Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Calendar

Sometime before Christmas I was going thru my pictures and decided to make a calendar. I searched locally to see if a company could make one, but most wanted way to much money and did not make them in a large size. NER has a photo contest each month and the winning photo is used to make a calendar from Cafe Press. I used the same company. If you want to see or even order one you can find it at THIS LINK. You can enlarge each one of the photos by clicking them, which will open a new window.

The Cover
Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksvillie PA

New Bedford, MA Harbor

Hockanum Mills Rockville CT

Rt 159E around Dumas Arkansas

Assateague Lighthouse Chincoteague Island Virginia

Caribbean Motel Wildwood Crest New Jersey

Hampton Plantation in Francia Marion National Forest South Carolina

Mustard Fields US RT 1 Presque Isle Maine

Spikes Hot Dogs Providence Rhode Island

Flat Tire Chartes Street New Orleans Louisana

Highway 9 Wilmington Vermont

Penobscot Narrows Bridge Prospect/Verona Maine

St Timothy's Episcopal Church Lost Nation New Hampshire

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mary had a Little Lamb and Spiders Piss Me Off

Saturday found the temperatures getting into the 70’s. An unusual occurrence for us New Englanders this early in the season. A perfect day to go for a ride. We got a late start but headed out to capture some bonii for the 2010 NER Treasure Hunt. We meandered our way to Sterling MA to get the Mary Had a Little Lamb statue in honor for Mary Sawyer who lived in Sterling MA. She was the one that LambChop follow her to school one day.

Right across the street was a place to eat, which from a food standpoint was good, but a little shaky on the service end. The Turtle in the Turtle and Hare story was a speed skater compared to the service speed . While in the area I grabbed this church for putting up on Waymarking.com for Town Clock and possibly Old Church category. I have already posted the Sterling Town Hall in Town Halls.

Our next objective was VERNAL pool restoration. I was hoping there would be sign at the location containing the key word. No sign, no word.

Acton, MA was our turn around spot for the days 140 mile loop. MeAsWe mentioned something about heading home, because my daughter was having a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend. MeAsWe said if I don’t remind you, and knowing you, we will be out until 10pm hunting things down. She knows me so well. During our 6000 southern journey it was not uncommon for us to pull in after 9pm after a days journey seeking National Parks and National Landmarks.

We grabbed a few more locations on our way south.

In Westboro, MA, MeAsWe spotted a sign that had MARCH on it; we turned around to take a picture. I turned the bike off because my feet were on sandy ground and I could see my footing slipping and trying to gain a foothold as a 780 pound bike was plunging to the ground. Picture taken, I press the starter button and notice all the lights on the dash are lit up. I turn the key to the off position and they stay lit, at least I thought I turned the key off. Tell MeAsWe to dismount again. She really doesn’t like the FJR as much as the Connie, because getting on and off is much harder for her. Turn the key to on and the bike seems normal. Start it up and things are fine.

We are headed for Marlboro, MA to pick up Mohawk Springs for the word Spring. I notice the GPS is turning itself off and on, but this has happened in the past. I use the car adaptor for energizing the GPS and sometimes the male plug pulls back and disconnects. I stop and fix it, start off again it the GPS flashes on and off again. The bike then burps and there was an oh so subtle shutdown of the bike.

We picked up Sunshine PreSchool in the Hopkinton area and were headed for Lamb and Brown in Ashland. This is when I smelled the sinister smell of smoke. I looked down and saw a lazy stream of white wispy stuff coming from the left front fork area. I pulled over and told MeAsWe.."get off get off we are going to burst into flames".. (the burst into flames is an exaggeration). Kick stand down, off the bike and I am all over the bike like a blood hound chasing down Cool Hand Luke. "You smell anything", I get a positive answer from ME. I pulled a leaf out of the fairing right over the radiator. Maybe this was it, but it appeared to be un-singed. More sniffing, but no more burning smell.

What is running thru my mind now is I am going to have to call a tow truck, I am gonna get cancelled by RVRoadHelp cause I have had my car towed twice in the last 3 weeks, we are going to be late for my daughter’s surprise birthday party for her boyfriend and just an all around blah feeling. I take the right hand dash cover where the battery is located. Every other bike I have owned has had the battery under the seat. The FJR’s battery is in the upper right fairing. Battery connections are tight and the wires appear normal.

It is 5:30 or so, and the bonii hunting is over for the day. I figure we might as well try to make it home on the bike. We are only about 15 miles away. We get home, without incident except for one spot about a mile or two away where the bike did its hiccup, burp or what ever it is. The bike now sits in the driveway, waiting to be ridden to the dealer for repair. Good thing I purchased the 2 year extended Yamaha warranty.

