September 28, 2014

"Chrome at the Home" Bike Show for Veterans

This past Saturday was the "Chrome at the Home" event for residents at the Idaho State Veteran's home in Boise. The event was organized by some local Harley groups and I was there as a volunteer.

The day was cool and rainy which really hurt attendance, but regardless of the weather, the aging veterans were very enthusiastic to make friends, chat, and to see the many bikes on hand.

The day's various events included a bike show, a couple of fundraising auctions, as well as cookout. Later in the day, the Harley groups did a poker run and the cold rain stopped so they had a dry ride. 

This young volunteer manned the POW-MIA booth which honored Idaho's 8 Vietnam vets who remain missing, but not forgotten, so many years after the war's end. 

To me, this is the Captain America bike that Chris Evans briefly rode in the first movie. It's probably not the same, but it is pretty close. Before you mention that drip pan under the engine, remember this veteran was fighting for freedom before most of us were born!

Here was another vintage war machine. This awesome Jeep was a popular attraction with the vets and it is easy to see why. I would love a chance to fire that machine gun mounted in the rear!

As a KLR rider, I felt a bit out of place among the patch covered, leather vests, and the loud pipes that save lives. Regardless, I was glad to help where needed and my hat is off to these Harley Riders for their caring and sincere efforts in holding this great for the state's veteran's. 

September 21, 2014

Fly Racing Patrol Jacket from Motorcycle House

Here is a first look at the Fly Racing Patrol Jacket I have been rocking on and off road the past few days. I will post a detailed review shortly, but I like the Patrol so far, and it even matches my helmet!

I also want to give a shout my buddy Dewayne Jasper and the rest of the folks over at Motorcycle House for hooking me up with this gear. 

September 19, 2014

At the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial

The traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall is in the area this weekend and I stopped by to pay my respects.

As a veteran, I wanted to see the wall and a lot of other veteran-riders were on hand for this morning's ceremony. Once again, Sally was the only KLR in Cool Kids Parking.

I did 23 years in the United States Air Force, but always admired the U.S.Marines for their toughness, discipline, and those spiffy uniforms.

This was a special display for the Purple Heart. Besides Vietnam veterans, the wall is a tribute to veterans from all conflicts as well as September 11th first responders.

This replica wall is 80 percent the size of the wall in Washington D.C. and is 360 feet long. It travels to 30 locations every year.  

Today's ceremony honored POW-MIA veterans. The mayor and several guest speakers made speeches and several local veteran and motorcycle groups participated in the tribute.  

I had no name to find on the wall. Regardless, the traveling memorial is a solemn and impressive sight. So many many lives lost.

Former president Calvin Coolidge is seldom remembered, but I like many of his quotes. One of today's speakers used a Coolidge quote that was new to me, and it was very appropriate for the occasion.

"The Nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten" - Calvin Coolidge.

September 3, 2014

An Ode to the Kawasaki KLR650

This great write up by Andrew Bornhop may be found online at  . And BTW, I agree with every word he has written as would anyone who has tested the KLR's reliability and versatility.  I have ridden many different motorcycles, but there is something about the simple, rugged, unpretentious, KLR that puts a smile on my face every time I take it out.  If you ride a KLR, then you probably know what I mean. If you do not, then read on...
Kawasaki KLR650 against the sunset
A KLR is not a motorcycle; it is a blank canvas with which to paint the rest of your life.
Okay, I admit it: I nabbed this quote from It’s good stuff, even if the literal side of my brain quibbles with the bit about this Kawasaki not being a motorcycle. The KLR most assuredly is one, a good one at that, and there’s nothing wrong with a motorcycle, any motorcycle, being considered a “blank canvas with which to paint the rest of your life.”
The KLR, however—one of the longest-running models in motorcycling history—does elicit passion like few others. Since it came out in 1984 as a 600, this Kawasaki has won people over with its easy rideability, its tantalizing versatility, and the enticing prospect of where it can take you. It’s a great everyday bike, an affordable dual-sport machine that shines as a commuter or a fully bagged world explorer. Countless folks use KLRs in just this way, exploiting the bike’s reliability, range, and go-anywhere nature. Heck, the US military even has some KLRs, converted to diesel and helping our soldiers in far-flung locations.
Chances are, if you are in some remote part of the world and see a traveler ride by, he’ll either be on a bigBMW R1200GS or a KLR. Great bikes, both, but many will argue that the significantly lighter and less expensive Kawasaki is the wiser choice. It’s old school, for sure, but the counterbalanced, liquid-cooled, 651cc single just keeps plugging along on regular-grade unleaded, and the bike’s lack of technical complexity is seen as a bonus. No traction control? No ABS? No active suspension? No problem. That just means there’s less stuff to break or go wrong.
And therein lies the beauty of Kawasaki’s electric-start KR650. It’s simple. It’s honest. It’s unpretentious. It’s like a Timex watch: It takes a licking and just keeps on ticking. You might actually be able to repair it on the trail. What’s more, the KLR has huge aftermarket support and a very active online community. No wonder it sells better each year than the Honda XR50L and Suzuki DR650 combined.
Apart from the frame-mounted fairing and new engine for the 2008 model, plus a more powerful alternator, Kawasaki hasn’t done a whole lot with the KLR over the years, opting instead to keep it affordable for the masses. And it’s a philosophy that continues to this day with the 2014.5 KLR650 New Edition, whose firmer suspension and wider seat add only $100 to the cost of the bike but make it a significantly better off-road machine without sacrificing one iota of on-road comfort.
Or, put another way, Kawasaki has made the KLR650 “an even better canvas with which to paint the rest of your life.” Amen.

August 22, 2014

A True Bit of Americana: The Garage Cafe

The Garage Cafe is a small diner in southwest Idaho that proves you find the best food away from the fast food joints along the interstate. I found this gem in Notus, Idaho when I stopped for breakfast and discovered a pretty cool place to eat.

As a first-timer, I played it safe, but had nothing to fear. My eggs over easy, bacon, and wheat toast were perfect and reasonably priced. That's a lot of food - but, it didn't sound like it when I ordered. The service was great, my coffee was never left half full.

I did not order the hash browns, but when they arrived, I was not about to send them back. I felt guilty for eating this much, but it was too good to leave, so I skipped lunch that day.

My camera-shy server who was also part owner of the cafe, told me that four years ago this building was a gutted shell. Today it is a classic roadside diner with a nostalgic, hot rod, service station theme.

After breakfast I wondered around, almost like in a museum. There are probably other giant, illuminated Plymouth Super Bee signs around, but I have never seen one before. I am not a MoPar guy, but the Road Runner logos and other signs had a nostalgic appeal to me.

If you are in the area, I recommend a stop at the Garage Cafe. This classic "Mom and Pop" diner has good food at fair prices, and make time to appreciate the creativity and even the artistry of the decor.

You may even find yourself drifting back to the days of American muscle cars with Jim Morrison belting out "Touch Me" from the radio. For more info and more pics be sure to visit the Garage Cafe website.

August 11, 2014

Old Idaho Penitentiary

The Old Idaho Penitentiary at Boise is a National Historic Site and one of four territorial prisons open in the U.S. The Old Penitentiary was built in 1870 and functioned has a prison until 1973. That's a lot of history, and like many historical sites, it is a documented paranormal hot spot, previously featured in several ghost hunting television programs.

I visited for the history, but kept my eyes and ears open for paranormal activity. The history was great, the ghosts were disappointing. There was not one sight or sound that I could blame, or credit, to the prison's ghosts. Maybe Halloween is a better time of year for that.

Outside the prison yard, in the shadow of the original prison wall you get a good look at the wooden walkway where armed guards once patrolled. This view is looking toward the entrance and administration buildings.

The cell blocks are as drab and depressing as you might imagine and are very similar to scenes from The Shawshank Redemption - minus the convicts.

The temperature was over 95 degrees outside and the ground level cell block was hot. Up on the second level, it felt like an oven.

There was no air conditioning when the prison was active and I can't imagine the misery of being locked up in this sweat box!

A prisoner would not have seen this sunset. I held the camera over a barrier across the barred window on the second level of a cell block.

There were 10 executions by hanging at the prison and some of these inmates have continued to lurk around the prison as ghosts.

Above is a wall from the former dining hall which was designed by inmate George Hamilton. The dining hall burned down in a 1973 riot.  

From the "inside" guard towers peer down into "the yard" from each corner of the stone wall surrounding the prison yard. The hill beyond this tower represented freedom to the prisoners who stood here.

My day at the Old Pen covered a lot of history, stories, and sights. So much, that a second post will be coming to cover material I have omitted here. If your interests include history or the paranormal, then get on the road, the Old Idaho Penitentiary at Boise makes a great destination. 

July 22, 2014

Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Review

I've spent a couple of months and several hundred miles wearing the Shoei Hornet DS in town, as well as on the highway; and I love this helmet. It is honestly the best helmet that I have owned. My list of legitimate complaints is zero, and my list of small, nit-picking complaints is also zero. Pretty much what you expect of a Shoei helmet.

The Hornet DS has been around a few years and received outstanding reviews and five star ratings from almost everyone who's worn it. Instead of repeating them, I will simply say - believe the good things you have heard. The Hornet DS is well built, quiet, and comfortable with a wide field of view. Even the paint and finish are excellent.

During a stop I attached the helmet to the KLR's helmet hook, then forgot it was there. Later on, I moved the bike ahead a few feet, while the helmet rubbed against the rear tire. The helmet came away with several black scuffs across the back.  It was my fault and I was not too pleased. But, the helmet cleaned up perfectly without a mar or scratch in the finish. Today, it looks at good as new.

The Shoei costs a bit more than a lot of other helmets, but if you are looking for a new lid, I recommend it. The Hornet DS has for its well deserved reputation for the quality, comfort, and safety and for me, this helmet is worth the extra cost.

Click here for my Icon Variant helmet review post

Click here for my Fly Trekker helmet review post