Day Ten

"Grousing"

Saturday June 3, 1999

Republic WA - Seattle WA

5:03 driving time - 297 miles

by Whizmo

We're home.  And with no broken bones or motorcycles.  A very successful trip.

Today was a day of grousing over bad food and poor service.  We had a generally comfortable night at the Frontier Hotel in Republic, but I wasn't sure when I first plopped down on the mattress.  This bed had seen better days.  Well, people sleep in hammocks, don't they?

Next up for complaint was the continental breakfast which consisted of brown-tinged water which passed as coffee, albino bagels made from the most bleached and refined flour on the planet, and a jug of Sunny Delight orange drink.  At least we had pleasant company from the hotel clerk.  She had just moved back to Republic from Kamloops BC (where we had stayed a few nights earlier) to help her family run the hotel.    Although she had spent most of her youth in the states, she said she really liked Canada better, and she echoed our experiences with Canadian hospitality.  Her husband was a pre-med student and they were going to move to Ontario after the summer.  She complained that they wanted to stay in BC but that the economy was down and things were booming back east.  We heard this from other people in BC and many blamed the government in BC for restricting growth and pushing high taxes that discourage business.  It may also be that the BC economy is based on traditional hard-industry exports like wood, ores, cattle, etc. and these industries simply haven't experienced the growth of information technology industries.

Also residing at the hotel was one of the coolest cats I've seen in a long time.  Extremely calm and friendly, his name was Bootie and he was quite a looker.  We ran into a different cat on our way to dinner the previous night who was also very docile.  Looking at the ranch country around Republic, I suspect they are accomplished mousers which would make any cat happy.

On down the road we decided to stop for our traditional mid-morning large breakfast at Winthrop.  The Virginia Inn looked promising so in we go.  Now my parents used to always remark that they liked to eat breakfast out because it was one meal that was pretty hard to screw up.  Well, mom and dad, it may be pretty hard, but it sure as hell isn't impossible.  

The menu was extremely limited so we both ordered french toast and scrambled eggs.  When they brought it out, I remarked to Gizmo that it looked like a poor version of a Denny's French Slam.  After a few bites, we decided this was being way too charitable.  The scrambled eggs definitely came out of a box.  And this was from an upscale resort-oriented type of place where people might come and spend a few days.  The service was poor as well.  Two emphatic "thumbs down" to the Virginia Inn in Winthrop.

Winthrop itself looked even more contrived and tourist-trappy than the last time I was there.

And this last grousing picture is me waiting for a turn at the restrooms at the Shell station in Darrington, just west of Arlington WA.  Yes, they have put in a pair of porta-potties for restrooms.  The one I used had let loose of its moorings and I was legitimately afraid the thing might topple as I did my business.  That would be a hoot - I travel across 3,000 miles of BC on a motorcycle and end up getting hurt when a portable toilet topples with me in it.

Alright, I've got that out of my system.  Other than these annoyances, it was another wonderful day of fun motorcycling.  I took a shot of Gizmo "blind" with the camera over my shoulder.  Not a great shot, but I was surprised anything came out.  I'm getting better with shooting on the move.

The Cascades were absolutely stunning.  And, as I expected, there were many, many police out on this nice Saturday.  If you are planning on doing the Cascade Loop on a nice summer weekend, I'd suggest you stick pretty close to the posted limits as they are watching.

Gizmo and I parted ways N of Seattle in our traditional wave.  I've spent ten days with the guy and - sniff, sniff - miss him already.  Well, not really, but he is a super traveling companion and I am lucky to have him as a friend.

If you haven't already, there is still time to enter the last contest.  And by the way, if your browser is having trouble with the above hyperlink, just send mail to markjenn@halcyon.com or griker@bayvista.com  We'll report the results sometime in the next couple of days, same bat-station.

Till the next trip...

