Monday, September 24, 2012

Alone In Iowa

This is what Iowa is to most of us who drive through or fly over "flyover country" which is how the glitterati of New York and Los Angeles disparage the Midwest and it's corn fields.

I got a different view yesterday as I stood next to my silent Vespa, the cool autumnal wind chilling my fingers even as the bright sun burned my face. Highway 65 North to Minnesota was long and straight and indeed lined by cornfields. The wind was in my face and I was glad of my windproof jacket with liner, my gloves, and the face shield keeping the cold air at bay. But for all that chill the sun was bright, even when the engine went dark.

I checked the fuel and checked for a spark (ow!!) and stuck my finger in the spark plug hole and felt no compression to speak of. Clearly this was a major issue. I called Jeremy, the seller at his home and he said he'd be out with a gas can. I doubted gas was the issue but I felt less alone as I looked around at flyover country.

The lady farmer stopped her tractor and strode through the stubble to enquire as to my condition. She was genuinely concerned and had no fear that I might be some violent predator, the common theme of fear that permeates South Florida's culture, such as it is. I reassured her but I noticed her checking me out at the end of each row as she turned to harvest another line of standing corn. Had I collapsed in the cold breeze she would not have left me to die by the side of the road. This decidedly was not Miami.

My roadside predicament became even more eccentric when two classic motorcycles stopped as they rode south on Highway 65. The lead rider on a Honda 550 was Joe and behind him followed his stepfather (in the gray sweatshirt) on a genuine Suzuki 750 water-cooled three cylinder known fondly as a water buffalo, as it was built in an era of predominantly air cooled engines.

They rode home, came back with the truck and the three of us loaded the Vespa leaving Joe (shy in the blue cap) and I to drive 15 miles south back to Mason City while his stepdad rode the water buffalo home. It was the most natural thing in the world for young Joe to lend a hand. I just stood there wondering why I live where I do.

Back in Jeremy's spacious garage we pulled the head and found a nice round hole in the piston, probably a sign of an air leak according to the reading I've done.Too much air causes heat and seizes a two stroke engine.

The trip is off, a quick return to South Florida is in the works and most likely the Vespa will be shipped later. It is all an adventure but not the one I planned! The good news is no humans were hurt in the creation of this minor adventure. The Vespa was but that can be repaired.

Pride cometh before a fall, as the Good Book says.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Circle Blue said...

Oh well, at least it happened close to help. And, you got to experience Iowa.

lys93 said...


I am sorry your trip didn't pan out as planned. But glad you experienced good Iowa people. I know why you don't live in Iowa: it gets TOO cold and snowy. Just like I don't live in south Florida: it gets TOO hot and sticky.

Cuz Lynn

Anonymous said...

Ouch, too bad the weather window is closing with winter closing in..


Conchscooter said...

No more riding up here. Its too bad. I find the countryside fascinating. a brown ocean, a desert, criss crossed by roads, some paved others not, farm houses woods and perfect isolation.

RichardM said...

Too bad about the Vespa but it can be fixed. Too lean of a mixture (too much air or not enough fuel) could cause detonation. Is that something that you could hear when the engine is under load? I have no idea how loud a two cycle Vespa is.

Anonymous said...

She's still a beauty and you will ride her again.

Yikes! I realize now that that line could have come from Riepe's latest tome.

Doctor Lisa said...

I'm sorry to hear about the scooter problem, mostly selfishly because I was really looking forward to reading about your trip home (I love to travel and do so vicariously when I'm can't in real life, and a five-day scooter ride from Iowa to Key West sounds fantastic).

Hopefully the scooter is now predisastered and all will be fine from here on out.

Conchscooter said...

When Jeremy took me to the ignominious bus station to start my trek back to Key West he suggested perhaps one day I might ride the Vespa back. why not?. I'm riding the dog now (as Riepe might say!) through the cornfields looking out the window and wishing it were different. a bis is a different cultural exposure for sure.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the Vespa. At least you are safe and can ride again. I was looking forward to reading about your trek back on the Vespa. Now we will read about a bus ride. Not quite the same but I'm sure it will be interesting. Scooter Vic

Anonymous said...

I know you were looking forward to this grand adventure but I imagine you have at least a few more adventures left...Vespa or not.

David B. said...

Nice to know that even in this age of total instant connected-ness that someone would still get off their tractor and come check on you. I can't help but remember a time not long ago when it would have been done by two-way radio from the tractor back to the farmhouse.

Rob Key West Key said...

I used to apologize for being from Ohio but not anymore. The last vestige of true human being resides in the midwest.

Anonymous said...

People have jumped into the ocean off the 7 mile bridge to try to save strangers. Being helpful and useful and of value to each other is what we all want to be. I trust the good people of Ohio to do the right thing as well as the denizens of Key West.
The unhelpful are newsworthy only because we expected better of them.

Anonymous said...

Packed airplane, busted Vespa, a ride on the dog. Yikes!

Conchscooter said...

It was all indeed an adventure. The amazing thing is after an all Tuesday day of travel I am home and Cheyenne went nuts upon seeing me. My wife took me to Santiago's and drove me home. I am content in a strange way.