Monday, December 10, 2018

Short Days

More Fairbanks winter temperatures today. And a light dusting of snow from sometime last night. I went ahead and rode to ACRC (Alaska Coffee Roasting Company) and met a handful of people there before heading to the university to check on the status of a work order. The fusion drive in my 27" iMac died sometime during our last road trip. I use the iMac as a host to get access to network resources in Utqiaġvik. We replaced the fusion drive with an SSD. Half of the drive space but so much faster. Granted, I could just check the status of the work order on the website but I'd rather check in-person.

This was about 10:30am or about 10 minutes before sunrise. This is from the parking lot entrance to the Butrovich building where my office is still located. I still have a few more errands to run around town. Today was the first time in a couple of years that I actually used the rubber face mask and visor heat that are part of the Bombardier modular helmet. The last couple of times riding, the visor was fogging up. The face mask redirects your breath through vents on the side of the helmet to help minimize fogging. The good news is that everything is working for a change. Both heated gloves, both heated grips, heated liner, and heated visor. In the past, it seems like there was always something not working. So very toasty while riding around.

And this sunset photo was taken at 2:30pm from our back deck. Not a very long day, eh? 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Winter Days...

It's starting to feel like winter around here and I'm not sure that this is a good thing. This mornings ride was a little cold since I hadn't bothered to look for the flannel lined jeans since we've been back nor wore the Roadcrafter. I went out at about 10:30 to take a picture of the Ural covered with snow but it wasn't even sunrise yet. Only a couple more weeks before the days start to get longer.

Today, we finally ventured into the Fairbanks Costco. It has been open since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving but given the pent-up demand for a warehouse type store since Sam's Club closed last Spring, I didn't even want to venture near there. The store was a bit crowded and the number of items carried seemed significantly more than Sam's. And we probably got a few more items than we really needed.

I'm writing this post on a Lenovo Helix. It is one of those ultrabook/tablet combo machines where you can "eject" the keyboard and just use the touchscreen. I had picked it up several years ago for the techs to use in Barrow as many of them seemed to prefer a Windows machine. I've since upgraded it to Windows 10 and it's a completely useable laptop. Less useable as a tablet. Recently, I've used it to run the Radioddity software to program the DMR radio as the software is Windows only. The keyboard is much nicer to type on than the recent Mac laptops.

Since the Helix is getting a little old, I am going to try out one of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 devices. I've only played with them in the store but have met quite a few people who really like them. I ordered it with the keyboard cover but not the stylus. The Helix has a stylus but I rarely use it. I have an Apple Pencil to use with the iPad Pro but rarely use it. I'm not the artistic type. 

Friday, December 7, 2018


Remember when flying somewhere was fun? Or at least something you looked forward to? I don’t remember that anymore. We arrived in Fairbanks at 2:00 am after a six hour flight across the country, a four hour wait in Seattle, and another three or so hours up to Fairbanks. It was a long day. I used to think flying somewhere was a great adventure. Not just to visit somewhere new but the trip itself. I still look forward to seeing new places but don't enjoy the flying part. According to Alaska Airlines, I've flown with them over 730,000 miles. These days, I'd rather drive...

On Friday, I went to the ACRC (coffee place) and met up with a couple of regulars and also met a long time friend JohnP. He was back in Alaska as part of the "not be out of the state for more than 90 days" rule. It is a very comfortable 20°F and actually feels warmer than the windy days in Pennsylvania and Virginia. It was a nice riding day. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Day 10 - Heading Home

Here are just a couple more pictures from Colonial Williamsburg that I ran into while looking on the phone. Around noon today, we head for the Baltimore, MD, airport for our flight back to Alaska. As you may figure out, the flight gets into Fairbanks in the middle of the night so this is going to be a long day. Just a horse drawn cart that we saw on Tuesday morning along the palace green. It wasn’t moving much and I wasn’t sure if it was a “ride” like the horse drawn carriages.

This was a harpsichord that was being built from scratch and not one that was being repaired. In the front room of the cabinetmakers shop there was another harpsichord that was also built “new” that you could play. Pretty cool instruments. I believe that they are constructed and sold for fund raising as I heard that Colonial Williamsburg wasn’t doing very well financially. A lot of employees are needed to keep a place like this running.

I may add more to this post from the airport but it is scheduled to post while we are in the air between BWI and SEA.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Day 9 - Burke, VA

This picture was taken at a mall in Fredericksburg, VA, where we stopped for lunch. There seem to be some fast food places that some people are fanatic about such as In-N-Out Burger and Chick-Fil-A. We found a Chick-Fil-A in a shopping mall food court. There was actually a line of about twenty people versus no lines at any of the other vendors. That seemed like a good sign. Juicy, tender chicken in a sandwich and delicious chicken noodle soup. I’d go back.

On I-95, we were snowed on for about fifty miles but nothing was sticking to the road. After our lunch stop, we had blue skies and slightly warmer temperatures and no more snow. I didn’t want to deal with snow in a rental car. The above picture is of a fountain with LEDs along what would be the water path. After staying in Burke tonight, we head back to Fairbanks tomorrow afternoon.

I am trying a new iPad and Mac app called Duet that allows you to use an iPad as a second display on a Mac. It works pretty well. It was half price at the app store today so I figured that it was worth a try. There is another app called Luna that requires a USB dongle and WiFi. This just uses the Lightning cable. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Day 8 - Colonial Williamsburg

We visited the cabinetmaking shop and I was a little bit surprised that there were no water powered tools. This is a lathe and it looks like it’s foot powered. The shop repairs furniture but the bulk of their “business” is making suitable furniture for use within the village. Such as chairs that look like the originals but can actually be used.

Another stop was in the kitchen of the Govenor’s Palace. At this time they were demonstrating how they take the cacao pod and make chocolate bars. These bars are not candy bars but closer to cooking or baking chocolate and used for drinks. Such as in milk, water, and wine. Due to the caffeine content, it was never given to children. Chocolate was an adult beverage.

We also toured the Palace. The tour guide said that intimidation was the intent. Not only from the number of swords and muskets in this, the first room a visitor would enter. Flanking this room is the parlor on one side and the butler’s pantry on the other. Other rooms were decorated with velvet wallpaper and gold leaf covered paper mâché trim. The implied meaning was if we (England) could afford to decorate our houses like this just imagine how we could throw money defeating whatever uprising you can come up with.

The swords in the entryway were both these with the basket style guards as well as simpler ones with brass hilts. It was a very impressive display.

This is the Martha Washington character during the time when George Washington was a major. Lots of stories. At this time, we were in the kitchen garden with terraced gardens.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Day 7 - Colonial Williamsburg

Here are some scenes of the fireworks aka “The Grand Illumination”. The fireworks lasted for over fifteen minutes and from where we were sitting on the Palace Green, we had a great view with the Governor’s Palace in the background. There were three simultaneous, synched shows located at different locations within Colonial Williamsburg. I like having the Palace as a background for the fireworks.

The first is a test of an animated “Live View” iPhone photo that’s been converted to a loop. I’m just curious whether it’ll work. The second is a short phone video that’s been uploaded to YouTube, also done on the phone and uploaded while waiting to exit the parking lot. Estimated attendance was around 28,000 which translates to long lines.

I guess “Live Photo” is not supported by Blogger. Here is the same photo converted to a video by Google Photo.

Otherwise, today was an off day. Bridget and her brother are going through old pictures and other paperwork left by their parents.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Day 6 - Williamsburg, VA

This morning, it was warm (60°F) but overcast with a bit of fog. This is the view from the small deck off of the living room of one of the greens on the adjacent golf course. Yesterday, there were a handful of golfers coming through but not today. We are staying at a very nice time-share condo and, until you go into the parking lot, it feels like you are the only one here. No sounds except for the heat pump.

We arrived about 2:30 and it was difficult to find a parking space. We ended up at the visitors center and taking the shuttle into the historic town. Jim and Sharon had purchased seats to watch the entertainment and the fireworks show. At this point, I’m still not sure what to expect.

There was some entertainment (not period) while waiting. I think this is a local jazz group. They were introduced as being from Williamsburg. Yesterday, there was a DJ in a tent playing distorted, over-amplified rock music and it seemed really out of place. This isn’t too bad especially with the blue skies and some nice vocals.

There was a period Williamsburg ghost story by the cast member normally playing James Madison (I think).

This is a short video as the local WiFi is overloaded. Using Verizon for the upload. The second very short video was playing around with time-lapse on the iPhone.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Day 5 - Colonial Williamsburg

Being the weekend, there were a lot more people here at Williamsburg than there were yesterday. I hear that tomorrow is going to be a zoo but the event, called The Grand Illuminations, is on Bridget’s bucket list. One of these years I need to get one of those lists.

This is the magazine, I believe. Where weapons and gunpowder was stored.

We are guessing that this drum and fife group was a local group from a school. I guess the normal group has red uniforms. I guess marching band is a little different around here.

After walking around for the afternoon, I’m pretty exhausted. Tomorrow, we head back again. The Grand Illumination is when all of the Christmas lights are turned on and a big fireworks display. I heat that it is a big deal.

Shortly after we arrived, we noticed this Ural with Santa and elf. It was a carbureted 1wd version. When Bridget mentioned that we had a Ural in Alaska, he asked how a Ural ended up in Alaska. And was amazed when I mentioned that there was a dealer there. Lots of pictures were taken of the rig by others. He should have been charging for pictures.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Day 4 - Williamsburg, VA

The governor’s palace. Kind of an odd term at least on this continent. But I think it is leftover from English nobility and the governor of the colony.

Merchant Square was our first stop after picking up our annual passes at the visitor’s center. Bridget had picked up the passes on Black Friday and was apparently a good deal. The annual passes were cheaper than the multi-day passes. Now we’re set until 12/09/2019.

A model of Williamsburg at the visitor’s center. The glass top and the overhead lights made a picture challenging.

An actor portraying Thomas Jefferson talked about current events in a half hour talk.

More Colonial Williamsburg tomorrow or Sunday...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Day 3 - Warrenton, VA

This morning, we drove from Frederick, MD, to Warrenton, VA. Only about 60 miles but it took a couple of hours due to construction delays and lots of traffic. We arrived a bit early for our lunch appointment so we went to the museum located in a historic jail. The attendant gave a summary of the history before we were let loose in the facility. This was a dentist office set up in one of the former cells. I got a kick out of some of the equipment like the foot powered drill just to the right of the chair. Or the old X-ray equipment.

We then went to meet Kathy (aka Toadmama) and Mike at their home. We walked to Molly's Irish Pub on Main Street for lunch. The food was good but the company was great. This was only the second time we've met them but it's great to meet other motobloggers. You almost feel like you've known them for a long time just from reading their posts. I'm afraid that I didn't take a picture until Mike had already left for another appointment but Kathy gave us a mini tour of Warrenton including the former train station. The railroad bed is now a bike path with some pieces of it's former life lying around. Such as this small building.

This is an unofficial addition to the Virginia LOVE program. It is described in this blog post including the addition of the satellite dish. Below is the "official" one for Warrenton right next to the former train station. In case you didn't know, many of Toadmama's moto riding posts involving searching for these examples of Virginia art. Warrenton is a very nice, small town with many restored buildings in the historic downtown section.

After leaving Warrenton, we headed to Burke, VA, to visit Bridgt's brother and his wife, Sharon. Tomorrow, we will be headed to Williamsburg with them for about a week (I think).  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Day 2 - E-Town to Frederick, MD

The breakfast room at the bed and breakfast. We were the only guest so they basically asked us what we wanted to have. And it was fantastic as always. Anyone looking for a wonderful place to stay in the area, look no further than the West Ridge B&B in Elizabethtown, PA, aka E-Town.

We stopped at the Masonic Village to visit with some of the caretakers of Bridget’s parents. Bridget has been here numerous times per year for the last 14 years that many of the care providers have become like friends and family. It doesn't seem like they've been there that long but I guess 14 years is a while. The bird is just one of many that are scattered around the assisted living facility.

After leaving E-Town, the next stop was the Bird-in-Hand farmers market in the town of Bird-in-Hand. I didn't pick up much. Some sugar-free chocolate candy, a magnet, and some old-fashioned Lebanon bologna. The sample was pretty good. Closer to a summer sausage than dry salami but not something readily available in Fairbanks. I was tempted by the bacon brittle but passed. Essentially peanut brittle made with crispy bacon.

We then headed west and south through Gettysburg and out of PA back into Maryland. We made it as far as historic Frederick, MD. Tomorrow morning, we'll look around and try to find out what is the historic part. BTW, it has been cold and windy around here. Windy enough to blow the rental car around...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Day 1 - Escaping AK to E-Town

Bridget thought that a follow-up picture of the Christmas tree needed to be added to the blog. Still no ornaments but it’s up. Now that I’m finally sort of adjusted to cooler temperatures enough to enjoy riding, we fly out on the red-eye. I really hate these early morning flights as I always end up feeling "off" for a couple of days. I guess the good part is you arrive at your destination completely exhausted making it easier to adjust to the time difference.

We arrived in Baltimore, MD, by late afternoon. Just in time for rush-hour traffic. It really wasn't that bad compared to many other areas but it did slow us down enough so that we had to drive most of the way in the dark.

I guess one of the “benefits” of the right coast is the number of Cracker Barrel restaurants. Just plain food but on days like today, that’s a good thing. Anyway, tonight’s stop West Ridge Bed and Breakfast that we’ve stayed at several times before. Nicely furnished rooms, fantastic breakfasts, and decent Internet. It's kind of sad knowing that this will probably be the last time we will be staying here. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

That Time of the Year

It looks like it's that time of the year again. The weekend after Thanksgiving has "traditionally" been the time when the Christmas decorations go up. In this house, "traditionally" means that it's happened at least one time before. Last year, the tree never even made it to the storage shed after Christmas. It was still in the garage on its way to the shed. At least no one had to slog through the snow to drag it up to the house.

