Category Archives: Oregon

There and Back Again – Part One

I didn’t have an opportunity to post to this blog since last Friday – I think it’s the longest lapse in three and a half years of blogging. I’ll catch up over a couple of installments.

On Saturday morning, my alarm had me up at 5:40am. Donna fixed breakfast for me while I went through my things to see what I might have forgotten. I’d scheduled an Uber ride to the airport and the driver showed up on time at 6:25am.

I used to go to the airport frequently during my working life. When we lived in Michigan I would usually arrive at the airport well ahead of my flight time and sit in the Delta lounge. I had Platinum Medallion status due to frequent travel. I don’t have any frequent flyer benefits anymore since I haven’t been in an airport since May of 2013. I haven’t missed it either.

It took about 25 minutes to get through the TSA security farce. I had liquids such as eyeglass cleaner and flonase in a clear plastic ziplock bag as required but I forgot to take it out of my carry-on bag. No problem, my bag went through the X-ray device and no one noticed.

The Boeing 737-900 jet was nearly full, only a couple of the 181 seats were unoccupied. My row was full – luckily I had an aisle seat. There were two young guys in the seats next to me. They had ear buds and were busy with their laptops or smartphones for the entire flight. This was fine with me as I had a book to read on my Kindle. The only words I uttered on the two-and-a-half hour flight were “orange juice, please” when the flight attendant asked me if I wanted something to drink.

My daughter, Alana, picked me up at the airport along with my granddaughter, Gabi. Of course it was raining in Seattle. Gabi had just come from a volleyball match – she’s in fifth grade and is developing into quite a volleyball competitor. We were all hungry and stopped in Lynnwood at a Thai restaurant for lunch. Then we went to Alana’s house in Arlington to relax and visit for a while. My other granddaughter, Lainey, came home around 2pm and joined us. Lainey is 17 years old and was at work when I arrived.

Alana and me

Alana and me

Gabi, me and Lainey

Gabi, me and Lainey

Around 4pm, Alana drove me to Edmonds to meet up with Sini. Sini has been staying at her friend’s home since she sold her house. Her motorhome was parked in the yard at Alan and Julie’s place. After introductions to everyone, I started a pre-flight check on Sini’s National Tradewinds motorhome.

First, I looked at the date codes on the tires. The tires looked fine and they were about five years old. I checked the tire pressures and also the fluid levels. I familiarized myself with the cockpit layout and controls. Then I looked at the Roadmaster Falcon tow bar and thumbed through the manual for it. We decided to do a dry run and hook up her Saturn SUV tow vehicle (toad). The Saturn was new to Sini and the tow bar had just been installed on her coach by Poulsbo RV.

The tow bar has a quick link attachment that’s easy to lock in place. Then there are safety break-away cables, an electrical connector and an air line to activate the brakes.

Roadmaster Falcon tow bar

Roadmaster Falcon tow bar

Electrical and air line connectors

Electrical and air line connectors

Hitch at rear of coach

Hitch at rear of coach

We had a problem. The electrical connection wasn’t working – we didn’t have taillights or turn signals for the toad. The brakes have an actuator on the driver’s floorboard that applies the brake with a plunger attached to the brake pedal. When the brakes on the coach are applied, air pressure is sent to the actuator. This means the brakes are applied as if you had your foot on the brake pedal and the brakes lights are operated by the usual car system. We had brake lights, which I figured was the most important component.

Roadmaster brake actuator

Roadmaster brake actuator

It was about 5pm on Saturday afternoon, so a call to Poulsbo RV to see if they would look at the electrical connector they installed didn’t yield any results. The turn signals and taillights at the back of the coach are mounted high enough to be seen over the Saturn toad. We called it good enough since we didn’t intend to drive after dark.

Alana said her goodbye for now – we’ll be back up there in June for Lainey’s high school graduation. Sini ordered pizza and we settled in to Alan and Julie’s family room to watch college football. I was tired from the early start and flight. Sini told me she would pick up her friend, Linda, in the morning and they would be back at the house by 8am. I went to bed in a spare bedroom and crashed out before 10pm.

On Sunday morning I was up early and showered. I put my things in the coach and we packed a few final things Sini had in Alan’s garage. Alan backed the coach out of the yard through the RV gate into the driveway. We hooked up the toad and were ready to roll. I did another walk around and checked everything over. I pulled out of the driveway and drove a short distance down the street before stopping to give the tow bar and car a final check. All was good and we were on the road!

As I drove, Sini sat in the co-pilot’s seat and Linda was in the back. I started in with driving lessons for Sini right away. As I maneuvered the coach through turns, I told Sini what I was doing and why. I explained how driving a coach with the steer wheels behind the driver’s seat is different than driving a car with the steer wheels well in front of you. I gave her tips such as using your body as a benchmark for initiating turns. I wait until my hips are past my turning point before I start to turn in. For example, when making a right turn, I drive straight into the intersection until my butt is past the curb on the right, then I crank the steering wheel to make a tight turn. This positions the wheels to properly execute the turn without cutting the corner and clipping the curb.

The toad was easier to maneuver through turns than my cargo trailer. But, you cannot reverse with a tow vehicle. It’s important to always know how you are going to exit any place before you enter – things like parking lots or fuel stations need to be reconnoitered and a plan made before you pull in.

The plan was for me to drive through the busy metro areas of Seattle, Olympia and Portland. I would talk about what I was doing, watching and thinking about while driving. Sini could take the wheel once we got past Portland. We had a few rain drops but overall the weather was fine for driving.

When we stopped at the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center for fuel past Portland, Sini made sandwiches for lunch. We carried on and I drove since we didn’t want to sit and eat – we wanted to cover more miles. Sini wasn’t keen on eating and driving on her first stint. We were pushing a bit to get to the Seven Feathers Casino before dark for our first leg of the journey.

Sini brought up the Chargers game on an NFL app she has on her iPhone. She read the play-by-play description to me so I could follow an exciting win for the Chargers. We pulled into the lot at Seven Feathers right at sunset. I had driven 400 miles for our first leg of the trip. Sini would start driving on Monday. To be continued…

Just Four Bolts

I mentioned taking delivery of a pair of new front shock absorbers for our coach. The current set of shocks was installed just two years ago, but the trip up I-5 made it obvious that the front shocks weren’t holding up. A vehicle weighing more than 30,000 pounds has to have high spring rates and serious dampers to control the suspension.

Shock absorbers exist to damp the action of the springs. Undamped, the springs would compress over a bump, storing energy in the spring. The spring would then extend, releasing this energy as it elongates past its resting length, only to return to a compressed state. This cycle would repeat until the energy is dissipated through friction and heat. The vehicle would bob up and down like a boat going over swells in the ocean.

Getting the damping rate right isn’t a simple matter. Hydraulic shock absorbers have a piston inside a cylinder filled with fluid. The piston is connected to a shaft that extends from the cylinder. Typical installation has a fastener at the closed end of the cylinder opposite where the shaft exits and another fastener on the end of the shaft. Suspension movement strokes the piston in the cylinder, moving it through the fluid.

Slow movement of the shaft, such as compression of the front suspension when braking, or cornering, requires a high damping rate to limit the movement of the suspension. You don’t want the front suspension to compress or dive excessively while braking or roll from side to side when cornering. This is accomplished by forcing the fluid through a small port in the piston. The size of this orifice sets the low piston speed resistance – the damping rate.

Conversely, when the piston moves at high velocity – such as when hitting a square edge bump like an expansion joint where the road meets a bridge or a pot hole – we want the spring to compress and take the hit without transmitting it to the chassis. The orifice used for low-speed damping is insufficient to move the fluid quickly enough through the piston and the shock would hydraulically lock. What the shock designers typically do is add a number of high-speed ports – a ring of orifices through the piston.

This ring of orifices allows much more fluid movement – but how to keep fluid from moving through these holes when we want stiff low-speed damping? The most common way is to cover these high-speed ports with a thin metal shim. A stack of shims can be made to gain the proper stiffness of the cover over the hole. When the piston moves through the fluid at a high enough speed, the shim flexes as the fluid is forced against it – as it flexes away from the holes, it uncovers them and the fluid can pass.

Our current front shocks are Koni FSD series 8805. These shocks are designed pretty much as I described above. The piston in these shocks have a 36mm diameter. Hitting sharp irregularities in the road wasn’t an issue when these shocks were new. Over time, they gradually lost the ability to transition from high-speed damping to low-speed damping after hitting a sharp bump. It’s like the high-speed ports stay open too long, allowing the coach to bounce on the springs three or four times after hitting the bump.

About five months after I bought these shocks, Koni came out with a new replacement for use on the Alpine Coach Peak Chassis and Monaco Roadmaster RR4 chassis. This new shock, designated the Evo 99 series, has a 50mm piston and revised valving. The 40% larger piston allows the shock to operate at much lower fluid pressures and should enhance durability.

My task on Thursday was to remove the old front shocks and install the new series 99 shocks. It’s only four bolts – one on each end of the two shocks. How hard could that be, right? Well, I remembered when I had the shocks installed, the guys used cordless electric impact wrenches to remove and install the shock bolts. The mounting bolts were stubborn and it took two mechanics about an hour to replace four shocks.

The first thing I had to do was buy a 28mm socket and a large breaker bar to break the bolts loose. I bought a 24″ breaker bar and I couldn’t get the bolt to budge. I needed an impact driver. I borrowed my daughter Alana’s car and drove to Harbor Freight in Everett. I used to have a few impact wrenches in different power levels, but they’re long gone thanks to those Dirty, Rotten Thieves. I figured I could buy an air operated impact driver at Harbor Freight for about $40.

When I got there, it occurred to me that I only have a small, portable air compressor with only a few gallons capacity. In my sticks-and-bricks garage, I had a 60-gallon compressor that powered air tools easily. Although my little compressor can reach 150 psi, it doesn’t have a fast enough flow rate to power a big impact driver. I needed an electrically operated impact driver. I found a cordless impact driver with a 330 ft-lbs torque rating. It was branded Chicago Electric – Harbor Freight’s Chinese sourced house brand. I paid over $100 for it.

By the time I got home with it, it was after 1pm. I needed to charge the 18-volt battery before I could use it. It has an 18-volt nickel-cadmium (NiCad) battery. NiCad is old technology, but it works. The first charge on a NiCad is important as it forms the cell. I charged it for 90 minutes – the day was getting away from me. It takes three or four full charges before a NiCad reaches it its full capacity. After charging the battery, I had to allow another 15 minutes for it to cool before using it.

I started banging away on the first bolt with the cordless impact driver. I would hit it for several seconds, then stop to keep from overheating the motor and battery pack. After about 10 minutes of this, I needed to charge the battery pack again. Arrgh! This entails a cooling period for the battery before charging, about an hour or so of charge time, then another cooling period before attacking the bolt again. I had the first bolt off by 5pm and called it a day!

Friday morning I was back at it with a fully charged battery and started on the second bolt. After two charge cycles, I had it off. Removing the shock and installing the new one was fairly easy – it only took about 10 minutes. Getting the new shock in place entailed holding it at arm’s length with one hand while I was bent over the front tire with my head in the wheel well, then inserting the mounting bolt with my other hand. It was a workout!

Old 8805 FSD shock with top bolt removed

Old 8805 FSD shock with top bolt removed

Comparison of 8805 and 99 series. Note no dust cover on the 99 series

Comparison of 8805 and 99 series. Note – no dust cover on the 99 series

New shock installed

New shock installed

Now I had to start the charging – working – charging – working cycle on the other side. By the end of the day, I had one bolt removed from the other shock before I gave up. It was beer-thirty and I was ready for a cold one.

IPA from Seattle's Fremont Brewing

IPA from Seattle’s Fremont Brewing

Today I’ll start over and remove the last bolt. A lot of work for four bolts!

On Thursday evening, we received tragic news. Our friend Sini Schmitt texted Donna to inform her of the passing of her husband, Bob. Bob died unexpectedly while they were vacationing in the British Virgin Islands. We met Bob and Sini in San Diego a few months after we first hit the road. Since then, we’ve met up with them in Arizona and again in California and always had fun times together. I’m deeply saddened by Bob’s untimely passing. He was a great guy and will be missed by many.

 

 

Breaking the Law

Friday morning started much like Thursday – we were up early and I took Donna to her class on the Spyder. When I dropped her off, she put her jacket and helmet in the front trunk (frunk) of the Spyder.

