Over the Pond '06 Report Paulie, COG #4561

(Note - There is 1 paragraph per day.  See the .JPG photo files as they're referenced.)

Ok, let's get the serious biz out of the way first.  I'm mighty fortunate & grateful to have received the honor of being the COG (Concours Owners Group) Over the Pond (OtP) '06 Traveler, following the tradition of COG honchos Guy, Rick & Linda.  This grand trip to the GCE (GTR Club Europe) Rally and beyond is dedicated to my mom Ellen, who raved about her travels in Scandinavia .  She passed on last November after a full 84 years, greatly missed by all who knew her. The trip was enabled by the generous COG & GCE members that elected me & contributed pledges to make it happen.  Fundraising was organized by the EGB (Evil Grin Boyz) - Hans, Ted, & Spencer.  All these ingredients added up to a wonderful 3.5 week ride in a place that I've been dreaming about visiting for a *long* time.

On 6/8 my bro Rick kindly gave me a ride to Mijami International Airport for the redeye nonstop to Amsterdam , Netherlands .  Somewhere in the process of dragging my mountain of luggage to the counter my shades took a hike.  Even tho I never found em, strafing the area gave me a mission to help wile away the 3+ hours plus an excuse to size up the other passengers.  Martinair (based in Holland ) was the carrier & I gotta say their service was excellent.  Upon boarding I grabbed a free copy of the ( London ) Guardian & got a surprising amount of reading enjoyment.  Prolly more content than a month of the lousy Mijami Herald.  In the course of the ~10 hr flite I eventually got a bit of poor quality zzzzs and spoke to a Swedish lady across the aisle about surstromming, the "delicacy" that I was gonna be subjected to at the GCE Rally.  Making a face, she said that she would never even consider trying it. Oy.


At Schipol airport Marc (the '05 OtP Traveler to the US ) was there to pick me up. Since he was a head taller than the rest of the crowd and was wearing a GTR shirt, spotting him was EZ.  Marc showed me around via the scenic route to his townhouse in the village of Dronten .  On the way we stopped to replace my sunglasses, buy groceries, & add minutes to his cel that I was gonna borrow. Happy, friendly folks are out on wheels & on foot all over.  I like it here!  We collaborated to make a good dinner of Marc's design & I eventually collapsed after jet lag kicked my ass with a vengeance.


Marc is generously allowing me to thrash, uh, I mean gently putt away on his GTR1000.  As far as I can tell the GTR is identical to a Conc cept it has fairing extenders & slightly diff lighting.  Plan A was for me to leave early this morning from his place.  But the bike wasn't ready - it was still getting new tars & brake pads at his mechanic friend's house, quite a ways contrary to my planned travel direction.  I had to give myself a "Paulie, cool yer jets!" 'tude adjustment cause I'm an impatient cuss.  Now I see that the EU pace of life is decidedly slower.  Marc continued taking good care of me by helping load my piles onto his GTR.  He was understandably sad to see it leaving.  Off to the gas station we went where I discovered low brake fluid & 35 psi in the tars.  Gotta love that non do it yerself service!  I finally rolled away ~11:30am & joined the well-behaved but busy ~110 kph traffic on the bland motorway (expressway).  Marc's GPS came in handy a few times but since I'm more of a map guy, I didn't use it much.  It's hard to get lost - EU road signs are superior as long as ya know the name of the next town in yer direction.  Crossing into no-speed-limit Germany I picked it up to ~140 kph, beyond which the GTR got *really* thirsty for that $$$$$ petrol.  Here ya gotta watch for vehicles coming up from behind at warp speed.  Germany is the host of the huge World Cup, and caravans supporting different teams are on the road.  A group of ~20 goofy orange decorated Isettas from the Netherlands was the most memorable.  Temps cooled and traffic thinned out & slowed back down in Denmark, where a most fantastic bridge joins Fyn & Sjaelland.  I was happy to arrive at the Copenhagen Amager hostel ~8:30pm after 966 km .


