BUCKET LIST

BUCKET LIST

I was finished with motorcycles.

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Now before you turn away from this post, this is not a story about motorcycles. It involves something bigger than a physical object with two-wheels and lots of chrome. Forget about the picture above for a few seconds.

I was asked a very simple question recently and had a hard time giving an honest answer to the person asking the question. I sat there, contemplating the question, fingering my half empty styrofoam coffee cup trying to be as frank with myself as I possibly could.

“What is on your bucket list?”

Okay, maybe you don’t like the term “Bucket List.” The term Bucket List implies you’re going to die, doesn’t it! Oh my gosh, you only have so much time left. Your time is running out. If you don’t complete your bucket list before you die, then you will have failed at living a full, rich life. You will be branded as a failure. And others will judge you. I can hear my son Scott at the funeral now. “

He was a good man, but he didn’t finish his bucket list before he died. He was too afraid to ride a motorcycle, take a cruise, travel to Europe, retire and move to Florida, spend money on himself. He stayed at home watching television. Watching other people living their lives. He simply was too afraid to get off his ass and live his own life.”

Yes, I know you’re thinking an over dramatization of the term “Bucket List.” But the older you get, the more important you start to think. “Is there something I need to do before I can’t do it? I looked out the window and verbalized out loud “Bucket List, what do you mean by bucket list?”

The question was asked a different way. “What drives you now? What are you passionate about now? What makes you look forward to the day now? What is your purpose in life right now?

If I turned the questions on you dear reader, and you were totally honest with yourself, and I asked you, “What drives you? What are you passionate about? What do you go to bed thinking about? And in the morning what do you focus on when you get out of bed? What is the one thing in life you can’t get off your mind? What can’t you do without to live a full and enriching life?”

I was hard pressed to answer the question honestly. I sat there and tried to come to terms with the simple question. Sure, travel came to mind, everyone says they want to travel. But honestly, for me it’s not a “passion.” At one point in my life, It was.

The picture above is a 900 pound 1989 wine berry colored GL 1500 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. The industry calls it a touring bike. I wanted one! Bad. It was at the very top of my Bucket List. I had 4 choices of bikes to choose from. I could buy a touring motorcycle, a police style cruiser type bike, sport or a dirt bike.

I’m not the kind of guy that gets excited about mud and dirt under my fingernails. So a dirt bike held no fascination for me. I’m just too to well-bred and genteel for a dirt bike. I mean how can you hold a stemmed glass of Merlot when you’re covered in mud from head to foot? So, while I did get to experience a very enjoyable day riding a dirt bike in a muddy corn field one chilly Saturday afternoon, the master plan for me was elegance, style, and a more practical style of street riding machine. Plus, I’ve never acquired the taste of beer especially out of the can.

I have ridden a couple of “sport” bikes. Some call them crotch rockets. The idea I would be bent over the front wheel most of the time, with my shirt halfway up my back fluttering in the wind. All the while showing the crack of my ass to grandma in the vehicle behind me just didn’t give me the warm fuzzies. Plus the combination of the engine and exhaust sound imitating a Singer sewing machine offended my already fragile masculine senses. Nope, this ride is not for me. I don’t care for craft beer either.

Then there was the CRUISER to consider. Wow, now this style of bike is what America is all about. This one did catch my attention. You only have to look at the Indianapolis Motorcycle Drill Team riding their Harley Davidson motorcycles to get your innards pulsating. Allow me to lowered my voice a whole octave to sound more masculine when I talk about a cruiser. I looked at the hog’s long and hard. I love the trademarked rumble of the exhaust. Who doesn’t like that signature exhaust sound, unless you’re trying to sneak home at two in the morning? How could you not like the style of this bike and not appreciate the sexy lines and the whole mystique? Plus this bike could be dripping with chrome if you wanted your bike looking like it’s dripping with chrome. But alas, the rag wrapped around my head is not my best look. Tattoos were just not me either. I realized, my hands would be shaking so violently holding the handlebars, my fitness counter on my arm would have me walking 10,000 steps just waiting for the traffic light to turn green. And last but not least, I would be required to drink beer out of a bottle standing outside the bar admiring other people’s chrome.

