Friday, September 14, 2012

Never Eat Sausages on Wednesday

One of the reasons that I enjoyed teaching Social Studies was that I could hammer into the kids that North is always at the top of your map, and that finding your way in the world was easy as pie.  Easy for me to say to a grade seven student, eh?

I had a hell of a time getting out of Twin Falls this morning. I was up at the crack of cracks, and so were my neighbours, all going off in their scattered ways to beat the heat and get across the vast tracts of  Idaho, Nevada, and Utah and anywhere else in the neighbourhood where it is hot and flat.

I arose before sunrise, and had the bike packed and ready to go before it was light. I had prepared my cooling vest and filled my camelback.  I anticipated about 250 km of searing heat and I was not looking forward to the rising sun.

I lost about an hour trying to get our of Twin Falls. It is not that large a city, looking like Kelowna with a huge big ditch down the middle of it, (hence "Twin Falls).  I geology of this area is amazing.  I will be riding along a flat prairie, and then out of nowhere a huge chasm in the earth appears, and there may or may not be a river at the bottom.  I guess all of the volcanic activity is more recent in this neck of the woods, although I would say the mountains are older than the Rockies in B.C.   I digress.

I ended up at the Twin Falls airport, and while it would of been interesting to fly the bike to Columbia from there, I decided to fight with Mr. Garmin and try and make sense of things.  I think that having North up on the screen helps tremendously,and may that is why I have been going around in circles for the last few years.  Getting my directions straightened out, I set out to veer south and easterly, aiming for Moab Utah, and wanting to stay off the interstate at all costs.

The infamous Highway 50

I travelled from Twin Falls, in Idaho, to Wells, Nevada.  From Wells I headed easterly towards Wendover, and then directly south, south west to Ely, Nevada.  From Ely I travelled  through three different mountain ranges and valleys to Millford, Utah.  I had, by then, run out of map space as well as light.  It looks like  Millford is a mining town, and I will check it out a bit tomorrow before making the run to Moab, where I think I will stop for a bit and do some touristy things, like climb SlipRock...not...

More Aliens are moving on Nevada

It seems that every small to middling town in Nevada has one or two casinos.  Wendover was interesting, in that the only reason it seemed to be there was for the casinos and the Bonnevile Salt flats.   I considered taking Blondie out on the flats, as they were prepping some cars for races, but I understood that it had rained, and I decided that I would hold off on the salt until the Salar de Uni, in Bolivia.  Blondie was happy with that decision.  When I rolled into Ely, the whole town was preping for a huge race on Saturday.  Apparently they close Highway 6 between Ely and Las Vegas, and the rich adrenalin junkies go at it. I wondered why I was seeing a lot of hi end sports cars around town.  A kid told me that the record is 22 minutes.  I will have to google this one, because I think that it is over 200 km between Ely and Las Vegas.  Ely Road Race

  From Ely south, I ended up on Highway 50, the "lonliest Highway in America" as billed by Life magazine.  I didn't feel particularly lonely, but by the time I got to the mountains, I was heating up again.  I am learning to stop and drink water and pee, usually in that order. My nurse advisor made it clear to me that electrolytes and a proper balance of same are important in hot weather riding.  (Didn't know that I had a nurse on my Team, did you?)

This guy has been following my all afternoon. In the morning, he was on my starboard side.  What gives?  Am I near Area 51?

Apparently the mountain ranges in Nevada are arranged in a north south manner, so as I headed east
and south today, I went over about three different and distinct ranges.  While they are not as pointy as our Rockies in BC,  I was surprised at the altitude that they got to.  I think that the Nevada highways department is trying to save money, because I am convinced that I passed this same altitude sign at least three times today.  Maybe they build their road so that this particular altitude will be the top limit for each of the ranges.  It is not worth going back for,but I am convinced that I saw this very same figure before.  Hallucinations?  Altitude sickness?  Gremlins or aliens: who knows.

