Monday, May 21, 2018

Road Blocked

We got a late start on the ride today.  I slept to 7:30 for the first time in ages, then we met Rob and his wife, Nicole, for breakfast downtown.  It was 11:00 before we got underway.

One of the new friends from last night, Heather, strongly suggested we take 6 to Tillamook.  We did and it was a lovely ride.

In Tillamook, we stopped at the Blue Heron and Tillamook cheese stores.  I bought stickers and ice cream at the Tillamook store.

Then we turned south on Oregon 101, running along the Pacific coast for miles, until we came to a stoppage of traffic just south of Newport.  We were told that there was an accident between a motorcycle and car and the motorcyclist died at the scene.  Three people in the car then crashed into a ditch and were trapped in the car.

The police stopped traffic from the accident at around 3:30..  We probably could have found a way around but were told by locals that it was too long to try,

So we backtracked to a local seafood restaurant for an early dinner, thinking we would be back on the road by 6:00.

But traffic remained stopped at 7:00 so we got a hotel and decided to try an early leave tomorrow.

We heard that the road reopened at 8:00.

Breakfast in Portland

On the road

Blue Heron

At the Blue Heron picnic area

Big line for ice cream at Tillamook

Air Museum

Stop along the Pacific coast

After the traffic stoppage we backtracked for local seafood.

Cool bridge in Newport

The bridge from below, because we had time to look around.

And found the Rogue Beer plant.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Breaking in a Vespa

Mark bought a new-old-stock Vespa 150 Sprint last year at Amerivespa.  It sat under a deck at his brother's house in Redmond since.  It had 6 miles on it.

Mark cleaned the bird crap off of it and off we went.

We left the hotel at around 8:30 with the destination of Portland, where Mark had set up a meeting with several friends from the scooting and high school worlds.

Rain was encountered several times, but never bad enough to stop us. 

The intended route initially was to ride near Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens, but it turned out that some of the selected roads were still closed, so we backtracked and took roads parallel with I-5 to keep speeds reasonable for the break in. 

It was not an ideal break in already, but around 50 miles out of Portland, Mark noticed that every time he pulled either of the brake levers, the starter engaged.  certainly not something good for the scooter or the ride.  So we decided to head to Vespa Portland while avoiding having to stop by riding on I-5.  Wide open throttle for 50 miles is probably not the best way to break them in,

As we approached the dealership, Mark pulled up beside me to tell me that he had solved the problem.  It was a stuck starter button that he could pull out and stop the starter from engaging.

We stayed at the dealership for a while.  Everyone there was friendly and the dealership first class with a large selection of scooters available.

From there we went back to the hotel, then to dinner at a whiskey bar downtown.  It is owned by fellow scooterist Rob, who joined us for the outstanding dinner and friendship.  He even took us to a rooftop deck in the bar's building where we had a wonderful view of downtown  Portland.

Mark riding his new Vespa on wet roads

Along the way

Change of route needed

Mark in front of a small shop just before the brake/starter issue

Crossing the river into Portland on I-5

Scooters at Vespa Portland.  Vanessa has a new sticker from the dealership.

New friends on the roof with downtown Portland in the background

Hanging out in Seattle

Today was my layover, get adjusted day as I awaited the arrival of Mark Bobotek.

On the agenda was to visit with cousin Drew where I was to pick up the master key for Vanessa.

Then I wanted to visit the local Vespa dealer, Triumph of Seattle, and see their service manager, Daniel.  Both were successful.  I also wanted to change the oil and filter on Vanessa.  They were busy so I borrowed an oil pan and funnel but they wanted me to do the work off the premises.  I went to a local convenience store but couldn't get the drain plug out without my usual breaker bar, so I am holding onto the oil and filter and will change them in Morro Bay.

I rode around the area north of Seattle, visiting neighborhoods and parks along Puget Sound.  Stopped by the Ballard Locks, then headed back to the hotel to collect my stuff for a move to the second hotel in Redmond, near the Microsoft headquarters.

I had lunch alone in an empty restaurant.  The server was very personable, so it was a good experience.

Then rode around a little, seeing the Microsoft campus and came back to the hotel to chill until Mark came.

Then I rode over to Mark's Brother" house to meet up with Mark, test the scooters and head to dinner.  But first, Mark wanted to go by "Hashtag", a local pot store.  It was a fascinating place with the herb in so many forms, all marketed with fancy boxes, bags and wrappers.  I didn't buy anything.

Then dinner at a Thai restaurant and back to the hotel for the night.

Cousin Drew

The Vespa side of Triumph of Seattle

Railroad bridge at Ballard Locks

Sound side park

Lisa, the most pleasant server.

For brother David

There were several of these display cases.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Now I Remember...

Why I chose Vanessa for the 2016 Scooter Cannonball Run.

At the time, I had three almost identical Vespa GTs in the garage.  Rocket, a 2006 was old with a questionable engine so it was out.

Razzo is technically older, being a 2005 model, but low mileage and nice running.  But it had a rougher idle and engine note.  It also has a nasty wobble at mid speeds, making it less good for taking photos on the fly.

Vanessa had given me many problems over the two years of ownership, but they had all gotten sorted.  After a few successful test runs, she was the choice.

What made me remember is riding her from the Cowart garage yesterday.  Very solid chassis and the smoothest engine of the three.  Not quite as quick as Rocket these days, but 9.5 or 10 gram rollers might be the fix.  She still has a coolant leak, but should make it to the finish.

Vanessa at Lake Washington yesterday.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Big Adventure Begins

I must be the last person on earth who gets his boarding pass at the airport.  When you do that on Southwest, you get the last "C" place to board.  I got two of these, but the advantage of this is you get to choose your seat mates.

The first leg from Jacksonville to Chicago had me between a racist Pentecostal Preacher and a beautiful young HR worker.  Both were nice, the preacher talked too much and it was quickly apparent that he saw a big difference between white and black people.

On the next leg, Chicago to Seattle, I was dead last.  They closed the door behind me.  But an indifferent couple had left a window seat.  I took it and was rewarded with an incredible view of the line of volcanic mountains along the Pacific Coast, with a close view of Mt. Rainier. The wife had been sleeping the entire way while her husband watched movies on his iPad, but she perked  up when she saw Mt. Rainier.

Up close and personal with Mt. Rainier. 

The window seat was right next to the engine.  This is the same airline and airplane that recently had that same engine blow up, killing a young mother.  I was glad it didn't happen this time.

So glad this engine didn't blow up.

I arrived and found the Uber pick up location and called for an Uber Share.  I followed the driver on the screen and it continued to jump around, 4 minutes away, then 9 minutes away, then picking up another rider, etc.  Then I saw him drive right past me, checked my phone to see that he had called, so I called him back.  He said I didn't answer and he couldn't wait. I asked him to cancel the ride.  He said he couldn't and told me to do it myself before hanging up on me.

I then got a Uber X straight ride for ten dollars more.  The driver was a wonderful fellow from Ethiopia.  We had a very nice conversation before he dropped me off.  By the way, almost all of the Uber drivers at the airport drove a Prius.

I met Donald Cowart at Coffee Tree, where we had nice sandwiches and coffee.  Then I picked up Vanessa.  She cranked right up and ran well.  It took ten or more minutes to get her loaded with GPS, Spot, and the suitcase strapped to the back.  Then jacket, gloves and helmet.  Sometimes it is easier to drive a car.

Blurry but the starting mileage for the Big Adventure.  14,071

Donald and Helen kept Vanessa for me the last year and a half.
She looked and rode well.

When I rode off she felt soft, so I rode to a sketchy Shell station for air.  She was down to 20 pounds in front and rear.  I pumped them up to my usual 30 each and she felt better.  The oil was good but the coolant was below the low level.  I bought a bottle of water and added almost a pint before it was back to the full level.  It has been almost two years, but she clearly has a leak somewhere.

She rode fine and I rode her across Lake Washington to Belleview for the night in a LaQuinta Inn.  I was supposed to have dinner with my cousin Drew, but he broke some ribs recently and was in pain.  I will see him briefly tomorrow to pick up a helmet and Vanessa's master key.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Unloved Honda

I sold the Honda yesterday.  Almost gave it away.

The first ride was to Fernandina Beach.  Here it is on A1A between the Talbot Islands

It was purchased in 2013 with the intent to use it on long rides, especially with my good friend Drew.

This idea came after a wonderful ride with him earlier that year.

We rode, Drew on his BMW F800GS, me on a rental BMW F650 GS, from Denver to Glacier NP and back in 8 days.  2700 miles that ride took us, and it was truly life changing.  What a ride!

The ride that started it.  This at the Beartooth Pass.

I put 10,000 miles on it the first year, including a huge ride to see Sam.  I met him in Detroit after riding 830 miles the first day from Jacksonville to Columbus, Ohio.

On that leg the big problem reared its ugly head.  Somewhere in North Carolina my butt started hurting.  The bike was not comfortable.  It was great on the highway. plenty fast while being relaxed at almost any speed.  But that seat.

We rode to Chicago where I spent two nights.  Then two days to get home.  2500 miles in five days.

After that it took me to Charleston, the Florida Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg, North Carolina and several other mid length rides.  It was fine for 100 or so miles.

In 2016 I loaned it to Drew so he and his son Sean could take it for another epic ride from Denver to Banff NP in Canada and back.  Sean rode it and could ride all day without difficulty.  Before the ride, Drew bought a new Sargent seat for the bike.  While it looked great, it proved to be no more comfortable than the original.

After that, I rode it to Virginia for the Spring MP3 Gathering to test the seat.  It was uncomfortable.

Riding up, my friend Adrian offered to let me try his Air Hawk seat cushion.  I guess it worked OK.  I gave it back to him, and on the first days ride, and they take all day rides, my butt hurt.  The next day's ride I folded a thick towel to make it better and it helped.

In Virginia with the "Towel Hawk" seat cushion.

For the ride home I bought a beach towel and it didn't work.

When I arrived home I simply wanted to throw the stupid motorcycle on the ground and stomp on it.  It was not comfortable, therefore couldn't be used for its intended purpose.

Over the past year I have been offering it to Drew to purchase.  He and Sean are planning another cool ride from New York to Nova Scotia and back later this summer.  He checked rental costs and found that the cost would be nearly $1,500 to rent a bike up there.  He called to say he would buy the Honda.

Off it goes, finally leaving the garage, where it has been except for an occasional ride to keep it going.

It won't be missed.

Monday, May 7, 2018

2018 Cannonball: Getting Support Supplies to Lostboater

The 2018 Scooter Cannonball Run is driving me crazy.

After not finishing in 2014 because of a lack of spare parts and mechanical skills, I vowed to fix that for 2016.  In that one, I started with a Cannonball ready scooter, less than 10,000 miles on Vanessa instead of 57,800 on Rocket in Hyder for the start of 2014.

Rocket had a variator that Boris had put in it many miles before.  Not a new one, but one he had taken out of another scooter.  They only cost $60.00, so starting with that thing was a bad decision. 

Of course it broke...while leading...on the next to the last day....and I didn't have a spare.

So in 2016, I carried two variators while starting with a new one.  It didn't break.

This year I am even more prepared than last time.  I made a box of spare parts to take to Ken's house in St. Petersburg.  In it are parts I have been collecting for a while.  Two variators, three drive pulleys with their "O" ring.  Several one use variator nuts.  Several sets of rollers and variator slides (no sliders, they are crap).  I also have fuses, a starter relay, two coils, three spark plugs and caps.  A headlight, air filter, oil filter, hoses, three drive belts and spare nuts and bolts, enough to take care of anything but the biggest catastrophe.  I am also bringing new front and rear tires, mounted, and a five gallon gas tank, so on long days, I won't have to find gas stations.  If the worst happens, blown engine or something terrible like that, I will buy a scooter along the way and ride it home.

On this weekend, while preparations and keeping up with what everyone is doing, I had to get the stuff to St. Petersburg. 

I fit it into my Miata.  Mostly in the trunk but the small dry bag had to go in the front seat.  The air pump went there too.

I wanted to drive the entire route with the top down and succeeded until getting to the I-275 turnoff just north of Tampa.  I could see a black band of clouds ahead, so I got off the interstate to stop and put the top up.  I got caught by a traffic light so simply did it there, but I stepped out with my bare feet (they were getting too hot inside the shoes without the air conditioning turned on). 

Just my luck, I stepped onto a small, sharp piece of glass and poked a hole in the bottom of my foot.  It bled for a few minutes, right on the clutch pedal and dead pedal left of that.

Once back on the highway, the rain was biblical.  I went through at least ten miles where I could barely see in front of my.  It was very dangerous as I was going as fast as I felt comfortable while others were doing the same.  But some blasted by like it was a sunny day.  Luckily, no accidents before the sky lightened and I could make it across the Howard Frankland Bridge to St. Petersburg.

I dropped everything in a neat pile in Ken's new garage, then spent twenty lovely minutes with his wife Vicki. 

I should have contacted Walt about visiting Tampa Bay Watch, our cause for fundraising in team Squadra Lumaca this year, but instead got in the car and headed home.

7 hours on the road for the delivery.

Luckily I like driving the Miata.

Miata delivery

The lift is Ken's.  It is not coming with us.  My stuff is in the neat piles.