TOURING THE LITTLE LATITUDES – MOTO KEY WEST – Part 1

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We’re back! It’s been a while since our last post, due mostly to chronic computer problems. The infamous blue screen of death reared it’s ugly head as dollar signs swirled around in mine.

But that’s not to say we haven’t been riding! Our most recent moto adventure was a 2,141 mile, 7 day trip through the state of Florida to Key West. Following is an account that hopefully will inspire you to swing a leg over and go long distance adventuring on two wheels yourself. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013 – Simpsonville, SC to Amelia Island, FL – 380 miles.
What a beautiful day to travel. The weather gods are smiling on me and my Honda ST1300 this morning. Up early, I want to be on the road by 7 AM. It’s a long day in the saddle today – all interstate travel – as I make my way to Amelia Island, my first overnight destination. My mind has been filled with mixed emotions these past two weeks: excited, nervous, sad, and happy; sometimes all at once. But right now, moments before departure, nervous and sad rule. Nervous about all the miles by motorcycle that lay before me, and sad for leaving my wife and dogs behind for 7 days. All that is transformed into intense focus as I kiss my wife and dogs goodbye and the big Honda and I head southbound on I-385. My epic solo adventure begins.
Three interstates will roll under the ST’s wheels on my way to Florida: I-385, I-26, and I-95. I can’t believe I am on my way to the Florida Keys, having visualized this over the past six years. The reality and enormity of this endeavor hasn’t sunk in yet, and probably won’t until well after I return. So off I go, with travel on I-385 and I-26 benign and uneventful. But I-95 was not.

Somewhere between Savannah and Pooler, GA, traffic came to a complete standstill. Sitting between huge SUV’s and 18 wheelers on a motorbike is a very risky proposition and hair raising experience. I stayed in the far right lane so I could use the shoulder as an escape route should someone decide to make a Bobby and the beaST sammich.

Finally, traffic got moving, with no sign of what caused the backup. About 3:00 PM I crossed into Florida, giving the “Welcome To Florida” sign a two thumbs up (yes,two!), and yelling in my helmet “Key West-here we come!” By 3:30 I was in Fernandina Beach and rolling into my hotel parking lot. Pulling off my helmet, I noted 380 miles on the trip odo-the longest interstate mileage I have ever done, and I will have to do it one more time.

I quickly checked in, and shed my riding suit for running gear. Right next door to my hotel is Fort Clinch State Park where I planned to do a 1 hour trail run. How great it felt to open up and run in the woods after eight hours on the road.

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The beautiful entrance to Fort Clinch State Park. Miles of shaded trails with abundant wildlife: deer, bobcat, sea turtles and a myriad of birds to greet you.

The beautiful entrance to Fort Clinch State Park. Miles of shaded trails with abundant wildlife: deer, bobcat, sea turtles and a myriad of birds to greet you.

After a great run and shower, it was time for a two mile walk into downtown Fernandina Beach for dinner. This is mine and Ruth’s favorite Florida town. Small, laid back, wonderful climate,and has everything we could want. Tucked away on the north end of Amelia Island just a couple of miles from the GA state line and Jacksonville just a half-hour drive away. Perfect. Besides, it was a big pirate’s lair back in the 18th century. Can’t resist a town with that kind of history, arrrggghhh.

A nice dinner with a cold beer capped off the day, then a leisurely stroll along the marina and back to the hotel. Tomorrow it’s on to Bradenton, taking the backroads through the “Old Florida” interior.

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