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Old 04-03-2013, 07:24 AM   #31
travelintoNY
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:09 AM   #32
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America.....by Helix

Today, I got a very late start, at least for me it was late. I'm normally a very early riser but with writing yesterday's ride report, changing the oil in the scooter, the free motel breakfast and jawing with John and his lovely bride, whose name I regrettably did not get, about their upcoming ride down to Terlingua, I didn't manage to get on the road until after 9AM. I've read ride reorts where the writer didn't hit the road till 10 or 11. I always wondered about the late start. Next time, I'll understand why.

I always see people post pictures about their meals. I had to post this Belgian waffle. Those of you in and around Texas may have seen them before but I never have.



Pretty much since I left Tucson I'd been thinking about changing the oil. Originally, I thought that I could make it to Giddings, my first long stop. By Alpine, the oil was looking pretty dark.

Several months ago I'd written to several companies about sponsorship, especially for the Cannonball portion of the trip. One of those companies was Jiffy Lube. Their response was no response at all.

As I rode along, I'd been trying to come up with a relatively quick, very clean way to change the oil. Here's my idea. I stopped at the local grocery store a bought 2 gallon jugs of water, .79 each. One quart of oil from Auto Zone, where they'll recycle the used oil. I dumped both water jugs out and cut the top out of one jug to use to catch the oil. After draining the oil, I then transferred it to the good, sealable jug, which later got taken back to Auto Zone. I then wiped out the oil catch jug and put it in the dumpster. Oil change completed and not one drop of oil hit the motel parking lot.

The oil change project......you can see just a bit of the jug catching oil and the good transfer jug.


Here's my neighbor last night. This beast is owned by John and his lovely bride whose name, regrettably, I did not get. It's a Honda 1800 Something-er-other. John and his wife were on their way to Terlingua and the Big Bend Country.


Leaving Alpine, it was bright and sunny and getting warm.....but the bright and sunny only lasts for about 50 miles.




By then, I noticed that I seemed to be riding under a dark and ominous cloud. I also noticed that the normally dry desert was glistening with water this morning. There were water rivulets cut in the dirt, more than a few large puddles and all the grasses next to the road were all pushed over in the same direction. The night before, in Alpine, it had rained about 12 drops. In Alpine, far west Texas, 12 drops of rain constutes quite a rainstorm but it looked like they'd had a gully washer out here.

A few miles on, I noticed that the edges of the road were wet, then puddles where the road surface meets the shoulder of the road. This was not looking good for riding in the dry all day. Now there were drops on the windshield. By the time I stopped in the little town of Comstock for gas, it wasn't exactly raining but it was sure a damn thick mist. I filled up and put on my rain gear. I asked the lady at the station about any weather reports that she'd heard. She said there was cold front coming through and that it would be here for a few days. I told her that I was headed to Eagle Pass. She thought that I could probably ride through it. Great, I thought. I'll ride all the way through it only to get hit with it again later.

Now, my putting on rain gear is usually a sign to the universal powers that be to stop the rain. In another 5 miles, I must have ridden out the other side of the cold front because the drizzle stopped. Even though I was sweating in the raingear, I hated to stop to take it off as that's a sign to the universal powers to make it start raining again. It did stay overcast the rest of the day but no more wet stuff.

I love riding through country that looks like this. We have a lot of country thhat looks like this in Arizona, up around the towns of Holbrook, Taylor and Snowflake. Can't you just picture Matt Dillon and Chester riding out from behind one of those scrubs? As I ride by, in my head, I can hear Matt Dillon say to Chester, "Come on, Chester, Let's get back to the Long Branch a see what's going on with Miss Kitty and Doc". I know it's weird but I love it. If you're too young to remember Matt Dillon, Chester, Miss Kitty and Doc, feel free to stick the western movie stars of your choice. I'll stick with the Gunsmoke people.





I've been taking quite a few pictures of these historical markers but, with around 15,000 in the state, I've got quite a few picture taking opportunities ahead of me.


You can learn a lot from these signs. This one tells us that crime doesn't pay, at least it didn't pay for these two guys.


Right behind the historical marker in the previous picture is this. For those of you who haven't seen it, this is the border road. Even though the border is around 50 miles or so to the right of this picture, the only thing between here and the actual border is a whole lot of nothing. This is the road that the Border Patrol rides looking for people walking north.


This picture is looking west. Notice the tractor tire on the right side of the picture, used by the Border Patrol to drag the road and keep the surface fresh so that they can see footprints.


This is Emily.

Right before I took this picture I had no idea who Emily was. All day long, on Hwy 90, I'd been passing people on bicycles packed similiar to Emily's. I decided to stop. It seems Emily, and all those other people on bicycles, are traveling the Southern Route across the country, from San Diego to San Augustine, Florida as determined by something called the Adventure Travel Something-er-other. Since I have no intention of riding a bicycle anywhere, I didn't get the exact name of the organization. Emily was from Portland but I think she started this trip started in San Diego. She left back on March 6th. The halfway point is Comfort, Texas so, in almost a month, she's not quite halfway yet. Funny thought, we'll both probably finish around the same time, the middle of May. Have fun Emily, thanks for taking the time to talk with me and may we both enjoy our rides.

As you cross Hwy 90, I think every vehicle, except the big rigs, stops here.


A bunch of old, or recreated buildings, reasonably close to where the original ones were but.....it's free!


The only thing I thought of when I stopped here was Paul Newman as Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos.






All day yesterday I'd been watching the odometer on the scooter. I wanted to document the rolling over to 20,000 miles. I knew it would happen shortly after I left Judge Roy Bean's place in Langtry. I guess after I left Langtry, I was thinking about other things because I missed it by 11.8 miles, but here's the picture anyway. When you look at the picture, take a sharpie and draw three extra zero's on the computer screen, that's what I did. It works but only once!


It seems like I've been writting this ride report for the last 4 hours, due to my fumble fingers and a lousy internet connection. Now, I'm bound for Los Ebanos, Texas and the ferry to mexico in my search for America.....by Helix.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:31 AM   #33
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Local LEO's

Excellent ride report, but I have a couple of questions on your choice of roads.

I have ridden a bunch of miles over the past 40 years, most of them on Interstates and major US highways. My experience has always been positive. One thing I have wondered about is local law enforcement guys you might have occasion to run across. On the Interstate I typically run 10 over the limit all day long and have not had a ticket in decades. On the back roads however I've always imagined local LEO's might have reason to try and keep the county coffers filled with tourist cash, is this a legitimate concern on my part or have I been watching too much TV?

My only recent experience was with a camera car in Prescott Valley, AZ where I was clocked at 46 in a 35 and sent a ticket in the mail for $230. Prescott Valley police evidently are too busy dealing with real crime to actually catch you speeding and write a ticket. I'm curious if Prescott Valley is the exception to the rule or are a bunch of little jerkwater towns doing the same thing with camera cars, radar traps, and such.

The reason I ask is I'm planning a trip from Kingman to McMinville, TN this spring for a memorial service....I was planning on blasting back on I40 and being 2000 miles from Kingman in 3 or 4 days. Your trip report has got me to thinking about a slower, more relaxed trip thru the backcountry, maybe south going on my way to Tennessee and a more northern route returning home.

Your thoughts and experience would be appreciated.

Thanks, Mike
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:32 PM   #34
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The only place on my recent ride from California to Houston that I saw those camera cars were in Prescott Valley, AZ. I have never seen one anywhere else I've been which includes Texas. There is a rhyme that I've heard some people use reportedly from some law enforcement folks:

"eight safe, nine mine"

On interstates I generally run 10mph faster but you do have to watch some of the small towns. I got a ticket in a small town approx. 80 miles southwest of Abilene last year where they had a sign dropping the speed limit 20mph after a bridge under the trees just before a downhill grade with another 20mph drop at the bottom of the hill.

As for the rider if you are staying on 90 all the way through Texas there's a rally in Houston this weekend. http://hiptobesquarerally.com where I know some Helix fans will be attending.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:56 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdwise View Post
The only place on my recent ride from California to Houston that I saw those camera cars were in Prescott Valley, AZ. I have never seen one anywhere else I've been which includes Texas. There is a rhyme that I've heard some people use reportedly from some law enforcement folks:

"eight safe, nine mine"

On interstates I generally run 10mph faster but you do have to watch some of the small towns. I got a ticket in a small town approx. 80 miles southwest of Abilene last year where they had a sign dropping the speed limit 20mph after a bridge under the trees just before a downhill grade with another 20mph drop at the bottom of the hill.

As for the rider if you are staying on 90 all the way through Texas there's a rally in Houston this weekend. http://hiptobesquarerally.com where I know some Helix fans will be attending.
Camera cars are all over the Phoenix area, and the only place I have seen them. I'll be leaving this weekend headed to Tyler TX with stops to see friends and family in Austin. I'll be visiting the Trinity Site, Carlsbad Caverns and then will be using pretty much the same route as you through Uvalde. Wonderful time to be riding in Texas, the Bluebonnets should be in full bloom..

