Monday, April 18, 2011

Sugarloaf Non Stroll

This waterfront home has a "Contract Pending" sign dangling from the aged For Sale sign at the end of the driveway. Even though home sales news across the country is not brilliant one must take consolation where one finds it when at least some sales are occurring. I wondered about the ferocity of the sign. "Reported"? To whom? Cheyenne and I signally failed to take up the challenge and strolled on by, my dog with her nose in the bushes, myself with my nose in a motorcycle magazine reading about the latest two wheeled exotica from Italy, at $15,000 plus optional equipment. Fat chance. The weather has been delightful and sunny and I thought a country walk on the Sugarloaf Loop would be pleasant. Cheyenne tried to get a drink from a puddle but the water was not accessible and she retreated in disgust. She got her legs a little muddy but she didn't flop into the water. She has learned that if she comes home salty or dirty she gets an immediate outdoor shower to which she submits gracefully but without enthusiasm. So, being the smart dog she is, she has decided to forgo the pleasures of mud and thus avoid the shower...She is the most amazingly intelligent Labrador I have ever met. The heat was too much and about 20 feet past the gate she took up her "No Further" stance and looked at me. It was warm and when she says no more I prefer to listen. Walk aborted we returned to the car, Cheyenne was happy, I was disappointed. As it should be.

Saddlebag Heaven

I had been thinking about replacing my Triumph soft saddlebags as I wanted something waterproof but hard saddlebags typically cost close to a thousand dollars and you have to figure out your own mounting brackets for a "non touring" bike like the Bonneville. I had found Ortlieb bags in the Aerostich catalogue and they seemed reasonable at $180. The Wolfman bags cost more but they don't sell a mounting kit for the Bonneville and their complex mounting arrangement is designed more for off road uses. Ho hum.I looked at the Australian soft bags by Andy Strapz and they appealed but they aren't cheap at $350 (US approximately) plus liner bags to make them waterproof plus they have no brackets for the Bonneville. Ouf! This is complicated. Hepco Becker makes a Bonneville sized rack and hard bag kit for $1300! Plus the bags are huge which was not what I was looking for which also means you have to relocate the rear turn signals. Then I found what I wanted from Pelican Cases. Two 1430 sized, top opening plastic cases cost $130 plus $25 shipping and I figured I could bolt them directly to the soft saddlebag rails I already have on the bike. I pulled out my tools as soon as they arrived.

I bought ten bucks of D rings and nuts and bolts at the Summerland Ace hardware and went to work. In an hour I was done.

Even though we can't lane split in Florida traffic I wanted bags large enough to fit my man purse and keep it dry in summer rain but not too huge for my size of bike. I also wanted secure bags for my longer trips but I am not the kind of traveler who likes to ride with a grossly overloaded bike so I didn't need room for the kitchen sink. Plus I like their rugged functional look for my rugged daily rider.

Installation was dead simple. I unbolted the soft saddlebag rails (two nuts) and drilled eight slightly undersized holes in the back of the bags, applied copious quantities of silicon and through bolted the rails to the bags with the D ring straps and lock nuts. Thus:

I bolted the rails back to the bike and there they were. If I want to remove them unbolted the rails is a slightly fiddly task but very simple. If I need a quickly removable piece of luggage the Emgo topcase comes off with a quick release. And I hope that my silicone holes are waterproof. They will be put to the test this summer during Florida's rainy season, and perhaps on another Iron Butt ride later this year, if things go well.
There are myriad on line sites to buy Pelican Cases. This one sold me mine:

Ramrod Salt Flats

The large area of mud, water and mangroves on the west side of Ramrod Key used to be privately owned.Florida has an odd history of development by speculators though it boggles the mind that anyone could have bought acres of what is little more than semi-submerged tidal flats. Nevertheless there is a plaque across from my house recording the fact that the Nature Conservancy now conserves the land for the state, and a very good thing that is too. I prefer not to boggle my mind wondering what the Spottswoods got in return. For me at least the sunset view will remain unimpeded for as long as I live on Indies Road. The salt flats are dry this time of year but not too dry to provide some kind of fishing for locals. As the summer rains gain in intensity the flats fill up with water made salty by the minerals in the mud and the mangroves will appear to be growing out of a lake.
For now the winter drought persists and the drying mud gives off a barnyard smell that reminds me of a childhood around pig pens and cow stalls. A very odd agricultural smell not at all associated with these islands where growing a cabbage takes effort and ingenuity.

It makes for quite a wild view off the west deck of my house. Not a view I would willingly trade for a home in Old Town Key West.

Spring Boat Cleaning

Brian sends out postcards from time to time advertising his boat maintenance service. He works on trailers and on most outboards, but not Hondas. Luckily I have a Yamaha 25 horsepower two stroke and after a winter of sitting idle at the dock it was running rough. He showed up on time and got to work.My plan had been to take the boat out from time to time in the winter to avoid the carburettor fouling that happens when the engine sits still. So I left the boat at the dock where it sat still, of course and collected sea growth on the anti-fouled bottom. And the carburettors gummed up too of course. My neighbor Don last week remarked: "So you never take that skiff out..?" Er, I replied, it's time to get it ready for a summer of swimming... and providentially Brian's card fell into my mailbox. The carburettors were nicely gummed up. Brian fixed the starter switch so the electric starter works fine, a problem not solved when I took the boat to a shop last winter and spent $700. I spent last summer hand starting it which is easy for me but not my wife. Brian also promised to come back this week with new cables for the throttle and gear shifter which are showing signs of age. As Brian fine tuned the carbs after checking cylinder compression and back flow pressure Cheyenne took a nap as I took pictures.
Brian works with his wife Kristie, both mechanics both Harley riders so we talking riding as the carbs ungummed themselves.
A childhood in Maine, a career with the US Coastguard, and now a small business running up and down the Keys saving sloths like me from the ire of my eager-to-be boating wife. Phew! Saved by the truck!

Ramrod Key 3

I received the suggestion that flowers make good subjects. Well I happen to know this is a frangipani and here it is. I thought it looked quite good.So much so I found another bloom and took a picture of that. However i am sure I can't write two hundred words on a fragipani. I do have two of them at my house, one bought in a pot and given to my wife and I as a gift. Tim's red frangipani is flourishing on our deck.My other frangipani, a yellow one like this, was a branch given to us by Kathy who left it under the house while we were away. I stuck in a pot of soil, Therese came by and planted some perennials around it and that one too is doing really well. However frangipani is known for being easy to grow. Cheyenne is such an easy dog to live with I wonder people are lining up around the block to get dogs from the pound. She has no issues, she loves being cherished and with all the activity she gets she has no incentive to get involved with the sad trapped dogs we meet along the way. Hot and panting and entirely happy. The car was a long way off and that tongue got longer as we stumped back. She passed out back home.