Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25. 2010 – Day 20 Where exactly is Wesley Chapel, Florida?

My desire to ride the back roads wherever I go continues to take me to unexpected places where I meet some really interesting people.

After breakfast I departed Tallahassee in the warm sunshine heading south on highway 27. It’s a divided 4-lane highway that runs for miles without much to see and I soon began to question my choice of routing; the speeds on the highway were as fast as any expressway with lots of semi-trucks to blow you around.

It was nearly noon before I came upon anything I wanted to take pictures of which made me happy; I’d begun to wonder if today would be like yesterday.

Pulling up by a handmade sign advertising melons for two bucks I dismounted and approached the pickup full of melons. For a moment I thought maybe the guy was sleeping but before I got too close he’d popped up and was ready for the big sale.

 Pointing at Green Girl I explained I wouldn’t be buying any as I had no way to carry them but with his permission I’d like to take pictures of him and his melons. “Sure thing” he said and posed for me. His name is Bill and he told me he doesn’t grow the melons, he buys them and sells them alongside the road. I haven’t a clue what sort of income you can earn doing that but it's probably marginal.

Yesterday I read an article in the paper about this year’s bumper crop of melons and how it’s affected the market. There’s such a huge surplus the smaller growers are having to contract with brokers to find buyers whereas in regular years buyers would show up at their farms with trucks ready to negotiate right on the spot.

As I was departing a big Lincoln pulled up by Bill’s truck and he was onto a genuine sale. I liked that.

I stopped at McDonalds (where else?) for lunch and noticed as I was leaving it seemed a lot warmer out. A bank down the street had one of those Time/Temperature signs and it was already approaching 100. As warm as that sounds it didn’t seem to be affecting me as much so I didn’t put the vest on. Maybe I’m becoming acclimated to the higher temps?

I continued south and did a double take when I passed a motorcycle trike dealer alongside the road. Doubling back I pulled onto his lot and as there was no one around I started taking pictures. There were a lot of trikes, mostly Honda Goldwings and they were really expensive.

After I’d been there a bit the door to the office opened and J.R. Harris the owner popped out, big grin with a firm handshake.

Gawdamighty I thought, this guy is the archetypical salesman of all time, and I shot his picture. He liked the idea someone would take his photo, especially if that someone mentioned he’d be famous. I’ve used that line more than once lately and it seems to be pretty effective; maybe I’m on to something…

We talked trikes and sidecars for awhile, then some folks who’d apparently been in before showed up so I thanked him for showing me his stuff and said “I’ll be back for the white one later”. He grinned and waved and off I went.

I’d only gone a short distance when Henderson Lake showed up so I did another U-turn and headed back to a boat launch for photos. The lake is fairly large with nice homes around it, just the sort of place that would be neat to live in.

Across the road while turning around I’d noticed a clothes line behind a house sporting a line of quilts. They were all different colors and patterns and evidently drying in the warm sunshine. I have no idea what anyone would do with so many quilts, especially in such a warm climate but there they were. Go figure.

A few miles further on I came upon another trike outfit, this time it was a custom shop that did conversions. I talked to the gal who I think owns the business and she gave me the cook’s tour of their place. They’re a small shop but it looked like they turn out a pretty nice product and she seemed to have a lot of pride in what they were doing.

Besides their own trike conversions and used bikes they’ve also started handling a tilting-body scooter that’s made in China. I’d seen film clips on YouTube about them but this was the first live example I’d seen. When I asked about how sales for them were going she said they’d only been handling them for a year. They’re idea was to have a product that would appeal more to a younger market as trikes tend to be purchased by older folks. She was eyeballing me as she said that and I figured it might be a good time to make my exit so I did.

The next little town I stopped at was Floral City where they were having some sort of open-air market going on. I parked Green Girl in an empty service station lot across the street but no sooner had I dismounted when a gal came out of a store and yelled something at me while waving her arms.
I’m no dope or a trouble-maker so I remounted and rode around the block where I found another spot. This time no one seemed to care so I walked around and shot some pics of orchids for sale, then figuring I’d hit the high spots I left.

My route continued to take me on a seemingly random collection of quiet scenic back roads, many of them past some really upscale ranches and horse farms. Culbreath road was especially inviting.

When I drew nearer to Tampa I queried Garmin & Co for motel locations and selected one. It was in Tampa but before I got to it I spotted a Comfort Inn, still located out of town a ways. They had a room on the ground floor just for me and breakfast is served between 6:00am – 9:00am, thank you very much.

The day manager reminded me of the guy I had the day before yesterday – ha ha ha – so we got along just fine. The coffee service in my room was incomplete, as in no pot and no coffee, just the shell of the coffee maker and an empty basket where the goodies are supposed to go. Not that it’s a big deal but I like having coffee in my room in the morning and since this place was supposed to be a click above Motel 6 I hoofed it back to the office and crabbed.

At first he gave me the song & dance show about they're contracting with a new vendor but not having reached an agreement yet so no coffee in the rooms. “But we have coffee in the lobby all the time, you see?” he said. “Nope, I don’t see, that’s Motel 6’s way of doing things and they charge a lot less for their rooms.” I’m intimidating sometimes I think and he disappeared into the back and within a few seconds reappeared with a full coffee service, all smiles and bobbing. What is it with the bobbing thing? Anyway I had my coffee and that’s what counted. I thanked him and almost caught myself bobbing back at him.

Dinner? Ah yes, it was great, the place was next door and called the Cracker Barrel Barn or something like that. Sadly I forgot my camera so no magnificent photos of fried catfish & coleslaw & mashed potatoes with homemade gravy. And biscuits, don’t forget about the homemade biscuits. Mmmm….


  1. Excellent read and pics Larry! Must find time to read your state by state tour! Very cool. Sorry I missed you. I took mother to doctor today, would have been great to meet you and have you say, Hi to MySky!
    BTW....I know the trike shop and I hear the food is great at "Cracker Barrel!" Ride safe....write on! Love Green!