Sep 28, 2010

Moto Gear: Jesse Bags and Xplorermoto

Explorermoto is the USA's exclusive distributor for the famed Jesse Luggage Systems.  I recently helped a friend acquire a set of the Jesse Odyssey II bags for his BMW  650 GS.  Initially, he thought the bags were too wide for his uses although he liked the design (they have up to 5" of adjustment capable, moving them forward and back).  His major concern was the bags limiting his ability to weave in and out of traffic and other obstacles.  The hardcases have a width of about 39" where some soft bags come in at a width of 10 inches less.  However, what you gain in width you also gain in carrying capacity.  The Jesse Odyssey II bags have a total of  90 litres capacity, compared to about 50 litres or less of a softbag.

Recently a soft bag convert, the friend had everything loaded up on his BMW to head to Canada and on to Alaska when he realized the soft bag just wouldn't work for this trip.  Hours before his visa was set to expire he installed the Jesse bags (it only take about an hour and a half to do so, mounts and all!) and headed for the border.

After in Canada for a spell said friend took off to Alaska, traveling through mud and grime, side trekking though creeks and trails and riding the bike like there was no tomorrow and meeting chicks, ever impressed by his travels and new bags.  Through it all the Jesse bags remained waterproof and secure.   A few spills on the bike minorly dented one side of a bag but the mounting held without an issue.

According to the website for Xplorermoto (http://www.xplorermoto.com/) the bags are made of 2mm thick stainless steel, hand welded parts.  The bags are well made and will fit a wide range of bikes including BMW, Suzuki, KTM and Kawasaki.  The bags come in black, silver and charcoal and have optional lid loops you can purchase for only $15 for 4.  The Jesse bags can be purchased through Xplorermoto for roughly $995 to $1500 depending on the bike and the price includes mounting hardware and instructions.  Xplorermoto also sells other items including liners for the Jesse bags, Rok Straps, compact tool kits for a variety of bikes, lighting systems and Wolfman soft luggage bags.  Rick at Xplorermoto is a great guy who was very helpful through all my questions.  If you are going with hardcases, go with the best.  You won't find a better box anywhere.

Food Porn: Astoria: Astoria Brewing Company, Wet Dog Cafe

Dog inspired wines
Location:  144 11th Street, Astoria (their website is not up and running)
Bmwgsgirl's rating:  8 out of 10 plus a bonus for a happy hamburger
Price:  $-$$

Stopped in for a burger today at Astoria Brewing because, well, the sign said Wet Dog Cafe.  I couldn't resist a place with "Dog" in the name.  I walked in and was shocked to find that the Cafe is actually a medium size restaurant with a huge seating area, bright spaces, a full bar and even an area for purchasing specialty items...mostly items that represent dogs!  I loved it.  They had wines with dog names and photos (what a great gift for a dog lover!)  I bought a cool pint glass that reads, "Bitter Bitch Imperial IPA" and has a mean looking dog on it for only $4.95!  I also picked up some cool coasters (5 pack for only $1.25) that advertise the names of some of Astoria Brewing's beer like DaBomb Blonde Ale and Kick Ass Stout.  (Sorry, I was working so couldn't try any beer!) They have t-shirts and sweatshirts, paw print pastas and even dog biscuits.  And, for those of you who aren't as cool as I am, they even have some cat pasta and other cat friendly items but I'm trying not to hold that against them.

Hello Burger!
I ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a Pepsi to go.  The service was fast, the waitress and bartender very nice, and the price was reasonable for a sit down place.  I think in total I paid around $12.00 for the meal.  What I didn't expect was to open the bag and see a burger face looking back at me.  I have to admit it made me chuckle.  The burger itself was thick, I'm guessing at least 1/2 pound of meat and has a special sauce that tasted great.  I'm giving the burger itself a 8 out of 10 only because I don't really like shredded lettuce, but it was at least larger chunks so not as messy.  The fries were thick and wide and plentiful.  Since I'd gotten it to go I was also pretty amazed and thankful that they gave me ample ketchup, a packet of mayo and even mustard.  And, not only that, but it came with a handiwipe and a piece of candy and a fork and knife wrapped in a napkin.  I know, that doesn't mean a lot, but frankly I found the extra touches to be a sign of how much Wet Dog Cafe cares about it's customers.  You don't see those kind of extras every day.

