Monthly Archives: May 2010

Still Raining (damn it)

Yup, it’s still rain­ing. Three bloody weeks of the driz­zle falling down my neck.

I took advan­tage of a half hour break last week­end and went for a lit­tle ram­ble about the place. Here are some pics.

The red­bud is final­ly bloom­ing and has a few ten­der look­ing leaves. (And some of these shots are sil­ly and arty.)

arty shot of the redbud blooming

red­bud blooms

another redbud shot

look­ing over the pasture

There are a cou­ple of new things in the gar­den beds but this rainy cool weath­er isn’t doing most of the plants any favors.

The lit­tle lilac has bloomed. I’m not sure if the mot­tling on the leaves is sup­posed to be there. Hmm.

everblooming lilac

the odd lit­tle lilac that I put in last fall

And a bonus in the herb gar­den, or rather mixed in with the lilies next to the herb gar­den. Self-seed­ed cilantro.

self seeded cilantro

won’t need to buy any cilantro

I’ve spent some time in the woods recent­ly check­ing on coy­ote activ­i­ty. Last week­end I took my cam­era with me and got these four shots of spring.

vine maple blooming on the edge of the forest.

vine maple blooming

douglas fir branches tipped with new growth

the for­est is chartreuse!

wild honey suckle blossoms

hon­ey suck­le is a weed but it’s so pretty

deer trail leading onto the forest

one of the deer trails

Our next project is to fin­ish installing our new hot tub. Right now it’s just sit­ting on the con­crete pad in the mid­dle of the dirt and grav­el.  It’ll be nicer when there’s a door where the win­dows are now and there’s a nice deck sur­round­ing it. Doesn’t mat­ter real­ly we use it a lot already.

hot tub on a pad but no deck

wait­ing for improvements

Pray for sun, we’re los­ing our minds out here.

Walkabout day 22: Saturday at Miller

Kin­da of a laid back day at the track. We walked around a lot, went on the pit walk, and watched practice. 

I did man­age to find the hel­met ser­vice guys and get the vents on my Hel­met fixed: yay Robert!
I also took a few pic­tures (hov­er over thumb­nails for captions):

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


Walkabout day 22: it’s Miller time!

Met three of my bud­dies here in SLC, in about 15 min­utes we’re head­ed out break­fast and thence to Miller Motor­sports Park, for the US Round on the World Super­bike Race series. Pic­tures and com­men­tary for the next three days may be sparse, occur at odd times of day, and may be infused with over­flow excite­ment, and/or beer. you have been warned!

keep on ridin’!
blackdog

Walkabout day 21: goat trails, coffee, and hand dryers

Got a slow start this morn­ing, kind of on pur­pose, only have to make a cou­ple hun­dred miles today. spent a few min­utes decid­ing which way around the uin­ta moun­tains, north­ern route, throug Flam­ing Gorge, or south­ern route. Decid­ed on the Flam­ing Gorge route, it only added 35 miles.
Turns out that was the right choice: it’s is gor­geous going up through the range there:

and they had some of my Bik­er Scum friends’ favorite creatures:

I then pulled a trick that Lara and I call ‘GPS Tour­ing’: ask the GPS for a direct, short­est dis­tance route to some­where. In cities, this gets you routes through inter­est­ing neigh­bor­hoods, in the wilds, it leads to par­tial­ly, once-upon-a-time-paved goat trails like this:

and scenery like this:

A per­fect KTM road, it was awe­some! many smiles/mile on that leg of the journey!
I made two obser­va­tions dur­ing my trav­els that i’ll share today: 

The first is about hotel-room cof­fee; near­ly every hotel room these days has a lit­tle 4-cup cof­fee mak­er. and most of them use the same 1 or brands of prepack­aged cof­fee grounds. I *NEED* my cof­fee in the morn­ing, espe­cial­ly when I’m on the road, so i’ve been mak­ing cof­fee in hotel rooms for about 3 weeks now. I can tell you this: the water makes the dif­fer­ence. Even if the hotel buys high qual­i­ty cof­fee, if the have crap tap water, the cof­fee will only be mediocre. If the place has good-tast­ing tap water, the cof­fee will be accept­able, no mater what cof­fee they buy. I learned to make sure i had at least 4 cups of bot­tled water left in my hydra­tion pack when i checked in, that way i could make good coffee.

The oth­er obser­va­tion is about restroom air hand dry­ers. Most pub­lic restrooms that you run into on the road have those awful warm-air hand dry­ers. They suck, we all know that. In one restroom I used, I think in New Mex­i­co, I ran into a device called a Dyson Air-Blade. This is an air-hand dry­er that real­ly works. Flash tells me that they are every­where in Japan, and it’s just because were a coun­try of idiots that we still have the lame ‘World Dry­er’ brand that we have. Hope­ful­ly, these things will take over the mar­ket, and one more source of pet­ty incon­ve­nience will be removed from our trav­el­ling lives.

Tomor­row, day 1 World Super­bike Rac­ing from Miller Motor­sports Park!

keep the rub­ber side down,
blackdog

Walkabout days 19 and 20: slacking, and riding the rockies

Spent Wednes­day not trav­el­ling. Hung around with Flash. First task, after cof­fee of course, was to check the bal­ance on the wheels on the Giraffe. Took us about 45 min­utes; front one need­ed 1.5 ounces, the back was per­fect. Re-installed them, fig­ured out a fix to the bro­ken radar detec­tor mount, and we’re done in the garage. I com­man­deer their washer/dryer and do my laun­dry. Then flash and I head out to run errands and see some spe­cial parts of Ft. Collins. 

Flash finds me a cred­it union, and then we hit JAX: a com­bi­na­tion sur­plus store and REI-lev­el out­door store. I look for a wind­break­er to make sure I will be warm enough in SLC. They have a cou­ple, but they are REI-lev­el priced: $80 and up! We pon­der run­ning to a real REI, then flash says, ‘hey, there’s anoth­er JAX in town, a farm and ranch store’ so we head out. Anoth­er huge store, com­bi­na­tion west­ern wear, ranch sup­ply, and feed store. Wow. But I find a nice Colum­bia wind­break­er, on sale for $30. Cheap bas­tard for the win! Times 2: flash also found a new straw hat ($7.95):

Then we head to some­place called the Swetsville Zoo. 30 years of fan­ci­ful ani­mals and vehi­cles, all cre­at­ed out of dis­card­ed auto and motor­cy­cle parts. Its won­der­ful. I’ll be putting up an entire pho­to gallery as soon as I’ve had time to sort them all! Then back to Fort Collins Brew­ing to fill up one of Flash’s growlers (it’s ½ price growler day!). and I of course sam­ple a few more fine brews. I could get used to this town.

Thurs­day was schizoid day; the first ½ was beau­ti­ful. From Fort Collins to Steam­boat Springs. Rist Canyon, Poudre canyon, CO-14… won­der­ful roads, won­der­ful riding.

The sec­ond ½ of the day was dif­fi­cult: high alti­tude rolling ter­rain, and vis­cious wind. At one point I was climb­ing a steep pitch at 6800ft ele­va­tion, into a 45mph head­wind (yeah, I stopped, pulled out my geek weath­er giz­mo, and mea­sured it!) and the best the Giraffe could man­age was 76mph. wow, I nev­er expect­ed that! Still as soon as I got back down to 5000 feet or so, the poor bike seemed to get it’s wind back. But it was a long cou­ple of hours fight­ing to keep the bike on the road. Final­ly made it Utah, and motored up to Dinosaur Nation­al Mon­u­ment. Real­ly inter­est­ing place, it’d be cool to have time to hike around the entire thing.

One of the cool things to do with a GPS is to get to some out-of-the way place, and then ask for a ‘short­est dis­tance’ route some­where. This tac­tic lead me from Dinosaur NM to Ver­nal via this beau­ti­ful lit­tle valley.

