mile ride because hurricane Erika was supposed to be influencing the weather. The hurricane had fortunately dissolved before hitting the state but there were remnants of it that were scheduled to pass through at the exact time of our scheduled ride.
Tom Rogerson bearing gifts for me.
The gifts were these two bottles of beer from his recent ride out west.
Me talking to Tanya. The standing position is my "make the hernia hurt less" stance.
We left at the usual 7:00 with clouds everywhere. The view from atop the Acosta Bridge was spectacular with clouds, rain and lightning seen all around. But we avoided the rain and made it safely to dinner, where it promptly began raining throughout the time we were there.
Clouds all around as we approach the Acosta Bridge
But no rain as we arrive in the parking lot
Family style dining
Photos courtesy of Russ Dixon
But it stopped before we departed and I made it home without incident.
I almost didn't go as my hernia was causing constant pain all afternoon at work. I had a client come by at 4:00 and almost couldn't move without pain, so it was awkward at best. But I went home to feed and let out the dogs, where I took three Tylenol extra strength tablets, and the pain became much more bearable.