Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

Sitting in the RV in Dalhart, TX where we're spending the night at a RV park enroute back home to Denver.

Temperatures are supposed to drop down to 21°F ( -6°C) tonight so it's good that we've got shore power to run the electric heater if needed.  Right now, just running the Wave 8 Catalytic Propane Heater inside the RV, not running the onboard furnace which is wasteful with propane.

We spent yesterday visiting with old Army Friends from our days at Fort Bragg.  Jane and Larry H.  were introduced to each other by Martha and ended up getting married.  Larry was my executive officer when I had a battery command at Bragg and he would end up introducing me to Martha later.

 Larry and yours truly

Martha and Jane

After spending last night at their place, we said goodbye to Jane and Larry this morning and departed Georgetown, TX and headed towards Amarillo, TX where we planned to boondock at a Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot.

We made pretty good time though so we pushed on past Amarillo while we still had daylight and got to Dalhart, TX as things got dark to an RV Park there.  We'd called ahead and made sure there was a pull-through spot available for us.

Here's some shots of the last sunset of 2016 for us in the Texas Panhandle as we neared Dalhart.

Martha, the boys and I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Total mileage ridden in 2016: 9687 miles broken down by motorcycle:

Scarlett:  Ending odometer reading 41,669.  10,411 Km or 6246 Miles

Brigitta ('87 BMW R80): Ending Odometer 98,416.  1046 Miles (Pitiful)

Fiona: Purchased with 15437km on odometer.  Ending odometer: 19430, 3993 km or 2395 miles.

This brings my total miles ridden on motorcycles to:  191,330 (more or less)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Texas RV Trip - National Museum of the Pacific War and Scarlett Breaks Down

Today we rode Scarlett over to Fredericksburg, TX, almost 80 miles away, to visit the National Museum of the Pacific War and the Admiral Chester Nimitz museum that are located there.

The ride over was in temperatures in the high 50s, much cooler than yesterday but still quite comfortable with just a fleece liner under our riding jackets.

We got there shortly before Noon to find the historic portion of the city swarming with tourists.  After we got lunch away from the downtown area, we returned to the museum and after some cruising around, found parking for Scarlett.

We found the museum to be very nicely put together but there was just too many people trying to see all the exhibits and such to make it very enjoyable to us.

Some pics from the museum:

 Scale model of a Missouri Class Battleship

 B-25 Bomber on a portion of the flight deck belonging to the Coral Sea

 USS New Mexico

 Japanese Float Plane

 Fat Man Atomic Bomb Replica
My favorite of the covers painted by Norman Rockwell
There was a whole room dedicated to his covers on the
Saturday Evening Post.

We then spent some time walking through the Admiral Nimitz Museum, no pics from the inside but here's a picture Martha took of a statue of the man standing outside:

As we were leaving town, Martha took this picture of the submarine the designers of the museum had cleverly situated so that it looked like it was surfacing from beneath the ground.  Cool.

On the outskirts of Fredericksburg, there's also the Texas Ranger Heritage Center.  We stopped briefly for the below pictures.

The ride home was almost without incident.  About five miles from the RV campground, I started noticing a sporadic new noise coming from the engine area.  As you might imagine, after so many issues with different rigs, I tend to pay attention to new noises.

This one wasn't quite metallic, to me it sounded like a cupping noise or perhaps a rubbing noise.  To Martha, once I asked her if she heard the new noise, it sounded like a strap striking a surface perhaps.  

The noise occurred whether the rig was in gear or in neutral so that eliminated the gearbox.

Nursing the engine, I hoped to make it back to the campground so I could examine things in a safe location.  We were in the middle of heavy city traffic when I first noticed the new noise.

It was not to be however.  The noise got more and more frequent though not in sync with the RPMs of the engine strangely.  That is, until the last few seconds when it suddenly turned into rapid metal clacking noises and the engine stopped.

I pulled in the clutch and we coasted to a stop at the side of the road, several cars behind us had to go into avoidance mode and luckily, no one got hit.  

Martha and I carefully maneuvered the rig down the slight hill we'd stopped on, got Scarlett rolling up another slight hill to a parking lot.

A young fellow in a pickup truck stopped and asked if I needed a ride/help.  I took him up on his offer and he took me the last 1/2 mile or so to the RV Campground's entrance.

I got Uma, the URRV, all packed up in a hurry, disconnected from shore power and city water and headed back to Martha and Scarlett.

I positioned Uma so that the slope of the parking lot's entrance way aided our pushing Scarlett onto the trailer.  We got her onto the trailer with no issues and once she was secured, we made our way back to the campground.

