Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Iceland Photo Teaser #2

 Just a few shots from Days 5 and 6 in Iceland.  
Will make a full edit of the best photos once I return to Texas next week.

For now... the landscape is vast, cold and empty. 

Icebergs floating out to sea

Stood in a frigid river making waves for this photo.

Iceland is known for its hardy breed of wild horses.

On everybody's bucket list is the opportunity to take a photo of the northern lights. Finally on our last night here, the lights made a faint appearance. Not spectacular and not visible to the naked eye, but the camera captured the green dancing lights using a long exposure.

Thanks my friends for following along on this fantastic opportunity to see and photograph Iceland. It is a spectacular place. Will be posting more edited photos from the trip in the future.

I heard the Triumph Rocket with sidecar frame will be ready for me when I arrive back in Houston. Am looking forward to making the Warthog adventure ready over the next few months.

Ride safe and long.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Icelandic Photo Teasers

The days are going by fast, have taken so many photos with no time to process them.  However wanted to post a few so you know what is happening in Iceland on the expedition.

Will post more photos once I have the chance to select the best for the blog. 
Wrapped up the third day here, two more days of photography coming.

So here we go.

Icelandic lanscape near Reykjavík.

Start with waterfalls, there so many here. Even in winter, the glaciers are flowing water.

The brave return wet from a walk behind the falls, very wet. No place for camera gear.

Rain was our off & on companion most of the first day.

But further east, rain turned to crunchy grainy snow.

Late afternoon we reached Vik and the famous Black Beach with the three sea stacks.

Out on the beach

A brave... or foolhardy soul ventures too close to the water. 

The drop off here is steep, the waves are very powerful. There is swimming or surfing here.
 Every year several people are pulls out into the ocean when they get caught up in a receding wave. 

 The waves at Black Beach. 

Looks like night, but is only 5 pm, on our way to the motel.

Nest morning we are back on a frozen road to take distant shots of Black Beach. 
Every vehicle in Iceland has tires with steel studs in them. 

Black Beach waves...

A very windy panorama shot...

We are on the southwest side of the island. There are numerous one lane bridges on the Ring Road. 
The only road that circumnavigates the island of Iceland. 

The next morning, out the door by 7 am to visit a glacier to try and find an ice cave.

The off road vehicle can only take us so close to the glacier, then we have to hike two miles over rocky terrain wearing steel clamp-ons spikes on our boots, carrying our camera gear. 
Is early dawn and cold, steel spike crunch in the ice and clang on the rocks.

There are rivers flowing from underneath the glaciers. 
The all the rain of the last several days, the rivers are deeper than normal.

Was the hike in worth it?
Well, here is one of the photos I took from inside the cave as the sun came up. 

Weather here changes dramatically hour by hour., or can be the same dull over cast all day long. 

We have two more days here, learning, practicing, enjoying it all.

Hope you enjoyed the teaser photos More to come, my friends.


Friday, February 7, 2020

Iceland Day Two- Downtown Reykjavík

Today the wind was blowing rain sideways. Finally after lunch the rain lightened up, but the wind was still blowing. Took my chances and wandered along the main shopping street in Reykjavík. 

Rather than risk getting the SONY camera wet, decided to use the iPhone camera instead. All of todays images were taken with the iPhone 11Pro Max. Am using a selfies stick and a remote shutter button. People will not know when I am taking a photo or of what. Many times I act like I am taking a selfie but am actually focusing on the people in front of the lens. 

Many shots were taken with the selfie stick pointing down, hoping to get low angles with faces in the shot. How the camera knows which way is up and which is down, I do not know. I do know that I did not have to rotate any of the photos as they came out of the camera. 

The downtown shopping district of Reykjavík. 

Everyone is bundled up against the cold wind. 
Too cold to smile.

Riding with the wind as it pushes you along...

Struggling to walk into the wind. 

Wearing a rain poncho is not a good idea on days like today. It acts like a sail.

