Bakery Quest - a year hacking the US with our kid and dogs.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by szurszewski, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    As darkness fell, we pointed the rig vaguely toward San Diego and made it as far as Palm Springs, where we found a large and surprisingly affordable Motel 6. It was the first motel we'd been to with a pool still open, and Jeremiah was so excited he got up early to take advantage. And then we found out it didn't open until 9am. *sadface* We made the best of it by walking to the nearest doughnut shop and brought back breakfast to eat pool-side.
    IMG_1965.jpg

    With that healthy start (hey - swimming AND a two mile walk!) behind us, we plowed out through the sprawl of retail that surrounds Palm Spring and by chance happened onto a very nice piece of CA 74 leading from Palm Desert up into the hills.

    IMG_1968.jpg

    We found ourselves approaching Santa Ysabel a bit after lunch time and stopped to buy some snacking supplies. As it happened, the market shared a parking lot with this place...

    [​IMG]

    and, well,

    IMG_1971.jpg

    I guess not every day can be a healthy one full of crackers and instant ramen - sometimes you have to lead the hard life of doughnuts for breakfast and pie for lunch.

    Just before we were all overwhelmed by diabetes (my dad is certain we're headed that way), we reached our destination in El Cajon and were vociferously greeted by the pack of pups. Here's one of them, Tyson, with Laura and Kathy. He and Eddy got along ok, but he did make a token attempt to eat Culrpit one day. I like her, but I can understand where he was coming from.

    IMG_1973.jpg
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  2. rubline

    rubline Coddiwomple

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    Im in! Great ride report. You have a yard to crash in Southern Maine if you need it. Tools and a garage are 20 miles away at work if anything needs work.
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  3. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Thanks! I haven't been in Gray since our honeymoom a "few" years ago, and we are really looking forward to being in Maine again this spring/summer/fall (whenever it may be that we get there!). ME was on Laura's short list for university back in the day, and was also on the short list of where-to-go-next for our last couple of moves.
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  4. RickS

    RickS Long timer Supporter

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    Just found this today. Noticed you stayed in altus with Richard and Toni. Worked with Richard for awhile downtown. Small world. Been here all my life. Wished I found this sooner. Good luck on your travels.
  5. RickS

    RickS Long timer Supporter

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    It appears there are two ADVers in Altus. Welcome!
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  6. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Bummer! It would have been fun to meet some ADV people in Oklahoma while we were there, for sure. While I might be surprised that two inmates from Altus found our RR, it doesn't surprise me at all that one of you knows Richard and Toni - actually, I'm more surprised that you don't both know them :)

    I doubt we'll be back on this trip, but I imagine we'll be there again at some point - I'll make a note to look you both up next time we're in town. Meanwhile, Laura's mom Pat is still there staying with the Starkeys if you want to stop by and say hi sometime :)
  7. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    We rolled in to El Cajon thinking we'd be there a couple days at most, but we ended up staying a week and did so much I don't really know where to start. I guess I should start with Kathy. Here she is with her husband Dennis; I could pretend, for story order purposes that this was taken when we arrived, but it was actually taken just before we left to head north.

    [​IMG]

    When I met Kathy she and Dennis were living in Redmond, where Kathy grew up and where they met and got married (the same year I was born - I like to give her a hard time about that; to be fair, at the time she was pretty young - eleven years younger than my mom at the time, actually), and she was teaching driver education there. Eventually we both ended up teaching traffic safety courses for the same university and I like to think we're pretty good friends. That's pretty easy with Kathy though - she's one of those people that's always up and full of energy and just so sweet you want to smack her, but you know she'd smack you back, and she'd be crushed, so you don't do it :)

    They moved to El Cajon about a year ago to be closer to their kids and grand kids, and it turns out her kids, whom I'd never met, are just about as nice (though maybe not quite so bubbly). So, I guess this is where I put in the snapshot of stuff we did in while were there, so here you go.

    First, here's our awesome, quintessential SoCal hills parking spot (very convenient to our lodging for the week, which was that toy hauler in the background of the first shot)
    [​IMG]


    After our greeting by the dogs,

    aside: there are two dogs that live at the house full time, and two more that come by about every day - here's Kathy with all of them,
    [​IMG]

    and a bonus shot of Jeremiah with Sativa - she's a darn big dog.
    [​IMG]

    Kathy set right about to entertaining us - she took Laura and Jeremiah for a ride in the RZR,
    [​IMG]

    then she taught Jeremiah how to drive the RZR,
    [​IMG]

    and then when her grandson Antonio got home from school, he took Jeremiah for another ride.
    [​IMG]

    Antonio managed to talk me into giving him several rides between school and his grandparents' in the sidecar, as well as a tour through El Cajon; now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure he's the first person other than Laura and Jeremiah to ride in the car on this trip.

    Dennis took us hiking in the hills behind the house,
    [​IMG]

    and took us and the dogs for a ride in a really big Dodge (can you see Eddy?).
    [​IMG]

    In addition to wanting to visit our friends, we'd also arranged to have some bike parts and our first packet of mail shipped to their address. Here's nearly two months worth of our mail:
    [​IMG]
    Not much, right? And about half went directly into the recycle. I'd been looking forward to getting the registration for the trailer, but instead there was a letter from DMV saying I'd underpaid for the fees for the trailer and needed to send in more money. I'm not sure how that happened since we went into the DMV and they told us how much it was. I try to say good things about them, but stuff like this explains why people were so excited to pay us $40 to take a driving test at our school vs going to the DMV where the test is only $9. Sigh. Anybody know if we need to have registration for the trailer to take it into Mexico? Anyway - let's talk more about how cool Kathy and her family are.

    Kathy took us to the San Diego Zoo and showed Jeremiah all the coolest stuff (and snuck him in as her grandson saving us, on his admission alone, just about our total usual daily budget),
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    dug out a full set of gear for Jeremiah so they could do some Taekwondo sparring,
    [​IMG]

    and, well - tell you what: first person who can tell me what's going on in this picture get's an ADV sticker of their choice on us:
    [​IMG]

    To feel like we weren't freeloading too much, we tried to be useful - mostlly though we just played with the dogs. Tyson in particular loves to go for rides and was eager to check out the trailer,
    [​IMG]

    and VERY eager to ride in the hack (in fact, every time it moved he tried to jump in).
    [​IMG]
    He's a natural, clearly, but think of all the drool....

    In addition to putting together dinner one night, Laura also made pretzels as a special treat
    [​IMG]

    On the eve of our departure, in addition to trying to talk us into staying several more days, Kathy insisted Laura and I go out to dinner and movie. We had a great dinner of lamb and lentils and just a little bit of bread
    [​IMG]
    saw a decent move (Arrival) and came back to find Jeremiah in the guest room doing his usual best bed hogging
    [​IMG]

    We also found that the entire thing had been a gambit to get us out of the house so Kathy and Jeremiah could make us Christmas presents - I'm very curious to see what they are, but we've still got a week to wait....
  8. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Well, the week is almost up and Christmas will be here before you know it. We've been hanging out with ChiliPepperGarage here is sunny...oh, wait - it was raining when we got here, and it's raining now - LOTS of water came down last night - I guess it was pretty sunny most of the rest of the week. Aren't you all supposed to be in the middle of a drought here? I guess the rain's a good holiday gift then, yeah? Anyway - where was I? Oh yeah - we've been hanging out here in Wildomar with ChiliPepperGarage and having a grand old time.

    We took to the hills as much as possible on the way north, and just barely talked ourselves out of another pie stop (we did stop at Costco in San Marcos for probably our cheapest meal "out" so far). We made a quick stop at Motoport (they're on the backside of the office building thing if you go there - took us two loops to find their very nondescript door - also, one end of the parking lot is a narrow dead end and I recommend avoiding it if you're, I don't know, on a really wide sidecar rig towing a trailer...unless you're into awkward three-point turns), which was nice but not terribly exciting, and arrived in the late afternoon just as the rain was starting to fall.

    We'd largely come up to take advantage of Al's generous offer of garage space so we could put on our shiny new shocks, so let's start there. I'll save you pictures of the six hundred thirty seven fasteners requiring removal before you can even see that a K1200LT has shocks. Here's Jack keeping watch while I removed and tried not to lose all the tiny screws.
    [​IMG]

    And here's the scody old rear shock.
    [​IMG]

    If you look upper right and see the socket wrench, I bet you can guess how much fun it was to get to the nut on the back of that bolt (the cool plastic nut cover/acorn nut thing didn't make it back on - hope it's not too critical). I'm sure the proper procedure has you remove the gas tank first...but then it wouldn't be so much fun. Good news is the lower mount on the swingarm is free and clear. Or it was, until I put on the subframe for the sidecar. Sigh.
    [​IMG]

    You can get a wrench in there, but you can't get the bolt out without moving that bit of bracket. Going back together the bolt is now inside - which means you can't get it out without taking the wheel off, but that seems more logical to me for some reason. Sort of.

    Shiny!
    [​IMG]

    Rear shock done, we moved forward. To get to the rear, other than removing a sidecar and the sidecar bracket in our case, you usually only need take off the upper right panel, and two small side panels. To get to the front shock, you need to remove the front fender, the wheel (which means removing the brake calipers), both upper side panels and the radio box/top panel so you can get to the top nut on the shock. So...at this point we've got a lot of plastic piled up along the garage walls, and we've also got a good view of the really dirty old shock.
    [​IMG]

    Kind of seems extra dirty yeah? Ever notice how one project never stays one project? Think it might be kinda extra dirty 'cause maybe this?
    [​IMG]

    Looks like the tire might have been rubbing just a tiny little bit on that inner/rear front fender.
    [​IMG]

    Well, not really a surprise, but we'll deal with that later. Old shock out, where is that new one?
    Ah - Jack's got it!
    [​IMG]

    The old shock barely cleared coming out (I think they build the bike around these dang things), so we maybe had to grind just a bit to get the new one in.

    [​IMG]

    Success!
    [​IMG]

    Sort of. Turns out we seem to have received an incorrect shock. See the difference?
    [​IMG]

    In case you're missing it:
    [​IMG]

    Which means the spring bottoms on the collar in the whatever you call that swinging arm in the front suspension too "early" to actual bolt the thing up. Grr. Well, it's a good thing we haven't been waiting since 10/22 to get these things in hand...and it's good thing it's not right before Christmas because that would make it slower to get a replacement from the Netherlands. Oh - it did and it is? Right. Oh, also, it's Friday afternoon, meaning in Holland it's the middle of the night at the start of the weekend. Awesome. Well, the back was the really squishy shock - at least that's new :)

    Along with our one of two new Dutch shocks, we also got a new shock for the sidecar and the updated Steer Lite parts from Hannigan, so the Steer Lite went on and then we we got to work on that fender.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Maybe by the time that's worn through I'll have come up with a reasonable way to move that rear section up and back just a little, or I can just start buying all the ones I find on ebay....

    That done, Al took the rig out for a spin - I failed miserably to get a good pic of that.
    [​IMG]

    Remember that comment about one project never just being one project? Well, taking the body off the frame revealed a couple of things - first, the top of the shock tower mounting tabs looked weird to me.
    [​IMG]
    Hannigan assures me this is what they are supposed to look like. I am not thoroughly convinced.

    I didn't have to ask if this was normal (all these are from the right rear {one of four} point where the body mounts to the frame tabs).
    inside:
    [​IMG]
    outside:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Ok - so I guess we're going to the hardware store again, or actually to Walmart, because they carry the handy dandy 3M kit and the hardware store only sells stuff in quantities necessary for, at a minimum, building a small dinghy (with the rain lately, maybe we should have gone that route!).

    Notice anything a bit misleading about the product copy?
    [​IMG]

    I'd never worked with fiberglass before, and other than still having itchy arms it was kind of fun. That said, I'm officially adding fiberglass work to the list of things I'm glad I know about but am more glad I don't have to do for a living. (Said the unemployed guy currently burning through his bank account...)

