Friday, February 21, 2020

Mini Coast Guard Reunion in Charlie's Honda Waiting Room - 2-19-2020

Sometimes things really work out in the strangest of ways!

On Wednesday, I had to take our new Ridgeline in to get the rest of the accessories installed and I sitting in Charlie's Honda waiting room relaxing a little while the work was being done.

There were four others waiting there with me and everyone was pretty quiet, doing their own thing, reading, watching the TV or just staring off towards the service department door. The guy across from me kept looking at me as if I was familiar, but he didn't look like anyone I knew right off.

I noticed that one of the other customers was wearing a camouflaged hat with the Coast Guard emblem on it. So, of course, I had to ask if he was a Coastie?

It turned out he was a retired helo pilot who had done 10 years in the Navy and like he said gotten smart and joined the Coast Guard. We swapped a few stories, to see if we had any people that we knew in common and while we were talking the guy who had been looking at me spoke up and said he had been in the Coast Guard in the mid-'70s at AIRSTA Cape Cod and had worked at Hangar 128.

I told him that I was stationed there from '77 to '79 as a Yeoman and gave him my name and he told me his. Hell, I was his Yeoman while he was there. He said now I remember you, we were stationed there together. We talked for a bit about people who's names we remembered, (some brought back a bunch of memories). We swapped a few sea stories from back then, talked about how bad the box lunches were and how things went for us in life after Cape Cod.

Then it seemed like everyone was talking and come to find out that the other guy there was at BIW, while I stationed there '88-'90 as part of the Coast Guard's 378 FRAM project and worked on the Hamilton too.

It is strange how things work out sometimes. What are the chances of two retired Coasties, one former Coastie and a worker from BIW who worked on a Coast Guard vessel, all sitting in the same Honda showroom at 2:00 P.M. on a Wednesday afternoon in Augusta, Maine?

It happened and it was very, very cool.

Yeah, it brought back a flood of memories, good and bad from back in the day.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Joining the Charlie's Honda Family

Yes, we joined the Charlie's Honda family and are now the proud owners of a Honda Ridgeline Sport edition. However, let's back up and talk about how that happened.

Earlier I talked about the reasons for needing a new truck and how I narrowed down my choices to the Honda Ridgeline Sport - you can read about it here.

Now I get to write about the actual purchase experience. This is usually the part of buying a new vehicle that I hate the worst - going to the dealership and figuring out if it is actually the vehicle that I want or need, plus once you decide if you are going to buy, there is the negotiation of the price you pay stage, which to be honest usually sucks.

In other words, I was very jaded and rather defensive going in, when it came to dealing with automotive dealerships. I know they need to make a profit, but sometimes it is more the attitudes they give off while making their profit that bothers me.

To be honest, we were not expecting to come home with a vehicle that day, it was President's Day and the banks were closed. It was more to give Mary more information on the Ridgeline and how it compared to other vehicles. We were in for a surprise.

We had an appointment for 1:00 PM at Charlie's Honda in Augusta and we drove up and there was a black Honda Ridgeline Sport sitting in a parking space running (I told Mary, that would be the vehicle we would be test driving and it was). We went in and Pierre the sales manager, who I had talked with on Saturday, asked if we minded having a new sales associate work with us to give her some experience. We said sure and he went and got Desiree to introduce us.

After that, we went for a test drive in the black Ridgeline that had been warming up outside. It did everything that we wanted. We talked about things for a minute and after the test drive we decided to see what kind of deal we could get and sat down for the next phase.

Desiree filled out the initial paperwork and then took it over to Pierre who is the Sales Manager. When he came back, we made a little bit of small talk before getting into the negotiations (a negotiating tactic itself) for a bit and I mentioned that I had been thinking about things and realized that Pierre was the salesman that originally sold me the Ranger when I bought it from the Ford dealership back in 2013 and Pierre said that he thought I looked familiar. We both laughed and said what a small world it was.

