Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!!!

 Here's wishing you all a Happy and Healthier New Year!

Some pictures from my travels over this past year.....my predilection for solitude would become mandatory "Social Distancing" during 2020.  So glad this year is over.


Motorcycle mileages

Yep, the downward trend continues for Brigitta and Scarlett.

Total mileage ridden in 2020 = 7425 (+41% over last year)

Scarlett:  Ending odometer reading 67417 = 2336 Km or 1401 Miles (worse than last year)

Brigitta ('87 BMW R80): Ending Odometer 100,879 = 464 Miles (very slightly better than last year)

Fiona: Ending odometer: 15600? = 2808 km or 1684 miles. (estimate only due to fire) R.I.P.

Yagi: Ending odometer: 13339 = 3876 Miles or 6201 Km (almost double from last year)

RV Stats:

We went glamping with Umarang, the URRV, for 202 days (55% of the year vice 39%  last year)

Umarang: ending Mileage: 69900 = 9300 Miles for 2019. (a bit less than last year)

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Wishes and remembering Fiona

 Here's hoping you all had or having a great Christmas holiday, full of good health and cheer.

As to this post's title.....

Wish 1: 

Just a thought that popped into my head as I drove Martha's car to the VA Hospital's ER Room this morning to get a COVID-19 Test.  Why the test?  A requirement to show I'm healthy before undergoing my scheduled colonoscopy on Monday, courtesy of the VA.  HHJJ.

I wished that everyday, traffic would be as light as it was this morning, as I drove into Denver's eastern limits where the VA Hospital is located.  

I of course know this wish will not come true.....just too many people in this cesspool of a metropolitan area.

Wish 2: 

I'm wishing for continued good health to all I know, and that perhaps we're beginning to see the beginning of hopeful signs as vaccinations are started.

Wish 3:

No more motorcycle fires!

Here's some pics of Fiona from this year.....in remembrance.

Fiona, during 2020
If you don't see the video above, here's a link to youtube

So the developers at Blogger have struck again.  Unless you do the below for now, you can see the video box on my phone when using "view web version" but not "desktop site".  I can see the video box just fine using regular PC.  

I googled the solution:  Go into HTML editing mode and get ride of class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video"

Blogger's developers are sure NOT improving the interface!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Replacing Fuel Lines on Brigitta and a look at past and present cousins....

 Today the weather had finally warmed enough to allow me an easy and almost iceless exit out of the neighborhood while riding Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer.

I rode her the nine miles to the RV Storage Yard and as I parked her next to the URRV, noted the smell of gas.  Oh Oh.

A quick look showed drops of gas emanating from the vicinity of the right tank petcock!  I had recently installed a couple of worm gear clamps  (none had been there before Fiona's immolation); and apparently the clamp's pressure caused an existing split in the rubber to leak gas.

See the split in the rubber fuel line, it's
on side closest to my thumb

Needless to say, visions of another engine fire pop into my head and I hurriedly shut off the right side petcock.  The leaking stopped of course and after retrieving what I had gone to retrieve from the URRV; I rode the few miles to the BMW Motorcycle Dealership.

Got me 3 feet of braided fuel line, borrowed a scissor from the parts clerk, and within five minutes had replaced the leaker with new fuel line.  Leak resolved!

While at the dealership, I saw this R60 /2 in very good condition sitting in the showroom.  I didn't ask if it was for sale so no need to ask me the price.



Now, with the above R60's 600cc engine representing one end of the spectrum....I present to you what is probably a new R18 that was sitting in the parking lot...with its 1800cc engine:



Those are some huge jugs eh?  Not being misogynistic here, that's what the engine's cylinders are called by some riders.

I believe the R18 is BMW's attempt to get some buyers away from the Cruiser crowd of motorcycles such as Harley-Davidson.  It doesn't hold any appeal to me but having 1800cc on tap would be so nice on those long trips involving interstate highways.

Asked to make a choice, I would go for the R60 /2.

Once I got home I also replaced the left side petcock's feed line even though it wasn't leaking, just so they're both same age you see.  I kept the old one as a "get me home" spare and will store it in the toolbox under the seat.

As a test ride, I rode to the Home Depot to get a wire brush Dremel bit and once I was back home I spent a couple of hours cleaning the burn stains on most of the moto tools, my hand started cramping up so will finish the rest tomorrow.  

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Not much riding....last day of Fall

Not much riding, metro roads are way too crowded these days and the several days worth of light snow preclude me taking Brigitta, the '87 R80 Beemer out for some exercise for now; as the neighborhood streets are covered in hard packed snow/ice.

