Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trailer service and SPOT, so every one knows where we are.

Ed here,

Four months and counting until our departure date!

This weekend's focus was on getting our trailer in order. I went through the trailer end to end. I checked all of the bulbs, electrical connections, chains, and replaced the bearings. I would have taken pictures of the wheel bearing replacement, but it is a big greasy mess. I could not use the camera with all the grease that was on my hands. Anyway, the trailer is in great shape. I have the wheels off right now as I am going to get new tires next weekend for it.

During our journey, we want all of our friends and family to know exactly where we are as well as have a way to signal for help in the event that we have difficulty in an area where there are no people or no cell phone coverage. Last Christmas, we purchased a SPOT tracker.  These wonderful devices can be purchased for around $100.00, there is also a yearly subscription for the service which start at $99.00.  Our particular plan costs $149.99 per year.  This sounds expensive, but it is well worth it.  

A SPOT tracker

This is a satellite based tracking device.  We can set it to send a signal to a satellite automatically, the signal can then be tracked over the internet on a map.  When it is a little closer to our departure date, we will post a link to this map so you can follow us along the journey.  The map is up to date within a few minutes.  There is more to a SPOT tracker than that though,  you will notice there are three buttons other than the On/Off button.

The OK button allows us to send a message via email or text to whomever we designate in our settings.  We are unable to compose a message with the tracker, so the message is something we wrote previous to the trip.  The recipients will also be provided our GPS co-ordinates of where we hit the button.  For this trip, we have this set for our kids and other family.  We know there will be places along the way where we will not have cellular coverage or WiFi available, so this feature will be nice just to let them know we are doing great and having the time of our lives.

The Help button is a safety net.  If we push this button it will send a help message to whomever we designate in our settings.  Again, this is a pre-written message and the recipient will be provided our co-ordinates.  We figure this option for non emergency help if we did not have a cell signal or there were no people around.  For example, a mechanical breakdown.  We really do not anticipate having to use this feature as we will mostly be sticking to the main roads.

The final button is the 911 button.  When this button is pushed, the Cavalry is called.  An alert is sent to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center indicating we need emergency help, they in turn alert the appropriate emergency agency closest to our position as well as our pre-designated emergency contact.  This button would only be used in the event of a true life threatening emergency.  We hope we never have to use this button.

We have read many times about how helpful this device can be in some of the motorcycle forums we frequent.  We plan to post on some of the sub-forums specific to the areas we will be traveling through to see if there are any motorcyclists in those regions who would be willing to be a contact if we hit the Help button.  We also have been talking with another rider that we met in the ADV forum who will be a contact for the entire trip.  This rider is a really great fellow, and we have been enjoying talking with him.  When we asked him if he would be willing to help us out he said yes without hesitation.  That's one thing that we really like about the motorcycle community, everyone we have met thus far is willing to help other riders out in any way they can.  Some of the acts of kindness, generosity, and overall decency we have read about are truly amazing.  We are very happy to be a member of the motorcycling community and would help out any time we were needed.  

As you can see, this device and service is very well worth the money.  If you have any experiences with this device that you would like to share, please post a comment.

It's been nice visiting with you,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Petcock replacement and a meeting with our lawyer???....

Hello again, Ed here.

OK, so when I was preparing to write this post I was going to originally write about the petcock first to keep you in suspense about the lawyer thing, but I started to think about it and really the meeting with the lawyer was one of the most important to do items for our trip.  The meeting had something to do with what we believe everyone needs to think about and act upon.

So why did we go?  No, we are not suing someone nor are we being sued.  The reason we went was for estate planning.  Don't get me wrong, we really like it here and have no intentions of leaving this life any time soon, but we want to make sure our children are taken care of and our assets are protected.  If you pass away without any estate planning, the state (at least here in Oklahoma) gets to dictate what happens to your kids and assets via the probate process.  The well being of our kids is the most important thing to Devon and I, we also don't want our families to deal with the pains and messes of probate.

