Sunday, December 31, 2023

Happy New Year and 2023 in Pictures

Here's hoping you and yours have a great New Year in 2024!

2023 was pretty good for us, Martha retired and joined me more often camping.

Though I've been blogging since 2006 (yikes), I've only compiled a video of "The Year in Pictures" since 2008.  I think it was a suggestion from SonjaM that got things rolling and though I managed to forget to do it for 2009 (senior moment I'm sure), I've managed to make it happen since then.

I also record some travel/riding stats for future reference.  This year, it occurred to me (after seeing another blogger's goal to ride the circumference distance of Earth: 24,901 miles); to add up my mileage totals since I started riding.

It is actually quite surprising.  I figured it out to be (roughly) a total of 238,563 miles ridden.  That works out to be a bit over 9 times the circumference of the Earth in 17 years and on nine motorcycles.

Stats for 2023

Brigitta ending mileage: 102960 = 231 miles, way down from last year's 918 miles. (Pitiful, though I wasn't home much)

Scarlett ending mileage: 74679: 1976 Km = 1187 miles, down from last year's 2484 miles. (This was first year we started towing the Honda CR-V)

Yagi ending mileage: 20156 = 2295 miles, up from last year's 2575 miles

Total motorcycle mileage: 3713, down from last year's 5977

Correspondingly, Uma the VRRV ended the year at 99,635 = 10438 miles, up from last year's 8330 miles.

Days camping: 240 (65% of the year), up from last year's 168 days.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Views of Mount Blue Sky

The snow remains on the lawns and such but is rapidly dissapearing from the roads.  Of course, my culdesac remains snow covered but no problem for Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol.

The snow is a bit slick of course, causing me to use 2WD just to get moving once I'm off the driveway, but then I soon switch to 1WD as I reach dry road.

Not much has changed here since two
days ago when I took the above pic

Yesterday, the sun was out and it was a pretty clear day for viewing the mountains of the Front Range. 

Here's a view of Mount Blue Sky, formerly known as Mount Evans from the Saddle Rock Golf Course.

Today, I rode Scarlett to Performance Cycle to get the front tire swapped on Yagi, my TW200.  While this was being done, I drove over to the Westlands Park in the Denver Tech Center for this view of Mount Blue Sky:

While I was taking pictures, some geese came by to check out Scarlett:

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

More Snow is "Mo Better"

Hope everyone had a great Christmas Day yesterday!

I recall the weather forecast calling for little to no snow overnight.  So of course, we got like 4-5 inches of the white stuff and woke to snow-covered conditions.

Of course, this led to Scarlett and I motoring out after clearing off the driveway and the neighborhood sidewalk.

At Eaglecrest High School:

At the Plains Conservation Center:

Near the Saddle Rock Golf Course:

Back to the ranching neighborhood near Blackstone Country Club:

Almost got stuck turning Scarlett around at the bottom of the hill pictured below:

In the Travois neighborhood:

Zoom in to see the peak on Mount Blue Sky
formerly Mount Evans

Scarlett had pretty good traction throughout though some spots were deep enough with snow to cause me to engage 2WD.  

I did experience a possible serious issue with the throttle not lowering on left hand turns; this turned out to be a mis-routed throttle cable when I mounted the windshield back on this morning.  Easy fix by the roadside.

A few times, Scarlett's rear end swung to the right when coming to a stop on slick spots or accelerating from such.  No big deal and easily dealt with through steering and throttle inputs.

The lower right mounting point I'd "fixed" with some JBWeld for plastics seems to be holding, hopefully a long term solution for Scarlett's big windshield.

Though I had a set of tire chains with me for Scarlett, no need to use them in the conditions encountered.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas!

We got perhaps a couple of inches of snow in our portion of the cesspool that is the Metro Denver area overnight.

It was a brisk 24°F (-4°C) with overcast skies as Scarlett and I headed out to see what the snow would provide in terms of pictures.

We rode over to the usual ranching neighborhood and in spite of not being able to see the mountains at all, got a couple of usable pics:

I discovered that the shoulder bolt and spring which hold the lever for the 2WD had come off sometime between yesterday and today.  A quick trip to the hardware store before returning home set things right.

Martha was resting with Owen, the world's laziest cat, after she got the fixings ready for Christmas Eve dinner.

From 2015:

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Pre-Christmas Miscellany

Yesterday, I did a test ride to check the security of the mounting straps/bungie cords used to carry a bicycle in Scarlett's sidecar.

Why would I carry a bicycle you might ask?

Well, I'd found that the Sand Creek Greenway Trail that I'd been exploring on foot, was much longer than originally thought.  The trail is open to bicyclists but not motorcyclist so I broke the bicycle out of storage in the garage.

Once she was pretty much road-worthy (rear brakes need further work), I took it to the Triple Creek Trailhead which is the northern end of the trail it seems.

The bicycle stayed securely mounted throughout today's riding I'm happy to report and is simple to unmount as well.

