Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Schedule is Established

Hopefully this isn't the extent of my overnight ventures this season, but it does include rally and overnight plans as of today.

Great River Road Rally (GR3)
May 17-19  Soldier's Grove, WI

The Tran Zalp at Soldier's Grove....

Hiawatha BMW Rally
May 31-June 2, Money Creek, MN

The Helix trying to hide next to Pat's FJ1200....

AHRMA Races, June 7-9
June 6-12, Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
I'm turning this into a week, taking the long way over and the long way home.

Rod's '34 Guzzi, Mike's hidden Race Duc and my Ugly one in front.....

Iowa Moto Guzzi Rally
July 12-14, Elkader, IA

It's not all cornfields....

Wisconsin Moto Guzzi Rally
August 2-4, Belmont, WI

The Hyosung amongst the Guzzi's......where ARE the Guzzi's??

Minnesota Moto Guzzi Rally
August 16-18, Money Creek, MN
Every once in awhile this rally happens on the North Shore, edge of Lake Superior

CX500 outside of nearby Hokah

The Duc on the edge of Gitchi Gummi when we did the 'North' version...

Wildcat Rally
August 30-Sept 2, Westby, WI

On the back of her ST1100.....

Other possibilities, the Slimey Crud Run, first Sunday of May and October, a day event but we've sometimes made a weekend out of it.  I'm still thinking about a trip to Michigan and/or a trip to the Moto Guzzi National in Ontario but we'll have to see.

New, Nice = Big?

One of our Blog friends has recently been home hunting and in her struggle to find what she's after, it has been mentioned that there was a low supply of Nice Small Homes.  Putting myself in her shoes, always a dangerous endeavor, got me thinking about the difficulty she's experiencing and what I consider to possibly be broader implications.

In very general terms, during the go-go years of real estate and new construction, we've associated Nice with Large.  I know there are exceptions; the Architectural and Home Building magazines will often feature small homes that are efficient, space saving and designed to feel comfortable with smaller footprints, built with and for efficient design.  The problem is that we don't, or weren't, building that way and most of us only wanted to see these homes in magazines, not next door.

While we were building our own home, the first and then, often last question was "how many square feet?" as if nothing else really mattered.  Three thousand was definitely better than two thousand and then one thousand.....well....that's the place where you park ONE car.  My numerical answer, full of hope, excitement and anticipation often was the shortest path to the conversation's end.  We wanted only a few 'special' things, not extravagant in any way, and were basically told that adding those types of things in our home's price range were not feasible, meaning that no one was going to help us build (or loan us money for) a 1500 sq. ft. house that would cost what a 2000 sq. ft one would.  We built our own.

There is a regional component to this; different areas of the country I'm sure are in and have passed through different phases.  Of course the socioeconomic conditions of an area or region play into practices and whatever may be called standards.  My comments are aimed toward the southern areas of Wisconsin, an area, again very generally, for the most part quite well off and affluent.

All I've got is anecdotal; I spend a lot of time visiting (riding through) southern Wisconsin, the area in which our home-hunting friend has been shopping for something at least in many ways, is similar to the home which she recently sold.  Thankfully I've not shopped for or been in any way associated with the hunt for real estate in 25 years.  Most of the areas I visit our rural, with those homes that are new, normally quite large, my guess is serving as bedroom 'communities' for larger towns and even cities within what those fortunate enough, consider to be commutable distances.  The area is heavily and primarily populated by farms area-wise and their homes are a different category all together.

Whatever the supply is, there hasn't been a real demand for small, from those that could afford "nice".  Sure, around small targeted areas there may be exceptions, possibly near University towns, a rare tourist area here and there where there was a special reason a builder might build something that didn't look big from the street or road "out front".  In general, our part of the Midwest is spacious and historically there's been no justifiable reason to build small when big is what most of us have thought we want, need or should have.  Even when the home isn't big inside, it's been designed to look that way from the curb.  Small is almost always old or very soon will be.

There are so many metrics involved; the potential of payback for improvements made to an older home, current energy prices vs. payback, the idea that energy efficiency can more easily be put "into" a new home that's selling for $300K than in one selling for $150K, the challenges of upgrading an existing home for existing homeowners in today's market, etc.  Is someone more likely to pay $70/sq. ft. for 1000 or $60/sq. ft. for 2000?  Who is currently living in the small home, an elderly couple or widow/widower and how much would or should anyone spend to enhance it?

Closing my eyes and from memory, I can see dozens of rural locations, large paved driveways, and through the exposed winter woods if not visible in mid-summer, a 'nice' 3 story home, pole barn, other various out buildings, often a horse or two; a vision that was common 5 years ago.  Over the last couple of years, those same driveways might very well have the Kubota w/loader and mower, a motorhome, a boat and snowmobile trailer w/sleds, all out in front with For Sale signs.

It seems inevitable that things will change.  I wouldn't even call it pessimism, maybe more accurately a blend of pragmatism, but I doubt very much that our kids will find themselves in the type of homes that there seem to be so many of.  So what does that mean?

I make no pretense as to being aware of or of closely following current trends or to know anything about modern home design.  I am only slightly aware of and often find European styling (and size) to be appealing in so many ways and think there are plenty of proven examples of what may be ahead as our new home construction evolves.

I jokingly thought to myself when reading our friend's blog about her difficulties that it was too bad we couldn't start chopping up some of the big homes that are or might soon be available and making two or three from one.  Appreciating that big doesn't always mean well-built or energy efficient, those things do for the most part go together with new construction it seems.

Housing, beyond keeping us warm and dry, is a very personal thing and we come at it and gravitate toward its core in so many different ways.  My attitude, now that I've owned and lived in a few, has evolved as well and that goes beyond just the current state of market conditions.  My expectations, wants and needs are different than they've been in the past; sometimes it takes a bit of poking, a look around and stepping away to look back inside in order to appreciate that.

A real hodge-podge mix of thoughts here, all part of thought threads that have been running through me since the discussion of Nice and Small first came up.

In general, I'd say our friend's timing is not in sync with conditions.....she's early and part of a trend she doesn't necessarily want to lead.


Your thoughts very welcome.....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mike and Jeff.....India Watch Out

Mike and Jeff, both members of our local VJMC (Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club) are in India, using Royal Enfield Motorcycles to explore and learn more about the very populated country.  Here's their Blog address.......

India Adventure

What I Need

Maybe 2?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hiawatha BMW Rally, June 2010

Yes, you read it right...a BMW rally that I showed up at 2 1/2 years before I owned a BMW, on a beat up old TW200 Yamaha.  Knowing the president of the local club, I asked at the Registration Desk where the dirt bikes were tenting.  Really, how much difference can there be between a GSxxxx and a Yamaha with fat tires?  So far, they keep letting me stay.......

Most likely my 2nd rally attended this coming ride season will be the closest to home, namely the MN BMW club's rally just outside of Money Creek, MN.  Only a 75 mile ride, this is one that I don't take a Friday off to attend, able to ride there easily after work but before dark in June's long daylight hours.

Never present with a BMW in the past, I'm not even sure I'll take mine this year but that is yet TBD.  Most every other machine I license has been there and which one carries me this year might just depend on how much gravel I intend to visit.

The 2010 version found me on the TW200, a year in which I did take the day off.  No, now that I think of it, that was back when Friday's were mine every week (those were the days....)  Only a few miles from home, I came upon a season-long rebuilding of a County Road, some of which was adequately signed "Road Closed".  We've all seen the signs and know what they mean and how we're to respond.  I chose to ignore the sign and rode on, confident in my machine and abilities to proceed and if that became cumbersome, to turn around.  Stubbornness can be a positive and a negative force.

