Quote of the Day

“I believe in — I am proud to belong to — the United States. Despite shortcomings, from lynchings to bad faith in high places, our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history. And finally, I believe in my whole race. Yellow, white, black, red, brown — in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability … and goodness … .of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth, that we always make it just by the skin of our teeth — but that we will always make it … survive … endure. I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching, oversize brain case and the opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes, will endure — will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets, to the stars, and beyond, carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage — and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart.” -Robert A.Heinlein, This I Believe (1952)

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QotD

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
― Frédéric Bastiat, The Law (1850)

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Links – SpaceX and Starlink

Two of my favorite links of late:

THE “IMPOSSIBLE” TECH BEHIND SPACEX’S NEW ENGINE

This is an excellent short article explaining why it is a technical triumph that SpaceX was able to develop a full flow staged combustion rocket engine. (Also, for me, it helped me understand what that even is, or why I should care).

SpaceX continues to make space exciting and hopeful for the first time in decades. I can’t help but root for them. This second link is a long form article. Skimming some of the minutia is probably best for most, but the larger point stands:

STARLINK IS A VERY BIG DEAL

The more I understand, the more I appreciate the potential for Starlink, SpaceX’s plan to provide internet via low earth orbit satellites, to be truly transformative (or disruptive, since it would not be an overused buzzword in this case). I am very curious to find out if the practical application lives up to the potential any time soon. If it does, this is how you fund putting people, and eventually an entire city, on Mars. Everything SpaceX is trying to do is extraordinarily ambitious and exciting.

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COBDR and NMBDR – Wrap up, Map, and Gallery

Just a quick wrap up about our most recent moto adventure on the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route and New Mexico BDR. On the map, our trip looked like this:

We rode about 2800 miles over 23 days, which includes some rest days. We spent 7 days on the COBDR, and 5 days on the NMBDR (riding 5 of the 7 sections). Probably over 1600 miles of this trip were off pavement.

Photo gallery with all of the trip photos in one convenient place:

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COBDR NMBDR – NM Section 3 to TorC and The End

9/21/2019

Our last day on the New Mexico BDR. After leaving our campground near Reserve in the morning, we headed south on section 3 of the NM BDR, with the goal of reaching the end of the section in Truth or Consequences (TorC), NM by this evening. Normally, we try not to set mileage goals for the day, as we like the freedom to just ride wherever and however long we feel like that day. However, we’re running out of time on this trip. TorC is not the end of the NMBDR, but it will be the end for us this time.

The riding in section 3 is mostly very easy and scenic class 1 roads, except for two notable portions. Sometime in the morning, we found ourselves struggling on an increasignly rocky climb, with lots of loose “babyheads.”  Below, is where I took a bad bounce, and actually fell over.

Both me and the bike were fine, but I was disappointed that I’d made it all this way only to finally eat it on a road that was far less difficult than places I’d already ridden. Or was it. As we climbed, the road got increasingly difficult.

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COBDR NMBDR – NM Sections 5 and 4

9/19/2019

We had a late morning at the KOA in Grants, NM taking care of some admin before starting south on NMBDR section 5. At this point, its been three weeks since we left home in NC.

Zuni Canyon Rd was an easy class one with really interesting scenery through the canyon that we both enjoyed. Then there were some wide and fast dirt and gravel roads before entering a nice, mostly class 2 section through the woods. (There were  a few class 3 spots here that I did not like, but made it through).

We both really liked this small woods section with the strange volcanic rock.

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COBDR NMBDR – Starting the New Mexico BDR, Sections 7 and 6, Headed South

9/17/2019

Once again, for the third or fourth time on this trip, waiting out the rain was a great idea. We left our quirky accommodations in Antonito in sunny and dry weather (and dry enough dirt roads) to head south on Section 7 of the New Mexico BDR.

Below, Kevin is airing the tires back down to off-road pressures now that’s we’ve left the pavement. The BDR starts with mostly class 1 dirt roads through Carson National Park.

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COBDR NMBDR – Into New Mexico

9/16/2019

At first, I mostly regretted leaving Pagosa Springs the morning we headed out toward the northern end of the New Mexico BDR in Antonito, CO.  I wanted to ride the NMBDR, but the weather was not cooperating, it was cold and still mostly rainy, and another day of rest in a relaxing resort town sounded nice.

People were right when they told us that weather forecasts here are useless. The forecast turned out to be wildly inaccurate, and even the radar didn’t show the rain. Had I known, maybe I could have talked Kevin into waiting; instead it was a very cold and rainy ride all the way to Antonito. Even with my heated jacket and grips, I was shaking from the cold.

New Mexico – The 45th state where we’ve ridden our motorcycles.

The Chamas steam train carries tourists on a scenic ride through the country. I’m glad we stopped to try and get the photo, but it took two of us, as Kevin had to shield the lens from the rain, and I absolutely froze my fingers getting this shot. There was a bicycle tourist who stopped by this pullout who looked absolutely miserable, and I hope we reassured him that he could reach inside lodging in Chamas soon.

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COBDR NMBDR – CO Sections 2 and 1 to the end at Four Corners

9/12/2019

We did not rush out of Lake City this morning in an effort to let the day warm up a bit  from the freezing overnight temperatures before heading up in elevation. The ride out of town goes south past Lake San Cristobal en route to ascend Cinnamon Pass, the first big pass of the day.

Here we go. Deep breath, which will also help because the air is about to get a lot thinner.

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COBDR NMBDR – CO Section 3

9/10/2019

Once again, we were glad we didn’t push to try and finish section 4  and ride into Buena Vista last night. The remainder of the section was only something like 25 miles, but it went through a sandy OHV area, and would be far less enjoyable when tired at the end of a day. As it was, it was a bit slow going, but only one of the deep sand spots really gave us any trouble.

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COBDR NMBDR – CO Section 4

9/9/2019

After heading south out of Gypsum in the morning, we were glad we decided to wait out the rain. I ended up loving nearly all of section 4, but like most off road routes, it would not have been a positive experience in the wet.

The riding in section 4 was overall slower going for me, but really amazing. In the morning, we enjoyed a really nice (but sometimes pretty rocky/bumpy) and occasionally red clay road through the woods. I apparently didn’t take photos, but I enjoyed the riding near Sylvan Lake.

We discovered Sylvan Lake State Park was mostly closed due to construction, including major work on the 1940s era dam. Had we pressed on the previous day to try and camp here, we would have been disappointed.

Then came Hagerman Pass, our first of the “big” passes, which definitely left an impression on us. I’ve never ridden anything like this before.

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COBDR NMBDR – Starting the COBDR, Sections 6 and 5, Headed South

9/7/2019

Kevin set his tail pack on fire as we tried to depart the motel this morning. I really hope our luck changes soon, as this is day six of our trip, and five of those days have had some sort of incident. In all our of years of moto traveling, we’ve never had quite this much trouble.

We both charge electronics in the tail packs on our motorcycles, via switched (with the ignition) power supplied from the bike itself. That way we can keep things like cell phones, camera batteries, and the USB battery pack charged, even when we’re camping in places with no power. Most devices other than our helmet radios stay charged while we ride.

It turns out that part of the system in Kevin’s tail pack involved two identical and unlabeled connectors (can you sense my eyeroll?) that can be connected in two possible ways. One way works great, the other starts an electrical fire in your tail pack.  This morning, naturally, was the morning Kevin finally (and I would say inevitably) connected it wrong. Fortunately, we caught it before it got out of hand. Other than his tail pack smelling irrevocably like burnt plastic, the only casualty was was his SAE to USB adapter. This means he can no longer charge USB powered devices from his bike, leaving me to bear the entire load, but that’s hardly trip ending.

Somewhat shaken and aggravated, we departed Steamboat Springs in cool sunny weather for the northern end of the COBDR.

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COBDR NMBDR – 3 breakdowns in 4 days, Kevin’s bike takes a turn

9/5/2019

We’re definitely having an adventure, its just not the one we planned. Today started out with a literally and figuratively sunny outlook for riding over the unpaved Boreas Pass en route to Steamboat Springs.

We’d made it 20 miles on pavement, turned off onto the gravel road in the tiny town of Como, CO to begin our ascent over the pass, when Kevin’s bike promptly broke down. We were not amused.

After downshifting from highway speed and letting the clutch out when making the turn onto the gravel road, the clutch started slipping. At first it only slipped above about half throttle. Then no drive at all. Between the time he noticed the problem and total failure was about 200 ft of travel. Now there is no clutch. You can put his bike in first gear and roll it around like a bicycle.

