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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Time to RIDE

Every time I say “Time to ride!” my brain immediately goes to Roy Batty’s final line in Bladerunner: “Time to die…” he exhales as a white dove flutters from his hand.

Not that taking off on a short scooter trip is anywhere near so dramatic; but the thought of things going awry does enter your mind. And so you pack gear that you’ve learned may assist you in getting through any sort of situation: Rain gear (for you and for the scooter), tools, a spare drive belt (sooooo learned that lesson the hard way), first aid kit (another hard-learned lesson), spark plug (a new one and an old one), one of those hydration packs, sunblock, multi-tool (because Les Stroud is right, you should NEVER go anywhere without one), ibuprofen, hand sanitizer, earplugs, spare riding gloves, cleaner for the helmet shield and the windshield.

Not to mention the camping gear: Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camp chair, camp kitchen, and grub.

Add in some spare clothes, the riding gear on your back, electronics (netbook, camera, video camera, phone) and by now your wee machine closely resembles the Beverly Hillbilly’s truck.

I’ve been doing this for a few years now. I’ve made some pretty stupid decisions at times and, so far, it seems I’ve learned from my mistakes. But we’ll know in the next few days whether or not I’ve got the scooter-journey thing down or not. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some good vids of fine, twisty roads and scenic vistas.

Well, ’til then, rubber side down and shiny side up!

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