Then came the time negotiating the price and how much for the trade-in, yes the Ranger was going away.  Thankfully, Pierre didn't play the games that I have experienced in the past at other dealerships. We sat down, talked things out, discussed what both sides could and couldn't do.

The negotiations were short, rather painful to the wallet, but not as bad as we had feared and in the end, we were very happy with the final deal that we ended up at. I cannot believe that I just said that, we were very happy with the final deal!!!

Then we chose the few accessories that we wanted to be added on to the final cost and waited for processing.

In about 10 minutes we had the results of our loan application and then had to wait a few minutes to do the paperwork. Once we got into the loan processor, it was someone that Mary knew professionally from where she worked before she retired. They caught up a bit about the people they both knew and the paperwork part of the experience was quick and easy.

The Honda Ridgeline was our's and the bank.

We just had to bring in the down payment, the Ranger's spare key and title the next morning, but we were taking the Ridgeline home that day.

Small Things Make a Difference

It is often the small things that make the buying experience a positive one and Charlie's Honda did the little things that did make the buying experience there a positive one:

  • We made an appointment and when we arrived it was kept. There was no waiting around for a salesperson to finally get around to help us.
  • Pierre is the sales manager and has to supervise quite a few salespeople on a busy day (President's Day), so I understood the rationale for having a sales associate do the test-drive, paperwork, but he gave us the courtesy of asking first, instead of telling us Desiree was going to help us. There is a huge difference.
  • The model vehicle that I requested to see was the one that was there warming up. There was no bait and switch to a higher-priced vehicle and them saying that the lower-priced model was gone.
  • Pierre personally took care of the negotiation and was cognizant of our wants, needs and yes, limits on what we were willing to do financially. He did it with humor, patience, and respect, which was the way that we wanted to be treated during a stressful time - buying an expensive vehicle is stressful and a long-term commitment.
  • The loan process was quick and efficient and it was nice for Mary to talk with someone that she had a professional acquaintance with before she retired, which did help us relax that much more.
  • After we finished doing the paperwork, Desiree offered to help clean out the Ranger, we declined. That really wasn't part of her responsibilities. We really had not been expecting to go through with the deal that day, so I hadn't done anything to clean out the Ranger and all my crap was in it. I did ask for two big garbage bags and got them pretty much full.
  • The Ridgeline was washed, cleaned out, the all-weather mats put in and it was filled with gas. Those things have not always been my experience when I have bought a new vehicle from a dealership.
  • A small but really nice thing was that my old license plates were put on under the temporary paper plates. Usually, they are thrown under the seat and you have to deal with putting them on later. A minor thing, but a touch that I appreciated, especially in winter.
  • Before we left, Desiree offered to go over setting up the electronics. I thought I could handle it, but we took her up on it just in case I ran into any problems. I think I may have surprised her a bit, by just doing things myself while she was sitting there. Her comment was, "you really are tech-savvy aren't you". I chuckled and thought to myself, not all old people are helpless when it comes to technology.

I did have to laugh though after I got through setting up the electronics, Desiree couldn't get out of the back seat. She had forgotten again about the child safety locks still being engaged. It was good that she was able to laugh at herself, we joked around for a few seconds and then we let her out. Yes, we disengaged the child safety locks on both rear doors while we were chuckling.

The reality is that

Actually, that was probably the best car buying experience I have ever had.

The sales staff (Pierre and Desiree) were friendly, knowledgeable, and didn't act like they were doing us a favor by selling us their vehicle. They were respectful of our wants/needs and didn't try for the hard sell, which probably would have resulted in us walking away.

They showed the vehicle, explained the options, negotiated the price by going for a win-win approach, versus the old I win, you got screwed feeling that so many dealerships leave you feeling after buying a vehicle from them.

Well here is to our new truck and hopefully, we get as many years out of it as we did out of the old Ranger. It has been a long time since I drove off the lot with under 20 miles on the odometer of a vehicle.

I tip my new hat to Pierre and Desiree at Charlie's Honda for superior customer experience in purchasing a new vehicle from them.

