Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sun, Sun, Sun, Here it Comes.....

Sadly no motorcycle content in this post since we've been experiencing freezing fog for the last 10 days and it didn't lift until yesterday morning.  Yes, over a week with temperatures ranging from 25˚F (-3.8˚C) morning lows and 35˚F (1.66˚C) daily highs.

Monday was a holiday here in the USA so I had the day off.  Troubadour and I decided to drive to the coast in search of sunshine.  It was rumored to be 55˚F (12.78˚C) and sunny at the coast, while we've been socked in with an inversion.

We left the house at 11:00 am and pointed the car west.  Not much of a destination in mind other than Newport and maybe Lincoln City.  I had the camera out and took a few photos of the scenery heading over the pass.

And sure enough, on the other side we saw blue sky and sunshine.

And suddenly the frost was gone from the trees and the roads except for the occasional ice in shady corners.

We arrived in Newport to brilliant sunshine and warm temperatures.  The Thai place we wanted to go to for lunch was closed so we headed 22 miles north to Lincoln City in the hopes that Jasmine Thai was open, and it was.  No food porn pictures though.  It was fine, but nothing exciting.

We stopped at a few shops in Lincoln City and slowly made our way back down Highway 101.  The ocean was brilliant with the sun hanging low in the sky.  Troubadour happily stopped at several waysides for photo opportunities and to soak up some sunshine.

Just outside of Depot Bay the tide was looking rather low.

(Depot Bay, Oregon)
And we also stopped at Gleneden Beach State Wayside Park to take a better look at the ocean.

(Troubadour at the Gleneden Beach State Wayside, Gleneden, Oregon)

Then we stopped further south at the Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint - the ocean looked a bright blue looking north.

(Boiler Bay Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon Coast)

And with the sun shining bright, looking south was quite different.

We arrived back in Newport in the late afternoon with plenty of time to go walk the beach and watch the sun set.  We parked at the Vietnam War Memorial Walkway and Don Davis Park, took a few pictures, walked a bit, took some more pictures, walked a bit and took even more pictures. I've posted these pictures in the order they were taken as the sun was setting.

(Metal sculpture, Newport Oregon)

(Troubadour checking out the sunset)

(Photo by Troubadour)

These were the highlights from watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean as seen from the beach in Newport, Oregon.  We took several hundred photos Monday afternoon, but I managed to whittle them down to the above favorites.  Different zoom rations seemed to produce different color highlights and I was quite pleased with the results.

There is nothing like a little sunshine to lift the spirits.  Please come back and play again soon Mr. Sunshine.

- Au Revoir

"Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside you should be sitting under!" - C. Joybell C.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Sunset and a Heated Jacket

On the Friday before we left for San Francisco we gave SpartanBabe (aka Meg) a ride to Eugene to pick her beloved Bella up from the Triumph shop.  Bella has been in the shop waiting for a new gas tank from England since October.

I did take one picture as she was suiting up for the ride home, but since Meg doesn't really like her picture taken I'm refraining from posting it on the interweb.


Meg was lucky in picking her day to ride Bella home, as I think it was the only sunny day we've seen in a month.  Since we had a box full of parts in the trunk and the original gas tank we followed her home.  While Troubadour was driving I managed to catch a few pictures of the sun setting across the valley.  I couldn't resist.  It was the most brilliant sunset I'd seen in the valley in months.  

(Sunset over the Willamette Valley - January 4, 2013)


(Very similar jacket)
While at REI the weekend prior to this I'd looked at some jackets made by Columbia, North Face and Marmot, but I couldn't justify the $150-$200 price tag.  I thought if I was going to spend that much money on a jacket, it had better be heated.

While wandering around the Triumph shop waiting for the last minute details to be taken care of I spotted an Ansai heated jacket I'd admired last year.  I've been searching for a new waterproof jacket for the last month or so since the one I have is too big around, the arms are too short and I hate wearing it.

I tried on the Ansai Softshell Heated Jacket.  Meg decided it was 'definitely a Brandy color'.  I liked the way it fit so I brought it home. I wanted something comfortable and waterproof for the trip to San Francisco.  And In fact I think I am wearing it in every picture taken of me in San Francisco except while eating lunch.

(Picture brazenly stolen borrowed from Bobskoot)
Not only is it nice to have a mobile heated jacket, but notice the long cuffs that reach part way down the hand. They have a thumb hole stitched into them to keep your sleeves in place which is a feature I appreciate because I have really long arms and it is very difficult to find jackets with the sleeves long enough. It is also a nice feature when wearing gloves.

(Nice stretchy cuffs with thumb holes)
The jacket is powered by a small 7.4v/2.2Ah lithium ion rechargeable battery.  

