Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Kilty Man Cometh....

So by now people know that Troubadour wears a kilt. He prefers to wear one any chance he gets. Some days he will be adventurous and wear one to work, although a difficult feat when he rides his Triumph to work every day. More often than not he wears one at home whether lounging around or mowing the lawn. He does have Scottish heritage on both sides of his family and is descended from the Clan McLaren. His coworkers husband, Gary, makes kilts. He markets them under the name Celtic Warrior Kilts. Gary always stops by to see everyone and every time he has a kilt on. That prompted him to buy his first kilt from Gary. Here are two pictures of him in that kilt from one of our hiking adventures up Bald Hill here in Corvallis.

It was so comfortable that he started doing some research on the internet and we went to the Scottish Heritage Festival in Albany earlier this year. The Clan Mclaren was there representing. We talked to them for a bit and bought a short length of McLaren plaid. His research on the net led him to the Sport Kilts website. They make all different kinds of kilts in all different tartans. They have the McLaren plaid and so a new kilt was in order. We did the measuring and research and before we knew it, it arrived in the mail. Here are a few pics of him in the McLaren plaid.

Well we found out that Sport Kilts also makes kilts for the ladies. We are planning to attend a few Scottish Festivals this summer as well as the Portland Highland Games in July so before I knew it I had a kilt on order in the matching plaid. Here are a few obligatory photos taken in our backyard a month or so ago. One sporting the knees socks and heels and one in comfy flats.

It is amazing how many heads are turned just by wearing a kilt. Most of the comments Troubadour receives are positive, but there are those with not so open minds that still call it a skirt. Go figure. Hopefully we'll take lots more photos of our adventures at the festivals this summer and also of the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in September.

-Au Revoir

"A man in a kilt is a man and a half." - Author Unknown

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sambucus "Black Lace"

Having a hubby who is a self-proclaimed "plant geek" makes for an interesting yard. Whether it be flower or shrub, annual or perennial, we have a lot of really wondrous and unique plants in our yard.

One of my most favorite plants is the Sambucus Black Lace or if you prefer the proper name "Sambucus Nigra Eva." It is from the elderberry family.

This is a picture of our 8 ft tall, 3 year old shrub in all it's glory:

It is a deciduous shrub that leafs out quite early in the spring. The lace edged leaves emerge dark purple almost black but the new growth on the ends of the branches is green and then turns almost to black as it grows.

The shrub blooms faithfully every year even when quite young. It blooms creamy pink blossoms in large clusters about the size of a dinner plate.

Each cluster is made up of hundreds of tiny pink blossoms with a heady fragrance.

The fragrance it emanates smells faintly of black licorice. When the shrub is in bloom the fragrance can be smelled over our entire back yard. If the sun is shining on it, you only have to step out the back door to smell it 25 feet away. In fall, the blooms drop to be replaced by red berries. Rumor has it that the berries are edible and can even be used for jam or jelly although I personally have not tried them. I prefer to leave the berries for the birds.

Troubadour pruned the shrub quite hard last fall as it had shot up to almost 10 feet. He probably cut it back to 5 feet tall and it has already grown back to 8 feet this year. It seems to be a vigorous hardy plant that is not invasive. I would not hesitate to plant several more of them either in the front or back yard, but it is so hard to find more space for plants.

If you have never seen this plant in person, I urge you to visit your local garden nursery and have a look at the beautiful foliage and breathe in the fragrance when in bloom.


"Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;
Let fortune's bubbles rise and fall;
Who sows a field, or trains a flower,
Or plants a tree, is more than all. "
-John Greenleaf Whittier, A Song of Harvest

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Riding Gear #3 - Pants

For my third installment regarding finding riding gear I am going to talk about finding suitable riding pants that fit. I will attempt to refrain from using all of the swear words that have burst forth during my search.

When I first started searching for riding pants it seemed that, like with my jacket search, limb length was going to be a problem. Now, I must confess that I wasn't always an ATGATT kind of girl. I used to ride with most of the gear - no riding pants. Plain old jeans for me. In hindsight it seems really stupid, but I had such a difficult time trying to find a pair that fit.

