Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Stats

There are so many stories rolling around my head that I want to share. I don't know where to begin so I will start with a few statistics. Although statistics may seem dry fodder for a blog, some of it may be useful in understanding fully the stories of the road I will tell later.

By Andy's calculations we put 2,356 miles on our bikes. By my GPS we covered 6,546.7 total miles by bike and car. We went through 5 tires on the trailer. It seems Wal-Mart tires are only good for about 1,000 miles. On our return home, we found a tire dealer that carried our size and had two new ones mounted. These tires had some serious tread and we had no more issues with tires on the trek home. In fact, they look barely used.

The temperatures in July can reach 110 degrees in Arches National Park. This would be the day, of course, that Andy decided to ride without a jacket. By the time we returned to the hotel, Andy had witnessed his flesh bubble and blister. He now looks like a snake shedding it's skin.

The Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park is about 11,500 feet. I found myself light headed and short of breath. Jade wasn't too fond of the altitude either. She coughed and sputtered the entire way. Try doing those serious twisties and hairpin turns with a bike that is chocking and coughing the whole way.

The highest gas price we paid was $4.57 and the cheapest was $3.68. In Colorado, the octane starts at 85%. It's hard to find a decent grade of fuel. I'm not sure why. Some Colorado law possibly.

Jade typically reaches reserve at about 140 miles on the tank. Her worst day was reaching reserve at 110. Judging the tank became a game of chance. If you have never traveled west before, there is no way to describe the expanse of open space. A person needs to seriously calculate their gas tank before beginning any travel to ensure reaching services before running dry. This happened to me at the Grand Canyon, and nearly so in Canyonlands National Park.

The weather covered the spectrum. All in one day you can blister, ride with teeth chattering finger numbing cold, get seriously rained upon and stop for lunch in the warm sunshine. And true to any summer in any state of the union, the inevitable road repair. Here we rode in dirt, loose gravel, loose gravel sprayed with fresh oil, rain drenched dirt turned mud and freshly laid tar not yet packed. That wet mud we rode through on the last day has Andy and I looking at our bikes with jaws gaping. That stuff is so hard and stubborn that the tropical rain storm we drove home through could not loosen it at all. In fact, tomorrow we will need some serious elbow grease to remove the grime. No wonder this stuff screwed with Bill's kickstand safety switch.

The speed limit on I-70 is 75 miles an hour. Jade can do 75 miles an hour and even 80 with the throttle wide open. It gets dicey when the group passes those tractor trailers. Little 650 Jade held her own playing with the big boys. Her rider's knees, on the other hand, threatened to knock a few dents in the tank though. Jade got up to 91 by the GPS on the open road. Speaking of speed, once in Rocky Mountain National Park, a traffic cop stuck his arm out the window and told ME to slow down! Now that's a first!

Home again it's hard to adjust to the fact that our adventure is behind us. I have posted here a number of photos, but it only begins to scratch the surface of the photographic record. I have found myself reliving moments through these photos. I hear, smell and feel the West. At night, in that space of time between wakefulness and sleep, I see, as if a vision, bikes before me, swaying and undulating with the turns and twists in the road. In these moments, I am there still.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Green River to Colorado Springs - Monday & Tuesday

We had a long ride from Green River to Colorado Springs. We started our journey on I-70. You can take just so much of super slab riding however, and Lee diverted us to route 24. Lee went ahead to fill his twistie lust and the other four bikes stuck together in a leisurely scenic ride to meet up with Lee in Buena Vista.

Route 24 is undergoing road work in some areas. We knew this as we had traveled the road earlier in the week. To add to our discomfort riding a dirt road way, the skies darkened and it began to sprinkle. Now our road was mud. At the second section of road way there was a flagman and at this point we pulled off to put on rain gear as the sky was getting darker. After our gear was on, Bill's bike would not start again. We spent some time at this stop until Bill and Andy discovered the trouble. All that dirt and mud from the road had interfered with the kill switch mechanism that prevents you from starting a bike with the kickstand down. After the dirt was cleared the bike roared to life.

We were not spared the rain and endured some serious pelting on our way to the meet point. This rain was so intense that it felt like a million needles piercing the flesh. It's possible the rain was close to hail. Ouch!

