Saturday, January 31, 2009

Leaning In

For those of us who enjoy motorcycles a big part of riding is controlling the bike by leaning into the corner. Done right, its feels so good.

For those of us who are suspension fanatics and also the two wheel leaners, there is a recent and interesting trend to ride-on, lean-in vehicles with 3 or 4 wheels.

Haven't had the chance to try one, but it looks like fun. Curious in the extreme how they do it.

Wesll Suspension Working Prototype 2 from Wesll on Vimeo.

4Wheels above, 3Wheels below. The Brudeli below is available in Europe for big bucks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Respect the Van, Man

This is Fillmore at home in the movie "Cars". As Fillmore says, "Respect the Van, Man!"

As Chrysler has gotten smaller, I've been working on several cars at once, rather than the usual concentration on only one car at a time. One of the cars that I've picked up is the minivan, both Chrysler and VW (Fillmore, is that you?). Its something I've resisted for a while. As a old bachelor, I've always felt like I would have a hard time putting myself in the place of the customer. But now that I've been spending some quality time driving vans, I may not aspire to them, but they are good, practical vehicles.

One problem, however. Nobody on the road respects the van. They assume you are some weak willed, soccer mom. So they are constantly assuming I'm going to be slow and chicken in my driving, which I am not. More than once I've surprised another driver by being on the gas and not politely opening the hole in traffic for them. And more than once I've shaken my fist in the windshield and quoted Fillmore, "Respect the van, man!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Small Town Names

I guess when I go on a road trip, part of me turns into a little boy again. "Daddy, Daddy, look at the blue truck." You know.

Part of it is that you don't have a lot to do on a long trip and little things like unusual names of little towns along the way keep you occupied. Now my all time favorites in this category are the towns of Gnaw Bone and French Lick in Indiana. And there are always the famous Pennsylvania towns of Intercourse and Blue Balls.

Although it can't quite keep up with that, Northern Michigan has its share. For example, Topinabee and Tittabawassee are just fun to say.

Others, like Assinins are hard to say, but interesting anyway. Baraga and Bovine are fun, along with Naubinway.

My favorites are Germfask and Epoufette. You probably remember the popular song from the sixties, "Do you know the way to Epoufette."

Now one of these days, I'll get out to the desert and visit with folks there. In the meantime, we stopped in at Phoenix. Phoenix, Michigan that is.

It's early in the season, so they don't have much snow yet. My friend, Dan, is a big guy, about 6' 3", so the snow is only up to his chest. If you think about this being only about 1/3 of the way through the snow season, you'll understand why the "Phoenix" town sign is so tall.

So here is to small towns and road trips.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tis the Season

When it gets cold, the big lakes are warmer than the air. Although ice forms around the edge of the lake, away from shore the open water steams, almost boils into the cold winter sunshine. This is looking at the steam rising above Lake Superior in L'Anse Bay. Happy winter everyone.

While I was posting the "Simple Life" series, what I personally wanted to post was Houghton in the U.P. So I went looking for pictures of the U.P. and Houghton in winter which is the season of choice for me. Amazingly, I could only find a few winter photos of Houghton, either taken by me or on the web. How could a place that has snow from November through April be only photographed in the green old summertime? Actually, I should spend some time in Houghton in summer if I am really considering it as a place for retirement. I might not like and it wouldn't do to live in a place with 6 long months of spring,summer, and fall that wasn't desirable.

I do love the winter blue sky in the north.

The other interesting question is whether or not the housing value is still good in Houghton. After all, with the housing crisis, there are some really cheap properties elsewhere. That $19,000 fixer upper in Houghton from last year might not look so good this year. And that $45,000 comfortable older home in town might look rather expensive. After all, Bob says that there are condos and small homes offered in south Phoenix for as little as $35,000. And our own Steve Wentworth just bought a nice family home on 10 acres west of Chelsea for $104,000.

I'll just have to see how attractive Houghton looks this year. Maybe the long drive up there will convince me to stay a troll after all.

For those of not from Michigan, this is the Mackinaw Bridge. People who live north of the bridge, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are "Yoopers". Those of us who live "under the bridge" are trolls.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let it Snow, let it snow, let it snow

We had a little snow yesterday. It's one of the reasons that we live here in Michigan.

As evening fell, the clouds moved on and we were treated to a big old moon. It was so bright and clear, you could take a picture. So I did. Here are a couple of shots of my yard taken by moon shine.

Wake up in the morning and all this pristine snow is tracked by the deer who love my yew bushes on the side of my house. I never hear them, but once in a while, I'm lucky enough to walk up to this window after dark and notice a dark shadow on the ground below. Turn out the lights, let my eyes adjust, and there are the deer, cautiously nibbling on my yews.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Favorite Tow Vehicles - The Camel Car

My friend Greg Wilkinson sent me this link to a very interesting tow vehicle. I clipped this picture from the gentleman's blog, but its really worth reading about at the blog post itself which is linked below. It may a few of you get there if I mention that the "cab" is a modified minivan.

Thanks Greg.

As for the Escort Mk 1, yeah I think they are great. I was really surprised to be walking along the street in a small village at the northern tip of Scotland and seeing that car. Its actually amazing how few interesting cars are on the road these days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Even More Old Wood

I dearly love old falling down buildings. I just wish they could tell me their story. This one I ran across in California, earthquake country, I believe.

This picture is from Animas Forks, Colorado and, in this case, the old wood does tell a little story. Animas Forks was a mining town at a little over 11,000 feet elevation in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado. This picture was taken on a trip from California to Michigan with my niece, Amanda.

As you can imagine, winter gets a little cold at 11,000 feet and the owner of this house tried to keep the cold and wind out by nailing tar paper on the outside of the building. Each of these nails has a formed washer like a little hat around it. From the number of nails, I would say that he had some trouble holding the tar paper to the wall.

By the way, it was once a fine house, two stories with a bay window and a beautiful view of the valley.

I seem to make this kind of picture a lot. For me, there is something about standing inside the broken down wreck of a building and taking a picture out of the window. I guess its the feeling that you are looking at the same view that the owner of this house saw everyday. This is Ashcroft, Colorado, near Aspen, on the trip with my father to scatter my Mother's ashes.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Creative Thinking

Originally, I just emailed this link to a few appropriate people, but this is too much fun. This photo is clipped from The address below takes you to the background story and more pictures.

This is what happens when you let a 19 year old kid play around with mechanical genetics. Its obviously a cross between a sportbike and a Segway. The only question is which page of the Kama Sutra is a good description of the act that created this monster.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Race Spectating

In keeping with the towing story about Dave Dobry's Volar, I found these pictures, possibly from the same trip to Road Atlanta. From left to right are Grant, Greg Wilkinson, and Bill Bastow in his jaunty fedora. Greg and Grant are good friends from London, Ontario. They used to race F Ford with me at Waterford and stay at the house on race weekends.

Speaking of Dave Dobry, here is a young version with Mr. Bastow in the background. Is that an an adult beverage in Bill's hand? That's one advantage of watching races over racing yourself, no achohol in the paddock.

Now as for myself, I've always been known for a more fattening indulgence. More than one race team paid me off in Oreos. I'm only suprised that this doesn't appear to be a Double Stuff.

As seen with the Volar towing incident, sometimes you watch races in the rain. This was from an early Detroit GP with this uknown person modelling fashionable racing rainwear. Note the clear garbage bag or bin liner over the shoulders allows the blue jacket to show through in a nice contrast to the khaki of the boxes.