The Bumblebee and the Vespa 2014

I think it's time for me to redefine what this new blog is about. In the past I've posted individual blogs for motorcycle/motor scooter rides to places like Alaska, Nova Scotia, Key West, Mexico, Canada, New York, etc. That's all well and good but it seems nowadays I'm dividing my rides into shorter ones comprised of two or more weeks each on different bikes. The total time and mileage is about the same, it's just split into multiple rides with a break somewhere in the middle.

The summer of 2014 serves as a good example of that wherein I rode south to Tombstone, AZ on my '92 BMW R100GS Bumblebee/Ural sidecar rig, (phew!) then returned home for a few days and set out again on my '07 Vespa 250ie motor scooter to visit Canada. That summer has gone and the seasons have changed as will the reports, some will be about shorter rides, some will be about maintenance, and maybe on occasion I'll post a photo or two just for interest. I may even introduce other bikes, a few of which are lurking under cover in the barn...

Navigating this blog is easy, just scroll down the list of posts by date to whatever interests you, click on it and you're in. Photos can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

Finally, if you'd care to post comments please do so, I'd love to hear from you. CLICK ON "NO COMMENTS" TO ENTER YOUR REMARKS. That seems really silly but that's how it works. The entry window is located at the bottom of each screen. Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy your stay.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Jul 25 - Vespa 250 - Spooling down at home

Boy do I ever love this sunshine! So here it is the day after arriving home and time to assess the damages, if any, to gear and scooter. There are always a few things that pop up and this time is no different, couple of scratches, odd mechanical noises coming from the lower regions [the scoot's, not mine], and even a bit of dye transfer on the saddle.

Paint scratch No. 1 way up high. Must have caught something underneath the saddle. Dang it anyway! Vespa offers some of the highest priced touch-up paint there is....arrgh!

Scratch No. 2 may be hard to fix but I'll try. I know what caused this one. 
This came as a surprise to me, the sheepskin seat pad's dye bled through and now the tan saddle has a blueish look to it. Maybe I can find something to take it out without dissolving the cover itself. Ideas welcome.
Harmless looking enough...

But lurking underneath is the odd blue color. Yuk!
Awhile back I put up a really primitive clothesline on the back of the deck just for this reason. Drying gear after bike tours or crabbing or just airing out sleeping bags; it's the ticket for whatever you need. Not pretty though.,,
My Elk skin gloves are still soaking wet, will likely need at least two days to dry out.

The rest of the stuff is already dry after 15 minutes. Nice breeze back there with warm sunshine. 
The mechanical noises coming from the scooter's lower regions sounds like something nasty is about to happen. Think $$$. It occurs when motion is started up and goes away at speed. At least I think it does, I can't hear it if it's still there. No surprise there...huh? What? Eh?

Altogether not much harm done and considering how hot it was the first few days and the speeds I was running at - constant 65 - 70 mph - placed quite a demand on such a small engine. I'll dig into it and see if I can sort it out but first I'll also ask my more knowledgeable buddies for their advice. Maybe they'll tell me to trade up to the more powerful 300. Yeah, that's the ticket, go get another scooter!

You left me. I wanted to go but you left me.

But now you're home and I still love you! Can we go to the beach now?
That'll do it, if anyone has ideas about removing the blue dye I'd like to hear them. Plus the mysterious mechanical noises....eww....

One last item, or two actually, I think I've got the blog fixed so readers can post comments and if you received this post via email that part's working too. Fine kettle of fish now that I'm home but at least it will be operational for the next ride.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jul 24 - Day 21 Vespa 250 - Arlington WA more gloomy rain

This morning the rain continues but the weather people say it will be gone, maybe later today. After breakfast I wandered outside for a look-see and things appeared about the same as when I checked in, dark & drizzly. Yuk!

