It was finally time to leave the frozen tundra and dreary gray sky for the warm gentle breezes and bright sunshine that livens up the landscape of the south.
We rolled into Florida on Thursday (Dec 22) after three days on the road. (FYI: Actually, from where we are it could be done in two days but over the years we need the extra day. It is just easier on the ole body). At least the motels we eventually stopped at were decent, when we found one.
We decided to take I-75 down as opposed to the alternative I-95 route because of the possibility of winter storms through the mountains in Virginia at this time of the year.
EXCITEMENT ON THE BORDER
After eight years of travelling to Florida most encounters at the border go without incident and are pretty much a mundane experience until this one…
We crossed the border in Windsor over the Ambassador Bridge. Traffic was moderate as we pulled up to Customs around 5 pm. Along with the regular questions of citizenship, where and how long we were going for, this particular Customs Officer decided to inquire about my cat.
This was the first time I had ever been asked for the paperwork on my cat’s vaccination. Not a problem, I always get Fred’s rabies shots before we leave. Then I was asked what the brand of cat food I had with me. Of course, my mind decided to go totally blank at that moment. That prompted the Customs Officer to order us to shut off the car and stay put. We automatically unbuckled our seat belts out of habit, which immediately had the Officer shout at us to “STAY IN THE CAR”. Flustered at this point I threw up my hands like I was being arrested.
Another Officer came around the car to the passenger side and opened the back door.
The car of course was jammed packed to the roof with suitcases. Fred was in his carrier in the back wedged in the middle between the front seats. I always pack a ‘food box’ which I keep directly behind me and it was leaning up against the back door. (FYI: The ‘food box’ is filled with various snacks, my kettle for tea, tea bags, sugar, cups, and of course a few tins of cat food and a small baggie filled with some dry cat food). The box nearly fell out when the Officer pulled open the door.
The Officer in the booth kept barking at me to name the brand of cat food I had. I quickly swiveled around in my seat and yanked Fred in his carrier to the front and stretched into the back between the front seats. I proceeded to dig through the mounds of luggage to locate the bag that I had stuffed with Fred’s extra food. Finally, after rummaging for what seemed like an eternity I retrieved the original bag of dried cat food to show the name to the other Officer who was still refilling through the ‘food box’. After all that fuss the main concern was if the cat food contained “lamb”, it did not. (He could have said that from the start, Fred only likes fish and chicken – at least this week) By the way, the brand if you are wondering, Purina. Geesh, why could I not remember that!
It was going on 9 pm and we decided that it was time to stop for the night in Ohio. The first night we stopped at a Comfort Inn, most accept pets, however this one that we stopped at in Monroe was okay with dogs staying but wouldn’t allow my cat. (Discrimination if you ask me) Apparently, the owner is allergic. We then went back out on the highway and travelled until the next exit, but this Comfort Inn did not allow any pets! At least the clerk directed us to a Best Western down the road. Beautiful room, although it was much more expensive. Maybe because the bed is softer… doesn’t really matter I never sleep well in motels. I might get a couple of hours sleep if I am lucky. So is a soft comfy bed worth the extra cost for me, NO.
The second night we made it to the Florida border but with another five hours to drive we stopped just past the Welcome Center for the night in White Springs. Overall I couldn’t really complain on this trip. The traffic moved fairly well, except through Atlanta. There always seems to be a traffic jam of some sort going on through there.
By noon the next day it was a balmy 28 C (83 F) when we pulled into the driveway. Good to be home. Over the next couple of days would consist of unpacking and opening up the house. Lots of dead spiders and other strange black dots in the corners to clean up.
On the 24th the house was sparkling and fully unpacked. Now we just needed to pick up a few groceries. Of course, being Christmas Eve day it became a monumental task. Normally I would never set foot in a store the day before Christmas, but we really didn’t have a choice. So, fighting the crowds we managed to get enough supplies to get us through Christmas.
CHRISTMAS IN THE SOUTH
Christmas day I set out breakfast under the lanai, now that is something I can never do back in Canada, the snow is piled high and the average temperature is below 0.
By afternoon all the “Christmasy’ stuff was out of the way and more important things like getting my bike out of storage was on my mind.
Two days have gone by since getting to Florida and I still haven’t even been able to ride my bike, or in the very least gaze upon it.
My BF really likes to torture me when it comes to getting my bike out, he pretends to be uninterested and gives me that ‘I could care less’ attitude. Deep down inside I know he misses his bike as much as I miss mine.
After getting the bikes out of storage it was time to get them fired up. I watched as he hooked up the fuel line and battery. I guess I could do that myself, although then he wouldn’t feel needed if I did.
As he turned the key and pushed the ignition the dreaded sound every biker doesn’t want to hear, click-click-click. The battery was dead. He dragged out the battery charger and plugged her in, I crossed my fingers. It managed to turn over and run for a bit, but once again it sputtered and died. Maybe it just needed a bit more time on the charger… not to be. On closer inspection, it was in dire need of a new battery.
As to change the battery I suggested that the spark plugs should be replaced. As he pulled them out the rusty tips were an obvious sign. (Almost embarrassing really) Then I noticed that the slow leak in my back tire was a lot worse this year. Can’t put that off any longer. As soon as the stores re-open I will have to also get that taken care of. Well at least I got to see my bike on Christmas day. (And I of course sat on it for awhile)
GETTING SPORTY BLUE BACK ON THE ROAD
Finally boxing day arrived and it was off to the Auto Parts store. The first one we stopped at didn’t have the size I needed. Lucky for me there is practically an Auto Parts store on every street corner around here. After a short jaunt down the road we turned into another Auto Parts store. It must have been meant to be, I snagged the last one on the shelf. After my wallet was $118 lighter I was rewarded with the delightful roar as my Harley came to life. Now to deal with the back tire.
But first things first, the next day I had to get my license tag renewed before it expired on the 28th. After filling air in my back tire, we headed off to get my tags. It was just a short ride into town, but oh what a feeling to be back on two wheels!
On the 28th we headed over to Cape Coral to Soul Rebel Cycles on the bikes to see about my back tire. It was a beauty day to go for a ride. As suspected I did need a tire so after ordering a new tire, which should be in by Friday, we decided to head over to the Fort Myers Harley Davidson before going home. I couldn’t resist in buying myself a T-shirt, after all it was a birthday gift to me and I am worth it.
Shouldn’t be too long now before I can start plotting my riding adventures again!
I can hardly wait….