America....by Helix!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by TucsonStan, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. bbjumper

    bbjumper Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    184
    Location:
    Just the other side of normal
    My good friend in Austin told me today to hurry up before I miss em, the Bluebonnets that is. And your right I am going the long way around, Uvalde, Fredricksburg, Marble Falls, Austin, Temple and then on to Tyler. In my opinion some of the best parts of Texas in Springtime..

    Great ride report....
    #41
  2. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Before I arrive in Giddings, hopefully this afternoon, I need to finish up on the ride into Laredo. It was taking so long to get something posted the last time, I postponed that part of the report.

    Way back when, or it seems like way back when, in Alpine, I knew that my next big destination was going to be Los Ebanos, Texas. (Big destination is a figurative term, not a literal one.) On Mapquest, I checked the distance, chopped it in half and decided to stop for the night in Eagle Pass.

    I rode into Eagle Pass, Texas at 3:30 in the afternoon. After stopping for gas, getting a cold drink and resting a bit, I decided that 3:30 in the afternoon was too early to stop for the day. Carrizo Springs was only 40 miles or so further on so I'd head there. That would make tomorrow's ride that much shorter.

    Bad idea!

    How was I supposed to know that Carrizo Springs was located in the oil fields. Those of you who live around the oil fields will be familiar with what I'm referring to, those of you like me who don't live in and around the oil fields, not so much. Oil drilling and oilfield service work is booming in this country these days. How does that affect your average Honda Helix traveller, you ask? PRICES! Motel prices, along with a lot of other goods and services, are through the roof. I stopped a nice looking motel near the main crossroads in town, only to find out that their best prices for their smallest room, was $150 a night....before taxes! No thank you. The only other place in town that I checked was a seedy looking blue place that smelled decidedly like curry. A room there was only $89 a night. The 79 mile ride to Laredo was looking better and better.

    Hwy 83 brought into Carrizo Springs and Hwy 83 took me out.

    About 15/20 miles north of Laredo, Hwy 83 merges with I-35 for the ride into Laredo. I-35 is wallpapered with billboards, most of which are for all the various motels in and around Laredo. Most of the motel billboards have the prices posted. I'm seeing prices like $29.95, $32.95, $39.95. I think great, maybe the ride to Laredo was worth it. Besides saving me a lot of money, I'm 125 miles closer to Los Ebanos, tomorrow's destination.

    The $32.95 price was for the La Hacienda motel at exit 3A. I figure that even I can find that, so that's where I head. Finding it is no problem but actually getting there is a problem involving a weird shaped block, cutting through a gas station and going halfway up a two frontage road that abruptly end with traffic coming straight at you....but I got there.

    The nice lady behind the counter responds to my question concerning the price of a room with $64.95. Huh, but your billboard says $32.95 and up. I tell her that I wasn't interested in the up part. She then told me that, on all the billsboards along the highway, the posted price was for CDL drivers only. Huh, what the hell are they doing that I'm not doing. Do they sleep on floor and save the sheets? Wash up in a thimble full of water and save the shower water expense? I said no thanks.

    Right next door was the America's Best Value, not exactly known as a high priced giant in the motel industry. Same thing. This time I took it, $64.95, but they did have a free breakfast! At these rates, the budget will be gone by the end of next week. It's too bad I'm not a tent and sleeping bag kind of a guy.

    After the extra 125 miles today, I'm only 125 miles or so from the first cool stop of the trip, a human powered ferry boat ride to Mexico! Los Ebanos, Texas is a little hard to find. Supposedly, there's a sign on southbound 83 but I missed it. After asking directions from people who'd either never heard of it or a mailman who'd never been there, I found a sign. Left, 3 miles. Ok, here we go.

    After wind through Los Ebanos, just making turns and following a road that appears to have had lots of traffic, through an area that looks like something directly out of old mexico, I first find several old stores and a duty free shop. All closed up, with an old west, grass growing up through the cracks, kind of feel to them.

    [​IMG]

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    This place must have been booming, just my luck, yesterday!

    Beyond that is a rather large, for the area, brand new looking building, surrounded by a 8' chain link fence. It looks kind of like a small security facility for border illegal crossers. I'm sure it was built as a result of 9/11. We wouldn't want those pesky Arabs riding our human powered ferry with any high explosives and mayhem on their minds.

    [​IMG]

    There are orange cones across the driveway and no one in sight, no cars in line like every other ferry I ever been on.

    I park the Helix and walk through the gate. First door locked, second door locked. I cup my hands and peer through the windows. More orange cones but nobody around. I try another door. It opens, I go in. "Can I help you, sir" in a womans voice, comes from somewhere in the building. Yes, I 'm wondering the ferry but there's nobody around. YOU'RE IN A SECURE AREA AND IT"S CLOSED! she says with authority. Well, the door was open. WE'RE CLOSED! There wasn't a sign. WE DON'T USUALLY POST SIGNS! Then how was I supposed to know that you're closed! I can quickly tell that I'm not getting on this lady's good side, if she has one. There was a much younger guy with her, dressed in the same kind of security type suit, but I guess he knew his place because he kept his mouth shut and didn't say a thing. As a matter of fact, he barely made eye contact with me. THE FERRY IS BROKEN! How long do you think it'll be broken? IT WENT DOWN THREE WEEKS AGO AND THERE TELLING US IT"LL BE DOWN A TOTAL OF TWO MONTHS! Well, that's a little long for me to hang around. As I came in, I can hear a motor running down by the ferry, is this thing really human powered? They really pull you across the river? YES, THEY REALLY DO! Ok, thank you. As I left, I could see over the embankment a boat that looked like it held maybe 4 normal sized cars. I could also see that the river looks like you could chuck a stone across it. Not throw a stone with all your might but chuck one, underhanded, and hit the other side. No exactly the distance I was expecting but it would have been cool to do.

    As I ride away, a light bulb goes off in my head.....How do you break down a human powered ferry and need two months to fix it? Did one of the rope puller people get mono? Hoof and mouth disease? What? Just hire somebody else. I'm sure you could find somebody qualified to pull rope in less than two months. Oops, I forgot, this is a government job. Good luck with getting it fixed it in "only" two months. This thing may never run again.

    Request.....could somebody please ride this thing, if and when it ever runs again, and write about it in the DAY RIDES section, I'd love to see/read more about it.

    From Los Ebanos (if you pronounce this as E-banos like I did, everybody will look at you like you're nuts. It's pronounced Eb-a-nos. Hey, I'm a gringo from Tucson, what do I know. I do know that banos means bathroom. Who am I to judge if they want to call their little town
    E-bathroom.) it's only a short 335 miles to Giddings.

    I gave some thought to staying in McAllen but decided to just have a late lunch at the TA truck stop on 281 (dreadful, avoid the place like a root canal unless, of course, you're fond of root canals!), then ride up to Falfurrias. I only see the chain motels there so it's on to Alice. (I was thinking about coming up with a joke about Alice not living here anymore but maybe another time.) Once again, I read the billboards coming into town. (I've got to stop doing that.) One of them advertises for the Alice Motor Inn. Now, that's a quaint, 50's sounding place. The nice lady says it's $89. The Scottish Inn is $59. Now, that's better. Smoking only. No thanks. The Best Western, $129. No thanks. Smoking only. NO THANKS I SAID! Days Inn, 89.95, $100.47 with tax. Damn, I getting tired of this crap, I'll take it...could you gift wrap it please? But they do have the best free breakfast that I've seen so far. A full breakfast, with eggs and bacon and sausage and biscuits and gravy and juice and....oops, I couldn't help myself.

    Did I mention that exhaust problem that I'm developing? I thought it might be the muffler but now I think it's just some loose bolts. After I figure it out and/or get it fixed, I'll explain in my next post as I go wandering off, looking for Giddings.....by Helix!
    #42
  3. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Quick update on my exhaust situation.....

