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Old 10-09-2012, 11:18 AM   #316
Feyala OP
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Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Wandering...
Oddometer: 358
Wrenching (Part 2)

I'd been in contact with an inmate, Ed, who offered to help me with some of my issues! I gave him the Scorpion exhaust as a gift. We got a lot done!

He taught me how to change brake fluid, which I admit seemed far more complicated than it actually was. I never knew it was supposed to be clear! The stuff coming out of the bike was nasty.

Ed noticed I had installed the chain guide incorrectly (I had the chain running along the outside instead of through the guide, haha!), and we fought valiantly against the fact that my screw-type chain wanted to rub against the guide. We inserted and removed various washers until it seemed to fit correctly. I forgot to loctite the bolts though, and a few hundred miles later found the guide dragging on the chain, one of the bolts and half of the washers lost to the road. This time I'm going to try nylock nuts and keep a better eye on it.

We took a look at the electrical wiring to try to find what might be causing the stumbling in the rain. cleaned up a couple of connections, but didn't notice anything terribly off. Damn. We removed the kickstand safety switch, just in case.

We replaced the front wheel bearings.

I helped.

I've done wheel bearings by myself before, but it's always nerve-wracking, I worry about screwing up the new bearing or getting something stuck. As it turns out, we got the old bearing stuck in the hole while trying to drive the new one in, my worst nightmare. We eventually managed to tap it free after quite a bit of effort. This kind of thing is good for me, it shows me that just because something fucks up, it doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I also discovered that one of my sockets is the right diameter to use instead next time.

While putting one of the nuts back on the front axle retainer, it snapped the stud in half (likely weakened from previous overtorquing) so we removed the stud and replaced it, which was an interesting process. This was another thing that I would have become upset over if it'd happened to me by myself, but which was really Not A Big Deal.

Ed and his wife Yuriko invited me to stay for dinner. We had some delicious yaki soba and sake! They had fish tacos with it, and gave me some avocado and an assortment of other bits to put in my taco - not what I would usually eat, but it was delicious!

Thanks for all your help Ed! I had a great time and learned a lot!

I needed to replace my steering head bearings, they were feeling very notchy. I enjoy doing occasional slow-speed weaves, and I had noticed that this was becoming increasingly difficult. While researching the best way to swap out the bearings, I ran across Dave/"Smiling Jack""s post on the DR650 thread - he'd used liquid nitrogen and a 20 ton press to do his, so I asked if he'd be willing to help me do the same. We made plans and I headed south, dodging football game-day traffic that was clogging up the I-5.

I got a brief tour of the materials research lab he works in, which was fascinating!

Afterwards, we got right down to business and started stripping down the bike. After supporting the bike on blocks and removing the front wheel and fairings, the forks came off, and we suspended the handlebar with a ladder. This helped us avoid having to disconnect/reconnect wires and worry about routing.

We didn't have the right tool to remove the steering head nut, so Dave welded one up. Before I knew it, the triple tree was off the bike!

The old bearings did not look too bad, but they were a bit dry, and there was definitely some wear on the races. With the tree removed, we got out the liquid nitrogen - they have it piped into the building from a large tank outside!

I had way too much fun dunking the tree into the boiling, frosty can. I feel let down that I never got to play with this stuff in school. Liquid nitrogen is awesome! I was very tempted to bring ice cream ingredients, but I thought that might not be appropriate.

Thoroughly chilled, it was short work to remove the old bearings. Much better than some of the recommendations I'd seen - to cut through the bearing with a dremel, hit it with a blowtorch, or chisel it out. Yikes!

I applied a healthy coating of waterproof grease to the new bearings and we pressed them on with a 20 ton press.

After thawing out the tree, we reassembled the front of the bike. My left turn signal kept cutting out, worse than before. Hmm. Later, after I got back to Portland, I would take the signal apart and find the contacts were very corroded. I cleaned them up as best I could and a dollop of dielectric grease later, my problem was solved!

