A Taste For Adventure; Light on Common Sense

It all began with TOS, a commercial spaceship conceived in the Reagan era

Orbital Sciences Corporation was founded in 1982 by three young guys just out of business school with little experience, no money, a taste for adventure and an obvious lack of common sense.  They and the daredevils that joined them made a foolish, long-odds bet consistent with Bob Dylan’s lyric, “When you ain’t got nothin, you’ve got nothin to lose,”

Nevertheless, Orbital grew to become a pioneer of the commercial space age:  The company’s initial product, the Transfer Orbit Stage was the first space system funded by a Wall Street financial offering.  Pegasus was the world’s first commercially developed launch vehicle to reach orbit.  Orbital’s subsidiaries, ORBCOMM and ORBIMAGE, pioneered the use of small, low-earth-orbit satellites for data communications and remote sensing.  Orbital’s Antares launcher and Cygnus autonomous cargo vehicle deliver supplies to the Space Station on a routine basis.  Its Ground-Based Missile Defense boosters are locked and loaded to swat down anything North Korea launches this direction.

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Prescott, Arizona

Life is funny.  In my last blog post I described visiting Prescott, Arizona for the first time.  After 8 months of playful discussions, a decision, a home purchase and an eventful move, Rosalie and I now live…er,…’here’ while retaining a summer base on San Juan Island.  I’ll resume my long-suspended blog by describing part of the adventure.

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Rosalie was the pathfinder, taking one vehicle to meet the moving van in Prescott.  Three weeks later, cousin Mark and I, the San Juan Island closeout team, boarded a predawn Washington State ferry.  Mark’s classic mid-eighties station wagon pulled two bikes on their new motorcycle trailer.  My one-ton truck pulled a 20′ utility trailer.  I struggled more than anticipated to keep up with Mark in the mountain stretches of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  A truck scale later revealed that my combined rig weighed over 20,000 lb!  (more…)

Rocket Ships I Love

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I’m going back to DC for a while to work on rockets…so I can afford the rocket ship above next spring.
Consequently, this blog is going into ‘intermittent-update-mode’ until next summer.  Subscribing is the best way to catch new posts when they happen.

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Elvis Helped Me Lose 14 Pounds

Zig Ziglar taped a picture of a Jockey shorts model to his refrigerator (“They don’t pick chubby fellas for that job”).
Elvis on a Triumph scrambler works even better.IMG_5585

Why haven’t I been riding for 20 years?

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Hans Blesse

I’m en-route to a business meeting, flying from San Diego to Washington, DC, reading “Rider” magazine in seat 24C.  Editor Mark Tuttle has interviewed Hans Blesse, the new head of BMW Motorrad USA.  Hans is enthusiastic about the potential to increase primary demand, e.g. recruit new riders, “No one I’ve introduced to motorcycles…has not said, ‘This is great!  Why haven’t I been doing this for 20 years?’”

That’s me!  I’m one of those new riders with a keen passion for the sport.  This blog is for and about that community.  I aim to explore the sensations of freedom, adventure, self-sufficiency that make us “feel alive”…to understand why we ride these whimsical two wheel devices propelled by explosions.

Mini-bikes in memory


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In a recurring Sunday morning daydream, I’d ride a mini-bike up and down the four carpeted aisles of John Hus Presbyterian Church; one bored kid’s response to long sermons.  The mini-bikes I imagined took many forms.  They had reclining, sit-up or lay-forward riding positions.  They had high bars and low bars.  Each had a characteristic fat and smooth mini-bike rear tire, 
a foot in diameter and about five inches wide. 

I never got a mini-bike.  The closest I came was helping Gary Svobota test a two-wheeled contraption his dad had helped him built.  An airy frame supported a flat seat covered with a rug.  A slipping V-belt connected a Briggs & Stratton motor to the back wheel.  The belt slipped somewhat less when a lever was thrown–with much excitement–to press an idler wheel against the middle of the belt.  The machine would creep tentatively ahead–hot, vibrating and loud.  It needed a push up any sort of incline.  Brakes were still in R&D.

These are the seeds of CarpeMoto.