Saturday, June 9, 2018

Still Here, Working.... and Even Riding


Hello all.  Just a quick post to say that I am still around reading blogs when I have time.  I used to be able to read them every day on my lunch break but without internet access during the day, I seem to only have time on Sunday mornings.  So I do apologize for missing a lot of your posts and not keeping up like I used to.

My job is going well.  I have been there 7 weeks already.  Where did the time go?  It has been a bit of a learning process, but I managed to find just the job I wanted without knowing it when I applied.  No longer am I on the front lines answering phones and dealing with clients walking in the door as well as handling everything else.  I am in the back behind locked doors, in my cubicle doing calendaring, finalizing of court documents before filing, etc.  Pretty much a keyboard jockey and I am good with that.  Fortunately, there is a good group of people there that have made the transition easier.

I am even getting used to using the Windows computer at the office after having only used Macs for 17 years. Using Outlook for mail and calendaring was all new to me.


We are under contract with our house with a closing date on or before September 1st.  A friend's mom made us a formal offer and we accepted.  Technically I think we're in escrow.  No need to find a realtor or formally list the house.  Since we are in escrow this frees us up for actively looking for a place to buy in Salem.  We have been looking at listings online and went and looked at one with our realtor.  Unfortunately it just wasn't quite right and the property taxes were really high for some reason.  The realtor we are working with in Salem is confident she will find the right house for us.  Hard when most out there are over 1500 square feet and we are now living in 912 square feet and don't really want to go too much larger. Realistically we know we'll end up at about 1300 or 1400 though.  Anyone want to come visit? I think we'll have a spare room.


Yes, I have been out on the bikes.  Not as much as I'd like with prepping the house for sale, but anytime on two wheels is a good time.

Most recently on Memorial Day, Monday May 28th, four of us went out plonking through the woods on our dual sports looking for gravel.  We found it.  On a nice warm sunny dry day.  The pollen count was high and the dust swirled higher behind the bikes. 

After tail gunning for 5 hours my gear was so dirty I stripped it off in the garage in front of the washer and dryer.  Didn't even want it in the house. It has since been through the washing machine, hung to dry, and is race ready again.  Not bad for 7-8 year old gear.

We met for coffee at 9 and headed out at 10.  We got home just after 3.  Here are a few pics.

(Troubadour-DRZ 400, My TW 200, Jeff-DRZ 400, and Andy/PolarBear-Tiger 955)

(First stop on the corner of Maxfield Creek Rd and Kings Valley Highway)

(Troubadour's DRZ-400 at a stop along Gage Rd. FYI - Gage Rd = gravel road fun)

(Stopped at Fort Hoskins for a snack and restroom break - bikes/gear are looking dirtier)
From Fort Hoskins we did another stint of 10 miles or so of gravel.  Between that and Gage road I was really getting used to standing on my pegs for better control and speed in the gravel. Something I hadn't been comfortable doing before, but was enjoying. Although it does use a different set of muscles and I was a wee sore the next day.

We took some back roads to Clem Rd. Not only is Clem Road gravel, but it is the road where the TW dropped its chain last time out.  We faced that daemon and had no issues.

Clem road ends at Highway 20 and we turned west for a quick 2 miles to Burnt Woods and the general store where Jeff and I could fuel up since we had little tanks.

PolarBear got a call from work and had to take off home then head out to a call.  Damn work getting in the way. So the three of us continued on to Woods Creek. A favorite loop we've been on many times before but we were riding it in a counter clockwise direction this time.  Those steeper descents I wasn't a big fan of were now steeper ascents.  Joy.  And this time instead of a lot of puddles we just had a lot of craters or pot holes where the puddles used to be.  Pick your line and go.

We stopped at our usual place for a drink of water and to soak up some sunshine. This is where I took my favorite picture of the day.

(Troubadour soaking up the sunshine)

(Looking out towards the hills)

(More scenery)

(The wild flowers were blooming)
From this stop it was an easy gravel descent back to the highway.  One side of the hill is long and a lower grade and one side is short and steeper.  Troubadour and I talked and we think we prefer it the usual way.  Long climb, steeper descent. I think there was just better flow that way.

Once back on the highway we went east into Philomath towards Corvallis.  Just outside of Corvallis we had to detour in stop-and-go traffic because of an accident up ahead, but we made it home.

We arrived home about 3 pm.  Tired, dusty, and ready for a cold beverage.

With weekends taken up with packing and looking at houses, I am not sure when I will get back out on two wheels.  This summer is kind of a wash, but by the fall, which is usually perfect weather (and no allergies) our weekends should be our own again.

- Au Revoir

"Time is the only one of life's resources, that when it's all spent, you wish you had spent more of it foolishly." - Robert Brault

Friday, April 20, 2018

Catching Up.......

Well, since my last post was a month ago, I figured I'd best post up a little something.


On March 30th, a few weeks after our group ride to Sublimity, Troubadour and I made a mad dash back there to get the actual work done on the Versys 300x.  We were racing the clock to be there for our 3:00 pm appointment and just made it.

While the Versys was in for the tail light recall fix, the techs also installed the new center stand spring.  Apparently it took 3 techs and even then was so difficult they checked with the parts department to make sure the correct part was ordered.  A design flaw perhaps?  Let's hope it doesn't come flying off this time.  Might have to put a safety wire on it since it doesn't have an inner safety spring.

Racing rush hour traffic across the valley we rode straight home without stopping. As a result there were no pictures that day. We did luck out with a mixture of clouds and sunshine though.


On a different note, my Legal Assistant job of 17 years ended on February 28th.  It was a sad day, but I was surprised with balloons, flowers, and even a vegan cake had been ordered in my honor.  It sure was weird walking out of there at noon that day.

Since then I have put out many resumes and had a few interviews.  I am pleased to say that I am once again gainfully employed or I will be when anyone reads this.  I am writing this on Thursday April 19th, but will have it scheduled to be posted on Friday April 20th, my first day as a Legal Secretary for the Oregon Department of Justice Trial Division.

I was officially hired on April 2nd, but they weren't going to be ready for me until the 20th.  That was a long 3 weeks to wait.  It is a Monday to Friday 8 am to 5:00 pm schedule, with 10 paid holidays a year plus vacation pay and sick pay accrual.

The new job is also located in Salem, Oregon (our State Capital), approximately 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Corvallis.  For now I shall have an hour long commute each way depending on traffic. And while I lose my flexibility in coming and going like I had working for my prior employer, I do gain a higher wage, job stability, full benefits, and participation in PERS (Public Employee Retirement System).  


The new job comes with a few life changes as well.  Normally I beat Troubadour home and get dinner ready and on the table by the time he gets home.  As of tomorrow he will beat me home by about an hour.  Time for Troubadour to brush up on his cooking skills.

Also, as many of you have read here before, my night vision is crap.  So our plan is to sell our house and move to Salem by the end of Daylight Savings Time so I will have a shorter commute in the dark.  We have been wanting to relocate anyway because of the two-story houses they built behind us and the neighbors we now have living beside us.  This job is just the push we've needed.

We have spent many of our days off prepping the house for sale. Baseboards along the floor and trim around all the doors has been installed, but at least Troubadour got a new rechargeable cordless nail gun out of the deal.  After that came painting, lots of painting, which included the new interior doors we'd never bothered to paint after installing.  Things are nice and bright with all that white now.

We still have a few things to paint, silicone to remove and replace around the tub, and general decluttering to stage the inside.  Warmer weather has just returned which means we can weed the shrub beds and get fresh bark mulch delivered.

Soon this place will be good to list.  Our goal is to list it prior to the end of May.


So that is a quick catch-up of what has been going on here.  Sadly with all that is going on, it probably means less riding for me this year.  I don't have any earned vacation at a new job and won't for 6 months so there aren't any extra days to take off to attend the Black Dog rally or Dog Face rally with Troubadour and Polar Bear.  Maybe next year.

We still hope to be riding on the weekends when Troubadour isn't teaching or we aren't doing moving activities.  Technically I could commute by bike, but I am not so sure they'd appreciate the helmet head in the office.  We'll see.

We are not sure how Basil will take the changes, but as long as we keep his food bowl filled I think he will be fine.