Back at home, I got to work organizing the trailer – I packed the bikes and the grills and straightened things out. Then I took Donna’s jacket and helmet out of the frunk and rode the Spyder to Costco. When I was there earlier in the week, I saw 33-pound bags of Traeger gourmet wood pellets. I wanted to buy a bag, but didn’t have enough room on the Spyder at the time. With the frunk empty, I had room for the bag.

I made a stop at a Japanese restaurant called Yuki & Song at 122nd and Sandy Boulevard. They had lunch specials – I ordered their teriyaki beef plate. I was surprised to find it came with a bowl of miso soup, salad, tempura veggies, rice and of course teriyaki beef for $8.95! Nice lunch find.

Donna sent me a text and said she would be finished with her class no later than 4pm. I hit the road on the Spyder to pick her up around 3:15pm – I wanted to be there before 4pm and I wasn’t sure how heavy the traffic would be on Friday afternoon on the Fourth of July weekend.

I made good time and got there at 3:45pm. I could see the traffic heading north was heavier – our trip home would take longer as volumes were building. Just before I pulled into the lot, I realized that I didn’t put Donna’s jacket and helmet back into the frunk. Oh no! We generally don’t ride without helmets and Oregon has a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. The Spyder is legally considered a motorcycle.

If I went back for her helmet, it would take over an hour. When Donna came out from her class, I told her about the problem. We decided to take our chances and avoid any freeways on the way home. As we were riding in traffic on MLK Boulevard, I saw a police car on a side street ahead. The traffic was stopped and backed up for an entire block at a stop light. The car ahead of us stopped short to let the police car in. As the traffic began to move, another police car appeared. The driver ahead held up and let him in. Two more police cars merged ahead of us.

I changed lanes and put a large box truck between us and the police cruisers. Instead of changing lanes to move ahead in the traffic, I changed lanes when possible to put more vehicles between us and the police. Being a scofflaw isn’t much fun. We made it home without incident or ticket.

The day before, new neighbors moved into the site next to us. It was Jim and Gayle (Life’s Little Adventures). We met them before at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego. We had plans to get together for happy hour snacks and drinks. Gayle brought tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa and Donna fixed a couple of plates – there was a good spread on our new folding table. We sat and talked for a few hours – it wasn’t dark yet at 9pm. I neglected to take any photos as I was caught up in conversation.

The only photo I have is a bottle of limited release “Summer Style IPA” from Ninkasi Brewing. I don’t know what makes it a summer IPA – it was tasty but typical west coast IPA.

Maiden the Shade summer IPA

Maiden the Shade summer IPA

Saturday morning we prepared to hit the road. I dumped and flushed the tanks, filled the fresh water, put away the window shades and finished loading the trailer. We hitched the trailer and pulled out of the park around 11:30am. I wondered what the traffic would be like on the I-5 bridge to Vancouver, Washington. The traffic is usually crawling across it. I was surprised to find the traffic light  and moving right along on I-5.

We stopped around 1pm in Chehalis to top off the fuel tank at a CFN truck stop and had lunch at Subway. Our destination for the day was the Cabela’s store in Lacey, Washington. We stayed there overnight two years ago and found it to be a good overnight dry-camping spot.

We claimed a spot in the large west lot which was nearly empty. They have signs advising “No Overnight Parking” however, these signs were here before and they allowed us to stay. To be sure I went to the customer service desk and asked. I was told it’s no problem – they have the signs so they can keep people from setting up for more than one night.

Dry camp at Cabela's

Dry camp at Cabela’s

Donna shopped for hours in Cabela’s and found shorts, tops and sandals she couldn’t do without. Since losing weight this past year, she’s had to buy new clothes. But I haven’t heard her complaining.

This morning, Donna went out for a run. I’m watching the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria, then we’ll head up to Arlington, Washington. Our destination is my oldest daughter Alana’s driveway in Arlington. We’ll moochdock in her driveway for the next week or two and spend time with her and our granddaughters.

A Visit to Camas

Our time here in Portland, Oregon is quickly coming to a close. We’ve stayed busy – well Donna’s mostly busy, me not so much. We didn’t get to spend time with everyone we would have liked to visit in the area, but we had a good time with those we were able to meet up with.

On Wednesday afternoon, we rode the Spyder over the I-205 bridge to Washington. We took WA14 east to a small town called Camas. I’ve driven past Camas many times. I used to take WA14 to Washougal to fly radio-controlled airplane tournaments at the Fern Prairie Modelers field there. Camas wasn’t a place we were likely to stop at. Back in the ’90s, the paper mill in Camas made the area smell bad. It was a mill town and I always figured it to be a rough place.

Today Camas has a new identity. Modern filtration has removed the stench from the paper milling process. The town has grown in a well-planned manner. The old downtown, which comprises about five or six blocks is well-kept and lively with shops, restaurants and brew pubs. On Wednesday afternoon, they have a farmers’ market there. We parked the Spyder on 4th Avenue across from the Liberty Theater and walked two blocks to the market.

Camas farmers' market

Camas farmers’ market

We wandered around in our usual fashion then revisited the vendors with items we wanted to buy. Donna bought some produce including Japanese hakurei turnips. We tried a sample and found them to be delicious. Donna intends to cut them up to dip in hummus and also chop them to add to salads.

Our real reason for going to Camas was to meet up with Donna’s friend Krista and her husband Mike for dinner. The traffic getting across the river from Portland to Vancouver is terrible in the afternoons and evenings, so we decided to come over early and hit the farmers’ market first. We had time to try a couple of local brews before dinner at a pub called A Brew at a Time. They had a large selection of beer on tap.

We met up with Mike and Krista at a Mexican restaurant called Nuestra Mesa. This isn’t your run-of-mill Mexican place – they serve refined Mexico City type dishes. Mike and Krista know the owners and told us the place had recently expanded. It’s nice to see a family-run operation doing well. It seems like Krista knows just about everybody in town.

After an enjoyable meal and conversation, we followed Mike and Krista’s car up the hill north of town to their place. They bought a lot and recently had a house built on it. It’s quite the place – about 6,000 square feet or so. Mike is obviously an optimist as he had a large pool built in the backyard – you don’t see a lot of built-in pools in the Pacific Northwest. We had a tour of their beautiful house.

Pool and house to large to fit the frame with my camera-phone

Pool and house too large to fit the frame with my camera-phone

Mike is a sports fan and has memorabilia displayed in the finished basement bar area and his office space. He also had an old soda vending machine – I think it was originally a 7-up machine – restored with a Seattle Seahawks 12th-man theme.

Seahawks vending machine

Seahawks vending machine

He had selections of beer in the top section and soft drinks below.

They have stunning views from their upper deck. Unfortunately, using a smart phone as a camera means I don’t have a UV haze filter and it was a bit hazy out.

Columbia River from the deck

Columbia River from the deck

Another view from the large deck

Another view from the large deck

I couldn’t get a shot of the view of Mount St. Helens due to the angle of the sun and the haze. We had a good time visiting with them

Donna and Krista

Donna and Krista

They talked me into joining in the photo

They talked me into joining in the photo

Thursday morning we had the rare event of waking to an alarm clock. Donna had a class – a continuing education course to maintain her certified house cleaning technician status. The class was a certified carpet cleaning technician course held in Portland on Market Street on the east side of the Willamette River.

The class started at 8am. I rode Donna down on the Spyder so I wouldn’t be without wheels all day. We left at 7:30am, which I figured was ample time to allow for traffic. I took us down MLK Blvd. and traffic wasn’t too bad – a few slow downs and stop lights. We were fine I thought until I realized we were too far south as the traffic thinned out and speeds increased while cross streets diminished.

I got us turned around and we came back north and found the place. We were 10 minutes late. I like to be punctual. While Donna was in class all day, I washed the Spyder and set up the Traeger wood pellet fired grill/smoker. I also finished another novel I was reading and made a run to the store.

Donna’s class ended at 5pm, so around 4:25 I headed out. I made it to the class location in 30 minutes and waited a while. The trip back home was awful. The traffic in Portland is terrible. The roads are laid out in such a way that you often have multiple lanes merging down into fewer lanes, causing huge tie-ups. It took us nearly an hour to get home.

Donna in her Great Cycling Challenge jersey

Donna heading out for her last ride in her Great Cycle Challenge

I put a whole chicken on the Traeger while Donna went out on her bike to ride the remaining 12 miles to meet her Great Cycle Challenge goal. I’m writing this Thursday evening, which is a little unusual, but I’m trying to get it done while I have the time. Tomorrow I’ll drop Donna at her class and start preparing for our Saturday departure while Donna’s back in class.

Oregon IPA Quest

Monday was a fairly quiet day for me. Donna wrote the blog post, so I had the day off from that. When I say quiet, I mean as far as activity goes. We seem to find places that are on flight paths wherever we go. Here at Columbia River RV Park we’re on the west side of the Portland International Airport (PDA).

PDA is a joint military-civilian airport and it’s the largest in Oregon. It seems like activity ramps up around 6am. Take-offs from runway 28L pass just to the north of the RV park over the Columbia River. Flights from the busier runway 28R pass well north of here. The commercial flights are reasonably quiet – we sleep through most of the early morning traffic. Some days, military aircraft fly by – F-15 Eagles of the Oregon Air Guard. These are supersonic tactical fighters capable of reaching speeds of mach 2.8 (2.8 times the speed of sound). As such, they have very powerful engines – two Pratt and Whitney F100 axial compressor turbofans with afterburners.

Of course they aren’t exceeding the speed of sound when they fly by here, but the engines roar and you can hear the air parting and rushing back into the void as they speed by. Last week they passed overhead in pairs. This week they’re going by four at a time. It only happens a couple of times per day so I’m not complaining. Ozark the cat stops whatever she’s doing and looks up at the ceiling in the coach whenever they fly by.

On Monday evening, I continued my quest for the great Oregon IPA. This time I sampled a beer from Old Town Brewing called Shanghai’D. It’s a medium bodied IPA and not overly hoppy – more in the English style and very drinkable at 6.5% ABV. Old Town Brewing is a brewery and pizza joint with two locations in Portland. One of their claims to fame is the fact they deliver beer! That’s right, you can call in a beer order within a certain range of their location and they deliver by bicycle.

Old Town Shanghai'D IPA

Old Town Shanghai’D IPA

I picked up this bottle at Walmart. In Portland, Walmart has a sizable selection of craft beers. When I rode the Spyder over to Walmart on Monday afternoon, the traffic on eastbound Marine Drive was backed up in front of the park. I had to wait for a car to clear the intersection as the traffic crept along before I could hit the westbound lane.

I came home through residential back streets as I could see the traffic jam hadn’t unsnarled yet. Later I found out the cause of the traffic. Monday was the start of the Cambia Portland Classic – A Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament that runs all week through July 3rd. The classic is held at the Columbia Edgewater Golf Club – just east of the RV park on Marine Drive.

On Sunday’s bicycle ride, Donna had trouble with the left pedal on her bike. She uses SPD type pedals that she clicks into with cleats on her cycling shoes. She likes the SPD type because they allow her to use shoes that are comfortable to walk in. I took a look at her pedal Tuesday morning and saw the problem. A part on the pedal that applies spring pressure to the mechanism had broken off. I took the pedal to a bike shop nearby to see if I could get the part for it. The guy there told me he didn’t have the part, but he thought I may be able to find it at another shop a few blocks away where they hang on to old stuff to take parts from. Then he added that in his experience, the cleat is usually wallowed out when this happens and won’t hold up. I bought a new set of pedals.

After I installed the pedals, Donna and I went for a ride. We followed the trail east on Marine Drive to the I-205 crossing, then turned back. We had a tailwind getting there, which meant a headwind on the way back. For some reason, I developed soreness in my right knee on the ride. I was riding my mountain bike and the upright position makes riding into the wind a real chore. I didn’t ride my road bike because my shoulders and neck got stiff on my last road bike ride.

When we reached the M James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp and Park, I peeled off the bike path as Donna wanted to ride up 33rd Avenue to get in some more miles and then do some grocery shopping at New Season’s market. I took a look at the beach area on the Columbia River before heading home. For a Tuesday afternoon, it was busy.

Columbia River beach

Columbia River beach.

The temperature was in the 80s – nice beach weather.

Later, we decided to grill the lamb chops Donna bought from the rancher down the street from the RV park. Donna marinated the chops with olive oil, fresh rosemary and oregano, lots of garlic and lemon zest. I grilled them on the Weber Q. They were great!