I brought the bash plate pieces with me because Dave had a welder and had offered his help. He welded the tabs on and we rounded off some of the edges so that it wouldn't slice into the case in an accident. There was a lot of trial and error, loosely tacking the tabs on, checking the fit, fixing it if it wasn't correct, but eventually it all came together into a complete plate! Awesome! This job ended up taking even longer than the bearings, putting the kibosh on some loose plans we had for a celebratory ride afterwards.

Dave, his coworker, (who I sadly don't remember the name of), and I went out for pizza. Thanks so much guys! This is the second time Dave has saved my butt! I don't know what I would have done without your help!

Knowing that the raw steel would turn into a fine red powder after a few months of being exposed to the weather, I sanded the crap out of it and put the can of truckbed liner I'd purchased to good use:

All finished! All I need to do is run some rubber along the metal to metal contact areas so it rattles a bit less, and it's good to go! I ran with the raw plate for a couple days, and I found an unexpected benefit - troublesome street lights change a lot more easily for me now! Nice!
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:52 PM   #317
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Look's like the bike is really coming along. Do you have a "Glamour" shot of it with the new paintjob and Panniers installed? I'd love to see the "finished" product.

Also curious if there is any seal on those mermite cans? In the picture they don't look especially weatherproof, but it was hard to see for sure.

Keep up the great work!

-= Scott
2014 KTM 690R, 2009 KLR650, 2004 KTM 450 EXC, 2000 R1150GS

My MotovLog (Youtube Videos):

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Old 10-09-2012, 01:14 PM   #318
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Me thinks you COULD do an engine job even though like you say, just looking at it would give me the willies!

NomadGal screwed with this post 10-09-2012 at 05:56 PM
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:21 PM   #319
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Odds and Ends

I couldn't find a better place to wedge these tidbits in, so they're getting a tiny post all their own!

I went for a walk with Oz in this huge forested park a few miles away. We followed the unexpected sounds of music and stumbled across a "jazz in the park" event, staying to listen for a while. I really enjoyed the live music, I don't get the opportunity to listen to it very often.

We explored Cathederal Park. The bridge was cool!

I went to an ADV meet (one of many) on August 2nd, and got to see Radioman after he got back from India. Here he is explaining the different passes he explored on his trip, which are displayed on his shirt.

He gave us all kuluu hats! Thanks!

I also got a chance to say hi to Nixels again as he passed through at one of the meets. It was good to get to know you, Portland ADVRiders! I'll probably see you again someday (maybe at a future Hells Canyon rally!)

I really needed to replace my crappy Sterno stove, so I made a penny stove following these directions out of Peace Tea containers. Sadly, I couldn't find any of the highly-prized sturdy Heineken keg cans at the beer stores in my area.

I assembled my supplies:

Measured and marked. Thanks, Lord of the Rings book!

Cut, assembled, drilled holes:


Added fuel, and PRESTO!

I was FLOORED at how well this thing works, for being tiny and made out of trash. It boiled a pan of water fairly quickly. I can finally eat rice again, yay! I need to do some tweaking, it tends to not like the simmer ring I made, but it took me less than a half hour from start to finish. Take THAT, overpriced alcohol stoves! I can get the yellow Heet it burns from just about anywhere too, for less than $2.

Two of our roommates moved out, and an awesome guy named DJ moved in. He's got this massive Alex Grey tattoo on his arm, which is absolutely stunning, the artist he chose does some great work. It's based on this piece, and it's almost complete, after over a year of work on it.

Finally, an obligatory cat picture. This is Kira:

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Old 10-09-2012, 01:37 PM   #320
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Originally Posted by ohiomatt View Post
The box's look great! We use to have one of those that we used as a cooler. Who would have ever thought they would make such awesome panniers.
Thanks! Yeah, the guy I bought them from was using them as coolers in his jeep. It's a real shame that there's so many people who know about this idea now, it's getting nigh-impossible to find the things! I've seen them on ebay for $100+, haha!

Originally Posted by dfhepner View Post
It took me a while to get to this point in the story. Very well done. I like the new side boxes. I will be following along as you post me.
Welcome aboard!

Originally Posted by nashopolis View Post
I'm enjoying your thread-
just a quick tip - Im pretty sure the unpainted aluminum inside your new panniers will leave marks on whatever goes inside - might want to bag up anything you want to keep pretty.
Yeah, I've heard that, but I tend to keep my stuff segmented with plastic grocery bags anyways, otherwise I'd never be able to find anything. Thanks for the tip though!

Originally Posted by Scott_PDX View Post

Look's like the bike is really coming along. Do you have a "Glamour" shot of it with the new paintjob and Panniers installed? I'd love to see the "finished" product.

Also curious if there is any seal on those mermite cans? In the picture they don't look especially weatherproof, but it was hard to see for sure.

Keep up the great work!

-= Scott
Thanks! I'll be posting a pic of the bike fully loaded with the next entry. :)

The mermite cans have the original fiberglass "lip" around the edge and a rubber gasket, the lid is held down under some pressure with a pair of latches on the side opposite the hinges. I'll take some better photos eventually but they are very similar to this guy's setup:

This original seal worked well to keep the elements out when used by the military, so that's why I've left it in place.

I applied some silicone caulk inside the box, around all of the seams and everything that penetrates the aluminum, all bolts, screws, etc. Only time will tell if it's truly waterproof though! I added some rubber washers around the knobs where they screw into the rack, but they are already getting chewed up, and that is likely the first place water will get in.

The boxes are sturdy enough that I can sit on them without too much worry. I don't think I'd use them to prop up the bike, though.

I'd like to add something similar to the bungee cords, maybe a net, for small items to be held in the lid.

Originally Posted by NomadGal View Post
Me thinks you COULD do an engine job even though like you say, use looking at it would give me the willies!
Thanks for the vote of confidence, but there's so many tiny fiddly bits, OMG, keeping them all straight seems like a nightmare. And what if one got lost! Or I installed something incorrectly! *spazzes out*

I guess one way or another I'll find out eventually... Entropy gets the better of us all in the end...
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:09 PM   #321
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Rainfurrest and Seattle (Sept 28th 30th)

So, back at the beginning of this Ride Report, somebody mentioned that this was going to be "one of the weird ones", and this is the point where I prove that person right. If it hasn't been sufficiently proven already.


What the hell are furries? The simplest explanation is that it's a subculture about animals with human attributes (classic examples are just about every animated children's character ever made, all the way to Fritz the Cat and beyond). In the loosest sense, anything from a chick wearing cat ears to a guy who's seen The Lion King over a thousand times fits under this umbrella.

A longer explanation would go into the history of the subculture, from when it branched off from its scifi roots back in the 70s and 80s and its members wrote each other actual paper letters to express their fondness for Omaha the Cat Dancer. Niche magazines started publishing compilations of furry content - stories, comics, art. With the advent of the internet, the conversation moved to BBSes and forums, eventually leading to actual real-life gatherings. Small at first, they've since grown in number and size. Today, the largest yearly convention (Anthrocon, in Pittsburgh), has over 5,000 attendees. There are conventions all over the world.

Modern-day furries as a whole seem to be an interesting stew consisting of creativity, artistry, costuming, introversion, and escapism. Everybody is interested in the subculture for different reasons. Some are artists, some like to collect art. Some make costumes for a living. Some like wearing the costumes (fursuits), to get attention from others, or to allow themselves to become someone different for a time. Almost all furries have a personal character that they identify with, and a decent amount of money changes hands for people to get unique art of their character. Here's mine (Art by oCe):

For the most part, the furries I've met are reasonably well-adjusted individuals, and I've become close friends with a few. Others I try to avoid like a contagious disease - usually the ones who are socially inept, clingy, obsessive, have poor hygeine, or don't understand boundaries. Every subculture (especially nerds, if you've ever been around Trekkies or cosplayers you know what I'm talking about) has a few unpleasant members, and I'm happy that they are a minority.

As far as my interest in this subculture goes, I've been loosely affiliated with these weirdos for over a decade, and I'm interested in the creative aspects far more than the social ones. I do art myself, mostly small sculptures, but I'm at least passable at drawing. I used to do commissions - work-for-hire, but I don't have the time anymore. I do enjoy meeting other artists who I admire and appreciating their work in person.

So, when the timing came together in such a way that my luggage and everything was done just in time for a convention called Rainfurrest, in Seattle, I decided to give it a go. If nothing else, this would be a good opportunity to test my setup on the open road. I managed to arrange some floor space at the Hilton, $60 for the entire weekend, and I set out on my journey.

I packed more than I needed for a hotel stay. If I'm going to bother going to Washington, I'm damn well going to explore while I'm there! I'd set my sights on the Olympic Peninsula for afterwards, and packed all of the necessary camping gear.

I hopped on the I-5. Wow, the bike handles A LOT differently with the luggage! In some ways better, in some ways worse. I am more of a "sail" in strong winds, but it feels a lot more stable, especially in corners. With the weight of the luggage, I am approaching the range that the springs were designed for. I suspect this might be why it handles better. Occasionally I would change lanes and experience a strange "jiggling". I'm not sure if the steering is a bit overly-sensitive or if the "tail is wagging the dog".

The trip was uneventful. I crawled through Portland traffic and discovered that my stopping distance had increased considerably with the extra inertia. Eventually I reached Seattle, and after getting turned around a few times, managed to find the hotel around 8 pm. Convention registration was already closed, so I just wandered around aimlessly and got to know some people.

I was introduced to a gentleman who was doing watercolor and was surprised at how compact his setup was. It made me consider that maybe I don't have to give up art on the road...

Did I mention there were a bunch of people dressed like this?

I went to sleep fairly early, and got up early the next morning. Today the fun would begin.

I helped myself to several cups of free coffee at the Breakfast and Cartoons panel. Eventually I got my registration sorted out, and wandered around the dealer's den, asking about art techniques and saying hi to a few friends. One artist I met was using what I assumed was watercolor, but it was gouache! She was a huge fan, mentioning that you can do both watercolor-like thin washes and more opaque flat colors as well. Interesting!

Then came the high point. The fursuit parade. The costumes came out in force. I wished I had some acid.

From the cute:

To the bizzare (It's Diglett from Pokemon):

To the downright terrifying:

They all gathered outside.

It was interesting to see the vast difference in style, construction technique, and species. Some people preferred a more "sports mascot" style toony character:

While some went for realism:

Or horror:

It takes dedication to wear these costumes. A lot of them are made by the people wearing them, the others are purchased from artists who spend weeks to make them. A good costume from a well-known craftsman can set you back $2-3k, and most furries are fairly broke. They're difficult to wear - swelteringly hot with very poor ventilation and visibility.

I spent a lot of time with a new friend, one of my roommates. Her name is Max, and this was her first convention. The costume she purchased was not the best, some of her seams ripped, and parts were very poorly constructed, but she had a blast wearing it. She spent a lot of time beatboxing for other people and running around like a maniac. She's the blue and pink thing in this picture:

I sat through the variety show which was fairly disappointing. Mediocre performances, some downright terrible.

Later, I found some non-furries who had stumbled across this event and were extremely interested in what the hell it was all about.

I showed them around, and eventually they invited me to sit down with them at the bar and have a chat. They were writers from Hawaii. I explained the furry thing to the best of my ability, and they asked me a LOT of questions, but seemed to really think it was great. They said that it was a lighthearted contrast to the high school reunion they'd just been to. I offered them my convention booklet as a memento.

I was happy that they left before the EMTs showed up. According to the rumor mill, some guy was supposedly hopped up on "the drugs" and was streaking in the pool area, possibly getting into a fight with somebody. It just isn't a furry convention unless the paramedics are called at least twice.

I drank an overly-expensive cocktail at the bar, and hit up the dance for a while. A photo of furries doing the YMCA was required.

I spun poi, danced around, and generally had a good time.

On Sunday there was poor communication and we weren't sure if we were leaving or not, so I packed up the bike, said goodbye to people, and left mid-afternoon. Overall I had a decent time - not as great as other conventions, but it was good to get out of the house. I'm not in a rush to go back.

Since I painted my bike, I needed a new annual pass decal to put on it. The internet informed me that there was a USFS ranger desk inside the REI flagship store, which I found bizzare. After picking through the one-way roads and eventually finding the place, I discovered that it had a small forest growing around it. Neat! I got my replacement decal and headed northward.

In search of the infamous "Fremont Troll", I found my way up to the Fremont district. I walked through the remnants of the Sunday market, and passed this:

It just seems like they are trying too hard to be "unique"...

I found the troll! It was huge!

So of course I climbed all over it!

I ate dinner at an awesome little vegan/gluten free cafe. I know somebody's going to laugh, but they had some of the best potato soup I'd ever had, vegan/gluten free or not, and the roll that came with it was delicious. Everything was extremely flavorful, and the sea salt and spices in the roll made it stand on its own.

I made my way back to my bike, passing this dino-topiary on the way.

As the sun set I left Seattle, bound for the Olympic Peninsula. Perhaps I was just really tired, but this sign made me laugh:

I turned off the 101 to a side road which eventually ended in gravel. After going south toward Staircase and being assaulted with no camping signs, I went the other direction. The official campgrounds were all closed for the winter already (not that I'd want to pay their fees anyways), so I eventually found a little clearing off to the side of the road. I set up my tent near the remnants of a fire pit and a nasty old recliner and passed out.

The bike handled surprisingly well on the gravel, much better than it ever did unloaded, I didn't even have to air down my tires to avoid feeling like I was rollerskating on marbles. Even the washboarded sections didn't seem to phase it as much; it bounced around a lot less. Very interesting.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:18 PM   #322
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Tank colour

Fey, your bike's paint job looks terrific! Fantastic job! Unfortunately, the tank is now a very big eyesore. You really need to do something with it to make it match. Since you can't really paint plastic tanks, why don't you try making a vinyl tank cover for your tank out of heavy duty vinyl colour matched to the plastics? That would look great!
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:24 PM   #323
Feyala OP
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Originally Posted by Kernel View Post
Fey, your bike's paint job looks terrific! Fantastic job! Unfortunately, the tank is now a very big eyesore. You really need to do something with it to make it match. Since you can't really paint plastic tanks, why don't you try making a vinyl tank cover for your tank out of heavy duty vinyl colour matched to the plastics? That would look great!
Thanks, and agreed. The tank looks terrible. Rather than vinyl, I was actually considering finding some fabric and trying my hand at sewing a cover for it, with a slot so I could still see the gas level. If I did it this way, it would more easily hide the seams, and I could sew patches or designs on it to keep it funky. I'm still debating. I'm sure a solution will come up on the road. :)
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:24 PM   #324
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That's certainly strange. Made me think of the furry robot from yesteryear: the furby

Bikes looking good. Keep it coming!

Endeavor to suck less--Gaspipe
I would rather be riding an imperfect bike than waiting around for perfection. --JDowns
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:40 PM   #325
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
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Hey Feyala,

You've been a busy gal!

Lots of riding.
Lots of wrenching.
Lots of modifying.
Lots of fabricating.
Lots of writing.
Lots of painting.
Lots of adventuring!

Love the paint job! That really looks great.

Thank you so much for taking us along.

Ride safe, Rob
Formerly known as: Routt County Rob
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:50 PM   #326
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Olympic Peninsula Mt Walker (Oct 1st)

The next morning, I was in no hurry to get on the road, and I let the world warm up a bit before packing up my supplies.

I discovered that I could attach my solar panel to the top of one of the boxes and charge as I ride!

Need to find a better attachment system though. I tied it down with paracord, which made it impossible to easily open the box.

I headed north on Forest Road 24.

Eventually I hit pavement again and continued along the 101. It was a clear, beautiful day. The sun felt comforting as it warmed my back.

I decided to check out the overlook at Mt Walker, which was a nicely graded gravel road all the way to the top. Great views of Puget Sound!

I chatted with some other motorcyclists at the north overlook, all of which commented that I'm "loaded for bear" when it comes to luggage. I explained that this was a test run for a longer trip.

Port Townsend was my next destination, to buy dinner supplies and to give my electronics a brief charge. As I left, the wind really started picking up.

I fought the wind west toward Port Angeles. It was already getting dark, and I had no clue where I was going to stay that evening. After consulting a map, I aimed for the strip of national forest west of Lake Crescent. At the lake, I tried to take some night-time photos. The full moon provided a lot of light, but I am once again foiled by the small sensor on my droid.

Eventually, I took a random paved forest service road, and sometime later I found a gravel turn off. Tired and cold, I started down a path, going over roots and around rocks, only to realize that cars probably couldn't fit through here and it wasn't really a road at all. I was rolling around the forest, it was simply widely-spaced trees. I managed to turn around and get out of the woods without knocking over the fully-loaded bike. Success!

I ventured down another nearby road which dumped me in a wide clearing, with a bonfire ring absolutely covered with trash. It wasn't the best spot, but it would do. I made camp and ate some sandwiches.

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Old 10-09-2012, 06:55 PM   #327
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Awwww, I lived in Port Townsend a short while, it was a lovely town with great people!
Hope you stopped at the Co-op there
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:05 PM   #328
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I have been enjoying your report; you write very well!

You remind me of my friend in Oakland. She also has a DR650 as her primary transport, is a vegetarian, and is also a fearless rider. She rode her bike from Ohio to California last year and did a write-up for ADVrider.

Wanted to mention that a lot of DR people remove the upper chain rollers. They are not really needed, and the mounting boss on the frame can actually break out of the frame, leaving a dime sized hole. YMMV...

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Old 10-09-2012, 07:10 PM   #329
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Olympic Peninsula - Rialto Beach (Oct 2nd)

I decided to use my new stove to heat up some soup for breakfast.

I was in awe of how efficient the stove was! Even with the simmer ring, it heated the soup quickly - but not so quickly it burned. Some border control people drove by and asked me questions, which I thought was a bit odd. Eventually I warmed up and aimed myself toward Rialto beach.

The road out there was a blast. Cheery little two-lane road, winding past farms and forest.

Eventually I came to the ocean.

Rialto beach was nice. Countless tree bones littered the shore.

I sat for a bit to watch the waves crash into the beach.

Maybe I've never been at a beach nearing high tide before, but this jiggling sea foam was everywhere. It was a bit creepy.

I found a dead sea lion. Judging by the stench, it had been out there a while, but I was morbidly fascinated by it.

I wished I could explore more, but trudging through sand while wearing full motorcycle gear was tiring. I headed back to the bike, and back to the 101.

At Forks, I'd kept seeing signs referencing "Twilight tours". I stopped at a grocery store for supplies and was visually assaulted by this display:

When I asked about it, I discovered that tourism for the town of Forks is the one good thing that Twilight has accomplished - some 70,000 fans have signed the Twilight guest book. From this article:

"Visitors to this rainy town, whose main industries are logging and two correctional facilities, have more than tripled for the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to the local Chamber of Commerce. "

Fascinating. I asked a couple of locals what they thought about the craze, and they admitted that it was a bit ridiculous. One woman said that she was laughing "in a good way", because there are a lot of people who have jobs now who otherwise wouldn't. Fair enough! I guess it takes all kinds...

I thought for once that I'd call it a day before I ended up riding on gravel in the dark again. I spied a primitive campsite on the map (these are free in this area!) and took Oil City Road to go find it. I ended up having so much fun on the gravel that I completely missed the campground. Oops.

I stood up and was going quite fast (for me), 30+mph, even through some corners and across some half-buried rock cobblestones. I feel like I'm getting more confident!

The road slouched past a set of buildings that I would hesitate to even call a town, let alone a "city". The roadway was absolutely littered with cow poop. It headed into some woods and then came to an abrupt end. I turned around and went back - if I had more time, I might have explored further, as there was a hiking trail, but I wanted to set up camp before it got dark.

I was sad when the gravel ended and I was at the campground.

Puttering around, I took a wrong turn, careening through some fairly large dips and ending up in an area scattered with rocks. Once I was turned around, I managed to escape my predicament by standing on the pegs and just gunning it over the dips. I was surprised when this actually worked.

Knowing that it was going to be chilly, I set up my hammock and spent a good hour trying to figure out how to turn my tent rain fly into something that would insulate the hammock. I enjoy not having hard, rocky ground underneath me, but the hammock has bug netting and no real rain fly. I could get one, but I hesitate to buy more crap. Eventually I jury rigged something together, ate some rolls, and went to sleep.

It was startlingly cold, even with my extra layers and all the insulation I could gather. Definitely time to head south.
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:46 AM   #330
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Olympic Peninsula - Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, and Back Again (Oct 3rd and 4t

The next morning, I played with a caterpillar as I made breakfast.

My tea water boiled in less than 5 minutes, and I still had fuel left to heat up my soup. Excellent!

I packed up and headed for the Hoh Rain Forest. This was another fun, twisty road, darting between light and shadow. As the road approached the National Park, the trees were clumped so thickly, gobbling up every ray of sunshine, that some stretches were almost like driving at dusk.

Along the way, I stopped in front of a big sitka spruce tree, and wound up chatting with some other visitors. We commiserated about how awesome the forest is and how unfortunate it is that old growth forests like this only exist in small patches these days. They recommended I take a trail called the Hall of Mosses.

When they said it was a big spruce, they were not joking. The sign informed me that this tree was over 12.5 feet in diameter, and over 500 years old.

I walked around a bit to stretch my legs. Everywhere I looked there was something new to see.

I found my way to the visitor's center. Deciding that I wanted to do some real hiking today, I stripped off my riding gear. I cable locked my jacket and pants to the bike, managing to stuff my boots into one of the cans (I told you they were huge!), and changed into my toe shoes. I packed my backpack with some water and snacks and headed out.

The visitor's center was closed, which was a bit disappointing. I wanted to learn more about the forest! There were a lot of interpretive signs along the paths though, which definitely helped.

I crossed a small footbridge and was entranced by these verdant aquatic plants, swaying with the stream's current. There were so many different kinds! Tiny fish darted here and there.

I climbed a hill, and began my journey on the Hall of Mosses.

This forest was AWESOME! A+ would wander again!

I came for the mosses, and I was not disappointed.

Ferns grew on moss grew on trees, in layer after layer of rich greenery. Every available space was a niche, and in a forest this old, every available niche was filled.

I ran into the couple from earlier and we got to talking more. It's rare that I meet people who are on the same wavelength as I am, and we seemed to be going the same direction, so I decided to tag along. They introduced themselves as John and Linda, and we had a lot of fun pointing out the various parts of the forest around us that we found the most striking.

We walked through a maple grove, absolutely covered in moss, and they remarked how dry the forest was. When they'd last come here, the moss was dripping with moisture after a rain, giving it an even more alien appearance.

Hidey holes were common in the old trees, a result of how the forest was formed. I kept thinking how many fantastic spaces for animals to hide there were, so different from the younger forests I am used to.

We came across the twisted stump of a tree and I asked them to take my picture with it, for scale.

I learned a lot about the old growth forest. For example, when one of these gigantic, 300-foot trees dies and falls over, it creates an environment for other trees to grow in. We saw a number of these "nurse logs", still decomposing after a hundred years, with many massive adult trees rocketing skyward from its trunk. It was extremely humbling to be around trees that were this huge, this ancient. As tall as a 30-story skyscraper, as old as the Renaissance. This forest had never been logged, and it was amazing - and a bit depressing - to realize that most of the northwest looked like this at some point before we put a pricetag on it.

We took the Hoh River Trail next.

... and encountered an elk! We only noticed at first because the folks ahead of us on the trail had stopped in the middle of the path, and everyone was staring ahead, speaking in hushed whispers.

There had been signs warning everybody to stay away from elk, as this was their season for rut and they can be particularly aggressive, so we kept our distance.

I crept forward another ten feet or so, still a good 20-30 feet from the elk, to try to get a better photo. Apparently the elk didn't get the memo to keep his distance, and decided that he wanted to come down the path towards us. I stayed very still. After weighing my options, I figured that this was probably the best course of action, as moving to get off the path might spook him. He had working senses, he obviously knew I was there, and he seemed to be familiar with people. I kept quietly snapping photos. I heard concerned murmurs from John and Linda.

He ambled toward me, grazing here and there.

Eventually he passed, maybe two or three feet away from me. The group I was with had taken refuge a good ten feet off the path, giving the elk a lot of space.

I wasn't afraid. As much as people say that wild animals are unpredictable, I think that they do operate under their own logic, just one that we can't always comprehend. We don't think like they do. I knew that it was a dangerous situation, and the elk could have easily killed me, I just didn't think he had a reason to. This close encounter was magical, and it really made my day. A stranger approached me after the elk had left and told me that I must have nerves of steel.

We continued along the path and eventually found a downed tree, the rootball of which must have easily been 20 feet across. The dead trunk spanned the river. We saw a king salmon that had died, caught up in the branches and easily over two feet long. John mentioned that they die after they go upstream to spawn.

We headed back to the parking lot and went our separate ways.

Thanks John and Linda! I won't soon forget that experience!

I had considered staying at a nearby campground, but decided to venture further in search of gas. In racing to beat the sunset I blew past the sign for Ruby Beach, only to think "This seems something I will regret later. Surely it won't matter if I spend a little bit checking out the beach..." I turned around. I've come to listen to that little voice.

It was worth it.

I poked around the rocks, as it was getting to be low tide, and saw an anemone or two, but I think I have been spoiled by better tide pools. I really enjoyed watching the sunset over the ocean though.

By the time I found gas, I was far away from where I'd planned on camping. I hate backtracking. After considering the idea to keep riding through the night, and rejecting it due to the frigid temperature, I went nine miles down a gravel road in the dark only to find out that the bridge was out. I had a great time though! I had to actually restrain myself from going too fast - there were downed branches, sharp corners and animals to contend with. I saw some kind of small fluffy creature, rabbit-sized but not a rabbit, and I am glad I went more slowly. I considered setting up camp behind a port-a-john or at the boat loading dock, but I figured I would probably get some kind of ticket for it.

After consulting the map, I found another primitive campsite named Coppermine Bottom, which was down 20 miles of paved road and about another mile of gravel. There was only one other camper there, and I am sorry to say I probably woke them up by arriving so late, but I was freezing and didn't really care at the time. I set some sort of personal record for pitching my tent, layered up, and hunkered down. This night was fairly restless as I kept waking up, shivering. Definitely time to head south.

I woke up slowly and set up my solar panel on the rocks near the river to charge my electronics. My droid was dead, so no pictures of breakfast, which consisted of some miso soup, tea, and pringles. Breakfast of champions. I slowly packed up my gear and soaked up the sun with my electronics for a while, enjoying the stream's company.

With both of us charged up, I set out south. Had to stop and take a look at Lake Quinalt.

There were lots of clearcuts along the way south, and many, many log trucks, which soured my mood. It was a bitter, sharp contrast against the old growth forest I'd fallen in love with the previous day. I am not unsympathetic to the plight of those in small towns without many ways to get by, I've lived in towns where a mill has closed down and unemployment has skyrocketed, but we need to have balance.

The marshes near the ocean were interesting. Sloughs?

Near "Cosmopolis" there was this abandoned cafe. It's a bit hard to see, but there is a large bush growing in the patio area.

The Cosmo pulp mill was massive and was chugging along when I rolled past, the final destination for a number of the clearcut trees I'd seen rolling by on those log trucks.

I stopped near the oregon border across from Astoria.

Astoria had been recommended to me due to its funky vibe, but I didn't see much of it. I would have stopped to investigate along more than the main drag, but the sun wasn't getting any higher and I didn't want to be riding a lot in the dark, due to only having a tinted visor.

I took a break in Clatskanie and just as I was thinking "Man, it always seems like somebody comes up to chat as soon as I get my headphones and helmet on", I turned around and somebody was doing just that. We introduced ourselves, and he mentioned that he was the owner of a restaurant a few miles down the road. He asked about my trip. I told him where I'd been and my plans to head south for the winter. He seemed amazed that I'd do something like this alone, and said that "I don't think I'd ever do a trip like that myself but I really respect you for doing it!" It made me smile.

It was dark by the time I rolled into western Portland. I hate the freeway interchanges. A lot. Having to merge across 3 lanes, dodging traffic, when it's dark, and you're also on a bridge curving through the air going 60mph is... stressful. I will not miss Portland traffic.

I found my way back "home". It was time to move on. I decided to leave in a few days, after giving away stuff for free.

And now, finally, I am up to date with this report.
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