It took Scott Branch a week to finally leave the long state of Florida on his scooter. And since then, he shot through Alabama into Mississippi and plans to enter Louisiana to visit New Orleans soon. His final destination is Los Angeles which he hopes he can make in three weeks.
He has been doing a good job of keeping a journal on his blog about his experiences so far which has shades of Kerouac’s On the Road.
Here are a few excerpts from each of the days he’s traveled so far.
Met up with Gus Moore of Miami Tour Company and Carlos Miller who shot some footage of me leaving town. Had to make one more stop by the camping store for some last minute supplies, courtesy of Miami Tour Company.
Had my last meal at The Pitt somewhere along Tamiami Trail with friends before I began a long quiet trek across the straightest most desolate road around. Purposefully ran my gas tank all the way down somewhere halfway between Miami and Naples so that I could fill it to the rim with the gallon of gas that it takes and check to see what kind of mileage I’m getting. Looks like a lot. I’ll let you know when the tank empties again.
Saw an alligator while I was filling my tank on the side of the road. Score.
Side note: whenever I make stops like this along the way, it’s an ordeal. I have my backpack strapped to me at all times, weighing around 50-60 pounds, my helmet is either on my head or in my hands, and then I have to carry the other bag so that it won’t get stolen while I’m doing whatever. I leave the gas and oil in the milk crate affixed to the back of the scooter. I leave the block (of now cedar sticks) in the crate. Gloves tucked away under seat. Oh, and the camera is always around my neck, although today it did me little good.
So I’m leaving Home Depot and I’m at the scooter going through the ritual of getting ready to ride again. My helmet is on my seat and I accidentally knock it off. The face plate cracks where it’s connected to the helmet and leaves a large crack down the right side. After a lot of cursing, I realize I can finagle the helmet so that I can wear it fine as if it weren’t broken, however, whenever I go to take it off, I have to deal with the fact that it pops out on the left side. An annoyance more than anything really critical having happened to the helmet.
I passed through a town called Ruskin. As I crossed the bridge into this wonderland, I saw a slew of pontoon boats and mobile homes at the water’s edge. I wish I had photographed it because I can barely even picture it in my mind now. But as I came to that first stop light, I look to my left, and off in the distance is a man sitting in a chair in front of a small corner restaurant, Tacos and Stuff. Hand painted sign, of course. Later, (not in Ruskin) I would run across what I assume was a dog grooming shop since it had a picture of a dog and was named “The Dog’s Meow.” And later still, a truck flew by me with “It takes GREAT MOVERS to make a GREAT MOVE!” stamped on the back.
Really? Come on, people. Put a little effort into it.
Stopped in Crystal River, had lunch at the gas station. Not the best move as the grilled chicken wrap was kind of nasty. Drove to Chiefland. Stopped there. “Bless you, child,” said the man behind the counter. Drove to Cross City. Stopped there.
Perry. The drive to Perry seemed to go forever. All I hear is the wind through the helmet, the occasional car passing on this desolate stretch of road, and…. Perry! Puh. Puh.
Oh Perry, hold on. Our love. Our love.
I’m singing Steve Perry out loud. The hum of the road needs to be filled with noise after a while. What better thing than bad 80s music? If only the town had been named something else. Focused solely on getting to Perry.
Oh Perry, hold on…. Something something, something.
And you shoulda been gone….
Perrier. Reads a lot like Derriere. Too bad they don’t sound the same.
Driving up that first stretch of 98 was hard, though. Strong headwinds, couldn’t get Scooter (yes, that’s his name) past 30mph. Sucked. Traffic became heavier, but never got really heavy. Even in Panama City it wasn’t too bad until I ventured way off course to find a Starbucks.
Conversation with some cranky old man/gas station clerk:
Me: “Can you tell me where there’s a Starbucks under 10 miles away from here?”
Clerk: “Take a left out of the parking lot, head to the second light, take a right and it’s up near the mall.”
Me: “How far away is that?”
Clerk: “It’s under 10 miles.”
Thanks pal. You’re a real comedian.
Someone at a campsite close by apparently jumped in the water or threw something large in the water and played with it for a few minutes. I was just going to sleep and I hear a huge splash outside my tent. I imagined for a moment a guy walking from tent to tent, stabbing people through their tents and then throwing the bodies in the water. I would be next. I kept waiting for the knife to come. I debated putting the camera bag over my face in case he went for the head.
Then I realized that I was probably just being paranoid. Nobody stabbed me.
Cute and furry Marsh Rabbit. Wearing his brown coat all day, and with his small stature he plays in the forest. Sometimes he pops his head out into the place where the humans are.
He had all day to run across that barely traveled paved road. All day he had to scamper across. Yet he waited until I came by on Scooter. He dashed in front of me in the glare of my headlamp as if to say, “Look at me! I am a Marsh Rabbit! Did you see me?”
I did see you, Marsh Rabbit. You were cute and furry and wearing your brown coat. You ran very fast.
But not fast enough. You made a delicious sandwich. A little gamey, though.
Nature: 0, Scooter: 1
There were a couple of photos that I really wish I had stopped to snap but as I passed them I thought, “Eh, I’ll see the exact same thing up ahead.” I didn’t. Clerks calling you “Honey.” Head nods. The accents became much thicker coming into Alabama. Also, true to southern hospitality, nearly every motorcycle rider waves in this state. You know, they stick their hand out to the side as they pass. Two fingers. I do the same thing. Because, you know… camaraderie.
Wanted to go to Biloxi, Mississippi for the night, but the closest state park was in a town called Gautier. Beautiful, beautiful state park. And the ranger was incredibly nice and helpful.
Did some laundry in Gautier, had a fascinating conversation with a woman there; a Katrina survivor. Fascinating conversations with the ranger. Fascinating all the way around, Mississippi. And clean.