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May 31, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 0: 'Chomping at the bit'

I hoped to get away on the bike today, but instead, I slept in and wasn't the least bit prepared to start off on a big motorcycle journey across the Northwest.

I'd done pretty much nothing all week, except sleep and watch reruns of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I also managed to watch "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", which I found painfully tedious.

Finally, I decided that I needed to start preparations for my next big motorcycle adventure, but I had so much to do, there just was no way I could possibly get away today.

The bike is in a tragic state of disrepair. Missing a turn signal. Missing a few bolts on the rear rack. Needs oil change. Tires. Air filter. You name it. Needs a lot of TLC.

Cameras are all hosed. Full of images I've never bothered to copy off. Laptop and iPad just both full of junk that needs to be moved onto the home RAID for posterity.

I go online and order everything I wish I had...pannier mounts, more camera straps, CF cards, Canon 600mm lens case, chargers for the iPad 3. Just scads of trinkets that I need and don't have.

Copy all the photos off onto the home network. Synchronize the date/time stamps for MDT across all the cameras. Check that the batteries are all charged. Lenses cleaned. Lens caps. Spare lens caps. Filters. Spare filters. Camera battery chargers and extra batteries.

Decided I'd wash some clothes. Pay some bills. People always have their hands out, don't they? Pay the mortgage in Colorado. Pay the rent in San Francisco. Bills. Bills. Bills.

Installed Left Rear-view mirror on bike. Installed Left turn signal. Mounted Givi case on bike. This bike has an issue with vibration on long rides, which caused me some grief last year once I got to Yosemite. Some bolts tend to vibrate loose around the mounting screws on the Givi case/rear rack/rear turn signals.

Mounted the GPS on the bike using a slightly better method to mount it on the bike this time. Stuck an extra little rear-view mirror on the left side and stuck the GPS on that. Wired it into the system using the same method from last year - basically, I wired a female cigarette lighter adapter to the battery and then plugged my car adapter into this. Not pretty, but it works.

I did all of this work on my bike in the garage, paying special attention to what tools were used. I figure that, at a bare minimum, I have to take these tools with me on the road.

My plan is roughly, to hit Rocky Mountain National Park, Jackson, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Crater Lake, Oregon, and finally end up in San Francisco in about 10 days or so.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 31, 2012 at 5:22 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 29, 2012

Is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition? No.


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 29, 2012 at 2:44 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink



Posted by Rob Kiser on May 29, 2012 at 2:26 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Climate Change Skeptics know more about science than the True Believers


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 29, 2012 at 2:05 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 28, 2012

Germans Attacked NYC in WWII?

Somehow I'd missed this:

On November 7, 1944 Army Air Force radar detected the Germans launching a missile aimed at New York City from a U-boat situated several hundred miles out into the Atlantic. Fighter planes up and down the East Coast had immediately been scrambled.


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 28, 2012 at 6:59 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 27, 2012

The Caserole Protests in Montreal


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 27, 2012 at 10:50 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 26, 2012

Sarcoptic Mange in Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

A fox that lives near us appears to suffer from Sarcoptic Mange. Apparently, however, it's fairly easy to treat these animals, even in the wild. I'm inclined to try to do this, if I could get someone here locally to help me as I'm in CA a lot these days.


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 26, 2012 at 11:39 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Hazy Skies in Colorado

The air was pretty hazy today, so I figured there were some fires somewhere. Looks like there are fires all over New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Probably most of our smoke is from the 80,000 acre Whitewater-Baldy fire in western New Mexico.I can actually smell the smoke pretty good in my bedroom with the windows open.

The one thing good to come from the North Fork Fire this year was that the incompetent forest service did actually manage to create a nice 4,000 acre fire break south of me. Granted, they burned down 27 hours and killed 3 people in the process, but they made one hell of a fire break.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 26, 2012 at 11:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 25, 2012

7 Wrong Ways to Choose a Career


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2012 at 11:33 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


I'm walking to and from work these days, which gives me a much different perspective on the city.

I don't really understand much of what I see in San Francisco. It's so hard just to get a toe hold on what's going on. Very slowly, I'm starting to figure out a few things about the city. Mostly this is through observation, as I don't really know who to ask.

For instance...I see a homeless guy come down the street...he approaches an array of newspaper machines. They're all for free local papers. He opens one of the machines, removes all of the papers, and shoves his sleeping bag in there, and walks off. Eventually, I figured out what was going on. He took all the papers to recycle them. And he was using the empty newspaper machine as a storage locker. This is what the homeless do, apparently. They also use them as trash cans, for whatever reason. Other people come along behind them, and take the trash out and throw it away. And so it goes.