- Au Revoir

" You must welcome change as the rule but not your ruler.
- Denis Waitley

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

One Hundred Miles

One Hundred Miles / One Hundred and Sixty Kilometers..........

That would be the sum total of miles ridden on the bikes on Saturday.  This time of year in Oregon we expect rain, rain, and still more rain.  Luckily this year hasn't been too bad.

We woke up at about 6:30 am Saturday morning and the temperature was 31˚ F (-0.5˚C).  By 8:45 when we left for coffee the temperature had risen to 37˚F (2.77˚C) and the sun was shining.  We had no real plan for the day other than ride to coffee and ride somewhere after.

We knew we wanted to stay on the valley floor so that the temperatures would be warmer and we could soak up any sunshine.  The forecast was for cloudy skies moving in by noon.

Two other folks also rode to coffee, Andy (aka PolarBear) was there on his orange Triumph Tiger and Aarron was there on his Yamaha Stryker.

A plan was hatched to ride north to Independence and possibly have lunch.  With Troubadour in the lead, me second, Aaron, then Andy tail gunning, we set off.

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a ride.  There was still a chill in the air, but it wasn't cold dressed in thermal long underwear and all the liners in our riding gear. I am sure heated grips helped a little too.

We parked in Independence and I managed a few pictures.  While three of us did a u-turn and parked together Aarron opted to park across the street so he didn't make it into the pictures.

(Troubadour's Triumph Tiger 955 and my Kawasaki Versys 300x)
I had to snap a picture of our two bikes before the picture of the Versys sandwich.......

(One of these things is not like the other)
Aarron suggested a diner across the street for lunch.  Troubadour and I have gotten pretty good at finding plant based options to eat at just about any type of restaurant.  Heck, even BBQ joints have baked potatoes.  Well, at this diner we had the option of a very overpriced salad, no thank you, or french fries/tater tots/onion rings.  So we ordered one side-order of tater tots and one side-order of onion rings to share between the two of us.

Now, while they were house made, they were the greasiest tater tots and onion rings you could ever imagine and I am pretty sure that because they were house made, they weren't vegan.  But we were hungry, so we ate them.  It was hard getting them down because of the grease but we did it.

While eating we tried to figure out our next destination.  We wanted to get across the valley to the east and over I-5.  This would keep us in the valley and would have some interesting back roads.

With PolarBear in the lead we set off.  We eventually made our way to Power Motorsports in Sublimity. This is the motorcycle dealer where I purchased the Versys 300x last April (wow almost a year already).  I thank PolarBear for leading us there since we were thinking of it anyway. I still needed to order a new spring for the center stand and I also wanted to scheduled the bike in for the tail light assembly recall.

Aarron snapped a picture of our four bikes in the parking lot.

(Blatantly stolen from Aarron's facebook page)
We wandered around for well over an hour - maybe two.  I ordered the spring for the center stand for $10 and service department ordered the recall/replacement tail light assembly.  They will call when in so we can schedule a date to get things fixed.  Wonder if they'd install the center stand spring as part of that?

As we were strolling through the dealership, Polar Bear decided to try on a Can Am Spyder for size.  Troubadour then hopped on the back to give him an idea of what it would be like with a passenger.  And in true buddy fashion he couldn't help but ham it up for my camera.

(PolarBear and Troubadour - best buddies)
The sun came and went as we were looking at bikes.  By the time we were ready to leave just after 3:00 pm, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature had climbed to 64˚F (17.7˚C). Layers were shed and we set a course for home with PolarBear in the lead.

We arrived home safely just before 5 pm with 100 miles (160 km) on the trip meter.  It was a great day to be out on two wheels.

I was happy that there were no incidents on the ride and nothing came off my bike.  The last time I'd ridden the Versys I lost the spring on the center stand, and the last time I rode the TW200 the chain came off.  Saturday was a good day.

I apologize for the lack of photos.  We only made two stops on Saturday - once for lunch and once at the motorcycle shop.  Not a lot of photo opportunities.  Maybe one day soon we'll take a photo ride since the trees are starting to bloom.  Spring color is just beginning.

- Au Revoir

" You can always tell when two people are best friends because they are having more fun than it makes sense for them to be having." - Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TLC for the TW200

Two weeks ago my 2009 TW200 received some much needed attention.  Thank you Troubadour for taking care of the wee beastie.

