Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Real Ride....

this season.  I was on the scooter yesterday, but on roads that I drive on 5 days each week and by my definition, that wasn't a ride, only a variation on the commute.  Today's excursion fit the proper definition.  Though it wasn't as cool overnight, I wasn't in a hurry to get started this morning; there was going to be plenty of time.

On the road by 9, which is late for me and down to Alma for breakfast.  It was great to see everyone at Pier4 again, our first meal 'together' since Thanksgiving dinner.  Carol, my waitress, updated me on her plans at school and had ridden her bright red 250 Ninja to work today.  She's probably more excited about the new 300 Ninja than I am, so that's a lot.  More than likely there will be a 300 in her near future.

The restaurant was fairly busy this morning, so it was easy for me to pick the one remaining free table on the porch.  As Marietta said, 60 degrees in September and no one would have been on the deck, today T-shirts and shorts were the rule outside.

The tug Miss Jessica held my utensils and menus today, though I never need a menu.

The #4, locally produced cranberry, apple and strawberry/rhubarb jam.  If I knew what was good for me, I'd eat like this everyday.

Typical of these river towns squeezed between the bluff and the river, the restaurant is between the river and the highway.  Actually, Lock and  Dam #4 is 50 yards from the diner and the BNSF rail line is 10 yards from our spot on the porch, so a lot is packed into these long, narrow, river-hugging towns.

On Blank Hill Road, heading downhill.  I stopped to document the deep sand on top of the asphalt, just about the only choice these hill country Counties have for winter driving.  Some if not most of the counties do eventually sweep up the sand and try to reclaim it for the following winter.  I can never wait for them to accomplish that, using care, experience and slower speeds to avoid the deep stuff.

A favorite spot, the intersection of Alligator Slide and Pretzel Pass.  You can see Pretzel Pass snaking away over the top of my tankbag, a fairly steep climb.

Another view.....

Moe Road, this north facing ditch just hasn't seen enough warm sun yet.

Stopped in at the Nelson Cheese Factory for a Rum Cherry cone, lots of business there today.  Happened to run into the crew from the Red Wing Ironworks Motorbike Club as I arrived, they were finishing up and heading out to the general area I'd just come from........we know where the good roads are.

Just a tad over 200 very casual miles today, my wrists slightly strained but it went well considering this was my first real session of miles and hours on the bike this season.  I always go through this, now maybe more so than 20 years ago.  The riding position necessary on the Hyo is probably a bit more challenging than the other machines, not that I'm complaining though.  This thing still makes me smile every time I'm on it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What A Day!!

Yesterday was nice, but I decided to get some chores done around the homestead, putting off any riding until today when the weather was to be even nicer.....and it has been.  A bright moon all nice, which means cooler temps and we had 'em.  I knew it was supposed to be cool, so I slept in and didn't leave for Coffee until 6:30 rather than 5:30.  Even at that, it was 37 degrees when I started the Morphous this morning.  With my Warm Bib plugged in and thicker gloves, I actually did quite well.  It takes about 30 minutes to get up and out of the river valley and once on the higher ground, it did feel warmer though that may have had as much to do with the sun shining brightly as being out of the valley.  I was again reminded this morning about the riders that commute in cooler temps.  I'd get away with quite cold if my ride was less than 30 minutes long.  It's that next hour at posted speeds that get dicey.

Here's the Morphus parked next to Mike's '75 Condor, a Swiss Military model that used Ducati 350 engines.  Note that Mike's machine is ready to protect or harm, depending on the company he keeps at any given time.

Of course there were other machines; today's batch covered most of the spectrum.

Peter had his yellow moped....

Dave got the prize for "longest bike", his 750 Honda chopper a standout in this crowd.

Stan's Triumph......

Dick's jacket with a message.....

Roy's Black Bomber, sharing the photographer's image as well as the bright yellow moped.

Pete's Guzzi sidecar rig......

Dick's Scrambler, more beautiful than last time??

'Wing and a Thruxton....

Sunbeam....Rick got to take it for a ride

Dan's beautiful 750 Honda Cafe bike....

Scott's exquisite supercharged Gold Wing.....

I was home by noon, the temp in the low 70's by afternoon.  After a quick lunch, I went to work on removing some trees that had fallen into our cornfield (soybeans this year), did some fencing and after a couple 25 mile round-the-block rides on bikes that hadn't been ridden yet this year, I grilled some burgers.

Tomorrow I'll put some miles on.....not sure yet what I'll be sitting on though.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Take Your Kids To Work Day

My employer participated for the first time last year and we did again today.  As the machinist in the R&D Shop, my machines and capabilities were part of the tour and demonstrations.  Our visitors this time numbered 12 whereas last year we had almost 30 so with today's smaller group, explaining the technology and answering questions was just that much easier.

Here's what I handed out last year; a working part printed on our 3D printer.  From the feedback I received today, some of the kids lost these to their fathers once the day was over back in '12......

This year we did something that we hoped was a bit more kid-friendly and less coveted by others in the household.  Our CAD Designer, Eric, came up with this ball-in-a-cube.  Both the adjustable wrench from last year and the ball have our company logo on them, hidden here to protect the innocent.

Our printer is an Objet 350, uses resin and UV curing to apply accurate layers of material to create models that are amazingly precise and toleranced.  Printing entire assemblies, which is what the wrench above actually is, allows for some very accurate and working components, often already assembled as taken from the machine.  It's an incredible tool for the development of medical instrumentation and I continue to be impressed with the problems that it helps us sort through.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring - April 11, 2009

Coffee at Diamond's, a nice turnout on a sunny, April day..

The '70 Honda SL100 in the background that I rode over on, not from home, rather from a nearby suburb.

Kaleb showing proper contempt for the photographer, he standing next to 'his' bike......someday.

Kaleb all set.....Grandpa still talking.......

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Flooded Car Update

Well after almost exactly two weeks to the hour, our immaculately clean Taurus is home.  I picked it up yesterday afternoon, along with the settlement check but only after spending a few minutes sharing some of the gory details with the towing crew at the garage.  Our intrepid tow truck driver Kyle happened to be there and not only did he have questions but his boss did as well.  Boss knew our long time neighbors and was quite familiar with the area and even our farm, so he didn't need to close his eyes very tightly to imagine the rushing water across our driveway on Easter weekend.

Up until yesterday, Kyle was only able to describe conditions that morning.  Now that he and workmates have my blog address, he could back up his story with images and another point of view.

I will tell you that our rural, dusty car hasn't been this clean for a long time.  The crew did a great job of getting the interior dried out and as far as I could tell, my butt didn't get wet on the 15 mile drive home.  They had put the car outside over night after many days of fans blowing inside, so the seats were cool but I wasn't able to detect any latent moisture.  There was an inch of crusty overnight snow on the car that needed to be brushed off before I left and when I got home, I left the car outside briefly to remove as much remaining snow as possible before pulling into the garage.

The car drove perfectly fine on the way home, everything electrical seemed to work and other than being dust-free, it was hard to know that anything bad had happened.  That is unless you consider a couple of wet nuts and french fries that must have floated loose from somewhere.

I really wanted to park the car at The Incident Site on the driveway and get an "After" photograph but decided that unless I could get a shot of green grass and sunshine rather than yesterday's misty-snow, I'd wait.......check back in August once conditions improve.

After the snow was cleaned off, I moved a motorcycle or two and made room in the garage for some more drying.  While the interior seemed (smelled) fresh enough, once I opened the trunk, there were some obvious issues that needed to be dealt with.  A power converter, an emergency compressor/light/jump machine and some tools are out to dry.  Three umbrellas, normally meant for wet conditions, were probably surprised at what they had to suffer through.  The fun part was down in the spare tire well.

I measured 8" of fresh water but saw no fish or other detectable life.  That trunk floor cover, the sound deadening material, the jack, etc. were all pulled out, the pool of water shop vac'd out and a small portable oscillating heater was turned on high and will stay that way another day to remove as much moisture inside as possible.

I think we're good to harm, no foul.  That lack of a readily available vehicle with a trailer hitch that I was worried about has been, at least for the time being, taken care of which again opens up options for summer (as short as that may be) motorcycle towing trips; a very good thing indeed.  :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Melting Snow = Water

Thankfully, it's mostly over now and it has been a long time coming, at least certainly feels that way.  I've shared in previous Posts the weaknesses of our driveway and the need for a long overdo make-over.  Property disputes, expense, regulations/permits and now because we've put things off for even longer, even higher expense have been our reasons to put off doing the upgrade that will eventually have to happen.

The week before Easter was when the melting got serious and the water began to head downhill.

Our driveway, the Red Wing Blackbirds wanted it to be spring just as much as we did.

We managed to have some melting off and on before Easter but warmer temps and some hard rain the day before really set things in motion.  Saturday morning I drove up to the Twin Cities for our weekly coffee gathering and a few hours later, Peg headed to town for a haircut.  I had just left the guys when Peg called saying that the water was over the driveway and that she was going to park the car, put her boots on and walk across.  This was nothing out of the ordinary, had been expected and is why we carry our big "chore boots" in the car.

Not more than 10 minutes later, a frantic call saying that she had started walking across, decided that the water wasn't all that deep, went back and tried to drive across.  What Peg hadn't realized was that the winter's ice and snow had built up on quite deeply on the slab; my various plowing trips had scraped down to something solid, only that solid was not the concrete.  As a result, the flowing water was creating and/or had found soft spots, leaving deep ruts.  Peg's estimate of water depth was based on water-to-ice but the car had found water-to-concrete and from what I had learned after the fact, there was maybe a 6-8" difference.

The truly scary part, for both of us, was the fact that the water was quickly rising and by the time Peg had me back on the phone, the water had started flowing in under the doors.  You can see no evidence of the ditch in this video; there is maybe 3' of water flowing over 3' of ice and snow, the water is cascading down onto the ice-covered slab rather than rising up the 2' to get over it and/or go through the culvert beneath.  Everything down low was frozen or very deep snow.  The water was literally in too big of hurry, unwilling to wait for the snow to melt away.

Peg called our local towing company (keep in mind I am still over an hour away), not knowing what else to do since there was nothing that I could do to help.  The entire trip home, all I could imagine was arriving to find our car upside down, through the nearby property line fence and in our neighbor's large prairie grass acreage.

When I arrived, Kyle, in waist-high waders, was hooking his cable onto a large two strap that he'd fished through the windows and ahead of the door pillars.  He had felt for something to hook onto in back, knowing that this model of Taurus had almost nothing solid enough to hook onto back there.  My Class II receiver hitch had escaped his touch or he'd have hooked on there right away.  As he began winching, the nose of the car was trying to swing down but it only drifted slightly before we all-too-slowly had the car out of the water.  At that point, we hooked on again to the hitch and pulled the car up onto the road and around the corner as I walked alongside and steered.

We were all too busy to get photos of the towing action but did get the rescue vehicle captured as he turned it around so that he could hook onto the front end and haul it away.

Finally got the car washed......

What the flow looked like after the car had been towed away; the morning rain did little to help us.

The ditch has never  been this full before, but as mentioned above, it isn't just full of water, there is lots of ice and snow beneath the flowing water.

Standing on the driveway, my feet sort of dry but very muddy.

The downstream flow.....

So, our daughter was called and told not to come for Easter the following day.  Once the car had been towed, I drove into town, bought another car from Our Guy and then called our insurance company.  The afternoon turned lovely, mid-50's, folks in the town park were walking though I didn't see any bonnets.  There were a couple of young girls in shorts and I certainly could relate.  I made a few rounds in the park's river walk, took a nap in my car and still felt drained.  Knowing that I'd not be able to cross the water with my car or with my boots, I checked into a motel, the 2nd time in 20 years that I've not made it home at night.  Our entire family did the motel thing once when the kids were all small.

Easter morning I called Peg to wish her a happy Easter, she hiked down to our new river frontage and saw that there was only about 6" of calmer water flowing over the still-rutted slab.  I hustled my things together, checked out of the motel and drove home, easily able to drive over the slab.  Thankful the slab was still there, one of these times we're expecting more of it to be gone.  Last summer there was a huge, fast rainstorm and the top layer, about 4" of slab was ripped loose and parts of it flowed downstream, requiring a repair that I made last fall.

By Sunday afternoon, the water was again flowing deep even though temps were only a couple of degrees above freezing.  Leaving would have been ill advised that evening, though we were confident that we'd be able to leave the following morning for work due to freezing temps overnight.

Monday was cool enough that we were able to drive through possibly 8" of water to get across with again, cool overnight temps just about guaranteeing a safe and easy crossing in the morning.  We've become accustomed to an interesting daily lag in the relationship between the day's temperature and the flow of water during the spring melt.  Imagine two Bell Curves, skewed with one representing the afternoon temperature warming and cooling, another one, time delayed to the 'right', representing the water flow.  I know that if I can get home from work between 4-5 PM that the water's rise most likely hasn't started.  By 7PM, flooding is certain and long after the day's temp cools, the flow of water builds, often still running strong until midnight.  I'm convinced that it's not only a matter of the time of day and temp rise, but also of the way our valley runs NW to SE.  At this time of year, the sun isn't yet high enough to breach the hilltops and often doesn't contact enough of the north facing slopes until late afternoon when it can penetrate more of the valley in line from the west.

The all too typical "leave the car across" trick.....

Again Tuesday afternoon when we got home from work,  the lovely (and warmer) sun glimmering on the water :)

With boots almost to my knees, you can see I'm standing on concrete, the frozen ice next to me is still in place, even after almost a week of water flowing over the top of it.  Had peg been able to drive across, staying in the shallower water on top of the ice, she'd have been fine and would have never been stuck.

So, Tuesday afternoon when we got home, we had reached our limit.  Peg suggested we use our neighbor's (modern) driveway, park at their place and walk the 1/4 mile+ to our house......which is what we did.  The snow was deep enough to make walking tough and it was big adventure the following morning at 5AM in the dark with flashlights.

The following afternoon we drove across and then Saturday afternoon, again Peg had gone shopping and upon her return, the water was too deep on our driveway, so another neighbor's driveway visit ensued.

Standing on the slab, the ditch's water flowing underneath as hoped for.  You can see our neighbor's home whose driveway we 'borrowed' top center.

Mud, on top of our gravel, mostly silt that got deposited once much of the valley's snow was gone.  It will get bladed off once things dry out, done now would only make things worse.

By mid-week the valley was close enough to being snow-free.   Today that changed and according to predictions, real spring is still too far away.  The car was finally determined to be totaled; I bought it back and will pick it up Saturday, hopefully it is dried out enough to run another 50k miles.