I finally ventured into the box store area after seeing an email from Lowe's that the Black Friday prices were still in place. Maybe sales were slower than expected. There were still more cars in the parking lot than normal. After discovering the cracks in our shop vac last week, it seemed like a new one was needed. They had a stainless steel, Shop-Vac brand for 60% off. That seemed like a decent deal. Of course, once you're there, you find other good deals. So I came back with a couple more things than I was looking for. A set of ball-end allen wrenches since my old set now lives in the Ural. And a light timer to plug the Prius into whenever we go out of town. Not to keep the engine warm but to keep the tiny 12 VDC battery charged. The motorcycle sized battery is used to run the computer and other things such as the door locks.

Earlier in the week, my son used his 3D printer to make a support (red arrow) for the 70cm radio daughterboard in my Raspberry Pi hotspot. It is mounted with two screws to the Pi using mounting holes that I'm not using with this case. The radio daughterboard is screwed into the plastic support (yellow arrow). Now it provides a really solid foundation for the antenna which screws onto the board on the SMA connector right next to the daughterboard mounting screw. The four 24 awg wires near the top of the picture go to the OLED display mounted to the top of the case. Before, the only support for the daughterboard was a small connector on the corner of the daughterboard at the same location as the OLED display wires. If you picked up the hotspot by the antenna, the daughterboard occasionally becomes partly unplugged. An easy way for things to fail due to fatigue. Thank you for making the part!

It was a chilly 6°F at 7:30am. The Ural started up on the first compression after sitting outside for five hours. And someone believes that the tree is done enough.

Friday, November 23, 2018


Thursday Afternoon - First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the U.S. It’s getting to that time of year when the sun really contributes very little to the temperature. The daily fluctuations are pretty minimal. This was a pretty relaxing Thanksgiving. At least for me. The day began early. The roads were very icy today so I opted to not ride the Ural. I had volunteered to help cook breakfast for a community meal at University Presbyterian Church on College Road. I'm not sure of the number of meals but they seemed satisfied with the turnout.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing as we opted to go out to dinner instead of cooking the normal Thanksgiving spread. When Bridget had asked me earlier what I was planning to cook for Thanksgiving dinner, I would just say Swanson. And I'd get the evil eye. Instead, we went to Pike's Landing for their Thanksgiving buffet. Probably a much better choice and the senior discount was 33%. They had all of the normal stuff plus unexpected things like seafood crepes. Honestly, the price of the fabulous buffet for three adults and one old guy was about the same as purchasing all of the normal groceries. The downside is, no leftovers. But that's probably fine since Bridget and I are flying out in less than a week. But not back to AZ.

Friday Morning - Another couple inches of snow. A good opportunity to try out the additional studs in the tires. The conclusion, the smaller studs are much less effective the #1200 ones that I have been using for years. Braking was slightly improved. It was +15°F this morning and by noon, it hadn't changed. The driving conditions today would be in the horrible category. Fresh snow on top of a thin layer of ice. 2WD was used to get out of the driveway and the return trip up the subdivision road. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More (Better) Traction

Monday Evening -- While poking around in the garage, I ran across a partial box of 29 Grip Studs #1200. I counted the center lugs in the Heidenau tires and if I just put one in every other center lug, I needed 27 studs. Normally, I would use double this number in the pusher by putting in one on the outer blocks between the center studded lugs alternating side to side. I'm thinking of picking up a box of the smaller Grip Studs carried by Goldstream Sports for use on fat tire bikes. I would use these on the front tire to help with braking. On an icy day like today, better braking traction would've been nice to have. A side note, I wore the heated gear but forgot to plug it in and I was just fine even though the amount of actual insulation is close to none in the Gerbing liner.

Tuesday afternoon - I went to ACRC this morning for coffee then attended a staff meeting at the university. It was another balmy, overcast day so I didn't bother with the heated gear. Maybe if I don't use it, it'll last longer. Around noon, I headed out on Sheep Creek Road towards Goldstream Sports for the fat tire Grip Studs that they carried in stock. They carried packages of 100 and 150 of the #1000 Grip Studs. They are smaller in diameter and only go 6.5mm into the tire. They may pull out on the pusher under the hard acceleration (I don't think so on the Ural)  but I was planning on using them on the front tire. Here is the pattern I used on the front tire and used 54 studs. The #1000 Grip Studs is probably a better choice given how worn down the front tire is. I must admit that these are much easier to install than the larger #1200 due to their smaller diameter.

Since I still had quite a few left in the box so I added another row to the rear tire. Now both front and rear have 54 studs. If you look closely, you can see the size difference between the #1200 in the center and the #1000 to the left. This still left 19 in the box. I these in a random, pattern on the sidecar wheel as there weren't enough to do an actual pattern. The extra studs on the pusher are to help with right turns and the ones in the sidecar help on left turns. While riding today, I could easily tell that the studs in the pusher mattered less on left turns than right turns.