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Twenty eleven

January 3, 2011
Parked at Boulevard Park

Scooter parking is where you find it (Orin O'Neill photos)

I’m told it’s been unusually cold lately. But not too cold to ride.

Organized scooter rides on New Year’s Day are becoming as common as Polar Bear swims, and Bellingham was no exception. Several hardy souls met for breakfast, then rode to Boulevard Park for coffee. Some drove, but the Fourth Estate was encrusted in ice, and wouldn’t have gotten warm enough to clear the windows by the time I arrived downtown. The GTS was the easier option.

Ice on the GTS

The Weather Channel app said it was 26°F when the picture was taken. As you can see, there was plenty of sunshine, and there’s no shade on most of the streets where I usually ride, so ice melts and evaporates rather quickly.

I’m not big on electrically heated riding gear. My days playing with Italian and British automobiles put the fear of mucking around with electrical systems in me (especially in an Italian-manufactured scooter), plus I worry about a thermostat failure resulting in my flesh being roasted to a turn.

I just do as everyone in this part of the world tells you, and dress in layers. I wear snowboarding gloves, and wrap a Buff around my neck and head. As far as I’m concerned, the Buff is the best thing to come out of Spain since paella—something that thin shouldn’t keep you that warm, but somehow it does. Cheap at twice the price, get a couple so you have a clean one at all times.

Fluffy long underwear keeps everything else comfortable. So does the windscreen, and a full-face helmet is good to have as well.

The Woods Coffee has its flagship store in the park. The Woods is a local chain that has been expanding somewhat rapidly within the Whatcom-Skagit Metroplex. I like how they refer to the various sizes of coffee by tree names; the cognitive dissonance resulting from Starbucks’ “tall” drinks being the smallest ones is not present.

White chocolate & raspberry scone and coffee

The scone is a white chocolate/raspberry creation that was absolutely wonderful. The Woods’ baked goods are all to die for.

I’m thrilled to pieces at how the sun sets a minute later every day. However, I was caught without a camera when one the most intensely ORANGE sunsets I’ve ever seen closed out the day. Even the iPhone was at home being charged. Dang.

Day two of the new year dawned clear and not quite as cold. In fact, it was positively balmy by midday. I’ve resolved to eat in a more sustainable manner (mainly because beans and lentils and rice are really cheap and really tasty when combined with small amounts of chicken, pork or sausage), and to do that I needed to get a stockpot.

That meant a trip to Big-Box Retail Land, aka Meridian Street. The mall was amazingly crowded, but Walmart was darn near deserted. And had what I was looking for (made in the USA, oddly enough) at a price I could afford. Oddly, Bellingham lacks a restaurant supply store, which any foodie will tell you is the be$t place to buy cooking gear.

Mickey D's on King Street

Day the third saw a trip to Mount Vernon. In the car. Too far, too many roads in the shade, or even covered with snow to consider taking the GTS. But it was lunchtime when I got back, and I realized I had some Mickey D’s coupons that needed to be used, soon. Hey, all legumes and no occasional Big Mac make Orin a dull boy.

Oatmeal promo

I have a coupon for this, too. Starbucks started offering oatmeal a while ago, and everyone else, including McDonalds, is jumping on the bandwagon.

I don’t know how much they’re charging, but I know the SBUX oatmeal’s almost three bucks(!!). And it’s not a particularly large serving, either.

The local Fred Meyer doesn’t offer 99-cent peanut butter & jelly sandwiches like the one I went to in Portland. But fergoshsakes, oatmeal isn’t much more difficult to make yourself.

Put 1/3 cup of oatmeal in a bowl. Add about 2/3 cup of water (a bit more if you like it runny, a bit less if you like it thicker). Place the bowl in the microwave, set the timer for two minutes, give or take (how many watts is your microwave?) and let ‘er rip. The oatmeal looks like Kilauea erupting while it’s heating up. When the microwave goes “ding,” serve. Add maple (or “maple”) syrup and/or whatever fruit or nut bits strike your fancy. If you want.

Three bucks’ worth of oatmeal, purchased at the grocery store, should last you several months weeks.

As I was eating, a flat-screen TV tuned to ESPN2 was showing an NFL playoffs preview. The Seattle Seahawks have advanced to the first playoff round in spite of having a 7-9 win/loss record. Incredibly, that’s better than the other three teams in their division! This is what the NFL calls “parity.”

As you might guess, the Seahawks’ advancing to the Super Bowl—and winning—would be the sports story of the decade, the ultimate triumph of mediocrity. At least the Seahawks have a previous Super Bowl appearance to their credit; the Mariners have never been to the World Series, ever. Only one other Major League baseball team (that would be the Washington Nationals) can claim that dubious distinction.

I took the long way home, through downtown and above Boulevard Park through Fairhaven. It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow. I don’t mind. Favicon

  1. jon permalink
    January 3, 2011 7:14 pm

    Nice writeup, Orin. I’ve been riding too.

    I was writing recently in a forum about riding in cold weather. Years ago when I was a lot younger some of us went on a ride in the cold. We got too cold so stopped at a restaurant in Auburn, Wa. We went in and sat down. When the waitress came to take our orders I wanted HOT coffee. But when I went to order, I realized that my mouth wouldn’t work due to riding in the cold. I actually had to point and use sign language to get the point across. When the cup came, I palmed the cup with both hands for the heat. That was one great cup of java!!

    Take care, Jon in Puyallup

  2. January 4, 2011 2:22 pm

    Living in Vermont I can identify with that cold-scooting dilemma. Usually one of the last ones to put away his scoot for the season because I can’t bear being without. If it’s sunny and over 25 degrees I can ride, but by the first week in December I run out of those days (and we get a lot of snow). Looking forward to March, or maybe late February if I’m lucky.

  3. January 6, 2011 4:43 pm

    It appears you are doing just fine in the cold weather. Get past your fear and install a single lead from the battery up and out from under the seat and you could ride with toasty Gerbing Classic Electric Gloves. It’s so much nicer having toasty hands…

    Ride safe in the cold.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  4. January 12, 2011 10:06 pm

    Tried the Mickey D’s oatmeal. It’s not bad, but I don’t know what they’re charging for it. The coupon got you one FREE!! Always a good price…

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