Thursday, April 18, 2024

Saying Goodbye

When my eyes failed last year I owned four motorcycles (and two cars). I decided to keep two of the motorcycles for sentimental reasons -- and also possible display in the future -- and sell the remaining two bikes. The machines designated for sale were my speed-rocket (BMW S1000R) and my comfortable touring bike (BMW K1600GTL).

Both bikes are relatively new (8-9 years old) and in good shape. I thought it'd be selfish to leave them in the garage to rust when someone else could be riding them with enjoyment. Plus the bikes themselves want to be ridden. That's their design, purpose and destiny.

As you know I gave away my sportbike for free to Bob, a close friend who needed that particular bike. Bob is short and the saddle's height fits him perfectly.  Then this week I found a buyer for the touring machine. A casual (but not close) friend wanted a touring motorcycle but couldn't afford one. (They're expensive: my GTL cost $30,000 when I bought it new.) I decided to solve his and my problems by selling the bike to him for half of its market value and spreading out his payments over time. He was overwhelmed by that arrangement since it made the difference between him getting such a bike or not. He picked the bike up Tuesday night.

As much as I believe this was the right move I still shed a tear. This motorcycle was my ticket to adventure. I rode it on all kinds of trips, like a jaunt up to Toronto to visit Suzanne (pictured) and solo camping trips in New Hampshire. If you're careful you can carry a small tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, cooking gear, etc. on the bike. I loved how self-sufficient I felt heading into the woods on two wheels. Great memories.

The bike has "hard luggage" which allowed me to go shopping and carry stuff home. Like bags of groceries, bunches of flowers, vinyl records and thrift-shop clothing. There was nothing I couldn't use the bike for. I even rode slowly through cemeteries on it to pay respect to departed ones and take photographs. The GTL was completely integrated into my life. It was my partner. Capable, reliable and fun. Always fun.

I'll miss it. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Snowdonia Cheese

Listen up, kiddies. There's a prize in this Cracker Jack box -- valuable information on living well.

Due to my upbringing (immigrant parents) it's not my nature to indulge myself. But I've learned that rewards, even small ones, can be powerful motivators. So I grant myself little pleasures when I do something hard, like a hot cup of strong coffee at the end of a long hike. The prospect of a reward helps you push through tough stuff.

I recently achieved a major financial goal that deserves celebrating so I'm pampering myself with some of the best cheese in the world.

Like everyone else I love cheese. For health reasons I've cut back on dairy and consume cheese only rarely now. So when I do have it I get high quality.

I once worked at a cheese shop in Boston which sold 365 varieties. The owner encouraged us to try them all so we could better guide customers. As a result I know cheese. During that employment I was a poor student so I'd arrive at work hungry and eat pounds of cheese. Literally pounds. That was my meal for the day. It's a wonder I'm still alive. 🙂

The best cheese in the world is not made in Wisconsin; it's not crafted in France. The best cheese in the world comes from North Wales, made my prize-winning cheesemongers at Snowdonia Cheese Company.  That area is sparsely populated: there are really more sheep there than humans.

What makes a great cheese? Well you have to start with exceptional milk. The milk used at Snowdonia comes from well-tended animals in rural Wales with no hormones or weird crap American producers use. You can taste the lush Welsh vegetation in milk from these animals. Another practice at Snowdonia is they age their cheese in caves. Real caves where climate and humidity are perfect for long-term aging.

The company's website is informative but obviously geared to European customers. Prices are listed in British currency. The company offers 15 varieties of cheese but sadly only two kinds are available in this country. One is their premier cheese, an extra-mature cheddar (Black Bomber) and a second is a less mature cheddar enhanced with Scotch whisky (Amber Mist). (Over there they don't spell whisky with an "e".) I bought two small wheels of each (7 oz.). The cheese is protected by molten wax covering.

Black Bomber, the extra-mature cheddar, is a delight. Its flavor is deep and rich. It will please most cheddar-lovers. A big plus is that despite its age the cheese's consistency is pleasant and moist. Most old cheese gets dried out and full of crunchy crystals. Snowdonia avoids that by using caves.

I have yet to try their other kinds of cheese (and am lusting after Red Leicester) so put a trip to Wales on my bucket list!