Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 – Swamp Cabbage Festival –2/23

*Note: If you are new to my blog may I suggest you read "the back story on the Frozen Canuck" first - Also you might want to start from the bottom up in the blog archives list to the right of the page* 

Today we went on the bikes to the Swamp Cabbage Festival in Labelle Florida. (The festival is a yearly event that happens at the end of February).

It is always a nice ride to get to Labelle going along the North River Road – which follows along the Caloosahatchee River. 

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[The Swamp cabbage festival started way back in 1965 in LaBelle Florida; a little town of only 4,000 people and situated along the Caloosahatchee River. The main entertainment and vendors are located at the waterfront in Barron Park.]

Caloosahatchee River
What is a Swamp cabbage you might ask? — it is the "Heart of Palm," the meat of the Cabbage Palm Tree which also just happens to be Florida's state tree. (Also referred to as The Sabal Palm). 
Cabbage Palm Tree
Apparently Swamp Cabbage is quite a delicacy, and you can find Swamp Cabbage Fritter vendors throughout the festival all claiming to have their own original recipe. 

I personally have not tried it (anyone who knows me, knows if I don’t like the look or smell of it, it ain’t going near my lips!) But from what I have heard from people who have, they love it. Here is a recipe I found online for Swamp Cabbage Fritters  ( just in case you want to try it and happen to be in Florida and come across a Cabbage Palm growing wild in a field – really, they just grow wild here)

This little festival (probably not that little, as I have read more than 25,000 visitors attend this festival every year) has it all from a parade, food, trinkets and live music, to the Armadillo races: you got to see an Armadillo race! I found this video of the Armadillo Races on youtube.

And of course another great place to “people watch”! (Watching people stuff their face while trying to walk at the same time, well you know what I mean…)
It was a very humid day (not that I am complaining  J ) with the temperature soaring into the 36 C (96.8 F) range (not the kind of a day you want to walk around in full motorcycle gear- *mental note – remember to take shorts and flip flops next time!) Suffice to say, we didn't stay long. Anyway,  it was nice to stop and check it out for a bit. 

We continued on to Immokalee to get our fruit and vegetables for the week from the Farmer’s Market. (see my post ‘the unexpected tour’  to find out more about the market) We were maybe about 15-20 minuets from home when all of a sudden I felt something wet hit my face, at first I thought “great, now I have bird crap on my face”, but then another and another, next thing you know that one not so innocent looking cloud decided to open up and pour down on us. 

It was raining so hard that I couldn’t see, so we pulled over (of course there was no overpass or cover to be found) and waited until it let up. After getting nicely soaked (Guess I am just lucky that way!) we took off down the road again. Less then a mile down the road you wouldn’t of even guessed that it had rained!  

I had been thinking on the way home how nice it would be to jump in the pool when we got home because it had been such a hot ride, well I am not hot anymore! - I got my wish lol 

2014 -My first ever group ride -2/22

*Note: If you are new to my blog may I suggest you read "the back story on the Frozen Canuck" first - Also you might want to start from the bottom up in the blog archives list to the right of the page* 

We finally did it! We went to our first ever ‘meet up’  with the Rebel Riders. The weather conditions were just right, for me. ;)   

Not only was it my first ‘meet up’, it was my first time riding in an actual group! Up till now it was always just myself and my other half. There was a group of seven of us altogether (that is including myself and my plus one) Ok, maybe it was not the largest group of bikers ever, but hey, it was a group non the less - I feel like such a ‘big girl’ now!  

Now I know why bikers travel in large groups, makes you feel like you’re in a parade! LOL

Talk about a grand welcoming, the plan was for two of The Rebel Riders to come out to meet us at a gas station close to our home base and then escort us back to the meeting place. When four of them pulled in I felt more like royalty with an entourage LOL - Gee, I felt so special  J 

So we headed to the scheduled meeting place, and met up with one more before we headed out to our planned tour. The destination was to have lunch at the ‘Ragged Ass Saloon’  (yes, that is the actual name of the place!) in St. James City on Pine Island.  Did they really call this tiny little sleepy fishing village a city?  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is more to Pine Island than we had originally thought!

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[An interesting ‘tid bit’ about Pine Island: Pine Island is the largest island (18 miles long, 2 miles wide with five unique communities) off Florida's Southwestern Gulf coast. Pine Island is home to four unincorporated towns: Pine Island Center, St. James City, Bokeelia, and Pineland. Matlacha also is considered one of the communities, but is on its own small island.  Pine Island has a small town atmosphere, with no traffic lights and mostly agricultural zoning. There are no large beaches and it is made from the same coral rock as the mainland. It is surrounded by mangroves and includes three aquatic preserves.] 

The Ragged Ass Saloon is a quaint little place situated by the water near a marina. It has a wonderful out door patio. We love patios!  (In Canada there are not many restaurants that have patios, it can get kind of chilly when it snows!) The outside patio is larger than the building and surprisingly busy, so don’t be in a hurry when you go there to eat. Just relax and take in the atmosphere, your on island time now!

I couldn’t convince anyone in our group to put their head in the donkey’s a** lol

The "gang" or should I say "group"

 (Obviously I am taking the picture) and yes I just happened to be the only girl on this ride…. 

Great bunch of guys! Very friendly and welcoming to us two Canucks J
Not that I am an expert on group rides... J but if you like a laid back ride then look these guys up! Thanks guys for letting us join you on this ride. We had a great time!

We have all heard of the saying ‘it is a small world’ well it truly is. The couple sitting across from us at the next table caught our attention because he was wearing a ball cap that said ‘Deerhurst’ (that is a popular resort in Huntsville, Ontario) My Honey went over to the guy and asked him if he was from Ontario, the guy was surprised and asked how we knew – We didn’t just know of Deehurst, it is practically in our back yard lol   Turns out they live very close by us back in Canada! And not only do they live close, they are also bikers! We will definitely have to look them up when we get back. Too bad they are only here for a short time this year and never took their bike. 

Imagine that, we have to go to Florida to meet our Canadian neighbours. lol

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 - The unexpected tour -2/17

*Note: If you are new to my blog may I suggest you read "the back story on the Frozen Canuck" first - Also you might want to start from the bottom up in the blog archives list located to the right of the page* 

Finally the weather has warmed up to what I call ‘sandy warm’. The sun is shining and it is 25 C (77 F), not quite shorts weather for me, but it is getting there J

The plan today was to take a little tour with the bikes to the Immokalee State Farmer’s Market with a side trip to Lake Trafford. Not a long ride, but after being cooped up for the last few days (it was just too cold for me J ) it will be nice to have the wind in my hair again. Even though we have been to Lake Trafford before, also in Immokalee, it has a beautiful little park there and makes for a nice ‘pit stop’. 

Lake Trafford is just a short drive off the main road (Route 29) that leads into Immokalee. Turn down Lake Trafford Road and head all the way down to the end; the road ends in the park so you can't miss it J Situated right along Lake Trafford is the quaint little Ann Olesky Park. You can fish in the lake from the covered dock or in the canal that runs along the side of the parking lot. You can also launch a boat there or take an Airboat ride or just enjoy the view of the serene lake at one of the covered picnic tables.  For the most part it is quite peaceful, except for the occasional Airboat that you will hear.

Patiently waiting to catch dinner…

The Immokalee State Farmer’s Market is a must see! It is a huge market, at least the largest I have ever been to. It has all kinds of fruits and vegetables and best of all it has great prices! There is no designated parking lot, you just make your way through the winding road with stalls on either side and just stop in front of the one you want. It is more like driving through a little village than a market. – A farmer’s version of a drive through J

As I was snapping a few pictures this guy wondered into the frame,

looks more like I am “holding him up” LOL 

Freeze! Hands in the air mister!
 I found this short (very short) video of the Immokalee Farmer's Market on youTube if anyone is interested

424 New Market Rd E, Immokalee, FL

After we bought some fresh fruit and vegetables we headed home, our route takes us along route 82 (Meadow Rd) a single lane highway that is a direct route to Immokalee. As I have said before, I love driving my bike in Florida, (mostly because it is warm - well most of the time..) and except for getting used to larger amounts of traffic I feel quite comfortable on the roads, except for one… 

We have logged quite a few miles on the bikes through parts of southwest Florida; places like Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, and Sanibel Island (if you check out Sanibel don't be in a hurry, you are in traffic that is backed up for miles), but nothing can quite prepare you for travelling along this stretch of route 82. The best way to describe this road: Use At Own Risk! This has to be the worst road to drive in southwest Florida and the large amount of Roadside Memorial Arrangements that stretch the length of this road seem to attest to that fact.

It is not the condition of the road that is the problem; the problem is the people who drive on it. The posted speed limit is 60 mph, (96 km) but some drivers think it is the Indy 500! You would be safer to drive on it when there is bumper to bumper traffic because then no one can pass you. 

[Once when driving our bikes, My honey was in front and there was maybe just about a cars length between us, (I like following when we ride, don’t ask me why, I just do) Anyway, we were driving along 82 and a car started to pass me, I am assuming he was trying to get past us both but suddenly there was an on coming car that was coming at a pretty good clip and he quickly cut in front of me – lucky I was paying attention and if I hadn’t slowed down he probably would of took out both of us trying to squeeze in between our bikes – that one took a few years off my life!]

As we headed home along 82 just as we past a side road called Corkscrew Road we came to a complete stop. The cars were backed up as far as you could see and there were absolutely no cars coming in the other direction. Obviously something had happened, no surprise. So instead of sitting on our idling bikes and sweating profusely (we always drive in full bike gear – safety first J) we decided to go down Corkscrew Road. This road really lives up to it’s name!
There is one curve that is a 90 degree turn, gear down before you get to it! The road winds through farms and panther territory, yes I said panthers! I have yet to see a panther cross any road that I was on… 

After we turned down Corkscrew road we knew that we would end up having to drive past the SW Florida Airport by turning onto Alico Road which then takes you to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway / Treeline Ave which then passes the airport. Quite the little unexpected bike tour to get home… although a very nice one J

So our so-called ‘little tour’ that was to be a couple of hours turned out to be an entire afternoon ride, but who cares when you are riding a Harley!

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 -Chattering teeth and motorcycles...

Is it just me? 
I am just one of those overly sensitive people who cannot even stand the slightest bit of cold. (I can get cold from having a ceiling fan on in the summer…) I could almost have gloves on while working at my computer this morning. No, I am not in the frozen Canadian north, I am actually sitting in Florida and this morning I woke up to a temperature of only 9 C (48.2 F) !

(This year has been the worst for all around bad weather in Florida. Maybe there is something to Global Warming, only I could never figure out why the heck they call it warming as it seems anything but warm). 

Ok I admit it, I am a ‘fair weather’ biker. If the temperature and wind speed is not right and the sun is not shining I just won’t go out on my motorcycle. Must sound crazy to those ‘hard core’ bikers out there who ride their bikes like they belong to the Mailman’s union. 

I was looking forward to my first motorcycle ‘meet up’ ( is an online community with groups and clubs for all kinds of interests that you can join) with the Rebel Riders Motorcycle Club. But I just couldn’t get past how cold it was this morning.
My teeth would be chattering out of my head if I tried to go out this morning. 

Honestly, I would need a snowsuit to get on my bike!

Lucky this group does this particular ride once a month, so I signed up for the one in March. I sure hope that the weather improves! 

Please feel free to let me know if you are as frozen as this Canuck is !

The journey continues further south

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

2013-2014 -Sunshine here I come…

{I have finally caught up to the current year}

2013 -The Trip…
In the previous years we have always left really early in the morning, (like 5 am early) well this year we decided to leave at least when there is daylight (we must be getting old – or I should rather say ‘older’  J  )  When the sun finally came up we noticed that it had snowed overnight and there had to be at least two feet of snow in the driveway, lucky our neighbour came by with his snow plow and cleared our driveway. We listened to the weather and it was calling for snow, but nothing to worry about, or so we thought… 

We were about 40 minutes into our trip and the weather was turning a little stormy, by Bracebridge the highway was snow covered and we started seeing cars along the side of the road in the ditch. We started to think that maybe we should turn back, just as we were contemplating that we hear on the radio that they closed the highway behind us – no turning back now – we managed to drive through the two foot thick snow that covered the highway (the key to driving in snow every Canadian knows, go slow and drive in the middle) – as we hit Orillia the sun was shining and the roads were dry and clear… I swear it just snows where we live…and at my parents...

Just to give you an idea of how much snow we have in Canada...
My mom sent me a picture of her house just after Christmas - winter has just begun....

 - The Weather…
The weather has not been as nice this year as in previous years, so far in the last couple of months we have had frost three times – yep, there goes our beautiful garden yet again – not to mention we have had quite a bit of rain and it has been damn cold! Never thought I would say that I would be cold in Florida! It was cold enough for me to have to put the heat on! – but then again, that really doesn’t tell you much as my core temperature pretty much feels like it is at zero most of the time unlike “normal” people at 98.6 F J

So, you guessed it, I am bundled up in layers, lucky I brought my fuzzy socks…
Guess it could be worse, we could be getting snow like Atlanta.

At least I got to see how tall the Areca Palms have gotten before they got frost…

(Great for privacy, just see the roof top of the neighbour – on the down side when they get frost it sets them back again, but at least they do manage to come back fairly quickly)

I love seeing the Hibiscus in bloom

2014 -In need of something do…

So with the weather not as nice as it should be for me to get out on my bike I decided it was time I put some colour on the walls after the holidays. When we bought the house five years ago, everything was white. White walls, trim, doors, cabinets and appliances – I personally hate a white kitchen. I know all you white fanatics out there will tell me that you can do a white d├ęcor using different tones and textures, I know….  I am just not into it J 

I wanted my “Florida-ee” look, so I chose light and tropical with the feel of a Caribbean ocean. And for you white fanatics, I kept all the trim and doors white, choosing to go with an Ultra pure white so that the wall colour pops  – sounds nice huh? 

Probably easier to show you than tell you… 

Here are a couple of the rooms:


Before - guest bathroom

After - guest bathroom

I have actually painted the entire interior of the house except for one guest bedroom… after that what the heck am I going to do if the weather stays cold… anyone need their house painted? lol

2014 –Bike tours:
The weather has really played a roll this year on keeping us from getting out on the bikes. (Mainly it is because of me, I am such a wimp when it comes to the cold) Hopefully as we get into March the weather gets better…

We went to the Fort Myers Bike Night – it was really cool seeing all the different bikes and if you are into ‘people watching’ it won’t disappoint you… - we did cheat though and took the car instead of the bikes – two reasons, would you believe that after five years of riding my bike I have never driven at night with it, and I don’t have any night driving glasses. We stopped at one of the vendors there, and we picked up two pairs of night driving glasses for $15, not bad. There is another Bike Night in March, so maybe we will actually ride our bikes to it then. (I better practice driving in my neighbourhood first)

Went back to the Everglade City Shrimp Festival this year, (Feb) pretty much the same as last year – more bikes than cars – I hate to say it, but it was more for the ride than the festival J

Here is a sad fact:  we are running out of places to ride – at least places to go that are more in keeping with a day trip. Right now I have my cats to care for, so we just can’t do the long trips.

..ain’t they just so cute… J

[For the record I am aware that “ain’t” is not a word J]

One day I would really like to go to Key West on the bike, I hear it is a beautiful ride. Also on my list is to go to Daytona.