Nevada was more than I expected, and I was simply anticipating a long hot ride to reach Utah.  While it was a long hot ride, I enjoyed the variety of peaks and valleys which interspersed the wide valleys.  I was thinking that because of the situation of the valleys, it would have been very easy for early hunters and gathers to travel down the valleys.  The floors of the valleys are wide open and very flat, and I would guess that 10,000 years ago, or more, that the would have been abundant with game.  I am a proponent of the Asia-North America land bridge school of anthropology, and any example which supports my point of view is worth harping on.

I was happy with Blondie today. I have been varying her feed: sometimes low octane, and occasionally better octane.  I really don't know what the purpose is, other than I have some sort of idea about what to expect in SA regarding the quality of fuel.  Blondie is leaking a bit of oil, and as nearly as I can tell, it is coming from the rear part of the engine. I am wondering if the valve cover gasket has gone, or is partially worn.  I will keep an eye on the oil level,as well as the amount of oil she spits out.  I  think that it is also a function of the heavy and hot riding,although I am not pushing the motor,and seldom go above 5000 RPM.  The heat is not good for the tires either, and I will have to start thinking about where and when I am going to get new tires.

In the meantime, Blondie is running well and I am happy with her. I hope to spend some time at Moab, and maybe unload some of the gear from Blondie and give her a good run without all the gear holding her back.  We will see.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where there is Smoke, there is Fire

I was having trouble remembering what day it was, and I was thinking it probably time for a shower and a bit of a hand wash of the socks and long underwear. A motel in Twin Falls, and some internet connection to see whats up in the world of interwebs.

  Did I mention that I tried really hard to get my packing fine-tuned and get rid of as much unecessary gear?  I spent the time in Tahsis trying to configure and re-configure the gear.  I decided to go with these fuel carriers, rather than the more cumbersome aluminum carriers attached to the foot pegs.

In spite of lots of angst and figuring, Blondie still looks like she is going to give birth, or she is trying to emulate a gold rush burro travelling up the Deadhorse Pass...they didn't have burros, did they?

Well, I remembered to mark my mileage around the Conuma Hatchery, as the bike rolled over 78,000 kilometers.  I said goodbye to my friend the Elk.  I have spent more than a few times catching a cat nap in front of this guy.

Long underwear is very hand when you are stealth camping, and the temperature in the mornings  is getting down to freezing.

I had planned on leaving south from Victoria, and meeting up with my friend Garth in Seattle. Unfortunately Island BMW could not get it together to have the parts ready for me when I arrived at 8:00 AM, and I ended up missing the window for the Coho.  I thought about heading over on the Anacortes, but I thought that two ferries would lengthen the day.  I used our old standby, and rolled through the Peace Arch Portal at a little after 1 in the afternoon.  I told the border guard that I was heading for Mexico, and after determining that I was not going to leave any of my "stuff" in the US, I was free to roll.  I got away from I5 as soon as I could, and determined that I was going to head in a generally easterly directon until I hit Utah, and then move south.

My first night of camping, at the height of the Cascades.  No wonder I was cold in the morning!

I had to stop and take a picture of these guys scaling the rack face.  A tough job: dirty, dusty and you had better not be afraid of heights.

I headed east on number 2 towards Leavenworth.  I remember riding from the west towards Levenworth three years ago, when Ian and I were new to riding.  I think that we were pretty tired and angry with each other after a 700km ride that day.  I think that I have learned from that experience.  I was not much impressed with Leavenworth then, and even tho there were few tourists, it was time to move on.  I found a good place to camp for the night, on the road to Ellensburg.  Part of the old hiway was inviting, and served me fine.  The sky was clear, and in the morning I realized that I had chosen to camp at the height of the Cascades, and no wonder I was cold and anxious to get going in the morning.

I should have invested in the wind power sector.  All over Eastern Washington and Idaho these aliens have landed and are quietly spinning away.  There are huge banks of them positioned so that they take advantage of the prevailing winds which blow across the prairies.  

I approached Lewiston from the East.  The fields of wheat which my family of riders and I had rode through three weeks ago were all harvested.  This shot above is from a small town to the east of Lewiston, where I stopped in a farmers market to buy some bread and have a coffee.. The fields are a golden colour and serve as a sharp contrast to the blue skies.  Needless to say, the weather is warming up.  I am still dealing with lots of smoke from fires in eastern Washington and Idaho.

I had to take this picture for my sister.  When we went through Lewiston last month, she remarked on the smell coming from the mill.  I noticed this time that guys were fishing for salmon below the pulp mill, so I am thinking that the Snake River would not be allowing dirty effluent into the river.

Down the road, this historic site was an original Nez Perce site...

I ran into a bunch of firefighters rushing to deal with a spot fire on the highway.  These young people are true heroes, trying to keep the fires from spreading and causing more damage than they already have.

I was low on fuel, so went into this small Nez Perz town, called Winchester.  Nice little community.

On the road again, I saw another alien sitting in a field, ready to pounce on tourists..

I left it pretty late to find a place to crash.  Fortunately I found an old meeting place for the tribes, and I was able to set up a quiety camp for the night.  This hawk was watching me as I came in and got settled.  The coyotes were in all of the fields surrounding my spot, and throughout the night they would set up a little chatter amongst themselves, bragging about the killing of some poor mouse.

In the morning, this is what greeted me:

A large part of Idaho and parts of Montana are on fire, and the smoke is drifting westward. I was plagued with smoke and limited visibility all day as I travelled east and south.  I saw lots of mobile fire teams moving to cover off these spot fires.  A lot of the fires appear to be what we would call grass fires, and the more traditional "forest fire" was not readily apparent, although lots of fields were burned and scorched.

This afternoon, I had a wonderful ride down the Hell's Canyon area south of Lewiston, and also enjoyed some brand new paving on the Payette River system.  These guys could teach some of our contractors a thing or two about smooth roads without joints.  This was a wonderful ride, and set me up in order to endure the traffic of Boise and the boring interstate towards Twin Falls.  While I write this, there is a documentry on Chaco Canyon on the television.  I visited this area two years ago, and I want to ensure that I make the time to see further sites in Utah and Arizona.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Time Has Come...

Well, the hairdresser took me at my word.  I am not sure that I gained 20 years in the deal, however.  I am not packing a razor, so I will have to pay attention to my image a bit more than I have lately.

My furry friend is fully aware that I am busy packing and he knows that he will have the house to himself for a few months.  Little does he know that I am cutting off the internet, so no porn for Willy.

Part of my travels this summer was to fine tune my packing and make sure that I have addressed any issues with the bike.   I took a tumble this summer when Blondie decided to take a dirt nap because my adapted side stand allowed the bike to fall over when she was loaded down with gear.  I was able to get another standard kick stand, and I added a foot made by my friend Dave, who also builds tool boxes and tail racks for the F800.

I have had new tires installed, and I am happy with the Heideneau and TCK 80 combination.

I had planned on adding "Peg Packers" as a way to supplement the 16 liter fuel tank on the bike.  After some consideration, I decided that I did not want to widen the stance of the bike, and possibly add to the chance that I could repeat a badly twisted foot from a couple of years ago.

Willy is not happy that his cushion and back scratcher is travelling south.

As I said, my challenge is to make some sort of order from the pile of stuff that I think I need to take with me....

I have focussed on eliminating any tools which are redundant, and also attempting to drop some weight from the bike.

 Some of the tools in the lower tool box took on some water this summer..

 My friend Garth will appreciate that I have eliminated two rachets and a number of wrenches from the tool collection...

 These are going to stay home with Willy...

My friend Garth sent me this picture of his riding buddy in West Africa, further emphasizing the need for keeping the bike light and manageable.  I am not sure that I am there yet, but the sand and the prospect of picking up Blondie have further motivated me to look twice at everything I am packing..

I had a tool-tube constructed this summer, but I neglected to make it secure and lockable. I had a local welder put a tab together so that I can now secure the tools..

I took a header into a bridge on the HighLine this summer, and broke the windshield. I have installed a new one, and have the eagle crest out front to protect me from further falls from the sky...

Tomorrow is the last day to get Blondie packed and put my house in order.  I have had some serious talks with Willy about parties and strange cats, but I don't think he is really listening.