Monday, December 31, 2012

Wild Life

While it is New Year's Eve, that's not the kind of exaggerated fun I'm referring to but rather our (over?) abundance of wild creatures in the neighborhood.  Our deer are in such good condition, looking so fuzzy and round that they almost look like stuffed toys.  It was all Peg could do to not walk outside and give their black noses a squeeze today.  I'm beginning to believe that they'd stand still for her too.  The deer often bed down at night in our yard and need to be shooshed out of our way in the morning when we leave for work.

Looking out the windows of the house, no matter the direction, it's impossible to see an area of snow covered field or pasture that hasn't been penetrated with deer and/or turkey tracks; virgin snow doesn't last long around here!

This afternoon the turkeys rediscovered our apple trees, it seems they found the crabapples the most enticing. They went after them with vigor and then one of the birds hopped up into the adjacent apple tree and started shaking the big ones down that hadn't yet fallen.

At least the turkeys don't seem to be as hard on our apple trees as the raccoons are on our cherry trees.  I'll have to get more serious this year about creating some sort of better barrier.  An electric fence worked one year but it was a lot of work.  With two wires 6" and 8" off the ground, we managed to harvest that season's cherries.  Last summer, about a day before we were ready to pick, I walked out of the house and saw an entire family of bandits in the tree.  By morning, the only thing left was the mess they left behind, a few broken branches with not one single sign of a red cherry left in the tree.  It's too bad they can't be trained.

Monday, December 24, 2012

One Year

After a year of writing and enjoying the publishing of my blog it seems only right that I should comment on how much fun it has been.  Fellow blogger/rider Erik and I connected online last December when he was still a Wisconsin neighbor. Though he's still a Wisconsin neighbor, he's moved a bit further away than he was when we first made contact.  Erik's old photos, stories of his rides and his background inspired me to follow his lead.  With a few of his kind suggestions, I was off and Posting.

As rewarding as it's been to tell some stories to go along with my archived photos, the truly best part has been in 'meeting' fellow bloggers with varied shared interests.  Erik and I actually did meet in person this fall, at a location that we'd teased each other with, but neither of us showed up on two wheels that day.  No matter, the food and time together was worth the wait regardless of how we had arrived.

The cherry on top of everything else good has been sharing stories with my Canadian friends.  I don't honestly think my affection for Canada has more than a faint connection to them being our nearest neighbors though I'm sure that's a part of it.  Very possibly it has much to do with the fact that though different, we mostly get along in harmonious ways, still not always in agreement on things.

Riding along the Shenandoah Parkway one spring day long ago I met Christopher, hitch-hiking from St. John's.  I pillioned him down to the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival and our two days together were rich; his tales of Puffins and life in St. John's led me to be a visiting Newfie the following summer.  After a week in the bottom of the Grand Canyon mostly alone, "Lethbridge Jim" and I met while hiking back up to the rim together, one of the more memorable days of my life.  The Hot Toddy we celebrated our journey with 'up top' left a buzz I can still feel if I choose to pull it out from the deep layers in my head.  I listen to 990AM from Winnipeg when the atmosphere allows for proper bouncing of the waves and our local public radio affiliate makes As It Happens a joy if I can stay awake long enough to listen.  Red Green has given me uncountable hints in my R&D fabrication career.  The points of 'foreign' connection spread inward from both coasts.

New friends from everywhere are gifts, new Canadian friends have a special sparkle all their own. So there you have it, an affinity with the country to the north and some sort of kindred spirit we must share.

This blogging thing has been very rewarding and I expect to partake at the very least, for one more year.  Warm friends, interesting places and cool machines make a very fine recipe.

Thanks to all of you that have shared your time and thoughts with me.  Here's hoping that continues......

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Total Riding Miles for 2012

Well the ciphering is complete. I try to keep my spreadsheet up to date after each ride but it doesn't always happen.  Sometimes I just wait until the end of the month rolls around and take inventory totals then.  Maintenance items, oil changes, valve adjustments, new tires, etc. are all entered.  Chain lubes and tire pressure checks are not.

I knew the totals were going to be smaller and sure enough, they are.  This was the least I've ridden since I returned to helmet-wearing back in 2004.  This season there were no big trips, nothing more than a couple of long weekends and the trend this year at the rallies was to ride less and talk more.  There were a couple of months when I wasn't feeling too well and that put a damper on riding as well.

Even with all of that, it was a good riding year and I'll announce right here and now that miles ridden next season will be greater.

So here's the list of machines presently sleeping in the garage, listed by age.

1962 Honda C105 Trail Bike, 55cc
1970 Honda SL100, 100cc
1982 BMW RT100, 980cc
1983 Honda Ascot VT500FT, 500cc
1992 Yamaha TW200, 200cc
2000 Ducati ST2, 944cc
2004 Honda Helix CN250, 250cc
2007 Yamaha Morphous, 250cc*
2010 Hyosung GT250R, 250cc*

1975 Honda CB200, 200cc  This one runs but doesn't go, at least not until the Cafe Project is complete.

So those are the bikes that were ridden or could have been ridden and below are the miles totaled, from least to most.  These totals don't necessarily line up with the list above.


The resulting total mileage is 8691 combined.  My biggest year since 2004 was just a fraction over 17K, almost double the miles ridden this year.  Considering that I now often average 35mph instead of 60+, I think I did quite well.  Now if we could just get our auto driving miles/year down into this range.......that would be worthy of celebration.

* The last two items in each list DO correlate

A Snow Fence Working

I've got it turned up all the way, to "11" and it's operating at whatever peak efficiency it typically runs at.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Short Days

We leave in the dark and come home in the dark, though today I soloed; normally we ride together.  Today's commute was one of the tougher ones, both directions took longer than they needed to.  I won't even plow tonight, instead will wait for morning when the winds die down.

Thankfully there will be more daylight again soon.....spring is almost here :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shrew Traffic

We had a 12" snowfall one week ago with that was followed by a couple days of 40+ degree days, some sun mixed in. This has essentially wiped out our snowcover and exposed these little critters for what they really are.....very busy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Motorcycles.....IN the Library??

When I mentioned the upcoming show to friends, the response was almost universal.

"Motorcycles IN the library?"

Yes, you heard it right and we were there.

Nine of us gathered early for lunch, then met over at the library.  The only contribution I made was to show up as a spectator, but many in our lunch group put in tons of effort to contribute motorcycles, memorabilia, clothing, tin metal toys or all of the above in different ratios.  Batteries out, all fluids removed and drip pans were required, even for the Far East machines.  Jerat pulled off a stunning show of a nicely varied mix of all things "motorcycle".  As an outsider, I can only imagine the effort in selling the idea, getting (and keeping) things organized, creating signage, her creative eye for the arrangement of the displays and so on.  She pulled this thing together better than many of us had even thought possible though after I met her this afternoon, it really came as no surprise.  When your library finally considers a Showing Of Bikes, contact Jerat to get it done right.

This is an old photo....the streets are paved now, at least in front of the library.

Only a portion of Mike's huge tin motorcycle toy collection.

Ky's historic "Rocket Bike", built for and successfully accomplishing "air" over 26 buses.  If you weren't at the show today, you missed out on Ky's incredible stories and accomplishments from the man himself.

Yes, it's a variation on the theme but still part of the theme....

Built for "a long ways to go and a short time to get there".....

More photos here

Many thanks to Jerat, the contributors and to everyone else responsible for pulling this off.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Official Now

And 4 short hours later....

Yeah, Percy's out but not rolling on the ground this afternoon, though she would if she could.  I think my pants are too high and my boots not high enough.

Sleep well motorcycles....sleep well...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We'll Call This One A Tie

The snow fence install was dictated by me to be a win for me; accomplished pre-frozen ground and before any real snow.  Today's task was to get the mower off, the blade and tire chains on. When we got home early AM, we had just enough snow to make the ground white.

Normally not a gambler, putting some of these 'winter' projects off until the bitter end seems to somehow sit well with me.  Of course these things should be done on a nice warm, autumn weekend and even I know that.  This may just be one of those grand "Do as I say and not as I do's".

One of the first things to do was swap the garden tractor's spot with the walk behind snow blower.  Normally a good starter, the blower wouldn't even fire today and after sitting all, hot summer in our plastic-covered hay shed, I was confident I knew why.  Out with the spark plug, a very dry spark plug which confirmed my thoughts about a resolution.  A thimble-full of gas down the hole, plug back in, wire on and it started and stayed running with one pull of the cord.

No, I didn't run over Percy.  Whenever she sees me moving anywhere outside, she gets in front of me at a safe distance, lies down on her back and wiggles her feet in the air.  One, maybe two times out of ten I pick her up and we discuss the world's problems until I get to my destination.  She really likes world problems.

Hopefully my next tractor will come with a heated seat....

The old Ford, older than even I am....

The trouble with gloves.....recently discussed over here

The "Process".....anyone that's ever diapered a rhino will appreciate this arduous task.....

More help and more world's problems....We do pretty well, at least I'm not doing jobs while lying down or at the very least, kneeling down.  Oil changes can really be a problem.

The sun was working its magic by early afternoon.  The snow on our garage's full length porch was yielding a phase change.

Once again, I had lots of help, some of it feline-ish, additional help from Sarah Jarosz, Johnnyswim and Blossom Dearie.  I'd never have accomplished much of anything without everyone's contributions.

An Evening Out

When I left work yesterday, I had to sweep snow off of the car before I could go a few miles north to pick up Peg.  We manged to find the fast(er) roads out of town and headed up to our oldest daughter's to celebrate her birthday.

The very first thing we needed to do upon arrival was get introduced to her new horse, Katai.

Pizza at daughter's favorite place in Dresser and with plenty of time to kill, we went to visit her workplace and met many of her co-workers.  From there it was out to the Trollhaugen Ski Hill where we'd be listening to Charlie Parr perform.  Katlyn's housemate met us there after she got home from work and it was great for me to finally get the chance to meet Lisa.

Katlyn and I had seen Mr. Parr before at Oak Center General Store and his playing was a joy to see as well as hear.  It was fun last night, the beer very good, even though noisy bars are definitely not my favorite place to witness music.

The Snowboarders were everywhere and even though I somehow managed to find a window in time when they weren't on the slopes, only minutes before the white downhill runs looked like anthills.

Charlie was accompanied by a fantastic blues harpist and I especially enjoyed his mouth harp work when Charlie picked up his banjo.  Please excuse the low light photo.

Note the tackle box full of harps.....

After a very long day and drive home on roads that were right on the edge of slippery, it was finally time to call it a day.  I'm not as good at these going-to-bed-when-I-normally-get-up nights any longer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Old Sol....You Trickster!!

Unable to take it any longer, I suited up and went out to the garage about 11:30.  Cool hazy fog was what I left in and cool, hazy fog is what I came home in.  One time and only one time, did I see the fuzzy outline of the sun.  Oh well, it was a great ride though not a very efficient one; I made 74 miles in about 3 hours.  I'll never be an Iron Butt'r at this rate.

My handy, dandy, always along thermometer....

I headed toward Red Wing, wondering if the steep-closed-in-winter road up to Memorial Park would still be open.  The park sits on a steep bluff, the downtown area of Red Wing snugly rests between the bluff and the river.

Only a hint of downtown today, no clue as to there being a Big River very near.

This bluff as well as others in town were once quarries, the limestone used for many local building projects.  This area has changed since I saw it last, so some exploring was in order.  I'll soon be walking up on top of that distant mound.

This is where all of our local prominent sacrifices occur; luckily I wasn't among the Chosen this year.  2013 may be an entirely different matter.

Looking downriver, this view is normally spectacular.  It didn't help that the steep climb into the park put me even deeper into the mist.  bob, this one's for you....

From there it was out of Red Wing, out to the Cannon River Bottoms and where the Cannon meets the Mississippi.

At the end of the road, a backwater channel of the Miss. River.  This is the mainline of the Canadian National Railroad that follows the west side of the river.

For some odd reason and I'm not sure why, the highwater marking on all of the trees from last spring's flood seemed to tweak my equilibrium a bit.....or....maybe it was due to the fact that the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant is less than half a mile from here.

A huge contrast between last year's flooding and the current very low water conditions.  You can see how high the scooter is above the shoreline; the water mark on the cottonwoods was roughly shoulder height when I stood next to the Yamaha.

More hazy river bluffs.  Honestly, I enjoy this weather and being able to actually be outside and feel it, just not so much for riding.

Back out to exit the Min. Maint. Road and around the corner to Treasure Island, our casino neighbor.  This was only the second time I've actually been there.  Our family stopped years ago for the buffet one evening and we've still not ever been among the noisy, brightly lit machines.

Here I'm in the parking lot between the Convenience Store and the Car Wash, the hotel, marina and casino in the distance.

Up the curvy and now mostly obsolete County 18, towards Welch.  I thought about stopping for coffee at the Trout Scream Cafe but pushed onward to the Cannon Valley Bicycle Trail Parking Lot.

I spent 15 minutes 'selling' scooters to a bicyclist that had ridden over from the town of Cannon Falls, the western portal of the trail.  He seemed to be impressed with my long, low machine and he wasn't even on a recumbent.

Trail Map mural...

Just around the corner is the Welch Village Ski Area.  They were busy today and this was the only snow I saw today, though it felt like it might start snowing at any point on my ride.

Just before I pushed it into the garage....