Scarlett, the 2014 Ural Patrol of course could get out, we tried for sunset pics midweek but it was blah....though precusor to sunset through the clouds was pretty good:

Sunday, I helped neighborhood friend Dale B. change out his first tire on one of his scooters.  We used the Harbor Freight tire changer in my garage.  Though we got by with plain old tire irons, it reminded me that I have to retrieve the better irons and the tire changing tool from Baja Tools from the URRV.

Two other neighborhood friends had recently bought a couple of Yamaha Dualsports.  Together with them, and Dale's 220cc Scooter, we all set off for a ride through the eastern plains under brisk but bearable weather conditions.

We ended up taking a break in the small town of Kiowa and after getting gas, Dale had us pose the motorcycles/scooter against a local bar front:

Kiowa, CO

Sunday evening produced a pretty good sunset, at least as compared to the last two attempts at sunset pictures!  Below are pics shot with both my new camera and Thing Two's Nikon....it's a pretty good camera though I find its software interface not as easy to use as Sony's.  However, it saves in RAW format!

Sony HX80

Nikon D5600

A couple more with the Sony's zoom function of distant Pikes Peak:




Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Home Again

 Dec 09, Wednesday:

Got back to the clogged cesspool that is the Metro Denver area soon after noon today.  Left Springer, NM soon after the sun had risen above the horizon with temperatures hovering at 21°F (-6°C).

Temperatures would climb throughout the drive and it would be in the mid-60s as I unloaded the URRV and then took it to the storage yard before the forecasted cold/snowy weather that starts tomorrow.

I was gone for 37 nights this time out.  It wasn't as warm as I remembered Arizona, this time around, but warmer than Colorado!  I'm thinking perhaps southern Nevada next time out....thoughts?

Still feeling the loss of Fiona, my '99 Ural Patrol with the Beemer engine....her remains were last seen at the Insurance Auction Yard, run by IAA, in southern Phoenix.  On the positive side, more room in the garage now!  No, I will not be buying another Ural....there's still my 2014 Ural Patrol: Scarlett for my three-wheeled fixes.

Owen the cat made himself right at home as I typed this post.

All are well here in the house, I'm sure there's chores and tasks to be done over the rest of the month.  

It's good to be home.


Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Overnight Stay at Springer Lake Wildlife Area, New Mexico

 Headed home, got about five hours of driving time closer.  Left the Monticello BLM area shortly after sunrise this morning.  Using I-25, I would arrive near the town of Springer, NM and the campground area set up within the Wildlife Area by 12:35 PM.

Had the place to myself!  :)

Got set up under sunny clear skies, warm temperatures in the low 70s.  It felt good even though it's forecasted to be around 18°F (-7.7°C) overnight!

There was ice buildup evident on the edges of the lake, not sure how thick but I don't imagine it was very thick given the temperatures of the last few days for this area.

Distant snow covered peaks suggested some long depth of field shots using the zoom lens and some distance from the URRV:



I dismounted and then rode Yagi over to the other side of the lake but not much there, no other campsites anyways.  

Returning back to the campsite, just took pictures of what wildlife I could see, all of it at the extreme range of the zoom on the camera.



A "meh" sunset for my last night of camping for this particular trip.  Over a month on the road, one burned up sidecar rig, iphone and camera....still, no injuries and some enjoyable days in the warm conditions of Arizona mostly.

Monday, December 07, 2020

T-Dub'ing around the BLM areas north of Truth or Consequences

 Properly layered this time, I set about exploring the BLM areas to the North and Northwest of my campsite, trying to find campsites for future trips in case the preferred sites are occupied.

Didn't have much luck finding anything but just one night spots that the URRV could access easily.  I returned to the campsite for lunch and then rode south to explore the BLM areas closer to the Elephant Butte State Park.

I'm thinking the rightmost formation is Elephant Butte
but not sure

Can you see the two pelicans on the left side of the lake?


The birds below were shot at maximum optical zoom with ClearImage digital zoom enabled bringing the total zoom to 1128mm!  Obviously, I had to use a tripod and a two second delay on the shutter (as mentioned by CCjon) in order for the camera to be steady enough to render the below pic after post-processing.


On the way back, a nice view of the hills and mountains within the Cibola National Forest to the NW presented itself:


I find find 3 spots that the URRV could handle easily this time, and marked them on Google Maps for possible future use.

Spent the rest of the afternoon resting, doing a police call for trash (not much at campsite); unfortunately found piles of it away from the campsite, too much for me to handle unfortunately.

Sunset was better than yesterday but not by much, it had looked quite promising earlier in the afternoon with lots of clouds in the sky but they'd gone by the time the sun set.  Oh well.

