Friday, January 20, 2012

The Water's HOW Deep?

I'm inserting this post in here out of sequence.  The second half of the last post will have to wait.  Weather conditions have changed and I've got to get this one in while it's still hot.  Or, should I say, wet?

The last two days have brought record rainfall.  Our area received a little over six inches of rain in 48 hours.  The weather guy said the storm was stuck over us and dumping like crazy.  He likened it to being at the end of fire hose.  I agree.  It totally looked and felt like it.  Of course, who do you think was out in it on two wheels?

Yesterday morning I had coffee with Dean.  I'd been staring at the laptop for two days and was going crazy.  I had to get out and Dean was glad to oblige.  We arranged to meet at a place called the Governor's Cup Roasters in Salem.  I'm actually not a coffee snob.  I start with Starbucks in a town because it's a place I know I will find a consistent product.  Then I branch out from there as opportunity allows.

On the other hand, it does seem like a lot of my life takes place either over a cup of coffee or going to or from coffee shops.  

Anyway, the destination is about a thirty five minute ride for me.  I was running a bit early so decided to head up the South end of Salem, getting off the freeway early.  The freeway itself had a lot of standing water but I simply slotted in behind a big truck and rode its tire tracks at a safe distance.  

As I rolled into Salem I should have recognized the evil omen.  There's a housing project built around a golf course.  The golf course is called Battle Creek.  Key word Creek.  I saw a school bus that had gone through some high water and ended up in a ditch and slanted at a 45 degree angle.  The road I was riding was ok so I didn't think anything of it.  My plan was to angle off at 12th street and go up over the hill.  My oldest son lives close to this street.  From the road I can see the back of the apartment complex where he lives.  I knew he would be at work but there's still that connection.  You know what I mean?  Farther along is the BMW / Honda shop where I bought Sophie at the turn of the century.  The shop is nothing as good these days as it was then, but it's still a motorcycle establishment.

Thus committed, I rolled up 12th towards Madrona at the top of the hill.  I was somewhat surprised to see traffic backed up this far.  It was about 8:15 AM and I thought rush hour would be done.  Maybe it's the state workers who start at nine, I mused.  As I crested the top of the hill and looked down the other side I was taken aback by the sight.  

It looked like some evil cloning machine had been working overtime spitting out Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer copies.  There was nothing but a line of red lights ahead of me as far as I could see.  I patiently worked the clutch and crept along, figuring that it would clear up as the single lane split into two later on.  No such luck.  Now there was the added complication of deep water on both sides of the street.  I noticed that several side streets were mostly flooded.  Which meant I sort of got funneled ( pun intended ) along with the flow of traffic.  

The water covered more and more of the street.  Traffic started to fan out into two lanes running pretty close together.  Up ahead, for the next eight blocks or so, the water covered the entire street and traffic went single file down the middle.  There was no graceful way out for me as the side streets were flooded, too.  So I did what any insane Road Warrior would do.  I rode through the deep water following the cars and hoping for the best.  

It's time for the "Don't try this at home!" warning.  If you asked me I would tell you this was not a good idea.  Fast moving water moves big stuff, etc., etc..  Yet, here I was.  Not on a dual sport but Elvira was willing to play the part.  There's another problem that you probably haven't thought of, yet.  Or maybe you have and thus have beaten me to the punch.

Riding through deep water is one thing.  Doing it in stop and go traffic is another.  Think about it.  When you  have to put your foot down, where are you going to do it?  That's right.  In a foot of water.  I am proud to say that I did not have to take my foot off the peg.  Between a pretty decent balancing act with my eyes up and clutch slipping, and ticking off a couple of drivers who didn't understand why I was waiting for more space to open up ahead of me, things worked out.  On the other hand, the rain falling from the sky soaked me anyway so I really wondered why I bothered with the effort.

So here are some photos.  I've included the obligatory establishing shots.  As in:  See, I was really there!

Please note the photo of the back of the young man.  He was moving bags of sand from a pickup to the front door of his place of employment,  The water was that high!

Miles and smiles,



VStar Lady said...

Looks like it might be time to break out the pontoons.

Circle Blue said...

That's some water.

Sometimes there is no way but through. And, often it's those times that stretch us or validate our preparation.

I'm glad you didn't become a float.

Dar said...

You almost need a snorkel. We are getting lots of rain now, which is good, it'll melt all the snow. You definitely aren't a fairweather rider.

Michael said...

A couple of hours north of you here in Seattle we had a snow and ice storm. Finally got out of the house after being in here for 4 days.

Hope the roads clear up... by the way, from your picture, I didn't know that Elvira is waterproof!!!

Enjoy your blog posts...

Charlie6 said...

Yoshie would have had some fun riding in that stuff, soaking me down to the bone in the process of course. I've sometimes wondered if the water was deep enough, whether the hack would float and make things 'interesting'.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Steve Williams said...

As I was reading I was thinking about the problem of stop and go travel and having to put your feet down in water. I've been there a few times though never with water a foot deep. Sadly, the air intake on the Vespa is very low and will suck water into the engine in a hurry. Two or three inches is the limit.

You're one of the few people I know who would have mounted up and ridden off in that kind of rain. Maybe you need to pick up an old KLR for those kinds of coffee runs.

And you left out the important part.... How was the coffee?

Be careful out there.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

You know what they say: "When it rains, it pours." Having to put your foot down is one thing. Having to put the kickstand down and watching the water rise up against the engine is another.

Glad you escaped.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

bluekat said...

Why am I not surprised :)

McGilchrist, Pringle, and 16th were already flooding on Wednesday. Our parking lot was flooded, but usable in the high spots. On Thursday a co-worker called and gave me the scoop on roads that were open. I could still get to work, but decided to park the car on higher ground and catch a ride into the factory.

lol- 1 coworker asked if I rode to work...not!

Stay safe out there and maybe throw a life preserver on bike!

Trobairitz said...

The water soaking into the boots is one thing if you need to put a foot down, realizing too late that there is a pothole underneath would be really bad.

Glad you were able to safely navigate. I bet the coffee tasted extra good after your adventure getting there.

Krysta in MKE said...

1) You. Are. Certifiably. Insane.

2) Ain't a 'Stich a wonderful thing in bad weather?

Two summers ago (2010) Milwaukee [2 e's] had 8" of rain in 1 hour & most of the city flooded.

Compared to some people (whose basement walls collapsed & their houses were condemned) I got off easy - "only" 18" of water in my basement. The only thing in the basement that was happy with the situation was the kayak.

But we looked a lot like those pictures. Hence comment #1.

Krysta in MKE said...

"Sadly, the air intake on the Vespa is very low and will suck water into the engine in a hurry. Two or three inches is the limit."

I've seen pictures of Army jeeps w/ snorkels for the air intake & the exhaust, in pretty deep water.

irondad said...

VStar Lady,

No pontoons. Next you know I'll probably be trying to ride across lakes!

Circle Blue,

As they say, it wasn't my first water crossing. I'd probably sink instead of floating.

Take care,


irondad said...


A snorkel, eh? One for me and one for Elvira. Think of the fun we could have with people camping by lakes!

Thank you for the compliment.

Take care,


irondad said...


I am astonished and pleased you are reading! I was reading Foraging Seattle mostly because of your food posts! :)

Our head office is in Kirkland so I heard all about the snow and ice. You certainly suffered more than I did.

Take care,


irondad said...


You bring the hack. I bring the pontoons. We could go fishing!

Take care,


irondad said...

Steve Williams,

I suddenly had this wonderfully funny vision of you in waders walking through the water and carrying the Vespa over your shoulder.

The coffee was good as I comment on in the delayed post which finally got written.

You comment on my sense of adventure but I've known you a long time. I can see you with me. Except for the low air intake thing, of course.

Take care,


irondad said...


Having to watch the bike suffer a slow death by drowning would be truly sad.

Somehow I suspect you have your own story about this?

Take care,


irondad said...


Why are you not surprised? You must have been talking to Krysta who now thinks I am insane.

I didn't think of it at the time but the street I was on was just a few blocks from your work, wasn't it?

Glad you did ok. By the way, it was definitely ok not to ride!

Take care,


irondad said...


I never thought of that. Can't you just see me putting my foot down and....not finding the road?

It would look like something from the old Laugh-In series where Artie Johnson tips his tricycle over.

Take care,


irondad said...


You called me certifiably insane?

Thank you. That's the nicest thing anybody ever said to me!

Take care,


irondad said...

P.S. to Steve Williams,

Sorry. I got the coffee runs mixed up. The coffee that day was regular coffee but good.

I had coffee with Dean so the company was even better. Have you ever noticed that the better the company the less the taste of the coffee matters?

Take care,


david said...

Oh man what a WET day! I'd like to add, all bike gear is water RESISTANT, never water proof, it always leaks eventually!
The other horrid thing with traffic is all the water that hits you from the side, that red truck would displace a lot of water!!
I've only been caught 3 times in rain this season, the rain's been at night mostly.
Have an awesome day!!

Eilish said...

If you drive through enough water in a car your battery gets wet and you're done. Looks like you ride and FJR, not sure how low the battery is, would this be a problem?