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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What has this got to do with a trip to Mexico?

My friends Jason and Erica drove my Miata out to California. Next summer Beth and I will drive it back to Connecticut.
On the way out it developed a leak in the radiator. Before I can give the car to my sister for the winter I'm replacing it.
Tomorrow, the new regulator for the AT is supposed to arrive. Once I install that I'm ready to go theoretically.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fwd: Made It!

Took a lot longer than it did 25 years ago but I was younger then.

J. Braun
MondayMotoMadness. blogspot. com

Fwd: Day Hike

Off to climb Half Dome today about 20 miles round trip.

J. Braun
MondayMotoMadness. blogspot. com

Another Test

This is Kasper's Hot Dogs on McArthur Blvd in Oakland. I always eat there at least once every time I'm in the area.

New Regulations

The AT fried the wiring and wouldn't charge the battery when the headlights were on. New parts are on the way.

Test of mobile posting

I tried to post from my phone during my trip to Yosemite. It didn't seem to post. This is another try with a picture.

--   J. Braun  	

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Day At The Museum

Not all the adventures in a trip depend on fording rivers and climbing mountains. Sometimes it's the little discoveries, near at hand, that amaze and delight. The Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco turned out to be one of these.

The traffic getting there was truly horrific and the facade was undistinguished so I was unprepared for the wealth of material that was lurking behind the front desk. However, walking into the first room was the beginning of a tour that Walt himself would have enjoyed. There was history, but it was all presented with the flair of a showman.

My dad examining some early history
The combination of static and moving displays was endlessly informative and entertaining. I was with my dad who knew some of the animators and was able to add details and background color.

Young and old seemed equally enthralled

As we followed the trail of Walt's life each room led to another that seemed even grander than the last. The early days led to his first successes as an artist and cartoonist. Then to the decision to break away and do things on his own.

Steamboat Willy
The first Mickey Mouse cartoon was spread across an entire wall of original drawings with highlights of animation to show how they fit together.

Walt was there to present his first great triumph, Snow White.

Not only were there shots of the movie but there was plenty of background material about how the movie was made.

Making the colors for the artists
An animator's desk - That's a still projector, not a video screen!
From there it went on to display the greater triumphs that he and his team went on to achieve. By now we had spent over 3 hours and hadn't even gotten to the Disney Land section. Overwhelmed would be an understatement. I'll leave it to you to visit and discover what joys await. However, I'll leave you with one of the things that was one of my favorites.

Not hard to guess which movie this special Oscar is for!

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tool Time

If real estate is all about location, location, location then adventure travel is all about preparation, preparation, preparation! No detail is too insignificant to neglect. If you think about it you should do it. It's that simple.

I started with changing the oil and filter, then the fuel filter. That all went easier than it would have on my Transalp. If you haven't read my post on car vs motorcycle oil I recommend it. You can read it here.

To be really prepared I used only the tools I would be taking with me on the trip. Now is the time to find out that I'm missing something I need rather than when I'm broken down in the middle of nowhere.

This is also the time to figure out what is the best way to perform certain tasks. This is a new bike to me so I have no experience on which end of a fuel line is the best one to take off when tracking down a leak. Everything gets Loctite and tie wraps to make sure it's still with me for the entire trip.

Then began the real work, new shoes. The tires Eddy was using were Michelin Anakee II which are good tires but are 80/20 tires biased towards the street. I'm switching to Continental TKC-80 which is 40/60 in favor of dirt riding. I chose these over my favorite Dunlop 606 because I wasn't planning on anything that aggressive and I've always wanted to try the Contis.

So I found that I didn't have a valve core tool and hiked over to the parts store to get one. Then I found that the tire pump I had still works well, and still takes 200 pumps to fill the tire. Tomorrow I'll get to the back tire. That takes 350 pumps!

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Because bad things can happen to good people

Dirty hands and skinned knuckles were the order of the day as I installed the crash bars on the AT. Because the plastic panels are nearly impossible to come by and very expensive if I could find them the work was well worth it.

Looks simple but these things never go as well as I'd like them to. Let's see, just put the rear bracket under the engine bolt in back, then attach the front to the skid plate, and insert into the clamp on the frame. Hmmmm ...

This doesn't seem to line up quite right ...
Maybe a little nudge from a hydraulic lift will push it into place.

Of course the wrench won't fit so we'll have to make do with the old standby - vice grips!

Finally it all comes together.

Now it's time to go riding!

