The Bumblebee and the Vespa 2014

I think it's time for me to redefine what this new blog is about. In the past I've posted individual blogs for motorcycle/motor scooter rides to places like Alaska, Nova Scotia, Key West, Mexico, Canada, New York, etc. That's all well and good but it seems nowadays I'm dividing my rides into shorter ones comprised of two or more weeks each on different bikes. The total time and mileage is about the same, it's just split into multiple rides with a break somewhere in the middle.

The summer of 2014 serves as a good example of that wherein I rode south to Tombstone, AZ on my '92 BMW R100GS Bumblebee/Ural sidecar rig, (phew!) then returned home for a few days and set out again on my '07 Vespa 250ie motor scooter to visit Canada. That summer has gone and the seasons have changed as will the reports, some will be about shorter rides, some will be about maintenance, and maybe on occasion I'll post a photo or two just for interest. I may even introduce other bikes, a few of which are lurking under cover in the barn...

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jul 19 - Day 16 Vespa 250 - Caldwell, ID The Vespa croaks

Boy has this ever been one helluva day. It started out well enough, after a manly meal of instant oatmeal I moved the scooter up to the main entrance so loading would be easier. That part worked nice and I was soon rolling out but this time I back tracked to Ontario where I would turn  north towards Canada. I'm not saying I'm going there, it's just north and if I ride long enough I'll likely bump into it.

Very nice digs 
Sooo...moving right along towards Ontario I passed by Caldwell and noted the huge bike dealership next to the freeway. Very impressive operation and one I'd soon become familiar with.

Big, big operation and they have a sister dealership for Harleys 
Traffic on I-84 heading west was moving right along at the posted limit of 65 mph. The Vespa works great in the bracket between 65 and 70 mph, anything much beyond that becomes a bit of a load. Then the Idaho DMV upped the ante and set the new limit at 75 mph so I tickled the beastie up to 70 which was OK. All of a sudden the fire went out, dead out, no scary noises, no awful shuddering, just dead and I coasted up an off-ramp as far as I could go. I'm fairly calm when things like that happen, after all what's the worst thing that can happen, you have to hitch a ride to the airport and fly home? Maybe get a summons from the Idaho highway dept folks demanding payment of a gigantic fine for littering?

So there I was, listening to the semis blasting by at warp 7 along with endless HD riders gawking and probably chuckling at the old geezer with a dead scooter. Hyuk hyuk hyuk... I dug out the owners manual and spent the next half hour boning up on probable causes for sudden death on the freeway. All of the issues listed were followed by "Do not attempt to repair this issue, take it to your Piaggio dealer who is a professional." OK I thought, maybe that's just what I'll do, call AAA and have them tow me to the nearest Vespa dealer and let them figure it out. Only problem is I don't have a listing of them. So I called home to ask Linda to see if she could Google up the info. No answer so leave a message. Call her cell, same deal.  ?? Where the heck are you Hon? Help!

Next I called my bud Jerry Smith and he found two numbers, one for the Vespa of Caldwell dealership and two, a long shot Harley dealer who seemed to have a Vespa connection. I could see my phone battery level was falling so I rang off and tried the Vespa dealer first. "No longer listed" came the tinny recorded message. I rang it twice since I'm not always easy to convince. Next I tried the Harley shop and the gal who answered said they didn't service scooters but pointed me at their sister company Birds of Prey in Caldwell. Doesn't that name inspire you with confidence? I called them anyway and although Vespa isn't one of their lines they were willing to have a go at it if I could get it to them. Time for a tow. Dealing with AAA is always an adventure but they promised they'd send someone along within an hour or so, maybe sooner since I was stranded on a freeway. I asked why that would make a difference and she said " Because it's dangerous Hon." Wonderful I thought. 

About that time Johnny Rescue showed up on his shiny black Harley. He was actually wearing protective gear, leather jacket, a real helmet, gloves, the works. Turned out he was new to Harleys, had a background with the same stuff as me. Darn near as old too.
Hmm....doesn't look good, maybe something's blocking he fuel. Where's the fuel filter on one of these? Eh? No fuel filter? None?

Hmm...maybe it's in the the injector system. Did you check the fuses? All of them?

Hmm....maybe it's the fuel pump. You know it's probably inside the gas tank and if it drops pressure by as little as 3 lbs the whole system shuts down. Don't know about Vespas though.

Well that's about as much as I know so I guess I'll leave you to it. Sorry. 
And that's how it went, zip progress but at least he tried and we had an enjoyable half hour just talking bikes and what we did for a living back in the day when we worked, that stuff. I'd enjoy hanging out with him if I lived in Idaho.

Eventually the AAA truck showed up and hauled me back to Birds of Prey in Caldwell. On the way the driver told me how he'd bought his Yamaha from them and what a great dealership they were.  

Not your every-day AAA rig but it worked fine 
Once at the dealership the service writer remembered my call earlier and had me roll the beastie around back to the shop entrance. I asked if it would be alright if I watched and at first was told no because of insurance reasons. How many times have I heard that one I thought? So, being Mr Personality I commented that I'd ran a service shop for 40 years and that really wasn't the case but if they didn't want me to watch that was OK too, I was just glad to get in. I guess that softened them up a bit and they said go ahead. Good thing I did too as it took the tech all of 30 seconds to fix the damn thing; it was nothing more than the spark plug wire had vibrated off and was hanging down where old eyes like mine couldn't see it. Sheese! Of course it started right up, what'd you expect?

Out front and fixed in record time 
What a relief it was, something so simple as that. If it happens again I'll look extra hard down there in the deep dark innards of the red beast.To make matters even better they didn't charge me a dime, just said to enjoy the rest of my ride to wherever it was and that was that.

By then it was getting to be late afternoon, nearly 4:00 O'clock and I hadn't made very many miles so I went back at it. It didn't take long to reach Ontario where I turned north and within a few blocks was again in Idaho. I stopped long enough to gas up and off I went not really sure where I'd end up. Several small towns later I came to Cambridge, ID, population approximately 300 souls, two motels, 3 places to eat, one really old-time grocery store, and several interesting old buildings.
Cool old hotel
Museum was closed but they had some great stuff in the windows
Naturally being a gentleman of good breeding I chose the motel with the coolest sign and a FREE WIFI sticker in the window.

As good as it gets and only fifty one buckeroos 
Great place, friendly folks
As soon as I checked in and got unpacked I did my laundry for the day, socks, T-shirt, etc. and hung them up to dry. I forgot to bring my camper's clothesline so had to make do with hangers in the closet area. It'll work.

I went to dinner at "Bucky's", only a few blocks down the street where they not only fixed a great meal the waitress fixed my glasses. To show my gratitude I spilled my iced tea on top of the plate before it was half eaten. They wanted to make me another one but I just had them pour off the excess and continued to scarf it down, it was just fine. 

Great food, all fresh and really  home made

The place was empty when I arrived, then got really busy

She fixed my glasses, said "That little screw will fall out again" and it did one hour later.

Great dinner before I dumped iced tea all over it. I ate the whole thing 

When I got back to the scooter I couldn't find my keys so I looked in the usual spot. There they were as always. Seems no one wants any of my bikes as I've done this several times. Duh.

No one wants me 
After dinner I walked over to the town's only grocery store, and from the looks of it it's been around since day one. I bought bottled water, a couple of candy bars, and a can of much needed boot deodorant. All this triple-digit riding has turned my boots into something highly unsavory. Out front they have a chalk board sign complete with chalk and erasers where people are invited to post their responses to "Before I die I want to:"

Cool sign, interesting comments  

Inside the old grocery. Everything looked like it had been in service for 100 years
That's about it for today and what a crazy day it was. I'm glad I found this neat little town and all the things that are here to see. Tomorrow I think I'll head north some more, not sure but for tonight that sounds good.
The WIFI here is not so good so who knows if this post will load. The preview won't so I've no way to know what it will look like...anyway keep the faith.

Ride it like you stole it...116 miles today. 


1 comment:

  1. Whew! Just reading about your day makes me tired. Glad the problem with the scooter was so easy to fix! xox


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