Lakeland / St. Petes / Okeechobee MX / Vero Beach : Jan 16-20 |
The trip starts with my usual flight down by Southwest (the only way to fly), landing in Tampa.
I rent a car, then drive to Lakeland to get my MZ Baghira out of storage from Steve's garage shed. You may wonder why I don't simply keep a car rental the whole time. That would be boring compared to riding my bike. So, I get to Lakeland in short order, and find my MZ, just where I left him last year.
There's a lot of junk in the garage this time, but I have to get to work on my bike. After connecting the battery, he doesn't want to start up so I spend the next few hours trying to diagnose electrics, even going to Autozone to pick up a voltmeter (which I didn't have, because I didn't anticipate any trouble, grrr!) Suddenly I had the realization (duh!!) that I had connected a group of grounding wires onto the positive terminal. I curse myself for wasting hours on a very dumb mistake but relieved my bike started up like a charm after this moment.
I was to meet my friends Craig and Kathy in Brandenton that evening and needless to say I'm way behind schedule and it was already dark, so I waste no time getting on the bike with no time to take the scenic route I originally wanted. I get on the Toll Road to I-4, which takes me to I-75. I get off where it says US 301 because I know that will take me into Bradenton. While I was having an awesome amount of fun riding my MZ, I was wondering why I was on US 301 south for so long. Turns out I wanted an exit off I-75 for US 301 much closer to Bradenton. No matter, I get to my friends' and it wasn't too late and I got well rested for my trip to St. Petes tomorrow.
The next morning at Craig and Kathy's place in Bradenton.
My route into St. Petes the next morning catches the start of US 19. It's neat to think that I could continue on this route all the way back home to West Virginia, but not for long at this time of the year!
Soon after this, I cross the famous Sunshine Skyway, a $1 toll crossing. Boy what a grr-r-eat morning!
Finally in St. Petes, I take note of this bizarre 70s looking office building.
Arriving to meet friends near the Tyrone Mall, at the end of the day I'm ready this time to head back to Lakeland.
Good thing my MZ is a skinny bike, as I park in Steve's garage while his cat Salem looks on.
Finally, I'm ready to start my real trip where I get to do some exploring, along routes not yet travelled (by me).
It's Sunday morning, and I want to catch some Motocross races (AMA Winter Pro-Am series) at Thundercross MX park near Okeechobee, south and east of here.
My plan is to take US98 to FL 60, and then US 27 at Lake Wales. From US 27, I take FL 17 to Sebring, county seat of Highlands.
The downtown area of Sebring features a neat traffic circle.
Next, I check out the Highlands County courthouse, a perfect photo-op on a Sunday morning. Somewhat removed from downtown, so I couldn't find it at first.
Shortly after, I get on US 98 that will take me diagonally across to Okeechobee. Boy it's sure flat!
A neat group of palm trees that add variety to an otherwise dull landscape.
Next, a row of identical utilitarian white houses, also seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
I pass through Okeechobee, but no time to check out the courthouse this time, because I want to watch the MX races instead. I follow the side road directions to get there and sure enough I see the sign. Right next to a shooting range. Noise begets noise, way out in the country, I guess.
MX is all about the kids of course, with the adults always helping them in need ...
You know that's the kind of photo that demands a caption contest ;-P
The finish line had a hump some kids had trouble getting over.
A wreck where the rider doesn't get back on his bike to continue (usually red-flags the race) always draws a crowd.
This kid on his #19 takes a decent vantage point to rest between his motos while that dude on the RV has a great view!
Now remember Kevin Cozadd? He runs the MX'ers for Jesus ministries and I always see him at the Florida races every year that I go.
Here I am, next to Kevin, and also ready to rock 'n' roll as the day is done, and it's time to continue my trip.
My objective is to get on US 1 / A1A and head north, the main part of my trip, so the most direct way there is to Ft. Pierce where I begin that journey.
In Ft. Pierce, I notice this Sunrise Theater that blends in with the surrounding row.
At the port area, is a unique looking and unmistakable bicycle rack.
I have to cross a causeway here to get to A1A.
I get on A1A south briefly (I want to head north towards Jacksonville, not south towards Miami).
A1A takes me to Vero Beach but I can't get a view of the ocean as the map suggests, as it's blocked off by condos or expensive housing.
I need to cross back to Vero Beach in order to find a place to stay as it's getting rather late.
I get to park way in the back for piece of mind.
The room has a definite 60s feel to it, right down to the brown and yellow tile bathroom.
Time to get a decent night's sleep because I have a long day tomorrow.