Saturday, September 7, 2019

Project: Warthog, the process starts

In case you thought I no longer rode, only wanted to talk about photography, rest assured Riding the Horizon is front and center in my thinking as I return to the garage.

Well friends, this particular scoot has reached its conclusion...

The Sidecamper BEAST tagged both the Eastern and the Western ends of Canada, made it most of the way up the Dalton Highway in Alaska, as far as Coldfoot. 

It's not a heavy rig, but is W I D E.  Pushing a lot of air with that big nose slows it down.

Overall the Vstrom1000 is a great all-around tug for sidecar duty. Parts are readily available, reasonably priced too. The Suzuki has a reputation for reliability and durability. Might not be the sexiest machine, but it gets you home. When loaded with everything including the kitchen sink... somewhere in there, the BEAST got me there, not quickly though.

Decided the sidecamper BEAST needed a stronger tug.  Top end speed is not priority number one, but low end torque is. Studied motorcycle specs, consulted with sidecar builders, 
looking for the ideal replacement. 

In north Texas, located and acquired last week a 2011 daily rider, a Triumph Rocket 3 roadster. At 2300 cc with 146 HP and 163 of torque, there isn't much this brute cannot move. 

Meet the Warthog...

To think less than ten years ago, my initiation into sidecars was a 26 HP kick start Russian URAL . 

The stock rear wheel will accept a 245/55-16 auto tire, which sells for less than half the cost of a motorcycle rear tire and will last twice as long. The open framework will be easier to work with in mounting the subframe needed for sidecar duty. The shaft drive is easier to maintain when on the road. And the torque...     is awesome!

 On first seeing the Rocket, SO blurted out, "I thought you didn't like chrome..."  I don't. 

First order of business is to lose those heavy chrome mufflers.
Learned the big chrome mufflers block the rear axle bolt from sliding all the way out if trying to remove the rear tire. In order to remove the rear wheel, you have to remove the left muffler. That is a bad design from the factory. Eliminating the long muffler eliminates the problem.

Big chrome gone! Next remove the exhaust hanger. 

That exposes the CAT... hmmm...  it has got to go too! 
I need that space vacant for mounting the subframe for the sidecamper. 

Now you see it, now you don't... Officer, someone stole my CAT. 

That's better. Now we have a nice open space for both the sub frame and for crossing the exhaust over to the left side. Did not want the exhaust exiting on the right side near the camper tub. Space is tight between the bike and the tub plus the auto battery will be there. 

Next removed the small passenger pad to make room for a five gallon auxiliary fuel cell. The fuel cell will gravity feed into the main tank. That will give us 11.3 gallons of fuel, average 30 mpg equals 339 mile range... I hope.  Depending on headwinds... as long as it has more range than 260 miles, all is good when riding in Alaska and Canada.

Well, that's the start. Ordered a few pieces online.
1). Tuneable stubby 10"exhaust
2). 225/65-16 General Altimax RT43 auto tire 
3). Spun aluminum 5 gallon fuel cell
4). Extensions for the rear shocks 

Using extensions to raise the rear end will reduce the trail, thus lighten the steering. 
Is an inexpensive solution before having to spend big bucks on steering mods.

Now to design the subframe, identify mounting points before talking with a builder.

This is my winter project, progress will be slow as I await parts or for fabricators to make the custom subframe. Will post updates periodically.

Rode safe and far Amigos

Wrenching again, oh we're wrenching again, living the garage, busting knuckles deep in grease, on the road wrenching again ( humming along On the Road with Willie strumming the flattop).


p.s. Next spring the Vstrom1000 will be available for purchase. Anyone looking to build their own RTW rig?

Saturday, August 17, 2019


While in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho had the opportunity to attend the JULYAMSH Indian Pow Wow. 
Various tribes from the Northwest, including Idaho, Washington. Oregon, Montana, Alberta and British Colombia, Canada gather each summer for a dance, singing and drumming competition. Each tribe sends their best performers to represent their traditions, dress and customs. 

At first the visual impact is so overwhelming with over a hundred dancers in a small arena. So many bright modern colors, the decorative rapid movements, intense serious attitudes and the sheer beauty of it all.. seemed at first impossible to capture with a camera. 

The men dance aggressively, quick fast movements in rhythm with the multiple drums while competing for a judge's attention, attempting to out impress other tribal dancers.

Twisting turning stepping to rapid pounding of the drums...

Fast movement, dramatic gestures, flying feathers, 
ribbons of colorful flash fill the camera's lens. 

Visually overpowering the individual under all the regalia.

Tried toning down the colors so as to focus more on the participants. So many bright colors were too strong visually, distracting from seeing the real people involved.

