I break for motorcycling
There wasn’t much time to catch up on life after we returned from Europe, and the frequent rain in Vermont didn’t help. You might think that having a few rain days would help office productivity, since the distraction of a sunny day at the lake wasn’t tempting me away from the laptop, but really I wasn’t in the mood to get back to heavy desk work and the rain just made me want to stay in bed in the Airstream.
This has been one of those cold Junes, with lots of thunderstorms and humidity. Among other things, it put a serious damper on my plans to go motorcycle touring, but then over the weekend we had a little break. Saturday morning we had a few hours of decent weather, and so the local “gang” got together, four of us (three BMWs and a Honda). Not willing to risk a long ride lest the weather change again, we rode down to Vergennes (the smallest city in Vermont, one mile square) and got breakfast at the local cafe.
Sunday was the only really good weather day, and coincidentally the day of a charity ride to benefit an animal shelter. We joined up with a few dozen other avid Vermont motorcyclists (a category which implies people of strong character since motorcycling in Vermont’s climate requires patience and resilience) at Cycleworks in New Haven VT and went on a really nice tour of about 95 miles through Addison County.
Now, I grew up in this area and have spent part of almost every year of my life around here, and still this tour brought me on some roads that I’ve hardly ever seen. It reminded me of the beauty of the Vermont countryside–the roads that don’t go conveniently in a straight line, bringing you past the old farmhouse architecture, the rolling green hills and fields, and much more if you will only take the time to drive them. If it weren’t for this charity ride I probably wouldn’t have gotten out to see all of that.
At this point I had my eye on my impending trip to Tucson. Whatever I needed to do in Vermont had to get done quickly (and while the rain was paused). In the afternoon following the ride, I got up on the roof of the Airstream to clean off all the organic debris that had covered it in the past four weeks.
There was a lot, even more than we usually get, thanks to some tree that flowered extensively and dropped thousands of buds on the roof. In the weeks of June rain, all of those flowers decayed to brown mulch, mixed with sticks from the locust tree, and it was really a mess up on the Airstream’s roof.
Usually this job gets done at the end of the summer, just before we leave, but this year I’ll be doing it twice. It’s really not comfortable getting up on the roof when it is wet and covered with decaying plant matter. I take some precautions to avoid slipping off, but still it feels dangerous with all the slippery gunk. At the Airstream factory they have a neat harness rig from the ceiling that keeps service center workers from falling off roofs. I wish I had a Willy Wonka skyhook here.
Lately we’ve had a strange problem with the water pump in the Airstream. It will sometimes refuse to shut off after we’ve run the water. Rather than stopping automatically when the pipes are pressurized it continues to run at its lowest level, making a sort of perpetual moaning noise. We thought at first that the pump’s shutoff switch was going bad, but after a while I traced the problem to air trapped in the water pipes. The pump can’t get the water pressure up if there is air in the line (because air is very compressible), so it keeps trying forever.
Running the pump briefly with all faucets open (including the shower, outside shower, and toilet sprayer) lets the air out and cures the issue for a while but after a few days it recurs. At this point I’m thinking the problem is in one of the fixtures, perhaps the shower valve, letting air in and somehow trapping it, but I haven’t managed to narrow down which one is the culprit yet. In any case, the pump itself seems to be fine. I checked it for leaks last week.
That’s about as exciting as it got this week. I took care of a few other small things, packed my bag, and headed to the airport on Tuesday. Vermont is east of me now, along with E&E, and the next phase of summer begins with the new blog post. Temporary Bachelor Man is coming up!