'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

27 July 2012

RIP Chrisi

December 18th 1996 to July 27th 2012. We will miss you forever sweetheart.

We've turned off our phones and are just going to take the weekend to grieve and talk and heal.


Our Sweet Girl

Well, our sweet Chrisi is gone.  I'm sure the Six will write a post when he's ready.  This here is my tribute, and I'm closing the comments to make it my own little moment of silence. 

Trooper and I had a bit of sibling rivalry, but Chrisi was always my sweet little sister, my girl.  Sitting on my lap while I found random things to see out the window, trying to keep her happy on an 11 hour drive, she cemented our friendship.  And she always looked out for my kids.  They were hers as much as mine.  She's sleep between them, watching.  On our hikes, she never left one behind.  She'd wait till the caught up and she knew they were safe.  A mom can't ask for a more loyal friend and companion.

Goodbye my dear friend, we will miss you.

~The DO

25 July 2012

Please Forgive Me - (Updated)

But I'll be away for a bit. We talked to the vet today and we've scheduled a visit for this Friday afternoon. We'll be saying goodbye to our beloved Chrisi. Lu is being strong and I'm doing my best to be strong for her. It's time but this is always so hard. How do you say farewell to a large part of your life? I hate this, God how I do hate this.
Please keep Lu in your prayers. She's going to need them.

Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts and kind words. I can't tell you how much they mean to me and Lu. We're doing Ok, as well as can be expected. Actually, Lu and I are both grateful for these last few days with Chrisi. We've had the chance to talk and reminisce and prepare ourselves. Most don't get that. Chrisi is comfortable. She can't get up or walk but we tend her and get her around and she seems to understand what's happening and that she's at the end. And she's let us know that she's not afraid and is in fact Ok with that. She's been actively dreaming, whuffing and running in her sleep, something she hasn't done in at least a year. I like to think that Trooper is visiting her, telling her how great it is and running and playing with her again. She so loved her big brother and has missed him every day since he left us almost 2 years ago. We took her for a last ride in the truck and a last ice cream cone. She does so love her soft serve. She's content but she doesn't let Lu out of her sight. She gets unsettled and unhappy when she's not around so Lu has basically taken the week off to spend the time with her. Angus is also a little unsettled. His behavior toward Chrisi actually changed just a week ago, about the same time that Lu and I came to the realization that she was at her end. He 's become almost submissive toward her. He wouldn't eat until she ate. He shared chewies and nuzzles her and tries to engage her in gentle play. I tried to feed him in the kitchen, where he and Chrisi normally eat but he refused. I put out his favorite food and it sat on the floor untouched all day. He wouldn't eat it until I finally put it in next to Chrisi where he could eat in his normal spot. Right next to big sister. It's been amazing to see. He's too young to really understand but he knows she's not well and I get the feeling he has an instinctive understanding of death. He also wants to be on Lu's lap, taking what comfort he can find.
I'm guessing sleep will be short and disturbed tonight. We'll probably all end up in the living room with Chrisi all night.
Tomorrow around 4 the Vet will come out to the house. And the world will be a little darker, our lives sadder. But neither Lu nor I would trade the last 15 plus years to avoid that day. Not for anything in the world. We feel God's love here with us as we endure and say our goodbyes and have taken comfort in the knowledge that we are doing right by Chrisi. It's so hard but it's part of the pact between us and the beloved pets we take into our lives. It is her time and we must let her go as painlessly and gently as we possibly can, with her dignity intact and in our loving embrace. She will go to the Bridge and be with her beloved Trooper again. She has lived a long and happy life with a pack she loved and who loved her. It's all any of us can ask.
I will probably do a short post tomorrow if I can see the keyboard through the tears. We will grieve but we will also celebrate her life. Chrisi lived fast and happy and burned so very brightly and we are better people for having her in our lives. We give thanks to God for allowing us to have her.
Thank you again my friends.

24 July 2012

Catching up

-First, I'm going to go on a rant about Penn State here so please bear with me for a moment.

We've all heard the story. We all know what happened and more importantly what didn't happen and should have. Now Penn State is facing some of the toughest sanctions the NCAA has ever handed down. My take?

It's not enough. It's not even close to being enough. They should chain the doors shut, turn the the student body loose to pursue their academic interests somewhere else. Penn State should be razed to the ground, the remains burned to ash and then the land beneath salted to nothing ever grows there again. The very name Penn State should be stricken from the English language, never to be spoken again in polite company.

