Saturday, December 2, 2017

Rocket in the Sticks

Channeling Steve Williams and his Scooter in the Sticks blog today.

I had been talking about a new project with a client I did work for last year.

It is a house to be built on a site along a small river north of Jacksonville.  The client owns 600 acres there and has chosen the site along the river with a view to the southwest.

The site is at the end of a three mile dirt and grass road that puts it in the middle of nowhere.

I have never been offered a chance to build on such an isolated lot.

It should be fun.

But the Rocket in the Sticks part is that I got to ride Rocket, following the owner's family, the three miles down the unpaved road until I got to a spot where water was deep enough to get me off the scooter and into the client's car.

We then abandoned the car to ride around the rustic area in a Kawasaki Mule.  This thing would go anywhere.  Much of the ride was off the road and even off the trails as we rode straight through the brush, knocking down small bushes and trees.  That thing would go anywhere.  I want one.

I rode out slowly, stopping to take photos of Rocket in its new environment.

 I followed the clients to the homesite

 There is even a bridge along the way

 The homesite

We made our own trails through the brush in the Mule.

 Rocket as we started back to civilization

Along the dirt road

 The view from the bridge

 Glamour shot of the old scooter

 Through puddles and mud

Back to the gate

Friday, December 1, 2017

Scooter Cannonball Run 2018

The organizers of the Scooter Cannonball Run, 2018 have now established a route, posted a website and opened registration.

I signed up as soon as I saw it on line.

It begins in Morro Bay, CA, ending in Virginia Beach, VA.

3800 miles in 10 days.

I will be riding Vanessa, my 2007 Vespa GT that finished third in the 2016 SCR. 

Hopefully, I can pick her up from Helen's house in Seattle in late March, then ride to Bodega, CA for the Coastal California Cannonball on April 1.

The finish date and location allows us to attend Amerivespa in Richmond should we want.

I can't wait until the start.

The website:

Day 1  We spend the night in Death Valley

Friday, November 3, 2017

Runnin' on Empty

Those who ride with me know one thing about my riding style.

I hate to stop.

That may be one reason why I enjoy the Cannonball so much.

On Wednesday, I had to run out to my big, oceanfront house renovation. 

The house is 22 miles from my office in Riverside.

I took Razzo this time and found the gas gauge to be low as I headed out.

Before getting to the Intracoastal Waterway the low fuel light went from flashing to solid.

As I left the jobsite, knowing that I can go approximately 25 miles after the light goes solid, I headed back with hopes of making it all the way to Riverside to fill up at the Five Points Shell station.

But  as I turned north onto I-95, I started feeling that it might be better to stop.  Knowing there was a convenient Shell station on Emerson Street, I pulled off the highway and filled the tank.

The 2.5 gallon tank took 2.53 gallons.

I know that I have put 2.6 in it before, so I probably would have made it.  But having a full tank made crossing the St. Johns River on I-95 a bit more comfortable.

For what it is worth, I have never run out on one of the scooters in well over 120,000 miles of scooting. 

I did run out on the Honda once.  The digital fuel gauge is heartless.  It turned out to be OK because I was riding downtown and coasted into a gas station, right up to the pump, and filled up.

I see that light a lot.  This photo is from October, 2006, riding Rocket in its first year.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fall Gathering 2017 in Blairsville, Georgia. Days 1 and 2

The MP3 group had another Fall Gathering on September 14 through the 17th.  I decided to join them because they were meeting in Blairsville, Georgia, a relatively short 405 miles of riding for me to get there.  And the mountains around that area provide some fine riding.  I also like all of the riders.

I started at sunrise on Thursday, the 14th, taking the scenic route (no interstate highways).  I headed up 301 to Folkston, took 15 through Blackshear to Baxley, then 1 before turning off to Vidalia, Soperton towards Sparta. A bridge under repair had me go off route a bit before Sparta but I got back on track and headed around Athens to Blairsville.

While riding into the Copperhead Lodge, I heard someone calling my name.  It was Doug (Old As Dirt, even if it is ironic that he is a bit younger than me)  He was staying in a cabin.  I had chosen the bunk room in a stay I already commented on earlier.

We hung out, greeting each rider as they arrived, then had dinner in the lodge.

The next morning we met for breakfast downtown, then headed on a long ride led by Doug.

Lunch was in Helen, a small Georgia village dressed to look like a small town in Switzerland.  It is not even close to the real thing, but I like it anyway.  Lunch was in a German restaurant, so I had bratwurst.

The afternoon ride was a continuation of mountain roads.

Dinner was at a BBQ restaurant approximately ten miles from the lodge.  I was late arriving and ended up eating the extra food that was going to go uneaten.  It was tasty and free.

I chose Rocket for this adventure. 

Doug and Noreen 

The Copperhead Lodge.  I had the bunkroom and wrote about it already. 

Noreen and Kevin with their new bikes 

Stop along the way.  Mark, Phillip, Ralph and the others.

Kenny was getting hot.  Off goes the winter gear. 

Lunch in Helen at a German restaurant, of course.  Also, of course, I had bratwurst. 

Dinner at a local BBQ joint.  I arrived late and ate leftovers.  Not bad at all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It Looked Like Motorcycle Parking

Last Thursday, I had packed Razzo and set up the Garmin for a ride to the Unrally.  I was to meet up with Captain Gary in Cottondale, then we were to get lunch at a cool roadside diner along the way to Pensacola.

But five minutes before leaving, Sarah looked at her phone and found messages that my Mother had been checked into Baptist Hospital.  So, still wanting to go on my ride, I decided to stop by for a brief visit before heading out.  I rode over the St. Johns River to Baptist, looked up her room number, and saw that she was actually in Baptist South, , 17 miles south (the wrong way if I was to go west) of where I was parked (in motorcycle parking at the front door to the hospital)

I rode south into darkening skies.  There were patches of light rain as I was getting off the highway onto Old St. Augustine Road.

As I approached the hospital, I headed into a new, almost empty parking garage and parked Razzo in what looked like motorcycle parking.  The stripes were exactly spaced for motorcycles and there was a bicycle rack inside the striped area.

I went up to see Mom.  She was sleeping so I left her alone and called Gary to tell him that, with my father in the nearby Brooks Rehab Hospital, and Mom in Baptist, it quickly became apparent that caring for them just added to the responsibility that had fallen on me and my three brothers.  I had to abandon the ride plans.

He was understanding.

After visiting with her for a few hours I went down to ride over to see Dad, when I saw a small pink paper under the seat strap.  It said I had parked in the handicapped access, and the penalty is a whopper, $250.00.  In looking around, I realized that it certainly looked that way, but the signage was inadequate and I, in my usual way of trying to find, out-of-the way parking, I thought I was in a safe zone.

It ruined my day.

The rest of the week and weekend were spent visiting with both, a circumstance that was very rewarding for me.

Because I always want to do the right thing, and felt like the lack of signage warning riders like me, I sent an email to the CEO of Baptist Health, a former client (I designed a large addition and renovation project for his house several years ago.)

He responded quickly, and positively, saying that he would refund the parking fee if it was a Baptist security that issued the citation, but because it was the Jacksonville Sheriff's office, he could do nothing.

He sent my message to his staff, who agreed and set out to fix the signage.

I called the phone number on the citation, was sent to three different people, the last, the city handicap police, who said that it was a new garage, signage up to date, and that the only way I could be heard would be to set up a court date.

Because there was a good chance of losing in court, and because I can charge dearly for every hour I spend working on my client's projects, it didn't make sense to fight the ticket.

With my Dad having serious mobility issues, I have full respect for the handicapped spaces and access to buildings.  I would never violate these knowingly.

I paid it on line yesterday.  I certainly hope the money goes to something worthwhile in helping Jacksonville.

I received this email today from the CEO of the hospital.  He had the President of Baptist South add signage to make it cleared where motorcycles are to park.  I guess speaking out helps.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Bunk Room

"Where are you from? asked Winnie, one of the five sharing an 8 bed bunkroom at the Copperhead Lodge outside of Blairsville, Georgia.

"Jacksonville, Florida" I answered.

Without asking, she offered "I am from Tennessee, but I was born in San Francisco, then moved to Orange County, near Disneyland"  My real name is Winifred.  They called me Freddy in California, but felt that I had to change it to Winnie when I moved to Tennessee.  Didn't want people to think I was a lesbian or anything"

"Where are you from?"  She asked again.

Jacksonville, Florida, I answered again.

That pretty much sums up the stay in the bunkroom last weekend.

Thursday and Saturday had only Mark and me staying in the room.  Quite comfortable.

But Friday had us sharing the small space with Winnie, her motorcycle riding neighbor Steve, and a Harley riding heavy drinker, Donna.

Donna was at the bar most of the night.  Live music was featured on weekends so a solo act was playing well.  Donna, a singer in her own mind, especially when drinking, offered to make it a duet, but the singer declined.  A few more drinks and she didn't ask again, simply walked onto the makeshift stage and began singing.  The artist didn't shoo her off, but he wasn't happy.

