Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Is that snow??!!


It stormed pretty good last night.  After feeding Rufus this morning, I went out to see if our e-bikes still had a cover... yep.  When I came back in, Joan said, "It's your day (something about being born 65 years ago) - after Steph calls this morning, we can do whatever you want."

Just for clarification, "do whatever you want" means different things to men and women.

"How about we take the scoots to Hill City for breakfast?"

I had a lovely visit with our daughter this morning.  She was (gasp) on her way to work this morning... don't let anyone tell you about all the time teachers have off.  Getting her room ready today, then planning meetings and classes before the kids come back in a week.  She is my sweet little girl.

After cleaning up, I got the scoots out while Joan closed up things around the coach.  A beautiful morning: comfortably cool (68ยบ when we were ready to head out) and sunny.  I mentioned to Joan before we pulled away that we need to keep a close eye on the road surface after the storm last night - sand and gravel from driveways gets washed onto these back roads during a heavy rain.

Rolling...






Not much traffic, yet, on these back roads.



The wet and sandy spots I was talking about (above).  Then, "Did you see that??"


That looks like melting snow on either side of the road.  No, it is the remnants of hail that must have piled up during the storm last night.  The local weather weasel said they were reporting hail and some flooding in the Hill City and Keystone areas.  I believe it - all the creeks we passed were full to slightly over-full.




Plenty of bikes in Hill City this morning, but we found a spot near the Hill City Cafe...


The cafe had an over-priced breakfast buffet, but we knew it would be relatively quick.  The food was decent... I was happy we didn't have to wait to get a table.



With the amount of debris from the trees that we came across on that last back road (hail will do that), we decided to take the highway that runs past Mt Rushmore to head for home...



The traffic waiting to get into the parking ramp at Rushmore was thick (above and below)...


Glad we weren't heading there today.  Going down the mountain and into Keystone, you can see the creek is running full...


Almost up to the bottom of the bridge to the right on that image above.


Not as easy to see, but what is normally a gentle little creek was flowing like crazy (above and below).


The last 20 miles, more fun curves...


Clouds are building once again...


Joan got a voice mail that we had packages to pick up at the Hart Ranch mail room, so we stopped on the way in...


Oh, and the great gas mileage continues.  We topped off in Keystone: I got 85mpg with the Vespa, Joan got a nearly unbelievable 128mpg with the PCX!  Pretty inexpensive entertainment!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Thar she blows!


Here comes the rain! It has been light rain on and off all day, but the storm hit in earnest around 8:15 this evening - thunder, lightning, winds gusting above 30mph and pounding rain. Flash flood warnings for areas around us tonight, with an additional 2" of rain expected through the night.

We have seen flooding on the road at the lowest part of this RV resort (at the far entrance) in years past... wouldn't surprise me to find out that this is the case again, tonight.

Yeah but, how's Rufus doing with the pounding rain? Thanks for asking - he is sitting beside me napping through the noise of the rain pounding on the roof and the TV turned up so we can keep abreast of the weather reports.
 
Yeah, our hatches are battened down.
 
 

Do you know who that is???


Years ago, I met a guy while discussing his very unique sailing trimaran in the Pacific Northwest.  He came back to our boat, where we sat in the cockpit and visited some more.  I posted a photo that Joan took of my new friend Steve and me.

There was a response on the trailersailor forum; "Do you know who that is?  That is Steven Roberts!  He is brilliant!"

The implication, of course, was: he is brilliant, I am not.  Well, that's how I read it.  "What did you two have to talk about?" went unsaid.  ;-)

Steve and I have been friends since that time.  I'll have you know he has even asked for my advice on a couple things.  OK, not the techie things he is well-known for, but I digress.

That Microship that first drew me to go visit with him is going up for sale.  Here's a link to Steve's FB post...

https://www.facebook.com/nomadness/posts/10158091257474848



Steve is famous for his bike trek across the US, full of mobile computer geekery before mobile computing existed.  This Microship project was to be the on-the-water equivalence of that.  It is not a typical trailersailor, but I thought some of you might enjoy a look at this very unique boat.

It is designed to be a one-person watercraft; Steve's original intent was to have a second one and travel together.  Plans change.  It can be powered by sail, pedal, and electric motor.  It will sleep one.  Has its own "landing gear" for when it comes out of the water...



Pretty impressive.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Van, Mini-van, and Pickup Tour...


No, we didn't swap vehicles.  We decided to take the scoots on a loop: from Hart Ranch to Keystone, down Iron Mountain Road, into Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Silvan Lake Road, Hwy 244 to Mt. Rushmore (refreshments), back through Keystone, and back to our coach.

Yes, more testing with the Akaso V50 Pro.  Feeling pretty comfortable with the still and video capture - at some point, I'll probably have to do something with the video to make it more watchable.  When we're back in south Texas with not much in the way of fun, twisty roads to ride, I may put this video on our TV, have a fan blow some wind through my hair, and I'll make "Vrooom, vrooom!" noises.

In the meantime, I'll upload a couple of these (raw) to YouTube.

Why the "Van, Mini-van, and Pickup" bit?  Thanks for asking.  We weren't the only ones on that fun stretch of road today.  From the looks on flatlanders' faces going the other way, they weren't having as much fun as we were.  Judging by the snail-like forward progress by vehicles (see the title) in front of us (license plates mostly from Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota), they were terrified by the roads.  As usual, they were working against us... no, I am not paranoid, but each time a mini-van in front of us would pull over to let us pass, a pickup or other large slow vehicle would pull onto the road to take their place.  I am sure they have private band radios: "OK, he's on to us - I'll need to pull over as soon as you have another slow mover who can get in front of them to take our place."

Central Slow Command: "Roger that.  No problem - we have hundreds of slow moving vehicles to tie they up no matter what route they take."

"CSC, this is SlowMover-72.  We have the scooters in sight and are prepared to pull in front of them on your signal."

"SM-72, this is Command - Go! Go! Go!  Floor it if you have to - just get in front of them!  Then, 10 mph max.  SM-87: if they make a move to pass, I'll need you to be coming the other direction, taking up more than your half of the road!

"Roger that , Command.  This is SM-87 - we are in position and ready to slow."

I'm not making this stuff up.  SO MANY of them - it could not be a coincidence.

On with the show...

Hart Ranch to Neck Yoke Road to Rockerville Road (taken with the Nikon DSLR - I was saving the action cam for Iron Mountain Road)...




We stopped in Keystone to top off our tanks, then headed for Custer State Park via Iron Mountain Road...

Photos from the Akaso:




And, an 8 minute video of the first part of Iron Mountain Road...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJjNjlSOL5o&feature=youtu.be

Some stats:
  • 17 MILES
  • 314 CURVES
  • 14 SWITCHBACKS
  • 3 PIGTAILS
  • 3 TUNNELS
  • 4 PRESIDENTS
  • 2 SPLITS
This is a fun motorcycle/scooter road!



While it may not look like it in the photos above, the traffic was getting thick (selective timing for pressing the shutter button).  We decided to turn off Iron Mountain Road and take a backroad, still in Custer State Park...




Pleasant riding, almost no traffic.  Nice!

Onto Needles Highway, and way more traffic...





One of the things you'll notice with the camera attached to the Vespa: some leaning in the corners.  Yes, I could crop and straighten the image, but I like the dynamics of it.  Plus, I can shoot while riding through the corners, something not possible with the Nikon - I need to have both hands on the grips while going through a curve; with the remote, I can take a still photo without taking my hand off the grip!


And, another video...


Through the narrows...



And onto Sylvan Lake Highway...




From there, it was around to Highway 244 to Mt. Rushmore...




I told Joan I would buy her some ice cream at Mt. Rushmore - if the crowds weren't insane.  Yep, insane.  The ice cream line wound around like a ride at Disney World...


We opted instead for a small slice of cheesecake and a glass of soda (something refreshing, where there was NO line) and had to hunt for a place to sit...


Proof that we really were at Mt Rushmore...


Walking back to the bikes, nothing says "Mt Rushmore" like a kid in an inflatable dinosaur suit...



Gearing up for the scoots, it had warmed up enough that we stashed the jackets.  Down the mountain, back through Keystone, and heading home to Hart Ranch...





Road construction (above) on Rockerville Road.




We stopped for mail at the Hart Ranch Mail Room - some mail forwarded from Steph and the new Ram Mount pieces that will make mounting the Akaso camera on the Vespa faster and easier.

And - Joan bought me ice cream from the HR Snack Bar (by the pool).  Back to the coach, where I installed the Ram Mounts.  Our timing was good: a couple drops of rain came down just as I was putting the Vespa away!  The local weather at 5:30 let us know our timing was really good: rain and hail just east of Custer this afternoon (after we went through that area).  Timing or good clean living?

;-)


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I didn't count "the waves" today - getting to be more bikes everyday, but I did get two "thumbs up" - one from a Harley rider, one from a guy on a BMW.