Devon and I wrote a will about nine years ago when we took our first vacation away from our kids.  That was about nine years ago and our situation has changed considerably since then.  This time, we wanted a professionally written trust vs. a will we created with the Family Lawyer computer program.

So we were sitting in this conference room waiting for the attorney to come in, Devon and I were joking about a good friend of ours who also uses the same attorney when the attorney walks in.  The attorney immediately says to us, "wow, people laughing in an attorney's office, that's unusual".  I immediately knew I was going to like this guy.  The meeting was a real eye opener, this guy really knew his stuff.  He explained all of the pitfalls that could come up and how we would write the trust to avoid or plan for the pitfalls.  We also learned of some of the tax consequences that can occur if you do not do it right.  We learned that even though we currently have a will, our estate would still have to go through probate and there could be all kinds of pitfalls there.  So the bottom line is that we are glad we went and are going through the process.  We feel our family will be very well protected with all the safety nets that have been put in place. 

If you have not completed or considered any estate planning, we highly recommend it.  Many of us tend to put this off thinking death is so far off, but in reality you never know when the Reaper will come for you.

Sorry if I brought you down thinking about this topic, let's head into the garage where we'll change out the fuel petcock on the Wing.

The process is very simple and takes about forty minutes start to finish, let's grab some wrenches, screw drivers, and a pair of pliers and get started.

Our first step is to remove the seat.
Here is the piece we are after, it is just in front of the gas cap.  You will notice the tray under the petcock is slightly damp from fuel.
Here is a little better of a photo.  At this point, I removed the top shelter and radio so I could access the petcock.
At the bottom left side of the fuel catch tray is a tube that will drain gas spillage away from the motor.  This tube needs to be disconnected from the gas tray. 
Remove the vacuum line from the petcock.
Disconnect the fuel lines from the petcock.

Remove the fuel cap and tilt the fuel tray to the right side of the bike.  On the bottom of the fuel tray, there is a small screw that holds the petcock to the fuel tray, remove this screw.  I used a right angle phillips head screw driver to loosen the screw, then used a magnetic tip from a screw driver that I have (the type where you can change heads, I used only the magnetic head as the entire screw driver will not fit in this space).

 Unclip the idle adjustment screw and pull the old petcock out.
Here is the old petcock out of the bike.
This photo shows the bottom of the petcock, it looks like it had been seeping for quite some time.  I plan to keep it to rebuild and sell once the kits become available again..
Here is a photo of the nice and shinny new petcock.
Here is the back side.
The installation is the reverse of the removal.  Here it is back in the bike.
Today Devon and I are going to look into some silk glove liners.  Devon's hands have been getting cold when we ride even with her new gloves.  I have heated grips which work great to keep my palms warm, but my finger tips tend to get a little cold.  At this point, we do not want to buy heated gloves, so we are going to see if silk liners will help.  We may not need these on our trip, but we will have them for our weekend rides during the winter.

Tomorrow, we are planning a breakfast ride but are not yet sure of where we are going.  We may go out to the Rock Cafe in Stroud again, or try Mom's Place in Stillwater, or even perhaps The Sunrise Cafe in Nicoma Park.  Devon and I really like the food and ambiance of small cafes.  Talk to you soon, have a great weekend.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas Cruise Highlights And An 'OH CRAP' Moment

As Ed posted last week we took a cruise for Christmas and New Years with our three children.  What a great opportunity to spend time alone as a family, learn about other cultures, take time to appreciate new places, new foods and make new friends. 

We drove to New Orleans on Dec. 23.  A long drive but air fare for 5 people was just out of our budget.  So up at the crack of dawn, actually long before dawn and off we went.  Lucky for us our kids are used to road trips.  Neither of us had ever been to New Orleans nor had we ever driven this direction from Oklahoma City and we found it to be a lovely car ride.  So lovely we’ve added it to our ‘We Need to take this route on The Wing’ list.  We found that even in December the tree’s offered up a lovely view, lots of rolling twisting roads and best off all you could even smell the pine through the vents of our van.  We both just KNOW that it would be a kick butt ride on the Wing.