I knew I wanted to travel; It was on my Bucket List. I also might want a big bosomed, long haired blond with beautiful red lips and a big smile on her face riding on the back of my bike. I knew I wanted a heavier motorcycle for a smooth, comfortable ride. I required above all else, reliability in my two wheels. All the arrows kept pointing to a Gold Wing. But, I was cautioned. If your first priority is reliability, then you have a problem. “You won’t be attracting big bosomed broads with long blond hair riding a Gold Wing. You will be buying a station wagon Duncan, not a Harley.

I was also given two other pieces of advice. Buy what you really want to ride in the beginning. Number 2, if you have never ridden a motorcycle before, you need to start with a smaller machine. These two pieces of information seemed to be in conflict with each other. And in truth they were. The other consideration was the weight of the GL 1500 Gold Wing; it tops the scale at 900 pounds. If I drop it, I will pay hell putting it back on its feet. And so I was lobbied by my new friends that I should buy a smaller bike to begin my riding career. To think it over, I poured two ounces of The Famous Grouse Scotch whiskey in a Waterford Lismore Classic Tumbler. Why two ounces of the Grouse? You can’t fly with just one wing, my friend.

 

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I was going to make one item on my “Bucket List” become a reality. With no wife to stop me. I was free to accomplish my goal of owning and riding a motorcycle.

I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on this new toy. I was divorced, for the second time. My wallet had been picked clean. I was living as cheaply as possible. I moved into a 2 bedroom apartment (top floor) in the Speedway area just west of downtown Indianapolis and was trying to save as much money as I could as fast I as I could. I had budgeted $5,000 for my new purchase. Brand new motorcycles were running $25,000 to $30,000, and I assumed at first I was never going to own a motorcycle. I found a 1984 Gold Wing with 25,000 miles for $4,000 dollars. I decided to take the plunge. Put the check beside the motorcycle on my Bucket List.

I bought the 1984 Honda Gold Wing 1200 because that is all I could afford. I wasn’t in love with the bike; it was simply a controlled learning experience. What I didn’t realize was I would make new friends and become aware of some of the scenic backroads in southern Indiana. I would smell the newly mowed grass and bar-b-cue grills making lunch as we passed by beautiful and not so beautiful homes. I ate at some fascinating places along the way with some very interesting people. The butcher the baker and the candlestick makers. On some road tours, there were as many at a dozen riders out together for the day. Jay Powell was complimenting me on my ability to handle a motorcycle in the curves. Then he popped the fatal question.

“Why don’t you and I switch bikes and you try my Honda 1500 for a few miles? (I wanted a 1500 Gold Wing in the beginning.) I think you will see a world of difference.”

I was hooked! Why hadn’t I bought the 1500 Gold Wing first? I loved the ride. It was perfect. It was the perfect size for me. I know I had made a mistake buying a smaller bike. I had to have one.

I started looking in the classified for a Honda Gold Wing 1500. Honda switched from the 1200 Gold Wings to the 1500 Gold Wings in 1988. So in order for me to afford a 1500 model I had to look for a model year as close to 1988 as possible. One night, I noticed an ad for a 1989 Honda Gold Wing. The motorcycle was a one-owner, wineberry color with some other goodies. It was out in the country about 60 miles from Indianapolis. I called a female friend of mine. No, her hair was not long. It was short, and she was cute. Yes, she had blond hair. Yes, she liked to smile, She had all the other stuff. Yes, she was fun. I called her and told her I had found a 1989 Honda Gold Wing for sale about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis on a country road. My blond short haired friend lived in that general area.

I asked, “Do you know how to find the place and could you take me there?”

She asked all the right questions. What hundred south is it? How many west is the address? And what is the number of the county road again? She thought for a few minutes.