Final win of the day: on the way into Ver­nal UT, I spot­ty ‘The Quar­ry’: steak­house and brew­pub: yay dinner!

Walkabout day 18: family past and present, and seeing mountains again

Pick­ing up where I left off, imme­di­ate­ly after the thun­der­storm line blew through North Plat­te, there was a dra­mat­ic change. The air was 20 degrees cool­er, the humid­i­ty dropped by about 35 points, and there was this awe­some col­or and tex­ture to the sky.

Tues­day dawns clear, beau­ti­ful, and actu­al­ly chilly, for the first time in days. I haven’t real­ly been chilly since I left Lub­bock, TX. I head west on I-80, actu­al­ly using the grip heaters and jack­et lin­er. Here is a pic of my cockpit:

GPS on the top, a Garmin Street­pi­lot 2720, old but it get’s the job done. Below that is the KTM dash. The left-hand knob is the heat con­trol for my jack­et lin­er (plus pants lin­er if its real­ly cold). The LED next to it flash­es to tell me how far i’ve got the heat turned up. The KTM dig­i­tal speedo and ODO is next. It has two trip meters, I use #1 to track miles on the cur­rent tank, and #2 to track total miles for the day. I use the trip com­put­er in the GPS to track total miles for the trip. The tachome­ter is obvi­ous, the LED above it is a volt­age mon­i­tor: green is good, yel­low and red means that volt­age is drop­ping. So far, I’ve not had an issue with alter­na­tor capac­i­ty. The right-hand knob and LED is a sim­i­lar con­trol to the one on the left, but this one con­trols the heat­ed grips. And on top of my tankbag, a paper map of the state-of-the-day. That give me a way of see­ing an overview in addi­tion the detail the GPS gives me. It works out pret­ty well.

I cut north­west up to Scotts­bluff, NE to vis­it my par­ents gravesites and to have lunch with my favorite uncle, Mike. I get to town and ring him up. Well, it turn out that the same storm front had been through the pan­han­dle of Nebras­ka the day before, only it had dropped golf ball to base­ball-sized hail. My uncle is in the roof­ing busi­ness, so he was way busy, and 45 miles south, in Kim­ball. So I dri­ve out to the ceme­tery, won­der­ing as I approach the gate, how hard it will be to find the grave sites. But my mind has a pic­ture of the site, and I know which way they face, and I ride right to them. They are well kept and just as I remem­ber. A few min­utes reflec­tion on every­thing they gave me and did for me seemed appro­pri­ate; dad taught me the val­ue of hard work and integri­ty, and mom taught me the val­ue of belief in your­self and care­ful plan­ning. I miss them. But I leave think­ing that they’d both be pret­ty hap­py with the son they raised.

I blast down the road to Kim­ball, and find my uncle walk­ing around on top of the town bak­ery. We have lunch and a nice chat. I got­ta keep in bet­ter touch with him. Res­o­lu­tion #625!

From there, it was an unevent­ful cou­ple of hours to Fort Collins, to vis­it Flash and Beth. I get to the address in the GPS, and have a sud­den mem­o­ry prob­lem: I remem­bered the address as 1516, but the GPS is pro­grammed for 1416. But at 1416, I run out of road. I slow­ly ride around the cor­ner, think­ing the patio on the place looks famil­iar, then I see an old white Alfa Romeo in the dri­ve­way: yep that’s the place! (Beth is a rabid Ital­ian car and motor­cy­cle fanan­tic). There’s ducati’s (and cagi­vas and guzzis and.…) in that there garage.

Quick unload, change clothes, and I help myself to a beer from the beer fridge (as instruct­ed: “there, now you know where it is, get yer own damn beers” – flash), a Fat Tire ale, from New Bel­gium brew­ery. Flash com­ments that I chose well. I say that Fat Tire and 1554 are sta­ples of our beer inven­to­ry at home. He says ‘you wan­na go vis­it the brew­ery’. Sure, I say. So we go off on a short brew­ery tour. I for­got my cam­era, so here are a cou­ple of cell phone shots that flash kind­ly took.

