This is the blog that I kept while planning and riding Scoot 66, a three month, 11,000 mile journey on a Vespa motorscooter. There’s 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 “Sort by date ASC.”
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 that’s 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 nice.
I crossed the Mississippi. Missouri and I get along very well. Another fairly beautiful day.
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 didn’t 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 Rolla.
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 didn’t 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 I’d 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. It’s nearly impossible to ride into 40mph sustained winds and make good time or gas mileage. Both suffered. It’s also exhausting. And then there were the dust storms. Huge, billowing clouds of swirling, pissed off dirt kicked my white ass across Arizona.
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. I’d 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 tonight.
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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 don’t 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. It’s called The Loneliest Road in America, but isn’t. There are “worse.” 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 weren’t sure where. Albuquerque? Sure seemed nice.
Riding through Idaho, I discovered that I loved Idaho. Would never ever want to live there, but couldn’t 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 Oregon.
By Day 54, I had been on the road twelve days longer than I thought that I would be… and I was only in Portland, a place that I didn’t even plan on visiting. The trip evolved on its own, naturally. The longer I was out, the longer I wanted to be out.
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 didn’t want to ride there. I planned a fun, elaborate all-day ride. But I was worn out and said “eff it” 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 – 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. I’ve known them since I was 18. We didn’t grow up together, really, but in a way we did and are still.
I can’t 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. It’s 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-west’s answer to Idaho! I know that doesn’t sound too appealing to most, but trust me, there’s 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 state… 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 Dwija’s. 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.
That is, until the day after I returned. Thank you, dear universe, for sparing me.
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, I’m not into the whole brevity thing.