I've got a fairly decent understanding of the local artists that paint murals on the buildings. But now, I'm looking a little closer at the "sticker scene". Basically, what people do is walk into a Post Office and, when no one is looking, they swipe a whole handful of the USPO address label shipping stickers. They then take home these free stickers, and draw on them. Then, they place these stickers all over the city. I'm not clear why they do this, but the fact that this is occurring is beyond dispute.

The ones I see most commonly are HESH and DUME. I'll try to post some of the more interesting ones that I shoot.

I'm not really clear what the end game is with this, though. I mean...I'm not clear what the point of it is. My guess is that they're just sort of street artists that want to get their images/names out there, but I'm not really able to see that there's a community around this stuff. Or any revenue. So, if you're not getting recognition, and you're not getting revenue, and it's illegal, and you risk getting fined/arrested/jailed, then what is the thought process here? I'm not really clear.


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2012 at 9:30 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Jeffco Sheriff's Office Report on Lower North Fork Fire


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2012 at 8:31 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

A Memorial Day Story


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 24, 2012

Traveling across Vietnam

So this friend of Marc's is traveling across Vietnam. Marc was telling me about it last night, so I checked out the guy's blog and immediately liked it.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 22, 2012

Where's the Bike Now?

Just called to figure out what ever happened to my bike. As it turns out, my bike is in good hands with Earl and my buddies down at 831 Cycles in Monterey, CA. They're pretty busy. Hope to get to it on Thursday, apparently. 831-648-3000.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 22, 2012 at 2:33 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 19, 2012

Postcards from Nowhere: Pismo Beach

My directionally-challenged friend Doug is currently on a loop though the American Southwest on a BMW GS1200R. He blackmailed me into riding along with him for the stretch from Pismo to San Francisco. I begged a few days off, tried to meet him down there, but broke down in the middle of nowhere, somewhere between Big Sur and San Simeon.

The images were all captured on a Canon EOS 50D frame and a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens, or on a Canon EOS 50D frame with a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM lens. In some shots, I also used a circular polarizing filter. For some of the flower shots, I also used a small carbon fiber tripod.

This slideshow features a song by Gotye called Somebody that I used to know.

The images are compiled into a 8 Meg (4:01) Adobe Flash slideshow (pismo2012.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (pismo2012.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Lyrics in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Postcards from Nowhere: Pismo Beach"

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 19, 2012 at 8:01 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

I've got a preposition for you

Jen: Dad, I've got a preposition for you.

Dad: Ok. What is it? "Of", "The","A" ?

Jen: Huh? Here's the preposition...let's get a foreign exchange student.

Dad: I'm not sure that I can take on adopting another kid right now.

Jen: You don't adopt them. They come for like a semester.

Dad: Oh. Uh. OK. Maybe I could take 6 months off and we could host one. Do you get to pick them out of catalogs like a mail order bride?

Jen: No, but you can say what country you want, and what age group. Let's get one from Zamboni.

Ivy: I'm not sure that's a country. I think that's what they mow the ice with.

Dad: I think probably if you don't know a preposition from a proposition, and a Zamboni from Zimbabwe, then we'd be doing more harm than good as a host family.

Dad gets out the globe. Tells them to find Zimbabwe. Ivy starts studying South America very intently. Eventually Jennifer locates it, one continent over.

Jen: OK. Wait. Not Zambabwe then. I want to get someone who lives with penguins. Like eskimos.

Dad: OK. So, no one lives with penguins. Eskimoes live near the artic circle. Penguins live on Antartica. So, there are no people living with penguins.

Jen: What about Canada? I want a foreign exchange student from Canada.

I go downstairs for a break. My brain can only deal with so much stupid at once. Come back upstairs. Conversation continues:

Jen: Let's get one from Belarus.

Ivy: Isn't that in Italy?

Dad: What language do they speak in Belgium?

Jen: Belgimanium?

Ivy: Belgimem?

Dad: They speak French, German, and English.

Update: It was pointed out that I confused articles with prepositions. My only excuse is that I went to public school. But we did diagram sentences. Something I doubt Jennifer will ever do.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

May 18, 2012

Bike update

Bike is now at the Honda shop in monterey

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 18, 2012 at 12:22 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 17, 2012

Return to San Francisco

I am alive and well and back in my flat in North Beach.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 17, 2012 at 1:43 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 16, 2012

Beneath the Cow Itch Tree

I am alive and well and eating chicken parmesan at Cafe Roma in San Luis Obispo, CA. Riding in a private car back on Amtrak back to SFO later this afternoon.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Beneath the 'Cow Itch' Tree

Bike broke down on me.  Not clear what happened.  I was racing down CA-1.  Rolling south at a pretty good clip...probably about 75 mph, I'd say. And the engine just throttled down on me.  Just like you turned off the key or ran out of gas.  BLAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA.

