Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 5 end of trip

I can't believe we got all that stuff on the bike! We packed up and drove to Niagara on the Falls. We went to the old Casino. The guard at the parking garage let us park by his booth and we have locks for the cases. Jacks new favorite machine is the penny and nickel. You bet $1.50 to $3.00 each time. He really kept winning but only $20.00 at a time. Better than losing! We had lunch at Monticellos right behind the old Casino and it is one of those old restaurants that have weathered time. Frank Sinatra music playing good menu with a New Orleans accent. We were the only ones there. Dave the waiter was great. Jack got a roast beef Po Boy. I had a salad. I took a bite of Jacks sandwich and it was soo good! We went to the Harley store and I got a great sweat shirt. We probably stayed at The Falls a little too long . We got started for Geneva on The Lake at 3pm. We arrived around 6pm. I was exhausted! We had to unpack the bike. At a gas station stop Jack suggested we get out that damned GPS. I refused. He said do you know where the next Hotel is . I said no, we'll find it. Sure enough there were signs everywhere we drove right to it. If we had used that damn GPS thing we probably would have arrived at 8pm. I knew the minute we pulled up to the New Lodge at Geneva I had made a mistake. This is a family oriented place. Nothing wrong with that when you have family but when you are two 50 years olds coming off a bike and having stayed at the Lap of luxury in a Serene Tranquil setting like the Oban Inn, the last thing I want is a circus.This was a big atmosphere adjustment! We got checked in right away and our room had 5 kids and two adults across the hall and next to us. I hoped that they would be to worn out and go to sleep. It was fine until 3am. My room didn't have any shampoo. I was supposed to meet some of Jacks friends and here I am all haggard with no shampoo. I did my best. I was a little cranky at this point. The friend is Kates' best friend that is Jacks deceased wife. I really want her to like me. I was a little nervous. My sister Cheryl called and i told her about meeting Mary. she warned me not to drink too much wine. God knows I might say something wrong! Thanks for the encouragement! In my family I take after my mother who had a knack for saying just the wrong thing at the wrong time. My friends are used to it and sometimes even a little amuzed by it. We went down for diner and decided to sit at the bar. Grown up area! The bartender was great. The poor guy tried to take good care of us but the food service was not great. Jack got his burger about 10 minutes before I got my order. I tasted his burger ans spit it out! It tasted like sawdust. I'm like his taste test canary. This has happened before. He'll just add more ketchup and then wonder why he has stomach ache. Now he lets me taste it and sure enough not good. The manager said this was not the first complaint today and took it off the check. We split my pasta diner it was great. Jacks friends Mary and David came right when we finished diner. They have three kids. Two girls 8 and 2 and a little boy 3years old. They liked the bike. They were very nice and we had a good time. They told us of some of their friends that are dong the Lake Erie thing on real bikes! Back packing all their stuff.
Camping when they need too. Wow, and they are at their last leg of their trip too. They started out last Saturday and were in Toledo last night planning to be back in Euclid today or tomorrow. I thought I was doing great on the back of a motorcycle. This girl who just rode over 600 miles on a bicycle in 8 days get a trophy of some sorts. I think the guy should marry her right on the spot. I mean how many women are going to do that! Back to Geneva on the Lake Lodge. If you look at the pictures it kind of looks like a prison from the outside. Our room was clean and large. We had a view of the pool and the lake. It was funny to notice that the headboard was bolted to the wall. The room did not provide real glassware. It had Styrofoam cups for coffee with a machine and plastic glasses. We went from luxury to just okay accommodations. The bar had Labatts for Jack. He is not a big drinker he'll have one or two beers after riding all day. It is just nice when he gets to have what he likes. Now we have to figure out how to get all this stuff packed back on the bike again. It is only 50 miles home so this will be nothing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Niagara on The Lake Day 4

