Sunday, December 31, 2006

Riding Out In Style

Sitting in the former location of my now defunct quonset hut, I'm just heading out for a little spin on "Old Blue", my '66 Vespa. This was probably the nicest day we've had in quite a while, so I put about 12 miles on my vintage scooter before taking Mule out for a jaunt later in the day.

To ring in the New Year, I'll ride Mule to Hollywood Beach to watch the Polar Bear Swim in the morning. I go down every year to spectate, not partake in this annual event. Much respect for the people that do run straight into the Strait, but I'll just hang back by my ride and sip hot coffee and watch the peoplesickles.

I'm happy that I rode on this last day of '06, because that is how I started the year. Riding became more important to me this year too. As I tuned into the adventures of fellow moto-bloggers, I became totally motivated toward riding my scooters. This was like looking at riding from a different angle. I too wanted to ride year round, and be on the Ride to Work website as a contributing commuter blogger. I achieved these goals, and am proud to have done so.

To cap this short post, I'd like to thank the motivators for leading me down this road. Both on my scooter, and in the words that make up Little Billy's Scooter Tales.

Happy New Year to all my new friends!

Have fun in '07,


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dig Those Mittens!

Other than the fact that I forgot the camera today, it was great to get out for a while and ride. My intention was to run out to the fairgrounds today to get some pictures of the downed trees and limbs left over from the big blow. I'll do it tomorrow for sure.

What was really good about todays putt was that I was wearing my new mittens for the first time. With hopes that my mother in-law reads this post, THANK YOU! I really like them. Joining the ranks of the mitten wearing moto-bloggers is something that I should have done 2 months ago. Even with my Navy bomber jacket on I got cold. My hands stayed warm though.

The ride today was the route that I like to take in the Summertime. Leaving my place, I head through the west side of town to Mill Hill which takes me to Marine Drive and Nippon Paper Mill. Passing through the mill puts me onto Ediz Hook, continuing till I get to the Coast Guard base entry post. This is a great spot to stop and just look around for a bit before returning the same way.

I really wanted to get up to highway speed today, so I blasted up the Truck Route after riding the length of Marine Drive. The Truck Route spits me out onto Highway 101 where I can run at 55 mph for a bit before re-entering the city limits on the west side and turning back toward the airport and fairgrounds. This side of town seems to show the scars of the "Blow" more than others. This is where I'll go for photos.

Another reason that I was happy with my little putt-around was that it was cold. I wanted to get out and just be in it rather than commuting in it, if that makes sense. The wind was from the northeast, blowing right off the Straits. These are cold winds similar to the lake effect winds off the Great Lakes. The temps were hanging around freezing all day with ice covering the pond sized puddles. Not much melting today. All this and a sunny sky. A perfect combination for a crisp December ride.

I don't know if it's because it's the Holiday Season and that I'm on vacation this week, or that we have good old sunshine again, my spirits seem to be lifted and riding today felt GOOD. I was missing it. I NEEDED it.

Have fun,

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas The Day After Christmas's over. Christmas has come and gone, and we're less than a week from turning the calendar to a new year. And I have this week off from work to relax and think about it.

This Christmas was great. We spent some time with my folks, then Dena's parents and family, and just enjoyed the day. My kids are at that perfect age where everything is magic. They believe that Santa is real, and thats cool by me. The "Christmas Story" movie played almost non-stop, and my boys became Ralphie and Randy, quoting lines from the film for two days. I even donned an old wool sweater to fit in.

My little girl Joelle is almost 2 years old. It was wonderful to see her reaction to the mountain of gifts that Santa had brought and to watch her figure out how to unwrap gifts by watching her brothers. Even though they employ the "rip and toss" method, only to go back later to be surprised again at what they got, because they didn't look while they were shredding paper in a fevered frenzy. Right now they are discovering the marvels of the "whoopy cushion". Funny how a 59 cent item can keep them amused for this long. Or myself for that matter.

As far as riding my scooter goes, I'm still dealing with weather that has remained bleak lately. Rain, wind, cold, repeat. And even though I'm going to get wet, one of my goals for this week is to get out and ride, and get some photos of our new store project that is now in steel framing. You can follow the progress by going to and check out the daily photo updates. I hope to post some here tomorrow.

I'd also like to get in a little highway time and check some of the outlying areas that were hit hard by the recent windstorm. And try out the new mittens that my Mother in-law gave me as a gift. They are tagged "Bec-Tech", and are breathable and waterproof. They feature 40 gram Thinsulate and have an adjustable gauntlet over-sleeve. And...these are only to hold me over till the "nice ones" get here that are on back-order. Geez, I think these are pretty darn nice.

If I catch a break in the monsoon marathon, I'll take a spin on my Vespa. It needs some attention, but it's hard to talk myself into riding it in the wet road crud that seems to stick to everything these days. Even though Mule is a new ride compared, I bought it to ride in this slop. It'll get a real bath and a once over this weekend.

But first, I'll get back to helping build model cars, figuring out puzzles and remotes, and brushing the hair on Joelle's "My Little Pony". And just hanging out with my little family for a few days. That and convincing my wife that the big loud noise was the Whoopy Cushion, and not me for a change.

Have fun,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

This is just a quick note to wish everyone that has taken time to drop by Little Billy's Scooter Tales a very Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Have fun,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Wind...Before And After

I've come to realize over the past month and a half that I have issues with windstorms. I don't like them at all. I didn't much care for them before, but after Thursday night/Friday morning, I'm done being indifferent.

We had been getting reports of a really big "wind event" for a few days at the first of the week, but it wasn't until the hurricane specialist, Dr. Forbes on the Weather Channel came on and described the upcoming storm as a "bomb" that I started thinking seriously about what I needed to do to be prepared. I needed to get serious.

If I got it right, the "bomb" is an uncommon weather pattern for this area of the Pacific, that brought very deep low pressure out of Alaska, and collided with a big ol' chunk of moist high pressure from the south. The point of impact was just off the coast of Washington State, and was cranking hard from the southwest into British Columbia. Dr. Forbes said that it was going to be a "dangerous storm, bringing high damaging winds". This information was repeated by the local news, and the National Weather Service. What made the reports so disturbing was that they all called for west winds of 80 to 90 miles per hour in the Strait of Juan De Fuca. That's the body of water in a couple of my blog photos. West winds generally suck here. When storm winds come from the south, we are usually protected by the Olympic Mountains.

Heeding the warnings, I stocked up on the power outage essentials of extra food, candles, lamp oil, and had the generator ready. I tied off the 10' x 20' quonset to some fruit trees in the yard and made sure that it was secure. Or so I thought. The steel framed structure had been mounted on wooden bases with 6" spikes, and tied off to steel tee posts. I had then put 120 lbs of weight in the form of pier blocks on each wooden base. The walls were lined with 4' rebar stakes driven into the ground between each frame post, and a rope line was ran all the way around the interior walls to minimize the flex of the walls when the wind caught it. I figured that a little overkill was better than not trying.

The quonset housed my Harley Davidson, Kung Pow, and my 1968 Yamaha 350 Scrambler, as well as a rototiller, lawn mower and a few other items.

To get to the point, as Thursday evening rolled around, my nerves were getting rattled as first reports from the coast came in with winds of 58 to 60 mph at around dinner time. The projected impact for the Strait was between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am. We got the kids to bed early and basically tried to get some sleep while listening to the hardest rain that I've heard in a long, long time. At 1:10 am, I heard it start.

I'm 48 years old, and have lived in this town my whole life. I have never heard a noise like what I heard this night. I knew that this was going to be bad.

The power went out right away as expected. I knew it when a transformer at the end of the alley blew and threw a bright green light into the room, followed by a loud buzz, then complete darkness. Lightning and thunder mixed in with the wind and rain like a nightmare stew peppered with the occasional BIG gust that had me squeezing a little further down into our bed. By now, we had two out of three kids in bed with us as Billy slept throughout the night.

At about 3:30 am, a gust came up that won the crappy wind contest. I heard damage with this one. I knew for sure that something in my yard was broken. Was it the quonset, or my roof, or maybe my little shop that the scooters were parked in? Only daylight would bring an answer. Sometime after this I fell asleep. My nerves were shot.

I woke up just before 6:30, and was looking toward the alarm as the power came back on. Dena was already awake, and I told her that I was going to get up and get the house warmed up and go check things out. Billy was still sawing logs as were Kevin and Joelle. This made me feel good. I was relieved.

For whatever reason, I really wasn't that upset when I looked out and saw that the quonset was completely destroyed. All three bikes were down, with Kung Pow on top of the Harley and one of the steel poles jammed between the HD's motor and frame. All three bikes were damaged, as was everything in the hut, but the ropes had kept it from blowing into my house. So the house was fine, as was my little scooter shop, and above everything family.

We did a little phone tree check on our parents and siblings to make sure that everyone was okay and were pleased to find everyone in good shape. We were blessed as a family, with only minimal property damage and a few without power temporarily. I think that my feeling of relief was bigger than any feeling of grief over my personal propery damage. This realization was good for me. My priorities are in check. I went out and cleaned my mess, then went to work.

The bottom line on this "monster storm" was unconfirmed reports of 68 mph sustained winds, with gusts of 85 mph. Trees were down everywhere, and power was out for over a million people in the Puget Sound area. Roof shingle business, as well as tarps and basic building materials was brisk in our store as everyone was in damage control mode. And everyone is still talking about it. And will be for some time.

I'll put the generator away tomorrow, and get the tree lights fixed in my yard, and maybe take my scooter out for a ride. Maybe by going to look at the damage, I can get my mind off of it.

Have fun,

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Little Run With My Little Son

My little Billy
The above photo was taken on Sunday afternoon. It was taken from Ediz Hook, looking back across the harbor at Port Angeles. On a sunny day, the Olympic Mountains would loom large in the background.
Dena and the two youngest were on a Christmas gift shopping trip, leaving Billy and I to hold down the fort. As the Seahawks were getting thumped by the Cardinals, and the weather was decent, the decision to watch tv or go for a ride was easy. I told Billy to put on his snow boots, and get his winter jacket, we were going to take the scooter out.
After suiting him up with helmet, goggles, and his heavy gloves, I put the camera in his pocket and told him to "Hang on to Daddy, I want to go take your picture". The little fart sang songs and talked the whole time we were riding. I couldn't make out much of what he was saying, but I was getting a kick out of his joyful sounds.
Once we arrived at "The Hook", I was only able to get two pics before the memory card was full. I hadn't checked before we left. But the ride was what was fun, and the chance to hang out with my little man. That, and telling him "No, you can't play in the water, it's December, not summer".
Our timing was good because the rain started as we headed toward home. We ended up taking the long way because Billy was having fun.
I haven't had a chance to ride since this outing because I had to haul some pieces of plywood home for a project for my Dad. And because the forecast called for more bad weather.
It seems that Mother Nature wasn't through with our place on the map. The same patterns of systems that hammered us in November have returned for an encore. Winds of 50-91 miles per hour were clocked on either side of the Port Angeles area on Monday, with two more systems staged in the Pacific to come onshore starting tonight through Thursday. The power crews will be earning some fat Christmas bonus bucks again this week. Time for another game of "count the flying branches".
After things settle down, I'll get back to commuting by scooter again. I made the decision, that if the conditions were going to get this out of shape, then I'll not risk it. Old Dad wants to come home to ride with his boys in one piece.
Have fun,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Moment Of Weakness

I think that it goes with anything that when you become engrossed in, or even fanatical about something, at some point you begin to burn out. Not long ago, I was competitive in bicycling, as well as being dedicated to the bodybuilding lifestyle. These were activities that I spent years of time and energy on. Literally thousands of miles logged, and countless tons of weight pushed and pulled till blissful exhaustion.

So it goes with most pursuits, that one day you say to yourself, "I think I'll take today off", and that day stretches into weeks or even longer. As more time passes, the easier the excuses to not continue come. This is where you need to look inside to find the motivation to return to whatever it is that you are into. Sometimes you get right back to it, sometimes you don't make it back.

These thoughts came to me last night as I was on my way home from a decorating get-together at our store. I had driven the Citation as I needed to pick some things up that wouldn't fit on Mule. I started pondering on the way home that it would be so simple to just drive in the morning. No raingear, no multi-layering of warm clothes, no this, no that...NO WAY was I going to continue this line of thinking!

I've been through this before and always come back to the "what if I" thoughts. What if I had continued pumping iron, how big would I be now? Had I continued bicycling, I would be in the Masters category now, racing with the "older" dudes. I had been looking forward to this. I would still be riding from Seattle to Portland in twelve hours or so. But I had found reasons to discontinue these adventures that must have outweighed to reasons to move forward with them. That's the way it is, and I'll accept it.

It's knowing too well how my mind works that allowed me to drop an anvil on the thought of not suiting up and riding to work today. Maybe wisdom is a bi-product of age. Reviewing the way scootering makes me feel riding to and from work far outweighs anything that I can dream up to get me to think otherwise. With these clear thoughts, I got back to the business of being a dedicated commuter on two wheels instead of four. No guilt this time.

Have fun,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Writing, Riding, And Reactions

It seems that Old Man Winter and Mother Nature have moved on to other parts of our fine nation, spreading mayhem and joy for all as the holiday season cranks into high gear. Realizing that the calendar hasn't turned from fall to winter yet reminds me that we still have some adventures in store. And I actually look forward to more challenges. Winter weather here can stretch into March, so I've got a long ways to go.

I've found the one of the best parts of my commute experience has been the reaction that I get from people. Even some of the local riders are asking if I'm still out there riding. Some will tell me that "You won't catch me out in this stuff", and some will say that they might try to get out for a ride "One of these days". Whatever the case, I still like getting a reaction. I'm sure that you other cats in the RTW commuter blog family deal with the same type of people.

Its been fun to also share the Ride To Work website as a resource for those that are really interested in what I'm doing. I suggest that they tap into the blog posts that have inspired me to do what I'm doing right now. Live it, and tell about it.

One person that I referenced RTW to is a guy named Vern. Vern took over the Co-ordinators position that I held in the local ABATE chapter. He is simply a great man. He took on the task of putting together a toy drive recently that grossed enough toys to supply three local hospitals, the Salvation Army, an abused childrens organization, and more. Another area group had assumed the Toy Run that ABATE had co-sponsored with the Salvation Army and held their event in September. Rather that sitting back and lamenting that the Chapters participation was no longer needed, Vern moved forward with a new plan to have the Toy Drive. Together with his chapter, local club participation, and aid from Wal Mart, they had great success. Children, in the end will benefit from his insistance to continue on with a new plan. My hat is off to you my friend.

Now what really makes this especially cool is the fact that by appearance, Vern looks like Santa Claus. Not a little bit...but exactly like him. A gal from work had come to find me on the sales floor to tell me that "Santa" was here to visit me. It was Vern bringing me a stack of ABATE newsletters that I keep on hand at the store. A bit later when the Santa visit was brought up, I told her what Vern had done for the children of the area with the toy drive, and it brought her to tears. "So you were right, it was Santa that came to see me", I told her. And the reaction that I got from her was one of the best ever.

In conversation about the difficulty of getting into the "Spirt of the Season", I realized that I might now have a head start.

Have fun,

Friday, December 01, 2006

Farewell To November

I'm certain that the road doesn't care if I come out and ride on it, but I care, and so today I rode my scooter to work. After finally getting out of the month of November, I wanted to start December on two wheels.

November was a tough month in our region. We had record rainfall, which brought flooding and property loss, then high damaging winds that bring your good old power outages, topped off with a brisk round of snow and record low temperatures. It kind of sucked to ride in this junk.

Naturally, I was determined to get back out there. I chose Kung Pow as my steed of the day and after suiting up and hopping aboard, I noticed that we were sittin' and spinnin' in my snow covered grass. "Huh...I'll have to push". And so I walked/pushed my scoot a fair bit to finally get on a managable road surface. I thought it would be easy.

My street still has the high, crusty, frozen ridges where cars usually park, so we end up with a single lane down the middle that everyone shares. This is where I needed to be. I high centered the scooter on one of these dirty clumps while trying not lose my footing. I couldn't see because my glasses had fogged up. "I'm walking on ice and I can't see". This wasn't feeling like fun, and I probably looked like a total dink to my neighbor that was looking out his window, but I was almost there.

Finally on firm footing, we were off. For a change I actually rode in the sanded areas as there were still patches of ice on the main streets. I normally try to stay clear of sand on the road, but today it looked to be the better option. From this point on, the commute was pretty normal. The clouds parted long enough to see the sun for about 30 seconds, then a misty rain jumped in right behind for about a minute.

But it was December, and I was back on my scooter, and more than was beginning to feel like the pain from the solid back-hand that Mother Nature gave us last month, was starting to go away.

Have fun,

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