On Highway 40, off to the right as you head west toward Ocala, Florida, lies Street's Outpost. People bring their unwanted and their unloved there, parking them in the big, fenced yard. Street's sells on consignment. It's kind of like Craigslist, without the list. Near the fence is a nice 16-foot aluminum jon boat. Nearby, a sad yellow ATV sloughs its plastic bodywork, polymer by polymer. The inventory changes at a glacial pace, so Street's sells alligator meat as a sideline.
But Street's has something new today. I hit the brakes. Pipe wrenches, tool boxes and metal scrap slam into the cab of my pickup. It sounds like a recycling truck outside as I wheel around to take a look. Standing proud, unwilling to join the misfit toys in their despair: a sweet, red 2005 Kawasaki KLR250 dual-sport.
By a factor of 20, the KLR is the best damn thing inside the lot. Street sees me eyeing the bike, but keeps his cool. He stays inside his shady office, letting the line play out silently. Street's never had a bike this nice. Hell, I've never had a bike this nice!
There isn't often much new at Street's Outpost, but on this particular day the yard yielde
Street tells me the bike has a few scratches; that it's not perfect. I can't see scratch one, except near the kick-starter. Those little scuffs where your boot hits the side cover? They all do that. I don't think Street fully appreciates what a nice bike he has here.
I'm wrong: He's asking $2400. That does it for me. I'm back in the truck on my way to buy new stairs for the trailer. The drumbeat for new stairs got louder after my mother-in-law fell on the old, rickety ones. I don't need another motorcycle anyway. But I could ride across Canada on that KLR. It gets like 75 miles to a gallon. I could go anywhere on that motorcycle. I got like $1500 cash. I wonder if he'll go that low...
The stairs cost a pretty penny at $60. I even splurged an extra $20 for hand rails. I hate blowing that kind of money! I call Street and offer him $1500 cash. I can hear the hunger in his voice when he says he has to call the owner. I get in the truck with my neighbor John and start for Street's lot. I need to hear that motorcycle run.
The KLR starts so easily, I smash the top of my foot into the right-side peg. Kawasaki has put some kind of chick-friendly automatic decompression release on this model. Street tells me Robert, the owner, won't go lower than $2200. I take the KLR for a ride, six speeds all present and accounted for, liquid cooling with a cute electric fan on one side and plush, long-travel suspension. I ask John if he has any money. He does.
I offer $1700. Robert tells Street $1900. We get in the truck to leave. Leaning out the window, John asks if the owner will take a check. He will.
Robert pulls up in a gigantic 4x4 Toyota Tundra. He says that he may not want to sell the bike. Street looks ashen: $1900 has got to be like 10 full-grown adult gators.
Street and I are in uncharted waters, ethically adrift: We thought we had a deal. After an uncomfortable silence, the conversation turns to grotesque injuries. Robert is a nurse and describes the job he just came from: A kid fell down and all his lower teeth stuck through his chin. Picking up on the oral theme, John tells the story of the kid who cut his tongue off except for a tiny bit on the side. I'm getting queasy so I limp-start the KLR instead of passing out in front of everybody. The KLR putt-putts quietly between my legs. It's time. I tell Robert $1900 or I'm going back to the Keys without a bike.
Next time you're on Highway 40 between Ocala and Ormond Beach, pull over and buy some gator meat from Street. Check out the nice jon boat. But don't bother looking for the little red KLR. That motorcycle is no longer unwanted or unloved.