My buddy Tommy Z aka "Tommy Big Gun" called me and asked if I'd like to go for a spin over the long weekend up in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Not only did Tom buy my SYM scooter and not quibble about price, he's a genuinely nice guy. A master artillery sargent in the Vermont Guard, he recently volunteered to go to Afghanistan. He volunteered at 47, no less. Much respect for that. His dad was a highly decorated WWII combat marine, and I think some of that rubbed off on him. Here's the SYM. Note the mod mirror set-up. For a 172cc machine, it goes like stink. Here's Tommy Big Gun. We've got to talk about ATGATT. Note ADV sticker on my Scarabeo 500 on left. We hadn't planned anything too rigorous - a few hundred mile bimble around the Northcountry. Tom pulled a shoulder muscle helping a neighbor move furniture the night before, and was still feeling the effects. He'd also not ridden in years before purchasing the SYM. He's making up for it. He's been commuting daily on the scoot to Camp Johnson, and racked up a very respectable 1500 miles in three weeks of ownership. Perfect weather marked the end of an otherwise very wet summer. The morning was cool enough to make a fleece shirt necessary under my leathers, but soon it was warm and comfortable. From our meeting place in East Montpelier, we headed up Vermont 14 toward Newport. 14 is a pleasant ride, through farm country studded with lakes and ponds. In a little over an hour, we were overlooking Lake Memphremagog from the hill that holds the magnificent St. Mary of the Sea Catholic church. Seems that we weren't the only ones out for a ride that day. In the words of the Very Reverend D Wayne Love of A3, "Let's go back to church." To negate the "hairy eyeballs" we were getting from the "real bikers," Tom promised to put a mountain warfare ram's head on the side of the SYM as soon as possible. Oh, well, we were having fun. More on the ram's head device: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram's_Head_Device The view into Canada from the church is magnificent. The church is an imposing structure -- both inside and out. After lunch, a short ride found us at Derby Line, looking into the Promised Land. A brief discussion ensued about crossing the border in search of Molson Brador (not commonly found in the US). It's the Colt 45 of Canada, and has a warm place in the heart of anyone who was once of college age and close to the frontier. Cooler heads prevailed, as Tom didn't have his passport, and a six that's been kicked around in a top box on a warm day isn't as nice as one properly chilled. Still, there's a little market just beyond the Douanes. . . Tight along the border, we buzzed through the farming community of Holland, Vermont, and ended up looking at another awful view, this time in Morgan, VT. This is Lake Seymour. From there, another few miles on VT 111 had us overlooking the old Canadian Pacific station at Island Pond. At one time, sleepy little Island Pond was one of the busiest rail yards in the northeast, and the customs clearing station for all train traffic between the east coast and Montreal and Quebec. It's still a great place to ride, particularly as they have some nicer police than their former town magistrate "Ticketing Tommy." VT 105 and 5A took us down to the storied shores of Willoughby Lake, which presented us with a view of this immaculate Nash Ambassador Country Club sedan with Quebec plates. Yeah, it's a cage, but damn it was sweet. A '53 or '54, I think. Some of the Nash bodies were styled by Pininfarina. As a sometimes Scarabeo rider, I like that. From there, it was back to the Palace of the People for pork chops braised in sauerkraut, a rack of nicely chilled Double Bags, and a little cinema. Given Tom's posting, we chose Kingdom of Heaven for the night's viewing pleasure. Next day, Tom was back to his home. I rode with him part of the way. On the way, we passed by a pond that got away. This is the site of Long Pond, aka Runaway Pond. A brief is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_Pond. Not Paris-Dakar, but a good day and a bit. Everyone wish Tom safe journies overseas. Godspeed, friend. Dr.