Tuesday, November 29, 2016

So Much Negativity

I don't see much to be positive about in this screenshot from this morning. Welcome to Fairbanks. We still don't have much snow yet. Actual snow depth on the ground may be 5" - 6" or so. We could really use a bit more to avoid frozen sewer and water pipes. It looks like it's going to be cold for a while.

We just arrived back home last night from our quick trip to PA. Since we wanted to arrive home before midnight, we had to return through Los Angeles. This made for more time in the air (more airline miles!). Maybe it'll be enough to bump me up to the next tier in Alaska Airlines loyalty program.

I stopped at College Coffeehouse this morning and was greeted with "Where's the bike?". It may be in the garage for a while as it probably won't be warm enough to ride (maybe +10°F) for a couple of months. Time to dig into some of those maintenance items...

Friday, November 25, 2016

RV Farkle?

Another zero moto content post. Is it still a farkle if it isn't installed on a motorcycle? It's kinda shiny. I took advantage of a Black Friday online sale (40% off!) to pick up this door lock for the RV. Even though I won't be installing anything until Spring, I figured that I may as well start collecting things that I wanted to install or change out. I've heard a lot of reviews of this door lock and being able to open the door without a key is more than simply convenient. Especially since we will be traveling with pets. Trying to break in to the RV after getting locked out would be stressful. It also includes physical keys and a small wireless remote.

I spent part of the long flight on Thanksgiving Day making a prioritized list of RV changes and additions. So far, priorities 1-5 have been defined ranging from "need" to "nice to have". Some of the accessories in the "need" category are things that I used on previous RVs but no longer have. I had just included them when we sold the last travel trailer as most of the items were getting kind of old. Priority 1 items are things that I have defined as safety related or essential. Things like water and sewer hoses, battery monitor, TPMS, bedding (mice got into the mattress), voltage and water pressure regulators and a second propane tank. Priority 2 items are things that I think we need to make a long trip less stressful. Examples of these items are deep cycle golf cart batteries, generators, a better converter, a large-ish inverter, LED lighting, Wi-Fi repeater and a backup camera. Generators is plural as two 2KW generators are easier to handle (lighter) and can be run in parallel if we need to run the A/C. Not to mention that sometimes it's nice having a "spare". Most of these priority 1 and 2 items will be aquired/installed before our trip this summer and some of them have already been picked up.

I spent a lot of time looking into installing solar panels to minimize generator usage and it is a priority 2 or 3 depending on the charge controller selected. The solar is also in the "interesting" category as it's something new to me. I still might try and install some solar before or trip this summer but maybe only do 200 watts instead of the planned 400. I originally had a cell phone booster as a priority 3 but dropped it to 4 since I don't "need" access to the Internet. The Wi-Fi repeater was left at priority 2 since it is relatively cheap.

Bridget and I are currently in PA on a quick trip to visit her dad. We left on the red-eye on Thanksgiving morning and arrived in Baltimore at 4:30 pm. Lots of time sitting in one place. But I still managed to get my activity circles closed (see previous post). And Thanksgiving dinner was at a Cracker Barrel. Here at the assisted living home the Christmas decorations are starting to line up. They are getting ready for the next major holiday.

BTW, this post was written using BlogTouchPro on the iPhone so pictures aren't "clickable". 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I really didn't feel like going out today. I must be getting soft in my old age. But I had at least one errand to do this morning. I needed to pick up something a little more comfortable than jeans for an airplane ride towards the right coast. Especially since my "minor surgery" last week is still making it somewhat painful to sit for any length of time and needing to occasionally take pain medication. I think that it may be a long plane ride.

Since I was heading into town, I stopped at College Coffeehouse and there were a couple of the regulars there. That's really when I realized what the temperature was. It made the coffee that much better. After coffee, I headed over to REI and picked up a pair of fleece pants. Very comfy and I was finally able to use up my dividend.

I tend to get caught up in things that may not mean much. An example of that are the exercise "rings" on my Apple Watch. Based on your activity during the day these rings gradually complete. The center ring is just from standing up for a few minutes every hour. The next ring is from some sort of activity such as walks and the outside ring is just estimated calorie consumption from everyday activity. Last month, I decided to at least try and "close the rings" every day. It seemed like a modest goal. Some would say that I am obsessed since the watch will remind you to stand up every hour.

The "rewards" are these little virtual badges that show up on the phone. So does this make me obsessed?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Road Grimed Astronaut

Look what showed up in the mail today from Aerostitch. Earlier in the week I got an email from Andy Goldfine (or more likely from a staff member) asking me how the Roadcrafter Light was working out. This was prompted by a couple of photos that Dom posted on his blog from the Garden of the Gods Park a few weeks back. I gave them some feedback and mentioned that it has been used almost daily over the last 2 1/2 years in temperatures ranging from -47°F to +107°F (-44°C to +42°C). There was a signed thank you note in the envelope along with the two patches and sticker.

