In 1964, the Beach Boys released their "All Summer Long" album, and I couldn't resist the lure of the California surfer craze.I put lemon juice on my hair for the blond look and applied baby oil with iodine while cooking on a silver space blanket under a tanning bulb. I ordered surfer T-shirts by mail from Ron Jon Surf Shop. I bought a '60s skateboard, which then was a small wood board with roller skate wheels.
We would drive around the neighborhood looking for a really steep hill to "Hang Ten" and shout "Cowabunga!" I was glad we never found one because tumbling down an asphalt street would really hurt, and I was too embarrassed to actually shout "Cowabunga!"
To complete the illusion, I needed surfer wheels. So instead of the classic wood paneled wagon called a "Woody" my parents wouldn't let me buy, I bought a Volkswagen bug with a roof rack to carry the surf board I didn't own. This surfer phase only lasted about a year.
I did love the music, though; it took me away to the sun, the surf and girls in bikinis - three things not common in wintery and cloudy Chicago.
Songs such as "Little Honda" conjured up visions of riding scooters around the hills of Southern California. It all finally drove me to buy my first scooter. A scooter, by the way, is just that ... a very low horsepower motorcycle. In fact, most scooters (under 50 cc) are classified as motorized bikes. Put it this way, if a Harley is a hog, a scooter is a piglet.
So, needing to "one up" the former boyfriend of my newest girlfriend, (he owned a 50cc Honda), I bought a 90cc black and silver Yamaha scooter. What a blast! I learned the freedom of the road associated with riding a bike that is hard to describe. In the late '60s, I bought another bike, a Honda 350, and enjoyed it for many years. Both bikes and the girlfriend are long gone.
Now, fast forward 30 years. I've often thought about whether to join aging baby boomers and put a shiny Harley-Davidson or Honda Gold Wing in my garage. But really, I have no place to ride to, and nobody to ride with. Then it hit me: What I need is another scooter.
So, in 2007, I bought a shiny new Yamaha Vino (50cc scooter) which gets me from my in-town home to my in-town job. I love it because of the incredible mileage (80 mpg), the ease of parking, no license plate is required and a state registration fee of $5 for three years. Most of all, I love the sense of freedom.
Lately, I've noticed many more scooters buzzing around downtown. In my building, there are now five scooters that park in a group. So whether the motivation to own a scooter is to escape high gas prices, a desire to be more environmentally friendly, or like me, to re-experience the sense of freedom (and a bit of nostalgia), the scooter has turned me into a dedicated summertime scooter commuter. Beep. Beep.
firstname.lastname@example.orgBob Kunkel is special events and business coordinator for Durango's Central Business District.