The Rufus Method: Part 1

#5

Wednesday afternoon was spent gathering up and inspecting various pieces of gear, doing laundry, making and re-checking lists as I packed the bike. Packing the bike really isn’t very difficult after a few years of practice, but it does take some careful attention to weight distribution. I stayed up late Wednesday night charging up electronic items (phone, camera, video camera, netbook) and creating some one-pot meals for camp cooking.

Part of me wants to go into in-depth detail about what I pack, why, etc., but that might bore you all to tears…LOL. But there are definite reasons for each item I carry. But I’ll leave all that for another blog, this is the story of the Rufus Method; not a HiTech Scooter Journey Gear How-To.

I slept in a bit Thursday morning and got up around 10:00. At this point I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. Getting to Rufus’ place on the creek was the definite destination, but my email to him was pretty vague. I’d either arrive on Friday evening or Saturday evening. I made sure when I packed my DeLorme Atlas of Missouri that it was in an easily accessible place. It sucks to stop on the side of the road (and road shoulders in Mo are few and far between) and unpack the bike just to get to your map. Yeah, I have a GPS, but I really only use it as a compass and a trip computer. And, yeah, I have tried to read through all the online info to learn how to use the damned thing. So far I have a big, fat FAIL in that department. It’s one of those things that I’ll have to learn by watching someone else. But I digress.

Once I was in my altogether, and had some coffee to kick-start my old frontal lobe, I figured to head due South, for the most part. Unfortunately, a couple of things I needed were over at the Farm and there was some paperwork I needed to drop off in Owens-blow. Due South would have to wait for an hour.

19 S into Owens-blow, then Hwy Y over to Hwy A, then Hwy D out to the Farm. Hwy D to US 89 into Belle, some Hwy 28 W over to Hwy C, then south on Hwy B into St. James.

St. James is a rather quaint little town, but north of downtown is Ruby’s Ice Cream. Homemade, fresh every day, and waffle cones. NOMZ. I stopped in for my favorite: A single scoop of Chocolate and Almonds in a waffle cone. Ahhhh…. Heavenly! I was also having issues with how I’d mounted my video camera. Roads here are fairly bumpy, add in the vibration of running semi-knobbies on the scoot and a not very stable mount (just a Gorilla Pod) for a cheap Aiptek cam and you’ve a recipe for nothing but shaky footage.

Improved mounting for video camera.

Once I’d gassed up, a southerly route was next on the agenda. The Ozark National Scenic Riverway and Montauk State Park are only a couple of hours from the HiTechRanch but I’d never really taken the time to explore them. All I was interested in was a place to park my butt in the water at the end of the day. Problem was, I wasn’t sure exactly where in the parks I wanted to go. I supposed I’d just have to figure it out by the time I rode down to Salem, straight down Hwy 68 south of St. James.

I rode into Salem expecting to just cruise through when I noticed a sign on my left:

A little help for the uncertain wanderer.

Ahhh-ha! I whipped into the parking lot, got off the scoot and walked into cool a/c and tons of info about local rivers, parks, and activities. I picked up a couple of brochures, thanked the kind gentleman running the place, and headed back out to the bike. Using the brochures and the Missouri Atlas, I plotted a course down to Aker’s Ferry, across the Current River and then north, through the Scenic Riverway, to Montauk S.P.

And off I rolled.

Hwy 19 S to Hwy K to Aker’s Ferry.

Looked like a cool place to check out but, alas, they were closed.

But.

The ferry was temporarily out of service. Great. Back to the maps. I’d have to go right back up the road I came down (Hwy K), but that didn’t break my heart at all. Wow, such a great road. Lots of nice long sweeps and hills. In fact, just a couple of miles north of the Scenic Riverway was an awesome scenic view with room to pull off the road. Hmmm…yup. Photo op!

Not the best panoramic shot... **Click the pic to see a larger version**

Why I prefer teeny, tiny, twisty lines on a map.

#5 in his favorite element--out in the wilds.

A very happy HiTechRedneck.

It was a truly gorgeous day. Hot, but not ridiculously miserable. Lots of pure white, fluffy clouds and great visibility. I snapped a few pics and climbed up on the wide rock ledge to get a few more pics from an elevated perspective. Really, I could’ve sat up on those rocks for the rest of the day and night. Yet the road called and I wanted to pitch camp before dark. So onward and northward and then westward and southward went I.

