scoot 66 Ė summer travels on a vespa motorscooter
66The Evolution of Scooters← Older posts
Welcome to Scoot 66
Posted on February 22, 2009 by Eric
This is the blog that I kept while planning and riding Scoot 66, a three month,
11,000 mile journey on a Vespa motorscooter. Thereís quite a lot to read here,
but below is a summary.
If you would like to read the posts in the order they were posted, look to your
right and select ďSort by date ASC.Ē
This was the start of the trip that would change everything. After a couple days
tramping around the hills of West Virginia, I departed on May third.
Weather would mar my trip for the first several weeks. The first day was no
exception. Rain through Ohio, and then wind and then rain again at night as I
searched endlessly for a cheap motel. Eventually I found one.
Route 66 was the main inspiration for this trip. It started in Chicago, and
thatís where I headed on the second day. It was my great fortune that it was
sunny and springlike. The next day, riding across Illinois, was also sunny and
I crossed the Mississippi. Missouri and I get along very well. Another fairly
Day Eight of my trip was a wash. It rained all day. I have never seen so much
rain before or since. It came in sheets and I was nearly swimming through the
air. On Day Eight, I had my only accident of the trip. The rain became so
intense, so sudden that I could not see and didnít make a turn, winding up in a
ditch. Thankfully a family came along and dragged me out. There was no damage to
anything but ego.
I retired for the night, only riding 100 miles, in the small college town of
Rain marked the next day and the next as I rode through the rest of Missouri,
Kansas and Oklahoma. The weather was still a factor, I was just lucky. I missed
a deadly tornado that leveled a town I rode through by a day. By the night of
Day Eleven, I was in OKC, ready for a break.
I had originally planned a side trip here, but shortened it, staying in OKC for
a few nights.
Finally rested and fully dried out, I hit the road, falling in love with Route
66 through Oklahoma. This is a very underrated section. Sun, rain, dirt roads,
getting lost, hippies and fun were all in store for me through western Oklahoma,
into Texas. Texas is unforgiving and relentless and I love it. And it rained.
Big, Texas rain. And the temperatures dropped into the low 40s.
Each night I was having to dry out everything I owned. Not because I didnít plan
for rain, believe me, I did. But even rain gear gets soaked and needs to dry.
All day rains are tiering. And going into New Mexico, snow started to appear on
the mountains. Visions of the Donner Party wiggled through my head.
But thankfully I escaped without having to eat my own arm to survive. No snow
(yet), but wind was becoming a factor.
I fell deeply in love with Albuquerque and a wonderful family I met and stayed
with there. I crashed for a few days, took in the local sites, hung out with
some of my new favorite people ever and generally had a blast.
I was sad to leave, but had to (though Iíd be back). Here is where the wind
became a real issue. Actually no, here is where I figured it would be, but only
caused minor issues, like blowing my tent down all throughout the night.
By the time I got to Arizona, the wind was amazing. Itís nearly impossible to
ride into 40mph sustained winds and make good time or gas mileage. Both
suffered. Itís also exhausting. And then there were the dust storms. Huge,
billowing clouds of swirling, pissed off dirt kicked my white ass across
Day 23 brought all sort of fun weather: wind, rain, snow, cold. It was a riding
nightmare, but the scenery and stops were worth it. Iíd do it again in a
heartbeat. The day ended in Flagstaff with flurries flying and temperatures
dropping to the low 30s as I rode around looking for a place to eat. No camping
I awoke to several inches of snow, that held me up for a bit. It soon melted,
but more storms greeted me throughout the day. Riding in snow is not very
possible. I did my best and ended the day short, which was fine by me.
Route 66 was winding down. Only the rest of Arizona and California to get
through. Day 25 was cold at first, but as I wound my way up to Oatman and down
the other side into the Colorado River valley and then into Needles, the temps
rose, though it wasnít the 119F that I experienced the last time I was through
here in 2006.
It would be nice if Route 66 ended in the Mojave. I love that place. It wasnít
hot and was just an enjoyable ride with a little desert rain. The next day was
LA. I hate LA. I blew through it, very unceremoniously ending Route 66 and
headed north on California One.
My plan was to make it to Big Sur the next day, but decided instead to head to
Berkeley to visit Cole and Josh.
Though I donít really care much for Berkeley, I had a great time thanks to my
hosts. We saw the sights and even some big trees and a fault line and met the
Great California Sky Whale! It was a delightful way to end the month of May.
The first few days of June were spent in Berkeley with more fun, but finally it
was time to say goodbye to California, climbing the Sierra-Nevadas and visiting
Donner Pass. I took Route 50 through Nevada. Itís called The Loneliest Road in
America, but isnít. There are ďworse.Ē This was, however, one of my favorite
stretches of road on the trip so far.
It took me through the long valleys where you could see twenty miles of road in
front of you, to mountains and finally to the salt flats of Utah. I wound up in
Salt Lake City after a brief stop over at the Hare Krishna temple way the hell
outside of town.
I stayed with friends, Mandy and Earl, dropped my scooter off to be serviced and
picked up a rental car (which turned out to be an evil white PT Cruiser). Smartz
joined the trip for a few days and we first drove up north a bit to see the
Spiral Jetty and some train stuff. We then headed south for some wild west style
fun. We spend the next handful of days hanging out in Albuquerque pondering what
to do after Scoot 66 ended. We knew we were moving, just werenít sure where.
Albuquerque? Sure seemed nice.
We drove back to SLC and then Smartz flew out the next morning. I stayed for a
day and then was off north through northern Utah and bits of Idaho and Wyoming.
Riding through Idaho, I discovered that I loved Idaho. Would never ever want to
live there, but couldnít wait to visit again. Idaho seems to contain bits of
almost every state. From rocky mountains to white water rivers to deserts to
thick forests and everything in between. I also discovered that I really dug the
Oregon Trail, and followed a segment of it for a spell, however, not into
By Day 54, I had been on the road twelve days longer than I thought that I would
beÖ and I was only in Portland, a place that I didnít even plan on visiting. The
trip evolved on its own, naturally. The longer I was out, the longer I wanted to
I could only stay for a few days in Portland, visiting Ashley, a traveling
companion from 2004. Portland was my favorite town of the trip. We passed a very
happy day there, picking strawberries and wandering the streets. Maybe I would
move here. It was a plan. Love for a city makes you do wacky things. The next
day, I fell in love with it even more. I did every but promise Ashley that I
would move there. Hell, maybe I even did that. And I still might, who knows.
Life is long.
I did not want to leave Portland to go to Seattle. But I did want to go to
Seattle. I just didnít want to ride there. I planned a fun, elaborate all-day
ride. But I was worn out and said ďeff itĒ and took the interstate.
The last day of June was a day off in Seattle. There would be many more of those
days off to come.
At the very latest, I was to be home in early July. Instead, I spent the next
two and a half weeks in Seattle. Mostly, it was so that I could get my scooter
repaired Ė there was some drama associated with that. There was a lot of money
associated with that as well.
I stayed with Ryan and Jaime and Jeff. We are old friends. Pretty much the
oldest I have. Iíve known them since I was 18. We didnít grow up together,
really, but in a way we did and are still.
I canít say that I fell in love with Seattle. Not yet. But I fell in love with
being around such good, old friends. The plans once more had changed. I was
moving to Seattle.
Now if only I could get back on the road!
By Day 78 of what was originally a 42 day trip, I was again on the road, heading
through eastern Washington. The next day, I picked up the pace a bit. Itís not
that I wanted to be back in PA, I was just tired from traveling and had a whole
continent to cross as quickly as possible.
Montana and North Dakota were really fun to ride across. I was doing about 500
miles each day, which is quite a lot on a Vespa. South Dakota was as well. It
was also fun hitting states that I had never been to before. Minnesota flew by.
