Monday, November 8, 2021

Fall Weather Arrives ?

Sharing a recent fall photo of New Mexico aspen trees. 

Fall appears to be moving in on the left while summer is not letting go on the right.  Is this a split season ?


Rode the WartHog, my sidecamper,  to the Houston BMW Club's 51rst annual rally at Oak Thicket Park near Fayetteville, TX.

Night temperature was 40, warming up to 60+ during the day.

Grabbed a couple early morning iPhone photos with the sun filtering in through the leaves. Only three sidecar rigs at the rally, two Goldwings and a Triumph Rocket 3.  Does that tell you something?

The Rocket 3 WARTHOG sidecamper;  sleeping on the cold hard ground is overrated.  

Recently install a solar panel to charge a lithium battery that warms the bed at night. 
Am high tech roughing it - wiring the panel was hard work...... NOT!

Robert, his wife and their little dog (who hates camping) share a larger pull behind pop up camper trailer. 
Here with their Goldwing rig.

Marty and his wife stayed warm all night in their camper.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

2021 Photography Portfolio: San Francisco de Asis Mission

Each Fall the Northwest Houston Photography Club hosts a portfolio review. Any member can participate with eight to twelve images. Each person decides what their portfolio will focus on, a particular subject, a style of photography, a particular type of printing, a theme...  it's an opportunity for the photographer to explore, experiment, try something new.

Six professional photographers are invited in to critique the photos one on one with each photographer. Having a fresh set of trained and experienced eyes look at your project and offer critical comments is invaluable as one works to improve their images.

I chose the San Francisco de Asis Mission in Rancho de Taos as my subject this year. Mainly because I admire the structure, the culture and the people that maintain it. Here is my portfolio.

The artists' statement reads:

"one of the most beautiful buildings

left in the United States by the early Spaniards”

Georgia O’Keeffe


The San Francisco de Asís Mission Church is a historic and architecturally significant building in Ranchos de Taos, northern New Mexico. Built between 1772 and 1816 in the main plaza of a small Mexican - Indian agricultural community, it replaced an earlier mission that was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo revolt.


This is one of the finest living examples of a Spanish Mission Church being the heart and soul of a pueblo. The edifice was built and has been maintained over the centuries by the blood, sweat and toil of the indigenous villagers. Every Spring they gather to apply mud and straw by hand to repair weather related erosion.


This mission has inspired some of the greatest number of depictions of any building in the United States. It was the subject of several paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe and photographs by Ansel AdamsPaul Strand and Ned Scott. Many artists spent months here studying, learning and looking for the perfect light to capture its beauty. Its adobe walls are everchanging with the high desert light, hour by hour, day by day, season by season.


This collection depicts but a few of the many facets 

of this revered living edifice. 


NOTE: As is common in many active pueblo missions,

 photography inside the church is strictly prohibited.

Let's start the show...

All of the missions initiated in the southwest by the Spaniards during the 1600's were lead by Franciscan priests. Thus many are named for San Francisco, their patron saint.

Taken at midnight, two small naked bulbs illuminate San Francisco and the front of the mission.

The morning sun breaks over the adobe mission, illuminating the most western of its' three crosses

As the sun rises, the mission's shape and form are revealed.

The texture of the adobe is accentuated by the intense noon day sun.

Each year the villagers gather to replaster the mission walls, repairing the damage caused by a winter's freeze. They mix mud, sand and straw using hoes in the central courtyard before applying it by hand to the church. 
Here you see the dark wet mud that was applied earlier in the day.

An infrequent snowstorm in the valley with an overnight freeze cracks the old adobe mud 
creating the need for the annual spring replaster.

A Fall late afternoon sun pulls a golden glow from the dry straw embedded in the walls.

Even at midnight, the mission is still an imposing structure, residing in the middle of the village plaza. Today year 2021, in one of the richest countries in the world, 
the plaza and the road around the old mission is a mixture mud and gravel.

And the final photo, 
"Written in the Heavens"

In all it was a great learning experience. Have new ideas and tips on how to improve.

Now to decide what next year's portfolio will be.... hmmmm.

Ride safe my friends,


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Followed Home - Part II

It's a 2018 Honda Goldwing 1800 DCT with a Hannigan Classic convertible sidecar. Was advertised on CYCLETRADER in Pittsburg, PA. with only 606 miles on it. Seller was having health issues and decided he could not use it as he wanted. 

Seller bought the Wing new, shipped it to Freedom Sidecars in Middleburg, PA to have a Hannigan Classic Double sidecar installed. The sidecar was painted to match the bike.
A custom Hannigan designed double wishbone front forks was installed. 
The Honda DCT model is an automatic transmission, no shifting or clutch lever.

The sidecar windshield is tall so the passenger's head doesn't hit the convertible top.  For me it is too tall and never carry a passenger, so have ordered a 6" windscreen and a flat tonneau cover to keep the rain out of the cockpit.

Am getting used to the clutchless shifting. Twist and go... but parking required learning a new habit. On regular motorcycles, we park and leave the bike in gear. That stops it from rolling on uneven ground. 
With the DCT, one cannot park in gear, it automatically goes into neutral when shutting off the engine. Therefore one must pull the parking brake to keep the bike from rolling on a slope, or moving when level. Too often one starts off riding forgetting the parking brake is engaged, causing excessive wear on the brakes. Plus the bike feels like it's dragging an anchor.

Have ordered a larger windscreen for the bike from F4, a highway peg for the left foot, a floor board for the right foot and a back rest. 

Have the East Texas-Louisiana Fall sidecar gathering coming up. That will be a good test ride on the new rig. It needs a nice long ride to earn a name. 

This might be a keeper, will get the fine tuning and tweaking done, give it a whirl, then decide. 

Ride safe y'all.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Chama New Mexico Steam Trains

Last month I drove some of my family to the train depot in Chama New Mexico so they could ride the old narrow gauge steam train through the southern Rockies to Antonito, Colorado.

I hung around the rail yard in the early morning light capturing a few photos. 
Here are the results of those efforts.

Getting ready to back the engine up

Coal smoke fills the yard

The wheel's driving links

Waiting patiently for the engineer to finish his morning coffee

Old Iron slowly rusting, too tired and old to work the rails.

Building up a head of steam

Leaving the rail yard with passengers hoping to see eagles and elk in the high country.

That's quite the snowplow on the front.

Ride safe y'all


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Was Followed Home


this red motorcycle rig has been following me.... tailgating me for the last 1500 miles.

Kinda feel sorry for him. 

Guess I better make room for the poor lonely fella once we get to Texas.

Maybe a good story will come out of it.

More to come....  soon.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Found a Horseshoe...

Life is full of surprises, some good, some, ah interesting.

A curious piece from the world of sidecars came into the Man Cave, 
a UNIT leading link front fork... 

now before you ask WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? 
Well, it's from a defunct British company

Okay, here is a photo.

So still asking...   WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? 

It's a leading link. Okay and...? well it's a modified front fork commonly seen on a motorcycle being used for sidecar duty. It stabilizes the steering and handling as well as reduces front dive when braking.

I feel like the guy who found a horseshoe and a bay of hay. 
Now I need find a saddle and build a stable before the horse arrives.

So a new build thread starts. Don't exactly know where it is going, what it is suppose to be,
nor when it will be completed. It will be interesting, puzzling, frustrating, busted knuckles , adult words in multiple languages, promised ever receding rewards, sleepless nights, internet shopping, long hours waiting for FedEx deliveries, lots of trial and error, and maybe a working sidecar rig in the end. If not, who will shovel out the stable?

With everybody contributing ideas and suggestions, thus adding twists and turns to the process will keep it challenging.

Will have a million questions... like how does one know if a found horsershoe is for the front or the rear?


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Latest Photography Projects & Competition

Have not been writing or riding much lately, May was spent preparing the USCA National Sidecar Rally for the first week in June. As Rallymaster there were many details that needed addressing.

The Rally itself was a great success, our largest gathering in over ten years, 280+ attendees. Two out of three riding days were sunny and clear. so everyone had the opportunity to explore the backroads of southeast Arkansas. Forty sidecar rigs braved the rains and made the Saturday morning parade happen. Thanks to them, the townspeople thought you were great to ride inspite of the gloomy weather.

Did not take any rally photos myself. We had an official rally photographer who took a lot of great photos for the Sidecarist magazine. 

Little by little this year have been pushing myself to improve my photography skills, either in how I take the photo or how I edit and print them. Have entered many of them in the monthly competition of the Northwest Houston Photography Club.

Following are some of my efforts so far this year. You may have seen some of these in pre-production form, that are now finished.

After the storm, northern New Mexico. no ribbon but I like it.

Backwater Bayou, Caddo Lake, Texas, 
took home a first place ribbon

Jefferson Boardwalk, Texas, brought home a third place ribbon
Not bad for an iPhone photo.

Fallen Brother, yet to be displayed, 
Did you know that aspen trees share a root system. Every tree you see here is part of one root system. So they are all brothers, or sisters.

Naked Aspen, took a first place ribbon
Had mixed feelings on this image, but the judges liked it.

Spanish Moss, Caddo Lake, Texas, another first place ribbon
A bird photographer suggested I crop tighter on the bird.  Explained this was an environmental shot with emphasis on the Swamp moss, the bird is a character on a stage adding interest. 

American Gothic, a work in progress
Many times I will print an image, pin it to the wall and think about it.  I like this image but am still considering how I want to finish it.