“I’m not sure I know exactly where it is but I’m sure between the two of us we can get you where you need to be. What time are we going? What do you want me to wear, honey?” She was my kind of woman. I told her to hold that thought. “I need a little more information about the bike before I travel that far. I will call you back and let you know.”

I called, and a woman answered the phone. I asked her what the mileage was was on the motorcycle’s odometer. The woman who answered the phone said she didn’t know.

“I would need to walk all the way to the barn to look at the motorcycle, can I call you back?”

She called back in about 15 minutes, “23, 237 miles”. I almost let out a yell. In my calmest and most measured voice, I asked, “What would be a good night for me to see the motorcycle?”

Any night was the answer. I told her I would like to look at the bike this week.

I called my blond friend and arranged the night. We pulled into a very manicured property. A lovely home close to the road with a white gravel driveway lined with cement curbs and a new red barn in the back of the house. We were greeted by the husband this time. He walked us back to the barn. The inside of the barn was immaculate. A concrete floor was super clean and in one corner of the well-lit barn was the most beautiful 1989, Honda GL 1500 Gold Wing I had ever seen. (See that picture above) I walked around the bike three times looking for flaws, scratches, blemishes, rips or tears in the seat. The bike was perfect. I asked again what he wanted for the motorcycle. He was asking $7,000 dollars. I think I walked around the bike again, slowly. I didn’t say a word. I stopped and paused and looked at the motorcycle. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer looking bike than what I was looking at tonight. He had added pinstripes, chrome bars, extra driving lights, a chrome luggage rack, and a heal-toe shifter alone with chrome running boards for the driver and arm rests the passenger. It had a music sound system with an intercom for the front and back passenger to talk and a citizens band radio. I looked at my beautiful blond friend standing off to the side and behind the sellers. She had her arms crossed and was pulling on her crisp white dress shirt collar and looked at me with a knowing glance. No smile, she was still maintaining negotiations mode in her demeanor. But her eyes were screaming at me, “Pull out your money honey and pay the man; you just bought a bike.”

Before I could say anything, the seller said, “By the way, it comes with a trailer.”

He pointed to the back corner of the barn. And there sitting in the back was a wineberry colored tag along luggage trailer. He had installed a trailer hitch on the bike to pull the trailer.

“I’ll throw in some black leather chaps and four motorcycle helmets and a cover.”

In my mind, I simply could not believe my luck. All I had to do was say, “Sold.”

“You make it hard to walk away from a deal like this.” I reached in the back pocket and pulled out my wallet. I handed him a $100.00 dollar bill and told him,

“I would like to bring you a cashiers check tomorrow for the balance and would you consider the motorcycle sold to me?”

“I sold it too cheap didn’t I?” The seller said.

His quick comment surprised me. What am I going to say? “You sure did, dummy.”

No, I wouldn’t do that. I think I said something like, “I’ve been looking all over the place for this color. I wanted this particular color for my Gold Wing. Your price is a little high, but you have added a lot of extras. I didn’t think I would find this wineberry color and here it is. I want a Gold Wing with this color.”

He seemed fine with my explanation. The next night I was in his driveway with the check, and he handed me the title. I still remember throwing my leg across the saddle. I remember starting it up for the first time in that barn knowing it was mine. Without the assist from my dear short haired blond woman friend, I could not have pulled this transaction off. She drove all the way to my apartment in Speedway earlier in the evening, picked me up, and we drove together to the barn. I then rode the bike back to my apartment, and she went home. I promised her a “ride” very soon.

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I bought the 1989 Honda Gold Wing in 2000. I clocked more than 50,000 miles on the Lion. Yes, you had to have a name for your bike. It seems everybody called his or her bike by a nickname. So, I chose “The Lion.” How did I come up with the “Lion?” I bought an American and Scottish Flag, to fly on the back of my Gold Wing. The Scottish flag is bright yellow with a bright red lion in the center. My Great grandfather and grandfather was born in Peth, Scotland.