Lovely, just lovely...
After breakfast the morning front desk lady caught up with me in the entrance and said "You should have parked your bike under our covered area. I see that you've got a cover for it but next time please do that." Now that's pretty nice I think. The scooter was totally soaked when I put it to bed but I covered it up just for security reasons. Out of sight, out of temptation, or at least that's the idea.

Ugh...water...double ugh

Wonder where the covered parking is? The lobby maybe?
Since it was still raining I decided I might as well stick around in my room for awhile. Check out time is noon which means I can hang around for 3 more hours. Cool.. Putting my soggy boots on this morning was definitely not nice but maybe they'll be better later. They smell kinda funny though..sort of swamp-like..

So what's to do in a motel room for 3 hours? Why not watch COPS Reloaded? "Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Bad boy" 

Getcher Hands up! Gettem Up! Do it NOW!

Whoa! Da door's stuck man...Don' shoot!

Don' shoot! I'm down, I'm crawlin' see? Don' shoot me!

Hey Roscoe, you want that guy? Hmm?
Day time just doesn't get any better than this. Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for yoooouuuuu!

But wait, Paternity Court is next. Whoa!

You did  WHAT?!! With BOTH of them?!!! What's wrong with you girl?
I don't know, I just like to do it, that's all. What can I say?
I hung around the motel room until 11:30 or so, then since the rain was light and I was getting antsy I turned in my card keys and bagged it. Once again I found myself rolling down I-5, this time to the south and in the rain. The sky to the west still looked pretty dark and I figured it would be chancy to take the coastal route home.

With that in mind I thought I might as well continue towards home and maybe stay overnight in Portland. For some reason I seemed to make pretty good time until I reached Seattle and then everything went into slow motion. I read somewhere recently that Seattle no longer has a rush hour; their traffic is so heavy it's stop & go 24/7. I believe it.

Eventually I cleared the area and stopped for a lunch break at a rest stop somewhere south of Olympia.

I seem to have developed a very casual attitude towards neatness when I park the scooter for short rests, lunch, etc. 

These 3 guys worked on that van the whole time I was at the rest stop having lunch. The big challenge seemed to be getting the hood closed when they were finished. Finally one of them grabbed hold of the hood brace and yanked on it hard enough to bend it and down it came.

I reached Portland at 3:45 pm and it took till 4:45 pm to clear the city. Evidently Seattle doesn't have a monopoly on traffic congestion. Instead of staying overnight I continued on; I figured as long as I wasn't tired I might as well keep riding.

The freeway traffic sped up to normal until I entered the Salem area and once again got to play stop & go for awhile. Once cleared of that things remained free and I made really good time, riding around 70 mph.

I saw the longest traffic stop ever in my whole life in the north bound lane around Brownsville. From what I could see a semi-truck trailer had burned and the emergency guys were loading it onto a gigantic wrecker. Cars were backed up for a good ten miles, never saw anything that bad before. Boy was I ever glad it wasn't in the south bound lanes.

After that not much happened, had to wait for short periods at a couple of construction zones but they weren't bad. I took the Drain exit off I-5 and rode on, through Elkton and Scottsburg, turning south onto US 101 at Reedsport. The traffic was light and it was an easy ride.

I stopped for another break at the Elk viewing area just east of Reeds Port. The herd is really huge this year and the tourists love to watch them.

Resident Elk herd east of Reeds Port
The buggers came right up to the rails and watched the people.
Once I had my fill of Elk viewing I continued homeward, stopping for gas in Coos Bay, then rode non-stop the rest of the way. I arrived home just before 10:00 pm, a little saddle-sore but not bad.

Overall I had a pretty good time on this trip. I covered 2,265 miles and saw some nice country. I wish that damn thunderstorm hadn't hit as hard as it did; I'd have liked to tour Vancouver Island again but I guess I'll have to wait till next time.