With the damn GPS safely locked in the safe we planned our day the old fashioned way. The goal was to relax and rest today. After a very healthy breakfast of fruit, yogurt and pastry we set out for the Harley store. It was a really pretty ride to the store and interesting location. I lost my sunglasses so we had to buy a new pair. Then we found a winery with a restaurant and cooking school. Strewn Winery. We had lunch there. The setting wasn't as pretty as the last place and the wine wasn't as good. The food was excellent but Jack was busy through most of the lunch working out a repair on one of the rental properties back home.Thank God for friends you can count on that are in the trades. Major plumbing problem so we got in touch with Lou. He came right out and fixed everything so we could continue to enjoy our trip. Got back to the hotel and rested until it ws Spa time. Massages and steam room and a natural spring hot tub were delightful.That wonderful pedicure that cost me a fortune didn't last long. My boots ruined the paint on my big toes. Rested up and had a super diner here at the hotel. Walked around Niagara and finally found a bar with Labatts for Jack and Glenlivet scotch for me. I am kind of tired of the wine for now. Would like some Australian Shiraz or California Chardonnay. Last night we tried to have diner at Prince of Wales Hotel. It is a stuffy place with a high end attitude. I love a good chef so I'll put up with it.Jack and I dressed nice. I had on a dress, he had a dress shirt. Well the girl said it will be a few minutes so we said we would wait at the bar. About 30 minutes go by and I watch her sit a dozen or so people. I asked Jack to see if she forgot us. When he approached her she did not recognize him or apologize for the mix up. She was down right unpleasant. He came back and told me what happened. So we decided our money wasn't good enough for them and got up to leave. We went up to this hostess to tell her why we were leaving and again she had no idea who Jack was. Now he is a really big guy. You don't forget him easily. This made Jack a little mad and of course he felt disappointed because I had looked forward to dining there. He asked to speak to the manager. He was the Sommilar (wine stewart). He tried to seat us right away but by this time we didn't want to dine there. There was another couple trying to eat there and the air head hostess told them it would be a few minutes and to take a seat in the lobby. I told them they should stand right there because she would forget about them and that the people who actually got a seat did the same. I have been getting emails from this Vintage hotel line for years. After this experience I won't be returning. The Hotel Oban Inn that we stayed at was wonderful. The rooms were small but lush. I have to say I think Canadians think a double bed is a Queen! The spa was great all the service providers were absolutely great! The rest of the guests weren't real sure about us with the Harley. Funny how people think! We are ready to get back on the road and head for Geneva. Rain is looming and I am sure it will be an adventure!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ingersoll to Niagara on The Lake Day 3

Before we started out today I suggested a route from the map. You know the old fashioned way to travel. We agreed on a route and set out.We took the highway for half the route. Hamilton was the destination and then we were to get off and ride the road along the lake again This time it was Ontario Lake. Well we got off in Hamilton and sat in a parking lot playing with that damn GPS. I finally said put that damn thing away. We always do fine traveling without that damn thing it is just spoiling our time. I said lets just head South and East because that is the way we are supposed to go. Lets just head in that direction and see what happens like the old days before that damn GPS. Well it worked out just fine we came up to a Travel Center I went in found out where the Harley stores are and where we could have a nice lunch at a gourmet winery. We took the wine route from this point on, to hell with the lake! It was beautiful, lots of neat and quaint spots. We found the winery it was called The Kitchen House Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. We went into this old brick house and were seated out on the patio.Now this is vacation. To hell with that damn GPS! I ordered a heavy oaked Chardonnay and it was just fabulous! Jack got a Martini but only one. He likes Labatt Blue Light and Canadian beer. Before we left Jack said this is great I can get all the Labatts I want in Canada. They are cutting it out of a lot of bars in Cleveland. Well even in Canada Jack can't get his Labatts!
Her ordered a pork tenderloin with sweet peas on top of a blue cheese crusted bread surrounded by roasted cherries grown right there on sight. He moaned with every bite. I am definitely educating his palate! I ordered Salmon on top of mashed potatoes in a bur blanc butter sauce with caramelized cauliflower. Wonderful! This is what vacation is all about! Then we set out for Niagara on The Lake we are to stay at Oban Inn & Spa. We have been so prepared for rain through this whole trip. After that exceptional lunch followed by cappuccino we let our guard down and we got drenched!
After the soaking we made it to the Inn and got right into our room. Everyone was very nice. This is an artsy crowd and the Harley look is a bit upsetting to them.Brings the rebel right out in me! Especially when Jacks shirt says "There are no Rules!

