Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It Was So Windy My Helmet Blew Off

This map shows my actual trip. I didn't make it for any of my motel reservations but I did ride 1222 miles up the coast from Southern California to Everett, Washington this week.

View San Luis Obispo to Everett - MC Trip in a larger map

My flight out of San Francisco was delayed because of fog and rain. I didn't get to San Luis Obispo until 3 pm and wasn't on the road until after 4 pm. With a new (to me) bike, the rain and the darkening sky the 100 mile trip to Big Sur was out of the question. I stayed in Cambria, California the first night. This is what it looked like out my back window -

and this is what it looked like looking in my front window -


I was pretty tired at the end of a long day. Got up at 4 am to catch my flight out of Seattle. I went out on the bike after dark to go to the grocery store and when I got back to park it I didn't have the kickstand all the way extended and I dropped it. I've found out the hard way that the Connie has a 2-position kickstand - the first position is useful if you want to lay the bike on it's side and the second position is for actually keeping the bike upright.

Luckily I ejected myself away from the 600 plus pound cycle as it fell so I only ended up with a skinned knee. I was almost the only person at the motel but also lucky for me there was a guy backing his car out who stopped and helped me pick the bike up before too much gas spilled out - very nice of him.

He jumped out of his SUV to help me and said, "what do you want me to do?" and I said, "I'm not sure I've never done this before." He was like a Hercules and we righted the 600 plus pound Connie in a second. I don't think I could have got it back up on my own without bending or breaking something on the bike or myself.

I spent the evening removing the broken foot peg, and mounting bracket, and wiring them together with bailing wire and then reinstalling. I rode with that broken foot peg and bracket until I found a welding shop in Southern Oregon that repaired it for twenty bucks. The Kawasaki dealers I stopped at didn't have the parts.

Monday morning I left Cambria and headed up the coast on Highway 1 to Pacifica.

I stopped for breakfast at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn. This is where I originally wanted to spend Sunday night. I have an 80 dollar credit there to use when we/I go back.


I had a bowl of oatmeal and walked around the area to check it out for next time.


I headed up the coast from Big Sur and eventually to Pacifica to spend the night with my sister and her family. It was a nice Monday and as you can tell from the pictures - pretty sunny/warm weather. This was the last day for that...

Tuesday I left Pacifica early in the rain. Rode through San Francisco morning rush hour traffic up and over the Golden Gate. My intent was to ride 348 miles to Klamath, California. The weather and roads were not in my favor. The parts of Highway 1 and 101 near the coast in California are what I consider "technical" roads. They have lots of up and down grades, curves, traffic, deer, elk, tree leaves/needles, water, wind, sand, mud, bark, speedy logging trucks, slow moving trucks, on-coming and side traffic. Probably not the best thing that my tires were pretty bald and the brake light was stuck on...but hey this is supposed to be an adventure.

I had to pull the plug on the day's ride in Arcada, California about 300 miles north of Pacifica. There were hard side gusts in heavy traffic and the bike is a little top heavy to begin with. My helmet did actually blow off - my bike at a gas station. The face shield popped off but other than that it survived the blow just fine. This photo is typical of that day's weather -


One of the nice things about riding a motorcycle is that you are out in the open and people can stop and talk with you. I met an 80 something year old lady beside the road in an isolated area of Northern Cali while I was stretching my legs. She had come out to get her mail from the mail box. We had an interesting conversation about looking down to find stuff, her days growing up on a ranch in Oakland (her Spanish dad wanted boys and ended up with 6 girls...who worked the ranch just as hard as boys would of), and mortality. Her husband is in heaven and she isn't sure how much longer until she joins him. We agreed that any day is as good as any other day to die - the way of the warrior, or a Christian...or a Buddhist for that matter.

A little farther up the road I stopped to stretch and get a picture of these cool mossy trees.


A guy in a delivery van stopped and told me he likes Kawasaki's. He had one when he was younger. We talked about the beauty of the area and how nice it is to be on a two lane road where people accept the fact that they have to drive slow (as opposed to being on the freeway where people are constantly trying to get ahead of each other....not getting anywhere - just ahead of someone). On the remote parts of 101 you can't pass so if there's a slow moving vehicle in front of you - you just chill. Speaking of which - I'm really glad I had my wool Norwegian sweater because it was almost hypothermic-like chilly on the passes near the coast with the cold wind and rain.

From Arcata California I rode up the coast to Florence Oregon. Just after crossing into Oregon I saw a welding shop that looked like they might be willing, and able, to weld a broken peg and bracket.


The guys working here were really nice.


It was cool to see all the old tools, new tools, iron, anvil, etc. they had in this shop. You don't really see blacksmith shops anymore - or places that are willing to do small jobs to fix lawnmowers, bicycles, motorcycles. We are more a remove and replace, or just discard it, rather than fix it society nowadays. The guys in this shop agreed that there is a great deal of satisfaction in being able to fix things.

