Tigerboy's Domain
MZ Florida Trip to Key West : Jan 15 - 19, 2011

Lakeland - Miami : Jan 15-17   |    Florida Keys : Jan 18-19    |    Miami - Lakeland : Jan 19

As I continue North on US 1, I think of a need to effectively get around Miami to save time.
Aha, I see FL 997, a north-south route west of the city, straight as an arrow, will do the job and get me on a clear path back to Lakeland....

I stop at a Mobil to fill up in Florida City which lies at the junction of US 1 and FL 997.

A short while later I am in Homestead where I spot a neat art-deco theater

The main street of Homestead is nicely lined with palm trees.
And WOW, the sky is looking pretty scary. It could be nasty if I get caught in that!

Next I grab lunch at a Subway (I find their $5 footlong subs a great way to save money).
Right across from this plantation (not sure what kind of fruit grows on these trees)

I ask a state trooper if I can take a photo of his vehicle. Fortunately I've had no encounters with these guys so far.

The license plate is far more interesting than the ones on the state police cars back home. Very nicely designed.

Continuing on FL 997, which passed through flat farmland, and eventually this turns to swamp-land. Didn't see an alligator, though that is where they do live. I did see people pulled off the side of the road taking pictures so I figured that might have been an alligator sighting.

At the junction of US 41 is the great Miccosukee Casino, right next to their Reservation.
I see by now, my concerns for rainfall have subsided.

A canal parallels US 41, looking West. I could go back this way, but it would be a bit longer. US 41 continues to Ft. Myers with not much in between.

Instead I stay on FL 997 north. Which by now is nothing but a straight road, dead trees and sky.

Just before I get to US27, I come across the Miami MX Park. Of course I had to stop and check it out.
Unfortunately the gate is locked and the track is not visible so I figure it must be a ways back.
I wonder if this track serves the entire city of Miami. If that's the case, then this place must be really busy on race day.
And you can see rain just passed through this area, so my timing was great.

Once on US 27, it becomes apparent that I am definitely in no-mans land.

Yup, there's definitely STILL a lot of empty space in over-populated Florida.

You talk about a straight highway.

Powerlines on each side of the highway by now.

You know, I was wondering where on earth a city like Miami could dump all their trash.
Well, there's lots of room here. They can't bury it, though. Water table is too high. They have to pile it up.
And I think I did pass what seemed to be a trash dump, a place where lots of trucks were going in and out. The big semi-kind.

The second half of US27 (before getting to Lake Okeechobee) has a canal on the right.

I figure at least the scenery will get interesting once I reach Lake Okeechobee. According to my map, US 27 hugs the south side.
But wouldn't you know it, a giant levee blocks the view!

After riding a few miles, I spot an access road to the top of the levee. It looks like something for park vehicles, but I don't see any signs.

Once on top of the levee, I have a great view, though the lake really isn't much.
No doubt they built the levee to prevent certain flooding across this land flat as a pancake, during rainy season.

Wow, there's a road that runs along the top of the levee. It doesn't look like I should even be here, though I'd expect the workers with a pick-up truck in the distance would have flagged me down by now. *Damn* this road is just screaming hooligan.

So I continue along this road, I resist the hooligan temptation (not that I could wheelie to save my life...)

US 27 is visible down below. If this road dead-ends, I could always ride down the levee back onto the highway.
Though a marshy ditch that I'd have to cross makes this look questionable at various points.

Eventually the road leads me down from the levee into a state parks compound, and sure enough an officer drives up to me reminding me this park land, no motorized vehicles, therefore I was trespassing. I'm thankful he doesn't haul my sorry ass to jail. I told him I didn't see any signs the whole way. Anyway, I guess I got away by asking for forgiveness in this case. Whew.

Of course this means I can't use this road the next time I'm down in this area, but at least I can say I've done it.

Soon I reach Clewiston where I fuel up. Good thing my Baghira is getting 50 miles per gallon.
I must have travelled a good 100 miles with barely a hint of civilization.

Nice afternoon day with the flag flying high.

Heading north from Clewiston, US 27 is still straight as an arrow, but at least there are trees.

Which soon turn into orange groves.

I stop at Lake Placid, a really beautiful spot.

Lake Placid is another beach where the water looks tempting, if I had the time.
Though I'm making good time. I'll easily make it back to Lakeland before sunset.

Soon after, just of US 27 is this tall castle-tower, which I figure was built as a kooky tourist attraction.

I walked up to the tower, hoping to get a bird's eye view of flat Florida, and my Baghira, which would appear as an ant on the vast parking lot.
Drat, the place was closed, which I should have figured since there wasn't a soul around.

So, I guess I'll have to be content in admiring the shadow of my Baghira at ground level.

Sebring is another town along US 27 with a lake view.

As I was riding in the late afternoon, I was admiring the cool shadow my Baghira casts on the roadway. And it occurred to me...

You know, that's just it. You could be driving the most expensive car in the world and you still wouldn't cast a shadow as cool as any motard.
Just goes to show you. Riding. There's something about the great outdoors, I wouldn't have it any other way.


Just when you think it can't get any better, it can. A better shadow would be my MZ on one wheel. Not only would this be a challenge to photograph, it also carries a $1000 fine in this state. I've had no fine encounters with the police so far on the trip and I intend to keep it that way.
Besides, $1000 is a lot of money, more than the cost of my entire trip, including airfare !

There are numerous water towers in Florida (with no natural elevation, how else can they get proper water pressure?)
Might as well photograph this one, marked Sun Ray

A short while, more orange groves, this time, easily accessible from the roadway.

That sandy road sure looks tempting but it's late in the day, and it's no doubt private land, so I really wasn't in the mood to meet up with a farmer on a tractor who might be armed. And if you take so much as one orange you will have broken the Eighth Commandment Thou Shall Not Steal and be cast into the Lake of Fire. It's so easy to be lead into Temptation...

So I continue on, still on US 27 North, admiring my Baghira's shadow along the way.

A perfect day for Man and Machine.

I take US 98 which cuts across to Bartow. Interesting, I encounter two 30 mph curves along this route. I haven't seen a true highway curve since I started my trip. All this straight-line riding, I've forgotten how to lean the bike. I ride through both curves, a little wobbly from lack of practice.

Bartow is only 15 miles or so from Lakeland. I'm almost done. I stopped at an orange juice factory near the beginning of my trip so it was fitting to stop by the same near the end. Again, it looks like a refinery, but doesn't smell like one.

Here I am, back to home base. And an hour before my friend Steve gets off work. I love being ahead of schedule.

So I get to admire Steve's admirable digs.

After Steve pulls in, I get the necessary conclusion shot.

The MZ did it! The bike ran well. Too well. I got 50 mile per gallon on average, and now I got to figure out why my MZ back home only get 40. Next, I didn't burn a lick of oil. My MZ back home would have consumed about a liter of the stuff on a trip like this.

The rest of the trip is sad. Because the time has come to put my Baghira into storage and fly home.

So after dinner, I ride to Steve's rental property and put the MZ in the garage out back, then cover him up, all gas drained.
Ready to conquer the state the next time I come. Thanks to Steve for storing the bike for me and driving me to the airport.

The next day, I fly into Pittsburgh and drive home. Then the following day, I wake up to this:

And to think I was running the air conditioner in the Florida Keys just a couple days prior.

Grrr! I knew I should have stayed in Florida a little while longer yet!

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Page created Feb 26, 2011