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30 December 2012 @ 08:49 pm
I was riding home from the laundromat at about five in the morning on a Monday this October, and was almost home. It was cold out, but not cruel. The bike was running well. Life was good.

I was on U.S. 89, which is also the back road into Springville, less than a block away from the main intersection at the north end of town. I could see almost all the way through town, and there were no other vehicles on the road. That’s one of the cool things about riding in the wee small hours of the morning. It’s also quiet and the traffic lights are very cooperative. Disadvantages include drunk drivers, low visibility, and cold temperatures.

Off to my right a pickup truck was driving in a fenced-in parking lot, headed for the gate on the highway. I thought the driver might not see me, and might then pull out in front of me, so I watched him. I was doing about 50 mph.

Something hit me hard and knocked me off the bike. I was very briefly worried that I might be hurt or killed, but realized that I was not seriously injured, and was sliding down the road on my back. Then I was overcome by sadness that my bike was going to be very badly damaged, maybe beyond repair. This whole thought process must have taken less than a second.

Oh, yeah, one of the other disadvantages of riding the wee small hours of the morning is that deer are running around at that time. Stupid deer.

When I stopped sliding and sat up, my KZ750 was over there, the fairing was over there, the windshield was over there... I felt like the Scarecrow after the flying monkeys were finished with him. I got up and walked over to the side of the road and sat down on the curb to make sure I was really in one piece. My left side hurt like heck, but I was otherwise OK. A driver who had been following me, a kind soul named Darren, parked his minivan and came over to see if I was OK. I told him I must have hit a deer, which he said was probably the case, since he had seen them on the road. I looked around in vain for the mangled carcass of the dumb beast that had wreaked havoc on my machine and me. Darren said the deer had run off. Stupid deer.

He helped me get the bike up on its wheels, and I turned off the ignition, put it into neutral, and wheeled it over to a burger joint parking lot. By the time I got back to the scene of the accident, Darren had picked up all the bits of bike and stacked them next to the child seat in the back of his minivan. He gave me a ride home, unloaded everything, and stacked it on the porch. When he had left, I went inside and very carefully lay down on the couch. Broken ribs, I realized. I also noticed that I had skinned the tip of my right pinky finger. My glove was missing the tips of all the fingers. I took four ibuprofens and stuck a Band-Aid on the fingertip.

I emailed my director and said I wasn’t going to be in at work, and posted a note on Facebook about my adventure. Darren came by to see if I was OK. The world needs more people like Darren.

Next day, I walked down to the burger joint and rode the bike home. It had deer hair all over the gas tank. Stupid deer. Friends and family urged me to get myself to the hospital. What good would that do? The doctor would say “Well, you’ve got broken ribs. There isn’t anything we can do about them. They will take a while to heal. Keep taking the ibuprofen.”

My big sister eventually wore me down, though, so on Wednesday I went in to the local InstaCare. They did X-rays, and said “You should be dead. Well, you’ve got broken ribs. There isn’t anything we can do about them. They will take a while to heal. Keep taking the ibuprofen. And here’s a prescription for Lortab.”

I’ll have to replace the windshield. The fork tubes are bent again. I will have Rick at RK Cycle straighten them out for a third time, but I’ll probably have Forkings by Frank make me a new pair and keep the old ones as spares. The fairing might be fixable, but they are available on eBay for not too much money. A mirror, a horn, and a turn signal also got smashed. I’m going to replace the headlight with something much brighter, the better to see at night. The headlight from a railroad locomotive would be about right.

It’s 20° outside, but I’d still be riding if the bike was intact. So I’m bummed about it being out of commission. 28 of my friends on Facebook commented on my post about the accident. Most were in favor of my having survived and of my recovery. I was surprised not to see a comment from one particular friend, though; she’s a very nice person who I would expect to express her concern and good wishes, so I guess she has her Facebook news feed set up to ignore me. Now that really has me bummed out.
Current Location: Springvile
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: KBYU-FM
I recently returned from a business trip to Chandler, Arizona. The flight was on a very small plane, a Canadair CRJ, which we had boarded by climbing a portable boarding chute. I sat in seat 2A, almost at the front of the classless cabin. There was some sort of issue being dealt with by airline maintenance, so the plane had been sitting on the tarmac longer than usual, and it was very warm inside. Finally, the maintenance guys sorted whatever was wrong and we were almost ready to go. But the cute stewardess made a face that was an advance apology for an announcement she knew was going to make somebody unhappy. She said that somebody in the first four rows needed to volunteer to move to the very back row, to effect some kind of load balance, or we would not be able to leave. After a short silence, I stood up and headed back. I told the people near the rear of the plane, as I passed them, that I was the ballast. That got some laughs.

I sat down next to the guy who thought he was going to have the back row all to himself, and contemplated the fact that we were about to fly in a plane that so marginally stable that one passenger could knock it off balance so badly that it was unsafe to fly. I noticed the stewardess making her way back from the front of the plane with a cup of ice water. She handed it to me, saying “Here’s some ice water to cool off” and thanked me again for volunteering. I thought that was nice.

I figured if she thanked me again as I got off the plane (I figured I would be the last off) that I would say that I found it hard to say “no” to nice people. When those words crossed my mind, I was transported decades into the past.

When I lived in Salt Lake City, I often rode the bus to Provo, where I was attending BYU. One night, whle I was waiting for the bus to pick me up for the return trip to Salt Lake, a young lady apporached the bench I was sitting on and sat down. She was one of those people who radiate niceness; you can feel them walking up behind you like you can feel the sun shining on you when it comes out from behind the clouds. We started talking about the bus system, then she mentioned that she would soon be heading to the airport, on a different bus, to move home and take care of her mother in Greensboro.

It seems to be a common human phenomenon to confide in people you are spending time with that you are never going to see again. She had two older brothers who had no interest in taking care of their mother, and were in fact keen to put her away in a rest home so they could lay their hands on their property. Mom did not want to stay in a rest home, and was terrified at the prospect. When she was young she had seen how poorly treated her grandmother had been in a rest home. She had all but written her sons out of her will, so they wanted to have her declared incompetant so they could take everything now instead of waiting for her to die.

The young lady and her mother planned on traveling for a while, mostly in the States, while her Mom was still hardy enough to do so. She told me about the places her family had visited when her father was still alive, and her face glowed as she relived the happy times. There were all sorts of things they wanted to do— cooking, quilting, scrapbooking. Today, this would be called a bucket list. Her brothers resented “their” money being spent before they could get it. She took some delight in frustrating her brothers, but felt a little guilty about that.

The bus arrived, and I got on, showing the driver my bus pass. The young lady put some change in the farebox, but was having trouble finding the additional dollar needed for her fare. She said she knew she had had the dollar when she left home. The driver suggested that another passenger might loan her a dollar. “Oh, I couldn’t ask anybody to do that!” she replied, appallled at the thought. “I must have dropped it out there somewhere!” She looked out the bus door, as if she were about to step outside and start searching.

I had three brand-new, crisp, dollar bills in my wallet with consecutive serial numbers. I thought having consecutive serials was kind of cool, and had been thinking of what to do with them. But I dug one of them out, saying “Oh! I found this out there! It must be yours!”, and stuck it in the farebox. Well, she had, of course, seen me do no such thing, so she gave me a look of mock disapproval, and sat down next to me. She told more stories about her family and her mother, and I told her a few about mine.

We both got off the bus in Salt Lake at the transfer point. She looked at me with pretend seriousness, and said “That was not my dollar. Thank you. I could never have asked you to do that.”

“That’s OK!” I replied. “I would have been happy to give it to you if you had. I find it very hard to say ‘No’ to nice people.”

At those words, her face suddenly changed. It turned red, and scrunched up. Tears began to run from her eyes. “Thank you!” she squeaked. Then she did something that surprised me. She put her hand on my shoulder and kissed me on the cheek. Then she turned and walked quickly away, her arms wrapped around herself as if she were giving herself a hug, her head down.

I realized that she had left a tear on my cheek. I would usually wipe a tear or a raindrop from my cheek quickly, but this tear was exempt, as a lady bug is exempt from being swatted when it lands on me. The tear tickled and trickled down my cheek and I let it dry there.

I have no idea why the young lady cried after what I said. I can only imagine.

I kept the water cup, by the way.
Tags: ,
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
19 October 2011 @ 06:44 pm
This seldom-used blog was once more active, but was used mostly for what Facebook does now. But it is a handy place to make some links available to you without your having to type them in.

Ted Simon complimented by writing on his Jupiter Blog. I suppose that falls short of an endorsement, but it pleased me very much, nevertheless.

Before blogs, there were websites. I still maintain one, with a Motorcycle page here.

Yes, I suppose you could say I can upload photos: Ride pics for friends and family

I am an admin for an online motorcycle riders forum called Actual Riders. I took over the reins from one of the founders, and post there frequently. Sign up if you like, and I'll approve you. There are not many members, but there are enough active ones to make logging in worthwhile. The Chama trip described in the Smugmug gallery above was a group ride organized there.

Actual Riders

I posted a ride report there about a visit to the site of the Topaz War Relocation Center near Delta, Utah. It was part of a "Ghost Towns" topic. You can find it on Actual Riders, of course, but for your convenience I've copied and pasted the HTML in a blog post below.
Current Location: Springville, UT
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
19 October 2011 @ 06:31 pm
Class B.

When Elzi proposed a Ghost Towns project, I soon thought of Topaz.
All I knew about the place was that it was one of the camps where the U.S. stashed a huge number of Japanese Americans right after the start of World War II, and that it was somewhere in Utah. I had no idea where in Utah, but thought it was somewhere in the southeast corner of the state. After the most cursory of searches, I discovered that the Topaz War Relocation Center was located a short distance west of Delta, Utah. I'd ridden to Delta a couple of times to have breakfast at the Rancher Café, so I was happy to learn that Topaz was well within reach.

Located at 39°24′40″N 112°46′20″W

I had it in my head that one of the barracks buildings had been preserved, but was soon set straight by friends who had been there. Nothing remains but foundations, gravel streets, debris, and a flagpole with some monuments. Finding the place on Google Earth was very intriguing, as you can see where the gravel tracks are that once were streets, and the concrete slabs that formed the foundations of the barracks and other buildings.

Andrew and I enjoyed the ride out to Delta, and lunch at the Rancher Café. It took a while to find Topaz because the scale of the street grid out there is so huge. Fortunately, there are signs directing you to the site once you get close, and signs like this one marking the corners.
I think when they say "NO motorcycles" they mean "NO dirt bikes tearing up the historic site and artifacts". Or at least I hope so.

Andrew had fun with some of the thousands of huge anthills that dot the site, and I had fun looking for foundations and other traces. We found these stoves sitting on one foundation:
There were bits of window screen, stovepipes, boards, lots of nails, fragments of bottles, bits of brick. It was all very interesting. It started to get dark, so we left for home. It got quite chilly before we reached Springville, and we stopped for hot chocolate in Nephi.

When I talked about our ride with a friend later that night, he described a flagpole and monuments to me, saying they were about a mile out in the middle of the site. Of course he turned out to be wrong about the location, but I headed out the next day to try to find them. I wandered the gravel tracks for a while, then finally decided to ride all the way around the site on the roads.

Finally, I found the flagpole and monuments, right on the road we had ridden to get there. We had just not ridden far enough, having been distracted by the corner marker sign. Of course it makes sense to make it visible from the "highway." Here's the "highway":
It was quite fun to zip long the "highway", which appeared to be a crumbling oil and gravel road with a layer of gravel on top. I had never ridden on gravel for so long, but there was no way we were walking or turning back.

Here is the flagpole, with the monuments:
Here is a map of the camp when it was in operation. Note that is a mile square!
I wish the buildings were still standing. The camp must have been impressive to see. "Ghost town" is such a fitting description.

The place is often described as a concentration camp, which is accurate even though the Nazis developed them in a different direction, for a far more sinister purpose, and on a larger scale. Topaz residents, after the camp had been in operation for a while, were allowed to leave for hikes and to hold jobs in nearby Delta.

The main plaque on the monuments reads:

Over 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two thirds of whom are U.S. citizens, are uprooted from their west coast homes and incarcerated by their own government. It is 1942, wartime hysteria is at a peak. They are imprisoned in ten inland concentration camps where they remain behind barbed wire, under suspicion and armed guards for up to 3 1/2 years. Topaz is one of the ten camps.

Without hearings or trials, this act of injustice is based solely on the color of their skin and the country of their origin. America's fear and distrust of these citizens-- precipitated by Japan's attack upon Pearl Harbor-- is placated.

Lost within this rush to judgement is the denial of constitutional rights, major losses of personal property and the labelling of its own citizens as enemy. Ironically, though this mass incarceration is spearheaded by thoughts of disloyalty, not a single case of espionage against the U.S. is ever discovered.