Hwy K north to south and west on Hwy E and into Montauk S.P.

Now, Montauk S.P. is all about trout fishing. It’s a fairly large park with rental cabins and a lodge and a restaurant. And on a Thursday evening in July, it was packed. I mean, chock full of RV’s and all the cabins were full. Which didn’t really bother me, per se, because I prefer what is commonly referred to as “primitive camping”. Which, when you get right down to it, is really just camping. The giant RV’s and pull-behinds and all that, well, can you really call running water, satellite TV and air conditioning camping? I think not.

But I came around the curve in the road to the “primitive” camping area and, lo and behold, there was a scooter parked on one of the pads. I’ll be damned! I think I’ll park it right next to him! And I did.

Meet Rick. He was on his way up to Hermann, MO for a wine weekend (wine is really big in Hermann, MO). But, rather than ride in a car full o’ females, he opted to roll his scoot and meet up with them there. Probably a wise decision. Anyhow, he was rolling a fine Burgman 400 and was quite the character to chat with. We shared some beer and a shot or two of whiskey over dinner and then retired to our respective camping spots.

Rick, and the bike he wouldn't buy again.

Did I mention the park was noisy? Oh yeah, I awoke at 2 am to pay rent on the beer I’d consumed and the kids across the lane were still up and raising hell. I didn’t think I was ever going to get back to sleep. God knows how late those kids stayed up. However, paybacks are hell and at 6 am sharp Daddy was up and dragging zombies out of tents, “by God, we came down here to fish, dammit, and that’s exactly what we’re gonna do!” I get the feeling he didn’t give them any opportunity for naps that afternoon, either.

#5 taking a well deserved break from the road.

Very cold river water.

A few yards up the river from my campsite.

Well, in the course of the previous evening’s discussion, Rick mentioned a micro-brewery up in the hills above Cabool, MO. Since my itinerary was wide open I figured, what the heck? I’d swing by there and check it out later in the afternoon.

But first, I had a cave I wanted to locate.

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The Rufus Method: Preface

A few weeks ago, July 4th weekend in fact, I met up with some of my scootering buddies down on the Gasconade River. We’d have a few days to camp, float, practice our outdoor cooking skills and, of course, imbibe adult libations. As happens when you get a handful of 2-wheeled nutcases together, talk eventually turns from conversation about the bikes to conversations about traveling on the bikes.

The inimitable Rufus Swan was in attendance and brought up the question, “How many miles do you rack up in a day when you’re traveling?”

The three of us, Stimpy433, Matty_X, and myself, sat there for a moment thinking on Rufus’ question. Stimpy rides a 150cc swapped Ruckus, Matty a Burgman 400 (in addition to a parade of geared scoots he’s restored over the years), I, of course, tour on my 250cc Big Ruckus and Rufus currently rolls a 1971 BMW R75/5 (and owns a Bajaj Chetak and a Honda CL200). Matty and I stated that 300-400 miles in a day were what we aim for and Chad, not being a touring oriented rider, suggested 100-200 miles per ride.

Photo courtesy of Chad Hartz

Rufus' BMW R75, Matty's Burg 400, my wee 49cc Vino

Rufus’ declared that 300-400 was far too much for a single day. “You don’t get to see anything when you ride like that!”

Well, that comment set me to contemplating a few things.

Two years ago Julian and I embarked on a epic scooter ride to Texas and back in late July. Yeah, July in Texas…hence the trip’s title, “The Flamin’ Texas Road Trip of 2008″. Needless to say, I’m no stranger to lengthy two-wheeled treks. Rufus’ comment, however, led me to realize that, as much fun as I have plotting and planning the day-to-day aspects of a long ride, I tend to forget why I love to ride while I’m on a trip. It becomes an exercise in “getting there”. I began to understand  that I’d been putting the “get there” before the “I am here”.

In the midst of all this brooding and navel-gazing I finally got around to watching Long Way Round. While watching Ewan and Charley trek across Mongolia something in my head clicked. 12 mile days in Mongolia were the norm. Marshes, detours, mechanical difficulties, crashes, meeting indigenous peoples–just incredible experiences. It took two weeks to cross Mongolia.

I sat in front of my monitor, stunned. THAT WAS IT. Now I get it! It’s not how far you go, and sure as hell not how fast, but the experiences along the way. The people, the random conversations, the amusing road signs, the out-of-the-way places that you’d never find on your own.

Rufus was right. I hadn’t really been seeing anything on my trips.

Wednesday of last week I’d finally had enough of thinking about a scooter trip. It was time to ride. It was time to try The Rufus Method.

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The Flamin’ Texas Road Trip of 2008

This ride report covers June 18th through August 6th, 2008. It has been edited for this publication.

The Machine:  2005 Honda PS250 “Big Ruckus”
The Mileage:  2600 miles, roundtrip
The Point:  Meh, why the hell not?

So it’s been one helluva week getting ready for this trip…
With KC CoN [the Conference of Noise, an annual scooter rally for members of TR that occurs in various locations around the U.S.] looming I had invited all and sundry to the HiTech Ranch whilst they were en route.  BRed and his buddy, Van, had decided to take me up on the offer.  They would arrive at the HTRanch late Sunday night.

Ten minutes to midnight, BRed called.  He was broken down not five miles south of town.  I asked him to describe his location, I think I recognize it and told him I’d be there in 25 minutes. I moved around some vehicles, threw the trailer onto the Ranger, and headed out to get Ed.
I found Ed actually closer to town than I guesstimated. While we’re loading his BR onto the trailer, his traveling bud, Van, arrived.  Apparently Van had decided to race a car moments before Ed’s scooter’s drive face grenaded.

‘Cuz that’s what happened.  The drive face on Ed’s super-modded BR had stripped its splines.  I won’t go into details; if you’re not scooter savvy it’d probably just bore you.
So, Monday.  Every motorcycle place in the world is closed on Monday. We called up Chucktuna. Chuck’s a step ahead of us and tells us that Mungenast Honda is open on Monday. You have got to be kidding us.  We call Mungenast, Ed gets the drive face overnighted and we settled in for a fine day of goofing off. In the meantime, the parts for my BR’s clutch won’t be available until Tuesday (cuz my local dealer is in the boonies and, of course, they’re closed on Mondays, like most motorcycle places).
Tuesday dawned and we got the call, “Mr. Ed, your drive face has arrived”.  YES!

We loaded up in the HiTech POS Civic with ice cold AC and headed to StL to pick up Ed’s part at Mungenast. That done we cruised up to Dewey’s Pizza in Kirkwood for lunch…Ed created the most awesome pizza in the history of the world from their list of toppings!  Seriously, the waiter and his trainee were drooling!  We told ‘em, “call it the TotalRuckus, if you put it on the menu!”

THANK YOU, ED, FOR LUNCH!  It was truly fantastic pizza!

A couple more stops and we pointed the POS Civic west to pick up my parts in the big town of Sullivan. An hour and some change later and it was back to the HTRanch.

All this fun cost a full day of bike prep time for attending CoN and heading out for Texas.  But it’s alllll good.  Ed slapped his new drive face on BioHazard and I tore into #5′s clutch assembly.  Ed and Van’s experience helped the rebuild go smoothly; and lickety-split, the clutch was rebuilt and reinstalled onto #5.

But Ed and Van had hotel reservations in KC and they had to go…and off into the sunset they rode. Dual puffs of dust kicked up behind their bikes as they traversed the treacherous gravel knob I call home.

With my guests gone, I buttoned up #5 and rolled him out for a test ride.

But #5 refused to start.

I was livid. I’ll be honest. Hours of greasy sweating and cursing , all for naught. “Frak it, “ I say, “gimme a beer, I’ll figure this out tomorrow!”

And now it’s Wednesday.  There’s laundry to do, 4 acres of grass to be mown, and packing!  But for now I hafta find out why on earth my BR won’t start. Being me, I called Ed.  He suggested a few things, I tried ‘em.  Nothing.  #5 turns over, but wont start.  DAMMIT!

So I started through the system. Step one: pull the plug.  NO FUEL ON PLUG.  None.  That is what you could call “not good”.

So I tore into the carb.  If you haven’t pulled a carbie on a BR, you have no idea how labor intensive it is.  Take off the seat, remove the battery/wiring box, remove the left side cover (and the floorboard too), and mark the 8 tubes that go into the carb before disconnecting them.

Hmmm…the jets looked good, no pinholes in the diaphragm.  WHAT THE FRAK!!!  Ok, but this is good…I can’t get carb parts in time to go to CoN…
Basically, after several phone calls to Ed and to Chris at Unique Powersports in Sullivan, MO (shameless plug? you bet! They ROCK!), I figured the only thing it could be is a valve problem.

