North American Journey on a Vespa GTS 300

July 1, 2009
Courtesy of Vespa
The latest GTS also incorporates the rigid Vespa-trademark sheetmetal frame.
Photographer Clay Enos will take a coast to coast backroads journey on a Vespa GTS 300 Super to reveal the benefits and beauty of life – and food – in the local lane while riding a scooter.

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Life certainly is a highway, as Tom Cochrane reminded us with his 1991 hit song. But that highway sometimes gets our wheels spinning way too fast, a fact that New York-based photographer Clay Enos aims to change with a 4,500 mile journey in the local lane. Starting July 2, Enos will savor the diverse sights and flavors of America’s backroads on a black Vespa GTS 300 Super while he searches out and documents the country’s most dedicated local food growers and producers. While his usual subjects range from celebrities like Kid Rock and Ludacris to block-buster movies like the recent Zack Snyder film Watchmen, Enos also takes it to the streets with his innovative Streetstudio project that documents the local personalities that shape a community’s character. It’s this joy of authentic discovery that sets the tone for Enos’ Local Time Vespa Tour.

“In a culture awash in homogenized experiences that can’t seem to happen fast enough, this trip aspires to have a quieter, more considered tone,” says Clay Enos. “I can’t predict what I’ll see or who I’ll meet along the way but the hope is I’ll be able to engage folks whose voices are as distinct and original as the American landscape. With my skills as a professional photographer, I also hope to honor them through portraiture.” Enos, an ardent supporter of the health and economic benefits of local food production, also considers the trip an “open source” archive of images and words he is sharing with consumers, media and anyone who wants to learn more about these authentically American resources.

Armed only with his Nikon, Vespa, Apple iPhone and time, Enos starts his journey on July 2 in Manhattan, appropriately enough at The City Bakery, a city institution that uses locally produced ingredients. By the time he reaches Vancouver, British Columbia, he’ll have covered over 4,500 miles, averaging a self-imposed limit of 150 miles per day and documented a wealth of new experiences and discoveries along the way. He’ll also share his master photography skills at select Apple stores en route with tomorrow’s generation of visual historians – and he’ll visit Vespa retailer, such as Chicago Motoworks and Vespa Seattle to reveal what he’s discovered along his riding route.

The idea for the trip came to Enos while he was planning his next major photography assignment, a location shoot of an upcoming Zack’ Snyder film in Vancouver, British Columbia. Enos, who lives in Manhattan, wondered what it would be like to take a month or so off to “see a little bit of America and do it slowly, interstate-free, on a Vespa scooter.” He researched several other cross-country scooter trips and, rather than follow existing routes or attempt to break time records, decided to simply point his Vespa west, inspired by William Least Heat-Moon’s road trip classic Blue Highways. And, he also decided to exclusively eat locally and sustainably along the way, using free online resources such as the Eat Well Guide.

“Whether you’re exploring backroads or burroughs, there’s no better way to discover new experiences and friends than onboard a Vespa scooter,” said Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas, Inc. “Vespas have always been the scooter of choice for people who value fun and adventure and who relish the thought of changing the world one mile at a time – especially when the cost of change is just pennies per mile.”

To learn more about Clay Enos, his Vespa GTS 300 Super and his journey, visit for daily update on Clay’s adventures. Also follow Clay on Twitter @clayenos and check out the GPS Tracker, trip slideshows and other images on Flickr.