Category Archives: Motorcycle

Dragon Slayer.

Welp, here we are, once more. It’s been a while since I added anything here, and – as usual – it’s been a tumultuous couple of months. Second verse, same as the first.

But there was Really Big News worth reporting, which is why I’m writing now. I’ve had a few adventures these past months; some good, some bad, some not worth thinking too much about. The Master Adventure Map is somewhat significantly updated, though. But the Really Big News is this: I finally rode the Tail of the Dragon.

Tail of the Dragon

And no, not just in the Jeep like I’ve done before. Although I did take the Jeep down the Dragon with the motorcycle in tow before making a run on the bike. I wanted the cool professional photos of the Jeep/trailer, but I also wanted to scout the road on 4 wheels before running it on 2, just so I’d have fresh in my mind anything I needed to be conscious of – potholes, oil, downed trees, etc.

Tail of the Dragon

Prior to the trip, significant work on the trailer was required. For one thing, since I lifted the Jeep last spring, I needed a new trailer hitch that dropped lower (so the trailer was level). And when I hooked it up, I found out that the lights were all squirrely. A real head-scratcher; they worked if the headlights were on, but the turn signals were backwards. They kinda worked on one side if the headlights were off. That kind of weirdness. To make a long story short, it was a combination of old bulbs in the trailer, and a short in the aftermarket LED bumper lights in the Jeep. A real pain to sort out single handedly, too – had to set up a mirror so I could see what the lights were doing when I hit the brakes and what-not. Have I mentioned I need a little helper? Feel free to drop me your resume and qualifications.

Tail of the Dragon

Anyway, after the test run in the cage, the real goal – getting out there on the motorbike. This is something I’ve been talking about for years (seriously), and it was exciting to finally be actually doing it, even if it was solo. For at least the past two years, I’ve been hoping to go, but something always got in the way – work, weather, mechanical stuff, life (ahem), but this time, the stars all lined up. Best of all, I didn’t die (OK, I guess that’s a matter of perspective). No real incidents of any kind. The run was fast and nice, and of course I mapped it using my fancy Suunto GPS watch – see the Movescount data right here. I started early enough that I missed the throng of afternoon riders (the road was just starting to get really crowded on my way back from the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort), so I didn’t have to deal too much with the ricer racers or any of that. One of the best adventures I’ve had, and that’s saying something. There was so much about it that wasn’t the way I hoped or planned, but at least I can now say I did it. I guess I need to update the Motorcycle page now.

Tail of the Dragon

I had such a good time, I’m thinking seriously about going back up in the next couple of weeks with the BMW. The BMW is a fast bike, but I’m not sure how the off-road tires will handle those curves. I guess there’s one way to find out. However, before I do that, I have another pretty cool trip planned for the Bimmer, hopefully next weekend. Another one of those stupid, crazy, dangerous bucket list things – but hey, who wants to live forever? Not me, that’s for sure.

Lower Piney Falls Now, in addition to the Dragon, there have been other adventures in the kayak, on the motorbike, the mountain bike, and in the boots (including my new Merrell Moabs, because shoes). Worth mentioning, and in no particular order, a short but really awesome and challenging hike at Piney Falls (Movescount data) with its two waterfalls (that’s Lower Piney Falls in the photo at the left), kayaking at Mud Creek (Movescount data), Foshee Pass (Movescount data) and Watts Bar Lake (Movescount data), all of which have helped fill out the blueway portion of my master map. There was a return to mountain biking at Sterchi Farm (Movescount data) and a long-wanted bucket list MTB ride at the Chickamauga Battlefield (Movescount data). A whole bunch of random hikes, walks and treks in town and out, including a bucket list visit to Twin Arches (Movescount data), and a sentimental visit to historic Rugby (Movescount data). Several dual-sport rides in the woods on the BMW, including a return to Insurance Bluffs (Movescount data). Even got the Jeep in on the action a few times. Just lots of activities, and hey, only a few significant injuries, none of which were especially life-threatening (although with some of the things I’ve done lately, I’m really, really tempting the gods of broken bones and death by adventure).

Silver Comet Trail

But I’m not done yet. In the planning stages for the next good weekend is a return to the Silver Comet Trail. I never really talked about my last trip there, but it went kinda south and almost ended badly (Movescount data), in no small part because I was, as usual, alone. Doesn’t matter now, but luckily at the time I had a guardian angel get me back to the trailhead before I died to death. Anyway, the trip I’m planning now is going to be headed west, to complete the remainder of the entire SCT. By my math, it’ll be about 50 miles round-trip, and since I won’t be doing it in August like last year, I should be able to scratch this off the ever-shrinking bucket list. I’m pretty excited about it – watch this space.

Clean Deck!

There’s always other projects, too. Pressure-washed the deck (after cleaning the rest of the gunk out of the pressure washer carb – again). Planted some bamboo for what I intend to be an entire grove next spring. Ordered some pink pampas grass to put around the deck. Put pavers at the bottom of the steps on the deck that I built last spring. Installed an awesome Alexa-enabled smart ceiling fan in my bedroom, along with some new Alexa-enabled bulbs (I had bought all this for a different project, but welcome to my world). I like projects/cleaning/etc, and I’m good at that kind of thing – and one thing is for certain, no one can ever accuse me of being a slob. One day this week, I’m going to replace the bottom of the vanity in my bathroom. I did the kitchen over the winter, and the other bathroom vanity a couple years ago. It needs it – over the years, the particle board gets wet and sags and stuff, so I’m going to replace it with plywood I was saving for another similar project that I’m not doing now. The kitchen turned out really nice; I’m sure my bathroom will, as well (and again, I could use a little helper). After that, I’m thinking of ripping up the carpet in the bedroom and replacing it with hardwood – I’ve already got my square footages, and I think I’ve found a wood that I like. Additionally, the 4 inches of rain we got last week showed me that the leaky roof I mended in my garage is actually properly repaired – you don’t screw with a leaky roof, unless you want mold and a desire to gut the entire ceiling. I guess I can indeed fix anything – one of only two things I’m evidently useful for.

