Redwoods Road Trip Day 4. Just Messing Around

The Samoa Cookhouse

The Samoa Cookhouse

Friday was our “messing around”day.  It’s a good idea to keep at least one day as an unscheduled free day because we always find something we’d like to do.

We started our day having breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse, an historical point of interest for my family.  My great grandmother Hannah worked at the cookhouse as a cook  from about 1907 to 1912.  At that time the Cookhouse was on a wharf at the end of the pier.  There was a fire during the time my great grandmother worked there.

http://www.samoacookhouse.net/

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Memorabilia at the Samoa Cookhouse

Memorabilia at the Samoa Cookhouse

The breakfast is served family style, and you get whatever they made that day.  We had biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, pancakes and sausage (for those that wanted it).

Lance passes me the scrambled eggs served family style at the Samoa Cookhouse

Lance passes me the scrambled eggs served family style at the Samoa Cookhouse

From Samoa we headed to Willie’s house, the Airhead member who offered us a spare clutch cable.  The Airhead group publishes a guide with members listed by city and state.  It’s a wonderful network of people ready to help other Airheads.  Jerome was carrying that guide with him.  A very smart move.

Airhead directory

Airhead directory

While my K75 is not an Airhead, I was traveling with Airheads and Lance was able to make an Airhead clutch cable work on my bike, at least temporarily.  So we descended upon Willie en masse, as invited.  He had a spare clutch cable for us to carry and gave us some advise on good roads to ride.

Visiting with Willie, a fellow Airhead who invited over and gave us a spare clutch cable to carry with us.

Visiting with Willie, a fellow Airhead who invited us over and gave us a spare clutch cable to carry with us.

We traveled the short distance south from Eureka to 211, and took that to Ferndale, a small town known for its Victorian architecture.  We stopped here to stretch our legs and walk up and down the main street.

We classed up the main street of Ferndale!

We classed up the main street of Ferndale!

Main street Ferndale

Main street Ferndale

One of the buildings along main street Ferndale

One of the buildings along main street Ferndale

Victorian Inn in Ferndale

Victorian Inn in Ferndale

Ferndale is only a few miles from the coast, so we drove the narrow country lane out to the Lost Coast along the great Pacific Ocean.

My beautiful K75 parked along the Pacific Ocean

My beautiful K75 parked along the Pacific Ocean

Joe and Jerome contemplate the great Pacific Ocean

Joe and Jerome contemplate the great Pacific Ocean

True to a messing around day, we headed back to Eureka with no clear destination in mind, other than a stop at AAA for maps.  A quick google search for best restaurants in Eureka provided a lunch spot name, Brick & Fire.  We had a lovely lunch and I can now recommend Brick & Fire without reservation.  The grilled oysters were wonderful.

Brick & Fire....a bistro. 1630 F Street, Eureka, CA

Brick & Fire….a bistro. 1630 F Street, Eureka, CA

Inside the Brick & Fire

Inside the Brick & Fire

Grilled oysters at the Brick & Fire in Eureka, CA

Grilled oysters at the Brick & Fire in Eureka, CA

Friday’s ride was a good test for the makeshift clutch fix, which performed well.  It was also our last night in our rented mid century modern house, with a rather long riding day to follow.

What I learned today:  The BMW K75 is affectionately referred to as “the flying brick”.  Airheads are classic BMW’s with opposing twin engines that are air cooled.

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Redwoods Road Trip Day 3. The Avenue of the Giants

Riding the Avenue of the Giants

Riding the Avenue of the Giants

The agenda for the day was to ride the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and have lunch at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka.  We accomplished both.  The northern entrance to the Avenue of the Giants is just 30 miles south of Eureka.  While Eureka was smothered in low hanging fog, it cleared a few miles south and we drove through farm land headed south.

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The ride was beautiful and peaceful, and we saw lots of big trees.

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Jerome's bike during a moment of quiet in the big trees

Jerome’s bike during a moment of quiet in the big trees

DSC_6027We made our way south towards the Visitor Center.  They have a nice setup with photos and information about the history of the area, the logging and a cross section of a tree that fell in 2006.  They have the rings marked with moments in history, showing the long life and significance of the trees.

A cross section of a big tree at the visitor's center

A cross section of a big tree at the Visitor Center.

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Tree cross section marked with an historical time line

Tree cross section marked with an historical time line.

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The Visitor Center, run by the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association, has many black and white photos, displays, and a gift shop.

Black and white photos in the visitor's center

Black and white photos in the visitor’s center

DSC_6060From the Visitor Center we headed south towards Myers Flat and the drive thru tree.  There is a $4 fee for the privilege.

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DSC_6092It was starting to warm up, so we took a break in the shade of the trees.

I am standing at the base of this giant tree, for scale.

I am standing at the base of this giant tree, for scale.

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After a short break, we headed back north towards the Lost Coast Brewery.

Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka

Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka

Our group having lunch at the Lost Coast Brewery, still happy and relaxed.

Our group having lunch at the Lost Coast Brewery, still happy and relaxed.

After lunch at the brewery, we walked around the small historical district of Eureka.

Old town Eureka

Old town Eureka

After lunch and strolling around the old town, we returned to the brewery parking lot, only to discover the K bike had another problem.  The reason for the clutch cable adjustments of the previous day became evident.  As I pulled in the clutch to get the bike off the center stand, the cable snapped.  Between Joe’s spare clutch cable and Lance’s mechanical abilities, we got the not quite right sized clutch cable jury rigged and headed back to the house.  Jerome had a copy of the Air Heads directory, and we called Willie, listed in the directory as a member residing here in Eureka.  He offered up a cable and we agreed to meet at his house the next day.

Lance installs a spare clutch cable Joe was carrying in the parking lot of the brewery.

Lance installs a spare clutch cable Joe was carrying in the parking lot of the brewery.

What I learned today:  Riding a vintage bike should only be done in a group.

I was also told that I should put together an emergency kit to carry with me.  Here is the suggested parts list for the emergency kit:

  1.  clutch cable
  2. inner tube (larger size of your two tires)
  3. oil
  4. 3 Bosch spark plugs
  5. zip ties
  6. electrical tape
  7. tire pressure gauge
  8. hose, for possible gas siphoning

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Posted in California, Cars & motorcycles | 2 Comments

Redwoods Road Trip Day 2, 101 South

Packing up the bikes, early muster

Packing up the bikes, early muster

After a relatively early muster of 8 am, we hit 101 headed south.  I had read about a good breakfast stop in a local magazine, the Spoon, so that was our first stop.

The Spoon, in Langlois, Oregon

The Spoon, in Langlois, Oregon

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After eggs and about 3 pots of coffee, we hit the road again, south on Highway 101.  This stretch of highway is absolutely gorgeous, but we had portions of dense fog, and moments of scenery.

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One drawback of motorcycle touring is the amount of messing around it takes to pull over, remove gear, and dig out the camera from the saddle bags for photos.  Many great photo ops whiz by, just memories on the internal hard drive.  That’s life.  We made a few stops for photos, but some of the best photos are in my mind.

We had portions of sun, and a lot of fog along the coast

We had portions of sun, and a lot of fog along the coast

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The first hiccup came with the K bike.  I had trouble shifting and finally got stuck in 3rd gear.  We pulled over and Lance jumped into action.  Before I knew what was happening, he was under the bike fixing the cable tension so I could shift again.

Lance coming to my rescue and fixing the clutch cable on the fly.

Lance coming to my rescue and fixing the clutch cable on the fly.

Once repaired we were back on the road, continuing southbound.  From 101 South, we took the Prairie Creek State Park park that runs through some of the redwoods.  It was a very scenic road, with some blue skies and fingers of mist reaching up from the coast.

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We stopped at one Big Tree.  It was impressive.

Continuing towards Eureka we followed 101 south until the turnoff for Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake.  Right after pulling off 101, Joe’s 1983 R100CS’s odometer turned over to 100,000 miles.  We had to stop and document this momentous occasion.

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A pit stop for refreshments and Corn Hole, and then a short 30 minute drive to our destination.

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We rolled into Eureka at about 5 pm.  The house we rented through vrbo.com was exactly as advertised and very nice.

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A grocery run and we were in for the night.  We toasted a successful day (meaning all bikes were still running) and 100,000 miles.DSC_5918

 

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After forty years of riding motorcycles I still had the capacity to learn some lessons.  Here is what I learned today:

  1.  Preloading.  The manual art of a small amount of pressure on the shifter prior to clutch engagement.
  2.   K bike right tilt.   After engine shut down, tilt the bike slightly to the right while you remove your helmet and gloves (30 seconds) to allow the oil in the cylinders to drain back into the crankcase.
  3.   Earplugs.  I am now an earplug convert.  It makes for a much quieter ride.
  4.  Reaffirmed the appreciation of heated hand grips.