I pulled over and stopped.  Bike has plenty of gas in it.  Switched it onto reserve.  Pulled the fuel line to make sure it was getting fuel.  Then I figured I'll pull the plug wire and make sure that it was getting a spark, but I managed to break the plug wire in the process.  So, I'm sure as hell not going anywhere now.  I'm really way out in the middle of nowhere at this point.  I'm 8 miles north of a little town called Lucia.  South of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  Just on the side of the road.

I'm so sick of the bike that I start parting it out.  I pull off the mirrors and the Givi case and prepare to push it over the clifs into the ocean below.

I decide to try to hitchhike, so maybe having the bike and the helmet and the cameras will convince people to stop.  It does not.

No one stops.  I was afraid I didn't have cell coverage.  But fortunately, I got a call out to a tow company in Monterrey and dude says he'll come get me, but it will be at least an hour to get down here.

Fortunately, the weather is fairly nice.  Not too hot or too cold.  I'm kind of hungry.  I haven't eaten anything today, but I probably won't starve before he gets here.

I go through a lot of different phases when the bike breaks down.  First there's denial.  If I just keep holding the starter in long enough, it will start.  But it doesn't.  Then, by breaking the wire going to the spark plug, I pretty much guaranteed that the bike wasn't going anywhere on its own.

I'm kind of in a funny spot and lots of different thoughts go through my mind.  What if someone stops and tries to rob me?  I get out a big wrench and my pocket knife and keep them close by.  I hide my cameras.  But then I think, what if the police show up?  Probably I don't want to have the knife in my pocket.  So I hide it in the grass beside the large wrench.

So, I check when I made the call.  It was about 3:00 p.m.  Figure that he'll be here by 4:30 p.m.  I lay back in the deep grass by the edge of the cliff, overlooking the ocean. Cover my hands with a shirt to protect them from the sun.  Pull down my cap over my eyes.

Every so often, I glance out at the cars.  There's not much traffic.  A few cars come by south bound.  Probably about 1 car every few minutes.  North bound cars are much more scarce.

I'm sure the police will show up eventually, and then we'll be discussing why the bike has no plates and all sorts of difficult questions like that.  

But eventually, I drift off to sleep.  When I wake up, 

When I wake up, it's 4:30 and my buddy hasn't shown yet.  I start calling him.  No answer.  I text him.  No reply.  

The sun is getting lower on the horizon. Temperature dropping.  Now, I'm starting to panic.  If this guy doesn't show up, I'm royally screwed. It's hard to imagine how isolated California's central coast is.

There is nothing there.  No gas stations.  No towns.  No call boxes.  If you break down here, you're fucked.  More so than if you were in Mexico.  In Mexico, they have "Los Angeles Verde" (The Green Angles).  On CA-1, you have nothing.  No rental cars.  No hotels.  No gas stations.  No cell coverage.

I start texting the guy like crazy.  Why didn't you come get me?  He replies that he couldn't find me, and then quits answering my panicked text messages.  "Dude...I'm going to fucking die out here."

Finally, I decide that I've got to give up on Plan B and switch to Plan C.  No one will stop. I've tried that.  They just drive by.  Now though, I've got to come up with a new plan.  I've got to get someone to stop.  

If you had a car, you could lift the hood up, and maybe someone would stop.  That's the international sign of car trouble.  But with a bike, you can't do that.

So I take the bike, push it up to the very edge of the road, and lay it down.  Anyone with any sense would sense that something is wrong.  Bikes should never be on the ground.

People just keep driving by, totally ignoring me.  I begin to lose my faith in humanity.  I wonder, if I was pinned beneath the burning bike, if they wouldn't just drive right by.  It's sad, I think.  That people won't really stop to help someone who's in need.  And it's not like I"m poor.  I have money.   But they don't want to fall into a trap so they just keep driving.

Finally, a Suburban stops.  

"Are you OK?" They ask.

"I am stranded.  I don't want to spend the night out here.  I need to get to a hotel or an airport or a rental car place.  Can you give me a ride?"

They're in a Suburban with 5 people in it.  The thing is packed.  Somehow, I've got to cram all of my gear in with their gear.  I've stripped everything off of the bike that I could easily pull.

Somehow, we cram all of my stuff into the suburban.

"What are you going to do with your bike?" they ask.  "Are you just going to leave it laying there?"