Windsor to Ingersoll Day 2

Windsor to Ingersoll Day 2

Well we have been pretty lucky. We have dodged the rain everyday so far. We had a rough day today. Jack bought this GPS thing to hook on the bike. Our plan was to drive route 3 along the lake to St Thomas then go North to Ingersoll. First we thought we would go to a UPS store and mail our leathers back home. They take too much room and we realized we will not need them. This was a big mistake because it took us away from our plan. It rained a little but we were prepared. We could not find the UPS store so we set out for the lake. The damned GPS fought with us all day. We put 350 miles on the bike and got nowhere. I finally said the hell with the scenic route lets take the highway and get to our destination. It was a really tough ride. We were tired and the bike is heavy with all the luggage. I had high expectations for the Elm Hurst Inn. We have a Queen bed with a big Jacuzzi waiting for us. The place looked a bit run down. They checked us right in and gave us really big brass keys. They had knights of armor in the hallways and it looked like a big sandstone castle. They put us in the basement! No window just glass block. The Jacuzzi was big but the room didn’t measure up to Caesars! We were a little spoiled there. We showered and dressed for diner. It was a quaint dining room with other couples. The food was good and the service was excellent. After the long day fighting with the GPS the Jacuzzi was inviting. Jack fell asleep in it. He is a big guy and I was worried about how I was going to get him out of it. I should of let him sleep there. The bed was really a double bed and it was too soft and lumpy. It was really quiet but we both woke with back aches from the lousy mattress. Breakfast was included. We walked around the grounds and Jack went back 20 miles to London to get more Harley shirts and I stayed for a magnificent pedicure. When I got the bill I realized why it was such a great pedicure it cost $62.00!! The place was little Hokey but it had a personality. Everyone was very nice. Lots of people have weddings there. It was kind of weird because it felt like we were the only people there wandering the hallways. It was a Thursday, I am sure it lights up on the weekends. On to Niagara on the Lake.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Windsor Ontario at Ceasars

Well we didn't need any sun screen! Jack being the engineer that he is had the weather all mapped out so we left for Canada at 9am. Got all the gear packed onto he bike and started out. ten miles into the ride we had to stop and readjust the baggage. We were stopped at Lorain Park and this little old man came up to us admiring the bike. He said he has been riding for 30 years and it is getting too hard for him now. He has a "83" Harley. He was also checking me out which was a little creepy but he was cute with the strangest pair of sun glasses. Wish I had gotten a picture. We made good time and by Sandusky had to put the rain gear on. Jack looks like a clown in his rain pants! (see picture above)We got to the Hotel about 2pm and everyone was great. The bellboys, the front desk and the room has a fantastic view. We lost/won money in the Casino, had a great diner and on the way back to the room we got to share the elevator with Micheal Bolton and his bodyguard. Michael looked old and tired skinny with grey hair and a horse face. He was very self involved and didn't look at us.I think he was angry about something. The bodyguard had a cheap suit on and he was one of those heavy set Asians with long braided hair. I was pretty happy to find out that we were staying on a higher floor than he was, made me feel a little special. Anyway it is over cast and we are waiting the rain out to start our journey to Ingersoll Ontario. We are staying at a beautiful resort called Elm Hurst. We are taking the long way up rte 3 along the lake and then up from
St Thomas to the hotel. We over packed of course and are trying to figure out how to get our leather coats home so we have more room for Jack to buy Harley shirts! This time if we run into any crazy old men I am going to take their picture.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trip around Lake Erie

