Friday, November 13, 2015

The Florida Long Riders 8th Annual Grand Tour and Digital Scavenger Hunt and The Texas Tour


 First came the pre-event dinner with lots of tire-kicking and get acquainted-with-everybody  time, followed by a short meeting which included handing out the packets of information and the official Rally Tee Shirts.

Old friends who have ridden many miles together in IBA rallies visited, talked about  bikes and the latest farkles.

It was a fun filled get-together and brought back memories galore of past rides, as well as a chance to see vests, patches, logos and share ideas from local clubs and riders groups from across the country.

The after dinner meeting brought together people who were ready to ride.
Some were handed packets with routes and GPS coordinates for the Florida Grand Tour and over 50 riders received packets of Digital Scavenger Hunt directions.

At 7:15AM the next morning riders began gathering at the Fort Island Gulf Beach Park for the pre-ride meeting. Bikes lined up ready for the official start at 8AM.
The variety of machines in the line up brought together everything from the latest rides to a few vintage machines.

It was a great morning with lots of tire kicking and visiting.

Ray King and his volunteer team checked everyone in and after a short meeting and group photo the days adventure began.

 It was a great ride beginning at 8AM at Crystal River on the Florida West Coast and ending at 5:30PM at Flagler's Beach on the East Coast.
Although I didn't follow all of the directions I did visit many interesting places during the six hour ride, including The Villages retirement Northwest of Orlando and made an extra effort to reach St. Augustine North of Flagler Beach.
Pulled off in one small town, whose name I don't remember and saw local folks putting on a Pre-Veterans Day celebration. It was partly sponsored by the local motorcycle dealer. Their were bikers from Northern Florida and Georgia all joining forces to honor veterans and their families.
I got a few of the visitors to pose for pictures when they stopped to see the sidecar and tent trailer rig.
What a good time visiting with people from all over the world who travel through on their vacations.
They included a group attending a witches after Halloween event in one town and people selling Tee Shirts at Fairs and Festivals all over the south.

I spotted some unique (to me anyway) beach houses along the way and enjoyed miles of beach side riding on Florida's A1A sea coast highway.
These houses rose from behind the sand dunes, raised high in the air by beams and columns.
The space beneath the homes provides storage areas for cars, bikes, boats and more.
For someone from the Montana mountains they were strange looking indeed.

The end-of-ride dinner and awards program at Martin's Restaurant was a good time, dampened by the news that two of the volunteers for the event, Ron and Tammy Allen had been injured in an accident in which their Honda Gold Wing had apparently been rear ended by a pick up truck. The group sent get well wishes.
The evening ended with awards for the rally riders with much laughter and fun as some recounted stories about their days ride.
I received a plaque for being the oldest rider in the group.
I may not be fast, but I AM OLD!
Thanks to Ray King and his team for the many hours of work they put in planning and putting this great day together.

Leaving daughter Diana and Ilidio to their remodeling project I headed for Texas two days after the tour event.
I rode out on a foggy morning with a good cloud cover.
A welcome relief after the heat wave which had engulfed Florida for the past couple of weeks.
The fog lifted by mid-morning, but the cloud cover stayed with me for most of the day.
It was a great 530 mile ride across the pan handle of Florida to the KOA camp at Milton.
The morning ride took me through Mobile, Alabama where the view of Battleship Park is always beautiful to see and the ride through the tunnel on I-10 is always exciting on the back of a motorcycle as some drivers ignore posted speed limits and zoom past the old guy on the bike with the sidecar.
One biker passed me and I have to admit, he had a great set of pipes on that Harley.
In the middle of the tunnel they really resonated. Great sound.
Mississippi has a great welcome center and the nice lady behind the counter came out to take a picture of me with an old friend. (well, Elvis always seemed like a friend to those of us from the 50's.)

The target for the days ride was the KOA camp at Lafayette, Louisiana. It was a short 265 mile jaunt and with sunny skies I made good time arriving by mid-afternoon.
Shortly after setting up the tent for the night, the rains came.
Seems like every time I stop in this area, it rains.
And not just showers either. It really rained and  continued far into the night.
The next morning started with a few sprinkles.
Well, maybe they were showers.
I got out the rain gear.

As I got closer to the Texas border the rain eased off and finally stopped altogether.
The big Texas Welcome Center had lots of  construction going on, but the folks were friendly.

I did try out my new Blue Tooth Selfie stick for a picture.
After seeing the results I'm not sure I want to do that anymore.
The ride into Houston on the Sam Houston Toll road was much faster, now that I am the proud owner of a Texas EZ Sticker.
Riding the toll road is much easier when you don't have to stop and fumble for change at each toll booth.
Brother-in-law Stan was ready for me and had the garage cleaned out and ready to store the bike and gear. A text message from daughter Joni said they would be buying dinner.
It was a fun dinner with Joni & Gary, and Stan's daughter Shellie and his Grandson Johnnie.
Life is good.
Grand Daughter Jerusha wasn't able to make it since she was riding to the dinner with her boy friend who discovered too late that he was working and couldn't  come.
I think he might be in trouble with either Jerusha, her Mom, or her Dad, or all of the above.
We'll see them before we head back to Florida next week.