Following along

Cheers
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:20 PM   #36
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I do have same 2001 Honda helix, Black, 8000 miles on it.
My longest trip was form Orange county to Laughlin , Nev, 306 miles in 7.5 Hours.

Great RR,
I am subscribed.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:42 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by long distance rider View Post
Excellent ride report, but I have a couple of questions on your choice of roads.

I have ridden a bunch of miles over the past 40 years, most of them on Interstates and major US highways. My experience has always been positive. One thing I have wondered about is local law enforcement guys you might have occasion to run across. On the Interstate I typically run 10 over the limit all day long and have not had a ticket in decades. On the back roads however I've always imagined local LEO's might have reason to try and keep the county coffers filled with tourist cash, is this a legitimate concern on my part or have I been watching too much TV?

My only recent experience was with a camera car in Prescott Valley, AZ where I was clocked at 46 in a 35 and sent a ticket in the mail for $230. Prescott Valley police evidently are too busy dealing with real crime to actually catch you speeding and write a ticket. I'm curious if Prescott Valley is the exception to the rule or are a bunch of little jerkwater towns doing the same thing with camera cars, radar traps, and such.

The reason I ask is I'm planning a trip from Kingman to McMinville, TN this spring for a memorial service....I was planning on blasting back on I40 and being 2000 miles from Kingman in 3 or 4 days. Your trip report has got me to thinking about a slower, more relaxed trip thru the backcountry, maybe south going on my way to Tennessee and a more northern route returning home.

Your thoughts and experience would be appreciated.

Thanks, Mike
Hi Mike.....Didn't you say you were planning to ride a Helix to Alaska? I'm guessing that your not riding a Helix 10 miles over on the freeway. In west Texas, that would be 90mph. So far, I haven't had any trouble with local cops but then, I'm usually right around the speed limit. Today, on Hwy 83, a few miles north of Laredo, there were three state troopers pulling people over on a regular basis. Other than that, I've seen plenty of cops but they're not looking for guys like me, I'm not pushing the limits.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:50 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by cdwise View Post
The only place on my recent ride from California to Houston that I saw those camera cars were in Prescott Valley, AZ. I have never seen one anywhere else I've been which includes Texas. There is a rhyme that I've heard some people use reportedly from some law enforcement folks:

"eight safe, nine mine"

On interstates I generally run 10mph faster but you do have to watch some of the small towns. I got a ticket in a small town approx. 80 miles southwest of Abilene last year where they had a sign dropping the speed limit 20mph after a bridge under the trees just before a downhill grade with another 20mph drop at the bottom of the hill.

As for the rider if you are staying on 90 all the way through Texas there's a rally in Houston this weekend. http://hiptobesquarerally.com where I know some Helix fans will be attending.
That's pretty much the story of my life, if there's something going on this weekend, I'll be there next weekend. And that's the truth. It's my intention to be in Giddings this weekend and Houston next weekend. Do you think that any of those Helix guys might have a spare muffler just sitting in the garage that they'd like to get rid of? I seem to have done something drastic to mine because it's beginning to sound like a badly running cement mixer. I'll see what I can figure out in the morning and try to see if I can limp it into Giddings where I can do some work on it.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:58 PM   #39
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Camera cars are all over the Phoenix area, and the only place I have seen them. I'll be leaving this weekend headed to Tyler TX with stops to see friends and family in Austin. I'll be visiting the Trinity Site, Carlsbad Caverns and then will be using pretty much the same route as you through Uvalde. Wonderful time to be riding in Texas, the Bluebonnets should be in full bloom..

Following along

Cheers
Somewhere around Del Rio our paths split, you're headed east through Bracketville and I headed south through Laredo. The El Paso to Del Rio section of Hwy 90 is a real nice ride. You're going through Uvalde to get to Tyler? Wow, even a back roads kind of guy like me wouldn't have thought of that.

If you're looking for the Bluebonnets, I think this is a bit too early in the year. I'm thinking another month or so. There were some flowers along Hwy 90 out in West Texas but very few. Spring hasn't sprung just yet.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:18 PM   #40
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In Giddings their Downtown restaurant has great chicken fried steak!!!!
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:00 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by TucsonStan View Post
Somewhere around Del Rio our paths split, you're headed east through Bracketville and I headed south through Laredo. The El Paso to Del Rio section of Hwy 90 is a real nice ride. You're going through Uvalde to get to Tyler? Wow, even a back roads kind of guy like me wouldn't have thought of that.

If you're looking for the Bluebonnets, I think this is a bit too early in the year. I'm thinking another month or so. There were some flowers along Hwy 90 out in West Texas but very few. Spring hasn't sprung just yet.
My good friend in Austin told me today to hurry up before I miss em, the Bluebonnets that is. And your right I am going the long way around, Uvalde, Fredricksburg, Marble Falls, Austin, Temple and then on to Tyler. In my opinion some of the best parts of Texas in Springtime..

