June 22, 2011
“Remember this day three months from now” says the little slip of paper. Okay, note to self, Sep. 22. This fortune cookie better have something good for me in September. I always want to eat a second one to get a better fortune or more winning lottery numbers but I think it might be like telling someone your wish, then it won’t come true.
Mileage before the trip.
Since most everything is already prepped, I didn’t have to do much today. Just going over some schedule stuff with my parents and showing them how to track me on their iPad using the Spot tracker. I went to bed around 1AM but ended up reading my book until almost 4. I was trying to finish the last of the Maarten Troost series before I left since I bought a few more books the other day. For someone that should be saving money to do a big trip, I’m sure not doing a good job. I can’t even keep track of how many books I’ve bought the last few months. Finally, I closed the book a couple chapters from the end and packed it on the bike to finish this weekend. Futurama went into the laptop and I drifted off to Fry on his Scootie Puff Junior battling the brains and hilariously misspelling reason(raisin) and greatest(greetest).
June 23, 2011 And away we go.....
Snooze…….one more snooze. Just one more, blah…. Okay, get up Daniel. Hopped in the shower and went downstairs and pushed the bike out of the basement. My parents decided to get up early to see me off so we had a quick photo session, then I picked a good song on the Zune and me and Jess were off. I immediately jump on I-75 south as I had planned to meet my cousin Angela in Gainesville, FL for lunch. I had chugged a Starbucks Cappuccino and it was finally starting to wake me up a bit. Couple of hours later, I stopped for gas in Tifton, GA and grabbed a Red Bull for further “caffination.” About 15 minutes down the road, I was bobbing my head to the music and laughing maniacally at finally departing for my trip after what seems like an eternity of planning and waiting.
My office for the next 4 months.
The first few hours in South Georgia were pretty non eventful, which is great if you ask me, I just needed to put on some miles. At the Florida border, I pulled off at the welcome center to grab a quick pic and then kept going. Just a couple miles down the road I hit my first rain storm, got soaked, then dry again in a matter of minutes. I got into Gainesville right about 1pm and met up with my cousin Angela at Daves Real Pit BBQ. The pork was excellent but the Mac and cheese was less than stellar. The corn nuggets Angela had were pretty good though.
A storm hit G-ville while we were eating and when we finished, it looked like it was letting up a bit so I started to gather my things and went outside just in time for the skies to open back up. So we hung out outside and waited for another lull, then I hugged Angela goodbye and got back on I-75. Angela, if your reading, it was awesome to see you and thank you again for lunch. Also, its not too late to join me! Haha. Maybe 15 minutes later, I started going through another storm but actually had to pull off this time, it was heavier and a lot larger than I expected. I waited it out at a gas station for 30 minutes, put on the rain gear then headed back south again. Of course, since I put on the rain gear, it stopped raining and hasn’t rained since. But I didn’t feel like stopping again to change, so I just endured the heat for a few hours until I got through the Ocala National Forest then changed in DeLand. After changing, I took the rain covers off the bags and noticed that both saddlebags are ripping already. Brand new bags, not even a full day on them and they are coming apart. Im getting sick of these saddlebags, second set to do the exact same thing. Im really not carrying that much weight, Ive actually carried more weight in them before with no problem. The only thing in common with these rips and the rips in the last set of bags was that they were wet. Not sure if it actually has anything to do with it or just a coincidence. The Velcro that holds the saddlebags to each other seems to loosen up placing all the weight on the bottom seam of the bag, so I pulled out some zipties and tried to take some weight off the bottom seam. This will work for now, but how long with it hold? I may need to consider just getting rid of the bags altogether which means losing the laptop, shoes and the cooking gear for camping. Not a happy camper right now.