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I rode that bike everywhere. I was consumed by the travel and my friends. In 2003 we decided to stop for a photo opportunity. Jim Tsareff wanted a picture on a bridge high above the landscape. Jim was headed to Houston for a final inspection of the new Rockets basketball arena.

“Want to go with me on a motorcycle ride to Houston? It’s business.” Jim asked.

All I said was, “When are we leaving?”

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Jim, my new personal and very close friend’s business is in commercial electrical contracting. His company in Indianapolis teamed up with an electrical contractor in Houston, and together they bid on the electrical work for the new Houston Rockets basketball arena. The arena took 26 months to build with a peak workforce of 650 men. The total cost of the stadium was $235 million dollars.

“So, what is your bid for just electric Jim?” I don’t remember what he said but, I do remember him saying electrical on most projects is usually 10% – 15% of the total project. So, his bid to provide all the electrical had to be somewhere around 23 to 30 million dollars.

Get this! The stadium was built 32 feet below sea level. Four large water pumps were installed in the basement on each corner of the building to pump out the water seeping in from the Gulf. Why build a 235 million dollar building 32 feet below sea level sitting on the Gulf of Mexico? So Houston Rockets fans wouldn’t have to walk up stairs to reach their seats.

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In 2003, Toyota agreed to pay 100 million dollars to have their name on the Houston Rockets building. The Toyota logo was placed on the roof as well as other significant areas of the building giving them dominant TV coverage during the telecasts. It shall now be called the Toyota Center.

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Some of my favorite trips were to Florida. And there were many. We would generally have a bunch of guys in Indianapolis that wanted to tag along. We would leave Indianapolis in late March and start out with Daytona’s Bike Week. The atmosphere in Daytona is one of “let’s all get along” (no matter how “bad” we look) and check out my woman on the back of my machine. Once you have burned your eyeballs with hundreds of near-naked woman in the skimpiest of leather on and off beautiful motorcycles, it’s time once again to ride. “We’re burning daylight.”

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The yearly ritual was then to head down to Key West after a few days in Daytona and visit The Hogs Breath Cafe, Sloppy Joe’s, Ernest Hemingway’s home and the concrete marker erected in 1983 at Key West’s Southernmost point in the United States.

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We always top off a visit to Key West a couple of hours before sunset at Mallory Square. The best place in the United States to watch a sunset. Or so the Chamber of Commerce will tell you. In 1984 the city of Key West built and opened a commercial boat and ship pier right on Mallory Square. The decision was met with overwhelming opposition from people who felt it would disrupt the tradition of watching the sunset at Mallory Square. In response to the outcry, the city fathers passed an ordinance requiring cruise ships to leave port two hours before sunset, enabling them to return after sunset without an additional docking fee. It’s always about the money, isn’t it?

 

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DUNCAN – RODNEY MYERS – JIM (SHOOTER) TSAREFF

While on a motorcycle ride to Big Bend National Park in the bottom far southwest corner of Texas. Rodney Myers, Jim (Shooter) Tsareff and myself found ourselves in the middle of absolutely Nowhere, Texas. I mean it was hot, and there was nothing in sight for miles. The land was flat and nothing but a ribbon of asphalt in the middle of dirt, lots and lots of dirt. We happened on a road crew and stopped and asked the nearest town to get something to eat. They suggested Van Horn, Texas. We had no idea which way Van Horn, Texas was so we asked.

“Keep on going the way you’re going, and when you run into highway 10, you’re there. Oh, and the place you want to eat is a place called Chey’s. You can’t miss it.”

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We found the town and looked for this place called Chey’s. The road crew was right. There was nothing in Van Horn, so it was easy to find the only restaurant in town. We parked our bikes under an awning to be in the shade. We walked into this garish colored Mexican Restaurant and found a table.

At the far end of the Restaurant is a big TV, with chairs around a table. One of the chairs had John Madden’s name on the back. We asked the waitress what’s “that” all about?