You will notice that i’m hold­ing the growler with both hands. There’s two rea­sons for that; it’s real­ly good beer, and there­fore impor­tant, and i’ve been sam­pling beers with some amount of aban­don and am now some­what drunk. That also explains (at least part­ly) the stu­pid grin.

Walkabout days 16 – 17: weird vehicles and weather-dodging

Sun­day was a day to see fam­i­ly, and take care of an errand. Got up at a rea­son­able hour and sailed up I-35 to Des Moines. First stop, the T-mobile store in West Val­ley Mall to get a replace­ment for my dead Cliq XT, and give them back their oh-so-styl­ish lime green Motoro­la loan­er phone. A few min­utes wait­ing for an ‘asso­ciate’ and I start into my spiel: bro­ken phone, cust. Svc agreed to sell me a stop­gap phone at full dis­count, notes are in the account, but Austin couldn’t do it due to an area-wide pol­i­cy: no price over­rides. Peri­od. I believe the Austin-area sales man­ag­er for T-mobile is an idjit. Any­way, twen­ty min­utes of quizzi­cal looks from ‘Sta­cy’ and I had my new phone. Pow­ered it up, and gave a half-heart­ed try to get though the sil­ly Moto­blur set­up. It didn’t work, and I resolved to take care of it after I got to Emmy’s place out in Panora.
Short ride to the west, and I arrive. Out of the rid­ing gear, take a few pics, and try to get the phone work­ing. Oh Crap: no t-mobile out here. After some vis­it­ing with var­i­ous fam­i­ly, and a nice din­ner, I got back on the bike and rode 30 miles back towards Des Moines, got on the T-mobile net, and got the phone work­ing. Sheesh. A non-bypass­able exter­nal depen­den­cy to get a phone work­ing is a real­ly crap­py user expe­ri­ence. Oh well.
While hang­ing around in Pano­ra, I got a look at my broth­er Shawn’s lat­est project:

It’s a ’55 cad­dy hearse chas­sis with a cus­tom camper built on the back. It’s been sit­ting in a pas­ture for the last 20 years. Shawn bought it cheap and plans on putting it back in run­ning and camp­ing shape. Includ­ing restor­ing and redo­ing the flame paint job. Awesome!

Start­ed look­ing at weath­er for­casts for Mon­day: hmm­mm, whad­dya mean tor­na­do watch­es through most of cen­tral Kansas, Nebras­ka, and the Dako­tas?!. Guess I’ll get up ear­ly and make tracks west before the atmos­phere get’s all hot and bothered.
So Mon­day dawns clear and warm in Des Moines. H head west on 44, tak­ing 44 and 30 all the way to Grand Island. Warm and humid, with the unre­lent­ing south wind, but no rain or thun­der­storms. Some clas­sic rur­al scenery on the way west:

I pro­ceed on west to North Plat­te, NE with­out too much inci­dent. By the time I get to a North Plat­te hotel, the wind is blow­ing 35mph and gust­ing high­er. One of the desk clerks looks and me and asks “how’d you get here on a motor­cy­cle, today?” “ at a 40-degree angle”, I mime. We all laugh. But I’m beat, sore arms and hands and low­er back.
So I’m sit­ting here in a hotel room, watch­ing thun­der­heads grow out­side, and clouds race by at 50mph. get­ting’ nas­ti­er by the minute. Hope­ful­ly all this blows over tonight and I don’t have to ride through too much more of it tomor­row. Anoth­er evening of excit­ing Weath­er Chan­nel TV!