This is definitely a problem, Kevin’s bike is not going anywhere under its own power.

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COBDR NMBDR – Heading north toward a BDR, any BDR will do

9/3/2019

Day 2 was a beautiful sunny day that began with us in a hotel room over a mile from our motorcycles, which were parked, in presumably non-working condition, outside of a shop that would hopefully be open today.

Task one was getting to the shop with our tailpacks and our helmets, with the optimistic view that we’d be riding them back to the hotel shortly.

So we started walking down the busy (for a rural area) road, and just for fun, I stuck my thumb out. I’ve never hitchhiked before, but hey, there’s a first time for everything. Within two minutes, a older pick-up with a dreamcatcher hanging from rear view mirror, driven by an even older gentlemen, pulled over in front of us and told us to get in. Ok, sure. We sat on the bench seat three wide, and he barely even needed to ask where we were going. He was a local, and the bright yellow helmets we were carrying gave him a good guess. I hardly even got to ask him about himself, as by the time we’d explained our story, he was dropping us off in the parking lot of the moto shop and was on his way. Thanks random guy for the lift.

We’d arrived at least an hour before the shop opened, but got to work right away. Naturally, my bike started right up this morning, as if nothing had ever been wrong. I rode it around for a bit, trying to replicate the problem, and eventually just stuck it in a parking space by the road and let it idle for awhile in the hopes that we could catch the fueling problem again.

Kevin’s bike would not start.

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COBDR NMBDR – Starting south

9/2/2019

After abandoning my car and trailer in Colorado Springs, we headed out on loaded up motorcycles on Monday morning.

At this point, the plan was to ride all the way south to the start (southern end) of the New Mexico BDR in Dell City, TX. Then we could ride the NMBDR all the way north into Colorado, ride to the southern start of the COBDR, and ride that to north the border with Wyoming before returning to Colorado Springs. It would be a 3000+ mile clockwise loop of moto riding excellence.

Right from the start, Kevin had picked some scenic unpaved roads heading out from Colorado Springs: Old Stage Rd, Gold Camp Rd., Phantom Canyon.

Mid morning, Day 1, I found myself ascending a dirt rd at 9000ft of elevation, when I noticed my temperature light was on.

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COBDR NMBDR – Colorado here we come

Ok, we’re going. I never really believe its going to happen until we’re actually leaving. No more planning, no more wondering if we can make the time, or if some random work related event will scuttle our plans. Kevin’s health actually seems good enough to handle the trip, so we’re leaving on another multi week moto adventure.

Our moto trips aren’t quite vacation; they usually aren’t that relaxing. This one is sure to be the toughest one yet, as we are both looking forward to riding the COBDR, and possibly the NMBDR.  I’ll admit, this off-road dual-sport/adventure riding thing we’ve been doing more and more of recently has been…a transition from street riding. I am definitely still in that transition process. But it is a lot of fun. Riding the MABDR last year introduced us to BDR routes, and whet our appetites enough to make the effort to travel to the western states.

Unusually, our start of the trip photo looks like this:

We’ve ridden across the country on motorcycles multiple times before, but had no desire (or enough time) to do it this time. Besides, crossing Kansas on a 250 doesn’t seem like much fun. Towing the bikes meant we could travel from NC to CO in just two days.  (And yes, the 2013 Chevy Volt made a more reasonable tow vehicle than you might guess. It did fine, although my preference would have been to take the F250).

The photo below was taken the morning of our departure, and I’m including it because I find it a bit odd and sort of funny:

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WR250R Lynx Fairing

I had trouble finding very many reviews of this thing online, so I want to document our experience.

Earlier this year, Kevin took a chance on purchasing a Britannia Composites Lynx Dual Sport Fairing for his WR250R. I wisely let him go first with the hope that he would like it, because I really wanted to buy one for my WR as well.

We use our WR250Rs as both dual sport motorcycles, and as mini-adventure bikes. Meaning, we travel for multiple days/weeks at a time on these bikes, and we ride both quite a bit on road as well as off road. Our WRs aren’t just plated dirt bikes that we ride between trails (there are perhaps better choices for that). While the WR250R is a surprisingly reasonable street bike, wind protection is obviously lacking. When street riding, both Kevin and I have come to appreciate motorcycles that successfully take the wind pressure off of your chest, and leave your head in clean (non-turbulent) air. Over time, reducing that air pressure at speed distinctly reduces fatigue.

Thus, the Lynx fairing was a promising aftermarket solution for the WR, as well as serving several other purposes. In addition to providing the right amount of wind protection, we could upgrade the mediocre stock headlight to some really nice LED units, and provide a small dashboard/cockpit – a place to mount things like the GPS, heated gear switches, etc. Also, the Lynx fairing just looks super cool (seriously, it makes the WR look a little like a rally bike).

Unfortunately, it was not to be.

The good:

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A small moto trip to TN and Asheville

Motorcycles make every outing an adventure. Fortunately, I mean that in a good way for our most recent small road trip, which included the entire southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway over various parts of our six day mini vacation.

First up, a little visit with some friends on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN. Have I mentioned how nice it is to be at elevation during the summer months?  (Only once or twice, probably:) Below is the signature Clingmans Dome in Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

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NYC

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DS day ride shenanigans

A little moto therapy this weekend (worked like a charm, as always, I don’t know why I ever doubt it):

This also happened:

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Cody

The inevitability of outliving a beloved pet doesn’t make it any easier when the time comes. Neither does understanding that nearly 13 years, just over 12.5 with us, is a pretty good run for a large dog. For us, that’s roughly 1/3 of our lives at this point, which is most of mine and Kevin’s adult life, and our lives together. Its still not enough time.

Cody was a great dog, our close companion, and we both loved him dearly. Neither of us had ever bonded with a dog as strongly before; he was an integral part of our lives. His loss is heartbreaking for both of us.

We knew this was coming soon. Cody’s quality of life was declining, and we knew he likely wouldn’t make it through this year, or even the next few months. He’s had declining mobility for awhile, but recently he stopped getting up to greet us. He had trouble supporting himself to go to the bathroom. He’s been on an increasing levels of painkillers to keep him comfortable. We weren’t ready to call it yet, he was still so happy so much of the time. He still did his old man version of the supper dance, and was as happy as ever to get chicken earlier this week. There was still a little bit of play fighting on his good days. For him, I willingly cleaned up the messes in the house when he started losing control of his bowel movements a few months ago. We had lots of questions and uncertainty about when we would make the call.

Then there was an accident, and the decision became clear. He could not be saved, and now he’s gone.

I didn’t really want to talk about this publicly. I also realize how ridiculous it is to post a eulogy for my dog on the internet. But the following content is for me, to help me bridge the time until I stop habitually looking for him so much, and can enjoy the happy memories without crying. He had a great life with us, and we miss him.

This goofy shot always makes me smile:

We took him canoeing exactly one time. You can guess how that went. This peaceful shot is not representative of the experience.

Despite being a rescue (as in, literally rescued from a flooding river by a friend of ours when he was 3-4 months old), there is no doubt in my mind that Cody was all Chessie. (Chesapeake Bay Retriver). No papers necessary to figure that out.

We didn’t seek out a Chessie, and might not have kept him had we known anything about the breed:) However, if Cody is representative, Chessies are great. I’d even consider getting another one :p  (A long time from now)

My favorite saying about Chesapeake Bay Retrievers:
“You ask a Lab, you command a Golden, and you negotiate with a Chessie.”  That is the truth.

Cody got to spend a lot of time by (and often in) the river, pretty much paradise for him.

 

 

Cody loved snow

He was a terrible hunter/predator.

 

When he was young and able, Cody loved going on hikes with us

Fetching sticks from the water was one of his favorite activities. Its almost like he was bred to retrieve things from the water:)

I love this shot of him

 

He was so goofy sometimes. “Hey guys. Its hot outside. Let me in. I know I just asked to go out 30 seconds ago, but summer is too hot.”

 

 

This was his girlfriend (Bela – after Bela Fleck), until she passed a few years ago. We stopped saying her name, because he would try to look for her. He was never that interested in other dogs, but he loved this dog from the moment he saw her. It was strange and really cute.

 

Did I mention he loved the water? He is a water dog after all. Although for the first two years we had him, he was terrified of swimming. Given the nature of his rescue from a flooded river as a puppy, we couldn’t blame him. Then one day we were all swimming in the lake, and he was alone on the shore, and that did it. In he went. From then on, we couldn’t keep him out.

 

 

He loved to destroy things, but was remarkably good about not destroying things he wasn’t supposed to. We had very little chewing damage, even when he was a puppy. One Christmas we discovered his love of unwrapping presents. He was manic. I’ve never seen him so happy about anything. We let him tear up wrapping paper into tiny little pieces. After that, we’d give him things to unwrap. He loved it. My mom would wrap things for him when he came to visit, so he could have something to unwrap, like he was a little kid. We’d save cardboard containers like oatmeal containers (you know, Quaker oatmeal cardboard cylinders), and put treats in it, and roll the top so he’d have to destroy the container to get the treat. Best dog toys ever, except for maybe peanut butter in the kong.

 

He was a great car riding dog. Loved to go for rides. We used to travel with him more, and he would tolerate miserably long road trips. As long as he was with us and in the car, he was happy. Kevin would take him to work (our shop), and ride around in the little red single cab pick up. Cody would sit up like a person. People around our small town would recognize that tall guy in the little red truck with the big dog. When he was older, sometimes we would put him in the car to go on errands. It was hard for him to get in and out, so we would just let him ride around for an hour or two, and then take him right back home. He loved it. (yes, we were careful about leaving him in a hot car, that was always thoughtfully managed. If we went to Lowes, he sometimes got to go inside, and the cashiers would give him treats).

 

Neat shot in the snow

 

I loved his wide range of expressions:

 

There were many happy days by the lake, his favorite place:

 

He was a good camper. Didn’t bark. Settled right down at night with us in the tent. He probably would have preferred if we’d slept in a pile on the floor together every night.

 

For all the pictures we took of him, he never seemed to like the camera pointed at him, and never grew to like the new house we moved into in 2017

This picture makes me laugh. There are not one, but two Cody size dog beds for him to lay on in this shot. But no. He has to make sure the little dog (not ours) can’t use her bed, which he doesn’t fit on.

 

Aside from travel where we couldn’t bring him, Cody has been a part of our daily lives for just over 12.5 years. On the few occasions we’ve been home without the dog in the past, its been really strange. I have so many daily habits where I interact with him. He’s also the loudest panting dog I have ever heard, and he does it a lot. One of my favorite silly nicknames for him is Sir Pants-a-lot (of Avalon). His panting has been the background audio of our home life for 12.5 years. Its really quiet right now. I expect I’ll still look for him for some time. Its heartbreaking.

Goodbye Cody Bear, we will miss you.

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QotD

“If only genius and power were linked to good judgment and superior temperament, but that notion is contradicted by virtually all of human history. ” – Alex Roy, The Penalty of Leadership: From Cadillac To Tesla

 

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20/20 Racing Academy

Oh look, more moto training (and, let’s be honest, general goofing around) with some friends from GPMX. This time, our instruction came from the excellent Ike De Jager of 20/20 Racing Academy, who led drills and trail riding at Outback ATV park in NC.

Dirt bikes are fun :)

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Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting VA 2019

I’m not sure why we waited so long to finally attend a Horizons Unlimited (HU) travelers meeting; Kevin and I enjoyed the heck out of this year’s event. The VA meeting is only a half day’s ride from home. The four day round trip involved riding and camping in beautiful April spring weather, and a nice venue full of interesting and smart people who don’t mind talking endlessly about motorcycles and moto travel.  Motorcycle overlanders might be our tribe, rarely do either of us feel like we “fit in” so easily.

We didn’t take very many of our own photos this trip. Three of the above are courtesy of professional photographer and moto enthusiast Chris Smith.

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Kittens

Easter weekend provided a bit of random adventure this year.

Dogs do what dogs do, and that weekend my parents dog was really excited to discover where a mama cat and her two approximately two week old kittens were hiding. After said dog chased mama cat off, it became apparent that mama and her kittens were not going to be reunited while the dog was still around. The kittens options were grim at this point; if left alone, they would definitely starve or freeze to death, or the dog would eventually find a way to get them. Being unable to leave them to any of those cruel fates, we thus reluctantly ended up with  the care of two feral two week old kittens. Great.

Did you know that kittens that age have to be fed every four hours? I’ve decided they seem much less cute at four in the morning. Fortunately, we were able to locate and deliver the kittens to some other fool (I mean foster) the next day. Whew. Kittens saved, and will probably live happily ever after. The End.

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