I hardly remember it.
But Iowa was like the mid-westís answer to Idaho! I know that doesnít sound too
appealing to most, but trust me, thereís a lot of fun to be had in both!
That evening, I crossed into Wisconsin. I had never been to Wisconsin before, so
yes, yet another new stateÖ and my last of the 48. I have now visited every
single one of the lower 48 states. Of my many fairly pointless accomplishments,
this is one of my favorites.
I zoom through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, wiggling closer and closer to
home. Though it would not be home for long.
The next day, I was back at Rati and Dwijaís. Home? Pretty much.
Day 86 was the last day of Scoot 66. It was twice as long as originally planned
and probably twice as fun.
There had been no major mechanical problems on the trip. It was smooth sailing
(save for the small crash in Missouri). I didnít even get a flat tire.
That is, until the day after I returned. Thank you, dear universe, for sparing
And thank you, dear readers, for getting this far. May through July of 2008 were
life-changing for me. I wish I could have summed it up in fewer words so that
more than a very small handful could read it, but hey, Iím not into the whole
Posted in Scoot66 | Leave a comment
So long and thanks for reading!
Posted on July 30, 2008 by Eric
Iíve been trying to think of a way to sum this whole thing up, some way to put
it all so quaintly and nicely. Maybe something philosophical Ė my own Zen and
the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, or some crap like that.
But the only thing I can think is ďitís over.Ē
And that can be taken in a few ways. Neither way is so cut and dry. While
thereís the ďthank god itís overĒ mental faction, thereís also the ďIím sorry to
see that itís overĒ bits. And neither make a whole lot of sense.
By the time I rode through Columbus into Wheeling, I was tired. I was physically
and mentally exhausted. Being at the farm certainly rejuvenated me a bit, but
the ride back to Pennsylvania and the bad luck on the day after through me back
into full exhaustion mode.
I feel bad, since Iíve been back Iíve not seen too many people and have been
really crappy at keeping in contact (on the road, I was regulated and very good
at it). I donít know if thatís part of the exhaustion or just part of not being
really all that regulated. Maybe a bit of both.
So what are my future plans?
For now, Iím living in Central Pennsylvania for the rest of the summer. While
here, I plan on riding a lot, seeing some movies, visiting some friends,
visiting New Vrndavana, selling some stuff (car, some books, some shelves) and
basically getting ready to move to Seattle.
I had planned on a trip to New England. That is officially uncertain. I just
donít know if I have the money. Iím trying to not let the exhaustion be a
factor, but it is. Though money is a bigger issue.
Well, I guess thatís about it. I made it. Thanks to everyone who read along. Iím
sorry that I donít have much more to say. Iíll be resuming my regular blog
The only thing left is for Harley and Annabelle to sing us on outÖ
Posted in Scoot66 | 5 Comments
Welcome back to PennsylvaniaÖ and what a weird day it was
Posted on July 27, 2008 by Eric
On my first day back, I had a party to go to. Unlike most parties that happen in
the evening, this one started at 9am. So, vowing to attend and not wanting to do
so in a car, I hopped on the Vespa and attempted to ride the 30 or so miles to
After about two blocks, I hear this rumbling coming from my rear tire. Turns out
that itís my rear tire. Go figure.
I rode it back and checked it out. It was mostly out of air.
The soapy water trick worked and even blew a large bubble, just for fun!
A flat, eh? I remembered the night before, only a few hours after arriving home,
something felt uneasy in the rear wheel. I assumed it was just in my head. But
no. I must of gotten a tack in my tire at the Chinese Restaurant.
I was able to ride over 11,000 miles in 12 weeks without having any real
problems. But the moment I get home, I catch a flat.
Luckily, or so I thought, I had a tire plug kit under my seat. I had never even
used it. It was purchased for the trip, ďjust in case.Ē I was more than a little
amused that the day after I get backÖ or really, the night I got back, I got a
I wheeled it into the garage and plugged it, following the directions.
And in about five minutes, the tire was plugged, reinflated and ready to roll!
Now, what I should have done was tested it for leaks. Why I didnít, Iím not
sure. I just figured that I plugged it the right way. That was dumb of me.
But no matter. I headed out of town on PA 304 and then took County Line Road for
about a mile until the balance began to switch. The ride, to pitch. And suddenly
the tire started to unhitch. And just then the bitch, to satisfy an itch, left
be stranded by the roadside thumbing for a hitch.1
Yep. The tire went flat and the plug was gone. Since the tire was now off the
bead, there was no way to replug it and inflate it with the little bike pump I
Now, if I could digress into explaining how this wouldnít happen if I had just
stayed with vintage. When I rode the vintage Vespas, I always carried a tire
patch kit. But since the tires were tubed and had split rims AND were easy to
take off, I could remove the tire, split the rim, throw on a new tube (I always
carried extras) and ride away.
This was not the case.
I had to call for a tow. For a flat. This was lame. Even if I could somehow
carry a spare, changing it is such an amazingly huge and clumsy ordeal that it
would be nearly impossible (or completely impossible in my case Ė as Iíd find
The tow company said that they would be there in a couple of hours. And with
time to kill, I checked out the cemetery that was my host on this lovely summer
Many of the graves were of children. In fact, there was an entire family buried
there. They had three kids, none of them lived past the age of three.
Only one Civil War soldier was buried here. He died in 1861 in Washington DC,
but I couldnít read how or why because the stone was so deteriorated.
Though the cemetery was well carried for, I did a little maintenance myself,
putting a vase upright here, weeding a bit there, righting a headstone or two.
What else was I going to do to keep busy?
Well, finally the tow truck arrived and we loaded up the scooter. Iíve never
seen how they did this before now and I was pretty impressed. He strapped the
front wheel to this little cart thing and the cart to a winch and it pulled the
scooter up the flat bed.
I was only five miles from home. I could practically see the house from here.
This was frustrating.
I was more than a little amused at how the night I finished an 11,000 mile
cross-country ride, taking horrible dirt roads, parking in hundreds of parking
lots, even being swept off the road into a ditch during a Missouri rain storm. I
never needed a tow. I never caught a flat. The ride, more or less, was 11,000
uneventful miles. And then literally 20 miles after returning home, unpacking my
gear, I pick up a nail or a tack in the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant.
Over night the tire went flat, I tried to fix it the same way I would have tried
to fix it on the road and now it was off the rim and on the back of a roll back
None of this made a whole lot of sense. It was like I was supposed to break
down. I was overdue, but something held it off until the day after my trip, when
I was a mere five miles from home. Yes, thank you. I should be thankful. Sort of
hard to be, of course. But at least I know I should be.
And the state of affairs now is that a plate that goes over the wheel is somehow
stuck on and though Iíve tried, I cannot remove it (and thus cannot remove the
wheel). Iíve changed tires a few times before. This has never been the case.
Theyíre tough to remove, but not impossible. Iíll tackle it again today.
Hereís a write up, with pictures on how to change a tire on a modern Vespa.
This, like many modern car/motorcycle/scooter things, is far more complicated
than need be.
This whole ordeal threw off my day by a good four hours. AND I had to take my
car everywhere I went. It reminded me again of how much I really dislike
driving. The entire time I longed to be on two wheels.
So if I can remove this plate thing (which I am pretty sure I can), Iíll have to
take it to Mechanicsburg and get the tire replaced. Thankfully, theyíre open on
I said that I was going to make a final post. This isnít it, itís just a little
aside. Thought you might find it funny. Or ironic or something.
1.Sorry about this, but I couldnít resist. [↩]
Posted in Pennsylvania, Scoot66 | 2 Comments
Day 86 Ė The Last Day of the trip
Posted on July 25, 2008 by Eric
I didnít get a lot of sleep last night. Rati, Dwija and I were up till well
after 1am. I wish I could have stayed longer.