Yes, the current athletes and students had nothing to do with what Paterno and company did and failed to do. So what? Nothing will ever wipe this stain from Penn State. Nothing. Better if it had never been than to continue to exist knowing what happened and was allowed to happen. I've been there and I know, from the investigator sides of this particular coin, what child abuse is and does to the victims. There is simply no way Sandusky could have carried on his perversions and victimizations for literally over a decade without there being institutional knowledge. Was there denial and three monkeying going on? Assuredly but tell me the functional difference between pretending you don't know and acknowledging you do know but ignoring it. May Paterno and all the rest die in ignominy.

-The laundry room is coming along nicely. I've got it wired and the dryer installed. Plumbing later this week. I'll try and get pics posted later today for those interested.

-Bradley Wiggins won the Tour De France and it wasn't even close. Congratulations Bradley. He's the first Brit winner in it's 99 year history and when you add in 6 stage wins by Brit riders I'm thinking their riders are the absolute best in the world at the moment. Kudos to SKY cycling team and all our cycling brethren from across the pond. Well done my friends. My boy Cadel finished 7th which just proves that if you're relying on me for betting information you're going to be broke and frustrated. I can't even win at Old Maid with the kids.

-If you're going to mumble and mutter crazily to yourself in a public place do try and be aware of your surroundings. The large man watching you like a hawk is armed and now hyper aware of what you're doing and if you go off you're probably going to get curb stomped. If you're really lucky. Word to the wise hopefully being sufficient.

-Chrisi is having good days and bad. I fear we're in her final weeks. Lu starts crying every time it looks like we're there. So far she's still hanging in there but it's obvious she's having a hard time walking or even getting off the floor. She's incontinent and pretty much stays as close to Lu as she can get. I may do a post about caring for elderly dogs in the near future. Please keep a good thought for Lu and her beloved Chrisi.

Update; It's become clear today that we're now in Chrisi's last days. Lu is being as strong as she can, which is pretty damn strong, but the knowledge that she's about to lose her friend of 15 plus years is tearing her up. I'm not exactly helping as I seem to break down about every time I look at either of them. We're going to see the Vet on Friday.Oh Lord, this is going to be so hard. Again.

On the same lines. For Cindy and Tucker. You guys are in our thoughts and prayers.

-On the other hand Angus has a new favorite toy. I bought him something to chase that's not a retriever bumper so it's pure toy. It's an el cheapo frisbee and he loves it. He's still trying to get the whole snatch it out of the air thing down (he tends to try to grab it in the center) but he is improving. Of course most of the time he just runs around carrying it in his mouth biting little spots in it but at least he's having a good time.

-On the gripping hand Car Guy two new kittens. Really dude, if you keep this up I'm going to send you a flower print mumu and a subscription to O magazine. Your man card is in dire jeopardy.

-Happy Pioneer Day! It's a purely Utah celebration of the founding of Utah. It's as big a celebration here as the Fourth with parades, fireworks and a holiday day off. Of course, it's been thunderstormy with flash flood inducing rains here for the last week so wish us good luck with the whole lights in the sky thing.

-With apologies to everyone else posting wonderful stuff Borepatch is On Fire! He's not leaving scorch marks he's decimating the enemy. Warning; high caliber intellect on display.

-I need a range day. Bad. It's been weeks and weeks so I'm getting the Gun smoke DTs.

Just a small glimpse into what passes for my mind these days. Man, I need a new brain.


22 July 2012

Sunday Kipling

Late again. I'm smack in middle of a new project, turning the mud room into a laundry room. I've been working on it all this week and today Lu and I had to do the final deconstruction to get ready for wiring and plumbing starting tomorrow. I'll post some pics on Monday.

I'm feeling particularly pessimistic this afternoon and this poem always puts me in mind of those men who pledged "their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor". I'm still of the opinion that we will never be forced into that same oath ourselves but I'm also preparing so take that for what it's worth.

I hope this day finds you all well. Take a moment and kiss the one you love best, throw something delicious on the grill and enjoy the day as Americans.


Brown Bess

The Army Musket--1700-1815
In the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
  Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise--
An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
  With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes-- 
At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

Though her sight was not long and her weight was not small,
  Yet her actions were winning, her language was clear; 
And everyone bowed as she opened the ball
  On the arm of some high-gaitered, grim grenadier.
Half Europe admitted the striking success
Of the dances and routs that were given by Brown Bess.

When ruffles were turned into stiff leather stocks,
   And people wore pigtails instead of perukes,
Brown Bess never altered her iron-grey locks.
  She knew she was valued for more than her looks.
"Oh, powder and patches was always my dress,
And I think am killing enough," said Brown Bess.

So she followed her red-coats, whatever they did,
  From the heights of Quebec to the plains of Assaye,
From Gibraltar to Acre, Cape Town and Madrid, 
  And nothing about her was changed on the way;
(But most of the Empire which now we possess 
Was won through those years by old-fashioned Brown Bess.)

In stubborn retreat or in stately advance,
  From the Portugal coast to the cork-woods of Spain,
She had puzzled some excellent Marshals of France
  Till none of them wanted to meet her again:
But later, near Brussels, Napoleon--no less--
 Arranged for a Waterloo ball with Brown Bess.

She had danced till the dawn of that terrible day--
   She danced till the dusk of more terrible night,
And before her linked squares his battalions gave way,
   And her long fierce quadrilles put his lancers to flight:
And when his gilt carriage drove off in the press,   
 "I have danced my last dance for the world!" said Brown Bess.

If you go to Museums--there's one in Whitehall--
  Where old weapons are shown with their names writ beneath,
You will find her, upstanding, her back to the wall,
  As stiff as a ramrod, the flint in her teeth.
And if ever we English had reason to bless
Any arm save our mothers', that arm is Brown Bess!

20 July 2012

We Need Something To Lighten The Day

So. Which driver are you? Personally I don't see anything wrong with a little "Truck Huntin" as long as it's in season and you eat what you flatten. Mmmmm, Tarantula Pancakes.


18 July 2012

We interrupt our daily programming...

... to bring you this 6 year old awesomeness.

The Boy's lunch box for this school year.  Yeah, pure awesomeness!  

~The DO

17 July 2012

Apparently There Is A Need To Fear

Because Underdog Angus surely is not. Remember the psychotic weather I mentioned on Sunday? Yeah, it hit Stage Ridiculous yesterday. The TV suddenly went to the Emergency Broadcast screen and we were given a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. Right Now! We Are So Not Kidding! Run, run for your lives! Aaiiee!!!

Sure enough, within minutes of the broadcast we saw this.

In case it's not clear that's hail. The broadcast warned of half dollar sized, "Holy shit get to shelter immediately and kiss your vehicle goodbye" hail but we didn't get any quite that large. Still, it was large enough to sting if someone were to, oh I don't know, say walk out into it. Just to see of course. Not that I'd know.

Enough fell to give the ground just a hint of Christmas cheer. Now where did I leave my sled?

After the hail stopped it turned into rain. Not the gentle kiss of a warm Summer sprinkling but a torrential downpour that had me thinking of TEOTWAWKI and wondering if the Pirate Ship would actually float.

At least I got to verify that I got the pitch on the porch roof correct. It's supposed to slope down from both roof eaves to that corner. It would have been even better if I'd actually put up the rain gutters so I didn't have The Niagara Falls coming off my roof but you have to find the ray of sunshine wherever you can. Even if it's raining hard enough float lead ingots.

And where was Angus, AKA NOT Underdog, while all this was happening you ask? 
"Hey, that's hail. Nobody mentioned anything about hail. I'm not coming out til the bad noise is gone I don't care how many cookies you offer. Piss off."

My hero.


15 July 2012

Sunday Kipling

The weather here has been psychotic. We went from 113 and dry to a rainy 75 overnight. The storms should be past and back to hot again by Tuesday.

My nephew, little brother's eldest son, is about to join the ranks. He heads off to Air Force basic tomorrow. Welcome to the brotherhood J. You are joining the august company of millions of men and women who have placed their lives between home and the war's desolation. I'm proud to welcome you. Serve with honor, pride and integrity. And never forget those who came before and have given their lives, their health and their futures so that we could live in the greatest country on the face of the Earth.

I'm feeling a little under the weather (heh heh) today so it'll probably be a lazy day. I hope you are all well and happy. May this day find you all in the company of those you love.

Today's Sunday Kipling is dedicated to my beloved nephew J as he begins his journey to manhood. You are the latest of the family to serve. May you not be the last. I am so very proud of you.
Your uncle.


(Our Army in the East)

Troopin', troopin', troopin' to the sea:
'Ere's September come again -- the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be'ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship's a-coalin' up that takes us 'ome to-day.
   We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'ome,
    Our ship is at the shore,
   An' you must pack your 'aversack,
    For we won't come back no more.
   Ho, don't you grieve for me,
    My lovely Mary-Ann,
   For I'll marry you yit on a fourp'ny bit
    As a time-expired man.
The Malabar's in 'arbour with the ~Jumner~ at 'er tail,
An' the time-expired's waitin' of 'is orders for to sail.
Ho! the weary waitin' when on Khyber 'ills we lay,
But the time-expired's waitin' of 'is orders 'ome to-day.
They'll turn us out at Portsmouth wharf in cold an' wet an' rain,
All wearin' Injian cotton kit, but we will not complain;
They'll kill us of pneumonia -- for that's their little way --
But damn the chills and fever, men, we're goin' 'ome to-day!
Troopin', troopin', winter's round again!
See the new draf's pourin' in for the old campaign;
Ho, you poor recruities, but you've got to earn your pay --
What's the last from Lunnon, lads?  We're goin' there to-day.
Troopin', troopin', give another cheer --
'Ere's to English women an' a quart of English beer.
The Colonel an' the regiment an' all who've got to stay,
Gawd's mercy strike 'em gentle -- Whoop! we're goin' 'ome to-day.
    We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'ome,
     Our ship is at the shore,
    An' you must pack your 'aversack,
     For we won't come back no more.
    Ho, don't you grieve for me,
     My lovely Mary-Ann,
    For I'll marry you yit on a fourp'ny bit
     As a time-expired man.

14 July 2012

Ride - Day Three. Nothing To See Here. Move Along, Move Along.

Sunday morning CG and I got up early. We were both anxious to get on the road. The ride had been fun but hearth and home were calling. After breakfast we pledged everlasting friendship and hit the road. At first I was going to retrace my ride across 375 and then, by side roads, back to I15 just above Cedar City, just 40 miles from home. Then I remembered that whole running on fumes thing and considering I was going to be solo thought it might be better to go south to Las Vegas instead. I jumped on Hwy 95 at 0745 with a full tank and an undiscovered road ahead.

We've all been there. Away from home, at the end of a fairly long and tiring trip. You just want to eat up the miles and get there. That pretty much sums up Day 3. The start of the ride was down another pretty much empty stretch of highway. the landscape went from nice to desert almost immediately. The road skirts Death Valley to the west and the Nevada Test Site on the east.

I made it to Beatty at 96 miles and I was glad it showed up when it did. Those of you with delicate constitutions may want to just skip this next part. See, CG and I had dinner at Mexican place the night before. The food was good but later that night I started feeling a stirring in a certain place below the belt line. If you catch my drift. I tried to relieve the pressure before starting out but no joy. I had premonitions but what you gonna do? Time and the road were calling so, full of self confidence in my ability to overcome any gastrointestinal difficulties I might encounter, I soldiered on. Until I got to about the 50 mile mark. Then the first pangs of discomfort hit me. I ignored it. Surely there would be somewhere to stop and relieve my incipient condition coming up any time now. Yep, any time now. Sigh, there's never a place to go when Pangs of Discomfort become Immediate Need. I started looking for a place on the side of the road where I could do the stop and squat. Soon that became anywhere, anywhere at all. But no luck. The land was flat and open with not so much as a telephone to shield me in my shame. I squirmed and stood on the pegs and prayed for divine intervention. At mile 96 my prayers were answered.

That's the gas station/restaurant/convenience store at Beatty, Nevada. She shore is purty ain't she? Got a very nice restroom too. I spent the better part of half an hour staring at those graffiti stained walls, thanking my lucky stars they even existed. How close was it? I was mentally cataloging all the extra clothes I'd toted along hoping I had enough to get me home because the flood was coming and if I hadn't stumbled across Beatty I was going to be doing a quick change on the side of the road.

Ok, enough of that. After taking care of all my needs I got back on the road and pointed BigBandido's nose toward Las Vegas. I passed Creech AFB along the way. I wanted to stop and take a few pictures but I wasn't certain my 'issues' were completely resolved so I kept the hammer down and thundered into Sin City.

126 miles from Beatty to Vegas.  And it was hot. Like 110 degrees hot. I hit the first station I came to, filled up and spent another half hour trying to cool down and chugging a one liter Mountain Dew. It was so hot I briefly considered getting a room in a motel with a pool and taking up the rest of the ride early the next morning. Very briefly. I called Lu and the sound of her sweet voice convinced me to man up and get back to my baby just as quick as I could.

Back onto I15 north and home. By this point I was interested in one thing and one thing only. Miles and getting them under my wheels as expeditiously as possible. I may even have exceeded the speed limit once or twice. But just a couple of times. I swear.

I eschewed any more stops. Even with my somewhat advanced rate of speed I figured I could make the last leg in one non stop run. At 1430 local time on Sunday, after a 139 mile leg that had me on reserve for the last 9 miles (sorry about that Nevada, Arizona and Utah Highway Patrols. I was somewhat in a hurry. I'll slow down next time. I promise), I pulled into Casa Six and home. Three days, two nights and 1224 miles after I'd begun.

Here's proof that I made it without damaging BigBandido. There she is, looking just as good as the day I'd set out.

A few thoughts on traveling long distances by motorcycle.
-Pack carefully. I took way too much stuff. I barely touched all that crap I'd packed into the backpack attached to the rear seat. When I do it again I'll pare it down to just what I can fit into the tank bag and saddlebags.
-Know your mileage, range to reserve (if your bike has a reserve) and maximum range. Tend to fill up when and where you can anytime you're riding in sparsely settled areas.
-Make sure your bike is serviced, has good tires, chain and sprockets and everything is up to date. We were in areas where if we'd had a breakdown help was going to be hours, possibly many hours, away.
-Ride with a friend. I had fun every day but the last when I was riding alone. A good companion makes the miles a lot more pleasant and is a good backstop in case of problems.
-The Throttlemeister worked well within the confines of what it was intended for. I recommend it but keep it's limitations in mind.
-Take a camera and stop for pictures often. The second day we kept to that and got some great shots. The last day I didn't and now I regret not taking just a little more time.
-BigBandido worked flawlessly and was surprisingly comfortable. All in all a creditable sport touring machine. It's proof that you don't have to spend mega bucks to have a competent ride. I paid $2400 bucks for her and she was worth every penny. You can spend more and get more but don't turn away a bike just because it isn't considered a true sport tourer. You may be pleasantly surprised. I was. Sooner or later I'll probably upgrade to a BMW but if I don't I'll be well served with the one I've got.
-Buy saddlebags, even small ones. The ones I bought cost me a measly $72 dollars on sale and were money very well spent.
-Carry. We were in places where I kept expecting to see Burt Gummer drive by. Toting along a handgun just seemed like a good idea. Take a good one with spare ammo because there's just no place to put a rifle on a motorcycle. Carrying on a motorcycle is different from carrying in a car. You have to take into consideration that you may well find yourself sliding across the pavement on the seat of your pants and casual carry may result in a lost or severely damaged heater. My view is that I'm probably not going to be in a situation where immediate access while I'm riding is going to be an issue. I decided that having it in a holster in my tankbag put it in  a place I could get to quickly and easily. You may have a better option or different opinion but put some thought into it before you leave. And know the carry laws in any jurisdiction you may find yourself in.
-Sport touring with a buddy on a motorcycle may be the most fun you'll ever have with your clothes on. I highly recommend it. Just get a bike, do your maintenance and preparation and GO! It's a freeing experience. Nothing but wind and sun and sights and new places and miles of adventure.

After the ride I was pooped. I spent the evening getting reacquainted with my wife and being mauled by Angus. He did the Doggy Dance of Joy when I got home and didn't let me out of his sight for a couple of days. I went to bed and he promptly curled up behind me in Daddy's Finally Home bliss. We slept in.

All in all a very good time. My eternal thanks to Car Guy for making the trip and keeping me company on the journey. A better companion doesn't exist. And remember, he started out the trip with a 640 mile ride just to get here bringing his total mileage to right at 1900 over 4 days. What can I say? He's a good man and I'm lucky to have him in my life. I love you brother.

The question of whether or not I'll do it again has arisen. The answer is yes. I think I'll probably limit it to two days at a time though. I thought that was just about right for a nice, relaxing ride. And I want to do the total mileage with someone. Riding distance solo isn't much fun at all.