Now I don't think my size is the problem, just proportions. Is there a formula? Leg length x waist measurements - age = perfect fit. Ummmm I don't think so. According to BMI calculations I am of normal weight for my height, even if a little on the high side, I am still considered within the parameters of normal. Nice to know one can have a slight "muffin top" and be a normal weight. Hey we all have a muffin top, some are just better left hidden.

Have I mentioned that I don't like layering clothes? I think that is another problem I have when searching for gear. When you hate to layer I think all riding gear seems uncomfortable. I don't even like to layer a t-shirt under a sweatshirt.

I started searching in earnest just over a year ago. Every time we'd go to a motorcycle shop I'd try on a pair, or two, or three. I would start off all excited. Spotting a pair I hadn't tried before. Quickly becoming disappointed, then frustrated. I would overheat trying to zip, unzip, velcro, unvelcro, snap, unsnap, etc etc. Quick get a medic!

Always, always, always, the legs were too short. I'd even try bumping up a size, still too short and on top of that I would look like the "Stay Puff Marshmallow Man". I know we need hip protection but come on, can't we find something not so thick that will do the trick? Troubadour's riding pants don't have near the hip padding that my pants do, I think they were strategically designed to piss women off.

I tried mens pants, ladies pants, large sizes, smaller sizes. I even tried on some Cortech jeans. No luck.

Finally one day at Discount Motorcycle Parts in Eugene, (where else?) I spotted a pair of ladies First Gear HT Overpants 2.0. I especially liked that one zipper takes care of both the liner and exterior of the pants. Less fuss equals less frustration, which means that I would actually wear them. And lo and behold they were long enough. or... so it seemed in the store. I also liked that the velcro at the ankle was long enough I could really cinch them around my boots. (I have very small wrists and ankles so cuff size is usually a problem)

I have had the pants since last September and I must say they drive me nuts. I don't think I'd go so far as to say I hate them, but I really shutter putting them on each time we ride. One thing I did not consider in the store was maneuverability when on. I find it difficult to sling a leg over the bike as they feel so constrictive. Hard to bend at the knees because of the large padding. I have to pull up the leg before mounting the bike just to situate the knee padding. Then when on the bike riding pillion, I feel as though I can't move at all. They are confining at that point. Troubadour thought they might be a litle small but they are loose when just standing and I do kind of feel I look like the "Michelin Man" in them. We did try a larger size in the store but I swam in them.

The other gripe I have is that when on the bike they sometimes come up over the tops of my boots. Now that ticks me off. We thought clip on stirrup straps would help. Ummm no - that made things worse - couldn't move as much. Even on a short ride down to bike night they still come up over my boots and because I can't move I can't try to readjust and tug them down.

So I have decided that I shall continue my search and when I do find that elusive comfy pair that fits I shall try to sell this pair. I am sure there is someone out there that will be very happy with them, just not me. *sigh*

When I bought the pants we were in the car so I did not have my Cortech jacket with me. I have discovered that my jacket is very difficult to zipper over my pants. Maybe my hips are too wide. Maybe the jacket too small. No, the jacket can't be small it bunches in some spots. I did have someone point out to me when tugging my jacket down over my pants for the tenth time at a stop that my jacket is too short. Thanks Stacy, now I need a new jacket too. But I appreciate the advice, a new jacket may help matters. Now where did I put that money tree?

Troubadour is on the hunt for some mesh pants so we may head down to Eugene to our favorite motorcycle shop and see what we can find. You never know unless you go look. Happy Saturday to everyone.

-Au Revoir

"Life is known only by those who have found a way to be comfortable with change and the unknown. Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure."-Rachel Naomi Remen

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cat Wisdom #6

Basil learned that if your humans come home and catch you on the kitchen table.....

pretend you are possessed.....

-Au Revoir

" There is, incidentally, no way of talking about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person." - Dan Greenberg

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hitting the Trail

While we were resting up on Thursday after our motorcycle adventure to California we were informed about a canoe trail to the south west of us. We were thinking of taking our canoe out, as it hasn't seen water in a few years. We stopped by the office so I could drop off the mail and mentioned it to John, the other attorney in the office. He mentioned the Siltcoos Canoe Trail just south of Florence.