So many people have brought good things into my life as I  continue my border-to-border and coast-to-coast sojourn around this wonderful country we call America.
Thanks to you all.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Weekend Ride In Florida

 What began as a Saturday ride with the Motorcycle Ministry group from Northland Church in Orlando from Lake Mary to Cocoa Beach, Florida began to come apart on Friday afternoon.
The tight, smooth ride I was used to with my sidecar rig became soft and mushy. Right turns were suddenly shaky experiences.
I thought the struts were coming loose, but Ilidio spotted the real problem. A BROKEN strut!
The lower, front pipe running from the sidecar to the bike had cracked in two.
It could have been wear and tear on the rig during the thousands of miles I have put it through, but I have a suspicion that it was the result of my wild dash through the ditch and over the steep bank to get off I-10 in Houston during my cross country 50cc Quest ride.That was a rough way to get off the interstate and the rough ride may have caused the crack.
Whatever the cause, if I was going to make the ride in the morning I had to find help. That help came in the form of Lloyd the Welder who on Saturday morning used the skill that comes with forty years of being a welder and made it as good as new. Thanks Lloyd. Great job!
Unfortunately, I was now to late for the meet up with the Christian motorcycle group and set out on a solo ride to Cocoa Beach.
The ride was going great and I was enjoying a sunny morning ride when I noticed the spare tire on the back of the sidecar had come partially loose and was flopping up and down in the 70 mile per hour wind. I pulled off the freeway and got as far away from the traffic as possible to make the repair needed to keep the spare solidly in place. As I was using an extra bungee cord to lock it down help was arriving on the scene in the form of Alonzo Ryan, a Florida Buffalo Soldier Rider who pulled his Harley to a stop some distance down the rod and walked back see if he could be of any help. Although I had finished with the tie down we had a good visit and he took time for pictures, including one of the back of his vest, showing that great Buffalo Soldier logo. When he learned that I was heading for Grills Restaurant in Cocoa Beach he said, "Follow me, I'll take you there."
Although it meant riding some forty or fifty miles out of his way, he said, "It's what we do Brother, it's what bikers do."
The riding  community has some great people in it and my new friend Alonzo Ryan is one of them.
He led me to the Grills parking lot and with a final hand shake was back on his own ride.
Thanks Alonzo.
I missed meeting the group again but enjoyed a solo lunch of  a Maui Maui fish sandwich and then moved back onto the highway for a run up Florida Highway A1A to the Cape Kennedy KOA campgrounds at Mims, Florida.
This is the same KOA that I stayed at for the Orion launch on my last trip south.
It's a well run KOA and this time had a special surprise.
LIVE music for a Halloween Party in the Recreation building, next to my camp site.
The music ran from 7PM to 10PM and was loud enough to hear clearly from the comfort of my tent.
Sunday morning began with the change in  time and an early start for a ride through the Merritt Island Wildlife refuge.This huge park has many narrow roads and trails to follow and a friendly, helpful staff at the Visitor's Center.
I rode to the Canaveral National Sea Shore and as far as the entrance to the beach and then turned back to do, what the Visitor's Center staff had called the bikers favorite ride down Florida state highway 3 through the park.

Here I almost had a great video as I drove through a large flock off carrion  birds feeding on a large road kill. I snapped on the Garmin handlebar camera, only to discover the battery was dead. Well, I'll charge it up before he next ride.
The next missed video was the draw bridge which suddenly began to go up as I approached.
I did get stills as the bridge was raised to allow a ship with a very tall mast pass through. You can see the mast to the left of the bridge.
Leaving the park I moved onto Florida One and headed North towards Flagler's Beach.
Spotting a Waffle House a few miles North of Daytona Beach I felt a twinge in my stomach which had survived most of the morning on a bottle of Ensure and a fiber bar.
It had been a great Sunday morning ride through some great Florida back country and I was ready for a break.
The Waffle House lived up to it's name, even though I skipped the waffle and went for the eggs, toast, bacon and hash browns.
As I was paying my bill a group of Lady Bikers  came in and sat down in  the next booth.
They were wearing fancy vests with their club logo, Leathers and Lace on them.
I showed them my small Last Chance Riders Motorcycle patch and asked if I could get pictures of them and their vests for a BLOG post. Raven , Pepperoni and MacGyver agreed and the result is here displayed.
They explained that they were a local women's biker group from Daytona Beach.
It is good to see so many women riders and the clubs and programs they support with their rides.
Thanks to the proud members of Leather and Lace for posing with, and for, the old guy from Montana.
Leaving them to enjoy their lunch I headed for the parking lot to continue my ride north.
As I headed for my rig I spotted a nice looking couple wearing Biker Vests with great looking logos.
Of course I asked them to let me get a picture, knowing that many of the readers of this BLOG have asked to see more pictures of the people I meet in my sojourns across the country.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit with so many people from around the world.
Pedro and Sandra, are proud members of the National Motorcycle Club of Puerto Rico.
Sandra and I posed for Pedro as he snapped a picture of us.
Flagler's Beach was the scene of a huge Outdoor Community Market cars parked on both sides of the street for two miles or more. I finally found a place to pull over and get one Surf Shot. Waves were higher in other areas but no way to stop for pictures.
So here is your Surf Shot for this trip. Enjoy.

This has been a fun filled and exciting weekend ride, even though the beginning was a little slow.
And even the crack in he support strut brought me together with a fine gentleman who did a great job getting me back on the road.
Many Thanks to all of the folks who have helped me and shared stories along the way.
And Thanks too, for the prayers and support from family and friends.
Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist