Jimmy Byrd and students
This was not to be a fund raiserride, but two things changed that. First, due to drought, we must build a water tower for the school and second, the Richard Mascarello family has offered to match any donations up to the total number miles ridden. So keep the water flowing for the kids and hit the donate button.

Also, instructor Kevin Lee is a auctioning off a 2 week paragliding course in southern Oregon to support the school.

See it here.

TO READ THE FLORIDA TO CALIFORNIA LEG CLICK here or go to lostboater.blogspot.com

Monday, May 31, 2010

We were out of Dumas at the crack of dawn and back on our private highway.

We crossed the Mississippi in to Mississippi on a old rickety bridge and were met by a sign, mesquites and  a casino.  Luckily they are building a nice new bridge with stimulus money. Don't know about the Casino.

We rode through downtown Greenville and I think we were better off in Dumas.  Not an exciting place.

Back on our private highway, we diverted into a few towns, to find them basically abandoned.  The main thing on the highway is that great southern plant, kudzu.  It went on for miles and miles.  A friend of mine took some to Ecuador to keep the jungle growth down in his palm plantation.  It worked and he just had to keep the base of the trees cleared. 

Yesterday I had helped a older lady at a gas station in Hot Springs check her transmission fluid.  She was all dressed up and wanted to tip me, which I refused. She had just came from the cemetery visiting her veteran husband;s grave. She was quite upset that no one really honored our veterans anymore.  As I rode on I thought about what she said.  I had seen no indication that anyone was honoring the veterans.  Until I rolled into Columbus, Ms.

The downtown was closed up but the main street was decorated with hundreds of American flags.  I looked for a place to eat lunch and the only one open downtown was Harvey's so I whipped Scoot in.  It was a  more modern restaurant than the others that were closed.  Beautiful Mary took my order and then asked if I was veteran. When she said yes, she said my meal was on the house, and though I had just ordered a salad I could change it to anything from prime rib to sandwich's and it would be free.  I stayed with my order of the salad.  The owner of the restaurant, the Hertz family, have honored veterans for many years by treating them to a free lunch. I wish I could call the lady that I had talked to yesterday and tell, "yes, some people do still care".  Harvey's restaurant Thank You !!!

I had plotted several routes for today, but bridges pretty much dictated the route. In Alabama, I looked at several alternatives, but off the main roads hotels were almost non-existent.  I also know that in this part of the state, there is little or nothing on the side roads. Four lane highways are not conducive to making u-turns or pulling off to visit. Just being on a four lane changes my mind set to a faster pace.  I had already missed several opportunities this morning because of this highway. So, I decided to just go for a record mileage day and headed for Selma, Alabama.  We joined AL219 at Centerville and headed out in the country.  This was a nice ride with almost nothing on the road.  The only thing was Paul's vegetable truck at the end of his driveway. I stopped and chatted and bought some home made soap and pickles.

We rolled into Selma about 4PM.  A dark cloud was over head with a few rain drops falling when we pulled into the hotel.  367 miles.  We could have done more miles as it never did rain, but there were not hotels at a reasonable distance and 367 was more than enough for me.
ps: the editor is still off for the holiday so please forgive my errors and omissions.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

First thing we did this morning was to check Scoot's tire pressure with our brand new tire gauge from Tulsa Scooters.  Both tires needed a little air so we rolled next door to the gas station and added  some.

We roared away continuing our trip eastward on US64.  We came upon a turtle in the road and rescued him, hoping that would bring good karma for the rest of the day.

We crossed into Arkansas at Fort Smith behind 2 large farm tractors that blocked the whole bridge. Finding our way through Fort Smith was not much of a challenge even if there were no signs. We headed south out of town on AR71.  We moved into a farming area with rice, corn, soybeans, cotton and grain everywhere.

In the big city of Waldron we pulled in for a cup of coffee at the Rock Cafe.  It has been there since 1936 and so has everything in it and the resident coffee drinker at the outside table.

We passed the "Hugs and Biscuits" and had a to make a u-turn to check this one out.  I am afraid the only thing you would hug if you bought a biscuit here would be the toilet bowl.

We have been pushing the fuel limit the last couple of tanks and took fuel were we could get it when the low level light came on.  We pulled into "Needmore Grocery and Station" and paid a very high price for 87 octane, their only type.  Guess the high price is because they are saving up for a new fuel filter.

We turn west on US270 to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I thought this road would be much busier than 71, but until we got close to Hot Springs, there was very little traffic.  We came across a cross country bike race with a crossing guard and that was about it as we climbed and turned through the national forest. When we   got closer to Fort Smith the on coming traffic became bumper to bumper with lots of vehicles pulling boats.  Glad I will not be on this road this afternoon when they come back after being in the sun and beer all day.

Hot Springs was not what I expected.  It was much busier with tourist.  All the old bath houses downtown are now big tourist attractions.  My good friend Bob Lubliner, who you met on the west bound leg, used to come here with his father in the 30's and vacation in the big hotel.  He had many a great story about the old mafia guys and politicians from Chicago.The story I remember best is Bob's dad introduced him to a mafia guy who's name I do not recall.  Bob's dad said if you ever get into financial trouble give this guy a call.  In the late '50's the theater busy was doing very badly and Bob had exhausted all financial sources.  He called this guy, who he had not seen since that day, and told him he was strapped for cash.  The gentleman exchanged pleasantries and asked him how much he needed.  That afternoon a check for $10,000 appeared at Bob's office. As Bob used to say, "and that was not just peanuts back then".  There was nothing else ever said and Bob repaid the loan over time.

Vicki has tried several business adventures we have seen today in Arkansas, but she does not seem to be a great business person.  She makes one hell of a Princess though!

Despite many interesting places to eat in Hot Springs, I was not ready yet and headed out of town. An hour or so later, I was thinking I might have to make my second visit on this trip to a fast food place when the "The Place" appeared and saved me. It was just the right down home food I needed on a holiday Sunday.

We pressed on hoping trying to make it to Greenville, Ms., one of the many home of the blues, but threatening skies and tired butt ended the Dumas, AK.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

I had slept well and was up and ready by dawn.  We loaded up and had a couple of cups of hotel coffee.  After we had the "conversations" we were off for Tulsa.  The "conversations" are daily and usually several times a day.  It usually starts with the desk clerk  "That your scooter?", "Yes mam", "I need one of those to ride to work, bet it gets great gas mileage", "Yes mam"
In the parking lot "That your scooter?""Yes sir", "Where you going?""Back to Florida""You rode that all the way from Florida""Yes sir, I rode it from Florida to California and I am headed home""You road that to California...Mable, Mable come here!! He road that all the way to California from Florida, can you believe that."  Etc, Etc.  It is always fun to see the expressions  on their faces.

I had almost booked a truck last night to take Scoot and me home, but could not hit the "done" button.  I am glad I did not as once we were on the road I knew we had to ride home.  And, it was warm.

We headed out of Blackwell on OK11 and turned on OK 177. The scenery changed for a little while with trees and scattered houses, but pretty soon went back to open rolling plains with almost no houses in sight.  It was a beautiful day and we were glad to be back on the road again.  Scoot was in great shape, (except one problem we will discuss later) and he was roaring along at 50 to 55 mph with no problem.

Around 9:30 we rolled into Barnsdale, OK on OK 60.  Downtown was closed off for a big holiday celebration called Big Heart day.  I parked Scoot and walked around for awhile.  All kinds of things where planned, parades, contestants and old cars.  I had seen a lot of turtles crossing the road and I could not figure out why.  Now I know. They were trying to get to town for the "turtle races".  There were boxes and buckets of turtles everywhere. I hung around waiting for the races as they were first up.  But as happens in many small town events, time is not important.  After waiting for 30 minutes and hearing them announce "turtle races in one minute" with no action about 10 times, I decided to head on down the road.

I rolled into Tulsa on OK11 and went to find the H&P Drilling Company world headquarters.  They have employed my good friend Gary Parkin in Ecuador for over 20 years.  I wanted to find Mr. H or Mr. P and tell them what a great employee he was.  Oddly enough, they were not there on a holiday weekend.  I must say, that for a large oil field company, their headquarters building was quite bland.  The building is not even named after them.

Having accomplished this task, I was after for the "Gucci Coffee" and the "crackberry" said it was just down the street and off we went.  I was surprised to find a fine street market starting right at the Cuba Coffee House.  Got a coffee and strolled the street.  Several nice conversations, especially with the owner of the most interesting tattoos I have seen in a while.  He was a Harley guy, of course, and the owner of a wiener dog.  We talked about getting blown around on the road and I took a few pictures.   Sadly only the tattoos turned out.

Now the rest of the Scoot story.  I had heard a rattling noise the last day we were on the road.  I looked and moved parts, but discovered nothing.  Today, on my preflight, I found an exhaust bolt missing and that was what was rattling.  Easy fix, just get another bolt. So, off I went, on down the same street as H&P and Cuba Coffee to Tulsa Scooters.  They looked at and but did not have a bolt to fit, but sent me to Lowes where I acquired the bolt but it did not fit and I went back to Tulsa Scooters.

Let me say here, that this is another one of the great finds and example of how everyone has tried to help me on this trip. They rolled Scoot right in the shop and discovered that the threads where stripped on both bolts due to unknown reasons. So, they pulled the exhaust, tapped the holes and reinstalled everything, for the embarrassing price of $15. But, it did not end there. The owner, Dave Wycoff, was there and we sat and talked for awhile. He was in the same location as me in Vietnam. When I told them I had spent a month there last year he was very interested as he had, like me, always wanted to go back. Other scooter people came and went and we all chatted. They sold a brand new Buddy while I was there. I got ready to go and he insisted I have lunch with him and the rest of his staff. We sat around a table in the showroom and ate pizza. When I got ready to go, they started laying on the gifts...tshirts, tire gauges, decal's and more. What another great group of people. Sadly, Dave does not ride as much as he used to. He and his wife were on separate scooters, stopped at an intersection, when a kid came up from behind, crossed about 3 lanes illegally and hit them both. They never saw the guy. He was hurt pretty bad, but his wife walked away almost "unscathed". I don't consider a concussion and a broke foot "unscathed". Every one there, Chad who fixed Scoot, Ray who helped, and Jonathon the salesman/pizza delivery guy are great people. Thank you all!!

Navigating out of Tulsa was easy.  Go on down the same street a few blocks and turn right and just keep going and it turns into US64.  That was the easy part.  The hard part was there is a gaggle of lights and they are all timed that you must stop for everyone of them no matter what speed you drive at.  Eventually, we where out in the country again.  It was totally different than the west side of Tulsa.  The west was rolling plains and on this side was rolling wooded hills and farms. We crossed the Arkansas river, the Arkansas Navigational waterway and the Illinois River.

I pulled into Sallisaw about 5 PM.  I probably could have made it to Ft Smith, Arkansas, but I had rode far enough the cold monkey still on my back. The lady at the front desk was very nice.  She gave me a room and then Chad walked in.  He already had a room, but his buddy was coming so the desk clerk took my key and gave it to him and gave me his key.  In the parking lot Chad gave me a greatly appreciated cold beer for the deal.  He is actually from near where this trip started in California, but travels all over the U.S. installing telephone equipment.  He had just came from St. Louis and was looking at a little ranch here to buy.
ps: the editor is off for the holidays. please forgive my errors

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