The soft gooey mud that, in my defense, started out meekly enough, soon became deeper and more greasy.  Before very long, the front low-fendered wheel soon turned into a round ski that was on the verge of refusing to roll.  Just before that threshold was reached, I headed for the very grassy edge of the road and proceeded on, the front wheel very reluctantly deciding to begin rolling again.

This, a few miles further on once most of the mud had been 'burned' away.

I didn't fully inspect each and every BMW parked in front of the Registration Booth, but it's safe to say they were all cleaner than my machine was.  I don't always leave a good first impression but we manage to get past that most of the time.

Taking the long way down still got me to Money Creek early, leaving plenty of time for Friday afternoon exploring while the rest of the folks rode in from locations much further away.  As far as I know, Twin Headlight Ernie is the only regular attendee that lives closer.

That year we seemed to find many turtles practicing the chicken art of road-crossing.  You can't see the smile I have on my face right now remembering the big Snapper that friend Dave stopped to help and his very reluctant rescuee snapping back.  Just imagine the old woman with a cane swatting at the Boy Scout who's only trying to help...

Why I do what I do.....Crazy Corner's Road to the left, Pleasant Valley Road on the right, just outside of Freeburg.

Sunrise on Saturday morning, mostly BMW's, Money Creek Haven Campground.

After breakfast with friends down at the pavilion, I was off to find new gravel to explore.  Gravelly switchbacks....does it get better than this??

One of many Minimum Maintenance Roads, always treasures....

A stream crossing/spillway....there's a very good chance trout are nearby.

My favorite road of the weekend, just east of Amherst.  It may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that I'd not done this one before.  This is where it leaves 'up top' and descends steeply into a quiet valley that no one any longer has a need to visit.....except for me.

Looking forward to being in the neighborhood 3 and 1/2 months.

The Train Ride

This, from one of my very favorite books........

Life is a long walk forward through the crowded cars of a passenger train, the bright world racing past beyond the windows, people on either side of the aisle, strangers whose stories we never learn, dear friends whose names we long remember, and passing acquaintances whose names and faces we take in like a breath and soon breathe away.

There is a windy perilous passage between each car and the next, and we steady ourselves and push across the iron couplers clenched beneath our feet.  Because we are fearful and unsteady crossing through wind and noise, we more keenly feel the train rock under our legs, feel the steel rails give just a little under the weight, as if the rails were tightly stretched wire and there were nothing but air beneath them.

So many cars, so many passages.  For you there may be the dangerous passage of puberty, the wind hot and wild in your hair, followed by marriage, during which for a while you walk lightly under an infinite blue sky, then the rushing warm air of the birth of your first child, and then, so soon it seems, a door slams shut behind you, and you find yourself out in the cold where you learn that the first of your parents has died.

But the next car is warm and bright, and you take a deep breath and unbutton your coat and wipe your glasses.  People on either side, so generous with their friendship, turn up their faces to you, and you warm your hands in theirs.  Some of them stand and grip your shoulders in their strong fingers, and you gladly accept their embraces, though you may not know them well.  How young you feel in their arms.

And so it goes, car after car, passage to passage, as you make your way forward.  The roadbed seems to grow more irregular under the wheels as you walk along - poor workmanship you think - and to steady yourself, you put your hands on people's shoulders.  So much of the world, colorful as flying leaves, clatters past beyond the windows while you try to be attentive to those you move among, maybe stopping to help someone up from their seat, maybe pausing to tell a stranger about something you saw in one of the cars through which you passed, was it just yesterday or the day before?  Could it have been a week ago, a month ago, perhaps a year?

The locomotive is up ahead somewhere, and you hope to have a minute's talk with the engineer, just a minute to ask a few questions of him.  You're pretty sure he'll be wearing his striped cap and have his red bandanna around his neck, badges of his authority, and he'll have his elbow crooked on the sill of the open window.  How impassively he will be gazing at the passing world as if he's seen it all before.  He knows just where the tracks will take us as they narrow and narrow and narrow ahead to the point where they seem to join.

But there are still so many cars ahead, the next and the next and the next, clatter to clatter to clatter, and we close a door against the wind and find a new year, a club car brightly lit, fresh flowers in vases on the tables, green meadows beyond the windows, and lots of people who, together - stranger, acquaintance, and friend - turn toward you and, smiling broadly, lift their glasses.

From Local Wonders by Ted Kooser

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine's Week

If this isn't love, I don't know what might Valentine's card from patient, understanding and loving Peg.

It was quite a week here in the valley (and beyond).

Fellow blogger Martha posted a photo of a typical Wisconsin snowy day on a rural road and Bob, who lives in a more temperate, costal location commented that normal people shouldn't be driving on roads like that.  Those roads and conditions are what's necessary when living in the north, doubly or triplely necessary when you live an hour and a half from your workplace, which we do.  That isn't winter's fault, only our fault for living so far from our place of employment, a difficult choice that we've made and live with.

Commuting a long distance is what some rural people that want big city wages must do.  It's expensive both in financial costs as well as time, something money normally won't purchase much of.  If it wasn't for our long drive each day, I'd have little if anything to complain about winter.  Even as an avid motorcycle/scooter rider, a break in the seasons is welcomed and I hope always will be.

Blogger Deb and I couldn't be more in agreement about how to spend winter.  We no longer have lambs being born in February's worst snowstorms, the horse waterer never freezes these days, the pipes in the mobile home we lived in while we were building the house no longer freeze......if we didn't have an 80 mile commute, I'd have NOTHING to complain about winter.  We buck-up-little-cowboy and deal with it, the price we pay for work we enjoy(?) and get compensated fairly for.

This week on Thursday I had my semi-annual doctor checkup and needed to leave work early to make it at our local Mayo clinic.  Partially to make up my time and partially to avoid the overnight slushy snowstorm and about-to-be-horrible morning commute, I was on the road at 3AM.  The roads were terrible, but alone, I've got the practice (and snowtires) to make a little car perform like a great deal more.  My normal 1:20 commute took about 10 minutes more than usual.  Had I left at my normal time, I'd have been lucky to do it in 3 hours.

Leaving work early, I made the doctors appointment on time, though just barely.  We've had a busy time at work, hectic and stressful lately attempting to get some new products released that are behind schedule.  I'm in the R&D department and the support of product validation and testing is a big part of how I spend my employed time.

So, Thursday afternoon as I was leaving my favorite doctor's inspection room, she requested that I make a quick stop at the Lab for a quick blood test in order to make sure my chemicals were all on balance.  I walked in to my appointment feeling fine though tired from the long day.  By the time I walked through the maze of hallways on my way to the Lab section, I was feeling cold, on the edge of woozy and suddenly achy.  I walked out to the car, made the 12 mile trip to our rural home and sat down on the couch, shaking and very quickly, uncomfortable.  I'm the guy that wears a pair of shorts and a T-shirt most of the winter around the house, sometimes even out to the barn to feed the cats.  Thursday afternoon, 3 shirts, a pair of sweats over my shorts and under an electric blanket had me shaking like an old out-of-time British single.

I was in bed at 7, very much afraid that I'd not make work on Friday and after some very strong and well-meant promises that fixtures would be done for over the weekend testing, very concerned about my ability to  make it to suburban Minneapolis the next day.

I made it..........though it was a very long day, the fixtures completed.  Last night I was in bed again before 7, hoping that I'd feel well enough to join my friends for coffee this morning, for which no promises had been made but coffee with friends on a Saturday morning is a quest like few others.  Up at 5, out the door by 5:30, I was at Diamond's, with Mike, when the Coffee Shoppe opened for the 7AM door unlocking and feeling very refreshed.

Of course Paul was there with his Ural; 8 degrees F is no reason to stay home on a nice Minneapolis morning.

The usual crowd was there, even someone we'd not seen for 6 weeks, which was very unlike him though he did have a good excuse.  John, who often shows up many winter Saturday's on his side-carred Harley, has been staying home due to his broken neck.  When I asked him today, he told me that's he'd lost his balance...."no idea why".  Lucky for John and for the rest of us, a neck brace and following doctor's orders seems to have him healing well.  His daughter was kind enough to bring him today and he strolled in to a room full of applause.  Knowing John well enough and with today's crowd, he told me, ".....guess I'll have to leave the sidecar on all year long now...."  I learned that his doctor told him he was "old", a reminder to John that his 90 years haven't gone unnoticed.

This afternoon, once back in the valley, it was in the shop to finish getting the TW200 '13-ready.  Some lubricating, repair of my Sigma Bicycle Odometer/Speed/Trip/Cadence/Clock/Timer/Stopwatch hook-up connection, new license tabs and bolt/nut connection check.  My new Wolfman Tank Panniers will be here early next week and I'll get them installed while the bike is warm and on the lift before rolling the Yamaha out and the next one in.

Since we finished up Downton Abbey Season 3 last weekend, this afternoon it was an episode of Justified and our very first attempt at Homeland.  We have 0 channels and TV watching has never been better.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wisconsin to Yellowstone...1932

A lot has changed......

For a quick review, Gramp rode his '19 Harley Davidson to Montana in 1922 to visit a relative and to find work.  He met his future wife there, they eventually wound up in Barron County Wisconsin where he began carrying rural mail for the Post Office.  By July of 1932, they were able to take their first vacation.  My Great Gramp went along with the young parents, Great Gram stayed home to babysit the 6 year old (my dad) and the 2 year old (my aunt).

As explained, this trip was taken in their car, w/tent and various gear.  On their following trips, for which there are detailed reports that fill a 3 ring binder, they used Gramp's home-built camper trailers.  They stopped at not only scenic places, but visited various friends and family on the way, many of whom had been my Grams' neighbors in Vananda, MT when she was growing up there.  Much detail follows and it may get a bit long, but there are some real gems here, things I had NOT heard sitting next to Gramp on the davenport as a little kid.

I could have included the OCR files I've made, but find Gramp's typed pages too charming to not show.  He was a letter writing Master, not for quality but rather for the quantity of writings he shared with family, pen pals, his digging for genealogy facts......he simply loved to correspond.  I can't imagine what he'd have thought of the Internets.

They're a bit tough to read though and for that I apologize.......


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Yellowstone Detail

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Incident on the Yellowstone Trail (1922)...And...

A story my Grandfather wrote in 1978 and later submitted to numerous magazines, this one Antique Motorcycle Magazine.

Gramp's first bike, he and younger brother posing in their riding gear

Gramp on his Dual/Sport/Touring/Stunt/Off-Road/Commuter/Snow machine  HD

Gramp on his Dual/Sport/Touring/Stunt/Off-Road/Commuter/Snow machine HD
 (You can just see the pipe in the ground holding the bike up......he was such a prankster .... those winters in Wisconsin 'did' things to people)

Gramp on his Dual/Sport/Touring/Stunt/Off-Road/Commuter/Snow machine HD
(giving his dad a ride)

Mr. E. Fuller, a friend of Gramp's

1922, near Vananda, MT....the young babe with the large hat would someday become my grandmother.

Gram in the car with 2 friends

Gramp rode his Yamaha's into his early 90's.....until Gram found out that he'd fallen one day turning around in the road.  The bike then remained in the garage but he had strict orders not to start it.

When he wasn't riding, working in his garden or spending time in his wood-heated garage/shop, he liked this chair and his two 4-pawed "friends", Trixie and Brownie.  I've got the fondest memories sitting next to him on the davenport, perusing old highway maps, scrapbooks and train timetables from days when Gramp had "ridden the rails" and his knowledge of locations revolved as much around the rail connections as it did around the highways.

Sitting next to Trixie, the Senior Dog...

And Brownie, the Upstart, doing tricks; Trixie trying to keep her dignity, in "her" spot in the corner....