No comment, her posture says it all.

For older folks, just crossing the street to visit a neighbor can be as challenge.

Found her refuge from the cold wind.

No matter how cold it is, dogs need to be walked. 

Could not resist taking this final shot of the day. The irony grabbed my attention. 
Used Luminar to make the quick edit.

Tomorrow the group heads out on two large truck type 4x4 buses. We'll return to Reykjavík next Wednesday. But for now, off to the ice caves, icebergs, glaciers and black sand.

More photos as the week progresses


Iceland - Day One Reykjavík

Day One: Awoke in Reykjavík, Iceland to this view from a sixth floor hotel window. Departed Houston 11:30 am Wednesday, arriving in Iceland 6:15 am Thursday via JFK New York. 

Immediately crashed into a deep slumber to make up for what was lost in the flight over.

Have a day and half to wander around the city before the event that brought me here commences: 
a LUMINAR Photography Camp. 

Luminar is the photo editing software program I use. Cannot say enough good things about the program, but definitely need to learn how to better utilize all of it's great editing tools.  The camp will include six professional photographers from around the world teaching master classes, six Luminar experts advising us how best to apply the software tools and the invited group of 36 attendees. The week long program has been scheduled and planned in great detail, taking us to some of the most scenic landscapes in all of Iceland.  More great photos to come.

What you will see in the blog will be my first pass edits for the blog. 
The more detailed and polished photos will be posted after I return to Texas. 

But first, let's do a walkabout in the city.

The architecture in Reykjavík is of Scandinavian influence. Which makes sense as those are its closest culturally related countries. Most buildings are an off-white, beige or dark charcoal. So any building of bright color pops out immediately

Weather wise, though occupying a much further north latitude, the tourist bureau claims their winters are warmer than New York City due to the ocean currents. 

For this ole Gulf Coast Texas boy... it is still cold. My broad brimmed hat was blown off twice in the first hour here, so will resort to wearing a knit cap for the rest of my visit.

The capital of Iceland is not a sleepy little frozen fishing village.
 It is a thriving metropolis, where economic activity is seen everywhere.

Whenever I visit a coastal town, my first instinct is to walk along the bay front, trying to find the old port area.  Looking for old structures, interesting sailing ships... 

Well,  found Iceland's Coast Guard base.

My second objective walking around these docks is to find a local fish & chips shack serving Icelandic cod so fresh, it was swimming in the ocean last night.  Found one, hmmmmm good. 
No food photos, dug in so fast I forgot the shot...

The fishing boats are lined up, waiting to return to sea.

Spotted this four man diving crew, waiting for instructions from their foreman on the dock. 
Cannot imagine how cold that water must be for those guys... a hardy bunch.

A bright flashing light grabbed my attention, 
a welder is repairing a a section of steel deck plate on a well used fishing trawler.

Continued exploring, across the bay were bright white buildings,
 jumping out against the grey cloud covered mountain behind them.

There is snow in the forecast so that land might be covered in white tomorrow. 
Those buildings will be lost in view.

Came across the Sólfar monument. 
Sólfar means the Sun Voyager, a statue by Jön Gunnar Árnason. 
Is described as a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun.

Though modern in design, it obviously reflects the strong determined norsemen genes of olde.

The figures looks as if they are celebrating the sighting of land in the distance.

Tomorrow we continue our walkabout in downtown Reykjavík

Góöa nótt (Icelandic for good night)


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Project: Warthog - Texas Sidecar Company builds a sub-frame

Wow, has been two months with no update on Project Warthog. Time to remedy that!

The crew over at Texas Sidecar Company could not start work on the Rocket until they cleared out a few other projects ahead of mine. Once they started work though, things moved along quite nicely.

Last time we visited the Triumph Rocket, it was waiting to go to the TSC shop in Houston.

From the sidecar frame, the camper body was removed. The frame was then detached from the Vstrom1000. The well-built Vstrom motorcycle was sold to a gentleman from Kentucky.

The frame now sits, waiting to go to TSC to be matched up to the Rocket.

Initially, all projects starts slow as they work through the design and planning stages. 
Then momentum starts building as the ideas and reality come together.

With both halves in their shop, John at Texas Sidecar studies where the mounting points line up, where new brackets are needed. 
He spoke with other sidecar builders about their experiences with building a sidecar for the Rocket.

This is the first Rocket build for TSC. 
Because they are local and I trust Kent and his crew, decided to have the build done in Texas.

The two halves are lined up beside each other, waiting... while the TSC crew studies and designs.

Starting low, trying a few ideas for the lower sub-frame that goes under the Rocket, 
where the sidecar frame will be attached. All medium to large sidecars normally have four attachment points, two lower and two upper. This rig will have five due to the width, weight and anticipated rough roads it will traverse.

Next trial fittings for the upper strut mounts. Pieces are only tack welded at this point. Once the final design is worked out, then full blown welding will take place. 

Many might think that sidecars are mass produced in modern factories. Bodies stamped out with cookie cutters, welded by robots programmed to assemble hundred of sidecars a day. In reality, every US built sidecar is a custom job. Unique to the motorcycle and to the sidecar being mounting. Then the design has to factor in the intended use of the rig. Finally it has to be modified for the weight and size of the rider.  

Since I take my rigs to the more remote regions of North America, the over-riding criteria for this build is, it must be stout. Weight be damned, build strong.

Oops, looks like there is interference with the radiator overflow tank. No problem. Can fix that with a heat gun and apply slight pressure to bend the plastic back for better clearance. 
Wish all mods could be as easy. 

The upper strut mount design is agreed upon. Still not ready for final welding though.

An engine guard and highway peg mounting brace were added to the left side.

There will be two lower mounting points and three upper mounts.

Now let's look again at the lower mounts....???  More pieces of the puzzle to work out and fabricate.

A special challenge was building a mount on the rear swing arm for the anti-sway bar.
The anti-sway bar helps keep the rig level on curves and twisting country roads. We won't be going fast but we still want all three tires touching pavement at all times. 

The final bracket is beefy, well built, plus looks good. 
Like the rest of the new pieces, this too will be powder coated to resist rust.

In the next photo you can see the front upper clevis connection on the new bracket and the rear clevis bolted to the rear fender sub-frame. The Rocket has a very beefy rear subframe to carry the weight of a passenger and the steel fender. That made for a strong mounting point for the rear upper strut. The third upper strut will be come off of the new forward brace.

Last Saturday, after the lower mount design was finalized and welded. Other welds were added before the first trial fitting took place. All the pieces were bolted together to see if any clearance issues arose.

With every bolt temporarily in place, Kent, the owner of Texas Sidecar Company, felt brave enough to take the rig out for a cautious spin. Said it felt solid and handled well. 

The first time the WARTHOG has seen the light on day. Still a long way to go before it's done, but a major step in the process is taking place here at Texas Sidecar Company.

Now they will clean up the pieces in prep for the powder coating. Then re-assemble, test once more and deliver to the owner... that'll be me.

 Once back in my garage, I'll start on the next phase of the project: wiring, plumbing, lighting, add accessories, install weather protection and the auxiliary fuel tank. That work will carry on through Spring into Summer.

Am anticipating a nice long camping trip this summer on the WARTHOG. Getting excited...


Staying with the sidecar theme today, a final B&W photo.

My friend Dom in Colorado has a Russian Ural sidecar that he uses to 
explore trails and backroads in the Western States. 

I borrowed one of his blog photos, then converted the look. If not for the jet vapor trails in the sky, this could pass for a military sidecar on the eastern front during World War II.

( p.s. For those too young to know, jet aircraft had not yet been invented in the early 1940's).

Happy trails ya'll

Stay tuned for more on Project:Warthog. Plus photos from an upcoming expedition to Iceland.