I rode perhaps 5 miles total on the trail and was unsurprised at how out of shape I've become over the years.  Still, as I type this the next day, my leg muscles aren't hurting much at all.  I'm definitely going to have to improve the rear brake performance though as going downhill on dirt can prove interesting without good brakes.

This morning, Saturday, I spent a couple of hours replacing the rear brake pedal on Scarlett.  

The wooden block that I'd zip-tied into place you see, had snapped off sometime during the ride and I was back to doing the ballerina toe-down maneuver to get any kind of response from the rear and sidecar brakes.  Annoying. 

It took me a while but I finally realized it was just a missing wood block, not a failure of the brake lines or such.

The replacement was pretty straightforward.  The only bummer is once again realizing that at my age, laying on the cold garage floor  and working on the motorcycle kind of sucks!  Oh well.

Here's the stock pedal, which try as I might, I couldn't get it set up to give me a decently short pedal travel arc to engage the rear brakes.

Here's the modified brake pedal done by (I dimly remember), the now retired Ural dealer in Fort Collins, CO: Randy.  He'd offered it to me years ago and I hadn't installed it till now since the wooden block was working just fine. 

The desired travel arc is once again on tap.  ☺    No more need to angle my foot like a ballerina going on tip toe!

Looks like we'll be getting some snow later tonight, with perhaps more tomorrow on Christmas Eve, so we might be having a White Christmas here in the cesspool that is the Metro Denver Area.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

A Winter Solstice Compilation

 I hope you had a good Winter Solstice today.  We had warm and sunny weather mostly, which allowed me to get in some hiking along Coal Creek.

I shot a pic of my shadow at around Noon, supposedly that's the longest it gets with the sun at its highest point in the sky due to the solstice/Earth's Axis Tilt.

Views of Coal Creek and it's trees which border all along its route:

Here's a compilation of pics taken during or very close to Winter Solstice over the years since I've been motorcycling:

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Chasing a Leak on Yagi, a Pronghorn Sighting and Beef is Whats for Dinner!

Monday, Dec 18

Yagi, my TW200, had been displaying signs of a oil seepage over the last few months.

It's gotten bad enough that she sheds a few drops when parked after a ride, not to mention also evidence of oil from her splashing onto the front bumper of the VRRV when Yagi's mounted on the front rack.

I spent some time this morning washing off all the oil/grime/dirt of the last few months worth of camping and I suspect the leak is coming from a worn seal on the front valve cover gasket.

At least, I hope that's it, based on the flow of the oil/grime that took a while to remove!

The seal: P/N 93210-57634-00 is on order via Amazon.   Not due till the end of the year.

Tuesday, Dec 19

Today I drove Scarlett on a 55 mile meandering trip mostly on the western edge of the Colorado Eastern Plains.  Not much out there but some ranches, some oil/natural gas wells/drill equipment and lots of brown grasses.

Didn't really find much to take pictures of, just enjoying the warm weather (65°F (18.3°C), the sun shining through somewhat cloudy skies, and the purring sound of Scarlett's engine.

While driving along Jewell Avenue, I saw this in the distance in the middle of a field:

Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range
Navigation Aid

Riding to get closer to the VOR above, I happened upon a small herd of Pronghorn Sheep.  I stopped and swapped to the telephoto lens:

A bit blurry, sorry, no chance to deploy the tripod

They mooned me!

FYI:  The above pics were post-processed to increase scale and clarity.  Here's the original pic of the first one:

A few more miles and I was home after refilling the spare gas cans in preparation for the next camping trip.  Probably next month sometime.

My loving wife Martha prepared a sumptuous prime rib dinner with Brussels Sprouts mixed with bacon and maple syrup.  Yummy.

Friday, December 15, 2023

December Doings re the VRRV (Vehicle Recovery RV)

Stuff I got done when not sitting in front of the TV streaming shows...

Let's see, there was yard work of course, got most of the Fall leaves mulched back into the lawn before we got a couple of inches of snow on the 9th.

I replaced the ladder I'd bought while in Arizona two camping trips ago with a telescoping one from Amazon.  It extends out to 12.5 feet and I tried it out on the VRRV, works fine.

Several of the keys on the laptop I use for blogging and photo processing had been giving me fits over the last few months.  First the N key, then the T get the idea.  So I bought a small wireless keyboard from Amazon and seeing if it'll work as a substitute, sitting atop the laptop's keyboard.

I replaced the house battery on the VRRV as it had degraded from an original 112 Amp Hour battery to perhaps a 40 Ah battery!

At RichardM's suggestion, when I queried him on best way to check water levels on the new flooded battery, I bought a cheap endoscope:

The new battery you see, has the usual caps one can remove to check the water level in each of the six cells.  However, with the battery in place inside the VRRV's battery compartment, it's impossible to look down into the cells.

Since I don't want to be yanking this heavy battery out each month to check water levels; I will use the endoscope's camera to look for a reflection of the camera's LED lights from the water in each cell.  I tried it the other day, worked fine.

Today, the weather was warm enough to install the replacement window blinds on the two main windows of the VRRV.  The stock ones had suffered breaks in the string used to keep tension you see.  They would no longer hold position and we'd come home with velcro straps holding them secure when traveling.

The mini-blinds I got, custom-sized via an outfit on Amazon, proved good in terms of fit but crappy in terms of ease of install!  It was a PITA and I'm still not sure how "locked in" the blinds are, we'll find out next time the VRRV moves I guess.

One similar feature to the stock blinds, you pull down and push up on the lower bar to lower/raise the blinds.  There's no strings to pull like in regular mini-blinds.

Oh, and while compiling the "year in pictures" video for this year, realized the Year in Pictures archive page was missing a couple of years, corrected that.  Apparently, I didn't do one for 2009.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Home Again and a Book Review

Martha and I are home from our 49 day trip, 37 of which were camping days.

We left the Enchanted Trails Campground west of Albuquerque, NM at 6:15 AM and were pulling into our home cul-de-sac at 3:15 PM.  9 hours on the road was a long but incident-free day.

We motored with purpose and didn't stop for pictures, just for gas.

We're back in Colorado till the end of the year I expect.  Not sure when I will go camping next, but most likely not till the new year.

As we drove the last two days, we listened to an audio book titled "A Grateful American" by Gary Sinise of Forrest Gump (he played Lieutenant Dan) and CSI:NY where he played Detective Mac Taylor.

This is an outstanding book about his life leading up to his present mission of service to American servicemen and veterans.  From a wayward youth to his entry and development of an acting career; his work supporting, helping, and ensuring that injured veterans are not forgotten, this book fleshes out and highlights his great life journey.

His role as Lieutenant Dan from the Forrest Gump film, leads to his connection and empathy with veterans ranging from the Vietnam War to the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars on Terror.  

The work he does initially just as morale boosting USO tours, grows and expands to multiple tours with the USO, the creation and performance of his "Lieutenant Dan Band", the Snowball Project that provides the kids of fallen veterans a venue to deal in part with their loss and eventually multiple initiatives and projects.

He supports, participates and donates time and treasure to causes such as homes for severely injured veterans, school supplies for Iraqi Children, family support organizations such as TAPS, and many others eventually lead to a formal organization called the Gary Sinise Foundation.

I urge you to read/listen to this book, Gary Sinise is truly a great man, supporter of Veterans everywhere and a great American.

Friday, November 24, 2023

A Museum, A Drive and Thanksgiving in Fountain Hills, AZ

Wednesday, November 22

We drove the Honda CR-V to the Superstitions Mountain Museum located of course near the Superstitions Mountains.

The main emphasis of the museum seemed to be the tale of the Lost Dutchman's Mine.  Note: The Dutchman himself, wasn't lost nor was he Dutch.  He was in fact German!

Martha called it a nicely curated museum, mostly about the legend of the Lost Dutchman's mine and of the many people who searched for it after his death.

The rest of the museum's offerings are outdoors, a lot of old and sometimes massive mining equipment from the area's heyday of mining for gold and such.

There's a kid's area where you can take pictures with assorted displays:

Both the Elvis Chapel and the barn that used to be located in "Apacheland" are onsite.  Both structures were part of a large movie set from the 60s-70s during the heyday of "westerns".  Lots of movies shot there before most of it burned down and the owners decided not to rebuild.

At the Elvis Chapel, the "King" was ready for pictures:

Why "Elvis Chapel"?  The chapel appeared in a movie that featured Elvis.  The only movie where he appears and doesn't sing.  Also the only movie where he sports a beard apparently.

It was closed when we were there but apparently
you can check out an outside model railroad complex.

The Superstitions Mountains from the museum's amphitheater

"Stampede" sculpture

We also drove part of the Apache Trail, going from the museum to Tortilla Flats.

Canyon Lake

Thursday, November 23

Martha went by herself to check out the Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Day Parade, a small hometown affair.  I wasn't feeling it so I stayed indoors.  She also checked out the town's "World Famous Fountain".  I will say it's a pretty large fountain of water, just not sure about the world famous bit.

In the afternoon, we went with Martha's cousin Angela, her partner Vince, Auntie Carol and her friend Loretta to the Fire Rock Country Club for Thanksgiving Dinner.  We would be joined there by Angela's friend Kendra and John, along with their two kids: Roman and Lydia.

There was a large buffet spread and wine for everyone except the kids of course, they were happy with their Shirley Temples.  We all ate too much of course.

A nightcap was enjoyed at Angela's home:

Vince preps dinner for the cats

Friday, November 24

We loaded up the VRRV and left shortly after 8AM, we crossed into New Mexico shortly after Noon and by 4PM were setting up at the Enchanted Trails RV Campground located west of Albuquerque, NM.  Not too bad of a drive, long but we are heading home.

The campground has some vintage RV trailers and cars on display:

Tonight's sunset

We're going to probably rest here tomorrow, and then head towards Raton Pass, NM on Sunday.  More to follow.