Now to see what joining Charlie's Honda family means. If my first impressions are anything to go by, it should be a great experience.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Buying A New Vehicle is Work - Part 1

It will be great to get back to "normal". The past couple of weeks I have really been focusing on buying a new truck and have not bothered attempting to blog much at all.

The wife and I had sort of decided that it was time to start looking for a new truck. My 2011 Ford Ranger was getting pretty long in the tooth and while we just had it checked out last week and it was in great shape, it is nine years old and it was going to be a matter of time before the repair costs were going to outweigh the costs of ownership.

The old Ranger on its way to get new front hubs, it got me home though every single time.

Between the age of my old Ranger, the salt, sand, calcium chloride and whatever else they use on the roads up here in winter, it does a great job of eating vehicles for lunch eventually. So it was time to do my due diligence on a new vehicle.

However, buying a new vehicle sure as hell is not like it used to be. At least in today's world, you don't have to go to each dealership crawl around the vehicles, talk to the salesperson about the pros of each vehicle and then listen to the cons of the competitor's vehicles from those same salespeople. If you were really ambitious you could buy a Consumer Report magazine, or some of the car/truck magazines and watch their carefully constructed ads on television or in the newspaper.

What this usually meant was that I would get tired of the repair bills or need to get rid of a vehicle that no longer fit my lifestyle at the time, not do any research, go to the dealership nearest to where I was living (usually Ford) and get taken to the cleaners and then drive off with a nice new payment plan for the next few years.

This time I figured it would be the last truck that I will be buying (I think it should last 8-10 years and in my 70s a truck probably ain't what I will need) and it was important to know what we really needed for our next vehicle versus what we thought we needed and also to not be unprepared for the dealership's sales tag team tactics.

First things first - how did I use the Ranger over the last 7 years?

Hauling stuff to the transfer stations

Moving furniture around for us and others
Getting stuff from hardware stores for home projects
Moving firewood around the yard
Commuting to and from wherever we were going
Bad weather chauffeur - primarily snow

Carrying kayaks

Traveling to New Hampshire or Boston a few times

What I never used it for:

Towing - never even bought a hitch
No off-road time (I don't hunt, fish or go four-wheeling anymore)
No mud runs
Plowing snow - we didn't buy a plow for it.

Really, I use my truck more for driving around with an empty bed than I do anything else. I have just enough use of the truck bed that I want, more than need a truck and realistically could probably get by with the van for most of that stuff and rent a truck for anything else.

However, we both figured that a truck is what we would be getting. I am pretty predictable at times and I do like the versatility and not needing to depend on somebody else's vehicle to get stuff when I want to get it.

After thinking about what is more important to me now - I want my truck to be reliable, good in snow and if we decided to take it on a long trip, that it would be a nice ride, not a buckboard.

After a LOT of research - reading, watching videos, going to actually look at the vehicles we were considering, it came down to the Ford Ranger and Honda Ridgeline. We didn't need a full-size truck and the towing, plowing or off-road capabilities didn't really mean that much to us.

The biggest issue that I had with my 2011 Ranger was how cramped the cab felt with us and our gear in it. I always had a bunch of stuff packed in behind the seats. There just was not enough room in the cab for us and everything I wanted to keep in my truck, along with a spastic dog.

With all that in mind, I test drove a 2020 Ranger XLT 4 door pickup. It was a lot better riding than my old one and seemed a lot more modern. However, even with the 4 door model, I still felt as though the person sitting beside me was just too close and even with the extra room behind the seats, I could see that quickly filling up with my junk again. Plus I didn't think that my two step-daughters would enjoy riding in those back seats all that much, especially with a dog in the truck with us.

However, the new Ranger was a nice vehicle and would do everything that I wanted from a 4WD mid-sized truck.

However, was it what I wanted?

Three things really stood out in my mind as negatives, putting four adults in the vehicle, plus a dog, where would I put all the stuff that I carry (I know don't carry as much stuff) and the height of the tailgate to put things on - yeah this last one was a big deal.

Where we live allows 3 five-gallon buckets sand from the sand house after each storm and while I can lift them now without too much problem up to chest level, higher than that with my bad shoulder, it becomes an adventure in discomfort and with the height of the 2020 Ranger's tailgate, even though I am 5'7", well it would be an adventure each time I go to get sand. Plus at 62 years young, I am not a puppy anymore and the idea of lifting those heavy buckets up that high as I get older each year was not something to look forward to.

I know, I know suck it up buttercup, but if I do not have to and can work smarter not harder, that is a better way.

Another huge positive factor for the Ranger was the Ray Haskell Ford dealership, which is where I get the Transit worked on and I believe they are one of the best Service Departments I have ever used - that goes a long way with me and how I see things.

Next up was the Honda Ridgeline.

When I test drove the Ridgeline on Saturday, I was pretty much blown away. It rode like a very comfortable SUV and did not have the truck rear-end bounce after hitting bumps in the road. It was a lot wider than my old Ranger or the new one that I test-drove and it just felt solid and very responsive to drive. However, I am not a fan of leather seats and know that the electronics start at the front bumper and end at the back bumper, so it is not something that I or some backyard mechanic are going to work on too much. However, the storage trunk in the back was amazing and the dual-action tailgate made things more easily accessible

After test driving both vehicles, I went back to do some more research about problem areas for both vehicles, did some research on the dealerships, got familiar with the different models, options and ballpark pricing on them.

They were comparable in a lot of areas, but the interior room and storage areas were a significant difference, plus the ride in the Honda was much more comfortable. So I had pretty much decided which direction I thought we needed to go.

The more I thought about things and what were my priorities, the more I actually preferred the 2019 Sport model, which was not a top tier model, it is closer to a base, but with enough gizmos and gadgets to keep me happy. The 2020s had more standard equipment (toys and distractions) and fully opening rear doors would have been nice but the price was a bit more too. Plus I am not a fan of their new 2020 gear shifter.

The next step was to talk to Mary and get her opinion.

That Sunday we had to go into Augusta so we stopped by Charlie's Honda, while they were closed and we walked around some of the 2020s on the lot and they had two 2019 left - a black Sport and a RTL-E that I had test drove the day before. She hadn't realized just how big the Ridgeline really is and the extra storage compartments for all my junk would mean it would not be in back of the front seats. The actual room for all four of us was another improvement.

She seemed intrigued, so the next morning we made an appointment for 1:00 PM to test drive together a Ridgeline.

End of Part 1.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Quiet Day and Another 3.0 Miles - 2-9-2020

This was a nice and quiet day. We do not get those all that often, so it was pretty nice.

I got to nap with Bean for 45 minutes this afternoon. Although I have been using the focus statement "What's Important - Now" and then I state what it is that I believe is important and visualize what I need to do for a bit. It seems to set me up to do things that need doing.

Today after I said that I told myself that I needed to rest, focus on healing the body and relax. It seemed to me within a couple of minutes I was gone (into lala land). Sometimes it seems we allow our thoughts to overtake everything and if we take the time to tell the brain what is important, it seems to go in the direction that I want more often than not. seems to be working lately for me.

I woke up refreshed and ready to go. I am working on sharpening my focus, so we will see if it is real or is it just another psych job.


0.30 - When the temp is -6*F Bennie is not into walking and I can't really blame him. We wandered about a bit, but didn't really go that far from the house.

1.5 - Walked with Bennie and Mary down to Blake. The road down-back was in pretty good shape and it had warmed up considerably since we walked earlier in the morning.

PF Treadmill 3.0/27:41/9:14

After yesterday's faster run (at least a little faster), I purposely kept the speed right at 6.5 mph for the entire run. The hamstring is still a factor, but at least I can run a little and not have it grumble too much. Just slow and easy run that is going to be my mainstays for around another month I have a feeling. Although I would like to have the discomfort level drop a little more before I attempt to go any further on the treadmill, outside I think that I can go a bit farther and still have it be mostly happy. 

We will see.

Nike Vomero 14 - The locker room gremlins stuck it to me this morning. I was sure that I put a pair of socks in my gym bag, but when I went to get them out, I couldn't find the darn things. I emptied out the bag, got up and looked on the bench, under the bench and they were nowhere to be found. 

Drat - I hate going sockless in running shoes - I always end up with a blister and I couldn't wear my wool socks, so sockless it was. Everything went great until about 2.5 miles on the treadmill, then the left inside of the heel of the left foot and under the arch on the right foot heated up. Yep, I was gonna have a couple of those wonderful blisters there, so of course I just kept going to 3.0 miles. 

It is just a blister, uncomfortable but not anything to worry about.

That little pod on the heel unit got me and not in a good way. After I got off the treadmill, I had to quickly visit the locker room and sitting there in the spot where I had changed were my socks. 

Dangnabit and yes, they were my socks. 

Like I said the locker room gremlins were playing tricks on me and hid them while I was changing and left them out in plain sight so I could go WTFO when I came back into the locker room. Yes, I put them on, but the damage had already been done, small blisters on both feet. At least now I know that the Vomero 14s need socks and won't make that mistake again anytime soon.

Before Running
Runner's warm-up
50 squats
4x10 balance work each leg
3 x 10 count balance work each leg
50 fast calf raises
3x10 step-up
2 x 20 step-overs

After Running
2 x 20 - 90 lb calf raises
3 x 10 - 90 lb leg presses
2 x 20 - 50 lb glute machine
3 x 10 - 50 lb quad machine
3 x 10 - 50 lb hamstring machine
Foam roll
2 x 20 Hip stretches

.9 - Bennie walk
1.0 - walk by myself

Daily Stoic Reflection


Many times things just are and there is not a whole lot we can do about it. The weather is a thing and will do what it does, do I have an opinion about the weather or am complaining about it. There is a difference. If something is a tool, I can like or dislike things, but do I have an opinion about it or is it more important that I know how to use it, its quality or if is the right tool for the job I am using it for.

What is an opinion? Is it something you believe in, after thinking about a matter of importance to you or is it something that you have been told is important and that you need to have these feelings about it? Sometimes I truly believe in the old saying from my Grandfather "opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, but are they worth a shit."

I guess that is as good an answer as most - are our opinions worth our time to get upset, wild haired and wound up over so many things that we really have no control over even if we do have an long-held opinion about what is going on?

Personally, I am learning that the answer is probably most of the time it is not. Life will go on, no matter what our or my opinions are and most likely our vociferous defense of our opinions will not change the opinions of those who hold different ones. It simply leads to stress, anger and broken friendships or so it seems in today's divided world.

Most of the time I just keep my opinions to myself and let other's opinion be their opinions, while I smile and just go with the flow to get through another day.


I gave up on Elderhood for now, it was a tough read for me and I own the eBook so I am letting the hardcover copy go back to the library. I am getting so that I prefer the ebook versions especially when it comes to works that are non fiction and I want to take notes on. 

I have been reading Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology and the tales while interesting, give a different depiction of the Norse Gods than the usual they are great and all powerful. It is a good change though and one that I think the old Norse would approve of. A bit of disparagement of the Gods is not a bad thing at times and even if they are omnipotent, they have good and bad days too. 

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

I Hate Ice Storm Clean-ups and a Good Run - 2-8-2020

We actually got to sleep in until 7:15, not something we get to do very often, between daily commitments and pet walking duties, we are usually up and about much earlier. 

Yeah, it looks purty shining in the sunshine, but it sure is a bother to clean-up after.

Two hours of snow blowing after an ice storm are a pain in the shoulders and the backside. After a couple of days of nastiness, there was about a 1/4 inch of ice on top of a couple of inches of snow, with another coating of crusty snow on top of everything. Then last night it got down to single digits around here and froze everything solid.

Initially, I attempted to just use the snowblower on it - yeah right! 

Unfortunately, that worked about as good as me using a broom to clean the driveway and when I was able to get the augurs to bite into the snow/ice mix, I might as well have been using my snow scoop with the amount of work I had to put into making forward progress.

