Saturday, March 26, 2011

It Looks Like Ben-Hur had a Choice...

... either a chariot or a Vespa.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Visit to the Spruce Goose

It was a wet, wild, and at times windy ride this afternoon as I rode to McMinnville, OR to see some accounts.  McMinnville, more commonly known as "Mac", is home to the Howard Hughes Spruce Goose.  The H-4 Hercules Flying Boat was moved to this site from Long Beach, CA in February of 1993 by Evergreen Aviation.  If you enlarge the photo above and look through the glass you can see her.

Evergreen has built a nice aviation attraction around the Spruce Goose centerpiece.  The jetliner above was recently added on top of this building which is an indoor water park.  This summer you'll be able to slide out of the 747 into a pool. 

Next on the plans for this popular attraction is a resort.  Whether you're an aviation buff or not this museum is a must see if you're in the Portland area.  In fact, the BMW International Rally last year had a kick-off visit and luncheon here before the Rally.  It was well attended by many motorcycle enthusiasts.

The Spruce Goose is about 3 miles east of town. Here is downtown Mac on 3rd street. As you can see, the afternoon traffic here is almost unbearable. Both sides of the street are lined with quaint shops along with unique restaurants and pubs.  This is a college town so Friday and Saturday nights are busy here.

When I see one of these I can't resist stopping.

I think almost everything they sell is healthy and it's very good.  These fruit bars are irresistible for a hungry traveler.

After I took this photo it would have been nice to get in the blue rig, twist the key and take off.  I had all the gear on so it was doable.  I guess I'll just have to settle for dreaming about it.

God's speed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Early Spring Sunset

Stopping somewhere on a road to take in an early Northwest spring sunset.  In the northern hemisphere another winter season has been put to rest again. Spring is the door to warmer weather with all the beautiful colors emerging soon. 

I hope you view it with your kickstand up.

God's speed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is Riding Like Downhill Skiing?

The other night I went to a gathering of folks and met some great people.  It was a Bible study that's been in existence for roughly 30 years.  I sat next to a gentleman who is in his 70's and is an avid downhill skier.  He's been skiing for over 50 years and he's now in an age bracket which puts him into the ski-for-free category.  I'm pretty sure there aren't too many 70+ downhill skiers.  When you reach that age you get to ski for free.  It seems like a just reward for still having supple muscles and joints.

Last year I wrote about we who ride on two wheels being in a subset of the population.  This man is in a subset too and judging by what he said and his smile while saying it he enjoys his sport very much.

When I mentioned to him that I ride a motorcycle and that there are some similarities with regard to danger but also a big fun-factor he got serious.  He talked about how dangerous motorcycles are and gave a few examples of accidents.  You know how that conversation goes.

We all know that riding is dangerous and we all hear these stories and deal with them in our own way, but I find that sometimes a conversation like this can hit something deep inside.  And there are times when the soul-searching thoughts can last a couple of days.  Am I crazy to be riding?  Is something going to happen to me soon and this is a warning?  Do I need more training?  Should I give up riding and take up downhill skiing?  Nah, I'm not in the free bracket yet.

I do some volunteer work at the county jail. I've ridden to and from the jail a lot but I don't take any of it for granted.  The ride home late this afternoon was one of the best.  It was an aha experience.

Within weeks of getting the Beemer I bought bar risers and a peg lowering kit.  I'm over 6' and needed more room in the cockpit.  I've never really leaned hard, thinking either the pegs or my boots will scrape but today I hit the corners harder and faster than usual.  I put the bike into a more aggressive lean.  I figured I'd try to find the limit.  I got the bike far over but didn't scrape.  I was surprised when the suspension dug in and held the bike firm and with more stability through the curves.  Is riding like downhill skiing?  Can a person schuss on a motorcycle?

I'm not boasting by any means. My chicken strips are big (big chicken strips = big chicken).  And I'm not suggesting for anyone to take corners faster than their level of experience. Let's face it, most motorcycle accidents happen on the curves so we should be good at cornering.

Then I had the thought that an advanced riding class might be in order. Maybe that's what the gentleman at the Bible study was saying.  Riding is dangerous and a healthy reminder of that fact every so often is good.  It helps keep things in perspective instead of slipping into a false sense of security.

Do you have any training classes in your plans this riding season?

God's speed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Random Shots and Random Thoughts

While riding to my first account yesterday morning I had thoughts about some current events. Watching the events unfold after the tragic earthquake in Japan is a reminder of just how fragile our world is.  In the days after hurricane Katrina some of the New Orleans police force walked away from their jobs due to the enormity of the challenge to maintain law and order.  It's sobering to be reminded that a major disaster can change life quickly.

Another thought to consider with disasters is how small our planet is. People and nations pull together to help and support those who are suffering.  It brings humanity closer.  It puts our focus on others.

The earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand was only a few weeks ago.  Earthquakes are happening more often than any other time in history and this was foretold in the Bible over 2000 years ago.  Add this together with the events going on in the Middle East and one has to admit that these are amazing days in which we live.


My first stop yesterday morning was one of the high schools in Silverton. I was going there to look at some plumbing parts.  Silverton is about 40 miles southeast of Portland.  Checking out plumbing parts sounds like fun, right?  I know, plumbing parts and fixtures are not real stimulating but they put bread on the table and I enjoy selling all the product lines that we have.  The fun part is helping others with the parts they need to do their jobs.

The ride took about an hour with roughly half the trip on I-5 and the second half in the farmland of the Willamette Valley.  The above image is in Mount Angel, a town originally settled by German pioneers. It's about 5 miles north of Silverton.  It's also the home of a famous and well attended Oktoberfest held each September.  Just thinking about it makes me hungry for bratwurst with sauerkraut along with an Um-papa band playing in the background.

Wow, this is the second post in a row with a McDonald's in it.  I don't eat at McDonald's very often - only breakfast about once a month.  I'm finding, though, that many of them have free WiFi and since I like their coffee they make a great place to stop and setup a temporary office.  The other benefit is the ability to keep most of the riding gear on and not worry about what people think.  Chances are I was just seen rolling up on the bike so I must not be a real storm trooper.

So you're cruising along enjoying the ride and being aware of impending dangers, all the while looking for photo opportunities.  You see what could be an interesting shot down a side road along an orchard but you're going 60 mph.  By the time you ponder whether it's a viable photo opportunity you're almost 1/4 mile down the road.  Do you turn around or shrug it off and keep going?  Lately I've been turning around. It's part of my, "Enjoy the little things" program.

I eventually wound up at the mall for lunch.  

These people were waiting in line near the Apple store for the new iPad 2 that was released yesterday at 5:00 pm. The line seems like a good marketing tool by Apple.  It advertises the popularity of the new device.  I wonder how many people got in line so they wouldn't miss out on something.

Later in the afternoon when I was riding home from the jail I noticed an unusual plane flying slowly overhead. When I got close to home I saw the pilot sitting in the plane and idling right next to the road.  I did a U-turn and watched him take off from his personal airstrip.  This place has had small planes fly in and out for a long time but I've never actually seen it happen.  I parked the bike near his takeoff spot to take some photos of the setting sun.  I was about to leave when he taxied nearby again.  Through sign language I asked if I could take his photo and he agreed.

Again through sign language I asked if he was going to take off again and he gave the thumbs up.  So I got some shots of his short takeoff.

He doesn't have much runway.  You can see it turns to gravel pretty quickly.  His road has a little bump just before the gravel and he hits it just right to hop him into the air.

He was airborne in less than about 15 seconds.  Pretty cool to have your own plane and airstrip.  And some think riding a motorcycle is dangerous.

At the end of the day the bike had 115 more miles on it.  I hope you're putting miles on this weekend.

God's speed.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Doing the Laundry

I had an appointment with an oncologist at 4:00 yesterday.  My dermatologist thought it would be a good idea to see if I would be a candidate for a CAT scan. This would be to make sure there are no cancer cells lurking somewhere.  After looking at all of my lab work and the results of the surgery the oncologist said there was no need for a scan and that as far as melanoma is concerned I'm cancer-free.

By the time I left his office it was about 5:15.  It was beginning to get dark and it was raining.  It was a nice ride home in the rain after receiving good news.  At one particular stop light I caught a lady in an SUV staring at me.  She might have been wondering why someone would be so foolish to be out in the cold rain.  Or maybe she was noticing how dirty my jacket was.  It's been a while since I've washed it.  In fact, I looked like I rolled under a diesel truck.

This morning I met a couple of friends for breakfast at McDonald's. When I got parked a guy drove up in his pickup and started asking the usual questions about the bike.  Thinking back on it, my jacket looked pretty bad so washing it went on my to-do list.

My technique is to first take out all of the removable armor, soak the jacket in the bathtub, and use Woolite and a brush and scrub hard.  After that I give it a thorough rinsing then spray Shout stain remover on all the dirt stains on the front and scrub hard again.  Then I give it the final rinse.

There... much better.  Now it looks like I rolled under a hybrid.  Whenever I do this I usually ask myself why I don't do it more often.  Maybe it's because in a week it'll be looking dingy again. 

I'd like to know your method for doing the laundry.

God's speed.