Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Key West is a fun place.

I woke up at 7 ish to the sounds of Jason yelling at Boris the dog to get out inside or outside or God knows what.   His daughter Ava was getting ready for summer camp and was trying to figure out what to wear.  They were going back and forth about it like she was getting ready for a job interview, I dont know where she goes to summer camp but it sounds like they had an important day on the books.
I cant remember exactly what was going on.  It was way too early and I was half asleep on a small couch in their living room.  It takes me a few minutes and a cup of coffee to engage my brain most days.  I probably have the same IQ as shoelace until I get that cup of coffee.  The good news for the day is that my buddy Adam and Jason decided that they wanted to come with me down to the Keys.  Both of them have full time jobs and both of them had important things to do at work that day and the next.  The adventure I was on seemed to be more important to each of them then whatever needed to be done at the USCG Center of Expertise (Jason's job) or the largest jet fuel and gasoline tank farm (Adam's Job) in Florida.  I sure as hell wasn't going to argue with them as they were calling in excuses.   Jason actually went in to work and then decided that there was no place he'd rather be then feeding me booze the night before my trip starts sabotaging me from the get go.  He promptly left the office and came back to the house before I was able to get myself on the bike.

I got myself and the bike packed up and just as I'm pulling out of the driveway it starts raining.  Not cool at all.  Adam and Jason were sitting comfortably in a truck with a cooler full of goodies and enough candy snacks to choke a buffalo and I was completely soaked within the first 15 minutes of the 4hr ride to the keys.
Soaked while they enjoy AC and beverages

We made good time thru the rains.  It was after the morning rush hour and after we got out south of Miami I was really able to twist the heck out of that right grip.  On the way down we stopped a few times for a stretch, food and drinks.    There was nothing to rush about so we decided to enjoy the ride down.
Mandatory first stop 

There may or have not been a someone doing desk pops on a motorcycle while crossing the 7 mile bridge... Just a rumor.

We got a room on Duval St.  I desperately needed a shower to rinse off all the rain, highway dirty water spray from the roads and just general body odor.  I was only on the bike for about 5hrs in total that day but I was sore and smelly.  I can only imagine how this is going to start to wear on me. When I finally got the road juices rinsed off then we starting doing what we do best.

At some point at the very beginning of the ride down into the Keys we actually had a conversation that we would act like grown ups and only have dinner and a few drinks so that we could get to bed at a decent hour.  We all had legitimate reasons to get up early and a need to be functional.  They were going to race back to work in time for some work blahblahblah.  I ofcourse needed to actually start heading in the Northerly direction.   Imagine that.  NORTH finally.

After about 4 cocktails and a skate down Duval St. and around town we were in full rampage mode.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.
That scary looking chick in the background was much scarier looking in real life

There is this fantastic place with good appetizers* called the Red Garter.  Make sure you bring plenty of singles.

Photo and video montage of the shenanigans.   I wont give all the details about the night.  This is supposed to be about a bike ride after all.   At this point of the evening I think Adam was telling girls I was leaving for a trip up in the space shuttle tomorrow and they should all join us for drinks.

Is anyone actually reading this?

I think this is where it all started to get fuzzy

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


It took me a while to leave the house yesterday.   It was hot as hell and I really wanted to get moving before I could come up with an excuse to stay home.  All of the gear didn't exactly fit on the bike so I had to leave some things behind.  Nothing
really important as far as i could tell but I also am very limited on clothes now.  In a few days I'm probably going to smell like the carpet in front of the airport bathrooms in Atlanta.  Maybe the Alaskan girls are into that sort of thing??  I'm looking forward to letting you guys know.

So I got rolling at about 1pm.   The bike is HEAVY and tough to wield around.  I cant help but wonder just how many times I'm going to tip over at an intersection or in a parking lot.  At speed there is no problem at all.  She feels just as balanced and easy to handle as if there was no cargo at all.  That being said, new rule... SPEED.

I had to make a last stop at the BMW dealership to get the lock on one of the cargo boxes fixed.  The key cylinder was installed backwards and although I could latch it, it wasn't locking.  While I was there I bumped into an older guy that asked me where I was heading.   I told him that I was headed to Alaska.  We chatted about my trip for a while.  He was really interested and wanted to know all about it.  After a few minutes he told me he was headed to Ft Pierce (about 3hrs south)    The look on his face was pretty priceless when I said I was going that way first and we should ride together.

I'm headed to Key west for a sticker.  Key West is the end of the road as far as going south is concerned so It wasn't really an option to skip KW.

After the BMW shop my new riding buddy and I hit the highway pretty aggressively.  It was hot as hell but traffic was light.  I set the cruise to 80mph and jacked up the tunes in my helmet.  I couldnt stop thinking to myself how weird this feels to actually be getting this voyage started.  It haunts me to think about how many days and hours I'll be on the throttle but I kept focused on today's destination and easily ignored the tendency to plan and worry about tomorrow.  There was some rain on the horizon in almost every direction but for the time being we were dry.  2hrs later we're in a torrential down pour.  The 95 degree heat and sweat fest turned into an 60mph shower and followed by an 80mph hot and humid blow dry.  This wet/dry cycle repeated itself for about 100 miles or so.  I cant say it bothered me much.  It's really hot under my helmet and the rain is a nice way to cool down quick.

4hrs later I made it to Ft. Lauderdale.  My first destination was my long time friend Jason's place.  We worked together in Hawaii for Norwegian Cruise Lines and have been good buddy's ever since.  He works for the USCG but spends all of his spare time flipping bikes.

Jason in his stable

Jason has a sleeve tattoo and his daughter Ava was no exception.  I've never seen more temporary tattoos on a such a small arm.  Within 5 minutes of walking in the door I was getting tatted up.

After dinner I went down to the shop to drink some beers and hang out with old friends.   My friends in Lauderdale have a huge 4 bay garage/clubhouse/workshop right up the road.  Mostly it's for drinking beers and listening to tunes but every once in a while they get their acts together and crank out some amazing skateboards.  They started a little company called Inspiration Longboards that sells the nicest rides around.   The guys wanted to send me off with some stickers and a free longboard.  Within minutes my bike was decorated with their logos.   The boards they make are really well made and great to ride so I didn't mind whoring out the bike with stickers in exchange for a board.   There's actual hills where I'm going so that'll be a new experience.  Riding these things in Florida takes a little too much effort for me.    So the rest of the night was spent boozing and bullshitting just like we normally do at the shop.   Shop nights generally dont end until the beers are all gone. 

Picture montage and I'm out...  late start.. gotta eat some miles today...   Thanks for reading.  Hope you like it so far.

Monday, July 29, 2013


It's Sunday night, 1159pm ish.  I am half packed and half asleep.

I got off the rig Friday and hit the ground running fast.  I was really exited to get home after 35days on my steel island in the Gulf of Mexico and I immediately had a few bar tabs to prove it.  It was a long and exhausting 5 weeks with too little sleep and way too much work but that's the norm out there.  But that really isn't what this tale is supposed to be about so I'll get back to it.

Saturday morning I woke up at 10 am after about 2 hrs of sleep.  Friday nights have their way of working themselves into Saturdays sometimes and this Friday proved to be no exception.  I awoke to my alarm with an unbelievably intense hangover, but a smile from early morning escapades and thoughts of pending adventure none the less.   My bike needed to get dropped off at 8 am at the BMW dealership for a final inspection and full fluid change, I was of course 4+ hrs late.  The trip is starting out just as I anticipated, hungover and not according to schedule.  A couple Aspirin and about a half a gallon of water later the GS was where it needed to be.   My mechanic Huel knows what I'm up to.  His attention to detail is exactly what the Dr. ordered.  If anything is in the wrong place he'll find it and make it right before I get going.  His attention to detail will hopefully make up for my lack of know-how.

The bike was getting worked on and I wanted to take a nap, I also wanted to have some fun with my friends while I was in town.  The urge to turn around midway thru this trip due to missing some of them might prove to be a force to be reckoned with so I decided to maximize my time and push thru the hangover...   A little hair of the dog later I was back on two wheels.   Ormond Loop ride with Desiree on her Yamaha R6S was first on the to do list.   She told me not to write about her understeer into the sand so I won't...

Sunday was pack day.  I wont bore you with all the details of what I'm bringing and why I've chosen to bring it.   The pile of camping and riding gear you see in the picture below is supposed to fit in 2 saddle bags and the top box.  Im also taking a waterproof (ish) duffel bag with some clothes and riding jacket.  Finally a tank bag full of camera gear and all sorts of stupid electronics that I'm too stubborn to leave behind.  The bike is going to be a heavy lady but that's no excuse to not dance with her.  I'm sure she's going to want lead most of the time but after a few bouts I'm sure we'll find our rhythm.   The Tail of the Dragon in TN will be our first test.

I'm not sure what time I'll set out tomorrow from Daytona.  I'm headed to Key West by way of Ft. Lauderdale.   I'm looking forward to getting this started.  It should be an interesting day of 95 degree heat and our famous Florida thunderstorms mixed with some I-95 traffic.  

I've been guessing and second guessing my abilities to do this but I wont quit before I get started.   Once I start I doubt I'll want to stop.   My Grandfather (see 2nd post) called me on Saturday.  He wished me luck and reminded me how much fun it'll be once i get in the rhythm of the trip, to just wake up and go for a bike ride every day without a care in the world.   He also scolded me for not taking him with me.  I had to promise to take him with me next time...  

Tomorrow it is...    Hope you guys are enjoying this..  Its about to get started.