The hostel had a typical filling continental breakfast of breads, crackers, jams, cheeses, meats, herring, cereal, yogurt, fruit, coffee, tea, juice, milk, etc.  I'm gonna be a 100% tourist today so the GTR shall remain parked.  It's ~4 km to the city center so I took a bus but unwittingly didn't get off till the end of its route out in the 'burbs.  To return I needed an express train but the ticket machine didn't like my CC.  A nice lady that worked at the station shop was actually gonna loan me the fare but I gave her some US $.  As a matter of fact, just about all the service personnel I encountered on the trip were most helpful, friendly, & spoke adequate English.  The fascinating sights of Copenhagen were taken in by a mix of tourists from all over the world including a large Rotary convention.  Today made it clear to me that Danes really value their culture, history, & art.  That nite my 5-bunk hostel room got noisy due to a few %$#@ snorers.  Did I learn from last summer's Nywaca trip to bring earmuffs?  Nyet!  My solution to sleep in a common room didn't pan out when a manager gave me the boot.  Awright, so folks in this part of the world follow the rules.  Hmmph.


Today I hoofed it over to the store, kinda like a Wal-Mart only with better quality and selection.  Back on the road ~10:30am across the bridge to Sweden - another new country, woohoo!  Lots of motorbikes on the road, a more even mix than we have in cruzer-centric US.  Besides wearing full protection, riders commonly lane-split when the motorway gets busy.  I tried it but never really got comfy mainly cause the GTR is a bit, um, wide at the hips.  At Goteborg I got off the slab onto 45, which I will eventually follow for the entire length of Sweden .  I arrived at the GCE Rally site near Dals Langed ~5 pm after 507 km , following Hans' excellent directions. And finally, I got to meet the boy in the flesh.  Besides being the organizer of this rally, Hans is one of the EGB as well as the OtP Instigator!  He's a real asset to GCE/COG & I was honored, to put it lightly.  The other Swedish rally attendees were Peter, Ingemar & Gulli, plus there was Ad & Jon from the Netherlands , Wolfgang from Germany , Walter from Austria , Simon from England , and Matti & Anna from Finland .  A most friendly and welcoming international group of folks fer sure!  


You really gotta see this place.  Baldersnas is a gorgeous ole country estate on 115 rural hectares of well-manicured parkland & lakes.  A far cry nicer than any m/c rally facility I've ever seen.  Primo food service on the classy patio with the GCEers every morn for brekkie & evening for dindin & hanging out.  Hans the Pied Piper led us for >8 hrs down 351 km of some fine twisty roads, with sightseeing, decadent cafe/pastry, & lunch stops.  RIP, diet...belch!  


We caught a peek of 2 moose this morning while tearing down a quiet country road. (Maybe this was no coincidence considering the rally shirt design?)  A nice 317 km tour today including a bit of Norway & Bronze Age rock carvings in Tanum, a World Heritage site.  A minor snafu occurred when a gizmo jammed Ad's steering, fortunately at a very slow speed.  Back at Baldersnas for the mandatory, unavoidable tradition of surstromming.  For the sake of future travelers, let's just say the large tin was bulging & could float in a bowl of water, wind direction carefully checked, and schnapps close at hand to wash it down.  I noted that Hans was wearing socks with devils on them.  How appropriate!  


Today was short, only 127 km including stops at a m/c museum & moose farm. Hans showed good dual-sport technique getting his GTR up a gnarly path for pix with the moose, who seemed to make a familial connection with Ad.  Ingemar & I joined a group of locals to watch Sweden play Uruguay on TV.  Twas a scoreless tie until Sweden got a GOALLLLLL at the 89th (out of 90) minute.  The commotion immediately knocked the TV projector over & the screen went blank, but the audience went home happy irregardless.  


Hans dragged us around for ~8 hrs & 400 km today.  Watching Walter follow him at a "lively" pace was entertaining.  Since I was behind Walter I got into the mix too. Grins were wide & long-lasting!  Marc's BT45 tars provided more confidence than the ME880s on my Conc back in Floriduh.  But there was a headshake ~80 kph that needed attention.  I wanted to ax Marc about it but my cel apparently won't work in Sweden .  Good ole Hans came to the rescue & let me use his.  He also must've put in a word with *somebody*, cause the weather's been real nice all week long.  Whatta guy!  He deserves a big tak (pronounced "tock") = thanx.  