As you might have read in my previous post (link HERE) the chain came off the rear sprocket the last time I rode it in January.  On its way off it managed to bend a few bolts.

(Bent bolts on the TW200)
With great effort, Hubby was able to remove them.  I think he used a BFH.

(The top two are bent, the bottom one has smooshed threads)
In doing research online, Troubadour discovered that the word on the street forums is that the stock chain is crap and should be tightened after every ride or swapped out for a better quality one.  And, if you were to go from the stock 50 tooth rear sprocket to a 47 tooth, the gearing would be a little better for the highway without losing too much torque down low for the off road bits.

Done.  A chain and sprocket were ordered and delivered within a week.  Ordering the sprocket and chain were easy compared to finding proper bolts locally.  We needed a shorter shoulder on them since the new sprocket was a smidge thinner.  After searching several places we finally ended up at Wilco and bought the correct bolts.

(Left - old rear sprocket - Right - new rear sprocket)

(New chain and new rear sprocket)

(Ta-da, shiny new chain and rear sprocket on a very dirty bike)
Now, I do have to fess up. It was quite chilly the day that Troubadour wanted to work on the TW, so I was a wimp and hung out in the house where the ductless system throws out nice warm air. My time spent inside was not in vain.  I made scones for my mechanic.  If it was summer I'd pay him in cold beer, but for now scones warm from the oven do the trick.

(Lemon blueberry scone)
Now I just need to find some time to take the TW out for another gravel road adventure. Troubadour took it on a short shake down ride for a few miles and filled the tank for me.  Thank you Troubadour.   I am race ready.  Well, as fast as a TW200 can race.

- Au Revoir

"  We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Last Sunday of January Hike

On Sunday January 28th Troubadour and I decided we needed some exercise and hiking sounded like a fine idea.  As usual, the hardest decision was figuring out where to go.  We knew we didn't want to drive too far away and rain was forecast to the south.  We chose to hike in the Oregon State University (OSU) Research Forest, aka McDonald-Dunn Forest.  It is located north of Corvallis and contains nearly 11,250 acres of forest.  We've been up there many times on our mountain bikes and hiking too.  

On this day we chose a gate located off Tampico Rd.  It is one we've not started from before.  We were going hiking in the Dunn Forest starting on Rd 400. The parking area is the 'P' just to the right of center of the photo below.

(Hiking in Dunn Forest)
We have a book called Corvallis Trails: Exploring the Heart of the Valley, that we reference for hikes in and around Corvallis.  It describes this one as moderate and not busy.  We were thinking of one other trail, but it was listed as difficult and we haven't been out walking much lately.

A 1/4 mile up Rd 400 and we turned right on Rd 420 to do the loop counter clockwise.

( A perfect day for a hike in the woods)

(Notice the mist down the left-hand fork)
We took the left fork thinking it was the correct way.  It ended a half mile down.  As we turned around Troubadour noticed a snail shell on the ground.

(Hello Snail)
We walked back to the fork and took the right hand road.  It is all gravel roads in this area and not trails, but they aren't always marked very well.

The mist was on the move and soon we were in the midst of the mist.

(Misty morning on the mountain)
As fast as the mist rolled in, it rolled on past leaving the sunshine to stream through the trees.

(Sunshine lighting up the forest)
The forestry program at OSU does active logging in both the MacDonald and Dunn forests. Certain areas show evidence of past harvests.

(Nature is reclaiming one of its own)
At one point we turned onto Rd 300 and it was along there, I think, that we came upon a drainage pond of sorts.  There were many salamanders in and near the water.  We had to be careful of where we stepped.

(Salamander heading in for a swim)

(Hello Mr. or Mrs. Salamander)

(Even the Woolly Bear Caterpillars were out - odd to see them this time of year)
Along Rd 300 we came to a ridge where we could see all the way across the valley to the Cascade Mountain Range.  At first we could see the Three Sisters to the southeast and then Mount Jefferson came into view when looking a little further north.

(Left - Mount Jefferson / Right- the Three Sisters)

(A zoomed in view of Mt. Jefferson)

(And the Three Sisters)
At this point we were about half way and at another fork in the road.  We stopped for a few minutes and snacked on Lara Bars before turning to go down Rd 400, which would loop us back to the trail head. 