(Rechargeable lithium ion battery has 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% power)

The left pocket has a small inner pocket closed by a Velcro tab.  If you open it up and pull out the wire you can plug in the battery and tuck it in the pocket which leaves the main pocket area open for your hand, camera, keys or other goodies.

(Long enough cord to pull it it out and see it to change the temperature setting)
The battery pack is also the four-setting controller.  At 25% the battery will last 10 hours.  The longest day I used the battery was Sunday and it was starting to run low by the time we got back to the hotel.

There are three heated panels in the jacket.  One on the upper back and one on each side of the upper chest. 

It was nice to have that bit of heat while wandering the city.  It especially came in handy while waiting in the chilly airport terminal for 5 hours.  Troubadour was chilly and there were only so many times he could put his hands down my jacket to warm them up without getting kicked out of the terminal.  Maybe we should have picked him up a jacket too.

I paid $179 for the jacket and feel it was a good value compared to what a non-heated jacket of equal quality is priced.  I haven't found the exact same model online but I think this one is last years model.  Did I mention it is machine washable too?  

I think for cold weather riding I will stick to my Tourmaster heated jacket liner since it has full heated sleeves and a heated collar, but for general purpose trying to keep warm when walking around or hiking in the cold this jacket was the perfect choice.

Did I mention they have heated gloves too........

- Au Revoir

"Every mile is two in winter." - George Herbert

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Look Out The Left The Captain Said.....

......the lights down there, that's where we'll land......

Sorry about that, but every time I fly I think of the Nazareth song "This Flight Tonight". Truth be told I was a huge fan in high school and I can remember listening to their 1975 Greatest Hits album over and over and over. It still baffles me how many of their lyrics I remember. Ahhh, back when rock music was king and not the bubblegum pop rock of today. is my recollection of our Adventures in San Francisco all crammed into one post.

As stated in Troubadour's blog post, we were up at 3:00 am last Saturday to drive to Portland to catch our flight to Oakland.  By the time we parked at the airport, took the shuttle to the terminal, went through security and found our gate we had about an hour wait. 

Boarding and the flight were uneventful, which is a good thing.  As we were descending through the clouds I managed to snap a few interesting pics out the window. 

The landing was a little hard, but walking through the terminal was easy since we've been to Oakland before and we didn't check any bags.  

Bobskoot graciously offered to pick us up from the airport and drive us into the city and it wasn't too long before he pulled up in his rental car.

We arrived in San Francisco before noon and since we were too early to check into our hotel we kept our bag in the car and walked over to meet Roger.

Hugs were exchanged and we were excited to spend the day with our new friend. We piled into the car and drove to lunch at the Golden Era Restaurant on O'Farrell street.  Soup was consumed and prezzies were handed out.  Thank you Rogey and Lori, you are far too generous.

We decided on a drive over to Chinatown.  Parking was scarce but Troubadour managed to find a metered spot.

Strolling in and out of the shops commenced.

(Bobskoot and Rogey)

(A cow in a candy store - not quite the same as a bull in a China shop)

(Lanterns, lanterns, and more lanterns)
A few items were purchased.  I managed to find a small owl key chain made from horn for my Mom and an orange smiley face luggage tag.  Huge purchases, I know.

After Chinatown we drove down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 to wander some more.  This is about when the drizzle started.  We walked for an hour or so and Rogey treated us to salt water taffy.

(Bobskoot photographing a seagull and Alcatraz)

(Oh Rogey - you cheeky devil)

(Not sure why this was in the store but they had more than one)

As the rain came down a little harder we decided to return to the hotel, found parking then went out for a drink at the Vertigo Bar.  I had a "Georgia Peach Tea."  I couldn't tell you the hooch it had it in it, but it was good and my nose felt a little fuzzy after.  They must have used a fuzzy peach.

As we walked we thought we'd best find dinner since Bob needed to take the BART to his accommodations for the night.  We found a great little Thai place where we had good food, good conversation and good company.

We dropped Bob off at the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and went to find parking near the hotels.  Once that was acquired everyone went to their rooms for a rest with an agreement to meet later for a nightcap.

We managed to find a place called Upcider that we'd noticed earlier.  It is located above Vertigo. We weren't interested in any of their food, but each sampled a different hard cider.

It was getting late and the place got really busy and loud so we headed back.  It was only a 2 block walk so not far at all.  We retired for the night with plans to meet at a little cafe to break our fast.

Sunday morning we were up early.  We met Rogey at 9 am for coffee and headed out of the city by 10 to meet the rest of the gang by 11.  Turns out it wasn't that far of a drive as we made it to Alameda and the restaurant - La Penca Azul by 10:30.  We were the first to arrive so we grabbed a table and chatted and drank some coffee to further wake up.  Soon Bobskoot and Marianne arrived, followed by Guido and Andrea and then Kathy.

