Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flat Out of Luck

This morning I woke up at 0430 to drive 2 1/2 hours to a time trial race.  The 20km race was the Master State Championship.  It's not my favorite kind of race but I need the practice for the qualifying races for the National Senior Games.  I also volunteered to help clean up after the race since it was jointly sponsored by my race team, BiKyle/Mazur Coaching, and the Quaker City Wheelmen.

My start time was 0835:30.  I started warming up at eight.  I felt really good after the warmup.  The course was out and back beside a lake.  It started gently uphill then rolled through a series of rolling up and hills and flats.  I started fast and felt good, 26mph on the initial, hill 29mph on the flat.  I was flying, probably too fast.  But it didn't matter because 1/2 mile inI hit one of the little rocks on the edge of the road and heard--hissssssssssssssssss.

And my race was over.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reunion Group Photo

Don DeMetz sent me this photo of the reunion group.  We are meeting again in August next year, probably in Colorado Springs.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Royal Order of the Shim

Sometimes it is hard for a civilian to imagine the power an Army commander has compared to his civilian counterpart.  In my last post, I mentioned that as a tank commander, a sergeant in charge of three men and a very large vehicle, I could make my crew go out for gunnery practice after their friends went back to the barracks and on weekends.  If one of my soldiers screwed up--usually involving alcohol--I could put them on as much extra duty as I was willing to personally supervise.

And I was just a new sergeant.  The battalion commander, the man in charge of 54 tanks, 60-odd trucks and 600 men had even more latitude.  Our commander from 77 to 79 in Germany was Lt. Col. Richard Goldsmith.  He was a genial young (mid-30s) commander with a lovely wife, three kids, and an iron will when he was sure he was right.

Rich Goldsmith created a tradition that was carried on until the unit 1-70th Armor was disbanded in 1984:  The Royal Order of the Shim.  Soon after he took command, Goldsmith became convinced that the problem our tanks had with breaking tracks was caused by a mis-alignment of the front road wheels.  He believed that adding a steel shim to the inside of these wheels would cure the broken track problem.

Our motor officer, Mr. Scanlon, our exec officer, Major Roper, and many others thought this was a bad idea.  The manufacturer said the problem was the result of the rubber pads in the tracks for driving on roads.  Goldsmith was undeterred by experts.  Roper tried to dissuade him.  Goldsmith's response, "What part of 'Get it done' did you not understand?"

The shims were installed on two tanks with eight hours of work.  The tanks drove less than two miles before their tracks broke.

It took another eight hours to remove the shims.

These shims, by the way, were 12 inches round and 1/3 inch thick steel rings.  They were heavy.

Mr. Scanlon welded a three-foot length of tow chain to the shim, making a 30-pound necklace.  At the next officer's call, Goldsmith became the first recipient of the shim.  It was passed on at each officer's call for the next six years to the officer judged by the current wearer of the shim as having made the stupidest mistake since the last meeting.

By missing his plane and not showing up for the reunion dinner on Saturday night, Goldsmith became the final recipient of the shim, which was retired to his safekeeping on Sunday morning.

Some of us enlisted men had the motto:

"When we do good, no one remembers, when we do wrong they never forget" stenciled on helmets and other gear.

It looks like the officers had the same motto.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

70th Armor Reunion Dinner

Today my kids and I left Georgetown, Kentucky, at 11 am and drove south for five 1/2 hours to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the 1-70th Armor Reunion Dinner.  Lauren and Lisa both dressed up for dinner.  Nigel wore his best digital camo t-shirt.  I was, as it turned out, in the proper uniform--khaki's and a dress shirt--but the really cool guys and all of the organizers were wearing Land's End polo shirts with Strike Swiftly Tankers logos:


One of the first people I met on the way in the door was Captain Paul Davis, my company commander from the time I joined the 70th Armor in late 1975 until he was reassigned in Germany in early 1977.  Davis was a great commander for a new tanker moving over from the Air Force.  My first assignment was as gunner for Sgt. Ralph Plowman, a tough old guy (almost 30 I think!) from Alabama who taught me a lot about gunnery and taught me by example how to lead a crew.  I got my own tank several months later.  My first crew was, like me, inexperienced.  Davis let me take my crew out for extra training on weekends, after regular motor pool work hours.  He really let NCOs run their own show.  My crew fired Distinguished (top 10%) first time out at least partly because we practiced more than any other crew.

Sitting with Davis was Joh

Saturday, July 24, 2010

70th Armor Reunion Dinner

Today my kids and I left Georgetown, Kentucky, at 11 am and drove south for five 1/2 hours to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the 1-70th Armor Reunion Dinner.  Lauren and Lisa both dressed up for dinner.  Nigel wore his best digital camo t-shirt.  I was, as it turned out, in the proper uniform--khaki's and a dress shirt--but the really cool guys and all of the organizers were wearing Land's End polo shirts with Strike Swiftly Tankers logos:


One of the first people I met on the way in the door was Captain Paul Davis, my company commander from the time I joined the 70th Armor in late 1975 until he was reassigned in Germany in early 1977.  Davis was a great commander for a new tanker moving over from the Air Force.  My first assignment was as gunner for Sgt. Ralph Plowman, a tough old guy (almost 30 I think!) from Alabama who taught me a lot about gunnery and taught me by example how to lead a crew.  I got my own tank several months later.  My first crew was, like me, inexperienced.  Davis let me take my crew out for extra training on weekends, after regular motor pool work hours.  He really let NCOs run their own show.  My crew fired Distinguished (top 10%) first time out at least partly because we practiced more than any other crew.

Sitting with Paul Davis was John Hubbard, our supply sergeant in Colorado Springs and in Germany.  John is three months younger than me.  I met him when we were both 22.  Like many people meeting John for the first time, I thought he was somewhere between 30 and 40 years old.   John was balding and  15 pounds overweight when he was 22.  Thirty-five years later he did not look much different than when we met in 1975.  Things even out with age for some people.  

I'll add more people in future posts.  More than 100 people attended the dinner including 80 soldiers who served with the 1-70th between 1976 and 1984.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reunion at Pam's House

Today, reunion weekend started with a long drive.  We drove all day to Kentucky and had dinner with Pam Bleuel.  She returned from Iraq six weeks ago after extending her tour to 18 months.  Pam and her husband Mike have three college-age daughters.  In Iraq Pam and I would talk about the joys and difficulties of having college age girls, and the obvious difficulty of being 6000 miles from home.

She posted a picture of us here.

As I expected, Pam's kids are polite, funny, and delightful to be around.  Pam was as tough as motorcycle racing leather in her job training soldiers for convoy security duty in Iraq.  She is a math teacher in a local high school when she is not on active duty in the Army.  Two of her of her former students dropped in while were at Pam's house and told funny stories of Pam scaring local kids who did not do their homework or misbehaved in class.  Like most strict teachers, she has a loyal following of students who love her.

Nigel thought dinner was wonderful.  Two of his favorite foods were on the menu:  barbequed chicken and garlic croutons.  He had thirds on chicken.  He even skipped dessert for another piece of chicken.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Getting Ready for the 1-70th Armor Reunion

Tomorrow I will be driving to Georgetown, Kentucky, with three of my kids on the way to the reunion of the 1st Battalion, 70th Armor.  It's the unit I served with in West Germany from 1976-79.

The reunion is in Chattanooga, but we are stopping for dinner tomorrow with Sgt. First Class Pam Bleuel and her family.  She also has three college age daughters, so dinner should be fun.  Pam extended her tour in Iraq for an additional six months to continue training soldiers in convoy security.  Almost as soon as she extended, she started working at a desk--which did not make her happy.

Next month she will return to work as a math teacher in Georgetown, Kentucky.  I can't wait to make bad jokes with her again and meet her family.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tattoo Intro on NYC Bike Trail

Yesterday after an all-day conference in NYC, I rode the Hudson River bike trail from Lower Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge.  What an awesome place to ride.

On the way back from the GW, I turned of the trail at 79th St. riding toward Central Park.  While I waited at the traffic light where the trail turns onto the streets, a guy riding in an expensive-looking suit rolled up behind me and said, "No shit! First Armored.  I served with them in '69.  I hated Fort Hood."

We rode a few blocks together.  He told me he was a draftee, served two years and got out.  Judging by the Upper West Side place he lived, he did really well for himself after making $148 a month in the late 60s Army.

As I rode on toward the park, he thanked me for my service, and I thanked him for his.  I am sure I get a lot more thank you's than he ever got.  When I got the tattoo I was hoping for this very kind of thing, running into other soldiers who served--and ride bicycles.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Weird Work Life

I am in New York City today for an all-day Word-of-Mouth marketing conference.  We are at the end of the second session on creating buzz.  It reminded me of the biggest change in the Army between my first enlistment and my current enlistment.

Back in the 70s and for time immemorial before that, the only people who spoke to the press in the Army were the Generals and designated officer spokesman.  After 9-11 the Army lets any soldier talk to the press.  the only restriction is that they not give future mission info and they stay in their lane.   It turns out people belief young soldiers and leaders and mistrust high-ranking officers.

Anyone who served in the in the last century knows how different the perception of soldiers is now versus the old days.  The Army itself has a much better public reputation than at any time since World War 2.

One big change between the post-Viet Nam army and today is the whole "I hate the Army" sentiment tht was so much a part of the old Army.  To have friends, you had to hate the Army.  I don't think I have heard the old acronym LIFER since I have been back:  Lazy Inefficient F##kup Expecting Retirement.

People who fit the LIFER description still exist--we are govt. workers after all.  But the acronym is not used to describe almost everyone who re-enlisted.

 

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Milblogs on my Site

Today I added several blogs to my connection list and will add more soon.  Since I can't write about the war first hand, I will keeping adding blogs from those who do.
 So in the right column in addition to the New York Times "At War" blog and David Marron's Thunder Run I added the Helmand Blog-Afghanistan by a Royal Marine Major, the FaST Surgeon blog by a Doctor serving in Afghanistan, The Gun Line, Free Range International, and Fire and Ice.

And on a COMPLETELY different note, my friend Kristine Chin and her husband are about to ride across Iowa again this year on a tandem bicycle.  Last year they borrowed my tandem and had a van carry their gear.  This year they bought their own heavier tandem and are carrying all their gear for the entire 400 mile ride across Iowa called RAGBRAI.  Last year she posted daily about butt pain and her love for pork chops.  This year she is again riding with less than 100 training miles.  Should be interesting.  Her blog.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pennsylvania's Top Sergeant

This morning I drove to Fort Indiantown Gap early to meet Command Sergeant Major Nicholas Gilliland.  In December of 2009 he became the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Joint Forces - Senior Enlisted Leader by TAG (NOT The TAG, dammit!!!) Major General Jessica L.Wright.

He is not just the Command Sergeant Major of the State of Pennsylvania because he is the top non-commissioned officer over both the Army and Air Force National Guard in the Keystone State.  So he is the CSM who is the JF-SEL for PA to use the acronyms

I will be writing about him in the next week or two.  It turns out his career in the PA National Guard began with my current unit--the 104th Aviation.  So when the top NCO in the state traces his career back to your unit, it's sort of like the kid in my high school class who retired in his 40s after becoming a Microsoft millionaire.  He went to work at Microsoft in the 70s when it was a start-up and got stock bonuses.  Microsoft stock may have its ups and downs now, but in the 80s and 90s, it only went up.

When I met CSM Gilliland, I could understand why 2-104th Chinooks could fly all over Iraq for a year without an accident.  But more on that later.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

WTF! Great Comments by my BFFs on Acronyms

I got some funny comments on my last post about acronyms.  If you haven't seen them, scroll down to yesterday and look at the comments.  The are ROLF LOL funny.  And since many of you would be in my BFF category if we were still in high school, I can tell you that the sudden popularity of that acronym and my Army background led to a very funny exchange between my youngest daughter and I.

Three years ago when she was sixteen and I had just re-enlisted, Lisa referred to her best friend Claire as her BFF.  At the time, the Army was flooding back into my mind and I was not yet texting or on Facebook.  Lisa played three seasons of sports since the sixth grade.  This meant she rode the bus with middle school then high school boys to away games.  So she knew all the vocabulary I was hearing again.  When I heard BFF I knew the last letter was for friend.  Claire had been Lisa's best friend for years.  In an unofficial Army acronym, the F in the middle can only refer to one word.

'WTF?' I thought.  Was Lisa using Army acronyms?  Should I be worried.  So I said, "Lisa does BFF really mean Best F--ing Friend?"  She looked puzzled, then amused.  "Dad.  Best Friends Forever.  LOL."

OMG did I ever screw that one up!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The TAG



One of my colleagues at work end her official three-sentence bio saying she "hates people who confuse their, there and they're."  

I hate acronyms.

Make your own case for why the helmet everyone wears should be referred to as an ACH, but it's a freakin' helmet.  But every formation at which we were required to wear our combat gear we were told to fall out in ACH and IOTV.  Why not fall out in your helmet and body armor?  Is there any chance someone would be confused and show up for formation in some other helmet and body armor?  

Last drill weekend someone mentioned the commanding general of the Pennsylvania National Guard.  Major General Jessica Wright, our commander, is officially The Adjutant General of PA.  Hence she is referred to by the acronym TAG.

Actually, and here is the grammatical problem, she is referred to as The TAG.  So if one were to spell out what is being abbreviated, Maj. Gen. Wright would be called The The Adjutant General.

Which makes acronyms exasperating if you care at all about language and proper usage.  Even if you say you don't care about grammar and proper usage, you do.  Grammar is the traffic lights and lines in the road of our spoken and written communication.  

Most of us have enough faith in our fellow citizens to drive through green lights.  It takes no faith to stop at red lights of course, the faith comes when passing through the green lights, even more with yellows.  

Using "The TAG" is definitely driving with one your right wheels off the pavement kicking up dust.  Acronyms allow an informed group to communicate quickly and serve to exclude everyone else from that group.  If you knew nothing about the Army, I would convey more information by saying that I was wearing my camouflage uniform with helmet, armored vest and my weapon instead of:
"I fell out in ACUs, with my ACH, IOTV and my SAW."
ACU=Army combat Uniform
SAW=M249 Squad Automatic Weapon
ACH and IOTV, see above.

Last drill when we had our gear inspected it was an OCIE (Organizational Clothing & Individual Equipment) inspection.  

I am going to stop now.  Time to eat some MREs and chill out.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So I Called the Chaplain. . .

If I told another soldier the stuff I wrote in yesterday's blog post, he would say, "Call the Chaplain."

So I did.

I called Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kevin Cramm, one of the senior chaplains at Fort Sill.  He loaned me a Cannondale road bike to ride during my two-month train-up at Fort Sill.  He is an avid cyclist himself, currently riding about 100 miles per week.  

We talked for about half an hour this morning.  He is going to Afghanistan or Iraq soon and asked me how I was adjusting to civilian life.  I told him life seems a whole lot more complicated now that I am back than it did when I left.  

Chaplain Cramm is Regular Army and a few years from retirement.  He said he was reserve at the beginning of his service but had 100 days of active duty as a reservist and decided he might as well go full time.  

I told him him how clear priorities seemed in Iraq compared to here.  He laughed a lot when I told him about the day I had five different things to do, but the battalion commander wanted me on a flight to Al Kut and Baghdad.  I asked the BC if I had to go given the other stuff I had to get done.  He said, "Suck it up Gussman, this is a war."  So I went.

Chaplain Cramm said he likes the military for that reason--people are direct about what they need and he can be direct.  

It was fun to talk to him.  Now I can be thankful that I had a year of the clarity of focus on the mission and keep trying to sort out all the conflicting priorities in the complicated world back home.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Simple Life Gets Complicated

One of the best things about life in Iraq was the schedule.  I worked, ate, slept, worked out worked till midnight, squeezed in phone calls home, and did the same thing over and over again.

My life was as unbalanced as a drunk in a tilted room.  All work and no play made Jack a dull boy in the old proverb, but I know now that Jack was probably a very happy workaholic who liked working.  Life in Iraq was anything but simple when I was trying to work for Chief Shawn McCurdy and Staff Sgt. Dave Wentzel in the motor pool, and write the Echo Newsletter, and do some kind of public affairs work for the battalion.  That was a mess from May to September, then Command Sgt Maj Dell Christine decided the battalion needed someone full time in public affairs.  From that mid-September day forward I was in 16-hour-a-day Heaven.  Mostly.

While I was away, the museum I work for, like many other business, had its first layoff ever.  I came back to a new boss and ambitious plans for reaching new audiences and new support--and fewer people.  I have been busier at work than ever before since I came back.  Before we left for Iraq, I worked in the motor pool.  I did not bring work home from drill weekends.  But now I am the unofficial public affairs sergeant for the battalion, so I bring work home from drill weekends.  I talke pictures during drill weekends and write the stories on the train to and from Philadelphia--the same place I write blog posts.

At home, we are in the process of adopting Jacari, who will be the 5th child in our yours-mine-ours family.  I want to spend time with my family and friends, ride, workout and do all the things I did before I left.

Luckily (I think) I can't lose sleep for long without falling apart and catching up on my sleep.  People who can really go with little sleep for weeks on end often end up sick.

But then cool stuff happens right out of nowhere.  Like the 1-70th Armor reunion I am going to in two weeks.  The unit i served with in Germany from 76-79 is having a reunion in Chattanooga TN July 23 - 26.  I am going to drive down with my oldest and youngest children--Lauren and Nigel.

Before the deployment I tried using a program called Life Balance.  Last month I erased it.  There were so many things I was trying to balance that I would need 300-hour weeks to do it all.  So I'll just do the best I can.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Old Bastards in the Hallway

Today the drill started early with a PT test at 0700.  I arrived at 0645.  I have a lot of PT test photos which I will post on FLICKR by next Tuesday.  After the PT Test, the over-40 soldiers from our unit went to the medical facility for annual health screening.  We all fasted since last night which was especially difficult for the soldiers who took the PT Test.  No food before or after.  I brought a bag of food with me and ate it as soon as I got the blood test.

At every Army medical event with multiple stations, one station ends up with a three-hour line.  I got blood, dental, eyes, ears, ekg all done in an hour and a half.  I am now in my second hour of the checkout line.  The doctor just came out of his office and said the computer is down.  So we have been waiting, are waiting and will be waiting in a line that won't move.

While we are waiting, some of the 40 yr olds got into one of those "Good old days" conversations which start out with the Old Soldiers in question bragging about who had the meanest mother and how much they got beat when they were kids.  Then as they keep speaking, it begins to be clear that despite their love of the old days, their actual techniques for discipline are as squishy as fresh marshmallows.

They "count to ten" while the disobedient child continues his disobedience until the count of nine.  One of the two parents is not sure about spanking.  They think talking back is normal.  They give 7-year-olds video games.  They may be paragons of an orderly family in their heads, but their actions say nothing matters but individual happiness and rights--which makes them Liberals by any traditional definition.  If actions speak louder than their (very loud) words, then they are to Left of the San Francisco city council.

And my wife, who allows no back talk, requires good behavior without exception, and thinks community is more important than individuality, turns out to be more Conservative in practice than all of the "Good old days" group put together.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Got a Tattoo--1st Armored Division Patch on my Right Calf


Today at 4pm I went to Transcending Flesh on Chestnut St. in Lancaster to get my first tattoo--about time at my age!!  I got the 1st Armored Division Patch on my Right Calf.  It is very visible in a group of bicycles and invisible in a suit.  Just right for me.

It took about an hour after 30 minutes of prep.  Ben, the artist who did the tattoo, said it was going to itch like crazy and I am not supposed to scratch it.

When we were in Iraq, the commander of 1st AD put in orders to award the combat patch to the pilots who flew him on missions, mostly in Alpha Company and me for some things I did for 1AD.  Then the orders were revised to include all of 2-104th Aviation.  But so far the orders have not been finalized.

All the years I served in tanks (1975-84) I was in infantry divisions, so I never wore an armored patch.  With the 1AD patch I finally got to wear an armored patch, but now it is on hold, maybe forever.  So in the absence of orders, I can wear my 1AD patch where my bike buddies can see it.

Here's the actual patch:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Small Slice of Life

Two weeks or so ago I got a bug bite on my right hip right at my waist.  It was red and itchy like any bug bite.  It also would not go away.  On the July 4th weekend it kept getting more and more sore.

When I came home Tuesday night the 1-inch red mark was three inches across and turning black and dripping.  I called my doctor and made an appt. for Wednesday.  At 10pm I called back and asked if I should be worried.  One of my co-workers said she got blood poisoning from something like this.  the doctor said not to worry, but get into the office the next day.

When I got to the office the sore was swollen.  The family practice I go to has many interns and nurse practitioners pass through.  The nurse who treated me was a young woman who seemed delighted to have something to work on that she could fix.  She said she would have to drain the sore then start me on antibiotics.

First I got the lidocaine shots to numb the area.  Then she made the scalpel cuts and started cleanup.  After a few minutes she said there was a place she did not see was not numb.  She said it would not hurt much--it hurt a lot more than the numb area.  After more cutting and squeezing she was done.  "Take a look," she said.  "We got lots of bad stuff out."

I remember from my other various injuries how much medical people like to have patients that get better.  I have a follow up vist next Friday, but probably won't need it.  The antibiotic is working already.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Next Drill

We are really going to have a fun-filled weekend this coming drill weekend on July 10-11.  I just got a note from Echo's training NCO, Staff Sgt. Chad Hummel, that I and the other 40+ year old soldiers have to get a blood test Saturday morning at 0900.  That means fasting from 2100 (9pm) Friday night.

That will not be a big deal for me since I am just a grader on the PT test at 0700.  But for the old guys who have o take the test at 0700 then wait till after the blood test before they eat, they are going to be grumpy old men waiting for their turn to get blood drawn.

I called Chad up and made the futile gesture of saying that I just got a blood test as part of an annual physical from my civilian doctor.  I have complete blood work dated June 25.  That, of course, is meaningless.  I need and Army blood test.

After the 0700 PT Test and the 0900 blood test, I will be laying out all my field gear for inventory.  We will also be turning in outdated items.  This means during the next two days I will fill two or three duffel bags and a rucksack with field gear and uniforms for inventory.

Once the inventory is complete, I hope to meet with the Command Sgt. Maj. and the battalion commander about what I will be doing for the next three years.  For the present I am training with Echo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Keeping an Eye on the Readiness NCO

Our Readiness NCO was rushed to the hospital two weeks ago with a nail stuck in his eye--right between the white and blue parts.  He waited seven hours for a surgeon then had the nail removed in what was, if my memory serves, very painful surgery during which he was awake.

SFC Wayne Perkins served as platoon sergeant and on-site leader for Echo Company fuelers at Forward Operating Base Garry Owen for most of the year we were in Iraq.  Garry Owen is a square mile of American base close to the Iran-Iraq border.  It got hit with missiles enough that the only soldiers in our unit to receive Purple Heart Medals were injured at Garry Owen.

Wayne got his fueling crew through months of 24-hour operations without a single serious injury.  He maintained safety standards in a dirty, nasty environment for months.  He and all of his soldiers came home healthy.

Then he operated a table saw without safety glasses at home, months after the deployment.  The Army, as I have mentioned many times before, is nuts on safety.  Once he recovers, and all indications are that SFC Perkins sight will return unimpaired, he will be giving briefings on the importance of safety glasses.

I am not sure how he will be welcomed back to duty, but a safety glasses theme will probably decorate his office.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Numbers Update

This post is #804.  As you have seen lately, I no longer write every day, but I write every day I do something Army and other things that are related to being an old soldier.

Today also was the day the of the 70,000th visit to the site.  Some of those visitors looked at other pages so the site has had 91,000 page views also.

since I no longer provide any information about the war--except passing along coverage by others--I am going to add my favorite milblogs to my navigation bar.  As always, the Thunder Run is the best and the link is already there, but others are worth listing too.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Riding to NYC After the PT Test

Today I rode to NYC from Philadelphia.  Actually, not quite all the way to NYC.  I rode to the train station in Newark, then took the train.  The only way to actually ride into NYC is across the George Washington Bridge 100 blocks (10 miles) above Midtown.

The ride from Center City to Newark is 90 miles total.  The first ten miles through the city to the Tacony-Palmyra bridge is slow.  LOTS of stop signs and lights.  From the NJ side of the bridge, the ride is great.  Most of the Route 130 has a wide shoulder and not a lot of traffic.

I got on Route 1 & 9 from 130 and the ride turned hectic.  Most of 1-9 has no shoulder and lots of traffic.  Near the end I had a couple of left exits.  Next time i will have to find a better alternate route for the end.  But I never rode to NYC before so I was very happy to ride there.

I still want to ride to Boston someday.  When I do, I will go around NYC rather than through.  It will be longer, but worth the extra 50 miles.

SPQR and America

Senatus Populusque Romanus The Senate and People of Rome Some of the soldiers I served with in Iraq talked about getting an SPQR tat...