At this point, I want nothing more than to shove it over the cliff into the sea.  God as my witness I'd have done it in a second.  Only I didn't want to freak them out.  Didn't want to scare my new friends.  To freak them out.  So I just rolled the bike away from the highway and over to the cliff edge and then parked it on the kickstand.

That seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  Rolling it into the ocean, though it would make more sense, would be harder to explain to these people.

Now, I'm inside of a brand new rented Hertz Suburba n with GPS and 5 strangers with bad accents.  They're from Africa, apparently.  They're white, and they're used to driving on the wrong side of the road.  I get that much.

He's having a hard time keeping on the right side of the road, as he's used to driving on the left side of the road.

So, we're rolling South on CA-1, and I'm trying to make them comfortable with their decision to pick up this loner on the open road.

"We thought you were in an accident," they offer.

"I meant for you to.  No one would stop otherwise," I reply.

"Probably you're right.  Probably we wouldn't have stopped either."

I show them photos of my daughter.  Flowers.  Birds.  Anything to try to convince them that I'm human.  Not some serial killer on the side of the road.

They turn on some music with a little iPod.  Charlie is sitting by me in the back.  He starts complaining.

"Do you like that," he asks me.

"Well, honestly, I'm not a big fan of Jazz.  I lived in New Orleans for 2 years and I just never could really make myself like it."

Chalie snaps to attention.  "You hear that?  He doesn't like jazz either.  Turn that shit off!  Hell.  I'm glad we picked you up."

"I should have been standing by the side of the road with a sign that says "I HATE JAZZ!"  Then you would have picked her up.

"Yeah, but I'm not driving.  Steven's driving.  He would have kept right on going."

So, we drive south, along the coast.

Several times, they ask me where I was heading to.  Every time, I tell them "Pismo Beach".  They aren't familiar with the place though, for whatever reason.  So, they ask the question several times. And I never change my story.  I know from dealing with the cops that you have to tell the stame story over and over.  It can't ever change.

I was going to Pismo.

They're all related.  Some sort of extended family that's all come together and they're heading to a town called "Cambria".  But they've never heard of Pismo and I've never heard of Cambria.  So, I'm reasonably sure that Cambria doesn't exist.  And they're reasonable sure that Pismo doesn't exist.

"Where will you go now?" they ask.

"San Francisco.  I've got to get back to work," I explain.

"Probably you should have caught a ride going North," they explain.

But I wasn't turning down a ride.  That's a risk I couldn't afford to take.  I didn't want to spend the night outdoors.

Eventually, they dumped me off at a hotel in Cambria called the Bluebird and I was like...good enough.

I checked into the hotel, shot the flower gardens, then went to the Lombard Restaurant for dinner. Afterwarrds, I stopped into a little watering hole for beers. I started telling them my story and they just couldn't beleive it. So we went to antoher bar for more drinks. They left and I met these two chicks. I was talking to them...I was paying for everyone at this point. Like...I've got a lot of problems but money's not one of them.

So I'm talking to these two chicks...and one of them says she was in Vegas and I ask her why she was in Vegas and she tells me I'm asking too many questions. And I'm like...check please....now, it was already last call. But I closed out and I said..."are we good here?" as in ...dont let me walk out on a bar tab. And he was like. We're good. And I tipped him $50 and told the girls to go fuck themselves. And she swore she was joking, but it didn't matter and I don't care. LIke...trust me when I'm paying your bar tab, you don't need to be cutting me down. Are we clear on that, cunt? Like, I don't care how low you are. You can go fuck yourself. And I promise you that I'm not paying your tab any more. Cunt.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 16, 2012 at 1:46 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 15, 2012

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park

Bike broke down on me.  Not clear what happened.  I was racing down CA-1.  Rolling south at a pretty good clip...probably about 75 mph, I'd say. And the engine just throttled down on me.  Just like you turned off the key or ran out of gas.  BLAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA.

I pulled over and stopped.  Bike has plenty of gas in it.  Switched it onto reserve.  Pulled the fuel line to make sure it was getting fuel.  Then I figured I'll pull the plug wire and make sure that it was getting a spark, but I managed to break the plug wire in the process.  So, I'm sure as hell not going anywhere now.  I'm really way out in the middle of nowhere at this point.  I'm 8 miles north of a little town called Lucia.  South of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  Just on the side of the road.

I'm so sick of the bike that I start parting it out.  I pull off the mirrors and the Givi case and prepare to push it over the clifs into the ocean below.

I decide to try to hitchhike, so maybe having the bike and the helmet and the cameras will convince people to stop.  It does not.

No one stops.  I was afraid I didn't have cell coverage.  But fortunately, I got a call out to a tow company in Monterrey and dude says he'll come get me, but it will be at least an hour to get down here.

