Sunday, December 04, 2005

Post Thanksgiving Trip (continued)

On the last entry of Biker Diaries I was reviewing my post Thanksgiving day ride.

After filling up with gas at Tamiami Trail and Krome Ave, I watched the sky while eating my late and light breakfast of an apple, wondering if Mother Nature was preparing to drench the area I wanted to ride into.

The whole point of heading south towards the keys was to check out Alabama Jacks, a popular biker bar/restaurant and caution was about to thrown to the wind, but hopefully not to the rain. I'd never travelled on this part of Krome before and the lack of motorcycles along with the abundance of heavy trucks hauling fine grit had me wondering if this was going to be a good idea. Then the road opened up, the fields became wider and the sun fought it's way from behind the clouds. There were nurseries and farms one after the other, all of them geared towards consumers to stop and shop. This was middle America and a part of Florida I hadn't seen, re-affirming my decision to not only come this way but also risk the wrath of the rain-gods. I even didn't mind the slow, meandering drivers with the impulsive turn here and there. The traffic lights could be seen far enough away and had such a short cycle that they could be timed so I wouldn't even have to stop!

The signs for Homestead made me realize that although I knew and heard a lot about the town and even rode past it on the freeways, but had never visited it. So I was pleasantly surprised when it became everytown USA with the buildings and streets looking like something out of a Frank Capra movie. By now the clouds had completely disappeared and the day had warmed up, making each stop at the traffic lights a little toasty. Between the warmer weather, feeling I'd seen enough of Florida's very own Mayberry the anxiety was growing to get to Florida City which would lead me to the long and winding back road that went past Alabama Jacks.

Just as the weather seemed to heed my call with the lack of rain, it was only minutes into my growing concern to take this ride to that next level when the sign appeared directing me back to Hwy 1 (Federal Highway) through Florida City.

The turning for the back road which led to Alabama Jacks was exactly where expected although it wasn't as winding as I remembered. But with no cars and scenery surrounding me that can only be found as you make your way south towards Key West, there wasn't too much disappointment. Had a slight scare when an approaching car stayed in my lane a little too long while overtaking the car in front of him, otherwise a quiet and scenic ride.

Alabama Jack I presume
When I came across a few bends in the road, the final ninety degree curve had me looking at Alabama Jacks with about a dozen motorcycles parked in front.

Of course as soon as I bought the one beer I was allowing myself for this ride, my girlfriend called to tell me she was heading out for South Beach and should make our roughly pre-arranged meeting time of 1pm on Lincoln Road. I promised to finish up my beer and meet her, but no sooner had I hung up when I found myself in various conversations with other riders.

A Honda rider took three attempts to back his bike in, but bearing in mind the ground is a little steep either side of the road and the poor guy had all of us watching him, I'm sure everyone was glad it was him and not them!

On the final maneuver I started to notice that even though his motorcycle was a different make and there were fifteen years difference in age between the bikes, they looked very similar. Even the color of the paint! It's hard to see how close the color was with the bright Florida sunshine treating the two aged paints differently, but you can certainly see the other similarities. I guess classic bikes never go out of style!

It was during the various conversations that started out of this that I met a fellow Harley Rider who had all the stories and even more experiences. From riding up to Sturgis to the last time he laid down his bike, the time flew by and the little padding I'd built into my schedule was gone and there was no way to make it to Lincoln Road on time.

Made my excuses and headed out trying to visualize the maze of freeways between me and Miami Beach. As the first toll road sign passed over my head I realized that all my cash was used for the little bit of gas I put in and the apple back at Tamiami Trail. If the tolls didn't exceed two dollars before I got to the 'free' freeways, everything should be okay. I pulled off the road, called the girlfriend and told her it looked like I was going to be forty-five minutes late, 'Go shopping, that's what people go to Lincoln road for in the daytime anyway!' She liked that idea.

When I pulled away I saw the toll bridge that led to the curving road I remembered riding on to get to Alabama Jacks when I first visited it on the way back from the trip to Key West last April.

Back on the road and within twenty minutes I was down a dollar, then ten minutes later the toll booth I was approaching had signs of $1.25 everywhere. Why didn't I bring my toll pass? Why didn't I hang onto the cash? A piece of humble pie later and with some directions on where to pulloff and get some more cash, I was pulling away from the booth knowing time was working against me. The gas station/convenience store obviously didn't see a lot of motorcycles stop by and fortunately I found another customer that knew a quick route to downtown Miami. The directions would take me along the most heavily commuted freeways that would be busy from all the traffic heading in and out of Miami Airport.

Carefully made it through two freeways and three interchanges without so much as a close call and was rewarded with the beautiful view of Star Island to my left and the cruise ships docked on the right and beautiful water all around.

Downtown Miami is like most cities with the streets based in a grid system and since Lincoln Road is quite long, it's hard to miss it. Even lucked out with fairly close parking! Of course I had to pay, nothing's free in me on this.

Found the girls in just a few minutes and considering I made it to the minute that was promised (or re-promised, depending on how you look at it) it was time to finally relax, sit back and enjoy the view. And what a view! Miami has the most beautiful people in South Florida and bearing in mind South Florida has the most beautiful people in the world, thats saying something. It's really easy to find yourself sitting at a table for hours watching the different and varied crowds roaming up and down the street.

By the time we finished lunch and I rode back, my complete trip was just under two hundred miles although it seemed much longer. Definitely is up there for enjoyability.

The route?

West on I-595
South on Knob Hill Road
West on Griffin
Stop at Everglades Holiday Park
South on Hwy 27
South on Krome Ave
South on US 1
South on Coral Reef Road
Stop at Alabama Jacks
North on Coral Reef Rd
North on US 1
North(east) 827, 836 & 395 (this part was a bit of a blur)
Stop at Lincoln Road
North on I-95
East on I-595
North on Federal Hwy (US1)
End of trip!


No comments: