Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kissing Bridges

My bestest friend played hooky from work today to steal me away for a motorcycle ride.  With the change of the season and fellow bloggers posting about the leaves turning color, we packed a picnic lunch, grabbed the maps, fueled our bikes and headed for the hills on a scenic tour in search of autumn.

It has been a very dry summer around here, we haven't had any rain since June and it has remained quite warm making it hard to believe it is fall and the end of September.

We headed East crossing the valley floor and it wasn't long before we discovered that the leaves haven't changed yet so we went in search of other symbols of fall and what better than covered bridges.

Larwood Bridge - Built 1939 - Crabtree Creek

 Covered bridges were designed to protect bridge decks from the weather and deterioration, but they also protected lovers from sight and became known as "kissing bridges".... so we did.

Larwood Bridge - Built 1939 - Crabtree Creek

I had a feeling that this was going to be a good day... 

as more bridges meant more kissing... 

so off we went in search of another.

Hoffman Bridge - Built 1936 - Crabtree Creek

Then another...

Gilkey Bridge - Built 1939 - Thomas Creek

And another...

Hannah Bridge - Built 1936 - Thomas Creek

Then another...

I told you it was going to be a good day.

Shimanek Bridge - Built 1996 - Thomas Creek

 We found one last one in Stayton which was rebuilt after the original burned down in 1994, the year we met. 

Stayton-Jordan Bridge - Rebuilt 1998 

All this kissing was getting pretty hot and we didn't want the bridge to burn down again so we headed for home. It was a great day, we had a lot of fun and look forward to finding the rest of Oregon's covered kissing bridges. 

Thanks for the day out sweetheart, I love you. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sena SMH10 - Keeping it Simple

We recently received a pair of Sena SMH10 BT3.0 bluetooth headset and intercoms as a gift and although I've been anxious to try them out, I had to first figure them out.

I am not particularly a gadget guru or electronics wizard by any means, mechanically inclined sure, but when it comes to new fangled electronic devices my patience wears thin, fast. So it better work right and it better work right now.

So I took both units out of the box, read the first page or two of directions and went after getting them charged. Although unlike Chris' report from Everyday Riding, ours came with two 12v power outlet chargers and not a wall charger his did, which I found to be odd. Fortunately our phone charger fits and works just fine, but if we absolutely need to we can charge both units while we ride... once I wire a 12v outlet to Brandy's bike (mechanically inclined +1).

Mounted to my helmet, (below my GoPro camera mount).

While the units charged I mounted the bases to our helmets, tucked the ear pieces inside and ran the wires along the helmet lining. The mounting bracket slides between the helmet shell and liner then fastens like a clamp with a couple of allen screws (easy mounting +1).

Stock photo from senabluetooth.com

Once both units were charged we hooked them up, donned our helmets in the house and tested them. The first push of the button we were welcomed by a soft spoken female voice and cheerful "hello" greeting, next I was in crystal clear communication with Brandy.  Where the Sena excels is that both units came from the factory paired with each other, way to keep it simple. Sonja also praised the simplicity of the Sena in her blog.

For the past several years, we've been using walkie talkie type radios with push to talk buttons on the handlebars requiring too many wires, not only tethering our helmets to our handlebars but literally tethering us to our bikes. Whenever we wanted to stop and take a picture we'd have to untangle ourselves, dismount, unplug our helmets, take a photo, walk back, plug our helmet back in, mount our bikes and make sure our wires were out of harms way in order to ride safely. We've had to replace two microphones because of fragile soldering and delicate wiring, the last one broke on our trip home from Enterprise, I could hear Bobskoot and Brandy talking but I couldn't verbally respond, relying only on hand signals and head nods.


The Sena eliminates all of this and gives us the ultimate freedom from wires, cords, buttons and radio mounting locations in exchange for just a few ounces on the left side of our helmets. I can't even begin to describe how well designed and fantastically simple the Sena is, we went for a ride today using the VOX feature and it took both of us several miles before we finally re-trained ourselves not to reach for the phantom PTT button. We could both talk without having to cue the microphone, wait for the delay or have to talk over the hiss of the radio interference. We talked to each other today in normal conversation tone and volume and it was wonderful. Although the Sena is capable of so much more with its other bluetooth features, I'm happy simply using it as we did today.

Thank you Santa and thank you Sena.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Still standing...

My posts have been fewer and further between lately, the number of rides have dwindled, the tick of the odometer has slowed. Between a quick trip to Seattle to meet friends and another weekend jaunt two weeks later to Tacoma for the ACE Cafe Summer Shakedown at the LeMay Museum, I've been busy auditing Team Oregon classrooms preparing for the next step to become a classroom instructor.

Having a little fun while gathering up cones on the range.

The Instructor Preparation class finally arrived Saturday and eight of us gathered in Portland for a day of training, peer teaching and to write the knowledge test. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive of each other and all of us did exceptionally well under the guidance of the two instructors, one instructor being the legend himself.

Now comes the hard part, it is one thing to speak in front of a classroom of your peers who are experiencing the same fears, nerves and mistakes you are and a classroom of actual students hanging on your every word. I'm not going to say I can't speak in front of groups of people, I am just not comfortable doing so, especially in a classroom setting. I proved to myself that I could do it this weekend, although not well, I just have to get familiar with it. One reason I signed up to teach classroom is to challenge myself and overcome my fear of public speaking.

An unexpected tumble
Another reason my odometer is ticking less is my daily commute has ceased to exist. I returned to work on Monday from the Summer Shakedown in Tacoma only to find out that my job was in jeopardy. Unfortunately I was laid off, we parted on good terms and I am excited, positve and looking forward to the future. However, with the unexpected tumble I have had to put all of our remaining plans this year on hold as I juggle my Team Oregon training and job hunting full time. I'll be following Bobskoot's and V-Star Lady's lead by taking my bicycle down out of the rafters and dusting it off, not just for exercise, but to stick a little closer to home and save a bit of gas. Money is going to be a tight for a little while, the lunches out will turn to picnic lunches, motorcycle rides may turn to bicycle rides and we may have to forgo motorcycle shows and events this winter.

Dust myself off and carry on

I'm glad that we were able to get away when we did and enjoy ourselves this summer, it was great to ride to Hell's Canyon for the iMBC2012 and to meet everyone. We also really enjoyed ourselves in Tacoma for the ACE Cafe event too, we took Friday off to visit the Experience Music Project Museum.

Of course, growing up listening to AC/DC we just had to check out this exhibit.

It's a long way to the top if you wanna Rock n' Roll

We also checked out the Rolling Stones exhibit and Jimi Hendrix exhibit as well as other interesting displays.

Goofing around in the sound lab

Eddy Van Halen's signature guitar

Then it was off to Bamboo Garden for dinner before turning in for the evening.

Gratuitous food porn

After spending too much money on hotels in Baker City and Enterprise, then seeing how much fun everyone else was having tenting it, we decided to rough it Friday night. We stayed at Saltwater State Park between Seattle and Tacoma in the suburb of Des Moines.

We consulted with a friend who is an avid outdoorsman, search and rescue guy, surfer dude, Ural rider and regular Bear Grylls type who happens to be a distributor for Liberty Mountain. I asked his advice for a big enough tent to sleep two with storage for gear, yet light and compact enough to haul on the motorcycle so he recommended the Peregrine Radama 3 tent.

The campsite was small

and directly under the flight path of Sea-Tac International Airport

We love the tent!

With two doors and two vestibules this thing is huge yet weighs less than 8 pounds including the protective fast floor. It was quick and easy to set up, unlike the two plus hours our camping neighbors took to set up their tent. Always practice at home first folks, right Jim? Your advice rang true the whole time we listened to the neighbors struggle, swear and fight the impending darkness.

Unfortunately, we didn't sleep well at all, between the neighbors yelling, a custom chopper rolling into camp in the middle of the night and low flying 747s overhead every two minutes (yes, we timed them). Nevertheless, it was an adventure and the tent was fantastic.

We rose early and bugged out before anyone else was up and went in search of a Starbucks for breakfast. We checked our email and texted Sonja and Roland before heading over to the hotel and LeMay museum for the afternoon. Brandy posted up our adventures on Saturday (linked above) but left the British car display for me to blog.

Although a narrow display down one of the walkways it was nice to see the British represent.

My mom had one of these when I was still too young to drive. I sure wish she still had it.

She does however, still own one of these....

but in a much nicer color "Flamingo Pink"

I hope that brings my blog up to date, now to catch up on all of yours, sorry to be so behind. Thanks for being patient, I'm still here and I'm still standing... just terribly busy as of late.