Sunday 29 April 2012

Better Late Than Never - Pt. 3 - Lynden

So instead of actually scooting, I've been doing stuff at home - and blogging... gotta catch up!

A mere two weeks ago, I had an important task to perform.  Let me give you the backstory...

In our building, we have two parking spots. We have two cars, one in each spot. I also have two Vespas, one in each spot. Unfortunately, my daughter parked one of our VWs  a bit too close to my GTS. She didn't cause any damage but she was so close that when I was trying to go to school one morning, I sheared off one of my reflectors.

Rather than pay the local Vespa store a big pile of money, I ordered two from AF1 Racing. And rather than pay $18 shipping to Canada, I had it shipped to Sumas to a place called Ship Happens. They basically give you an address to ship to so you can pick up your package for the paltry fee of $5.

This time, I went through Aldergrove border crossing again, with the Vespa performing very well - no grinding noise, hardly any shuddering - sounding great. I headed into Lynden, a nice town that I have visited before. It had been a couple years and I'm not sure if was the time of year or if it's the economy but Lynden felt a bit tired.

The restaurant I used to stop into for breakfast did not seem to be in business. The little mall that it was in was empty and had few cars parked out front. Not a great sign.

Another restaurant, called the Dutch Mother, was open and rather busy so I thought I'd try it out.

The service was OK, but again, I got this tired out vibe from the waitress. I ordered the Ham and Pineapple Dutch Pannekoek which was a massive pancake that took up the entire cake. The first bit was OK but it got a little tiresome after a while. I also had some weird gunk stuck to the coffee mug which didn't interfere with my drinking the coffee but affected my overall enjoyment of the meal.

I took a wander around town and spotted this sign - my namesake, a doctor - nice!

After Lynden,  I went to Sumas and picked up my package. I just told my name and gave my $5 and that was it! No ID, no careful checking. Interesting.

Of course, I took the reflectors out of the box and tossed them under my seat. I then filled up with cheap Yankee gas and then headed to the border. Despite turning off my motor, the guard's last question was issued after he had sat back in the booth so I couldn't hear him. He finally yelled, rather angrily, "Anything else to declare?" to which I said, "No!" (conveniently forgetting the reflectors in my pet carrier) and then quietly sped off.

Another fast ride home from the border - which I am happy to say doesn't bother me very much at all now. I can hit, according to the speedo, 70 MPH before the scoot starts wobbling.Not sure it 70 MPH is really 70 but it's good to know I can go that fast without any problems.

Now maybe next week, I can actually go for another ride!

Better Late Than Never - Pt. 2 - Bellingham

Can you tell that I'm trying to catch things up today?

At the beginning of April, we had some more breaks from the rain and, happily, I was able to take advantage of them. During Easter Weekend I was able to go for a nice cycle over to Langley and back and then, thanks to the rare occurrence of two sunny days in a row, I decided to go to Bellingham.

Why Bellingham? Well, first, I like going to the US  - crossing the border is always kinda cool - seems like you're going somewhere exotic, second, I wanted to practice riding longer distances so I can get better used to faster speeds and third - Trader Joe's.

Up until the previous week, I hadn't even heard of Trader Joe's. However, after I had some squares of wasabi seaweed (only 88¢!), I knew I had to try...

I downloaded a new app for my iPhone called Border Buddy and it worked really well. It checks the main crossings for the border both ways giving you times as well as the opportunity to contribute your own timings. It also includes camera views for each crossing. A free app, it is well worth having!

I went down to the US by taking the Aldergrove  crossing. The way to the border was good - I took a more direct route which required me to go a little faster. After getting through the border (Snarky US border guy "Is that thing safe?") I made a bee-line for Trader Joe's, pulling over to consult my printed Google Map directions when necessary (can't use data on my iPhone in the States due to immense cost).

Trader Joe's is a very cool place. I picked up a tarragon chicken sub for lunch and filled a shopping bag with lots of tasty treats including dried mango, a number of different cheeses, crackers, candy, and a nice bottle of two buck Chuck (that actually costs $2.50 - isn't that just the tax on a bottle of Canadian wine?).

I rode off and then found a tiny park with a gazebo and some benches in Bellingham. It was a very pretty little park and I had a nice lunch in the sun.

After lunch, I sped off and headed for the Pacific truck crossing as the time there was only a 5 minute wait. My groceries were mostly in a bag bungied onto the back of my rack with the exception of the wine and the wasabi seaweed. At the border, the guard asked me where the groceries were that I was declaring and I pointed to the bag on the back. Then he said, "I guess you don't have any wine or cigarettes in there.." and I, of course, said, "Nope!" I don't think I'll start smuggling narcotics but it seems likely that border guards are not aware of the existence of a Vepsa pet carrier!

Once back in Canada, I made great time as I sped home. That night, I cracked the cheap wine - kinda rough, actually, so not sure I'd risk another international incident to take any back again....

Better Late Than Never - Pt. One - White Rock

It's been a while, blog-wise, but I have been busy riding - I just haven't been very good about keeping up with the blog. Well, enough of that - time to catch up!

At the end of March, it was a very nice day so I decided to scoot down to White Rock, something I do quite frequently. I was wearing just a T-shirt and my Corazzo jacket that I was given for Christmas from the spouse, as well as a pair of jeans. It was uncommonly warm, about 16°C., and I was happy to take advantage of it, having recently returned from Maui where the warmth and lack of rain seemed very foreign. The Corazzo is a great jacket - waterproof, pretty warm, and definitely stylish!

The scoot down was uneventful. I took yet another quiet country road and thoroughly enjoyed being able to keep up with, in fact, actually pass, the traffic that I encountered.

I stopped for a few minutes, parking in the 30 minute free parking spot where a number of other two wheelers were parked. I snapped a couple of nice shots and then walked back to my scoot.

I decided, for some reason, to continue on and cruise by the beach. Since I have had this Vespa, there's been a bit of a shudder just when starting off. I figured it was something that could wait until the next maintenance time as my bank account was still reeling from my last servicing.  Well, the traffic was very stop and start and proceeded to lurch forward up a big hill.

My Vepsa was not amused. Instead of just a bit of a squeak and a shudder, it started making a loud grinding noise. It did this about three or four times until I finally could get away.

At this point, I almost drove it right to Vancouver to drop it off at Vespa Vancouver and have them do whatever they needed to do. But I didn't. Magically, as soon as I left the lineup, the scoot stopped making the noises. Happily, it's been over a month now, and it still has not returned to making that hideous sound. Will definitely have to get it checked out before the summer riding starts in earnest...

Going home was a bit more exciting. I took the #15 highway until the Golden Ears Bridge and it felt pretty safe! I am definitely getting used to the faster speed. Is that a good thing?