Sunday, July 27, 2008

Motorcycling, Escapism and the "Oregon Country Fair" Part 1

(Kano shows that he's not the only "hippie freak" left on the planet. In fact the 1960s style counter-culture appears to be alive and well in Oregon. Because of a 5 photo limitation per post, the story will be completed with 2 posts.)

It’s been a busy month for me. On Sunday, July 13th was a motorcycle ride from Salem out to the “Oregon Country Fair” near Eugene, Oregon. We got front row parking in “Hog Heaven” right near the gate. Lucky thing too, it was a hot day! The mercury was showing 98 degrees by late afternoon.

I put on my best "I'm glad to get this damn jacket off" look.

Mike’s Buell Ulysses was in the shop so he rode a borrowed (thanks Dale) Vulcan 900, and I was putting the spurs to “Liberty” a Sportster.

This friendly couple was more than happy to get their picture taken. Fairgoers are part of the entertainment. Many dress up (or dress down) for the occasion and don’t mind the attention.

"Who's that weird looking guy pointing the camera at us?"

The fair has been going on every July since 1969 attracting some 50,000 people over the course of the 3 day event. Old hippies love the freedom to “do their own thing” and a new generation has taken to “the fair” too, a la cell phone. For lots of folks cell phones are a convenience not to be done without. For me anyway, they are just a modern "ball & chain" and a distraction from fully experiencing the world right in front of my own eyes.

"Can you hear me now?"

"Can you hear me now?"

When’s the last time you could find good Mexican food out in the middle of the woods? The booths, stages and exhibits are located along meandering trails and small clearings in the 260 wooded acres of the fair site.

"Who's up for chalupas?"

The atmosphere is hard to describe but I’ll try: San Francisco circa. 1967, A Carnival or Circus, A Pre-Historic European Village, Rio, New Orleans, The Wild West, Eugene. It’s not any of those but all of those in one magical place. But even with all the fun and festivities going on it's hard to miss the feeling of being in a very special place, an ancient and sacred oak grove. And there's an appeal to the experience, something primal...

Part 2 is the next post down, so read on!

More pics and words about my day at the Oregon Country Fair will be coming shortly to the email boxes of subscribers to Motorcycle & Scooter Talk at Kano’s Coffee House. Click the link below to sign up. It just takes a second and it’s free!

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One of my previous pics and posts about the Oregon Country Fair

Another previous post on the Oregon Country Fair

Motorcycling, Escapism and the "Oregon Country Fair" Part 2

Here is the conclusion to the previous post:

...And you don’t know what you’re going to see around the next turn in the path. It could be a banjo player, a sword swallower, or -a tree man.

"A tree saddened by the doings of man."

Being there is like being transported into an alternate reality, kind of like Disneyland I guess. A place to escape the routine, social norms and entrenchment of the lives we lead most days. The fair is a place for folks to be their natural selves and to experience the freedom of expression without fear of the sometimes quick judgment of main stream society.

"Hipsters and Hoopsters"

"A fierce looking Spiritual Warrior."

"Goodbye and Come Again"

This was the third time that I had been to the fair and I’m going to make a habit of showing up every year from now on. I'm not one for donning a costume or strolling around wearing nothing more than a loincloth, but still these are my kind of people and this is my kind of place. Maybe I just need to loosen up a bit...

More pics and words about my day at the Oregon Country Fair will be coming shortly to the email boxes of subscribers to Motorcycle & Scooter Talk at Kano’s Coffee House. Click the link below to sign up. It just takes a second and it’s free!

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One of my previous pics and posts about the Oregon Country Fair

Another previous post on the Oregon Country Fair

Heavy-Duty Hydraulic Motorcycle and ATV Lift Jack - 1500 LB Capacity

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Father & Son Motorcycle Ride 13,000 Years in the Making

I said to my 14 year old son Jason, "Your mom and the girls are going to church this morning and you and I are hitting the road on the motorcycle."

"So where we going dad?" "To check out a rock over by McMinnville, it'll be a nice ride out there."

My son looking unimpressed and a little less than eager asked "are we going to get a pop or anything?"

Sunday mornings are usually reserved for going to church. My church preference though is the road, the woods, the beach and today it would be to see a "glacial erratic rock."

We waved goodbye to my wife and my 2 girls as they rolled out of the driveway. I felt a little guilty because they soon would be sitting on a wooden church pew and I would be in the familiar saddle of my bike named "Liberty".

Jason reluctantly climbed aboard the bike and we were off. Later we arrived at "Glacial Erratic State Park" a forgotten little wayside with just a small sign marking the entrance to the parking area just off Highway 18 in Yamhill County.

At the trail head was a graffiti sprayed historical marker describing the rock waiting for us at the top of the hill. I read about the glacial erratic as Jason walked ahead.

I caught up with him and we hiked up the short trail and soon we were standing near a large rock overlooking the surrounding scenery of rolling hills, farmland and vineyards.

Jason looked at the rock for a second and said "we rode all the way out here just to see this?"

He cracked open his can of Dr. Pepper and took a long sip.

"Yep" I said, "and this is no ordinary rock, this here is a glacial erratic. If you would have stopped long enough to read the sign then you would know all about it."

He rolled his eyes, took another sip of pop and put on his best disinterested look as I explained:

"This rock came all the way down here from up in Canada during the Missoula flood about 13 thousand years ago at the end of the last ice age. There was a glacier blocking the flow of a river so there was a huge lake. The ice dam burst and a wall of water hundreds of feet high flowed down the Columbia River carrying huge chunks of ice along with it. Embedded in the ice were big rocks like this one".

"And?" He said. (It may have been my imagination or maybe he really was interested in hearing the rest I don't know)

"And this wall of water carrying huge chunks of ice flowed down through Montana and Idaho and into Washington and Oregon along the Columbia River and about where Portland is now some of the water came down the Willamette Valley."

"So" he said. At this point I didn't care if he was really interested or not. I wanted to finish the story so that maybe he would remember it and appreciate the experience we had together sometime in the future.

"So a big chunk of ice settled at the top of this hill and melted, leaving this here rock. End of story."

Shrugging his shoulders he said "cool" and headed back down the trail at a quick pace. He was probably eager to get back home as soon as possible so he could resume the video game he was playing earlier.

I stood there for some time taking it all in. I looked at the view from up there and touched the rock with my hand, noticing someone had spray painted "You Suck!" on the side of it.

I imagined the almost unimaginable pre-historic scene; the wall of water surging over the hilltops around me carrying chunks of ice bigger than a house.

My mind moved from pre-history to recent history. About the time I was Jason's age my dad brought me to see the rock. I was thinking that back then I probably looked just as bored as my son did.

This time was different though. Getting older seems to have the effect of giving me a broader perspective. I appreciate things more and I certainly appreciate my dad more now than I did then, when he was still alive. It's too easy to take people for granted.

Maybe because my finished journey isn't all that distant anymore and things like the rock, people, the world, are savored and taken in more slowly so as to be fully valued.

I was glad I brought Jason up there despite his disinterest. Because, I thought, maybe he would someday return, if only in memory, and he would look at the rock and understand it.

Maybe he would even bring his own family to show them. Maybe generation after generation would come and keep coming, until the time that the rock becomes dust...

Cars sped by on the highway below. Busy, unconscious, and in a hurry to get wherever they were going.

Long ago the rock arrived at its destination but it's purpose was not finished. It had waited silently for this moment 13,000 years in the making.

I was in church that day alright. I felt the presence of my dad on that hill and smiled knowing he would be happy that I was passing along the experience to my own son. I touched the rock and it touched me and it felt like the hand of God.

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More information on the "Glacial Erratic" along with GPS coordinates.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reminder -Wednesday July 16 is Ride To Work Day!

Riding to work is fun.
Riding to work reduces traffic & parking congestion.
Riding to work uses less fuel than an automobile.
Riding to work leaves me alert & energized.
Riding to work results in less pollution than commuting in a larger vehicle.
Riding to work is less destructive to road surfaces, bridges etc.
Riding to work gets me to work faster (and back home)faster.
Riding to work demonstrates motorcycling as a social good.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Moto Mulching 101

Professor Kano (Master Moto Gardener) takes us through some of the finer points of organic gardening:

Just when I was having a hard time coming up with something new to write about, "conchscooter" came up with a doozy of an idea. He suggested I write about "motorcycle mulching".

Conchscooter planted the seed, now it was time to get to work and come up with how this could be done.

