Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Ride

We had a nice Christmas morning. Since the kids are older, we don't have to get up so early to witness St. Nick's arrival - I woke up around 7:30am, had a cup of coffee, and even went to town to pick up a few items for breakfast before the kids got up. Also, it's much easier shopping now - cash and gift cards, CD's and DVD's make up their wish lists.

There was no white Christmas in North Bend this year; the weather has been in the 30's for the highs and sunny. I waited until about noon and geared up for a ride. There was frost/black ice in patches in our driveway, so I took it real easy getting out onto the main road. The road itself was dry, but there were some shaded areas that looked like it could be a bit slippery so I took it slow going down our hill until the road leveled off, and it was dry from there and into downtown North Bend. In addition to being cold, it was very windy, so it felt even colder.

One Starbucks was open, and it was packed both in their lot and in the drive-through. My favorite espresso stand, Huxdotter's, was closed today. I took a photo of the Triumph next to their Christmas decorations, and a car came up through the drive-through only to find that no one was there. The ladies who work here are very nice, and deserve the day off.

Like Huxdotter's, most of the shops in town were closed today. The exceptions were one of the two Starbucks in town, two grocery stores, a Blockbuster move rental store, the gas stations and McDonalds. Most of the parking lots were empty.

A nice view of Rattlesnake Ledge from the empty parking lot:

I was thankful that I could ride today - it's been either too cold/icy or rainy, so this was a nice Christmas gift.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Chopper Style!

Santa's got a new ride, and some new elves (maybe the one is Mrs. Claus), but as always he will be visiting all the good little boys and girls tonight. I know you are all on his "good" list, and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Could this be the future commuter vehicle?

During the Seattle Motorcycle Show, a company by the name of Compagna ( was showing off it's latest vehicle, the T-Rex. Powered by a 1400cc engine, the T-Rex puts out 197 horsepower, and can reach 144mph. Price starts at $52,000, which would probably be the biggest hurdle to my owning one - the other one being trying to fit into the vehicle. In any event, a very cool vehicle, and at least Aaron and I got to get a picture with the T-Rex!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 Seattle Motorcycle Show

Saturday morning my son and I attended the 2009 Seattle Motorcycle Show. It was a great father-son outing - we hit the show for an hour or so, he took pictures of me trying out bikes and generally acting silly, and then we went to have a nice lunch at an Indian restaurant in Bellevue before returning home.

The weather in Seattle has been pretty cold, in the 20's for the highs, not much riding weather, so looking at bikes is a good surrogate for riding. Last year was my first year attending the show, and I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed the 2009 show even more since I am a bit more of an experienced rider.

The major manufacturers - HD, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki - were all represented. My son got a picture of me on a 2010 Honda Sabre 1100:

And me on a "show priced" HD Road King:

Of personal interest to me, Triumph and Ural, were missing from this show, which was unfortunate. But some new displays, such as these from the California Scooter Company and Confederate Motorcycles, were very interesting:

Above are two examples from the California Scooter Company. They pay homage to Mustang Motorcycles, a company that in the 50's-60's made a small-framed 300cc motorcycle. The California Scooter is a 150cc 5 speed, with a bobber/chopper look to it. For just under $5000 you get a cool little bike to ride around town on.

Confederate Motorcycles, out of Baton Rouge, create the essence of a motorcycle. This is their P120 Combat Fighter - an awesome collection of steel and motor:

The local vintage MC group always brings some fine bikes to admire - this one a Norton:

Here's a picture of me with Flo, who seemed to be glad I purchase my motorcycle insurance from Progressive:

She did seem to be a bit stiff, however.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving!

As always, I have much to be thankful for. I am especially thankful for yesterday - we had a break in the weather, no rain, and even a bit of sun (albeit very brief). Our office was closed at 1pm, which gave me time to get home and get on the Triumph. It's been about 3 weeks since my last ride, so I was really itchin' to get on the bike. It was one of those rides where you really feel thankful for the opportunity to have a motorcycle. By the time I returned, it was raining.

A dry forecast for this weekend, so hopefully I will be able to get out some more.

Hope your day is nice, no matter what you are doing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Post-Halloween, Post-Daylight Savings Time Ride

With the change back to standard time, most people in North Bend are happy to have an extra hour of sleep. Except perhaps for the fellow above, whose downcast look shows his sadness that Halloween is over.