I didn't take any pictures at the restaurant so believe me when I said that good times were had at our three hour brunch.  Food and drinks were consumed.  We chatted with old friends and new. Thank you to those that went out of their way to attend the group brunch.

After brunch Bob, Rogey, Troubadour and I went to the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda.  Yes, this is the same WW II aircraft carrier we visited in 2011.  My prior posts from that trip can be found HERE and HERE.

I managed a few pictures, but most were of the patterns I found in the surrounding ship exteriors.


As we were leaving I looked out one of the openings on the hanger deck and saw the sun starting to set.

(Watching the setting sun from aboard the USS Hornet - Alameda, CA)

It was our turn to take transit back into town, so from the Hornet, we drove to the closest BART station  and said our goodbyes to Bob since he was heading home first thing Monday morning.  

The BART is fairly easy to navigate and we made it to the Powell Street station in just a few minutes.  We walked up Powell Street to Sutter Street and to our hotels.  We decided to relax for a few hours then meet up again for a late dinner.  We all know how that went from the posts that have already been put up, which can be read HERE and HERE in case you missed them.

I blame Sunday night's events on Sanraku, the sushi restaurant.  If they hadn't told us to come back in one hour we wouldn't have ended up at the Sugar Cafe for drinks.  AND if Sanraku hadn't been closing so early we wouldn't have ended up next door at the Sutter Pub until they closed.

Needless to say it was a fabulous evening and couldn't have turned out any better if we'd have planned it.  The three of us seemed to all have a lot in common and got along like we'd been friends all our lives.

Monday morning we were up earlier than anticipated.  I seemed to be the only perky one, imagine that. Once again we met at the cafe for coffee and a pick me up.  I found it interesting that as we left the owner inquired if Brad and Roger were brothers.  That says a lot right there.  If you look at this picture shamelessly pilfered from Bobskoot you can almost see the resemblance.

(Brad, Rogey, and Me)
We decided a venture to the Castro district would be interesting.  We'd never been to that part of the city the history is sad, but fascinating.  The Castro is the historic home of the LGBT movement and Harvey Milk.  Harvey Milk opened a camera shop on Castro Street in 1972.  He then became the first openly gay person elected to public office in California when he was elected as San Francisco Supervisor in January 1978. Sadly, he was assassinated 11 months later on November 27, 1978.

We strolled the streets wandering into this shop and that.  We chuckled when we passed Brandy Ho's Hunan Food. What's in a name anyway?

(Brandy Ho's Hunan Food)

We had a coffee and lunch at the Castro Tarts Cafe and Bakery and strolled some more.

(Rainbow flag at the Harvey Milk Plaza)

(Famous Castro Theatre)

(Looking South on Castro Street)
As we walked, a few stores due to their content and/or their names caught our attention.  A few of them were named:  Puff N Stuff, Does Your Mother Know, Hot Cookies, Orphan Andy's, Saucy Dumplings, Sausage Factory.  And the funniest name of the day goes to.......

(Squat & Gobble, Cafe and Crapery)

It is going to seem odd, but that is the last picture I took on the trip.  From the Castro we took a taxi back to Roger's hotel.  'Some' of us were feeling a little peaked so we said our goodbyes and walked down to the Powell Street Station.  We then took the BART to Oakland and the shuttle to the airport.

We attempted to catch an earlier flight but were informed it would cost us $180 per person.  No worries we thought, we can wait 5 hours for our flight at 7:40 pm.

We asked if we could check our one bag because we didn't think some of the gifts we received would make it through security.  Not having ever checked luggage we weren't sure what to expect. We didn't expect to be told we couldn't check a bag more than 4 hours prior to our flight.  We were given our boarding passes and pretty much lurked by baggage claim for an hour counting the minutes.  Once 3:40 arrived we checked the bag through the baggage quick-check (for those with boarding passes) and proceeded through security.  Troubadour was given a nice upper body pat down on his way through.  Apparently they didn't like the way the zipper on his sweater looked.

We split a veggie sub for dinner and found a deserted gate to relax, surf the net on the laptop and iPad and wait for our flight.  One or more iced coffees may have been consumed.

Our flight home was fine and we arrived back at our car by 10 pm and home to Basil by midnight. When I opened our bag to put everything away I found a notice from TSA that our bag had been inspected. Perhaps it looked suspicious or perhaps they saw us lurking for an hour before checking it.  We'll never know.  It did make me chuckle though as some items were wrapped in laundry to protect them during travel and all we had left at the time was dirty laundry.

I want to say a big thank you to all those who managed to take time out of their busy schedules to meet up in San Francisco/Alameda.  It was a pleasure meeting everyone.  And until the next time, we'll see you round the blogs.

- Au Revoir

"You can always tell a real friend:  when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job." - Laurence J. Peter