Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mt. Lemmon and the DrySpec D38 Rigid bag

The last few weekends Kiri and I, and the folks, have taken small day trips up the mountain to escape the heat.  It's been hitting ~105-108 degrees daily so being able to head up to 8000' where it's in the mid eighties is a real treat.  My dad bought my mom her own helmet and this is their first extended ride together on the Explorer.  On the old Honda her back would hurt when riding the pillion seat, but on the new bike she didn't seem to be in any pain. 
My dad has been busy adding on the accessories.  The crash bars and skid plate are new.  The old skid plate was simple plastic.  The new one looks like it can deflect bullets.  Not that he's planning on taking it off road any time soon:)
He's also added hand guards.  I'll be jealous of these when winter hits.  Not having cold wind on my hands, heading down the road, would be mighty nice.  Since these pictures were taken he's also added on heated grips, more headlights, and all of the luggage boxes.  I'll try to get a picture of the whole enchilada next time I see it.  For those of you wanting to know if he's run into any problems with the Explorer he's told me that sometimes the bike has a hard time shifting into first.  The solution is to let out the clutch just a bit and it will slip into it.  He's also experienced the bike stalling on him when going down the road.  It's only happen twice so far.  We're not sure if it's related to excessive heat, or maybe an electrical problem with all the work he's had done.  I'll report back if the problem persists.  He just had his first oil change at the 500 mile mark.  I'm guessing the bike is sitting round ~600 miles right now.
I've posted this picture before.  Tucson is out on the horizon and you can see the road winding up to where we are now at Windy Point.
Cheese!  Someone always has to have their eyes closed!
This visit we ate at the Iron Door restaurant.  It's my personal favorite as you can stare out at the aspen trees and the ski lift heading up the other side of the valley.  Cherish the temperature while you're up here.  Heading back down into Tucson the temperature rises 25 degrees in the span of 30 miles.  Ugh.  Luckily for Kiri and I her parents have a house at the base of the mountain and we stop to take a dip in their pool.  It's a life saver:)
 Then last Saturday we road up again to have breakfast with my sister and their family.  This is outside another restaurant called the Sawmill Run that just opened in the town of Summerhaven.  Quite a variation of bikes out front when we pulled up.  After heading in a large group of Ducati riders arrived.  There was even a 1199 Panigale in the group, not in this photo though:(
 An inside shot of the restaurant.  They had a couple of large groups show up right after us.  Always a good day when you get your order in before the table of 18 sits down:)
We sat outside on the patio.  My parents sharing a table with my sister's family.
Tuyen was able to ride up this weekend as well.  We sat at the bar,  it provided a good view of the bikes coming and going.
That's it for the Mt. Lemmon pictures.  Before I go I wanted to post some photos of a new toy I received this evening.  My dad, uncle, and I are planning a small 3 day trip the weekend after July 4th.  We're heading up through Prescott and then over to Alpine.  Since we're heading into the raining season I wanted to pickup a small travel bag that was water proof and smaller then my current Speedpack bag.  After looking around on the Twisted Throttle site I decided to try out the DrySpec D38 Rigid bag.
Some of the things I liked about it.  It's completely water proof, has easy access from the top, and maintains it's shape even when empty.  It also has plenty of places to strap additional gear on top.  And yes I probably could have gone with saddle bags, but I have a strong dislike of saddle bags on the bonnie.  Just a personal feel of how I want the bike not to look like.
You can see the size difference between the new bag and the larger Speedpack bag.  I'm still a big fan of the Speedpack bag, but it's more of a week, or longer, travel bag.  I'm looking for something on short weekend trips.
Here's what she looks like on the bike.
 I'll be posting pictures from the trip so I'll make sure to include how it looks strapped down and all that.  Until next time!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

London Day 7, the end

A little late, I know.  You get back home and real life starts to grab hold.  This will be the last post on our London trip.