Indeed, the 442nd RCT and 100th Battalion, composed entirely of young Japanese-American boys (many of whom volunteer from internment camps), suffer major war casualties and go on to become the U.S. Army's most highly-decorated combat unit in its history.

Topaz is closed in October of 1945. The memory of Topaz remains a tribute to a people whose faith and loyalty was steadfast--while America's had faltered.

It wasn't until the days after our visits to the site that the words, and the phenomena they described, began to sink in. Imagine that you have been hauled off to a concentration camp in the middle of nowhere, losing your home, your job, your business, your friends and everything else. All because of your country of origin, or perhaps your parents' country of origin. You are stuffed in a barracks full of strangers, and watched over by armed guards as if you had just personally bombed Pearl Harbor. So what do you do? You volunteer to fight in a horrific war on behalf of the country that imprisoned you, and do so with such valor and skill that your unit is the most decorated in the Army.

Makes you think.
Current Location: Topaz Internment camp site
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
08 April 2011 @ 03:43 am
Here it is, weeks into spring, and it is cold and raining and snowing. I was working inside tonight, and heard a train go by. The tracks are a few blocks away-- far enough so the trains don't wake us up, but close enough to hear them clearly. From the sound, I could tell it was raining outside. How? I could not tell you. Do the wet streets, houses, and trees reflect the sound differently? Do the air chimes on the locomotives get rainwater in them? The sound seems somehow more lonesome, more plaintive, more distant. It is sort of the opposite of hot summer nights where I grew up, when the sounds of the trains in town carried to our house so much better, so they sounded a lot closer. You heard them, and sound reminded you that it was summer, glorious summer, with its freedom from school and cares.
Current Location: Provo, UT
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Awful country
06 October 2008 @ 12:28 pm
It is a lovely fall day here. I am taking a sick day because of a dentist appointment later in the day. We have to take sick time in one-day increments, so instead of leaving early, I have a day to run errands.

Since it is such a nice day, I took the bike. It has been running well lately, with intermittent bouts of three or two cylinders, but I feel like I can solve whatever the problem is, so I'm not under a black could of dread about it. I put in new plugs since the Canada ride, and have found that the spark plug wires can be replaced with no problem (if I can find the wire, that is). If I need to replace a coil, I know where to get at least one, and I'll bet I can find used ones on eBay or new ones elsewhere.

For some reason, taking corners is especially fun today. Intoxicating. Could be that I have not ridden enough lately, or that I'm happy to have the bike running (mostly) well, or that I can sense that the nice days are finite in number. In any event, I'll get as much riding in as I can.

Had a wonderful lunch at Sensuous Sandwich, which is grounds for happiness all by itself.

It is probably not healthy to like motorcycling as much as I do.
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
23 October 2007 @ 06:05 pm
Now I "get" the whole adventure riding thing. At least to some extent.

My son, now 13, bugged me for a dirt bike for years, and I finally got him a KL250 almost a year ago. I taught him to ride, and of course rode the thing myself, but I didn't have a clue what a dirt bike was all about until I went tearing around the field behind our house... through the weeds, over the ditches, in and out of the stump holes, dodging the trees. What a complete kick in the pants!

But Andrew is now ready for something more fun and challenging than a closed circuit in a field, and we'll be traveling next spring and summer to my family's ranch in California, or a few places here in Utah that he can ride until he gets his license. But the ride I hope to take with him once he gets his license is part of the Trans-America Trail (TAT), which I learned about thanks to some outstanding ride reports by Mark Sampson.

TAT 2004

TAT 2006 New Year's Day

TAT 2006 Western Sections

I've shown Andrew bits and pieces of it, but have archived the 2004 and 2006 reports so I can show them to him (no Internet access where he is staying right now). I am sure he will be very enthusiastic about the prospect of a ride.

Andrew and his bike with bent bars.I am now figuring out what bike to buy for this sort of ride, and think a KLR650 would be about right. It also would fit into the other uses I'd put it to.

Here's a link to the Trans-America Trail site:

Trans-America Trail
Current Mood: pensivepensive
07 April 2007 @ 10:22 pm
Andrew and his bike with bent bars.My son, Andrew, now 13, loves motorcycles. The KL250 I bought him a while ago has made him happy, but is so far having a rough life. Here's a pic of the boy and the bike. Note the handlebars, if you can find them in the pic. He was still riding the bike like that when I hauled it to the shop because of a huge fuel leak and a stripped kickstarter shaft.

