Friday, August 10, 2018

Never say, "I wish I had ridden in a race car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway"


Automobile racing is one of the most popular spectator sports in the world.  However, until now, my interest was only superficial.  Thus, this blog post was difficult for me to write, as high-performance driving was something I had never paid much attention.

On the flipside, my son Timothy has had a lifelong interest in high speed sports from dirt bike riding, snow mobiles, ATVs, car repairs and automobile shows among his high-speed interests.

So why my blog on high-performance driving?  Last winter my wife and I took a six-week Tai Chi study at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH. At this course I met a new friend, John, who shared with me he was a high-performance driving instructor in and around the Northeast.

I told John about Timothy’s interests in high-performance driving.

Last week John offered to have us join him for demonstration laps and classroom instruction at an event organized and run by the Sports Car Driving Association (SCDA) at which he was instructing.  The event would be held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH.

With zero exposure to high performance driving, Never say, “I wish I had …” popped into my mind.  My call to Timothy was eagerly accepted, followed by my confirmation email to John.

With this background to the reader, you can expect my blog is not a “how to”, but a “Hmm … interesting” insights from a neophyte on performance driving.

The Sports Car Driving Association, LLC provides the driving enthusiast the opportunity to experience high performance driving in a safe and controlled environment. Events are strictly driver educational events - they are non-competitive and are not timed events.  All novice drivers - those who have never been on a track - must ride with a certified instructor in the right seat.

As non-certified drivers, neither Timothy nor I drove on the race course.  However, we did get the full passenger effect

Pit Crew

John had trailered his Corvette, and he had to change a brake rotor on his rear wheel before the day started. This is when John’s new Pit crew of one – Timothy - used his car and jump cables to help start John’s corvette.

As we watched John began to remove the cracked brake rotor, the wrench slipped on the nut and John’s forearm smashed against the frame – “Ouch!” This was not a small hurt, and Timothy, who is a Journeyman Printer at the Boston Globe and responsible for maintaining the presses, and has replaced brakes on his own car, jumped in and worked with John to replace the broken brake rotor. In less than 10 minutes the car was ready for the track.


Novice Classroom Instruction
John suggested we start the day by attending the Novice classroom instruction.  The instructor had a screen of the track with a number assigned for identification to each section of the track.  The instructor briefly described the awareness of each section pointing out critical areas, and to “keep your eyes off the wall”.  “Focus only on the apron”. [The apron is an area of asphalt or concrete that separates the racing surface from the infield.]

Walking tour of the Pit
While John attended to his instructor responsibilities, Timothy took me on a walking tour of the pit providing me his insights.  This stadium can hold nearly 100,000 fans on a race day, the largest sporting event in New England, but was essentially empty today with about 100 or so SCDA students at this event.  

The Two Videos

Below are two videos. The first video is a summary of our day: Timothy pit crews for John; we attend the novice class; a walkabout of the pit; observe the racers from various parts of the course; saw a minor incident and the quick response of the emergency personnel and equipment (which is mandatory at such events) respond; saw both black and yellow flags in response to this incident, where the black flag is waved at all corner worker stations, and means that all cars must come into the pits to await further instructions until the incident is evaluated and the track cleared.

John took Timothy on a six-lap drive, but it was difficult for me to video as the fences protect and prevent visitors from getting close to the race track.


The second video is short snippet videos of my 5-lap ride with John driving his corvette.  The video starts with Timothy getting strapped in John’s car. For my run I hold my camera on the dash as we zip around the 1.6-mile course five times.

A day at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway




Five Laps Around the New Hampshire Motor Speedway


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" Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

    Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   


    Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

    Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 
    at Amazon.com  

    Thursday, August 2, 2018

    Never say, "I wish I had been in the Lake Sunapee Sailing Day Annual Poker Cruise"

    When Bill called asking if Cathy and I wanted to be part of Captain Al's crew in the Annual Lake Sunapee Sailing Day "Poker Run", I could not pass up this unique outdoor challenge.  My motivational mantra, Never say, "I wish I had ..." had to be answered, "Yes!".


    The ANNUAL “POKER CRUISE” SAILING DAY HOSTED BY THE LAKE SUNAPEE CRUISING FLEET, promotes sailing fun on Lake Sunapee. All sailboats from sunfish to cruisers to racers are welcome to join a “Poker Cruise”.

    Sailing enthisasts are invited to rendezvous at the Lake Sunapee Cruising Fleet boat just outside Sunapee Harbor.  At the Committee Boat each sailboat is given instructions, a map of the course and a playing card.  Boats will then sail to four-mark boats on the upper end of the lake.

    At the mark each sailboat will receive another playing card. Following the “Poker Cruise” each crew is invited to bring their “poker hand” to a reception sponsored by the Lake Sunapee Cruising Fleet at the Knowlton House (LSPA) in Sunapee Harbor.  There are prizes will be awarded for the best poker hands and for the best themed crew costumes.  

    In case you cannot tell, Captain Al’s crew costume themes are two-fold, Aliens from Outer space (think “Close encounters of the third kind”), and Spanish neighbors. 


    References
    7th Annual "Poker Cruise" Sailing Day

    Lake Sunapee Cruising Fleet

    OutdoorSteve.com

    +++++++++++++++++

    " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

      Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   


      Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

      Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 
      at Amazon.com  

      Wednesday, July 25, 2018

      Happy Birthday Braden - Memories of our Mt Washington, Tuckerman's Ravine, and Connecticut Lakes Trip


      Thanks for the memories!





      United States (New Hampshire) and Canadian Border Crossing








      Pinkham Notch 





      +++++++++++++++++

      " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

        Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

        Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

        Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 
        at Amazon.com  


        Friday, July 13, 2018

        Mariachi


        I am very proud to introduce my brother Edward (Spanish name Lalo). Lalo is a member of a Mexican Mariachi band located in Mexico.  Lalo, a Spanish teacher in a Falmouth, Massachusetts junior high school, regularly visits Mexico during his summer breaks.  He becomes immersed into the Mexican culture and generally goes weeks without speaking English.  While there,Lalo is a student most of the time  receiving lessons in Spannish with other adults seeking to become more flulent and knowledgable with the Spanish language.

        As the years have past, Lalo has become good friends with his Mexican host family,  Furthermore, Lalo is a skilled musician, and often plays his instruments with fellow Mexican friends.  A few years past Lalo was asked to play his guitar by a local Mariachi band.  These "guest appearances" become so frequent that he was asked to join the group as a member.  He even purchased a Mariachi outfit.



        Below I am thrilled to show you two videos of when Lalo was the lead singer, and then a video when he played the spoons.


        1. Lalo cantando tatuajes (Edward singing tattoos)







        2. Lalo's musical talents are shown playing spoons with the band.


        Ed's surprise going away party was further enhanced when his band showed up to serenade his friends.






        Ed Priest is Middleboro’s unlikely mariachi

        A recent interview with Ed by writer Daniel Schemer says the whole story. 