One comment that I made was that when this riding suit eventually gets replaced, it will be with a Roadcrafter Classic instead of the Light. But that wouldn't be for quite a while. I am in the process of repairing the little pockets that hold the magnets in the collar. The material is actually worn through in a couple of areas like this.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Frosty Trees

I always like the frosty look of the trees after a couple of cold, foggy days. This was just outside of our yard while I was on a short walk this afternoon after getting off of a conference call. No moto-related activity and, in fact, not much activity at all.

On Monday, JedR brought his 2015 Patrol by to check out an oil leak around the alternator. To remove the alternator, we needed to remove the gas tank. This was a first for either one of us and we pulled too hard and broke a plastic fitting off of the fuel pump. We found the oil leak and it wasn't the gasket but the shaft oil seal. After examining his alternator, I think that my alternator cush drive bearings are worn out. I'll be pulling that out one of these weeks and trying to figure out how to replace them.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Game of 4's Challenge

Logo from the Internet
A fellow motoblogger, SonjaM, tagged me in Game of 4's. A challenge in which 4 questions are provided, to be answered by 4 answers to each of the questions, and then to nominate 4 other bloggers. And since this wasn't done on FB, I'll take a crack at it. I tend to ignore posts like that on FB.

The questions are:
1. What is your favourite food?
2. What are your favourite drinks?
3. Places you've been?
4. Names that you're known by?


  1. Sashimi. I like vinegar flavor of the sushi rice but the raw fish is the real star.
  2. Prime rib. If I was to have beef, this would be my choice. 
  3. Roasted vegetables on the grill. Corn, squash, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.
  4. Would it be against the rules to just say ethnic food? Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese, Greek, German, Ethiopian, etc. Just about anything. Even American regional food qualifies. Bridget thought that this was cheating. So, shellfish. Lobster, scallops, crab, etc.
  1. Diet Coke.
  2. Americano. Since I retired, my commute has been riding to College Coffeehouse on the corner of College Road and University Ave to meet with friends and have an americano. I still get a 10% discount with my UAF id. Basically an improvement over brewed coffee which is also good.
  3. Hot chai tea with a little honey
  4. I used to really like grapefruit juice but it is not allowed by one of my medications. 

  1. Barrow. This is kind of the iconic tourist photo of the whale bone arch across the street from the Top of the World hotel. And next to what used to be Brower's, a local restaurant that had pretty decent pho.
  2. Singapore. We went on a treetop hike along these walkways about 10 m up in the trees. Lots of signs warning you not to carry plastic grocery bags as they attract monkeys. We didn't see any monkeys but being up in the trees was a lot cooler since you can feel the breeze.
  3. Ethiopia. My eye was really attracted by this rock wall along side of the road in Bahir Dar. There was a gate indicating that the property on the other side was part of a university.
  4. BC. This is what's left of Bear Glacier along highway 37A in British Columbia. I think Salmon Glacier in Stewart/Hyder was more impressive but I was having Ural problems and didn't feel like venturing up the rough road.

  1. RichardM. The unimaginative name that I've used as a blog nickname.
  2. RichardAK. The equally unimaginative name that I use on quite a few forums when RichardM is already taken.
  3. @rmachida. Another unimaginative identity used on Twitter. I think I've had it since the first few months of their existence.
  4. fxram. The legacy identity used by the university. "f" for Fairbanks campus. "x" for technical staff. I still use this identity all over the place.
And the four moto-bloggers tagged are:
David Masse: Retired, needs something to do
ToadMama: Created the last challenge
Steve Williams: Needs to practice being retired
Coop a.k.a. Coopdway: It should be snowing soon

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another Ural Tech Day...

I returned home on Monday evening and on Wednesday, JedR brought over his 2015 Patrol with the winter studded tires stacked on the rear rack. We swapped to the studded tires and discovered that the rear brake pads were pretty worn out. He had already ordered a spare set and we figured out how to replace them as well as properly adjust the parking brake. He thinks that the parking brake didn't release completely when the bike was new and caused the pads to wear prematurely. The pads on the front and sidecar disc brakes show minimal wear.

JedR had picked me up in the morning from the Diesel Doctor, a local shop specializing in diesel trucks, where I had dropped off the truck to get most of the fluids changed. The coolant is 7.5 gallons and I really didn't want to deal with that much antifreeze. They also changed the transmission, transfer case, front differential and rear differential oil as well as go over the truck for problems such as the serpentine belt, hoses, bearings, seals, etc. This is in anticipation of our road trip next summer. The report was no problems. Not bad for an 11 year old vehicle.