On the COVID front, no socializing to speak of – no trips to the mall, concerts, movies or anything like that (but the drive-in closes soon, so I still might make a trip there), and certainly no slinging my DNA around in a group of people, because I’m not a f*cking moron (Addendum, October 2nd: Today has clearly shown us that if you’re stupid enough to willingly and eagerly go somewhere – anywhere – in a group of people that you have no idea the health status of – mask or no mask – then you deserve exactly what you f*cking get. Do your thing, Darwin.). I’m keeping a low profile and staying safe, I guess. Not sure exactly why, but here I sit. Oh, and right as I was updating this, I got some *cough* new footage on my Ring camera network. That’s the whole reason I installed the things. My private YT channel is…something. Ask me for a link. Some real fremdschämen, that’s for true. With Prime Day coming up, I’m going to add a couple more cameras, just…because.

Tomorrow, I have to change the combinations to all my locks and stuff, because of course I do.

Did I mention I rode the Tail of the Dragon? And didn’t die? Sorry, maybe next time.


Links:
Piney Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Professional Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Personal Photo Album on Facebook
Chickamauga Battlefield Mountain Biking Photo Album on Facebook
Twin Arches, Hazard Cave, Historic Rugby and Foshee Pass Photo Album on Facebook

Cast, Away.

Buckle up, I’m feeling chatty. I should – I mean, it’s been months since I’ve written anything here. With the current global shitshow, I just haven’t really felt like it, plus, my adventures have been somewhat limited, therefore, not much to say. So, let’s start with the state of the world.

Are you people insane, or just stupid? I have learned alot about people these past three months (well, really, the past year, but that’s another story for later), and I guess the big takeaway is that, by and large, people are indeed selfish, self-centered and just dumb. Evil? Maybe. Horrible? Absolutely. Choose your adjective. Really, is going to Applebees or hanging out with your friends that important? Important enough that you’d put your family or your loved ones at risk of actual sickness and/or death (not to mention yourself – but hey, if you want to kill yourself, I guess that’s your business)? I mean, for realsies – I’m appalled at the behavior I’ve seen. Appalled and profoundly disappointed. I’ve been doing my part as best as I can, but some of you – sheesh, karma is going to smack you right in the ass. Do your good work, Darwin. But at least you get to hang out with your pals, right? Inconsiderate, arrogant asshats, the lot of you. You deserve exactly what you get.

Moving on.

Run, fat boy, run.

I whipped out my credit card this morning to order a treadmill. I’ve only been going to the gym very, very sporadically (maybe 6 or 8 times in 3 months), and only in the middle of the night when no one is there (and wearing the Speedo last weekend made it clear that I need to be going more)(much, much more). It’s just not safe, though – between the pandemic, the assorted weirdos out in the middle of the night, and the occasional high-speed car chases, I just don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. So, it’s been more of the Bowflex Max and SelectTech weights at home, but I want to add a Bowflex treadmill; specifically, the BXT216. Therefore, it’s out of stock, because of course it is – but I’m on the waiting list.

I finally painted the barn, too.

Speaking of whipping out the credit card, more Jeep stuff. I found out the skid plates I had been toying with adding to the Adventure Buggy have been discontinued and were getting harder to find, so I went ahead and ordered them all – the two underbody ones, and the fuel tank one, which was two pieces (and these were/are to supplement the two front plates I installed back in March). I installed them last week (by myself, natch, as usual – I really need a dependable helper; the operative word being “dependable“), with no major screw-ups, but it was a chore – hence the need for an occasional helper. I also got the 3 Cherokee-specific storage bags for the cargo area storage system that’s built-in to the back of the Jeep. Expensive, but nice. So, the Jeep is just about done, although I may go ahead and order a set of rock sliders – what’s another $1000 in the scheme of things?

If the question is, ‘How goofy can you look?’, well, here’s the answer. This was on an island in the middle of Rhea Springs.

Now, adventures. I’ve had a few decent ones (and a couple of crappy ones). My kayaking trips have been pretty good, and I’ve filled in spots on my map (and speaking of the Master Adventure Map, I’ve had to significantly expand the area covered as I’ve moved farther and farther away from home base – check it out). Two great trips to Dallas Bay/Lake Chickamauga (Movescount 1, Movescount 2) and an amazing trip exploring islands in Rhea Springs (Movescount). Still lots to explore around Rhea Springs, including going through the locks at Watts Bar – I think I’ll be going back there for a little while (time permitting).

I also have something super-exciting penciled in for this weekend in that vicinity. Watch this space to see just how cool I can be. Or dead, depending on how it goes. Nah, cool. I know my way around…stuff.

Bald River Falls (left) and Ozone Falls (right)

Anyway, there were some bucket list waterfall adventures, which were primarily Jeep/motorcycle road trips combined with a little hiking, a little climbing, a little you-get-the-idea. Bald River Falls (Movescount) and Ozone Falls (Movescount) were both amazing. Not a great deal of hiking to get to either one, but definitely worth the drive. Coming up, a trip to Twin Arches, which is supposed to be spectacular. Maybe a day trip, or I might take my camping gear and make it an overnighter. Regardless, nothing like a little holoholo ka’a.

There’s been a few other things over the past months – a nice bike ride on the Riverwalk (Movescount), a little roundball, several motorbike trips (on and off-road). I guess I haven’t mentioned it, but I also replaced my trusty Suunto Ambit 3 Peak with a new Suunto Spartan Baro. It’s an amazing piece of tech, and because it’s newer than the Ambit, it integrates better with my iPhone, has a better battery life, has a touchscreen, and many other cool features. Pricey, but oh-so worth it. Tracking/mapping my adventures is important to me; I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of treks, and it’s nice to be able to refer back to a specific adventure to answer questions for others, or to remember certain details like trailheads, put-ins, campsites and so on. The Suunto watch(es) have probably been the best investment I’ve made in my go-go-go Dangerboy lifestyle. I’ve never had to use it to get un-lost, but you never know.

Say ‘Cheese’.

Oh, and that’s not the only shopping. A couple months ago, I (seriously) splurged on a new camera. A Canon EOS T7i, to be specific. And not just the camera, but a massive EF 70-200mm zoom lens, extra batteries, a tripod that doubles as a hiking stick, and some other gear. There are reasons I’m not gonna get into, but the thing is seriously awesome, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. The above photo of Bald River Falls was taken with it, and there will be much more to come. Of course, it’s gonna go with me to the Dragon in a couple weeks. Watch this space.

Want. This. This color, these wheels, this everything. 115 horsepower of bliss.

I came very close to buying my dream bike, as well. Got a line on one exactly like I wanted, pretty good price, low miles – almost sounded too good to be true. Turned out, it was. It had a salvage title (meaning it had been wrecked, totalled by the insurance company, then repaired by some yahoo), making it pretty much worthless. Even a 10 grand Harley with a salvage title isn’t worth having, and I’d never be stupid enough to throw that much money at something I’d never be able to recoup. I’m not dying to have a new bike – I love mine, and it’s taken me years to get it where I want it. However, I’m not riding the BMW much, so I’ve been thinking about letting it go so I can justify a V-Rod (the pictured Harley). The V-Rod was never really popular amongst the Harley crowd (probably why I like it), and it was discontinued a couple years back. Not too difficult to find with a proper title; I guess if I’m serious about it, I need to start shopping the BMW around first. The BMW is an awesome bike, but you can only ride around in the woods so much (it’s street legal, but on the street, Thing 1 is the bike to ride). We’ll see.

Addendum: I just now took the BMW out for a very quick ride, since I tightened up the chain and lubed it (yeah, kids, if you own a motorbike, you need to know how to tend to it). So, who am I kidding? That thing is awesome. It’s fast, capable, and I’ve spent a ton of money getting it where I want it. New off-road tires, crash bars, aux lighting, tail rack and bag, headlight guard, better pegs, tank pad – I’ve spent a decent amount making it a great off-road machine, and that authentic BMW stuff isn’t cheap. Maybe I’ll just be a guy with 3 motorbikes. Why not, right? Can’t take that fat cash with you, after all.

Plus, chick magnet.

Nonetheless, that reminds me, I need to order a new helmet. I ordered a comms system that’s compatible with my Bluetooth helmet so I could communicate with a passenger without yelling over my shoulder, but it eventually came back as “no longer available”. So, I think I’m just gonna order an entire helmet with the comms built-in. Less complicated than those janky, stick-on affairs, and you never know when I’ll have a rear seat cover that I actually want to talk to (and sorry if your retinas just detached from rolling your eyes so hard).

Lastly, I’m a little annoyed (I know what you’re thinking: “You’re not a little anything.”). I was watching one of my favorite films for what turned out to be the last time, because reasons. Cast Away. What an awesome film. However, the more I started to think about it, the more annoyed it made me. Not the film itself, mind you. It was Chuck’s significant other (who shall remain nameless; also reasons). Chuck, our hero, was on the island for 4 years – and if it had been me, I would have been happy to just stay there. Anyway, in that time, his fiancee – love of his life, and allegedly vice-versa – married her dentist, and had a kid with said dentist that was a toddler by the time Chuck was rescued; again, after only 4 years. So, that means she waited, what, 6 whole months before she was doing the Horizontal Monster Mash with Big from Sex and the City? I feel you, Chuck. People suck. People really, really suck. So, for future reference, if you’re my significant other, and your FedEx plane crashes in the South Pacific, I’ll wait for you as long as it takes. Forever, even. And screw you, Ms. Frears – you suck. You’re probably one of those aforementioned people that just must go hang out with your friends right at the peak of a global pandemic with no regard for anyone or anything besides yourself.

Still, I’m bummed that I’ll never watch that film again. What’s next, my other favorite film? That one is a little hard to watch, also. Too much infidelity and stuff. And seriously, who the hell cheats on George Clooney? I wouldn’t – if he’d ever answer my letters, that is. But in all seriousness, I feel for Matt King as much as I do for Chuck Noland. Sure, it’s fiction – but I know what I’m talking about. I coulda been in either of those. Well, if I wasn’t so ugly. Furthermore, because I’m stupid, I had to watch the trailer, and now I’m sad. My usual condition.

George Clooney in The Descendants

All that babbling aside, I do still love you, Helen Hunt. No hard feelings. And Wilson – you’ll always rock. Maybe things will get better, and I’ll see you again someday.

Wilson the Volleyball from Cast Away

Yesterday Was a Good Day.