But this morning, I woke up in a familiar place for the first time in nearly
three months (well, if you donít count the day beforeÖ hm). And that was pretty
I packed up my stuff, ate a small breakfast and said goodbye to two amazing
people, promising to be back a couple of times before leaving for Seattle.
The plan was to stick to the back roads. First, National Road. I did it for a
bit. There was no fanfare crossing into Pennsylvania. I sneaked in the back, I
guess. Not even a sign. Nothing, really. I was going to take a picture of my
triumphant return, but nope.
No big deal.
Route 40/National Road is usually pretty nice. But today it was busy and as soon
as I got into PA, people started to yell at me.
Seriously. I donít know what it is about this crummy state, but I havenít really
had anyone just yell at me this entire trip. But in PA, several shirtless men in
trucks yelled at me. Maybe it was Shirtless Yelling Man Day or something.
I had to take the interstate a couple of times. Not had to, really, but did. But
I didnít linger too awfully long. I even did a little exploration of the town of
Brownsville. A few months ago, I passed through it on a Sunday evening. It was
dead. So I figured that I should go back and get some better, daytime pictures
Today, I rode through it and it was actually busy. Not the businesses, of
course. Those are boarded up. But Main Street was stacked with cars. Oh, and
stacked with shirtless guys in trucks yelling at me. This happened twice.
It was also here that I saw one of the paint by numbers that Iíve been looking
for. Itís unofficially titled ďTouchdown Jesus.Ē It was in the window of a
storefront that may have been turned into a church or something. The sign read:
Travels with Jesus. Iím not really sure what it was, but seeing Touchdown Jesus
made my day. I wish it were for sale. But nobody seemed to be around.
I rode on.
Around Uniontown, I headed north to US 30. I had around 160 miles under by belt
and was beat. The dayís rest at Rati and Dwijaís helped a bunch, but Iím still
really spent. I considered taking the interstate, but stuck with the Lincoln
At an overlook, I met two motorcyclists, one who had ridden up from Fort Worth,
Texas. They were brothers, Ray and Warren (I think). Ray was the traveler,
visiting Warren and the rest of his family. We chatted for a bit, exchanging
Oddly enough, that invigorated me and allowed me to push on towards New Berlin.
It didnít, however, keep me off of I-99. I was going to take US 522 north, but
decided to shorten the trip a bit and take the newish I-99. Itís funny how
afraid I was of interstates before this trip. And though I didnít take many
during it, the few that I took make the ones we have around here seem easy and
I took the superslab to near State College and then US 322 to PA 45, roads Iíve
taken many time before. It was easy to just zone out.
After about an hour and a half of all that, I rolled into New Berlin, my
I could go on about how everything seemed so much smaller, but honestly, it all
just seems the same. And it seems like Iíve only been gone a few moments.
Nothing much, if anything at all, has changed.
Thatís not really a bad thing. Itís almost like time stopped for me to make this
trip. Sure, it was April when I left and itís nearly August now, but still, a
few months in a small town makes very little difference.
There wasnít anyone to greet me when I arrived home. Just like there wasnít
anyone to see me off. Iím very ok with that. It seems fitting. I donít like big
to-doís. I left and came back to very little attention.
And to make things even more normal, the first thing I did was had bad Chinese
food with Sarah. Just like I did the night before I left.
So here I am. Back in Pennsylvania after twelve weeks of scootering around the
Thanks a bunch to everyone who helped out along the way, to the folks who gave
me directions, to the folks who gave me a place to crash.
And thanks to everyone who read this. Iím not really sure why youíd bother, but
Iím glad you did.
Iím planing on making one more post in the next couple of daysÖ so stay tuned.
Here are my pics.
Miles today: 360
Miles total: 11,052
So the grand total is 11, 052. If you add in the miles via that horrible PT
Cruiser (1,976 miles), itís: 13,028. Iíve traveled over 13 thousand miles since
I left. Thatís pretty fun.