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May 27, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

Parking LotAs you may recall from my long motorcycle trip last month I was blowing headlight bulbs every week. When I changed the bulb in Burney, CA on my way back home I broke the clip that holds the bulb in the housing. To fix the clip I had to purchase the entire headlight housing, meaning the lense which costs $132. That part took 10 business days to arrive. When I went to install it I broke a piece of the frame that holds it to the bike. So I had to order a new $11 frame. Of course the part had to come all the way from Germany. Another 10 business days. So, there I was at 6:00pm sitting in my gas-guzzling 1967 Chevy C-10 on highway 85 in slow moving traffic watching the motorcycles whiz by in the carpool lane. Oh how I was yearning to ride again. Taking the truck to work added 30 minutes to my commute on the way home. I was getting cranky. Finally the headlight frame arrived and I got the bike all back together. I figured out that the bulbs were blowing because I had the adjuster screws too tight and the lense was hitting the frame when I went over bumps on the road. This shock to the hot filament caused them to break. It was a costly mistake because the PIAA H4 anti-vibration bulbs cost $45 a pop. My commute is much more enjoyable now and I feel alive again. Last week as I sat in my truck on the slow moving 85 I wondered why more people don't ride motorcycles to work. It just seems so stupid to drive a car when you can get there quicker, save on gas and have so much fun.

Posted by stephen at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2005

Hey! I'm on the Radio!

Greg KihnThis morning on my way to work I was listening to the Greg Kihn Show on 98.5 KFOX. He was talking to callers and trying to guess what kind of accent they had and where they came from. I thought I would give them a taste of the old Canadian accent that everyone notices on me down here. I dialed in and got a busy signal but kept on hitting redial until suprisingly it started to ring. Chris Jackson answered the phone and I told him I had a Canadian accent for them. I was parked in the Orchard Supply Hardware parking lot and I was on hold. After waiting 15 minutes Greg Kihn came on the phone and said, "You're on the Air! Start talking and I'll guess your accent." So I said, "I was out and about yesterday." He yelled, "YOU'RE A HOSER!" He talked for a bit about touring in Canada and about meeting a beautiful Canadian girl who wanted to party after the show, eh? I asked him if he wanted me to turn up the Canadian a bit a do some more expressions. I did a thick Northern Ontario accent... "Hey dare, how ya doin'? I was a da hockey game last night, eh..." He was laughing his head off. I also did a Quebecois ordering breakfast for him..."I'll have two eggs side by each with an orange glass of juice." He laughed some more and asked me to repeat the "eggs side by each" again. He thanked me and as soon as I was off the phone I turned up the radio and heard myself from the beginning of the call. There was about a two minute delay, eh.

Posted by stephen at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2005

Northwest Motorcycle Trip

Day 1: Wednesday morning I left at 7am and headed up to Portland. Instead of taking the 101 up the coast I decided to take the 5 to the 97 in Oregon. I heard that the 101 up the Oregon coast is congested with traffic in the towns along it. I was cautious not to speed up the 5 because the last time I was up there I was caught by a Highway Patrolman but was let off with only a warning. I've never been on the 97 north of Klamath Falls before. It rained on and off throughout the day and I arrived in Portland around 8pm. I was about half a mile from J. Laramie's place where I was staying that night and it started to downpour. I have never seen it rain that hard in my life. I could not see ten feet in front of me and the rain turned the streets into 4 inch deep rivers. Murphy's Law prevailed. All day throughout the showers I wore my Aerostich Gore-tex rain gloves but just prior to arriving at J's I took them off. After getting settled in, J. and I headed down the street to McMinamin's Pub for dinner and a drink. We then stopped by the Green Room for a drink and caught Stephen Ashbrook preforming.