I continued my trip up the coast with my newly repaired peg. It had been raining since I left San Francisco but as I rolled into the south end of Florence, Oregon there was a gully washer/flash flood type rain storm.


I sat under a gas station awning for awhile but it didn't let up so I darted across the street to a motel. The Park Motel and Cabins is one of those Mom and Pop Motels with knotty pine, refrig, microwave and TV you see on the Oregon Coast. 48 bucks a night. This is a picture I took looking out my window after the rain had subsided.


The desk-clerk gave me a tip on a place called the Nature's Corner Cafe that had good breakfasts. I had the potato/tofu/veggie fry - it was tasty and nice to have something hot since I'd been eating peanut butter, bagels and trail mix.

From Florence I meandered up the coast to Seaside on Thursday.

Jeans under rain pants on long distance rides in the cool/cold and rain are not the best. Cotton doesn't hold heat and the evaporative action makes you colder. I stopped at a store called Bimore, which is big in Oregon, because someone told me they might have high tech long underwear. I picked up some cheap acrylic sweat pants and then later found some hunter's fleece pants to wear under my rain pants. When I left the store my bike wouldn't start.

Nothing - it would turn over, completely dead. I kicked the kick stand up and down a few times and clicked the kill switch off and on and it fired. I was worried what would happen the next time I shut off the engine.

The best part of the trip to Seaside was the apple dumpling? (baked apple in a pie crust) I got fresh out of the oven at a roadside fruit and vegetable stand. The lady used a Granny Smith apple - cored and peeled, covered in a pie crust in sort of a tulip shape, and baked. Drizzled apple pie warm syrup over the top. It tasted like brown sugar, cinnamon, maybe some honey and whatever other spices go in an apple pie. I had the hot apple cider, a crunchy Pink Lady and the baked apple...yum. She was playing classical music on the radio - it was nice and warm inside. Nice break and my bike fired right up after the stop. I think I may have just not held the starter button long enough before.

In Seaside I stayed at the Sandy Cove Inn for 50 dollars a night off-season rate. It was really nice. Lot's of decorations and it smelled really good. There is little grocery across the street that's open from 6 am to 9 pm and it's about a block and a half from the beach.


I thought this car had an interesting array of bumper stickers...


You can enlarge it on the Flickr page but the one on the right says, "destined to be an old lady with no regrets." Like it...

I think the silhouette of the fat guy is funny and what if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?

On Friday I made a slow trip up to Astoria and then over to Longview and then zipped up I-5 and home. Sort of zipped, considering it was raining pretty good and the Friday traffic on the interstate was pretty bad in spots.

The trip was a lot of fun, sort of a survival trek at times with the wind and rain, getting used to a new bike ergonomics, the traffic - and other times just lovely with the sun and ocean and huge old trees. I can't wait to take the Connie out for her next trek.



Note to self - I'm going to get some highway bars fitted before my next long jaunt. At times my knees, hips, thighs were so sore, stiff I could barely straighten them out to keep the bike upright when I stopped. It's interesting getting off and on that bike when you are cold and stiff...sort of a hop and skip mount to get on and a lift your leg with your arms to get off. As long as I stopped to shake out the muscles and took some Tylenol I was okay. It would be a lot better on a warm day too - but having something to stretch my legs out a little on the bike would make traveling a lot more comfortable.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Motorcycle Trip Highway 1 to 101 - CA, OR, WA

Time is flying by - it's already time to go. I'm going to be riding through some rain here and there if the weather forecasts are correct. My bags are packed and I'm ready to go. Yes!

Tonight Big Sur, Monday Pacifica, Tuesday Klamath, Wednesday Seaside, Thursday Tacoma, Friday Everett. At least that's the plan - we'll see if things go according to plan.

Next time I'm going to have a tent and sleeping bag so I can take a little more time, but this time is going to be just fine.

View San Luis Obispo To Everett in a larger map

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This is a fairly rare moment when Edgar is relaxing. He's usually retrieving one of his toys so you can throw it again. We have to put the toys away around 8 pm so we can have a break. I'd read that Toy Fox Terriers like to play but I didn't realize until we got Edgar how much they like to play. The first thing he wants to do when I get home is fetch his rope or ball and he'll keep doing that until you stop throwing it.

If you don't play with him he turns into a Diablo...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

California Dreamin / On The Road

I'm flying to San Luis Obispo, California Sunday and riding a motorcycle back home to Everett, Washington. The motorcycle I'm picking up is a 2001 Kawasaki Concours similar to the stock photo on the right.

From San Luis Obispo I plan to take the Pacific Coast Highway 1 north. My first day will be a pretty short ride since my flight arrives at 1:10 pm and I'm not sure how long it will be before I'm on the road. I plan to spend Sunday night in the Big Sur area.

Monday I'll stop and see Colleen and family in Pacifica. Tuesday ride up 101 and stay in Klamath in Northern California. Wednesday continue on 101 through Oregon to stay in Seaside Oregon. Thursday I'll head East, then North on I-5 and home to Everett.