Fortunately, the weather is fairly nice.  Not too hot or too cold.  I'm kind of hungry.  I haven't eaten anything today, but I probably won't starve before he gets here.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 15, 2012 at 4:23 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 1: San Francisco to Carmel-By-The-Sea

I am alive and well and resting peacefully on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in the quaint little "central coast" town of Carmel-By-The-Sea, California.

Start: 29,658.0
End: 29,788.7
Distance traveled: 130.7 miles

My good friend Doug has been brow-beating me to no end to join him on another one of his little mad-cap romps across the continent.  I tried to explain to him that some people work for a living, but he couldn't be put off.

At lunch, I go down to my bike and I've got another $114 ticket for not having plates on the bike.  I don't know what's wrong with me.  Why I can't just put plates on the bike like a normal person.  But I can't.  

At work, I try to sit and figure out if it makes sense for me to work on my own bike.  I'm not really smart enough to figure it out, so I just push start the bike, ride it back to North Beach, and then start tearing it apart.

I am not a mechanic.  Never claimed to be one.  But when you spend your days behind a computer screen, something deep inside wants to shoot a gun.  Wants to get some grease under the nails.

I decide to go for a desperate 11th hour attempt to get the bike working.  I do a few tests to convince myself that the starter is definitely the problem.  

Pull the carb.  Pull the starter.  Stick in the new starter.  The new cables.  Somehow I get it all put back together with no parts left over.  The entire job takes me about 2 hours.

I begged some time off from work.  Threw some things in a bag and headed south along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Now my friend Doug drives a BMW GS1200R, which is the right thing to drive, if you have a little money and half a brain.

But not me.  I'm driving a 1994 Honda XR650L.  This bike is affectionately referred to as the "Big Red Pig".

So I climb into the saddle of the Big Red Pig and hit the coast at Pacifica, where I start following the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) south along the route designated the Cabrillo Highway.

I dunno why, but immediately the coast reminds me of the coast just north of Ensenada, Mexico.  I'm basically having flashbacks to my ride through Baja California Del Norte.  And I try to remember the last time I was down here.  Was it a year ago?  Has it been that long.  Time slips by us so quickly that I feel like I own the California coast, but somehow it's been a year since I was down here last and, if we talk about the last time I made it south of Carmel, well now we're going way back.

I was first in Carmel with Michelle and that was 20 years ago.  It's hard to belive, but we stayed here in 1993, I'm pretty sure.  Which was 19 years ago..we'll call it 20.

It's so hard to even remember where we stayed and these years are slipping past so quickly.

I'm trying to make good time, so I don't stop to shoot much.  Hardly at all.  Only when I see something insanely nice do I really force myself to stop and squeeze off a few frames.  Mostly, I just shoot from the saddle as I'm rolling down the road and try not to drift across that center line.

I'm rolling south along the Cabrillo highway and I love to recognize the little spots I pass.  Big gaps in between, of course.  But the trip is punctuated by the places that I remember and it's like a dream rolling down this twisting asphalt ribbon as it traces the coast heading south, in our case.

California scrolls past.  Sunlit cliffs.  Birds stalking fishes in marshes.  Irrigated farmland.  Perfect linear rows of avacado plants.  Hills.  Monterey Cypress trees.  Mustard fields.  Grassy knolls.

Collapsing depression-era farm houses.  

Oops.  I just passed a cop.  How fast am I going?  65 in a 55?  He keeps on going. Doesn't slow and doesn't turn around.  I continue on in my trance-like dream-state.  Driving.  Shooting.  Dreaming.

The road gives you time to think.  To study the bike and really get to know it.

Now, if you're parting out a motorcycle, a smarter person might choose to part out the older bike.  Not me.  I'm parting out a 2007 bike and putting the parts on a 1994 bike.  So, a reasonable person might question my intelligence.

But the funny thing about this bike is that it runs like the wind.  It's been "uncorked", meaning all of the smog shit has been removed, so it runs like a mad demon.  Very hard to keep the front tire on the ground.  This bike could easily come over backwards on  you if you didn't know what you were doing.

The bike has almost zero vibration, unlike the bike I drove to Alaska last year.  That bike almost shook me to death.  But this bike is smooth.  Why?  I dunno.  Probably the engine is balanced better?  I dunno.

The valves make a little noise.  But other than that, it runs like ascalded dog.

So I just open it up and let it breath.  Now I'm going 75.  Sun is setting.  It will be dark soon.

By the time I get to 6 mile beach at Santa Cruz, I'm so cold I have to pull over and start putting on layers.

What's funny is that, I've been riding motorcycles for so long that I start to feel like I know what I'm doing.  It's an illusion, of course.  And a dangerous one at that.

I put on pretty much everything I've got in the Givi case and the Filson tank bag.  And I start rolling south again.  Now, I'm warm again.  

California is 100% humidity at the coast and when the fog rolls in, you may as well be riding in a light rain but I've been here before.  I'm used to this weather.  Nothing would turn me back now.  I'm going to punch through to Carmel if it kills me.

At Monterrey, the odometer says I've gone 80 miles.  So I stop to fill up.  But I can only put in 2 gallons of gas.  

By the time I get to Monterrey, it's full-on dark.  THere's a few places here that you could stay.  Some Motel 6's and generic boiler-plate hotels, but I've decided that I'm going to stay in Carmel.  Why?  Because Carmel is cool as shit and I'm tired of living in the shadows.  I want to stay in Carmel and I don't give a tinker's damn how much it costs.

I roll into Carmel and find the coast.  As I head south along the coast, I can make out the fires on the beach.  Carmel is so cool.  You can have open fires on the beach so long as you're south of some street...I forget which one.

Immaculately preened flower beds of Calle Lillies and Pride of Madiera.  The city laid out on grid like Manhattan.  No street addresses, if you can believe it.  Only you get the address of the nearest intersection.

Trees wrapped in small white Christmas-tree lights demarcate the downtown grid.  A lone police car pulls up and motions for me to go in front of him.  I refuse to.  I'm not giving this idiot a reason to pull me over.

He goes a block and parks and waits for me to roll by.  I decide to go a different direction.  I find a place to stay with my iPhone.  Park and walk 2 blocks to where the Hogg's Breath in is supposed to be.  But it's closed.  So I stumble into a place called Brophy's for dinner and a couple of Stellas.

I'm so tired I feel like I could lay down and die.  And it's not like I drove that far today.  Probably I drove about 130 miles tops.  I'm just wiped out.  I worked all day, I guess.  That didn't help any of course.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 15, 2012 at 2:53 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 14, 2012

Day 0: Denver to SFO

I drop off Jennifer and Ivy at Michelle's house and go to shoot the owls.

A few owl photos.  I'm confronted by the little Ranger Rick woman at the gate.  I need to apply my sticker to my truck windshield.  'OK' I reply.  But I don't stick it on.

A woman comes up when I'm shooting the owls and tells me I'm not allowed to be there.  I just ignore her and eventually she leaves.

I shoot a Western Meadowlark trying to attract a mate.  Then back to the house alone alone alone.

Somehow, it's 4:00 p.m. and I'm flying out tonight and that doesn't leave me a lot of time for loafing.  I decide to knuckle down and try to pull the starter from my donor bike.

I go onto the internet and download the service manual for a Honda XR650L.  Somehow I don't have one of these already.  

I print out two pages related to pulling the starter and in the garage, I realize that every socket wrench I own is in California somehow.  

Eventually, I cobble together enough tools so I'll be able to do some simple repairs.  I get the starter freed in about 5 minutes, but the starter won't come out without pulling the carburetor.  The manual was clear on this point.  I ignored the manual because I'm incapale of taking simple directions.  So, basically, I'm wrestling with a South Indian Monkey Trap.  I can see the starter.  It's free.  I could remove it, if only the carburetor and the exhaust manifold weren't blocking it in.

Eventually, I admit defeat and realize that I will, in fact, have to pull the carburetor, as clearly indicated in the manual.

I break down and start pulling hoses and cables but the manual shows something I need to remove that I can't find.  

The problem is that, it's on the bike.  I know it is because I've seen it before.  Only I can't find it.  Eventually, I discover that it's only on the California edition of the motorcycle.  I check my other bike, adn sure enough, it's on one bike, but not the other.  Classic.

It's going to be close.  We're going to go down to the wire on this one.  No time to shower. Shave.  Any of that nonsense.  If I can pull this starter and leave for the airport on time, it will be a miracle.

So I'm pulling tubes and cables and finally, the carb comes out.  The starter comes out and it's time to fly to the airport.  Only now does it dawn on me that there's no way in hell that the TSA is going to let me carry a bomb onto the plane.  And that's exactly what this looks like.  Two long wires going to a right circular cylinder.  It looks for all the world like a pipe bomb.  And it smells like gas.  I clean it up in the sink as best I can.  Now it looks like a shiny clean bomb, but it doesn't reek of gas any more at least.  So there is that.

Now, I just have to trap the cat, run it down the hill, and drop it off at Jen's.  On the way, I call in a payment to get my phones reconnected.  So now, my phone is working.  I call Michelle and Jen but neither one answers of course.  I have to fill up the truck in Morrison.  So I stop to fill up.  Start the gas rolling and climb back into the truck to wait for it to fill up and call Jen and Michelle 140 more times.  Why does a woman have a phone if she won't answer it.  What is the purpose?

A woman should have her cell phone nailed to her forehead like a crucifix. And when it rings, it should send a taser-like shock through her body if she doesn't answer it by the second ring.

Somewhere there is a beeping noise.  It appears to be coming from the gas tanks for some reason.  I keep the doors closed and pretend like I don't hear it.

Presently, the little man in the gas station comes out, presumably to investigate why the pump are beeping like they're about to explode, leveling the entire town, and incinerating it's population in an instant.

He approaches my truck and says "Did you know there's a cat under your truck?"

And I'm like oh Holy Mother of God I did not know that.  Thank you for telling me.  Wow.

I get out and sure enough, Kitty is hiding beneath the truck.  I walk around it a few times and finally manage to reach under the truck and grab one of his hind legs.  I drag him out and throw him back inside the truck.

Finally, Michelle answers the phone and I tell her..."I'm going to miss my flight.  You need to get in your truck and start driving." and she does.  I meet her and stop and throw the cat at her and take off of the airport.

I get to the airport on time but when we start to board, somehow I've lost my boarding pass, which makes me nuts, of course.  The woman at the gate prints me another boarding pass and I board, but now I have to go all the way to the back of the plane to find a window seat away from any screaming fetuses.

Now, I'm sitting by the window on the next to the last row of the plane.  I check to make sure the seat reclines and it does.  Thank God for small miracles.  

The flight is going to be completely full. And there are two empty seats beside me.  Now, I know who's going to end up in those seats.  There is no doubt about this.  It will be two enormous large social misfits.  Probably 6'7" tall.  Headphones.  You know the drill.  

This much is certain.  It is my destiny.

But instead, two beautiful blondes sit next to me.  Now, in all my life, this has never happened.  This is not my life.  

I motion for the younger one to sit down.  "Have a seat, shorty" I motion to her and smile.  She's stunning.  The lady behind her sits down on the aisle.  Things are looking up.

They live in Denver.  In San Francisco to sight-see for the week. They're staying somewhere near the airport.

What to do in San Francisco.  What to do indeed.  What would I tell someone to do?

Go do the touristy stuff.  Fisherman's Wharf.  Alcatraz.  Coit Tower.  Twin Peaks.  Ride the Cable Car.  Lombard Street.  Ghiradelli Square.  Maybe ride a Trolley.  Go eat at Scoma's.  

The one girl sitting by me wants to hear my tunes so we swap phones and listen to each others songs for the whole flight.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Doug Hits the Road

My buddy Doug is off on another adventure. This time, he's driving his BMW GS1200 in a big loop through the Southwest that will include a nice piece of the California coast, roughly from LA to San Francisco. You can follow his adventures here: http://mc-california-trip-2012.blogspot.com/

My goal is/was to meet up with him for a piece of the ride. At least from Pismo to SF. Motorcycle has been giving me fits lately. Last week, I finally decided that it was the starter, so yesterday I pulled the starter from one of my bikes in CO. Only after I removed it from the bike did it dawn on me that I'd have to some-how get it past the goons at the TSA.

It smelled like gas and was not really shiny and clean or anything, so I cleaned it up so it looked like a nice, shiny pipe bomb, instead of a dirty gas-smelling pipe-bomb. I pulled the wires off of it so it didn't look quite so scary.


and flew it out last night in my carry-on luggage. With the wires attached, it was pretty scary looking.

They did notice it when it went through the X-ray, and they pulled it out and looked at it real close. Then they ran it through again, but in the end, they let me keep it. Now, I've got to put it on my bike in CA, and roll down to meet Doug.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 8, 2012

Car Fire in North Beach

Last night, I was sitting in a local pub in North Beach drinking a couple of Stellas. Minding my own business. Woman pulls up front in a Honda Civic. Stops. And the car proceeds to catch on fire.

Light was coming from under the hood. The fire was burning in a sustained, continuous manner. I called 911 and reported the car fire. They rolled out a couple of the big "Apple Dumpling" sized firetrucks. Before the fire dept got there, someone came out with a fire extinguisher, they lifted the hood, and extinguished the fire.

But, it was interesting. Interesting in that I've never seen a car catch on fire for no reason before. Now, I've caught the weasel on fire more than once, but it's a rolling fire-hazard. This was a car sold by Honda to the general public as a safe vehicle. Not something designed to operate in war zones without a key and 1/2 pound of TNT strapped to the transfer case to keep it from falling into enemy hands.

