Florida Coast & Key West

Friday, Feb. 1, Portage, IN - Murfreesboro, TN

Left Portage at 8:25, temperature was one degree! Trip went okay, arrived at the Red Roof Inn about 6:15. Room was cold, and took a long time to heat up. By the time I was ready for bed the room was too warm and it took a while before I got it cooled down! Pillow was hard. Ended up wadding up my coat and used it!

Saturday, Feb. 2, Murfreesboro, TN - Suwanee, GA
  Slept good until 1 or 2, then periods of wakefulness. Woke up at 6:50. Showered and went to the breakfast room. Three police cars and the canine unit showed up - quite exciting! Also, and inch of wet snow on the ground and still coming down! Got on the road at 8:15. Crept along slippery snow-packed interstate 24 at 30 mph for several miles. Several cars were in the ditch, and the tow trucks were busy. Finally got to Georgia welcome center on I-75 about 1:00 EST.

  Arrived at Dwight’s about 3:30. Virginia was at a tea with a friend. Dwight fixed really good hamburgers on the grill, chips, fruit, iced tea, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert! I went to my room and rested for about 20 minutes, then Dwight and I met Virginia at church. Came home and downloaded some apps for Words With Friends. Dwight and I played the Scrabble game that doesn’t require using a board. Went to bed around 10. So happy to be here!

Sunday, Feb. 3, Dwight’s birthday and SuperBowl

  Dwight fixed a nice breakfast of french toast, fresh strawberries, coffee & juice. Dwight and I went to the car wash so I run my car through and get off all the mess from the snowy roads on Saturday. When we got back home we started preparing for the noon meal. Dwight and I set the table. Virginia and I spread the standing rib roast with a horseradish/herb paste. I prepared some appetizers. Virginia prepared baked red onions. Dwight peeled, cooked and mashed a big pot of red potatoes. Everything turned out great.
  Dan & Lauralee arrived shortly after one, as did David and Ann and their kids. We had just barely started eating when Craig and Cari and their kids arrived.

Virginia & Dwight & beautiful rib roast
roast out of the oven!

  The dinner was delicious. Virginia served chocolate cheesecake that was out of this world.
  David and Craig and their families went home around 3:30, and Dan, LL, Dwight, Virginia and I played Scrabble. Their friends Chris and David arrived around 6:00, and we watched the SuperBowl.

Monday, Feb. 3, last day in Atlanta
  Chris and David sat with Virginia and I at the breakfast table for a while, then left to drive home to Nashville.
  I went with Virginia to her book club at Barnes and Noble. It was interesting, and nice to meet her friends. Afterwards we stopped at the Container Store, and I bought a purse, a reusable sandwich bag,  and some freezer labels.
  We had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup when we got home, and it tasted so good!
  Virginia rode with me to Lauralee’s house, and Dwight met us there after work. Lauralee fixed a beautiful and delicious dinner of breaded chicken thighs, green beans, potato slivers, and sweet & sour cabbage. She served brownies ala mode with heavy chocolate syrup for dessert. Yum!
Ann, Dwight, Lauralee

  I spent the night there.

Tuesday, Feb. 5, Atlanta to Orlando

Got up at 5 with the alarm, and LL fixed ruby red grapefruit, raisin bran, and coffee. She gave me a cup of coffee, a banana, and some cookies for the road.

The GPS routed me through Atlanta’s busy rush hour, even at the early hour of 6:15 a.m. I had a lot of miles to go, about 475. Arrived at the La Quinta in Orlando about 3:15, weary.

Got settled in the room, took a shower, and met the group for happy hour at 5:00. Good group.

Rich Gallo, excellent tour leader

We all went to Bubballou’s BBQ for dinner. It was very good.

Wed., Feb. 6, Orlando - Titusville, 38.5 miles

towns along the way: Bellwood, Delespine, Frontenac, Williams Point

First panic attack of the day - I’m gathering up my stuff to pack, and I can’t find my debit card. Went down to my car, and thankfully found it on the front seat!

People who drove to Orlando had to shuttle their car to a different hotel, as we will not be returning to this one on the 17th. Looking for my debit card stressed me out, and before I knew it it was time to follow Rich. So three cars were following Rich to the other side of Orlando, me at the tail end. Unfortunately I hadn’t entered the address of the hotel we were going to into my GPS, and my cell phone was on my bike in the room! Well, you can imagine how difficult it was trying to stay together in rush hour traffic. At one point several cars cut in front of me, and I fell behind. I thought I was really “up a creek”! But lo and behold, I caught up with them!
Got going on the ride around 9:30. Weather was cloudy but warm, really nice for riding. Rode through the campus of the University of Central Florida, then through some really nice neighborhoods. Almost all the roads we were on today were low traffic, and when we did have to be on a road that had a little more there was a shoulder.

baby alligator

  Got to the Best Western around 2:00. Tomorrow we visit the Space Center at Cocoa Beach!

Thurs., Feb. 7, Titusville - Cocoa Beach, 34 miles

towns along the way: Bellwood, Delespine, Frontenac, Williams Point

Was riding with Charlie along the NASA Causeway and a policeman pulled us over. Apparently the law says that bikes are not allowed on the Causeway until after 9:00 a.m., and our tour leader had told us 8:00 a.m.  It was 8:50, so he just let us wait along side the road until 9:00.

The Kennedy Space Center was very interesting. I bought the general admission, and it included a bus ride.

  The rest of the day’s ride, about 20 miles, was into a strong headwind out of the south. 

Friday, February 8, Cocoa Beach - Vero Beach, 54 miles

towns along the way: Rockledge, Indialantic, Melbourne Beach, Melbourne Shores, Floridana Beach, Wabasso Beach

I started out by myself today. We had options of either 62 miles or 51 miles, and I chose the shorter one. The first few miles were a little busy with rush hour traffic, but after the turnoff to Melbourne it got quieter.

oldies mini-mart

At about mile 10 I was ready for a short rest, and I stopped at a Verizon store, where I activated the navigation on my cell phone. 

Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Inlet

Stopped at a bird sanctuary and ate our PB&J there. They had a picnic table in the shade, on the deck. We were almost done eating when Marnie joined us.

Fin Whale skull

Humpback whale skull


George stopped to take pictures, and I continued on.

coconut palm

palm trees

Had a little trouble finding the hotel. Never saw the Ocean Drive turnoff that I was supposed to take. A friendly local motorist directed me, I was only a couple blocks away.

The room wasn’t ready yet, so Vicki and I went to Mulligans for a drink. It is a fun place.

Judy’s friend Pat came to happy hour, and went to dinner with several us at Mulligans. I had the Firecracker shrimp, and it was good.

Sat., Feb. 9, Vero Beach - Jupiter, 66 miles

towns along the way: Fort Pierce, Port Salerno, Hobe Sound, Tequesta

Rode with George today. Went to the Lemon Tree Restaurant, a block from the hotel, for breakfast. Hughes was there already, so we sat with him.

Took a pit stop at a park across from Fort Pierce. George had wanted to visit the Navy Seal Museum, but it didn’t open for another hour so we moved on.

part of Navy Seal Museum, Fort Pierce

annie beats the truck!

Stopped at Jensen Beach Park, where we found a picnic table in the shade. Had our lunch there. Called  Kelly and made arrangements to meet for dinner.

colorful apartment

Afternoon was getting hot, and I was in want of a Coke. We stopped at the Whistle Stop in Port Salerno and I got one, plus a chocolate chip cookie!

George at the Whistle Stop

The eleven miles between Hobe Sound and Tequesta along South Beach Road were stunning. So much lush greenery it looked like a botanic garden.

banyon tree

shady road

Tailwind all day, plus clear 80 degree weather, made for a great day!

Sun., Feb. 10, Jupiter - Ft. Lauderdale, 62 mi.

towns along the way: Juno Beach, Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, South Palm Beach, Manalapan, Ocean Ridge, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Boca Raton, Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale by-the-Sea, Fort Lauderdale Beach 

Vicki and Jim loading their bags

back of BAC trailer

pretty morning sky

back of BAC trailer

colorful building


you don't see this much anymore

I like this building's design

yacht, West Palm Beach

annie rides the bridge

we rode many miles on this highway

brisk wind from the east

Royal Palm Blvd.

View from bridge

Mon., Feb. 11, Ft. Lauderdale - Kendall, 51 mi.

towns along the way: Dania Beach, Hollywood, Hallandale, North Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Miami, Coconut Grove, Palmetto Bay

Today was a rather stressful, difficult day. The route contained a lot of turns, and there was lots of traffic. We did have a bike trail the last fifteen miles which kept us out of traffic, but there were lots of stops and turns with it.

George and I stopped at a juice bar and had a good smoothie. Marnie, Mike and David joined us.

At one point George stopped quickly, and being close behind I lost control trying to stop and avoid hitting him, and fell over to my right. Fortunately we were on the sidewalk, and I fell onto grass, so there was no harm done!

downtown Miami

David and George and I ordered pizza for dinner, and ate it out by the pool. Didn’t really feel like going to a restaurant.

Tues., Feb. 12, Kendall (Palmetto Bay) - Islamorada, 64 mi.

towns along the way: Cutler Ridge, Homestead/Florida City, Key Largo, Rock Harbor, Tavernier, Plantation Key

My laptop was acting real weird last night. I thought it might have a virus, although that’s not common for Mac. Well, George and Judy wanted to go to Key Biscayne National Park to get their N.P. passbook stamped, Mike wanted to ride a shorter day, and I wanted to go to Best Buy and have the Geek Squad look at my laptop - so we loaded the bikes on the car and trailer and off we went. 

Went to the N. P. first. Went to the visitor center and had a nice talk with the ranger. Judy would like to volunteer, and filled out an application.

park picture

Then we went to Best Buy. I explained what was going on to the woman at the Geek Squad desk, she talked to a technician, and they didn’t have any suggestions for me. They said to go to an Apple Store.

Judy dropped George and me off at mile point 33.8 of today’s route, leaving us with 30.6 miles to bike.

It was noon, and very hot, so we took a lot of breaks.

When we stopped at the “Key Largo” sign, my bike fell over and the rear-view mirror broke. I feel lost without it, so when Judy drove by a few minutes later I flagged her down and she helped me duct tape it until I could get to a bike shop!

George spotted a bike shop about a mile or two down the road, and we stopped there. The young owner was very nice. He offered to install another mirror for me. It didn’t attach to the hood like my previous mirror, this one actually screwed into the hood. He got it all assembled and when he went to screw it into the hood found out that it wouldn’t work with Campy parts. So I got the one that fits into the bar end.

By this time it was almost two o’clock, and we were hungry. Decided we might as well go ahead and stop someplace, then the dinner meal would be optional. Saw a small Cuban place in a strip mall. George had a Cuban hamburger, and I got a pork sandwich.

Stayed at a cute mom&pop-type hotel, Harbor Lights.

We had our happy hour in a screen house. Weather was perfect, and we could watch the sunset. Life is good.

Wed., Feb. 13, Islamorada - Ramrod Key, 57 mi.

towns along the way: Layton, Key Colony Beach, Marathon Shores, Marathon, Big Pine Key

The hotel didn't offer breakfast until 8:30, so most of us stopped at Mango Mike's three miles down the road.

Wes & Cornelia, George

A few miles down the road we saw a sign for an organization where George met his wife, so he wanted a picture. I was going to take one of him, but then a man came along and offered to take a picture of both of us.

pretty sky

Then came the 7 mile bridge!

remnant of original railroad bridge

we were going to take another group photo in Key West, but took one this day too

Thurs., Feb. 14, Ramrod Key - Key West, 30 mi.

towns along the way: Summerland Key, Sugarloaf Key

I rode by myself today. George, my riding buddy, left before daylight in order to reach an 8 o’clock excursion to the Dry Tortugas.

The roads were busy already at 7:15, with lots of truck traffic, but there were bike paths here and there providing some relief from the noise and sun.


Got to the hotel around 10:30. Changed my clothes and walked to the Southernmost point of the US to meet the group for a group picture.

group picture

Judy, Rick, Marnie, Mike, Craig and I went to the Hog’s Breath Saloon (hog’s breath is better than no breath at all) for lunch. I had a good fish sandwich.

Marnie, Craig, Annie, Mike

On way back to the hotel I couldn’t find my keys (one to my bike lock and the other for the luggage trailer)! I told my tale of woe to David, and he put his bike helmet on me and handed me his bike!

I was thankful for that, as the t-shirt shop where I had left them was about a mile away. It was an “interesting” ride, not only because David’s bike is quite different in size than mine, but also I had had two beers at lunch! When I got to the t-shirt shop the clerk said, “I was waiting for you,” and handed me my keys.

Came back to the hotel and cleaned up and rested a little. Our room here at the Pier House is very very nice!

Judy and I hosted a small-scale happy hour in our room. The group then went out to Mallory Square to watch the sunset, but it was cloudy. The point of interest was turned to the cruise ship that was getting ready to depart. We also enjoyed the local street vendors and artists.

key west house boats

I was really tired, so I chose to not go to dinner. 

They tell me we had a heavy rainstorm in the evening, but I didn’t hear a thing!

Fri., Feb. 15, Key West - Ft. Myers Beach

Joined some fellow riders at Two Friends restaurant for breakfast. Was a little taken aback by the prices, ended up getting Raisin Bran for $3.99!

Duvall Street, early a.m.

Walked around by myself, going into some of the shops along Duval Street, but wasn’t finding anything of interest.

beach bar

Decided to take the glass bottom boat tour at noon. It was interesting. The only distraction during the talk were several ill-mannered children.

Had a late lunch at Joe's Tap. It's the back room to the famous Sloppy Joe's. Had a good quesadilla and a Rogue's Dead Guy Ale.

We were told to be at the Ferry by 4:00 for a 5:00 departure. It was drizzling at 3:30, and I had no helmet or bike shoes, so I had to walk my bike to the Ferry. As it turned out, the tour organizers had the time wrong - it didn’t leave until 6:00.

I sat with Mark, Levi & Janet, and David. Crossing was very smooth. Arrived in Ft. Myers Beach at about 9:30. I chose to be shuttled the three miles to the hotel, but about 8 brave souls put lights on their bikes and rode it!

Sat., Feb. 16, Ft. Myers Beach - Venice, 74 mi.

Woke up to very cool temperature - 43 degrees! It warmed up a little after the sun came up, but remained “light jacket” weather most of the day.

Rode with people off and on during the day. Mostly just rode my own pace.

Long day today, and nothing caught my attention to photograph.

At about mile 58, the sky ahead turned black, and the temperature dropped a few degrees. I was riding with  David and George at the time, and we stopped at a large gas station/convenience store. David called Judy and asked to be picked up, and as it turned out she was already on the road looking for people that might need a ride.

I had no rain jacket, so I accepted a ride in.

Sun., Feb. 17, Venice - Bradenton, 55 mi.

Last day of the tour. It was cool again today, but clear and sunny. Did I mention the wind out of the northwest?

I felt very tired today, but kept plugging along. 

Just took one picture today. Stopped at a beach that was having an outdoor market. Not sure where it was, somewhere between Venice and Bradenton, might have been in the Sarasota area. There were a few booths selling crafts, and some produce. I didn’t buy anything, it just felt good to stop and walk around a bit.

one of George's photos, in Sarasota I think

Continued on to Bradenton. Met the shuttle at a U-Haul place and was taken to our hotel in Orlando.

We had a fabulous group dinner at Charlie’s Steak House.

I had originally planned on staying over an extra day to do some sight-seeing, but decided a few days ago that I was ready to head for home.

Took three days to drive home, stopping in Forsyth, GA, and Bowling Green, KY. Also stopped in Crawfordsville, IN, for a couple of hours and visited cousin Tom Gourley and his wife June.

next trip:
Circle City Tour, Madison, Wisconsin in June 2013

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