Grilled lamb chops straight from the farm

Grilled lamb chops straight from the farm

Donna served them with steamed green beans and Moroccan quinoa. Delicious!

Grilled lamp chops with green beans and Moroccan quinoa

Grilled lamp chops with green beans and Moroccan quinoa

I paired it with another IPA I found at Walmart. This one was from Laurelwood Brewing in Portland called Workhorse India Pale Ale. This is a big beer at 7.5% ABV, double dry-hopped and full of citrusy hoppiness.

Workhorse - a big beer

Workhorse – a big beer

This morning we have overcast skies – I couldn’t see the F-15 Eagles fly by but I sure heard them. The cloud cover should burn off by noon and the forecast calls for a sunny 83 degrees this afternoon.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

 

Spyder Suspension Upgrade

Thursday was a rainy day – in fact, it poured down at times. The sky was overcast all day. When the rain would stop, you could tell it was just a temporary break. We spent the day indoors. I finished a novel I was reading and started another on my Kindle reader. I signed up for a free month of Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and downloaded the book for free!

Thursday evening Donna made a meatloaf – one of my favorite comfort foods. She added a twist this time by lining the top with thick-sliced peppered bacon. Yummy!

Meatloaf with bacon

Meatloaf with bacon

Friday morning we had mostly cloudy skies, but it was dry. The forecast called for an increasing chance of rain in the afternoon. I got to work on the Spyder while it was dry. My project was upgrading the suspension. While I worked, Donna went for a bike ride to Blue Lake and back – about 28 miles.

Upgrading suspension components is one of the best performance improvements you can make to a vehicle. I always upgraded my motorcycles. I would send my forks to Jim Lindemann at Lindemann Engineering and he would rebuild them to perform in accordance with my weight, riding style and tire choice. He would also build a rear shock with an appropriate spring and valving. Jim was a suspension guru. He started out working at Fox Shox in the ’70s, then opened his own business.

Jim tuned suspension for world-class racers but remained humble and was always helpful and willing to share his suspension knowledge. Most of what I know about suspension tuning, I learned from him. The last time I saw Jim was at Laguna Seca for the Moto GP races. I think it was 2008. I learned of Jim’s battle with cancer a that time. He was completely bald from chemo and clearly wasn’t well. But he was as cheerful and helpful as ever. I had completed cancer treatment six years before and I knew how much he must have been struggling, but he didn’t let on at all.

His battle with brain cancer went on for the next three years before he died in October of 2011. I thought about him as I went about working on the Spyder suspension. I was replacing the stock shocks and springs with a set of Elka shock absorbers custom-valved and with spring rates designed for my weight and riding preferences. The stock equipment is a one-size fits-all design by necessity and doesn’t have much useful adjustment.

Stock front shock and coil spring

Stock front shock and coil spring

After removing the front body work, I started by loosening the upper and lower mounting bolts for both front assemblies. Then I used a floor jack to lift the front of the Spyder. With the weight off the front suspension, I removed the mounting bolts. Then it was a matter of jacking the Spyder up to a point where I could work the shocks out of the mounts.

Stock front suspension and Elka custom set-up

Stock front suspension and Elka custom set-up

Installing the Elka suspension basically involved repeating the steps in reverse order. It took some finagling with the jack to get the shocks into position, then lower the Spyder slowly until the mounting points lined up.

New Elka front suspension

New Elka front suspension

I thought the rear would be a little harder to handle. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be straightforward without any tricky steps. The shock literally fell out of the mount when I removed the bolts!

Stock rear suspension

Stock rear suspension

Elka compared to the stock suspension

Elka compared to the stock suspension

Putting the new shock in place was just a matter of jacking up the Spyder to get the swing arm angle right so the mounts would line up. I bolted the shock in place and installed the bodywork. Job done!

New rear suspension

New rear suspension

There were two shortcomings I was addressing with the suspension change. The stock front shocks suffered from a problem known as stiction. When I would go through a smooth, fast sweeping curve, the outer front suspension would compress as the body rolled while the inner suspension would extend. This would create low speed movement of the shock rod and piston. When we talk about shocks, low speed and high speed refer to suspension movement speed, not necessarily vehicle speed.

When the stock shocks traveled through low speed movement, there would be sticking points caused by friction of the piston and seals and uneven tolerances. This would cause the travel to momentarily stop, then it would release and continue to compress or rebound. This made a fast sweeping curve an exercise in constant corrections – kind of like connecting the dots through the turn.

The stock rear suspension worked fairly well but the spring wasn’t easily adjustable for pre-load and didn’t handle a passenger well. It also had too much rebound damping and would pack down with a passenger on board.

I took the Spyder out for a test ride. The difference in turning capability was incredible – very little body roll and it cornered like it was on rails. Fast sweeping curves were a breeze with a smooth arc easily controlled. The front shocks are set up nearly perfect. The rear felt a little stiff – I expected a plush feel. I’ll wait a while and see if it loosens up before I start fiddling with the adjusters. The rear damping feels fine. I may just take a little pre-load off. Custom tuned suspension bits are expensive, but to me it’s well worth it.

We had a passing shower or two in the afternoon. When I was working on the Spyder I managed to split my left thumb nail. It never fails – I can’t turn a wrench without bruising a knuckle or tearing a nail. I went to Walmart and bought a tube of super glue. I glued the split in my nail. It should stay together until it grows out – no real harm done.

We had five packages show up at the office. They don’t notify us of deliveries here – we have to stop at the office and check. I didn’t know Donna had ordered so many things. One of the packages was a new folding table from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It’s compact and also height adjustable. I grilled honey-sriracha chicken for dinner and we dined outside at the new table. That’s a pleasant way to spend the evening!

Today’s forecast calls for abundant sunshine and temperatures reaching the upper 70s. I hope they called it right!

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Street Food in Portland

I tackled a minor repair on Tuesday. Most states require trailers with a gross weight of 3,000 pounds or more to have trailer brakes that automatically engage if the trailer accidentally separates from the tow vehicle. Our trailer is equipped with a breakaway switch that activates the brakes if a pin is pulled from the switching device. A length of cable connects the pin to the tow vehicle. If the trailer comes loose, the cable pulls the pin and the brakes are applied.