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The story goes like this, one Monday night back in 1987, John Madden made a surprise stop at Chuy’s. He was in his motor coach on his way to the west coast. Madden will not fly and uses a motor coach to get around the country. He wanted to watch Monday night football on television. “Do you have a TV with the game on it?” Not only did he enjoy the football game, but Madden apparently ate them out of house and home and took more Mexican food with him on the bus.

Madden ran this route every year and made a point to stop and eat at Chey’s. He liked the place so much he would write about it in the Times, Sports Illustrated and various other sports publications about how he was treated and how good the food is at Chey’s in Van Horn, Texas. So the owners decided to rededicate an area of the restaurant as the
“All Madden Hall of Fame.”

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The building in the picture above was taken in 1959. But the drive-in restaurant was built in 1950. Jesus Chey was born and raised in Marfa, Texas. He graduated high school and enlisted in the United State Army. Marylou Uranga living in Van Horn dropped out of school after the fifth grade and went to work to help support the family. They married and purchased the building. Three other people had tried to make the restaurant a success, but all failed.

What was it that Jesus Chey learned in the Army. Was it in him all along? Was his bucket list to own a business. Make it successful, have children, and prosper. Was it that simple? I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting any of the family while we ate at the restaurant. But, I have often wonder, was it a good life living in the middle of west Texas? Was he living his dream? He believed in himself and took a chance and believed in himself and a business that others had failed at and made it something special.

Sadly, Jesus “Chuy” passed away in 2008. Paul, their son, have become the new restaurant owner. Alongside his mother, I’m told Paul has continued to provide restaurant guests with the traditional and exceptional homemade Mexican food found within this West Texas region. He continues to follow in his father’s footsteps in assuring that all his guests are provided with a respectful and hospitable Mexican dining experience.

It was March 2008 I pulled the “Lion” out of the garage and ran a cloth across the chrome. I rode down the driveway and turned north on the Kessler Blvd. My first reaction was “Wow those cars are coming from the other direction really fast.” I suddenly realized I was no longer riding a motorcycle like “John Wayne” rides his horse. I was acting more like Don Knots from Mayberry.

Did you ever get the feeling that John Wayne was afraid to ride his horse? How about a bike? Me neither.

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For eight years I rode my 1989 wineberry colored 1500 Gold Wing motorcycle. I was in total control of that machine, just like John Wayne is in control of his horse. The bike was certainly not in control of me, until today.

I rode that magnificent machine for 8 years and 50,000 miles all over the country. Then, in March of 2008, I suddenly realized I didn’t have it anymore. The vehicles coming from the obsolete direction scared the hell out of me. I don’t know why it happened. I don’t know how it happened. I pulled off the two-lane street into an empty church parking lot and needed to had to have a “come to Jesus meeting.” I was just down the block from my home and couldn’t believe I was frightened riding my motorcycle. I had a little talk with myself, and perhaps included the man upstairs. This is an over dramatization of the moment, but a large booming voice came out of the heavens and said, “Duncan, it is time to move on?” When I heard “The Voice” I knew my motorcycling days were over. I rode the bike very carefully back to the house, pulled in the driveway parked the bike in the garage and listed it for sale. It was gone within a week.

That left a big empty space in my garage. The Gold Wing that had occupied the left side of the garage was my shrine to travel, new and distant places, food, fun, and adventure. There would be no winding roads, no interesting restaurants, and no attractive women sitting behind me in the back seat unless I replaced the Gold Wing with something very special.

I decided I needed something else in my life. I need a two-seat roadster convertible. My Bucket List now called for a new machine. I started calling my imaginary machine, the “Hot Rod.” It didn’t have to be “hot, ” and it didn’t have to be a “rod.” In the beginning, this roadster had to have two seats, and the ability to lower the top. That’s it, that’s all I was looking for. I wasn’t quite sure what to buy or how much it was going to cost. But, I knew I needed something to replace the Gold Wing and put me back on the open road.