Daylight saving time in most of the United States ended this morning at 2 a.m. Most U.S. residents set their clocks one hour forward in spring and one hour back in fall. But, contrary to popular belief, no federal rule mandates that all of the U.S. states or territories observe daylight saving time. In fact, people in Hawaii and most of Arizona, along with the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands—will do nothing to their clocks. It's all standard time for them.

Today was dry and sunny, with the temperature just below 60 degrees F. I had no particular itinerary for this ride, so the pictures below are a bit of a ramble of places that I stopped at.
This bridge crosses the Snoqualmie River just near the Twin Falls hiking area. For those of you who read my earlier post on Olallie State Park, access to Twin Falls can also be made not too far from this bridge.

On the opposite side of this road is a Christmas Creek Tree Farm - North Bend is known as one of the best places to pick up a Christmas tree in Washington state, with no fewer than 6 tree farms in this small town.

Also on the same road as the bridge is what is called "Seattle East Travel Center" or "Ken's Truck Town" for it's previous owner before the TravelCenters America corporation took over the management of this truck stop. Truck Town is right off I-90 at Exit 34, and is just that - a town for the trucking industry, with repair facilities, gas pumps, a motel, restaurant, a driver's lounge, and a chapel. The restaurant is a great place for a homestyle, filling meal. Dining tip - TravelCenters America has just started offering their entire menu in many of their restaurants across America as all you can eat, which suits this non-trucker very well.
Back in the center of North Bend, the oldest church in town at around 110 years of age, North Bend Community Church, continues to provide worship services for the valley:

I continued my ride, stopping at the local espresso drive-through in Fall City. Here I met a gentleman riding a beautiful Honda CBR600:

We chatted for awhile - the owner is new to this area, and was looking for good places to ride, so I offered some possibilities to him. He left before me, and I thanked the ladies who made my coffee and proceeded home - with the change in time it gets dark early!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Breaking News - Winter Weather Advisory

This evening in the foothills of North Bend...hail. Small hailstones, but lots of them, with thunder and lightning. And it's not even November.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Olallie State Park

As you head east from North Bend, I-90 starts to climb eventually up to the summit of Snoqualmie Pass (el. 3,022 feet), located about 20 miles from North Bend. Today, there's a respite from the rain, and other than trying to avoid the wet leaves on the local roads, it's a nice day for a ride. After a late-morning cup of coffee at Huxdotter's, I merge onto I-90 for about 8 miles to the exit for Olallie State Park. It's a great opportunity for me to exercise the Triumph, enjoy the outside, and take a few pictures. I park my bike in the main (and only) lot of the park - there's one other vehicle there, a young family whose little boy is fascinated with the Triumph, and an 18-wheeler parked off the main road, probably getting some rest as he or she makes their way across the Pass.

A little information about the park - Olallie State Park is a day-use park in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. You can hike to Twin Falls from the park, see cliff formations that are used by the local climbers (see picture below), access the Snoqualmie River, and see living old-growth trees up to 14 feet in diameter. "Olallie" means "berry" in the native Chinook language, and there are a lot of berries here of various types here.

It's a great park for having a picnic, with a number of tables and cook stands. There are a number of tributaries that come down from the mountain and feed in to the Snoqualmie river. There's also a lucky park ranger who gets to live amongst this beauty.

The nice thing is that this park is a short trip for me, close to town but a world away; as the clouds start to roll in and the batteries in my camera start to fade, I let my Triumph exert itself on the I-90 trip back home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weekend Naps and Halloween

As is my custom during the weekend, I have a regular appointment with the couch. The constant rain last weekend kept me inside for the most part, and after a few chores and lunch, I am ready for my nap. The cat joins me, and we both fall sleep, perchance to dream?

I am awakened by sunshine filtering in through the front door. I get up and notice the rains have stopped and the roads have dried up quite a bit, so I seize on an opportunity to get out on the Triumph; opportunities such as these are becoming fewer and farther between as we get into Fall. I head into town.

I take the long road into Snoqualmie, and stop by the local espresso stand. I am greeted by this somewhat scary, yet smartly dressed, character.

The owners of this stand have decorated the place in a rather macabre style.

After an Italian soda here, I decide that the goal of the day is to research the Halloween decorations as used by espresso stands in the valley.

Heading back to North Bend, I stop by Huxdotter's for another Italian soda (important research such as this costs money), and take a few pictures. The owner here really decorates well for the holidays, with various lights, sounds and sights. The motif here is harvest/Halloween - I don't know where she got these pumpkins, but they are huge:

A more friendly-looking ghost greets patrons here.

And out in the landscaping, an Edward Munch-inspired ghost:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Extended Commuting Season and Floating Bridges

Fall has been very nice in the Seattle area; for the most part we've had sunny weather, with cooler temperatures (high 50's - low 60's F). Because of this, I am extending my commuting by motorcycle. Commuting by motorcycle = daughter gets the car, so it works out quite well.

The mornings are chilly, so I have switched back to my leather jacket - it's amazing the insulating properties of leather. Unfortunately, I don't have any leather pants, chaps or any other type of insulated pants, so my commute last Monday morning was a bit uncomfortable for my legs. A temporary fix has been to wear a pair of my baggiest jeans over my work slacks, which keeps me pretty warm. I have a pair of Olympia gauntlet gloves which are insulated and are made with a wind-resistant fabric. I've also ordered one of these from

It's called a Buff, and apparently you can figure out at least 12 ways to use this on your body; I have found just one - you can wear this around your neck like a scarf, and even place it over your mouth to keep your face warm, and that's what I got this for.

I've been alternating between the fast commute, which means mostly freeway driving, and the more leisurely commute, with less interstate and more backroads. I prefer the latter, as it is much more interesting and scenic. Because of the length of my commute I have been able to put some serious mileage on my Triumph (I just went over 2000 miles and I have had the bike for about a month and a half). The Bonneville America just gets better and better as I add on the miles, and I am very happy with my choice of motorcycles.

If you live east of Seattle, aka the "Eastside" by the locals, you will eventually cross one of the three floating bridges that cross Lake Washington. And, if you take I-90 to get to Seattle as I do, you have your choice of two of those three; the I-90 Floating Bridge (officially known as the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge) or the "Third" Lake Washington Floating Bridge (the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge).

I don't know who took this picture, but it's a nice one, showing the Homer Hadley on the left, Lacey Murrow on the right, looking towards the east.

Some interesting tidbits about our floating bridges. As I noted, there are three that cross Lake Washington. The one that spans the north part of Lake Washington is called the Evergreen Point or the Governor Albert D. Rosselini Floating Bridge. As you go south, there is the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Floating Bridge, and then the Lacey V. Murrow Floating Bridge. We have another floating bridge in Washington State as well - the Hood Canal Floating Bridge which crosses into the Olympic Peninsula. Depending on the source, these bridges are ranked in the top 5 of the longest floating bridges in the world. The Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge has had an interesting history - during the Thanksgiving weekend of 1990 a large storm filled some of the concrete pontoons that float the bridge with massive amounts rain and lake water - yes, concrete can float - the physicists tell me it's all about displacement. On November 24, workers noticed that the bridge was about to sink, and started pumping out some of the pontoons. But too little, too late, and on November 25, 2,790 ft of the bridge sank. The bridge sank when one pontoon filled and dragged the rest down because they were cabled together and there was no way to separate the sections. Fortunately, no one was hurt or killed, since the bridge was closed for renovation and the sinking took some time. This was captured on film - here is some footage:

Once I cross the bridge, I am nearly in Downtown Seattle. I've had to alter my commute on the streets of downtown - more on that later.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Catching Up With Bobskoot In La Conner

I had received an e-mail from Bob of Wet Coast Scootin fame -, with an invite to meet on Saturday the 26th, somewhere between Vancouver and North Bend. We had gotten very close to meeting on a prior occasion - Bob had stopped by to take some pictures in my town, but we just couldn't connect. So, with the anticipated weather on Saturday being quite nice in northern Washington State, we planned to meet in La Conner.

This would be my longest ride so far on any motorcycle, let alone my Triumph, so I wanted to plan my trip out to maximize the sightseeing and minimize the highway traveling. Another reason for this route was my wife's concern over me being on the freeway so much; while I told her that freeway riding is actually pretty safe since we are all going the same direction, I promised her I would take it easy.

I left Saturday morning about 8:45am, and proceeded along I-90. My plan was to take I-90 for about 15 miles, and then head north via surface streets, then return to the freeway (I-405) for a couple of miles. While the easiest route north to La Conner would be to travel from I-405 to I-5, there is a state highway, Highway 9, that almost parallels I-5 and takes one through some very picturesque scenery and small towns. I had never really traveled Hwy 9 before, even by car, so I took this route.