Okay so I'm going to show you another side of myself. Yes at 50 I have joined the growing midlife crisis Harley crowd. Jack bought his motorcycle 2 years ago and we have been having a lot of fun riding around and going on short day trips. The great thing is he has this crazy thing for Harley shops. Where ever we go he has to go to the Harley shop and buy a T shirt. From the beginning he said anything I need to do with the Harley he will buy it for me! Good deal! So every time we go into a Harley store I get to go shopping. I have not taken advantage of this too badly. Got some great boots! Anyway we are planning this trip around Lake Erie. All this time of living here, I have never thought about driving around it. Of course he is traveling with the luxury queen so you know we won't be camping. I thought I would write about the trip as we go around the lake. We leave Wednesday and our first stop is Windsor Ontario. We are going to stay at the Caesars Casino resort. Sometimes when we check into a hotel all bikered up they don't react so well. Once a little girl refused to get on the elevator with us! We don't even have any tattoos!I guess the wind blown look is enough. So keep checking back I will keep you posted on this adventure! Right now I have to figure out how to pack 6 days worth of clothes in a saddle bag the size of a purse!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update on Real Estate Financing

It is the old Chicken or the Egg dilemma, Catch 22. We are faced with a Real Estate crisis comparable to the Great Depression of the "30's" . So what does the Fed do but tighten all the loan products out there. They have put harder rules out to stop all these bad loans. The problem is common sense has gone right out the door with it.
Getting a commercial loan is like finding gold in the mountains. This is so stupid, because we have all these foreclosed homes that could become investments and retirement vehicles for those who still have a job. There are no investor loans out there that don't rob you blind. The banks that are giving investor or commercial loans want "A" property. New development. So what happens to all this foreclosed property? If you don't have cash you can't buy. I would love to take out my 401 k, whats left of it any way and invest it in one of these bank owned foreclosures. My goal would be to pay it off in the next ten years so that I might have a chance to retire and use the rental income to live on. The old days if you had 20 to 25% down on an investment property good credit,and a relationship with the bank you could get a loan on that property based on the income flow of the property. I just had a bank turn down a perfectly good loan because the bank decided they didn't like the property. The buyers had excellent credit and income. The property brought in more than three times the amount of the loan payment, the buyers have other income property, but no they turned it down 6 weeks after it sat on the banker desk! The terms were horrible. Either they were willing to give a 6.5% deal adjusted every three years amortized over 20 years but only a 15 year commitment with nasty pre payment penalties or a 4.25% one year adjustable with no pre payment penalties amortized over 20 year with only a 10 year commitment. Now I know some banks got burned,but the loans they were doing had no common sense. People with sketchy credit and unverified income got low down payment loans with nasty ARM adjustments. I am no rocket scientist but it seems to me that if we want to heal this housing crisis we need to put some loan packages together that are targeted toward getting rid of inventory. We can couple this with an incentive to buy the neighborhood foreclosure and use your IRA to fund it. This investment then becomes another investment tool for the future of the buyer.This will help fix the next crisis of a bunch of aging baby boomers with no income to support themselves in their golden years. Maybe we need to speak up and start a grass roots campaign before this crisis gets out of hand. If you can't finance these properties the values will continue to fall.
If you are going to buy one of these to live in you can get an FHA 203 k loan at 3% down and if you qualify you can get a 2% grant from OHFA so that you only need 1% to buy and then with the 203 k loan you can finance the repairs into the original loan. This avoids second mortgages and works extremely well. They should have this package for the investor but require 20% down. I feel if someone has shown good credit and the skill of owning rental property they should be able to qualify for an FHA 203 k investor loan. The problem is there isn't one. Maybe if we write our congressman and use the term FHA 203 K investor loan long enough they will make it happen.Kind of like putting the cart before the horse!