A short but very scenic 200 km today to leave time for bike tech.  Simon is fairly new to the GTR so I thought I'd be slick & demo fixing my busted running lites. After wisely telling him, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", Jon pointed out that the GTR *doesn't have* running lites.  So that's why there's only 2 leads to the turn signals. D'oh!  Ingemar (a fella with actual mechanical skillz) gave me a hand tightening up Marc's steering bearings using the Baldersnas maintenance man's shop.  Headshake, begone! Goodbyes all around to the nice rally folks after dinner, etc.  Etc for me included laundry, finished well after midnite.  The washers & dryers in EU are excruciatingly s...l...o...w.  The stupit machine even took my wash hostage, only to be released with addl coins.  It's funny, I never saw it completely dark here no matter what time it was.  And tomorrow I'm gonna start my push N fer real.  I wonder if I'll need ablindfold to sleep?  


Cause the hotel's puter was screwed up, Monica the nice manager served breakfast to us early departers. The road got a more alpine look with snow poles along the sides in a few sections.  They place a handy "i" kiosk just before ya get to the towns that has a map & infos.  Another unusual thing is many cars have Hugh Jass aux headlites, prolly for the long dark winters.  696 km / 11 hrs to Ostersund today, with some lite rain & temps in the 50s.  The hostel manager told me an uplifting story of her bout with breast cancer, and a group of young families' beautiful babies entertained me playing on the kitchen floor. 


Today's gonna be a long one, so I hit the rd ~5am in abundant sunlite w/ extra layers ready for the 40s temps.  I missed a turnoff in Stromsund & took a 60 km detour. To quote the Guinness ad, "Brilliant!"  The landscape got more tundra-like in Lapland as an oncoming truck flashed its lites at me.  Cops ahead?  Nope, reindeer!  These critters evidently have a few more brain cells than dumb N American deer, as they move away from the pavement when we approach.  That thwarted my pix-taking, tho.  Around midday I reached 1 of my OtP objectives, the Arctic Circle, yeehaw!  Plenty of skeeters & only ~1/2 dozen people here, including a couple that started speaking Dutch to me due to Marc's license plate.  (This occurred again a few more x on the trip.)  Also 2 guys on bicycles heading N with packs & camping gear, an impressive schlep fer sure.  Even with the aid of 997 ccs it's a haul.  I was relieved to have brought grip covers along - Marc's are unheated. Near a huge hydroelectric station I crossed a bevy of BMWs, followed by a support truck presumably carrying spare rear-end parts.  Approaching the border of Norway bought an end to the fair weather with temps plummeting into the 20s, fog, & rain.  The thing that got my panties in a bunch was the fear of ice on the road.  No cover to be found, so I soldiered on in granny mode with a death grip on the bars.  Thankfully the BT45s did their job w/o drama & I rolled into Narvik w/ 1087 km ~6 pm.  At the hostel I met a young Norwegian guy on his 1st bicycle trip - the entire length of the country from Nordkapp to Lindesnes.  Apparently this is a popular tour...whoa doggy!


More freezing rain at the get-go, but thankfully my route turns S later this morning. Any slight discomfort was mitigated by the scenery in Vesteralen, a place I may wanna ck out another time.  The 2-lane E10 temporarily ends at a ferry dock in Melbu where I axed around to determine boarding protocol. otorbikes to the front of the l-o-n-g queue; yeah baby!  The 25 min crossing took me to the magically beautiful Lofoten Islands where it began to clear up.  Unworldly craggy mountain peaks in the clouds plummet down steep green slopes to Carribean-looking beaches with turquoise waters.  Throw in quaint harbors and coves with twisty roads connecting dinky picturesque villages.  *Absolutely* stunning!  At the tourista orfice I canceled my res on the fancy-schmancy coastal steamer instead opting for the ferry, providing a 40% savings & a shorter trip.  Another great thing I found out here is that the season doesn't really get cranked up for a few weeks yet.  Heehee!  The hostel here in A is at the very S end of the islands using rorbu (fishermen's' cabins) for accommodations with mucho character.  I was solo in a 4-bunk room, a great thing due to all this crap that I'm ponying around.  ~410 km for today, slowed by lotsa stops for pix.  


Planned a layover day here in purty Lofoten (good call!) so no riding on the 'sickle. I set out on a hike that supposedly would lead over the wall of mtns for a peek at the other uninhabited side of the island.  Wearing sport sandals was evidently not a good idear after a few km of mud, so I did a u-ey back to the ranch to change into my waterproof riding boots.  Sections of the trail were cut into sheer vertical rock with poor footing and a chain to grab.  A solitary cuckoo's cry echoed across the lake sounding spookily like Nelson's (from The Simpsons) "Ha-ha!".  That may have been intended for yers truly 'cause I lost the durn trail at the head of the lake, despite a long hunt into the valley.  Back at the hostel a Finnish marine biology student was getting ready for a long ride on her rented bicycle, so I glommed onto her & had a fun afternoon's exploration.  The old coot that owned the hostel (and most of the village) was a real character.  He lived alone in a 25-room house & had trained the occifers of the SS Norway, where I coincidentally had a bass-playing gig a few lifetimes ago. ** Warning - political content! **  After dinner I engaged an English couple in a long discussion about the recent dismal performance of the US gubmint. At least in the UK the press asks tuff questions and acts as a watchdog.  We contrasted this to the US info-tainment media that is more of a lapdog to the current admin.  Woof!  At other times I had yaks with folks from different corners of EU, none of whom could comprehend how the US had fallen so far, so fast.


This morning the weather got kinda sucky so I mostly hung around, read, & repacked the GTR for the afternoon Moskenes ferry trip.  It was a nondescript 4 hr chug to Bodo (pronounced Boodah), where I eventually found the cramped hostel & walked a few km to the modern downtown mall.  My usual drill was to buy breakfast, lunch & dinner at the grocery & skip restaurants.  At nite & layover days the cold stuff is stored in the hostel kitchen's fridge, otherwise in my small cooler in Marc's top box.  More World Cup on the teevee - it's a huge draw.  Only ~25 km on the scoot.  


An option I considered for today was to take route 17, reportedly 1 of the finest, most scenic roads in Norway.  That would require more time due to its longer length, slow twisties, & 2 ferry crossings.  Unfortunately things started out icky, rain & fog in the 30s, so I bundled up.  When ya add to that to my usual ~47 trips back & forth to repack the bike, getting out qwik didn't happen.  Progress then ground to a halt as the GTR kept stalling when getting underway.  Hokay Paulie...deep breath. Somehow I manhandled the overloaded porker onto the centerstand on the steeply cambered curbside & luckily eyeballed the sidestand switch slowly returning.  Eat WD-40, gremlin...bwahahaha!  Now my drink bag is leaking.  Gaaa, not again!  The same thing happened on last summer's Nywaca tour when I replaced it in Minnesota.  That's strike 3 for route 17, so it's gonna be E6, the main N-S drag.  As it turned out, this was a fine alternative with beaucoup sweepers & virtually no traffic, and as the weather eventually cleared up, nice scenery too. The highway was built by POWs captured by the Nazis that were brutally mistreated & died by the 1000s.  The Arctic Circle facility also had a memorial to the victims.  At Mosjoen (might be another good place to return) I bought a Bergan's of Norway drink bag, which looks like it oughtta have a good service life.  ~520 km today to the small village of Grong, where the hostel is located on a deserted campus.  I found a garage to roll the GTR out of the rain & had some time to kill before the office opened, so I wandered into another sporting goods shop that had a covered m/c on the porch. Whassis, an entire section of riding gear?  The owner accurately described the cross purposes of sport & riding, and holy cow, whatta salesman!  Strongly opinionated, full of infos, intense & engaging, lucky that he was closing shortly or else I might've done some serious damage to my CC.  The only thing I really needed were new insoles for my smelly boots & of course he had the goods.  The almost empty hostel was in perfect order, and once again I got a dorm room to myself.  Wurks fer me!  


Today will be ~510 km, but it oughtta be EZ & warmer to the S so no rush to git goin.  The Trondheim area had the only significant motorway I rode in Norway, but where it returned to 2 lanes I got entangled in a bicycle event.  This was frustrating 'cause many vehicles were reluctant to pass the riders despite having opportunities. So I overtook everyone, prolly risking a big fine.  Radar detectors are illegal & spotting Crown Vics is pointless - I'm fair game for the fuzz.  After every pass I ASSumed that I was beyond the event but kept getting behind group after group after group.  Sheesh!  I thought it odd that some the riders were carrying packs & were dressed rather warmly.  After I finally turned off their route in Oppdal, a fella that was driving to support his daughter 'splained that this was the annual Trondheim-Oslo race.  540 km in 1 day...ye gads!  My Michelin map (courtesy of Hans) showed that the remainder of my route (70, 660, & 64) was scenic, & it was right on the money.  This is the beginning of the fantastic western fjord area, but despite my anticipation I got sleepy & took a few extra breaks.  Good thing, cause the narrow road had challenging steep switchbacks over a pass.  There was an m/c rally 25 km up 1 of the fjords but my tiredness convinced me to just get into the barn at Andalsnes.  Late that afternoon a big busload of Czech tourists rolled in and had a songfest after their dinner.  A group of friendly ladies from Hong Kong & I compared notes on food & other local customs.  


1 reason I picked Andalsnes as a destination was nearby famous twisty 63, Trollstigen.  The morning started out ugly, 40s rain & fog, but this is my day to ride it, weather be damned!  And just as I'd read, it really was ~1 lane wide, & them switchbacks were tight & steep.  I was glad to be going uphill!  The ferry to Eidsdal took me to the renowned Geiranger, but poor visibility hampered fjord views.  The village seemed to be 99% tourists, so I hightailed it to Grotli to pick up 258.  Most of it was narrow well-packed gravel, and I had a few close calls at lo speed with oncoming cars that wouldn't skootch over a few cms.  Like 17, this was a scenic Tourist route, and I prolly expected too much driving skillz from em.  Lakeside 15 was nice - I even saw a rare GTR coming the other way.  2 more wet ferry crossings on E39, the 1st made enjoyable by good conversation with a group of students, the 2nd more tolerable by a free pass possibly due to my smiling at the cute toll-taker.  I took a short detour to Alesund to catch a glimpse of the North Sea & the interesting downtown buildings rebuilt after a fire in 1904.  All told a ~500 km slow, wet loop.  


Looking threatening early on, today cleared up like a champ, brite & clear in the 60s.  I took a walk to town for shopping before climbing aboard the GTR Express. Unfortunately the machine developed a case of "won't idle without throttle". Waterfalls up the wazoo on E136, then scenic 55 at Lom, with its famous wood stave church built in 1150.  Only ~250 km to Boverdal, which left time for a nice hike before dindin.  A sign across from the hostel showed 15 km to Gjuvvashytta (good luck pronouncing that!), which the manager sed is the highest paved rd in NEU.  Like, awesome!  But she warned that there's a toll gate.  Then her m/c rider bro mentioned there's an opening on the side of the gate big enuf to ride thru.  More World Cup action on the tube joined by teenagers from the adjacent campground. My only minor unpleasantness today was after I went thru my long daily shower prep ritual, dropped trou, then got no H20.  Coin-operated, %$#@$%@!  


I took off up the mtn rd this morn & wouldn't ya know it, there was a car blocking the opening around the toll gate.  A lady came out of the booth & axed if I wuz gonna ski, hike, or just take pix.  I smiled, chose the latter & got a free pass. Ka-ching!  Up, up, & away into Jotunheimen National Park with a view of the Galdhopiggen glacier at 2469 m .  Near the base of the ski lift I had my 1st ever encounter with Estonians; the happy family was delighted to meet a Yank.  I looped back down to repack & split from Boverdal, where 55 got even more purty & alpine.  All this snow, ice, & mtn action is kind of a novelty so I snapped lotsa pix. Maybe I was just trying to store up some coolness for the Floriduh summer. The theme song that followed was Jeff Beck's "I'm Going Down".  No crash, but endless steep hairpins that faded my brakes a smidge.  Waiting for the ferry to Hella, I met Achim from Hamburg on a Triumph Sprint on his way back from Nordkapp. We hit it off well & enjoyed a spirited ride on the nice sweepers of 13 until I turned off towards my destination in Flam after ~270 km.  This cute little place is at the end of the famous Sognefjord, the world's longest ( 204 km ) & deepest ( 1308 m ).  Flam gets plenty of cruise ship & train tourists but somehow it all works.  For din I had some smoked mackerel, the best smoked fish I've ever tasted.  As a matter of fact, most of the grub I had on the trip was pure, fresh, & yummy.  I had a great time kickin tars with a 2 Swedish & 2 Brazillian m/c riders at the hostel after I rented a mtn bike at the station.  Franka, a German tenter, busied herself scribbling notes of her day's hiking as I felt haughty using my micro-recorder.  As it turned out her technique proved to be more failsafe, cause when I got home to put this blurb together ~5 days were missing.  Whoops!  


The purpose of the bicycle was to take what the Lonely Planet guidebook sed was the most famous ride in Norway.  Gotta give that a shot, eh?!  The usual dealio is to take the bike aboard the train to Myrdal then ride downhill for ~20 km.  Don't need no stinkin' train!  I took off on this sparkling day following a rd that didn't seem to be climbing much.  That's cause I went ~10 km the wrong way, to Aurland.  No worries.  After doubling back to Flam I got on track and slowly overtook a group of young cruz ship crewmen walking their bikes.  Eventually I was doing the same bit up the grade.  This turned out to be 1 of the hardest things I've ever done, especially the last few kms of agonizing steep rocky switchbacks.  But wow, what magnificent scenery!  Thankfully I had enuf food & drink along, replenished at the Myrdal station.  I got a decent rest & had a jolly English chap that owned the cafe tighten my loose steering stem for the ride back down.  Good thing, cause the bike flounced like heyal over the loose rocks.  It woulda been fugly if I'd wiped out at > 40 mph w/o a helmet, but I returned intact.  Now that was one FUN ride!  Last nite's 3 roommates (from China & Washington) had left & it seemed as if I had the place solo.  But ~11 pm a backpacker arrived & things got a wee bit territorial, as she wanted the window wide open (temps in the 50s).  We worked it out tho, & by next morning were all smiles.  


Backtracking towards Voss on another beaut of a day, 13 was a delight of narrow twists & nice scenery.  I plunged thru countless tunnels, all lit & well-maintained.  It was really surprising that I've run into virtually no road construction or closings, considering the rugged, convoluted terrain & harsh climate. They prolly know the "right" way to build em over here.  Waiting for the ferry to cross the Eidfjord were 2 Englishmen on Pan Europeans.  They told me that the interesting looking scoot getting off the ferry was a Deauville.  My route between Odda & Haukeligrend was Sweeper City, just a hoot!  I'd read about the fun road to Lysebotn, but after ~30 km I gave up on it & returned to 9 because my maps conflicted. Another place to hit on a return trip.  572 km today, 10.5 hrs to the Kristiansand hostel.  This very pleasant small waterfront city was holding an interesting international festival.  One difference I've found thruout Norway is that strangers don't look look you in the eye nor greet you in public.  But once I engaged folks, most all were downright friendly.  


It's been swell but it's time to say so long to Norway on the early ferry to Hirthals,  Denmark.  A 4.5 hr crossing then 208 km primarily on the motorway to the Arhus hostel, where I met happy triathlete & m/c guy Gespar & his family.  Got some aggravation running around downtown trying to get Marc's @%$@$@ cel working, but that was mitigated by 2 girls that whistled at me.  I'll take that as a compliment even if it means "Hey, olde phart!" to the locals.  Germany beat powerhouse Argentina tonite, & the busy hostel clerk appreciated me talking football with him.  I asked for some space to store my piles of gear, & he came up with a room just for yers truly!  That beat the snot out of the crowded 6-bunker I'd been originally assigned to.  


811 km , ~11 hrs on my last day of scooterizing back to Marc's in the Netherlands. En route I hooked up with Achim again & we had a nice lunch at the Hamburg, Germany "willkommen Hoft" on the Elbe.  Here they announce details about the ships that pass & play their home country's anthem.  I appreciated Achim's hospitality & guided tour.  


Marc split to do his thing today with his GF, so I puttered around scraping bugs off the GTR.  In all I put 8814 km on it.  I took my time & was able to fix a flat on his 3-speed clunker (similar to everyone else's) bicycle.  Somehow it fit me w/o adjustment so I took the a relaxed poke about Dronten & its numerous paths on this warm day.  

Back to the modern Amsterdam airport via Marc's car early this morning.  The stunningly beautiful Martinair clerk had me flustered a little, but there was time to recover with Marc as we chilled awhile before I had to get to the gate.  Farewell & appreciation to him, a key player in the OtP '06 scheme.  The long flite back homey was aided by chatting with Gunther, a custom m/c builder from Belgium.  


My mom wasn't particularly fond of my m/c shenanigans, but I think she would've approved of this fantastic trek.  I am honored & humbled by the great folks of COG & GCE that allowed me to take it.  My deepest thanx to all, & hope we get to meet down the road.  Enjoy the ride!