Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From Gig Harbor to Medford Oregon.

The trip continues.  Along the way, I drove through a snow storm, my first one in 7 years.  I made it to Medford, Oregon to pick up my Autohome Tent, which looks great and will get tested a lot in the next few months.  I met some great people and was once again convinced that some of the nicest people in the country live in Oregon.  I wonder if they'd let me join them?

The Globe Positioning System.  To zoom in on your location, mearly stick your head out the window!
From South from Gig Harbor

Works in the snow too.
From South from Gig Harbor

The Autohome in it's new home.  More pictures to follow when I can find some scenic locations to camp in.
From South from Gig Harbor

Next destination is San Francisco, I should be there tomorrow. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I'm picking up the camper in two days!  Then I'll be able to resume touring the galaxy country with vigor!

No, not like this.

From California part 2

And not quite like this.

From California part 2

Actual pictures to follow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm hanging out in Gig Harbor at the moment, enjoying the rain... Just kidding, I'm not really enjoying the rain.  Like most people in this area, I just co-exist with the rain.  Today promises to be sunny though, so things will dry a bit.

I'm waiting for the call/email saying my camper is ready for pickup.  Then I'll head down to Medford, Oregon to get it and then continue south.  I can only narrow it down to someday this week.

While here, I've become a Washington resident, complete with license plates, driver's license, and Washington insurance.  I was content being a Michigan resident, but I couldn't buy insurance in Michigan since my vehicle was here in Washington.  I couldn't buy insurance here because I was a Michigan resident.  So I could either drive to Michigan and buy their very expensive insurance or become a Washington resident.

Several people have asked about the Mechanic's Course that I attended.  Here, from the USA Cycling web site, is a summary of the topics taught:

·         Race support across all disciplines of cycling
·         Team and neutral mechanic responsibilities
·         Coach and soigneur interaction
·         Wheel changes
·         Team inventory procedures
·         Bike inspection and wash
·         Tool, equipment, and supply needs
·         Bicycle design and material fundamentals
·         Fork theory and tuning
·         Wheel theory
·         Tubular tire fundamentals
·         DOT compliance
·         Packing and transportation

As you can see, there was not much hands-on wrench turning training.  It was a great course though, and I'm looking forward to the chance to use some of the skills I learned.

Friday, December 11, 2009

At the Olympic Training Center

Today we visited the 7/11 Velodrome here in Colorado Springs.  No racing, too much snow, but it was still impressive.  The banking is 38 degrees and the course is home to numerous world records.

From Olympic Training Center

From Olympic Training Center

From Olympic Training Center

From Olympic Training Center

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm a guest at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, here till Sunday for a bicycle mechanic course.  Today was the first day, we started at noon and ended at 9:30 PM!  Tomorrow and Saturday we're in classes from 8 AM till 9 PM with breaks for lunch and dinner.  I'll take some pictures when I can.  For now, this will have to do. 

Taken with my phone at check in.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Temporarily Stationary

Hanging out in Mesa, Arizona, for the past two weeks has been "different." I've gotten used to the moving around, seeing new places every day, sleeping on the ground, eating roadkill (just kidding)... I've got another week here before I fly off to Colorado Springs for a three-day bicycle mechanic's seminar. I'm not saying there is employment in the future for me, but it might be something to do.

Another change of plans regarding the Autohome, I'm being reassured that the Autohome will be in the states by the week before Christmas, so I plan to fly from Colorado to Seattle, get the van, and head south. Finally! (We'll see how the plan actually turns out.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mesa, AZ

I'm in Mesa, AZ, again.  The trip across the desert from LA was nicer than expected.  The weather was fair and the traffic was light, so the ride was fast and comfortable.  I'll be here till after Thanksgiving.  I still plan to fly to Seattle to get the van, but the Autohome has been delayed again.  Now they are hoping for "just before Christmas."  I'm arranging to have it shipped to Mesa instead of Medford, OR, since I plan to be here for Christmas.  More later.

A couple pictures from the road.

A shoe fence?  This was the town of Rice, California.  Not much of a town, one burned down gas station and a shoe fence....
From California part 2

From California part 2

And the city limits of Hope, Arizona.  Funny despite the spelling error.
From California part 2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

California, part 2.

Finally photographed a sunset.
From California part 2

I'm in Joshua Tree tonight. Not able to do any site-seeing, just warming up. The ride here has been slow but enjoyable. I got to see many friends in my old neighborhood (Sanoma County), and spend a great time with my sister in San Francisco.
Hurst Castle is just a little bigger than my sister's apartment.  (Ha!)
From California part 2

From there, I headed south along the coast, stopping for lunch at the famous norhtern California motorcycle meeting spot, Alice's Resturant (famous for from a song "You can get any thing you want at Alice's Restaurant"). The souther California version is called The Rock Store and I got to go there too, with my buddy Scot.
My camp site, just off the coast.
From California part 2

The same spot after sunrise.
From California part 2

Once I get the tent on top of the van, this will be my campsite.
From California part 2

Scot provided secure motorcycle parking.  Sit. Stay!
From California part 2

The Rock Store.
From California part 2

Scot tearing up the road...
From California part 2

Highway 18, the Rim of the World Highway.
From California part 2

I'm on my way to Mesa, AZ, where I'll be for the last half of November. What? It's already the 16th? I better hustle!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brookings to San Francisco

The Dream.

I awoke, lying in my sleeping bag, on my camping mattress, on the floor of some convenience store, which was closed for the night. I was looking up at the shelves full of candy, seeing a lone street light shining through the windows. A small earthquake was occurring, causing me to be the human air-hockey puck, skittering back and forth between the shelves. "A dangerous place," I thought to myself. I don't want to be lying on the floor if one of these shelves falls during this tremor. I was just about to stand up...

Then I awoke again. This time I was lying in my sleeping bag, on my camping mattress in my tent. I was looking up through the ceiling-window at the tall trees, the nearly full moon right in the corner of the window. And since I was camped on a slight angle, I was skittering along the floor of my tent like an air hockey puck. Confusion followed. The trees remained standing. I resumed sleeping after a few moments and a chuckle at the tricks my mine played.

Tall trees in Oregon.
From Brookings to San Fran

Most photographed outhouse?
From Brookings to San Fran

From Brookings to San Fran

Fish tank building?
From Brookings to San Fran

A Moment of Zen.

In Gig Harbor, I did my first-ever valve adjustment on a desmodromic engine. Desmodromic means the valves are both open and closed mechanically, as opposed to the more traditional method of opened mechanically and closed with a spring. I had been intimidated by the process until I saw it in the raw steel.. Then I was struck by the mechanical beauty and simplicity of the system.
From Brookings to San Fran

Back to the point: Cruising down a road in northern California, thinking about the valve process occurring beneath me, feeling and hearing the purr of the motor, the gentle curves of the road: the moment was perfect. I wanted to take a picture, to capture the light and the sound and the feeling of the machine... but the nature of the moment would have been spoiled just by stopping. And capturing the feeling of a machine is beyond my skills as a photographer.

It was like this only better....
From Brookings to San Fran

The same thing happened in Arizona, a few weeks ago. That time I did stop, it was a sunrise on a smooth gravel road on the way to Prescott for breakfast. The picture almost brings it back for me. I can't imagine it does so much for you.

This is not Arizona.
From Brookings to San Fran

Moments like those are what Pirsig must have been talking about in his book , Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I've read that book twice but finally understand at least that part of it. It was a moment of bliss between me and the machine and the road.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I'm in San Francisco visiting my sister for the next few days.  I will post some pictures from my route through the mountains soon but for now, here is the route mapped out.
View Larger Map

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday morning

I've been in Brookings, Oregon, for the past two nights, waiting for the rain to stop.  It has and I'll be taking off this morning.  If you are following on the map, my planned route will take me away from the coast and through the following towns:  Hiouchi, Happy Camp, Somes Bar, Willow Creek, Hay Fork, and Garberville.  I think it will take me two days to get to Garberville, which is probably where I'll be able to log on again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the Road Again

Not long ago, my road trips were so infrequent that it might take a full day on the road before I would get in to the rythm of the road.  These days, two miles are enough.  Stuff is gravity, and I have gotten so light that it seems harder to stop moving than to keep moving. 
So after a comfortable 2 and 4/7s week-long stop in Gig Harbor (thanks Carl and Jana!), I am rolling again.  Not quite ideal conditions:  the air temp was a chilly 42 degrees.  At 55 mph, the wind chill is about 28.  And after about 45 minutes this morning, despite my not-quite-winter gloves, my fingers where quite numb.  No pictures were taken, obviously.

After lunch (bowl of chili), the air temp soared to about 49.  After a morning of 42, 49 felt like 54!  Then it started to rain.

Near the town of Seaside, Oregon, rain drops started appearing on the tinted face shield I was using.  Wardrobe choices demanded that raingear go on early instead of later, so I pulled off the road and added a layer.  Boot covers, rain pants, rain jacket, and rain gloves.  As I dressed, I noticed the rain was getting heavier, then lighter.... at least the cars coming the other way still had wipers on. 

The rain was very light though, and I stopped for the night in Tillamook, Oregon; dry, warm, and wearing 5 layers of gear.

From Gig Harbor to Phoenix

Oregon coast line.

From Gig Harbor to Phoenix

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Change of plans

    The camper (seen below), will not be available until the end of November.  So, I will be leaving Gig Harbor this week on a motorcycle, heading south to Phoenix, then flying back to Seattle to get the van once the camper is ready.  Photos from the trip will appear in the usual place (here) shortly.

Residents of Shelton, WA, hold their local politians in high regard...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still in Gig Harbor

Ah, well, if you have been wondering what is going on, I am still in Gig Harbor, WA, getting ready for the next leg.  When I leave here (less than a week from now, hopefully), I will be driving my van, pictured below, minus the trailer and the weight I've lost since retirement happened.  Tucked inside will be two motorcycles and a bicycle and the bicycle trailer, and rock climbing gear, and a box of books, maps, and music.  

On the roof will be a new Autohome camper top, as seen below.  I plan to follow the coast line down to San Francisco, and after hangin' with my sister for a few days, continue on to LA and then Phoenix.  When possible, I'll camp on the beach or at least, near the beach, and i'll send you pictures of the sun setting over the Pacific ocean.

More adventures to follow soon....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fallon, NV to Gig Harbor, WA

The days are growing shorter and the temperature takes longer to get to "pleasant."  Leaving Fallon, I headed for Pyramid Lake.  The road along the west side of the lake led me to the Smokey Creek Desert.  This place is immense and I left the gravel road to experience riding in the desert.  The effect reminded me of driving a boat.  The surface was soft and the handling of the bike was slow but with no ditch or even tire tracks to follow, I simply glided around. Weaving or straight, it didn't matter.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

From tub to oregon to gig harbor

The map showed the desert to be 5 miles wide and about 15 miles long, shaped like a crescent. The road I was on took a long route along the outside of the crescent to the far side and the town of Gerlach.  I was very tempted to try and ride straight across.  I had the gas, but I my water supply was down to a couple quarts, and discretion won out.  With knobby tires, a full water bottle, maybe some food, it would be fun.  But getting stuck on the far side could mean a long lonely walk.  Across a desert.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

After Gerlach, I entered the Black Rock Desert.  Now I know the meaning of immense.  This place is so big and empty, it is where they came to set the land speed record at 763 miles per hour.  At that speed, a mile goes by every 5 seconds or so.  I only went 60 mph, and tried to imagine going 12 times faster.  The land is so flat and vast, landmarks appear to not be moving.  I stayed within a quarter mile of the edge, so I could always see that out of the corner of my eye.  Focusing straight ahead was like flying an airplane, but with a chance of falling over.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

Off the desert, back to the mountains, still trying to make progress north.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

From tub to oregon to gig harbor

I eventually made it to Oregon.  What a great state, it really does offer everything.  High country deserts, plains, mountains, valleys, beaches.... And a lot of National Forests.  I made my way to the Ochoco National Forest and the Frazier Campground.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

From tub to oregon to gig harbor

I set my camp up just before sunset, just before the temperature dropped. I took a walk and approached some neighbors who had a very large fire and asked if I could warm up a bit.  The Day and Halverson families made me feel very welcome.  I warmed up by their fire, enjoyed some fine beef stew and great company.  They asked me a question I've heard before since retirement: "How did you find this place?"  If I had not come during deer season, they said, I would have the campground to myself.  If I had come a week earlier, I would have enjoyed 5 inches of snow on the ground.  Yikes!  I would find what was left of the snow on my way out of the park the next day.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

Making haste across the state, not wanting to get caught in the snow, I continued from there to Gig Harbor, arriving late after a long day on the bike.  I'm eager to get some maintenance done on the bike and hit the road again.

Bonus pictures.
From tub to oregon to gig harbor

From tub to oregon to gig harbor

From tub to oregon to gig harbor

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Las Vegas to Fallon, Nevada

Google Maps says you can get from Phoenix to Fallon in about 16 hours. I've been on the road for 10 days to get this far, which is about 95 minutes of progress per day, which is slow, even for me. But it has been a good time so far, and here are some of the highlights.
Death Valley. The landscapes are out of this world. At the low point, Furnace Creek, the temps were in the upper 80s, but not bad. Throughout the day, I was regularly adding or removing layers of clothing to deal with the temperature changes as the altitude changes.
From Vegas to Fallon

From Vegas to Fallon

Titus Canyon was a great side trip. High-ground clearance advised. And narrow vehicles recommended. At one point, the trail was barely wider than a jeep.
From Vegas to Fallon

The Kangaroo Rat can go months without drinking water. Assorted wildlife photos are taken especially for Godiva Lady. ;)
From Vegas to Fallon

Racetrack rocks are blown around by the wind after the rain makes the lake bed wet and slippery.
From Vegas to Fallon

While riding across the desert, I saw four guys sitting on dirtbikes. I turned off the dirt road I was on to pull up and say hi. After a bit of chit-chat, they asked where I was camping and invited me to join them at "the tub." Apparently, in a search for geo-thermal heat, three wells were drilled. Two of them were too hot to use, one was too cold for geo-thermal energy. It was ideal for a hot tube though, and this cement hot tub was installed, fed by the well. The invitation included dinner, breakfast, and tequila, since one of there group had injured himself the previous day; I got his share.  Here's to you, Bud, get well soon.  The group spends at least a week there every year. I was sworn to secrecy on the location though. But I'll be back to it.
From Vegas to Fallon

From Vegas to Fallon

I left the tub-campground promptly around noon the next day.  Tonight I'm in Fallon, NV, planning to really pick up speed over the next few days. I'll keep you advised.