Kiri and I woke to day 7 with a melancholy feeling that this was indeed our last day in London.  We headed over to our morning coffee shop and started asking each other what we wanted to do for our last day.  Somewhere between the first bite of my breakfast sandwich and the last sip of my latte we had decided to go check out the Notting Hill street fair that is held each Saturday afternoon.  So we jumped on the subway and headed over.  Coming out of the tube station there were signs that directed you where to head.  We followed the crowds.
We had no idea it would be this large.  There were _tons!_ of people there and it seemed to just keep going.
Kiri's nephew had asked that we bring back a pocket watch from London.  We thought that was going to be a hard request to keep, but one of the first booths we ran across had plenty.  And they were all high quality watches...cough...cough.  Don't look too hard at that horses mouth!!!
Sometimes you had to look over peoples shoulders just to see the merchandise.
As with any street fair there were plenty of food booths.  I think these ladies were making fruit crepes.
This place just kept going.  It was amazing.  If you have a strong desire to shop, you should make a effort to visit this event.
We spent a couple of hours drifting up and down the various booths.  You could find just about anything here.
This guy was outside a pub selling hamburgers.  They smelled delicious!
Kiri and I were craving pizza though..and there just happened to be another vendor nearby that looked delicious.
We shared a pizza and a spinach filled pastry.
We could have spent the entire day at Notting Hill but we decided to move on.  Kiri had a destination she wanted to visit, but on the way there I wanted to make a small stop.
If you're going to be anywhere on Baker Street, you just have to stop and visit Sherlock Holmes.
Unfortunately he wasn't home, but we snapped a couple photos of his flat.  Maybe we'll catch him next time:)  He was probably out solving an important crime.
Kiri had wanted to visit the Museum of London to understand the history of the town we had just spent the last week enjoying.
The museum was quite good!  They broke London down into it's various time frames and each small exhibit gave you examples of what was going on at that time.
One of the big events you keep hearing about, as you visit different sites in town, is the Great London fire of 1666.  This was a huge turning point in making the modern London that we know today.  I didn't know they had used gunpowder to try to stop the advance.  Pretty interesting.
We spent a few hours at the museum and afterwards we were pretty hungry.  We started making our way east to find a pub.
I had read about this pub in Yelp.  It was supposed to be pretty good.  It was close to our final event of the evening, and it was built under a train line.  Every time the train went over the entire building shook.  It was great!
Every evening there are guided "Jack the Ripper" tours that you can join.  We had kept meaning to make one earlier on in the week but alas, it never happened.  Well now was the perfect time!  So we met outside the "Tower Hill" subway station and waited for the tour guides to show up.  Maybe pints before a walking tour wasn't the greatest idea.  Wait here while I go find a bathroom:)
Soon our tour guide Simon was leading us out into the city to describe the events of Jack the Ripper and possible suspects.
While many of the older portions of London were destroyed by the bombings of World War II, there were still a few buildings that were standing in the summer of 1888.
Simon did a great job of describing what the city was like in the east end of London.  When the murders took place, and how the police handled the problem.  It was if we were headed back in time and you didn't what could be hiding around the corner.
Did you hear something?
The tour ended at the Ten Bells pub, a location famous for being linked to two of Jack the Rippers victims.  It gets its name from the church located right next by.  The church used to have ten bells in its steeple.  I believe this pub was shown in the movie "From Hell" with Johnny Depp.
The tour group broke up,  Kiri and I really enjoyed it.  Simon had mentioned that there was another famous pub nearby that was also associated with Jack the Ripper called the White Hart.  He gave us some directions but Kiri and I got turned around on the way there.  We soon found ourselves on a deserted road in the middle of London with no one in sight.  It made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  Kiri says I was trying to get her killed.  I snapped this quick photo and then we luckily found a tube entrance and ducked inside before getting mugged.  I think the picture turned out pretty neat:)
And then it happened.  On the way back to the hotel the London weather finally opened up.  We were out picking up a few souvenirs for relatives and I snapped a couple of pictures of people running for cover.  What a great way to end a London trip!
My attention wasn't directed at those two ladies at all.  I'm not even sure how they ended up in the picture.
 The next morning Kiri and I caught a car to the airport thus ending our vacation.  We had a blast and look forward to visiting again.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along! Take care!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

London Day 6

Friday was another planned tour out of London. The itinerary for the day was Leeds Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover, and The Canterbury Cathedral.

