It’s not often we take off an entire week and it’s almost unheard of for us to do so without tandem cycling being a centerpiece of that time off. However, our dear friends and partners in crime when it comes to all things Harley-Davidson (David & Deb) cooked up a plan about 6 months back whereby we’d join them for a trip to South Florida and Key West. About 2 months ago everything got firmed up and the plan was to trailer the motorcycles from Atlanta to Homestead, Florida on a Saturday where we’d spend the night at David’s mother’s home then explore Miami Beach on Sunday. Come Monday we’d jump on the bikes for the 130 mile trip into Key West where we’d spend 3 nights before making our way back to Homestead on Thursday and then back home to Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday.
THE TRIP DOWN:
We started packing the Thursday night before our Saturday departure so we’d still be able to enjoy a normal Finally a Friday evening out at On the Border. Friday’s pre-departure activities consisted of a special lunch date to The One Eyed Mule with Debbie. After work I’d be stopping by David’s to pick up the trailer and load his Deuce on the way home where I’d load up my Wide Glide. With the bikes loaded, I’d then head off to dinner with my Sweetie to meet David & Deb at On the Border.
Saturday began around 6:00 A.M. with some final packing and we collected David & Deb and were headed South by 7:30 A.M. Fuel mileage on my truck was a pretty pathetic 11.5 mph at its best, and 9.5 at its worst, so all told we burned through about 66 gallons of gas over the 680-mile drive to Homestead. For the most part it was uneventful. I had to learn all about Sun-Passes and was extremely thankful we weren’t headed North on I75 or the Florida Toll-Road, as we passed four back-ups that had folks lined up at a dead stop for miles. Here’s hoping for something a lot better than that for the trip home on Saturday!
As we got closer to Homestead David called his mother Margaret and we made plans to meet at a local Chili’s for dinner around 7:30pm and finally arrived at his mother’s around 9:30 P.M. We went ahead and unloaded the motorcycles and our suitcases and then after visiting a while with his mother we called it a night.
The plan for Sunday was a ride north on route A1A to visit Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale if time permitted. I started my day rearranging the truck and trailer and getting the gear out we’d need for Monday’s motorcycle trip down to Key West. Back at the house David’s mother was busy making a huge breakfast which was wonderful, except neither Debbie nor I are big breakfast eaters.
I think it was around 10:00 A.M. when we finally headed out towards Miami. For a Sunday, traffic was pretty moderate to heavy along the coast. A1A had more than its share of stop lights so it wasn’t exactly the laid back cruise up the coast I had in my mind’s eye. In fact, nothing about South Florida matched my mental picture, including where the various cities were in relationship to each other! In some respects, travelling north from Homestead to Ft. Lauderdale reminded me of what it was like travelling north from Newport Beach California to Santa Monica on US Route 1.
When we arrived on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach we found ourselves in the middle of a major traffic jam as they’d just wrapped-up what appeared to be a pretty large, annual fund-raising Triathlon had been staged on Ocean Drive in South Beach. However, our timing turned out to be perfect as the temporary “no parking” condition that had been established for all of the street parking along Ocean Drive was set to expire at noon and it was 11:56 A.M. when we turned onto the strip. So, we simply pulled into a parking space and sat on our bikes for 4 minutes, then paid for our parking pass and went about touring South Beach.
Sadly, of all the unique and different places we could have eaten along the strip we ended up eating at a chain restaurant. It was a good meal, but a missed opportunity to check out one of the icon eateries along Miami Beach. It was only after lunch that we walked the strip and got to see all of the restaurants, complete with their hosts and hostesses out on the sidewalks working the passers-by to lure them in with ½ price drink offers and food specials. It was an amazing sight and the Art Deco architecture used for all of the buildings along the beach was pretty spectacular. Despite missing out on a culinary event that would have been worthy of description, we had a nice time visiting Miami Beach.
We continued north along A1A towards Fort Lauderdale and were somewhat amazed at all of the exotic cars, beach front villas and yachts that made up the landscape around the Miami area. However, our trip north was truncated by a very large, dark mass of clouds that began producing rain with an easy 15* drop in the air temperature as we reached the airport area. While I’m not an expert on Florida weather, my senses told me it was time to turn around and head back towards Homestead. Again, lots of stop and go traffic all the way back made for something more like a commute than a cruise. But, the weather south of Fort Lauderdale was nice so it made for a very nice first day in the sun for our week-long vacation.
Back in Homestead we ended the afternoon by attempting to have dinner at a local joint called Alabama Jacks; about a 20-minute ride out-of-town headed south towards the toll-road to the Keys. Sadly, when we arrived we learned the kitchen had closed about 15 minutes earlier and only the bar remained open. We headed back into Homestead and stumbled across a funky-looking place called the Mutineer. We decided to give it a shot after finding the backside parking lot filled with motorcycles and live music coming from the outdoor bar area. We opted to have our lunch inside the lounge and it was pretty good. It was also the start of my nearly all-fish lunch & dinner eating habits for the next week. No sense in being in South Florida and eating anything other than what’s indigenous to the area!
That was about it for our Sunday. It had been a long day and we had a big day ahead on Monday with our 130-mile motorcycle trip along the Overseas Highway to Key West.