About a year ago…

Adventure, Just things, Motorcycle

…I decided to stop blogging. It has really been quite a year and many things have happened. I will try to shorten it down just to make it easy on both of us.

First, after getting off of Protection Island I went back to the Dungeness Spit to be a part-time caretaker there for six months while I worked at my new job at the post office.

I started working at the post office in October 2014. In late November 2014 I was involved in a motorcycle wreck. My beloved Honda V65 Magna was totaled but I wasn’t. It was a bad wreck that actually could’ve been much much worse. I was very fortunate. A lady pulled out in front of me and stopped in front of me. I hit her going about 35 mph and bounced off of her windshield and landed in the street. I was very lucky to escape without serious injury, concussion, broken bones, or any other number of injuries I could’ve sustained. Or worse.

While recuperating I was unable to work and lost my post office job in January 2015. In late March I was finally released for work without any restrictions. I had been applying for some jobs, and one day I got a call from a place I had applied to but had forgotten about. It was with Washington State Parks in the San Juan Islands. I was hired on as a seasonal Senior Park Aide for Sucia Island State Park in the northern San Juan Islands. It is absolutely a beautiful state park and I would recommend visiting it if you have the chance. I get to go out onto the water almost every day. We actually take care of about eight different islands up here in the state parks. The entire area is just amazing and the people are great to work with and talk to around town.

Some thought I was crazy, but I bought a Yamaha V-Star 1100 bobber motorcycle to commute on between home and the San Juans. It was nice, saving many dollars on ferry fares as well as getting 45 miles to the gallon.

The recuperating continues, but hopefully the results of physical therapy will be good and give me some relief. I am more than ready and anxious to get all this bullshit behind me. It has been very stressful financially, emotionally, and physically.

A Close One

Motorcycle

Today, while riding my motorcycle in town, I had my face shield up because I was going slow and it was pretty warm.

All of a sudden a wasp – yes, a wasp – flew inside my helmet and landed on my cheek. The little bastard got past the windshield and right on in there. Just as I was going to shift out of “oh shit” mode and into “panic” mode, he flew out without incident. I had no idea how to fix the problem without wrecking and/or getting stung. I was more worried about crashing than being stung by a long shot, though.

It kinda reminded me of when me and my friend Dave years ago were riding our 750 Hondas and he got hit in the chest with a bumblebee. That was quite the painful surprise for them both.

7/14/14 – Oregon Motorcycle Ride

Adventure, Just things, Motorcycle, Outdoors, Travel

I had a great ride over the weekend! The original plan was to camp near Rainier, OR on friday night then ride down to Country Fair at Eugene. I was then going to head back to camp and come back home on Sunday. Plans changed, however.
I left Friday afternoon, and it was exciting for me because this was my first motorcycle trip like this. I went south on U.S. 101 out of Sequim. It is a beautiful ride winding along the waters of the Hood Canal, through the trees and hills and small towns. It was definitely hot, however, and got to be even hotter when we got near Olympia and had to pick up I-5 south. Now I was not too keen on riding on the interstate, but getting to ride 70 mph helped keep us a little cooler. We stopped for food at what ended up being a really good place to eat in Centralia that I will have to update here when I find the name of it.

I got into Hudson-Parcher Park around 8:30 or so and got camp set up. I had a great ride down and was looking forward to Saturday’s ride to Eugene and Country Fair. I ended up staying up too late and woke up much later than I had wanted to. I scrapped going to Country Fair and opted for an alternate plan – a ride over to Astoria and down along the Oregon coast…one of the things on my life list.

It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day when we got on the road. I was disappointed about missing out going to Eugene, but the new plan was exciting too. Astoria is a beautiful place, and I will be heading back there to walk around and see more of the town. As I got closer to the coast it had gotten cloudy and much cooler, so on went the chaps and jackets to stay warmer and dry in case I got into a shower or fog. The road was busy with cars being the weekend, but the ride was very nice with all the twists, trees, a tunnel or two, and neat little towns. We rode down to Tillamook, got some pretty decent Chinese food, and then turned to head back toward our camp since it was getting late.

The journey back took me into Portland. I mean INTO Portland. We finally got out of there after a detour and some directions from a helpful local. We got back to camp and sat and talked around another campfire until the wee hours.

I got up Sunday morning and packed up. A stop at Starbucks for caffeine and a baked good was definitely in order. I then took off toward Mt. St. Helens – it was Magna meets magma. It is a nice 104 mile roundtrip ride back to Johnston Ridge Visitor Center. The sky looked a bit threatening, and I did end up getting into some showers. That sucked because that means you cannot launch into the curves and have as much fun! The mountain was visible more that day than the first time I was there, and looks just as mad and big as the first time. I watched a video and looked around the Visitor Center and headed out. On the way I stopped at a restaurant we passed on the way in. They had a big sign about their chicken and dumplings and cobbler so I knew what I was having. It was pretty good, but honestly…my Grandma Flaherty made the best cobbler (and apple pie and fried peach pies) I have ever eaten. I have never had a really good cobbler anyplace.

I got back on the highway after fueling up and headed on north. Traffic started to really suck, and kept on for quite a ways. We got back onto 101 finally and were blasting down the highway when all of a sudden the bike quit running. The bike lost power, the instrument panel was flashing, and it was slowing down fast and would not go any farther. Luckily, we were right in front of a gas station so I only had to push about 15 feet to get into the lot. Not being a bike mechanic I was at a loss as to what to look for so I went for an obvious problem I knew of in the ignition. I worked on it but it would not start because the battery was dead so the people inside hooked me up – the girl at Subway loaned me her cables to jump it, and the guy selling gas gave me his car keys to jump it. I had no idea if this would work or not, but you do not know unless you try. I hit the starter and nothing, but then reconnected the cables and pressed the button once more and it roared to life! Damn good thing since there is NO kick starter on it, but I was already trying to figure that one out in advance. We were back on the road in about 45 minutes!

I found out later that it was rainy and muddy at Country Fair, so it all actually worked out for the best!

The rest of the trip back was uneventful and pleasant, winding back along 101…the highway I had left on two days earlier. I had a great time and the bike was fantastic on the highway (barring the one problem). I had packed enough stuff on it for the trip, and with just a few small changes and tweaks I will have it down perfect. I am really having a lot of fun on and off the bike!

July 3, 2014

Adventure, Motorcycle, Outdoors, Travel

I got a lot done to the bike this past weekend in preparation for our Oregon road trip next week. Oil and rear drive fluid changes, new K&N air filter, new plugs, suspension adjustments, wash and wax…it was a busy one. We have pretty much all we need so all that is left is the packing and riding. I am converting the square headlight over to a round one, and I got it in the mail this past week so all I need to do is mount it but it may take a bit of fiddling with it to get it right. From what I read from several different people who have done it was that the headlight I got off an older V45 will pretty much bolt right on. I am not quite sure if I will have the time to do it before we go, but it will be on there sooner rather than later. Square headlights never looked good on cars, and even worse on Jeeps and motorcycles.

It wasn’t so busy we were not able to get out for a ride however! We got in a 60-70 miles Tuesday night west of Port Angeles on Highway 112. What a fantastic road to ride, and I say it every time I ride it and have had it in my blog before. Ups and downs, twists and turns, mountains, the Strait, rivers, farmlands, trees…a nice two-lane adventure for a trip that is short or long. I rode the bike all around the whole weekend and the weather was absolutely spectacular. We had 70s and close to 80 here. What a great place to be!

Crab season started today, but I completely forgot to get my catch card. I have not eaten any since last season so it is definitely time! It is going to be busy out on the water, especially in the early part of the season. John Wayne Marina was pretty jammed with crabbers today when I was coming back out, and with the holiday weekend it oughta be crazy.

Today I got to see my first baby pigeon guillemot. He was a day or two old and was so cute! A few days ago I saw some ducklings with their mom. The gulls are hatching as well, and today I saw a seal pup pop up by my boat when I was out on the water patrolling…it is that time of the season here on Protection Island.

It is Probably Time For an Update

Adventure, Just things, Motorcycle, Outdoors, Travel

I have been a bit busy since the last post so I figure I should post an update.

Last week when I was on my days off I went in to the mainland. I needed to get to the store and do some other errands. My backup motor on the boat needed to get a repair while I was in as well so that got taken care of too. My original plan was to come back out Tuesday, either late afternoon or early evening. I got a nice motorcycle ride in for about half a day though.

On Wednesday the parts showed up and were installed. Late in the day I went over to the marina to check on the boat to see if it was going to be ready. They were finishing up, and as I was looking at my phone I saw we were under a small craft advisory. I was really not very excited about going out in a small craft advisory, but I needed to get back because the weather was not going to be any better the next couple of days. In fact, it was going to be worse. I loaded up my stuff in the boat and I left to go back out to the island.

I left the marina and I hugged the shoreline to the south of me. I came out across the water and it was a little choppy but not too bad. When I got closer to the island away from the protection of the mainland, the south/southeast winds picked up pretty good. That brought along some waves 2 to 3 feet high in some places. I thought about my boat training I had from everybody here plus in Hawaii, and I cut across the waves at a 45° angle. I came out northeast just a little past the marina for the island and then I cut back to the northwest a little bit at a 45° angle across the waves with following seas. Water was crashing up over the bow and onto the windshield of the boat for five minutes or so – a short time that seemed like an eternity. I have to say that was a rather interesting feeling. You just have to keep your cool, and maintain your composure and do what you need to do to get through it. I was definitely relieved to get into the marina, but I felt I did pretty good handling the situation. The only way you learn is to do it.

Tuesday of this week was the first really, really nice day here. There have been some nice days on the island so far since I’ve been here, but Tuesday was beautiful – 72 degrees. I spent all day outside, most of it stacking the best part of a cord of firewood and working on some outdoor projects.

On Wednesday, I went in to take care of some errands. I went over to the Spit to help them work on the creosote removal project. I spent the day on the beach riding an ATV. I had a trailer I was hauling equipment around in, plus creosote and treated wood, logs, and various bits of trash and tires and other things that we picked up. It was a fantastically beautiful day, somewhere around 70° or so. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was blue, and it was absolutely gorgeous. It was fun to be back over there again. It was a really good day.

My plan was to take yesterday and today and do a motorcycle ride. I was going to pack my tent and my sleeping bag on my motorcycle and head over to the Hot Springs at Sol Duc. Yesterday morning, however, I happened to check the weather and they were talking about another small craft advisory. No hot springs for me. They were also talking about some rather nasty wind waves coming this way. I decided to hedge my bets after having a wonderful motorcycle ride yesterday. I went to the marina after a trip to the grocery store and came back out. It was a nice calm boat ride out, with no trouble at all despite another small craft advisory. In fact, the weather last night was actually fairly nice and I sat on the deck looking out over the Strait. There didn’t really seem to be too much to be concerned about on the water. Today, however it is a little different. Is definitely cooler and windier. The wind has picked up throughout the day, and the clouds have moved in. In fact, as I write this there is a gale warning out. Glad I decided to come back out yesterday when I did instead of tonight when I had planned.

I was able to get a few things that I needed to get done yesterday. Seems like there’s always a lot of things I need to do when I go back in and I just don’t have enough time to do all the stuff I need or want to do.

Today I have been working on the computer on a project I’ve started. I am scanning all of my records into digital files. I started this a while back – a month or two ago – and I’m trying to get it done. This way all of my important papers will be digital, as well as all my pictures I have. Today, I got a pretty good stack of things scanned but there is still plenty more to do.

I think that we have these powerful computers in our homes, but a lot of people only use them for internet, email, and a few other various little things. We don’t really use them to their fullest potential. I’ve really given that a lot of thought lately, and am trying to change my thinking on that. If I can scan most of my papers into digital files, that is a lot less stuff I have to keep track of. Actually, if you think about it, it’s good for people who are home as well as those who are traveling around. You really don’t have to have boxes of files stashed in your closet anymore. There’s really no need for it. It’s really another thing that helps simplify your life. Most of your bank statements, retirement statements, credit card statements, etc. are available to you in a downloadable PDF. Why not just download those files and save them directly and not even print anything out? I have started doing this as well, and it is so much simpler.

I have also been working on some spreadsheets I have started so I can easily keep track of business expenses and other things for my taxes. I am trying to keep things more organized to make it easier on myself with the end-of-the-year. I have spreadsheets for my medical expenses and business expenses. I got those caught up as well as scanning all of my receipts in and organizing some tax files. This means I have digital copies of all of my receipts I have for everything, plus in my spreadsheets I have formulas that will keep track of all the amounts of everything and total everything up so that at the end of the year I can grab the totals and give them to my accountant and I’m good to go.

Living on an island, you don’t have the easy distraction of being able to go to town to window shop, grocery shop, go out to eat or get a beer, or any other creative way of screwing off. I am really trying to use some of my downtime out here to do something productive that I’ve been needing to get done but have not done yet. Doing these spreadsheets and scanning in my documents are two of those things. I still have a lot of pictures to scan in yet, and those are really time-consuming. At least with documents you can put a stack in the scanner and the document feeder will shove them in there one at a time. With pictures you’ve got to put them facedown on the flatbed scanner and do them individually. That’s pretty time-consuming. I got a some of them done earlier in the week and I saw just how long it takes. I’m trying to do all my pictures into my computer so I will always have them but it is going to take some time.

I think one drawback about having all your pictures and things in digital form though is that they’re usually in a computer that’s password-protected. They really cannot be passed down to anybody else if something were to happen.

That’s about all for this update. I should think about some dinner now before it gets much later.

Toodles!

Shawn