Current Mood: amusedamused
22 January 2007 @ 04:29 pm
I spent some time working on my bike. First priority was getting it started to warm it up, charge the battery, freshen the gas in the carbs, and drive out the moisture.

It would not crank. Dead battery. I figured it was my bad, not having it on a battery tender, though it had not been that long since I ran the bike. Anyway, I stuck the charger on the battery and went about other errands for a hour or so.

When I got back, the bike seemed like it wanted to start, but the battery could not crank it for long. The charger would quickly charge it back up for another go, so I suspected the battery, which looked fairly new, might have a problem. Who knows what the previous owner might have done. Though well-intentioned, "Dick" has proven himself capable of huge blunders in motorcycle maintenance. So I took the battery out to have a look.

Sure enough, it was very low on electrolyte. I've been spoiled by decades of driving cars with maintenance-free batteries. When I was a kid working in my Dad's gas stationi, battery water was one thing I'd check. We had a cool automatic filler pitcher thing that would add the right amount of distilled water. You'd stick its snout into each cell until the gurgling stopped. Then you'd tell the customer you topped off the battery, and that a few of the cells were low, and they'd look a bit surprised, and thank me. Then they'd stop at our station again the next time they came through town.

I wish they had those things for motorcycle batteries. I did have a 20 oz Coke bottle full of deionized water in the other storage shed, so I went to get it. Of course it was frozen solid. What was I thinking? I set it in front of a small electric heater, but adding 1500 W to a flow of air at 10° F does not warm it much. I tried doing the same using my car heater, but it was slow going. Still, after fifteen minutes, I had enough water melted to top off a couple of cells.

Then I noticed another 20 oz Coke bottle full of water sitting in the same storage unit/shop as my bike. It appeared to still be liquid. I figured that being in the same building as the office might have kept the unit warmer, or maybe the roof was a darker color. I contemplated all this as I held the bottle in my hand, and gave it an idle slosh.

There is a phenomenon called supercooling that happens to liquids. You can cool a liquid or solution way below it's freezing point or below the point where the solute should start crystallizing out, but nothing happens, because the liquid does not know how to freeze or the solute does not know how to crystallize. Then you give it a nucleus to start from, like a tiny ice crystal or a seed crystal, and it will suddenly solidify.

That's what happened when I sloshed the bottle. In about five seconds I was holding a bottle of ice. Awesome to watch.

I found a blow-dryer that I use to pre-heat motorcycles on really cold days so they will start, and used it to melt some more water. Got the battery topped off, and charged it for a couple hours while I went ofter parts and did some shopping with my son/biker buddy.

Once I got back, the bike started right up. I could tell the starter needed fresh oil from the sound it made, but otherwise the bike seemed happy to be running. I let it run, make beautiful music, and get warm while my son ran around knocking icicles off raingutters around the storage facility.

It's amazing how cold complicates things. All I needed was water, and it took an hour to get enough to top off a battery. I could have driven to a stupid store (a nice, warm stupid store) and bought some in less time, were I not so stubborn. Reminded me of Jack London's "To Build a Fire."
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: Busted Bicycle - Leo Kottke
03 September 2006 @ 11:27 pm
Fawkes, courtesy of hp-lexiconI was just reading a friend's blog, and she related a conversation she had had with a motorcycle shop mechanic wherein he asked her what she called her bike.

It struck me that many people name their motorcycles, but I did not have a name for mine. Since I had brought the poor thing back from the dead, "Phoenix" came to mind, but then I realized that would remind most people of the city. Phoenix the city is no big deal to me, but then I remembered that in the Harry Potter books, Albus Dumbledore has a phoenix. I did a Google search on phoenix and Dumbledore, and found out by visiting this site (was reminded) that his phoenix's name is Fawkes. I suspect this is a reference to Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night in England.

So, I thought, Fawkes it is. But then I read that phoenixes are crimson in color, and that they have healing powers. So much the better! My red motorcycle with its therapeutic effects deserves the name even more than I thought.

One other fact is that the tail of a phoenix is golden in color, and hot to the touch. So I need to have the mufflers gold plated.
Current Location: The Datacenter
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful