Packed and on the road in the cloudy environment of a mild morning. The green waters of the Rio Grande lazily slide south along the vegetated banks making a soft gurgling sound.
River Rd undulates significantly with the elevations and steep cliffs along the Rio Grande. This area is rich in geologic history and action between limestone deposits, sandstone and amazing destructive volcanic activity. A brief hike into Closed Canyon revealed a beautiful narrow slot canyon, it's walls etched with evidence of the fluvial erosion and destruction by wind.
The day was overcast, gloomy and grey as I cruised around the north side of the border stopping often for pictures and vistas. I took my time, relaxed and smiled at my surrounding landscape. Just another Monday, quickly becoming one of my favorite days.
I continued on to Presedio, TX for gas and groceries. The town felt very much like a slice of Mexico. Small concrete structures and others made of plywood survived in the dry desert landscape. Exposed rebar exited from the walls of incomplete concrete structures beside trailers in various states of neglect. In comparison to towns such as Marfa and Alpine, Presidio looks to have had a rough go at it.
I'm back in Terlingua this morning basking in glorious sunshine. The Big Bend National Park lays before me and I am happy to explore some nooks and crannies of this immense space before the upcoming winter storm this weekend pushes me to a lower elevation. I'll be in touch ;)
The old mining town of Terlingua was established in the late 19th century after the discovery of cinnabar in the region, an ore utilized in the production of quiksilver, or mercury. The small historic townsite exists on a hillside overlooking the Big Bend NP to the east. Old stone and adobe structures stand in various states of disrepair from time and the elements. A stop at the Front Porch and then onward to a stealth camping spot just out of town and a beautiful southern sunset over Mexico and the Rio Grande.
I have been following the travels and musings of Ara G. for many years on his website (www.theoasisofmysoul.com). The story of his wanderings and philosophy is complex and stems from experiences in his life alongside the loss of family members. Surprisingly, he offered me a visit to his private space in the desert known only as "The Oasis". I met him and Spirit, his rescued Pit Bull, then followed "Old Faithful" his BMW GS Sidecar Rig onward down the caliche and along a trail meandering through creosote bushes. It was interesting hearing of his travel experiences, the reverence he has for undisturbed and spaces, an avoidance of cities, all very familiar. Sharing stories and sunshine in this desert space was a valuable rest along my travels in southern Texas. It was a time I will not soon forget.
After two nights "inside" I was more than ready to get down the road. The itch hits after just a day of sitting in one place regardless of how warm or comfortable it may be. I'm somewhat worried that this nagging trend will continue for the remainder of my life. Perhaps it has always been there since I was a kid moving around with military parents? I love to get out on the road, pick up things and move on to somewhere new.
The snow had begun to melt and the roads were mostly dry. A 15mph wind blew from the NW but fortunately that was the direction I was headed! My fingers and toes grew numb but it was a sunny day, no room for complaint! Approaching the small whistle stop of Valentine, TX, a strange sight appeared to my right. I had heard about the Prada store in Marfa but wasn't quite expecting this. It is a permanent art installation in the middle of the desert housing designer shoes and handbags in a display window. Time has taken it's toll on the modern storefront. The glass is dirty, the sign slightly ripped, the purses inside slowly folding under their own weight. 9.8 m/s^2 is a real doozie.
Not long after my stop here in the sunshine, I spotted one of the large blimps I'd seen elsewhere in NM and AZ. A sign out front read "Tethered Aerostat Radar Station". These moored static balloons help along the border in identifying drug trafficking and smuggling operations.
Following up on some advice, I made a stop at the Food Shark food truck in Marfa, TX for some Falafel and hummus. It was delicious. The "dining car" was an old schoolbus. Inside, the local Marfa NPR station was airing Science Friday while I ate. Sun streamed through the rectangular windows, their little plastic catches reminding me of my youth. How many times had I opened and closed those windows? Taking some time to fill in my journal, I realized it was time to go. OFF THE BUS! Back out into town to see what I could see...
I'm going to get a cup of coffee at a local joint then head over to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area 10 mi east of town to see what I can see.
The ride toward Texas was cold and windy. I was welcomed to Texas by a 75mph speedlimit sign and narrowing two lane highway. perfect...
I cruised past the impressive Guadalupe Mountains and Texas's highest peaks (over 8000ft) then began the downhill ride toward Van Horn. My low fuel light came on but fortunately my spare can was full. A tailwind finally set in from the North and helped keep my speed around 35mph. I felt like I was FLYING!
Van Horn is truly a blip at the crossroads of I-10 and the Texas Mountain Trail, a scenic driving tour through the impressive and rugged landscape of West Texas. The 3 MI main street is full of motels, many closed, shuttered businesses, garages and a small market where I stopped to pick up eggs and pancake mix for breakfast.
A winter storm warning was in effect with precipitation and falling temperatures so I settled in to the KOA cabins south of the interstate for a much needed rest and conforming shower(first since leaving San Diego). The little uninsulated cabin was a bit chilly, helped only by a small space heater which eventually was upgraded. Light could be seen through the cracks in the wood and the strong northern wind blew the curtains inside the windows. Fortunately, I was sheltered and safe from the blowing wind and sleet. It would blow through the night except the brunt of precipitation fell to my NE.
The morning sun shines bright this Friday and I look forward to the road ahead. I'm going to scoot out of here south for Marfa, TX and spend the night at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center. The low temp is 22F so this should be a good test of gear and preparation for the cold. Hopefully it won't get much colder than this on my southern sojurn in the coming months. Once I shed this elevation, I expect the extremely cold temperatures will slip away. At least I hope!
I continued on from Alamogordo with a used belt driving the Ruckus forward. It has slipped earlier in the morning, or was that just a gust of wind? No way to be sure but it felt like a belt slipping. I have two spares, one is shredded pretty poorly and the other missing a few teeth. What lays before the 10" wheels of La Tortuga is the Sacramento Mountains over 4500ft of elevation gain in 16mi on the route to Cloudcroft, NM (elev. 8650ft). At an average GPS verified speed of 15mph, I tackled the 16 miles of switchbacks in the morning light. The temperature in Alamogordo was only in the low 40's and it continued to fall as the elevation ticked higher. The grade was relentless and for over an hour, the little scooter chugged along climbing proudly and without protest.
The rise in elevation brought more moisture and vegetation, shrubs gave way to trees and eventually forests of juniper and pinyon pine. Beautiful snow covered hillsides abutted the roadway, closing in small roadside vendors selling Apples and trinkets. Most shops were closed in this, the cold winter season. Following the old path of a railway once used to haul timber in the 19th century, mountain cuts, a tunnel and even the remains of an old trestle mark the history.
The few photos taken on this triumphant climb remain on my point and shoot. Not once did I stop in fear that the little motor couldn't make speed again at such an elevation and grade. When the road tipped at Cloudcroft, I pumped my fist in the air in celebration! The guy at the cycle shop said it was all downhill from here.
I made a brief stop in Cloudcroft, shivered a bit, had a snack and rolled on. Despite the altitude, the little ruckus purred up to 38mph on the downhill run toward Artesia. The Lincoln National Forest provided a wonderful winter scene of pines, small ranches, horses beside the roadway chewing alfalfa and smoke curling from chimneys. A tailwind propelled me forward from the west making the ride eerily quiet except for the whir of the belt, the minor noise of the motor and the hum of the tires on dry asphalt. Continuing east, the forests gave way to grasslands and pasture, then back to an arid desert climate again. Few small towns exist between Cloudcroft and Artesia, 70mi east. It is a predominantly downhill section of road with great distant views of small valleys and canyons cut into the landscape under slivers of peaks beyond.
It seemed like I was just in Hope? Oh that was Hope, AZ! This is now Hope, NM. Both towns still could use a lot more HOPE. A tumbleweed rolled past behind me as I snapped this shot. It was nearly comical except it continued on toward the burned out volunteer fire department. That place alone would be worth a photo essay. Back into the headwind.
