Friday, October 30, 2009


That's what our youngest grandson who's 18 months old calls a motorcycle..."Ta-caa".  At least that's the way it sounds to all of us. His Daddy has a Ta-caa and Papa has a Ta-caa. When our son and daughter-in-law came to the house early one evening a couple of weeks ago, they had just bought the above crotch rocket for him at Target.

The Beemer GS he calls "Papa's Ta-caa". He has another one that's a cruiser he calls, "Daddy's Ta-caa". They say he carries them around a lot.

And occasionally he likes to pretend to be a Vespa pilot. It looks like riding might be in his future. This gives me mixed feelings. Of course it's hard to imagine him riding at this age. My natural reaction is protection. He won't be 16 for quite a while so for now we'll have fun with the Ta-caas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Orderly M&M's

One night last week we had the privilege of having our 4 year old granddaughter over. After we finished dinner grandma gave her a bag of M&M's. This is what she did with them. She always divides them by color and eats one color at a time. Very interesting. I wonder if she'll be an artist or maybe a photographer. Maybe an architect or interior decorator. Does this mean she'll be highly organized? Maybe it's just the way she eats M&M's.

It's interesting how we all see things differently.

Have you had an M&M lately?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday Gift

Yesterday morning was another glorious Sunday ride with God providing the show. This image is almost in the same spot as two weeks ago.

Do you think this is just the sun's light reflecting off of gases and molecules in the atmosphere, or could it be God saying He loves us and He's here?

Riding and thinking...

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Glimpse of Roseburg

I left the house yesterday morning at "0-dark-thirty", actually 6:12. The destination was Roseburg, about 170 miles south of Portland on I-5. The temperature on the guage throughout the trip volleyed between 48 and 52 degrees. And if one word could describe the morning ride it would be foggy.

This section of I-5 runs through the heart of the Willamette (pronounced Will-AM-ette) Valley which is Oregon's agricultural center. On both sides of the highway farmland stretches to the Cascades on the east and the coastal range on the west. The Willamette River meanders through the valley from Portland to Eugene, 100 miles south.

Whenever I head south, my first stop for a break is Albany, Irondad's home town. The McDonald's along I-5 is a good spot to check for messages, stretch the legs, and get coffee.

Southbound out of Albany is about a 40 mile shot to Eugene which is the next big city and the southern end of the valley. From Albany to Eugene both sides of the road are speckled with various sized herds of sheep grazing on large acre farmland. Yesterday I only saw occasional glimpses of sheep close to the road. The other noticeable wildlife are Hawks which perch themselves on the fence posts next to the highway. One day I'm going to stop and snap some shots of these predators.

My first stop in Roseburg is the community college at the north end of town. I got there about 9:45. One thing I've always notice about this campus, it's very quiet and you don't see many students. In fact, in the picture above it looks like the wild turkeys outnumber the students and cars. I'll bet there aren't many college campuses that have wild turkeys roaming around.

That's it, I'm never eating turkey again.
Roseburg is nestled in a forested area known as the 100 valleys of the Umpqua (Ump-kwa). The timber industry has always been the key to its financial growth, but that shifted in the last couple of decades to more tourism and retirees making their home there. The reason for this shift is the fact that there is a lot to do and see in and around Roseburg. It's only 70 miles to the coast, 80 miles to Diamond Lake in the Cascades, and a little further beyond and to the south is Crater Lake. Wildlife Safari is about 5 miles south which has 600 acres of drive-through wildlife. Probably not such a good idea on a bike. In addition, wineries are plentiful in the rolling valleys west of town.

If you like fly fishing or any other fresh water fishing, Roseburg is the place to live or visit. This is the South Fork of the Umpqua River which runs through the city.

This is a view of the North Umpqua River at the Winchester Dam. In the structure on the lower left is a fish ladder with a viewing area to watch fish as they make their way upstream. It's pretty cool to watch, so if you're passing by on I-5, it's right off the freeway at exit 129. I managed to get one half-way decent shot below. They swim up to the glass pretty quickly.

 In case you're an avid fisherman, the picture below shows the fish count at the dam.

About 12 miles west of town the two rivers meet and head west to the ocean. Further east up the North Umpqua is some of the finest steelhead fishing in the world. As a side note, the main contact I see at the college rides a motorcycle and he says the country roads all around the city are very nice for group or solo riding.
The only downside of the trip was seeing more businesses in the downtown area with signs like this. Hopefully this trend will turn around.

After all the work and play I decided to treat myself to a Dairy Queen Blizzard before the ride home.