        MIDDLEBORO — There are two big passions for Middleboro’s Ed Priest: music and language. To him, they’re one and the same.
        Priest, 64, is entering his 21st year teaching French and Spanish at Lawrence Middle School in Falmouth. Before that, he taught French for six years at Middleboro High School.
        For Priest, music is just another means to communicate and connect with people, which is why he often incorporates music into his classes, either through recordings or performing. He’s been playing guitar since he was a teenager and can play various other stringed instruments. He’s performed concerts for the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association.
        “Music can cross languages,” Priest said. “I live for the harmony.”
        It is because of this merging of passions that a unique string of circumstances resulted in a “gringo” from New England becoming a guitar player for a mariachi band in Mexico.
        For six non-consecutive years he’s been traveling to Mexico and performing with a nine-piece mariachi band called Los Charros de Morelos (The Gentlemen of Morelos). They do parties, church masses, weddings and birthdays — sometimes all in the same day.
        “I’ve been waiting to tell this story for nine years now,” he said, calling The Gazette from Mexico.
        Home Away From Home
        Since 1998 Priest has been spending most of his summers studying Spanish overseas in countries such as Mexico, Ecuador and Spain. He became certified as a Spanish teacher in Massachusetts in 2007, but has continued to travel overseas for purposes of improving his fluency and cultural knowledge. He has spent 11 summer sessions, which are usually three-week periods, at the Cemanahuac School in Cuernavaca, located in the Mexican state of Morelos.
        With every trip to Mexico he has always stayed with the same host family, the O’Campos. “Each year I come back to them is like coming home from college. They’re mi familia!” he said.
        As Priest tells it, returning to Cuernavaca over the years led to familiarity and friendships with many people outside of his host family.
        “Everyone’s so warm and inviting here. It’s not like, ‘Who’s this American?’ They all know me. Everyone shakes hands with everyone here.”
        As a musician, he likes to play guitar and would perform solo around the city. In the summer of 2009, he was invited by friends to join in a performance for a Sunday Bishop’s Mass at Cuernavaca Cathedral. More than 2,000 people were in attendance. After the performance, he was approached by members of Los Charros de Morelos about performing with them. He played guitar for them at Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the praise of both the parishioners and the rest of the band. No one wanted the partnership to end.
        “I’m the tall, blonde guy. I thought it was unbelievable I was being asked to do this,” Priest said.
        Consisting of three violins, two trumpets, one virhuela (five-string guitar), two guitars and one guitarron (bass-like guitar), the band is a year-round ensemble. Priest joins them only for three weekends in the summer while he’s studying in Mexico.
        “Learning Spanish was my number one reason for coming here. Over the years it became more about the band and friendships,” he said.
        When he’s with the band, they’ve been known to do multiple gigs in a single day. There’s an aspect of spontaneity to the band’s schedule.
        “One gig could be this elegant affair. The next gig there could be chickens running around.”
        Despite the rigorous schedule, Priest says it never stops being fun for him.
        During performances he’s often the band member who will interact with the crowd, often dancing with audience members and doing what he can to keep energy levels up and people moving.
        “I’m famous for my gritos,” he said, referring to the energetic shouting for which mariachi music is known.
        All Good Things...
        Priest will retire from teaching after this coming school year. As a result, his summer studies in Mexico have come to an end. His future with Los Charros de Morelos is uncertain at this point as traveling for him has become increasingly difficult.
        “I’ve been doing a lot more writing in Spanish over the years. I’ve stayed in regular communication during off periods.”
        He’s even occasionally gotten the band gigs when he’s home thanks to social media.
        He plans on spending more time with his wife and their two adult children. This year marks his 35th wedding anniversary. Priest’s wife, Andrea, is the executive director for the Middleboro Council on Aging.
        Priest, who was in Mexico during his wedding anniversary, said his wife has always been incredibly understanding and supportive of his travels. To make up for the time, he’s taking her to the three-day Lowell Folk Music Festival the weekend of July 27.
        “It’s fitting because we first met taking a jazz music class at the University of Lowell,” he said.
        Music remains a major interest in his life. For the last 10 years he has occasionally performed as part of an ensemble for a Spanish Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Taunton.
        And he already has multiple gigs lined up for when he returns home.
        He’ll be performing radio hits from the 1950s to present at Krazy Days on Friday, Aug. 3, 5 to 7 p.m., as part of the community dinner being held at Massasoit College. He also will perform at Clear Pond Park Saturday, Aug. 4, 1 to 3 p.m.

        As copied from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariachi, 
        "Mariachi (/mɑːriˈɑːi/Spanish: [maˈɾjatʃi]) is a musical expression that dates back to at least 18th century in Western Mexico. It is a tradition that can be defined by eight socio-musical elements: mariachi instrumentation and texture, musical genres and subgenres, performance methods and styles, singing styles and forms, dance styles, performative space, performance clothing, and the word "mariachi". Each element has its own history, originated at varying moments in time and in different regions of the Western Mexican countryside, and some, if not all, had to converge in order for the mariachi tradition to become what it is.
        From the 19th to 20th century, migrations from rural areas into Guadalajara, along with the Mexican government's cultural promotion gradually re-labeled it as Son style, with its alternative name of “mariachi” becoming used for the “urban” form. Modifications of the music include influences from other music such as polkas and waltzes, the addition of trumpets and the use of charro outfits by mariachi musicians. The musical style began to take on national prominence in the first half of the 20th century, with its promotion at presidential inaugurations and on the radio in the 1920s.
        In 2011 UNESCO recognized mariachi as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, joining six other entries on the Mexican list of that category."
        +++++++++++++++++

        " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

          Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

          Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

          Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 
          at Amazon.com  

          Sunday, June 24, 2018

          Three Generation Paddling in Saranac Lake


          A celebration of high school graduations for Carson and Nicholas on Section 2 of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.  We wish them both success in their academic and outdoor endeavors - Carson at the University of Mississippi, and Nicholas in the United States Navy serving our country.