Breakaway pin and cable ends

Breakaway pin and cable ends

The cable has a loop for the pin and a loop on the other end that I connect to the receiver hitch with a carabiner. I’m not sure how it happened, but the cable must have dragged on the ground at some point and wore through, separating it into two pieces.

Steel cable separated

Steel cable separated in the middle

When I went to Walmart the other day, I saw a fisherman’s supply store. I stopped in and bought some nylon covered stainless steel leader cable and some double barrel crimp connectors.

Nylon covered stainless steel cable and connectors

Nylon covered stainless steel cable and connectors

This made it easy to create a new breakaway cable for the trailer.

New cable assembled with pin for breakaway switch

New cable assembled with pin for breakaway switch

Pin installed in breakaway switch

Pin installed in breakaway switch

That was easy – job done!

In the afternoon, Donna and I rode the Spyder down NE 33rd Drive and found the store Ray told us about. It’s called New Season’s. It’s similar to Sprouts – a store chain we like in the southwest. It’s an upscale store, so you have to shop carefully as the prices can be good or they can be high. Donna had defrosted the refrigerator in the morning and now it was time to restock it.

On Wednesday morning, we rode the Spyder to Beaverton to visit with our friends, DeWayne and Marlo. They live in a co-op housing development which is basically condominiums with shared community areas. Residents sign on to teams to develop and maintain community property. They have shared garden space, community meeting rooms, a woodworking shop and more. DeWayne runs the wood shop and also leads the building repair and maintenance team.

Part of the community vegetable garden

Part of the community vegetable garden

Compost bins Dwayne built

Compost bins DeWayne built

After giving us a tour, DeWayne had a project to work on and I left Donna and Marlo to their girl talk. I rode the Spyder over to the Hillsboro airport where I wanted to check out an aviation museum. When I got there, I was disappointed to see a closed sign in the window. I looked at the hours on the door – it said 9am to 4pm Monday through Thursday. A woman inside saw me looking and came to the door. She pointed at a guy out front spraying weeds.

The guy came over and introduced himself and told me they were in the process of moving the museum to Tillamook. All but one of the flyable airplanes had already been moved. He offered to give me a tour of the remaining aircraft and parts, but warned that things were in a bit of disarray.

I took him up on the offer and we spent about an hour looking at old planes and parts. They have mostly military jet aircraft from the 1950s to the 1980s. The owner has a number of contacts in foreign governments and wheels and deals for airplanes. A number of their aircraft came from Taiwan. They also had Soviet airplanes from Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Twelve cylinder Allison piston engine

Twelve cylinder Allison piston engine

Axial flow jet engine

Axial flow jet engine

J79 jet engine that powered many US military jets including the F-104 Starfighter behind it

General Electric J79 jet engine that powered many US military jets including the F-104 Starfighter behind it

Me standing on the wing of a Soviet Mig-21

Me standing on the wing of a Soviet Mig-21

Mig-21

Mig-21

I rode back and picked up Donna a little past noon. It was a short visit for the girls, but they were happy to catch up in person.

Marlo and Donna

Marlo and Donna

Instead of riding the freeways home, I took us down Burnside Street into downtown Portland. We stopped on Alder Street where all the street food vendors are located. There are dozens of food trucks and small stalls lined up over two blocks. We arrived a little after 1pm and missed most of the lunch crowd. After walking down the street and looking over the offerings, we both went for Thai food. It was a tasty lunch on the street.

Street food vendors

Street food vendors

After we came home, I retrieved a couple of packages we received at the office. One was a chair that Donna ordered from Bed, Bath and Beyond, but it wasn’t what she expected so it’s going back. Another package was our mail from our service in South Dakota. This package included new license plates for our coach and Spyder. The design on our current South Dakota plates was first issued in 2006. After 10 years, some of the plates are deteriorated and hard to read or have lost their reflective properties, so South Dakota decided it was time to issue new ones.

I took a photo of our new plates and made a discovery. When light is directed at the plate (in this case via the camera flash), a squiggly line appears in the middle from top to bottom. I suppose this is an anti-counterfeit feature.

New license plate design for our coach

New license plate design for our coach

Photo with flash reveals a squiggly line

Photo with flash reveals a squiggly line

Donna went for a bike ride as she continues to aim for her 250-mile Great Cycle Challenge goal while I installed the plates. After I put the plates on, I had a message telling me another package arrived at the office. It was the Elka suspension I ordered for the Spyder – custom made shock absorbers and springs. I paid for expedited shipping since they came from Canada. I didn’t want them to get delayed in customs and have them arrive here after we’ve moved on. Timing of package deliveries can be a challenge on the road.

Last night Donna made baked shrimp with fennel and feta for dinner.

Baked shrimp with fennel and feta

Baked shrimp with fennel and feta

I paired it with an Imperial IPA from Hop Valley Brewing in Eugene, Oregon. It was delicious – the shrimp I mean.

Alpha Centauri Imperial IPA

Alpha Centauri Imperial IPA

We ended an excellent day by starting season two of True Detectives. It appears that season two has no connection with season one – we’re starting a whole new story line with different actors.

After a few days of great weather, rain moved in last night. We have a heavily overcast sky this morning and expect rain off and on all day with a high temperature only reaching the low 60s. I’m chomping at the bit to install the new suspension on the Spyder, but it looks like that will have to wait.

 

 

Road Bike Ride

Donna had another article assignment to complete on Monday. While she was doing that, I made a run to Walmart to pick up a few groceries. While I was out, I also picked up supplies for two upcoming projects. When I came home, I found a Yamaha FJR motorcycle at our site. Our friend Ray, who we met in San Diego through Kris and Tom Downey, stopped by. He and his wife Kathy live nearby and knew we were here via this blog. We hope to get together with them this weekend.

I went to work on another project before lunch. The rear end of the floor in our trailer has a metal trim. The original trim was stamped aluminum sheet – very thin and mostly decorative. A while back when I was loading the Spyder, I had a little wheel spin as I was backing in. The tire gripped the trim and tore it away from the floor.

Trim damage due to wheel spin

Trim damage due to wheel spin

I cut the damaged portion away and overlaid a 36-inch section of extruded aluminum trim that’s 1/16 inch thick. This is much heavier than the original stamped sheet aluminum and should stand up to abuse.

