Tuesday, July 21, 2009

100 Degrees on old US 81

We were on a mission. A mission very personal to each of us. A quest for sites and scenes maybe forgotten in the past eras of 2 lane highway transportation. We had one particular place in mind and like postmen, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow (or in this case, blazing heat), would keep us from our destination. When the interstate highway system was developed, many people lamented the fact that certain towns and routes were abandoned or rerouted in the never ending quest for people to travel longer distances and get there quicker and faster than they ever had before. Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles is an example. Many smaller towns lost regular business from travelers because the new interstate largely avoided smaller towns or at least the businesses along the highway that supported travelers. Our mission today was to maybe rediscover this piece of Americana. Then again, maybe we just wanted to ride. US 81 runs north and south and was once a heavily traveled highway, but now an interstate highway runs parallel to it taking cars and trucks much faster to their destinations than this old 2 lane highway ever could, even in its heyday. But the road is great for motorized 2 wheeled vehicles.
And our mission was to visit one of these old businesses that has existed on this highway for I don't know how many years. A business that has survived the fact that many years ago the interstate was built just a couple miles to the east so parts of this little town could be avoided in the interest of speed.
We are talking about the A&W Drive In located along old US 81 in Wellington, Kansas. I have fond and vivid childhood memories of getting large glass jugs of root beer and taking them home to drink on all week from the local A&W. Maybe the best root beer in the world. Maybe not, but I sure liked it.
This was the day of our monthly scooter rally for our newly formed scooter club. The plan had been put into place a month ago. Everyone had agreed that this was a great destination. The anticipation was rampant.
The fact that it was 100 degrees with a heat index approaching 110 didn't deter us.
I didn't even bother to see exactly what the temperature was that day. It didn't matter. It was freaking hot!
A few degrees difference didn't mean anything to us.
We were on a mission. We we're not going to be denied!
We met at the location of my scooter dealer. While we were gathering a guy on this vehicle rode by, saw all our scooters and stopped by to see what we were up to. Just had to take this picture. It was a Schwinn bicycle with some sort of 50cc engine installed on it. We invited him along on our trek, but he declined and rode off a few minutes later for places unknown. Before we headed out of town, we had to make a short stop. Someone thought it would be a good idea to take a group picture in front of Scooter's Coffeehouse. It was on our route (sort of), and it turned out to be a very fun idea.

An employee of the store actually came out and took a few pictures of her own and said she was going to post them to Facebook or somewhere for the store. There is a link to their Facebook page somewhere on our club's website.


She also took some pictures with our cameras so we could all be in the photos. I am 3rd from the right all decked out in my mesh gear. Others were more lightly clothed for the day. It was very nice of her and they were very understanding because we were actually blocking their drive through lane with all of our scooters.

But then, this guy rode up. We just had to get him in the picture, too. He was just apparently tooling around the neighborhood. He was very nice and we had a great chat with him. He was curious about what we were doing. We invited him along on our quest (about a 30 mile trip).
He said, Sure!
But he went on to say that someone might have to tow him back to town because he thought he would have enough battery to get there, but not enough to get back!
Too Funny!!!
Anyway we eventually left Scooter's Coffeehouse and headed out of town. Our plan was to take some county roads at first and then eventually ride on old US 81 on into Wellington. We had to change the route a little bit because one road we were on turned into a gravel road unexpectedly. We backtracked a bit and got to the highway a little sooner than anticipated, but was still very enjoyable in spite of the temperature.
We stopped at one spot along the highway for a small break and to briefly discuss strategy and I took this picture of an old farmhouse. Soon though, we were back on our way with visions of root beer, ice cream, and other amenities (air conditioning) in mind.
It's an interesting road. It was obvious that there had been many little businesses along the route that had not survived the completion of the interstate. At the same time though, the road was nice and many businesses seemed to be doing very well.
I even noticed a Gentlemen's Club along the way back and thought of my good friend Mr Riepe, knowing how much he might be interested. On a Sunday afternoon, however they appeared not to be open.
Eventually we rolled into Wellington and parked our scooters under the awnings so they could be in the shade.
I got a good chuckle when we parked because at least 3 teenage female employees were eyeing us out of one of the windows as we pulled up and parked. Wondered what they might be thinking. After all we do not look like a real threatening sort of biker gang.
Or maybe we do!
This place is fun because you make your order by using a telephone at each table to call your own order into the kitchen.
Now I have been to this A&W before. I had my heart set on a cold treat called a "Polar Freeze" being soft serve ice cream with chopped up Reeses Peanut Butter Cup mixed in. That is what I ordered and the service was outstanding.
Others ordered onion rings and other items and I heard no complaints about any of the food. We ate and chatted for awhile and had a good time. The air conditioning was nice also.
Eventually though it was time to get back on the road. It was mostly all business getting back to town. Maybe it was the heat, but it seemed like all of us were ready to get back home. There was no messing around on the way back and we all peeled for home.
A hot ride , but a very fun ride. 8 scooters completed the trek of roughly 80 miles.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed


  1. Nice ride report Jim! I see from your post that others may have been intimidated by your club rolling into the A&W - the "Outlaws" name I bestowed upon your group in an earlier post may be appropriate!

    Nice collection of scoots - I see a Morpheous, and what looked like a Honda Helix???

  2. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

    Good for you! It appears as if your scooter club is thriving and doing well. I think things are looking up when you can get 11 bikes to turn up for a long ride on a hot day. And sanother ride to the Gentlemens Club, on a Friday night perhaps, might lead to another kind of photography.

    I am delighted that your club is a going and growing concern.

    Fonderst regards,
    Jack "reep" Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. Lance,
    We still haven't finalized the name for the club. Just calling it Wichita Scooter Club for now. "Outlaws is a good suggestion and has been mentioned. In fact we have been having too much fun riding to discuss the name for the club. There may just have to be an executive edict someday. (Which might lead to a revolution, LOL)
    And we do have an interesting collection of scooters. There is a couple of Honda's, a few Yamahas and my SYM, some Genuine and a Burgman so far. Quite the variety so far and that is part of what makes it fun. The Helix is interestng because it sits very low to the ground. I rode up next to him and had to look down to talk with him.
    Thanks for stopping by,

  4. Jack,
    It has been fun. The monthly ride has been just enough to keep everybody interested without wearing us out. Now I could have made up a story about the Gentlemen's Club and how we all entered the establishment with a large collection of $1 bills. But, alas, it didn't happen. The female members of the club might not have appreciated it very much. Maybe we will have to arrange a scooter club men's night. Sort of like the drive in movie night. BTW we still are planning the drive in movie night someday when its a bit cooler outside.
    Thanks for stopping by,
    Hope your experiences in Tennessee will end up on your blog soon,

  5. cpa3485:

    as for naming your club, you should look at the acronym first, such as WOSc, SOW could stand for something like; SOWS: Scooters Of Wichita. Play around with the initials and see what you like, then put the club name to it. I am an associate member of the SOB's (Scooters of Bellingham). I never wanted to be an SOB before, but now it is OKay.

    Your club appears to be flourishing. I think Mr Jack "r" wants to have a gentlemen's night out so you can snap a few brass pole dancers for him to look at.

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  6. Bobskoot,
    I had actually considered something like that when I first heard about the SOB club. But your idea is better. My daughter wanted to call us the Wichita Piglets (cuz we are not hogs). I wanted to get the club named at our initial meeting, but it got put off until later. Well, someday ............ maybe we will decide.
    Thanks for stopping by

  7. What a great post... I shall be back...I've added you to my blog roll...hopefulyy you'll find a name for your club soon.if not, I'd go with Lance's suggestion.
    Love that bicycle fitted with a Chinese engine...was he or she able to keep up with you guys

  8. Baron,
    Have been following your blog too and enjoy it very much.
    The guy with the bike said it would do 50 mph, but he didnt ride with us that day. Between you and me he sort of appeared to be a village drunk type. We invited him along but he rode off to parts unknown.
    Thanks for stopping by, and I'll get a link to ou on my list as well.

  9. Nice trip plan,chasing nostalgia. Please don't encourage riepe, his heart waon't take it if he gets it into his head to chase strippers across country.

  10. Excellent ride report! Great pics too. Your trip almost made me want to ride with others--really, you made this sound like fun. It also made me pause to get out my road atlas to see exactly where Wellington and old 81 were located. Thanks for sharing!

    Looks like I'll be heading to KS very soon. I'll let you know.

  11. Conch,
    You are right about rIepe. I should not have mentioned it :) It was a fun ride and there were lots of traces of days gone by.

    Thanks for the compliment. The Kansas Turnpike is about 2 miles east of the road we were on. But it is not much fun, even in a car.
    And let me know when and if you plan to travel to Kansas, my email should be available on my profile.
    Take Care,