Two-wheeled Kin

To me, scooters are in a class of their own. They aren't beefy and macho like motorcycles, and they aren't efficient, sporty, and popular like bicycles. If you ride either a motorcycle or a bicycle, it is like you are a member of an instant club. Fellow cyclists will give you a nod or warn you of a rabid dog 2 blocks up. Motorcyclist will share specs, stories, and conversations about the latest and greatest gear with you. As a scooterist, I wasn't expecting to be accepted by either group. Luckily, I was quite wrong.

Motorcyclist have this hi-sign that they give to other motorcyclist as they zip by one another. While I saw many variations on it, it usually consists of a left hand extended below the handle bars with a few fingers out. At first, I thought it was a sign telling me to slow down or something until Dave explained it all to me. Then, on this trip, I got into the habit and really grew to like this welcoming sign of camaraderie. Besides including me in their group with the hi-sign, motorcyclist I met on the road were invariable interested in my scooter and my trip.

On the other end of the 2-wheeled spectrum, bicyclists, whom I thought might lump me in with the motorcyclist category, always gave me a smile as I scooted by. It was almost as if they were saying, "I acknowledge that you too are an outsider on this road made for high speed behemoths." When there weren't bicyclists around, I would frequently use their lane to inverse pass the cars that had built up behind me.

Without a metal box to separate you from those that you met on the road, it only seemed natural to acknowledge them with a hi-sign or a nod. It lent an unexpected friendliness to my time on the road.
Monday June 4 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Camera Obscura

Ever since I learned about them, camera obscuras (cameras obscura?) have captivated that neato-sciencey portion of my little ole brain. The most spectacular (and maybe the only) example of a camera obscura I have seen is at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Ten years ago, I passed through San Francisco and saw it. Since then, I've often thought of that dilapidated giant camera on the pier. This trip, I got a chance to return.

For those of you who don't know what a camera obscura is, think projector. If you ever saw the movie Addicted to Love, one features prominently in that. It is essentially a series of lenses and mirrors that project into a darkened space whatever it is on the other side of the lenses. Wikipedia does a better job of explaining it here.

Seeing a 10X magnified verion of what's going on outside projected in super-dooper HD quality (actually, there is no comparison to any digital format) for some reason just amazes me. The camera isn't aimed at anything particularly cool, but seeing just the waves crash or the sea gulls fly by is excitement enough. Perhaps it is seeing an image so crisp but having the sound muffled by the building walls that makes it such a surreal experience.

Anyhoo, camera obscuras are neat. If you are ever in San Fran, I definitely suggest you stop by this place and check it out.
Friday June 1 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Picture This

It's a sunny day, but not warm by any means. There's a thin fog coming off the Pacific causing anything more than 100 yards away to take on a dream-sequence like haze but also spoiling the crisp view you are wishing you had. To the left, a cliff drops menacingly to the sea. To the right, a steep hillside is covered with many shades of green and dotted with yellows, purples, and oranges from blooming wildflowers. The road dividing these drastically different but equally spectacular landscapes winds, banks, rises, and falls. Convertibles and motorcycles are the order of the day, with their drivers hopping out at every view point for a quick picture and then speeding along their way.

I could hardly capture the natural beauty of it with my dinky little camera (not to mention that stopping Scoot Scoot meant a throw of the dice as to whether I could get him up and started again), but my attempts weren't half bad. Moral of the story: drive U.S. 1 between San Luis Obispo and Big Sur sometime in your life. It's purty.
Wednesday May 30 2007File under: travel, road trip

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So Good to Be Home

For me, one of the best parts about an extended adventure (like those I seem to have been taking recently) is returning home. The familiarity, the people, the routine, and even the backlogged mail all combine to form that concept of home. Nothing really makes you appreciate home as much as being away from it. That appreciation really came to the forefront this weekend as I passed over Deception Pass bridge on Scoot Scoot and traveled the familiar Fidalgo roads home. As always, awaiting me were the familiarity, the people, and even the mail that I was looking forward to.

Now it is back to the routine, but not in a bad way. But not to fear, I've still got stories to tell from the road. Over the next week, as I catch up with other computer tasks, I will be catching up on a few blog posts that I meant to make from the road but never got a chance to. So keep it tuned to BdW.
Tuesday May 29 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Ooooooo, Knobby

AAA said it couldn't be done. I had resigned myself to bumming rides all the way home (which still isn't completely out of the question). But lo and behold, a town here-to-fore known only for cheese comes to the rescue!

After attempting Julie's idea of thumbing it out of the town of Yacht Hats (what's the deal with not picking up a scrubby forlorn looking fella and his 200 lb bike!?), I tried Ma's idea of AAA. Sho 'nuf, AAA came to my rescue, again. Since I had precisely 100 miles of free towing, that's exactly what I used. They pretty much told me there isn't anywhere on the coast to get a motorcycle tire fixed, so I was on my own. They dropped me off in the parking lot of the Tillamook Les Schwab last night at 9:30 and bid me good luck.

This morning, after thinking I lost my keys (only to discover they were safely placed in plain sight in scoot scoot's ignition in the Les Schwab parking lot) I was feeling pretty down. But after doing some leg work, I found a new (used) tire and some helpful fellows to put it on for me...all for $20!! Granted the tire isn't an exact replacement, but if I ever need to go off-roading, it will be just the ticket! Whatever the case, although I didn't think I would be saying it this soon, it feels good to be back in the saddle again.

Now I'm off to tour the Tillamook cheese factory!
Saturday May 26 2007File under: travel, road trip

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The Plot Thickens...

I'm afraid the scooter gods might be trying to tell me something. My excellent luck has gone unnoticed by them for too long. It is time for them to settle the score and punish me for thinking I was mighty enough to use the Yumbo 110C for something other than city driving for this long.

This morning, I ran out of gas. Not overly surprising with the .9 gallon tank and that it has happened before, to lesser degrees. Anyway, this morning, I was about half a mile outside of Gold Beach, OR when the telltale sputter happened. I shifted to neutral to see if I could coast into to town, but no dice. A brisk walk there and back got me ready to put major miles behind me.

Then comes the fishtailing. No, not "fishtaling", like "I swear it was this big." "Fishtailing" like the tail of a fish all over the road. Luckily, it was at relatively low speeds and I was able to get to the side of the road relatively quickly. "What was the cause?", you ask. Well, a flat tire. More specifically, a blown tire. No hope for a patch.

So here I am in Podunk, OR (oh, sorry; that could be almost any town on the Oregon coast ZING! Yachat, OR) with a flat tire. What does one do when one has a flat tire on a motor-driven cycle? Well, I'm trying to figure that out. I'm open to suggestion. The hardware store in the next town up the road says they could have a new tire here by Tuesday. I'm hoping I can do better than that.
Friday May 25 2007File under: road trip, travel

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Scoot Scoot goes Poot Poot

Okay, it was more of a "sputter, sputter" than a "poot, poot", but it wasn't good, that's for sure. To this point, Scoot Scoot has been a champ; there have been little issues like loose chain, disconnected speedometer, a bolt almost falling out, loose mirrors, etc. but nothing that really influenced my ability to ride or that has been too hard to fix. Well, just outside of Big Sur, CA, Scoot scoot decided he*'d had enough. He just wouldn't start. Finally I got him started by push starting.

Picture me running through a dirt parking lot along side Scoot Scoot who is fully loaded with all my stuff, then trying to hop on without slowing down so I can compression start. Hilarity ensued. Trust me. The people in the parking lot watching can vouch for that. Then, once going, I couldn't slow down until I found a mechanic 30 miles down the road in Monterey. $285 in repairs later, I'm back on the road. The mechanic that worked on him didn't have nice things to say about what I was asking from my little city scooter. The woman at the desk, however, applauded my little adventure.

Feeling very disheartened by the whole thing, I immediately posted an ad on craigslist looking for a ride for me and Scoot Scoot. Needless to say, there weren't any takers. I guess Scoot Scoot and I will just have to soilder through.
Thursday May 24 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Joshua Tree NP Revisited

Didn't I say I was going to have to visit Joshua Tree National Park again? Well, like they say, there is no better time than the present.

This time around, it wasn't hurry-hurry, go-go though. We had time to see the park in full. We hiked, birded, touristed, pondered, loafed, star-gazed, and basked in the desert beauty (taking care to find shade as much we could.) (Yes, Ryan, we even hiked up your mountain.)

For a better write-up and more pics about our visit to the park, check out Emily's post about it. And for those of you who want the full 360 degree tour, check out this.
Tuesday May 22 2007File under: travel, road trip

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A Lesser-Known Aesops Fable

Once upon a time, two friends went out camping in the desert. Like well-informed desert-goers, they took plenty of water. To keep the water from getting too hot in car and to claim their spectacular camping spot, they left the water containers under the picnic table. Little did they know, the creatures of the desert have grown very smart.

Upon returning from a wonderful day of exploring the desert, the two friends returned to camp to find the water containers with little critter holes in them and much of the water gone. In an attempt to save the water, one friend filled his water bottle with water remaining from the critter-holed water containers.

The sun went down on the desert and the two friends fell asleep. The water saving friend was awakened in the middle of the night with terrible pains in his stomach. Visits to the privy did not rid him of his stomach pains, so his stomach decide to take matters into its own hands. Under the bright stars of the desert, the offending water, with remnants of lunch and dinner, found its way onto the desert floor.

The desert creatures took note of the commotion. Coyote stood close by and watched the action. As the friend slowly made his way back to the tent, Coyote crept closer and closer to the scene of the commotion. The friends watched from the tent as Coyote ran and got his friend to share in this new midnight snack.

That just goes to show you that... Can you find the moral in this story?
Sunday May 20 2007File under: travel, road trip

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Desert Dispatch

As I find myself in the middle of the desert without water or electricity, much less wifi, for miles, I'm phoning this dispatch in from the road, much like the reporters of yore. Special thanks to Ma for acting as stenographer. O, and once I find some wifi again I'll get up some new pics.

Here are a few highlights from week 4 on the road: meeting and hiking for a few miles with some through hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail; Pines to Palms Highway through San Bernadino National Forest; beating the heat with a midday movie in Palm Desert, CA (10 Oscar Nominated Shorts); free promotional Hagan Daaz ice cream cone; another spectacular campsite at Joshua Tree National Park; revisiting recycle man in Indio, CA who is completely boggled by my little adventure.

Traveling is fun.
Thursday May 17 2007File under: travel, road trip

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