Monday, October 04, 2010

Yes, I've been to the Florida Keys

Bride of Rove is among my readers and, noting my BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day feature, wondered today if I've ever participated in any motorcycle rallies in the Florida Keys where she lives.
I'm sorry to say I've only been to the Keys once - in October, 1993.
That was a high mileage year for me and my 1991 BMW K100RS. I rode to Daytona Beach Bike Week in late winter and Oregon and California that summer. By October, I still had some vacation time left and figured a ride to the Gulf Coast would be a nice wrap-up for my riding season.
I made it from Indianapolis to Valdosta, Ga. the first day and from Valdosta to the KOA at Fiesta Key the next. I had dated a woman from Islamorada a year or so earlier and, knowing my interest in newspapers, she sent me several copies of the local paper. As a consequence, I knew I was just down the road from the Lor-E-Lei Cabana Bar and Restaurant, so I rode there for a couple of O'Doul's non-alcoholic beers (I was on the bike and I never drink alcohol and ride) and to check out the Weather Channel on the bar TV. I also bought a Lor-E-Lei t-shirt.
Preparing to ride back to my campsite, I was putting the t-shirt into my left saddlebag in the parking lot when I heard someone call my name. I looked up to see my old friend Richard Sheek from Franklin, Ind., grinning at me from the driver's window of his pickup truck. Dick, a fellow WWII militaria collector, was on a Florida vacation with his friend Jackie and they had just pulled in to the Lor-E-Lei because a friend had recommended the place.
We went inside and had dinner together to celebrate the amazing coincidence.
I rode down to Key West the next day and had myself photographed next to the Southern Most Point marker.
I rode up the west coast of Florida, revisiting  the Bubble Room on Sanibel Island for lunch, on my way home.
I keep meaning to get back to the Conch Republic, but it hasn't happened since. Maybe this winter...

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