Finally, I gave up and got in the truck and drove up and down the driveways a bunch of times to break up the icy mess. While that helped a lot, I still had to repeatedly go back and forth over the broken up snow and ice, which doubles or triples the time it takes to remove the total 2-3 inches of snow that needed to be moved around. 

All I know is that my shoulders are killing me because, in this kind of stuff, you have to hold up on the handles to keep the augurs in the snow versus riding up over the snow. 

Loads of fun today. 

I probably would have been better off just leaving it and driving over the stuff until it packed down. Unfortunately, there is another storm with more mixed precipitation in the forecast for Sunday night/Monday morning. So I figured I better get take care of what I could while I could.


I guess you could call 2.0 hours behind that snowblower a workout too.

.9 - Bennie walk, the road is still a mess, but better than yesterday. At least today the sun was out for our walk, though at 10*F it was chilly.

Runners warm-up
50 squats
2 - push-ups then I decided that the snow blowing this morning had completely toasted the shoulders and stopped
4x10 sets balance work each leg
3x10 step-ups

I actually felt the best I have in a while when running. Unfortunately, it has been a month since I ran "normally" for me and while I am not quite at that point, I am getting closer. The first run was interrupted by one of those you will get to the locker room now routines. So I started the run over and ran 3.0. While I could still feel the hamstring, I had close to a normal stride.

PF Treadmill - 3.5/31:33/9:01

0.30 @ 3.7 mph -- warm-up
0.50 @ 6.5 mph -- had to stop and enjoy the quick locker room trip
1.0 @ 6.5 -- was feeling good so increased the speed a little to start. Although a guy got on the treadmill beside me and while I am not a real quiet runner, I could hear his footsteps over mine without any issues, but he was also running faster at 8.0 mph (yes, I peeked a look or two - I am a little competitive - age doesn't take that away any time soon), so that does require a bit more force and that end treadmill is historically the noisiest one there.
1.0 @ 6.6 -- No real issues, more like I know you are there hamstring - kind of thing, but not getting in the way.
1.0 @ 6.7 -- I really, really wanted to just run that last quarter, but I resisted the temptation and was good. I am too close to being able to just run again, that I don't want to screw things up by being greedy.

Nike Vomero 14 - They did just fine, although I think they do a little bit better when I wear the toe spacer on my right foot, nothing bothered and the V14s just felt comfortable.

.9 - Bennie walk, the road melted quite a bit, but it is starting to re-freeze and there is a lot of black ice to look out for, we decided not to do the other walk

Daily Stoic Reflection


The temper tantrum, whining about this or that at great length or putting on a show to show how badly you feel. Did those shows of emotion, throwing things, swearing at people to make them feel worse as well (probably and did they need to feel your pain too?)...did any of that make you feel better? 

Yes, we have all lost our "cool" at various points in our lives. However, after all the histrionics did we actually feel better? 

No, actually if you really thought about how you acted and the things you said, if you are at all cognizant of anything beyond your own needs, you were probably mortified and totally embarrassed by your display. I know that I am.

However, as I have gotten older and have a better handle on my emotions, these kinds of displays are very rare or are done for a particular purpose that I am in control of. Most of the time when my emotions are overwhelmed by a situation, I tend to become quieter and when possible remove myself from the situation as politely and quickly as possible. It really serves no purpose to have others watch me get pissed off, overreact or whatever other emotions I am going through at the time. I am comfortable enough in my own skin to not need others bear the brunt of my negative emotions.

The reality is that

While the morning was busy with the snow removal, I still had enough energy to go to the gym and get some pre-running work done and a decent run completed. Although I gotta admit that the shoulder massage from Mary felt wonderful. Both shoulders were full of knots and she knows how to clean out some of them. 

At some point, I may have to see Frank and have him abuse that right shoulder of mine. It is starting to act up to the point where I am having some discomfort in there again. It will always be an issue for me, but sometimes you have to suck it up and just do what you gotta do regardless of how something feels, especially when it is one of those things you have put up with for over 30 years.

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.