          Preparation
          • 3 canoes and one kayak
          • One van carries two canoes, one kayak, camping gear and 2 people
          • One SUV with one canoe, the food and 5 people
          • Paul and Cheryl did the food for the trip.
          • Dundee has the kitchen stuff
          • Everyone brings their own silverware, drinking cups, flashlights, life jacket, paddle, tent, sleeping bag and other “stuff”
          • We will need to buy firewood in New York
          Itinerary


          Sunday 6/17 -  leave Sunapee by 9 am.
          • Drive to Saranac NY to Saranac Lake Islands State Park Campground on Route 3 for check-in registration (about 1 pm)
          • Drive to put in at South Creek Fishing Access site, Route 3, Middle Saranac Lake, unload and drive cars to State Park parking on Lower Saranac Lake and end of trip take out.
          • Paddle to Halfway Island on Middle Saranac Lake to set up camp. (at about 4pm) (Camp site Halfway Island #077)
          Sunday 6/17 and Monday 6/18 -  explore Middle Saranac Lake and Weller Pond
          Tuesday 6/19 -  pack up and paddle down the Saranac river, passing through Upper Lock onto Lower Saranac Lake and set up camp on Larom Island. (#023)
          Wednesday 6/20 – pack up and paddle to State Park take out on Lower Saranac Lake, load up cars and drive back to Sunapee by around 6pm.

          Trip Highlights
          • For most part, four-day weather was between 60 and 75 degrees - excellent. Exception was Day 1 weather in evening was heavy rain, but we set up tarps over camp table, firepit, and tents. Rain no major issue.
          • We all went swimming at both islands – water a bit chilly, but once immersed we were fine.
          • Day 2 paddling to Weller Pond was very scenic.  We explored camp sites, saw pitcher plants, and geese.
          • Day 2 return paddle to Halfway Island was a bit of a challenge with heavy swells, white caps, and wind.  All accomplished this challenge without incident.  Our two recent high school graduates handled the paddling like experienced paddlers with Carson in stern of our canoe and Steve in bow, and Nicholas in his single kayak.
          • Meals all four days were fabulous – thanks to Paul and Cheryl.  Paul and Tim were our chefs.  Nicholas demonstrated some of his cooking skills.  First day afternoon hors d'oeuvres hit the spot after our paddle. Our dinner was steak-tips and Caesar salad. Breakfast each day a choice of eggs with sausage/bacon, bagels, coffee and tang.  Lunches were sandwiches. 2rd night we had pasta and chicken. Third night was sausage and beans.
          • We sat on Halfway Island overlook ledge for a great sunset. 
          • Carson and Nicholas went cliff jumping.
          • While all three canoes were packed with gear, Paul’s blue 18’ canoe held the most.  Check video pictures of how close the blue canoe’s gunnels (the top edge of the side of a boat) were from waterline.
          • Carson and Nicholas rotated between the kayak and canoes to enjoy each boat's uniqueness.
          • Used flint and steel to start our camp fire.
          • We used the RICE method to treat a sprained ankle
          • We experienced another section of the 740 mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
          • Disclaimer - due to the importance of this celebation, the below video is detailed and significantly longer than most of my videos. I will be making smaller excerpts of this video in the near future for those readers inclined to pick and chose components of this celebratory paddling trek into the wilderness.