    The muffler is not supposed to look like this,

    [​IMG]

    Those cracks are not supposed to be there. I had noticed the Helix getting louder yesterday morning. I had felt the exhaust leak but without taking the side covers off, I couldn't see them. A new muffler is in my near future. Hey, do any one of you Houston Helix rally guys have a spare just laying around?

    The other problem is that one of the two exhaust header bolts has tightened up. Normally, these bolts are actually studs installed in the head with chrome cap nuts holding the header on. In the second Salton Sea race, one of the studs backed out. (but I finished the race!) I replaced it with a metric hex bolt.

    [​IMG]

    That bolt is what has loosened up. In doing so, I think it's damaged the exhaust gasket. Luckily for me, I carry spare gaskets. Right now, I know what you're saying....a guy who won't carry a tent and a sleeping bag actually carries extra exhaust gaskets and a drop cloth to work on? Hey, what can I say.

    I tightened the bolt as tight as I dare. I'd really hate to break the bolt off in the head and open THAT can of worms. Besides, I'd rather do the real work in Giddings where I have to remove the muffler anyway to get the rear tire replaced. I'm going to try to limp my way into Giddings where, hopefully, the relatives have some real tools and maybe a garage that I can work in.
    #43
  4. sweetwater

    sweetwater Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    466
    Location:
    Charlotte Metro
    Good luck with the repair and thanks for the kool pics. I love the western scenery.
    #44
  5. hotair

    hotair What to ride?????

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    583
    Location:
    Center of EVERYWHERE
    TucsonSam, If you need to you are welcome to stop in San Antonio and I have tools and a shop space to work on the Helix.

    There are Honda shops here as well. PM me for a phone # if you like. hotair/David E
    #45
  6. ks7877

    ks7877 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    12
    Great ride report! As a fellow long-distance scooter rider, I am in awe of your ability to post and ride.:clap

    Best of luck on getting that muffler repaired. (By the way, I usually carry an extra exhaust gasket, drop cloth as well as camping gear:D )

    Looking forward to more updates!!
    #46
  7. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Well, I've made it to Giddings but in sharing that, I'm getting way ahead of the myself. So, it's back to Alice, Texas.

    It seems like I'm having a real problem getting an early start. Usually, I'm a early riser, a very early riser. After riding all day, I'm pretty bushed. I manage to get all the pictures load into the computer and then uploaded to SmugMug. For some reason, I write up the ride report at 4AM. Since I'm barely computer literate, I can't seem to get things wrapped up before 9AM. Today, I finally pulled out of the parking lot at the Days Inn in Alice, Texas at 9:37.

    I took Hwy 281 north, intending to turn right at George West, onto Hwy 59. Highway 59 meets up with Hwy 77 just outside of Victoria and Hwy 77 runs straight north through Giddings.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #47
  8. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    I've been sitting in this McDonald's for the last 2 1/2 hours writing a great ride report with a very bad ending. Earlier, I pushed the wrong button and posted my unfinished ride report.

    I had just finished everything and hit the post report button when McDonald's dumped me off line. I haven't checked to see if it made it online or not. If it didn't, I'll rewrite it from the library later today. If it made it, then this post makes me look pretty stupid.

    Stay tuned as my trials and tribulations continue......
    #48
  9. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    It seems like it's been a month or so since I left Alice, Texas when, in reality, it was only two days ago. I've tried several times to get this ride report written and posted. Hopefully, it'll be done today. Hopefully, the wi-fi works better here in the Giddings Public Library than it did yesterday at Mcdonalds.

    Alice, Texas. I seems like I can never get an early start on the days riding. After riding all day, all I manage to get done at night is the pictures downloaded to the computer and then uploaded to SmugMug. I've always been an early riser so writing up the ride report in the morning works for me. Trouble is, it always takes so long. This morning, I don't pull out of the parking lot at the Days Inn until 9:37.

    I had planned on taking some really backroads today but the developing muffler problem has me deciding to stay on a more main road route. I head north on hwy 281. Forty miles up the road is George West, Texas. There I pick up hwy 59. Hwy 59 would take me all the way to Houston but I'll turn north as soon as I see hwy 77.