Extruded aluminum angle trim installed

Extruded aluminum angle trim installed

With that job done, we had lunch and headed out on our bicycles at 2pm. I don’t remember when I last went out on my Orbea road bike. We headed east on Marine Drive and picked up the paved bike path. It’s been a while since Donna and I rode bicycles together – my mountain bike can’t keep up with her road bike. We first met in a cycling club in Mesa, Arizona where we rode together almost every weekend.

My Orbea is a full carbon fiber road racing machine. As such, it handles much quicker than my mountain bike. It felt lively and a little skittish at first. When I ride my mountain bike, I wear hiking shoes and the pedals have small studs that help me grip the pedals. On my Orbea, I have Speedplay pedals that I clip into with special cleats on my stiff Sidi bicycling shoes. To unclip from the pedal you have to twist the rear of your foot away from the bike and it will release. At one point on the trail we stopped to admire the view. I forgot to twist my foot and my right shoe was caught on the pedal. I fell slowly into the weeds on my right shoulder. It probably looked comical, but it wasn’t fun.

After that, I quickly became reacquainted with my road bike and settled into a rhythm. East of the I-205 bridge we stopped to look at Mt. Hood and take a selfie. I’m not too good at shooting selfie type pictures.

Not too good at selfies

Not too good at selfies

We rode about 10 miles east, then turned around. This stretch of the Columbia River has a number of uninhabited islands. We saw people on the island beaches that they reached by boat. We also saw an old shipwreck – a sailboat that must have broken loose in a storm and ended up beached on an island.

Bike path view - Government Island and McGuire Island on the left

Bike path view – Government Island and McGuire Island on the left

On the ride back, we saw an osprey struggling to gain altitude with a large fish in its talons. The osprey was a large bird – its wingspan had to be nearly six feet. The fish was weighing it down but it slowly circled upward and away from us.

We wanted to grill steaks on the Weber Q for dinner, but I realized I was out of propane. I made another run to Walmart and picked up four propane canisters. While I was there, I also found another local IPA to try. It was from Pelican Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. It’s an IPA that’s brewed with a single hop variety – Ella hops from Australia. They use this hop type in the boil and then dry hop twice with them.

Umbrella IPA

Umbrella IPA

This was solid example of west coast IPA. It went well with the bacon-wrapped filet mignon. While I was grilling the steak, Donna prepared sauteed mushrooms and onions and sides of rosemary and garlic roasted fingerling potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Bacon wrapped filet with sauteed mushrooms and onions

Bacon-wrapped filet with sauteed mushrooms and onions

It’s been awhile since we had steak and Donna said she was craving it. All in all, it was meal fit for a king (and queen). After dinner we took a walk through the RV park and then settled in to watch another episode of True Detective. This series starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaghy really keeps you guessing as to where it’s heading.

Ozark the cat wanted to recline in front of the refrigerator but apparently the floor isn’t comfortable there. She pulled out the little rug in front of our shower and made herself a bed.

Ozark making it comfortable

Ozark making it comfortable

The weather forecast calls for another nice day with a few clouds and highs in the upper 70s. I have one small project to complete on the trailer. Donna is defrosting the refrigerator – something we haven’t had to do in nearly eight months. After the refrigerator is defrosted, we need to stock up on groceries. We want to check out a few stores that Ray told us about.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

 

 

Last Day of Spring

Sunday marked the last full day of spring and it was a fine one. We had mostly clear skies and the temperature reached the upper 70s. It was also Father’s Day. I started my day by writing a post, then watching the Formula One race from Baku, Azerbaijan which I recorded.

Around noon I pulled Donna’s bike out of the trailer. She rode her bike to a coffee shop about nine miles from here to meet her friend, Marlo, and listen to a trio of sisters sing and play guitar, violin and cello. Donna was amazed that her entire route was through residential neighborhoods and had bike lanes or bike right-of-way of markings in the streets. That’s Portland for you!

Meanwhile I cleaned some of the dust from Sunriver off the Spyder and rode to Jantzen Beach on Hayden Island (map). Jantzen Beach is a shopping center – Hayden Island is on the Columbia River and is part of Oregon. It’s accessed from I-5, being in Oregon means no sales tax, so Jantzen Beach is a popular shopping destination for residents of nearby Vancouver, Washington.

I wanted to pick up a couple of items, but first I rode to the east end of the island past Hayden Bay where it’s called Tomahawk Island. I was looking for river access, but it’s all private condos, hotels and marinas. I got back on track and went to Staples – I wanted buy laminating kits to laminate our Elks cards. The cards they issued in Mesa are paper and won’t hold up very well. Laminating them in clear plastic will make them much more durable. I also picked up a three foot section of 3/4″ extruded aluminum angle trim for a repair I need to make on the trailer at Home Depot.

It was such a nice day out, I rode past the RV park and continued east on Marine Drive to look around. It was clear enough out to see Mt. Hood in the distance.

Mt. Hood behind I-205 bridge spanning the Columbia River

Mt. Hood behind I-205 bridge spanning the Columbia River

I went all the way to Blue Lake before I turned around. On the way back I stopped at a small park with river access and a boat ramp. It was called the M James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp. I parked and took a look around. There was a beach area with people sunbathing and a slew of sail boats, presumably from the nearby Portland Yacht Club or the Rose City Yacht Club.

Beach area and sailboats on the river

Beach area and sailboats on the river

There’s a paved bicycle path that runs next to the park along Marine Drive. Donna and I are looking forward to riding this path.

Paved bicycle path along Marine Drive - Mt. Hood in the background

Paved bicycle path along Marine Drive – Mt. Hood in the background

Donna came home from her visit with Marlo a little before 4pm. We decided to get take-out for dinner from a restaurant a few miles away called Pon Thai. I paired my chicken pad thai with another local beer I hadn’t tried before – there are so many breweries in the northwest I doubt if I’ll ever be able to try them all. This time I had an IPA from Burnside Brewing Company.

Burnside Brewing Company India Pale Ale

Burnside Brewing Company India Pale Ale

This IPA is brewed in the English style with a maltiness that isn’t over-powered by hops. It was good, but didn’t stand out. We finished the day with another episode of True Detective. A fine final day of spring.

Today is the summer solstice – the longest period of daylight for the year. We’ll also have a full moon tonight. I’ve read that this is the first summer solstice with a full moon since 1967 – the Summer of Love.

