Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mechanically Challenged

One of the things I have learned in my journey on this soil is that I am not very handy. I admire those people who can build and fix things; my Dad was one of those guys - he built things with wood that have stood the test of time. Both of my brothers have this ability too; unfortunately, I have none of their patience nor the ability.

This makes having an older scooter a bit of a problem, as they do require some attention. The Honda is super reliable, but it does require some maintenance. Regardless of my lack of skills, she has let me work on her. I started out just cleaning her plastic and engine. It did require removing her body parts, and with a little patience I was able to find out all of her contact points and removed (and replaced) the pieces. She needed a new battery, so I got to learn about battery types, and charging and maintaining a battery. Then, I needed to give her a new seat cover. OK, I can handle a staple gun, so I did a pretty good job of replacing the seat cover.

I purchased a shop manual, and learned how to change oil, adjust brakes, and do other simple procedures. I haven't tackled any of the engine adjustments, such as idle and carb cleaning, leaving that for the present to the professionals.

Some of the things I have learned so far (these are obvious for many, but for me they are sage tips):

1. Good quality tools are a must
2. A pen-size magnetized probe is a must (I don't know how many times I have dropped a screw into one of the many crevices of the Honda)
3. A bunched up piece of aluminum foil with some WD40 can clean rust off chrome
4. Patience is not only a virtue, it is a requirement

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dirty Laundry

This post is not about political's about the real kind of dirty laundry - mine. Our washing machine decided to give it up this week, and the cost to repair was so much that it made sense to get a new one. The new one won't be delivered until Tuesday, so Sunday morning I decided to go into town and do some laundry.

I could have used one of our cars to bring down the laundry, but one of the great things about scooters and motorcycles is that, in addition to being real fun to ride, they are pretty handy. So, I packed up a large trash bag with laundry, and with a few bungee cords, secured it to the Elite.

It's not as much of a load as this, but it proves that the Elite has definite capabilities as a pack mule.

Here we are at the local laundromat:

Between loads I was able to ride over to Huxdotter's to grab my Americano, and rode around town. When the clothes were all dry, I folded them, which made the bag even larger, so with a little more effort tieing everything down, I rode home. It was great not only to get a ride in, but also get some needed work done as well!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Honda, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways

It's raining and windy in North Bend today, and I have to clean out the garage, so no riding this morning. In between taking out the garbage and cleaning the cat box, I thought I would write a bit.

My scootering adventures began with my 1986 Honda Elite 150 Deluxe (also known as the "Spacey" in Europe for its space age design). It has a pop up front headlight (which I have heard will fail at some point, but for now, so far so good) and digital dash, which earns this model its "Deluxe" moniker. It's excellent, even considering it is a 22 year old bike.
Honda had a great series of MTV-styled ads during the 1980's, one featuring Lou Reed with the great line "hey, don't settle for walking" as he starts his Honda scooter...

One of the reasons I chose the Elite was that I have always been impressed with the quality of Honda products. What follows is a testament to my love of all things Honda:
Our two cars are Honda's - a 2004 Element (my driver) and a 2003 Honda Odyssey Mini-van:

We have a Honda riding lawn mower - Honda doesn't make these anymore, which is too bad - this is a great one:

Generators? Yup, Honda - these are those whisper quiet models. My son has a Sound/DJ business, and sometimes he is at a location with no electricity - these quietly do a fantastic job:

Lastly, here is a 1978 Honda Express moped/noped. My wife wanted something to ride around for fun but she didn't want to get her MC endorsement, so this 50cc bike does the trick. We call her Miss Stinky, as she had a gas leak, which has since been repaired, but she keeps the name. She doesn't have a kick start - it's called a wind-up start - you press your foot down on what looks like a kick start lever several times until the spring winds up, then squeeze the left brake lever and it starts the engine - pretty interesting technology. Like everything else, it runs great!

I think I know how Elizabeth Barrett Browning felt!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Is 50 The New 40, and Does It Matter?

Today I turned 50. Since I tend to get up pretty early, even on the weekend, I took the Elite out for a birthday ride; went to my usual coffee place, and enjoyed the coolness of the morning. I thought about what I had accomplished this year, one being my (finally) getting my motorcycle endorsement and getting to enjoy life on two wheels. I waited a long time to get to this point - I really wasn't interested in scooters or motorcycles when I was younger, even though my Dad was an avid rider. But last year I was bitten by the two-wheeled bug, and I am glad I got my endorsement by the time I turned 50.

When I turned 40, it really didn't impact me emotionally, and I can say that turning 50 is not that much different, although I do sense more significance to this date in my life. On Friday, my office mates treated me with excellent baked goodies, and great cards and gifts, including a blow up walker with "old fart" warnings throughout. Today it was spent with me riding the Elite, and enjoying a great lunch at a Filipino restaurant in Seattle with my wife, our kids, my Mom, one of my brothers and my Aunt who is visiting from the Philippines. A good day!

I often joked to myself that upon turning 50 I would get a Corvette, wear a thick gold chain around my neck with my shirt opened up for all to see it, and pretend to be 30. Instead, I ride a scooter and am enjoying my 50th!

Nature Calls

As I got more comfortable riding, I started to do some local touring. The Snoqualmie Valley area of western Washington, while undergoing a lot of development, still has a lot of open spaces, with some fantastic views of the foothills of the Cascades. Also, there is quite an abundance of wildlife. We live on 2.5 acres, and regularly have a number of visitors, including elk, deer, bobcat, and (I have heard from others) a bear. These pictures were taken last summer from my front step - these two elk had our property on their daily agenda for about 2 weeks, stopping by around noon to graze on our front lawn.

While on one of my recent rides, I took the pictures below - I have gone by this area many times by car, and have enjoyed the beauty, but on the scooter this area really stands out. This area is within 5 minutes from my place. The images in the last picture are small, but this small family of deer were grazing on the hillside near the road - as I got closer they started to move farther away from me so I couldn't get a good picture of them.

One ride, 45 minutes, and a wealth of adventures!