    In an earlier comment, bbjumper had asked about the bluebonnets. So far, I haven't seen any blubonnets. Now, I'm not saying that they weren't there but at 60mph, I hadn't sen any.

    I had seen a lot of these.......
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    Quite a few of these.....
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    Ocassionally some of these....
    [​IMG]

    And a couple of these....
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    Enough of these to pay for the entire trip....
    [​IMG]

    and to my best friend, a few of these but I did NOT pick them up!
    [​IMG]

    Just as I was thinking that bbjumper's friend must be pulling his leg about the bluebonnets, I top a hill and come across this.....

    [​IMG]
    My little camera doesn't really do the bluebonnets justice in this picture.

    At this point in the days ride I was north of Victoria, Texas. Maybe the bluebonnets south of Victoria had already come and gone. I don't know but from here on north, they were beautiful.

    One of the things that I love about Texas is the county courthouses. The county courthouses of Texas all seem to have been built in the very center block of the county seat. Even if the county outgrows the courthouse and builds a new one, the old one is preserved where originally built. This is the courthouse in Beeville, Texas, county seat of Bee County.

    [​IMG]
    And the clock in the tower even had the right time. Doesn't necessarily mean that the clock worked, I might have been there at just the right time. Even if the clock didn't work, it's still right twice a day!

    As I rode along, I just couldn't resist taking a picture of this firehouse. I was wondering why they'd name a firehouse the Raisin Volunteer Fire Department.
    [​IMG]
    Another mile or so, I found out. This is Raisin, Texas.

    There were some comments earlier about small town speed limits and speed traps and such. I've pretty much learn that if you're riding into an area that has the least amount of build up, say an old falling down barn with a 30 year old tractor out front, you can pretty much bet that the speed through there is going to fall, probably drastically. In Raisin, Texas they have more than an old barn. There's a restaurant, a flea market and several other building but you can cruise through Raisin as the speed limit stays at 70. No speed traps in Raisin, Texas.

    My ride into Giddings is uneventful but very loud. The muffler has vibrated itself to pieces. Where the crack was this morning, there is now a hole.

    [​IMG]

    The rear muffler support has vibrated off the muffler completely. Notice the dark line just to lower right of the shock mounting bolt. It's not supposed to be there.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a better picture.....
    [​IMG]
    The swingarm is busted in half. That other piece of metal is the rear muffler support.

    Since the swingarm is still on there, it's hard to tell that the swingarm bearings are also toast.

    After assessing things, I decided to have the scooter taken to Greathouse Motorsports in Bryan, Texas. After the initial assessment, they're thinking that I might be able to get it back by next Saturday, 4-13-13. I'm hoping they're right. Working on my brother-in-law's house, the original reason for coming to Giddings, for a week is going to just about kill me.

    If there's any thing new to report as the week progresses, I'll post and update. If not, I may not be back till after next weekend.
    #49
  10. MajestyGirl

    MajestyGirl n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1
    Sorry to here about the muffler problems. But better to have it happen heading east than West. For some reason getting the road early after multi day riding tends to be a problem...I had the same issue on my epic 21 day journey from Maine to california via Canada. I found the key was get off the road early each day (by 2pm), relax, grab an early good dinner and turn in by 8.

    Ride safe..looking forward to your next post.:deal
    #50
  11. Brooktown Geezer

    Brooktown Geezer scooter guy

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    499
    Location:
    Fallbrook, CA
    Wow, that's a bad break. Keep us posted!
    #51
  12. blugg1

    blugg1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Oddometer:
    508
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ
    And you went right through my town, Bisbee, Arizona. If you stopped for coffee downtown at the Bisbee Coffee Company you might have seen my red SYM HD 200 parked in front. I, too, would have ridden along with you, at least as far as Columbus, NM. Have a great trip and keep the photos coming.
    #52
  13. DWR302

    DWR302 Justan Nudderboomer

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    SW Flowdah
    Great report! I'll be following along. Hope you get the scooter sorted out ok. And TS, not to worry about the picture thing in the dictionary. They put my picture in there last summer after wrecking on a perfectly straight piece of two lane road just outside of Wendover, Nevada.
    #53
  14. deezildennis

    deezildennis Its a what?

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    in the powa band
    Did they get the Helix back in order for you?
    #54
  15. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Just as I was about to write a short update on my new life in Giddings, Texas, I see that deezildennis as the question that is probably on more than a few minds.

    And, the answer is.....YES!

    I had the Helix taken to Greathouse Motorsports in Bryan, Texas. They said they thought it would take 4, maybe 5, days to get the parts. Once the parts were in, it would take a couple hours to fix it. On the following Wednesday, I took them the two new tires that I'd bought online and had delivered to my mother-in-law's house in Giddings. I asked the guy there (a different guy from the guy, Chad, who I'd originally spoken with) if they had the scooter apart. He said no. So does that mean that the parts haven't been ordered yet, I asked. He said no, that they'd ordered the parts and he was expecting them in that day. I didn't want to get into a discussion but I wondered how they could order parts when they hadn't taken it apart to find out what parts they needed to order.

    The very next day, Thursday, they called and left me a rather terse message. "Mr. Scott, it's Ron, call me". I've gotten more than a few of those calls and it's always bad news, that they found something else wrong or they needed to order something else. On Friday, I called Ron and got the...........GOOOD NEWS! It was ready. The only thing that they hadn't ordered was a new clamp for where the muffler fits on the exhaust manifold. Since I still had the old muffler, that was no big deal.

    As I installed the clamp, I had the Helix on the center stand. They had changed the old oil since it was just about due. When I checked it, it was way over full. Apparently they'd filled it while it was on the kick stand, not the center stand. They were more than happy to use a huge oil hypodermic looking thing to extract the excess oil. Later, I wondered if they might have drained the oil with the scooter on the kickstand. That would have put the oil drain plug on the high side of the scooter, meaning that all the old oil didn't get drained out before the new stuff got installed.

    After leaving Greathouse with the scooter, my brother-in-law, who'd given me the ride to Bryan, drove/rode over to another brother-in-law's house for lunch. That ride was about 15 miles so I figured that would be a good test ride to see how things felt and sounded. Everything seemed fine. It does seem a tad louder than before but that could just be my imagination.

    As I sit in McDonalds, using their wi-fi, the fog here in Giddings is pea soup thick. I'm hoping it'll burn off in a bit and I'll hit the road for Houston.

    And so it continues, my search for America.....by Helix!
    #55
  16. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    42
    Awesome! Glad you will be back on the road!:clap
    #56
  17. long distance rider

    long distance rider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Kingman, AZ
    Glad to hear you're back on the road, I guess that means that you survived working on your brother-in-laws house without any major damage to yourself.......I have a bunch of experience working for the in-laws....the term "worked like a rented mule" comes to mind.....

    Press on, we look forward to reading your reports of this adventure.....

    MIke
    #57
  18. cbolling

    cbolling Here...Hold my Beer.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,527
    Location:
    Greenville, SC
    Glad you are back on the road. Keep the reports coming.

    And take lots of pictures.
    #58
  19. HPTuner

    HPTuner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    347
    Location:
    Southeast Ga.
    Good to hear the Helix is rolling again! My daughter and I have ridden many happy miles together when we had a Helix years ago...:thumb
    #59
  20. TucsonStan

    TucsonStan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    Hi everybody......I've tried to get this ride report written and posted for the last 2 days. Tonight, I stopped early, at a reasonably nice motel. I've been typing and uploading pictures for the last 5 hours, only to be dropped off-line every 10 minutes. The last time, I see it posted the report somewhat prematurely.

    Just so y'all know, I'm alive, but extremely frustrated, having made it to Mobile, Alabama. I promise that I'll actually get some ride reports posted, even if I have to buy a motel and upgrade the wifi.
    #60