Feeling bummed of course.  But we still went out for a planned dinner outing with a friend of Martha's from her Army Nursing days:

iPhones really suck in low light conditions don't you think?
Here's Anne, on the left, and her family.

Needless to say, the trip is being cut short.  The plan had been for Martha to fly back to Denver on the 2nd of January but now she'll drive back with me back to Denver starting on the 31st of December.

More to follow on Scarlett once I get her back to the Ural dealer in Fort Collins, CO.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Texas RV Trip - Brenham

No driving the RV today, it was Scarlett's turn to get some road time.

Martha, Scarlett and I rode out to the town of Brenham to the SE of Austin, it was the halfway point agreed upon by Martha and her friend Heidi who lives near Houston.

We got there a bit earlier than Heidi's family did so we took some time to tour the "Birthplace of the Texas Republic".  The visitor center at Washington on the Brazos, about 30 minutes from Brenham is located on the site of the old town of Washington on the Brazos where Texas' Declaration of Independence was signed.

We also checked out the home of BlueBell Ice Cream in Brenham

Sorry, but no real pics of the visitor center's contents were taken and the museum nearby appeared to be closed so we skipped it.

Returning to Brenham (the home of Texas Baseball according to a mural I saw), we got a text that Heidi and family were about an hour out so we walked around a bit near the town's main square.  It was a hot day, quite humid to our Colorado-accustomed bodies as well.  We did spend some time in this one Antique Shop but nothing was purchased.  However, as we left, we did spot this badly misspelled sign:


Heidi, Joel and their two sons: Ian and Colin showed up a few minutes after we'd secured a table at a small restaurant near city hall.  It was a late lunch but the conversation was good and everyone seemed to enjoy rekindling friendships.  Soon enough though, it was time to go.

 Martha and Heidi

 Colin, Heidi, Ian and Joel

Colin had asked for a ride in the sidecar so I took him around a few city blocks before depositing him safely back with his parents:

Colin with Scarlett and I

We said our goodbyes as it was getting late and we had more than a two hour ride back to Austin and they had at least that much of a drive back to their home near Houston.

We saw a pretty decently colored sunrise in the western skies as we motored our way along state highways and US 290 away from Brenham, towards Austin.  

It was a long drive home, once we lost the sunset.  Rural roads with very little artificial lighting but we made it back to the RV Park safely thanks to Martha's navigation/directions.

Note:  All pictures today are courtesy Martha, I didn't see much to take pictures of so far.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Texas RV Trip - Days 1 and 2

A long couple of days driving Uma the URRV, trailering Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig.

We left by 7:15AM on Monday the 26th and spent the day driving south towards Amarillo, TX.  To be precise, to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park RV Campground Martha had selected as our overnight destination.

We were enroute to Austin, TX you see, to visit with friends in the area over the last week of 2016.

The first day was spent on the slabs, nothing much to report except for crossing a new state line for Uma:

We drove through Amarillo as the sun was setting in the western sky, arriving at the camp site as darkness descended.  The campsite turned out to be at the bottom of what Texas claims is the second biggest canyon in the US.  We have our doubts as to that claim.

A shot of the Canyon from the scenic overlook before we lost the light

However, the campsite was definitely deep enough that we got no cellphone coverage and of course it being a state park, there was no wi-fi internet access either.  The horror.  Still, there was water and electrical hookups and I only had mild issues backing the trailer into the "back-in" spot that was available to us.  The rumors of pull-through spots at the campsite in question proved false unfortunately.

Bright and early the next morning, as the sun was still below the horizon, we packed up and made our way back towards the rim of the canyon.  Cellphone coverage regained and after checking in with the boys and checking for work emails, we enjoyed the sunrise from the scenic overlook near the main entrance to the park.

Our view of the dawn as we broke camp

 Sunrise at the Scenic Overlook, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX

Martha shot this pic from near the visitor center

The rest of Tuesday was spent driving from the Amarillo TX area to Austin, TX.  Long, long day or driving on county and state roads, following the GPS guidance.

We did skirt around Abilene, TX and took this shot:

On the RV to Abilene....

Why the above shot you might wonder.  It's all part of a running joke I have with Martha, based on a lesson about group think I learned while attending an Army school.

It details, how group think can be dangerous, leading a unit to reach the wrong decision because each person thinks he's helping/agreeing with the other persons in the group.  Before you know it, the decision has been made for everyone to board the "bus to Abilene" when in reality, no one wanted to go there.