So I tightened the valves.  Still wouldn’t start. I set the valves back to the original Honda settings (the very first time I did a valve adjustment on the BR I marked the factory setting with a red sharpie).  Tightened the adjusters back up and…

Wooo-hoooo!!! He fired up!!!  So I proceeded to tighten the valves, slightly,  by increments.  Tighten 1/2 graduation, start the scoot, listen.  Hmmm….not right.
About this time Raptor arrived amidst a cloud of Missouri dust in his pimp Mercury.  Wait. What? More company? Ooops, he confused the 16th of August (the Redneck bbq) with the aforementioned pre-CoN get together. Well, that’s ahhaight, it’s a TR peep.

I got Raptor settled into the spare bedroom and started back on my valve adjustments…and promptly forget to remove the breaker bar and socket from the drive face when I test fired the scoot.

The breaker bar whipped around as I hit the starter switch and left a lovely bruise on my thigh.  Now the scoot does NOTHING when I hit the starter switch.  After an hour of phone calls to Ed (yes, again) and endless wire tracing, guess what?  When the breaker bar spun around it hit the kickstand safety switch and unplugged it. I plugged the switch back in and the BR fired right up! YES! Back in bidness!

Test ride time.  #5 was cruising better than he had in more than two years!  YESSSSSSS!!!!!

Raptor helped me add my new trunk and change the oil…we drank some beer, cruised TR, then hit the hay. It had been a very long day.
Raptor was gone long before I rolled outta my rack the next morning.  But my BR was running!  I could make the trip!  I could go to CoN!!!
So I spent the day running around doing laundry, cutting the grass, goin’ to Walmart and finally, FINALLY, the BR was loaded and ready to go.

Laptop?  Check
DSLR?    Check
Clothes?  Check
Phone #’s? Check
Tools?    Check
Tent?    Check
Sleeping Bag?  Check
Snacks?  Check
Rain gear?  Check
Sleeping Pads?  Check
Ditty Bag?  Check
Spare Fuel?  Check
Camping Kitchen?  Check, check!

All loaded and ready to go!

Although I ended up looking like the Beverly Hillbillies on two wheels, I left out in the AM taking  nice, leisurely back roads en route to  KC.

Julian snapped this pic recently,  as I was buttoning #5 back up from a round of maintenance.  He calls it, “The Essence of HiTech”:

I rolled out Friday morning and headed to KC on the tiniest back roads I could find.  It was a beautiful day, beautiful scenery, and a smooth ridin’, loaded-down BR.  What could be better?

CoN was AWESOME.  Seriously….too freakin’ cool.  And none of you have ridden hardcore until you tag along with a herd o’ Rucki doing 35mph for 120 miles.  Mad, mad, mad props to Cole, Dean, Scott, Lindsay, Quinn, and all of the TR peeps who trekked up, down and over for CoN.  TR is full of great folks, and I am fortunate to have met so many in my years on the forum.

Sunday brunch was lovely and some MadToto folk rolled out to join in.  Mike Levitt,  the owner of Scooterworld in Overland Park, KS (yes, yet another plug!), Bob of the Lime Green Helix fame, Denise, scooter grand dame of awesome, and a new member to the MTSC (sorry man, I’m lousy with names).
I mentioned to Mike and Bob that I was about to need a new front tire, so we rolled from brunch over to Scooterworld (on a Sunday!??!) and Mike checked his stock to see if he had 12” tire that would fit.  No dice.  I had overloaded the rear box on #5, resulting in stretched travel of the front forks creating a really bad wear pattern on the front tire. It would need to be replaced before this journey ended.

But, Bob and I did manage to wrangle KS BR owner Joe’s cool shock preload system onto #5.  Thank you, Bob, for your help!

About the time Bob and I got the shock back on the bike, Mike walked out of the back room with a giant black box.
“Here, on your way back through, pick this u….I’ve had it for years and nobody wants it.”
“Back through?  Hell, I need it now!”
So Mr. Mike Levitt, super-guru to scooter trash, donated a giant black box to the Flamin’ Texas Road Trip and thusly became my first sponsor.
THANK YOU, MIKE!
Bob and I then headed over to Pomeruck’s Rucki Refugee camp…we all said our goodbyes with lotsa hugs all around, more pics snapped, and then I rolled out south towards Joplin.
I had to run the slab for about 70 miles before I picked up Kansas Hwy 7.  Finally,  off the slab and onto  good road.
Wow, beautiful ride!

[For the full write-up, pics, and vids of KC CoN, please visit the thread on TR here.]

Nancy and Jerry met up with me in Ft. Scott, KS. We cruised south, racing the sunset, and arrived in Joplin after dark. On Monday Nancy and I hit up Walmart (of course) and Academy where I picked up an inflatable kayak seat to slide under #5’s sheepskin….oooh nice!

(And Nancy, no I’m not posting any pics of you….I didn’t manage to take a flattering pic, so I’m not gonna post a poor one!  I’ll post a pic of Widget instead…LOL)

The giant box needed some decoration. Hmmmmmm…well, having people sign it sounded like a really good idea.  Thanks to Smoove of Iowa City for the silver paint pen!

Julian arrived in Joplin Monday evening from St. Louis on his pimp Scarabeo 500. I cooked up red beans and rice for Nancy and Jerry and we all stayed up way too late.  THANK YOU, Nancy, Jerry, and brother Roger for your hospitality! But Julian still isn’t so sure about heading through Arkansas:

Julian and I ended up sleeping in on Tuesday. We needed it!  It was a hot as hell ride for Julian’s 6 hour jaunt to Joplin and I was needed some recuperation from two days of no sleep, a lot of beer, and a constant contact high at CoN.

We loaded up the scoots Tuesday morning and rolled Mo 43 south; yet another fabulous road.  Hello open road and goodbye MO!

We stopped at a river crossing/canoe rental/rv park along the way.  I chatted with the guy running the place, a Mr. Bill Underwood, and he let us on in for free.  We checked out the river, got wet, and then I had him sign the road trip box as we left.

At the river bridge:

Baptising myself:

Scoots need shade!

Bill signs the HTRN road trip box:

I wanted to make it to Ashdown, AR the first day but that just didn’t happen.  It was getting on to 6pm when we finally managed to cross the Arkansas River.  Fortunately there was a state park right over the river bridge.  We whipped in and set up camp.  I ran into town and grabbed some groceries and beer (of course!).  The new box from Mike doubled as a cooler, btw:

We watched a guy fishing at he pond next to our campsite.  Julian walked over and introduced himself and the guy offered us the fish he’d caught. And so we met SSgt. Demetro Cobb.  He cleaned a couple of catfish for us and in return we gave him a beer.

Sgt Cobb’s words of wisdom, “Well, ya know, once ya get it, well, then you got it.”  That was in response to my telling him that Julian is a “Redneck-in-Training”…

SSgt Cobb:

SSgt Cobb signing my road trip box:

We’re camping, baby!  #5 is doing what he was built for!

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the end of the first day….

We didn’t do many miles on day 1.  I think we were more interested in scenery and getting our riding asses in order.  But the second day was looking to be some hard riding.  We needed to get on down the road and I was itchin’ to cross that Texas state line.

In the meantime, we were on some beautiful back roads.  I’m talking amazing riding.  We bopped along at 55 mph. Partly in an attempt to spare my front tire, partly due to the heat, and partly due to our enjoying the scenery.

Day 2 dawned clear and bright.  I’m slow to wake up, coffee is an absolute necessity and by the time we had fully awakened, broke camp, and got back on the road it was after 11am.

We stopped at Natural Dam, AR for lunch.  Holy crap, that was one of the best burgers I ever shoved in my face!  Mebbe half an hour after getting back on the road from our lunch stop, the bottom fell out of the bucket.

It POURED.

I’m talking within 30 seconds of riding into the rain I had 2 gallons of water in my boots.  We stopped on the side of the road, stripped off our wet gear and attempted to quickly pull on our rain gear.  We jumped back on our scoots and managed another 40 miles in a driving rainstorm.  It was a freakin’ tropical depression in Arkansas!  WTF?!  I was cold, I was hungry, we were poking along at 45mph, and we needed to get dry.

Mena, AR was just ahead so I started looking for a Laundromat. Seriously, all I wanted was a dryer!  On the far side of town I espied a strip mall coming up on our left. I threw on the turn signal, hoping Julian wasn’t too tired to see it, and shot across the parking lot and under the Laundromat’s awning.  I’m sure Julian was thinking, “Where in the hell is this crazy heifer taking us now?” Well, at least until he saw the sign:

Wow, dryers freakin’ ROCK!

And we grubbed down on some lunch.

This little stopover took almost 2 hours!  We left a trail of water from the front door to the restroom.  But I chatted with the gal who ran the place and mopped up our mess for her.  Her grandson signed the road trip box. He was enthralled with the BR.  Nice kiddo.

Once sun came out we rolled on down into TEXAS!!!

I wanted to hop off of #5 and kiss the ground when we hit the south bank of the Red River.

But we were tired, riding in all the rain had zapped us of strength. It was way on into the late afternoon and we needed to look for a place to camp.  We were going to have to take an extra day to make it down to Bryan.

We poured over our maps, settled on Daingerfield State Park and started racing daylight with only one more problem to overcome for the day. Daingerfield State Park is in a dry county.  We stopped to get gas and asked, “where do ya’ll hafta go to buy some beer around here?”  The gal at the gas station directed us a few miles down the road and over the hills and far away to Lone Star, TX.  We located the liquor store and were pleasantly surprised to discovered that Lake O’ the Pines was a scant 8 miles away.  Yes! Forget Daingerfield State Park.

So now we were racing rain clouds and daylight.  We pulled into the first camping area we saw.  No one was in the check in booth so we cruised to a tent site, grabbed our gear, set up camp in the half-light expecting a deluge at any moment.

Except nothing happened.  It just got dark.

We spent the evening chasing a persistent passel of coons away from our Ramen and drinking ice-cold beer.

The next morning was a repeat of the previous morning.  I fired up the Coleman Dual Fuel stove (hey, unleaded gas is cheaper than stove fuel and you always carry spare gas on long trips) and made coffee.  It took us a couple of hours to get rolling, but rolling we went.

Holy crapapotamos, I’m back in Texas.

Crazy random stuff is everywhere you look.

The above pic was taken at a Caddy dealership somewhere in NW TX.  One of the salesmen walked over asking, “Can I help ya’ll?”… ”Nah, we just needed to get a pic of yer bull!” …”Oh. Well, why?”  I gave him a look…”cuz it’s a giant red bull on the side of the highway.”  Duh.

We cruised on and a few miles down the road espied a couple of scoots ahead of us.  I’ll be damned!  It was two Vino 49cc’s!  And they, holy cow, they had GEAR on their scoots!

Meet Darlene and Sputz.  Last week they said, “The hell with it!” and left Bentonville, AR to cruise the U.S. Yes, on 49cc scooters. For those of you who aren’t scooter savvy, 49cc scoots top out around 40mph on a good day.  They were planning on seeing the sights for the next 2 years. Yes, you read that right, 2 YEARS.  They were HARDCORE!  They should have roll into Austin a couple of days after we arrived in Bryan.

Sputz and Dalena

Scootertrash!

Sharing the TR love!

And plugging where Sputz and Dalena bought their Vinos:

We all chatted for a while and then Julian and I chased sprinkles and sunshine the rest of the way across Texas.  10 miles from Bryan we hit some actual rain, but nothing like the day before.

We finally rolled up my buddy Deb’s place.  Cooled from the rain but tired and hungry.  Deb lives across the street from her friends Van and John who have the Milton Parker Home.  It’s the second oldest home in Bryan and they operate a bed & breakfast.  The house is AMAZING.

We were all outside, unpacking the scoots, and Deb looks skyward and says, “Well, damn, Misty rolls up and God gives us a rainbow!  Lookit that!”

But not just a rainbow, a DOUBLE rainbow:




Deb’s Casa:

Some random stuff from around the Milton Parker Home:



One of Van and John’s 4 mini-Dachsies

So we had arrived in Bryan and proceeded to hang out with my old buddy Deb.  Deb and I’ve known each other for nigh on a decade. We used to terrorize our favorite bar together back in the day.  Needless to say, we had quite a few stories to entertain Julian with….LOL

Sharing the TR love!

Amazingly, Julian and Debbie make quite the adorable couple!

HiTech playing with pics:

Deb and I go waaay back.  We used to take turns for who got drunk and who had to drive on bar weekends.  Damn, now we’re just old…

Tiny Dancer?  HUH?

Ohhhh!

To be honest, all we were doing in Texas was hanging out with some of my old buddies and eating chicken-fried everything and drinking gallons of tea and Shiner Bock.  Sounds like a lousy time, eh?

