I had been traveling for over two months and home less than two weeks, but I needed a solo scooter trip for the body and the mind. But first I had to fix a scooter. On a post Cannonball inspection, I found that Big Reds coil was broken. I had removed the old one and almost installed the new one through the battery box. However, I could only get two of the four tiny 3mm nuts on. I had done all of this before I left but now it was time to get on with the job and do it right which meant basically tearing the whole scooter apart. If you do this often it is an easy job but when you do it once every couple of years, if at all, it is a jig saw puzzle. All and all it went well and it was done in three hours.
Once they were up and running I was ready to go. Day one Big Red and I headed north with several planned stops. Right before I left my friend Jim sent me text and asked if I would stop at EuroCycles and pick up a couple of items for him. This would to be turn to be fortuitous. EuroCycle has just taken the Vespa dealership for Tampa Bay. They are a medium size shop selling Ducati, BMW, Nortan Aprilla and now Vespa. This is my kind of dealership. Doug the manager walked up in the parking lot and introduced himself. Before I left I think I was introduced to everybody in the place. They are planning opening a Vespa store in the Hyde Park area of Tampa which will make it a lot closer to me.
Doug the manager
They mean "welcome" with snacks, drinks, and expresso
The guys behind the scenes
Back on the highway the weather was great and the traffic was light. Next stop was Alliance Coach in Wildwood to visit my dear friends Andy and Danita. We met when we were all living on boats and they moved from the boat to full time RV's and always stop in Alliance for any repairs as they head back to the Keys for the winter. For lunch, we went to the O’Shucks oyster bar, thus officially turning this into an Oyster Tour. A couple of hours of catching up and I had to hit the road for the next stop at Jim and Gracie’s house. The stop there was short as Jim wanted to ride to Newberry but wanted to be back home before dark. They had just come back from a 102 day trip across America in their VW camper. Lots to tell but we must catch up another day. Jim and I had a great ride but when the pavement ended Jim turned around and headed home. I continued to my friend Larry’s trailer in the woods. A great quite place to spend the night alone.
After wonderful cup of coffee in the early sunlight with only birds for company and a little ground fog I packed up and headed out. I had almost dropped Big Red coming in the drive yesterday in the deep sand as I was turning so I was a little more cautious going out. The rest of the dirt road was no problem.
I was headed to Moultrie, Georgia to say hello to Capt. Gary where he was selling stuff at the Moultrie Swap Meet and Car Coral. This is a major event with lots of junk or treasures depending on whether you needed a right rear tail light of 57 Rambler or something of that nature, hundreds, and hundreds of “junk” sales people. To get there I just meandered the back roads. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70's and what was supposed to be a two-and-a-half-hour ride was closer to three and a half. When I got to the swap meet I had such a hard time finding row E where Gary was located, he had to come meet me to lead me back to his stall. This swap meet does nothing to fight the stereo-type of dumb southerners. Row X was in between row C and D and the next row was C. Row E was back in the opposite direction far, far away from C and D, near row K and G that were side by side. Gary had cleaned out his garage and had sold almost everything. He had a motorcycle and a Vespa of friends to sell and his own Stella. He had sold the motorcycle the first day and as we walked up a couple from Knoxville were eyeing the Vespa. Vanessa had had a Vespa on her bucket list for over ten years she told me. Her husband runs a shop that mod's old Broncos and he is a Harley rider. He is a great guy and very knowledgeable of mechanical things. He had built a Harley for Vanessa but she had not taken to it. She is a Vespa girl now. They got a great deal and I think buyer and seller are happy. Sadly, Gary had to take his own scooter home with no sale.
Gary has many types of scooters. I liked th shiny AirStream.
Vanessa, the proud new owner.
Vanessa has a blog and being a former newspaper reporter I am sure it is much more interesting than mine. Different subject matter but check it out. Green Acres Meets Paris. http://www.vanessahwood.com/
The husband, the proud new maintainer
Gary giving a checkout on their new Vespa
Vanessa has a blog for you to read. Green Acres meets Paris. She is a former newspaper writer so I am sure her's is much more literate than mine. www.vanessahwood.com
There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of booths just like this
In the cotton field
After a few hours, I had to hit the road back to FLA. Like Jim I wanted to arrive at my destination, Perry, before dark. Again, the ride was great with very little traffic. However, when I arrived at the Hampton Inn I was slightly disappointed. As I have mentioned before, one of the reasons I like to stop here on my last night on the road, is they have a great free happy hour and I could have all the marguerites I wanted. Not anymore. They still have happy hour seven days a week, but just beer and wine. To top it off, I had not eaten all day and was really wanting BBQ. Sadly, the only BBQ place had closed. This town has every fast food joint known to man but no decent restaurant and cannot support a BBQ place out here in rural America. The can support two Mexican restaurants and I chose one of them. I was disappointed.
Today was supposed to be just a easy ride home. Due to the temperatures, 42, when I left I did not plan any exploring. Everything went well until I pulled in for gas and got a whiff of coolant. I got another small one as getting ready to fuel. I pulled the pet carrier and stuck my nose down in the engine. Nothing. I looked under the scooter, nothing. To be cautious I pulled the cover off the radiator reservoir and discovered the fluid was low. I took my drinking water and poured it in thinking that it just need a little as the temp gauge had been normal. It took two pints of water. This was a little alarming, but nothing seemed to be leaking. Off we went and about an hour later we pulled over and the reservoir was still full, so I pressed on. We made it home with no further ado, but I am going to have to take that jig saw puzzle apart again to find the leak.
It was a great ride and just what I needed. Free time on the road, visits with some friends and great weather.