I called a meeting of the sharpest minds Kano's Coffee House had to offer. The crack research team would consist of "Snake", "Curly" and myself.

Long into the night and after several pots of "Kano's House Blend" we worked out a theory...

And we had yet another good reason to own a motorcycle or scooter. We were going to prove them useful far beyond what their designers ever imagined, -as a gardening tool for instance.

The Problem

I have a small garden out back with a mulch bin sitting in the corner that isn't doing much. At the slow rate my chow leftovers and yard waste are decomposing I'm more likely to become mulch myself before that stuff ever does!

For things to decompose efficiently in the bin, the stuff would ideally be in the smallest form possible to begin with.

It's been a battle to get my kids interested enough in the joys of organic gardening for them to chop up watermelon remnants and banana peels into small pieces. So that leaves the job up to me.

And that's where a motorcycle or scooter could come in real handy.

The Solution

We came up with two ways to deal with the situation. One is a rather modest approach and the other a little more "upscale" and a whole lot more fun I might add.

Now I haven't actually tested the hypothesis out yet. I've been kind of busy lately and would prefer some of my students give it a go before I light-off my Sportster out in the backyard.

The first and more conservative technique to "moto mulching" would be to get some of those creosote soaked railroad ties and cut them to size. The idea being to make a three walled enclosure to throw kitchen scraps and yard waste into.

The added benefit of all that toxic creosote leaching into the ground is that it is said to act as as slug repellent. But if you want to go "full bore" organic, skip the creosote and use something else.

I'd make the back wall kind of high if I was you because you're probably not going to want a whole lot of stuff flying into the neighbor's yard. Hmm...

Once you've got a reasonable build-up of watermelon rinds, corn cobs and banana peels. it's time to help speed up the decomposition process a bit. That's when the fun begins, because you're going to use your motorcycle or scooter.

So just back your bike into the three walled stall, slip into first gear, squeeze the brake tightly, grab a hand-full of throttle and let er' rip!

It should take no time at all to break down all that stuff burning and shredding under the back tire. Now that's my idea of a good ole' time!

It may be helpful to get one of your kids, the wife or friendly neighbors to stand-by with a shovel to toss material that gets thrown to the side back toward your rear tire. We'll call that job "feeding the hog".

The second and considerably more sporting approach to motorcycle mulching would be to make a larger fully enclosed area with some kind of gate to let your bike in and out of. This way you could actually make a regular "moto rodeo" out of the work. Fun for everybody!

You could become the hero of all the neighborhood kids and even charge a small admission fee just to watch.

OK, so now the work is done, the smoke has cleared and you've got yourself a pile of nicely ground up scraps ready to become mulch.

The final step in the Moto Mulching process is just shovel the pulverized remnants of last weekends BBQ into a mulch bin or compost pile and let time do the rest.

Apply finished compost to garden when ready.

Repeat as necessary. Good luck and happy Moto Mulching!

!Safety Reminder: Always wear a helmet and goggles!

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sportster Motorcycle Mileage Update

In one of my previous post on how to calculate miles per gallon I figured the mileage on my Harley-Davidson Sportster XL1200C at a disappointing 35mpg.

"Fuzzy Math" or "weak calculator batteries" my wife says.

I don't think so. Using the techniques described in another post of mine on how to save gas, my next tank delivered a satisfying 42.46 mpg.

The tank was used for the same exact commute to and from work. I didn't have to ride like a 93 year old grandma either.

Mainly I accelerated slower from stops and avoided as many of them as possible by slowing down when a red light loomed ahead. It's all in the timing!

7.46 more miles per gallon isn't anything to sneeze at. That's a net savings of about 193.96 gallons per year on my commute alone.

At the current cost for a gallon of regular which is $4.17, that works out to an annual commute savings of $808.81!

And as we know the cost per gallon is only going to go up, so the actual savings will be even more.

Oh, and thanks to Steve's suggestion over at Motorcycle Philosophy, I tried switching over from using Premium to regular with no ill effects. Another ton 0' savings there!

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Motorcycle Charge of the Light Brigade

Kano shows why he deserves to be awarded the "Motorcyclist Iron Cross" medal for exceptional courage under friendly fire and a "Moto Oscar" award for "Neighborhood Entertainer of the Year":

11:05pm.- I reached for my fully armored "Tour Master Transition" riding jacket. It was time to go to work.

