Diana and Ilidio are driving in the Ford Fusion and I am following with the Yamaha V Star 1100 Classic, sidehack and tent trailer in tow.
It's a great morning for a ride to Miami.
The Florida Turnpike is wide open and my new SunPass is paying the tolls as I whiz by under the scanners.
The Tollway Service Plazas make gas stops quick and easy as we try and make Miami before the afternoon rush hour traffic.
Didn't quite make it. We are in the middle of the heavy traffic as I try and stay close to The Fusion.
The 75 MPH hour run down the Tollway was a great ride, and even heavy traffic isn't all bad.
By 4pm we arrive at the home of Angela and Americo where we will spend the night before an early departure for Key West.
What great friends Diana and Ilidio have. They have been preparing a great meal for the hungry travelers.
Lots of laughter and joking with this bunch when they get together.
I retire early. It was a long ride from Lake Mary to Miami.
Saturday morning we are on the road by 10am and heading to a small Cuban style bakery and lunch counter for some Cuban style breakfast treats, then back on the road.
Florida #1 is great highway across long bridges with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic on the other.
What a fantastic ride!
The water looks bluer on the ocean side and greener in the Gulf. Beautiful.
It's a long slow ride at 35 to 45 MPH most of the way.
Those names we have heard about through the years are passing. Key Largo seems so big as we slowly move through. Palm trees waving in the wind and the waves rolling on to the beaches. They just go on and on.
As we cross the highest, longest bridge I see Diana leaning out with the Go Pro and Flip Cam. She got some great videos.
It's late afternoon when we arrive in Key West and we head for the Harry Truman Little White House for the last tour of the day.
The U.S. Williamsburg was stationed just off shore and provided radio communication with Washington DC.
Other Presidents also visited the vacation White House Truman had used and which the navy remodeled with rooms for visiting foreign dignitaries and Truman Administration Cabinet officials.
Eisenhower came one time but didn't care for the small golf course so never came for a second visit.
John F. Kennedy was there after the Bay of Pigs disaster and other Presidents who needed a break from Washington followed.
It was a fun and interesting look back in American History.
Following the tour we headed for THE SIGN!
The sign. The southernmost point in the USA.
This is what the ride is all about.
There was a long line of people waiting to have their picture taken by the sign so I opted to just take a picture of it.
As I got ready to snap the picture a pretty girl stepped into view.
Makes a much better picture than it would have been with an 80 year old man standing there.
And besides, Diana had the Flip Cam out for a video of yours truly, slowly riding his rig past the crowd. She even put it up on You Tube for all the world to see.
Del Rides past THE SIGN
As I pulled to the curb following my slow ride past THE SIGN, a young couple came running over. The young man was shouting, "Mister, Mister, I must shake your hand, I must shake your hand!"
Turns out they live in Tampa, originally from Puerto Rico.
I remembered them passing me about half way down the Turnpike.
He on a black Sportster and she on a pink Honda.
He said, "I am so proud that I meet a man who is 80 years old and is still riding a motorcycle. I love riding the bike too!"
They had seen the 80 year old Iron Butt rider sign on the back of the Yamaha and had waved and given a thumbs up for me before racing away down the highway.
How nice of them to come running over to say hello.
People have been so great through the entire 6,400 miles I have ridden since leaving Helena on that cold rainy morning 6 weeks ago.
But it's getting late so we had to saddle up and head for Bahia Honda State Camp Grounds where we would spend the night.
As the sun dropped out of sight we rode two hours through the night before arriving at the camping spot. Another great ride.
Setting up the Mini Mate tent trailer was quick and easy.
Five minutes at the most.
I was relaxing with a glass of wine as Diana and Ilidio put in the rods and tried to raise their tent.
This camping thing may turn out to be a lot of fun after all.
Ilidio built a fire but it was mainly for effect as he brought out the gas stove to cook chicken on. It was great.
Diana had planned everything down to the last detail and even had a large package of potato chips sitting on the picnic table.
Sitting there until I heard paper rattling and turned to look behind me and at the same time heard Diana shout, "RACOON!"
Sure enough that sneaky little thief had jumped up on the bench, grabbed the potato chip bag and escaped into the underbrush before we could begin a chase.
To rub salt in the wound the cheeky little devil crawled into a large bush and crunched each chip as loudly as he could. Later he emerged from the bush and tried to get in the trunk of their car looking for more goodies.
The morning ride to Miami turned into another adventure as Diana decided she would ride in the sidecar and share the great view.
With Go Pro and Flip Cam she was ready to preserve the the ride over the bridges between the Keys. The longest bridge seemed to go on forever as we stayed at the 45 MPH speed limit and took time to enjoy the fantastic views.,
There were many fishing boats, sailing boats and even people being pulled on their surf boards by large sails which billowed out in the wind.
It was a beautiful ride.
We stopped at a place called the Buzzards Roost in Key Largo for a fantastic Sunday Brunch, topped off with, you guessed it, KEY LIME PIE!
Met some interesting riders along the way and seemed to find people who wanted to visit at every gas stop. One of them, Jimmy Vail from Dallas gave me his card and said if I'm going through Texas he has two RV's on his property and I'm welcome to use them and also he would make his large workshop available if I needed to work on the bike.
Nice folks. He was riding with two friends, and had just been to Key West the night before also.
The ride was pleasant and uneventful, just another really great ride.
The evening was spent with Angela and Americo.
I asked him about his PHD and he explained that it was in Geo Physics, or something like that. He had spent 7 years going to school in Russia. He is working with a group that is trying to develop a new method of detecting oil and mineral deposits deep underground by using something that would not cause environmental problems. Very interesting.
I gave Angela the promised sidecar ride and we then began our Monday ride up the Florida Turnpike to Lake Mary.
Great ride on the tollway with easy gas stops and interesting people to visit with.
The clouds were getting pretty dark and the weather was closing in as we neared Orlando.
As we began the ride through the city we ran in to a real downpour.If this link works you may see the ride and the commentary that goes with it. Soggy Iron Butt Ride indeed!
Wet Ride Video
Slid sideways past Diana and Ilidio, into the next lane, all the time worrying that I was going to scratch Diana's new Ford Fusion.
I missed her and went sliding right past them.
Ilidio quickly zipped past, pulled in front of me and away we went.
One more small adventure on what was truly an amazing four days.
A hot shower, warm dry clothes and I was ready for action.
THANKS to Diana and Ilidio for a great four day adventure and another one off the bucket list.
Key West and the Southernmost point in the USA.
after the holidays I will be heading for Houston, Roswell NM, Phoenix, San Diego and San Jose.
The Yamaha has logged 6,400 miles and it looks like another 6,400 miles will carry me back to Helena.
It's a grand adventure.
Look for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist