Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
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Fourteenth Annual Coon Bottom Campout

For the past several years I have gone to the campground and set up camp a week early. There are two reasons for this. One, to get a camping spot on high ground and the other, to haul other campers gear, before the scheduled event. This year being no exception, I went to the border of Florida and Georgia directly north of Tallahassee, to set up camp in the same area as prior rallies. It was fortunate I went early because by the time I had sectioned off our GUZZI AREA and taken a break, ten other campers had arrived with the same idea. This was an increase, ten-fold , compared to previous years! Mostly BMW people and one Harley rider. From the looks of this it was going to be a big year at the "14th Annual Coon Bottom!"

After that I spent the next five days fishing for mullet (note: Mullet is best eaten if never frozen, and the fresher it is the better it tastes. Additionally, the Red Roe and White Roe species of this fish are highly prized for their $25 per lb. value).

We departed the balmy Panhandle Gulf Coast Friday morning. The forecast called for mostly the same for the remainder of the weekend but we were heading north into the higher hills near the Georgia border, so we could look for cooler temperatures.

This year we had only three motorcycles for our ride to Coon Bottom. MGNOC member, Paul Bohac, my brother and sister-in-law on a GW, and me on the old ELDO (200,000+ miles). My wife, Joanne, was in trail, driving the pickup along with the fish, cookers, extra ice and necessities for the Friday evening cookout. The day was perfect for riding and the traffic was light to nonexistent. We made excellent time and were at the campground by 1:00 P.M.

The campground had drastically changed from that of five days before. Nearly 100 tents were up and more riders kept arriving by the hour; that's double last year's figure.

The first thing I did was get out the Italian Flag and run the it 30 feet up a tree near our GUZZI area. There were six Guzzis there by the time we arrived! After we finished with our greetings and hugs, Joanne, Martha and I started setting up the "fish cook area" and getting ready to prepare the evening meal. From around 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. these two ladies cooked and served fish and hush puppies to over 150 hungry motorcycle campers. Let me say, there were no leftovers and the compliments went on for the next two days. We love to do this, and it has turned into a big deal. I think the BMW air heads are a little jealous of the class act that we Guzzi people perform!

Campfire chatter went on all night long, but not to the point that sleep was interrupted. Saturday morning was cool and every camp site had a different breakfast specialty going. It's unbelievable what people haul to a camp ground that is primitive in nature? They need to read Dave Barr's "Riding the Edge" to see what camping is all about.

For those not familiar with "Coon Bottom,", let me explain a little. The camp site is located on private property and it is for bikes only. No four wheeled vehicles are allowed on the camp ground property after 1:00 P.M. Friday. The camp out/rally is always the weekend prior to Thanksgiving.

There is water, out houses and one hot shower - no electricity, no tables, just a lot of open trails winding through hardwood and pine forest. The campground trails are lit at night with candles on bamboo sticks, and a hardwood fire in the central camp area throws sufficient light to illuminate most of the camping areas. BMWOA originally started the event 14 years ago and GUZZI people joined in after the first year. We have slowly gained MGNOC members and GUZZI Riders from all over. This year we had 17 Guzzis. That is an increase of three over the '98 camp out. Two Guzzi dealers were represented: Stan's of Gainsville, Florida (Stan rode a BMW this year because he sold all his Guzzis at the Florida MGNOC Rally.), and Todd Ross from Lightning Moto Sport, Inc. of Pt. St. Lucie, Florida. Todd rode a Guzzi to the rally! What would you expect from a "World Record Holder"? (See December MGNOC News, page 25 for his achievements.)

I had the oldest Guzzi (the only Eldorado) and won "Best Moto Guzzi" award this year. The others were all new frame models which covered all the newer new models so these were well represented.

There is another award I received and it's worth mentioning. College professor, Pete Kerwin, must be congratulated on his originality for this idea. They found a book by Douglas Adams titled, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. This was given to me just before I left for home. You have to appreciate the wit and humor here ! I surely did.

Saturday was another good day to ride. Just about everyone went for rides in the sparsely populated areas in southern Georgia . Country roads abound and the scenery this time of the year is always impressive. The pecan trees are loosing their leaves and the leaves on the hardwood trees are changing to beautiful fall hues. It was so enjoyable that one hates to see the sun set on a day like this. All good things eventually end, but this day was not over yet. A large group went to Quincy, Florida that evening, riding under a full moon with the temperature near 40 degrees (That's cold for us Floridians). There we had a sumptuous feast at the famous Nicholson's Farm House Restaurant. This is a must for those of you traveling through this part of North Florida. Call in advance and make reservations!

I failed to get the total number in attendance but did count the tents, and on Sunday morn I came up with 150 tents or tarps and/or shelters in the camp area. Some had gone far back into the woods to enjoy their privacy, and that's good for next year as it opens up more area for camping and saves work for those who do the preliminary set-up. For some unexplained reason this year's crowd, despite its large size, was very quiet and orderly. I guess we are all getting mellower in our maturity. As I said earlier, MGNOC was well represented. There was one member from Tennessee and another from north Georgia. Sorry I failed to get names, but thanks for coming down and joining us. Please do it again next year.

Weather was very cooperative and all the various machines left on their own accord. Some of the more interesting machines this year included one of those Ural sidecar affairs that looks like it should be on a farm some where pulling a disc. There was a rare 750 Honda-matic that a young lass found in a trash pile. Her husband cleaned it up and got it to run after soaking it in liquid wrench for a month. Really ugly, but it got there from 100 miles away and I guess it made it home too. The Queen was represented with three Bonnevilles that looked as if they'd been around the world at least twice. A pair of Ducatis showed, and an interesting BMW racer with $600 tires. That is, $600 each tire. You could not cut them or put an ice pick in them. The owner was actually letting people try to do that! Strange---

Lastly, let me throw in a thanks to owner , Dennis Williams, for hosting this annual event, and to the Poverty Riders of the Big Bend Area for all the work they do in putting on this FREE rally each year. It's always great to see FSU and Gator professors argue over the annual game that takes place on this weekend. We have a mix of retired, old and young who attend and it's always nice to see the big camp fire with lots of quality conversing going on. If you are interested in attending next year's rally, either contact me or talk with me at White Springs Guzzi Rally in October 2000.

Woody, Todd Posey and Paul Bohac - all Florida MGNOC members.

Jackal from Pt. St. Lucie

Jim and Joanne cooking fish

Clean SP1000

Guzzi Camp Area

Character on a Guzzi wannabe

MGNOC member Mitch doing his thing