The Vespa performed well and I'm pretty enthusiastic about touring on it again. My only complaint and it's a small one is I wish it had just a tad more power; some of the hills we climbed took every once of juice it could muster. Maybe that's why they make the 300?
Almost home when this was taken. Sun was going down.
Today's ride was around 419 miles, quite a bit more than I expected. So that's it, case closed, done deal. Hope you liked the pics & the silly comments.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jul 23 - Day 20 Vespa 250 - Wotta deluge! BC to WA

Crimoney Christmas it rained hard today! Starting out in the sun didn't fool me, those storm clouds in the west looked loaded for bear so I wore my rain gear. Good thing as it turned out. Leaving Princeton around 8:30 am I stopped long enough to gas up, then got back on highway 3 heading west. A couple of miles down the road I spotted a nice 3-point buck grazing just off the road but as soon as I stopped he bolted. No posing for him, not today anyway.

Within a few more miles I caught up with the first of many slow moving semi-trucks and joined their line of followers. Semis can really be aggravating at times; they slow down to 25 mph going up hills where no one can pass safely, then when they hit the flats instead of letting people get by they run at or over the speed limit for cars. I saw this happen again and again today and it really irked me.

The rain started within the first hour of the ride and continued all day long, getting worse and worse.Then just as the weather channel had predicted the lightning storm arrived. Yippee.

This photo looks pretty clear and maybe in a car it would be but my glasses and helmet visor were fogged up so bad I couldn't see squat and didn't dare ride any more until something got fixed. While I was stopped at this particular spot I thought I might step over the guard wall and avail myself of the bushes for a much needed pee break. Just as I started down through the weeds a reddish brown snake slithered in front of me and I decided maybe I could wait a bit longer. Stage left Dude. I hate snakes, at least the ones that I don't recognize. Evil buggers all.

Because of the intense rain, fog, and lightning all I could do was pull over to the side and try to figure things out. Finally I decided I'd try and find a motel in Hope, the nearest town. That turned out to be futile, nothing looked inviting to me so I decided to move on.

One thing I'd discovered while there was if I removed my glasses and kept the helmet's visor tilted slightly up I could see fairly well.I put on my Knox Cold Killer axeman's hood as it completely covers my head from the neck up leaving a window for my eyes or if I stretch it, my entire face. This keeps out the elements and protects my chin from stinging rain. With that new approach I rolled onto the freeway and things were pretty good albeit WET.

Nasty, nasty thunderstorm continues

Me? Hell I LOVE lightning!Ha ha ha, I spit in your face lightning!
I arrived in Abbottsford cold and wet. The weather people were fairly adamant about how nasty things were going to be for the next two days so I figured what the hell, may as well bunch it and head south, no sense in taking the ferry over to the island just to sit in an overpriced motel waiting for things to clear up.

With that in mind I set the GPS for Seattle and crossed back into the USA at Suma. I've taken this route several times and the run through Nooksak down highway 9 to Seedro-Wooley rolls through picturesque farm lands.The rain continued with intensity and since it was lunch time and I was starving I opted to stop alongside the road for a couple of quick energy bars. It was weird standing by the scooter in the pouring rain having my lunch and I expected someone might stop to see if I needed help but no one did. I think the rain was a bit much for them plus I wasn't trying to wave anyone down.

Nice cozy spot for a little lunch

That yellow thing looks like it might be Tansy Ragwort. Very bad stuff for bovines.

It was raining even harder when I rolled out for I-5. Wot fun... 
I thought I might run all the way to Seattle but the storm was getting to me; I was chilled badly and that makes for dangerous riding. I kept an eye out for motel signs and spotted one for the Quality Inn at Arlington and headed for it arriving around 3:30 pm.

Checking into a motel when you're soaking wet can be a hoot at times and today was one of them. The gal at the desk was finishing up with another guy and kept glancing at me as I went through the motions of removing gloves, helmet, and earplugs all the while dripping huge amounts of water on their nice carpet.She laughed at me and asked "Fun out there?" That was a good start and to make things better I scored the #1 parking spot right next to the front entrance. 

It only took me a few minutes to unload and put the cover on the scooter, then I grabbed two cups of hot coffee and locked myself away from the elements. After a 20-minute hot as I could stand it shower I felt almost human again. It took a fair amount of time to get the really wet gear hung up to dry but it's done and nothing else will help. The last time my elk skin gloves got this wet it took several days for them to dry out. All the stuff is hanging in various places throughout the room but none of it will be dry by tomorrow, not the main stuff anyway.

We're talking WET here. The gloves take at least two days to dry out. 
The latest weather channel report says sunshine is supposed to arrive Friday and I'm tempted to stay holed up here one more day just to see. If by some miracle they're right it would make all the difference for the ride home; at the very least I could run over to the Olympic Peninsula and ride the coast highway south, that's always a nice run. I guess I'll see what it looks like in the morning, check the weather guys one more time and then decide.

I forgot to look at the odometer but I think today's run was somewhere around 250 rain-soaked miles.Fun.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jul 22 - Day 19 Vespa 250 - Canada!

T'was a dark and stormy morn....rain came to visit during the night. I'd figured it might so I covered the scooter last night. This morning it was nice and dry but it started to sprinkle again as soon as I rode out..

Bone dry in the morning. Hey, how dry are bones anyway?
In the room I enjoyed the best motel coffee I'd had in a long time, a special brew from Boyd's and it was super.
After getting all my gear packed and ready to load I hustled on over to the restaurant for my freebie breakfast. There were two gals working the shift and I was seated at a window table overlooking the river, one of the best tables there. She said she'd be right back and then must have gone on her break or quit as no one ever showed up again. No coffee, no freebie breakfast, nada. I waited about fifteen minutes, then figured I could grab something on the road and left. On the way out I snarled something at the receptionist desk gals which was about like shooting the messenger but I was feeling pissy and didn't care.

Not looking good
I headed north on Highway 95, then branched over to Highway 1 which took me into Porthill and the border crossing. Light rain continued along the way but nothing really hard. I'd worn my Frogg Toggs rain gear thinking that would be adequate protection. Wrong.
The border guys are always nice at this crossing, unlike some of the busier ones.  
A couple of miles past Rykerts, BC the GPS turned me onto Highway 3 heading west which I would follow the rest of the day. I'd chosen it as it's only a two-lane highway with lots of twisties and scenic too. The rain began in earnest not long into it so I couldn't do a lot of picture taking, only when things settled down for a bit.
Actually I stopped here to eat a candy bar and the sign just presented itself for a photo.
Highway 3 heading west out of  Creston

Mongo like highway 3!

Hey I just came that way...
After about a jillion miles of rain-soaked highway I came to this little town where I happened onto the Dragon Fly Cafe. A couple of gals were having espressos at a sidewalk table and both responded enthusiastically when I asked if the food was good. They also wanted to know if I'd ridden that cute little scooter all the way from Oregon. Now that's always an invitation to have some fun with the answer but I didn't think they'd get my weird sense of humor so I passed. Mr Nice Guy eh? Eh?

The Dragon Fly Cafe

Very hip inside. I'd say "chic" but I sometimes forget and it comes out like chicken

They sell photos done by a local artist, most were priced at $274. Odd number I know but maybe it means something to the photographer. Like his birthday or something? 
Le Menu

I had the Eggs Benedict with spinach and other dead things. It was pretty darn good.
Ah but then the real fun began for I'd done something I never ever do. I left my helmet on the saddle and casually threw my rain jacket on top of it. I'd be inside with everything in plain view so I needn't worry about anyone taking anything. That part I was right about. The part I was dumb about was when I picked up the jacket to put it on and sent the helmet flying into the gravelly street, knocking the visor completely off and adding a dozen more scratches to the paint. 

The paint issues I can live with, it's an old helmet. The real issue was the damn visor, I spent the better part of half an hour fighting with it trying to get it re-installed. Of all the helmets I've ever owned its visor is by far the fussiest one to get locked in so when it was sort of connected I decided to go with it. Wrong. Wrongo. About a mile down the road I had to lift it up to see better and off it came in my hand. Juggling it along with bringing the Vespa to a halt was precarious and I nearly dropped the scooter getting off. I spent another half hour fiddling around with the visor's mechanism and eventually heard the welcome "snap!" as it locked in solidly. Man I hate that thing but at last I was back on the road.

Eventually I ran into a really nasty bit of road construction. Why do these people need to work in the rain? Just so they can watch you sit there on your bike in the drizzle? Buncha sadists.

Sign said expect possible 20-minute delays. Grumble grumble....Actually I only waited 5-mins.
Along about Osoyoos the rain let up and I began to dry out. You know where Osoyoos is, right? It's really an interesting area, vineyards everywhere and tourist traps that go off the scale. There were hundreds of people milling around with that 1000-yard glazed-eyes overloaded tourist look, kinda like zombies.. I'm not a huge fan of crowds, especially zombies, so I made every effort to get through it all as fast as I could. 

BTW did you know that seemingly normal people point at red Vespas and say "Hey lookit that"? Seems kinda weird.

After Osoyoos the next big ticket town is Keremeos where everyone and his nephew appears to be engaged in growing fruit of one sort or another. I passed a couple of fruit stands leading into the settlement and deciding that fresh peaches might make a great snack later on I did a u-turn and headed back to the one I'd just passed.

Yippee! Free peaches!
Inside I asked the gal who seemed to be in charge if I could buy just two peaches as any more would go to waste. She said a number of undecipherable things so I pointed at my helmet and said "Ear plugs...Old guy...Eh?" She either liked that or hoped I might go away so she picked out two specimens that passed her sniff test, bagged them and said with a big smile "No charge, they're ready to eat tonight." I offered to pay for them but she said they were bruised and couldn't be sold. Home run!!!!  

Happy gal. "Hey I'm gonna be in his book!

Who makes up all these strange names anyway?

Further into town there were tractors. Lotsa tractors.

And also red scooters posing,

There must be more fruit stands along this road than anywhere else on Planet Earth
Once I'd escaped the clutches of the fruit stand zombies I nailed it fairly hard trying to make up for the slow progress when it was raining. Traffic along highway 3 was fairly light and the posted speed limit of 100 kmh meant everyone was doing at least seventy mph so I made good progress. Did I mention the GPS can be set to display kilometers with just the push of a display button. How they do that?

Princeton soon showed up on the horizon and since it was late afternoon I decided to bag it for the day. I checked into a place toting itself as "Canada's Best Value Inns". Their prices are guaranteed to make most people scream but I managed to browbeat them down thirty buckaroos which still left them at around the same rate as yesterday's digs. It's not close to being as posh but I'm pooped so I don't care. I'll bet they know that don't they?

Private parking is everything, eh? That's Canadian speak. Eh?

Canadian living room decor? Eh?
Once I'd settled in with the baggage I started thinking about dinner in earnest. That spa tub thing in the living room got me to fantasizing about parking myself in it with a bottle of crisp cold white wine and gobbling fresh peaches at the same time so off I went to see what I could come up with. 

The local grocery store emporium is a lot like Safeway and I soon assembled white cheddar cheese, Triscuits, Arizona Iced Tea, and chewy caramel trail  bars. No wine though, I'd forgotten you have to buy evil suds at their liquor stores. Makes sense, wouldn't want the missus or the kiddies to see you spending the rent money on booze. I decided an extra can of tea would fill in the gap.

Fresh free-for-nothing peaches, the best kind.

Dinner - just check out that scrumptious spread! Mmm...mmm!
Well what the heck, another day flogging along in the rain wasn't so bad. If I'm guessing right I'll probably see more of it tomorrow and maybe the next day too.I'll reach Vancouver sometime in the afternoon and then I'll have to decide which ferry to take if I'm going over to Vancouver Island.

313 miles today, not so bad considering the miserable rain.