Saturday, May 22, 2010

Back to the Future 200 Million Years Back

Today we stomped thru Connecticut with a couple of main objectives. The primary one was the TSI Harley dealerships in Ellington and Columbia for the tour card stamps. Couple other objectives were 3 National Landmarks in the Portland and Middletown areas. To aid in routing the bike thru Connecticut, we have begun using state parks as WP’s.

One of the state park waypoints was Dinosaur. I had no clue what this place had to offer but we have hit places like Lover’s Leap, so the name should not be taken too literally. A call to TSI Columbia to find out what time they closed, revealed they had closed 20 minutes ago. With that off the agenda, no time constraints (destinations with closing times), we decided to go see what was up with this place.

In 1966, the state was preparing the location for a building and sent excavation equipment to start leveling the site. The operator hit some ledge which he dug his shovel into it and pulled off a layer. Ledge in this area is stratified and layers lift off easily. He looked down, jumped off his bulldozer and called in some state officials, who halted the razing of the area. They called in some other experts. To the surprise of many they found perfectly preserved animal tracks that dated back to the dinosaur era. Yup scores upon scores of dinosaur tracks were found

The antiquities and archaeological experts unearthed some more of the site. The state built a geodesic dome over the site and now one can see this amazing place. It is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Additional reading here

Big Top - The Day the Clowns Cried

One of the May treasure hunt words is circus. This word has proven to be one of the more difficult words of the month. I have stopped on I95 to take a picture of Ringling Bros train sitting in one of the train yards outside of Providence RI. I rode to the Dunkin Donuts Center to get a picture of circus. Now one would think the GREATEST SHOW on EARTH (their words not mine) would contain the word circus. Nothing, zilch, nada. Thru my Googling efforts I came across this place in Hartford, CT that has a relationship to Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey show.

On July 6, 1944, a crowd of 6,800 gathered to see the trapeze guys flying thru the air, the clowns running around with 20 of them pouring out a that minature car, the three rings of animal acts and maybe even the bearded lady. On that day, about 20 minutes into the show, a small fire started which spread very quickly. It was a common practice in those days to coat the tent with melted paraffin dissolved in gasoline or kerosene as a waterproofing method. The tent burned down in less than 10 minutes, killing 168 persons. You can read about it here.

This is one of those hidden treasures that pop up from time to time in this game.

Washin up in Stafford Springs

We were heading out for a day of treasure. One of the stops was Stafford Springs Town Hall and right next door was this. Who could resist. Soap, hoses and people to perform the dirty deed. I have to say they were a bit intimidated about washing the FJR. So glad I took care of this maintenance item early in the season.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Now That's a Ridin' Pardna

It’s around 6pm and we are heading for our last destination of the day, Nantasket Beach Reservation, for a Massachusetts Passport Stamp. We have captured a total of 10 state park stamps today.

We are following this truck in the left lane on RT 228. Both of us are in the left lane moving slowly as cars are zipping past us on the right. Traffic light turns red and the truck slows to a stop. We do as well, I take my left foot off the peg to plant on the ground. The FJR just being a bit tall, I have become accustom to placing the left foot first and then use the right foot to shift some of the weight to the right. The FJR weighs around 640 pounds by itself, add me, MeAsWe and the tank bag and some other stuff, it is easily over a ½ ton. The plant takes a hair bit longer than usual, and I then realize we are on a slanted road and I am overcome by a lightness that does not belong in this scenario. The bike is preparing for a swan dive to the ground. My foot bearly touches and the bike is gong to be listing like a boat that is ready to capsize. I shift my weight and tug right on the handle bars as I feel my shoulder muscles bulge like those guys in the Mr Olympia contests. The bike begins it climb back up to the right to the neutral position, but doesn’t quite make and begins a second descent to the left. Another tug and the momentum shifts again to the right.

I don’t have a clue how I kept that 1000 pounds up and as soon as were even keeled again I said to MeAsWe, Phew that was close. She saw it coming. She recognized the road dropped away on the left versus being level. She felt the same lightness feeling and reacted by shifting her weight to the right.

If it were not for her observation of the situation, understanding of what needed to counter the movement, we would have been on the ground picking up the bike and most likely plastic as well.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Freakin Farkles for the FJR - The LIP

I am always comparing the FJR to the Connie. Hands down the FJR is faster, more powerful than a speeding bullet, able to wheelie in a simple twist of the write and will probably accumulate more performance certificates.

One area the Connie out shines the FJR is wind protection especially in front of the helmet around the face. I like to ride with my shield up, even thou it is probably more advisable to have it shut. Additionally on the Connie there is no helmet buffeting. Buffeting is caused by the swirling air around you and you get this feeling that someone is outside of your helmet, gently slapping you around. It is more noticeable at times; however I had come to accept this buffeting as part of the journey. All in all, the Connie stock windshield is simply superior to the FJR.

I frequent the FJR Forum to learn about this new bike of mine. Many of the threads are how to improve on Yamaha engineering. The FJR is also one of the bikes of choice for the IBR, so there is a wealth of farkling knowledge to be found on the internet.

I came across one post about a small piece of plastic that attaches to your windshield called the Laminar Lip. This is a piece of plastic that attaches to your windshield with those fasteners one uses to attach an Easy Pass to your car windshield. The solution is relatively cheap (as compared to ordering a whole new windshield) and installs easily with 2 people, one to hold the device on the bike while one marks on the other side of the existing shield where the little 3M buttons will go.

I installed mine over a Giff’s with his assistance (well maybe I was the assistant) and the recommendation is you let the buttons set up for 24 hours after precisely applying 20#’s of pressure for 1 minute. I don’t have a clue what 20#’s of pressure is and Bill let me handle that part of the installation as well.

Sunday was breezy so I have not fully tested the LIP, however first impression is I have the Connie windshield on the FJR. Actually now the FJR windshield is more effective, since it is adjustable. The buffeting is gone from the helmet, and I can ride with my shield up without any wind in the eyes. MeAsWe has also noticed a difference, especially if I move the windshield up and down.

Recommendation: Get one you won’t be disappointed. Cost, just under a HUNDO with shipping, YMMV. Where to order

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Miss Woo's Crunchy Toast

Today we headed out for some treasure, mainly seeking a circus or two. Plans were to head into New Hampshire. Before we left I had to go pick up the FJR over at Giff's because we had installed a new farkle (another post) at around 7:30AM. As I headed for the car I noticed the temp was a brisk 41 and I was thinking we just might not make it to NH

Back from Giff's, we finished off a pot of coffee and got ready to head out. I told MeAsWe dress warm and wear your winter jacket. I didn't really tell MeAsWe about the temp, didn't want to put a chill on the day. Out on 146 we found not only did it feel like a late October day, but as NOAA said it was going to be breezy. That was a bit of an understatement. I pretty much resigned myself NH was probably out of the pic.

We decided to go out for breakfast (maybe it will warm up and breeze down). I had stopped at the Miss Worcester Diner a couple years ago, right after it re-opened. The Miss Worcester was built right across the street and is a wonderful example of the Worcester Lunch Car diner, built in 1948 as #812. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

I had probably the best french toast I have ever had, called Cruncy Toast. Our waitress recommended it and she was spot on. Crunchy toast is deep fried french toast with almonds and other nuts. If you can find your way to 300 Southbridge St in Worcester ( N42 15.229 W71 48.404 ) you won't be disappointed.

Our waitress, I believe, is the daughter of the owner, who IIRC is also a motorcycle enthusiast. She is one of the hardest working wait person I have ever seen. She never stopped, always on the run, didn't miss a beat and always smiled at you.