View San Luis Obispo To Everett in a larger map

It's about a 1180 mile trip -

Sunday - San Luis Obispo to Deetjens Inn at Big Sur - 101 miles
Monday - Big Sur to Pacifica - 138 miles
Tuesday - Pacifica to Ravenwood Motel Klamath CA. - 348 miles
Wednesday - Klamath to Sandy Cove Inn at Seaside OR. - 368 miles
Thursday - Seaside to Tacoma WA. - 168 miles
Friday - Tacoma to Everett - 66 miles

It's been 30 years since I rode my motorcycle on California's Pacific Coast highway, and I've never ridden a motorcycle up the Oregon coast so this will be like a whole new trip for me. I'm really looking forward to this trip as a bit of adventure.


- this article is about the place I plan to stay at in Big Sur. I like hippy stuff and this place sounds cool. It was built by a Norwegian immigrant named Helmut Deetjen and his wife Helen in the 1930's. It was one of the first road houses on Highway 1. The inn is run as a non-profit now and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


I bumped this blog post back to the top because I'm using it as a trip planner.

I'm really wondering what this trip is going to be like this time of year. Could be pretty chilly riding along the coast but I've been practicing riding locally in rainy/chilly weather and I think I have the clothing pretty well figured out at least for short trips in the local area. I'll find out if that experience translates into longer distances next week.

I have a warm riding suit, leather jacket and pants, neck warmer/buff, waterproof gloves, waterproofed leather boots, waterproof boot covers, rain coat, thick denim jeans, rain pants and a full face helmet. As long as the weather stays mid 40's or above I'm good. Once it gets below that I can still ride - just have to stop every so often for a cup of coffee and to warm up.

I did a 230 mile trip Around Hood Canal last November, which may be comparable to the California/Oregon coast trip weather this time of year - fairly cool, high humidity, probably some rain and wind. I was starting to shiver at the end of that ride as the temperature dropped below 50 so I'm bringing some warmer clothing this time around. I was riding my Sportster with no windshield or fairing last November. The Connie I'm riding this time has a taller (25.5 inch) after-market windshield and fairings, so that should help.

I'm really excited to see how my theories of how this trip will go turn out in practice. I'm trying to balance planning/preparation/expectations to ensure I'm not taking any unacceptable risks with the idea that enjoying a trip requires a bit of the attitude that whatever happens will be perfect in some spiritual sense or if you aren't into that sort of thing - at least an educational opportunity.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Motorcycle Travel Costs

I'm curious to know how my "hugging the coast" motorcycle trip next week works out cost-wise; for future planning purposes.

I was assuming you could travel for 100/day fairly easily, so it will be interesting to see how close that estimate is.

My 6 day 1200 mile trip includes three motel stays. So lodging works out to about $40/day for the trip. I'll use about 30 gallons of gas so that is $15/day. That leaves me with $45/day for food and incidentals. I'm assuming my actual food cost will be less since my dining plans include peanut butter sandwiches, fruits, nuts, soymilk, juice and coffee.

I'm spending 2 nights with family and the last night at home so it works out to be similar to a road trip of alternating days of camping and staying in motels.

If a person was retired or worked part time they could spend six months on the road traveling by motorcycle for 18K. (I'm trying to figure out how much money I need if/when I retire...and keeping my fingers crossed, working out, eating healthy foods - hoping that my health holds up to allow me to be out and about in my advanced years)

You could take a lot of trips by car, airplane, train or boat for that much money of course so it all depends on what you prefer. A several month cruise falls into that range if you go the cheapest berthing on a cruise line and less if you are more adventurous and would ride on a cargo ship. A road trip by car with some camping thrown in would be similar. You can get rail there's all kinds of ways to get off the couch.

The motorcycle travel estimate is a bit of an oversimplification since it doesn't include the one-time costs for a motorcycle, tax/title, accessories and clothing - or the ongoing cost of motorcycle maintenance/oil/tires and insurance/licensing. A motorcycle set up for touring runs anywhere from about 3,000 to 30,000. I'm pretty confident 1000 dollars a year would cover the ongoing costs if you do the routine maintenance yourself.

All in all it seems like a fairly inexpensive way to travel and a wonderful bargain when you consider how much fun it is just to ride a matter where you are going.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Motorcycle Show in Downtown Everett - May 16th

Everett will have some cool bikes on the streets on May 16th. Looking forward to checking it out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

BBC - Celtic Connections 2010 - Natalie Merchant

Very cool singer.

Her new album was seven years in the making and is based on poetry set to many different musical styles.

BBC - Celtic Connections 2010 - Natalie Merchant

She's giving a talk at TED2010 today that should be interesting.

I've always liked her style. Got to see her at Marymoor a few years ago and it was a great concert.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Summer Road Trip - No Interstates

I'm contemplating a 2000 mile road trip this summer. My goal is to stay off the Interstate Highways and travel through some scenic parts of the Western U.S. during some nice hot days. Traveling the two lane highways adds a bit over 200 miles to the round-trip compared to driving on I-90.

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