We reconnected in Buena Vista and had a great lunch in the sun. When we saw the dark clouds heading our way, we hightailed it out of there and continued our ride to Colorado Springs. Not far from our destination is the Garden of the God's. This is a strange area that seems as if parts of Utah have been dropped right into Colorado. The surrounding landscape would not indicate that such formations were close at hand just seconds of the highway.

After a late meal, we retired for the night. This morning, we are packing in preparation for our ride home. Andy is off looking for two more decent tires for the trailer. I have some moments to myself for reflection of the past week. This adventure has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. As riding companions our personalities blended well. It was a pleasure to spend time and share these experiences with them. If I could have one wish, it would be to come together again in the future for a new adventure. Bill, Barb, Deb and Lee. Thanks so much. Andy, you were more than tremendous in how you watched our tails from behind. Also a special thanks to Lee who put so much time and effort into planning this trip. You did one hell of a great job. Thanks.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Day of Rest? - Sunday-

It seems that what motorcyclist do to relax is to take a day trip. No watching birds, no sitting by the pool. That's for old folks right? Ok, enough teasing, here is the real story.

At breakfast, the owner of the establishment, a friendly fellow named Ben, suggested some fun sights we might want to visit. Not only that, he highlighted in yellow a route we should take. Included in the sights was Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, and the Indian Pictograms. Lee and Deb were off to do their own thing, and Andy and I joined Bill and Barb for a day following Ben's route.

We spent the most time in Canyonlands. Our destinations of choice were Grand View and Upheaval Dome. Upheaval Dome is another spot on the map that begs for one to sit and ponder. The wind blew across the canyon at this spot and cooled our scorched flesh. Back to the bikes we headed down the Canyon for gas. Once again, Jade is burning fuel like there is no tomorrow. When we reach the gas station, the tank is nearly dry, but I made it there this time.

The day is getting away from us when we reach Arches National Park. The one arch that Ben suggested we see is 40 miles into the park. We haven't even been to the Pictograms yet. We settle on riding 10 miles instead to look at Balance Rock. While there, I am dizzy and light headed despite keeping hydrated. We head back out of the park fully intending to take in the Pictograms. However, as we travel closer to our destination, the sky darkens and we see lightning in the distance. Unsure of which direction this storm is heading, we hightail it back "home." I feel it's a wise decision. I arrive feeling a bit queasy and very thirst. I buy a large beverage from the machine, put on my suit and hop in the pool.

At dinner Lee has is laptop which is his habit when we are discussing our next days travel. This time however, Lee has some words of contemplation and reflection he has put together in a quiet moment of his own. Watch this blog for a guest posting from Lee as I feel his words would be most appropriate here.

Monday we head back to Colorado Springs. We have an option to ride through the Garden of the Gods. The skies, heat and fatigue level will make our decision for us the closer we get. Monday's ride will be long and that is one of the considering factors.

Kanab to Green River - Saturday

Our ride today was stickily scenic riding along 89 and I-70 to Green River. Lee had mentioned again and again that for him this is the best piece of super slab you could ever ride. He does not realize what an understatement that was. All along this stretch of road there is so much to see, that the ride is an adventure in itself.

The highlight of this ride was a stop at a viewing spot along I-70 called Spotted Wolf Canyon. We lingered here for some time as the magnitude of the view before us cannot be fully experienced in a drive-by. The photos below say it all.

Our hotel in Green River is like an oasis and we all voted to stay here an extra night. Our do nothing tomorrow (Sunday) except take in the quiet of the river, enjoy the flock of hummingbirds that visit the feeders, sit by the pool and just vegetate for one day. There will be time enough to get back to the real world soon enough.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grand Canyon - North Rim- Friday

We stayed two nights in Kanab Utah so that we might fully enjoy and appreciate the Grand Canyon. We set off early in the morning for our destination. We stopped at Jacob's Lake, where it is said the best homemade cookies can be found. Being early in the morning we decided to stop here on the way back and sample the cookies. Lee mentioned we could get gas here or one other location. My bike has not been getting the best gas mileage due to the altitude and carburetor trouble, but Andy calculated that I would have enough for the round trip. Off we went.