 

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Redwoods Road Trip, Day 1

The "before" picture. Probably the only one that will not have helmet hair in the photo

The “before” picture. Probably the only one that will not have helmet hair in the photo

The idea for a motorcycle road trip to the Redwoods came last fall when I read an article about the Lost Coast in the October 2015 issue of Sunset magazine.  With the purchase of my “new” 1987 BMW K75S in March, it made the trip even more necessary.  No better way to break in a new bike than a road trip.  Unfortunately, a shorter ride just two weeks prior to departure revealed a mechanical issue.  But the problem was fixed by mechanic extraordinaire Dirty Nick, and the repaired bike was delivered the night before departure.

My sister and I left her house in St. Johns, Oregon at 9 am on the first day of the ride, headed to Lake Oswego to pick up the three other members of our touring group.

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There were the two of us, on my 1987 BMW K75 and my sister on her 1978 BMW R80.  We met up with her sweetie Joe on his 1983 BMW R100C, Jerome on his 1983 BMW R100RT, and Lance on his 1990 Kawasaki ZR550 Zephyr, the youngest bike on the tour.

The first part of the first day was banging out some mileage on Interstate 5 southbound.  I don’t enjoy riding the bike on the interstate, but it was the best option for getting some miles under our belts headed to our campsite at Bullards Beach, Oregon.

We followed I5 southbound to 38, a little south of Eugene, and turned west towards the coast.  The smaller roads are always more fun, and this one cruised along a river through a valley and was very scenic.  As we approached the coast, the fog bank hugging the Pacific Ocean coastline was in evidence before we even hit 101 and turned southbound at Reedsport and Winchester Bay.

The cooler temps and low hanging fog forced a roadside garment adjustment, a not uncommon occurrence.  Highway 101 runs along the coast, or just inland, passing through small towns and tourist destinations alike.

Our touring group makes it to Bullards Beach State Park campgrounds

Our touring group makes it to Bullards Beach State Park campgrounds

We were headed to Bandon Oregon, and the Bullards Beach State Park campground.  We had reserved two yurts for the night.  I’m not a big fan of camping, unless it glamping, but the yurts were nice.  It is only mild camping, as they have a small heater and electricity.  We arrived right at 5 pm, having been on the bikes from 9 to 5, with a few stops.  I have a two hour bum, so need to stop stretch at least once every two hours.  The K bike has a large tank and gets great mileage, so the fuel stops are more frequent than the K bike would need.

The bikes parked outside the girls yurt

The bikes parked outside the girls yurt

The yurt interior. We rented these for $40 per night.

The yurt interior. We rented these for $40 per night.

The five of us split into two yurts, a girls and a boys.  Once unpacked we headed the two miles into Bandon for dinner.   Bandon has a cute very small old town where we enjoyed a seafood dinner on the harbor.  I tried another Oregon Pinot Noir which I found very smooth and to my liking.

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Clam chowder at The Loft in Bandon

Wine in a can and chocolate by the campfire. Wine in a can travels much better in a motorcycle panier than a bottle

Wine in a can and chocolate by the campfire. Wine in a can travels much better in a motorcycle saddle bag than a bottle.

Back at the yurts a campfire brought out the usual assortment of campfire stories, with the addition of canned wine, not on my regular wine list.

Joe, a former Boy Scout leader tells stories by the camp fire

Joe, a former Boy Scout leader tells stories by the camp fire

We covered approximately 250 miles on our first day.  Gas receipts showed we ranged between 40 and 60 mpg.  My K75 was averaging about 55 mpg.

Posted in Cars & motorcycles, Oregon | 2 Comments

Oregon Summer Beach Weekend

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

It’s hard to beat the Oregon Coast for a wonderful summer weekend getaway, and the first weekend in August is about as much of a good weather guarantee as you can hope for.  We had a picture perfect weekend at Rockaway Beach, Oregon to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

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Rockaway Beach is about 50 miles south of Astoria (at the mouth of the Columbia River), and 15 miles north of Tillamook, Oregon.  It is literally a wide spot in the road, and cannot even boast a stop light.  The beach is typically Oregon; wide, grey and dog friendly.  Just a few shops make up the business district, plus one train stop on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.  http://www.oregoncoastscenic.org/

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My sister rented a house for the weekend and we brought the food and wine.  I was in charge of the birthday dinner and had brought a side of fresh caught King Salmon.  I really wanted to find a local farmer’s market for some fresh vegetable, so we drove south to Tillamook to have a look around.  Tillamook is known for it’s cheddar cheese, and the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

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Tillamook is known for its cheese, and the cheese factory

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The cows that produce the milk that makes the cheese

Driving around the back country roads we stumbled upon exactly what I was looking for;  an organic, farm fresh, honor system vegetable stand.  With fresh peas in my possession ($3) we headed north again to start the dinner prep.