On Thursday, JedR returned and we removed the oil pan to install the deep sump pan and oil pickup extension. The 2015 uses a different method of mounting the oil pump and screen and we ended up calling Terry Crawford, a Ural dealer in southern Michigan, and the maker of the extension. It turns out that there should have been two of the old oil pump bolts with the holes for safety wire included with the order. This would allow the extension to move slightly and not hit the inside of the deep sump pan. The new bolts are in the mail. Excellent service. This is the same deep sump and extension that I had installed on my 2012 during the overhaul. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Exploring Outside Denver

On Saturday morning, we headed south through Colorado Springs on Dom's two Ural rigs. You can read his post here. The BMW powered rig was not quite through the break in mileage on the transmission so speed was limited. Since Pikes Peak looked pretty socked in, we stopped at the Garden of the Gods just west of Colorado Springs.

It was pretty crowded but probably not as crowded as during the summer tourist season. This is Balanced Rock near the Manitou Springs exit. At this point, Dom checked the Pikes Peak road status and learned that the road was partly open but snow was reported at 12,000'.

This was the end of the road for today. We really couldn't see much as we were in the clouds. By the time we got up there, it felt pretty cold at 31°F (0°C) and damp. Fortunately, the road wasn't slippery. There were a number of cars in a line on the road. I'm told that they were hoping that the rangers would open up the road to the summit. At this point we headed back down the road.

After several switchbacks we stopped along the side of the road for some photos. Not a lot of detail but it does look like we are stopped on the edge of a cliff. This road is steep. We were in first gear all the way down. A couple of switchbacks later, we found a good view of the valley but there were several other cars parked in a very small space. Only a few hundred yards further down the road, Dom spotted a dirt road leading to a nice parking space.

By this time, the temperature had warmed up to about 45°F (+7°C) and we were out of the clouds. It was a little challenging to get back up on the road as it was really steep where the dirt road met the pavement and you couldn't see if there was any traffic until you get there.

This was the view when we almost reached the entrance gate. When we called during lunch, the status of the road  hadn't changed so we headed back north. By the time we arrived at his home, the BMW powered Ural was 1 km past the break-in mileage. No longer limited to 45 mph!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Running Around Denver

I arrived in Denver on Tuesday evening and Dom, aka Charlie6 on the Internet, picked me up at the airport. He had generously offered the use of one of the rigs. This is the one named Fiona with the BMW engine. It was quite a hit at the meeting especially since it is parked right in front of the door of the Polar Field Services office. There are quite a few other riders though this was the only bike there. Something about rain makes them not want to ride. And these are guys who spend months of a time at remote locations such as Greenland supporting research. A very interesting group.  

On Wednesday, I rode back to Dom and Martha's home and we went to an all-the-schnitzel-you-can-eat place. This was something new as I've never had schnitzel before. It was very good as were the side dishes and the company was great. Dom generously offered his newer rig to take to the meeting the next day. Nothing like shaking things up by showing up with something different. On Thursday, quite a few noticed the slight change and many recognized this one as a Ural. Many just assumed that the other rig was an old BMW. Interesting.
Dinner on Thursday was at a Vietnamese place in the mini mall next to the hotel. Pretty tasty and since the same broth is used for all of the pho dishes, it came out of the kitchen in literally minutes. True fast food. You add in the fresh vegetables yourself choosing how many jalapeño slices and chili paste you think that you want and dig in. It was very good.

To finish off dinner, they brought out Vietnamese coffee and a glass of ice. I haven't had this for a while. Actually, since the last time I was in Denver for an Internet2 meeting. The very strong coffee slowly drips into sweet, condensed milk. It takes quite a while for the coffee to make it through the thick pad of coffee. You then mix and pour over ice for a nice strong iced coffee. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hanging Around Corvallis

Red/orange. A leaf color that we don't get very much of in Alaska. Even here in Corvallis, it doesn't seem really common. I stopped here to visit family for a couple of days. Since I was done with the trailer on Friday evening, I was able to head south for Oregon on Saturday morning. I was somewhat surprised that I was able to stop by Coffee Culture to visit with Troubadour and Trobairitz during their regular saturday morning coffee meetup. Hardly any traffic on I5 on this Saturday morning.

On Sunday evening, I was looking around on a restaurant app and discovered an Old Spaghetti Factory in Corvallis. I didn't know that there was one here. It turns out that it's only been here for about a year. It is located in a remodeled train station that had been moved from it's original location near the tracks to it's new location closer to river.

On Monday evening, I had the opportunity to have Indian food with some pleasant company. There isn't an Indian restaurant in Fairbanks so this was a real treat. And the food and company was great. When I texted this picture to Bridget her reply was "Is that all you guys do?  Eat?".

There was actually a little more text in her reply "Tell all hi.  I'm busy making new seating charts." but it didn't add humor as the first part did. Right now, I'm sitting in the Portland airport. I was hoping to get an earlier flight to Seattle and Alaska Air came through again with on 1 1/2 hours earlier. The ticketed flight had a very short layover in Seattle and I was concerned that my luggage wouldn't make the switch to the Denver flight.