So, it was intriguing. I initially assumed that the car's battery had caught on fire. But when they raised the hood, I observed that the battery box was near the firewall, not behind the headlights.

The car caught on fire behind the passenger side headlight, about 12" to 24" back behind the headlight, I'd say. I'm not clear why it caught on fire. But if I worked for Honda, I'd be looking into why the car caught on fire.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 8, 2012 at 11:03 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

XR650L Starter Problems in CA

I'm still struggling to solve my starter problems on my XR650L in California. I've replaced the battery and the starter solenoid, but this hasn't alleviated my issues. Sometimes the bike makes a clicking noise in the battery box. Sometimes it doesn't make any sound at all. I'm beginning to think it's an issue with my starter. I don't think it's an issue with the "safety switches" (i.e. kickstand, neutral, clutch), as if it were related to these issues, then it wouldn't even make a clicking noise.

So, I'm beginning to think that my starter is bad. I'm also beginning to think that I'm doing to drive this thing into the bay at SFO and drive one of my other bikes out here, as this one is cursed.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 5, 2012

Catching up on photos...

Above: Kitty in the front yard.

Above: Cargill Salt Flats in San Francisco Bay.

Above: Cargill Salt Flats in San Francisco Bay.

Above: Cargill Salt Flats in San Francisco Bay.

Above: Some idiots rowed this boat across the Pacific Ocean. Why? I dunno. Some retarded Brits. This is me posing in front of the boat parked on Sansome Street. We all had to move our motorcycles so this moron could park here. I was pretty pissed.

Above: Flying out of SFO.

Above: A woman tries to drive an SUV on Highway 285 in Colorado.

Above: My 14 year old nightmare.

Above: Mountain Lilacs.

Above: A tiny colt we found on South Turkey Creek.

Above: A tiny colt we found on South Turkey Creek.

Above: A tiny colt we found on South Turkey Creek.

Above: Shot of the Great Horned owlets (Bubo virginianus) from last weekend.

Above: Wheate-paste image on Bluxome Street.

Above: Mural at 125 Bluxome Street.

Above: Mural at 125 Bluxome Street.

Above: Mural at 125 Bluxome Street.

Above: Chor Boogie mural at 125 Bluxome Street.

Above: Chor Boogie mural at 125 Bluxome Street.

Above: Chor Boogie mural at 125 Bluxome Street.

Above: Berwick Alley bear mural by Chad Hasegawa.

Above: Flyer at Lower Haight restraunt Cafe International near Fillmore and Haight.

Above: Panting at Lower Haight restraunt Cafe International near Fillmore and Haight.

Above: Panting at Lower Haight restraunt Cafe International near Fillmore and Haight.

Above: Homeless loser stealing a television on Upper Haight.

Above: Purple Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) along Market Street in San Francisco.

Above: Great Horned owlets (Bubo virginianus) near Morrison, Colorado.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 5, 2012 at 1:14 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 4, 2012

Great Horned Owlets

Above: Great Horned owlets (Bubo virginianus) near Morrison, Colorado.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2012 at 11:28 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Market Street Foxgloves

Above: Purple Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) along Market Street in San Francisco.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2012 at 11:26 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

John Cleese vs. The Sun


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

My Hero


Posted by Rob Kiser on May 4, 2012 at 1:15 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 3, 2012

Update on the bike...

I've been struggling with an issue on my bike that I've never seen before. Battery was weak when I got the bike, and it would barely turn over. But, over time, it seemed to get better, as though the battery was starting to hold a charge fairly well, so long as it was a daily driver.

Then, a few weeks ago, it started failing to turn over when I pushed the starter. What was odd was that it didn't seem to me that the battery was drained, only that it wouldn't turn over and made a "clicking" noise from the battery compartment.

After getting two new batteries, a trickle charger, and putting a battery I knew to be charged and working on this morning, I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't the battery. So what is it then? What's making that clicking noise?

Turns out, my best theory at this point is that the clicking noise is the starter solenoid, which I didn't even know it had before today.

So, I called up my buddies at Golden Gate Cycles, and they're closing their doors for good, unfortunately. It really sucks because I liked having them here in the city. They were always able to help me out. Now, they're telling me to go to City Cycle Werkes on Ellis.

But of course, I can't find a starter solenoid for an XR650L in the city. Great. I think I'll turn one of my bikes in Colorado into a "parts" bike and just start flying it to the left coast in pieces.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 3, 2012 at 1:35 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

May 1, 2012

Great Horned Owlets

I zipped in and got a couple of new photos of the owlets over the weekend. There are at least two owlets. Possibly more, I'm not clear.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 1, 2012 at 5:09 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink