And it Started Out So Good

I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it. -Jack Handy

Kylee and I got a late breakfast and then went to the Lowell Observatory. Lowell is home to many astronomical discoveries, from the discovery of Pluto to the first observations of the red shift in all distant galaxies – evidence that the universe is expanding (that was Vesto Slipher, not Hubble; Hubble observed much later that the farthest galaxies are moving faster – the expansion is accelerating). I’d highly recommend a tour.

Home of the original telescope at Lowell Observatory
Home of the original telescope at Lowell Observatory
Mausoleum of Percival Lowell on the grounds of the Lowell Observatory.
Mausoleum of Percival Lowell on the grounds of the Lowell Observatory.

But sometimes a good day turns around and bites you

When we got back to the RV, Keira had, well I’ll spare you the grossest details, but it sure looked like the shit hit the fan. After a couple of hours of clean up things were mostly restored. Then I went to the grocery – and the downhill run picked up some steam.

When I’m having a bad day I just decide … oh who am I kidding? I just go ahead and have the bad day. – Murr

Back at the campground, I was just putting the side stand down. The ground under the gravel drive was saturated from yesterday’s rain and melted snow. My right foot had no traction as the gravel just slid away and down I went. Yes, I dropped the bike from a dead stop.

Not sure if the pain is in my heart or wallet.
Not sure if the pain is in my heart or wallet.

New Ride

My new 2013 BMW C650GT
My new 2013 BMW C650GT

On Tuesday (10/29) I drove down to LA to check out some bikes for sale. Ultimately I bought this BMW C650GT at New Century BMW.  Of course, I’d driven the rental car there so I couldn’t bring it back with me.  On Thursday, with a bit of logistics (drop Keira off at daycare, take a bus to LA, taxi to the dealer) I was back to pick up the bike.  They spent a few minutes going over the controls and gauges with me, like you’d expect on any new vehicle and I was on my way back to Bakersfield.  Yes I’m still stuck in Bakersfield.

It’s a 110 mile ride, 90 of which is freeway, so in less than 2 hours I was back at the RV park.  I don’t know of any mountain roads near here, so I just rode around the city for a few more hours.

Best Bakersfield day by a long shot.

Hound of the Bakersfields

Still chillin’ here in Bakersfield.  Latest word on the leveling jack is that it should arrive at Camping World Friday or Monday.  Still a while before I can run.


Camping World gave me a check for SOA.  I’ve been to all of the motorcycle dealers in town (both of ’em) and followed up on  all the Craigslist adds (one).  I rode a BMW C650GT and a Honda Gold Wing GL1800, both good rides, but the colors (bright red and Mountain Dew yellow, respectively), well I just couldn’t.

At this point I’m still getting around in the Chevy Spark I rented from Enterprise.  It appears to have a top speed of 60 MPH, maybe a safety feature.

CW is still working on the trailer (bent axle, bent wheel chock), and is waiting for the replacement ladder to come in to finish up the  body work on the RV.

Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog, Cryin’ all the Time

Many thanks to those with suggestions for Keira’s separation anxiety, but so far there is no effect.  I’ve tried the Thundershirt, Remedy, Quiet Moments biscuits, benedryl, distracting food toys (e.g. kong).  Keira still goes into full alarm mode within seconds of me stepping outside and keeps it up no matter how long it takes.

Dash surfing. Yes she's overheating, but not because she's locked in a hot RV. A/C is on and it's 72 inside. She's exhausted from running full out, whining and howling for the last 10 minutes.
Dash surfing. Yes she’s overheating, but not because she’s locked in a hot RV. A/C is on and it’s 72 inside, 79 outside. She’s exhausted from running full out, whining and howling for the last 10 minutes.

I’m pretty worried about her.  I don’t know how much stress she can take.  I’m seeing doggie xanax in her future.


Bakersfield Blues

With no ETA on the leveling jack part I need, and waiting on a settlement check from Camping World for the scooter, I’m cooling my heels here in Bakersfield.  Need to make the best of it.

Rented a car from Enterprise. Going to see what there is to do in town. Only two motorcycle dealers in town. Lots of Buck Owens stuff in town, still fans of their local hero. Two Buck Owens museums and his former house are listed as top attractions in town.

Time to see what I can find.

R.I.P. Scooter of Anarchy

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. — Theodore Guisel (Dr. Seuss)

This is painful. I’m in Bakersfield, generally on the way towards Flagstaff to see Kylee.  I stopped in at Camping World to have the leveling jack repaired and to get an estimate on the body damage I did Monday with my driving prowess.

When they took Roamward Bound back to the service bay, apparently the driver didn’t notice the motorcycle trailer carrying Scooter of Anarchy was still hitched up. He tried to back into the service bay and, of course, the trailer jackknifed and was hit by the RV. SOA is a total loss.

The service manager was mortified and very apologetic. They are already working on the new damage to the RV and I know they’ll compensate me for the bike, but SOA was not just a bike. She was like a friend. She saw the mountain twisties, the long bridges, the ocean vistas. She saw 110 on the 101 and took me through rain, mud and fog. She was a good bike. Couldn’t bring myself to take a picture before they took her away.


Brookings Oregon

Brookings is a mid sized town (population~13k) at the southern edge of the Oregon coast.  It’s a working shipping harbor, fishing center (salmon seems to be the local dish) and a tourist spot.  I stayed at a park south of the harbor along the pacific coast.

Brookings Campground
Brookings Campground

Kind of a week of minor irritations. First, I lost a mounting screw for front brake handle on Scooter of Anarchy somewhere in the drive between Coos Bay and Brookings.  Non standard, of course, not that there is a decent hardware store, auto parts store or Suzuki dealer within 50 miles.  I ordered an eight dollar screw and had it shipped FedEx overnight for three times that much. It shipped that day and arrived four days later. Overnight is a whole different time scale 200 miles from a small city.

This kept me within walking distance for a while, mostly just typical tourist stuff – Chinese made shark teeth, talking salmons, carved driftwood, and chowder houses. They must import their clams since the local shell fish are still not safe to eat after the oil spill. More interesting, there are a couple of beached fishing boats from the 2011 tsunami (yes, the Japan tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused 8 foot tidal waves here).  I wasn’t nearly close enough for good photos, however.

Next, I had a few motorhome issues. The water heater went out, one of the furnace motors froze up and my windshield wipers went out. I found a local mobile RV repair service and for less that $150 got a new furnace motor and water heater thermostat installed in a driving rain storm. Not bad considering I’d just paid $33 for a screw.  The wipers need a special order Freightliner switch that he wasn’t an authorized dealer for, so this is going to have to wait until I’m in a town with a Freightliner service center.

We rounded out the week with a three day mega storm covering an area from Vancouver down to northern California, featuring wind gusts to 60 mph, and rain so hard they were calling it “very heavy rain,” in Oregon. Minor flooding knocked out the sewers in Brookings and the wind created a few short power outages neither of which were a biggy for me.

In the storm, I finished reading This Explains Everything: 150 Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works (4 stars), and Snow Crash (also 4 stars).

I’ll be heading south after the government shuts down Tuesday.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Needing a trailer for the bike (my Burgman 650 maxi scooter), I’d been searching Craig’s List and found a unique swivel wheel trailer for sale at a thousand bucks.  Smoking deal, so off I go with Roamward Bound to meet Stephen the seller at the Anthem Outlet mall north of Phoenix.

Rolling along I-17 for a bit, I start hearing bang, bang bang, bang bang bang.  I pull off to the side, walk around, and find nothing.  Everything seems secure, tires good, hmm.  Drive off again and at about 55 mph the bang starts again, so again I pull over.  Now I can see the TV antenna peaking over the roof at an odd angle.  The antenna is broken off its mount and is flopping around by just the coax cable.  I can’t undo the cable and don’t have a wrench or wire cutters with me.  There doesn’t seem to be any roof damage, and the antenna is a lightweight plastic thing, so I move on to Anthem at reduced speed.

Stephen, the seller turns out to be the nicest person in the world.  Carefully explaining every detail of the unique trailer, operation and his experience with it, when he hears me mention the TV antenna, he is on the roof with a wrench practically before I know what’s happening and has the antenna disconnected in a flash.  Then when he finds the solid steel 2″ post of the trailer hitch is 1/8th of an inch too long for my receiver, he takes it home and uses a diamond saw to trim that 1/8″ off and brings it back.

All hitched up I drive it around the Anthem Outlet mall parking lot, park a few times, then head back home.  This is where it gets ugly.  You see, pulling back into my space at the RV park I manage to hit the rear bumper of my parked car with the trailer.  I’d have probably crushed the car if a neighbor hadn’t come running out waving his arms to rescue me. The damage is minor, cracked plastic bumper, but the embarrassment is extreme.

Scooters of Anarchy

With lots of items on the project plan but practically none that can be done now I’ve really been getting antsy.  My house is in the short sale process and Aurora bank is really fulfilling their on line reputation with tons of “urgent” redundant paperwork, long delays, and denials.  No fun there, just gotta keep at it.  Thank God for PDFill, maybe the best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

On the road, I plan to take a small motorcycle or big scooter (I want to be able to go on freeways when necessary) for local transportation.  I guess it would be nice if I had a motorcycle license or knew how to ride.  I’ll need plenty of practice riding, right?  So at least this can move up in the plan.

I signed up at Ridesmart Motorcycle Training for a weekend class.  The class was a total blast.  The instructors were serious but fun, seriously fun.  I never would have believed riding around cones in a parking lot at 20 mph could be such a blast – it was almost like skydiving.

Scooters of Anarchy

Two weeks and a lot of Craig’s listings later and I have a bike, an ’03 Suzuki Burgman 650.  A beast of a scooter, as smooth at 100 mph as it is at 40.  Oh, and a gang to strike fear in coffee shops and burger joints throughout the valley.  It’s just how I roll.

Now only one person at work knows I’m roamward bound.  The first time I rode the bike to work everyone just assumed it was a midlife crisis buy and I went with that.  Maybe the whole roamward bound thing is a midlife crisis.  It doesn’t feel like a crisis. It feels … free.