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.
Phone #’s? Check
Sleeping Bag? 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:
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 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.
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
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:
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?
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”
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? 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.
Julian, “awww, damn, beer and trampolines do NOT mix”….
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. 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:
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
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!
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