Monthly Archives: August 2020


Conversations With People We Value #6

Along the way when good fortune smiles, life affords us the opportunity to make the acquaintance of gifted individuals of good character, good humor and superior skill.

Decades ago while visiting an island off the east coast, my eye caught a neatly ordered disposition of older and highly desirable Mercedes-Benz automobiles arrayed in front of a small repair shop. The gathering of Stuttgart finery compelled me to know more.

Three vintage M-Bs filled a long single bay garage. Three-pointed stars and classic M-B grills adorned the walls. The lone occupant extended a craftsman’s hand. “I’m Larry, what can I do for you,” he said. With that, I met a gifted master mechanic immersed in mid-20th century Mercedes-Benz technology.


Old School Larry


Almost forty years later, I have asked my, now, good friend Larry to sit for an interview. “I will talk with you,” Larry says, “but don’t give my full name or the location of my shop. If too many people learn what I do, the phone will never stop ringing and I will never get anything done.” You see Larry focuses his considerable Mercedes-Benz acumen primarily on Mercedes-Benz coupes, cabriolets and SLs from the’50s, 60’s, 70’s and 80s so that their owners can drive them as Mercedes-Benz had intended rather than placing them in suspended animation in some climate controlled sarcophagus.

Old school Larry is just that, “old school” and in Larry’s highly skilled case it is more accurately old “graduate” school. Old school for many conjures up a hands-on application of intuitive wizardry. Larry is all of that and more. Indeed, in Larry’s care a favorite tool endows a certain divining rod/Ouija board sixth sense.

An infrared heat gun for example offers a powerful and convenient means for deducing problems occurring in areas unseen. Pointing it at each hub cap or alloy wheel after driving can reveal a potential wheel bearing issue by displaying a significant temperature differential. Should one front tire compared to the other measure much hotter it could indicate an alignment problem. A significant tire temperature differential could indicate a brake caliper not releasing.

If, when aimed to where the exhaust manifold outlets meet the head, the temperature of one outlet exceeds the others by one hundred degrees or more it could indicate a mis-adjusted valve, a burned valve or a lean cylinder caused by a malfunctioning injector. Being M-B exclusive Larry has a mastery of the idiosyncrasies and nuances of the vintage models in which he specializes. Together with his “intuitive wizardry” he often divines high probability problems before really attempting any invasive procedure.

Interestingly Larry’s business is not restoration. His customer base consists largely of people of means with a particular fondness for an older Mercedes-Benz that they garage on island and enjoy driving while there.

Larry attracts customers with the natural draw of a lodestone. Old school through and through, he does not advertise. He has no social media or internet presence. He does not even have a computer. A few years back he grudgingly entered the 20th century and acquired a telephone answering machine. Lacking a computer does not mean Larry lacks resources. He possesses an extraordinary archive of manuals, parts books, service literature and parts microfiche. In this internet of everything age many respected M-B servicers will reach out to him (by phone) as a resource for part numbers and authentication.

Larry’s business focuses on the refurbishing of a select group of vintage Mercedes-Benz vehicles to a high standard. He then maintains them as premium drivers in strict accordance with factory specifications.”

Larry says, “A person may have a 380SL they bought new in 1985 when they were in their 40s. It has enjoyed the care of a beloved child. They plan to keep driving it because they have someone who understands the car, can get parts, will keep it running and be their eyes and ears. That someone is me. These people don’t mind spending the money to maintain their treasured “island” car.”

“They’re not into car shows,” says Larry, “they are into loving the car for what it is. They love to drive the car. They want it to stop, start and do what it is supposed to do and then be parked it in their garage.”

Philosophically his approach to the oversight of vehicles in his care mirrors the rigors with which aircraft are maintained with annuals based on time and usage.

While some might question how much demand exists for Larry’s vintage M-B services on a little island. Larry says when he first started in 1982 40 percent of his business came from off island. Today, the island gives him all he can handle.

Actually the level of demand has resulted in Larry totally re-evaluating the vehicles he accepts. He expects a customer to demonstrate the same respect for the automobile that Larry possesses.

“When a new client comes in I will ask the same battery of questions,” Says Larry. He will inquire of prospective customers as to when the car last had a major service based on the mileage or the time. If they respond that they don’t believe in that, then they really don’t want me,” says Larry.

When I accept a car, I provide a schedule of service prioritized from a safety standpoint and reliability standpoint. Conforming to that schedule will ensure that their vintage Mercedes is factory ready whenever they turn the key.

I love what I do says Larry and after all my years in business I want to do it my way.