Artesia was much nicer than I thought it would be. There was obviously some money here as evidenced by sculptures, streatscaping and nice storefronts. I'm sure there is a more run down corner of town just a street over. This was as close as I'd ever get to Roswell, NM which lies roughly 45 mi north. The higher elevation and the incoming winter storm meant that a visit to my ADV friend Patrick, would have meant a 3-4 night stay as the storm passed. There were more sights south I wanted to check out and most importantly, warmer temperatures. I regrettably messaged him that I was heading on south down the road and would meet up on a future loop that direction.
A quick stop in Carlsbad for water, food and gasoline and it was time to camp.
Using Freecampsites.net, I spotted a BLM area about 10 mi north of Carlsbad Caverns known as Dark Canyon. Arriving just as the sun set, it quickly lived up to it's name...but not before a beautifully painted southwestern sunset. Two nights in a row!
Frost on the tent and seat in the morning. Ice on the helmet makes it that much harder to put on and get the day started. Alas, I've got a storm to outrun and sights to see! My fingers grew numb in the biting morning crosswind. "How much farther to Carlsbad Caverns?", I thought. Soon the turnoff appeared and I began the slow climb up Walnut Canyon, RD. It was only one canyon south of Dark Canyon so had a very similar ecosystem and design, dry but channeling large amounts of water during flash floods. Caves dotted the canyon walls
The caverns lie 750ft underground so visitors have an option of either walking down a mile or taking a 15 second elevator ride. In the interest of time, short days of winter and an oncoming storm, I took the elevator. Ordinarily I would have enjoyed the hike up and down. The elevator opened into a lobby and through a set of revolving doors I escaped into a damp and cool environment. It was actually warmer than it was "topside". My eyes slowly adjusted to the dim lights and metal guard railed paths leading into the cave. The size and immensity of Carlsbad is unlike any other subterranean space I've visited. It makes the impressive Luray Caverns of the Shenandoah Valley look like a mere room in this underground cathedral of geology. A photographer could spend years down in the bowels of this sprawling cave. It is truly a wonderful sight and I would highly suggest it to anyone travelling through the area.
Emerging from the more than a mile walk underground, I returned to the scooter and out onto the 4000' mesa rim. The wind had shifted directions to blow chillingly from the SE. A lone 1945 penny sat on my torn and abused gel seat pad. A mark of praise from some fellow tourist admiring the capabilities of the small rig. Thank you sir or madam! Cruising out of the park downhill, I only held up a few vehicles before reaching the defunct gas station that accepted my card and told me to pump, then dispensed nothing. Fortunately I carry an extra gallon and was sure I could make it to Van Horn, TX 100mi away. Time to get out onto the 70mph highway and head south hoping I don't get rear-ended by a semi.
The shop in Alamogordo didn't have the belt I needed so I ordered one ahead to Marfa, TX.
I'm headed up Hwy 82 toward Cloucroft and 8000'! I really hope this little Ruckus makes it over the mountains today. Carlsbad tonight then a camp in Dark Canyon to wait out the snow storm.
I cruised through downtown El Paso in the cool Monday morning being passed by all traffic. They are in a hurry, I'm not. Attempts to track down a scooter belt were hopeless on a Monday when most shops are closed. I suppose I have a spare that is somewhat compromised if worst case scenario hits. Unimpressed by the dirty bustle of city life, I plugged in White Sands NM into my GPS and attempted to take NM213 but found it dead ended at a missile range.
My GPS took me through the depressing trailer town of Chaparral and up Hwy 54 leading me toward Alamogordo. This 70mph freeway was interesting and not something I'd like to ride again. Eventually I made it to White Sands just as the sun was setting. A search team was setting out to look for a man lost in the dunes, not a hard predicament to find oneself in.
The afternoon was spent on Highway 9 "The Border Route" riding within a mile of the Mexican border. The CBP trucks were out in full force and I kept my scoot headed east. The sun began to set and I happened to view the lights of El Paso in the nearby valley. Texas! I had made it so far in the short daylight hours. The buzz of two-stroke engines and open exhaust called me toward a sandy track in the desert. Off-road buggies and quads raced everywhere in the BLM dunes west of El Paso near the airport. BOOM! The crack of gunfire to my left as a teenager shoots a handgun at a can on the sand. Kids raced all over without helmets, jeeps climbed the sandy precipices and shotguns rung out. This must be America. Yup...I'm growing closer to Texas.
The route through the desert led me down to the border town of Douglas, AZ where I stocked up on food and water. Resupplied, I plugged in the nearest NF road and cruised 30 miles up toward the grassland and mountains just over the NM border. The road followed the old rail line, it's concrete supports and tunnels stamped 1910, the rail long since removed. Fortunately, the route is generally level on account of the railroad grade. A sign for Rucker Canyon Rd and a brown NF marker leads me into a 5 mi gravel road through beautiful grassland interspersed with cattle guards every few miles. The sun sets behind the nearby mountain and I continue onward to the first campsite I spot off the road.
Departing Fairbank in the warming noonday sun, I reached Hwy 80 and turned toward Tombstone. The billboard signage approaching town advertised the attractions of town, for-profit historical sites attracting the RV travelers, "Most Haunted ______", live scheduled reenacted gunfights. If anything, it would be an interesting place to compare to my experiences in Wild West Towns of amusement parks I've visited. Tombstone is most widely known for hosting one of the most famous gunfights in the west between the Earp Gang and Cowboys at the OK Corral. What most people don't know is that it qas actually two blocks over on Fremont St. The highway travels through town a few blocks from the historic section so I sidetrack past the OK Corral to Allen St. Tombstone was founded as a silver mining town and had a lively past of miners, cowboys and cattle rustlers frequenting the saloons and burlesque houses.
My friend Laura was free to meet for lunch at Big Nose Kate's , a famous establishment on the historic street. I hadn't seen her since highschool when I left for university and she went into the military as an officer. Stationed at Fort Huachuca, the quick 30 minute drive was close enough to bring her friend Anne along. We walked in the wooden saloon doors to the sound of country music and not an empty table in the whole place! Three stools at the bar called our name and we made our way over for some delicious reuben sandwiches and great conversation.
The Bird Cage theatre was popular amongst cowboys and miners as one of the runchiest adult theatres in the west. Known for its burlesque performances and women of questionable morales, this building is full of stories if the walls could talk. A sign advertises it as America's Most Haunted Site but I'm not quite sure how one objectively determines such a title.
After a fun lunch and a brief stroll around town, I said goodbye to Anne and Laura then suited up and hit the road. I camped out near the small town of St. David on a mesa rim with a view of Loreto in the distance. The mild sunset was a quiet and calm closing to my day.
The following morning, I bounced my way out of the rocky trail and back to the highway toward Tombstone. Sitting in town across from the courthouse, I made coffee and walked around the quiet boardwalks. Tourists had just begin to stir and many of the cowboy actors were advertising the 11AM shootout, right this way,just pay. Id had enough of the kitschy town and decided to set out for Bisbee in the mountains south of here. I arrived and was immediately reminded of Jim Thorpe, PA or many small WV coal mining towns built into the hillsides. Small homes dating from the turn of the century are tucked into the topography along narrow winding roads following the course of the old canyon. Downtown is a mixture of 3-4 story industrial buildings now converted into shops, restaurants and apartments. I enjoyed the general vibe of the town and sat for a while listening to a street musician work his way through some folk songs.
The draw of the southwest has carried me over mountains and dry river valleys of the desert landscape, steeped in the tans and browns of earth, the azure blue sky. Large expanses of Occotillo, tumbleweed, prickly pear, barrel cactus sporadically dot the earth to the horizon. Departing from San Diego on hwy 94, the route continued climbing higher and higher toward the southwestern hills. Unable to take the interstate across many of the mountain ranges, the only available route, I wound up cruising north up the Colorado River until I finally reached an east-west route passably by my scooter. The small town of Hope, AZ, little more than a gas station and small RV lot, offered a quiet morning to refill and watch the sunrise before continuing on toward Phoenix. Brooding dark rain clouds began to billow on the norther mountains and a crosswind picked up to chill me. By the town of Buckeye, the sky opened up with heavy rain and wind blowing sideways. It only took 15 minutes before I could feel my overpants beginning to leak through a few tears and holes in the seamtape. Crotchleak is the WORST! My GPS sent me through the airport departure lanes, the only viable non highway route into Phoenix. I made a nice lunch visit with Lindsey K at a Thai restaurant in Tempe called Thai Basil. While catching up over a Yellow Curry, the sun cleared and a blue sky shone again. "At least I'll dry out a bit on the ride down to Tucson", I thought. Unfortunately I wound up riding back in to the same storm again on my way SE toward Tucson. There I met up with Erika T, for a memorable night of sharing riding stories of our recent adventures in Mexico. She was kind enough to provide a place to sleep overnight. I departed in the early morning into a foggy world more common to San Francisco than Tucson. Cold and wet, the sky started to clear as I worked my way south toward the Coronado National Forest on Hwy 83.
The Santa Rita Mountains were a surprising terrain after so much arid desert. The juniper and live oak stands sporadically cover the grassland meadows that stretch on to the steeper higher peaks. Snow dusted the highest peaks in the distance. On the other side of this barbed wire fence in the picture was a pile of sodden blankets and clothes beside a discarded backpack. Tortilla packets, water bottles and refried bean cans littered the hillside, a reminder that I am close to the border and in a very prominent smuggling area. The emebeded sign confirmed my suspicions as well as the frequent Customs and Border Patrol SUV's.
A weatherband radio crackles to life behind me as I sip my coffee. I pick out a few words from the garbled dispatch before the senior citizen turns it off.
"27 degrees and snowing in the mountains"
His older friend in a cowboy hat says "47 and raining?"
"No 27 and snowing"
It should be an interesting night up in the mountains south of Tucson.
I said goodbye to the Pacific Ocean and the familiar western coast and turned east. The rainstorm followed me through the day as I worked up Hwy94 past Campo, CA. It was so nice to get in my dry clothes and sleep for 11 hours.
I attempted to make my way to Tempe but wound up needing a non-non-interstate route there. This required an additional 100mi trek around the Colorado River to connect back on I-10.
Riding up Wildcat Canyon Rd around 20 mph, I spotted a cracked iPhone laying in the roadway. Pulling a swift U-Turn led me to the locked device. It's carrier was T-Mobile so I proceeded to Lakeside,CA and the nearest T-Mobile store. By the time I had reached the store, a call from "sweetie" had come in. I returned it and was greeted by a panicked but joyful voice. She was only 5 minutes away and raced over to get her phone. So grateful for my discovery despite the condition. Karma Points #1
Later in the day on Hwy 94, I spotted a Harley Rider with the seat and saddlebags removed. Stopping to help, I suggested his electrical issue may be the battery. An immediate inspection revealed a loose positive terminal. A quick screw driver turn and he was back on the road. Before I lef, I gave him one of Pan's phenomenal snickerdoodle cookies. A repair and a cookie...not everyday for most. Karma #2.
This morning brought temperatures in the mid 50's and cloudy skies, perfect for a fully loaded test ride out to Rainbow Oaks Restaurant for breakfast. It felt wonderful cruising through the canyons at 40mph and all systems were normal.
On the return ride from breakfast, I heard a loud pop while riding downhill toward Escondido. I figured it was a rock I'd hit at an angle but by the time I reached town, it was squirmy and my speed had decreased. A cursory glance revealed a complete flat and a screw embedded in the space between the tread. This was my second flat tire/puncture in 26k MI of Ruckus travel.
My Stop-N-Go Tire Repair Kit made quick work of the patch. I aired it up with my miniature slime compressor and was back on the road within 15 minutes. Having a solution to a flat tire can be the difference between a tow/ruined ride or miles of smiles. Semper Paratus!
The shipment of parts arrived yesterday afternoon. It included new front forks, a new rear wheel and tire, centerstand and a belt case with final drive. I was happier than a kid on Christmas! I couldn't have made this come together without the help from Matt and Pops. THANK YOU!
It took about 3 hours but I reassembled the bike and installed the components. Fortunately, it started up on the first kick and purred. With confidence in the new parts, I took off down the driveway and back a few times for a test. It rode great on the new shocks and with the fresh tire and final drive. All systems go. Today I took it on a scrap metal run and it feels solid. I'll be getting on the road again later this weekend...now to decide which direction to go!
I crossed south into Mexico through the Tecate border crossing in the early morning hours during a rare rainy day. Eyeing each person on the street as suspicious and dangerous, I raced south out of town and into the Valle de Guadalupe. My notions of the country of Mexico were informed by the news, the warnings of friends and family and Cormac McCarthy novels. I had so much to learn, more importantly, I had so much to forget. The next couple of weeks would significantly change my opinions and broaden my horizons regarding the beauty, wonder and remoteness of this desert peninsula. Once I grew beyond my fears of ordering food, buying water, stopping in small mercados for fruita/verdados, the travels became easier.
Once the trepidation and discomfort of travelling in a foreign land with minimal language skills passed me, the horizons broadened. Most areas of the Baja peninsula are sporadically populated stretches of desert where the greatest safety concern remained speeding semi trucks (Camiones) passing on blind curves. On multiple occasions, I was forced to the precarious excuse for a shoulder by oncoming vehicles passing in my lane. The margins for a comfortable cushion of space in Mexico are quite smaller than in the United States. Near death experiences and wooshes of wind and diesel smoke became common, no longer did my heart flutter, a sudden jerk of the steering could send me down the unprotected ravine to my right. Most drivers were abundantly cautious and assertively passed me without hesitation or second guessing themselves, an act so common in the US. Any sharp turn was met with large speed bump rumble strips that stretched across both lanes of travel. Nothing like chugging uphill at 20mph and hitting a line of speedbumps intended to slow downhill traffic! Each small town began and ended with a Tope, massive 6"-12" speed bumps that often dragged on the Ruckus' belly pan. The lack of coddling roadway safety progressed into an endearing quality about the transportation environment. I should briefly mention the woefully inadequate signage and improvised techniques utilized to warn of road hazards. Any travelers to Bahia de Los Angeles will likely recall the placement of two small arrow signs on metal posts sunk into the middle of the highway. Pointing in opposing directions, the arrows symbolically indicate that in 50 feet, the highway immediately disappears 10 feet below, washed away into a riverbed. A lone boulder marks the other lane. SURPRISE!
I met many travelers and overlanders working my way south down Hwy 1. It serves as a channel for snow birds, expats and vacation seekers looking for a more challenging and unique trip.
Ian and Lesley: http://vanhalen91.com/
Brian and Lindsay: http://sintopes.blogspot.com/
The evening sunsets came slowly with beautiful displays of pinks and oranges fading to blue, then black. My watch broke months ago and with the sun and moon, I see no need to carry one any longer. Observing the phases of the moon and it's nightly progression across the sky taught me much about cycles, tides and seasons. The absence of the moon offered the most incredible night sky of my travels. Staring through the mesh roof of my one man tent, I could count 5-10 shooting stars burning their way through the atmosphere each night. The round continual arc of satellites were ever present if I let my eyes relax and look for movement in the heavens. I struggle to find words or descriptions to convey the immensity and power of the Milky Way.
An old band member and highschool friend of mine caught the ferry to La Paz so we met up for a couple days of exploration. He had no means of transportation so we'd frequently load two up onto the ruckus and bounce slowly through rutted streets to get a bite to eat or visit a beach to camp at. This seemed to be working out okay despite flashbacks of the Dumb and Dumber picture hanging in my cubicle. While searching for a place to camp in Todos Santos, we approached a steep hill with terrible damage from the hurricane. I felt an odd sensation resonate from the bike below followed by an uncharacteristic whirring noise. "Greg, you'll have to get off. Something doesn't feel right". He walked the remainder of the way to a cheap hotel where a lizard scurried across the floor, the shower drained into the bathroom and I promptly clogged the toilet, not having learned that in Latin America, all paper goes into the trash can. Distancing myself from the mechanical problem with drinks, fish tacos and late night street entertainment at the hot dog cart, I awoke to inspect the problems.
Greg caught a ride to La Paz with friends Brian and Lindsey while I planned to ride the Ruckus. It barely limped to the Pemex gas station in town before I had lost all power. Assuming the issue was a slipping belt or worn out clutch, I pulled into the roadside shade of a small tree and set to work. The blue van carrying my friends sailed past, they didn't see me. I swapped the variator, belts and sanded the clutch shoes multiple times to no avail. GAH! What could be the problem. Eventually it seemed to motor on without an issue so I loaded up and set out into a 20mph headwind across the 70 miles of desert to La Paz. Entering town, the whirring noise returned and I lost all power. Temps hovered in the mid 80s as I, in full motorcycle gear, pushed the fully loaded bike a couple miles, asking along the way for repair shops. I arrived at a small ATV/Quad shop and began to pull the belts and components off once more. Everything looked in tip top shape and the belt rode properly on the plates yet the rear wheel would not turn. A man came out from a nearby home and told me it was Sunday and the shop wouldn't be open until the morning. Leaving the scooter chained to a post in the middle of town was a tragic reminder of how sentimentally connected we had grown. I rented a car and drove out to meet my buddy on the beach where he was deposited. The following day we drove all over La Paz searching for a replacement clutch. I assumed the crack in my clutch was causing the issue. 6 motorcycle and scooter shops later, we could not find the necessary part. To complicate matters, Christmas was coming up, then New Years, and the supply chain was at a standstill until after the 1st. I was told ordering one would take until Jan 5-10th to arrive, two weeks.
Finally, on our way out to the airport to find a commercial shipping company to mail the scooter north, we spied one small shop on the way out of town. MotoSpeed is run by Dagoberto Castro and his family, specializing in Baja racing 4x4 and desert off-road bikes. The skilled mechanic looked at the clutch and agreed to find a new one and take my scooter in for the repair. We raced back to the Ruckus, tied some parachord to the rental car and towed the scooter across town (no easy feat!) Once there, it took a few days but he finally figured out that my problem was not the clutch, though it was broken, but the teeth inside the rear hub had disintegrated and no longer connected to the driveshaft. He tack welded the nut on there allowing me to ride it around town and up to Playa el Tecolote to camp while the weekend passed. Eventually I'd spend a week waiting as he'd go searching around town for a spare rim to fit the 19mm spline. Unfortunately all that he could find was a 17mm splined rim for another brand of scooter. By Thursday, I was ready to get out of town and accepted his solution of welding the wheel to the driveshaft and heading north. This repair would certainly mean a new driveshaft and ultimately a new wheel once I returned to the USA.
The tope that broke the Ruckus' driveshaft was in Punta Prieta. I approached slowly but as soon as the wheel impacted the asphalt monstrosity, I knew my ride was over. The RPM's shot high and the bike slugishly limped to a stop. Here I was 400 mi from the US border in the middle of the desert with a completely broken scooter. I wonder what my Mexican insurance would do for me now. I pushed the Ruckus out to the speedbump and waited for a passing vehicle with California license plates. To my surprise and remarkable fortune, the first group of vehicles that slowed had California plates. I stuck out my thumb then put it down, a sign that things were NOT GOOD. The caravan of surfboard covered vans and trucks pulled off the road and the families piled out. I introduced myself and explained my situation. The description of my ride and the folks I met is in some earlier posts in this blog. They helped load the Ruckus into a camper and by the following day, I was crossing the US border in Tecate, unsure that this was real or a dream. As soon as we stopped on the US side, I bent to the ground and kissed it, back in the USA! They deposited me at a Costco in La Mesa and my family friends from Ramona drove down to swoop me up and take me "home" to their ranch while I waited on parts to repair the Ruckus.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 59'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.