4/19/16 Key West Florida. Mary and I lived in Key West in the late 60’s and it was always a topic of conversation about a return trip. Well we never made it, Cancer took Mary about 1 1/2 years ago and I think my trip this time on the motorcycle was a chance to look back at a wonderful time in our lives and to relive some of the past memories. Well I was disappointed in what I saw. Key West now has a lot more people, the large high end stores have taken over and there are very few of the old Hippie style businesses I remember from a long time ago. I guess that is progress and growth, I am sure every town wants to grow but with limited space on Key West the growth has taken a tole on ones ability to enjoy the island.
Parking was at a premium and being on the motorcycle made it easy to find a place to park. Talking with the locals they tell me that people are having to move further north up the keys to find affordable housing. I guess some 45 years makes a difference.
4/20/16 Headed north and stopped at Baby’s coffee for a little pick me up to get me charged for a long ride up the east coast of Florida. Traveled 450 miles to just north of Daytona.
4/18/16 Left Fort Myers area and headed south, stayed on I75 for a while then switched off to 41 again and followed that through the Everglades to 997 then south to Rt.1 and the Keys. 300 miles today and arrived in Key West. Route 1 was not too busy and the 7 mile bridge was fun. You could see the old bridge that Mary and I traveled on years ago and parts of it were blown up for a movie. The next day I went to the American Legion Post and exchanged a license plate from my local Post with them. The plate was hung at the next Legion Riders meeting at Post 104 in Sevierville.
4/19/16 Spent the day riding around Key West and visited a coffee shop. I will explain the need for coffee shop visits in a later post.
4/15/16 Met a friendly Honda rider at the hotel at breakfast and he suggested I travel south on 41 From Gainesville to Tampa. I did not want to travel the interstate so I headed out in search of route 41. It was a beautiful two lane road with little traffic but as I figured it was as straight as an arrow. A bit boring but lots of cute little towns to pass through, lots of farms and gas stations so all was good.
Got on I75 through Tampa and ran into more rain. Stopped at the rest area before the big Sunshine Skyway bridge in Tampa. I saw three bikes with TN plates and discovered they were from Oak Ridge TN and were on their way to Key West to camp for a week.
The rest of the day was spent riding to Cape Coral to visit with my sister and brother in-Law. I spend a couple of days with them and visited the Edison-Ford Museum in Fort Myers. The museum was really interesting and I did not know that Edison was so into Botany. I also had some Skyline Chili for dinner one night, that was a nice treat since I had not had any in quite some time. Had a great time visiting with the family.
4/14/16 Left the Atlanta area and headed south towards Florida. I made it to Gainesville FL about 360 miles from the Atlanta area, not much to report here the roads are straight and boring. I stopped at an American Legion Post 58 Wall-Rivers but they were not open they were just getting ready for a yard sale. Continued south on 441 towards Florida. Now with roads as straight as an arrow, olive farms and absolutely no traffic I can honestly say that I did the TON, just for a few seconds but the 650 Kawasaki Versys will do it. I immediately slowed down thinking if I ran off the road no one except the alligators would find me. By the time I got to Gainesville it was raining again and quite windy. The welcome to Florida sign lied to me, there was no sunshine. Ordered a Pizza and stayed in the room getting to bed early.
April 12, 2016 I loaded my Kawasaki Versys with two weeks of gear and headed south through the Great Smoky Mountains National park. The weather was cool, foggy and some light rain. As I progressed up the mountain to Newfound Gap naturally the weather got worse and by the time I got to the top of the mountain the fog was so thick you could hardly see. A tour bus had stopped and the folks had trouble finding the restrooms in all the fog. Me and a tour bus were the only ones there.
Leaving Newfound Gap the weather cleared and the ride to Cherokee was smooth and uneventful.
The rest of the trip down 441 through GA to my brothers house in Grayson GA was smooth sailing. No more rain and little traffic.
While in the Atlanta area we went to Ham Radio Outlet a national chain of Ham radio stores and to Blue Moon Cycles. Blue Moon is a BMW dealer but they sell Ural Motorcycles and it is a dream of mine to own one of these bikes some day. The Ural comes with a side car and resembles an old BMW. That way I could ride my Grandchildren and their dogs around in the side car.
This is my first attempt at a blog post, if you like what I have shared and want to know a little about me visit the page often. The plan is to record my travels to various coffee shops and to record my motorcycle travels as well as progress on some motorcycle related projects.