Friday, September 2, 2005

Scooter, Cycle and Castle

Me at an American castle.

Where were we? Ah, yes.  John and I were in Columbus, Ohio, about to take a road trip on our new motorbikes.  John had his 350cc Honda motorcycle.  I had my 1984, 80cc Honda Aero scooter.

The destination, chosen by me from a book called American Castles, was Chateau La Roche, also known as Loveland Castle. It was most of the way to Cincinnati, about 95 miles each way. That's a pretty ambitious distance on a scooter that only does 40 mph.  I was pretty sore by the time we got there, but it was totally worth it.  It was my favorite kind of castle, a Norman keep. 

The Chateau La Roche was built by one man, Harry Andrews, a WWI veteran and boy scout leader.  As a medic in the Great War, he saved the life of a french earl's son, the story goes, and was knighted for it. Later he started building a stone shelter to replace boy scout tents that were falling apart.  He's quoted as saying, “Every knight needs a castle.”  He was still working on the place when he died in 1981, just three or four years before we got there.  Andrews based it on that French earl's castle, Le Chateau de La Roche.

Left:  a much younger Karen looks out from a tower of the late Norman keep

At the castle in Ohio.  Blurry Polaroid.  Sorry.   
the same scooter and motorcycle now.

Left: the actual castle was much bigger than this.  This was just part of the wall around it.  Right: the same bikes that visited the castle, 20 years later.  Below: the Elite, twenty years later and in sad shape.

Well, anyway.  I did have another scooter accident while working at the Buzz, this one minor.  Some kid in a truck (another odd parallel, that!) sidewiped me a little on a blind curve of a two-lane alleyway.  I think I sprained my ankle again, and needed a new footrest on one side of the bike.  No big deal.

Dusty!But it occurred to me that if I had one of the new, bigger Honda scooters, the 250cc Honda Elite, I would have the power and the speed to get away from some of these bad drivers on short notice, and avoid a collision.  I'd also be able to get farther, faster, and in more comfort.  I set my sights on an Elite.  It couldn't be just any Elite, either: I wouldn't settle for a 150cc one.  It had to be an Elite 250, the Gold Wing of Honda scooters.  It even looked a little like a Gold Wing.

Trouble was, I couldn't afford it.  I really couldn't.

Fortunately for me, the manager of Honda East (Skip, I think he was called) had a solution for me.  An older man (in his 50s, I think, which doesn't sound so old now!) had "laid down" his new Elite 250, and lost his nerve as a result.  I could buy that guy's bike, for considerably less than the cost of a new one.  Okay, great!  How?

I got my first bank loan (an 18 month one, I think). and got my Elite.  250cc, champagne color, top speed 71 mph (downhill with a tailwind), and with a custom locking metal trunk on the back, added by the previous owner. Oh, yeah.  This was what I wanted all along: a scooter that went as fast as a car!

Okay, so now I had my dream bike, one that can handle the Interstate and everything.  You know what that means, don't you?  Yup: another road trip.  Only this time, I was going a lot farther than 95 miles each way.

Next time:  Falls and Falls.

Don't panic (although I probably will, obsessive person that I am!) if I don't post again for several days, breaking my long string of posting every single night.  I may not have Internet access over the weekend.  I'll explain later.  Anything I don't post this weekend I'll make up to you later, including the fiction entry that at least four of you still read.



ryanagi said...

Have a good/fun weekend Karen!

jabarett said...

Funny, we went to the Honda dealer today. DS needed a part for his CB 750. Kid decided we should look at scooters, and they were sold out!