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

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mar 18, 2010 Apple Pie, Oysters, & Road Hazards!

Red Dog’s modified saddle came back from Rich’s Custom Seats on the 16th and yesterday was time for a test ride. The coastal weather Gods were smiling so it was on the road again, this time heading to the little town of Reedsport located about 60 miles north on highway 101. I had several stops in mind, one, a friend has been looking for a vintage ice chest to use as a gas tank container for a hot rod he’s building. I’d spotted one in an antique shop in Reedsport several months ago and figured it might be a good place to check into.

Then I had a couple of food stops to make, Kitty’s “Christmas is all year ‘Round” in Winchester Bay just happens to make the best pies in the area. At $20 they’re not cheap but they’re the best and worth it. Kitty is a great lady and will let you combine flavors all in one pie if you tell her what you want. Apple is always high on my list so I usually get half apple and whatever else strikes my fancy. My girlish waist line suffers for this but I doubt it’s cutting too many years off my life so I do it every few months.

After Kitty’s I’ll head to Clausen’s Oyster Farm in North Bend for a pint of their extra-small morsels. I’ve been going there for a number of years and never been disappointed yet, like Kitty’s they’re the best. Sadly the owners have decided it’s time to sell so they can retire and travel. I can only hope the new people will maintain the local flavor as to how they run the business but it will probably get snapped up by one of the mega outfits. If I had a few extra million lying around I’d be tempted but that’s not likely to happen soon.

Anyway that was my itinerary for the day and I intended to make the best of it with other stops along the way. Sunshine is way too precious to waste indoors, right? So here we go…

This is part of Old Town, Reedsport. It’s a fun place to visit, lots of curio shops and small cafĂ©’s.

Kathi’s Vintage Antiques, Gifts, & Collectables is located on the main drag through town. They have a nice assortment of stuff, some new but mostly old. I like her place and always find time to stop when I pass through Reedsport.

I found they still have the vintage Coke cooler so I shot some pics to email to my friend. Their asking price is $400 which seems a bit steep to me but I don’t do old coolers so maybe that’s a good deal?

After leaving Reedsport I headed south to Winchester Bay where I stopped to buy an apple/chocolate chip pie at Kitty’s Kitchen. (Edit: I had to explain this to a friend at breakfast this morning so maybe I should do so here as well. When I say my pie was apple/chocolate chip it means Kitty removed half of an apple pie - already baked - from its plate and replaced it with half of a chocolate chip pie - already baked. I didn't mean she mixed chocolate chips in with an apple pie & baked it. Eww....I'm not so sure how that would taste but it doesn't sound very good.)

Winchester Bay is the neatest little town, lots of old boats being restored and a calm harbor for mooring your fishing boat. It’s also home to lots of great little restaurants so if you ever go there be prepared to eat! If by chance you're an artist you'll nearly always find someone painting or sketching the boats & harbor, especially during the summer.

Leaving Winchester Bay I had the option of continuing south on 101 but instead I chose to head west and visit Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. On the way I paused to view Winchester Bay from the vantage point of Jack Unger Memorial Wayside, a site dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives at sea.

After that I continued on to the Umpqua Lighthouse where I stopped for pics of the lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean surf off in the distance. This is a particularly beautiful area and should never be missed by travelers. The state park adjoining it offers some wonderful hiking trails around a lake plus great fishing. The campground is typical of Oregon’s State Park system; once you’ve been there you’re spoiled forever.
Back on the road I headed to Clausen’s Oysters located on the north side of Coos Bay. Usually I pick up a quart but since Linda is gone all week attending a seminar I settled for a pint.

Years ago I was fortunate to meet two ladies who had just published a book titled Oyster Cookery and in it was the best recipe in the world for pan fried oysters. I’ve stuck with their instructions and I can guarantee they turn out wonderful every time. Oysters are one of those food things for which there's no middle road, you either love them or not. I'm lucky, they're one of my favorite things.

 Red Dog’s top box is perfect for this type of outing, there’s plenty of room for things like pies and bags of iced oysters, etc. so we headed south through Coos Bay figuring to reach our home south of Bandon by 5:00pm or so. As I was riding along I realized I’d not had to shift around on the new saddle at all, it was as comfortable as could be. Rich had solved the sliding issue by whatever means and the ride was really nice.

Did you ever notice when things are going really well that’s when the you-know-what hits the fan?

Just as I passed a logging road entrance to highway 101 I noticed a lot of rocks on the road, the kind that log trucks discharge from their dual-wheels when they pull onto blacktop. Shortly thereafter I hit one of the damn things and it was really solid, making a loud bang and I knew at once one of the tires was gone.

Red Dog didn’t react like some bikes, she gave a small shudder but nothing drastic yet I knew there was something seriously wrong so I pulled over. Sure enough the left front tire was flat. I rolled her backwards while inspecting for damage but couldn’t see a break in the tire, just a total lack of air, i.e., flatter than the proverbial pancake.

Ah hell I thought; time to call AAA so I did. That’s why I have their service plus I didn’t feel like fiddling around with tire repairs while log trucks and semi trucks were thundering past me.

Their tow truck showed up about 30 minutes later and using his truck’s air supply we tried to pump the tire up. No dice, the rim evidently took quite a hit so we loaded her onto his flatbed and headed home. Once there we off-loaded Red Dog and I rode her down the driveway to the garage where she’s resting.

I’ll have a look at her wheel in the next day or so to see what the damages are but for now it’s time to kick back and relax. Even though the day ended on a bit of a sour note there’s still apple-chocolate pie in the fridge and a pint of extra-small oysters waiting to be fried and that’s a very good thing, isn’t it?

Post Script: The tire is gone, busted right at the rim with a hole way too big to fix so I've ordered in a new set all around. The fronts are sensitive to being matched up and I figured I may as well do the rear one too; that way I'll be ready for my ride south later this spring.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mar 12, 2010 Ouch! That dang saddle’s getting expensive!

Yesterday I drove the RV to our local body shop where they would install the newly painted replacement rear quarter panel. You remember the one I killed when I jackknifed the trailer awhile back? Hauling Red Dog home from Rich’s Custom Seats?

For the most part the installation went OK although I’m a bit uncertain about the paint match. The new panel is a shade or two lighter than the rest of the panels and when I commented on it the shop owner said “Don’t worry about it, colors like grey tend to darken up in time.” I have this thing that goes on in my mind whenever someone uses the phrase “don’t worry about it” red flags pop up all over the place. Another element is the catch-phrase “in time”. Whose time I always wonder? His? Mine? Dog years?

One thing I know for certain, once your rig is back together and parked in the body shop’s driveway you’re probably not going to see it pulled back inside for a re-do. As it happens I like the body shop guy so I’m willing to wait and see.

While writing this posting my phone rang and it was Rich calling to let me know the saddle is on its way back today. He told me they’d changed the profile a bit and added some softer material that should correct the sliding problem so my fingers are crossed.

During our talk I mentioned to him it seemed like the costs for the saddle were mounting exponentially since the jackknifing incident. An odd strangling sound emmitted from the telephone after which he pointed out his saddle had damn little to do with my lack of driving skills... I guess I'm alright with that although it does seem a bit one-sided to me. Moving right along we talked a lot about different bikes, Ducati‘s for the most part and what makes a great touring bike. Red Dog didn’t make the cut in that regard. We’ll see…

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mar 09, 2010 Now how much would you pay?

Occasionally Piaggio does some strange things or so it seems. When you buy an MP3 series scooter it comes with two keys, a red or sometimes brick colored master and a second one for normal use. Both are fully functional but the master key holds all the mysterious codes needed for various secret stuff of which I KNOW NOTHING!

An ominous warning comes with the master stating in effect if you were ever to lose it a replacement would come dearly, something over a cool thousand so DON’T LOSE THE DAMN THING!

This is probably a very good thing because crooks can't start the scooter no matter how clever they are; the electronics simply won’t function without the master or the daily use key. Of course knowing that would leave them with little else to do other than strip it and sell the parts… ewww…

Having decided it’s unwise to chase around without a backup key and heeding Piaggio’s warning about storing the master in a safe place I set out to procure a spare. Doesn’t seem like too much of a problem does it? It’s really not if you know where to shop but I in my infinite wisdom figured my dealer would be the best place. Wrong. $107 for the UNCUT blank, thank you very much! At the time, not knowing what else to do I sprang for it, chewing off a lot of my tongue to keep from screaming. After all, it wasn’t the salesman’s fault; he probably didn’t make a ton of money on it. Not more than a hundred bucks anyway.
So the order was placed and I was told it would be arriving in a few days, etc., blah blah. Once that was finished I went back to surfing around on the Modern Vespa forum and while there I crabbed about the horrific price I’d paid. Immediately I was deluged with responses that one of our sponsor members was in the business of making keys for them at the very reasonable price of $19.95 including engraving!

Dammit anyway, I hate it when that happens. But as luck would have it Jim Hamilton the owner offered to engrave and clone the new key if I would send it to him. His fee for doing this was barely enough to cover return shipping, the engraving & cloning he would do free as a gesture of good will. And also a lot of pity too.

What a great guy, small wonder his reputation among scooter riders and bike riders in general is the best. He not only does keys for scooters, he makes them for nearly every bike there is so if you ever need one made he’s the guy to see.

Here’s a link to his web site:

Or you can contact him via email at:

So does that thing look like it's worth $125 bucks? At least it's red like the dog so maybe it will serve as a fashion statement.

I guess that’s about it for today, anymore of this excitement and I’ll take to drink. Umm…now that I think about it, uh, what time is it?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mar 04, 2010 Back to the drawing board...ewww....

Remember how excited I was to have Red Dog’s saddle reworked by Rich’s Custom Seats? I don’t think anyone could do better work than his outfit but as miserable luck would have it I’ve had to ship the saddle back for a bit of rework.

Rich has a pretty good system of ensuring a proper fit to your fanny and takes extra time in his work. The day he built mine was lousy weather-wise; it rained the whole darned time. When it came time for me to do the first test ride to assess how the new saddle fit the nasty weather played hell with trying to focus on how things were. Returning to his shop from the short ride I commented that the fit and positioning felt good but the height was about the same as the stock seat.

Rich said he could give me a bit more reach to the ground by carving some of the foam off each of the forward side panels. This would allow me to close my legs together a bit more thereby effectively lowering the seat. He said there would be a risk in doing so as I might tend to slide forward when riding but we decided to chance it. When it was finished it was fairly late so I didn’t try another ride, instead I just sat on it in his workshop and it felt great. Of course I wasn’t riding it…

I headed home the next morning without taking it out for a spin, which now that I think about it I should have done so. It took me several days to work my way home as there were kids and grandkids and friends to visit in Portland. During that time Red Dog stayed put on the trailer and of course the rain continued until long after I arrived home. Eventually the weather turned nicer and I managed a couple of short 100 mile rides during which it became evident there was a problem. During normal riding I was sliding forward which resulted in my having to reposition my butt towards the back of the saddle about every 10-12 seconds. On a long ride this would wear me down quickly and after conferring with Rich’s shop it was decided to ship the saddle back to him for an adjustment. FedEx took it away this afternoon and it’s supposed to arrive at his shop early next week.

You may recall that on the way home from Rich’s shop I jack-knifed the bike trailer while backing up? I ordered the new panel from the RV dealer and it came in fairly fast. Unfortunately Winnebago only furnishes them in black primer so it’s off to the body shop next week for a paint job. Buggers, I could have had another saddle done! Ah well, it was my own fault for not paying attention.

In the mean time I’m messing around enjoying the beautiful Oregon spring weather; our flowering shrubs are nearly in full bloom, the early flowers are up and things are looking good.

Right now Daisy is crabbing about her dinner not being on
time – it’s a daily ritual with her...
and I’m trying out a new recipe for Red Snapper Veracruz style.
The fish is resting in the marinade, the dirty rice is cooked, time
for me to imbibe a little I'd say. Cheers folks!
What’s to complain about? Life is pretty darn good.