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!