Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27, 2010 – Day 22 What, Key West & no hurricane?

I had a lazy guiltless start this morning as the ride to Key West would be short, less than 200 miles. In spite of what the weather ghouls have been saying it wasn’t raining; the sun was out in full force and it felt like an oven. Breakfast was provided by the hotel so I consumed my daily quota of cholesterol plus a slice of faux ham and a couple of sweet rolls. I’ve noticed my feet are getting harder to see while I’m standing so maybe it’s time to Velcro my lips shut again…or staples, that might be better.

I followed Garmin & Company’s directions to I-70 and south although it was unnecessary; there was but one way to get to Key West. For those of us not in the dope smuggling business that is, for others there is always another way.

I’d been avoiding the toll roads as I hate fumbling with change and always seem to hold everyone up. Today I couldn’t get around them so the first one I came to I pulled over and fished out 4 quarters that I’d squirreled away earlier. Then not much further on down the road I came to a second one which caught me by surprise as it hadn’t been that far from the first one. This time I pulled over to the side of the road and got a dollar bill out, holding it between two fingers on my left hand. It was clumsy as heck but I wasn’t going to hold it between my teeth, no telling where that buck had been.

Rolling into the pay booth the first thing that happened was when I put my right foot down the pavement was solid grease and I had to jiggle things to keep Green Girl upright. Naturally the first thing I did was get a better grip on the left handle bar which resulted in dropping the buck. At least it didn’t blow away; instead it landed between me and the toll booth. The trick then was to bend over nearly double and retrieve it all the while dealing with the slippery road surface and keeping Green Girl balanced. At the same time I was muttering about how I’d just paid and it seemed like a heck of a short ride between the two toll areas.

The toll-collector lady said something that sounded like “I like your style” and smiled at me. “Sorry for the hold up” I said. “That’s OK, have a really nice day” she said as I rode off into the sunset. Well, not exactly the sunset and my exit may have been just a bit befuddled looking due to the greasy road surface. Hey, at least I didn't fall over.
The ride along I-70 wasn’t all that long as it soon turned into US-1 and ran the rest of the way to Key West. It never fails on these long rides; I always develop a completely unfounded concern about something and this time it was whether I’d find gas available on the last 100 miles. I can hear all the Florida guys yukking it up over that one but my research and planning usually consists of “which way is it?” and “are there bears?” Fuel stops in most places are a given but along endless bridges in remote parts of Florida it seemed like it might be a bit iffy.

Green Girl has been getting between 43 and 51 mpg, depending on how hard I was thrashing her so with her fuel tank capacity of a bit over 5 gallons I knew I’d be safe. Still I don’t like to take unnecessary risks as pushing a fat bike down the road isn’t my cup of tea.

What a laugh, there must be 50 gas stations between Miami and Key West and they were all open on Sunday. Greedy buggers. Anyway I didn’t even come close to needing to fuel up. Duh…

It does take awhile to get there though, as the posted speed limits are set at 45 mph for mile after mile which really makes for a relaxed ride. I’d been advised to stay right at or slightly under the limits by a number of guys on the Modern Vespa Forum so I did. (You remember Red Dog Scooter by chance?) It was solid advice, the Florida cops run in wolf packs of 3 or 4 and dole out tickets on a mass-scale; it’s like a slaughter house for them and the suckers just keep coming. I’ll bet their operation budget’s in a lot better shape than the one we have.

The further south I got the more it reminded me of the Caribbean islands I’d been to; the houses and buildings took on a more casual design and the boat yards began to look more disheveled. I mean that in a nice way, I happen to like it. At one time in my life I used to spend several weeks a year in the Caribbean and for awhile I seriously considered moving to St Johns in the USVI. It never came to pass though, business got too busy and time just passed away. I still think about it once in awhile and it might yet happen.

I stopped for pics at a few places but the ones I wanted to shoot the most were from the bridges and that’s a very big no-no on most of them. If you can find a legal place to park and you’re up to walking back in the heat you could probably get by but I was too darn lazy.

The rain finally arrived about mid-way and I knuckled under and got into the Frogg Toggs to avoid getting soaked. It was hot as hell in them and I noticed within a couple of miles I was the only one wearing any rain gear; everyone else was wearing T-shirts & shorts, business as usual. Figuring I’d as soon not get heat stroke I pulled over and stuffed it all back in the saddle bags. The change was wonderful, and later on when it started raining again I did like the locals, business as usual. 
I arrived in Key West in early afternoon and although I’d initially figured I’d take a quick look around and head back to Miami I changed my mind. Tropical Storm Alex hasn't arrive yet although it's a bit breezy so maybe he'll drop in later on this week after I've moved on.

The town is busy as all get out, lots of traffic and a gazillion rental motor scooters running all over the place. For some reason I thought it was going to be a lot smaller than it is but this is a fairly substantial city, not at all what I expected.

Finding a hotel with vacancies on a Sunday was pretty easy so I opted for the Comfort Inn located on the main drag by the bay.

It wasn’t a pricey as yesterday’s place but it’s not nearly as nice either so it’s a wash. I guess it was a Radisson’s facility in another life as they advertise it on their reader board out front. Those days are long-gone people; the current operators have a slightly different take on what constitutes quality compared to Radissons. It’s OK but I’d say more on a par with Motel 6’s nicer places. They have a Denny’s restaurant in one end though, so if you’re idea of road food includes them then it’s a plus. I’m OK with that but I wish the ice machine wasn’t on the 3rd freaking floor.

The room they gave me is located in the back of the hotel and has a small fenced off lanai area where I was able to park Green Girl. I didn’t actually ask anyone, I just did it as I knew they'd be happy to accomodate me.

So now the daily laundry is done and I’ve been to Albertsons where I bought some laundry soap & a half gallon of tea and I’m settled in nice and early tonight. I had a late lunch at Denny's - salad & iced tea -  so dinner will be in my room, a fat Cuban sandwich that I picked up at Alertsons.

Post Script: As I was leaving Albertson’s parking lot I heard a rooster crowing right next to me. Unable to resist a look I parked and grabbed my camera to see if I could find him. Now mind you, this was in a huge parking lot in a very busy area and there was a small hedge separating it from another one. He continued to crow as I walked back and there he was, strutting his stuff all poofed up and full of himself. I got off a few shots and he didn’t seem to mind me so he probably lives there. You just never know who you’ll meet in an Albertson’s parking lot, eh?

Tomorrow I’ll do a bit of exploring around the old city and see what I can dig up. Right now I can hear the wind kicking up so I brought my laundry inside. I thought I'd see what the weather channel has to say but the signal just went dead so I'll try to post this before the Internet goes down. 

Toodle doo...

1 comment:

  1. Yeah there are hens and roosters all over key west. If you eat dinner in town check out Alice's Key West Restaurant if you are in the mood for some great meatloaf...i know it sounds funny but she, Alice, makes the best meatloaf I have ever eaten. Also on stock island there is the Hogfish Bar and Grill. They used to have great grouper. Also on stock island is a mexican place called Chico's Cantina and they really do the best mexican food in key west. On your way out if you are in Marathon for lunch check out Burdines. A lot of the locals eat there so you know it is good. Great fish sandwiches. You may have to stop in marathon to get directions to it though...a little off the road at MM 47.5. Wait why do I know all the food places? LOL Anyway, hope you enjoy yourself down there and let me know your route and about when you will be coming this way. I am near Palatka, FL. Ride safe.