Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Score: Snow 18, Scooter 0

We've just finished one of the worst snowstorms in recent history. Seattle had up to 6 inches, and in North Bend we had just over 18 inches! It was actually easier to get around North Bend, which gets snow fairly regularly, so the city is well-prepared with snowplows and sanding trucks. In Seattle, however, it was a mess. For some reason the city opted to wait out the snowstorm rather than plow the streets immediately, and what plowing was done was too little, way too late. Also, we don't use salt here for the roads - apparently this is a concern for the salmon habitat, although I just heard that all the sand and dirt that was spread on the roads is bad for the streams as well. In any event, the roads were very difficult to negotiate in downtown Seattle. It will normally take me about 10 minutes to get to the freeway by car from the office; last week, it took me an hour!

Seattle is pretty much rid of their snow, but as you can see, there is still a lot at my house. Also, some interesting icicles have formed.

I can't wait until I can ride again!
My best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Although It's Been Said Many Times, Many Ways...

To all my two-wheeled friends, and those who happen upon this blog, Merry Christmas to you!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

The weather forecasters were all saying that we would get snow Wednesday morning, which didn't pan out. But by Wednesday afternoon it started to snow quite a bit in North Bend, and really started coming down in earnest throughout the Puget Sound area, so that by Thursday we had this:

About 5 inches when I took this picture, and outside this morning it is very cold and about 8 inches.

The hill I live on gets plowed and sanded pretty frequently, which is great with the exception that the snow gets piled up on the entrance to our driveway, so I usually have to dig ourselves out so we can get on the main road. Pretty much all of the school districts in the Seattle area are closed, as well as my office in Seattle.

No scooting today!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Seattle Motorcycle Show

The International Motorcycle Show made its way into Seattle this weekend, and today I took my son to join me as official blog photographer of the event. The event is being held at Qwest Events Center, which is adjacent to where the Seahawks play (although some will question whether the Seahawks are actually "playing" this year).

It seems that many did not take advantage of on-line ticket sales, as there was a large line waiting to get in, which my son and I were in until I spotted the e-ticket holder line which was deserted. Having purchased our tickets for $1 off on-line just before we left for Seattle, we moved to that line, and we were in. We were greeted by the "Progressive Girls" who gave us swag bags, and off we were to view the 2-wheeled offerings for 2008/2009.

Our first stop was to see the VME (Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts). The VME had three displays of older bikes, most organized by area (Japanese, British, Italian). I am a fan of the older Hondas, and there were some very fine examples here:

Being of the short-legged variety, I've been somewhat afraid to kick my leg over a motorcycle, for fear of tipping over, but I can straddle the cruiser-style bikes quite easily.

The Ural display was very nice:

The Scooter Pavilion made its appearance in Seattle - I guess this was so easy, even a caveman could do it, as the Pavilion was sponsored by GEICO. I admit to really enjoying the commercials, and the Ad with the hipster/passive aggressive cavemen dismounting their bikes and approaching some beautiful girls, only to turn back to their bikes when they see the condescending GEICO billboard Ad is very funny. There wasn't much in the Scooter Pavilion that wasn't already being displayed by Honda, Yamaha, Vespa/Piaggio or Kymco in their corporate displays on the main floor, but it was a great opportunity to focus solely on scooters. Here are a couple of pictures - a CF Moto CVT 250cc scooter/motorcycle and a favorite scooter of mine, the Kymco Xciting.

Speaking of Kymco, if I were to get a cruiser-style motorcycle, this would probably be the one - the Kymco Venox, which is a 250cc motorcycle that looks much bigger than that:

There was even a "car" on display - actually, not technically a car, as they tell me it is classified as a motorcycle, so you could ride this one-up in the carpool lanes around here. It's called an EMC3 Commuter ( and is powered by a 1000cc Geely engine. Two wheels in the front, and one in the rear, it gets a reported 60+ mpg, and is freeway legal. Just under $15k for an automatic.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rattlesnake Lake and The Town That Never Quite Was

About a mile from my place is Rattlesnake Lake, so named because a pioneer surveyor heard the rattle of seed pods and thought he was being attacked by a rattler, not realizing that there are no poisonous snakes in Western Washington. The lake is a popular picnicking, fishing and hiking destination. Rattlesnake Lake is fed by underground springs, which cause an interesting ebb and flow to the size of the lake - in winter the lake looks quite normal, but in the summer the lake recedes a lot, uncovering its earlier life, the town of Moncton, a town that never quite was.

Moncton was in existence from 1906-1915, and was a railroad town, offering access to the Cedar River Watershed that brought water to Seattle and the surrounding area. A new community was built on the rail line along the shores of Rattlesnake Lake. The new village was named for one of its settlers, a Mr. Moncton. The town grew - by 1915, more than 200 people lived in Moncton, and the fledgling community had a hotel, a barbershop, a saloon, a restaurant, a few stores, and even an indoor swimming pool (little did they know that by summer an indoor pool in town would not be needed). A school on the north end of town provided education for children up through 8th grade. Older students had to walk or ride a horse seven miles to the nearest high school in North Bend.

In 1915, due to a new dam being built nearby, water started seeping through the hillsides near the town, which led to mini-geysers being formed, which had nowhere to go but into town. A slow-motion flood began, first outside of town, then in the streets of town, and by May of that year, the water was rising nearly a foot a day, causing the eventual condemning of Moncton.

Here are some photos of the town as it was flooding:

(Thanks to and the Seattle Public Utilities for the history and pictures of old Moncton.)

On Saturday, after I got the Christmas lights up, I rode up there in the Elite to take a few pictures before it got dark.

The lake is in the Cedar Falls Watershed area, and Seattle Public Utilities has a nice Education Center that provides some of the history of this area. The Education Center promotes green- and water-saving building techniques, such as this thatched roof:
They also have a "water drum" area where the rain water is used to create a symphony of drumming - it's pretty amazing to hear these when it rains:
This picture is from the Education Center looking towards Rattlesnake Ridge:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two-Wheelin' In the Philippines

After reading Orin's (Scootin' Old Skool) post about the Vespa rally in Manila, I recalled taking some two-wheeled pictures during my visit to the Philippines. In 2005 my son and I went traveled there as part of a father-son trip. I am half Filipino, and it had been about 35 years since I was last there. For my son it was his first trip. Most of these pictures are taken from the island where my Mom was born, a tiny island in the middle of the 7,000+ islands that make up the Philippines. It was an overnight steamship voyage from Manila, where we stayed in what are considered the "deluxe" accommodations, which was a large hall with bunk beds. What made it deluxe was the fact that we had bunks (the economy accommodations were on cots on the deck) and it was air conditioned, which was very nice. We were on the ship with my Mom, my Aunt, a number of cousins and we had a great trip down to my Mom's birthplace. At the harbor, there was a crowd of people, motorcycles with sidecars (called Tricycles) and Jeepneys, waiting to take people to various points on the island. This was in my pre-scooter life, but I was fascinated with the ability of these small motorcycles to carry passengers and cargo over some pretty rough roads.

The Philippines is a wonderful place - there's alot of natural beauty, but I would say the most beautiful part of the Philippines is its people. It doesn't matter if you are related or not, you are considered family when you travel to the islands. My son was the first of my Mom's grandkids to visit her island, so he was treated like a prince, which he had no problem suffering through!

Here's a non-motorized tricycle, taken one morning after we arrived in Manila:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Tis The Season...Already???

I've been getting into the habit of taking an afternoon nap on Saturday and Sunday, which is highly recommended! I got up at 4pm and decided to go into town, return some library items, pick up some groceries, before it got dark.

It's been very windy - with our proximity to Snoqualmie Pass, the Pass creates a funnel and forces the winds from east to west. Oftentimes, it's a warm wind, but with the approaching snow in the mountains, it's pretty cold. Plus it's very blustery, so I was getting beaten up a bit on the Elite, but we held our own.

The stores in town already have their Christmas items stocked, the tree lots in grocery stores already have trees, and some people are already buying them! There are at least two houses in town that already have lights up. While I love the holiday season, it seems like we are in more and more of a rush to start the materialistic part of the holidays; I heard Costco started selling holiday items in August!

North Bend is Christmas Tree Town Washington State, so the tree farms have begun their advertising.

The King, Keith and Scott are all ready for what is hopefully a busy season of selling Christmas trees.

But the cat is like me...not quite into the holiday spirit yet.

Wth next week being Thanksgiving, my best wishes to you all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

After The Rain

The forecast is for dry weather for the next 3-4 days, so this Saturday morning I took the Elite for a ride into town to see how everything is getting back to normal. On my way into town, I came upon this small family of deer.

Downtown North Bend didn't get much in the way of flooding - Huxdotter's was serving espresso during the rains and wind. It's sunny and fairly warm (~50 degrees F), so I am taking my coffee "alfresco" this morning.

A view of Rattlesnake Ridge from Huxdotter's (fortunately there's no rattlesnakes in this part of the state).
5 minutes away by scooter is Snoqualmie - they are down river from North Bend, so there was significant flooding there - some roads are still closed.
These next pictures are of the school district building in Snoqualmie. A couple of days ago this place was sandbagged, and the buses were moved to higher ground. Today, the sandbags are gone, and it looks like the building fared pretty well.

A couple of blocks away, the neighborhood looks like it's pretty much back to normal, with the exception of someones alternative means of transportation during the flood.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away...

Lots of rain here. Schools were closed yesterday. The Snoqualmie River crested at around 10:30pm last night, so it will be interesting to see what North Bend looks like this morning.

If you saw my post on Snoqualmie Falls, check out this video taken yesterday by the local news - pretty awesome sight, with the water crashing over the falls, taking logs down as if they were twigs!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Need To Go On A Low-Carb Diet

With the heavy rain we have been having as of late (today, the Snoqualmie River has flooded several towns near me), I haven't been able to ride much. I've been starting the Elite and the other mopeds every couple of days, just to keep them warmed up. I was thinking about sending one of the mopeds (a 1982 Yamahopper QT50) to the shop to clean and repair the carburetor - in the forums this appears to be the major reason why these older mopeds won't start/won't run. I even saw one post declare that these carbs are the easiest to take apart and clean. I didn't really want to spend $50-$100 for someone else to do this, so I said to myself, "I can do this!" I shouldn't have listened.

It was fairly easy to take the carb apart - a few screws needed to be loosened, a couple of clamps removed, and the carburetor came off. I should have had a small bucket ready, as gas started dripping from the carb and the petcock (so, that's why there's an "off" position) onto the floor. Well, at least it smelled like a real man's garage now!

The hard part was putting it back together again. I should have taken more pictures, as in my excitement over successfully removing the carb, I went immediately to removing the jet, the float bowl, the float itself, and a few odd screws that seemed to have no known purpose to me. I bought some carb cleaner, gave everything a thorough cleaning, and I was ready to reassemble. While some parts obviously went back in certain places, I had forgotten where others went. So, back to the forums, where I got a diagram of the carburetor and was able to locate all but one odd piece that doesn't seem to be mentioned in the diagram.

I have an order in with the local Honda/Yamaha dealer for some replacement parts, which will take a week or so. Hopefully I can get the new parts installed and get the Yamahopper running real soon - if so, it was a great learning experience; if not, I'm thinking my next bike will be fuel injected!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A New Addition - 1982 Honda C70 Passport

Growing up in Hawaii, I remember seeing these small step-through motorcycles from Honda, that came with the ad "the nifty, thrifty, Honda 50." It was called the Honda Cub, with other variations as the Supercub and the Passport, a 70cc model.

The impression that those bikes left on me had an up swell this year. I started to research these bikes online, and found out that they are still sold (but not in the US). Honda celebrated 60 million in sales of the Cub in 2008, a remarkable feat. It was also named by the Discovery Channel as the "greatest bike of all time."

James May with the Telegraph recently wrote a nice testimonial to the Cub, and the genius behind this "people's motorcycle."

While you might not be able to purchase a new one in the US, there are a few used ones up for sale on ebay or craigslist, which can range from very, very used to near pristine condition, with the price adjusting accordingly. I happened to be talking with a colleague at the office about my interest in a Passport, and she told me that her Dad was the original owner of a local Honda dealer in Seattle, and that she remembered him having a 1982 Honda Passport on his boat, with the bike now owned by her sister. I contacted her sister, and asked about the Passport, and she mentioned that she had been thinking about selling it. I asked her to please consider me, as I was a Honda fan (see my earlier post that proves this).

A few weeks passed and I hadn't heard from her - in the meantime I purchased a 1978 Honda CT90 (I was inspired by a blog entry from Kano where he reminisced about that bike in his life - more on this one in a future post). Then, I got an e-mail from her saying that she had talked to her Dad, and that they agreed I would make a great owner of the Passport!

When I came to pick her up, she was in great working condition, starting right up for me. It's what I would call a "semi-automatic" in that you have to shift gears, but there is no clutch lever. It was very quiet - the engine has such a soft tone to it. Cosmetically, there was rust from being on a boat, the leg fairing was cracked in several places, and the seat cover and basket needed to be replaced. But, she looked beautiful to me, and I brought her home.

Over the summer I repaired the cracked fairing with superglue and white caulk, replaced the seat cover, started removing rust from the chrome tailpipe, replaced the shopping basket, and changed the oil.

Since I live in a pretty hilly area, 70cc's won't allow me to keep up with traffic (both the motorized and walking varieties!), so I trailer it to town and ride it around on the flatlands. She gets a lot of looks, and I end up meeting many people, young and old, who had great memories of their times with this bike.