We’re expecting another fine day with the temperature reaching 80 degrees. The forecast says zero percent chance of rain, but I just heard a few rain drops on the roof from a passing cloud. Hopefully that zero percent holds true for the rest of the day.

Contingency Plans

It was nearly 2pm by the time we pulled out of Celilo Park on the bank of the Columbia River on Friday. While Donna worked on a project, I changed our fuel filter before we packed up and left. I change the fuel filter annually and always mark the month/year with a permanent marker so I know when it was changed.

Diesel fuel filter

Diesel fuel filter

Before I changed the filter, a COE employee stopped at our rig. He asked how long we planned to stay. I told him we would be leaving in an hour or two. He said he expected a lot of wind surfers to arrive for the weekend and said we were taking up too many parking spaces to stay over the weekend. Good to know for future reference.

We planned a short drive of about 35 miles to the Walmart in Hood River. I had looked at it on Google Earth, the lot looked large and I could see a few RVs in the image. When we got there, the lot was large enough, but it was posted “No Truck or RV Parking.”

The thing is, you never know when the Google image was taken and things can change. We had a plan “B”. We would continue west on I-84 to Troutdale, a suburb east of Portland. We stayed at the Fairview RV Park on Sandy Boulevard there two years ago and saw RVs overnighting at the Walmart. It was another 45 miles away.

The parking lot at this Walmart was a nightmare. It was busy and I had drivers in cars cutting me off, other drivers stopping and waving me through when I couldn’t possibly get by them – I even had a car pass on my right when I had my right turn indicator on and swung wide to make the turn. It’s a good thing I checked my mirror or I would have pinched the car.

Then we saw that the lot was posted – no overnight parking. Donna called the store and was told a city ordinance had been passed prohibiting overnight parking in public areas. I could go on a rant about politicians taking control of corporate business decisions. On the other hand I’ve seen too many people taking advantage of Walmart by setting up long-term, not just overnight. Bottom line: we needed to find an overnight spot.

Donna phoned the Columbia River RV Park to see if we could move our reservation up one day. No dice, they didn’t have any open sites. Next, I called the Elks Lodge across the river from Portland in Vancouver, Washington. They very friendly as always and told me they had one back-in site with electric and water open or I could dry camp in their lot. The lodge was about 15 miles away.

It was 4pm by then and the rush hour traffic was building. I was already feeling tired from maneuvering through Walmart lots. The bumper-to-bumper traffic getting on I-205 didn’t help. The 15-mile drive took about 40 minutes. I missed the entrance to the Elks Lodge – it’s hidden in what appears to be a residential street. I made a loop through a residential area and found the lodge. We went inside and were welcomed to stay in their lot. I paid a dry camping fee of $10.

When we’re traveling and winging it, looking for cheap or free overnight stays, it pays to be flexible and have contingency plans. If the Elks hadn’t worked out, I’m not sure what our next move would have been, but we would have come up with something. There are a number of state parks along the Columbia River, but we’re too large for most of them. Sometimes a smaller rig can be advantageous.

We had dinner in the Elks Lodge – it was a busy Friday night there. The lodge is next to I-205 so we had traffic noise throughout the night, but other than that, we had no complaints.

Ozark the cat has been acting strange the past few days. When we were at Celilo Park, the passing trains with their loud horns frightened her. She took to hiding behind the vanity in the bedroom slide or hiding behind the sofa. We had to entice her out before I could pull the slides in. I won’t move the slides until I know where the cat is. The slides are powerful and trapping the cat in the mechanism would not be good.

Donna went out for a quick bike ride in the morning and then we left the Vancouver Elks Lodge a little past 11am and arrived at the Columbia River RV Park just past noon. It’s off Marine Drive, right on the river west of the airport. We’re looking forward to biking on the paved paths in the area. Checking in gave me a moment of concern. The guy behind the counter asked for my last name and said, “Mike, right?” Then a cloudy look came over his face and he said, “Uh-oh.” The sign on the door said no vacancy – I wondered if they overbooked and our confirmed reservation maybe wasn’t so confirmed. Then the woman at the counter said we may have to wait as check-out time is noon and they had to see if our site was available.

It turned out the people had already left site 109 and we had a choice of taking either 109 or 101. We looked the sites over and decided to take 109 – it had more space for the trailer. The site is a 50-foot pull-through. The concrete pad for our coach is level, but it’s narrow. There’s a shorter pad beside it for the trailer.

I pulled all the way through, then Donna directed me as I backed the trailer in place and dropped it. Then I backed the coach into the site. We had a few obstacles to overcome. There’s a four-inch steel pole protecting the electrical box that extends at least 12 feet high. Our first position would have the bedroom slide hit the pole, so I moved back. Now the slide was clear, but I couldn’t open the wet-bay door. I need to open this door to hook up water and sewer and access it when I dump.

I ended up parking the coach at an angle that gave me clearance for the slide and wet-bay. Then I moved the trailer slightly by hand to allow us access to the large basement compartment on the passenger side. It’s tight but it all worked out. Our neighbor was impressed by the way we dropped the trailer and got everything positioned.

Steel pole on utility box

Steel pole at utility box

Not much room

Not much room

Trailer and coach staggered to allow basement access

Trailer and coach staggered to allow basement access

The skies were overcast all morning and wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we started to back the trailer in, the skies began pouring rain. By the time I had the coach positioned, it stopped raining. Donna was drenched from directing me and I was wet from disconnecting the trailer.

After we set up, I went for a walk in the park. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a coach that was painted black with spray paint. I thought it was the Black Coach Guy from Mission Bay that I wrote about two years ago. I also saw a rig I recognized two sites down from us. It belongs to Eric and Brittany Highland (RvWanderlust). Eric has a Facebook group called Full-time Diesel RVers. I met them at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta last October. Their car was gone, so they must have been out for the day. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to visit before they leave.

Could it be the Black Coach Guy?

Could it be the Black Coach Guy?

Later, when I took out trash to the dumpster, I met a long term park resident. He told me the black coach had been there for two years and was occupied by two women. So, it wasn’t Black Coach Guy, but it had a similar paint job.

Today the weather forecast looks good. Partly cloudy with zero percent chance of rain and a high in the upper 70s. Donna plans to write an article this morning, then ride her bike to meet up with her friend Marlo at a coffee shop. I’ll start with the Formula One race from Baku, Azerbaijan. Then I’ll get my bike out or explore on the Spyder.