Monday, April 28, 2008

Destination: Snoqualmie Falls

Saturday was another lucky day in the Seattle area. Every weekend we hold our breath to see if it will actually be nice enough to get out on the bikes for a while. The sun came out on Saturday, as promised, and it was Spring riding weather once again.

As usual, we got a late start and left around 1pm. By then the temps had warmed to about 60 and it felt pretty good to us. We couldn’t decide where to go. I like to have a goal in mind, but we came up with nothing. Not growing up in this area, we don’t know a lot of the scenic back roads. We decided to head east to Duvall, and then take 203 south until we came to Snoqualmie Falls.

The Falls are beautiful anytime of year and are somewhat of an International tourist attraction. We have been there many times, mostly with visitors from out of town. It is always fascinating.

We both filled up with gas and headed out to Duvall. It was a great riding day, with warm breezes and the smell of bugs and wetlands as we rode along the country roads. I noticed many barns along the way that went by too fast to catch a photo. The area is covered with old barns, some still in use. Most are an unusual Scandinavian design, which were some of the first people to settle this part of the land. I plan to go back and do a photo-shoot of scenic barns. They were very cool.

We headed down 203, which is Duvall-Fall City Road (they’re creative here). We rode on through Fall City, and then turned down a back road that led to a fish hatchery. We ended up in a small gravel parking lot that is the back way to view the Falls.

It was lovely, warm, and we had a nice walk down a trail and boardwalk following the Tolt River. The water supplies energy to Seattle City Lights Power Company.

By the time we started walking I was very warm and had to carry my heavy leather jacket. It was the first time I’d been in short sleeves this year! It felt good.

We headed back the same way we had come. It is a nice 2 lane road that is not heavily congested. I decided I would love to live in the small towns we went through. They are in some idyllic settings. I love to ride that particular road 203.

There were wetland aromas, river scents, plowed field odors, and the occasional dairy farm smells, wafting in the wind. We rode right through the town of Carnation , which is where the actual Dairy Farms are. All I could think of were the contented cows.

It was a very enjoyable ride. My windshield got full of splatted bugs. They are juicy right now near the river. It gave us a taste of what the warm summer riding will be like. We’ve forgotten. I can’t wait to get out earlier next time and take a real long ride. All in all, the day was a beautiful memory that I hope to repeat many times.

I have submitted this article to the Motorcycle Blog Carnival at Raven's Rides. Head on over there on May 7 when it goes live and see a variety of motorcycle related articles. Linda will be holding the Carnival every month, so be sure and submit your entries.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Season Is This?

I haven’t ridden my motorcycle since we went looking for tulip fields. That day was our only warm day so far this year.

The weather has not cooperated this spring and can’t make up its mind what season it is. It has rained non-stop for, it seems like, forever. We also have had much cooler than normal temperatures for this time of year.

Totally out of character, last Friday Mother Nature played a trick on Seattle. At my house it did this:

No chance of riding on the weekend!

Today, Tuesday, the sun came out, the roads were dry and the temps were near 50. I decided my little Suzuki needed to get out of the garage. I filled her up with new gas, and rode to work. The Suzuki seems small to me now, but very familiar. It is the bike I learned to ride on and gain my confidence. Now when I ride her, I want to pick up speed, tear up hills and toss the cycle around the corners. The Boulevard S-40 is so light and responsive that I can see why people have a lot of fun riding her. My husband got her out a few weeks ago on the freeway and was proud he had her up to 80mph. She will go faster, but not with me on the seat!

It is starting to cloud up again, but today the roads are dry and I am happy to be out. If we could only get more than a day at a time of good weather, I would be even happier.

Now I must go watch NBA Playoffs………

Monday, April 14, 2008

The End of The Seattle Supersonics

Something you all may not know about me is that I am an NBA basketball fan. The past few years I have been a Sonics fan, even though they are losers. I have become emotionally attached to them and stood behind them on every game day, hoping they would get that win.

Yesterday was a sad day in Seattle. The Sonics played their last home game of the season, and possibly the last game ever as a Seattle team. They have one more game on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors.

A guy named Clay Bennett from Oklahoma owns the Sonics now, and for a couple of years has promised he would not move them to Oklahoma. It became a political game, with the Sonics team as the pawn. Come to find out, there were emails circulating from the beginning that was Bennett’s intention. Our governor is calling it a sham, but she hasn’t done anything to prevent it from happening.

So I was able to acquire tickets to that last home game yesterday. We sat on the 5th row behind the Maverick’s bench. Shortly after the game began the crowd started chanting, “Bennett Sucks”. This went on for a while. The crowd was restless, unruly, and police protection was heavy. They thought some riots would break out. Seattelites are generally very polite and non-threatening. Every 10 minutes or so the whole arena would break out chanting, “Save our Sonics”. The players expected this and were charged up by the crowd. What a game! The Sonics kept up with the Playoff bound Mavericks and won! The crowd went wild! Rookie Kevin Durant is so fun to watch and he was responsible for us winning once again.

I went to the game with mixed feelings. A day earlier every time I thought about the possibility that it would be the Sonics last home game ever, I would get teary and emotionally upset. That is not something I do easily. The Sonics gave me a little joy in my mundane life, and something to look forward to each evening there was a game scheduled. I will miss them. And I will watch them in Oklahoma, if they play those games on our networks.

I still enjoy NBA basketball and will look forward to watching the Playoff games.
Farewell Sonics. We hate to see you go.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Searching For The Elusive Tulip Fields

Today promised to be one of the warmest and driest days we’ve had this year. I was ready to take a good long motorcycle ride after so many continuous days of rain and cold temperatures.

This time of year in Washington’s Skagit Valley is the annual Tulip Festival. More tulips are grown here than any other U.S. location. There are also daffodils and other bulbs blooming for a continuous 3 weeks or so. It is a giant tourist attraction, attracting bus loads full of people. The area is quite large with fields of various colors so striking it takes your breath away. Or so they say……..

The Victory and the Vulcan decided to take a ride up North to see just what we’ve always heard about. After all, it is the warmest and sunniest and best riding day this year. We expected to see other motorcyclists out in droves. They were.

We left home and started up I-5 until we got near Mt. Vernon, where you could take side roads and go out towards the fields. The traffic going north was slow from the time we entered the highway. It took us an hour to get through Everett, which should have been 15 minutes. It was hot, and creeping/stopping at about 5-10 mph for many miles. My left hand got very sore manipulating the clutch constantly.

We finally made our way further north and into Mt. Vernon, where we decided to catch a bite to eat. We found a great little Mexican restaurant where there were lots of Spanish speaking families eating there and very friendly waitresses. The food was very good with a homemade quality to it.

The town of Mt. Vernon was packed with traffic. Every street we tried to take was gridlocked with traffic. It was not fun anymore. It was also hot with our jacket liners still in from the cooler weather. We could see off in the distance that there was a bridge we needed to cross and still couldn’t see the tulip fields. Traffic was not moving at all and I decided that was it.

We turned around, headed towards the interstate, and cruised home at 70 mph most of the way. It felt good to be moving. The whole interstate heading north was creeping along for 50 miles or so almost at a standstill.

I was worn out when I got home, just from fighting the wind, bumpy freeway under construction, and the weight of the bike. We rode a total of 114 miles, which took us 4 hours. It was a nice ride partly through side roads and farmland, but no tulips to be seen. I know now why I haven’t tried to go up there all these years I’ve lived in Washington.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Vulcan Recall Final Installment

I am back on the road again. What a relief it is. I got the much anticipated phone call from my dealership saying I could come by today and just have my Vulcan inspected for the faulty clamp that caused the Recall. I rode the bike to work ( oh, I shouldn't have) and then over to the dealership during after-work commute time.

My dealership is so cool. They moved a couple of years ago into a larger facility. The service department has its own entrance where you just ride up, wait for the automatic double doors to open, and just ride on in. When I got there today there were 3 guys waiting to greet me. They had already written me up and took the bike right in. I wandered over to the retail side of the place, gandering at the shiny new Honda Shadows, Triumphs, and Goldwings. I didn't get very far until I realized they might have coffee. It turned out they had free hot coffee and it was very good too.

Before I finished my cup, the guy came to tell me my bike was ready, AND I passed inspection! No part needed; it's all good. I hopped back on my bike, put on my gear, started it up, and rode out the double doors as the same 3 guys stood there and watched me go. It was actually a fun experience and I talked to the guy who yesterday had first told me the part wouldn't be in all month. He said they haven't had to replace a part yet, and have done several inspections this week.

They took pretty good care of me, and since I've been in to them twice this month I think they will remember me when I go back for more service. I don't plan to need it anytime soon.

Now I can plan that trip to Bandon, Oregon. I'm thinking about 4th of July week. Part of the fun is planning and looking at maps. Looks like luggage is my next purchase.

I can't wait to ride to work again tomorrow. The sun will be out and I might just take the long way home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Update On Kawasaki Vulcan Recall

It's been a week since I called my dealership to see how they were going to handle the recall on my bike, which involves a defect in the fuel line clamp that attaches at the electronic ignition. At that time they said they would need to order the replacement part required for the recall. So I waited patiently all week, and didn't ride the bike because of danger warnings and cautions.

Luckily, Mother Nature responded by spewing out its last week of winter weather, even though it is officially Spring now (She claims ignorance). All last week it rained, sleet, snowed, was sunny, all within 15 minutes. It was something we hadn't seen before for so many days in a row. Almost every day I would leave work, driving my truck, and it would start snowing. As I would get to an intersection 2 miles away the sun was out. Heading up the next hill as I approached the top, snow again. It was kind of fun, but I was glad I wasn't out riding in that.

Today I called the dealership again. I had decided to start calling regularly until I got taken care of. I asked the Service Department guy if my part was in yet, and if not when it would be. His reply was: It shows here the part was ordered and yes, they show a backorder on that part. It will be here on the 30th. Me: Of April?! S.D. Guy: Yes this month. Me: Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, oh my gosh...... I guess he could sense the fear and panic in my voice as I was thinking to myself how there was no way I was going to lose the whole friggin month of April friggin riding weather.

As it turned out I convinced him to talk to his manager, and by 10am Wednesday he will call to let me know if I can just have it inspected to see if I even need a part. There are apparantly two groups of bikes. Ones that the VIN # is definately linked to the problem and WILL need the part replaced. Others, they are inspecting to see if the problem exists. If he calls and I just need an inspection, I will ride over there after work and take care of it. The sun happens to be out for 3 days and I don't want to miss my riding window!

I'll let you know as the saga continues.