Monday, September 04, 2023

A Quick Birthday Post.

 I plan to write up a trip report of my experiences on this summer's road trip to the southwest. I hope to do that soon, but in the meantime... 

Here's a couple of pictures of what I found this morning.

We had 2 Monarch caterpillars that formed chrysalises on the east side of our house. I only have a picture of one of them, but I have 2 pictures from this morning after they emerged...

Then this morning...

Now a bunch of us can celebrate September 4th as our "birthday".
Nancy celebrates 4 years with her new heart (9-4-2019), these two new creatures, and me turning 63...

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Z900rs Cafe gets Luggage.

 I got in a couple hours of quality time in the garage this morning. The Shad top case and brackets finally arrived, so I had a project to do. Supply chain issues are affecting the motorcycle accessory business these days. First some brackets were on back order, then the top cases were. Now, the side cases are on back order. I managed to get what I could now and will have to wait for the rest.

I was going to do a step by step installation write up, but there's a great video on YouTube that covers it perfectly. Thanks Kentucky Yankee..

Here's before. Almost stock. The previous owner had installed the chrome grab rails near the seat and the center stand.

Disassembly was pretty easy, just a 10mm socket and a few a T-handled hex keys.. When did the term "allen wrench" get replaced by "hex key" ???  

I unplugged a few wires, removed a factory bracket, replaced it with one supplied, used the supplied bolts, spacers, and washers. Again, the step by step video by Kentucky Yankee was exactly what I needed. The pictographic directions included with the brackets were just OK, not great.... the video helped a lot!

So now it's all set for whenever the side cases become available again. The top box is a medium sized 39 liter box.

I took it out for a short shake-down cruise this afternoon. No rattles, no noises. 

If  Sargent Cycle Products made a replacement seat for the Z900rs, and it was as comfortable as their seat that I had on my FJR, then I be all set. I have an inflatable seat pad on there now, but it's not anywhere as easy on my butt as either the C14 seat that I had on the Zx-14 or the Sargent on the FJR... Those were both truly all day seats!

I have added the ZeroGravity Sport-touring wind screen. I like it a lot. I think it pushes the air up to my upper chest without causing helmet turbulence. I still have to add the Battery Tender lead to the battery so I can just plug in rather than pull the seat to connect it. It's also needed to run the electronics in the tank bag.

I'm sure this will turn out to be a good long distance bike... after a seat improvement.

Monday, August 01, 2022

This morning, I had been shopping on line at Fleet Farm, and located a close-out item that was allegedly in stock at their store in Wausau, WI. 

The weather was perfect, upper 70s, partly cloudy skies, mild wind from the south, no rain forecast until after sunset... perfect for a ride...

I left home at noon and was back home, empty handed, exactly 7 hours later. I rode 304 miles today, made 2 gas stops, had a quick snack, and even took the long way home.

Even though they really didn't have what I was looking for, I still enjoyed the ride!

I managed to snap a few pictures along the way.

Memorial Park in Tomahawk, WI.


Some interesting yard art for sale at a funky store in Merrill, WI. I didn't see any prices.

I've seen this sign for years but never took a picture of it.

A whole bunch of logs at the Saapi yard outside of Glidden, WI. They're destined to become paper and packaging. There were several rows that size or larger.

Lastly, here's a sign you probably would never associate with Wisconsin, and it's close to home.

My timing was right on too. By 8:00 p.m. it was raining and it didn't quit until almost midnight.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Farewell My Friend

 I know I seldom add to this blog and don't often take the time to read other's blogs, but today is a day for me to document and remember...

First Day zero miles

I used to ride my motorcycles a lot more than I do these days. I used to take at least one long trip each summer, and usually put 3000 to 5000 miles on with each trip. 

2013 Hwy 6 Nevada


That all kind of stopped in the spring of 2019. That's when Nancy went into the hospital to wait for a heart transplant... We got through that.. But 2020 was not a good year for riding either. Both Nancy and I had to deal with Covid. Her case was worse, 88 days in the hospital with 21 of those days unconscious and intubated... Then there was a long, long, recovery at home. 2021 wasn't much better. 

August 2011 Sturgis and Idaho

I have managed to get out and ride some this year, but my poor zx-14 has been sitting in the garage just waiting for me to show her some attention. 

I know I posted a couple of years ago about my adventures in listing it on Craigslist. What a cluster f@#% that was. 

February 2013 waiting for Spring

Well, I tried it again this year. I had a few interested normal people reply to the ad. One wanted to come see it on a Sunday (father's day)... So I got her all wiped down and polished up. When I went to take it for a quick spin around the block. Dead battery! It wouldn't even spin up the fuel pump. So off to O'Reilly Auto Parts for a battery. Oh, the guy that wanted to see it, never bothered to show up, call, text, or email. I had a couple of other emails about it but nothing to get excited about. That changed the other day. I got a solid cash offer at a price I was OK with. The buyer had some timing issues traveling all the way up here to northern WI, so I offered to meet closer to half way.

June 2013 solo trip to Nevada

Today was the day to meet up. I believe my big Kawasaki knew what was going to happen and didn't want to leave. I was going down the driveway and was just about to the end when I was startled by traffic and I made a huge $$$ mistake! I used the front break on loose gravel... Crap... Down I went, onto the right side. The gravel did a number on her... Every right side body panel and the mirror had deep scratches. The kind that weren't going to buff out. Crap. I managed to pick up the 566 pound beast and get her back onto the side stand... Crap. I know better that to do that!! I was distracted and my mind was someplace else and when I saw the car go by instinct took over... ooops.. %@#$... 

June 2011 Tioga Pass in California

What could I do. I drove the 2 hours to meet the guy. I explained what happened and told him I'd understand if he backed out.  We reached a new agreement on a price. It was less than I was hoping for, but more than if I were to fix it and list it again and then wait for a new buyer. In order to recover the amount spent on new body panels, I'd have to be unrealistic in my price. A 13 year old sport bike with almost 64,000 miles on it is not an easy sale. For some reason, people seem to think that it's all worn out at 25,000 miles.

Headed to Nevada solo trip

This is my last picture of my 2009 Zx-14. It was taken about 2 minutes before I dropped it!!!


I took a final picture of the odometer but it didn't turn out. I put 63,499 miles on her since I bought it new on 4-22-2009. It was the best long distance motorcycle I've ever ridden. It was far more comfortable than either of the two Goldwings I've owned, and smoother than the FJR I used to have. A seat from a Connie-14 and a set of bar risers were all I needed to make it comfortable

Would I ever own another Zx-14? Absolutely!!   As Ferris Bueller said, "It's so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

There was some humor today. While we were waiting at the KwikTrip for the buyer to show up. I had parked next to Nancy's Rav4 and had taken off my helmet and jacket and put them in her car. I was just looking at my bike as a young man (car salesman) in a new Jeep (dealer plates) pulled in next to us. He got out and made some funny comment about me riding the Kawasaki. He obviously didn't think it was mine. He came out of the store a couple of minutes later and realized that the bike was indeed mine. He was blown away that an old, balding, grey haired, grey bearded, man would be riding such a bike. He asked all kinds of questions. He said that he used to drive a CBR1000 but everybody told him he'd kill himself on it. He thought it was so cool that an old guy like me (no disrespect intended) was still able to throw a leg over the seat and ride, and was shocked to learn that I had put all 63,499 miles on it.... Often doing 600-700 miles a day! Ah, the naivety of youth.. LOL I'm probably 3 times his age. 

I think the buyer is going to turn my bike into his track toy. He made some comments that led me to believe that he spends a lot of time doing track days. I hope my big Kawasaki will be happy with the new owner... Maybe she'll like finally getting to do what she was built for. I hope the new owner takes care of my baby.

Farewell My Friend.


Monday, November 15, 2021

 Well another riding season has come to an end. We woke up to almost 5 inches of snow this morning. The bikes are all tucked away in the garage, they're full of non ethanol premium and Sta-bil, they have fresh oil, and they're plugged into battery tenders. They are all set for their long winter's nap. 

The Corvette has had it's last ride of the season. It also has a full tank of fuel with a bottle of Techron added to it. I covered the top with a quilt to protect it from the cat, left the hood open to discourage the mice, and plugged it into it's charger...

All I need to do is move a few things around in the garage to make the change from summer to winter... put away the lawn mower, bring out the snow blower, that kind of thing.

I did manage to get new tires on the Corvette this summer. The Michelin run flat tires that were on there were in OK shape, but they were over 10 years old! I had a set of Kumho Ecsta P51 tires put on, wow what a difference. The ride is so much nicer now, much smoother, it rides like a car should. The old run flats must have been hard as a rock!

2021 has been a rough year at our home. In January, both Nancy and I came down with Covid. She was gone from home for 88 days. Those days were split between the Abbott Northwestern CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit), Regency Hospital, and Superior Rehabilitation. 

She was at Abbott for 47 days, and was unconscious for 21 of those days while she was intubated and hooked up to a room full of machines. I was finally able to visit her after being covid symptom free for 2 weeks. When I first saw her she was several days into her intubation.  There was a bed side dialysis machine, a bed heater, a respirator, an IV tree with as many as 13 pumps running, and a Hemolung Respiratory Assist System to remove carbon dioxide from Nancy's blood. They had performed a tracheostomy and she was being tube fed. Nancy was in Acute Respiratory Failure.

One morning, I got a call at 6:40am, it was from the on-call Doctor, he told me that I should come visit NOW. They were not expecting her to make it through the weekend, but Nancy surprised everybody and pulled through!! 

The induced coma left Nancy weak and pretty much helpless, but she was medically stable. The Doctors at Abbott thought that she should be moved over to Regency for recovery. She was still pretty foggy from all the IV meds and being unconscious. I visited her several times, and on the first visits you could tell "the lights were on, but nobody was home". When she finally started to clear the fog and come around, she thought she had been moved some new place and left there to die. She didn't realize she had beaten covid. I typed up her story in large print and included all the details about what she had been through. I read it to her every time I visited and left it there for her to read. She couldn't believe she had been through so much. I reminded her that she had "slept" through the worst of it. Nancy progressed quickly and had both the tracheotomy tube and the feeding tube removed shortly after getting there. She was there only 3 weeks before moving on to the next place.

At Superior Rehab, she learned to get out of bed, get dressed, and started walking again. First with their help, then with a walker, then on her own with a cane. They worked her twice a day with physical and occupational therapy. By the time she was ready to come home, she was climbing small sets of stairs and had her full mental capacity back! 

Once she got home she continued to improve. After being home for 30 days, we drove back down to the cities for follow up visits with her Doctors and staff at Abbott. We met with several people and they gave her a complete exam. We saw three of the doctors that had been with her in the CICU, all three of them said the same thing... "We didn't think you were going to make it"... It was a happy yet tearful visit..

Everything was fine until the last 10 days of October when Nancy came down with bronchitis and pneumonia. She was in almost daily contact with the transplant team at Abbott. They had her come in for a 5 day stay. They treated her with IV antibiotics and got things under control. She came home 2 weeks ago with some oral antibiotics and everything seems ok now. 

Nancy in the Abbott CICU...

At the same time Nancy was hospitalized with her covid issues, I was at home with my own battle. I was sick for 17 days. Most days it was an off-and-on 102º fever. Half a day feeling like I'm getting better the other half of the day I was burning up. Most days, it was all I could do just to make it to the bathroom. It was rough. I lost my sense of smell and it has yet to fully return. It's weird what I can and can't smell... I can smell regular bacon cooking, but not the spicy jalapeño bacon I like. I can smell diesel exhaust, but not propane... I also have occasional bouts of Phantosmia (phantom smells)... I'd swear I'm smelling a mixture of trash fire, cigar smoke, and foul wet green wood smoke. One round of that lasted 4 days. There was nothing I could do to escape it. Going outside, taking a shower, riding a motorcycle... none of it helped, everything smelled like trash/cigar/green wood fire. I still get it but it usually only lasts part of a day now. I'm just glad covid didn't kill my sense of taste.

We're hoping for a better 2022!

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Another Bike in the Garage

 Last year, I tried to sell my Zx-14 and had no luck. I wasn't too upset that it didn't sell, and it didn't keep me from dreaming. 

Back in 2018 Kawasaki released a new 900cc bike in two different trims... the Z900rs and the Z900rs Cafe. The standard Z900rs looks a lot like the classic Kawasaki Z1 from 1972. I'm old enough to remember those days and the bikes of that era.

1972 Kawasaki Z1...

1974 Kawasaki Z1...

2018 Kawasaki Z900rs...

2019... in Candy-tone green...

The new bikes, while they may look like the ones from the 70's, are fully modern with liquid cooling, fuel injection, ABS, much improved modern day suspensions, traction control, LED lighting... All the things one would expect on a new motorcycle. I really like the looks of that Candy-tone green...

As much as I like the standard version, Z900rs, in Candy-tone green, it's not quite green enough for me. Luckily, Kawasaki's second version, the Z900rs Cafe, is even more green. It also has a lower height handle bar, a lower seat, and a small fairing 

I present to you, my latest acquisition... A nearly new, 2019 Z900rs Cafe with only 154 miles on it... In the only color available in the USA for 2018 and 2019, Vintage Lime Green.

I had been watching Craigslist and Cycletrader for a very long time. I watched as dealers marked down their existing unsold, last year's stock and moved them out to make room for the new model year inventory. I looked at "used" bikes in dealer's inventories and saw "demo" bikes with 1500 to 3000 miles on them listed for only a little off of MSRP.... So, I just kept watching the listings. There's a dealer near Milwaukee that lists several new 2020's at $8,799. I emailed them and asked about total fees and was quoted almost $10,500 "out the door". A few other dealers in Wisconsin list their last new 2019's in the mid to upper $9000 range.... plus fees.. etc.

So, when a used, very low mileage, 2019 popped up on both Cycletrader and Craigslist for a very reasonable price, I jumped. At the time of purchase, the original owner had the dealership install the OEM center stand, grab handles, and radiator screen on the new bike ($530.00 parts only). 

I made arrangements to rent a U-Haul motorcycle trailer, drive the 315 miles one way to Hubertus, WI, pick up the bike and return the same day.

Here's U-Haul's very heavy, but very nice, 4'x9' motorcycle trailer... $14.95 a day! The trailer is built like a tank, but it tows smoothly and even better with a load in it. The only negative thing I can say about the whole rental experience is that the closest U-Haul dealer with that style trailer was 72 miles from home in Superior, WI. and that style trailer is local use only, and NOT ONE WAY. It had to be picked up and returned to the same U-Haul store. So, no driving down to the outskirts of Milwaukee, getting that trailer, and dropping it off way up here in the woods.

Early last week's Sunday morning, with the truck and trailer still covered in frost, I headed out. I picked up the new bike and was home in 12 and a half hours. Steve, the original owner was a nice guy and easy to deal with. He made a few calls to verify who I was and to verify my funding. He was satisfied with a cashier's check, and he had all the documentation ready when I got to his place... Easy... I was home before dark.

Loaded and ready for the return trip...

I must have tied it down correctly as the bike never moved and the straps never loosened. I did stop after 10 miles on the freeway to check the straps, but everything was fine. 

When I was still 15 minutes from home, the traffic, all 3 cars, came to stop on County Road M. The local elk herd was grazing on the green grass along side the road. It's amazing how big they are... They make deer look like dwarfs!

I think Nancy and I will be taking some early evening car rides to get better pictures of them. There were several in the ditches and a couple on the roadway. They're huge!

A few more pictures because who doesn't like pictures...

I have no immediate plans to modify the new bike, nor am I in a rush to sell my trusty Zx-14. But, they do make hard side cases and mounts for the new one.

John, I'm waiting for my new plate and proof of insurance to show up before I drive it over to your place to show you...

Monday, November 09, 2020

Summer Part 2... Now with More Pictures..

 I had given up all hope of riding again this year. We had an early blast of Winter come through in mid October. It brought night time temps in the teens, day time highs in the low 30's and snow. We had a clear, dry day on the 19th of October. I figured it was now or never, so I added Sta-bil and non-ethanol premium to the bikes, pushed them out of the garage and let them run for a while. I drove the Corvette to town and topped off the tank. I came home and parked everything in their Winter parking spots in the garage, plugged all of them in to their Battery Tender Jr.'s and put them to bed for the year... I was certain that all the fun was over...

Well, Summer returned with one last shot of nice weather! For the last week it's been beautiful. I got all my last minute outdoor projects done. I put away the patio furniture, restacked a couple of wood piles, took down an oak tree that was damaged last year, and even managed to get it split and stacked!

This brief Summer return was not going to pass me by without getting a little ride and drive time. A couple of days ago, my buddy John and I managed to get in one last ride. He rode his Harley and I rode my Zx-14. We met in Clam Lake, WI and made a loop. We rode up to Mellen, down to Gliden, then back to Clam Lake, where we split up. I rode back to Cable and John, back to Hayward.  A very nice last ride of about 90 miles.

My sister took advantage of the mild weather and drove up from Bloomington, MN to the family cabin outside of Hayward. On Sunday (11-09) we drove separately to Copper Falls State Park. Nancy was busy making apple pies, so she stayed home. My sister and I hiked the 1.7 mile "Doughboy Trail" around the falls. It was a  perfect day for it. There were very few people in the park so it was easy to avoid other people. It was a nice way to put another 90 miles on the car that got so little use this Summer.

Pictures from Copper Falls State Park...

Park Service guidelines for distancing...

My sister managed to take a couple of pictures of me that aren't hideous... LOL

After walking the loop in the park, we were talking and my sister mentioned that she had never seen the dam at the start of the Namekagon River, so seeing as it was on my way home I lead the way. For some reason I forgot to take current pictures of the dam, but I do have some from 3 months ago...everything still looks the same, except now there's a lot less green. From here it's just 1,999.2 miles to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Namekagon to the St. Croix to the Mississippi.

 A shot of my car, for the mandatory vehicle pic...

When we left the dam, my sister followed me home for a "socially distanced" visit in the driveway.. Nancy gave her one of the apple pies she had baked. 

I'd post a picture of my sister, but she refused to let me take any of her... so enjoy the family photo from Christmas of 1962. Taken at the family home on 3rd street in Hayward, WI
From left to right.. Me, my dad Cliff, his sister Nina, Grandma Lena (seated) Grandpa Henry, dad's brother Harry, and my sister.... on the floor.. She still looks the same! Mom was taking the picture.