 

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I started looking at cars everywhere. Oh, look a 1953 or is it a 1954 Corvette. I liked the vintage Corvettes better than the later models. The first Corvette reached the end of the assembly line on June 30, 1953. The entire 1953 production took place in the back of a customer delivery garage in Flint Michigan. The first two were engineering test cars and according to official records, were destroyed. Of the first 300 Corvettes, approximately 225 are known to exist today. That means, your talking $125,000 – $190,000. But wait, what about the 2017 model year Corvette? That looks pretty snazzy.

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The 2017 Corvette soft top convertible by Chevrolet. No, I didn’t see me in a newer Corvette either. Not in this one anyway. This “Basic” 2017 Vette will bend my charge card way out of wack at $72,000. Well-Equipped $81,545.00. Loaded, look out now, $86,035.00.

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Then there was the Cadillac Allante. Too boxy, too old school. The Cadillac Allanté is a two-door, two-seater roadster marketed by Cadillac from 1986 until 1993, with roughly 21,000 cars built over a seven-year production run. The price tag when new was in the mid $50’s. In 1992 GM pushed the convertible hardtop price to $64,000. The name Allanté was selected by General Motors from a list of 1,700 computer-generated names. The 1993 Allante was also chosen as the 1992 pace car for the 76th Indy 500 Indianapolis 500.

DUNCAN & GARRITY

Steve Garrity and I worked together at a place called Fidelity Federal Saving and Loan. Steve had a Bucket List too. He loves the Allante so much he now owns three of them. Steve Garrity, you are out of control.

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The Ford Mustang convertible was suggested. Too pedestrian.

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The old Nissan Z. I just felt it was dated and didn’t excite me.

Then the newer Nissan Z’s caught my eye. The older ones were a little too boxy, the newer ones I liked a lot but were out of my price range. The roadster costs $41,820.

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The Chrysler Crossfire 2 door Roadster (2005) Yellow. To me, it looks like a girl’s car. “Not that there is anything wrong with that!”

In the 57th episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. Seinfeld had a line “… not that there’s anything wrong with that”. It was a reference to homosexuality and has become a popular catchphrase among fans.

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BMW Z3: Now we’re talking. This model did knock my hat in the creek. I’m not wild about blue, but I liked the overall styling. My dear friend Jack Maynard who now lives in Seattle has one, and I’ve driven his BMW Z3 and I liked the car, a lot!

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JACK CAN I BORROW YOUR EQUIPMENT?

The BMW Z3 is BMW’s first mass-produced roadster and was the first BMW model to be manufactured in the United States. The Z in Z3, stands for Zukunft, which is German for future. The BMW Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995, and made a short appearance in the James Bond film Golden Eye on November 17, 1995.  In the 1996 production run, more than 15,000 roadsters were sold out by the time the car was introduced. A facelift for the car was launched in 2000, and the Z3 ended production in 2002 when it was replaced by the BMW Z4.

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JIM (SHOOTER) TSAREFF – JACK MAYNARD – DUNCAN

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Mazda Miata. I took a second look at old and new and was on-line looking at prices. It looked like I was going to be in the $10,000 – $12,000 dollar range, but at that price point the cars were ridden hard and put up wet.

I was having a pleasant conversation with my Dad when I told him I had sold my motorcycle. He was pleased to hear that news. He worried I would get hurt, like all parents I guess. I said I was looking for a sports car to replace the bike. I explained I wanted something that would come as close as possible to feeling like I was on a motorcycle. I made the mistake of telling him I had it narrowed down to a Mazda Miata or a BMW.

“Mazda? BMW? That’s not a GM product! You can’t buy them; you got to buy GM. You got to help them out.” Dad is a 37 1/2 year Allison Division of General Motors retired employee.

“Dad, I can’t afford a Corvette or a Cadillac. It’s just not in my budget.”

“Have you looked at the Solstice?”

Not only did I not know what he was talking about, but I also didn’t even know the Solstice existed.

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The Solstice Roadster is built by Pontiac. It came in 3 basic flavors.

Down and dirty cheap, $23,000. As in manually roll up your own windows.

Vanilla, with a few creature comforts and a price tag of $27 – $28,000.