A very good day, in fact. Today – Saturday – not so much. But I’ll power through it like I always do. Like I’m always forced to. And do you know what helps?

Journey. Journey helps. One of the few bands I’ve never seen (ditto Pretenders), and all it took was a tiny prod to give Ticketmaster and the boys (and Chrissie) 300 of my American dollars. So, assuming I don’t step in front of a bus before August, there’s that. That’s so far away, I can’t even think about it right now. Nonetheless, as it is written in the Albums, Departure 1:1 – Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it. Devotional meditation: Do I love to move? Do I love to groove? Do I love the lovin’ things?

What I can think about is my deck project. So, after driving around all night (again, which is a story of its own – let’s just say I’ve seen some sh*t; and over the past 9 months or so, I’ve logged a stunning amount of time just driving around aimlessly in the Wee Small Hours), I finally made it to the hardware store to get the lumber to finish up the steps. I’ve been wanting to get on this for weeks, but life kinda gets in the way of projects sometimes. But, now, done. Well, mostly done, anyway – I need enough lumber for a couple more steps and the banister. I’ll probably pick that up tomorrow, after a road trip, or Monday, after my home-away-from home time. (Monday addendum: except for a little sanding, the steps are done. So, would-be burglars, murderers, stalkers, whatever, you’re welcome for the much easier access – but be sure and smile for the camera.)

Steps are challenging. Lots of math and geometry, and very little margin for error. But I did it, without a single screw-up, nor a drop of blood spilled. Now, after, that’s another story – inexplicably, I got a really bad nosebleed. No idea why. Probably stress. Maybe it’s a tumor. Anyway, if I can build steps on less than an hour sleep, image the projects I could accomplish if I was well rested? I had debated hiring someone to do this, but why pay someone to do something I can do (probably better)? You just wind up with a shady contractor that does a half-assed job and it becomes a hassle. Do it right, do it yourself. Like me. Use your whole ass.

Now I just need to get my mighty pressure washer out and clean the deck. It’s always something, right? Right. Speaking of, I’ve ordered new sinks and faucets for my bathroom. No one sees it but me, but I still want it to be nice. Can’t stand a sloppy bathroom (or a sloppy house in general – I’m somewhat fastidious about my cleaning). I mean, come on. One thing I’ll never be accused of is being a slob.

Of course, I will pay my guy to work on the Jeep. Not because I can’t do it, but because I don’t have a car lift, and if you’re going to tear the suspension apart, a car lift helps move things along. Oh, right – I tore the suspension on the Jeep apart. Intentionally. I think I mentioned a while back that I ordered a lift kit and wheel spacers – well, all that finally came in, and because if a project is worth doing, it’s worth over-doing, so I went ahead and bought big new tires to go with it. In a word, it’s awesome. It looks so much better, and I’m sure will perform better off-road. Between the lift, wheel spacers, new tires, and the recently-added winch, I believe I’m ready to take my adventuring to the next level. Of course, it’s never done – next on the list is skid plates, and I’m having some custom tow hooks made for the front. Basically, to put the skid plates on, you have to take the whole front end off, and if I’m going to do that anyway, I might as well add the tow hooks, because that also requires dismantling the front. Gonna get them in yellow, to match the caliper covers. I’ve taken the back apart to install the tow package; the front should be basically the same. Being handy is awesome. And if you’re wondering, the inside of the Jeep is pretty spotless, as well. I’ll make someone a good wife someday.


I have also continued to add to my Ring camera network. I’m completely sold on it. I now have cameras covering all sides of the yard, the dog area, the barn, the Jeep and a few other spots I’m not going to divulge. Plus, of course, the Jeep itself is always recording – and I do mean always – it sees (and hears) everything, and I have a whole folder just full of…stuff. So, if you’re thinking about murdering me to death – or anything else – you better lure me away from the house, the Jeep and the motorbikes (I would suggest tasty, tasty donuts as bait). And keep in mind that I have Liam Neeson on speed-dial, and he has a very particular set of skills.

It’s that time of year again. My sweet Blackjack turned 8 years old. I can’t wrap my head around that. His birthday coincides with The Great Unpleasantness, so that means it’s been 8 years since that fiasco, as well. Yeah, there’s always some fiasco with me – but I’m working on it. I made it through the holiday season (officially, now), and I haven’t really celebrated a single holiday in a year – not Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Not even flippin’ Arbor Day. Because reasons. Oh, I wanted to, but like every year, it just didn’t happen. All that’s left is that thing of which we do not speak in April – although, truth be told, I’m trying to look forward to it this year. Probably spend it on the Dragon. Now that the Jeep is all souped up, I’ll have to get new photos up there – and, of course, gotta get the bike up there. Sorry, kinda wandered off-topic. So, BJ turned 8, and he had cake, as always. He’s doing really well – he had some hip issues last year, but the daily Cosequin really seems to be helping. Great advice from my vet. I don’t understand people who have pets and never take them for basic veterinary care. Pets are a responsibility; not just something to dump off when it conflicts with your social schedule or are too self-centered to provide basic health needs. Grr. Some people just don’t have a heart. Or a soul. More specifically, some people just suuuuuuck.

And good news for the puppers, there was snow. Unexpected, of course. At least we got one snowfall for the pups to play in. And the Jeep (but that was prior to the mods) and the BMW. I’ll take it. It was the best kind of snow; a lot in the morning, and gone by the end of the day.

Of course, now that the Jeep is all souped up, it’ll probably never snow again. But at least I got out on the bike. That’s something.

There’s been a little adventure, as well. Not much, but a little. I went back to Falling Water Falls, which is always awesome, and then returned to Signal Point/Rainbow Lake and Edwards Point. These are some of my favorite places. The hiking is amazing, the scenery is spectacular, and wrapping up at River Drifters is always a bonus (OK, not Hot Chocolatier bonus, but a bonus all the same). However, tomorrow, there will be adventure. Much needed adventure. Watch this space.

Now, I need to go wash all my hoodies. Because of course I do.

Links:
Falling Water/Rainbow Lake/Edwards Point Photo Album on Facebook

The Human Peepshow That Is My Life.

As is becoming the norm, lots going on, but really, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. That whole, “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt” mentality (paraphrasing Twain; being told you’re stupid your entire life will pull the Twain out of you). Besides, when I open my donut hole, I always get myself in trouble, especially if actual donuts are involved. Nonetheless, if you care, which you don’t, here’s the highlights:

November 2017…

Shadow Phantom Motorcycle

…and now – same bike, lotsa new stuff. Click for larger.

I finally got some new motorbike pics. It had been awhile since I had good photos taken, and the bike is dramatically different now – new pipes, saddlebags, headlight, floorboards, saddle, crashbars, yadda, yadda. So, for posterity or something: Motorcycle Photoshoot Photo Album on Facebook

Kestrel Bicycle

click for larger

Because I’m just never satisfied (evidently) and because the Silver Comet Trail tried to murder me to death a few weeks ago, I bought a new bike. A Kestrel Airfoil Pro racing bike. All carbon fiber, stupidly fast and light. Right around 1/3 the weight of my fully-laden swallow Kona Hei Hei mountain bike. It’s going to take some getting used to – the geometry is completely different than my MTB, and the aerobars – the secondary handlebars that are designed to be leaned on – are completely alien to me, but so far, I dig it. Kestrel Road Bike Photo Album on Facebook

Burgess Falls

click for larger

There were some adventures, as well. A kayak/hiking trip to majestic Burgess Falls; one of my few remaining bucket list items. This was an amazing adventure; one for the books. Burgess Falls Photo Album on FacebookBurgess Falls Paddle Movescount DataBurgess Falls Hike Movescount Data

Twin Falls at Rock Island

click for larger

Also, a three-hike day at Rock Island. Lots of waterfalls, easy trails, hard trails, and everything in between. This wasn’t really a bucket list item, because I wasn’t really aware of the area; just peripherally. So, I guess this qualifies more as a “hidden gem”. Whatever, I’ll take it.
Rock Island Photo Album on FacebookRock Island I Movescount DataRock Island II Movescount DataRock Island III Movescount Data

Next, I think a road trip…

Buckets and Lists

I know I said I was done here, and I still am. However, I also said if there was anything significant to report, I would. And there have been a number of significant bucket list items scratched off – basically, I’ve been on the go, non-stop. Like I have anything better to do? I don’t have the time or inclination to go into everything; just go look at the pretty pictures (or video) or whatever.

And with that said, here’s what I’ve done:

Tail of the Dragon (OK, in the Jeep, not the motorbike): Dragon Photo AlbumProfessional Drive-By Dragon Photo AlbumTail of the Dragon Video 1Tail of the Dragon Video 2Movescount Data [Inbound]Movescount Data [Outbound]

Bat Cave Paddle: Bat Cave Photo AlbumBat Cave VideoMovescount Data

Submerged Cemetery Paddle: Mullins Cove Submerged Cemetery Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Buggytop Cave Crawl-Through: Buggytop Cave Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Solomon’s Temple (mind the rattlesnake): Solomon’s Temple Cave Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Fiery Gizzard Through-Hike: Fiery Gizzard Photo AlbumMovescount Data

Silver Comet Bike Ride: Silver Comet Photo AlbumSilver Comet Trail VideoMovescount Data

Market Street Bridge Opening Paddle: Market Street Bridge Opening Photo AlbumMarket Street Bridge VideoMovescount Data

Whew. But I’m not done – I’m going to return to finish up the Silver Comet, I’m still planning on taking the motorbike to the Dragon, and I have a couple of other adventures lined up. Life is short, y’know, and time is running out.

As always, the Master Adventure Map has been updated – check it out, see how awesome I am.

The Long Kiss Goodnight; or, Not With a Bang But With A Whimper

So, yesterday was my 6-year Fitbit anniversary, and I’m officially done with it. After 6 years, I no longer feel compelled to count every step, every calorie, every everything. After 6 years, I have a good sense of how many steps I get in a day, what I should and shouldn’t eat, blah blah. Sadly, I wanted to go out big – really big, like a 100K day – but that didn’t happen. In fact, it was a below-average day. Oh, well – doesn’t matter now. The past is exactly where it belongs. Anyway, I’m not sure that ultimately it made much of a difference in my life – I mean, I guess I’m healthier and will live longer, but I’m not sure if that’s a plus or a minus (and it probably depends on who you ask). I’m sitting here exactly like I was 6 years ago. Literally, exactly the same – well, unless you count the weight loss, which I guess I should, not that dropping nearly 80 lbs has had any profound effect on my life. Unless you count the new clothes.

