Saturday, February 25, 2017

This Just In....

Minnesota snow storms are still possible in late February.

Our village isn't on this list but you can draw a straight geographical line between Stockholm (WI) and Goodhue and the tallies on this chart agree with what my tall over boots measured mid-day and it kept blowing/snowing all day.

There's always an "edge" to a storm track but this one was dramatic; the delineation between the have a lots and the have not's was narrow and sharp.

Don't know where we'd have been without the (former) Redding, California Public Utility Plow Truck.

Last Sunday I put ~50 very carefree miles on the bike ......tomorrow I'll be comfortably reading about 1870's steamboats on the Upper Mississippi

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I still save files on my PC's this spaces, upper case to separate the words.  There was just too much time with old DOS files for me to break the habit.

It should be announced that we're having incredible weather here in the Midwest.  Our record breaking weather isn't for cold, snow or even rain but rather for warm, unseasonably February temperatures and this nicer outside weather is having an impact on everyone.  The ice fisher people have all but given up though not quite (see below).  The outdoor sports people have had a tough go of it this '16-'17 season and I truly do feel for them; these mild winters have a huge impact on our economy.  Moods for the rest of us have lightened considerably and you can not only feel it, you can see it.  I saw so many pairs of shorts protecting white legs yesterday that you have to know that we're Northerners.  You can imagine what 60 degree weather brings out in us at this time of year and we're 'ta home, didn't even have to fly to a tropical beach.

Friday Morning

I stepped outside and right over my head, heard their wonderful trumpeting.....Even though potential blizzard conditions are forecast for next weekend, I'm hoping that these birds have the inside scoop on how March might lamb-like roll in.


Up early and off to Minneapolis for coffee.  I took the camera specifically for getting a couple of shots with our early season attendees but then never even pulled the camera from my belt.  Overall attendance was down for such a nice day though percentage wise, bikes parked out in front were a nice proportion.  Some of the other guys were probably at home "laying out", getting a head start on their tans.

Originally planning to be at home in the afternoon to get more work done on daughter's Tack Cabinet, plans were changed.  A quick text to Erik with or rather hinting at my plans to meet him read a short and sweet "See you at 1:00".  Our buddy Chad of Lone Wolf Expeditions was putting on a seminar about riding his Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail at 2Brothers Powersports down in Onalaska, Wisconsin.  Great hosts of the event, cookies, beverages provided plus they gave away a very nice Klim jacket.  I'm going to put a plug in for this dealership.  A couple of years ago one of the attendees at our annual Labor Day Wildcat Mountain Rally had a serious issue with his BMW, up from Chicago he was in a bit of a pickle.  His bike was towed to 2BP, they provided him a loaner bike, not only allowing him to ride back to Chicago but to finish the rally with us the remainder of the weekend.  We all agreed the service was top notch.

Eric and I are inching closer to a plan to run the trail this season and were anxious and willing to learn anything new that we could about the route.  Plus, it's always good to gather where other riders meet.  Eric rode down and wasn't the only one, I drove.

Not unlike Eric's latest machine, one that he's (we are) anxious to get properly dirtied up.....

This one for Mark and Mike, up on the mezzanine......

Chad getting the projector warmed up...

A few of us present had done part or all of the ride; both Erik and I have covered quite a bit of the southern roads.  I learned some new things and Chad's reminder about safety and first aid were well taken.  Where and how we go potentially can make the transition from an "uh-oh" to "oh no" a quick and deadly one.  Chad's experienced the spectrum.

After some questions and answers, Erik headed first east (a pick-up order of ribs in Sparta) and then home.  I see there's a new Facebook photo this morning telling me he didn't stick to the Interstate.  The van was telling me that it was 60 degrees outside, a cloudless sky and even driving, rather than riding, on roads that we know so well and visit frequently made for a wonderful drive home, even in a dirty minivan.

And....look what happened on the way home!!!

Driving up the Wisconsin side of the river, open water was everywhere, large chunks of ice breaking off from the south end of Lake Pepin slowly melting and heading south.  Large backwater areas were scattered ice fishing quests.  I stopped in Old Frontenac to take a couple of photos at this time of transition for the ice fishing folk.

Ice, open water and finally more ice over on the Wisconsin side.  It's about 2 1/2 miles across right here.


Another lovely day, good enough to get out for a ride, so I did.

Snowmobile trail crossing........

The gravel up top is in pretty nice shape.......

The valleys weren't quite as easy....

I call it pudding.  It isn't deep, I think it's the waterous silt as the frost comes out and it's gooey soft.  Ridges that would be mere child's play in simple wet summer tracks are challenging when this stuff gets slippery.  There were a couple of times today...... I had predicted it on the north facing slopes but anywhere the valleys were hiding accumulated snow, road conditions are in need of more warming.

Here we're experiencing good old fashioned ice, still the slippery kind.  It wasn't slush, the tires were leaving no tracks.

Both of us need a bath after today's ride.....

My first time out, after just a couple of miles, felt as easy and smooth as if I'd been out only last weekend.  According to the weather folks, winter is due to return by the end of the week and I'm perfectly fine with that.  It will be another month for sure before I'm ready to be having this much fun every weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Some Books

Here we are in mid-February and I'm rapidly approaching the end of my own Reading Season.  It normally begins mid-November but of course that's very weather dependent.  To be more accurate, Riding Season and Reading Season almost never overlap.

This winter I've been especially days (only 4 per week but still) find me leaving the driveway at 5AM and then, after checking the mailbox, returning to the very same spot at 5PM, if I'm lucky and most days I am.  By the time I finish slowing down, get something to eat with even a hit of 'settle', cozying up next to and beneath the table lamp in The Chair it all too often defines the height of my ambition although the last couple of months have found me putting in some treadmill miles each evening, I do seem to find ways around that more often than I should.

The Dewey Decimal system is not practiced in my library; the best books are at eye level on the very first shelf, a few drift down to the 2nd.  Present right there in front are 3 that get read annually, the perennials.  There are a few paragraphs in each of them that I almost know by heart, not because I've made that a goal but because over and over repetition seems to be the only way this sort of thing stays with me and those paragraphs happen to.  It's now been decided that there are 4 books that will be residing right there in front.  Michael Perry's Roughneck Grace is the new arrival and I'm confident that it will become as beat up and properly patina'd as the 3 that are first, second, third.  I own 3 of his other books which have and will continue to be revisited, just not like this one will.

My Christmas List this year contained 2 things, one of which was this book and the other was a (small) box of chocolate turtles.  I received the entire list I requested plus a couple of bonus items, all of which I'm very thankful for.

So, that one had its first read-through and is now placed up there, 4th from the end, ready for next year.

I've just started the brown one below, its 2nd reading, the first was done back in 1974 IIRC.  Not really sure why this one came to mind again, it my most recent Southern Tropical Brazillian Rainforest Area acquisition....well, yes, I do too.  It has a lot to do with where I'm making early plans to spend some time exploring late summer.  Attempting to learn more about those areas and their history, I've been on a quest to find out more.

As long as I've been on a historical kick lately, I may as well mention these two books which as you might imagine, have been waaay, waaay in the back of the Reference Section.  My Reference Section is out in the shop and is actually quite extensive, dusty and almost forgotten just like in real libraries.  Between motorcycle history, travel and vocational tutorial/manuals, there are a few shelves packed out there with boring and specificational details though there is quite a collection of beautiful outdoor photography of wild and not so exotic places as well.

In just about the deepest and most obscure area in the R.S., these two have been tucked behind, usually their back bindings pushed in as deeply as the shelves will allow.  Honestly, I haven't looked at them in years, or rather inside of them for years.  I've glanced down there every once in awhile, smiling though apprehensive about actually reaching down and pulling them out for a look-see, just in case I might be tempted to fall back into a time from my past, a time the kids have referred to as "Dad's Vagrant Years".  I've been told that I'm not ready for that relapse quite yet.