(Troubadour making a wooden cairn)

(A picture of Troubadour taking a picture)

(Had to have at least one selfie - photo by Troubadour)

(Panoramic by Troubadour)
As we started walking down Rd 400 you could see further north and Mount Hood came into view.

(Left - Mt. Hood / Right - Mt. Jefferson)
We'd been steadily climbing since the trail head.  By our estimations we were about half way through the loop and the gravel road started its winding path down the mountain.  This is where we'd wished we'd have brought the trekking poles with us to make it a little easier on the knees. It was quite a steep grade at first but eventually leveled off to an easy walk down.  There were little uphill rises here and there but it was mostly downhill.

We came upon a little stream running through a culvert under the gravel road.

(Winter rains bring rushing water - a look down stream)

(And a look up stream)
The above picture was taken after Troubadour was down by the water.  He'd spotted something bright pink on the stump.

(Treasure?  Out here in the forest?)
Occasionally when hiking we will see a rock someone has written a motivation phrase on or painted brightly for someone to find.  Troubadour found himself a pink elephant.  

(Smile or 5-mile?  Either way we smiled and were about at mile 5 of our hike)
I played around a little in iPhoto, I think I like the black & white version better even though it isn't as vivid.

(Same photo in black and white)
Another push up a hill and back down again.  Last picture of the day was on one of the uphill sections to show the scale of the trees.

(Tall trees in the forest)
We made it back late in the afternoon.  When all was said and done we'd hiked 7.2 miles (11.58 km).  Not bad considering we forgot to warm up or stretch before setting out.  And yes we were a little sore the next day or two, but it is the beginning of the year and the hiking will get easier.

- Au Revoir

" And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul." - John Muir

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rock the Crash Bars.....

My own take on "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash.  And the song that kept going through my head as we were discussing installing the crash bars on the Versys.

Sometime before Christmas we ordered a T-Rex Racing skid plate and SW Motech Crash Bars for my Versys 300x.  While the skid plate arrived right away, the crash bars didn't arrive until a week or so ago.  Last Saturday after coffee, we finally got around to installing them.

Luckily, Troubadour did an oil change for me a few days prior.  I've now got 1,000 miles (1,609 km) on it  and was a wee overdue for the first oil change.

Please note before you continue reading that the skid plate and crash bars are the cleanest part of the bike.  It hasn't had a bath since.......ever.  No spa days in sight either since it is still winter.

(T-Rex Racing Skid Plate)

(Alternate view of T-Rex Racing skid plate)
It was fairly easy to install - 3 brackets and a few bolts all provided.  The brackets weren't labelled and there were no paper instructions, but there was a video online that we referenced. The lower plastic cover on one side was removed for the oil change, so there wasn't as much prep work.  The skid plate also uses existing mounting points and they provide new bolts.

(Prior to install, nice exposed exhaust and oil filter)

(With skid plate installed)
See.....cleanest part of the bike........

Next up were the crash bars.  Two pieces and a little bag of install necessities.  I must say that I was impressed with how well packaged these were when they arrived.  Inside the box everything was double wrapped in bubble wrap and taped closed.  No way were they even going to get a scratch before arriving.

(SW Motech Crash Bars for Versys 300x)

(All the bolts, nuts and washers required for install)
Luckily the bars came with paper instructions.  The hardest part was breaking loose the main engine bolt.  Even the impact driver didn't want to loosen it.  Luckily Troubadour finally muscled it loose and from there it wasn't hard at all.  Unscrew this, take out old bolt, add a spacer and new bolt/washer..... rinse, repeat.....

(A dirty Versys 300x before the install)

(SW Motech Crash Bars installed)

(Left side before)

(Left side crash bar installed)

(Right side prior to install)

(Right side after install)

(Skid Plate and Crash Bars installed)
And, I couldn't forget to thank my mechanic and handyman extraordinaire.......he prefers scones. This time it was cardamon with crystallized ginger and dates.  Yumm.

Now I just need another nice day to get out and ride.  Alas, it is still winter.

- Au Revoir

" Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat." - Author Unknown