Nonetheless, let’s run down the final tally:

And there you have it. 60.5 million steps, 38600 miles, 9.1 million calories burned. there’s not really anything else to say about it – the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. I guess. Regardless, I’m done with the Fitbit. Now, I’m still streaking on the AppleWatch (today was 1296 consecutive days); when my 4-year anniversary comes up for that in November, I may re-evaluate.

click for larger

In other news of things coming to an end, I think I finally have Thing 1 where I want it. I replaced the aging Willie & Max saddlebags with much nicer Viking bags and Easy Brackets, which will allow me to easily detach the bags – in fact, they lift right off (once unlocked). The brackets are kinda pricey, but oh, so worth it. The bags lock, as well, so I can now not worry about carrying all the stuff I carry (which is another one of my many, many, many annoying habits). And with that, there’s really nothing else left to add. Oh, and that’s because I received and installed the Cobra Powrflo intake and Cobra Fi2000R EFI fuel processor. The bike is officially a rocket now – in fact, it’s so much faster, I kinda had to re-acclimate to it (since I almost ran off the road because I took a curve far too fast). After a couple of rides, though, we’ve bonded.


Well, there was something else I had considered doing to the bike, and still am, but only slightly. I wanted some audio capabilities. I wanted to be able to listen to music or Maron or whatever, but the Kuryakyn Road Thunder speaker was just too big – I’ve got too much on my handlebars already. Pricey, as well. Now, never say never – I may try to figure out something with it in the future, but to alleviate my desire for more noise, a new Torc helmet with built-in Bluetooth. So, I can listen to music from my phone, as well as make/receive calls (as if), and communicate with other riders on group rides (also, as if). I’ve always liked this helmet; just needed an excuse to buy it. For me, helmets are like clothes – fashionable. That’s why I have like 6 of them.

…and they’re all cool. Because of course they are. I’m in danger of treating helmets like I treat shoes – that is, far too many of them. At least if I get scraped up off the highway, I’ll look cool. It’s much better to look good than to feel good.

Honda Shadow Phantom

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And this got me thinking: I go a little nuts on the souping-up of the gear. I’ve added all sorts of stuff to Thing 1 (pictured for my motorbike peeps, because I get asked “What’s this, what’s that?” all the time). But it’s not just Thing 1 – on the BMW (Thing 2), I added driving lights, crash bars, skid plates, a luggage rack and tail bag, RAM mounts for my drone & phone and better tires. On the Adventure Buggy, I added new wheels and off-road tires, the roof basket and kayak rack, front and rear LED lighting, a ghetto-ass aftermarket trailer hitch and the wiring harness for the trailer lights, a much better OEM trailer hitch, front and rear Garmin dashcams, Weathertech mats, mudflaps, MGP caliper covers (super cool), new grille and badges, and a cargo area mat (you’re welcome, puppers). Point is – sheesh. As Sarah Lynn used to say, “That’s too much, man.” And that doesn’t even include three Joe Rocket jackets, Joe Rocket kevlar jeans, a Milwaukee leather jacket, leather chaps, off-road pants, Bates motorcycle boots and probably other stuff I’m forgetting. Oh, and the Kendon stand-up trailer, which I also customized with LED lighting and bed-liner textured paint on the ramps. Yeah, too much. I’ve even personalized my Kona Hei Hei mountain bike, and Pungo 120 kayak. Frick.

…and to that end, I finally got the newly-christened S.S. Paddle Me out for a spin to try out the Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade I ordered. In a word, it’s awesome. Sweet, sweet shade while I’m paddling. The paddle itself – which I had intended to take on Saturday as part of my “So Long, Fitbit” would tour, but didn’t – wasn’t bad either. One of my Bucket List paddles, with the goal of circumnavigating Long Island, Alabama. To make a long, boring story short and boring, mission accomplished. Only 15.4 miles, which for me is pretty average, but a good paddle, nonetheless. Mostly.

click for larger, or Movescount data

Link:
Long Island Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

Paddle Me.

click for larger, or Movescount data

So, let’s just jump right in to it. Yesterday, I shattered my kayaking record with a 25-mile paddle on Possum Creek and Lake Chickamauga. For a long time, my record was 20 miles – a record I wasn’t sure I’d ever break. Then, a couple weeks ago, I did 21.3 miles. So, obviously, 25 miles is a significant improvement, and I did it in just 9 hours – that’s surprisingly quick. Quick, but grueling – according to my slide ruler I keep in The Nerditorium, that’s about 27000 paddle strokes. All this without my gel seat pad and Bimini top, neither of which have arrived yet (or the replacement knee pads I ordered for the sides). Once I get that gear, I might actually be able to squeeze out a 30-mile paddle. Maybe. Because I paddle on moving water, 30 miles would mean that 15 miles of it would be upstream (just like 12ish miles was yesterday). We’ll see – but I may go for it. And you know what’s awesome? A carbon-fiber paddle. It’s super-light; there’s no way I could do 25 miles with my original fiberglass paddle. If you’re a serious paddler, it’s worth the money.

So, with that paddle, I’ve now done the entire Blueway from the town of Dayton to the Alabama state line (check out the Master Adventure Map to see everything). That’s around 90 nautical miles one-way, and it doesn’t account for all the side creeks, inlets and duplicate trips. The best I can do is extrapolate the data – I’m guessing I’ve probably done at least 500 miles total, but short of going through all my Movescount data – which I have no plan to do – I’ll probably never know for sure. Let’s just say that it’s a lot, and leave it there. Now, to start expanding northward and southward – there’s still plenty of river to explore.


Now, I’ve kinda gone a little nuts on the shopping. As previously mentioned, I ordered new stuff for the kayak, but I decided that since it’s motorcycle riding season, and my ongoing plans to tackle the Dragon, I needed to hotrod the bike a little bit more. To that end, a new Cobra Powrflo air intake, and a Cobra Fi200R Digital Fuel Processor. I’ve been thinking about adding these for awhile, and they are really the last significant improvements I need for the bike. The intake will allow much more air into the engine, and the processor will allow me to optimize the air/fuel mix (among other things) – the end result is more horsepower, better performance off the line, and an overall better experience. The intake looks much nicer than the stock “teardrop” style, which is just huge. Of course, I’ll have to install them – here’s hoping I don’t blow myself up. And, because I’m cool, I ordered more LED glow lighting to add to the existing system – I’m hoping I can figure out a way to light up the intake. We’ll see. But I need all the help being cool that I can get.

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Sad news. I was poking around on Google Earth the other day (seriously, how cool is Google Earth?), and I decided to check out my old neighborhood in Honolulu. It’s gone. Torn down. Originally, I lived in the heart of Waikiki, but then I moved to the so-called ‘burbs of Aliamanu (also known colloquially as “Red Hill”; see the gold star on the map above for the exact location on Kukui Drive), out near Aloha Stadium and Pearl Harbor. I guess the condo development was probably originally built in the 60s, so tearing it down to make way for better housing probably makes sense, but still, it’s kinda sad to know that place where I made a lot of awesome memories is gone forever (ask me sometime about the motorcycle in the living room). I’m being reminded more and more lately that nothing lasts. So, I guess the plan will be to make the most of every day, whether it’s stupidly long paddles, souping up the motorbike, or whatever. I guess.

Link:
Possum Creek Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

One Bike, Two Bike, Red Bike, Blue Bike

Friday, I rode down to Nightfall. It’s big for the local biker community, and the city accommodates them (us?) by closing many blocks of city streets for all the dudes and dudettes to park and show off their wheels. I’ve only been down there on the bike once, because it generally rains this time of year, and I guess I’m not that hardcore. But it was cool to ride down, look at bikes, hear some music, blah, blah. I even ran into a few people I know, but if you happened to see the 2 minutes I was talking to a 16 year old girl, it was just an old high school acquaintance and his daughter – nothing creepy. If you care – which you don’t – here’s some video (not pictured: anyone else):


Saturday, padding. A new personal best 21.3 miles on the open water of the lake, to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. After the noise and crowds Friday night, peace, quiet and solitude on the water was nice (I did, however, speak to one or two boaters along the way. Bad me.). It was an exhausting paddle, complete with sunburn, dehydration and soreness, but I did it – and really quickly. Eight hours forty minutes to do more than 21 miles; compare that to my last paddle, which was only 12 miles in just over 7 hours. It’s not that it’s a race or anything, but it’s gratifying to to cover so much ground (um, water?) in so little time. Plus, nothing like breaking a record. It’s been a long time since I set a new personal best, and I doubt my mountain biking (100 miles) or hiking (26 miles) records will ever be broken.

Hiwassee paddle

click for larger, or Movescount data

As if all that wasn’t enough, on Sunday, I took the other motorbike out to ride some trails with the Jeep Club. Yeah, I’m part of a Jeep club, but my Jeep doesn’t really have the rock-crawling pedigree as the other members buggies, so I took the BMW, because it’s unstoppable on that terrain. Well, kinda. They decided to cross the deep, fast creek on Haley Road – which I’ve hiked across before – but since I didn’t have water gear with me (that road wasn’t the original plan), I turned back at the creek. Lesson for next time – take the gear, just in case. Still, it was a good ride, and the first time I’ve ever gone out with a group like that (I invariable always ride alone – ALWAYS – in fact, there has only been a person on the back of my street bike three times [never on the BMW]; once, right after I bought it in 2011; my niece [is that OK?]; and one other time. I do, however, often carry a spare helmet, just in case I find someone broken down or something who needs a ride – especially a cute girl [yeah, as if – read my diatribe about motorcycles]). Anyway, the trails were hot, dusty and exhausting – a real workout – but that’s why I bought the bike. It’s all about the adventure.


In fact, the bulk of the ride was solo (as are they all)(as I already covered). I wanted to do some exploring before it got too hot, so I set out early by myself. My intention was to go to one of my favorite spots, but the gate was closed, so I had to scrap that. On a whim, I went to another area that’s normally closed off (because of logging), just to find it was open. Not just open, but a pretty decent ride, as well. I was a little pressed for time (to meet the Jeepers) so I’ll need to go back while that area is still open and get some film when I have more time to putter around.

So, a busy weekend – street bike, kayak, dual-sport bike, and a little walking in the woods. No complaints. Well, none worth mentioning, anyway.

Links:
Prentice Cooper Dual Sport Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Hiwassee Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

A Death in the Family.

So, there’s a guy I know, that has worked as a subcontractor for me for quite a number of years. 10 years? 12? Something. Very smart computer guy. Like, really very. I haven’t spoken to him in a couple of years, because I haven’t really needed any help with what I do that would require his services. Recently, I’ve thought about bringing him in on some projects; ones I just don’t have the time to deal with. Reached out via email, got no response, and to make a long story short, I found out he was dead.

For, like, almost 3 years. Frick.

I’m somewhat desensitized towards death – the life I’ve led, I’m pretty much desensitized to everything. Not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse. But [NAME REDACTED, because that’s what he would have wanted] was a pretty good friend, and like I said, a smart guy. Typical computer guy – stubborn, opinionated, a pain in the ass sometimes – but still, overall, a good guy that I’m going to miss. How do you mourn that? I mean, it’s new to me, and I’m bummed. But it was years ago. Undoubtedly, his family and friends have moved on. But to me, it’s fresh.

It had been almost a year since I spoke to him before his death. He was busy, I was busy, blah, blah. It just never really occurred to me that I wouldn’t get the chance to say, “Hey, thanks for everything.” There’s a lesson here, kids. Get a crayon and a sheet of paper, and write it down: If you have something to say to someone, say it today. Right now. There may not be a tomorrow.

Maybe the afterlife has Wifi, and my message has been received.

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Prior to all of this, and as threatened, I did go shopping for a big toolbox that would go in the newly-empty barn. Times like this, I miss the Rocket Truck, but I was able to cram the thing in the Jeep – granted, it took 3 men and a forklift, but it fit. Of course, there were no strapping lads or forklifts to help me unload the thing, but eventually, mission accomplished. Now to just fill the thing up with widgets and whatnots. If I were married or, y’know, spoken for or whatever, I could make an awesome mancave in the barn – tools, motorbikes, sporting gear; what would make a better mancave than that?

larger. click it.

Speaking of the bikes, the power was out for several hours the other day, so I used the downtime to clean up both bikes. The Phantom can benefit from being cleaned; it stays clean for a long time. The BMW, on the other hand, has a date with the Jeep Club and many puddles this weekend. So, clean now, but dirty soon. Worth it.

Other adventures planned this weekend, as well, including a somewhat dangerous paddle that might wind up being a new personal best. Gonna set out before sunrise so I have plenty of time. And one or two other activities. Watch this space.


Lastly, on a completely unrelated note, I’ve been binging The Larry Sanders Show at the gym. HBO finally had the good sense to put one of the best shows they’ve ever created (sorry, Lannisters, et al.) on streaming. I’ve haven’t really seen it since the original airings in the mid-90s, but it’s still just as good as I remember, and a real who’s-who of 90s culture and celebrity. If you haven’t seen it, find it, especially if you have the same predilection for pop culture as I do. Hey now!

And remember, you have something to say? Something on your mind? Say it today. Right now. While you can. Trust me. And RIP, buddy – thanks for everything.

$339.88

No, that’s not how much I made at my “I’m never, ever doing this again” yard sale (but it’s close). It’s something else, and if you’re smart, you’ll figure it out. Yeah, that’ll always be the dream.

However, the yard sale. Ugh. I have dramatically downsized, and I’m not done yet. But no more yard sales. I just can’t deal with these Professional Yard Sale People™. So annoying. Plus, I have this whole psychological hurdle of knowing what I paid for something, and only getting back pennies on the dollar. With the exception of actual stuff that’s worth actual money (like guitars), I’ll just donate whatever else I wind up with. That’s what I did with everything that was left at the sale, regardless of what I thought the perceived value was. I’m tired of being a hoarder.

Inside the barn.

The practical upside of this ordeal is that I now have a ton of space in the barn. So much so, in fact, that I was able to get my Kendon Stand-Up motorcycle trailer stowed away. I did have to cut a little hole in the overhead loft for the tongue of the trailer to stick up through, but I’m glad to have it out of the driveway. The whole point behind buying a stand-up trailer was that I could store it, since it’s not something I need very often. And there’s still plenty of room for both motorbikes, both kayaks, my mountain bike and other assorted stuff. I think I’m going to add a workbench/toolbox, though. I have a tall mechanic’s toolbox, but I need a little work surface for when I’m tinkering. And I have more tools than will fit in the big toolbox. So, since I have the space now, why not?

Speaking of the motorbikes, I finally solved the problem I was having with the driving lights on Thing 1 (that’s the smaller lights on each side of the headlight). For whatever reason, they quit working a few months ago, and after much tinkering, I think what happened was the splice connector started to corrode, and wasn’t allowing enough current to get to the bulbs (I replaced the mediocre stock bulbs with much brighter Kuryakyn halogens a while back, which draw more current). Anyway, I rewired the lights, and now they work. Yay, me. I also picked up a new Joe Rocket jacket for the BMW. The Joe Rocket jacket I bought back when I got the BMW is awesome, but it’s hot, even with the liners removed. So, awesome for winter, not so much for summer, hence a mesh one for warm weather. It still has the shoulder, elbow and back armor, but is dramatically cooler. I can’t say enough about the Joe Rocket gear – I have 3 of the jackets (this one for the street bike, and this one, which is the one I bought for the BMW), and while they are a little pricey, they’re worth it.


I think I’ve got the motocam system on Thing 1 working the way I want, as well. To recap, this is a front-facing and rear-facing dashcam system, that just records all the time. The quality isn’t as good as the GoPro, but that’s to be expected; this isn’t for making awesome videos, it’s for recording everything, in the event I get run over or something. So, for what it is, I’m pretty happy with it – hopefully, it’ll never record anything bad (like me getting killed on the highway).

Williams Island campsite – click for larger

There was also a paddle recently – the second of the year, following the Old Harrison paddle back in March. Nothing major – just a warm up to kayaking season back to Williams Island. A little over 12 miles total, about 5 miles of which was hiking of the island and avoiding the cows. I have a couple of challenging paddles planned, but so far, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. In fact, she’s not cooperating with anything lately. Grr.

click for Movescount interactive map

Oh, and I finally saw The Movie everyone has been talking about. I had been avoiding spoilers since it came out, because River said so.

So, I went to the downtown Googleplex for the 11:30 PM show on a weekday night, and as hoped/expected/needed, no one there but me and maybe 4 or 5 other similarly-inclined anti-social insomniac cinephiles. It’s a 3-hour film, so it was pushing 3 AM by the time it was over. Worth it. After that, some wandering around in the Wee, Small Hours downtown. That’s the way films should be enjoyed. By me, anyway.

Links:
Williams Island Paddle Photo Album on Facebook