Roadside organic vegetable stand.

Roadside organic vegetable stand.

Farm fresh organic veggies.

Farm fresh organic veggies.

The honor system.

The honor system.

Dinner was grilled King Salmon on sliced red potatoes and onion, asparagus, fresh peas, topped with Dungeness Crab.  It was great.  We enjoyed this with a selection of fine Oregon Pinot Noirs.

King Salmon grilling over briquettes. I'm not a fan of gas grills.

King Salmon grilling over briquettes. I’m not a fan of gas grills.

Organic farm stand peas

Organic farm stand peas

Grilled King Salmon, red potato slices, aspargus and Dungeness crab.

Grilled King Salmon, red potato slices, aspargus and Dungeness crab.

The 5 Oregon Pinots we enjoyed; Montinore Vineyards, Elk Cove, Laurel Ridge, Feyja and

The 5 Oregon Pinots we enjoyed; Montinore Vineyards, Elk Cove, Laurel Ridge, Freja and Coelho.

Between the group of us we brought five different Oregon Pinot Noirs:  a 2014 Montinore Estate Pinot, a 2014 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot, a 2013 Laurel Ridge Reserve Pinot (by far the best value), Freja Pinot, and a 2013 Coelho Winery Pinot.  My sister scooped the Laurel Ridge Reserve from a grocery outlet for $10, listed for $38 on the website.  It was very tasty, and an incredible value.  The Montinore and the Elk Cove were between $25 and $30 bottle, and very good.

Four legged guest Moxie shows interest in the birthday cake

Four legged guest Moxie shows interest in the birthday cake

Walks on the beach are a big part of any beach weekend.  Oregon beaches are all open to dogs, a very nice change from Florida.  My sister’s new best friend Scooter enjoyed the weekend.  She found Scooter through Pixie Project.    http://www.pixieproject.org/

Scooter on Rockaway Beach

Scooter on Rockaway Beach

Another Oregon wine, King Estate Pinot Gris.

Another Oregon wine, King Estate Pinot Gris.

 

 

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I am CAT

Fred

Fred

On a recent visit to my family, I captured this photo of my sister’s cat Fred.  I thought it was the epitome of catness, so I had to share it.  We have had many beloved cats over the years, so I’ve included some of their photos here.  Some are still with us, a few have crossed the rainbow bridge.

Josephina

Josephina

Bailey

Bailey

Tom

Tom

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie

 

Miss Beatrice

Miss Beatrice

Blondie

Blondie

Angelina

Angelina

Barcley

Barcley

Wee Willie in the apple tree

Wee Willie in the apple tree

My mother with Tom in his older years

My mother with Tom in his older years

Kitties at peace

Kitties at peace

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Willamette Valley wine tour and Happy Birthday Katy

The beautiful view of Lachini Vineyards

The beautiful view of Lachini Vineyards

The two biggest wine tasting weekends here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley are Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.  This year, as happens frequently, my sister’s birthday fell on Memorial Day weekend.  Her choice for a birthday celebration was a guided wine tour in the Willamette Valley (WV).  Having been born and raised in Portland and the Oregon Coast, we consider ourselves “locals”, and have spent many years exploring the WV and a large number of its vineyards.  The guided tour was suggested mostly so no one in our group had to drive, but it turned out that we locals who thought we knew almost everything about the WV wine region, could still learn a thing or two by having a guide.  We ended up visiting four wineries we did not know, and had a wonderful time.

Hyland Vineyards

My sister hired Great Oregon Tours, and our driver and guide was Camille Gonzales, a very personable and knowledgeable woman.  We met her in Portland, after having picked up our boxed lunches at New Seasons.  There were seven of us in our group which included my two sisters, my mother, and three guests of the birthday girl; Joe, Lance and Wendy.

Tasting at Hyland Estates

Tasting at Hyland Estates

me and Lance at Hyland

Our first stop was the Hyland Estates tasting room in Dundee, Oregon, where we tasted five wines;  a 2014 Riesling, a 2014 Chardonnay, a 2013 Coury Pinot Noir, a 2014 Pommand Pinot Noir, and a 2015 Rose.  The flight cost $15, but could be applied to the purchase of a bottle.  Three of us bought the 2015 Rose for $24 (only $9 after the tasting fee), a very nice choice for a hot afternoon.

My sister Katy at Hyland Estates

My sister Katy at Hyland Estates

Hyland rose

Our second stop was the Purple Hands Winery, Latchkey Vineyard (http://purplehandswine.com/).  I doubt we would have found this vineyard on our own, as it was far up a winding gravel road.  It was one of my favorites of the day.