I hope you enjoyed my travelogue. The time I spent on my motorcycle with CG was some of the best I've ever had on two wheels. If you're considering it all I can say is go for it. And if you're in my neck of the woods give me a holler. Me and BigBandido are always up for a ride. Just remember my traveling credo.
No Camping!


12 July 2012

Ride - Day Two. To Infinity And Beyond

Day Two dawned bright and hot. Not that we knew since we didn't drag our carcasses out of bed until after 8:00. Once up and moving though it was time to get back on the road. This was the best day of the ride and where I took most of the photos.

The first leg was I80 West to Wendover.

The highway took us past the Great Salt Lake from whence the city gets it's name. It's huge, flat and salty.

The road is pretty much ruler straight and flat, with only slight rollers. The Throttlemeister worked well here.

Car Guy looking all nonchalant and bitchin' and stuff.

I mentioned an action shot in the first post. This is it. I set the throttle, pulled the camera out of the tank bag and took this shot as we motored down the road at 75 mph. I didn't have the guts to try it more than the one time.

 At 124 miles we reached Wendover (West Wendover actually on the Nevada side of the border line). We gassed up, hit an Arby's for lunch and turned south on Hwy 93. We had a definite destination in mind but in the meanwhile were just enjoying then ride and countryside. I must admit that the reality did not match my expectations. I was assuming the area was flat, dry and scorching hot. It was none of the three. There were many mountains, lots of green and while hot it wasn't debilitatingly so. Really, I like north central Nevada a lot. Here's some random pictures.

The bikes, fully loaded and dusty from their travels. Both ran great and didn't give us a single problem on the entire ride. Well, except for that whole range limited due to smallish gas tanks thing but hey, that's why they call it adventure touring.

We knew the area was sparsely inhabited but until we started seeing all those "Last Gas' signs I don't think we truly understood. When we saw one that was 167 miles the reality hit us. We sweated the mileage more than once and tended to gas up at every opportunity. The run from Wendover to McGill/Ely was right at our limit. Luckily we found a very small pump run out of a shack by a very nice woman at Preston, 45 miles from Wendover. That took us all the way to McGill which is just down the road from Ely. We hit McGill at 108 miles from Preston which, considering our absolute mileage limits, gives you a good idea just how thin our error margin was.

This stretch of 93 is part of the old Pony Express route. McGill reflected that heritage. This was the station we stopped at. The owner was a nice old lady who agve us good advice and a hand drawn map of the route we wanted to take.

From McGill we went through Ely then hit Hwy 6 for a short run to Hwy 318. We turned onto 318 and headed dead south on a 100 mile run to Ash Springs. Which is just past the intersection with Highway 375. Hwy 375. Now why does that sound familiar? Oh wait, now I remember!

This is why we took this route. Both CG and I wanted to ride this road and visit Rachel, Nevada. But. Would we see and actual ET? Were we risking a potentially painful and embarrassing probing? Would some evil thing from beyond the stars eat our brains? Oh no! There's one now. Aaiieee! Flee for your lives! Note the shiny silver skin and creepy bulbous head. Truly an ugly and disturbing alien encounter. Kill it. Kill it with fire!

45 miles down the road is the little outpost of Rachel, home of the Little A'LE'INN. This is the place that's been in so many movies, TV shows and conspiracy theories. We talked to the woman behind the counter about that. I mentioned that Jesse 'The Scumbag' Ventura had been there recently. She confirmed that he's a douchebag. Heh heh.

They even had a flying saucer hooked up to a tow truck. Probably had the same range limitations we did. "Hey Zgforlghb, did we fill up in Zeta Reticuli? No? Shit!"

They even have a race team. When we arrived there was a collection of questionable characters outside the door discussing all things race related though frankly, I was hearing dueling banjos coming from somewhere. I didn't linger. Probing by aliens is one thing. Probing by a bunch of Nevada Troglodytes is something else.

We were now faced with another choice. Either turn back to Ash Springs for gas and then to Ely or even Las Vegas for the night or continue up 375 to Tonopah. I figured Tonopah at 110 miles from Rachel which would put us in at 155 miles or so. That's past where I figured I'd be into my reserve tank which makes me weak kneed. Still, we were on an adventure, wanted to run all of 375 and by going to Tonopah we'd cut off quite a bit of CG's return trip to California. Good enough. We pointed our noses north west and twisted the throttles.

The ride across 375 and central Nevada was a good one. Some cloud cover came in dropping the temps and making the run pretty pleasant.

Beautiful country but it's also open range. At one point we had to slow to avoid a calf that had wandered onto the highway. Mama finally noticed and called him back. Probably grounded him.

Just outside Tonopah we saw this.

Here's a closer look. Just to the south of the highway, off in the distance there, is the Nellis AFB Range, the Nevada Test Site and Groom Lake. The notorious Area 51!

Finally we made it to Tonopah at 156 miles. How close was it? I was on reserve for the last 5 miles. Remember those 'Last Gas' signs I talked about? This is the one at Tonopah at the north west end of Hwy 375 heading back in the direction we'd come from. This is a lie. I know, I rode and sweated each and every foot of that run.

543 road miles from Salt Lake City to Tonopah. 863 miles covered in two days with one more still to come. CG and I checked in to the Best Western Tonopah and discussed the next day. We'd come this way precisely to ride 375 but also to cut just a little off his ride home. Remember, he started this thing with a 640 mile jaunt just to get to my house and start the ride. It was decided. We'd had fun but it was time to head back. Day three would see us parting ways and making our solo way home.

This was by far the best riding day I've ever had. Ever. Good roads, little to no traffic, beautiful country, new sights, friendly folks and the company of a man I consider my brother. I emphasized this day because I enjoyed it so much. Day three sucked and I'll warn you here, there's not going to be much to tell and even less to see related to that ride. It was just a push to get home.


10 July 2012

Ride - Preparation And Day One

Car Guy (hereinafter referred to as simply CG) arrived on Thursday evening after a 16 hour, 640 mile run from California. I spent all day Thursday prepping and getting BigBandido loaded up and ready for the ride. Part of that was installing a Throttlemeister cruise control.

The Throttlemeister is a friction throttle controller as opposed to a true cruise control. It works by twisting the controller until a brass ring contacts a plastic cup installed over the actual throttle. Here's a picture of the controller as it ships from the company.

It's actually a pair of bar ends with the controller installed in the right hand unit. That worked out doubly well for me as BigBandido came without any vibration damping bar ends when I bought it. That black plastic piece is the friction cup that goes over the inner handlebar throttle. This is how the empty bar looks without anything installed. Just as I bought it.

Peel back the rubber throttle grip

And install the black plastic cap over the end

Then assemble the controller. Those rubber o-rings will be compressed by a bolt that goes through the unit to secure it in the handlebar.

And stick it into the open end of the handlebar

Once it's properly assembled and installed you have to tighten and adjust it. Adjusting it consists of getting the gap between the controller and the grip exactly correct. When done correctly a back twist on the controller tightens it against the cap and holds the throttle in place. A twist forward releases it so the throttle can be operated normally. It took quite a bit of time and a lot of fudging to get it correct and I still had to fiddle with it a bit all that first day.

The Throttlemeister has two functions, bar ends to dampen the vibrations put out by the big 1200 cc motor and as a cruise control. I bought it in it's 'Heavy' iteration and it did indeed do a good job smoothing out any hand tinglies from that engine. But it's not a true cruise control. That is you can't simply select a speed, flip it on and forget about throttle input. It works by friction so when you get to a certain speed you twist it on and you're set at that throttle position. If you're on a consistent piece of road it works fine. If you're in a rolling section, not so much. Even then, on either a flat or gentle uphill, I found myself having to make frequent throttle corrections. Minute adjustments to keep a consistent speed. It also requires you to closely monitor your speed but that's nothing you don't already have to do on any motorcycle without true cruise control and there are precious few motorcycles out there so equipped. Still, it allowed me to set it and with small inputs keep my speed within a fairly small range. That also allowed me to rest my throttle hand and even take a picture while moving. I only did it once but it is possible. All in all I recommend it for anyone doing long distances, just for the chance to shake out the numbness from time to time if nothing else. At 168 bucks it ain't exactly cheap but in my opinion well worth the investment.

A word on gas mileage and range on a motorcycle. Motorcycle speedometers and odometers are notoriously inaccurate, generally reading on the high side. In my case I'd checked my mileage and compared it to my odometer and gas tank capacity so I'd know what my maximum runs were going to be. The BigBandido was disappointing in mileage, averaging about 33 mpg. I was confused until I calibrated the speedo and found out it was off by 10 mph and I was pulling 5000 rpms at 75 mph.The culprit was the rear sprocket. It's two teeth bigger than stock. That emphasizes the torque of the motor but at the cost of gas mileage. It was too late to address before the ride. In the next few weeks I'll drop two teeth on that sprocket and maybe go up by one on the counter shaft. I'm estimating I can improve my mileage by 5 mpg and my total range by 25 miles. That's significant when you're tooling around in areas where signs like this are frequent.

We saw one sign that was 167 miles. Considering that my range on the main tank is 150 miles with 175 to totally empty on reserve it's important to know exactly how far you can go before running out. Hiking down the road in hundred plus degree heat in boots and gear is no fun at all.

Finally all was set and ready. On with the ride.

Ok. Friday dawned bright and hot. CG and I got up fairly early, ate a good breakfast and by 10:00 we were on our way. The first leg took us north on I15. Salt Lake City was the destination. We stopped in Beaver and later Nephi for gas and lunch. We arrived in Salt Lake at the Marcia and John Page Museum building on the campus of the University of Utah at 4:00. Here's where I screwed up. We decided to stop in at the museum to check their open times before we checked into a hotel. Good thing because it closed at 5:00 and didn't open again until 11:00 the next morning. So we decided to go ahead and take the tour right then. When we went in and bought tickets the employees graciously checked our tank bags and helmets. It was only after we started the tour, with no out and back privileges, that I remembered my camera was still in my tank bag. Oh well, CG had his and I could get some from him later. Something I have yet to do. Sorry, no cool car pictures. But it was really cool. Totally. I swear.

The museum was cool and so were the cars though the display was small, only 19 cars in total. We wandered around, oohed and aahed and generally enjoyed ourselves. With one exception. Car Guy is irreverent and I admit to a certain amount of that myself. At one point he squatted down and got within about a foot of one car in particular for a close up picture. He was still outside the Line Of Death demarcated by a string but that was apparently not quite good enough. At that time there was exactly one security guard in the rooms housing the display. He approached CG and made a somewhat snide comment about having Zoom on his camera and told him to back off from the car. CG complied but I must admit that he and I shared a few snarky comments that may have been at a volume Security Guy could have overheard. Apparently he did and most emphatically did not care for it because within just a few minutes there was approximately 500 security people in the room with us, following us around and generally being obtusely obnoxious. It may have only been a dozen or so but it sure seemed like they had emptied the security detachments for every institution in a hundred mile radius. All for us. Every time I got occupied examining a car I'd look up to see one guard leaning against a wall obviously watching me closely all the while trying to appear nonchalant in that charming, Inspector Clouseau in a disguise kind of way, while 7 or 8 others were walking around pretending to be concerned about the cars in essentially empty rooms. How do I know it was all for us? There were exactly 4 people in the museum at the time. A nice young couple and us. The ratio of security guards to attendees was at least 11 to 1. There is one and only one response to such. We engaged them in all manner of small talk, from weather to traffic to hotels in the area. All of them. Purposely forcing them to acknowledge us and recognize that were both no threat and really fun guys. We even got one young lady to laugh. I'm sure she went on report. Sorry about that.

Still, the young man at the desk who had checked us in was very nice even though he was making cow eyes at CG. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We collected our things and with a few inquiries about accommodations we were on our way once more.

We headed downtown because I wanted to see the Temple and maybe take a picture. Just to make up for forgetting to take any actual photos of cars. The reason we went to Salt Lake in the first place. Yes, I am indeed an ultra maroon.

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City.

Car Guy on his V-Rod taking a picture of the Temple. Sigh. Better pictures on Day 2. I swear.

We headed toward the airport because everyone knows there are always decent hotels around them. Except when there's not. We finally found a friendly airport police officer who directed us a few miles down I80 and a Marriott. The young gal at the check in desk was polite and friendly and we even managed to charm her out of a couple of white chocolate/macadamia cookies. I found the Hoyt Archery factory just down the street. We ate dinner at a Subway and turned in for the night. After checking in with Lu and Mrs. Car Guy (AKA BikeNurse) of course.

94 miles to Beaver, 116 miles to Nephi and 110 miles to SLC for a Day One total of 320 miles traveled. We were feeling good and before leaving Saturday morning we discussed where we wanted to go. Instead of East we decided on West and an encounter of the Close Kind with beings not of this earth.

Tomorrow.....Central Nevada.