Great ride report....
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:07 AM   #42
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America.....by Helix

Before I arrive in Giddings, hopefully this afternoon, I need to finish up on the ride into Laredo. It was taking so long to get something posted the last time, I postponed that part of the report.

Way back when, or it seems like way back when, in Alpine, I knew that my next big destination was going to be Los Ebanos, Texas. (Big destination is a figurative term, not a literal one.) On Mapquest, I checked the distance, chopped it in half and decided to stop for the night in Eagle Pass.

I rode into Eagle Pass, Texas at 3:30 in the afternoon. After stopping for gas, getting a cold drink and resting a bit, I decided that 3:30 in the afternoon was too early to stop for the day. Carrizo Springs was only 40 miles or so further on so I'd head there. That would make tomorrow's ride that much shorter.

Bad idea!

How was I supposed to know that Carrizo Springs was located in the oil fields. Those of you who live around the oil fields will be familiar with what I'm referring to, those of you like me who don't live in and around the oil fields, not so much. Oil drilling and oilfield service work is booming in this country these days. How does that affect your average Honda Helix traveller, you ask? PRICES! Motel prices, along with a lot of other goods and services, are through the roof. I stopped a nice looking motel near the main crossroads in town, only to find out that their best prices for their smallest room, was $150 a night....before taxes! No thank you. The only other place in town that I checked was a seedy looking blue place that smelled decidedly like curry. A room there was only $89 a night. The 79 mile ride to Laredo was looking better and better.

Hwy 83 brought into Carrizo Springs and Hwy 83 took me out.

About 15/20 miles north of Laredo, Hwy 83 merges with I-35 for the ride into Laredo. I-35 is wallpapered with billboards, most of which are for all the various motels in and around Laredo. Most of the motel billboards have the prices posted. I'm seeing prices like $29.95, $32.95, $39.95. I think great, maybe the ride to Laredo was worth it. Besides saving me a lot of money, I'm 125 miles closer to Los Ebanos, tomorrow's destination.

The $32.95 price was for the La Hacienda motel at exit 3A. I figure that even I can find that, so that's where I head. Finding it is no problem but actually getting there is a problem involving a weird shaped block, cutting through a gas station and going halfway up a two frontage road that abruptly end with traffic coming straight at you....but I got there.

The nice lady behind the counter responds to my question concerning the price of a room with $64.95. Huh, but your billboard says $32.95 and up. I tell her that I wasn't interested in the up part. She then told me that, on all the billsboards along the highway, the posted price was for CDL drivers only. Huh, what the hell are they doing that I'm not doing. Do they sleep on floor and save the sheets? Wash up in a thimble full of water and save the shower water expense? I said no thanks.

Right next door was the America's Best Value, not exactly known as a high priced giant in the motel industry. Same thing. This time I took it, $64.95, but they did have a free breakfast! At these rates, the budget will be gone by the end of next week. It's too bad I'm not a tent and sleeping bag kind of a guy.

After the extra 125 miles today, I'm only 125 miles or so from the first cool stop of the trip, a human powered ferry boat ride to Mexico! Los Ebanos, Texas is a little hard to find. Supposedly, there's a sign on southbound 83 but I missed it. After asking directions from people who'd either never heard of it or a mailman who'd never been there, I found a sign. Left, 3 miles. Ok, here we go.

After wind through Los Ebanos, just making turns and following a road that appears to have had lots of traffic, through an area that looks like something directly out of old mexico, I first find several old stores and a duty free shop. All closed up, with an old west, grass growing up through the cracks, kind of feel to them.




This place must have been booming, just my luck, yesterday!

Beyond that is a rather large, for the area, brand new looking building, surrounded by a 8' chain link fence. It looks kind of like a small security facility for border illegal crossers. I'm sure it was built as a result of 9/11. We wouldn't want those pesky Arabs riding our human powered ferry with any high explosives and mayhem on their minds.



There are orange cones across the driveway and no one in sight, no cars in line like every other ferry I ever been on.

I park the Helix and walk through the gate. First door locked, second door locked. I cup my hands and peer through the windows. More orange cones but nobody around. I try another door. It opens, I go in. "Can I help you, sir" in a womans voice, comes from somewhere in the building. Yes, I 'm wondering the ferry but there's nobody around. YOU'RE IN A SECURE AREA AND IT"S CLOSED! she says with authority. Well, the door was open. WE'RE CLOSED! There wasn't a sign. WE DON'T USUALLY POST SIGNS! Then how was I supposed to know that you're closed! I can quickly tell that I'm not getting on this lady's good side, if she has one. There was a much younger guy with her, dressed in the same kind of security type suit, but I guess he knew his place because he kept his mouth shut and didn't say a thing. As a matter of fact, he barely made eye contact with me. THE FERRY IS BROKEN! How long do you think it'll be broken? IT WENT DOWN THREE WEEKS AGO AND THERE TELLING US IT"LL BE DOWN A TOTAL OF TWO MONTHS! Well, that's a little long for me to hang around. As I came in, I can hear a motor running down by the ferry, is this thing really human powered? They really pull you across the river? YES, THEY REALLY DO! Ok, thank you. As I left, I could see over the embankment a boat that looked like it held maybe 4 normal sized cars. I could also see that the river looks like you could chuck a stone across it. Not throw a stone with all your might but chuck one, underhanded, and hit the other side. No exactly the distance I was expecting but it would have been cool to do.

As I ride away, a light bulb goes off in my head.....How do you break down a human powered ferry and need two months to fix it? Did one of the rope puller people get mono? Hoof and mouth disease? What? Just hire somebody else. I'm sure you could find somebody qualified to pull rope in less than two months. Oops, I forgot, this is a government job. Good luck with getting it fixed it in "only" two months. This thing may never run again.

Request.....could somebody please ride this thing, if and when it ever runs again, and write about it in the DAY RIDES section, I'd love to see/read more about it.

From Los Ebanos (if you pronounce this as E-banos like I did, everybody will look at you like you're nuts. It's pronounced Eb-a-nos. Hey, I'm a gringo from Tucson, what do I know. I do know that banos means bathroom. Who am I to judge if they want to call their little town
E-bathroom.) it's only a short 335 miles to Giddings.

I gave some thought to staying in McAllen but decided to just have a late lunch at the TA truck stop on 281 (dreadful, avoid the place like a root canal unless, of course, you're fond of root canals!), then ride up to Falfurrias. I only see the chain motels there so it's on to Alice. (I was thinking about coming up with a joke about Alice not living here anymore but maybe another time.) Once again, I read the billboards coming into town. (I've got to stop doing that.) One of them advertises for the Alice Motor Inn. Now, that's a quaint, 50's sounding place. The nice lady says it's $89. The Scottish Inn is $59. Now, that's better. Smoking only. No thanks. The Best Western, $129. No thanks. Smoking only. NO THANKS I SAID! Days Inn, 89.95, $100.47 with tax. Damn, I getting tired of this crap, I'll take it...could you gift wrap it please? But they do have the best free breakfast that I've seen so far. A full breakfast, with eggs and bacon and sausage and biscuits and gravy and juice and....oops, I couldn't help myself.

Did I mention that exhaust problem that I'm developing? I thought it might be the muffler but now I think it's just some loose bolts. After I figure it out and/or get it fixed, I'll explain in my next post as I go wandering off, looking for Giddings.....by Helix!
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:56 AM   #43
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America.....by Helix

Quick update on my exhaust situation.....

The muffler is not supposed to look like this,



Those cracks are not supposed to be there. I had noticed the Helix getting louder yesterday morning. I had felt the exhaust leak but without taking the side covers off, I couldn't see them. A new muffler is in my near future. Hey, do any one of you Houston Helix rally guys have a spare just laying around?

The other problem is that one of the two exhaust header bolts has tightened up. Normally, these bolts are actually studs installed in the head with chrome cap nuts holding the header on. In the second Salton Sea race, one of the studs backed out. (but I finished the race!) I replaced it with a metric hex bolt.



That bolt is what has loosened up. In doing so, I think it's damaged the exhaust gasket. Luckily for me, I carry spare gaskets. Right now, I know what you're saying....a guy who won't carry a tent and a sleeping bag actually carries extra exhaust gaskets and a drop cloth to work on? Hey, what can I say.

I tightened the bolt as tight as I dare. I'd really hate to break the bolt off in the head and open THAT can of worms. Besides, I'd rather do the real work in Giddings where I have to remove the muffler anyway to get the rear tire replaced. I'm going to try to limp my way into Giddings where, hopefully, the relatives have some real tools and maybe a garage that I can work in.
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Old 04-04-2013, 04:54 PM   #44
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Good luck with the repair and thanks for the kool pics. I love the western scenery.
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:26 PM   #45
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TucsonSam, If you need to you are welcome to stop in San Antonio and I have tools and a shop space to work on the Helix.

There are Honda shops here as well. PM me for a phone # if you like. hotair/David E
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