Ridin' Around with John Boettcher

RIDING AROUND   - Florida, November 2001

 

My six day Florida trip on the raT-3 went rather well. I left work the Tuesday before Thanksgiving early enough to beat the Chicago rush hour traffic. The weather was decent, in the mid thirties and sunny. The bike was blowing oil smoke any time I went over 65 mph, so I didn't push it hard.

 

I did boring freeway duty to a little east of Nashville, Tennessee and got a motel room. It was around 10:00 P.M., so I grabbed a quick bite and hit the sack.

 

Wednesday I left before sun-up and rode I-24 to almost Chattanooga and then broke off into Georgia. Georgia Highway 136 was a very scenic road filled with twists and turns. The sun was out as I rolled onto U.S. 27. I found Georgia Highway 100 in Summerville and continued south to Cedartown where it hooks back up to U.S. 27 again. Alt U.S. 27 split off and I rode down that until I came to Georgia 41.

 

I later ran into Georgia 45 which led me to U.S. 27 once again. That pretty much was it until Tallahassee where I hooked up with my friend, Harold McLean.

 

Later he and Pam treated me to wings, seafood, and drinks over at a local joint called Calico Jack's. Pam was going to drive over in the car and Harold and I rode over on bikes, me on the T-3 and Harold on a Harley chopper that he built himself. I was following him as we almost got busted by a cop. We were doing around 70 mph, but luckily it looked like the cop was shooting radar in the opposite direction. My friends Steve and Bobbie Buckingham showed up to join us and we all had a darn good time.

 

I left Harold's early Thursday morning. He and Pam were going to fetch a bike in South Carolina, and I was going to continue south. I rode U.S. 90 most the way to Starke, then Florida Highway 16 to the St. Johnís River and down Florida 13 along the river.

 

Itís a very nice piece of road. Then Florida 206 to Cresent Beach and down historic A1A to Daytona. It was $5 to ride on about three blocks worth of beach. Jeez, I remember when you could ride 20 some miles of beach for free.

 

I left Daytona on U.S. 92 to DeLand and then Florida 44 to Mt Dora. (I didn't see no Mount!!) It was great to be riding in a T-shirt again!

 

A little bit of Florida 19 and Florida 33 to Lakeland and Florida 37/62 into the Bradenton area. I met John Olsen and family from the MGCL on the Internet. I showed up after their dinner but they fed me well with leftovers and fresh oysters. We tipped a few and I really enjoyed my visit.

 

I left and went over to Tim and Connie Smith's house, good friends from when I used to live in Bradenton. Tim saved me a dinner plate so I stuffed myself a little further, the oyster stuffing was hard to resist! They put me up for the night like always.

 

Friday morning I stopped in nearby Ellenton at the Mansion Memorial. I work with a guy whose grandfather passed away years ago and he never got a chance to see his memorial plate so I told him I'd find it and take a picture of it for him. The things I do! I left there on U.S. 19 and then took the skyway over Tampa Bay and up around Tampa to U.S. 41. I usually like riding through Brooksville, but it was all torn up with road construction. Up a little further a woman was selling smoked mullet and mullet roe out of the back of her pick-up so I bought some of both and had a tasty lunch on the side of the road. That's something you sure don't get up north!

 

I split off on some county roads then U.S. 129 to Live Oak where I was suppose to meet a woman I used to work with who was up there visiting her family. She didn't show, got soaked in the rain for nothing. The rain cleared as soon as I got back to Tallahassee.

 

Harold was still up in South Carolina so I bunked at Steve and Bobbieís after going out to dinner. I looked at the weather radar before I left Saturday morning and saw a long strip of a storm that went from Dannyville (Slidell, Louisiana) all the way to JB Weldland. (Wonder Lake, Illinios.) It looked like I could make it to Alabama dry so I rode west on Florida Highway 20 through the forests and it was a very nice warm ride. T-shirt weather again!

 

I went up Florida 85 to Crestview and stopped at a Super 8 Motel for a listings book. The lady there was nice enough to turn the weather channel on for me and I saw that the storm was about to the Mississippi/Alabama border. I thanked her and left. I took secondary roads up to U.S. 84 and headed into the storm. It looked about 75 miles wide on the radar and heading due east, so I wanted to go through it straight west and be done with it. It got a little nasty and I heard there were tornadoes, but I didn't hit anything too bad. Sure enough, it cleared by U.S. 49 and I had great and cooler weather all the way to Memphis.

 

I moteled up and went down to Beale Street, pretty cool partying place with all the blues clubs and street bars. I had fun with the bums, when one would walk up I'd ask him, if he had any money to spare before he asked me. You should of seen the looks I got!

 

I had a blackened, rare steak (thankee!) at BB King's place along with collard greens and black-eyed peas. Great time and good food!

 

Sunday was just a normal, freeze your tail off - welcome to the cold, cold north, ride home. T-shirt weather was officially over with. It was a very enjoyable trip, about 3400 miles in all. The bike ran great but used 2 Ĺ quarts of oil. It would blow smoke clouds out the exhaust any time I was going over 65 and doing a lane change. At least no breakdowns!

 

Anybody got any used 850 rings laying around? (Actually, my pal Chris Collins read my request on the MGCL and gave me mildly used cylinders, pistons and rings.)

JB


Roadside Snack

Who says you canít get 10,000 miles out of a $36 tire?

St Pete - going down Skyway at 60 mph

Skyway - picture taken at 60 mph

Copyright ©1999-2012, John Boettcher, all rights reserved
Contact John at:  ratguzzi@hotmail.com