I shot this pic just to show the rather symmetrical lens bloom/flare
evidenced when trying for a sunburst today.





Sunday, December 06, 2020

Now in New Mexico, Boondocking north of Truth or Consequences

 I woke way before sunrise, ate breakfast and broke camp.  I hadn't loaded Yagi onto the URRV's front bike carrier last evening due to the leveler blocks causing too high an entry angle for the ramp.

"Unfortunately", this meant that the S.A.W.* that had parked real close to my campsite was in the light of the URRV's headlights when I turned them on to have working light.  It was still dark you see.  Shame really, the light probably woke them up too.

I got Yagi loaded up with no issue, then turned on the fog lights mounted on the bike carrier so I could see what I was doing as I got everything tied down and packed up.  Shame really, how those lights continued to light up the S.A.W.'s fifth wheel trailer just a few feet from my campsite.

As I was doing my final checks, I saw the S.A.W. exit the fifth wheel with his two mangy looking hounds and walk off quickly to have them spread their crap around the area.  I'm sure he's the type of dog owner who doesn't pick up after them you see.

As dawn was beginning to make the eastern horizon glow, I left the campsite and made my way back to the small town of Bowie where I took Business 10 Loop east and eventually got onto eastbound I-10 heading towards New Mexico.

I arrived to the BLM area serviced by Monticello Road, about ten miles or so north of the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I had the whole area to myself at 11:00 AM and was able to grab my usual camping spot almost two miles away from the highway.



As you can see, clear skies and sunny.  Temperatures wouldn't get above the low 60s but it felt nice under the sun.  I did go on a few miles worth of riding with Yagi but failed to wear my windproof liner so I felt the strong wind chill factor, which limited the speeds I could go at.

Didn't find much except for one spot on the west side of the highway junction but it was too close to the highway in terms of noise....it would be OK for an overnight stay but not for a multi-day stay.

I'll range further tomorrow, this time more warmly geared up!  There's some promising BLM terrain to the NW near some hills visible to the rear of the URRV in the first picture above.

The clear skies rendered a "meh" sunset, I didn't even bother going outside, choosing to shot the distant mountain range's blues through the URRV's window.



* S.A.W. :  Soiled Ass Wipe

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Hanging out in the Indian Bread BLM Recreation Area

 Sunny but cool today, I don't think the temperature reached 60°F (15.5°C) which was the forecasted high.

The sunrise was meh but it was a good opportunity to test the new camera's capabilities in low light conditions.  Some post-processing was again involved.




I was using f8 to achieve the sunburst when the sun broke past the small hilltop to the east of my campsite.  Not bad.



I did get some Cactus Wrens wandering near the URRV and it was a good chance to use the zoom capabilities of the new camera:



More zoom testing, note the little red spot by the rocks....she's with the camper you can see on the right, they were parked at a nice distance from my campsite and had come in last night in the dark.  I bet they had such fun parking their rig.


Now how did I know it was a she in the red jacket?  Zoomed in to 728mm, the max optical zoom setting:


I'm really liking the zoom on this camera!

Didn't really do much, the cool winds dissuaded me from riding until nearly 3:30 PM and then it was just some short riding to explore other possible campsites. 

Upon my return, I found this shithead from TX setting up camp damn near my campsite, sigh.  What part of dispersed camping don't some Arschl√∂cher understand I continue to wonder.


This of course cemented the decision I'd been weighing whether to leave tomorrow morning!  I'll make sure to make lots of noise, bright and early tomorrow.




Friday, December 04, 2020

Boondocking at the Indian Bread Recreation Area (BLM) and testing a new camera

I displaced from the vicinity of Gila Bend and the Barry Goldwater AF Range Thursday morning, and parked at my FIL's place so I could hand deliver the title for Fiona to my insurance company's office in Phoenix.  

Thursday after, after a lot of anguished thought, much bothering of both CCjon and Scooter in the Sticks' Steve Williams, thinking about needs vs wants, trying to establish and adhere to requirements grounded in reality....I went ahead and picked up a new camera at the BestBuy store near Sun City, AZ on Thursday of this week.

Image source: Best Buy

It's full name is Sony - Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 18.2-Megapixel Digital Camera.   I examined it at the store before buying it and missed one thing that might spell trouble and cause me to return the camera (and pay the 15% restocking fee).  It's aperture range is f3.5-f8 whereas my old Sony A5000 had an aperture range of f3.5-f22!

Since I have to pay a restocking fee whether I returned it the next day or before January 16, I decided to keep it for now and put it through its paces.  Steve Williams reminded me most of my pics are outdoors and in daylight so the not so fast lens on this camera should be OK.  CCjon reminded me that not having the ability to save pictures in RAW format isn't a factor if I'm not going to make large prints of my photos.

Otherwise, it's like having a smaller version of the A5000, same interface and pretty much same capabilities though a smaller sensor with 18.2 Megapixels vice the A5000's 20.1 Megapixels.  It even has the same flip-up monitor that the A5000 had for selfies but which I use for low to the ground angle shots.  Oh, and it has a pop-up EVF or Electronic View Finder for situations where the monitor is washed out due to sunlight.

The big pluses are its small size, making it pocketable so I don't need a tank bag anymore and its 30x Optical Zoom which means no need to carry extra lenses like with the A5000.  I don't have to learn a different camera manufacturer's software interface either!

Here's a selfie for your amusement:


Early Friday morning, once I finished packing up the URRV, I climbed on top of the URRV to get this picture of the palms and White Tank Mountain in the distance.  I was seeing how the depth of field held up as I like both the foreground and background in focus.


And then I zoomed in to the maximum optical range of 728mm:


Not bad eh?  The above were shot in the "Superior Auto" mode, I plan on experimenting with Aperture Priority mode later on as that's what I use for Sunrise/Sunset shots.

I left my FIL's place at 9:30 AM and five hours later I was pulling into the Indian Bread Recreation Area's camping section.  The place was near full with many RVs and car campers, more than I've ever seen for this place.  My favorite spot outside the camping section was taken, dammit, so I grabbed almost the last available spot further into Happy Camp Canyon which is where this BLM site is located.




Once again trying out the optical zoom:



The camera has image stabilization so the use of a big optical zoom setting doesn't require a tripod for sharp results.  At least in this case, I'm sure at lower light levels, a tripod will be mandatory as this camera doesn't have great low light level performance reviews online.  As I said, we'll see.

I rode Yagi, my Yamaha TW200, around the other campsites to see what remained open.  Nothing that I could find that would easily fit my URRV!  The great outdoors, at least in this area, is getting crowded...though it is the weekend.

What do you think of the image quality of the above photos?  Your feedback is requested!

Note: As always some post-processing was done by me, but in light of the testing, very minimal changes were done, mostly dehazing and lightening of shadows.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Birds, Bugs and Bushings

 A pretty quiet day here in the desert.  

Some Gambel's Quails came by to check out the URRV but did not tarry.  Sorry but the camera in my Pixel 4a, as with most camera phones, is lacking when it comes to zoom function.  The below pic is shot at 2X zoom, I think its optical, but not sure.

As to bugs, there have been very few flies this time around, probably the cool temperatures at night killing off any remaining flies from summer/fall.  There are however, enough black beetles crawling around, to get one's attention when walking or sitting outside the URRV:


These beetles, when they detect your approach, freeze and stick their butt up in the air.  Not sure why but I'm guessing they will spray something at you from that end if they sense an attack.  I basically left them alone unless they were headed towards the URRV, in which case I scooped them up with a shovel and carried them away from the site.

As to bushings, I finally remembered to send some pics to RichardM to help me identify the rubber bits in the picture below.  Turns out they're the Sway Bar Bushings and while not exactly falling apart, should probably be replaced with newer/stronger ones.


I occasionally hear a metallic "klunk" while the URRV is moving and am hoping it's these bushings which appear to be quite "squashed".  I plan to work on replacing them when next I am home with the URRV.

Speaking of home, the plan now is to start heading back to Colorado as soon as this Friday/Saturday to take advantage of a period of "warm", snow-free, weather forecasted for my route back there.  I'll be taking the I-10/I-25 route through Albuquerque, NM...probably overnighting in BLM land near the town of Truth or Consequences, NM.

Before that, I have to turn in Fiona's title to the insurance office in Phoenix tomorrow and hopefully also have time to remove the gearbox and final drive from poor Fiona.  I'm hoping these components are salvageable and got permission from the insurance rep to do so.  The insurance settlement has been finalized, they await only the receipt of the title.

The amount of the settlement was higher than expected so that's good.  I'd still rather have Fiona in one piece and working but it is what it is.

Update: DEC 3

The process involved with just gaining access to Fiona at the Insurance Auction Yard run by IAA which my insurance company uses proved to be quite the PITA!  All this to access components whose condition might not be worth the time/effort to get into sellable condition.  I realized, afterwards, that I was just being greedy.  So, the effort to recover the gearbox and final drive is at an end.

I did get the title to Fiona dropped off though, it was of course on the opposite end of the Phoenix Metro Area but traffic wasn't bad at all.

I'll resume my drive back to Colorado tomorrow.