The Canyon did not disappoint. I found great pleasure in watching Barb's face as she witnessed the canyon for the first time. Bill found himself sitting at the rim of the visitor center just taking in the magnificence of the canyon. We lingered here for some time enjoying a great buffet lunch and then were back on the road again to explore the rest of the canyon.

I wanted to get back to Angel's Window. I remember this spot as the most intense of experiences of all the canyon locations. I was not disappointed. Later to my delight, I discovered that my new camera could recreate the moments in ways I have not recorded such experiences before.

The ride to Angel's Window was tough on Jade. The altitude does not agree with her. She coughed and sputtered her way up the winding road that leads to the parking near this point on the canyon. When nearly to the top, I heard Andy come over the radio that something has fallen off the bike. I had heard a clang, but didn't know what it was. The clang was a baffle that shot out one of the tailpipes on Jade. That sucker was HOT! Andy had a towel in his saddle bag and picked it up off the side of the road. Jade is a loud bike, but now she sounded like a Harley wanna-be.

While at Angel's Window we witnessed an electrical storm across the canyon. What a spectacular show. However, signs warn of lightning strikes so we took care. When the sky threatened, we mounted and headed on back out of the park. Jade's tank was desperately low but still, we felt I had enough to make the nearest station. My mistake was to idle a few minutes at the exit and this proved to be my undoing. Not half a mile from the station, Jade sputtered and the tank went dry. Lee went ahead to get gas while Andy and I moved Jade to a safer part of the road.

With gas enough to make the station, we pulled in to fill up. Lee, Deb, Bill and Barb went ahead to Jacob's Lake. Wouldn't you know that right at that spot on the map, the black cloud caught up with me and Andy. We donned our rain gear and high tailed it to group. With that experience now behind me, I took full advantage of the Jacob Lake famous cookies and had TWO giant cookies. I agree. The cookies were rich, delicious and filling.

Full to the brim with cookies we decided to fore go dinner out, and instead had beer, chips and store bought sandwiches outside the hotel. The sky was streaked from horizon to the heavens with streaks of pink and gold. The canyon walls were ablaze with the evening sun. It was the best beer and chip experience I have ever been privileged to share with a group. Especially a group as great as this.

Grand Canyon - North Rim

Just a short note. My laptop is still on Eastern time, so the posts show the wrong dates. Glen Canyon and Zion where on Thursday and the Grand Canyon was Friday. I will post about the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I am a day behind on the posts.

There are photos up for Gunnison National Park if you wish to view those. I have some great photos of the Grand Canyon and hope to get those up soon.

Saturday we are off to Bryce Canyon.

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell - Zion National Park Day

From Cortez Arizona, we traveled to Page and stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam. The ride there took us along route 160 through some of the most punishing heat imaginable. When you ride in the cold, you have to consider the chill factor. I'm not sure what the opposite of that is, but riding in heat like this is like being in a convection oven. Hot just doesn't describe it.

We finally reached a trading post where we could gas up, but what we were more interested in was water. I wet a bandanna and wrapped that around my neck, after a good drenching of the head. Here we watched a fleet of Mercedes pull into the lot. All the drivers were German, and the cars were test cars. Each model was rigged and hooked to laptops. Their one complaint was that they could not find 98 octane in the US.

Off we went from there to stop at the dam. Crossing the bridge alone is impressive enough. You can see a few shots in the photos below. Of course, this is a massive dam, and the security is tight. To enter the visitor section is like the check points at the airport. Good thing bikers carry very little. I was through in no time at all. There is an interesting piece of rock out in the front with dinosaur tracks, which I took a photo of as well. You can only look at a dam so long, and soon we were off in the heat again.

The heat was really getting to me and if we hadn't reach the hotel when we did, I'm not sure I would have made it. Relieved to be at our destination, I was also a bit short tempered. Fortunately this place had a nice pool, and all of us were soon cooling our baked flesh. What a relief that was! I felt so much better that Andy and I joined Barb and Bill for an evening ride the Zion National Park. The pink in the rocks at sunset is nature's beauty at it's finest. Even the roads into Zion are impressive. Kansas may have their "yellow brick road" but at Zion the pink road makes me imagine that the red carpet has been rolled out. You just know that this road is taking you some place special!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Colorado Day 3 - Black Canyon

Our day took us from Eagle Colorado to Cortez. At first I wasn't sure what type of day we would have as far as riding goes, due to Lee's foot being in a bad way the night before. However, things were better in the morning so off we went. From Eagle we traveled through Glen Canyon. The skies opened up and this bit of travel was done with rain gear. However, Glen Canyon was spectacular even in the rain.

We stopped for gas at the halfway point to Black Canyon to judge the weather. We had already pealed off the rain gear a few miles back. The sun was now beating down upon us. Our plan was to get close, and if the weather held we would go to Gunnison National Park at Black Canyon. The gods were with us. This area is known as a mini Grand Canyon. It is amazing what mother nature has created. On the ride out of the canyon I had another surprise. For those of you who have come down from Mt Vernon into Milford, think of their sign that says "Enjoy the View." Now magnify that 100 fold. WOW!

We were soon in the rain again. At these elevations it can get darn cold. Despite the cold, the scenery is still beautiful in a way no other part of the country can deliver. We went from roasting hot to teeth chattering in the space of a few miles. Before we reached our nights destination the weather had cleared again and the bank sign read 87 when we reached the hotel. As I'm pressed for time. This is the short version. We are off to Utah today. More later with photos.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rocky Mountain National Park - Day 2

Day 2 was our longest day by miles, so I am blogging a short post this morning before our next adventure.

The Rocky Mountain National Park was fantastic. The roads to and from have more twisties than I have ever seen before. I am proud to say that my skill level has improved if only a bit, which made the experience that much more enjoyable. Despite Jade's carb troubles at this altitude I managed to help her up to the 11,000 feet needed to experience some of the greatest vistas in the world.

Lee's friends Rich and Brian joined us for this day and we enjoyed their company. You can see a group photo at the end of the slide show. Since I have limited time this morning I will only cover the highlights.

The route Lee planned for us had so much scenic wonder that if we had the time I would have stopped and photographed each and every spot. However, Barb is a passenger and i witnessed her taking photographs and video as well. I hope to share some of these at a later date.

At the summit in the park we watched a herd of elk travel up the mountain side. The photo is in the slide show, in the upper left. Had we known that just down the road there was another herd closer to us, that is the photo I would have taken.

Our funniest animal experience is when we had to come to a complete stop for a herd of cattle in the road. They just stood their with a strange expression on their faces as if to say "what? we were here first!" Andy rode ahead and sounding like one of the cowboys out of the old west films, hollered "Ya Ya!" and finally the stolled on their way.

It was a long day and we were all exhausted at the end. However, the rain we had on the way back to the motel seems to have departed and I am looking forward to more great riding today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Royal Gorge Bridge

Today's destination was Royal Gorge Bridge. (1,053 feet high) This is the highest suspension bridge in the world. We headed out in the morning to blue skies and warm temps. The roads and scenery were awe inspiring. It's been a while since I visited the part of the country and it's easy to forget just how impressive the mountains are. It can be hard to keep your eye on the road at times.

Royal Bridge had more than we anticipated. Despite not having the time to take advantage of all of it, standing on that bridge was awesome. Now I hate the word awesome, but it fits today. We witnessed two specialties at Royal Gorge that are staying with me still. The first is the Royal Rush Skycoaster. On this ride, you and up to two other of your friends can get strapped into a harness and swing out 1300 feet above the Gorge. Not me, thank you! Take a look at some of the photos. I zoomed in so you can see the people. Another shot shows what they are swinging from. I read that they are swinging at 50 miles an hour!

We next witnessed a bright red helicopter come zipping over head. It banked sharply to the left, and I thought it was going to crash! Instead it dropped out of sight, and raced into the canyon right beneath the bridge. Now that's a ride! We needed to head out to meet Rich and Brian, so off we went. Not before we had to jump start my bike however, because in all the excitement, I left the key on and the bike was dead as a door nail.

After meeting up with Rich and Brian we headed off to our 2nd motel, through some serious twisties. There was one moment I had a good chuckle. We hit some road construction and needed to ride 7 miles on dirt. LEE HATES DIRT! I could practically see this in neon on the back of his head. He did well though, and made up for it in the twisties zipping out of sight in a flash!