Be good, y’all!
blackdog

Walkabout day 15: not so much heat, wind, and navigation…

Got up ear­ly this morn­ing, hop­ing to get a few miles under the wheels before the heat became oppres­sive. Which was suc­cess­ful. But, as Ms. Shooz so astute­ly notes, if it’s not one thing it’s anoth­er. In this case, wind: A gusty quar­ter­ing tail­wind, any­where from 15 – 50mpg, and any­where from straight over my tail­pack to right in my right ear. That last­ed from south of Wichi­ta to the south­ern out­skirts of KC. It’s quite tir­ing, con­stant­ly being on watch for the next wind­break, lest i dive off the right side of the road, or the next cut, lest I wind up doing some 80mph off-read­ing in the medi­an. Rid­dle me this, bat­man: Under what con­di­tions can a rid­er be leaned to the right, hold­ing coun­ter­steer­ing pres­sure on the right bar, and in a gen­tle left turn? Yep, it blew that hard. Road and scenery wise, a bit of a bor­ing day, just mov­ing my butt from one loca­tion on the plan­et to anoth­er at this point. Olka­homa and Kansas are real­ly quite pret­ty this time of year, though. Every­thing is green and lush. And humid. Did I men­tion humid?

As I drew near KC, I noticed a way­point on my GPS. it says ‘Garmin’. What the heck does that mean…. HELLO! It means I am approach­ing the cen­ter of the nav­i­ga­tion toys uni­verse. So I stopped for the oblig­a­tory picture.

Back on the road, but not without bumps…

Hit the road out of Austin this morn­ing, about 7am. it was already warm and humid. Very quick­ly, I noticed some­thing odd about the bike- rather than less vibra­tion fron the front wheel, which i expect­ed from hav­ing new tires, i had more vibra­tion. i pon­dered this through the fri­day morn­ing Austin com­mute traf­fic jam, and when i stopped for gas north of Tem­ple, i took a close look at the tire, look­ing for bead-seat­ing prob­lems, etc. While inspect­ing, I had a sink­ing real­iza­tion: I had put the tire on the rim in teh wrong direc­tion. DOH. That’s prob­a­bly the prob­lem. I rea­son that it’s not going to be instant­ly dis­as­ter­ous, and con­tin­ue north­ward, pon­der­ing my options. One: ride it to Des Moines, get Shawn to help me swap it. Two: swap it myself at the hotel this evening. Three: find a motor­cy­cle shop along the way and get them to change it for me. So i stop at a con­ve­nient McDon­alds, use their WiFi to search for motor­cy­cle deal­ers in Waco. Waco Motor­sports get’s a shout out here: I found them, and they got me in and out in 45 min­utes, includ­ing my work to pull the front wheel and put it back in place. Thanks for Ash­ley and Cory for their great work.

After the tire was installed cor­rect­ly, my bike went back to it’s nor­mal self. The rest of the day’s ride was a bor­ing slog up I-35 in some very dif­fi­cult weath­er, at least for me. 92 degrees F and about 85% humid­i­ty. Real­ly a strug­gle to stay cool.
Didn’t get any pic­tures; noth­ing real­ly worth tak­ing pic­tures of, and lit­tle will­ing­ness to stop and get even warmer. end­ed the day in Nor­man, OK. Tomor­row hope to get to teh Kansas City area, which will put me with­in 3 – 4 hours dis­tance of the Des Moines area, to replace my phone, and vis­it fam­i­ly nearby.

A couple of days not travelling…

I spent a cou­ple of days with Matt and Jodi in Austin, hang­ing out, eat­ing, and doing main­te­nance on the bike. New tires and an oil change were on the list.

Matt and Jodi have a gor­geous place SW of Austin: lots of room, a real­ly cool house, and lots of trees!

wednes­day was tire chang­ing day, and thurs­day was for oil changes:

The dogs took the whole thing in stride:

through­out the entire 2 days, Matt and Jodi kept tak­ing me places for excep­tion­al food, and thurs­day after­noon, Matt showed me the sights of austin. This is Lake Travis:

all in all, a great break in teh mid­dle of my trip. Fri­day morn­ing find me rest­ed, ready go, and com­plete­ly stuffed with two days of excel­lent BBQ and TexMex!