After arriving in New Orleans we found we were very tired so really just hit the sack and got up early to have a breakfast at Café du Monde.  All I can say is this is so worth the calories and a MUST try when visiting the Big Easy.  Not much time to explore so we hopped on the ship and sailed for warmer waters.

Day 1, day 2 and day 3, Christmas Day, December 26 and December 27, two sea days on our way to Mahogany Bay on Roatan Island, off the coast of Honduras.  Here we were able to spend the day at the beach, have a lovely side trip to visit a bird and monkey sanctuary.  At the sanctuary we got to feed the birds and hold the monkeys.  I had one little monkey fall asleep in my arms.  Being a big animal lover I was tempted to take him home.  Roatan would have been a super place to ride the wing.  There were lots of hilly, twisty roads.  I couldn’t help but wish we were on the Wing over our guides van.  Then again fitting all 5 of us on it would have been quite the challenge.
Ed and I on the ship in New Orleans.
Christmas day sunset.
Mayan temple.
Mayan observatory.

Back on board and off to Belize.  Ed and I have been to Belize before and took our kids on a cave tubing/zip line adventure.  We’ve done both before and wanted our kids to do something that was out of the box and heart pumping action.  I was proud of them.  They didn’t bat an eye when they had to hike through the jungle, hop on an inner tube and go with a guide into the beautiful caves of Belize.  And they showed no fear when climbing up many stairs, hook onto a zip line, and took a step off the platform to fly above the jungle canopy.  Then we discovered a local lunch place that served up the best rice and beans I think I’ve ever had the privilege to eat.  Along with something called stew chicken we learned we could learn to love Belize cuisine.  It was simple but oh so very tasty. 

Off to Cozumel where once again we found a cab and headed to a beach.  The kids and I went snorkeling and Ed stayed safely on shore in a hammock and made a new furry friend.  Ed is what I call a shark chicken.  He is convinced a shark is going to take a bite out of his butt and make a meal out of him.  1st, no shark is going to eat his butt.  It’s too boney and probably doesn’t taste that good.  2nd,  I don’t know the exact odds of a shark getting him but I’m betting the lottery would happen before he meets up with a shark.  All that being said I did meet up with a jelly fish and had the joy of learning what a sting feels like.  I don’t recommend it.  While it wasn’t the most painful thing I have experienced I wouldn’t want to do it again.

Last port was Progresso, Mexico.  Located on the Yucatan peninsula and it was hot even in December.  Here we took the kids to Dzbilchataun and the Mayan ruins.  What an interesting and fun place.  Progresso is a small sleepy Mexican town with lots of scooters and crazy drivers.  We all agreed that Dzbilchataun was very educational and we loved being able to climb around on the ruins and learn about the Mayan culture.

Sadly our trip had to end.  But not before we were able to participate in an epic New Year’s Eve party on the top deck, in the fog headed back up the Mississippi river to New Orleans.  As the New Year begun I looked forward to 2012 and more travels around our beautiful world.  As I type this the cruise ship Costa Concordia has run aground off the coast of Italy.  Our heart goes out to those who did not make it out and for those who are still missing at this time.  After cruising 5 times Ed and I have never once felt that our safety was at risk.  We have put all those involved in our prayers.

And then I had an ‘OH CRAP’ moment this week.  4 and ½ months till our trip!  WHA-WHAT!! 
Yup that’s right only 4 and ½ months.  While we’ve purchased most of the items on our list we have one biggie we’re still hunting local and now the internet for; riding pants.  I am having issues with what fits me around the waist means I need to grow about 2 inches.  Or accept that I have shin guards rather than knee pads.  So the goal this week is to find pants!  Riding pants less is not on my list.  

As always time is beating us over the head and were working hard to get all this stuff done in the next 4 ½ months.  It may sound like a long time but with our lists I am wondering if I’m going to have time to get it all done.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where have we been?

Hey again, Ed here.

You may be wondering where we have been for the past several weeks.  Well, we took our family on a vacation for Christmas this year.  Where did we go?  We took a cruise on the Carnival Conquest from Christmas Eve to New Years Day, so we were able to celebrate both holidays on the ship.  We went to Belize, Roatan, Cozumel, and Progresso.  It was a wonderful time.  We are very fortunate to be able to explore our world, it is a very exciting place.  I will let Devon fill you in on the details of the cruise, but here are some photos of my favorite moments.

Devon enjoying Beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, Louisiana. Yummy!!
We enjoyed cave tubing in Belize.
Devon had a monkey fall asleep in her arms in Roatan.
I found a friend at a beach in Cozumel.  I was able to rest for several hours in that hammock while Devon and the rest of the family went snorkeling.  Sitting there petting this dog was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  It was awesome! 
Devon and I on the deck of the Conquest on New Years Eve.
We had a really great time.  It was nice to spend time with Devon and our children.

Upon our return I had a couple of day before I had to return to work, so I was able to finally get to changing out the brake and clutch fluid on the Wing.  I change the DOT 4 brake fluid in both systems every 2 years or 24K miles.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the procedure for the blog.  The process is very simple and takes me about two hours to complete, but I move slow.  If you ever need help with this procedure, drop me a line and I will help you out. 

Over the past few days, I have started to notice a fuel smell coming from the Wing when it is shut off.  I knew immediately what it was as I had this same thing happen with my 1990 Wing.  The rubber in the fuel petcock has worn out and it is starting to leak.  This is a very easy repair.  On my 1990, I purchased a rebuild kit and repaired the petcock.  This time, I had to order an entirely new petcock.  I was able to find rebuild kits for the older (1988-1996) 1500 Wings, but none for the 1997-2000 Wings.  I read on the internet that the kits were no longer being produced.  After additional research on line, I found out of Ireland might still have a few in stock, so I contacted them.  They advised the production plant for the kits is in Japan was was destroyed by the earthquake there.  They did indicate that they still get some in from time to time and that they did have the 1988-1996 kits in stock at the moment. 

I went ahead and ordered a new petcock from along with all the filters and other components for a major service.  I will complete a major service just before we leave for Alaska to make sure the Wing is in tip top shape.  I usually order parts from Ron Ayers as they typically are very fast and always seem to be the most cost effective for OE parts.  I should have the petcock in a few days and will post the installation.

Devon and I are continuing our quest for textile riding pants.  This has been quite the challenge for us as we usually can find pants we like, but fit always seems like an issue.  Yesterday we went to the local Honda dealer and looked at the Fly Butane pants.  These pants were very warm.  They had a removable quilter liner, a waterproof breathable membrane, knee and hip pads, and air vents.  They completely fit all the parameters of what we were looking for (multi seasonal, water proof, plenty of pockets, and comfortable), but they were too long by about an inch for me (I have a 30 inch inseam).  Devon did not have much luck either, so we will keep looking.  It seems like the selection (style and size) for women riders is not nearly as good as the selection for men, so we have reached out to Denise Maple of to see if she can help us to find a pair of pants for Devon. specializes in riding apparel for women.    

This week, we secured the Canadian insurance card for the Wing.  It is my understanding that this card is needed to get across the border into Canada.  To secure the card, I contacted our insurance agent, to request the card, it was very easy.

We also secured some heavy winter socks for Devon as her tootsies tend to get cold.  Well, time is ticking away, it will not be long until June 2, 2012 is here.  We still have much to do, so stay tuned.  In the next few weeks I will be fixing the fuel petcock on the Wing and cleaning/re-packing the wheel bearings on the trailer.  We are well on our way.

Talk to you soon,