Red Dog and Me

This is an on-going dialog between me and a certain motor scooter, namely a 2009 Piaggio MP3 500 that came to live with me in October of 2009. I've named the scooter Red Dog and as yet have not determined its gender. In the past when I've named boats, bikes, and other like characters I've thought of them as feminine due to their behavior characteristics. Red Dog I'm not so sure about...we'll see. Update: OK, Red Dog's a girl...with an attitude

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jul 2014 Link to my other scooter blog. So where's Red Dog?

I haven't gone anywhere out of the area on Red Dog this year so here's a link that will take you to my current 2014 summer blog. So far I've toured the southwestern states on my old BMW Bumblebee sidecar rig, then returned home where I switched rides to my Vespa GTS 250ie scooter and headed north to Canada. Between the two of them I racked up over 7000 miles which isn't all that much but for me it's enough for now.

Since Red Dog's a scooter you may want to begin at the Day 14 Jul 17 post where the Vespa 250 part starts but if you like sidecars you can always start at the beginning of the blog. For some weird reason I'm having problems getting the link to operate which means you may have to copy it into your URL field and hit enter. Sorry 'bout that, I'll try to fix it.

In the mean time here's a few pics of the scooter that show most of the more important mods I've done to it prior to going on tour.

For the 2014 tour I elected to leave the red top bag home. The panniers, top box and front bag [not shown] provided more than enough storage for my gear. Way more than enough.
Admore LED turn signals and stop lights were added to the top box. The turn signals are amber and the brake lights are bright red. The brake lights flash rapidly when first applied, then come on steady. The scoot's stock lights are functional as well.

An adjustable windscreen turned out to be a great option in bad weather. For rain storms I raise it up to where I can just see over the top. When it's hot & sunny I lower it all the way down. This versatile windscreen is truly one of the best.

My Garmin Zumo 550 is now outdated but I still really like it. [Especially when it gets me lost!] I've used this GPS on several bikes for tours to Nova Scotia, Mexico, and all over the USA.

Touratech's locking mount makes stealing the GPS just a bit more difficult. I remove the GPS at night but leave it on during lunch stops, etc. Competent thieves can defeat the lock easily enough but it still foils the snatch & grab guys. I like that.

This RotoPax 1-gallon fuel tank reduces the likelihood of unscheduled hikes. After this shot was taken I opted for one of their security locks. You'd have to destroy the fuel cell to get it off. Maybe blow yourself up. Oops...!

So when the heck am I ever going to tour on Red Dog? I dunno, one of these days for sure but at the moment I'm really loving the Vespa's light weight. Call me lazy but it's so much easier dealing with this lighter scoot I think I'm getting spoiled. Gotta think this whole thing over maybe.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Summer of 2014 – where to go and what to ride?

This morning my first daily chore was to take care of a bit of burn barrel items and as I passed Red Dog sleeping away on the front porch it occurred to me just how wonderful and curious a ride she is. In fact all the while I was working I kept thinking about the comfort and economy offered by the strange 3-wheeled apparition. Then since I was already next to the barn I slipped the door open and looked in on the Beemer, a 1992 BMW R100GS "Bumblebee" outfitted with a vintage Ural sidecar. Like Red Dog also sporting 3 wheels but not nearly as easy to ride and certainly not as comfortable. Lots more storage capacity of course but at a cost to piloting ease and not a prayer of lane-splitting should that ever become necessary.

I thought about the two and how different and yet how similar they are and considered whether there were any places I might ride where one would outshine the other. There are some to be sure and those would likely be the deal-breakers, either way. For instance, if I were to set out for points north; ie. Alaska, then the Beemer would be the likely pick. If I decided that a ride through the great Southwest, maybe even to Key West, then Red Dog would prevail.

Today is June 7th, the sun is shining and the weather at this time of year should be favorable for long-distance touring on either of the 3-wheeled conveyances. Given that the next point to consider is how soon either of them would be ready to roll out. At present Red Dog needs only to be packed, she's been serviced recently, the tires are fresh and I can think of no issues that might crop up. The Bumblebee OTOH is still waiting for its broken speedometer to reappear and that may or may not happen any time soon. Of course the GPS would suffice for that requirement but I'd really like to leave with the feeling that the rig was 100%, no excuses.

To make things even more complicated I'm struggling with the usual "where to go" factor and that would have a definite effect on which one to ride. The answer suddenly becomes obvious...go twice, once on Red Dog through the Great Southwest, then return home, pack up the Bumblebee and head north in the general direction of Alaska.

It's been awhile since I went anywhere on Red Dog so to be fair I think I'll replicate the same ride I followed yesterday with the Bumblebee. It wasn't particularly long, barely over 100 miles but that should be enough to re-acquaint myself with any unusual quirks that I may have forgotten. That will also serve as a legitimate excuse for another day in the saddle. Yup.

Man, it's really HOT out here! Is this what they mean when they say "Dog Days?"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Central OR Inferno - Day 03 Aug 06 – The Dalles to Bandon the long way

Early in the morning I'm back on the I-84 slab heading east. After an hour or so it's really warming up, even the Columbia River looks hot; it’s shimmering with heat waves. I figure it’s time to bail off the freeway; my feeling is the further east I travel the hotter it gets and if I can believe the weather channel it’s going to get a lot worse.

This seems like it might be a good time to modify my route; do some more exploring and maybe escape the freeway's heat. I spy an interesting exit leading to a place I’ve never heard of; that’ll do me, another back road to nowhere.

Philipi Canyon? Nope, never heard of it. I’ve lived in OR my entire life and every time I go on one of these rides I discover new places.

A really short ride up the canyon reveals private roads leading to ranches, cows, horses, cowboys, maybe even Indians. Turned out it wasn't at all what I'd hoped for, no long twisty ride through time, just a gravel road going to someone's ranch. Heck.

At least there was one cowboy at work

Time to reverse course, take the canyon road back down to I-84

I ride a few more miles east on the slab, then take the exit heading south to Ione, center of the known world. Or maybe it was the Heppner exit? Anyway it was a bonafide exit with real pavement and everything, not at all like some of the more unexpected ones composed of gravel & ditches, etc.

Look Ma, it’s the Orygun trail fer sure! 

Point of Interest coming up, dive into that gravel parking area. Might even be a convenient bush open for biz...tourist facility, etc. Eh?

Why it’s the Willow Creek Campground historic sign. Think maybe I’ll have a look at the Old Cecil Store if I can find it, it's bound to be around here somewhere. Maybe they sell Snickers...

I follow my old reliable sense of direction and...hmm…it’s the ever present Border collie keeping an eye on his flock. More like tormenting them actually. I watched him work the poor buggers and detected a bit of sadism in him. I think I might want to come back as a Border collie when I croak. Or maybe an Aussie Sheppard would do.
Grrr....I see you....grrrr...
Bet these guys really appreciate being herded into such a small space on a hot day. Maybe they’re being too, uh, sheepish?

The Cecil Store; closed just as I suspected it would be. Bummer! I was really wanting a Snickers bar.

The Hollyhocks are nice. The ones at our place croaked this year. Ain’t it great I include little sidebar comments like that?

Across the road it’s the old Cecil Grain Mill. Or maybe it’s where the local fire department dries their hoses?

 I ride back to the main road heading south…

And run right into Cecil! Whoopeee! Yaaay! 

Hey, it’s getting hot as hell out here; the temps have been ranging from 104 to 110 degrees. That makes 98 seem cool. Keep moving along Dude... Just down the  road we arrive in Ione. Or maybe it’s Heppner? I’m not lost, just having a bit of heat stroke. Like my hard drive is shutting down. 110 degrees...dang that's HOT!

Nice little town, probably a great place to live. One old geezer waved at me as I was making a U-turn. I waved back and didn't drop the scooter. Lucky.

My kind of place, I’m a shopkeeper at heart. Or a saloon keeper maybe.

I follow the main drag out of town, head in a westerly direction. It's really getting hot now so I look for a wide spot in the road where I can stop to put on my anti-dehydration vest, maybe avoid heat stroke. The Liberty School Road looks like a quiet place so it wins the lottery.

I figure the locals are smart enough to stay indoors out of the heat, unlike certain adventuresome types who travel around on really homely motor scooters.

I keep the vest rolled up in a big ol’ baggie full of water. When I put it on it soaks my body and the cooling effect when riding is simply amazing, you actually feel cold for the first few miles. It’s still pretty icky though. It also has an odd smell, sort of swamp-like and mosquitoes follow your around if you stop. So don’t stop. Seems simple enough?

I arrive in Fossil right at lunch time. How convenient. 

I have food on the brain and the Timber Wolf Café beckons. Or howls. Whichever. Anyway the food was good, the service was friendly, and after lunch I ducked into the restroom with my vest and came out trailing water all the way back to my table. An old cowboy eyed me; no doubt wondering what the hell all the water was about. Or was it water? I nodded to him, he stared back, I left and returned to Red Dog across the street. He continued to eye me.

