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55 degrees and not snowing

January 13, 2011
All that remains of the snow

All that's left from snOMG 2.5 (Orin O'Neill photos)

It was positively balmy today. It will remain so, for a while anyway.

Earlier in the week, every state except Florida had snow on the ground. Western Washington was no exception. At least it wasn’t as bad as weather forecasters had hoped (or as bad as the northeastern U.S.). The GTS became a snow sculpture not once, but twice.

I think snow looks wonderful on Mount Baker, but here in the lowlands I’m quite happy with rain. Even though it’s theoretically more likely to snow in this neck of the woods, people don’t seem to deal with it any more intelligently than in Seattle or Portland.

Snow-covered Neon

Not visible in this picture is the Neon’s windshield, which had a little peephole scooped out of the snow. The headlights were completely covered, and the rear window was clear only because the snow on the roof seemed to have fallen off while the car was moving.

Late yesterday afternoon I realized I was sweating under my multiple layers. The temperature was 43°F and light drizzle fell as the sun set at 4:41 pm (YESSSSS!!!!!). I wanted to go to The Woods Coffee’s store at Railroad & Chestnut. The GTS needed exercise, so I took the long way through Fairhaven.

The GTS started right up and ran energetically in spite of being left outside in subfreezing temperatures for almost a week. It hasn’t had a garage in which to sleep for a couple years now, and seems unaffected by sitting out in the cold, snow and rain. It won’t idle in really cold temperatures until the engine has run for a minute or two, so I have to plan for an exit that allows holding the throttle open during that time. Luckily, I can see what’s coming on the street long before I hit the curb cut.

Snow's all gone

It had been raining harder earlier, so except for a few slushy clumps all the snow had been washed away. Under these conditions my biggest concern is the sand that gets spread on the pavement along with salt. The movement of traffic can sweep it into little piles that are every bit as slippery as wet leaves or oil.

Lucklily, the city of Bellingham groks the concept of street cleaning! There’s at least one street sweeper, and I expect it will be out soon to clean up the sand.

It was dark by the time I arrived downtown. I discovered the Washington Grocery Building’s upper floors are apartments, not offices. As you can guess, the coffee shop was jam-packed; there are other apartment buildings close by and the only other purveyor of 4-dollar espresso drinks in the immediate area is the Starbucks at Railroad & Holly.

I’d like to live closer to downtown, but so does everyone else, and rents reflect that. The foothill villa is cheap, well-maintained and well-managed. And I don’t wanna move again—four times in three years is enough. For now, anyway.

Today I once again realized I was sweating under one fewer layer than yesterday. It had stopped raining. I had errands to run. I can take the GTS.

It was nice to see other ‘Hamster scooterists thinking the same thing as I made my way downtown. There were half a dozen other bikes sharing the road at various points on the way to Big Box Retail Land. Heck, one just went by the window where I’m writing this (a powder-blue Kymco People, in case you were wondering).

As I emerged from my final errand, a light rain was falling. No big. I carry a towel in the under-seat pet cooker for drying the seat, and the M65 parka covers the tops of my legs. Add the windscreen and legshield, and once again I marvel at how wet I don’t get. Favicon

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5 Comments
  1. jon permalink
    January 13, 2011 7:10 pm

    I did a little bit of riding today also. In our old single car garage we have my 2006 Harley-Davidson XL883 Sportster and my wife’s 2008 SYM HD200. Since she is a fair weather rider I switch off riding one then the other in hopes of keeping everything working. Since I’m on a temporary layoff until February 15th, and since I’m 57 years old and belong to a gym here in Puyallup, I rode to the gym for a workout. Rode home after and got lucky—no rain. The rain started up some hours later.

    The SYM gives much better rain protection than a motorcycle. Since I’m getting her scooter mighty dirty during my bad weather rides, I promised I’d wash it when the weather gets better. My Sportster may be the dirtiest HD on the road too, since it gets a lot of winter time riding.

    jon

  2. January 13, 2011 7:19 pm

    It is 55 degrees in Key West, albeit in the middle of the night and i need all the layers I can to not be shivering. It’s all in what one is used to.

  3. January 14, 2011 1:52 pm

    conch, I don’t think you ever get used to fall & winter in Western Washington. Because of the humidity, the cold just goes right through you. I keep saying, if I ever win some gigantic lottery jackpot I will be on a plane to New Zealand forthwith, so I can buy a house and spend Northern Hemisphere fall & winter there…

  4. Jack Riepe permalink
    January 15, 2011 6:36 pm

    Dear Orin:

    I’m glad one of us got out to ride in the last couple of days. Thee has been no real increase in temperature here, so the snow isn’t going anyplace. Tall trees in the driveway keep the ice in place as the sun doesn’t hit the blacktop. As in your locale, salt and sand cover the open blacktop. It gets too complicated for me and I am too challenged to deal with a 560-pound motorcycle on a questionable surface.

    There are 64 more days until spring.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Fondest regards

  5. RoyK permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:36 am

    Dang’it, it’s sure is nice hearing that in most of the world they enjoy a real winter – rain, cold etc.

    In my nack of the woods (Israel) we’re experiencing lack of rain for the seventh year!

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