Lakeland / St. Petes / Okeechobee MX / Vero Beach : Jan 16-20 |
So here I am following A1A up the coast as far north as it goes, and I come across a break in the road. In order to cross the St. Johns river I have to take a Ferry. $5 for motorcycles. As soon as I get there, I am just in time, because I ride right on board. No time to take a photo at the staging area.
In short order, we approach the landing dock at the other side.
Once I leave the Ferry, it's time to carry on.
Fortunately it's still early in the day and I'm going to need lots of time because I need to be back in Lakeland by evening.
So, I'm now looking at the causeway to Amelia island which is as far northeast in Florida as you can get.
I'm now on top of the causeway, and it's a pretty long one. Nowhere near as long as the ones in the Florida Keys though.
Once I reach the other end, I can see the substantial waterway we crossed, it seems as wide as the St. Johns river where that ferry was needed.
We're now in Nassau county. Yup that one county above Jacksonville. All of Amelia island is in Nassau county but it extents further west as well.
Shortly after, I reach the town of Fernandina Beach along the coast and finally the road ends. This is as far northeast as you can get and still be in Florida, and there isn't a road that will lead you up the coast into Georgia. You have to go further inland for that.
So, now I have to head west and somewhat to my surprise A1A does not end here, but continues west. I figure the end of it must be near.
Fernandina is the location of a lot of pulp and paper mills. I see many transport trucks hauling logs to such facilities.
We have more port activity obvious from this photo.
Just south of the pulp and paper mills and port which are right on the coast (with Georgia due north) we find the historic center of Fernandina.
It's quite substantial, which tells me this was a bustling and major port area at one point.
I can't help notice this zany painted VW bus.
At the far (western) edge of town we reach a railway.
So, this really had to be commercially significant to have a railroad.
Sure enough, Florida's first cross-state (and presumably most major at the time) railway began here.
Near this railroad we find the post office.
I take in some time exploring downtown, then I find myself entering an antique mall.
Now, when it comes to antique malls, I have more sense than dollars, which is probably why I end up photographing these tigers instead of buying them.
Now you'd think, with all these historic buidlings, I would have lunch in one of the upscale cafes, but nope, I settle on Subway in the the nondescript area of town further south. I follow the A1A signs and they take me off the island via yet another causeway.
What's interesting about this photo is you can see the logging truck empty, having just dropped its load at one of the pulp mills.
The view from the causeway reveals Kingsley Creek below. A pretty impressive view and a swinging bridge letting boats through.
It just occurred to me, I forgot to look for the courthouse in Fernandina. Doh!
Somewhat to my surprise, A1A has not ended. I find myself substantially inland by now and it continues west and dips further south.
This is great because I actually want to hook up with US 301 because that's the major north-south US highway in the middle of the state.
A1A actually continues a while yet, and ends at US 301 at a town called Callahan. At its very end, I hit the brakes!
I think the reason is obvious, LOL. You know I had to stop there and get the necessary photo shot.
Of course I had to speak to the owner to get the history of the place. Turns out he's had it a while, and the name goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. That's gr-r-r-reat! Of course I look for anything tigerrific from this place. A bag, a business card, just any kind of a trinket. Unfortunately there's nothing to be had so my photo will have to be it.
Time to continue on, and US 301 is pretty fast going. Since I've left the coast for good, there will be less reason to stop for photoshoots.
I do get fascinated by the strangest things sometimes, I just have to check out this abandoned house just to see what's up.
Of course there's nothing but junk inside.
Part of it has been cleaned out at least. And by the looks of it, the 'bones' of this house look good. I especially like the glass-block in the room out back.
A short while later, I reach Starke, the county seat for Bradford and here's the modern courthouse right on US 301.
Next I come across the old court house which of course is far more impressive.
Starke also has a neat art deco theater at a street corner.
Breezing down US 301, I come across this huge antique mall barn.
I spot this neat Tiger ashtray and it must have been my higher sense than dollars that keep me from buying it. That, or my limited carrying capacity on my bike. At least the picture is free.
Continuing on, I can't help notice a sign for the Orange Shop in Citra.
But what catches my eye is what looks like a license plate affixed to the sign. Look at the bottom left.
Wow, a Florida sign permit. And to think I've never noticed these before.
As I gaze at the neat shadow my MZ makes, indeed the day is getting long in the tooth. It's now around 4:30pm.
Sure enough there's another one of those Orange Shop signs. This one at 6 miles. I can't remember if I missed the 10 mile marker or not.
And my eagle eye spots that sign permit again.
But wait, there's more! Did you spot that pile of older permits? Here they are, that stack goes back to the 60s!
That tells me those signs are old. Real old. Amazing something of wood would last this long in the humid sub-tropics.
So, I continue on, hoping my presumption is right. Now I reach the 4 mile marker and wonder just how many signs these guys have.
Now the 1 mile marker.
This too, has both the new and old style markers
And the old ones here look even older than those at the 6 mile mark.
You'd think by now they'd run out of signs, but no, here's another. They sure want you to stop at that Orange Shop, don't they?
As you might have guessed, there's gotta be one more. Now we're down to feet.
Finally I get there. Do you really think I woudn't stop after that huge run-up?
Figures the sign says closed but would you believe, I got there in just the nick of time. It was 5pm on the button and they were closing, so I got the last bottle of juice they served that day.
And the signs were right! That was the most awesome OJ I've ever tasted. For sure I'll be stopping the next time I'm through.
So, all juiced up, it's time to rock and roll, as dusk will soon be upon me.
I reach Ocala, and it's obvious I'm not getting back to Lakeland before dark. I still have at least 100 miles to cover.
As I continue south on US 301 and reach US 27 which I think will cut directly across to Lakeland so I get on that route.
I travel down US 27 and notice lots of those large modern advertising signs on fat poles, and I wonder if they too have sign permits.
Sure enough they do, and if you're astute you'll instantly know why there are two permits
That's right, one for each side. One pole, but two signs, therefore two permits.
At this gas station where I fill up, I decide to check my map as something doesn't quite feel right with the directions. It's a good thing I stopped because I catch my error. US 27 will take me much further east than I want to go, putting me at Lake Wales. That really overshoots Lakeland. So, I have to get back on course. I look for the first major highway turning right and hope that will hook up with US 301 I should have stayed on. Thankfully I'm right and County Rd 42 which I was on, took me back to US 301 in short order. So, I didn't lose much time. Phew! Last thing I wanted was lots of extra unnecessary travel at night.
So, I continue on, and what I wanted was US 98 off of US 301, not US 27. That takes me to Lakeland. I see the turn-off for US 98 easily enough and in the darkness I make it safely back to Lakeland.
Tada! I'm now back to home base.
And now my MZ is safely packed away. Gas drained, carberator drained, battery removed, I then cover him up and he's in hibernation until my next trip, hopefully January 2014.
Another trip down. Now comes the sad part of having to return to the airport the next morning for the return flight home.
What a difference a few flight hours make. Just look at this forlorn landscape. Yup, that must be Pittsburgh in January.
Back to frigid reality, another MZ Florida trip bites the dust and thanks for reading to the end. This really was a long trip in terms of photos.