As I was leaving I spotted this rig in the corner of the parking lot.  Looks like someone had some fun. I guess we should add off roading to the list of things to do in Roseburg.

It was a little over a 360 mile trip. I got home after dark. It was a nice ride and a good day from a business standpoint too.

The promised post on Northwest Portland will be coming up very shortly and will feature a popular breakfast spot you won't want to miss.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Longview, WA

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
This morning I "flew a mission" on the Beemer to Longview, WA, the northern-most city in my sales territory. Longview is situated on the Columbia River about halfway between Portland and the ocean. It's on the confluence of the Columbia and Cowlitz Rivers. Mt. St. Helens is about 40 miles to the east. I hope to do a post after riding to Mt. St. Helens but that will have to wait until the spring.

(Marquam Bridge. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Thick cloud cover was on order for the first half of the day and the temperature was in the mid 50's this morning for the 60 mile trip north on I-5. There was a brief sun-break while crossing the upper deck of the Marquam Bridge in Portland, but the sun wouldn't make it's full appearance until after 2 pm.

This photo was taken of Longview later in the afternoon from the Oregon side of the Columbia looking northeast. In the distance you can see the plume coming from the wood mill. As with many towns in the Northwest, the wood mill was the reason Longview was founded. The Lewis & Clark Bridge connects the two states.

The Columbia winding out to sea. I wonder what it looked like for Lewis & Clark.

Here's the library which has a an old park with large trees in the square across the street. If you look closely you'll see a small rectangular sign hanging almost directly over the bike. It says, "Nutty Narrows Bridge". This is the street crossing for the park's squirrels. I forgot to get a closer shot of it.

In the early 20's when Longview was built, it had the distinction of being the only planned city built entirely with private funds. Located on the south side of town this is Lake Sacajawea which was a former slough.

Back home in Oregon here's a lake along Hwy 30 which runs along the Columbia. This is a natural habitat with interesting wildlife. Should've had the 30D and long lens. Next time.

Almost home and realizing that the Beemer will probably spend tomorrow in the garage. Rain is in the forecast all day.

Stay tuned for a visit to the Northwest section of Portland.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random or Purpose

Late one afternoon last week after leaving the jail, I was in the parking structure across the street taking pictures of the Beemer. Okay, I like parking structures for taking pictures. That might seem kind of weird but the lighting is unique with various shades of gray and black and they're big structures with heavy lines of concrete. Parking structures will be an upcoming post when I get more photos. By the way, I don't generally hang out in parking structures.

Anyway, as I was taking pictures a young guy rode up on a Yamaha crotch rocket and parked next to me. It was one of those occasions when you meet someone and hit it off right away. This sort of thing happens more often since I've been riding.  I think the motorcycle is the means to break down barriers and open the conversation. He began right away telling me that just two months ago he hit some gravel while going around a curve and flew off the bike and hit the guardrail. He went over the guardrail and slammed into a tree. He broke his neck and one of his legs had a compound fracture of the femur. Wow, I said, and you're riding around on another bike so soon? With a boyish grin he said yeah! I told him how blessed he is to be alive and that not everyone lives through something like that; he agreed.  We continued to have conversation about life and work and family and bikes. When we said goodbye, as I got on the bike I watched him walk away with a limp.

About thirty minutes before this meeting, I had been visiting with an inmate who intends on representing himself in his upcoming trial. I don't know if he's innocent or guilty, that's not my concern. I was encouraging him that throughout the Bible God used ordinary people to do extraordinary things. You can imagine how daunting it might be to be your own lawyer and in charge of your own destiny. I told him that God is involved in our lives even when we can't see that He's there. I have to admit, I don't always think of that myself. But then I met the young guy in the parking structure who's living proof that God has a purpose and plan for each of us. It wasn't his time to go on that curve with the gravel.

I've been thinking a lot this week about that guy in the accident. As motorcycle and scooter riders we know the danger involved in our hobby. Why is it that some people survive bad accidents while others die? Is it fate, luck, Karma? Those don't have a good track record. In fact, they point to one word, random. When you think about it, it's hard to believe that the world is random. There's too much evidence of design and we pass by it all the time while riding. I was reminded of this in Steve Williams' last post that showed an image of a salamander that he found while riding.

I just wanted to throw out some points to ponder. My faith has a lot to do with my worldview. Most of the time it's hard to suppress. I'm not forcing my beliefs on anyone. My intention is not to offend anyone and not to be preachy or "holier than thou". I'm merely a harmless guy who's just a work in progress.

And I'm just riding and thinking.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunrise and Tall Grass

As I rode up the driveway this morning a little after 7:00 the temperature on the bike's gauge was 37 degrees. Fall is definitely here.

I do some volunteer work at the county jail every other Sunday morning. These Sunday morning rides are a special time. There's a sense of solitude and a feeling of more awareness than other times of the week. I generally see only a few cars on Sunday mornings so the danger they pose is almost nonexistent. It's a 16 mile trip through the country with interesting photo opportunities.

As I rode west this morning I could see the sunrise developing in my side mirrors. I started thinking of places up ahead where I could get a good view. As I continued to ride, the reflection of the red glare became visible on everything ahead. I was concerned about losing an opportunity before the road turned north where I could get a better angle. Just after the turn north I saw this scene. The bonus was Mt. Hood visible on the horizon.


We helped our youngest daughter move to a different apartment this weekend. As we made the many trips up and down the steps on the slope down to the apartment, I noticed a cluster of Pampas Grass that became back-lit by the setting sun.

With the afternoon breeze they became slightly out of focus.

This ornamental grass blooms in the late summer and early fall and will be gone for the year in about a month.

When I think about the ride this morning it helps take away the muscle soreness from the move this weekend. I told our daughter we're getting too old to be doing this but that didn't seem to fly with her. It's a good thing she doesn't move often. But she knows we're always available.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

South Park Blocks

Many times during the month I have an occasion that brings me to Portland's South Park Blocks. The Park Blocks are 11 narrow blocks in the middle of downtown Portland on the west side of the Willamette River.

In this district you find The Portland Art Museum, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Performing Arts Center and Oregon Historical Society. On the south end of the park is Portland State University and along the edges are a handful of the oldest churches in the city.

To say that this area has a diverse mixture of people, places, and events is an understatement.

Like any city park, there is a blend of interesting people on any given day. 

Yesterday I briefly walked through the Farmer's Market that's held each Wednesday until the 28th.


The sausages were grilling...

 The coffee was brewing...

And the music was playing.


I just wanted to give you a quick look at this part of downtown Portland. Stay tuned for more from The Park Blocks in the future.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"It's's really here."

On a recent morning after I pulled into my favorite gas station, I noticed that Shawn wasn't his usual perky self. When I asked if he was okay he said yes. As I handed him my debit card I said, "You're not sick are you?" His reply was, "No but it's's really here." I assumed he was talking about the swine flu when he said, "I handle hundreds of these cards each day, of course I'm drenched in gasoline so I figure the gas will kill most germs anyway".

Great, one more thing to worry about!  A couple of times a day I use hand sanitizer but I must admit I'm not as conscious about germ transfer as one should probably be as we enter the cold and flu season.

There are a lot of things a person can worry about these days. No need to make a list of worries, just pick up any news paper. The good Lord knows I've done my share of being overly concerned about both little and big things. But as I look back I can honestly say that worrying did absolutely nothing to improve the situation. At the time it might have felt like it was helping but it didn't.

As Shawn and I continued to talk about concerns of the day, I said to him, "The older I get the more I realize that I'm not in control of most everything, and I'm finding that I just need to trust God more each day."  He said, "that's good for some people".  I think it's good for more than some people.

Been riding and thinking.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday in Corvallis

Today I worked in Corvallis, home to the Oregon State Beavers. I left the house later than I had planned and almost took the car. I thought it would be a repeat of yesterday which was cool with light rain.  Eighty miles of steady wet weather was not on the to do list today but by the time I got on I-5 and headed south, I was glad I took the bike. It turned out to be a nice dry day.

The first stop was Good Samaritan Hospital. It's an encouraging sign that many hospitals in Oregon are undergoing remodeling including this one.

The next two stops were the school district and the university.  The route I take through campus goes right by the football practice field. I saw some of the players beginning to hit the blocking sleds; getting ready for Arizona State this weekend. Not having a professional football team in the state makes both the Beaver and Duck fans serious about these teams.

This is the Brew Station, a popular coffee and pub spot in the village just off campus. I had to stop and put the bike in line and snap a photo.


This is Robnett's Hardware, established in 1853 by J.C. Avery, the founder of Corvallis. I like hardware and I really like old hardware stores. They've bought from our company for many years. The Robnett family has owned it since the 1950's.


The wood floor is from the 1920's and makes a nice creaking sound. It's a shame many of these mom-and-pop hardware stores have disappeared. In spite of a Home Depot in town, this one is doing well.

The ride home was on Hwy 99 which runs along the west side of I-5.  I usually ride to Corvallis on 99 and make stops in small towns along the way, but today I reversed it. I wonder if most who ride on two wheels like to take a different way home. It's the anticipation of exploring new roads and scenery that adds to the enjoyment.