- If you haven’t guessed by now, we kind of keep to ourselves, not that we don’t enjoy meeting people, guess we are both more on the introverted side… but I think we should change that, we should get out of our comfort zone and just get out there and meet new people and experience more. So I did something completely out of character for me and joined a ‘meet up group’ online. I don’t know about anyone else out there, but the older I get I just find it hard to go out and meet new people – (Check it out, - there are thousands of clubs of different interests you can join and they are from all over the place) – of course our interest is motorcycle riding, so I found a local club and we go on our first ride this Sunday!  Sure hope the weather is good, so far it calls for a cold morning, guess I better wear lots of layers! (Wonder if I would look weird in a snowsuit?) 

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The journey continues further south

2012-2013 – Woohoo, it is that time again!

- The Trip
This year we decided that we would like to spend Christmas in Florida, so we are packing up early and heading south. Also going to stay longer this year. (wonder if there will still be snow when we get back this time…)

Early December we packed up Fred and Screech, the bikes and headed south. Ok, got a little ahead of myself, the truck needed to be serviced, and wouldn’t you know it, the part they needed had not come in yet, so we had to wait. We got a late start and didn’t leave until after 2 pm that day, but at least we got to head out, and we managed not to hit a snowstorm either!! Because of the late start we took three days to get down, better late than never  J  

- The Christmas Experience
Wow, spending Christmas in Florida for the first time was great! A little weird though, and that was only because I have only ever seen mountains of snow around this time of year. I have to admit, having a nice ice cold drink in my hand, and lounging  by the pool sure beats huddled around the fireplace trying to keep warm while the wind whips over the yard in a frenzy and the falling snow forms a curtain so thick that you can not see across the street… yes, I was a little sad that this was the first time I was not spending Christmas with my parents but after speaking on the phone with them and hearing that it was –30 C I got over it J  (Sorry Mom)

Also strange was to see the yards decked out in all their Christmas glory and not a spec of snow (good thing, because if we ever see the white stuff here it is time to move) The prettiest thing that I liked most was seeing the tall palm trees lit up in lights. I brought down a few decorations, and a mini Christmas tree, just so I would remember that it was actually Christmas.

New Years Eve was kind of neat too, can’t say that I ever stood outside and watched fireworks from my front yard back home. – In the week before New Years, on almost every street corner you can buy fireworks (strange in a place where everything gets so dry and the empty lots are just a fire waiting to happen) … but hey, it is the tradition here and I am cool with that J Actually I have never heard of a fire happening because of the fireworks… There are quite a few people shooting off fireworks in our neighbourhood, so all you have to do is sit back and watch.

- An after Christmas Christmas present
I have been riding my little 250 four years now, and I love it, although the longer tours we take on our bikes the harder it is on our bodies – my 250 is not really a touring kind of bike if you know what I mean and my other half’s 850 Honda is on the small size to be comfortable for his over 6’ frame. I think I am ready to graduate from my ‘scooter on steroids’ to a ‘big girl’ bike J 

Wouldn’t you know it, we end up at the Harley Dealer (surprised?) We each found a used Harley that we liked, but we left feeling that we should at least think about it. We drove a couple miles down the road and pulled off into a church parking lot (there are a lot of churches here, pretty much one on every corner) and started talking about it. I guess we talked each other into actually buying them – or it was divine intervention – (our reasoning: if we don’t do it now, we will keep saying next year, and we are not getting any younger…) We turned around and went back. It was surprisingly easy to trade our Canadian bikes at the Harley dealer – they did everything (we both had clear title on our bikes) They put temporary Florida tags and we drove off the lot on our Harley’s! 

 Ok, there was a little snag and I actually never rode mine off the lot. (sounded much more romantic the way I first said it) By the time we did all the paperwork the weather started to turn bad and dark rain clouds rolled in. I was not very comfortable riding a ‘new’ bike for the first time in a rain storm, so my ‘honey’ being the ever sweet guy he is drove his bike all the way home in the rain and picked up the truck and trailer so that we could get mine home J 

What kind of Harley’s did we get you may ask?
 I got an Sportster (883 low)
and he got a Superglide

- Motorcycle Tours
Stopped at Lake Istokpoga on our way to Lake Placid – very nice ride, even kind of got lost and found some nice roads – drove through a little place called Old Venus, supposed to be haunted if you believe the Internet, but we managed to drive through without incident J

Took another shot at Lake Okeechobee, this time took route 78 through Moore Haven, got to about Fisheating Bay then turned around, it was getting late and another couple who had stopped there told us that it was a good days trip to make it all the way around the lake – next time… 
Lake Okeechobee
We always take a tour through Fort Myers beach; it is a nice ride. Note to self, remember not to do that tour during March break - you might as well get off your bike and walk it at that time of year… 

Went to the Shrimp festival in Everglade City, wow it was like a bike convention there, I swear there were more bikes than cars… for such a little town it puts on a really nice festival. 

Labelle also had a nice festival called the Swamp Cabbage Festival, it was a nice ride out there. I had never seen an Armadillo race before…

[Note to self: must remember to take more pictures...]

- The Goodbye
Awww, seems like we just got here and it is time to go...

Aaaah, so much snow…. Will it ever end…

2011 - 2012 – Getting away from the cold, about time!

- The Trip
Doing things a bit differently this year, we are heading out December 26. (notice that it is getting earlier every year…) Going to spend Christmas with my parents and then leave from their house on Boxing Day. (It is actually about an hour closer to get to the border from my parents – still four hours is long enough)

 One of my cats went missing over the summer, Toffee L (living in a rural area who knows what is out in the bush and I think something must have gotten him) They are indoor/outdoor cats but they are never far from home – probably because I spoil the hell out of them… So this year it will be just Fred and Screech. [In Florida I never let them run loose, they can go in the pool area because it is all screened in, but I am just too nervous to let them run free here.]

We ended up selling the RV, we figured that now we have the house we really wouldn’t use it. So back to grimy hotel rooms… Wouldn’t you know it, we hit more snow when we left! (I sense a theme here…) Took two days to get here. Pulled in pretty late at around 11 pm.  

- The Garden
The garden was coming along beautiful until the dreaded frost came again. This time it took our beautiful Banana Plant, it was doing so well, we planted two of them the first year we were here. We bought them over the internet and got them in the mail when they were just little sprouts… Even covering them couldn’t save them. Good thing is that they will come back  J   Most everything we planted has gotten shocked by the frost, including the Areca palms and Hibiscus that are around the pool. At least the Palm trees along the driveway could handle it better and don’t look so devastated. 

Banana plants a few weeks after getting them in the mail
Banana starting to grow (2011)
This year (2011/2012)
 After the frost – we removed the cover and it obviously did no good…

This year I decided to change the trim colour on the outside of the house, I like the main colour of the house - yellow, to me it looks ‘Florida-ee’ (yes, I know it probably is not a word J  ) however, that yucky brown trim has got to go! So I painted it with a nice dark turquoise blue, looks much more ‘Florida-ee’ now J



- Visitors
We have some guests coming this year, this time it is my other half’s family. Will be quite the houseful too, his mom, sister, niece and nephew. Lucky we have enough rooms J  Yes, we did a lot of touristy things when his family came, we went to Bush Gardens (incidentally that was the first time I ever was there, so I really enjoyed it) Went to Sanibel Island (a must see) and checked out all the beaches – we rode the bikes and let the family take the truck. Next was Fort Myers Beach, had a wonderful supper along the dock while the sun was setting... Also went to Everglade City (on the bikes of course) and we all took an Airboat ride (something else I had never done before) Guess it was good that I was acting like a tourist J It was great having guests, but now I need a vacation J

- Motorcycle Tours
Went to Pine Island, not much there – it is not where you go it is how you get there J

Headed to Lake Trafford in Immokalee (Ann Olesky Park) Very Pretty. 

We always seem to stop at the Harley Dealer in Fort Myers, even though we don’t have Harley’s (Yamaha and a Honda) You never know, maybe one day…. 
(I will have to buy one soon if I keep buying Harley clothes J )

- The Goodbye
Another year gone…

Well we had another very busy time this year, and I loved every bit of it. We haven’t even left yet and I already want to come back….

What a surprise, still snow….