Day 2: Thursday morning I put my Helimot Buffalo 365's in the dryer for two cycles which got them about 70% dry. I had the choice of taking a ferry north of Seattle or stopping in Renton, WA at Greenwood cemetary to visit the grave of Jimi Hendrix. Coincidentally, the first song on my iPod that morning was "Red House" so Jimi was calling. When I long distance motorcycle ride, I always eat light during the day. I got that tip from the Ironbutt Association's Archive of Wisdom. I did not have directions to the grave but I had looked it up on Streets & Trips on Tuesday night. I took the main exit into Renton and stopped at a restaurant and had a chicken salad. I asked the waitress with a thick Russian accent if she knew how to get to Jimi's grave. She had no clue who Jimi Hendrix was. I'm sure if I asked her were Lenin's tomb was, she would have given me excellent directions. I ended up using the web browser on my Treo 650 and googled "jimi hendrix grave" and got directions from some fan's site. When travelling alone I also like sitting at the counter. You get to socialize a bit more with others and the service is quicker since the waitress is right in front of you. Next to me a guy started talking about himself. Jimi and I He breeds german shorthaired pointers. He talked for about 15 minutes about these dogs and how he was trying to find studs and other breeders and the color mixes and oh my! I got the check and I was in a hurry to get out of there, but he wouldn't stop talking about the dogs. I didn't want to be rude but I had to leave. As he was talking to me I just stood up and started walking to the cash register to pay my bill. He kept on talking. He finally caught on and said, "Nice talking to ya. Have a good trip." The cemetery was only about 2 miles away from the restaurant. I rode in and looked for the biggest memorial and there it was. I parked in front of it, took some pictures said hi to Jimi and left. I headed north to the border to settle my work visa business. I arrived at the US customs building at the border and instead of crossing into Canada, I did a U-turn into the the customs check in. I parked the bike and went in to do the paperwork. They say it's hit and miss when it comes to applying for a visa at the border. Last year was a hit and today was a miss. They said I needed letters from my previous employer to proved that I was doing the work I said I was. I was so pissed off. Last year they granted it to me and this year they change their mind. He said he couldn't kick me out of the country because I didn't leave it and I had a five days left on my current visa. My back up plan was to mail in the application to the Service Center. I was so frustrated and angry. I phoned my attorney from the parking lot of a Shell gas station and he said they don't know what they're talking about. So, I jumped on my bike and made my way to Winthrop, WA through the North Cascades National Park. As I rode my mind kept replaying the border scene as I disected all of their comments. There was nothing I could do, but make the best out of the rest of the trip. It was about 7:30pm by the time I made it to the highway that goes through the park. It rained and for the last 2 hours I was riding in the dark throught the Cascades keeping a lookout for deer on the road. I arrived in Winthrop at 10pm and got a room at the River Run Inn. I told the girl checking me in about my bad day and she gave me $10 off the room. She also hooked up a DVD player in my room so I could watch a movie. All the restaurants in the one horse town were closed. I told her I was hungry and she went home and brought me back a bag of microwave popcorn. Now that's service! I watched a few episodes of the British comedy "Coupling" while sipping vodka coolers and eating popcorn. Great show, I highly recommend it!

Day 3: Friday morning I hit the road on a diagonal south east direction towards Lewiston, ID. I rode through the fields where Washington apples are grown. Karaoke Night! Lewiston is along the Snake River. When you approach it from the north you drop down at least 3000 feet to the city. It is quite a sight. I stopped in Clarkson to purchase the bare essentials: Jim Beam, Chunky and Pringles. I headed south through the spectacular Rattlesnake Pass - a motorcyclist's nocturnal emission! I arrived in Enterprise, OR at 5pm and called it a day. I got a room at the Ponderosa Motel and had a few drinks and a nap. Woke up at 8:30pm and went on on the town. I stopped off at a bar/restaurant and I was the only one in it except for the bartender. I had the prime rib. After talking with Brent over dinner at the bar I went around the corner to Range Rider Bar to enjoy Karaoke Night! A few drinks for courage and I got up and sang a soulful rendition of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart." I always sing that or "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" with a southern twang in my voice. Locals got up and two stepped while I sang and entertained the bar full of about 20 people. The night was done and so was I.

Day 4: Saturday morning I woke and packed the bike up. My plan was to head south through Hell's Canyon. As I travelled down Wallowa Mountain Road I came to some very large patches of snow on the road. I thought it was just on the eastern side of this pass so I drove over it, parked the bike on dry pavement and walked down the road to see if there was any clear road. I ended up driving over about five 50 yard patches of snow and ice. I almost dropped the bike a few times and I was getting stuck. I had to rock it back and forth to get it out of ruts. All I could see was more snow. I pulled out my Motorola FRS radio that has an altimeter in it and it said 5440 feet. My triple-A map said the next pass is at 6000 feet! If there's snow at 5440 feet there will be more snow at 6000. Hell froze over! I was alone on a unmaintained road in the middle of no where. I decided to turn around because I didn't want to die. As I was making my way back, a Jeep Cherokee pulled up. I stopped and talked to the driver. He and his buddy where out exploring the pass. He said he thought it would be ploughed, but it wasn't. I started the bike back k up and started across the snow back to the pavement. I was out of breath, all wet and sweaty. I unzipped my suit and rode back to Enterprise. I stopped at the Shell station and asked the old guy there about the road. He said they don't plough it until Memorial Day weekend. He said I could drive up to Inmaha and take a dirt road down to the river and that would spit me out where I wanted to go. The road he recommended was gravel and bumpy though. Flat tire risk. I decided to take the north west highway out of town and cut my losses. I was hell bent on making it home in one day. In Burney, CA around 8pm my bike's odometer turned 100,000 miles. My headlight also burnt out and I pulled over into the bay of a Chevron station to change it. I've been through 4 bulbs in the past 3 months. Something is wrong. I thought it was electrical, but I figured it was the headlight lens vibrating and hitting the faring. As I pulled out the old bulb I broke the retaining clip that holds it in. Damn! Luckily the rubber boot that covers the bulb would hold it in by itself. During the end of my trip I was starting to halucenate so I followed a car in front of me to focus. This was the longest riding day of my life. I rode from 8am to 2am and covered 920 miles. The whole trip was 2543 miles. It was good to be home.
Trip Photo Album Here.

Posted by stephen at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)