Interesting assortment of small business in Fossil, looks like there's something for everyone. I didn't spot a cop so maybe there's no jail. Hey maybe there's no crime? There's a concept to think about.

Leaving Fossil is a whole bunch like entering Fossil, just keep moving along in the same direction you came in on. 

It was during lunch at Fossil I decided riding in 110 degree heat wasn’t actually as much fun as I’d like so I decided to head home. The closer I got to the coast the cooler it got and I was home by 9:30 pm, a nice day’s ride of 535 miles. That’s the most I’ve done in one day on Red Dog and I owe it to the comfort provided by the custom saddle I had made.

Epiblog: Red Dog is really easy to travel around on; the ability to stop/park virtually anywhere without concern about the road surface is a huge plus. I’m rethinking my earlier views as to the reliability of the model and although I’d still be hesitant to take one into some areas I wouldn't worry about touring in general. 

This trip would have been a lot longer had it not been for the extreme heat but there's always next time. I saw a lot of new places, met some nice people and in general had a great ride.

See ya.


Central OR Inferno Day 02 – Aug 05 Seaside to The Dalles and it’s HOT!

Hello Seaside - Goodbye Seaside

Today’s ride north led us [again, me and Red Dog] to Astoria after which we would change travel directions towards Portland. Last night it came to me it might be fun to do the “four corners” of the state. Anyone who follows my rides knows that I seldom have a fixed idea of where I’m going other than a general direction so this would be a new twist, a real tour with actual destinations. Great concept, eh? 

Arriving in Astoria I pause on the bridge to view my options ahead. In the distance you can see the toll bridge that leads to Long Beach, Washington. It’s a great place to score a radar ticket if you’re a hot shoe. I’m not going that way this time.

Astoria has tons of cool places to visit including a nice Maritime Museum with enough historical items to hold anyone’s interest. I’ve been there in the past but today I’m interested in riding so I’ll pass.

I always wonder about the history of pilings, they’re everywhere along the coast. If they could only talk what interesting tales they might spin.

Somewhere east out of Astoria I turn off the main highway onto a nondescript road that leads to who-knows-where. This is the fun part about touring without a firmly set destination; you have the flexibility of following your curiosity.

A corner marker invites me to turn off again, this time to Aldridge Point Road wherever that is. The sunny weather is unusual for this area.

Beautiful tributaries run along remote farming communities

An old salmon packing house lies in disrepair, looks like it’s been a very long time since it was last active.

The “Salmon for All” sign suggests there might have been issues between small packers, big biz, and probably government regulating agencies.

We return to the main highway heading southeast. The sun continues to shine and the ride remains near perfect. The closer we get to Portland the heavier the traffic becomes, just as I remember it when I lived there. 

We reach Portland in the afternoon and stop to visit “L`Etoile” a small private French Immersion School located in the Johns Landing district. This style of education is taking hold in many areas of the country; they offer alternative schooling to public systems which a lot of families prefer. OK, so I have a personal interest in this place but that’s another story…

Temps are rising; it’s getting a bit hot out. I pause for lunch with friends and then decide against staying overnight in the big city. Even though it’s approaching late afternoon I’d as soon be on the road and so it’s eastward on I-84 following the Columbia River. 

I wanted to visit the locks at The Dalles but our new Homeland Security declines to accept visitors. Phooey on them. Who cares about a silly old dam anyway? Not me, I’m outta there, friendlier places are everywhere.

The hour grows late and I scurry to The Dalles where I will spend the night. My old favorite Motel 6 has just one room left and I score it. The gal at the front desk tells me stories about how her husband fell off his bike going really fast and “Thank God he was wearing the right gear, otherwise he’d have been killed”, etc. “After that he came to his senses and realized it was crazy to ride bikes so he’s never ridden again.” “Good for him” I say, “A man’s got to know his limits.” Just like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. You ever notice how non-riders love to tell you stories like this? That’s my usual response and oftentimes it garners a frown or as in this case a nodding head accompanied with a look of puzzlement. I move on.

The motel is overrun with Harley people going somewhere. A number of them are intrigued with Red Dog so I answer their questions as best I can. Depending on how sadistic I’m feeling at the time my explanations of how the front end works varies. Creative storytelling 101 prevails. 

Dinner is somewhere that escapes me, probably just as well, and so ends day two of this epic saga. Did I mention it's hot?