#59 Off to the Keys!

Key West Trip
March 18-25, 2007
Day 1
594 miles

The warming weather was making us antsy for a roadtrip. So we made plans to head south and enjoy some true "spring break" weather. But just as the time came to get on the road, the weather flip- flopped on us. The temperature dropped and the snow fell. So instead of leaving Saturday, we decided we'd wait until Sunday to get on the road. But then we had a dusting of snow again Saturday night and it was 28 degrees when we woke up on Sunday. Well we certainly can't put this off again so we waited until it warmed up to 33 degrees before we left at 10am. The sun was out...how bad could it be? Besides we'll be going south where it's warmer right?!

Loaded up and ready to go...

We decided to take I95 thinking the freeway would be the faster way to get south where warmer temps await us. But the freeway comes with its own challenges...
We had to avoid the big chunks of ice on the road - some as big as a boot box. The large semi tractor trailer rigs coming from the north were dropping the huge chunks of ice as they traveled southward along with us. When the ice would hit the pavement, it would sometimes shatter into smaller hand-sized chunks and scatter all over the road. This made for somewhat of an obstacle course at times.

When we crossed into North Carolina, the temperature has warmed up to 40 degrees. But by then we were so cold, it would take a lot more warming than that to make a big difference. The warmer weather did make a difference to the tractor trailer rigs with ice though. Now the ice was melting from the top of the trailers and spraying like rain to the next half dozen vehicles or so behind them. So now we have visibility issues with the fear that the melting might release another chunk of ice and send it our way. And when we cleared the big truck's spray, the cars in front of us would wash their windshield ... well you know where the excess water went don't you?! Flew right over their rooftops and into us. You might want to notice if there is a motorcycle behind you the next time you need to spray washer fluid for your windshield.

It was 54 degrees crossing into South Carolina. Getting better, but then it starts getting late in the day and we start losing the all important sun! By the time we reached Brunswick, GA at 9pm, it was back down to 46 degrees and darn cold on a motorcycle riding down the freeway...even if we were almost 600 miles further south than where we started that morning!

Sorry there's not many pictures from the first day on the road, but I think you see the challenge of operating the bike with both hands on the handle bars and concentrating on the road ahead. Also, I didn't want to risk handling my camera with thick gloved hands that were half frozen. Probably didn't have the best dexterity during this ride. And let me tell you of a unique sensation... I decided to have grip warmers added to Fleeter after getting caught in the cold weather and snow in Tennessee last October. Well they help, but it's not like you have nice toasty warm hands! It is a strange feeling to have hot palms and icy cold outer fingers! It helps because you get enough heat to the inside of your fingers to know that you can still feel them...and how cold they are. As for the rest of you...You get all bundled up where movement is difficult and you don't move while you ride down the road for fear of opening up a space where the cold wind can get in. Therefore, my joints start hurting because they are cold and I'm riding down the freeway at 70-80mph scared to move them around and letting the cold in. So now we are cold and stiff. Needless to say the last 100 miles of the day was not an enjoyable experience. By then I was just cold stiff and achy!

First day: 594 miles in 11 hours (The stops came frequently and lasted long enough to get warm - which took awhile.) Night in Brunswick, GA.

Day 2
472 miles

The next day we were on the road at 9am under a sunny sky at 43 degrees.

We made it to the Florida state line shortly before 10am. It had warmed up to 48 degrees, which is still colder than one would hope for when on a spring break motorcycle trip to Florida. But at least Florida provided the sunshine that it is known for. Which wouldn't be the case in a few days!About 11am we made a gas stop at a Stucky's near St Augustine. Here we started peeling off the winter gear and donning summer time mesh gear!

We made a fuel and lunch stop in Melbourne and shortly after when we made it to the latitude shared with Tampa, I waved to the west and yelled "Hello Oliver!" (A cousin and loyal Fleeter Log reader.) By 4:30pm it was 73 degrees and warm enough to enjoy an ice cream from McDonalds in Lantana, FL. We were NOT entering Miami traffic at the best of day and needed something to give us a boost!

Miami is NOT a place you want to be on a motorcycle during 5:30-6:30pm traffic...if there ever is a time you would want to be in Miami on a motorcycle. We survived, but it wasn't something we would want to rush out and do again. Besides having your basic inconsiderate, self-absorbed drivers, the motorists for the most part weren't doing motorcyclists any favors. There was even one guy in a full-sized Ford Explorer that decided the lane I was in was big enough for both of us, so he proceeded to join me, not giving me but maybe a foot clearance as he zoomed through. Lucky I stayed where I was and didn't decide to change positions within my lane because he sure didn't give me any clue he was coming through! While I was then following behind him in the "speed up-slow down " traffic, I noticed he didn't have working brake lights either. He was lucky not to get rear-ended as he ran up on people and slammed on his brakes. But believe me when I tell you, I would have been the first to stop and give witness for the person who hit him if it had happened! That kind of behavior...And he had a couple kids in the vehicle with him!

By the time we got through Miami, past Homestead and to Key Largo, it was 72 degrees, dark and 8pm. But we were now officially in The Keys!

Here we are at the newly renovated Doubletree Resort at Key Largo.

Day 2: 472 miles in 11 hours

(A lot of time wasted in Miami traffic! Next time we take the turnpike!)

Night in Key Largo, FL

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