My friend Karen got back from her latest tour in Iraq a couple weeks ago, and we finally got together yesterday to go for a ride with her on my GS and me on the LT. She hadn't been on a motorcycle since last September, so the first thing we did was review the controls and have her run up and down my street a few times. I live on a cul-de-sac, so she could think about what she was doing without having to dodge cars. When she felt comfortable, I got on the LT and we headed out for the back roads toward Clifton. That went well, so we continued down some of my favorite roads to Quantico. Neither of us had been to the Marine Corps Museum, so we stopped in to take a look around. It is a very nice facility with very nice grounds. We spent a few minutes checking out the displays in the main hall, but didn't go off into the exhibits. I will have to go back there when I have a couple hours to devote. It's free, it's new, and they even have a couple active Marines at the desk looking well turned out and being polite. I would estimate the average age of the patrons yesterday was north of 40, possibly north of 50, since most of the visitors seemed to be from the Viet Nam if not the Korean War era.
From there we went to Tim's River Shore for lunch and sat on the deck under an umbrella. I don't know what it is about that place, but I saw exactly one woman in a bikini that I *wanted* to see in a bikini. The majority of patrons on that Sunday afternoon seemed content to drink many, many light beers  and work on their sun burns while showing acres of skin and tattoos (per body). The food was good and I enjoyed Karen's company. To get to Tim's you have to take an extremely twisty back road, cross the railroad tracks, then drive on large gravel for a hundred yards or so before reaching the gravel parking lot. I missed being on the GS for that, though I put my reverse to good use to back into a parking space. Every direction in that lot feels like uphill due to the size of the gravel, the uneven distribution of the gravel, and the micro slopes that face every direction. Tim's is where I first decided I needed a reverse if I was going to ride a full size touring bike. Karen just pulled straight into a spot, and when it was time to go I gave her a little help by pulling on the rear grab rail and walking back with her. Overall she had a much easier time of it than I did.
After lunch we road back the way we'd ridden out and stopped for ice cream at a shack not far from the edge of civilization. It was a very successful ride. Karen never really liked the Sportster even when I loaned it to her for the better part of a year, but she really likes the GS. Unfortunately, she can't even think about buying a bike of her own until probably 2010 due to her deployment schedule. I'll try to get her out on the GS again before she transfers to Ft. Lewis, Washington at the end of the summer. I cannot believe I didn't bring my camera.
 What do the Marines call the uniform of blue pants and khaki shirt? In the Army we'd call it Class B.
 except for the people drinking something blue out of plastic cups.