Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Very Little Mini-Bike

I joined the crew this morning for coffee and at least during the time while I was there, Paul was the only one that had ridden, he on his Ural all-winter sidecar rig; the rest of us drove.

There was another rideable machine in the vicinity however.  A couple of weeks ago, a few of the guys ventured down to Humboldt, Iowa for an auction/swap meet.  "Vintage scooters and sycles from 1979 and older....." was the press release that I saw.

Tom was one of the guys that came home with more than he left with that weekend and today we all hustled outside before he left to take a look.  There's a photo of one of these in my Scooters book but I'd never seen one before.  This one's been modified, the tub (it is a sidecar rig after all) has been replaced with what looks to me to be a coaster wagon tray.  Tom's located an actual original sidecar and will make this rig original soon.

There's an old ad online from the July 1963 Playboy that says, "Skat-Kitty the most compact scooter....weighs only 65 lbs......cast aluminum frame.....36" long  32" high........2 cycle 2 1/2 hp......over 100 m.p.g........$149.95 F.O.B. Dayton, OH......Projects Unlimited, Inc......Dept. P-BOY

Note the fold down handlebars........

 I can just imagine a little 4 year old.....little leather jacket.....little cycle boots.......maybe a cigarette dangling..........out to pick up chicks. 

Of course it wouldn't be our little 4 year old, but someone's.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Planning Underway

Actually, planning started months ago....when the snow began to fall and has continued with varying intensity.  Now we're in "More Planning" mode.  Schedules are being firmed up, family commitments, work schedules (   :(   )being 'adjusted', etc. all part of the many and varied marks on the calendar.  This past week my packet from Road America arrived so now we're official; campsite and camping arm band in hand.

Here's the geographical calendar version of my planned events.

No GR3 (Great River Road Rally) this year due to Hanna's graduation but we'll try again next year.  Yes, I'm talking and planning big.  I'll also be keeping score and had better get started soon or there won't be enough season to squeeze all of this in.

Snow, go away....go away.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The TW200's / Happy Driveway

Last night I was perusing the statistics for Coop's Corner and noticed that one of the Traffic Sources was an image from a Japanese web address.  I normally don't check or go looking but last night was curious so I took a look.

66 rows of photos, 6 in a row of some very cool and interesting 200cc, fat tired Yamaha's.  The photo of mine was down a quarter of the way or so and highlighted mine the day I brought it home (used).  From a quick look down through the many rows, only a handful, a quite small handful of the bikes shown are being used as mine is.  There were some very interesting mods done, from mild to wild.  Bobbers, choppers, sleek cafe'd bikes and so on.  For all intents and purposes, other than the removal of the kick starter, few changes over the years other than colors and paint schemes ever took place.  Mine is old enough to have the kicker but does not have a trip meter, something the later ones do include.

Just to know that some of us received our Riding Education on these fun and versatile machines.......

Mine is in the shop and on the rack right now, only needing minor maintenance.  Minor since the miles traveled last year were minimal, an advantage of spending my riding time on a variety of machines.

Here's the way I prefer to think of my own '92, though I could see myself having fun on most any of the private bikes referred to on that web page....... I just ain't that fussy.

Almost last but not least, I'll sneak these in.  I'm tired of Bad Driveway stories and photos as I'm sure you are as well.   Friday our daughter from USC flew home and yesterday was out inspecting the snow melt which she so dearly (not really) misses in L.A.  We've seen and experienced a lot of things over these years in our driveway but Saturday morning there was something new and completely different.  Most of the day we were kept at home due to this frozen 'meringue' on the driveway.  Warm winds Friday afternoon and very cold overnight temps left us with this frozen pie topper yesterday, deep pie topper.  By late afternoon, the two of us were able to walk through it and across to the other side and then by evening I was able to break it up some more with the (clearance of) plow truck/blade.  Early Saturday morning it was a glaciated mess.

Not on the driveway but rather in our 'parking' area early today.  This is where the plow truck has been resting this past week.  Note the tire tracks and in the very top of the photo, where the plow blade left its crisp angled impression.  All of the surrounding area is bare ground; this area was shielded from the sun all week in the truck's shadow.

Now for some happier time on the ol' driveway; the way a driveway SHOULD be used.  There's nothing better than two-wheeling out, anticipated excitement ahead and following that, the joy of coming home after a Good Ride.  (Note the shift into Road Gear, an extra special treat)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Trouble Letting Go??

You may think so, based on my morning today.  Letting go of Old Man Winter I mean.  It started early, though not as early as it would have been yesterday since it was the first day of our Daylight Savings Time merry go-round once again.  To celebrate the part of winter still here, I walked down the driveway before dawn, barn kitties in tow.  It was pretty out there, the snow is taking on a softer look, the points and squared off edges rounding now that the warmer temps have teased us this past week.  They will be doing a lot more than teasing over the next couple of days if the weather predictors are even close to being right.

After the short hike in the mostly dark, I came back in and put the coffee on.  Not exactly a cold-weather joy exclusively but it really tasted good early this March morning.  I'm busy doing some CAD modeling of a project for some friends, a project that I started yesterday and was anxious to return to this morning before the day got too far along.  So, with a fresh hot cup in hand, I sat down to create some more dimensioned solids on my engineering laptop, 'building' them into a couple of assemblies.

Naturally, I pulled up "Under The Mistletoe", well down really,  from the Cloud but I listened to it from wherever it was coming from.  My listening a few weeks ago to CBC 1 introduced me to the Good Lovelies, another introduction my neighbors to the north have added to a great many that I'm thankful for.  Yes, I was listening to Christmas music, wonderful Christmas music ........ in early March and almost not ashamed to say so.  Besides the 'Lovelies' holiday music, there was news about Kingston, highways, coming home, visiting Montreal, etc.  I was getting a lot accomplished along with some very pleasurable listening.

A surprised but very welcome interruption came with a call from my hiking friend Bruce.  He had lots of northern Wisconsin news, we talked of some newly learned tidbits surrounding our mutual interest in regional history and discoveries besides, machining projects along with the expected old-guy health news.  We old guys seem to find it easier and easier these days to mix a little or a lot of that in to most conversations; our news today was all good thankfully.

Almost letting time get away from me, I quickly realized that I'd promised to meet Mike and Mark at the South Fork for lunch.  They're busy putting an XS650 Yamaha back into shape but seldom (if ever) miss a chance for lunch at the South Fork. So, I quickly changed and started out a bit early so that I could visit the car wash.  These softening temperatures have left us with very dirty roads, resulting in even dirtier cars.

I went "Ultimate" today because I was just in that kind of mood.......

 I had to pull over to catch this one......I can tell you unequivocally that I am not the one making this request.

I took the slightly longer route to River Falls that would allow me to stop in and take a look at some trailers.  I'm thinking about upgrading my motorcycle hauling capabilities and thought I'd drop in at one of our larger dealers to see what might be in their outdoor showroom.

In River Falls, today's topper of rhubarb pie was enjoyed by 66.7% of us.  Those of you that follow my blog closely may remember that Mike does NOT enjoy rhubarb pie.  He really missed out on some very delicately prepared slices today, let me tell you!

Next door, I did some window shopping at the Fox Den Used Book Store while waiting for the guys to get the Yamaha off their hands........

After a long and late lunch, we split up and I headed back to Minnesota.  I just couldn't get the camera up in time, but at the intersection of US Hwy 10 and Cty Road E, there were half a dozen snowmobiles headed east on a trail adjacent to the highway.  Waving crazily at them and headed in the opposite direction were almost as many women on their Harley's, ponytails waving in the wind, only slightly more enthusiastically than their arms waving at the sleds.  It appears that my neighbors are ready for a turn of the weather.

A few miles from there......

and only a few miles further on, right next to the river and a public boat launch.........boat trailers.

These are not SNOWmobile trailers, but boat trailers......

and more......

Here where US Hwy 63 crosses the Mississippi backwaters and the bridge leads to Minnesota on the other side, we've got it fisherman augering new holes along the edge, river ice quickly retreating and a fishing boat launching across the bay.  Note the marked pole between the groups of fishermen marking flood stage levels.  There's a very good chance that those higher marks will get 'washed' in the coming weeks.

Back home, our widened driveway after Chris was here with his skid loader last Monday.  Upon driving in last Monday evening, Peg remarked that an airplane could now land in our driveway.  Believe you me, it certainly felt that way.  Many thanks to Chris for giving us an absolutely necessary hand.  A few days of hazy sun and melting will change the looks of things around here quickly.

While I may have foolishly been in the Christmas mood this morning, that has now gently passed.  Weather Underground tells me that currently it's 46.6 degrees outside, though it feels only like 46.0 with the wind chill.

I'm officially ready for warmer weather and for EVERYthing it brings.  I think I'm going to be more holiday music until maybe October.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


No, I didn't go to a tanning booth, I didn't travel to a tropical island somewhere far away nor did I visit a place with bright and vibrant colors .  We had 4 inches of new snow Friday, the light and fluffy kind of snow that would have blown (and filled) but there was no wind.  So when we got home from work, I just drove through it and ignored the accumulation until Saturday morning.  The temps all of yesterday struggled but only half-hardheartedly, never breaking the low single digits.  2 above...2 below, what's a 4 (or is it 5) degree difference these days?

Yesterday morning once the driveway WAS plowed, I took a drive, in an old some favorite places that often get ridden to rather than driven to and it felt good, really good.  Peg was invited but chose to stay home and do what many Minnesotan's do in winter; knit.

I needed to get away and I still haven't learned how to run the needles.

Being very much in the mood to 'take a little trip down the mighty mississipp', La Crosse Wisconsin was my planned destination; that city's B and N Bookstore specifically.  In a previous post I mentioned my affection for the books of Kenny Salwey, known as "The Last of The River Rats".  He's written a new book and the store was hosting the author for a book signing, more than excuse enough for me to head down river.

I didn't Direct Route down nor did I Direct Route home.  It was a very wintery March 1.

Things were very quiet at the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, though the roads were all plowed, plowed well enough anyway.  I've visited numerous times on the bikes and shared the place with friends, a place they now frequent and I'm happy about that.

Quiet road on the way to the island in the Refuge.

A really good place to walk and to see as well as feel the river.

Backwater of the Mississippi river, a weakened snowman sentinel watching over Kiep's Island in the distance.

These bright colors will return.....someday; that's how this Nature stuff works.

 After leaving the wildlife refuge, it was on to the book signing in La Crosse.  It was still snowing in town and every single resident must have been out shopping; the streets and parking lots were full.  I'd have guessed that it was Black Friday based on traffic.

 Kenny with another autographee; Julie was right behind me and knew the books better than I.

The latest publication.....

Coop's copy.

The last time I'd visited Midway, an almost-island in Lake Onalaska (very wide spot in the Miss. river just north of La Crosse) had been many years ago.  Roads don't go through, only circle around what may more accurately be called a penninsula and for nothing more than possibly habit, I'd not ridden out there since the 70's.  Today seemed like a good day to do some more exploring.  I was very surprised to see this almost new facility, only a couple of years old.  I stopped and looked around, wanting to go inside but arrived minutes before 3PM and saw that it was nearly closing time so I didn't even bother.  I'll be back.

On my way home though still in Wisconsin, I circled back through the town of Trempealeau, another river town absolutely clinging to the bluffs and just north of the town is Parrot State Park.  I took the road that goes through the park, the rules are that if you get off of the public road, a permit or State Sticker is required, no matter the season.  I mostly stayed on the road.

Chris, you know where this one is.

This was as close as I could get but down below in the open water along the bank there are 3 large white birds that look very, very swan-like to me.  I wonder if they decided that Chesapeake Bay was going to be too big of journey last fall??

Almost back home, I drove down to the beach to see how many ice houses there may still be out on Lake Pepin.  In southern sections of Minnesota, the rules are that ice houses must be off the lakes by this last weekend in February.  One of the "dots" here is a small portable ice fishing house.  There are 4 other "dots" that are snowmobiles that zoomed out across the ice just as I was getting out of the van.  In only a couple of minutes these guys were across the river and climbing up onto the Wisconsin river bank, certainly at least 3 miles away since they didn't head directly across which is how wide the river is right here.

A pickup truck and another small ice house a bit further 'upriver'.  We've spent a lot of time swimming on this beach.......yes, swimming happens here in June's, July's and August's and did for us back when the kids were small.  Coop girls have been known to splash here with their horses as well.

A really fine day out; in-season motorcycle haunts visited, a few new places explored too.  There were a few books brought home that jumped into my bag after I put Kenny's book in.  Last night those books were perused.  Hopefully winter will last long enough for me to get through them :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Spring Challenge

 Here's my response to Dar's Spring Challenge.....

It's not much, in fact quite a stretch......but our Spring WILL contain these lovely colors.....someday.  2 degrees above 0 and snowing, March 1st.  A record breaking winter in Minnesota.  Color and signs of Spring can be hard to find.