What a Ruckus

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What are you gonna do with this thing asked my wife.  A valid question indeed.  One freezing day in January a Honda Ruckus moped was dropped off in my driveway as a result of a $900 Craigslist transaction that took place earlier that morning. A 2009 model with 4,160 miles and a tendency to stall after a few minutes of riding. It looked like a kids toy next to my Honda Nighthawk motorcycle. A bug-eyed chihuahua to your German shepherd if you will. Continue Reading

Fun and Savings on Two Wheels

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Some of my earliest childhood memories flashback to the time spent at my grandparent’s house in a small village within a 2-hour ride from a big city where my family lived. My parents would drop me off in June and pick me up in late August. They would visit on weekends, but most of the time I’d be left alone to do whatever it is that kids used to do before Internet. My grandmother had a small “farm” with some livestock, fruits and vegetables. I’d be expected to help which meant sneaking a few strawberries without getting caught, at least in my mind. Continue Reading

On STUFF and Costco’s Return Policy

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Picture of how the dining room looked like before we bought the house… Our Costco set was even bigger!

Stuff expands to fill available space. You live in an apartment and yearn for a bigger place. You get a house but after a couple of years it feels cramped. You upgrade to a bigger house and find that while certainly more spacious than the apartment or the starter home, somehow every room is filled to capacity again. Our family is a good example of this paradox. Continue Reading

Diagnosing RPM Idle Issues in a MINI Cooper

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Back in 2012 I bought a 2009 MINI Cooper hatchback to replace the aging 2004 BMW 330i ZHP that was rapidly approaching the point where a bunch of expensive work would be needed on a regular basis. Bimmer was a wonderful performance car but at 130K miles it was definitely a liability. I wanted to replace it with something sporty yet “frugal” and after multiple test drives of different makes and models I decided on an R56 MINI Cooper with a naturally aspirated non-turbo N12 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. If you search for “MINI Cooper problems” you will find enough to run the other way. However, if you do a bit of digging you’ll find that most issues discussed ad nauseam on various forums are mostly for a Cooper S i.e. turbo engine. Since I wanted something reasonably reliable and easy to DIY, I decided to go with a base model known as “Justa” as in “Just a Cooper”. After 4 years of ownership the car proved to be as reliable as a Toyota Corolla…until now. Continue Reading

7 Days Across Panama on a Motorcycle – Part 7

This is a final installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.

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Day 7

Staying up till 2AM and then trying to catch a 6AM boat ride back to mainland sucks. Hungover and half-asleep we managed to get to the water taxi station on time. Thirty minutes later we were greeted by our rottweiler lady friend, paid for parking and started packing our bikes for a long trip back to Panama City. The rain started coming down pretty hard and it wouldn’t stop until we made it to the other side of the mountains. Continue Reading

7 Days Across Panama on a Motorcycle – Part 6

This is a sixth installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.

MotoPanama51

Day 6

Today is our last day before we begin the return ride to Panama City so we decided to take it easy again and do some sightseeing. Bocas del Toro has a lot of small islands and the best way to explore is by doing a boat tour. All you have to do is walk down to the water taxi area and you’ll find chalkboards advertising different tours. Or you can have a hotel or a hostel make the reservations. Continue Reading

7 Days Across Panama on a Motorcycle – Part 5

This is a fifth installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.

MotoPanama40

Day 5

It doesn’t matter that January is dry season in Panama – it rains all the time in the province of Bocas del Toro. We were drenched by the time we made it to the other side of the mountains yesterday and this morning was wet and foggy as well. It’s a nice change of pace from the oppressive heat in Panama City but it does get old rather quickly when you are on a motorcycle. Luckily all we had to do today was ride down to Almirante just a couple of miles away where we’d part with the bikes for 48 hours. Continue Reading

7 Days Across Panama on a Motorcycle – Part 4

This is a fourth installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.

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Day 4

One thing I liked about Costa Rica was that no matter how hot it got during the day it was always comfortable after sundown. Panama has a similar climate. Everywhere except the mountains it was in the mid-90s during the day and low to mid-70s at night. Our airbnb house in Las Lajas didn’t have air conditioning, yet we had zero issues sleeping at night. Each room had a fan and with the windows open it felt cool enough for a lightweight blanket. In the Mid-Atlantic where we live now the nights are usually not as comfortable in the heat of the summer. I still manage to do most of the cooling with box fans but the AC gets turned on more often than I like. If we lived in Costa Rica or Panama we wouldn’t even need air conditioning. Definitely something to consider for our early retirement! Continue Reading