Purple Hands sign

Purple Hands Winery Latchkey Vineyards tasting room and the Great Oregon Tour van

Purple Hands Winery Latchkey Vineyards tasting room and the Great Oregon Tour van

We tasted six different Pinot Noirs, each one with a full page description including the elevation and type of soil the grapes are grown in.  The flight here was also $15, but you had to purchase $100 to get the tasting fee returned.  I bought one bottle of the 2014 Le Nouveau Monde Prestige Pinot Noir for $90, then added a $20 glass to get my $15 tasting fee applied.  It was really nice to compare six Pinots in a row.  After the tasting I walked up into the vines accompanied by the owners German Shepherd.

The six Pinots we tasted at Purple Hands

The six Pinots we tasted at Purple Hands

Purple Hands Pinot

The vines behind the tasting room at Purple hands

The vines behind the tasting room at Purple hands

In full celebration mode we headed to our third tasting at Lachini Vineyards, which turned out to be my favorite of the day.  You couldn’t find a more scenic vineyard with the tasting room located on 45 acres near Newberg, Oregon.  (http://www.lachinivineyards.com/)

Lachini sign

Lachini vines

The tasting fee at Lachini was $20, but it included 9 different wines and they put out a fantastic spread of food.  We didn’t even open our boxed lunches as the Lachini owner was making pizzas and shrimp in the outdoor oven, while his kids stocked the hors d’oeuvres table with cheeses, breads and chocolates.

Lachini outdoor oven

Katy at Lachini

My sisters and Wendy tasting Pinots at Lachini

My sisters and Wendy tasting Pinots at Lachini

It was the prettiest spot on the tour, and very much a family affair.  I bought a 2014 Cuvee Giselle Pinot Noir and 11 year old Giselle herself signed the bottle.  They had to force me to leave the beautiful grounds of Lachini where the people were friendly and the dog waited for you to throw her ball.

The Giselle for whom the Cuvee Giselle Pinot Noir is named

The Giselle for whom the Cuvee Giselle Pinot Noir is named

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Lachini fire pit

 

glasses at Lachini

After a short break from wine where half the group relaxed at a brew pub and the other half visited a Starbucks, we made our way to the last wine tasting, Privé Vineyard (www.privevineyard.com)

Prive Vineyards

Prive Vineyards

Just like in Argentina when we toured four vineyards in one day and were too overwhelmed by the end to get much out of the last one, the same happened here.  Prive was our fourth stop, and my taste buds were pretty much wiped out.  The tasting building was very French looking with wonderful cheeses and a local French bakery selling fresh baked goods.  Lavender plants surrounded the building and a very friendly yellow lab named Stella greeted guests.

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The tasting fee at Prive was $15, typical for the day.  We tasted six wines, including two barrel tastes of the 2015 Le nord Estate Pinot Noir and the 2015 Le sud Estate Pinot Noir.

My sister and her sweetie Joe

My sister and her sweetie Joe

For myself I would limit vineyard visits to a maximum of three in one day.  I just can’t be enthusiastic by the fourth tasting.

We were all very happy with our guide and it was nice to visit four vineyards we did not know.  We ended the evening with birthday cake at my sister’s house.

Although four wine tastings was my maximum on Sunday, by Monday afternoon my sister and I were ready to visit one more vineyard.  The two of us made a special trip to Patton Valley Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon.  I had recently enjoyed a bottle of 2012 Lorna-Marie Pinot Noir at a Florida restaurant and wanted to see the vineyard where that stellar wine had been produced.

Patton Valley sign

We thought that at 430 pm on the Monday of Memorial Day Weekend we might be their last customers, but we were wrong.  As we tasted four wines, more people came in.

The tasting included a 2015 Pinot Noir Rose, a 2014 Queen Bee Pinot Noir, a 2012 10 Acre Pinot Noir and a 2013 Single Barrel Syrah.  Also included in the tasting were two beers, made with Patton Valley estate Pinot Noir grapes and yeast from the vineyard, cask aged for 1 year.  These were the Upright Brewing Four and the Upright Brewing Oregon Native.  I’m not a beer drinker, although I did taste one at their urging.  It still had too much of a beer taste for my liking.  I bought one bottle of the Queen Bee Pinot, the proceeds going towards the upkeep of the vineyard bee hives.  It was light and summery, buzz words: Black Cherry, Orange Blossom, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Fig.

I mentioned how I had enjoyed their 2012 Lorna-Marie Pinot Noir and was told it was no longer available, sold out.  A little while later after a search of the store rooms, four bottles of the 2012 were discovered (a wine club member order that had been canceled before shipment).

The two bottles of 2012 Lorna-Marie Pinot Noir that I scored at Passon Valley

The two bottles of 2012 Lorna-Marie Pinot Noir that I scored at Patton Valley

me at Patton Valley

This was the only vineyard of the five we toured that included a logo glass with the $15 tasting.  With my purchase of three bottles, they waived the tasting fee for both my sister and me.  As we prepared to leave at 5 pm, the phone rang and I heard the very friendly woman pouring the wine say yes, she would wait for them.

Patton Valley vines

Patton Valley

It was a very enjoyable and successful Memorial Day/birthday celebration Willamette Valley tour, and we would recommend Great Oregon Tours for anyone interested in seeing the heart of Oregon wine country.

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First Ride

L on K75 at Montinore

This past March I purchased a classic motorcycle sight unseen, but at the recommendation of my sister.   It is a 1987 BMW K75.  It wasn’t until this Memorial Day weekend that I got to see and ride my new bike here in Oregon, where it will stay.  Portland is a short ride from the prettiest area you could wish to ride, Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  I was quite happy with my new bike, and we had perfect riding weather.

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K75 left side

 

Posted in Cars & motorcycles, Oregon, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Easter, Happy Spring

alien-jesus

Easter is the most religious Christian holiday on the calendar, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  It, like Christmas and Valentines Day, has been hijacked by commercial interests, so most of what you see are advertisements for plastic colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and Easter dresses.  I think the majority of the population will unknowingly celebrate Easter with a more Pagan influence than a religious one.  Considering myself more of a Naturalist than anything else, I think of Easter as a symbol of Spring, more closely related to Ēostre (or Ostara), the goddess of dawn, than with Jesus.  Spring, the Vernal Equinox (when the length of the day and night are equal), is when the Northern Hemisphere starts to show signs of life again after the hibernation of Winter.  Rabbits in many cultures symbolize fertility, and what could be more symbolic of new life than an egg?

Andrea Mantegna's Crucifixion, c. 1457-59, altar piece,

Andrea Mantegna’s Crucifixion, c. 1457-59, altar piece, The Louvre, Paris.

From encyclopedia.com:

The pagan roots of Easter involve the spring festivals of pre-Christian Europe and the Near East, which celebrate the rebirth of vegetation, welcoming the growing light as the sun becomes more powerful in its course toward summer. It is significant that in England and Germany the Church accepted the name of the pagan goddess “Easter” (Anglo-Saxon Eostra—her name has several spellings) for this new Christian holiday.

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From another website:

The rabbit also symbolizes lechery and fertility in traditional Chinese culture due to its prolific reproductive performance, always being ready to mate during any season.

In Western culture, the Rabbit symbolizes new births and prosperity; therefore, it has become one of the mascots for Easter Day along with the chocolate egg.

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Giovanni Bellini's Pieta, c. 1468-71. Brera Gallery, Milan

Giovanni Bellini’s Pieta, c. 1468-71. Brera Gallery, Milan

The truly Christian will ignore the eggs and bunnies, go to church and call it “Resurrection Sunday.”

From the website Christian Answers:

The name “Easter” has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, we prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Raphael's Transfiguration of Christ

Raphael’s Transfiguration of Christ, 1517, Vatican, Rome

The rest of us will celebrate with cute bunnies and colorful eggs.  If you read my post about Valentines Day, the same idea applies.  The pagans had a lot more fun with their holidays.

Probably one of the sweetest bunny pictures I've ever seen

Probably one of the sweetest bunny pictures I’ve ever seen

Commerical Easter wouldn't be complete with a kitten/baby chick picture

Commerical Easter wouldn’t be complete without a kitten/baby chick picture

More colorful eggs

More colorful eggs

Cute Easter card

Cute Easter card

Kittenand baby duck, also pretty cute

Kitten and duckling, also pretty cute

 

Posted in Seasons & Holidays | 1 Comment

BMW M School, one very fast weekend

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This past weekend I participated in the BMW M Performance Driving School at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, South Carolina.  Fifteen participants (drivers) made their way to Greer on Friday March 11 to be in place for the Saturday morning class time.

BMW Performance Center

The BMW Performance Center in South Carolina

We gathered in a classroom at the Performance Center and listened as our five instructors for the weekend introduced themselves.  Then Donny gave us some pointers in correct seating position, oversteer and understeer, braking, and correctly navigating a turn.  The classroom instruction was fairly brief, but detailed and to the point as we all wanted to slide behind the wheel of one of the M cars.

Donnie gives us classroom instruction in oversteer

Donnie gives us classroom instruction in oversteer

We were divided into three groups of five (blue, green and red).  The color and number you were assigned was yours for the weekend, and you always headed for your car number when called to muster.  We got to drive M3s, M4s and M5s, and we swapped between them all day long.  Each driver had their own car, with an instructor or two for each group in their own cars.  The instructors had radios to communicate with us (critique and encourage), and each car had a radio so we could listen (or not) to the pointers.  Prior to each new track run, the group would follow the instructor single file through the course at a very slow pace, stopping at each turn to identify the braking point, turning point, apex, and exit point, and tips on which gears to use.  After the stop-and-go runs through the course, we would again follow the instructor at about 30 or 40 mph through the same course.  Then we were turned loose, instructors positioned along the track with radios in hand, and a cheat sheet to show who was in each car.  Depending upon the track, at times all 5 cars in the group were out at the same time.

The M3s, M4s and M5s wait just outside the classroom

The M3s, M4s and M5s wait just outside the classroom

The skid pad

The skid pad

skid pad 2

Our group, the Blue Group, started the first morning at the skid pad.  Two cars at a time were allowed onto the track, which was constantly watered down with sprinklers.  Here we learned how to identify and correct for understeer.  We observed as the instructors demonstrated drifting around the circle.  Proficiency in this maneuver clearly gained through practice.

My M3 with the skid pad in the background

My M3 with the skid pad in the background

We transitioned to the M4s to practice on a short track at the far end, specifically working on turns and braking.  All hard braking should be done in a straight line before you reach the turning point (TP).  They had set out braking cones prior to the TP in sets of three, then two, then one.  The faster you’re moving, the sooner and harder you have to brake.  The cones are a reference.

This photo was taken from inside my M4, waiting in line to launch onto the course. In the background you can see the braking cones set up.

This photo was taken from inside my M4, waiting in line to launch onto the course. In the background you can see the braking cones set up on the left.  The green cones were the launch cones.  You could get to red line on the RPM in third gear before that first set of three braking cones in the photo.

After some practice in the M4s, we got to drive the M5s on another track, which included a slalom and chicane.  The M5 has nearly 600 horse power and massive amounts of torque (500 lb-ft).  You can easily let this car get away from you, as evidenced by the shiny new guard rail along one turn.  The M5s came equipped with air-conditioned seats, a really nice feature when you are working as hard as we were.

M5s coming into the chicane

M5s coming into the chicane

Angela + Casey M5 slalom

Instructor Steve watches Kim in the M5

Instructor Steve watches Kim in the M5

We broke for lunch, joining other drivers in the lunch room, including  the cyclists from the motorcycle course in progress the same weekend.  Lunch was followed by another classroom briefing, and then right back out to the cars.

Kim and Angela chase each other in the Rat Race competition in M4s.

Kim and Angela chase each other in the Rat Race competition in M4s.  Part of the motorcycle course is in the background.

Me and my M4, waiting for my turn at the Rat Race

Me and my M4, waiting for my turn at the Rat Race

Blue Group’s afternoon started in the M4s running the Rat Race.  It is a wet oval course, two cars opposite each other trying to catch one another.  It was 5 or 6 circuits.  This was one of our timed competitions for the first day, and it was difficult.  I ended up doing a 360 on the wet pavement, and as much fun as it was, it does hurt your times.  Although not officially in the course syllabus, we were allowed to practice a J-Turn with an instructor in the car.  I found that quite exhilarating, and will keep it in the back of my mind next time I need to do an evasive 180 degree turn from reverse, possibly  under fire.

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Casey executes a beautiful J Turn with Donny instructing

Casey executes a beautiful J-Turn with Donny instructing

We had a total of three timed competitions on Saturday;  the Rat Race, an M5 short track, and M3s on the Big Track.  For the Big Track run, we all parked our cars and took turns waiting in the pits while a few cars at a time were on the track.

The entire group waits in the pit area as each participant ran the Big Track in the M3

The entire group waits in the pit area as each participant ran the Big Track in the M3

M4

M4

After the Saturday competitions, we retreated to the BMW Performance Center common area to enjoy refreshments and appetizers, closely followed by dinner and the entertaining awards ceremony.

Refreshments at the BMW Performance Center at the end of the day on Saturday

Refreshments at the BMW Performance Center at the end of the day on Saturday

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BMW Performance Center Instructor Laura waits to honor the Rat Race winners with their trophies, stuffed rats.

Out of our Blue Group, Josh took first place in the M5 Short Track, and placed 4th in the Big Track timed lap.  I was mid-pack on the M5 short track, but woefully disappointed in my bottom third showing on the Big Track lap.  After dinner and honoring the winners for the day, we retired to the Marriott, looking forward to another full day of training and races on Sunday.

Donny teaches the friction circle, slip angles, and why you can't ask your tires for 100% braking and 100% turning at the same time.

Donny teaches the friction circle, slip angles, and why you can’t ask your tires for 100% braking and 100% turning at the same time.

It was raining as we exited the Marriott and climbed into the van taking us to the Performance Center Sunday morning.  We all wondered how this would affect our performance.  Again we started the second day with some classroom instruction, and we watched the BMW M4 GTS run a Fast Lap at the Nuerburgring Nordschleife.  (Link below)

Blue Group started Sunday with driving the M5s on the Big Track, which included Man Corner.

An M5 has passed the braking cones and reaches the TP

An M5 has passed the braking cones and reaches the TP (blue cone) into Man Corner

After burning up tires and petrol in the M5 on the Big Track, we jumped into the M4s on the shorter track, but this one had a corkscrew in it.  That was difficult.  More practice in turning and braking correctly.  Following the M4 on the corkscrew track, we again found ourselves in the M3 practicing a Figure 8 manuever on wet pavement.  This exercise was all about control.  Too much throttle too soon, and you found yourself sideways.  If your tires are straight, you should be accelerating.  A carefully executed drift in the correct place in the Figure 8 could help align the car sooner in a straight line, hence you could accelerate sooner.  It was very touchy, and you had to be very smooth.  It was quite easy to execute an unintentional 360 and get turned around on the wet pavement.

Clint instructs Kim in the art of the Figure 8 while we all wait our turns.

Clint instructs Kim in the art of the Figure 8 in the M3 while we all wait our turns.

After Figure 8 training in the M3s, we headed into lunch.  As the skies started to clear, the rain became more sporatic and we even saw a little blue sky.  After lunch we again were in the M3s practicing on the Big Track.  Every time we went out to the track, it had changed slightly.  This time it was longer, and included a straight stretch and the carousel turn on the skid pad.  There were no timed competitions, but every time you’re on the track it feels like a competition, and we all tested ourselves and saw a lot of red lines on the RPM gauge.  From the M3 we swapped into the M5 on the Big Track.  This time the track included all the parts we had previously driven, linking the far side and the Man Corner.  It is hard to describe how intense this can be.  You end up breathing heavily and exhausted at the end, both mentally and physically.  During the entire weekend we were encouraged to take breaks if needed, and there was always a pit lane to pull into if needed.  I didn’t, because I wanted to practice as much as possible in the time I was there.  It is rare for me to get track time with such a professional crew and in someone else’s car.  The instructors told us that each car goes through a set of tires in two or three days.  I believe it.

Waiting our turn for the timed Figure 8 competition

Waiting our turn in the M4s for the timed Figure 8 competition

The last maneuver for the Blue Group on Sunday was the only timed competition for Sunday.   We did two sets of 8 Figure 8’s on the clock in the M4 (a total of 16 Figure 8s).  We took the best time of the two.  No instruction on these 8s, just the instructor with the stop watch.

Steve times Kim during her competition Figure 8

Steve times Kim during her competition Figure 8

Kim navigates the Figure 8 course as the sprinklers keep the pavement wet

Kim navigates the Figure 8 course as the sprinklers keep the pavement wet

The sprinklers keep the course wet as Kim speeds away into the very short straight away on the Figure 8 course

The sprinklers keep the course wet as Kim speeds away into the very short straight away on the Figure 8 course

The timed Figure 8s was the last event of the weekend for the Blue Group.  All the cars came back to the center and we got the results of our efforts.   I was much happier with my performance today, as I came in third in the Figure 8.   First place went to Josh with a time of 1:48:65, Gary came in second with 1:51:66 and I was third with a time of 1:51:69.  (Yes, I was just 3/100 behind second place, but Josh’s 3 second lead was impressive.)  For one last thrill, we were offered the opportunity to sit as passengers on a fast lap with an instructor driving.  I took that opportunity, and as fast as I thought I was going, Donny was twice that.  It was fun, and a nice way to end the weekend.

Figure 8 winner's circle..

Figure 8 winner’s circle.  Left to right:  Gary, Josh, and myself.

Before departing, we received diplomas and a gift bag.  All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, well worth the cost.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.   It was completely engrossing and it felt good to concentrate 100% on the moment.  The instructors were professional, thorough, kind, and funny.  There was a lot of support staff and I felt like the entire weekend was professionally run and well executed.  We are all eligible now for the Advanced M School, which I am considering.

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