We ended our day feasting on Mexican fare. Tomorrow we head for Rocky Mountain National Park. I'm off now for some much needed sleep.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Limping into Colorado Springs

Andy and I finally limped into Colorado Springs about 5:45 Mountain Time. Lee greeted us in the parking lot and helped Andy take the bikes off the trailer. I’ve had a few moments to look at the Jott postings, and I can see there are problems with that. I may need to speak more clearly, or there is too much background noise when I make the call. In any event, here is an over view of our non-stop trek to Colorado.
It was outside of Scranton when we realized out first serious trouble. We had been hearing noises from the trailer, but could not find the trouble. Then the left wheel started to wobble. There were three lug nuts missing and the tire was about to drop off. With the tire having a problem, the weight of the bikes shifted and the frame bent all along that left side. It was now off the support. The tire rim was shot too, with the holes for the bolts all elongated and egg shaped. Lucky for us the spare had two bolts. Our luck held out and we found an all night truck repair that had a regular type bolt the size of the lug. We had to make a call. Go home or risk it. We headed west.
The trailer was listing badly. We stopped every 50 miles to check nuts. We did this all the way to Ohio. We stopped to get gas and noticed the spare was starting to split. It was an older tire and we sort of took a chance on it to begin with. We asked around and were pointed over the Wal-Mart Tire center. They agreed to transfer the good tire from the bad rim with the tire on the good rim. When we removed the bad cracked tire, we had a good shock. The tread had also peeled in big chunks. Since they also carried our size in the store all mounted and ready to go we bought a new spare.
My thanks to Frank and Krystal who were so helpful at Wal-Mart. We wanted to borrow a jack from them, but it’s against store policy. Then with their back to the security camera, pointed us around the corner away from the camera, and loaned us a jack. This kindness was repeated when after hitting a good pothole on the roads under repair, the trailer shifted further off the mount and the tire stared rubbing. Cheryl and Dave at, The Truck Place, went out of their way to help us with a “fix.” All of our troubles were made small by the kind folk we met along the roads of this great country. I can’t say thanks enough.
The Mowatt and Billman contingent were having their own issues, from what they tell me. At about the time we lost our lug nuts, they ran out of gas and were stuck on the side of the road for two hours waiting for AAA service. Also, it seems the rail on their trailer was eating tie downs like they were candy. They and we resolved and overcame all our challenges, and arrived safe and sound. We will begin our next adventure tomorrow, as we head for Aspen and sights. But I don’t want to spoil the fun with a preview. We had a great meal at Famous Dave’s and called it a night. I’m off to bed for much needed sleep and will post some photos tomorrow. Come back to this blog entry for the photos to go with this text.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We met a lot of people...

We met a lot of people yesterday. All gave them their time to help travelers in need. I wanna thank Frank and Krystal at the Walmart Tire Center in Reynoldsburg, Ohio who helped after our spare shed its thread on I-70. Also, Dave and Krystal at the truck place who helped with our frame. Sheryl said, things happen for a reason and no words could be any truer. listen

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Everything happens for...

Everything happens for a reason. Go to the word they heard today, in the last 24 hours there is certainly sitting that everything happens for a reason from from a lug nut to the dense rim(?) to the trade filling off our spare tire, all of these incidents landed us in places where people were friendly and willing to help and we met some great people. listen

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Friday, July 18, 2008

We Go, I once read that...

We Go, I once read that this short sentence, We Go, was the very first entry of the first diary kept by Laura Ingles Wilder, of Little House on the Prairie thing(?). As their family headed out by covered wagon. So, it is fitting that this 2 words come to mind as we set out with our own wagon on an adventure to the West. listen

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Words a Riding Girl Should Never Say

With Monday morning dawning, all my mind can think about is where to find the gasket I need for Jade. I have a full day ahead of me. I am training a replacement for work while I’m away. At the same time, hopefully with grace and proper business etiquette, I can call around about a part.

Yesterday, in a desperate attempt to acquire a gasket, I placed an order on-line with one local Yamaha dealer with a note to call me in the morning about the order. I really don’t want to order if they can’t guarantee delivery next day. Nine o’clock rolls around and I am getting antsy. I call them. The “internet guy” is not even in today. I speak with the parts guy available, and he tells me that for next day, I would pay a $30.00 shipping charge. My mouth is hanging open at this incredulity. I tell him “let me speak with my husband first” which is always accepted by people as a legitimate excuse not to complete a transaction just then.

I call the next dealer on my list. They do not have the part either, but can order it for next day. I will have to pay extra shipping. “How much?” I ask. They feign ignorance. I ask if they can call around “in a dealer courtesy” arrangement to see if they can find one locally. “Sure” they say, but an hour passes, and when I call back I am told that no one has a gasket in stock. I break down and order a part with them.

I call another dealer on my list. This one is in Manchester. I repeat yet again to the parts guy what I need. By this time, I feel that I have scripted what to say, without any expectation for positive results. “Yup” he says, “we have one in stock.” My heart begins to race. The parts guy does a physical check. “Yup” he says again. I ask him to put it aside and my husband will pick it up.

I call the other dealer and ask to cancel the order. They tell me I can’t cancel it. I am mentally fatigued at this point and accept that, and ask if I can cancel the overnight shipping. They can do that, and I will have a second gasket next week. I’m thinking “whatever,” but politely I say, “OK, I will pick it up when I get back from vacation.” I guess a spare is never a bad thing.

Now, I am not mechanically minded, and my terminology is not always correct, as Andy’s is not always correct about things computer related. We accept this of each other in the way that comfortable relationships do. That evening Andy and I set out to install the gasket and replace the crank case cover. We had noticed when removing the cover that each bolt is a different size. (Of course I call them screws. Andy doesn’t correct me.) So we don’t get them mixed up we duct tape them near the holes they belong too.

We are having a bit of a time getting the cover on without messing up the gasket. Some of the screws (oh, right…bolts) fall from the cover. We are so intent on getting the cover on right, we don’t notice right away. We think we are completing the task when we notice one screw missing (oh right…bolt.) We are frantic. We hunt and hunt and hunt. We begin to question if it was really there. We can’t tell by the sticky gunk the tape has left on the cover. By this time it is 6:35. I tell Andy I will call the Yamaha dealer in the next town over to see if they are open. “That’s probably a good idea” he says.

I make the call. They answer the phone. My heart leaps with joy at hearing a live voice. “How late are you open until?” I ask. “We are open until 7:00” the man says. “Oh, good! I’m in the next town. Would you mind waiting? I am in desperate need of a screw.” I say. “Lady” the man says with humor in his voice “we never deny anyone in desperate need of a screw.” When I hear my words come back to me, I realize how it sounds and my face turns twenty shades of red. I confess to Andy what I have said. He’s more amused than I think he should be. I stay in the car at the dealership, but I hear Andy and the Parts Man have a good chuckle about it as they say goodbye at the door. OK, I’ll take the ribbing, as long as Jade is repaired. I will certainly remember next time the difference between a bolt and a screw, because saying you are “in desperate need of a screw” are just not words a riding girl should ever use. That is, of course, unless she means it, which is a topic for another day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Words a Riding Girl Never Wants to Hear

With T minus 5 days and counting, we begin our motorcycle tune-up in preparation for the big trip to the Rocky Mountains. We have already done our shopping for each bike. The air and gas filters, new oil, spark plugs are laid and ready for the task at hand. The weather cooperates with a fine breeze and lots of sunshine to work by.

Andy starts on Jade first. Jade has a few quirks we have to consider each time we work on her. True to form, we are not long into the project when Andy discovers Jade’s last tapped hole is once again in trouble. Having spent many years in a machine shop, Andy knows how to fix these things, and right. To do it right however, requires taking off the crankcase cover. Unfortunately, removing the crankcase cover will mean needing to replace a gasket. (Part #23 in the link)

Replacing a gasket sounds easy enough, unless you are doing your work on a Sunday when most bike dealers are closed. I start calling. The afternoon is spent tracking down motorcycle shops that are open. Those that are open don’t have the part in stock. Andy proceeds with the work of repairing the hole. He has the kit, and the work goes well. The screw sits nice and tight. All we need to put Jade back together is the gasket.

I’m trying not to panic with so few days until departure. I take a deep breath and hope I have success on Monday tracking down a gasket. Then the phone rings and its Lee. I tell him my dilemma. He’s had this problem before on a VStar he once owned. The words he has for me are not encouraging. If the part has to be ordered I may not be able to get it this week he says to me. I do not like this conversation at all.

