Aug 302017

The mountain bike mania continues here at The salmon have arrived, but so has the wind, so we are getting out on the trails every chance we get. There’s no shortage of places to go and we are always ready for a new mountain bike adventure.

Another mountain bike adventure

It’s been hot and dry, but still pretty nice riding at the higher elevations

Sunny, hot and dusty mountain bike riding

We go further and further out into the forest every time we go riding. It’s a great day of riding just looking around and exploring new places. This is an old logging operation. This spot is were they would load the logs onto logging trucks for the long ride out of the woods.

An old logging operation on the mountain bike trail

There are a lot of roads and trails that get very little use that are great for exploring. Here’s an old logging road that leads to who knows where? We’ll probably check it out the next time we are here.

Overgrown logging road

Some of the trails get very little use, maybe only a handful of intrepid explorers every year, probably a few hunters. You have to be careful riding this kind of trail because it’s so overgrown that it’s hard to see what’s ahead of you. You can come across a bunch of deer or a bear on the trail, too. With overcrowded popular trails just a few miles away, there are trails like this dying from not enough use.

A seldom used singletrack trail

As we mentioned, the salmon are here and our kayaks are packed and ready to fish. Only problem is that it is very windy so that puts a damper on the kayak salmon fishing. It is also Labor Day Weekend and it is going to be hot, real hot, like in the hundreds. To escape the heat, wind and crowds, we are headed back to the mountains for more mountain bike riding. We’ll be back after the holiday weekend to get the salmon fishing started!

Aug 222017

We’re only a hundred miles or so from the “path of total darkness” during the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, so we got a pretty good look at it. It got darker and cooler and the skies were clear so we got a good view with our eclipse glasses.

Solar eclipse 8-21-17

It was a pretty big event, the local library had an eclipse viewing party and there were people everywhere standing outside looking up at the sun with eclipse glasses on. We watched the eclipse for a couple hours with our neighbors, the Great American Eclipse was over and it was back to everyday life.

Aug 222017

We spent another weekend off in the woods mountain biking. We are getting in as much mountain bike riding in as possible because we are probably going to spend most of our time salmon fishing starting in a few days. The days are also getting shorter and it’s starting to get cool at night, so that means winter is right around the corner. The seasons change quickly around here, gotta squeeze everything you can out of those summer days.

We put in a lot of miles riding on Forest Service and logging roads. There are literally thousands of miles of roads like this across the Pacific Northwest. While weekend riders crowd the “name brand” mountain bike trails, you can ride roads like this all day long and hardly ever come across another human being.

Cycling on Pacific Northwest Forest Service and logging roads

Of course there are plenty of singletrack trails to ride as well. This late in a dry summer, many of the trails are dusty and “blown out” from riders skidding around the corners so you have to go deeper into the woods to find the trails that are not as popular or well known.

SW Washington singletrack mountain bike trail

We swung down into Central Oregon for a bit of riding there, but the long dry spell has got everything crusty dry and dusty. Still fun, just a bit dusty.

Mountain bike camping in Central Oregon

As we mentioned, the days are getting shorter, so that means it’s almost time for salmon fishing season. If the conditions are favorable, we will probably get out on the Columbia River and try for the first salmon of the season. This early in the salmon run, odds of catching a fish are pretty slim, but the weather is nice so why not give it a try?

Days are getting shorter, fall is right around the corner

Keep checking back because there’s a lot going on this time of year and we’ve got some exciting things planned for the next couple months.

Aug 222017

We got our new Canon PowerShot G9X and have spent a few days trying it out, here’s what we think so far.

This camera is unbelievably small, which makes it very easy to take along on just about any adventure. Despite it’s small size, it packs a lot of features and functions, including full manual control, RAW format still images and 60fps 1080p video.

Canon PowerShot G9X

It’s going to take some getting used to. For starters, it is so small, I have to be careful where I grab it and put my fingers because the controls are operated by touch screen and my fingers inadvertently hit the buttons on the screen. For an old manual camera guy used to knobs, dials and levers, this is a pretty big change. The camera takes really nice photos so I’ll adjust to the new touch screen operation. The .CR2 RAW files don’t open in Adobe Photoshop CS6, but the Adobe DNG converter will do the job because we refuse to “upgrade” to subscription based Adobe software. Anyway, we’ll have more on the Canon G9X as we get used to it. Hopefully, you’ll notice the better quality photos on the blog and website.

Aug 222017

Well, the honeymoon for the new Eluktronics N850HK1 is over pretty quickly as we have discovered that it has major overheating problems. The first video we rendered using the new Eluktronics N850HK1 laptop put the CPU temperature almost to the thermal cutoff of 100°C. Further checking showed the CPU running about 60°C at idle. These temperatures are way over what would be considered normal and to continue running the computer like this could shorten the life of the CPU or damage the computer.

Eluktronics N850HK1 overheating problem

We’ve only used the computer about a half dozen times so having Eluktronics tell us to pack it up and send it back are not what we want to hear. We bought this computer because we have work to do, not to do quality control checking for Eluktronics. Eluktronics offered to pay to have it returned, but all our stuff is on the new computer and we are traveling, which makes returning the computer for who knows how long, not feasible. We got a lemon.

We are guessing the overheating is caused by poor thermal connections between the CPU and the CPU heatsink. Eluktronics offered to “upgrade” the thermal paste for an extra $35, so it’s pretty safe to guess the quality control over this important manufacturing step done by Chinese workers is not very good. If we disassemble this new Eluktronics N850HK1 computer and do the job they should have done in the first place, it will most likely void the one year warranty. We took a chance on a small company like Eluktronics, who we had never previously heard of, and this is what we get.

Aug 162017

One of our potato cams was acting up yesterday so we were not able to post some of the mountain biking photos from our most recent adventures, so here’s a few additional photos. We will be so happy when the new camera comes in, hopefully tomorrow.

We had planned on riding in the Mt. Hood National Forest, but it was too dusty and pretty crowded so we only camped overnight and left early the next morning. When nature is involved, you have to be flexible

MTB camping in the Mt Hood National Forest

There are plenty of switchbacks on the steep Forest Service roads through the Cascade Mountains

Cycling on SW Washington Forest Service roads

This section of road could use a few more switchbacks, instead it is a grueling climb up a steep, rocky Cascade Mountain ramp. This is the ominous black tunnel to the top of the mountain

Steep climb to the top of the mountain

The Forest Service roads connect to remote singletrack bike trails

SW Washington singletrack

The trails have some challenging features, like this off camber switchback. When you’re out here in the middle of nowhere, better be sure you can make it because it’s a long way to the emergency room…

Off camber switchback on SW Washington mountain bike trail

Stay tuned for more cycling photos. We may even get out there fishing again if the fish decide to start biting again. We’re in a pretty good spot to see the solar eclipse this Monday so we will probably be adding to the millions of Eclipse 2017 photos on the internet as well.

Aug 152017

It’s been mostly hot and windy, the fishing is terrible so why not head off for some mountain biking in the Cascade Mountains? We’ve been having a great time lately packing up the bikes and heading into the mountains, getting back into that great feeling of flying down PacNW singletrack.

Headed up into the mountains for some mountain biking

We checked out the “brand name” trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest, but the trails were dry, dusty and mostly blown out from all the use. Some of the trails in this area have gotten too famous for their own good and the increased rider traffic has taken it’s toll. There were a lot of vehicles roaming around so we decided to try our luck across the Columbia River in Washington, which turned out to be a good move. The trails there, not nearly as well known, were in much better condition.

Mountain biking on SW Washington singletrack

We camped out at a primitive camping area. Most of the camping is pretty primitive in these parts, which we don’t mind, but you must bring everything you need with you. This is known as “dry camping” because there are no facilities like running water or toilets. This kind of camping is something we do all the time, so we know what to take and what to leave at home.

Mountain bike camping

The trails around here are really great. Hardly any other riders, local people mostly, and the trails remain in pretty good shape because the local riders have a tendency to not destroy the trails in their neck of the woods. This is rugged, mountainous country so you have to be prepared for anything. If you are willing to venture off the beaten path, you’ll find plenty of places like this.

Prime SW Washington singletrack

These are the Cascade Mountains and there is plenty of climbing to go along with the great downhills. We are working into mountain biking shape and are starting to be able to climb to the tops of some of the local peaks. The climb up to this peak is a brutally steep haul up rough Forest Service roads. It’s a great view from the top and a really killer downhill as payback for the hard climbing required to get up here.

On a mountain peak in the Cascade Mountains of SW Washington

We’re in town for a few days to take care of business, then we’ll be off on another road trip. We’d like to get some fishing in, but the smallmouth bass fishing is not that good, salmon season will be getting under way in a couple weeks, so we might just wait for the big fish and continue our fun mountain biking adventures.

We’ve also been scraping by with some pretty crappy camera gear. We’ve been using Panasonic Lumix cameras for a few years, but they only seem to last about two years. These are not cheap point and shoot cameras, they cost nearly $400. That’s a little bit too much to pay for a camera that only lasts a couple years, so we are back to camera brands we’ve trusted for years and are awaiting the delivery of a new Canon PowerShot G9X, so you can expect the run of somewhat below standard photo quality to come to an end. Stay tuned.

Aug 092017

As I mentioned yesterday, after a long time away from the off road cycling, we spent a few days deep in the mountains of southwest Washington state getting back to the mountain bike basics. Just the bike, a cooler full of beer and food and enough water to last a few days in the more remote foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Nothing fancy, just a lot of singletrack and wide open forest service roads.

Mountain bike camp in SW Washington

We got started as early as we could, usually about 7:30 AM to beat the record heat that would come later in the day. The midday temperatures were over 100°F every day and the air was full of smoke from western wildfires. We could ride until about 1:00 PM when it just got too hot. By then, we’d ridden more than five hours of challenging terrain in the Cascade Mountain foothills, so we could kick back and have a couple beers to get through the afternoon swelter.

Even with more than a month without rain, we were far enough off the beaten path so the singletrack trails were dry, but not too dusty and blown out. Didn’t take long to get back to the reason we ride mountain bikes out in the woods.

Mountain biking SW Washington singletrack

Mountain biking SW Washington singletrack

The singletrack trails are all connected by Forest Service roads. The singletrack riding is the most fun, but the miles of riding on the Forest Service roads really help to build fitness. It’s like riding a road bike, but only on dirt.

Mountain bike riding on Forest Service roads in SW Washington

We couldn’t get enough of the singletrack riding, especially after not having ridden for some time. Never can have too much singletrack if you’re a mountain biker.

Mountain biking SW Washington singletrack

Mountain biking SW Washington singletrack

So, we are stoked again to go bike riding, especially since the fishing seems to be especially poor. Stay tuned, because there is another cycling adventure coming up shortly.

Aug 082017

We spent a long, somewhat hot extended weekend mountain biking excellent singletrack trails and forest service roads in southwest Washington. This area is well off the beaten path and it was pure enjoyment to be out on the trail without crowds of people.

Mountain biking on pristine SW Washington singletrack

We’re back in civilization stocking up on supplies before we head back out into the woods and we will try to have a few more photos and story about the two wheeled weekend in the hills. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!