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.

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