Sunday, December 20, 2015

Musical Weekend

Last night Peg and I finally were able to attend one of the area's concerts that our daughter is performing with.  The always pleasant drive down the river was as enjoyable as always, the low sun angle highlighting the shore across the river over in Wisconsin a unique look at the bluffs and shoreline in nature's spotlight.  After so many of our past days under dark and gloomy clouds, rain and mist, the sun was especially appreciated.

After dinner we dropped Lauren off at the LaCrosse Symphony's concert hall on the campus of  Viterbo University and waited in the lounge area with some very heavy duty people watching for the 7:30 concert to begin.

Home For The Holidays was the theme, the first half of the concert highlighted Christmas and Hanukkah favorites and then after Intermission, Prokofiev's Prelude and Ball Scene from CINDERELLA (1944).  There were some pretty darn good young dancers that then remained on stage to help the entire audience sing a verse or two of 10 favorite holiday tunes.  A wonderful, festive, put us in the holiday spirit evening.

I knew it would be an especially good evening when I saw this ad in the Program Notes, sharing a certain hobby of Maestro Alexander Platt, here promoting one of the area's major LaCrosse Symphony Sponsors......

Before we leave the subject of music, the other weekend Peg and I watched (it wasn't very easy) Bill Murray's Netflix Christmas Special.  I'd heard a couple of reviews that mostly panned the production but we were willing to give it a go, hoping for some of the holiday warmth and joy present in the old Bing Crosby styled shows of old.  Threatening at any moment to Roku a different selection, I'm glad that we stuck with it at least long enough to hear our Little Troublemaker Miley Cyrus sing "Silent Night".  It's just possible that even though angels are known to have wings, they may not always wear them 24/7.  If you've not heard, look for it.

The TW200 is out of the shop and ready for Big 2016 Adventure.


December 20th and I was out riding through the pasture without a hat, without gloves.

The Sport Touring Honda CT90 quickly had an oil change and a valve check, spending so little time in the shop that it didn't really have a chance to warm to workshop temperature.

Next is the big black one......

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Our oldest daughter had a traditionally significant birthday this weekend and while it was her big day, a milestone of her own, it was one for her mother and me too.  The little girl that was home with us this weekend is now older than Peg and I were when we brought her into the family.  An amazingly wonderful thing.

A few weeks ago she made a request, "Can we work on a project together?  I need a Tack Cabinet for my horse, a place to store things at The Barn.  No hurry, not a rush-before-Christmas can take as long as it takes, just something we can work on when we can."

A set of plans were found, obtained, adjustments to get the cabinet just right for Katlyn's horse being made as we go.  I had the van so picked up the sheets of plywood on my own a couple of weeks ago.  This weekend we actually got started making sawdust.

In addition to some birthday cake, some other early season eating and drinking making Merry were begun.  There's a 1000 piece jigsaw that was assembled on the card table and I imagine that it will be there for a number of days still before being disassembled.

With sawdust in the 'storage' section of the garage, things on the lift in the heated shop have come to a momentary standstill.

My first rally of the '15 riding season (not counting Slimey Crud) found me at the Madison BMW Club's Great River Road Rally, riding my trusty ol' TW200.  On the ride down I noticed that my right boot was getting some oil spray, something I'm not at all used to on any of the machines.  Over that May weekend, the oil only got worse.  With other attendees gathered around, speculation was that possibly a hose clamp on a crankcase breather tube might have grown tired of just gripping the hose and moved on to cutting off the hose instead.

I parked the TDub in the garage where it waited for the OFF riding season for the discovery and repair.  Numerous times all summer I looked over in the corner, wishing the Little Mule would be available, instead choosing one of the other bikes for that day's ride.  This fall, before the hoses outside were frozen solid, I rolled the Yamaha out of the garage, used degreaser and cleaned off a LOT of grungy, baked on dusty oil.  It didn't take more than a mile or two to source my problem.

The case gasket, at 12 o'clock straight above the clutch basket, had somehow for lack of a better word, collapsed, dropping down inside.  Maybe it was just age and gravity (gets us all eventually) that dropped the gasket around that arch between those 2 bolts above the clutch.  The gasket was ordered, as was the kickstarter oil seal before I even had the bike on the lift in the shop.

While cleaning off the old gasket from both sides of the cover/crankcase faces, I just happened to notice that a circlip on the kickstarter shaft was missing part of its circumference.  These two pieces were still one before I tried to remove the 'clip.  These clips are never a complete circle though still in place, this one was even less of a circle than normal.

Waiting now for that last circlip, then assembly and some fresh oil.  I'm not sure which of the other machines get lifted next but one of them better get in the shop soon, I've a fair amount of work to do on the others, too many tires to change and time is moving.  Spring and more riding will be here before we know it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Suggested Reading - "All the Gear, No Idea"

I just finished All the Gear, No Idea, written by Michele Harrison this evening and wanted to share the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Normally rather meh to many of the 'Round the World' stories, I freely admit to spending time with a few of the classics and did watch Charlie and Ewan's story about their circle ride.

Available to borrow on my Kindle, access to Ms. Harrison's book was just too easy and the timing convenient since I was between reads.  The premise....a woman, India, Royal Enfield and the self proclaimed fact that she began her travels with a bare minimum of experience all combined to make this recipe one I wanted to explore and I am glad that I did.

Leaving the finance industry in London and anxious to try something new, a circle around India on an Indian-made motorcycle seemed to be the perfect adventure.  Deciding that her bike needed a name, a male name, she picked "Big Thumper".  I very much appreciated her attitude towards breakdowns, dealing with situations totally new and her acceptance of a culture very different from her own.  A number of years ago, a friend of a friend did much the same thing, he between years of Graduate School, on an Enfield as well and from the little I remember, his experience with a former generation of 500cc 'Enfield Bullet was much the same as Michele's was.

(Photo courtesy of Amazon)

There was a bribe here and there, possibly more tip-overs than even were recorded, of course some mechanical failures, some of them due to her own negligence and/or lack of experience.  With shorter, easier to care for helmet-hair, she was often mistaken for a man, something she both grew tired of though took advantage of at times as well.  In the Epilogue, written almost 15 years after her adventure, she's perfectly willing to acknowledge that luck had definitely been on her side for this trip.

A few sentences from her book that especially caught my eye causing me to downshift a couple of gears....

    ......I could be criticized for being a dreamer and a time-waster.  For some reason, the act of sitting on a moving motorbike is seen - by me at least - as a valid occupation.  So maybe that was the real reason I traveled alone: I like to daydream.
        Of course, I could also come up with some more worthy - and also true - reasons: alone, I become more observant, meet more people, do not immediately vocalize my opinions and therefore perhaps judge less and experience more.

Yes indeed.


Friday, December 4, 2015

CYCLE GUIDE - June 1972 - Yamaha XS2

Oriental Express - The '72 XS2 is a vast improvement over last year's model. 




Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend - 2015

We were blessed this year with an almost full house of family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Ben was the only one unable to be in MN from our immediate family.  His youngest sister Hanna and husband Nick did manage to make it from afar and we've enjoyed their company very much over the last few days.  Close family on Thursday, mom's side on Saturday, that one hosted by mom's sister.

The kitchen was full of cooks, not just sort-of cooks but some very good cooks.  This year my only contribution was heating the bird, everyone else took care of everything else and there was more than enough of everything else.  I will take credit for shuttling cold dishes back and forth to the garage due to a refrigerator that was as overstuffed as we all soon would be.

Wedgie, Katlyn's Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound dressed for the occasion with his Star Wars hoodie, seemed to stay constantly hungry and we're not exactly sure how he managed given his svelte trim.

 There were games and there were movies.  Even the old LEGOS appeared from some dark, mysterious place in the basement.  Nick was on the piano, Hanna was on the violin and most of that was quite lovely.  Some of it will need a bit more polish before they go public, though not too bad for the impromptu sit down jam session that it was.

Friday, 4 of us visited our annual Cut Your Own Christmas Tree yard.  Here we've selected, cut and temporarily hoisted the tree; all of this the most expeditious ever to accomplish what sometimes can take .....well.....a great deal more time.  The snow on the ground was our Thanksgiving Day gift, a blustery, wind-swept day that made being inside, warm and tasty an extra special treat.

Here I am, seemingly quite satisfied with our selection.  In all of the years that we've visited this tree yard, 2015 was the busiest and most crowded.  We are standing in line for the Shake 'n Wrap process.

The Shaker to my right, the Wrapping Tunnel off to my left.

Hanna and Nick watching the proceedings.....

Securing our bounty to the top of the van....

Here I am describing in great detail my last wheelie of the season, Hanna slightly skeptical and not sure she's buying it.

Actually I was telling the tale of a previous tree hunt a couple of years before.  Once out on the highway, one of our fellow tree customers that was in ahead of us on the road hadn't done an adequate enough job of securing their tree.  My extended arm was simulating the angle of their tree that had been only sort of tied on top of their van.  With waving not so very different than this by us at the time, we persuaded them to pull over and fix what would have soon become a true problem.

Yes, Peg was along, though not overly anxious to be featured on this tell-all blog.


On our way home, we stopped in Miesville for some of Minnesota's absolutely finest hamburgers at King's Bar & Grill

On Saturday Nick and Hanna left, making their long drive back to Indiana.  I visited mom's side of the family in nearby River Falls, WI for one more fine meal and time with those family members.  A cold though lovely day, late afternoon saw me heading home and south on a road I know very well.  At a few minutes after a waning-sun 4PM, I happened to notice a rather large black shape lumbering through and over the recently harvested corn stalks.

Unmistakably a bear......

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is Pier 4's last day of being open for the season, their return sometime in March.  I had decided that being in Alma at 6AM when they opened would be prudent, mentioned it to Dave so the two of us enjoyed breakfast together at our favorite weekend place one last time in 2015.

At 6AM on a chilly November morning.....

At 7:10AM, Dave and I no longer hungry......

Dave and Justin headed south (away from home) and though not mentioned, I've got a good guess as to where they were headed for some outdoor exercise.  My plan was to return home to get busy with some more projects, but I wasn't in all that big of hurry, turning a 45 minute drive into something more.  While preferred, a motorcycle isn't necessary to enjoy these back roads.

Sunday afternoon Peg and I had a few shopping stops to make, nicely balanced out with a stop at Caribou for a comfortable and good cup of coffee.  Some big snow is predicted over the next few days and one of my tasks for the day was to confirm that the plow truck was ready for another season of work.  I'm taking Monday off in lieu of working next Friday and will be gone all week so I'll do my best to move as much snow as possible before I leave Tuesday morning.  Hopefully I'll be able to still find the place by Friday evening.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Calling It For 2015

If I can get out again, I'll do it but I won't report it.

I won't change the pie is what I really mean to say; the chart for 2015 is complete.  The slices are established, the totals locked in (even if I do manage to sneak in another mile or two).

This is why......7:08 PM, November 20th with us right on the very edge.  The cyan color is significant.

THESE cold hard facts......

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15 - Almost Better Than Summer

This autumnal light is the most amazing and beautiful thing....I'll forever enjoy it.  I just wish there was more of it.

Both last weekend and this, the weather has been simply amazing.  Friday Good, Saturday Better, Sunday Best.  So, that means I've been accomplishing something Friday and Saturday, riding on Sunday.

The first full weekend in November....the Trout Pond in Plum City was decorated for the Holidays; the lunker trout even seemed a bit more festive.

Normally I just ride by, last weekend I actually stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder birth site.

Friday morning I was replacing the decking on the front of the house and heard, then saw two very large V-formations of swans flying downriver.  Saturday the carpenter work continued but no more swans.  My guess is that those still north decided to stop somewhere and put their swim trunks on to cool off.  Today, the deck project is on hold, riding was instead the day's plan.

A Buffalo City guy walking the pups......

I waited for the train north of Buffalo City and then rode along beside it in Alma.

The back way home north of Wabasha (Grumpy Old Men).....

We may just as well go for a ride next weekend too!!