The Rufus Method: Part 1


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.


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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Iowa Trip ’09

I’m in the middle of working up a new and original post but, in the meantime, since I am jonesin’ for a road trip, I’ll share the ride report from last summer’s quick trip into Iowa. I apologize for much of the in-talk and off-hand language as this was originally posted to (my most frequent on-line haunt). Future travel postings will, I hope, exhibit somewhat better prose.

Ok, finally sorted through the 500 or so shots I took and selected a few to edit and size for teh interwebz!

Lemme start at the beginning. I left out last Wednesday to cruise up to see Stimpy in Cedar Rapids. Most of you know how much I hate freakin’ 4-lane highway, not because I’m chicken, but because I was a truck driver. There isn’t much else in this life as dull, boring, and downright soporific as the big roads. Blech.

So I decided to back road it up to Hannibal and stop in to visit Mr. Twain at the Mark Twain Museum. You know, check out the old boy’s boyhood home and such. Needless to say it was gorgeous most of the way to Hannibal. I zigged and zagged quite a bit as I needed to say hello to Old Man River (the Mississippi for you non-literary types).

If you’ll look carefully at the sky you might detect an ominous warning of what was to come. I knew I was going to run into rain, but from my careful examination of I determined that I’d make it to Hannibal right before the rain hit. What I didn’t factor in was such a scenic little road with a handful of scenic overlooks. Of course I had to stop and snap a few (dozen) shots o’ #5…so this activity cost me very precious minutes. Several miles south of Hannibal proper, the bottom fell out.

The last 8 miles were ridden at 35-40 mph. It was an absolute deluge. I couldn’t see anything, but #5 just kept merrily rolling along as if, in a previous life, he had been a tugboat or some other marine apparatus.

Upon arriving in Hannibal I headed straight for a Laundromat. I was soaked and, stupidly, I’d worn cotton underwear. NOT comfy when soaking wet. Drying out took most of an hour, during which the sunshine poured from behind dark clouds hurrying on eastward. By the time I made it over to the Museum it was once again a spectacular day.

The sculpture was, imo, the best part of the Museum complex. It was really cool, though, to be able to look left from Mr. Twain’s front door and see the River. Pretty compelling stuff for an old bookworm, lemme tell ya.

But onward and northward called and #5 was itching for me let the reins out and let him have his head. The dry-off delay had cost dearly, I wasn’t going to be able to zig and zag back roads up to Cedar Rapids. Nope, I had to get out on the dreaded 4-lane and roll.

So I did.

And I sang, a LOT, in order to stay awake.

About 30 miles south of Cedar Rapids I again ran into rain. Really, really COLD rain. A front was pushing east and dropping temps by 20* degrees. Thank God for heated grips. I kicked those bad boys on and kept on rolling. Once #5 and I finally got through the last bit of downpour we got a present.

Yup, that sucker is a double rainbow. Now, some of you may recall from last year, when Julian and I arrived in College Station, we were greeted with a similar spectacle. Makes ya wonder, doesn’t it? Mebbe it’s just the good Lord (or your chosen deity or Mother Nature or what have you) giving ya a wink and a smile and urging you onward. Nice thought any way ya look at it.

Before too long #5 and I arrived at Chad’s (Stimpy433).

The man has a NICE shop, and #5 was grateful to rest his weary variator with some pleasant Japanese company.

George showed up after a bit and we all went out to dinner at the Irish Democrat. We promptly forgot all about taking a funny pic of HT [i]in[/i] a “Democrat” and grubbed down. We headed back to Chadly’s to do what Rucksters do best: drink BEER!

[b]HEY, MYMISTERB[/b]…..

[b]It’s those damned [color=#FF40BF]PINK[/color] Camels![/b]

After a raucous night of imbibing copious amounts of tasty adult beverage, we crashed out about 4 am. Helloooo, Rucksters can party, folks!

You TR peeps have already all been treated to most of the fun we had on Thursday thanks to Chad’s Ninja cell phone, so I won’t bore any of you with that. Fast forward to dinnertime.

Sign about town.

The restaurant, think Hooters with plaid…LOL

Of course places that are all about T&A, well, you don’t really expect much, food wise…but lemme tell ya, the grub at this joint was great! AND they had Shiner Bock on TAP. Ahhhh, heaven!

Chad’s chiliburger.

Nom, nom, nom!

My “Fat Bastard”. Yes, that is EXACTLY what it’s called on the menu.

Nom, nom…..I ate it alllllllllllll…
Chadly doing what he does best…before, during, and after dinner  :lol:

Cedar Rapids is known as The City of Five Season’s for some strange reason I never quite caught. But the locals prefer to call it The City of Five[i] Smells [/i]because of places like the following.

Quaker Oats on the Cedar River.

Hometown boy.