Andy on the other hand is only speaking to the positive. “You could be on the trip and have a serious oil leak. Wouldn’t you rather take care of this at home and enjoy your vacation?” Sure. Of course I prefer not to be miles from home with motorcycle trouble. “Besides,” he says, “we can always go to ‘plan B’.” “What’s plan B?” I ask. “You can ride on the back with me!” It is incredulous to me that an eight dollar part might keep me from my own bike. But gee wiz, “ride on the back with me” are just not words a riding girl wants to hear.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Countdown has Begun

July 4th found the vacation couples out for a group ride in what may well be the last opportunity to ride together before the big trip to the Rocky Mountains. We were joined by Dave, who was at loose ends for the day. A welcomed addition to the days ride.

Our ride took us out to Pioneer Valley along route 2 through North Adams Massachusetts. This ride affords a climb, with twist and turns, including a hairpin before you drop to the Connecticut River. Traveling over the river always leaves me with awe and my mind travels back to a time when rivers were the highways of choice. The day started out overcast, but the sun arrived in time to glint, twinkle and reflect of the waters of the Connecticut.

From there, we headed north on route 7 to route 9 in Vermont. This route takes you over Hogback Mountain. By this time the day was bright and warm. The views stretched out below us from the observation deck. From Hogback, we continued on route 9 until we connected with route 119 back into NH and made our way to Kimball’s for a celebratory ice cream cone. No ride is complete without ice cream.

Our focus now is on the final plans and last minute details before our departure. The countdown is on, the excitement is building as we hammer out and fine tune our vacation plans. This last ride was important in helping each individual understand the dynamics of the group. We fit well together, our personalities are compatible, and I am looking forward to the adventure ahead.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law states "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Such has been our lot this past week. Our friends have finally resolved their trailer glitch. The current trailer can accommodate three bikes, but as Murphy’s Law is at work these days, they will need a better ramp solution.

At home, Andy and I seem to be locked in a Murphy’s Law sit-com of our own. Picture this: Two people sitting in their living room, wearing helmets. Radio headsets have been installed and these two people are testing their equipment. “Can you hear me?” Andy asks. ‘NO! Are you pushing the button?” I ask. “I am pushing the damn button! Are you screwing with that radio?” Well, you see how that goes. We finally discover that the jack in one of the radios is defective.

To resolve the radio dilemma, I call the vendor. Getting them to respond is my first issue. When finally I speak with a representative, we discover that the company is currently out of stock. However, they will send me a return authorization number so they can credit my account. That leaves me on the hunt for radios from another source. I spend half a day in the search and finally find a vendor with radios. I order them. Now I’m waiting for the RMA. I sweat that one out, thinking I might be paying for two sets of radios in the end. The RMA finally comes through after a few more e-mail messages. The second set hasn’t yet arrived. I’ll be testing the jacks first thing when they do.

Last week we purchased two radio mounts for the bikes. We install them on Sunday. I open one package and Andy installs this on my bike. As with all projects, there is always something that needs adjustment, modification, or something that takes more time that you have planned. Eventually, my motorcycle is all set. The radio, (which I haven’t sent back yet and am using to test the clip mount) sits well and seems adequate.

On to Andy’s bike to install his radio mount. He opens the package and we find that the P clip is missing. Great! Murphy’s Law is at work again. We don’t want to be playing games with yet another vendor so we inspect Andy’s bike for a solution. We discover that his coin holder may adapt well to the part we actually need. We take this apart and gerry-rig the thing to our satisfaction. We put the radio into the mount, take a look and call it “done.”

Next we move on to installing the cords that connect the headsets to the radios. We retrieve the helmets and discover that the sticky backing that holds the earphones and mic inside the helmets doesn’t stick. They fall out when we pick up the helmets. We mess with this for a bit and give up. I’m thinking “Gorilla Glue.” However, Gorilla Glue doesn’t work unless you have pressure behind it. Well, I’m not going to walk around with my helmet on, so I use duct tape. Mistake! The duct tape tears the flimsy covering of the ear pieces. Great! What next? In the end, I try to maintain some positive thinking. It could be that Murphy is doing us a favor. Maybe we are getting all our issues resolved before we actually hit the road. Just as added insurance, I’ll avoid stepping on cracks, walking under ladders, keeping away from black cats, and crossing my fingers.