- Whizmo


Credits

by Gizmo

Janis & Gizmo

Each time that we set out on a new Open Road Adventure, I am reminded of how very fortunate we are to have spouses and families that put up with this middle-aged indulgence.  Being able to take these trips recharges my batteries and makes me realize how very fortunate I am.  My lovely wife Janis has seen me through thick and thin, and now she's sending me through college (I'm trying to get it right this time).  I love her dearly.  [Whizmo Note:  Susan, I promise I won't schedule any more back-to-back motorcycle trips.  Can I come in off the couch in a couple of weeks?]

Virtual Vacationeers:  Thanks to everyone who sent us mail and entered our contests - having mail waiting for us each day, reacting to the previous postings is very gratifying.  We've learned that the more we promise to give away, the better the response.  You guys are great.  When we first started chronicling these adventures in 1997, we had about 20 people on the mailing list.  It has now grown to nearly 200.   Every day, we get sage advice and supportive encouragement from you, which imparts a noble sense of purpose to our self-assigned mission.  Sometimes, you offer philosophical nuggets that help us keep going, for example this from RJ Mical:

Well, as a drunken Dutch friend of mine once said...

    erg druk zijn zou ook een mogelijkheid kunnen zijn.
    zo zal iedereen zijn reden wel hebben.
    misschien hebben we inderdaad eerst allemaal vakantie nodig.

When I asked another friend the translation, he answered, "Where the hell did you get this nonsense?  A straight translation would be:"

    To be very busy could be a possibility
    Well, everybody will have his own reason
    Maybe we all first need a holiday.

Hmmm.  

Log Counters:  Jim Shunk, Dave Gross, Elizabeth Walter, Crystal Drumm, Tom Overbey, Tom Boyle, Jamie Engen, Libby Everest, Katherine Lahr, David Cornfield, Rob Shurtleff, Joe Eiffert, Mark White, Stewart Bonn, Bing Gordon, Karen Anderson, Steve Wadsworth, Tim Harris, Bob Seidensticker, Rodd Wagner, Robin Gold, Stephen Ellis, Chuck Israels, Josh Brown, and RJ Mical.  And special thanks to Kay Murphy, and Korey Riker, who were convinced it was a trick question.

Floppy Disk Captioners: Craig & Karen Anderson, Chuck Israels, Joe Eiffert, Bob Seidensticker, Rob Shurtleff, Anthony McCarthy posing as Jaime Welker.  And special thanks to Mike Kanarek, who was convinced it was a trick question.

Samuel L. Jackson Jeopardy Contestants:  Jamie Engen, Bob Seidensticker, Mike Kanarek, Anthony McCarthy posing as Jaime Welker, Libby Everest, Chuck Israels, and Dan Newell.  Surprisingly, no one thought it was a trick question.

Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Holidays and the RATs of Canada:  It was really nice of Mike Ciebien of RMMH to put up with us, especially since we didn't rent any bikes from him, didn't ride much with his group, and yet managed to put as many of our expenses on his account as humanly possible.  He runs a very nice tour company with very pleasant and capable guides.  Robert Smith and Aaron Clements were unflappable, and Libby Everest back in the office seems to keep things running smoothly while Mike's out playing, er uhm, working on the road.  Hey Mike, we never signed those waivers, eh?


Technical Notes

by Gizmo

There have been some questions about the technology that we're using to do the updates, how we shoot pictures, and how we generate the maps.   We decided that we would each carry a laptop on this trip.  At the time, it seemed like overkill, but in hindsight, it was the right decision, as we could each be working in parallel as we created the day's reports.  The pattern that emerged was that we would trade places each day.  One of us was the reporter, responsible for the main content and pictures.  The other person would be editor, reviewing the day's journal before it was posted to the web site.  We each take pictures every day, but the reporter du jour gets to decide which shots to use.

Inevitably, we need to move files between our computers.  At first, we thought we would use the compact flash cards in our cameras to do this, but it turned to be much easier to use the infrared link on our laptops.  We just set the machines side by side and send the files from one machine to the other.  Pretty quick, and very painless.

For digital cameras, we're using Canons.  I have an A5, and Mark has an A50.  The only significant difference is the resolution, but since we're cropping and shrinking the images before publishing them, that really doesn't matter.  I like the Canon cameras because they can be operated with one hand, which makes it easy to snap shots while riding.  I leave the LCD viewfinder off, which typically gives me at least two full days of shooting on a single battery recharge.  When we're ready to move the pictures from the camera to the computer, we just pop out the compact flash card and install it in the laptop, and the pictures are ready for editing.  Mark's using PhotoShop, and I'm using Image Composer.  The typical sequence is to crop the image, reduce it, then compress it by saving it as a JPEG image.

Whizmo Note:  This was the first motorcycle tour where I relied completely on a digital camera; on previous tours, I've used a high-quality Canon 35mm SLR shooting slide film.  Greg seems pretty content with the quality of the pictures, but I am not; virtually every scenery shot we took was disappointing.  While it is true that you don't need high-resolution for a heavily-compressed, 300 x 200 JPEG on a web page, you do need reasonably good colors and dynamic range and the cameras we are using just don't deliver.  For example, the picture to the right was taken with a conventional 35mm film camera using slide film and then scanned.  The quality is much, much better, even in these tiny, heavily-compressed images.  (I'd also like to provide readers with the option of clicking on a photo and viewing a bigger, less-compressed version if they have a fast connection.  In this case, the higher resolution would pay off.)   And while I love digital for the immediacy and the "free film," I feel a little empty-handed returning for a major trip with photos that look like they were shot with a disposable camera and viewable only on a computer screen.  (You can, of course, print the pictures with a good color printer, but this is extremely time consuming.  And the paper and ink cost can easily exceed the cost of film..)  Next trip, I'll either find a better digital camera solution or I'll return to shooting conventional film in addition to digital.

Garmin GPS

The maps are generated by using Delorme's AAA Map 'n Go, along with my Garmin GPS III+.  The GPS receiver is mounted on my bike between the handlebars.  In addition to showing my current location, it also keeps track of the route taken.  At the end of the day, I download the track from the GPS, then superimpose it on Map 'n Go.  Using another program called Waypoint+, I can combine the individual tracks into a master map, which becomes the overview of the entire trip.  The GPS unit draws power from the motorcycle when it's mounted, so it's on all the time.  It snaps out of the mounting easily so I can bring it into restaurants for route planning during breaks.

If you're interested in doing something similar with real-time journalism, here are some of the key elements that I keep in mind each day.

1)  Use photographs to take notes.  Snapping a picture of a scene or an encounter makes it much easier to remember what happened during the day.  Often, I will take pictures that I don't intend to use, just to help me remember the name of a town or a restaurant later.   Mark also uses a journal to make notes, but I just rely on the pictures.

2) Shoot more than you need.  You might as well fill up the camera every day.  I offload my images onto the laptop at the end of every day so I can start with fresh with an empty camera.  Typically, about 10-15% of what's shot goes into the trip reports.

3) Use a rugged laptop.  They're traveling on the bikes in padded bags, but they still go through some serious temperature and vibration stress.  Mark had some problems with his Hitachi laptop losing its CMOS settings (solved by taking the battery out when traveling), but I've used my Sony Vaio on two trips now without any problems.


Bikes

by Whizmo

And a last word about our bikes.  We completed this trip without a single mechanical issue whatsoever.  (We did have the "bent key incident," but this was basically our fault and we were able to make the straightened key work with a little persuasion.)  Fritz - the R1100S - did consume about 1.4 quarts of oil during the trip, but this works out to be about 2,000 miles per quart and the consumption seems to be declining at the motor gets more break-in.  And there were several stretches where I kept Fritz up near redline RPM for long, long periods of time.

We loaded these bikes up with tons of gear, rode them hard, and put them away wet.  I would ride these bikes anywhere.  I'd just need to bring lots of money for tires.

Nice job BMW.