A good choice as it turns out, and judging by past experience it wasn't going to be a routine night time motorcycle commute. It was the 4th of July.

And it was no ordinary trailer park I had to maneuver through to get out to the main road either.

(My wife and her Real Estate Agent don't call it a "trailer park" by the way. They say it's a "Multi-Use Manufactured Home Subdivision"-or something like that.)

On that night anyway, it was a war zone.

I might have been safer riding through Baghdad's Sadr City than running the gauntlet of hooligan kids and drunken revelers who lined the streets.

And they were armed to the teeth with all kinds of deadly incendiaries and explosive devices.

I had the whole park to negotiate and it's tough to get a good head of steam with its maze like lefts and rights and all those potholes, stop signs and speed bumps.

Determined not to retreat and against all odds I charged ahead.

The neighbors launched their attack with military like precision. Road side bottle rockets strategically placed along my route were exploding all around; cherry bombs blinded my vision and filled my lungs with sulfurous fumes.

Those little shits had the whole thing planned!

The neighbors were getting ready to unleash the final assault when I noticed a small clearing in the smoke screen ahead.

And the last speed bump had been hurdled.

That's when I grabbed a handful of throttle and rocketed the Sportster past a group of gangsters throwing strings of firecrackers at me.

(At that point I was thinking about how fortunate I was to have my detachable windshield on and that I was wearing an armored jacket with real decent flame retardant qualities built right in.)

Rounding the final corner before the exit I noticed one last obstacle remained between me and freedom.

A guy was standing there holding a lighter in one hand and a beer can in the other. He was attempting to light the last of about 9 or 10 roman candles burning brightly in a line down the middle of the street.

I plowed right through, crushing them under my wheels and scattering them in all directions as I went, -sparks a' flying. In terror he dropped his "Pabst Blue Ribbon" as he dodged out of the path of my front wheel bearing down on him.

(I knew he was drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon because I had hoisted a few with that same guy earlier in the day. He waited until I got distracted by my kids using a soccer ball to bowl down my corn plants. Then he raided my back-yard cooler and disappeared with two six packs of beer and a quart of "Tennessee Walker". That was my Pabst Blue Ribbon laying there spilling its award winning contents onto the hot concrete! -The beer thieving idiot is some kind of foreigner -from California I think.)

I made it out of that hellish park and out onto the open road.

Free and clear of the smoking and fiery trail of destruction left behind, I pulled over to the side of the road to gather my thoughts. I thought about the good time those fools were having and realized that I apparently was the "main event" for the evenings festivities.

I took a quick glance at my watch, I still had enough time to get to work and the neighbors no doubt had some fireworks left, who was I to spoil any one's fun on this -America's birthday?

So I turned the Sportster around and put the spurs to her for another pass. After all, that would be the neighborly thing to do and I wanted to give them a 4th of July to remember...

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Motorcycle Blogging At Work - Kano's Really Bad Idea #1,372

There's a time and a place for everything. Blogging at work is not the time nor the place. Kano explains:

Recently I was granted access at work to use the Internet- for research that is. I felt that the sky's had opened up and the literary gods were smiling on me. What a golden opportunity to kick up my Blogging a notch!

Then just as I was gearing up to make Motorcycle & Scooter Talk really rock & roll my boss discovered that I've been partaking of the company's high speed broadband connection for my own evil purposes, Blogging.

So I thought about it for a bit and decided it was best to keep my job. (Right Joel? I know you're reading this!)

I want to keep fixed firmly in my rear-view mirror my previous careers in ditch digging, dish washing, wrestling the criminally insane at a psychiatric hospital and cattle rustling.

Now it's back to my tired old dinosaur of a home computer with its "super no-speed dial-up Internet connection".

New posts may not be as frequent as I had planned. I'll do the best I can though.

And if my winning number comes up in the lottery, I'll take a look at hiring a bunch of secretaries, then I'll get a laptop with broadband. That way I could do a lot of posting!

Until then, I will post from home and as fast as time allows. I do have one coming up real soon about how to get the most out of your motorcycle or scooter by adding it to your arsenal of gardening tools. Thanks for the idea conchscooter!

Now if I could just find someone around here that knows how to type...

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