• Fresh Coffee

    See the update at bottom

    There’s a continuing conversation among the circle of friends regarding coffee – home roasted, in particular. I’ve taken it to the next level and grow coffee at home and today was harvest day. I live in the Seattle area and coffee trees won’t survive outside all year, so my trees are indoors most of the year. And the yield is light to non-existent, but we do get 2 crops per year on average. This harvest was 24 beans about half of which are peaberrys. A peaberry is a single bean – normal beans come two in a cherry. Peaberry beans tend to taste better though, and command a premium price.

    So here are the picked beans going through the post-harvest cycle.

    Fresh picked cherries
    Fresh picked cherries

    The cherries are plump, firm, and a warm red color when ready to harvest.

    Cherry hulls
    Cherry hulls

    This is what is left after the beans and mucilage are removed. This can be recycled.

    Fermenting beans with mucilage
    Fermenting beans with mucilage

    The beans soak in water for the better part of a day. This allows natural processes to separate the mucilage from the bean. Not everyone does it this way – you can dry the beans in the mucilage but you get a better product by separating them before drying. Either way you have to remove the mucilage before roasting.

    Update: It’s two days later and the fermenting is ended and the mucilage has been removed and the beans are now very dry. In the next image you can see the remaining endocarp, or parchment that still encloses the beans. In some cases this is split as seen. The parchment is removed and finally we see the actual product. A thin layer remains and is cooked away as chaff during roasting. Nature has done a good job of protecting this little jewel.

    Dried beans in parchment
    Dried beans in parchment

    TaDA! A bean with parchment removed.

    Bean with parchment removed
    Bean with parchment removed

    Update March 2, 2014

    Today was roast day for the home-grown beans and the kitchen is swathed with the aroma of fresh hot coffee bean smoke. I had enough beans for two cups of home grown Joe and one is steaming next to my keyboard now. I have to say, it is delicious and far far better than I expected 8 years ago when I planted the first tree. This is the first cup after all that time – what the hell’s the rush! It is also the most expensive cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

  • The Adventure Begins

    February 8, 2014
    Updates will appear at the bottom of the article.

    I sold my ’99 Road King last summer because I had so much leg and back pain I could barely walk. Around that same time I stopped taking Lipitor and literally within days my pain all but disappeared, and within a month it was gone. Like it never happened. As time marched on I began missing having a bike and considered the possibility of a lighter bike. In January I’d made the decision I could ride and shopped for an appropriate bike. I’ve always liked the FXR frame and the FXR2 and FXR3 versions of that bike model, and started looking.

    I don’t normally shop Ebay for vehicles, but did want to see what was out there and stumbled onto a clean looking right-priced FXR2 located in Texas. Here’s what I found.



    Manny from the dealership sent some electronic papers to esign, Mike Langley in sales began shepherding the process, Linda at the bank and former Dyna Low-Rider owner wired the funds, a call to HaulBikes.com got John the driver hooked up with the Dream Machines of Austin crew, and there’s now a spot in the garage for the arrival, about 3 weeks from now.

    Hot damn!

    Visit the Forums where the story will continue: http://thevirtualbarandgrill.com/community/index.php?topic=17.0

    February 21, 2014 – First update

    The bike was picked up by the shippers and it is headed to… Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania? Why? πŸ™‚ They’re taking it there instead of Seattle so they can determine the best truck to put it on to take it to Seattle. Naturally I’m thinking the truck it is on now is the best truck for that, but I’m an IT guy, not a shipper (just having some fun here – no complaints). The shipper, btw, is HaulBikes.com (http://www.haulbikes.com), they have a good reputation, and my customer rep Chris does a good job of keeping me in the loop.

    Here’s a photo of it being loaded on the “Long Way Home Hauler” πŸ™‚

    On the truck and on the road
    On the truck and on the road

    Here’s Mike’s business card in case you’re ever jonesing for some Texas iron.

    Mike Langley
    Mike Langley

    February 26, 2014 – Second update

    The driver, truck, and bike have arrived safely in York, Pennsylvania at the HaulBikes terminal and is awaiting driver assignment for the next leg. A quick visit to Bing maps gives us this route info. I doubt it was/will be so direct as there is lots of room in the truck for plenty of bikes to deliver.

    Route from Texas to Pennsylvania to Seattle

    That’s more miles than I’ve ridden in the last 5 years! It’ll be good to be back on the road again.

    March 3, 2014 – Third update

    No news from York, PA yet so surely there it sits. I’m looking at the calendar and the weather and thinking there’s no chance in hell that thing is going to meet the 3-week delivery date. There’s some problems with niche delivery services like this. To make money they need a full truck with destinations and pickups along the route. That introduces an element of chance to the process. During bike week or Sturgis this is less of a problem, but this is the dead of winter and the polar vortex has frozen the entire midsection of the US solid. The weather in the Pacific North Wet has been complete crap too, so it’s not like I’m missing out on any riding. I do have my fingers crossed though that if there is a bike parked above mine sitting in a Pennsylvania parking lot at -8ΒΊ, it’s battery doesn’t burst and run all over my new ride!

    March 12, 2014 – Fourth update

    Some good gnus – the errant bike has found a truck for the ride west and now we’re waiting to find a driver. The 3-week estimate is out the window, but to be honest I think they know and I know that they really haven’t any idea what the delivery date will be. It is all best-effort and a certain amount of chance with weather and the need to make some money by not hauling an empty 18-wheeler across country.

    Meanwhile, I have a U-Haul truck in the driveway outside to haul my furniture to our new home 300 miles from here. The timing is becoming a problem as I have to be here to receive the bike. Hell, if this was easy anybody could do it πŸ™‚

    March 17, 2014 – Fifth update

    More good gnus – A driver, Bryan, has been assigned and the 3-day windows for delivery is March 25 – 27. Bryan will call to verify the actual day when it is known.

    March 24, 2014 – Sixth update

    Just got a call from the truck that they’ll be here tomorrow around 3:00 PM. Now to find a place to park a 90′ truck!

    March 25, 2014 – Last update

    It’s here!

    Unloading motorcycle
    It’s Home

  • RATSO 2011

    There’s a gap in the social calendar this year owing to there being no Snarl Partay in August, so I thought I’d get caught up on touring Washington. As they say, there’s no place like home.

    Run Around the Scablands and the Okanogan!

    The Washington Scablands are the result of cyclic flooding in Eastern Washington that occured when glacial Lake Missoula repeatedly broke through the ice dams that held it back during the last continental glaciation. Google it and fly over it with Google Earth.

    Here’s the first cut of the route. Begins in Kennewick and ends in Tonasket. The gallery images are clickable and only represent a blowup of the full route. No stops have been figured out yet owing to there being so much to see along the way. I figured I’d take three days off work plus a weekend and just have a leisurely ride.