By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer
Meet the Brunsons. Bobby and Kathie.
If you don’t know them, chances are you’ve probably seen them cruising around town on their little red and white Metropolitan Honda motor scooters.
With gas at a record $3.35 a gallon now, the Brunsons’ gas-guzzling 1999 Ford F-150 quadcab truck and four-door Ford Focus are spending more time parked under the carport. When the husband and wife team head to work at the Eastern New Mexico University campus, where they are both employed, and even when they go to Wal-Mart, they put on their helmets and motorscoot across town.
The Brunsons estimate they are saving about $100 in gas a month.
“We bought these scooters in 2005, when gas got up to $2.75 a gallon,” said Bobby, the textbook manager at ENMU’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore. “My thought was ‘It’s highway robbery to put that much gas into my truck!’” He estimates that it cost about $100 just to fill up his truck one time.
“The situation has to be pretty dire now for us to use the pickup truck,” said Kathie, the senior secretary for the College of Business at ENMU.
She also moonlights on the weekend at Movie Gallery.
They purchased their scooters from Desert Honda in Clovis for $2,000 apiece. According to Bobby, the Metropolitan Hondas hold 1.3 gallons of gas and they get about 100 miles out of a gas tank.
He said it only cost him $7.70 to filled up the tanks of both scooters last week. For what it costs to put one gallon of gas in a car, he can fill up his entire scooter tank and a tankful of gas normally lasts him and his wife about two weeks, getting them from paycheck to paycheck.
“My scooter has 4,800 miles,” Bobby said. “That’s 4,800 miles not on this red monster truck.” Bobby estimates that his Ford F-150 gets about 12 miles per gallon.
When the weather is good, the Brunsons ride their scooters to work everyday, with Bobby riding more often than Kathie. Nevertheless, even after a small accident left Kathie bruised, she is riding again.
“It was getting dark and I was turning on the road in front of McCarty’s Restaurant in the gravel when my wheels slid,” Kathie explained. “It just makes me a little more cautious when turning corners,” she said.
The Brunsons both said they have been surprised about how courteous Portales drivers have been. For example, Kathie pointed out that many drivers are cautious not to splash them. It also helps that the scooters are made so they push water away from the scooter.
Kathie said, “The other day during the waterline break, my boss was riding in his car behind me and he was shocked that I did not get wet.”
The scooters only go up to 35 miles per hour. Brunson said the idea is to keep up with traffic.
“You learn to anticipate other drivers’ movements. My biggest fear is teenage drivers on cell phones,” Bobby said.
The Brunsons said drivers are not only courteous, but inquisitive about their bright red motor scooters.
“It’s funny, because when I come to stop signs or go through the bank drive-through, drivers will roll down their windows and ask me how much I paid for the scooter,” said Kathie, adding, “Ladies can wear dresses on these scooters because they have no bars in the middle. I’ve ridden my scooter to church in my skirt.”
As for Bobby, he said he’s ridden his scooter in 23-degree weather. He refuses, however, to ride in snow due to obvious safety reasons.
The Brunsons often make small shopping trips to Wal-Mart on their scooters. Kathie has a homemade trunk in back of her scooter which holds a gallon of milk and bread, and the inside of the scooters have hooks to hold shopping bags.
“We can ride for hours,” Kathie said.
“We’ve ridden out on the Bethel Highway by Floyd,” added Bobby, who said they will not take them out on the main highways due to their limited speed.
The Brunsons, have been married for 22 years and have three children as well as three grandchildren. Kathie said she and Bobby also enjoy riding around on their scooters just for fun and have come up with their own hand signals to communicate with each other on the road.
She also commented, “When we first got our scooters, Bobby started calling me ‘Scooter Babe.’”