Monday, August 29, 2011

East Douglas on a Sunday Morning

My next older sister had called me on Saturday to check up on me and chewed my butt pretty good for not posting anything on the blog for a whole month.  I apologized to her and said there were two reasons:

1) I can't drive a car or ride my scooter right now and it's a bit tough to come up with motorcycle content for the blog. Yeah, a bicycle ride is fine, but I bet some readers are bored with that.

2) It has been hotter than Hades here. Yesterday was our 48th day this summer where our high temp reached 100 degrees. The record number of days is 50 from 1936 (Dust Bowl Days). August isn't over yet and it is predicted that we will break the record. Our normal for a summer is more like 11 days, so there you have it.

But my sister did get me thinking, so on Sunday morning I took off at 7:30 am on Bruiser, my mountain bike for a ride downtown to check out the car and motorcycle show that had been going on all weekend.

I arrived downtown at about 8:00. The show was scheduled for 8:00 to 4:00 for Sunday, but it was obvious that a lot of people and cars hadn't made it back downtown when I first arrived. Not a lot of cars or motorcycles yet to look at. I did find a display trailer for a Kawaski dealer from Hesston, KS, about 40 miles from here. This red Kawasaki is way too big for me.

But they also had a Kymco Agility Scooter.  (Too small for me)

Then there was this screaming green Kawasaki sport bike. Pretty nice , but not much in my taste either.

The next trailer over was for another dealer here in Wichita. They sell lots of bikes, everything from Honda, Suzuki, even BMW's on occasion. I talked with the sleepy looking guy manning the trailer a bit. As I took a couple of pictures, he asked me if I rode. I said yes and said that I had a scooter, but sometimes wondered about stepping up to something a little bigger, I mentioned a V-Strom, a Bonneville, even a Honda Silverwing scooter.

He said they had a Silverwing in stock, a 2010 model and he liked the V-Strom. Here's a Honda Shadow they had on display.

The local Harley dealer had a big display last year, but didn't see them this year. They still might have been around and I just didn't see them. Harleys are very popular here.

But just in case you run out of cash while you are at the show, here's a portable ATM for your convenience.

I rode back around the convention center and checked out a few cars. Here's a nice roadster.

And I really liked this pickup truck. A '34 Ford if I remember correctly.

 Then this Mini Cooper caught my eye.

And then this Mini Mini Cooper caught me eye as well, (check out the valve cover).

I eventually decided to ride back home in a leisurely fashion down East Douglas Street

I arrived at the train station onthe east end of the downtown area. Wichita has not had passenger train service since I have lived here. But we do have a marvelous old train station that over the years has been owned by a couple of corporate entities, most recently I believe by the local cable television provider.

I notice as I ride by that it is for sale again. Kind of a shame, if you ask me.

Then about another mile to the east of there, is the former world headquarters of  Big Dog Motorcycles. They produced very expensive motorcycles from the 90's to the early 00's at the rate of maybe 2,500 per year. That was until the economic downturn of 2008, where the company essentially tanked itself as people gave up their luxuries. Apparently not many people needed $30,000 motorcycles no matter how beautiful they were.

The building housed  a former Chevy dealership. They declared bankruptcy last year and formed a new company (BDM) to take care of parts and supplies for the Big Dog motorcycles still out on the road.

There is not much in the building right now except for a few bikes. I became somewhat interested in the reflections that resulted in some of these pictures. I was standing in the middle of the street when I took this shot. I am eerily visible if you enlarge the photo.

Most of the people that worked here have of course lost their jobs. Ironically, supposedly they sold lots of bikes to construction workers in the Las Vegas area during the real estate boom in Vegas. Well, Vegas now has one of the most depressed housing markets in the nation and it apparently spilled out into the motorcycle world as well.

Of course, this place is now for sale as well. Kind of a shame. They made beautiful bikes. Not really my taste, but beautiful bikes nonetheless.

Here's Bruiser up next to a chopper frame inside the building.

Down the road about a half mile further east is East High School. Built, I believe, in the 1920's and it only became known as East High after other high schools were eventually built. There is construction going on here at the school for a new auditorium. At the same time there is discussion about building 2 new high schools. But a potential problem with the new schools is that even though there is money available to build the buildings, there may not be enough money for the teachers. The state is bleeding money these days and education seems to be an area that is taking a hit.

It's a beautiful old school. Both my kids graduated from here. My son now teaches and coaches here.

About another mile east is a rather unique building with interesting tile work. There used to be an old guy that ran a hardware store here. It was one of those places that you could find something when nobody else seemed to have it. It was dirty, messy and grimy, but I loved the store. Even though it was sort of a mess, the old guy that ran it knew exactly where everything was.

Then another half mile east or so is the Hillcrest Apartments. It is mostly condominiums by now I believe. Condos are not real common here. There are lots of apartment complexes, but then there are also lots of single family homes. These condos are quite nice and somewhat expensive. As soon as one goes up for sale here, it gets snatched up pretty quickly.

A little further east again and there is a rather stately home. I don't know the history to this, but it's quite a place. This home sits just a little north of College Hill Park, possibly the nicest park in town.

And here's a view of another older home in the College Hill area. This home is on the National Register of Historic Places. As old goes, some would not consider it very old. Wichita wasn't even founded until 1871, but this home is just about that date, perhaps just a bit younger. This home sits atop a little hill in the park area. Bruiser is good at standing without a side or center stand. (No tachometer either)

Another view of the park. The park is surrounded by nice homes. There is a pool and it is a great place for kids to play and grow up. Following in the footsteps of Jim Ryun, who grew up in Wichita and went to Wichita East High School, the cross country team for Wichita East frequently runs and practices here in this park.

And finally at Douglas and Oliver sits what is essentially the first shopping center ever built in this city. It has been a fairly vibrant shopping center since its inception in the 1950's. Not huge by today's standards, but in its day......

There are residential neighbrohoods for the next mile east or so, but then you encounter the city of Eastborough, which was once a sort of suburb, and is now compleyely surrounded by Wichita, having steadfastly resisted the urge to be annexed into the city. But that is a whole other post by ityself. I'll get back to that someday.

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Just a final word about my health. I'm doing fine. I am walking about 2 miles a day and bicycling on the weekends. I'd probably do more exercising except for the unbelievable heat we have seen lately. I will not be able to drive or ride until at least February 2012, but I am in a way sort of enjoying the change in lifestyle.

The little gadget in my chest, designed to keep me alive should my heart screw up again, is amazingly sophisticated. I keep finding more and more about it as we go. For instance, not only is it a defibrillator, designed to be capable of completely restarting my heart should there be a need, but it is also a pacemaker too. It constantly analyzes the behavior of my heart. If my heart rate drops below 60 beats per minute, it will act as a pacemaker and get me back to a 60 bpm rate. If my heart rate goes to 170 beats per minute, it first studies my heart rate to see if my beats are steady and even. If so, then it assumes I may be exercising, and not give me the big shock, yet keep an eye on me. If my faster heart rate is uneven, then it may first try and pace me out of it using the pacemaker function of the device. If that doesn't work, then I may get a big shock from the device to hopefully restart my heart.

The device has a wireless transmitter and sends, once a week, some diagnostics to the manufacturer through a phone line connection in my bedroom. My cardiologist then can obtain this information for my chart. It is designed to report any unusual rhythms my heart has had and any attempts made by the device to correct those aberrant rhythms. Pretty fu*$in' amazing if you ask me.

To date the device has detected no unusual rhythms since the time it was implanted back in February. That's a very good thing.

The device is commonly called an ICD (Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator)

To me it might mean I Can't Die!