    While we were in there, I think I finally determined that the actuator really is toast (it will spin the shaft if it's detached from the mounts, but it won't extend or retract at all), but being impatient and probably imprudent, that's going to have to wait until next week. Or the week after. BUT! The new shock, even being not a fancy one, is just great on the sidecar - huge improvement (hopefully that will be true once it's all loaded up tomorrow morning.)

    We haven't just been doing bike work though - we've also:

    learned how to use a dog door
    [​IMG]

    assisted with some shed remodeling
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    caught a movie or two
    [​IMG]

    and generally just had a good time
    [​IMG]

    Oh, and we just barely - like we got to the post office at 4:56 and were the last folks let in the door - got our ADV Secret Santa gift (the first part of it) off. Apologies to our victim for not, you know, wrapping any of it or including a legible note (Laura tried to re-write my scrawl, but the USPS person sort of *hinted* that we didn't quite have time for that) :(

    I think tomorrow we'll be moving on. At one point I thought we'd be near Manzanillo, MX for Christmas, but for various reasons that clearly is not going to happen - we are still considering a trip down that way maybe at or in the New Year - and we're this minute sitting at Al's table trying to figure out where we'd like to wake up on Christmas morning.
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  9. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Josh, I can't help but wonder at this point if you have advice for anybody shopping for an LT, or for an LT rig. With 20/20 hindsight, do you regret buying an older rig that ended up needing work as opposed to spending substantially more on a newer rig, or are the repairs and improvements simply bumps in the road and the money saved on the older rig was worth the hassles you're dealing with now?
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  10. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Drone, that is an excellent question. I'm not unhappy with our rig so far, but we do have the luxury of no schedule and lots of time. If we only had a few weeks of vacation - or less - and had any major issues, it would be a very different thing. If we'd started with an unlimited budget, I think we'd have had Claude build us a custom something starting with a GSW. Our host Al/ChiliPepperGarage, here in Wildomar and I were talking about this the other day and there is a lot to be said for the freedom afforded by having spent, initially, $3000 on the bike and $1500 on the sidecar. For instance, stuffing that big front tire in there once I was sure it would (almost entirely) clear all the metal bits, I thought - what's the worst that will happen? It will destroy the fenders? And it sort of has...but, so what? If this were a new rig, that would be much more unsettling.

    Also, some of our issues are really due to a lack of proper set up before we left - the shocks for instance. You might remember when I first bought the bike I put together a list of repairs/maintenance/upgrades to do before the trip that amounted to somewhere a bit over $2000 - most of that $$ being shocks. I happened to look at that list the other day and saw that, once the shocks are on, the list will be *almost* complete :)
    (if you feel like squinting, here's the list)
    IMG_2211.jpg

    There are somethings not on that list that are sidecar specific - like, replace the shock and tire (new tire is on my tomorrow to-do list), rewire the whole thing and get rid of the scotch-lock connectors, and have it "rhino" lined. And then there are some other things that didn't make a list at all that we should have done as well.

    Now, what the hell was I talking about? Was there a question? Oh - right - I can scroll up and quote stuff. I'd better do that.


    Right - there we go. I would have to say it's the latter.

    If I knew nothing about bikes and wrenches (which is to say, if I knew slightly less than I do) and had to go to a dealer every time something went wrong (instead of posting about it here!), it would likely be more cost effective to just pay the money up front. But since I like messing around with this stuff, and learning as I go, and there is a great deal of support through ADV and bmwst/bmwrt.com, I'm pretty happy so far (maybe we should get Laura on here to answer the same question without reading my answer first...).

    In the end, there are a bunch of reasons we chose to do this trip thing on a sidecar rig instead of some more practical vehicle (which I suppose includes most of the spectrum of street legal vehicles), but one of the predominant reasons was to slow us down and make us interact with people along the way. To paraphrase a friend, what better way to make you go slow and interact with people than to have your shit keep breaking?
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  11. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Shoulda bought a Ural.

    :jack
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  12. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    At one point, that was the plan, but I am not smart enough to keep carburetors happy (have enough trouble spelling it!) and thus wanted a new one. And then stuff happened and we decided we weren't going that route. On the upside, we'd have packed MUCH lighter.

    On the stuff that goes wrong front, yesterday we came back from doing some book shopping and pharmacy waiting, and Al noticed that we had brake lights on the car but no running/taillight. Fun stuff as when I put the rig all back together we had occasional magically staying on even when the bike is off and the key is out brake lights. I didn't move any of the brake switches around, so I'm not sure what I did there, but assume it's my fault as it started just after I did a bunch of stuff. I traced the lack of a tail light to the female side of the connector just before the tail light. It seems to be a bit loose on that side, but tightening it up didn't help. I should have pulled the female socket out of the connector, but it was raining (the sky - not the connector) and I just ran a jumper around it (the connector - not the rain), and that's all good for now...but while I was turning lights on and off to check for voltage the right turn signal decided it really really liked being on. So far at least it's been going off sometimes when I tell it to and always when I turn the bike off. And the brake lights are back to only working when they should. At some point we're going to end up with a bunch of switches on the dash that look like this
    [​IMG]
    Wait- I should put them on the dash in the hack, and then Jeremiah can have a job: Brake lights son, brake lights! They're closing in fast!
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  13. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    Josh:

    Riding older vehicles drives some people nuts, but I'd rather ride than wait till the perfect moment.

    When faced with a breakdown, I remind myself to say:


    I wonder what nice people I'll meet today?

    Seems like you're doing fine with mechanical challenges and folks that like to help. :thumb

    Back to :lurk mode!





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  14. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    I think we're doing pretty well so far. Today I'm the challenge because I want a new rear tire, and the one we have is an odd size, and I want it next week, and there's this dang holiday thing going on so shipping is all discombobulated, and mostly this tire size seems to exist in Florida, so I should have ordered the thing last week. My fault, but far from a terrible problem. I could always put a moto tire back on the thing for a few thousand miles... :)
  15. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Trying to get the books all caught up before repacking the rig and setting out for our little Christmas Adventure (Laura says I can't say what it is in case Jeremiah is reading this, so I will just say we'll be in the general Carlsbad metro region, it's not exactly the kind of adventure I'd pick but I do expect it to be grueling in its own way, and .... hmm... can't think of a good hint here so I'll just say we're going somewhere that rhymes with PregoLand), and I see our Golden Gate Bridge toll has caught up with us (still curious to see what we owe for the first trip to the Denver airport).

    ggb toll.jpg

    At least for that price we got a picture as a souvenir! :) :) :)
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  16. noshoes

    noshoes soñando con México

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    Merry Christmas to you! I hope you're staying dry.
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  17. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Merry Christmas to you Neil! We had quite the storm last night in Wildomar, but we stayed quite snug and dry in ChiliPepperGarage's house :)

    This morning we set out for Carlsbad, with a stop in San Diego at a very cool book shop that unfortunately did not have the book their website said they had in stock. But no matter! We made a stop to Costco for a cheap lunch and to watch the shoppers, and then took in a sunset on the beach.

    IMG_2232.jpg IMG_2239.jpg IMG_2237.jpg After the sunset, and dropping the pups and rig at our motel, we walked over and Jeremiah and I picked up take out for dinner while Laura hit the grocery for dessert. Waiting for her by the front of the store, a young lady who was moving plants in for the night gave Jeremiah a slightly early Christmas present.

    IMG_2250.jpg
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  18. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    It looks like you're giving Jeremiah a life-long Christmas memory! :thumb

    Merry Christmas to the Szurszewski clan!
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  19. draperg1

    draperg1 PapaBear

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    Merry Christmas from the right coast - enjoy the day!
  20. Dirt1st

    Dirt1st Adventurer

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    Merry Christmas (the day after) to you, Laura and Jeremiah. I've been following your travels since you left Denver. Looks like you are having a great time. Currently are in Oakland with grandkids, daughter and son-in-law.