Our pickup bus was to supposed to arrive at 8:15. And we were supposed to be prepared 10 minutes before that time. Of course we needed our coffee, so at 7:50 we ran across the street to our usual store. Wouldnt you know it, they were early, and as we came around the corner at 8:00 I saw the bus and started sprinting with my coffee in hand to catch it. Luckily we did, but it gave us a good scare.

The pickup bus drops you off at Victoria Station were you line up for your specific tour bus.

Random shots out the window. This is after crossing the Themes, headed south.

After an hour we arrived at our destination, Leed's Castle. Kiri and I didn't know what to expect. We had picked this tour to see Dover. Leeds Castle was an unknown.

Early preview picture, this gives you and idea of what Leeds Castle looks like from above.

We departed the bus and headed towards the moat house.

We weren't disappointed. The place was right out of a fairy tale.

A nice lady who worked on the estate met us with a silver tray of mead samples. Welcome to Leeds Castle! Cheers! By the way, mead tastes like honey.

After the mead we made our way inside.

Inner courtyard.

A small dining room.

The Chaple.

A painting of Lady Baillie and her two daughters Susan and Pauline. Lady Baillie is the woman responsible for restoring the castle to its current glory. She was quite the figure. Check her out on Wikipedia if you have time.

There were many many rooms. Each one pretty amazing. I won't show them all here. I seem to be taking more pictures as the days go on.

We headed back outside to get some exterior photos before having to get back on the bus.

Kiri by the old mill wall.

Time flies and we had to get back on the bus. I could have stayed all day!

As we left we spotted this peacock wishing us farewell.

Then it was south to the town of Dover for a mini stop, just to photograph the cliffs.

The beach is made up of golfball size stones. Kiri found a broken one and the insides are flint or chert. We took a few home with us.

You can't see it here but I have my hand in the English channel! How many people have crossed this in the last 6000 years?

Next we headed north to the town of Canterbury. After a small lunch in one of the town pubs we made our to the Cathedral.

Again, wayyy to much history here. You should read up on it though. One of the famous stories is the king sending four knights down to this cathedral to kill Thomas Becket in his own church.

And short on time, Kiri and I made our way back to the bus.

This tour was unique in that it took us to Greenwich were we boarded a ferry boat to take us west into London.

Right where you board is an old tea ship called Cutty Sark that the town has turned into a museum. We didn't have time to go, but I got a shot of her bow. There's and old poem that describes a witch chasing a man on a horse. Just as he makes a daring escape the witch reaches out and grabs some hair from the horses tail. The figure on the bow represents that moment.

Our ship arrived and we loaded up.

Random shots looking at buildings along the river.

Soon we were back at the hotel. I had noticed a poster along the river that stated the movie Prometheus was opening that evening. I was really looking forward to seeing it and I knew it wasn't opening in the states until the 9th. So I mentioned it to Kiri and she said lets go!

It was actually a interesting experience. You buy your tickets from LCD screens and you have to pick which seats you want. The little screen shows which seats have been sold and which are available. Your ticket has your seat number on it. This way you don't have to show up early to get good seats. Much better system then in the states. We were seeing the 3D version so here is Kiri with her glasses on.

And the movie is just about to start! Shhhhh.

On the way home I spotted my first Honda NC700 in the wild. The gas tank is under the seat and the top tank is actually a storage compartment.

This was the end of Friday.

Update: I just finished this post at 38000 feet making our way back to Dallas/Ft. Worth. If I can find free wireless and enough time I'll post it there. I'm hoping to get the last day out tomorrow. Kiri and I had a great trip and we're happy we could share it with everyone. Until tomorrow.

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