          Cliff Jumping Video


          +++++++++++++++++

          " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

            Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

            Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

            Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy 
            at Amazon.com  

            Saturday, June 9, 2018

            ORFS Hike Dexter Inn and Pine Ridge Road Trails - Sunapee, NH

            Members of Outdoor Recreation for Seniors (ORFS) had their Tuesday 10 am hike and lunch led by Al and Eileen.
            • Al described options for hiking paths: dirt road, paved road, and forest.
            • The hike included the trails of Dexter's Inn
            • Our trail visited Crowther Chapel
            • Eileen shared her bear encounter experience.
            • Nancy demonstrated her protection from black flies.
            • Al entertained the group with his rendition of rhyme schemes





            Directions:  from Rte 11 Sunapee, take 103B 1/2 mi, Rt on Stagecoach Rd 1.0 mi, Rt on Young Hill Rd 1/2 mi,  L on Pine Ridge Road – go around loop counter clockwise ¼ mi where you see the view.   


            References
            ++++++++++++++++++

            " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

              Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

              Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

              Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy
              at Amazon.com  

              Sunday, May 27, 2018

              Sky Dive Georgia


              My grandson  Carson, his father Shaun, and his Uncle Tim, celebrated Carson's 2018 graduation from Harrison High School, Kennesaw, Georgia with a tandem sky jump.


              They jumped from 14,600 feet.  The total jump took approximately 4 1/2 minutes. The free fall was one minute, followed by a 3 1/2 minute parachute flight to a safe landing.

              Carson will be attending the University of Mississippi this Fall. 

              Carson's sister, Madison, did the skydive in 2016.  She is a senior at Auburn University.


              Carson Skydiving 2018



              Shaun Skydiving 2018



              Timothy Skydiving 2018



              Maddi Skydiving 2016



              Video by a Proud Grandfather and Father
              Preparation, Pre and Post Interviews


              Never say, " I wish I had been skydiving"

              Sky Dive The Farm

              ++++++++++++++++++

              " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

                Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

                http://outdoorsteve.com/Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

                Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy at Amazon.com 
                 

                Wednesday, May 23, 2018

                How close is “too close” when viewing a bear?


                I have lived in New Hampshire for many years and have had glimpses of black bears as they crossed my hiking paths or roads. These brief sightings were so quick I was never able to get a picture.

                I also heard “Do not get too close to a bear – particularly when cubs are present”. With this caution, last Monday I was in my front yard in Bedford, and lo and behold a mother bear with four cubs following, crossed the road … a 100 or so feet in front of me.

                With iPhone in hand, I stealthily walked up the road to see if I could spot where the bears entered the leafy green and dark woods.  I turned onto my neighbor’s lawn outside the forest.

                No sooner did I make the turn, when over the knoll ahead was a large growling upright bear facing me with paws up ready to box.  The mother was protecting her cubs and warning me to “stay away”. With camera rolling, I was able to get a glimpse of her standing.  Then returning to all fours, she lumbered into a dark hole in the forest where she had already cleared her cubs to safety.

                This was my first challenge by a bear – and a warning, “do not get too close”.

                My wife joined me for a view and we watched the bear from the top of the mound ... maybe fifty feet from the dark forest hole where the bear was camouflaged in the woods. We could only see her eyes, nose, and slight body movement. The mother was in front of a tree urging her cubs to climb the tree.

                As we silently watched waiting for a better picture, she unexpectedly roared while rushing a few feet out of the woods  ...  and immediately returned to her black forested cave.  She was again challenging us to keep away from her cubs ... and to leave.

                This was a more vicious second warning "to leave".

                This is when I realized, “too close to a bear”, means being within sight of the bear.

                We retreated to the road, and walked to the other side of the woods. We could see one of the cubs clinging high in a tree.  We knew the mother was still below the treed cubs, and we nervously kept an eye on the ground level, anticipating a charging bear from the woods.

                It was time to leave before my foolish bravery resulted in personal danger.

                My lesson and warning to all my readers is, if you want to observe a wilderness bear, stay out of its sight ... as far away as you can.  Use your zoom camera lens, and if you do not have a zoom lens, then leave.

                Remember, getting close to a bear, means staying out of sight of the bear.



                ++++++++++++++++++

                " Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

                  Steve's 5th book, Outdoor Play Fun 4 4 Seasons Volume II, is now available   

                  http://outdoorsteve.com/Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life. 

                  Steve’s books are also available as e-Books at Kindle and hard copy at Amazon.com