I had intended to head out on Thursday, but hanging out with Chad was really a lot of fun…but Friday morning rolled around and it was onward and westward for #5 and me. I decided since I was already in Iowa I’d cruise on over to Ames and check out Iowa State. They have a graduate program in my field and I wanted to lay eyes on the town; mebbe get a feel for the campus.

#5 saying bye to his new buddies and hello to a drizzle.

So packed my gear back on #5 and west we went.

Into more rain.

And a driving crosswind that made the 100 mile ride to Ames waaaaay more exciting than it should have been. Especially since about 25 miles of 2 lane was scraped bare and had yet to be repaved. That is NOT a cool feeling.

So Ames has a beautiful campus and a neat shopping area. Yay. Whatever. I needed coffee and WiFi…and I found both at some little Brazilian cafe/bar. They also had food and I realized I was hungry.

Even tastier than it looks, believe me.

So I ate a bauru sandwich while I pored over my trusty Delorme Iowa, and Missouri Gazetteers and Google maps. Hmmm….which way to go? Where do I want to camp? I plotted a general course and picked out 2 different state parks. I’d know whether or not I’d be able to make the second before dark by the time I arrived at the first.

But, as usual, I was distracted by photo ops for #5.

Needless to say I didn’t make the second camping option. It would be dark in a couple of hours and my cell phone was DEAD. With no charger, and none to be found for love or money, I had to opt for plan B. I headed into the nearest town after setting up camp for some beer, ice, milk, and WiFi at McD’s. I updated FB and Skyped the better half to let her know what was up and headed back to my sleeping place for the night.

On the way into town I had noticed a sign that read, “FIREWOOD: $4 bundle or 3 bundles for $10”.  Hmmm…I had noticed that Elk Rock State Park was about the best-mowed SP I’d ever seen. Awww, crap, no deadfall! I needed firewood. It was downright chilly, and would only get colder come sundown; so on my return I pulled in to the little farmhouse. There was a car in the drive, but no lights were on in the house. Hrrrmmm.  I walked up to the enormous oak sheltering generous bundles of firewood and noticed an old metal slot-type mailbox nailed to its trunk. Ahh, wow, Americana at its BEST! I pulled a fiver out of my wallet and slipped it into slot, grabbed a bundle of wood, strapped it to #5’s rear deck and off we went. Kinda nice to see some folks still believe in, and expect, honesty from others.

Back at camp I got the fire started and then pulled the travel kitchen from #5’s giant, black box and got to work.  Tonight’s menu consisted of Spam Fideo and cold Coors Light!

HiTech sleeping accommodations.

Makeshift beer cooler.

Makeshift camping lantern.

So I tucked #5 into his sleeping bag and got to work on my dinner.

HT’s homage to Master Wan. SPAM!

To keep from burning yourself, these little silicone potholders are the shizznet. Light and packable and clean up well.

Cube the Spam and drop into saucepan to brown.

Get a nice brown on the Spam, just like with sausage.

Set the Spam aside and melt some butter.

Hey! NO SPAM FOR YOU! Dang, granddaddy, go find a bug to eat, man!

Add your 1/2 cup of video (in this case fideo and rice) and stir around ’til it’s golden brown.

To speed things up I like to boil water and add it to the fideo, rather than bring water to a boil in the fideo. So, set the saucepan aside and boil a cup of water.

Once it’s boiling, pour into the saucepan and put the pan back on the heat. You can either put the lid or not, just depends if you think it’s too little or too much water for your fideo. When the fideo is soft, add the Spam and whatever else you think might be tasty. I picked a couple of small tomatoes from our garden the morning I left just for this meal  :wink:

Ok, is it done yet? I’m hungry.

Awwww yeaaaaahhh!

Dinner eaten, dishes cleaned, and kitchen packed back into its box (think raccoons, folks), it was time to kick back by the fire.

Who’s up for a swig of bourbon and a fine cigar?

I sat up until well after midnight talking to the stars and listening to the trees whisper.

Sleepy time.

HT’s homage to Survivorman  :lol:

Saturday morning dawned and I perused my maps while eating breakfast. I needed to get in a hurry. No more lallygagging. The Boss was expecting me home, had already been nice enough to tell me to take an extra day, but Monday classes would start and so would begin 3 months of weekends-only togetherness.

Fortunately, when you’re in the middle of the middle, there are not many 4-lane highways. That’s the biggest problem with so many of the old US highways these days. So many of them have been widened into multi-lane roads that you might as well be on the damned interstate.  But here, well, I could hit up a couple of the old US roads and most likely make it back to the HiTech Ranch before the cows came home (twilight, for you city boys and girls) and skip 4-laned misery.

But, to get to the nearest US route, I still had a couple-few miles of county roads to travel. Besides, that’s where the best photo op’s are anyway.  Well, there and where you camp for the night  :wink:

And with that….I was home.  Back to a world of hot showers, lotsa furry things showin’ me love, and a great big hug and smooch from the boss. And then Sunday night I left for the HiTechRanchAnnex. And so here I am.

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