If I were King..., another work in progress
I really like this image, but might try printing in black and white...?

Black Sand Beach, Iceland, took home a first place ribbon
Was a cold January morning in Iceland when this shot was taken. Up before dawn to be at this location. 

Houston's Lifeline, Bridges, a work in progress
The assignment is Houston Bridges. 
Everywhere you go in Houston you see the eighteen wheeler trucks. 
A photo without them would not be Houston. 

Sand Mountain, Nevada, garnered a first place ribbon
The Sand Mountain Recreation Area on US Hwy 50 in Nevada is a playground of white sand. 
Hwy 50 is also known as the loneliest highway in America. 
There were a few dim lights in the parking/concession area on the right that illuminated the scene.  


Last year I did a photography portfolio, a series of people's faces focusing on their eyes. 
This year the subject matter will be the many facets of the two hundred year old San Francisco de Asis Mission church in Rancho de Taos, New Mexico. All the photos will be in black and white. 

Here is a sample from the upcoming portfolio. Presentation to be in October.

Stay safe, stay healthy, see you on down the road.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sidecars in the Smokies, North Carolina

The month of April found us going in circles on the backroads of North Carolina trying to find the Iron Horse Motorcycle Campgrounds. Today was the first day of the 10thannual Sidecars in the Smokies Rally and we did not want to be late.  


Arriving late Thursday, the weather was nippy, even frosty. 

But Friday morning we awoke to warmer temperatures and a promise of sunny riding weather. A group ride was organized for a lunch run to the The Bistro at the Everett Hotel in Bryson City.

Bryson City is a small town in North Carolina, also known as the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with its wildflowers, streams and winding roads.

Jean Flagler from western New York state is scooting along on her Harley hardtail rig 

Leading the charge through the Smokey backroads  is a Harley with a Sweet sidecar

Dan Ingle on his BMW/Freedom sidecar rig. Dan also has a MiniMate camper like what is mounted on my Rocket/Sidecamper, but he pulls his as a trailer. 

An HP rig (High Performance) with center hub steering
 and exotic European sidecar

After lunch there was a lot of tire kicking in the hotel parking lot, as we admired the customized rigs and made new friends. With a bright sky and dry pavement waiting, everyone soon scattered to ride their own special winding road.

Sadly I could not go with them. My BMW/EZS rig had picked up a self-taping screw in the rear tire that morning, darn those Dragon Tail screws. With the help of fellow sidecarists, Friday afternoon was spent attempting a plug and seal on an stubborn steel belted car tire. Unfortunately neither the pig-tail plug nor the fix-a-flat could convince the tire to hold air.

Check out the sky in this photo...  
you know what's coming.

Not all rides go perfectly as planned, but then that is part of our adventure. Glancing at the sky then the weather forecast, I decided to load the rig back on the trailer for a planned trip further north to Cleveland, Ohio Sunday morning before returning to Texas mid-week. There is a new rear tire waiting on the shelf back home in Texas for our return.

Grabbed some snapshots of the rigs parked 
under cover for the night.

The Iron Horse campgrounds is very motorcycle oriented, dedicated to serving the motorcycling community with a campground layout that caters to two and three wheel riders, offering fuel, air, lodging, camping, RV hook ups, ice, restaurant services and rider merchandise. Their location near the infamous Tail of the Dragon and many lesser known but equally great motorcycling roads makes this a perfect relaxing hideaway and base camp for motorcyclists.

Early Saturday morning, the rains arrived in the form of a cold slow drizzle with low clouds lingering over the campgrounds for the next twelve hours. If not already under a carport, rigs were covered with tarps, tents were checked for leaks or flooding. The cold steady rain hung around until late afternoon. Making for a lazy kick back time for socializing and getting to better know our fellow sidecar pilots. Though it was sad to see all those beautiful sidecar rigs not being ridden, the roads were too wet and too slippery to ride at any speed.

A homemade custom rat rig under tarp, not staying much drier than the contents of his tent.

Even the high dollar factory Hannigan rigs sat idle due to the steady rain. While the passenger would stay dry in that car, the rider would be soaked.

With a break in the rain, asked a couple of the riders to pose with their rigs for shots I needed for the Sidecar magazine. Rain or no rain, they needed clean sharp photos from the rally.

Bob Thibodeau on his 1999 Kawasaki Nomad 
and Motovation sidecar.

Todd Trueblood rides a 1985 BMW K100RS 
with a Dutch EML Tour sidecar.

Relaxing with a cigar, Todd reflects on riding 
the Carolina winding back country.

That's all from the road. 

We're looking forward to the USCA National Sidecar Rally coming up the first weekend in June in Mena, Arkansas. Over 250 sidecar rigs are expected at that event.

See you in Mena, 
ride safe y'all.