Birds & Bikes

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One of our hummingbird chicks flew away yesterday. As of this morning the second on is still in the nest. This was our second storage hook hummingbird nest of 2014.

The mother hummingbird is wary and flies away when she sees us. The chicks don’t know any better and stay calm when we’re around. This particular nest is over the breezeway between our house and garage, just a few feet from the kitchen door. Donna and I are in and out of that door several times a day. I always say hello to the chicks when I walk underneath their nest. My voice probably sounds like booming surf to them … I hope they find it comforting and familiar.

We think mother hummers build nests on these hooks because they’re tucked up under the patio overhang, out of view of predators. The worrisome part, though, is that it’s a long drop to the hard concrete patio floor below. In 2009, the first year we started observing hummingbird nests on our patio, one chick did wind up on the concrete. I found it there and very gently put it back in the nest, but it was dead when I checked on it half an hour later.

We’ve watched over several generations of nesting chicks since then and haven’t seen a repeat of that tragedy … actually we’re pretty confident the mother of the chicks in the photo is one of the chicks we watched grow up and fly away last summer. We’ll just have to trust Mother Nature to know what’s best for these tiny creatures.

I rode the Goldwing over to Ed’s garage yesterday. As regular readers know, Ed’s my maintenance guru and riding buddy. We looked the bike over to see what needs to be done before my September cross-country through Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and southwestern Colorado. The list isn’t long: new tires, new front brake pads, flushing and replacing brake fluid, fresh oil and a filter. Replace standard wear items and stay on top of periodic maintenance and a Goldwing should last just about forever, one of the many reasons I love my Honda.

Motorcycle tires are crazy expensive and wear out fast. The new set of Bridgestones I ordered yesterday cost $300, and that’s a bargain price. The last set (also Bridgestones) lasted about 10,000 miles; the best I’ve ever done was a set of Dunlops that made it to 12,000 miles. When the tires and brake pads come Ed and I will put them on. Motorcycle shops in this area charge $75 an hour for labor (while paying their mechanics not much more than minimum wage), and I’ve learned they can’t be trusted to do good work. I’m blessed to have a friend like Ed. I should carve a little plastic figurine in his likeness and glue it to the front fender of my Goldwing … he’s my patron saint of motorcycling, my Saint Christopher.

I probably mentioned in an earlier post that my original plan was to ride by myself to Sturgis for the annual Black Hills rally, which starts next week. Sturgis is a hellaciously expensive proposition, but it’s a pilgrimage every motorcyclist must take some day. What changed my plans was that my son wanted to go on a cross-country ride with me and September was better for him. I’d much rather go riding with my son, and September is cooler than August, so I was happy to change my plans. Sturgis can wait until next year, or the year after.

We settled on a ride to the mountains in southwestern Colorado, an easy two-day trek from Las Vegas. I asked my friends Bruce and Tamara in Ouray if we could stay with them a couple of nights in September. They said sure, so now I have to carve two more plastic figurines for the front fender!

The current plan is this: I’ll ride to Las Vegas on Thursday, September 18. Gregory’s borrowing a BMW; we’ll ride from Vegas to Moab on Friday the 19th. We’ll take mountain roads to Ouray on the 20th and do some day riding in the San Juans on the 21st, stopping in Silverton and Durango. We’ll leave Ouray for Cedar City on the 22nd, then ride back to Vegas on the 23rd. Depending on how sore my ass is, I’ll ride home to Tucson on the 24th or 25th.

It’s entirely possible it’ll snow in the San Juans in mid-September, but we are nothing if not flexible. We’ll at least get as far as Moab, and that’ll be fun too … the annual Moab Film Festival is on the weekend we’re passing through, as I discovered when making hotel reservations.

Back to watching hummingbird chicks now. I think the second chick will try to fly today, and I hope to see it.

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