Hwy 9 passes by the town of Snohomish, known for its numerous antique shops and galleries. I stopped at the local Starbucks for some coffee, oatmeal, and wifi to let Bob know where I was. I then continued north on 9, and then made my way west, crossing I-5 and eventually reaching La Conner at about 11:20am.

Saturday was the day before the Oyster Run in Anacortes, which is a large rally for Northwest riders. I was hoping to find Bob easily - he said he would be waiting for me just outside the public restrooms on the main drag of town, but with all of the motorcycles, I couldn't quite make out his bike. Luckily, he recognized me, gave me a wave and I parked my bike.

Bob's scoot:

It was great to meet Bob - he is one of those guys that is very friendly online, and is the same in person. Since it was my first visit to La Conner, we walked a bit, and then decided on a lunch spot.

After lunch, we took more pictures and enjoyed the town. Bob then lead me on a ride to Edison, where there was a large gathering of riders, presumably on their way to the Oyster Run.

I had a meeting with a potential buyer of my GV250, so I had to leave around 2pm. Bob guided me to the entrance to I-5, we said goodbye and planned to meet again.

My return route took me past Lake McMurray. An old gas station remains, and was a great backdrop for a picture of the Triumph.

Bob, it was great to meet you, and thanks for giving me a tour of La Conner!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Loaner Bike

I had to bring in my America to the dealer (I-90 Motorsports in Issaquah) to replace a faulty tach (apparently a known item - there was a bad batch of them made, and a few of us got them), and to install my "dresser bars" (English for "crash guards" or "engine guards"). I love how Triumph describes parts like this - also, my exhaust pipes are called "silencers" (although I bought them because they were louder than my stock pipes). But I digress...

The work was going to take a little over 2 hours, so I stopped by the sales and parts area to see Don, the guy I bought my bike from. Don is a great guy, real passionate about Triumphs, and loves to have customers stop by and chat. When I came in, there were a couple of others there just talking about their rides for the week, and looking at the showroom bikes. Don asks me what I was doing, and after I told him what I was there for, he says "why don't you take one of the bikes and head out to lunch" - since it was lunch time, I accepted his kind offer, and he got one of their demo bikes out, a Bonneville SE.
The Bonneville SE pays homage to the Bonnevilles of the past, and is part of Triumph's "Modern Classics" line of bikes. This line includes the Bonneville, Bonneville SE, Bonneville T100, Thruxton, and the Scrambler. Like my America, these bikes have the same 865cc engine, but the Modern Classics have a more retro look.
Don reminded me that Bonneville SE is lighter so it is quick handling, and has the traditional middle controls - my feet went to look for the forward controls, but there are none!
I take the Bonnie out of their parking lot, and immediately someone gives me the thumbs up on the bike - they are pretty cool looking! I head out onto I-90 and I am impressed with the quickness of the Bonnie; again, this is a lighter bike than my America and she really takes off. Since she is lighter, I notice getting knocked around in the wind a bit, but this is only in comparison to my America, plus this Bonneville did not have a windscreen. There was an aftermarket pipe installed on this bike, made by Arrow, which sounded fantastic!
After an exhilarating ride up and down I-90, I returned to Issaquah for lunch at Starbucks, where I took these pictures. Returning to I-90 Motorsports (if you're ever in Issaquah, stop by I-90 Motorsports - it's a great motorcycle shop) my bike is just about finished. I really appreciated the opportunity to test ride another bike, but am glad to be back on my America.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Three Forks Natural Area

I've mentioned in other posts that the Snoqualmie River has three forks - the North, South and Middle. They converge just north of town center at a place aptly named the Three Forks Natural Area. The 418-acre Area includes over five miles of riverfront and is located between and near large blocks of undeveloped land including Mount Si Natural Resource Conservation Area (8,041 acres), Weyerhaeuser's Snoqualmie Tree Farm (180,000 acres), the Cedar River Watershed (90,000+-acres), and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (1.7 million acres). It's about a 15 minute ride from my house, and is a very scenic area.

Mt. Si, standing at nearly 4200 feet, marks the Cascade foothills, and can be easily viewed from the Area.

Across the road are large rural homesteads, farms mostly devoted to raising livestock, such as horses and llamas:

A very nice place to stop the Triumph and take a few pictures: