Scooter Tramp Scotty: Muddy Truck Stop

Article And Photos By: Scooter Tramp Scotty

Originally Published In The March 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

If you move too fast you will outrun your adventure.” A statement I have found profoundly true. After the first few years of fulltime road life, there were natural changes in method that had to be implemented. To this end, the quality, enjoyment, and pleasure of the journey itself became elevated to a much higher place of importance. I began seeking ways to enhance the ride, to spend far more time in the sweet spot—the place where one is genuinely enjoying the journey rather than merely enduring its hardships. One necessary change (which I had fought for far too long, and for which once one makes the transition he can never return) wasthe ability to slow down. I’m not a trucker, am not paid by the mile, and do not wish to simply fly across the country, instead I seek the time and ability to truly experience this place and its people.

I began to stop often, I took a chance, and checked out almost anything that seemed even remotely interesting along the way. As I’ve written in so many stories of over the years, when left mostly to the Gods of fate, the road will continually provide spontaneous and entirely unforeseeable adventure, both large and small, to those that live on the highway. Now, with the time, willingness, and ability to just follow any new option that presents itself to whatever conclusion it may lead, regardless of whether hours or days are required to complete the adventure, a whole new dimension of traveling experiences opened up. What follows is a short tale of one such small and unplanned event… It was winter again and although daytime temperatures were usually not too bad, nights often fell to downright cold degrees. This ride began in Florida and was destined to end somewhere in the hot tropical jungles of southern Mexico. This seemed like a good call if one whished for a tan this time of year, which of course I did. Before crossing the border, I visited an old friend in Texas who offered computer lessons on a few things I wanted to learn. She’d be leaving the state before long, which made this particular journey just a little bit of a push. Since winter had now added a frigid edge to the air even this far south; it was mostly the prospect of warm tropical air ahead that made me want to keep moving.

 

Holding to those roads in the southernmost region of the country, the Electra Glide was westbound on Interstate-10. As afternoon began leaning towards sunset, the old question of where to set a night’s camp again came to mind. Wanting to avoid the evening’s cold temps by stopping early, yet not wanting to climb into bed too soon, I decided to relax at a warm truck-stop for a while before making camp. Flying-J and TA are the best truck stops because, unlike others, they always offer a TV room where you can veg. A quick check of the cell phone’s map showed a Flying-J not far ahead. I pulled off the freeway and entered the lot. It was the usual truck stop scene with one building set in a sea of parking lot, gas pumps and cars out front, a diesel island behind, and semi trucks everywhere. As usual, my first order of business was to circle the back lot in search of a place that might offer decent camping. From time to time I find a private piece of grassy turf or possibly some seldom used dirt road leading into the woods behind these places, unfortunately, at this Flying-J, it was not to be. The back lot simply ended at a row of shaggy bushes with a large field beyond; which was surrounded by more trees on three sides. Although not accessible from here, you could get in from a side road. I decided to check it out. Looking in from the side road, I could see that the field rolled a considerable distance back before eventually hanging a right into what appeared to be a private cove hidden behind more trees. Since winter rains had graced this place recently, I decided to walk in to check for muddy ground. When all seemed okay, I remounted and rode in to locate a private spot good enough for my night’s stay. Then I returned to the front for a relaxing evening in front of the tube, or so I thought. But it was not to be. On the ride out, I strayed to the far right and soon felt the bike sinking. Quickly standing to remove my weight, I hit the gas only to feel the overloaded motorcycle come to a standstill as its back wheel spun into the mud. Stuck. With no kickstand necessary, I stood up from the bike and walked to the truck stop.

It didn’t take long to find a couple of truckers willing to help, and we were soon back out in the field trying to push the mud-bogged supper-pig out. It dislodged easily enough and was soon parked again on solid ground. One of the truckers shook my hand and left while the others preffered to stay a while. Most of these guys spend entirely too much time alone in those metal boxes, and when the opportunity for human companionship presents itself, they’re often all in. I’d seen it many times and, since I occasionally suffer the same ailment, we stood to talk for quite a while. During our blab, a late model pickup pulled onto the field and the driver, talking through his window, asked if I needed help. “No thanks,” I said, “Bike’s out of the mud now.” The man introduced himself as Jim, “How about a place to stay the night then? I live just up the road and have an extra room set separate from the house. You’re welcome to it.” “I’m okay now. Got a camp spot at this field and I’ll just skirt the mudhole on the ride back in.” Thinking I’m nuts (as many do) for preferring to sleep outside, Jim persisted with his offer as I continued to counter with my preference for an outdoor camp. Finally, he produced a cell phone and checked the weather. “Gonna get into the low 30s tonight. Room’s got a heater. Sure you’d rather stay here?” He had me there, so I followed the truck to Jim’s house.

It was a beautiful one-story pad on a big lot in the country. Jim showed me to the private room, which really was off by itself, comfortable, and came with its own bathroom. He kicked the heater on. With a statement that his wife would be home soon, my new friend left me to unpack and settle in. Needing to get up on a quickly approaching magazine deadline, I turned on the laptop and began pecking away on my latest road story. When a half hour had passed, Jim was back with an invitation to accompany him to the garage. I accepted. The garage was a freestanding metal building filled with an array of equipment, projects, tools, and one late model Street Glide. As we talked bikes, Jim told of a little get together taking place at the local HD shop around 11 am the next day. Knowing I shouldn’t take the time for this outing, but also due to my own terrible weakness for those random adventures that invariably materialize when one is on the road and taking part in the big world that lies so far beyond the insulation of four walls, I knew I’d be going anyway. With a passion for building things, Jim showed me a travel trailer project he was putting together from scratch. It would be a homemade toy hauler for the two of them to take trips in. At this point, however, the thing was little more than a longish box trailer that Jim had recently insulated with that spray-on foam stuff. After a while, we moseyed back to the house and I re-chained myself to the computer keys. When Jim’s wife got home, I was introduced to her. She was a much younger woman than Jim, and they both seemed a little embarrassed about this, but I could have cared less. To me, Becky was a welcoming new friend. After placing a telephone order, she ran out to grab a bucket of gumbo from some local a restaurant. After dinner, everyone sat at the table to bullshit until late into the evening. I have never been much good at getting up early, so it was probably 9 am when I finally crawled outta bed. Showers are good, and after a long hot one, I moseyed into to the house. Although it was Saturday, Becky had already gone off to work so Jim, and I sat with cups of coffee without her then Jim whipped up a quick breakfast.

The easy morning of coffee, food, sunshine, and new friendships had taken time, and it was probably 11 am when the old Electra Glide was repacked. Jim had pulled his own bike into the sunshine and, in anticipation of the dealership’s little party and a free lunch; I followed him from the driveway and down the road. The shop was not far, and we pulled onto the lot to find the usual gig put on by dealerships from across the nation. I find these things to be a great little local “get together” excuse to have fun and almost always enjoy myself. As we skirted the rows of cars looking for a place to throw the kickstands down we noticed that the crowd was huge. (Folks come for the free hamburgers and then buy an expensive leather jacket or a $25,000 motorcycle). The riders were friendly here. Jim knew some, and we met new people also. I still remember the happy, friendly, little girl seated on the bike beside my own. I think it was fun for her to be out motorcycling with her daddy. A friend once told me, “The secret to happiness is to become easily entertained.” And although this was only a small highway adventure, it made me very happy just to be free and alive. A few hours later the westbound highway was again under my wheels as the open road led me to whatever new adventure might lay ahead…