Posts Tagged ‘home’

Racing the rain

Thursday, 22nd July 2010; 5:00 pm - Location:

I half-woke this morning around 6:00 and remembered the forecast for today: dry in the first half, but probably raining in the second half. So I pulled out the phone and checked the weather radar. There in Minnesota was a big ugly red blotch creeping its way eastward. I woke up the rest of the way and did some calculations (difficult to do making measurements on a screen that reacts every time you touch it). The rain was a good 10 hours away from me. But it was 6… maybe 7 hours from Grand Rapids, which was where I needed to end up. It was a contest between me and the rain, to see which would get there first.

I didn’t panic, but I didn’t delay. I skipped taking a shower, but brushed my teeth. I broke camp, packed the scooter, and was on the road by 7:00. The route I planned wasn’t intended to be the shortest. Taking the shortest route tends to put you on busy roads, so I’d deliberately chosen to take a more northern route that I hoped would have less traffic. It had the added benefit of adding two more counties to the tally of those I’ve been through. I decided to stick with it.

It turned out to be a good choice, M-57 through Saginaw and Gratiot counties was in good condition, and had little traffic. I got passed every few minutes, usually without the other driver having to wait for oncoming traffic, which is pretty much the best scenario. From time to time I was the only vehicle I could see ahead or behind. There was a constant headwind (the same thing bringing the wind my way), but it only knocked my speed down by a few miles per hour.

I turned south following the Maple River, a bit I’d improvised as a scenic route, and it worked great. But somewhere between M-57 and M-21 I had my first permanent equipment loss of the trip: my water bottle. It was in the end pocket of my over-the-shoulder bag, and was secured by a velcro strap… but came out anyway. If this had happened earlier in the trip, I might have gone back for it, because I know the 5-mile-or-so stretch of road it must have happened on. But not today. It was a nice water bottle, one I’ve been through a lot of camping with, but it’s only a water bottle. And I was in a race.

It was a race I “lost”, but just barely. A mile from home, I saw the first drops of rain on my faceshield, and it continued to sprinkle as I pulled up to the front door. I’d beaten the heavy rain. And more importantly, I’d made it home. Safe.

Wet start… again?

Thursday, 15th July 2010; 5:48 am - Location:

Waking early to the sound of approaching thunder definitely qualifies as “ominous”.

On weather radar there’s a big red blotch crossing the Lake, gradually covering Michigan from St Joseph to the Sault Ste Marie. It will be very wet very soon. That’s the bad news.

The better news is that the whole system looks isolated, so if I can wait it out, I could have a mostly dry ride. Judging by the speed it’s moving that could mean a few hours.

Weather outlook

Wednesday, 14th July 2010; 4:14 pm - Location:

Over the last few days I’ve been watching the long range weather forecast, for obvious reasons. The forecast for Thursday has gone from 20% chance of rain to 30% to 40% and now 60%. When you factor in the fact that I’ll be covering a bit of territory, the chances of staying dry are fairly low. Plus, temps will be in the 90s for the southern part of the ride (upper 80s up north).

Oh well. My first overnight scooter ride started with me following storm clouds as they slowly moved ahead of me, and the big scoot around Lake Michigan started in heavy rain. I have rain gear, and I know how to use it. And the forecast gets better on Friday, and stays pretty good (no more than 30% chance of rain) for the forecastable future after that. So nothing much to worry about.

I hope.

Preflight preparations

Sunday, 11th July 2010; 3:04 pm - Location:

The scooter’s back from the shop with shiny new brake pads, but it still required a little bit of prep before it’d be ready for the road. The mirrors needed tightening, the air pressure in the tires needed checking, and the center stand needed a little WD40 so it’d fold up more freely. Done.

I’ve gone through my packing list and started putting things together. I can’t pack per se, because that means strapping and stuffing things into the scooter, and I can’t put stuff in my bag because I’m still using that for my commute the next few days. But the camping gear is laid out on the floor, and nearly everything else (except my clothes) is in a little huddle on the table. It took me half an hour, but earlier today I found my battery recharger (and the batteries in it) under the desk. I’ve printed out Google maps of my day-by-day itinerary, not so much for actual navigation (I plan to use the iPhone for that), but as a backup. I just got back from the gas station, where I filled up my spare-fuel bottle.

I’m doing laundry tonight, then I can assemble the clothes I’m bringing (a few specific items I want to take are already in the laundry basket, and one needs to take the correct t-shirts when traveling). And that’s pretty much everything.

There’s only one thing on the packing list that I don’t have: a charger for my new iPhone. The antique car-charger for the old one doesn’t work with this model, so I need to buy a newer model. I have a wall-outlet charger of course, which I could use at camp grounds, but I’d rather not be dependent on that; I want to be able to charge it on the road as well. So, to the Apple Store tomorrow. The iPhone 4 crowds should be gone by now, and I can pick up a few accessories for mine.

Then it’s just waiting until Thursday rolls around.

Packing list 2010

Thursday, 8th July 2010; 8:48 am - Location:

This year’s trip isn’t fundamentally different from last year’s, so my packing list won’t be much different. Mostly just a refresh on tech gear, and adding a passport to get into Canada and back.

I am dropping a few items, however. I’m not going to bother bringing a lock. The Buddy has a handlebar lock that will discourage casual theft by making it difficult to push anywhere. You’d need to carry it to a pickup or something, and the odds of someone trying that in the short periods of time I’ll be leaving the scooter unattended are pretty slim. I didn’t use it at all last time. I’m also leaving out the tire-repair gear, because it really wouldn’t do me any good if I needed it. Unlike a bicycle, which has tires I could reasonably patch if I had a punctured tube, I simply don’t have the means to remove and then replace the scooter’s tires after repairs, so I’d need professional help regardless.

On my personutter essentials:
Long pants
Hiking boots
Riding jacket
iPhone 4 (camera, GPS, etc)
Wallet (cash, debit/ATM card, papers)

Bag (over shoulder/on seat behind me) health and safety:
Battery charger
iPhone charger
Frogg Toggs (rain gear)
Rain cover for rear rack
Swiss army knife
First aid kit
Bug dope
Sun screen
Toothbrush, paste
Paper road maps

Pet carrier (under the seat) clothing:
T-shirts (3)
Underwear (3)
Socks (3 pair)
Hankies (3)
Camp shoes
Detergent for one load of laundry
Plastic bags
Tie downs (for scooter on ferries)

Rear rackcamp gear:
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad

Glove bucketetc:
Extra bungees
20-oz bottle of spare gas


Friday, 2nd July 2010; 10:19 pm - Location:

I am scooterless for a few days. I dropped my scooter off yesterday at the motorcycle/scooter dealer near where I work, to have them look at the brakes and give it a general servicing. (I took the bus home.) They said it would be ready by the end of the day today, but they had to order parts for the brakes, so it wasn’t. And with the weekend and Independence Day upon us, that means I won’t see it until Tuesday at the soonest.

Fortunately the weather is supposed to be nice the next few days, so I should be able to get everywhere I need to go, on my bicycle. I drove the car to work today, because I needed to deliver some large boxes to FedEx for shipping, and I drove it to the laundromat this evening because… I had laundry to transport. But for the weekend, I’ll be going by ped or by pedal.