The lady's dance is all foot work and attitude. Here an invited dancer from Oklahoma leads the procession of tribal princesses.  

This photo?  hmmm, with the color toned down, looks too stiff, no WOW factor... 
The fourth girl with the rainbow dress overpowered everyone else if at full color.

The male dancers invoked the unique tribal heritage from their ancestral origins.

Let's introduce more contrast...  better.

Whoops, by going straight B&W, has details but loses in attitude and excitement. 
Too dull. No focal point of interest.

Maybe try a different tint....   Hmmmm...  No, not quite right.

Participants were of all ages from infants to grandparents.

How about a close up...   No, too sharp, is modern looking, not the look or feel I seek.

Settling down, let's refocus of individuals, attempting to capture 
the native sense of attitude and the personalities. 

Here a young girl seriously studies the dance moves of teenagers performing. 
The competition between the tribes and among the individuals is intense. 
They are all battling for honor and tribal pride.

Note the square topknot in the girls's hair?

Let's try an old school type of photo editing, harking back to a long lost era 
of strong proud warriors, rich tribal heritage.  

Strong but too sharp, too crisp.

This is better. Has a 1920's grainy look, strong contrast, slightly out of focus.

The proud attitude is showing... good sense of warrior strong. 

Finally on the right track to capture and show the spirit of the individual 
honoring their heritage. 

This B&W image captures the beauty with a sense of power within.  
Strong, determined and proud of who she is. 

In the mist of swirling colors and frantic activity, 
she projects calmness, composure of a tribal princess.

And finally,  different princess from a different tribe...  what does her image say to you?

???????  Post your comments...

Being allowed to mingle among the PowWow participants 
as they competed was a fantastic experience.

I better appreciate now their tribal heritage and the impressive efforts they put into preserving and promoting their culture. The training and formal preparation for the intensity of their performances was on full display. 

Well, that was a walk-about in the photographer's mind as one attempts 
to achieve a certain look and feel for the images. From the several hundreds of photos taken, 
these are the few that survived the selection / editing process.

Thank you for taking the time to follow along.

See you on down the road,


p.s. if you are having a problem posting your comments, try using Chrome browser to open the blog, then post your comment. That is the only way I can respond to comments, using Chrome.

One can also access the blog by going to:

Thank you for the feedback.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Adobe Churches

Yesterday decided to ride a loop looking for country adobe churches in this part of New Mexico. These are not the famous historical structures as in the last posting, 
but what the locals have build for their daily worship services.

Near Peñasco Pueblo, a small boxy abode structure: Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion

Near Guadalupita with an active graveyard out front, 
a bright modern church: Nuestra Señora del Niño Jesus.

... a small modest church in Rio Lucio: no name posted.

Not all the churches I found are still used, some are abandoned. 

Found it interesting that the steeple cross is gone, yet the heavy bell is still hanging in the tower. Surprised it has not been moved to a church that could use it. It is very common for alters, railings, pews or other unique or sacred church artifacts be moved and incorporated in a replacement church. 

And some churches are beyond the point of rebuilding.

In Dixon, the old adobe San Antonio Mission church was abandoned, 

... in favor of it's replacement built next door. 
Note the cross has been moved from the old structure.

I did get off the sidecar rig to step inside a small old capilla in Mora, NM. This was the church before they build a big modern building next door. The simple capilla with its decorative alter is preferred for daily worship by the older members.

Outside on a hot dusty side street in Mora, I met Don Patricio. 
Born 87 years ago in Guadalupita to a farming family, now his declining health worries him.
Says he does not want to live much longer. The pains in his body are unbearable. 

Finished today's riding loop by taking the busy highway back to Taos,  
then the twisting winding road up to Angel Fire.

No photos of the sidecar today, just the adobe churches I found...   and Don Patricio.

Be safe y'all, God speed.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Taos Spanish Missions

The weather forecast was positive, so I decided I would get out very early in the morning
to gather fodder for my photo portfolio. 

The old Spanish Missions in and around Taos, New Mexico are well known. In fact the San Francisco de Asis Mission in Rancho de Taos is the most photographed mission in NM.  Ansel Adams, Paul Strand and Georgia O'Keefe all used the imposing structure as subject matter for some of their works.

Arrived in Rancho a little too early before the 6:15 sunrise. But still,
captured a few images I like.

Predawn in Rancho de Taos

With the unpaved streets around the imposing mission, the look is "Old Mexico"

Rancho Street Lights

Sunrise slowly peeked over the mountain ridge but was disappointing 
as the deep shadows and bright lighlights I had hoped for did not materialize. 

Drove over to a smaller, much lesser know Capilla of the same Spanish era, 
Nuestra Señora de Dolores.
Is still an active church located in a modest neighborhood, not surrounded by gift shops or cafes like the San Francisco Mission in Rancho. But the gate was chained. 

Peaceful Nuestra Señora

Then found my way to the newer cathedral of Taos, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Built in the older mission style but with modern construction materials and engineering. The walls are not the ten foot thick adobe mud and straw as seen in Rancho.

The deep shadows and highlights I was hoping for earlier are finally appearing, an hour or so after sunrise. 

Come unto me...

So I raced back to the San Francisco mission in Rancho de Taos to try my luck again.
Morning services had already begun, did not wish to disturb the parishioners inside.

Music Dwells Within

While running from one mission to another, caught a quiet deserted Taos Plaza just as the better light appeared. If you have never been to Taos, NM, this is exactly how the old town plaza appears today- before the tourist SUV's and minivans fill the parking spots, blocking your view of the adobe buildings. 

Old Town Taos

There are two more missions in the immediate Taos area. One is located inside the Taos Pueblo with restricted visiting hours and the other is a small non-descript building wedged in between other  adobe houses. Will try to capture images of those two soon.

On the trails between Taos and Albuquerque, there are twenty-three old Spanish Missions, most on Indian Pueblo land. Some open to the public, others are not. This will provide me with many photographic subjects for many years.

Returning to Angel Fire, was treated to a sight from our deck, a mule deer buck and doe feeding together. The rut has not started yet, so he is not chasing her. Maybe are brother and sister? 
The buck is still in 'velvet'. 


All in all was a great day. Now have new images to work with.

Be safe, y'all


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Riding the Rockies South

Before leaving Coeur d'Alene after the sidecar rally, popped in on a native American / First Nation PowWow. Snapped hundred of photos but will edit those for photo competition coming up later this year.

Two young dancers posed for a snapshot before heading over to the judging area where they will compete.

A young mother and her two daughters also posed for a snapshot.

South of CdA, spotted an unusual sight so swung the rig around to take this photo.

Eunice, who is in her early eighties, was atop a stepladder picking cherries from the top of the tree. To do that, she drove her old 1949 Chevrolet pickup that she bought new in 1951, under the tree branches, then placed a stepladder in the bed of the truck so she could climb up and reach the ripe cherries on top.

Stopping to talk, I met Eunice's husband, standing behind the truck, eating the cherries as fast as she could pick them. 
Eunice spun tales of her and that truck, hauling firewood so heavy the rear differential plowed the center of the road, stacking hay so high it listed to one side, sliding off the highway on an icy road one winter with a non-functioning heater... an interesting couple.

Crossing Wyoming I kept seeing signs for the Sand River. Curiosity got the better of me and at the first opportunity to ride across the river, I did. 

Yeah, all sand, no water in the river bed.

Crossing Wyoming is a hot dry experience for hundred of miles. Sunburn is a concern. After trying creams and blockers over the years, found the simplest and cleanest solution is a bandana soaked in water. When it dries, re-soak.

Riding the Wind River Canyon south of Thermopolis, WY is one of my favorite experiences. 
Is a short canyon but one of the prettiest. The canyon walls parallel the roadway, the Wind River and railroad tracks.

There are three short tunnels, one right after the other on the south end of the canyon. 

In color, the canyon walls themselves is stunning.

And in black and white too.

On the last day, riding from Rifle, CO thru Aspen to reach Independence Pass,  the morning rush hour traffic heading up to Aspen was as bad as any Houston rush hour.  Because housing is so expensive in Aspen, most who work there must commute from outside the village. 

Aspen build federally subsidized housing for the school teachers, firemen and policemen 
as they could not afford live within the city limits.

Finally reaching Independence Pass, stopped for a quick photo at the sign. 

Just when you think you have accomplished something, up pedals a retired gent who made his way up from Aspen to reach the 12,045 ft high Pass.  I shook his hand.

The last twenty miles of the ride south was visited with a mountain shower. 
The only real rain of more than a mile the whole trip.

Now to rest a few days, do laundry and plan another ride.

Ride safe and far, y'all.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Riding the Rockies north

Sunday, July 21,  first day on the road, riding from New Mexico to northern Idaho to attend the United Sidecar Association National Rally in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho starting on Thursday, the 25th.

Left Angel Fire at 7:30 am, riding US-64 across northern New Mexico to Chama, NM. Stopped at the Brazos Bluff turn out for a quick snap shot. In the dark timber behind the rig is where I experienced my first elk hunt. The guide called in a young rag horn bull elk so close all I could see was fur in the rifle scope. Didn't know what part of the animal I was looking at, so I didn't pull the trigger. What a thrilling experience though. That got me hooked on elk hunting and elk conservation. Have returned to New Mexico to hunt elk several times more.

From Durango, Co, I rode north on US-550, the Million Dollar Highway. This route has been on my bucket list for many years. Why I picked a Sunday to ride it though... a big mistake. Too many tourists, too many Sunday riding motorcyclists, too many jeeps, too many tourists with the camper trailers... yet beautiful country.

Had to wait a bit before I could take this photo without all the traffic clogging the highway.

The hills are alive with the sound of...
eighteen wheelers, motorcycles, jeeps, RV's, crotchrockets, minivans pulling camper trailers, 
did find a quiet spot to take a photo of Big EZY in the mountains of Colorado.

Monday July 22nd, Day Two on the road to Idaho.

As Granddad said, "We're burning daylight. Lets get going." Was 100 degrees when we arrived in Grand junction last night. Awoke to a cooler dry 60 degrees to start to the day.

US-139 north out of Fruita, CO. Nice quiet road. No tourists or eighteen wheelers clogging it today. Still seeking out the two lane roads, avoiding the Interstate highways if at all possible.

Looking back, rode up from that valley below. 

Stepped to close to the edge, accidentally kick a loose rock and started a small avalanche... was going to yell SORRY to those below but then realized the echo might cause a rock slide behind and above me! 

Now who did that???  Nobody here but that masked stranger... with a volleyball on his head.

Crossed the Flaming Gorge Dam, stopped to look back and snap a photo. Noticed that the people working there had sidearms. Many roads across dams in the US are now closed or diverted when possible for security reasons. Things changed after 9-11.

The rain clouds are gathering... better decide when to put the rain gear on. 

Stopped to eat lunch with a Walmart ham and cheese sandwich at a turnout in Wyoming.
Overhead dark rain clouds rolled in from the west. The smell of rain filled the air.

But the rain gods took pity on me.  After passing overhead, they dumped their rain to my east and not far from where I was standing.

What I took for pity was just their toying around. An hour later the rains and pea gravel hail found me in the wide open road with no shelter in sight.

One does not see a log church very often. Here is St Hubert the Hunter Church in Bondurant, Wy. which is in the Bridger-Teton Wilderness Area.

This big critter stopped our travels for a minute or two. 

Me?  I laid still on the ground hoping it was not a meat eater (I didn't want to get mauled) or an amorous lover of sidecars.

Big EZY felt small for a change. Where is St Hubert when you need him?

Low point for the day was not the cold, or the rain, or the hail stones, but snail crawling pace of traffic into and out of Jackson, Wyoming, the doorway to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. Bumper to bumper tourist traffic had the only road tied up with vehicles moving slower than a two legged turtle.

Finally made Victor, Idaho for the night.

Day Three, Tuesday July 23rd: Cross lower Idaho from east to west.

On the road by 7 am, rode down to Idaho Falls then across the sagebrush lands toward Boise. Could have taken the faster route, but that would be the boring interstate highway which I try to avoid.

Abandoned little house on the prairie...
the windows and doors are gone, hopefully were recycled into a new home.

I've stayed in worst places, though I can't remember where or when. 
Hmmm, sounds like a country song. Rain clouds not far behind. 

Route 55 follows the Payette River north from Boise. 
The locals say this is some of the best whitewater rafting in the state.

A young man told me this particular spot is called Ball Buster because those two large boulders have caused more pain, even killed a few kayakers here. Is a recipe for a disaster trying to go between the two rocks. The fast changing current directions, eddy and deep hole have flipped many a kayaker. 
Said stick to the near bank and you'll get thru okay. He is young, I'll take his word for it. 

Day Four: Wednesday, July 24 

Stopped in Riggins, ID to recreate this photo, same as one I took a year ago when passing thru with the sidecamper rig.

Riggins is the whitewater rafting center for the Salmon River.  Stopped at an overlook to watch as a group of rafters try their luck with the rapids.

 They make it through. Would be bad for their tourist business if they didn't. Look like fun though.

This raft got caught going in sideways, created quite a splash of water that came into the raft, 
but they made it through without flipping over. 

Is that two legs sticking up in the front of the raft?
Aaaah, memories being made.

Approaching Lewiston, ID decided to try a road less traveled.  Route 3 angles up northeast east, coming out near Coeur d'Alene. 
Big EZY and I rode long undulating straight aways among field after field of wheat and barley. Broad fields separated by the deep green spruce canyons coming down from the north. 

Small towns with grain elevators await the fall harvest activity.

On this trip we encountered a few critters, mule deer, elk, whitetail deer, antelope, coyote, skunk,  only one bear...

After riding 1,592 miles, Big EZY and I arrived in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Will be here for the next three days, volunteering at the gathering of sidecarists from around the country.

Ride safe and far, y'all.