The Africa Twin with Eddy's Transalp
We went over Mt. Madonna on some paved and class 1 dirt roads to get to the shore. Tight twisty roads that really gave me a chance to see what the AT could do. Not quite a sport bike but very capable with a very willing engine.

We stopped for lunch at a bay front restaurant and watched the otters cavort around the kayakers. It was perfect weather for a ride and it was with some reluctance that we turned homeward.

Only 75 miles today but I'm very happy with the bike and ready to be on my way. But first, family matters tomorrow and another few days. I get to re-teach my dad black and white photo printing after he's been away from it for many years. Stay tuned for that one!

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!

Friday, September 5, 2014

I'm here, It's here, First ride

More travel. After arriving at the airport I took BART to meet Marty and we went to dinner where Gretchen met us. Great sushi. Then to bed at their home.

Yesterday I took BART again to get the CalTrain south to meet Eddy. Another dinner and off to bed. I'm not jet lagged but my bio-clock has not adjusted to west coast time yet so it's early to bed and early to rise.

This morning I woke up to have coffee with Eddy before he went to work. And then I ran out the door to check out my new toy!

After taking a moment to check out everything and thoroughly familiarize myself with the bike (approximately 0.002 nano-seconds) I jumped on it and started it up. 

Music to my ears! The familiar Honda V-Twin sound that I know so well. Eddy lives on 8 acres up in the hills. Time to explore. A Class 2 path lead up a hill from the house so there I went. 

No doubt about it, this is a BIG bike. It's a bit taller than the Transalp so I'm up on my toes. However, once I got rolling it felt just like the TA. It went up and down grades without trouble although the tires slipped a bit on the loose stuff. Easy to control with a touch of the brakes and a nudge from the engine.

I rounded a corner to find a family of deer out for a stroll. They looked at me with curiosity and then wandered off into the woods in no particular hurry. I was the visitor in their domain but they were willing to share. A quiet muffler helps put me at one with the surroundings.

A mile further I ran into a chained gate so I decided head back. Remember that tippy-toes thing? Well, I needed all my balance skills to back up and turn around. I'm sure I just need more practice but I don't want the thing to fall over and break something. Owning a rare bike means that I won't be able to get parts at the corner Honda shop.

So I have this huge smile on my face. I'm going back to Marty's today to get the rest of my gear and then I'll start getting the AT ready for the trip. YEAH!!

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Rules

I'm flying to San Franciso in a couple of hours so I'll quickly post The Rules.
  1. No iPod or any player! Traveling is about listening to others, not yourself. This is the most important advice I can offer.
  2. Be willing to expose yourself to solitude. It's amazing what the world has to offer if you open yourself to the experience.
  3. Put your mobile phone in a plastic bag and wrap it in 20' of duct tape. If you can't fix the problem with the duct tape THEN you can call for help.
  4. Minimalism — lay out everything and then remove half.
    Wait 3 days and then remove half of what’s left.
  5. The slower you go the more you see. If you see the word "Old" in a road name, take it!
  6. Imagination will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no imagination.
  7. Make a plan, set a date, stick to it.
  8. Everything will wait until you return if it's truly important.
  9. Do not be route obsessed. If it says "West", and you're heading west, go exploring.
  10. When you meet someone along the way offer to send them a postcard.
  11. Yesterday's t-shirt can make a pretty good towel in a pinch.
  12. Never get a room at a motel next to a stop light. Always try to get a room on the top floor.
    Note: Gretjen says that you should avoid a camp site 50' from the Union Pacific main line.
  13. Nothing beats camping under the stars but sometimes a hot shower in a cheap motel is worth every penny!
  14. Don't wear black in the summer.
  15. Ask the locals for interesting things in their area. If you are traveling alone they will seek you out to talk to you.

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cleared For Lift Off

Buying a motorcycle in another state is not for the weak of heart.

First you need to find a bike to buy and form a bond of trust with the seller. Ebay offers some protection, Craigslist none at all. Know a guy who knows a guy might be ok but knowing the guy is even better.

I know Eddy and I know the way he treats his bikes. In fact, it is much better than the way I treat his bike as the crash on the Transalp he loaned me will testify.

When he said he would sell me the Africa Twin I jumped at the chance. There was the added incentive that it was in CA and I was in CT. Road Trip!

This started the venture into registration hell. Connecticut was willing to give me a new title and plate if I filled out a VIN validation form. Just have it signed and dated by any law enforcement officer in the selling locale. Unfortunately, none of said officers wanted to do that.

The local (Morgan Hill,CA) town police said that it "wasn't a service they offered." As if putting down their doughnut and walking outside to look at the VIN stamped on the bike was going to ruin their karma for the day. They referred me to the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The CHP admitted that it was something that they might do but that the officer (Officer Walizer) was on vacation and wouldn't be back until the following week. The entire state of California is supposed to wait while Officer Walizer works on his tan.

Eddy called back and spoke to Officer Walizer but he stated that he didn't like to do VIN verifications because in state people might try to register their cars out of state. I was about to call him up and ask if he would either do his job or charge me with conspiracy to commit fraud. It had to be one or the other because he was not a judge and had no business making that judgement.

However, time was running out and there was no time for a pissing contest with an a$$h0le.

Although Eddy was willing to let me ride the bike back to CT on his license plate it would mean not going through Mexico because the paperwork and insurance would be too much of a hassle.

Time for Plan B.

Without revealing too much let's just say that I knew a guy, who knew a guy, who might fill out the paperwork for me. It was a last minute shot in the dark but I decided to go for it. I got all the paperwork together and gave it to the guy. Who gave it to a guy. Who filled in the relevant information and waved a magic wand. A day later I got back the paperwork with all the required forms and signatures.

This morning I went over to the CT DMV to pray that the registration gods would smile on me. The wait was relatively short but there was, of course, a problem. The clerk was willing to accept the form for the VIN verification but it seems that my town had put a hold on any registrations because of some unpaid property taxes.

Eileen, the DMV clerk, was sympathetic and suggested that I take the paperwork and go talk to the town clerk to get a release. So off to the town clerk and this silly Catch-22. It seems that the previous vehicle property taxes were underpaid. I don't remember any notice of this but who knows? When I paid the property taxes this year they used part of the money to pay off the last year's taxes, plus penalty and interest. They then assessed a new penalty and interest because I didn't pay the new taxes in full. I had to pay a penalty and interest on the penalty and interest!

The clerk said I could appeal but I didn't fight it. I just wrote the check, got my release, and headed back to the DMV. Eileen was nice enough to not make me go to the back of the line again. She waved me ahead when she was free and started the process again. It went quickly and with the swipe of my credit card I was registered and legal. When people say bad things about the people who work at the DMV I always set them right.

Not exactly a vanity plate but legal at last!
Tomorrow I fly out to San Francisco to start getting the bike ready for the trip! Through Mexico thanks to a guy who knows a guy ... And Eileen!

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!

Monday, September 1, 2014

In The Beginning ...

Every trip starts with some concept. Usually it's a destination - I want to go to Moab and ride the White Rim Trail. Or, I want to ride the length of the TransAmerica Trail.

This time the trip started with a bike. My favorite bike of all time is my Transalp but I've always had a desire to own it's bigger brother, the Africa Twin. Although popular in Europe, Honda never brought the AT into the U.S. The only ones here were privately imported and thus very rare.

My friend Eddy had one along with a couple of Transalps. In fact, it's because of the Transalps that we met and went riding in the Sierras. So when he said that the AT was up for sale it was only a matter of when could I get there to pick it up.

Eddy on the Africa Twin
Eddy is in California and I'm in Connecticut. I suppose some people would have called a trucking company and arranged for transportation. For me, it seemed like a great opportunity for another adventure. Fly out, ride it back, smile a lot!

But what route? I've done US 50, I-80, and the TransCanadian Highway. Rt 66 is such a cliche that I never considered it. The lure of Mexico called again which naturally lead to the Copper Canyon.

Copper Canyon Map (not to scale)
So the route was set. San Francisco to Yosemite to Death Valley to San Diego. Cross into Mexico and process paperwork in Ensenada, then down to La Paz. From there I could take the ferry to Topolobampo at Los Mochis.

Choosing roads to the Copper Canyon I'll be picking secondary roads that will keep me away from the touristy places and allow me to experience the surroundings first hand. With the Africa Twin I'll be able to ride dirt roads to the bottom of the canyons and just camp out in the middle of nowhere. What could be more perfect?

Leaving the canyons I'll travel across northern Sonora and Chihuahua to cross back to the U.S. at Laredo. Then Austin, Memphis, Cheohala Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway, and home. With a few side trips to see my friends of course. I depart Yosemite on the 25th of Sept and expect to take 6 weeks to cover ~4500 miles.

I leave next Wednesday (3 Sep 2014) to pick up the bike and get it ready for the trip. So subscribe to this blog, follow along, and enjoy my adventure with me.

Make my day, tell a friend about this blog!