One old guidebook.....

A 2nd old guidebook......big, solid and no paperback this one, an honest to goodness hardcover!

Here's old Ed himself in the loving arms of his parents.....

From Ed's "Motorcycling" chapter......

There is no measurement system whereby I would be considered a reader and my page turning accomplishments pale in comparison to the titles Peg and our offspring have been through; voracious readers all.  They'll read as many books in two weeks as I do in two years and they've got their mom(s) to thank for that.  I'm proud of them and at the same time in no way ashamed of my little collection of volumes owned and borrowed.

February is winding down and my reading season is almost over, hopefully I'll get all the way out to Montana Territory and the origins of the Missouri River in the brown one before the ditch starts flooding.  One bike was rolled off the lift this evening (with an effective front brake!!) and the next one is queued.

There will soon be little time for slothful reading.

(Our library makes the borrowing of audio books extremely swift and convenient......)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Was Not The One I Wanted.....

The Honda 400 Automatic wasn't the one I wanted.

This weekend I finally got around to getting garage contents shifted around so that I could get a bike into the shop and up on the lift.  Both the Ascot and TW200 need some front end work, the new seals arrived weeks ago so one (hopefully soon both) of them were my targets but when 13 bikes are cozying in next to each other in the space of 23', it's nigh impossible to pull any one of them, even small ones out from the middle of the stack.

The 400A was on the end of the line and the reason that it had been put on the end had been absolutely forgotten by me, that is at least until I went to grab it and pull it free from it's Sardine-pack at Position #1.  Last year I'd rebuilt the front caliper and all summer the bike worked like a champ, at least the front end did.  When I went to move bikes around in the garage last fall to put them in their seasonal resting place, the front end caliper was locked tight.  I don't mean dragging.  I mean solid-I'm-not-going-to-roll tight.  I didn't have time, certainly wasn't in the mood to redo something that should have been done right the first time around.  So I literally I had to drag it out and even though I wanted one of the other machines that roll as designed, I decided to bite the bullet and get the old Honda dealt's too much fun to leave stuck and unused until '18.

You can see the piston and the rubber seal just above it in my S.S. mixing bowl.  I must have contaminated the system somehow because that rubber seal is so large in diameter that when it nests and is constrained by the caliper assembly, it's squeezing so tight onto the piston that the piston won't release.

Parts are ordered.

As long as I had the bike on the lift, a few other things were taken care of.  The parking brake is working again.  You might not need one on this bike if you're in the flatlands but that just won't do in our neighborhood.  There's no gear transmission reduction to hold the machine in place so unless there's a big curb or rock nearby, parking (and walking away) is a challenge, a trait shared with the Twist-n-Go scooters.  That's fixed now.

The bike ran so well last summer once warmed up but I had way too much trouble getting it started when cold.  So the carb bank had to come off and there must be about 99% of the room required available to do so.  I've done this before so I know where that 1% hides.  Sure, it may look spacious but trust me, this will go much easier for anyone the 4th or 5th time and I should know.

Upon careful and thoughtful examination, I found my problem.  See this little curl on the end of the spring just above and to the right of my very worn cross head screwdriver? That keeper on the spring needs to be hooked on the tab and it was not.  In other words, pulling on the choke cable would activate one side but not the other.  Pushing the choke cable would positively open both sides, just not close them together.  I never saw or appreciated that fact last year when I had everything apart.

Once the brake parts arrive, this one will be buttoned up and rolled out into the newly opened up free space.  Yes, I could clean and polish but that just ain't going to happen.  When there's a bit more breathing room between machines, I'll hopefully be able to pick and choose my next target for the lift at will.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains - April 1978

The only reason I know the dates from this old trip are because they're written on the Kodachrome slides; it was Friday the 21st that I left the Twin Cities, the Smokies and Washington D.C my destinations.  It was going to be another trip on the good ol' 1975 Honda CB750.

My riding started out near where we currently happen to live....first the hayfields, pastures, fencelines etc. on the Uncles' farm but it didn't take long before roads that really went somewhere were being 'sampled'.  Those rides were summer rides when my brother and I were spending our summers on the farm.  After my high school afternoons but before evening part time jobs, rides were being enjoyed within a 30 mile radius.  The summer after I graduated (brother's Junior summer) he and I headed to Texas.  We never made it that far but we did spend a couple of nights in Arkansas.  He rode his '70 500cc Suzuki Titan and I was on my '1970 Sportster.

A year or so later I no longer owned the Sportster (dad and I had traded) and the trips were gaining distance and frequency.

Here's a shot of Lake Pepin from the Wisconsin side, a common ride/destination even way back then.  I'm typing this post from a location tucked in the valley just behind that bluff on the right, the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River.

I spent that first night in Wyalusing State Park, high on the bluff at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi River.

Still some April ice in the hidden areas below the bluffs......

"My" Rest Stop just outside of Galena, and I stopped here on OUR way south.

Near Hannibal, MO a destination of more than one of my weekend rides.

I happily and respectfully blame dad's dad and Mr. Sam Clemens for a good portion of my wanderlust and love affair with the Big River.  Life On The Mississippi was essentially a guide book of mine during those years.  The tugs, barges and what seemed like an almost ideal life eventually found me a year or so sitting in the Maritime Union office in St. Louis waiting for a shot at working one of the barge crews.

It never happened but I've always wondered.....

My next night out at the Land Between The Lakes.....Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River.  It's funny...what I remember the most about this campsite was the brandy at sunset....

In the bowels of the Kentucky dam....

Something much older.....

Field Trip day at the Visitor Center......

I've never really been a student of the Civil War but there was no lack of exposure to things 1860's on my trip.

It struck me as I was processing these old slide that the time spent photographing sheep and bison was a coincidence....once we were on the farm, our neighbor had a herd of these prairie beasts and as the kids were moving through 4H, we had quite a flock of sheep, sheep I had to attend Shearing School to harvest fleeces for Peg's spinning wheel.

I don't remember the ISO of my film in the OM-1 (200??) camera but these photos remind me of the number of flash photos that I took, something I almost never do these days with my digital units.

A Ford just like the one I worked the soil with, here this one is working river currents.

This little fella was truly a pest......

Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, the KY and VA border.....

The Tri-State Marker, KY, TN and VA

Insect control......

The Honda in the fog.......

I hiked up to Mt. Pisgah and the weather was crazy.....but exciting.

My shadow.....

That evening I sent a Postcard back to my grandparents in Wisconsin......

I don't remember where this campsite was but it was here that I met Christopher, hitch-hiking from St. Johns, N.F.  Along the Parkways with their higher elevation, Spring was way behind.  Down in the valleys, spring was very much in progress.  Christopher and I rode down to the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival and after spending a couple of days with my new Newfoundland friend, the seeds had been planted for my trip to the Maritime's the following year.

The Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester.....It was a couple of years later that friends introduced me to Blossom Dearie at a small jazz club in Wisconsin.  One of the L.P. albums she offered for sale that evening was Winchester In Apple Blossom Time and I brought that double album home, it continues to be one of my treasured records.

I planned to visit the D.C. area and decided to camp at the Manassas Battlefield Park and commute from there into the District.

We sat in the gallery while the Senate was in session.....I distinctly remember Inouye, Moynihan, Kennedy, Proxmire.......  An very memorable experience!

While I was up in the Washington Monument, there were tornadoes around the Manassas area; no damage to my tent or the campground.

It was an incredible trip....did a lot of hiking along the wilder areas to the West and I'm sure put a bunch of miles exploring as many of the buildings on The Mall that I could.  What I think I remember was 2 long days of riding to get home.  I know I did the PA Turnpike and wasn't very impressed. :)