When she came to bed, she could hardly get around, but finally found it and slept well.

In the morning, Winnie asked "where are you from?" yet again.

I asked if she and Steve were staying again and she said no.  Too bad, I thought to myself with a wry smile.

I asked Donna and she said that she would be back, but didn't show, much to the delight of both Mark and me.

I only booked the bunkroom because I was riding by myself and wasn't sure I would be able to make it.  And it was really cheap.  I almost upgraded, but thought it might make a fun post, getting Rocket and Me restarted.

A good blogger would have photographed the room and visitors.  But maybe it is best left to the imagination.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hissy Fits and Hiccups

After having Razzo worked on last week, valve adjustment, new intake manifold and carburetor tuning, I thought it would be a good break from moving to take the 7 Bridges ride to Flagler Beach to dine at Hidden Treasures Raw Bar and Grill.

I was late arriving, so no say in the route, but Russ announced that we would ride down US-1 to St. Augustine to pick up two more riders, adding to the ten or so leaving from Bojangles.

I was hoping that we would take either A1A along the coast or State Road 13 along the river.  So, once I heard that it would be US-1, a federal highway that gets worse every time I go down it, I decided that I would peel off at Greenland Road to ride solo along the river on 13.

Razzo was running great so we ran quickly through 13, but it stumbled as we accelerated from a stop turning onto 207.  That is what it was doing last week before taking it in for repairs.

It stumbled worse at a stoplight in Hastings and stalled completely after stopping at 17 in East Palatka.  It took three or more tries to restart at the light.  I decided that I would push on to the lunch engagement, even after a serious sputter and backfire while accelerating after turning off of 17 onto 100.  100 is a long, straight stretch where I was running 60 to 65 mph.  I could feel Razzo stumble every now and then, or was it the wind?  Hard to tell but when I stopped in Bunnell, it stalled completely and wouldn't start.

Where she would run ok at speed, stopping was turning into a stalling nightmare.

I pushed her into a gas station, 62 miles from home.

My AMA towing only covers the cost of towing 30 miles, so, if I couldn't get her closer, it was going to be an expensive day.  So I abandoned lunch plans and headed north on US-1 (the road I was trying to avoid)  I got caught by one light a few miles into the trip and Razzo stalled again.  It didn't want to start either.  So I determined that, since it started after letting it rest a while at the gas station, that resting here was in order.  So I pushed it to a safe place and let a few cycles of the light go through.  Then it started, reluctantly, and I headed out again.

I thought the only way to avoid lights from here to home was to take I-95.  Luckily, there were no lights at the big intersection, so I could get onto the interstate highway without stopping.  We then accelerated to 65 mph and stayed in the slow lane, far enough behind a truck to keep the turbulence down.  We were running between 65 and 75 mph until a rental moving truck came into the lane running 50 for a while.  As we tried to accelerate from that to highway speed, Razzo again stumbled and would only go faster if I managed the throttle very carefully.

Coming into Jacksonville, I decided to stay on I-95 to McDuff or Randall Street.  The light was red at McDuff so I got into the turn lane and Razzo stalled again.  When it went green, I pushed it to the other side, then a little farther so I could let it rest, thenget it started so I could ride to the office to swap the ailing machine for the Miata.  Rain was coming so that would be good anyway.  It stalled two more times in the last mile to the office, then was put into the garage there until I can get it to ACE for further repairs.  This time it will be new vacuum fuel pump, fuel filter and petcock.  If that doesn't work, a new carburetor may be purchased.

I was pleased to be able to nurse Razzo home.  I hope that the boys can get it running right again soon.

It was nice to make it back to the office.
It is a pretty scooter, but not much use to me if it doesn't run well.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Do What You Love To Do

I am having lunch today with two old friends.

By old friends, I mean that I have known them for my entire life.

We grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same schools from elementary school through graduate school at the University of Florida.

One is a lawyer, the other a pharmacist at a large hospital just blocks from my office.

Last time we got together, the pharmacist stated that he thought I was crazy to ride a scooter around the country.

"Too dangerous" he said.

It got me thinking this morning.

I can truly say that I get more fun out of riding the scooters than anything I do.

And riding has only gotten better over the past few years with the two Scooter Cannonball Runs, two European rides with the Vespa Club del Mediterraneo and frequent Oyster Tours.  These rides and the friends I have made through riding have been the highlights of my life.

I am more than willing to take his risk.

Wouldn't trade these rides for anything.

I advise everyone to find something you love to do.  Then do it until you don't like it anymore, regardless of what others think.


Riding on Naxos last month