I will definitely be stopping by Wet Dog again when I head to Astoria.  In fact, I'm recommending it to everyone because it was such a cool place.  I can't wait to try something else on the menu, like a salad or pasta or maybe even some chicken.  They have everything.  And, the place is on the wharf, so it's around cool shops and a great little shop for buying fresh seafood and crab.  And, well, just when you thought it couldn't get any better, inside the Wet Dog is a small area for purchasing fresh seafood.

And, hello!  Dogs!  I may even stop by for some gifts for the holidays.  I'm sure my Mom would love a bottle of wine with a corgi on it.  I mean, who wouldn't?



Sep 23, 2010

Moto Gear: Bounce and Moth Balls

Earlier this summer I found a mouse in the garage that had gotten into a garbage can and couldn't get out.  He was barely moving and my guess was he'd been in there for days and he was dying of dehydration.  I delicately dumped him out onto the soft gravel and turned the hose on...letting little drips fall on his face, encouraging him to  drink and save his life.  He didn't seem to get it and his body shivered and convulsed (perhaps because I was drowning him) and then finally he stopped moving.  It was a sad moment for me.  Trout, who was barking in the mouse's ear, screaming for it to live, was very moved by the moment and she ran around me non stop as I did a funeral march to the trash can.

Lately the Beast has had a fair amount of mice droppings on the seat, tank, bags, and even tires.  Don't get me wrong, I think the little guys are cute, but the Beast hates them so they must go.  I Googled how to fix the issue and was informed moth balls do the trick.  The idea was to put the moth balls in nylons and hang the nylons over the bike.   I couldn't stand the thought of doing that to the Beast so instead I poured moth balls all over the cement around the bike.  They worked awesome!  In fact, they work so well that instead of being on the ground and occasionally getting on the Beast, the mice decided to stay ON the Beast and just hang out there all the time.

So I went back to Google and did some more research.  Turns out using dryer sheets works for keeping mice away from classic cars.  I went and bought a jumbo box of Bounce (since rumor has it Bounce works best) and envisioned my garage mouse free.  But first, I decided to clean up the garage.  I thought if I could clean things up and take everything out of that part of the garage then the mice wouldn't have a place to hide.  There are some items in the garage that are Ivan's so they've been there for awhile and the mice LOVE them! I started moving things and a mouse ran out from under a dresser and almost gave me a heart attack.  It jumped into a box and then couldn't get out.  I tried smashing it with a plastic pipe but it jumped into the middle and tried to shimmy up my arm then ran out of the garage.  The whole time I'm screaming like a little sissy and jumping up and down, waving this plastic plumbing pipe to and fro like a recently escaped mental patient.  Unfortunately for me there was a man outside the garage fixing the windshield on the work car.  I swear he looked around the corner and then slowly went back to the car.  He may have been laughing.  Probably not though, right?
Mouse hiding in the doorframe

After a bit of work I wrestled the dilapidated organ from the corner and another mouse ran out from under it and ran into a pile of discarded window blinds.  Like an idiot I moved the blinds and the mouse ran toward me!  I jumped up and down and scared the poor thing.  It ran into the garage door and shimmied it's well fed body into the frame of the garage door. I kept opening and closing the door, sliding it back and forth, and the mouse would peek out every once in awhile to see if I was still there.  When the door was closed and the mouse was closer he'd tuck under the bolts and hide from me.  He was so darn cute I almost forgot either him or his siblings had been under the motorcycle seat chewing on my wires.

Finally I went into the house, having screamed enough, jumped enough, and tormented the mice enough.  Maybe tomorrow I'll get the dryer sheets out and have the garage cleaned.  Today I decided to just sit back and drink a margarita.  I mean, it's not easy battling vermin and scaring windshield replacement technicians.

Sep 19, 2010

Moto Gear: Aerostitch Darien Pants



When I was first looking for motorcycle pants it was important that I have something waterproof, comfortable, easy to put on and take off, reasonably priced and above all, something that I knew had a good reputation.  I did a little research and ended up talking to a motorcycle cop from Eugene, OR who wore Aerostitch (http://www.aerostich.com/).  Turned out all the motorcycle guys on the force wore Aerostitch.  I thought if Aerostitch was good enough for them, surely they were good enough for me.

I bought my first pair of Aerostitch Darien's (http://www.aerostich.com/darien-pants.html) about four years ago.  After about three trips to the post office and two calls to Minnesota to get the sizing correct, I was happy to finally have a pair that fit.    I found I needed about two sizes larger than I thought, especially if wearing jeans under them. It is recommended that you wear something under since the fabric will get hot during a slide (sorry, can't test that as I haven't and don't plan on wrecking that severely anytime soon).  Since my purchase Aerostitch has initiated a policy of shipping the pants for free if you need a different size.  Kudos to them.  That wasn't an option when I purchased, but after writing them a brief letter they did refund half the shipping costs to me. 

The Darien's come with zippers that go all the way down the leg enabling you to totally open the pants on either or both sides.  I sometimes use the zips as air vents since the Darien doesn't have any, per say.  The Gore-Tex Cordura fabric is at first very stiff but eventually wears in and is comfortable and durable.  In the four years I've had the pants I've crashed once in the gravel and the pants were no worse for wear.  There are reflective bits on the bottom of both legs that have velcro under, thereby allowing you to cinch the legs in when needed.  There is also a snap at the bottom of the leg, but honestly, I never use it.  The zipper doesn't have any issues staying put.  

The pants come with a velcro optional map pocket,  a waist gusset (for those days when you eat too many cookies or drink too much beer) and a removable belt.  The pre-bent knees with removable armor are comfortable and large enough to cover the entire knee, above and below.  These pants are comfortable while riding and comfortable while walking around, eating lunch, or just hanging out.  

The only issue I've had with the pants is the pull tabs on the zippers. The pants are still usable without the tabs but a bit inconvenient.  I have put key ring circles into the tabs and those seem to work great.  And, as a bonus, they are easier to grip when you have gloves on.  After the years of riding with the pants the only real noticeable wear is near on the inside of the leg where my boots rub.  And, to be honest, the waterproofing isn't working anymore in all the right places.  I don't blame Aerostich for that, as when I first got the pants, and probably for the first year, all I did was wash them.  I wanted to make sure they were clean after a big ride.  What I didn't know at the time was I wasn't washing them in the proper stuff.  I later learned if I used Nikwax Tech Wash and Direct Wash In (http://www.nikwax.com/en-gb/index.php) which I found at various retailers for around $7-9 a bottle, the waterproof life would last longer.  

It's time for a new set of pants and you can bet I'll be going back to Aerostitch for a replacement pair.  The pants are a reasonable $297 and come in black or gray, sizes 30-46 and in long or regular length.  Aerostitch also makes a Darien Light that come in black, tan or gray and are made with a lighter Gore-Tex fabric.  

Aerostitch has a website full of other tasty morsels, including the Darien Jacket, silk scarves, and smiley face puppets.  And who doesn't need a smiley face puppet?

Sep 15, 2010

Food Porn: Canby: Canby Grand Central Station

Location:  101 N. Elm Street, Canby, OR find them at:   http://canbygrandcentralstation.com/
Bmwgsgirl's rating:  9 out of 10
Happy Hour:  Yes! 4-6:30 PM
Price:  $$   (Happy hour apps start at 4 bucks, dinner runs from $8.50-28)

First, let me issue an apology because my words will never do Canby Grand Central Station Steak House and Seafood justice.  It's a quaint building on the corner of Elm that has two outside seating areas, a lounge and a main dining area.  You walk in and instantly are amazed at what you see. It's beautiful.  There are two corner couches in the lounge, swanky tables, comfortable chairs, and a fine array of beverages to be tested.  You may think a place that has that much class on the inside is going to cost you an arm and a leg...but Grand Central caters to many different tastes and pocket books.  Of course you can buy that bottle of wine for $198 but you can also get a more local flare for a reasonable price.  The food menu offered a huge variety, ranging from burgers to prime rib.   And wines...if you are into wines they have a list that goes on for days and stock wines from Oregon (of course), France, Italy, New Zealand and California.   But wait, you know I'm not a wino...so I tried the skinny margarita (um, did I say skinny?) and when I told the waitress, Kim, that I didn't like it, she sent it back and brought me one of the best margarita's I've had in ages.   Thank you, Kim!
Irish Nachos
My visit today was at the tail end of happy hour but still I managed to snag a plate of Irish Nachos (one of my must tries wherever they are offered).  They use crisps and their Irish Nachos have a special sauce and green onions and bacon!  The happy hour menu was extensive and ranged from wings to a fish plate.  Dinner was the reason I was there and I chose a beautiful BBQ brisket with buttered mashers and fresh veggies.  I eat veggies only under duress, but these were good.  They were firm and well spiced.  My dining companion (Allison, who took the photos) had the mahi mahi.  Both were fantastic.  But wait, there's more.  Did I mention the bread?  It was undeniably the best bread I've tasted in a restaurant in forever.  It was a simple white bread (maybe not but I'm no expert, how about this, the color was white) but the crust was just as soft and wonderful as the inside. It was like biting into a marshmallow and with their honey butter (just enough sweetness for you to notice) the bread was perfect.

I can't imagine that I've driven by this place so many times and never thought to stop.  Do yourself a favor and make a special trip.  You won't be disappointed.

Happy hour anyone???

Sep 14, 2010

Food Porn: Astoria: Custard King Drive In

On the job for Oregon in Astoria today.  Driving past 
1597 Commercial Street my attention was stolen by a tiny little purple and pink building on the main drag.  The Custard King Drive In has apparently been an Astoria icon since it's opening in 1951.   Current owners, Susan and Paul have been proprietors for the last ten years. Susan says the place had a bad reputation previous to their ownership, but she's mum on the details.  They've changed a few things since they've owned it, but mostly Custard King remains the same.  One of the notable changes is the additional menu items, some designed based on customer requests and kept on the menu now like treasured friends.  They still have your standard burgers but now also serve the "Dragon" which is two half pound burgers and four (yeah that isn't a typo) slices of cheese.  The "Maiden burger is a 1/4 pound of meat with swiss, cedar and pepper jack cheeses.  Apparently they like their cheese.  The "Tower" burger includes ham and cheese, the "Blacksmith" sounded delish with ham, bacon and cheese!   I can't forget to mention the "Queen" which comes with 1/8 slabs and a bun in the middle. Custard King also proudly serves beer battered onion rings, breaded zuchinni sticks, breaded mushrooms,  chicken strips, BLT's and grilled cheese on sourdough.  And, since it's at the coast, you can't serve food without adding cod and  halibut to the menu.  The sign out front says "Open 11 to 6-ish" making this clearly one of my type of places.  But don't expect to sit and watch passers-by.  There's one wobbly plastic white table off to the side with four metal folding chairs.  
  
I'm trying to be good with my food choices, but with a place like this I couldn't resist.  I ordered up a bacon with cheese, fresh cut fries with fry sauce and a Pepsi (cause a burger isn't complete without a Pepsi) which put me back a pricey $9.10.  Wow.  But just look at the photo and tell me you could resist.  The bacon was crisp, the fry sauce splendid, and the fries...the fries are how I imagine they were back in the day.  You know, when things were less complicated and more wholesome.  When a man's word meant something and a handshake was all you needed to seal a deal.  

The food, how was the food?  Well, I have to admit I was impressed with the cook as you order vibe, enchanted by the fact that they have a selection of ice creams and shakes but I doubt I'll order another $9.00 heart attack.  It was good, and I recommend stopping by but the price scares me.  Maybe I'll stop for a milkshake just to support the local economy.  I mean after all, that's neighborly.  It's the least I could do.  You know, if I have to, for Oregon.  


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