We came home and did a little research on the trail. And by we, I mean Troubadour was gracious enough to do the research. We decided to do it the next day, which was Friday June 12th. I assisted Troubadour in moving the canoe off of it's sawhorses, as it had been stored behind our laurel bushes under the persimmon tree. He hosed it off, scrubbed it up, put the roof racks on the car and then we hoisted it on top of our little Nissan Versa hatchback.

It fit like it was made for it. Very utilitarian looking. This ain't your momma's hatchback. You get the idea. It is amazing what you can do/haul with a little car and some rachet straps.

We drove the hour and a half south west to Florence. Stopped and bought a couple of veggie sandwiches to take with us. I hadn't been grocery shopping since we'd been back so there were no sammie fixings at home. Sandwiches acquired we went the additional 6 miles south to turn off to the lake.

The Siltcoos Canoe Trail starts off at the boat launch at Siltcoos Lake. The largest lake on the Oregon Coast. After launching you go 1/4 mile south and turn into the river just under a concrete bridge. After that it is 3 miles of river to the ocean. Troubadour was in the front of the canoe for the cruise to the ocean so he was manning the camera and took these great shots.

Then he turned the camera on me......

Approximately 1.5 miles down the river there is a dam to control the lake level. There is a portage built into the right side for canoeists and kayakers to use to get past the dam. Here are a few shots of the dam and portage.

Troubadour climbed the ladder to the top of the dam for these shots......

There was only supposed to be the one portage, but we caught the river at low tide and so we had two additional unexpected portages. There were fallen trees across the water that we had to climb out and over and drag the canoe over and another was a sandbar. (luckily on the way back the tide was coming in and we were able to sail over both of them, barely) This is one of those that we portaged.

Finally the ocean was in sight. Unfortunately we couldn't put to shore right at the ocean beaches as the plover was nesting and it was a big no-no. We put in just before the ocean. The current/waves were still coming in pretty good so it was a fight the last few hundred yards.

We had eaten our sandwiches for lunch at the boat launch before we set off so we took a break and had snacks of animal crackers, dried apple rings and Odwalla Bars, washed down with cool water. We looked refreshed don't we?

While snacking Troubadour took this awesome shot of the canoe and beach grasses:

After a short rest we headed back. This time with me in the front manning the camera.

We made it back the 3 miles and just had to portage the once over the dam. At some points the wind was at our backs and helped and at others tried to blow us off course a bit. By the time we reached the lake it was just after 4 pm and the wind was really kicking up. We paddled as hard as we could that last quarter mile as not to be blown further into the lake. Man were my shoulders sore. We loaded up the gear and headed home. It was a great day and we really couldn't have asked for better weather. Nice and sunny, not too hot, not too cold. We put our sunscreen on so we didn't get burned although our arms and hands are a little darker than they were. We'll definitely be taking the canoe out again soon.

Note to self - leather Keen sandals take over 24 hours to dry. Bugger!

Au Revoir

"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mystery Tour Continued.......

If you haven't checked out my earlier post from today please scroll down and do so, or this one isn't going to make any sense.

The continuing story of our travels to California....starting part way through the Trees of Mystery.

Troubadour remembered the Trees of Mystery from travelling when he was a kid but I don't think I'd ever been there before. A few trees were hugged and we took the sky tram to the top. There we found a nice overlook and an almost 360˚ view of the ocean and neighboring ridges.

Then we took the sky tram back down.....

If we weren't wearing our motorcycle boots we would have hiked down instead of taking the tram. It is quite steep but I think we could do it. We got off the tram at the bottom and went back on the trail. We hugged more trees and took more pictures.....

The last picture is of a fallen tree trunk at the entrance/exit and it is more than a thousand years old. Here is a pic showing the timeline of it's growth......

After exiting the trails we toured the gift shop and museum. Went out to the bike to get geared up. Had a quick snack of bananas and an Odwalla Bar and headed further south to Eureka.

Now, we were not enamoured of Crescent City but to us Eureka was worse. The Victorian Old town they advertise smelled so bad. The stench was horrible. I know that seaports with fishing industries can be smelly, we go to Newport all the time and their old town is like that, but it isn't too bad. I now know how Eureka got it's name: "Eureka this place smells bad!"

After an disappointing visit to the visitor's information center and chamber we decided to go back North towards Crescent City. Stopped at a Starbucks there and contemplated staying another night as planned or just heading home. We decided to take highway 199 to Grants Pass, Oregon as we had heard it was a great motorcycle road. Off we went thinking we'd reevaluate in Grants Pass (Grass Pants as some of us call it). We stopped at a little mexican restaurant for dinner to warm up. It had rained a little on us on the way, but not too bad. After dinner we decided we would just book it for home as fast as we could up I-5. Our own comfy bed was calling our name and we had had enough.

We left Grants Pass at about 8 pm and headed the 180 miles home. Made a stop at a rest area about 80 miles up to change face shields. Troubadour had been using a light smoke one and I had on a clear. We were chasing the darkness and he needed to be able to see. Off we went again headed North in an all fire hurry to get home. One more stop in Springfield for fuel and a quick rest and stretch of the legs. At this point we were about 43 miles from home and could almost hear our polar fleece sheets calling our name.

We made it home by just after 11 and a big thank you to Troubadour for getting us here safely. Basil cat was happy to see us too. He was so happy he decided to needed to sleep between our pillows when we headed to bed. Good thing it is a king size.

We were tired enough that Thursday we didn't even get out of our pj's until noon. A good time was had even with the disappointments and sore buttocks. When we uploaded the pictures the next morning we discovered that we didn't take a single picture after we left the Trees of Mystery. That in itself says a lot. We are glad that we took the adventure and will have lots of memories, some good, some not so good, but those are the ones you look back on and laugh.

- Au Revoir

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Magical Mystery Tour

Well, most of you that read my blog probably read Troubadour's blog as well and know that we went on a short motorcycle jaunt earlier in the week. This post will be my take on things.

We had the week off (our first week off together in 15 years) and decided we should actually do something instead of staying home and working on the house, which is what we do most long weekends or extra days off. We hummed and hawed and thought about California and the redwoods. We decided Sunday night after our chowder run that we should do it. Monday was spent doing last minute errands and preparing. Troubadour did an oil change on the America and checked her brakes. We loaded our gear into the saddlebags and the tailbag and headed to bed.

Tuesday morning dawned a little chilly and overcast and we headed out about 8:30 am. Took the back roads over to Florence and stopped there for coffee and a warm up. The fingers were a little chilly and so were the toes. When stopped for road construction a few miles from Florence Troubadour was nice and let me lean forward and hold the heated grips for a few minutes. That helped.

Onward South we travelled. Stopped in Coos Bay for a fuel stop and also a quick snack of some animal crackers and water.

Again we headed South. About 10 miles north of Port Orford is Cape Blanco Lighthouse. We decided to take the 6 mile detour and see what it was all about. We were glad we did. The lighthouse was pretty neat and for the low low price of $2 each we could go to the top. Here are a few pics, I'll try not to use the same ones Troubadour did.

That last bit of stairs to the lens room was straight up as you can see. Easier going up than down as they were really narrow. Good job they had a railing.

One of the volunteers at the lighthouse informed us of the Hughes House that was back down the road a mile or so. She mentioned something about one of the keepers not wanting to wait to petition the government for more adequate housing so in 1898 he hired a Swedish architect and built his sweetie a 3000 sq ft Victorian Mansion out on the cape. We took the tour of that as well and it was interesting to see how it had been restored. It still had the original tile around the kitchen stove and fireplaces. Also a section of original wallpaper was found and put under glass in the master bedroom. We didn't take any pictures of the interior of the house but we did the exterior as we were heading away.

Again we headed South. Stopped in Port Orford for about half an hour and ate some sandwiches we had packed that morning. It was nice and sunny so we sat and watched the ocean while we ate.

We made one more stop before crossing the state line into Cali and that was in Brookings at Dutch Bros. I tell you after a day of riding a decaf iced vanilla latte never tasted so good.

It was nice to sit in the sun and have a coffee break. We again got back on the bike and made it to Crescent City in respectable time. We were not impressed when Highway 101 turned into Freeway, but what can you do. We managed to find a nice hotel called the Lighthouse Inn. One of the only rooms available had a jacuzzi tub and gas fireplace. Oh darn. We decided to stretch our legs and walk into town to find something for dinner. We were glad to be off the bike and have our Keen sandals and comfy clothes on. After walking for an hour we decided there wasn't really anything open at about 7:30-8:00 pm that would have anything vegetarian. Of course, the standard fast food joints were open, but we didn't want that. We decided to stop at a Safeway and purchased a couple pounds of green grapes, some cheese, a few buns and some hummus. The grapes were almost gone by the time we walked back to the hotel. They were so refreshing and crunchy and hit the spot. The other treats filled the gap so we could then relax. The jacuzzi tub sure felt good on our muscles and joints after being on the bike all day. We didn't think to take any pictures of our hotel room.

Got up and ready the next day, loaded the bike and headed South towards Klamath and the Trees of Mystery. From the little bit of research I had done on the computer prior to leaving I discovered the tourist attraction and it was the one place I wanted to go and hug some trees.

To be continued.....

-Au Revoir

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything." - Charles Kuralt

Monday, June 8, 2009

Yesterday's Chowder Run

We all met at Creekside Coffee here in Corvallis around 9:30 am, kickstands up at 10 am. Started off with 11 bikes and 12 riders. Troubadour and I were the only ones 2 up and there was only one other woman on the ride and that was Stacy from on her SV650.

We headed out on the back roads to Hwy 34 up the twisties toward Mary's Peak and over through Alsea to Waldport on the coast. One rider turned back at Alsea as he had only been riding 3 weeks and just wanted a quick jaunt. Two more headed back at Waldport as they too had things to do. Here is a picture of the bikes lined up at the Waldport stop.

8 Bikes and 9 riders headed south on Hwy 101 to Florence. Quick fuel stop in Florence and one more rider headed inland. 7 bikes and 8 riders stopped for lunch in Old Town Florence at the Bridewater Restaurant and Zebra Bar. We had not been there before and I must say we'll definitely go again. We didn't take a picture of the outside of the restaurant but I did manage to pilfer this picture from Doug that he took of us at the table. Troubadour and I are at the end of the table on the left side. You can tell him by his Triumph shirt.

Two riders had chowder and rated it 3-4 out of 5 on the "Netflix" scale that we use for rating. A couple of other riders had the special of the day which was a fish and chips plate with battered halibut, salmon and cod, which got great reviews. Troubadour and I both had the grilled veggie sandwich of broccoli, red peppers, zucchini and yellow squash tossed in chipotle aioli with a side of the soup of the day: homemade cream of mushroom. The sandwich was awesome, had a nice kick to it. The soup was a little on the salty side but the waitress kept the beverages coming.

One more rider headed back just after lunch taking a more direct route, which left us 6 bikes and 7 riders.

Here is a still picture taken from fellow rider Doug's video camera of Troubadour and I as we were heading out after the lunch stop. It is a little grainy but I figured I'd post it as you don't get many shots like this as you head out.

Was a quick trip back inland. Started out on Hwy 126 heading east and took the long way around Triangle Lake. A couple of the sportbikes and dual sports took off and we gave up giving chase. We just weren't into doing 80-85 on the way home. Not sure they even saw the lake we were heading around but all had a good time.

They were nice and waited for us just over half way home. Stopped for a quick catch up session then headed north to Corvallis. The boys planned on going down to a local brew pub/restaurant for a beer so Troubadour dropped me off at home about 4 pm. I had had enough of the day. My left knee was giving me grief as we had moved my pegs forward just to try, and I was looking forward to relaxing and making a pot of decaf.

All in all we had an excellent day and are fortunate to have great friends to ride with and so many enjoyable motorcycle roads close by. The weather cooperated and we had sunny breaks mixed in with our clouds and the motorcycle gods kept the rain away.

You can't ask for more than that.

-Au Revoir

" Life is too short for traffic." ~ Dan Bellack