Friday, December 31, 2010

Missed out on the BIG ONE

Was supposed to get back from Finland via Paris in time to be here, but the weather in Europe wasn't cooperating, got stuck an extra day there, which wasn't too bad compared to many others. Charles De Gaulle airport. Open structure, reminded me of the blimp hangers in OR that were built in WWII.
But, I digress. 150 miles....over 60 hrs.

Getting out to the only open runway. On the way, the pilot flexed all the flaps, glad they all worked.

De-icing, just a little left to wash off.

8 hours or so later....viola! landing in another blizzard in Minneapolis. Took me another 6 hours to drive home, what a day.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Memphis Marathon, St. Jude Hospital

Lynn and I drove the 12 hrs. to Memphis the weekend of 12-3-10 to support Chris for his last marathon in support of St. Jude Children's Hospital. He still has an ultra to do then that will be it. WHERE'S CHRIS SCOTCH for all the details.
We met on Friday afternoon for a tour of St. Jude Hospital. Way back when, when Danny Thomas was first getting the dream off the ground he went around looking for donations. This was on the wall of fame of some of the first to donate.

The next day was the marathon. Chris at the finish.

Chris and Helen meeting the inspiration for Chris's year, Katelyn.

Katelyn walked/rode the 5k race with her Dad. She is on a mission to raise $3M for St. Jude to repay them for the money that went towards her recovery. Chris is adding all he raised the past year, over $5,000, to Katelyn's total.
Helen, Chris, Katelyn, Katelyn's Dad, middle son Nick who was able to drive up from AL where he was at for a 5 week Air Force training program and Lynn.
After race refreshments in the hotel.
Katelyn and her Dad.
Middle son Nick and my sister Mari, who's been heavily involved in Minneapolis, MN area for St. Jude for about 10 years.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A week in Northern Finland

It's been 12-13 years since I've been in Kajaani, Finland which is in the northern part of Finland.

The weather, as it's been for most everyone around the world, has been colder than normal this year. All of the moisture has been sucked out of the air and it's been frozen solidly on all the trees in the area.

No salt on the roads here. Plow, toss down some cut rock that have sharp angles that cut into the packed snow and ice then stick about the surface and allows tire contact with the sharp pebbles, toss in studded tires and away ya go.

Night sking. 10 degrees F. Half a full moon.

The next day skied instead of lunch.
Local ski jump ramps.
Noon on the day of departure....the sun never makes up above the horizon line.
Kajaani airport. Yours truly.

Leaving town. Had a great evening the night before I left. Met some old work mates from a company I worked for 11 years ago. Was great to see the guys.

Connecting in Helsinki, route through Paris then on to Minneapolis.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Flew into Charlotte NC last Saturday from Atlanta where we had our Company Holiday Party.
Lynn's car was waiting for her in Denver, NC at Lake Normal Imports. A small Son and Father (son actually runs it) dealership that specializes in super nice "sporty" vehicles.
Really good folks to buy a vehicle from. We were somewhat nervous buying it over the 'net before we actually saw it or test drove it, but it seemed to be a reputable outfit and the CARFAX report was good and with 18k miles we felt it should be in good if not great shape. We weren't disappointed. The bow was a nice touch.

It drove real nice, as one would expect. Only got it to 80-85 a couple times....kinda by accident...(that's what I told Lynn anyway) had to use cruise to stay in check. The 4 cylinder turbo automatic pulled all the hills in VA and WV at 77mph without downshifting once. Seems it's not underpowered, even with the smaller engine. Found out from a Finnish work friend it's all about the turbo power band.
It was too cold, 40's and high 30's by night fall, to drive with the top down.
Got to the west side of Cincy the first night without incident.

In the morning we awoke to snow on the ground. We made it to Champaign, IL then all the fun began.
Although the TT comes in AWD we had a FWD model with traction control. It drove great heading west in snow, slush and icy patches all with a cross-wind from the north gusting at 40-50 mph. With flashers on and creeping along at 5-10 mph at times because the blowing snow had visibility to almost zero, we shuttered to think what would have happened if those semis driving blind with a string of cars behind them passing us and a few other "sane?" folks had smacked into the back of the snowplow we went by as it came in and out of view just feet to my left like it was dropped from the sky and was just hoovering there. The chance meeting happened at the exact spot a pickup on the right shoulder sat dead in the water. If a semi or anything would have been passing us at that time the little TT would've been toast.

No issues with the top sealing considering the frigid temps and huge cross-winds. The heated seats were sweet.

We turned north at Bloomington, IL and things improved as the north wind was just blowing the snow down the highway and not across it. By the time we hit the WI State line the sun was shining and the roads were clear. The little red sled was quite dirty....but it still looked nasty and nothing to mess with parked out in the snow. Lynn was all smiles as she gazed at it from the windows of the fast food places we had stopped at along the way.

Some may question the conventional wisdom of buying a convertible in the winter.....but, when do you think they can draw the most money? (or least?)
Now, driving it in a blizzard was not on the program but it was rather nice knowing that it could handle all that a midwest winter could throw at her.
I guess a car with heated seats and a rear window defogger was built somewhat to run in the winter, although our intentions are to keep mostly garaged during snow time. The Germans did a good job with her.

Frigid temperatures, snow on the way

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for Central Illinois from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Light snow is expected to develop across the area by late Saturday and continue into Sunday with one to three inches of accumulation expected.

As northwesterly winds increase Sunday, blowing snow will cause restricted visibility and travel difficulties.

Wind gusts as high as 40 to 50 mph are predicted across the Illinois River Valley by Sunday morning then will spread eastward to the Illinois-Indiana border by Sunday afternoon.

Strong winds will continue throughout the day Sunday, gradually diminishing by late Sunday night.

The wind chill is expected to make temperatures drop below zero Sunday, with readings ranging from 10 below to 20 below by early Monday morning.

While heavier snow is expected to pass to the north late Saturday and Sunday, the combination of very strong winds, blowing snow and bitterly cold wind chills will create hazardous conditions.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wife's long awaited ride.

We'll be picking up my wife's "new" car soon. She's been keeping the desire alive for about 5 years to get an Audi TT convertible in this body style and color, of course. Some stars had to align, but it finally happened.
2004 with 18k miles on it.

Investment, Pleasure or Both?

Pic 1, current Dirt Rag cover

Pic 2, original, soon to be hanging in my house. Kevin will be adding some stars to it.