The Trinity Tour


By Gizmo

It's our first day and you can be sure that whenever you make any change whatsoever in your equipment, there will be glitches.  Today was no exception.

I recently finished reading a book by Bill Bryson entitled "I'm a Stranger Here Myself."  It's an enjoyable collection of anecdotes based upon his return to America after living 20 years abroad.  In one essay, "The Great Indoors", Bryson laments that too many of us live our lives indoors ... and when we're not indoors, we're in climate controlled cars, offices and shopping malls.

Bryson's essay caught my attention because he was intrigued about the same phenomenon ... how much time we spend isolated from perfectly good weather.  For example, every car I've owned in recent memory has impressive HVAC capabilities, and can keep the occupants very comfortable regardless of the outside conditions.  We've become so trusting of the 'Auto' setting that we just leave it there on 73.  Even when the outdoor temperature is the desired 73, our windows are rolled up and our automotive HVAC system is dutifully keeping the interior of the car at ... 73. 

In 1997 Whizmo and I began our annual motorcycle tours with an inaugural trip from Seattle to Lake Michigan.  I remember lots of things about that tour, especially my trepidation at traveling from Washington to Michigan outside the whole way.  I was preoccupied with the idea that we'd be traveling all those miles exposed to the elements.  I learned a lot on that tour about leaky gloves and the miracle of appropriate clothing.  But most importantly, I learned that there was nothing to fear about being exposed to the elements for a long trip.  <

On a motorcycle, you have very little control of the environment.  For example, today we started riding at about 7:30am in 50� weather with 100% humidity.  It was very foggy.  It dipped down to 48� before the fog cleared.  Eventually the temperature rose as high as 88� before we were done riding.  That's not an unusual temperature swing for a day's riding, and in fact, I'd say that today was really a pretty excellent riding day once the fog lifted.  Compare that 40 degree swing for an excellent riding day to what happens inside a car, and you begin to understand the differences in attitude between traveling in a car and riding on a motorcycle.

The parts of the environment that you do have control over on a motorcycle you take very seriously.  Your entire universe is attached to these two wheels.  For weeks before the trip, I'm fretting over taking this tube of sunscreen or that one, this pair of socks or that one.  Every decision matters because there's such a limited amount of storage space (and needless to say, computers and cameras take priority!)

Over the years, I've settled into a comfortable and reliable collection of clothing and accessories that can deliver me comfortably from the low 30's to the high 90's and from one end of the country to the other - and they have to fit in a bag about the size of a backpack.

Even though we started in the fog early this morning, we were able to make good time heading south from Seattle.  With no commute traffic to deal with, the biggest challenge was the early-morning wet roads.  I just had new tires put on the ST1300 for this trip, and I'm always a bit cautious until they're scuffed up a bit.  They seemed to be gripping the road well.  I was comfortable at 48� because I had my electric jacket and my heated handgrips.  I was even feeling like all of my careful preparations had been exactly right.  Yeah, right.

We usually ride about 100 miles between stops.  I will often stand up on the pegs to stretch my legs.  It's actually pretty easy to keep your balance and control the bike while standing, so this never feels dare-devilish.  This morning when I took my first stretch, I felt a tug and immediately knew something was not right.  The electrical umbilical cable that plugs my clothing into the bike's electrical system had come unplugged as I stood.  There wasn't much I could do about it until we stopped, and that wasn't going to be for awhile.  So I tucked the loose ends up on the seat and sat on them.   No big deal. 

>My heated grips have four settings, and perhaps losing the heat in my jacket made me a bit chillier, so I turned the grip heat from 2 to 3.  A bit later, it seemed that the grips were getting colder, not warmer, so I turned them up to 4, the highest setting.  Nothing.  The lights on the display was still working, so it couldn't be a fuse.  There just wasn't any heat.  At 48� this wasn't a crisis, just an annoyance, and potentially a problem if the temps got colder.  I came up with a theory - I put some foam rubber grips over the heated hand grips to soften the feel of the handlebars, and I'm thinking that maybe too much heat was being retained in the grip, they overheated and the element wiring failed.  If my theory is correct, I'm not likely to fix this before returning to Seattle.  So now I have an unplugged electric jacket and unheated grips.  I can't stand up to stretch my legs because I don't want to take a chance of losing the wiring.  My mood is starting to darken.  But hey, we're taking a two-week motorcycle tour in the western US.  Things could be worse.

When we're riding, Whiz usually leads.  Sometimes, he'll pull over to take a picture or make an adjustment, and I've learned over the years that it's generally OK to keep riding unless he waves me down.  He'll catch up in a few miles.  At one point this afternoon we were in the Pinchot National Forest and I was in the lead.  The trees were so dense that the GPS wasn't receiving a signal, and I missed a turn.  I rode about 10 miles into the Indian Heaven Wilderness before realizing my mistake and turning around.  Maybe it was the paved road turning into a rutted, potholed mess that finally clued me in.  But Whiz was a good sport about my mistake. 

I'm happy to report that other than my set of three screwups today, the riding was great, the bikes behaved well, and we seem to be well on the way to another great W&G adventure. 

Please be sure to check out the Maps and Photo Gallery, and of course you don't want to miss the kickoff W&G contest.

l Maps

Saturday, September 25, 2004
Seattle WA - Redmond OR
358 miles
6:45 driving time

l Gallery

No Trespassing!
Darn, if that sign wasn't there, I would have pinched that chair.
Forest Road 25 Between Randle and Carson
This road goes N/S on the east side of Mt. St. Helens. Recommended, although it will bite if you're not paying attention.
Foggy Start to the Day
Riding in thick fog, like we had this morning, is almost worse than riding in the rain.
Turning Eastbound Up the Columbia River Gorge
Today there was very little wind in the Gorge - unusual.
Traffic on WA14
Traffic was fairly heavy, although normal for a fall Saturday.
Mt. Hood in the Distance
Mt. Hood was on the horizon for nearly two hours of riding today.
A Dramatic Mirror Shot
These sorts of photos are passe, but it was a slow photo day.
Tunnels on WA14
We followed a well-ridden Harley for about ten miles. His bike was fun to listen to as it thundered through a series of tunnels.

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