More on the Abilene Paradox

We got to our RV park in the southern portion of Austin city limits just in time for rush hour and and what a joy it was to drive an RV in rush hour.

Still we made it unscathed, and in the dark, around 6:00PM I think.  Found our welcome packet, found our site, got settled in and will be calling it an early night again.  Very tired from driving.

We'll be in the Austin area till the 2nd of January, more to follow.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Like a dear friend of mine recently said, another trip around the sun for all of us since last Christmas Day.

Here's hoping your Christmas Holidays are the best they can be and as fun as you hope for.


Adding pics from some riding today on Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice Sunrise

Scarlett and I rode out of the neighborhood a full hour before expected Sunrise and still managed to miss some interesting red colors as light brightened on the eastern horizon.

Below shots are along Quincy Road, east of the Metro Denver area.

Scarlett's new battery did just fine, no issues in spite of repeated use of the headlights in the shots above.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Last Fall Sunset of 2016

A warm day here in the Front Range, much melting of the snow that fell earlier, oh well, the forecast is for a White Christmas here in Colorado.

ScooterBob is on the way to Alaska now, RichardM gets to host him next in the frigid northern reaches of that great state.

Scarlett and I went out to catch the sunset, to mark the passing of the Fall Season, tomorrow is the first day of Winter.

Today, I also replaced the pusher tire on Scarlett.  I'd put on a used tire back at the start of August of this year, since it still had some "meat" on it.  Got 2089 km out of it before the center line was too worn.  Now there's a new Heidenau K37 for this coming Winter's riding!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Snowy Colorado Goodbye for ScooterBob

Along with some pretty cold temperatures, (high today was 3°F (-16.1°C) and about 2-3 inches of snow, it was a good day to get ScooterBob for one last outing with myself and one of my rigs.

Scarlett is the one best equipped to let me deal with cold weather riding so she got to go out in the pre-dawn hour to see what we could see.  The battery however, is not holding a charge very well unless once keeps her on a charger.  It's less than three years old but I guess I am hard on batteries.

Still, she was OK once I jump-started her and we headed off into the lightening gray skies covering the Metro Denver area.

I also need to, it seems, replace the pusher tire as I was not getting good traction with the rubber that remains on it.  I had to engage 2WD to get out of the cul-de-sac and actually left it engaged through the entire ride!

Stayed close to home due to the battery issue, temperature was -2°F (-18.8°C) as we started the ride and it was rise to perhaps 1°F (-17.2°C) an hour later when I returned home.

 A view of the cul-de-sac, the untouched snow a blank canvas...

 Trees at the local high school where Martha used to work....

 A couple of shots of the tree lined street near yet another local high school

 A view of the Mormon Stakehouse across the street from Eaglecrest H.S.

 All wheels nicely packed with the fresh snow....

 I'd mentioned the cul-de-sac was a blank canvas?  
Hopefully you can the the markings left by Scarlett as she headed out
and came back in, doing a few donuts in the snow of course.

 ScooterBob let me know, as I was putting Scarlett back on the charger
that he wanted to go out once last time while here in Colorado.

Scarlett and I, this time with ScooterBob in the trunk, left shortly before Noon to take my oldest son Patrick to work at the local Sprouts grocery store.

As we were out, and the sun was out, it was time to visit the somewhat nearby ranching neighborhood to see what we could see.

There wasn't as much snow in this area as in my neighborhood, but we made do:

ScooterBob declared his satisfaction with the snow conditions, and then said it was now OK to leave the sub-freezing 3°F (-16°C) temperatures and go back home.

Roads remained snow-packed but the sun was already working on clearing some spots.  Cagers of course were in their usual rush to get somewhere; which made the last couple of miles of riding interesting but with no incidents.

Shortly before sunset, we all headed out one more time, this time to catch the sunset and to pick up Patrick from his job at 5:00PM.

We decided to head down to the tower located in the Tuscany neighborhood down the road from our own neighborhood.

 The tower is purely decorative, my guess it's supposed to evoke
thoughts of Tuscany, Italy's architecture style.

It was 0°F (-17.7°C) when Patrick finally clocked out and we four headed home in the darkness.  Scarlett convinced me do do a couple of donuts in the cul-de-sac, both surprising Patrick and hopefully amusing my next door neighbor who was out there shoveling his driveway in the dark.

ScooterBob will be packed up tomorrow, along with all his belongings, and shipped all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska.  The idea is for him to experience some "really cold" weather while being hosted by RichardM.  Richard being a fellow Ural/Beemer rider who has real experience in riding in extreme cold weather, ScooterBob will have so much fun.....  ;)