I’m having fun working on great cars meeting all kinds of good people. I will have long time clients come in and sit down for an hour or two in the afternoon and we’ll just talk about cars. Some of my clients possess the financial means to buy any car they want. Many also appreciate that they lack the in-depth knowledge of the automobiles they desire. I am pleased to be of help.

When asked for any words of wisdom to share with anyone interested in purchasing the types of M-Bs he works on, Larry, smiling knowingly, says, “Know what you are looking for. Know what you want it for. Buy the best one you can find. And don’t call me.” Then he laughs.

By |2020-09-01T12:16:44+00:00August 27th, 2020|Comments Off on Conversations With People We Value #6

Conversations With People We Value #5

For the fortunate among us who have been so blessed, the emotional bond developed over the time spent with “the dog of your life” needs no explanation only celebration.

Georgie, a black lab rescue, lived life off the leash with each day an opportunity to experience and share joy only made better by reveling in it from the perspective of a moving vehicle.

On Sunday August 16th Georgie passed away at the age of 15.

In celebration of a life off the leash


While my life experience with Georgie was uniquely personal, the quality of the emotional bond forged by those life experiences is not unique and in that reality lies the beauty of this story.

Rescued by Elaine who would become the love of my life, Georgie entered my world as part of the best twofer possible.

Both Elaine and I have BMW SUVs which suited Georgie’s everyday travel tastes. Quickly, back seats went down to accommodate significant upgrades including featherbeds. Not unlike John Madden enjoying his fabulous bus, Georgie luxuriated in grand style while on the road. However no BMW snob she. Her tastes extended into the classic and quirky.

While she would tolerate a ride in a 1953 Ford F100, Elaine’s 1972 VW Westfalia camper took precedent when weather turned fair. Georgie would perch on a second row cushion with a great view of the road through the split between the front seats. With ears flapping like the flying nun’s hat, no black lab in transit savored a travel experience more.

Farmer’s markets and car shows offered extraordinary opportunities for Georgie to roam about insinuating herself into group discussions. When Elaine took a trophy for her Westfalia, Georgie trotted along to share the accolade.

Lately stories have been exchanged with other men and women, friends and strangers describing their “dog of my life.” If the stories are told in past tense regardless of the teller’s stern countenance, sand gets in their eyes. If the stories are in present tense, accompanying the joy comes a universal acknowledgment of how lucky they are and the immense respect they have for their canine partner.

A great companion on a forest hike or a city stroll, Georgie would engage people at random with a disarming openness that communicated with cross species clarity that, of course you can pet me and you should, and almost universally, without hesitation, strangers would love her up as if she had been their own.

In my studies I have been taught that the body stores emotional pains experienced and often manifests them as physical maladies. Conversely and perversely the joy we experience is ephemeral. I do not totally agree and wish to take this opportunity to advocate for joy’s value as a lasting contributor to making each of us a better person.

Joy produces lessons learned that have staying power expressed in our thoughts and actions. While at present I am experiencing profound sadness, I also realize that I am a better person for the lessons learned in the presence of Georgie.

As a tribute to every “dog of my life” treasured as a canine companion I would like to share the following. This July on the precipice of Georgie’s decline, Elaine and I took her on vacation to an historic farm on Martha’s Vineyard. For a few days the owner’s friend served as the innkeeper. A lovely woman, she had the opportunity to spend a little time each day with Georgie. Upon hearing of Georgie’s passing she wrote us the following.

“Georgie was a special soul. A gentle, intelligent and beautiful girl. Her generous happy spirit was contagious as she shared her joy and kindness. She was a unique being with an almost saintly energy. You were blessed with the love and time you all had together. She changed your lives. Her goodness lives within you.”

For all of us who have been blessed with the “dog of our lives” reading a heartfelt description capturing your canine partner’s qualities would be equally moving. And once again you would feel the sand in your eyes.

It is my belief that “dogs of our life” go to heaven and sitteth under the right hand of God where God can pet them for their mutual benefit.

You are invited to share a story about your “dog of your life” in the comments section. Those are stories I would love to read.

By |2020-08-27T02:04:50+00:00August 20th, 2020|12 Comments

Conversations with People We Value #4

In the moment you felt the vigor draining from your very being. Shadows took on living form and danced across your field of vision taunting you to react as they evaporated. Your eyes blinked like a neon tube going bad. You cranked up the radio, sang loudly, rolled down the windows regardless of the season or the weather. To no avail. Succumbing to the embrace of Morpheus the Greek god of dreams, you had fallen asleep at the wheel.

In Rest Stop Recovery, Dr. Charles Berg with over 40 years of experience as a chiropractor, practitioner of integrative nutrition and a lifestyle coach for organizations such as BMW and UBS offers helpful pointers and a 5-minute revitalizing routine that will get you safely back on the road and up to speed as a driver and a traveler.


Asleep at the wheel, Rest Stop Recovery


It’s a horrible feeling. Ignoring it can have deadly consequences. Estimates from the American Automobile Association show that one of every six deadly traffic accidents and one of every eight accidents requiring hospitalization are the result of drowsy driving.

Dr. Berg’s focus will be on long drives e.g. a four-hour ride home after a Thanksgiving dinner or a ten-hour ride returning from a vacation.

Rule one when drowsy behind the wheel, pull over. Then the distance to your destination will determine the right course of action so that you get there.

For short term drives within an hour of your destination the traditional solution of pulling over to take a brief 20-minute nap or down two cups of coffee normally provide the reinvigoration necessary to get home safely. It is a whole different story for that long drive home on a monotonous interstate with daylight fading and oncoming headlights twinkling in your eyes.

“In the ideal scenario, it’s a matter of prior planning,” says Dr. Berg. Plan to be rested for the drive. Plan the best time of day to depart. Plan to eat properly before and during the drive.

Get a good sleep the night before. Understand your circadian rhythm. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Plan your travel time accordingly.

Plan so that you do not drive on a full stomach. Like the proverbial pig in the python, your body after a large meal directs blood flow to the digestive system and away from cognition and muscle activity. Pythons having consumed a sizable meal become sedentary and unresponsive. Similar behavior is witnessed in male family members after a holiday meal at your grandmother’s.

Unfortunately, a vast majority of us endure travel schedule’s determined by happenstance, constricted windows of opportunity and evaporating available time that pushes us to the limit. What should someone do facing that situation?

“Biohack,” says Dr. Berg. Think of biohacking as turbocharging your consciousness. Biohacking pumps oxygen into your system and stimulates your senses.

Stair Step

Curing drowsiness demand’s elevating your oxygen supply and increasing your blood flow. An infusion of oxygen elevates your body’s ability to generate energy, just like a turbo. Large muscle movement increases blood flow which utilizes that energy.

“Biohack,” says Dr. Berg. Think of biohacking as turbocharging your consciousness. Biohacking pumps oxygen into your system and stimulates your senses.

Curing drowsiness demand’s elevating your oxygen supply and increasing your blood flow. An infusion of oxygen elevates your body’s ability to generate energy, just like a turbo. Large muscle movement increases blood flow which utilizes that energy.

Biohacks (all require pulling over):

Deep Squat

  1. Deep inhalations and exhalations for 30 seconds. This stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and increases the oxygen supply which energizes the body.


  1. Shout!, just like the Eisley Brothers. Do it five or six times. It gives your system a jolt. Do this in conjunction with the deep breathing.


  1. Cold water splashed on your face and neck gives your bodya jolt. It’s just water even if you have a dress shirt on it will do no damage.



  1. Dr. Berg’s 5 to keep you alive – Each activity employs large muscle systems such as the buttocks, thighs, quads and biceps to bring the heart rate up which increases blood flow and oxygen delivery.

The level of exertion should be in line with your level of fitness. Do each exercise for 30 seconds,

#1   Stair steps – In a stationary position bring your knee up to waist high alternating the left and right leg.


Running in place

#2   Squats – From a vertical position lower your body in a seated position to the bumper of the car. Then sit up. Repeat.


#3   Push-ups – With feet firmly shoulder length apart, place both hands on the hood, a fender or rear

bumper then raise and lower your body.


#4   Running in place


Jumping Jacks


#5   Jumping Jacks


The only thing better than knowing how to ward off drowsiness is not to experience it. Dr. Berg identifies driver seating posture and choice of snacks as two critical factors in defending against drowsiness. He calls driving with your seat reclined at a 45 degree angle, “horrific. In that position you have assumed a sleeping posture and sent a message to your brain to pull up the covers and turn out the lights.” He strongly recommends bringing the seat back up a few inches to what he calls “church pew” seating. This reinforces the need to maintain attention.

Rest Stop “less than ideal” menu

Many people consider car snacking an art. It should also be appreciated as a science, a nutritional science. “The last things you want to snack on during a long trip are carbohydrates especially sugar,” says Dr. Berg. Carbohydrates offer a short term boost followed by a punishing plunging crash. Protein foods are much better. Almonds and most nuts rank high as a driving snack as do vegetable and fruit slices. Chips, chocolate, pretzels, sugary beverages all put you on the fast lane to snoozeville.

By |2020-08-13T11:10:26+00:00August 13th, 2020|8 Comments

Roads We Remember #5

Fresh apple cider flowed through a long pipe that ran the length of the walk-up counter. It had a dozen spigots. Each one required a simple twist to fill your cup.

Pushing through the creaky screen door to enter, mingled aromas of fresh fruit and raw wood perfumed the air inside the rough hewn farm stand. You found yourself surrounded by a profusion of color and abundance.

A great maple tree towered out front to shade you from the midday summer sun and in the fall its translucent lollipop orange leaves offered a glorious umbrella under which you could savor delicious apple cider donuts.

As a kid in New Jersey in the 1960s, Tice’s Farm in Montvale, NJ represented an irresistible destination for a backroad ride in the country. Even when stationed in the back seat of the family sedan, it promised a wonderful journey to a special somewhere else.

Today a similar drive to the Tice’s location finds a sprawling parking lot covered in asphalt, bricks and mortar, occupied by Athleta sportswear, Panera’s, Victoria’s Secret and many more familiar stores. A Hilton Hotel and an office park now occupy land once home to Tice’s orchard. But open road enthusiasts despair not. Within an easy morning’s journey new and similar memories can be born for the kid in all of us on…

The road to Sugarloaf.

Route 17 A – A sweet drive to Sugarloaf

Rocco Dairy Farm, Rt. 13 Warwick, NY

First, a shout out to Averell Harriman and the Harriman family who in 1910 donated the first 10,000 acres plus 1 million dollars to start what is now the 47,527 acre Harriman State Park in New York. Their effort made this ride worth your effort.

Heading west at the Route 17A entrance off Route 17 in Tuxedo, NY brings you into the western tip of Harriman State Park. Passing through the site of the “Renaissance Festival places you at the foot of a wonderful mountain populated with “Tail-of the-Dragon” quality switchbacks on both the ascent and steep descent through the forest. Early morning can find a bear or a deer sharing the road. It’s not Yellowstone but be aware.


Conclusion of your first descent puts you in the town of Greenwood Lake. Watch you speed.

Navigating though a brief patch of civilization will put you back in the woods and ascending Mt. Peter. While less circuitous than the first mountain road, 17A, here, crosses the Appalachian Trail with access parking available and offers stunning views of the Warwick Valley. One of the best locations to feast your eyes and treat your taste buds is the Bellvale Creamery. Here you can enjoy great ice cream while sitting on a grassy hill overlooking a spectacular vista. But wait there’s more, a special two for one bonus. From the same Creamery parking lot you can climb to the famous Mount Peter Hawk Watch observation station. Bring your binoculars, say hello to an eagle.

Bellvale Creamery


Descending Mt. Peter will bring you to a “T” intersection with NY Route 94. While Sugarloaf requires turning right, mention must be made of Pennings Farm Market located a few miles down the road if you turn left. A 100-acre farm with food, an excellent nursery, music, a bar and a great attitude, Pennings provides a worthy rest stop or destination. Across the street from Pennings can be found the Warwick Drive-in Theater.

For the trip to Sugarloaf, Turn right at the Route 94 intersection. This brings you into the very pleasant town of Warwick with its excellent shops and many fine restaurants.

Proceeding through town to Warwick Corners, an Exxon station sits at the fork. Route 94 continues to the left. Take the right leg of the fork, Route 13. Route 13 (Kings Highway) travels through mostly rural countryside as it meanders the six miles to Sugarloaf.

Sugarloaf offers a quirky assemblage of craft shops and galleries. A very comfortable environment for wandering about. For food, both the Sugarloaf Tap House with authentic rustic American fare and the Cancun Inn Restaurant offering Mexican American cuisine receive good reviews.

Sugarloaf, NY


For your journey home a very enjoyable two-lane through rural environs awaits  Shortly after leaving Sugarloaf and heading back to Warwick on Rt. 13 (Kings Highway) look for Bellvale Rd. on your left. Once you pass Bellvale Rd. look to your right for Ridge Rd. Blink and you can miss it. Make the right onto Ridge Rd. Follow this meandering blue highway till it “T”s at Rt. 94. Make the left onto Rt. 94. This will take you back to the center of Warwick where you can retrace your original route.


For the kids in your car or for the kid inside you, the “end of the ride, we are all a little tired, but we gotta stop here” farm stand experience, It’s Auntie El’s Farm Market and Country Bakery on Route 17 South in Sloatsburg.

Just as good as Tice’s apple cider donuts ever were, Auntie El’s apple cider donuts bring old memories to life with every bite. Auntie El’s delivers the goods and the goodies from which memories take shape and  traditions take root.

Auntie El’s, Rt. 17S Sloatsburg, NY



By |2020-08-06T10:33:04+00:00August 6th, 2020|6 Comments