Reservations for a campground were made at the Sebastian River Inlet off A1A and I finally pulled in at 8:30 after several stops to check the bags and re-hydrate. I was supposed to go by my aunt and uncles place in Sebastian but it got too late. Got registered then did a few laps around to find my site. As soon as I pulled the helmet and jacket off, I was instantly devoured by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes love me, a lot. I have about 8 bites on 3 square inches of skin, and that’s just one shoulder. I got bit in places I had no idea they could get to with clothes on. After I got my tent up, I went to the bridge and took a few pics. Then I decided I needed to swim in the ocean. So I went back to my tent, changed into swim trunks and sandals and squidded it to the beach on the other side of the bridge. First time I have ever ridden with no gear at all except for a helmet. It was strange, I felt naked.
After a quick night dip in the Atlantic, I came back and showered up, had dinner(can o clam chowder), then was dinner, and now Im sitting in my tent working on the blog wishing I had set up the tent facing the other direction to catch the breeze. I thought it might thunderstorm tonight so I actually staked it and now I regretting it. Come on, Rain!!! All my gear is in here too so it just seems like too much work and Im feeling really lazy after that cold swim and dinner. No 3G service tonight so I cant upload the blog but tomorrow the plan is to stay with Andy(FLARider1 on ADVRider.com) so I should be able to post it tomorrow night. Andy and his fiance have graciously offered me a bed tomorrow, then Saturday morning we will ride down to Key West together so I can hit my first corner and Andy can document the start of his Ironbutt from Key West to Prudhoe Bay.
Between the sounds of waves crashing on the beach, I can hear a mosquito buzzing around in my tent. I need to kill that thing before I wake up as one big itchy lump. Wish me luck…..back to Troost
June 24, 2011 Florida, the Sunshine State or random thunderstorm state?
So last night, I got maybe 3 hours of sleep. I camped at the Sebastian River Inlet because we spent a lot of time there when we lived in Sebastian. I have a lot of wonderful memories as a child fishing and watching my dad and uncles fish for crabs. Lots of late nights were spent there under the bridge. Last night however, was not as pleasant. Did I mention mosquitoes love me? The heat and humidity made it difficult to sleep. I sat up reading my booking whilst sweat was dripping onto the pages and I keep thinking “Why the hell am I camping in Florida in the summer?” I kept checking the Weather Channel on my phone. 12 AM 82 degrees F. 1 AM 80 degrees F. 2 AM, 79 degrees F. 3 AM, 78 degrees F. Come on 3 AM! Apparently, 79 degrees F is when I stop sweating profusely and just lightly coat my skin with perspiration. 6 AM rolls around and my alarm rings and I do my usual snooze, grunt something about what the hell was that, then roll back over. I wake up and get everything packed up and ready to go by 8AM dripping sweat and getting eaten by mosquitoes the whole time. One even bit me on the lip, I mean seriously, the lip? The worst part is, I get huge welts when they bite me, so it probably looked like I had herpes or something.
I cruise through the rest of A1A and hit 95. The whole time I’m thinking, how the hell are the ripped saddlebags supposed to last the rest of the weekend much less 4 months on the road. I start thinking “What the hell am I doing? This is the wrong bike for this trip.” I hated all the people with their fancy aluminum panniers and Givi hard cases. I wished them all misfortune. But, this is no time for malicious thoughts, I must remedy this issue. I pondered the problem while blasting down I-95 through random rainstorms. When I reached the Turnpike and Jupiter, I came up with an idea that might alleviate some weight off the saddlebags. Plugged fabrication into my GPS search and starting calling. At first, I was looking for a shop that would let me have somewhat free range over tools, welders, mills, lathes and that sort in exchange for an hourly rate. No luck, even after I told them my sob story. I guess I’ll just have to pony up the dollar bills and have someone do it for me. After 25 calls or so, I finally reach a place that can fit me in today. West Palm Machining and Welding. I head straight over and explain the situation. $150? Fine, starting cutting some metal and weld that shiza together.
Jorge is the man in charge of working on Jess. I, being the super mechanically anal retentive person that I am, immediately start giving directions and spouting off measurements, angles, weld placements and that sort. Jorge was super cool about it, I told him I do a little bit of fab work myself so I think he understood where I was coming from. I wanted to remove the passenger pegs and fab up a plate that would support the weight of the saddlebags to keep the same seam from tearing. After a couple of hours, a ready made tuna and crackers lunch and lots of patience watching someone else working on Jess and doing a job that I should be doing, she was finally ready to go. it’s a bit of a quickie hack job, but I think it will make the trip, only time will tell.
Zip ties can fix almost anything.
Say queso Jorge.
During the fab process, I talk to Elizabeth Kappes who is the Media Director of Project Lifesavers and the person responsible for making all of the media events happen and she explains the plan for the fundraiser Sunday and how I need to call into a radio show. What? Radio? No, Jorge, a little lower and place a bar here and weld this to that. Ummm…yeah, 10:15, Enforcers Motorcycle Club…. Okay….fundraiser at 3 pm…..yea Jorge, that looks perfect and lets weld a bar here to……..
I’m not good at public speaking. I’d rather write than speak anyday. But I’ll give it a whirl, I’m not scared to make an ass out of myself.
Back on the Turnpike, tolls suck by the way. More rain showers. I get to Miami, traffic is at a standstill on the turnpike and the clouds look dark so I exit. I hang out at a gas station for a while to see what the weather is going to do. A random person gassing up his SUV starts chatting me up and I give him my story and all that good stuff. He gives me some pointers about where to eat and hang out if I decide to wait out the storm, then he hands me his business card and says, “I know I’m a complete stranger, but seriously, if you don’t want to ride any further or you have a problem, call me. I’m close enough to come pick you up and you can wait out the storm at my place.” Creepy? Or genuine? I think genuine, it can be hard to tell with some people but my instincts rarely fail me and I believe this Troy was serious. I waited for a bit and then decided to hit the road through the storm anyways but using surface streets. I figured if Im gonna be stuck in traffic and being rained on, I might as well be in Miami checking out the sights and pretty ladies. After my left hand starting becoming numb from working the clutch lever in traffic, I make it to US1 and just couldn’t take it anymore. Back on the turnpike. No rain, no traffic, smooth sailing, until exit 2. Dark skies, wind and cool temps. Here we go again. I exit at 2 and pull into a Suntrust and got some cash out of the ATM in case I decided to make it to the Everglades. I noticed Andy(FLARider1) called so I rang him up. He met me at the Mickey Ds parking lot and we went back to his place. Parked the bikes, then gear explosion. Off went the rain gear, rain covers, bags, the whole kit. Met Andy’s fiancé Angie who is super cool and nice even though I probably triggered the gross factor in her olfactory glands due to my wet sweaty smell. I got a shower and decided to do a load of laundry. Its only been two days, but Ive gotten rained on both days so my jeans were getting pretty rank. We were getting ready to head out for dinner when I realized I couldn’t find my wallet. Crap. I remember having it when I met Andy after pulling cash out of the ATM. Tank bag? Nope. Rain jacket? Nope. Leather jacket? Nope. Jeans? They are in the washing machine, and apparently so was the wallet. Haha. Like Andy said, it wouldn’t be an adventure if something didn’t go wrong.
With the items in the wallet sitting out to dry, we left for dinner at a local seafood joint. Seared ahi tuna. Awesome. Makes my lunch taste like Play-doh. After the good eats, we head to Mutineers. Funny thing is, Ive been to this place a few times when I have raced at Homestead Speedway and Ive always avoided the bar because of the random karaoke nights. Turns out, Ive been avoiding Andy this whole time as he is a regular at the Mutineer, haha, small world. Couple of drinks later and a quick gameplan was made for the morning ride to Key West.
If any of you guys get an offer by Andy and Angie to meet and stay with them. DO IT. I’ve had a smile on my face since the minute I walked in. Awesome people, I can hardly believe the generosity that has been shown to me tonight. Thanks again Andy and Angie!
Dry, until the next big storm, or brain fart.
Dinner. Fresh tuna and Guiness.
Any's BMW towering over Jess.