Then the Tutti Frutti. That model is called the GXP version. The GXP has a supercharged engine with an output of 260 horsepower. According to Pontiac.com, the GXP can go from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds. The price tag for Tutti Frutti with, everything including whipped cream on top, is $32,000.

It was out of my price range. But I went over to the dealership and looked at the car anyway. I took Dad with me because he is the one who told me about the car. He said he wanted to see what one looked like. The yellow Solstice on display at the dealership was the “Tutti Fruitti” model. The GXP with a price tag of $32,000. Dad, of course, scoffed at the cost and just shook his head. George was no longer interested in the Pontiac Solstice by

General Motors.

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The Solstice from my point of view was one outstanding looking car. I liked the lines on this car a lot. I especially liked the color; General Motors called it “Mean Yellow.” Straightforward, simple and clean. But oh my, the price. The salesman tried his best to get me to commit. How can you cost this car as new when it’s used? (The dealership had 2008 Pontiacs on the lot, and the mean yellow GXP under the awning was a 2007 model year.) He was having none of my “It’s a used car” chatter. They held fast to full price.

A couple of months later, I happened to be driving by the dealership and noticed a car carrier delivering 2009 model Pontiacs. I watched 2009 Solstices rolling off the truck. I went home and called Walt the salesman and asked him how much he wanted for the 2 years old 2007 mean yellow used Solstice.

He explained that we have been down this road before. He repeated, “It’s not a used car. It’s not 2 years old!”

Well, Walt I just noticed a car transport delivering 2009 Pontiacs, and I think the way it looks to me, I’m the only person interested in that two-year-old 2007 used “Lemon” you have on your hands. We ended the call, still able to talk without raising our voices. I think.

The next day, Walt called me back. “Make an offer.”

I explained, “There’s no sense me doing that, you’ve never come off full price.

“Make an offer,” Walt said.

I hung up and really didn’t know what to do. I started looking for used 2007 Solstice GXP models for sale on the internet. I couldn’t find any in Indianapolis. I expanded my search three times to 500 miles around Indianapolis. I found 10 for sale. I added up the total asking price of all the GXP’s for sale and divided by 10. That number was $21,900.

I called Walt back and said, “Before I offer my number I want to get something clear between you and me. If for some reason you even consider my number, I want you to know I will not accept any add-on’s to the selling price like delivery charge, dealer prep, or any other mickey mouse numbers other than state sales tax. If you do add them at the last minute, I will walk away from the transaction.

After I had given him my number, there was silence on the phone. I waited.

“How in the hell did you come up with that may I ask?”

I told him. I then said, “Walt, that’s my offer, it’s fair, and you know it is. The only way I will move on that number is if you want to go lower. (I said it with a smile on my face.) So, thanks for listening and if I don’t hear from you, that ‘s fine, I understand.”

The next day Walt called. “You just bought yourself a car.”

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Was this car on the Bucket List? On September 9, 2008, I walked into the dealership and needless to say; I purchased the car. From the winter of 2008 to 2014 the car was garaged for the winter just like a motorcycle. I wouldn’t take it out in Indiana winter weather. From 2008 to 2013, I didn’t travel to as many places as I thought I would. I went to Key West in the roadster once with a swing through Miami’s South Beach. I have been to Jacksonville, Florida a couple of times, to visit friends.

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But, once I moved to North Fort Myers in September of 2014 I started using the Hot Rod almost every day.

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With the almost perfect weather year-round in Southwest Florida, I am putting on considerably more miles than I did in Indianapolis. The Hot Rod now has 50,000 miles, and It’s time for new tires. When you move to a new community, you don’t have the “people” you trust to work on your cars. I left them back in Indianapolis. I had my list of trustworthy mechanics and others I felt comfortable working on my pride and joy. Now with 50,000 miles on the car, and 1200 miles from Indianapolis I need tires. So, I asked around. I talked to several people, not just one person. Then you’ve got to decide if you’re going to a mom and pop type tire store or shiny, slick looking franchise. My thinking is, If I ‘m doing tires, I want people that do tires, day in and day out. I don’t want a dentist doing my brain surgery, and I don’t want a “We do all things car” either. Over the years, I have found as a general rule, if the people working on your car know you and you know them, things seem to go smoothly.

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So, I pulled into the parking lot next to the yellow building on Bayshore in North Fort Myers. It’s a little rough around the edges. But, they have an excellent reputation. Don’t judge a book by the cover. The place is called Custom Tire and Auto. Before I drove to their store, I called and asked if they could repair a tire with a slow leak. They said, “Yes.” I had already promised myself at 50,000 miles I needed to replace the tires. Plus those tires have been on your car for 10 years. Not to mention the roads down here are super hot in the summer. I wanted to see what this place would tell me when I got there.

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Meet Rich Jarvis. He introduced himself to me by walking up to me and asking, “Can I help you?”

“I have a slow leak in my front tire.”

“Okay, no problem, may I have your keys?”

He pulled the Hot Rod close to the building, and I went to the waiting room. In a few minutes, He came in and asked me to follow him to the shop floor. He rolled my tire over to me. I saw a long thin nail in the side tread exiting out the side wall.

“If a nail, comes out a side wall we can’t repair the tire.”

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Rich then explained that he has been in business for 36 years and has been at this location for 26 years. He wanted me to know he knows a few things about tires.

“I have 6 people who work for me. Now, your car. The tires that were standard issue tires that came with the car are rated at 300.” (Rich showed me the rating number on the side of the tire.) I didn’t even know there was a rating system for tires.

“Are you here full time or do you go back north in the summer?” I told Rich I was here full time. He continued.

“You need a tire that can handle the heat coming off the roads in Southwest Florida, especially in the summer. I suggest you look at a tire with a minimum rating of 500. The quality of tires today is so much better than the tires of 10 years ago when you purchased your roadster. May I suggest a tire that will perform well, and will look terrific on this car?”

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Yes, I found out I was talking to the owner of the operation, Rich Jarvis. We spoke about a lot of things while “Billy” started replacing my tires.

Rich was born and raised in Southwest Florida. That’s right he was born and raised here. Rich has a home with 11 areas and a 6,000 square foot house. He loves his Cadillac Escalade and drives it fast on rare occasions. But don’t tell anyone. He is unmarried but has a special lady in his life. He loves coming to work every day. He meets interesting people like me. We did seem to connect. I liked the guy. But that is what he wanted me to do, right?

Well, the damage was $806.00. I now have four new tires rated at 500 on the roadster. I can tell you the hot rod drives like it’s a brand new car. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know Billy. We talked a little, but Billy was all action. He was focused on what he was doing. Billy removed the old tires , installed and balanced the new ones. Billy ran a clean rag over my chrome rims before he put them back on the roadster. What a guy.

When I purchased this vehicle (The Hot Rod, the Roadster), I was told to replace the tires that came with the Solstice is going to be very expensive. I was told the tires are very special tires. The tires will not go flat. Well, I can tell you that’s not true. The tires will go flat. A replacement tire for the Solstice will cost $400.00 each. So, I learned a lesson. Wait ten years, and you can buy a much better tire than was on the car at half the price.

So, what if any is the life lesson learned? Is there a beacon of truth hitting me between the eyes from buying tires? Can I say with confidence that I need to make a Bucket List? No! I don’t think so. My roadster has new rubber. It drives like it’s brand new. (It really does.) It’s ready for a road trip. But I’m already in Southwest Florida. I moved from Indianapolis to North Fort Myers so I could be on vacation every day all year. I do venture out and travel to some of the more interesting places in Florida. But a Bucket List? Is it really necessary? You tell me. I’m not ready to die, just yet.

About the author

Stephen A and Scott Duncan publish "ByDuncan.com" Scott photographs (Duncan Photography) and is the guy who keeps this site running. Steve (left) is a photographer (Duncan Photography) and writes to "ByDuncan.com"