Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26, 2010 – Day 21 Sunshine, Rain, and the Back roads to Miami

So far on this ride I’ve not been subjected to any really bad weather; unless you consider extreme heat as such. That may have come to an end as Tropical Storm Alex is currently the hot item on the Weather Channel. As of this writing he’s still thrashing around over land and slowing down a bit but that could all change in the next day or so. Today is Saturday and the weather folks are speculating he may turn nasty on Sunday – tomorrow - or maybe not until Monday. I can hardly wait…

Leaving the comfort of Comfort Inn I rolled out on highway 75 where I mixed it up with semi’s & hot shot morning commuters for an hour or so, then bailed off and hit the back roads again. It was going to be really hot today and blowing down the freeway getting bobbled around by semi-truck backwash isn’t my deal.

Lakeland was the general area where I exited and highway 37 took me south through places like Mulberry and Bradley. I followed it until it intersected with 62, then turned east to Fort Green Springs where I turned south again.

An odd sign in the Bradley area (I think) raised the question “Why did Doc Durrance close the road?” I pulled onto the road for a looksee but it just appeared to be a neighborhood road so I decided to move on. Maybe ol' Doc is deranged or something?

I rode for a long, long time along the old Fort Green Highway without any other traffic in sight. I like that a lot as I don't have to worry about stopping to shoot pics. I took a few of the roadside area in an attempt to illustrate the remoteness. There are a number of industrial sites along the highway that are mostly in the business of producing chemicals used in fertilizers. It's about as interesting as 1950's Soviet technology but that's all there is. Other than cows of course. 

At one point I spotted a huge bird’s nest on top of a utility pole and even from the road I could see there was a mother sitting on it. I pulled over and walked back to see if I could get in a quick shot before she flew off and suddenly there were 2 adults flying around while she stayed put. Maybe the one sitting in the nest was a near-mature chick? I couldn’t tell. The birds looked a bit hawk-like or maybe Ospreys but since I’m not a bird watcher I haven’t a clue. At least they didn’t try to peck me or carry me off.

Funny sounding signs continue to interest me as did one in the Vandolah area. The wording “no passage” isn’t regular English, at least as spoken by most Americans. Maybe it’s a regional thing? I gawked up the driveway to see if whatever was back there would be worth the risk of trespassing but couldn't see a thing. Best not to go poking around in cases like these; people who talk funny might not be agreeable to visitors.

Continuing south I entered the little town of Limestone; aptly named after one of the industrial products that keep folks in that area busy. One of the houses was sporting quite a lot of hanging tropical plants on the porch so I parked and took its picture. As I was doing so I noticed a tired looking chopper covered with dirt and grime lazing in the open garage.

Not wanting to trespass I tried to photo it from the road but couldn’t get much detail. As I was considering moving closer for a better shot I noticed an old geezer starting my way from further down the road. He had a determined look about him that meant if I hung around I’d have to spend half an hour explaining what I was doing so I mounted up and rode off. I watched him as long as I could make him out in the mirror and he never left the road. Town watch dog no doubt, or maybe the sheriff? A town that small might not have the resources to provide their lawman with a vehicle.

Arcadia was close by so I stopped to buy a bottle of water at the newly reopened Centex. They really have the right idea when it comes to selling water, it was so cold it was nearly frozen. I might have poured it over my head if no one were watching but then there would be all that explaining to deal with. Plus that guy from Limestone might get wind of it and then I'd probably get locked up for excessive gawking or taking pictures without a permit. The mind does wander, eh? Anyway judging from all the traffic going in and out of the store it’s going to do OK..

The ride from Arcadia south to Fort Meyers was pleasant enough but I’d noticed black clouds had begun to move into the area. Then my route took me back onto highway 75 and within minutes I could smell the rain coming. Not wanting to get caught in a sudden squall unprepared I pulled off and got into my new Frogg Toggs rain gear. It wasn’t a moment too soon, within a couple of miles it started in and soon grew into one of Florida’s infamous monsoon type rain storms. It actually got so bad I couldn’t see so I pulled over again, this time to change into my full-coverage helmet. With its Pinlock equipped visor there’s no fogging up and I could once again see so I moved back into the slow moving traffic.

The rain became an on-again off-again affair for the remainder of the afternoon; as soon as my windshield was dry it would start in again. As I was now able to see and ride in relative comfort I caught up with two chopper guys, neither with helmets, jackets, gloves, or windshields. I could see they were getting the hell beat out of them, even at the reduced speed of 40mph they were riding. It would have been easy to pass them but I didn’t want to show off and blow a lot of water on them and maybe get my skinny old butt stomped.

They looked miserable and as soon as I saw something that interested me; in this case the entrance to the Big Cypress Park, I pulled over for pictures. The rain had diminished a bit and they sped off, making so much racket I could hear them for a couple of miles. Man I’m glad I never got sucked into that macho silliness; riding in the rain getting the devil beat out of me. How much fun could that be?

Riding through the Big Cypress National Everglades Preserve seems like it takes a long time, especially if it’s raining. If there had been any motels along the way I’d have bagged one but there weren’t so I hung in there until I made it to the Comfort Suites in Miami. It’s always interesting to see what reaction the desk people will have when you come in wearing wet bike gear, shock, horror, wrinkling of the nose, maybe outright disgust. These guys were genuinely friendly though and soon had me settled into a nice suite. It’s quite a bit more expensive than my usual motorcycling fare allows but I was wet and tired and felt like treating myself to a special place.
Even Frogg Toggs couldn't keep all the water out.

They even suggested parking Green Girl right in front of the main entrance where she’d be relatively dry and they could keep an eye on her. How’s that for being pampered? A lot of hotels do that and I always appreciate it.

Once settled and changed into dry clothes I walked to the Barbeque place next door and stuffed myself with corn on the cob, garlic toast, pulled pork, fries, and coleslaw. The operative word in that last sentence is “stuffed”, I feel like the Goodyear Blimp!

Tomorrow’s ride should be simple; no planning necessary at all, just ride south and according to Garmin and Company in about 2 ½ hours I’ll run into Key West. Or the Gulf of Mexico.


  1. Fort Meyers, that is where most of the John D MacDonald books were written about, or where his guy lived that was his main character. you got your butt wet today! I hope that storm eases up and isn't too bad. Maybe you should stay put for a couple days. just check out the area there. Ae you getting these notes? I have no way of knowing. Later, The B

  2. Hi Betty,

    Yep I'm getting your notes, they're published in my blog so everyone who visits can see them. You can too, just click on the "Comments" at the end of each post. Be careful what you say gal...and thanks for visiting.