December 31, 2010

Mandatory visit

My best friend took me out for a shopping orgy in Duesseldorf, where I used to live and work for a few years. The city is a shopper's paradise. On the one hand it was time and money well spent, but on the other hand it was a rat race. Maybe I am becoming too Canadian because the noisy and impatient bordering on unfriendly crowds were soon to much for me. So, instead we went for a slippery stroll through the Altstadt and along the river Rhine.
Here I am posing in front of a Radschlaeger, which has long been a tradition in Duesseldorf where young folks are doing cartwheel acrobatics for fun and money. The statue can be found in front of the Uerige brewery, a must when in the city to have traditional German food with ALT beer (dark and yummy). Just don't go for the Haxen which is pork knuckles. That's on the menue for Japanese tourists only.

In a very North American way I am now taking a break at a certain coffee chain sporting a mermaid in their logo while reading a German motorcycle travel magazine.

As nice as visiting friends and family might be, more than ever I feel that Canada has become my new adopted home. I am already getting homesick, and crave the relative warmth of the We(s)t Coast. Or maybe I am just missing my two-wheeled companion...?

taken from the Uerige website

December 26, 2010

Smalltown, Germany

Vancouver - Seattle - Amsterdam - Cologne. Europe is still recovering from the kind of weather that we North Americans call 'Winter'. Is is not unheard of but quite rare that Germany is all covered under a white blanket. I remember when I was about ten years old, we had an actual white Christmas, but usually the region gets pretty much weather similar to the West Coast winter weather involving lots of rain.

Since Duesseldorf Int'l Airport was temporarily shut down our original flight got cancelled, but we were lucky enough and managed to catch a plane to Cologne. So, after 20 hours of combined air and road travel we arrived safe and sound in the small town we used to call home.
The town Leichlingen (try to pronounce this) has a steady population of around 27,000 and is located somewhat between Duesseldorf and Cologne along the river Wupper.

Despite two world wars the town core has been left relatively unscathed, and centuries old houses have been beautifully restored.

First mentioning of the town was in some church journal back in the year 973. The region usually has a micro climate similar to the Okanagan Valley, and is famous for its delicious strawberries and apples. In the past the area had been well known for their metal and textile production, but in nower days agriculture and orchards remain as the main industries.

I used to work for an IT service provider that had their regional headquarters in this mansion. My office was in the yellow building on the right. Fancy, eh?!?

The snow is somewhat limiting our excursions, but we hope to be able to visit all the family and friends that we haven't seen an a long while.

December 20, 2010

Stanley Park im Winter

Die wenigen sonnigen Tage im Westküstenwinter muss man ausnutzen, und so haben wir uns heute zu einem Spaziergang durch den Stanley-Park aufgemacht. Die Sonne strahlte am blauen Himmel, die Temperaturen waren im einstelligen Plus-Bereich und die Grossstädter strömten in diesen wunderbaren Park. Tage wie dieser erleichtern es uns, die monatelange Regenzeit durch zu stehen!

December 19, 2010

Last ride of the year

We currently have a lot of construction ongoing in the underground parking (where my bike lives) and poor Nella got buried under a pile of fine dust. She basically screamed at me: Clean me, feed me and get me a friggin' dust cover.

After giving her a well deserved sponge bath, we went out to get gas, and to acquire the most needed cover at the closest motorcycle dealer (Honey, I'm back in 5...). Of course it started raining, right after we left the garage. Wet stuff notwithstanding I suddenly found myself driving along the shore, knowing that this would be our final ride in 2010.
 Now that you mention it...
No Parking? Am I bovvered? (bothered) 
Rain, rain, rain. It's déjà vu all over again.
An hour later.... Honey, I'm home! 
Look, my gear is all clean now!

Distance: 34km (21mi)
Weather: Heavy rain 4C (40F)

Thank y'all for your repeat visits, and taking the time to leave comments, especially during my down time. I hope to see you on the road.
Be safe, and have a wonderful holiday season!

December 17, 2010

Bikeress' Lingerie

For those who always wanted to know what female motorcycle travelers look like without their protective clothing...
...this is not it. Sorry, guys.

Now, for you ladies: I have used ski underwear on long distance or cold rides, but they have seams in places where it can get very uncomfortable when sitting for a long time. After consulting the virtual crystal ball a.k.a. Google and several two-wheeler forums for specific motorcycle riding underwear, everything pointed in one direction: LD Comfort.
So, I made myself a generous early Christmas present, and bought two of those. The package arrived 15 days later with a handwritten 'enjoy your comfort' note and a smiley on the packing slip.