However, Julian continually surprised me by living up to his newly acquired Redneck-in-Training credo.  On our ride from Bryan down to Columbus we stopped off in Brenham at the greatest little Mexican food place in existence: Andrea’s Taco Shop.  Carne asada burritos like you have never blessed your taste buds with!  Awesome.  He was absolutely astounded by the food.  “How the hell do you get so much flavor out of something so simple?”

We arrived in Columbus on Saturday night and spent the evening outside, on the deck of Ronny’s “Sugar Cube” (a single car garage converted into a mini-bungalow off the main house). My old buddy Girndt and his wife and kids came by and we all proceeded to gleefully retell hair-raising stories on one another and imbibe copious amounts of “brewed with attitude” goodness.

Sunday we headed out to Girndt’s place down on the Colorado River where we fired off a few rounds, Julian went on his first ever ATV ride, we grilled some grub, and just had a damned fine, redneck time of it.  And, of course, drank more beer.

Thank you, Matt & Christine, for great hospitality and permission to post up pics of the kiddos!

At the Girndt Family Redneck Haven on the Prairie:

“Ball & Chain Girndt”

Ball & Chain & Links, aka “the family that shoots together, stays together”

HiTech’s turn!

Happy HiTech:

Julian’s second ride on an ATV..He and Matt were headed back down to the river to go through a few more rounds:
<img class=”aligncenter” src=”http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c290/protistdog/J1stATVride.jpg%5B/img%5D

Of course, Matt had to kick the dog off, first…

Scary lookin’, ain’t he?  :lol:  I’ve known Matt since he was 14.  He is one of the damned finest men I’ve ever known.

Roxie doesn’t like how loud the guns are, though:

Shadow kept trying to get Julian to make out with her:

So Julian ran away to play on the kids playhouse:

Those kids have it made!  Seriously, their very own see-saw, trampoline, and a zip line into their swimming pool…too cool.

AIRBORNE!!!!!

Julian, “awww, damn, beer and trampolines do NOT mix”….

Mean-assed kittehs….

Cool plants in the garden:

Down at the river:

Ahhhh, Texas Sunset!

My buddy Ronny loaned us a truck to use while we were down visiting.  Due to #5’s dire front tire situation we decided to cage our travels for a couple of days. We even made it down to Shiner to check out the Spoetzl Brewery where we picked up some stickers and t-shirts, but no photos.  Sorry all!  Without having #5 there, well, it just wasn’t the same and I was utterly uninspired to snap a single pic.

I want express my regrets to the H-town TR peeps.  My little voice kept telling me not to head into the big city on the BR…so I didn’t.  Not that I didn’t want to see Vic again and mebbe get to meet some new folks, I just…well, mebbe I just wanted to keep my memory of Houston intact. I suppose I didn’t want to see the new 10 lane I-10…hell, Columbus had changed enough in the past 4 years to blow my mind.

For grins, Matt’s seven toed kitteh named, of course, Seven:

Julian left out headed for Houston and didn’t even make it to Sealy in Friday traffic before he said, “screw this!” and detoured up to Bryan to hang with Deb some more.  I, on the other hand, just hung out with my redneck bud, Matt, and went out to the junkyard to see my old friend Ronny.

Junkman Extraordinaire, Ronny Daley.

So Daley Salvage is the junkyard where I used to work.  We had 75 acres of more than 5000 units from the 40′s up to the present.  Those of us who worked there when it was still parts salvage, well, we had the inventory and the locales of just about everything in our heads.

Ok, gearheads, imagine 75 acres of this:





But, when the price of metal started jumping up, Ronny saw an opportunity and CRUSHED EVERYTHING. Basically it’s now a scrap yard.   :cry:   There are a few remnants, but I think he was crushing his past life (he got divorced a couple of years ago) right along with all of those vehicles.

This is “the bottom”…it used to hold row after row of 70′s and 80′s Ford, Dodge, and Chevys.

Now it’s all empty, even in the upper area, where it was all 90′s stuff, looks like this now:

Irony, anyone?

Junk yard kitteh named, of course, Dog:

It was a crazy homecoming, of sorts. I ran into folks I used to know, even ran into an old friend of my baby sister’s when I was in the grocery store. I ate way to much fried food, literally drank beer and iced tea by the gallon, but a damned fine time was had by all.

We left Columbus on Monday morning and headed up through Bellville, to Hempstead, to Navasota, through Davey Crockett National Forest and into Nacogdoches.  We hit up Hwy 59 out of Nac where we saw the temp on a bank sign. Holy crap, it was around 110* on the 4 lane!

But we pushed on through the heat with our cheap hydration bladders from WalMart keeping us hydrated and hit the Louisiana state line looking for campgrounds. Now that was a mistake.

Lousyana ain’t got camping in the north of the state. There were no state parks all the way up to Shreveport. Once we crossed the river into Bossier City I noticed a BassPro Shop…I mean, really, if anyone is gonna know where there’s some camping around, you’d think it’d be folks at BassPro, right?

BTW, the old US highway through Shreveport?  AWESOME.

Amazingly, the little gal at the service desk was able to direct us to some camping about 15 miles away.  Thank God!

We got to the campground right at dark, put our tents up quickly, and Julian headed out for some beer.  Dinner was leftover lousy Chinese that we had picked up for lunch in Nac.  But the campground showers were nice and we met a crazy coonass who had a few beers with us, signed my trip box, and gave us a 12v cooler…that didn’t work  :lol:

Of course, being right next to a lake in Louisiana I HAD to give Julian grief about alligators…and the crazy coonass fed him a few good ‘gator tales, too.  Good thing Julian got such a buzz off the Keystone Ice we drank, otherwise I think he’d have been awake all night…LOL



We slept in the next day. The heat of the day before had pretty much done us in. By the time we stopped and ate (mostly to get the lingering taste of lousy Chinese food out of our mouths) it was going on 1 in the afternoon before we really got some miles behind us.

Crossing the Arkansas state line…hey, we didn’t get a pick of the Lousyana sign the day before!

In Arkansas:

It was an uneventful ride up to Little Rock, until we got to Little Rock.

A brief aside: Years ago, when I drove for Schneider, I was on the interstate in Little Rock when I heard a funny thunk-THNK noise as I was cruisin’ through in the wee hours of the morning.  Later that morning, when I stopped to get my 8 hours, I was laying in the bunk of my cab-over when I noticed light coming in from a hole in the rear, right side of the sleeper.  What the hell?  I sat up to check it out.  It was an almost perfectly round hole in the sleeper of my truck.  I remember thinking, “what the hell?” and I began examining the cab closely.

Turns out about 6″ behind where my head is when I’m driving, there’s an entry hole in the left side of the cab.  Apparently I’d unknowingly been under fire while I was coming through Little Rock…and the round had barely missed me.

So, later on, I figured I could convince myself that driving through Little Rock wasn’t a problem.  Only every time I came through in a big rig there my palms would start sweating and I’d get jumpy as hell until I was well down the highway.

When Julian suggested we stop by to see a friend of his I said OK. I mean, really, it had been years since I’d been through Little Rock. But the same old reaction hadn’t changed a bit. Julian was under the impression that I was having a problem with the neighborhood we were in.  I had to explain to him, later that evening when we stopped for dinner, that my behavior wasn’t related to the neighborhood and I explained the story to him.

Needless to say, we didn’t make many miles that day (Tuesday).  A really late start, a detour (but Julian’s friend was very nice!) and the heat…well, we were beat.  When we stopped in Rose Bud, AR for dinner we were accosted by a gal and her friends grilling me about the BR. Ironically, she worked for the AR Parks deparment and directed us to a nearby campground.

Once again we set up our tents in the dark (hiking headlamps are the shizznit, btw) but retired early.  We were, of course, in a dry county. But the stars were spectacular, it was cool down by the river, and we slept like rocks.

The next morning we hit the road early and made the Missouri line by 1 pm.  A quick stop off at Mammoth Springs, AR to check out the old dam and then a few miles down the road we picked up Hwy 19 N.  A nice, twisty ride up through Mark Twain National Forest and, before ya know it, it was 7 pm and we were rolling into the HiTech Ranch!

Damn, I was so glad to see Diane!  And my dogs!  And my kittehs!  And, hell, even the chickens!

Thanks to Van’s suggestion, I bought an inflatable kayak seat to put under my sheepskin seat cover.  Ahhhhh, comfy!

Last but not least, HiTech GPS:

All in all my Big Ruckus, #5, racked up 2600 miles. And it sometimes makes me wonder, do inanimate objects have memories? We hear terms like metal memory, memory foam, and I know it isn’t the same thing. But it would be nice if my reliable little machine dreams about flamin’ Texas road trips as he snoozes peacefully in my shop during the frigid Missouri winters.

Thanks for reading :D