Thru the FJR Forum, I have learned that the grounding system is made up of grounding connections which combines the negative ground side for various components such as the fuel pump, turn signals, dash lights and all other electrical components into a junction which as become known as the Spider Ground Connector. This is simply a shielded connector which would be like taking all of the ground wires, twisting them together and using a wire nut. This shield (plastic) is to create an electromagnetic interference guard. Based on what I see it is probably a 69 cent part. Well I guess these have a tendency to get corroded due to their exposure to the elements, causing them to create resistence, which causes heat, which causes more resistance, which causes more heat to the point of burning. Apparently the Gen II bikes are more prone to this than the Gen I FJR’s. Gen II is suppose to be the new and improved, at least that why I would think they would change things.

OK having a diagnosis is good, but the cure can be a long and hard journey. First call to the dealer is they can not take the bike in until April 2nd, two weeks away. So the saga begins. Let’s hope it is a short poem ala Ogden Nash and not one of Homer’s tales.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Go West Young Man - Going to the Sun

That saying is attributed to Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune, however it really came from a fellow editor in the midwest JBL Soule. For me it is a spark for a dream that I believe will come true in September.

A couple of years ago I was asked by a fellow rider, what my dream road/ride would be. I immediately responded the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier NP. The inspiration came from a History Channel series on making this road.

From MA to Glacier NP it is just over 2500 miles. It would take me 5 days to get out there and 5 days back leaving only a few days to actually ride around the area. Over the winter I hemmed and hawed, coming up with every reason why this was not the right time. The most compelling reason was it seemed like the only available rental bike was a HD. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a HD, especially an Ultra, it simply is not the preferred bike for me. Having recently acquired a FJR and been on the C10 for the last 2 years, I wanted either a ST1300 or a FJR to ride the roads. I found a company in Bend, Oregon that has both. Excitement sets in, then I checked out the airline ticket prices to Bend OR. Not exactly a major airport with reasonablely priced tickets. The tickets to Portand were cheap enough but the segment from Portland to Bend was as much as Boston to Portland.

Setback 1. Bend is out of the picture. I then said, what is more important getting out west or the bike I was going to ride. Getting out West was far more important than the bike, sorta. I settled on an Ultra, simply because it has a tour pack, which we need and provides a back rest and safey measure for MeAsWe. In reality if I was going to rent a bike and the bike was going to be a Harley, the choice would be a Road Glide, but that would not work out well for MeAsWe. It does not have a tour pack, thus no back rest for MAW.

With the winter being what it is, a time for reflection, hibernation, putting on weight, watching endless reruns of CSI, Law and Order, Criminal Minds, getting Netflix movies, wondering how much fuel oil you are burning, whether you will need to scrape the windshield, leaving to go to work in the dark, returning home in the dark, watching the first snow fall and the serenity it provides, watching the 2nd snowfall realizing the first snowfall was a false sense of serenity, just writing about winter makes me shiver.

Next choice of bikes now that Bend Oregon is out, is a Gold Wing. I have never ridden one, but I hear for big bike it is quite nimble. Eagle Riders (a major cycle renting company) has Gold Wings in Salt Lake City. I immediately take to MapSource and plan the trip starting in Salt Lake City. This is very very doable and matter of fact SLC looks like it is a great starting out point.

Call to Eagle Riders and essentially they want the money now and if you have to cancel, well they will give you a voucher that can be used within 1 year. Insurance on the bike is pricey. If the bike has mechanical problems and causes you to be delayed, they will reimburse you $71/day for your troubles. The rental is $131/day. You do the math. Then I read someplace even thou you are reserving the GW, there is no guarantee that it will be available when you show up. For a hefty rental price and absolutely no flexibility on ER part, going West looks like the Sun is going down.

Setback 2. Well maybe a not quite a setback, but ER is certainly a pricey road to see the Sun.

Way back I considered shipping the bike, but for some reason I remembered it did not make sense to ship your bike and it was more cost effective to rent. Having some time to kill I started researching shipping options. Couple of forms filled out on the internet and prices of $900 were coming up, confirming my initial impression. I saw a site that had something called Terminal to Terminal. Looked up what they defined as terminals. They had one in the Boston area and out west my choices were Seattle, Portland and Salt Lake City. Since I had planned the route starting in SLC, I focused my attention here. Plugged in the applicable data and got a price of just shy of $600. The eyebrows rise abit, the heart races abit, and a smile breaks out. At that price I will save money to boot. A phone call is in order to the company.

I get a hold of Gary from FreightCenter.com. We discuss the particulars of what I am trying to accomplish. He states he wishes he could do what I was doing, however he just purchased a new house and just got this job after being unemployed for 9 months. I asked him if he was over 50 and he was. One of my main concerns is being able to pickup the bike on a Saturday and more importantly drop the bike off for shipping back east on a Saturday or Sunday.

We bounce a couple of emails back and forth to one another. He finally comes thru with the weekend pickup / drop off answer. A simple NO and it was NOT NEGOTIABLE.

Setback 3 Third time a charm is the saying isn't. Well we are going for the 4 Leaf Clover.

After the let down from FreightCenter, I used the information looking for other terminal to terminal shipping companies that do motorcycles. From the iNet Allied Special Products popped up on the screen. Plugged in the info needed and a quote was returned that looked even more promising than FreightCenter. These guys even included $8,000 of insurance with their quotes. A call to Allied and get Bri (short for Briana, what a great name) on the phone. I had looked up one of the Allied Van Lines called Bailey's Moving and Storage prior to calling ASP. Bri confirms that Bailey's is one of the terminals to get good pricing. She works up quote saying that the online ones can be inaccurate, $636 is the price. Higher than online but not off the wall. She then asks if I am a member of AMA or HOG, indicating that the price would be $580. You can join the AMA for $39, which this one discount will cover the cost of membership, so a plus for sure. In addition to the discount the insurance coverage is boosted to $15,000. The terminal here is Franklin, MA right next door. This is looking really good. One last initial thing to cover. Can I pickup and drop off the bike on a Saturday. Bri indicates that is up to the indivdual places and I should call them. Quick call to Bailey's and the gentleman there was very helpful and accomodating. He indicated that in September someone is generally on site and would be available to complete the pickup and drop off during this period.

Right now this seems to be perfect CLICKY HERE

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3 13 30 31 - Winning Lottery Number ?

I wish it was, but it isn't. 3 is for March the beginning of NER 4th Treasure Hunt being run by Todd this year. We have been given 13 words which are; daylight, ice, lamb, lion, march, patrick's practice, sand, savings,snow, spring, sunshine, and vernal. Our objective if we choose to accept it, is to find 30 places that use the 13words and there are 31 days in March. At the end of the month the RB will use one suit from a deck of cards, each card will represent a point value from 1 to 13, Ace is 1 point and King is 13 points. Randomly he will select a card for each word and that will be the value of that word. The accepted photos of places you have ridden to then get assigned the point value and summed up for a month total. The one that has the most points wins for the month. There will be a monthly list of words starting in March and ending in November. I am not sure how the overall Treasure Hunt winner is going to be decided, the most monthly wins, the most points or some hybrid.

Sounds easy, but there are limitations on what the RB will accept. On March 6th I headed out to capture some of the bonii, which is the first day I have been out on the bike since November 2009. I had one place in mind, trying to capture what I believe to be the least frequent word on the list, Vernal. Made my way down to Foxboro and snapped the following photo.

When I got home, I got to thinking (not always a good thing) and reread the rules. Couple this with the RB commenting on another participant's picture of their bike in front of an frozen water (ICE) on rocks along side the road, and said it did not meet the requirements for ICE. The RB stated that even thou it is ICE and ICE is one of the words it was not one of the acceptable locations and referenced us back to the rally rules. I was shocked that this picture did not qualify. I reviewed the list and did not see a road as a valid location. I then question RB and he said pictures of road signs were NO GOOD. To make sure I had interpreted him, I requested a ruling on this picture and the verdict was NO GOOD.

Oh you see the orange bandana with the NER on it . The requirements for the photo is A> the object representing one of the 13 words you are taking B> the orange bandana must appear in the photo and C> a substantial portion of your bike must be in the photo for the submission to be valid. You get to submit up to 30 photos and only 30. Once you post the photo, you can not withdraw the photo with a substitution of another photo. If any of the photos fail one of the criteria, you simply do not get any points for that photo. Hence, you must be very selective when putting your photo's up. This is where the Bastard in Rally Bastard comes from.

March being the kick off month, the RB has said he will be lenient on some of the rules, such as the the substitution rule, but only this month. Next month, once posted it can not be withdrawn.

One of the acceptable categories is artwork such as statues, that clearly depict the word. I grabbed this in Burrillville Rhode Island for SNOW. I figure if it is sculptued, painted, or some other media that remotely is connected to art, then it should be good to go. It will be pretty hard to disallow a posting based on a definition of art being so subjective.

The CHASE is starting all over again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Season is a Changing - A Look Back to a Colder Time

I turned 59 on March 5th, and on March 6th I went for my first ride in 2010. I asked MeAsWe if she minded opting out on this ride. The first ride of the season has always been one of getting re-acquainted with the bike, my skills, and of course there is always that slippery stuff on the street called sand. I had mapped out a route on the GPS to pick up some bonii for the 2010 Treasure Hunt being run by a new RB (Rally Bastard), Todd. What appeared to be simple has not turned out simple at all, but I will save that for another post. The route is a short one, under 200 miles.

Over the winter, I essentially forgot I owned 3 motorcycles. I have NOT seen any of them since last November, when they went into storage. This past winter I did not suffer any severe case of PMS (parked motorcycle syndrone), have half heartedly put together the documentation for my 2nd IBA National Park Tour and MeAsWe's first, kind of planned out a trip out west and essentially forgot about riding. Oh there were some flashbacks to riding, such going thru the pictures we took in 2010 to create our own 2010 Calendar. (see separate thread on this as well). Ordered the calendar and it actually came out pretty good. MeAsWe is using it for her calendar. Much better than sitting in the back seat of the car.

Winter seemed like it was going to go on forever, especially taking its toll on my knees. I guess the cold weather and arthritis is akin to Israel and the rest of the Middle East getting along in peaceful harmony.

Oh and all that weight I lost in 2008 founds it way back home. I really thought dropping it off someplace in Arkansas, would make it impossible for it to find its way. sigh. At least it did not bring relatives and friends along for the ride.

Even getting ready for the first ride, was a re-adjustment. Putting on the riding pants (phew they still fit), getting the GPS ready, writing on the index cards the Waypoints, getting the tank bag ready with the plastic bag carrying extra SD cards batteries, the GPS plug, gloves, figuring out what layers will be worn on top, finding the extra set of keys to the bike and carrying everything downstairs. Just as I exited the house, I realized I didnt bring the helmet. There is a set pattern for getting ready that needs to be relearned along with everything else.

This first day of riding is bigger than the Phil guy looking for his shadow, the premier of Avatar (and no we didn't see it) or Scott Brown getting elected as the anti anti fillibuster element. Who would have thought a Republican would take the Kennedy seat away.

Sometime in January, NE Harley had their annual drawing for the giveaway bike for completing the Ride New England Tour. This year it was at Kelly's in Billerica and I did not win the bike, neither did OSJ, Dave, Pops, or PhatPat. Of course I got the 2010 Ride New England card for me and MeAsWe. Mine got stamped and we shall have to return for MeAsWe's stamp. Sometime in February we jumped in the cage and headed for Monty's in Bridgewater, because we were bored and there is no compelling reason to ride the bike to Bridgewater. We did the same for Boston HD, while picking up T and Jeff from the airport. We caged it to Gengras in Hartford, combing our outing to see Jeff Dunham. Again is there absolutely NO reason to ride to Hartford. I even considered jumping in the car and heading for Caribou, ME to get the stamp at Plourdes. In the past this would have been totally blasphemous, just thinking about doing this is sacrilegious.

Do you see a theme developing here. Last year during the winter I planned our 6,000 mile wanderings thru the south and for me it would be something new with MeAsWe as passenger. There was some excitment for spring to come. This year I even said to MeAsWe, maybe I will just sell the bikes. I felt like there was no place to go. I have been to every state just west of the Mississippi. I have traveled thru the south 3 times. I have hit almost the all NP's in the east leaving only some scattered ones here and there. I have captured almost all the National Landmarks in New England. Traveled well over 100,000 miles since 2005, with most of the mile put on since I got the Connie. I even fell into 2nd place in the OSJ Treasure Hunt. Steve managed to take away the title. Maybe this bike thing has run its course and it is time to move on to something else.

On a bright spot I have managed to bring my PokerStars account from a measely .83 to over 26.00 playing 25 cent 45 person tournaments. However even that lately has become a struggle and I don't seem to be able to get in the money as easy as building it back to 25.00. Hey if it was 83.00 I would have 2500 in the bank right now.

So where is all this dribble going. I am in a funk, but there is a bright spot. In the last couple of weeks I have read a couple of ride reports that have inspired. Maybe it is getting to 59 realizing I have much less time to live than I already have. I been saying to MeAsWe about work, that one day they are going to say to me, Bill, you have to stop coming here, you retired 2 weeks ago and I just look at them with this blank stare. I have been trying to sell myself on doing the west trip and I think I have finally convinced myself that I will get to 70 years old and not want to look back and say I should have gone west.

With the stage set for this lion and lamb month, the sun is out, the temp has climbed into the 50's, when I wake the computer thermometer says 45, I checked the temp in Great Falls, Montana, thought about skipping work, said to myself I need to get the battery in the Connie and get it inspected. The FJR already has been inspected. I have called a freight company to ship the FJR to Salt Lake City come September. And maybe most significant about this funk and maybe it has run it course, I put a 3X5 index card in the map section of the tank bag for those 13 words for the month of March. Maybe this bike thing still has a way to go.