A few test rides later:
Comfy and warming, lightweight and seamless, wash easy and quick dry, and did I mention comfy? And one does not have to become an iron butt-er to appreciate this. For those ladies who want to go long distance in comfort, be it on cold or hot days, I can highly recommend this product. And to those guys who haven't actually tuned out halfway through this posting: yes, there is also manly man wear available.

No, I am not getting paid or sponsored for this. I am just in a sharing mood today, and curious, if the hit counter will set a new record due to the particular content ;-)

December 15, 2010

Noch 'n Gedicht - Jahresrückblick 2010

Januar: Sonja wird von der Sonne Kaliforniens zu einem Einsatz ins winterliche Winnipeg geschleudert.
Februar: Roland beginnt sein Six Sigma Training und die Winterolympiade in Vancouver beginnt ohne Schnee.
März: Sonja zieht ihrem neuen Job in Vancouver hinterher. Nach Wohnungs- und Autosuche verbringt sie eine traumhafte Zeit im Hauptsitz in der Firma in Neuseeland.
April: Während Roland sich mit Arbeit in Calgary, Training in Houston und Organisation des Umzuges zur Westküste beschäftigt, amüsiert sich Sonja bei den Kiwis.
Mai: Diesmal ist Roland zum Training in Longview, Texas, und Sonja zurück in British Columbia.
Juni: Wir verfolgen die Fussballweltmeisterschaft und erkunden unsere neue Heimat. Nebenbei verschlägt es Sonja geschäftlich nach Toronto.
Juli: Roland verbringt seinen Urlaub mit Freund Frank in Montreal, während Sonja auf ihrem neuen (gebrauchten) Motorrad eine Reise nach Washington State und Oregon unternimmt.
August und September: Abwechselnd ist Sonja in Alberta, dann ist Roland wieder in BC. An den Wochenenden werden Kurzausflüge in die nähere Umgebung in die Berge, die Badlands oder ans Meer unternommen.

Oktober: Ein langer, bunter, warmer Herbst beginnt, und wir machen Urlaub auf Vancouver Island.
November: Der Monat präsentiert sich dunkel, nass und kalt. Roland ist nun ein zertifizierter Six Sigma Black Belt. 
Dezember: Der übliche Jahresendstress beginnt. Der Weihnachtsmarkt in Vancouver und Weihnachtsfeiern stimmen uns auf die Feiertage ein.

Uns ist dieses Jahr wirklich nicht langweilig geworden...


December 13, 2010

Bonnie's new rival

It's the new 2011 Kawasaki W800. Another bike that probably won't make it to Canada, ever... what a pity. Triumph beware, this lady will make for an interesting competition. Also, this retro bike reminds me of my good ole Yamaha SR500.
The limited choice of new or used bikes in the Canadian market is somewhat frustrating. Maybe I need to return to Europe every once in a while, at least to get a look and feel of those other wonderful models out there...

And while I am at it, I am going to check out one of those... the 2011 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. Oh, you sexy thing.

December 11, 2010

Seattle Motorcycle Show

Calculating the subsequent hangover and lack of sleep following last Friday's Company X-mas party, we kept our trip down to the Seattle Motorcycle Show to a last minute decision. We woke up at around seven-ish, felt ok, and arrived at the Peace Arch border crossing around nine. Since we are permanent residents of Canada, but holding a German passport, we get 'special attention' from the US officials every three months for our visa-waiver, mugshots and fingerprints included. Meanwhile they must have over a dozen in their collection, but they never get tired of taking new ones.
We arrived in Seattle by noon, and it rained cats and dogs. That probably explained why only a few riders actually visited the venue on their bikes. What stroke me odd, was that there were no signs, no billboards or adds featuring this event or giving directions. Then we entered the tiny hall, and were thinking: Is that all? Where is the rest of it? There I thought that the Calgary show we visited last January was tiny, but it seemed that even the Stampede grounds featured more exhibitors and events than this sports arena (I mean a sports arena? Seriously? Come on!). And speaking of lack of exhibitors, where were BMW and Triumph?
 A rare sight on the grounds
If it is yellow it must be good.
The Suzuki Burgman 650 fits hubby like a glove.

Maybe it was the hangover but I was in a reasonable grumpy mood, that could only be enlightened by meeting Bob and Yvonne, and Stacey who volunteered at the Woman Ride booth. We chatted for awhile and parted ways to go explore some more. I had heard that Brad, Brandy and Rick where also around somewhere but we must have missed them. Unlike them lucky bunch we didn't have the luxury to stay overnight, so we live to meet them another time.

We headed home late afternoon. Traffic was heavy possibly due to Christmas shoppers, but we made it back to the comfort of our couch before 7PM. Getting back into Canada is almost as easy as traveling in Europe, and friendly as always. We just had to flash our permanent resident cards and were welcomed in without further ado. Gotta love this country.

Conclusion: Meeting friends made it worthwhile visiting the fair, but compared to other shows this event was not a memorable one.

December 09, 2010

Ghost in the Machine

Im Moment ist da wirklich der Wurm drin... Fast wöchentlich haben wir in letzter Zeit die seltsamsten Erlebnisse, weil die kanadischen und amerikanischen Computersysteme nicht ordentlich zu funktionieren scheinen. Hier ein paar Beispiele:

Wir erhalten von American Express eine Mitteilung, dass unser Konto ein Saldo aufweist, das wir nicht beglichen hätten. Auf telefonische Nachfrage wird uns bestätigt, dass dies in der Tat nicht so ist und unser Konto völlig in Ordnung ist. Wir erhalten einen Brief, mit dem sich AE entschuldigt. Grund: Computerprobleme

Wir bekommen von unserer Autoversicherung ein sehr unfreundliches Einschreiben mit der Information, dass wir unseren Versicherungsbeitrag nicht bezahlt hätten und damit unsere Versicherung ab sofort ungültig ist. Es sei illegal, weiterhin mit unserem Auto zu fahren. Auf telefonische Nachfrage wird uns bestätigt, dass wir in der Tat unseren Beitrag bezahlt haben und das alles in Ordnung sei. Wir werden eine schriftliche Bestätigung erhalten. Grund: Seit Umstellung auf ein neues Computersystem würden diese Einschreiben häufiger fehlerhafterweise verschickt (hm, warum wird eigentlich keine manuelle Überprüfung vorgenommen, bevor die Dinger rausgehen?).

Die Krönung des ganzen ist aber eindeutig KLM, die Fluggesellschaft, bei der wir unsere Weihnachtsflüge nach Deutschland gebucht haben. Im August haben wir unseren Flug gebucht, seitdem hat KLM vier mal (4x!) unsere Flüge ungefragt storniert! Jedesmal muss Roland sich erneut mit der KLM- (und Delta-) Kundenbetreuung auseinander setzen, und die Betreuer buchen den Flug wieder neu. Begründung: seit Delta und KLM fusioniert haben, arbeitet man mit zwei Computersystemen, die sich anscheinen nicht besonders gut verstehen. Da passieren diese Sachen schon mal.

Man bekommt den Eindruck, dass die Nordamerikaner mit komplexen Computersystemen überfordert sind. Vielleicht sollten sie mal langsam jemanden fragen, der sich damit auskennt?!

December 06, 2010

Gelegenheit macht... Ausflug

Nach tagelangem grauem Regenwetter reisst der Himmel endlich am Samstag auf. Das kostbare Tageslicht muss sofort sinnvoll genutzt werden.

Die Sonnenstrahlen erwärmen Boden und Vegetation. Überall dampft es.

Die bemoosten Äste scheinen nach dem Licht greifen zu wollen.

An manchen stellen bleibt es schattig und unter dem Gefrierpunkt, der Teich ist gefroren und Raureif liegt auf den Wiesen.

Auch ein Wintertag kann schön sein.
Besonders, wenn man (frau) ihn auch auf dem Motorrad geniessen kann...

December 05, 2010

A few hours of delight

Today I had a premiere: My first December ride ever (and riding pillion doesn't count). After what felt like countless days of rain I had almost forgotten how beautiful the We(s)t coast can be, when it's not.
Frozen evidence of the cold. Hence, slowly does it.
As it is warming up, I let Nella go a little faster but keep a close eye on the road.
The world is steaming everywhere.
Trees warming up by sun rays
One major advantage of being on the road this time of the day this time of the year: Not much traffic.
Still some of the white stuff where the sun doesn't shine.
It's me in there.
View North across Fraser River
The sun sets. It is getting colder by the minute.
The damp air is creeping under my collar.
Gotta go soon, the roads are freezing up again.
Turning on the heated grips.
Time for celebration, and I made it still in 2010:
5,000 km on Nella.

Distance: 160 km
Weather: Sunny, calm, 3C (37F)