Sunday, March 7, 2010

Friki Tiki

We are parked for the afternoon at The Shelter bar in Tucson (map). In another forty minutes or so, the closing party for the Friki Tiki scooter rally will be held here; how we came to be here in the bus instead of on our scooters is something of a story in itself.

Friday evening we rode downtown to the rally registration, set up at the historic Hotel Congress. In addition to some notoriety as having housed the Dillinger Gang, who were forced from the hotel by a fire, the hotel famously contains four bars and a popular music venue, Club Congress. Since the Friki Tiki festival is not only a scooter rally but also a garage music event, all the venues have been musically inclined.

After registering and meeting several members of the sponsoring Mary Janes Scooter Club at the patio party, we walked in to the restaurant for dinner. There was an hour wait -- downtown Tucson is a hopping place on the weekends. We wandered instead across the street to Maynards, housed in the nicely restored SP depot that also serves as the Amtrak station. They were able to seat us on the patio within a few minutes, and we had a nice meal. We opted to skip the music as well as the party at the Go Gorilla Garage in favor of getting enough sleep to be perky for the morning ride.

Yesterday was the big ride day. We opted for the slower ride to San Xavier Mission in the morning, where we enjoyed some home made fry bread. The mission itself has been carefully restored, and still serves as a Catholic church. The mission is actually only a few miles west of where we were parked at the casino, and on the same Tohono O'Odham reservation. I opted to zip home quickly to walk Opal while the group took the scenic ride back, and I met up with everyone at the lunch stop at Sir Vezas cantina. After lunch, Louise and I and some new friends rode over to the local sooter store, Scoot Over, and then hit several stores on the "Passport Tour" where each store stamped our card for raffle entries later.

The afternoon ride was a "sunset" ride up to Tucson Mountain. This is a lovely, curvy ride through a veritable forest of saguaros and up to a scenic view at the top of the mountain. We also did a loop on the west side, touring past the campground at Tucson Mountain Park and just touching Saguaro National Monument. We had to leave before sunset, but it looked to be a great spot for one. One of our contingent suffered a flat on the way up, and I was able to lend him my CO2 inflator to plump up his spare.

Unfortunately, on the way down the mountain and heading for the big luau dinner event, Louise's scooter suffered a ride-ending failure. The nut that holds the variator pulley onto the engine output shaft came loose, causing the outer half of the pulley to start scraping against the case, with a horrible screeching sound. By shutting the engine down, stopping to disengage the centrifugal clutch, and then coasting down the very steep road, we were able to get to a safe place to disassemble the transmission to investigate, with a determination that nothing could be done on the road side to get the scoot going again.

We were able to coast yet further downhill to the site of an abandoned restaurant, slated to become condos. The parking lot was open, and had plenty of room to get Odyssey in and out, plus a metal pole to which we could lock the scooter. So we pushed it into the lot, took all the valuable items out of it, locked it up, and continued to dinner two-up on my scooter. We were about an hour late, and some of our new-found friends had actually been calling us on my cell phone to make sure we were OK. Of course, we could not answer while we were riding.

All's well that ends well; we were still in plenty of time to get our included dinner, which was delicious. We were also in time to exchange our "passports" for raffle tickets, though we did not stay late enough to find out if we won anything. We also had some great conversation with folks, and, of course, we now have a story to tell.

One scooter being down aced us out of breakfast as well as today's "landmark" ride, but it's been raining on and off anyway. After getting the bus packed up and squared away this morning, we drove the dozen miles or so to where we left Allegro, which was clearly untouched over night. Fortunately, the location was a couple miles shy of the 12,000-pound weight restriction that starts further up the mountain. We loaded the scooter up and headed back down the hill.

Even if we could not participate in the morning's events, we figured we could still make the closing party, as The Shelter has a huge parking lot. We wanted to get here well before scooters start arriving, so we would not have to do the scooter slalom with the bus. We did stop on the way at a Circle-K station that had $2.749 diesel, about the cheapest we've seen for a while, and put in a quarter tank.

The scooter failure has thrown a wrench into our planning, if you will excuse the pun. I was certain that from here we would be heading to Casa Grande today, but now we might stick around until Tuesday to see about fixing the variator. At least we now know a great scooter shop in town, although, as is common, they are closed Sunday and Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I was in that exact location just a couple of weeks ago. I also had some fry bread and also Girl Scout cookies. Couldn't resist those little girls. Kay Zimmerman, Ponder, TX


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