Monday, December 29, 2014

Settling In- Christmas in Florida

The next day after arriving we got the bikes out, and they still run! We took a little ride around to get the feel again. I even remembered how, imagine that! Feels good to be back in the saddle. Oh how I missed my Harley!

The following week we took a tour to check out the new Harley Davidson, Six Bends in Fort Myers that was recently built. 

(Here is a video of the construction if you are into that ) 

I would describe this place as the ‘Disney’ park for motorcyclists. Within the 54,000 square foot building are enough Harley’s to have you drooling and wishing you had even a fraction of the pocket money to get one. 

Outside is a zen-like atmosphere any self-respecting motorcyclist would love to hang out at and admire their bike that sits a few feet away from them. Tall palms line the park like setting with several fire pits to chill out at after a long ride (I am guessing J ) The concert area of Rocker Field sprawls out in front of the store where they offer live entertainment on Wednesday and Sunday. (Will have to add that to the list of must do). So far I have not been able to find out if this live entertainment costs anything, I looked at their event calendar but it does not mention a fee, I can’t see how they could put this on without a cover charge of some type, but you would think they would let you know either way. (Maybe the cost of their T-shirts affords them to offer free entertainment… ) I would recommend checking it out; it is quite the place.

Have not been on any really long rides yet, although we never do until after Christmas and New Years is over. I put up our mini tree that my mom had given me to bring to Florida the first year we started coming here before Christmas. I even brought a few more decorations this year to spread around the house. (Probably will bring a few more next year too) I still find it strange to be wearing shorts on Christmas day even after spending Christmas here for the last three years. I guess my many, many years in Canada with snow covering everything in a thick white layer has me associate Christmas with it. (Not that I am sad for not being buried in snow and freezing my butt off.) 

I hear all the snow melted back home this year and it was a green Christmas, however the temperatures were just above 0, way too cold for the likes of me And if I know Canada, I am sure there is much more of the white stuff to come…

Screech and Fred were quite happy Christmas morning; they got high on their catnip and then slept the day away.   

To keep in touch with my family we use Skype to say all our well wishes to each other on Christmas day, but this year my Dad’s computer just couldn’t connect, apparently Skype told him that his computer is too old for video chat. [Hmm, my laptop is six years old, should I be worried…]
At least the phone still works!  (However it would have been nice to see everyone). You don’t seem to need the newest phone in order to place a phone call, at least not yet. I am sure there will come a time when you will need to replace your telephone every three years… that is if there is still telephones…

Christmas dinner consisted of having a fondue, how retro of us. You can’t be in a hurry to eat when most of your time is spent with a little stick in the boiling oil. But I guess that is the point. Nothing says Christmas like a fondue, <sarcasm here> at least I put out Christmas Tree napkins. The plan was to sit outside under the Lani and have our nice intimate fondue, but it was a bit too chilly out for me – we had a cold snap Xmas day and it went down to 20C! -  (I am sure it would have been fine for most normal people, but I am far from normal <wink>) So instead, we set up the little fondue pot on the coffee table in front of the TV and over the next couple of hours had our Christmas Fondue Supper. I think we may have started a new Christmas tradition; it certainly had all the mess and work of a Christmas Supper that I grew up with. Next year we might even get to sit outside… 

I actually managed to get to the big five-oh as in 50! Imagine that… (Fate was especially cruel to me by having me born not only right after Christmas, but also in a freezing cold country!) But it finally rewarded me after years of shivering on this day. I am glad to finally be in the sunshine, especially on this momentous occasion rather in the wintery north.  Everyone was asking if I was going to have a big party when I turned a half of a century, they should know me better than that.  And it certainly did not bother me in the least to not be in Canada when this mile stone was to befall me. 

 Instead I celebrated my half-century my way and I got to do what I love. We took a nice bike ride and put on about another 90 miles, (yep, I can feel all 90 this morning) going through the quaint town of LaBelle over the Caloosahatchee River to stop at our favourite park along the river, Bob Mason. Travelled on through the country setting of Alva and then over to the picturesque landscape of Buckingham.

Afterwards we went to dinner at our favourite restaurant the Ale House in Fort Myers and sat on the patio to enjoy a drink and great meal. It was around 8 pm when we got home and decided to sit under the Lani with our newly bought Christmas Lights, (half the price after Xmas!) I mean Party lights, where I feel asleep in my chair before 9 pm – ah, so this is turning 50! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Road Trip

Dec 9-14
We left the house at 8:19 am. The weather was clear, traffic was moving well and even the sun had made an appearance by the time we got to the 407 – toll-road. The plan was to exit at London and to cross at the Windsor border, then travel the I-75 to Florida. Plans change. 
We unintentionally missed our exit. Maybe, it was a subconscious decision or we were just so happy to be finally heading south. Either way, we blew past our exit and by the time we realized it, there was no point in turning around. We stayed on until the QEW exit that would take us past Hamilton and through onto the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie. (Personally, I think my other half wanted to go that way)

Thankfully Screech & Fred quieted down about an hour into the drive. They must of remembered from the last trip that it was going to be a long day… 

I would of thought that the Peace Bridge would have been backed up and we would have to wait to cross, but to my surprise there was hardly a car on the bridge. We breezed through and besides stopping for a few questions with the customs officer it took only three minutes from the time we crossed over the bridge and got back on our way down the highway. From the many crossings we made at Windsor, we half expected to be stuck in a long line of cars.

We had come back this route for the first time in the spring when we left Florida to go back to Canada and were surprised that it was a slightly faster and easier route, well easier in the sense the traffic is a lot lighter than heading through the more heavier populated cities through Detroit, Ohio and Georgia, not to mention sometimes the mass of congestion through most of Florida. We managed to shave almost two hours off our time. Add to that the stretch from Toronto to Fort Erie is a lot quicker and less boring than the flat, painfully long Toronto to Windsor route.

Only problem with the I-95 route, it has a few tolls – they really are not that expensive, all totaled a mere $5.80 US. It also takes you over the mountains in Virginia, (a breeze to drive in good weather but could be a nightmare to drive in a snowstorm – that is why we had never went this way to go down before, we usually leave in a snowstorm…) The only other problem with this route is there is a lot more watching for which highway to take next. Unlike just following I-75 all the way south, this route makes you work for it. 

In the six years we have been coming here I never drove, until now. We switched at our gas/pit stop in Angola NY at about 12:30 pm and I was more than happy to be the co-pilot again when we stopped again in Waynesburg PA at 4:30 pm. 
(Of course I managed to miss our first exit towards Pennsylvania – <grumble> I probably lost about 10 min. for that) 

Not that I minded driving, (I usually prefer to be a driver than a passenger) but I have to admit I was a bit stressed, more so because it was unfamiliar roads to me, and when the traffic got heavier it had an effect on me. Never seemed to bother me before, I must be getting old… 

We continued on to Hillsville Virginia where we stopped for the night. We pulled in at 9:14 pm. We now only stop at Best Western motels. Our experience with motels on the way down is that “pet friendly” rooms can be the most disgusting rooms that travellers can sleep in. At least at a Best Western we found them to be clean with slightly worn furniture. It is also nice to have a fridge and microwave in the room.

Virginia marks the halfway point to our destination. Making our first leg of our journey a 13-hour day. I would rather just make the one overnight stop than drag it out longer, I just want to get there! 

Screech & Fred were happy to finally get their bathroom break but then serenaded us the entire night. Pay back….
Dec 10-14
The next morning we were on our way by 6:44 am. Quite a chilly morning at only 4.5 C but I was hopeful that by the afternoon we would be in Florida and in at least double digits. We hit traffic through North Carolina, but I figure it was just the morning rush. The rest of the way went fairly smooth.

I didn’t offer to drive again, Screech and Fred had kept me awake all night so my head was so fuzzy I didn’t really trust myself to get behind the wheel. My honey slept a bit more than me, I heard him snoring a few times – that is always a dead give away.

Overall the traffic moved well on the I-95 route. Except for a couple of accidents along the way and running into rush hour that slowed us down to crawl a few times, I prefer this route over  I-75. 

About 12 ½ hours later we pulled in the driveway at 7:37 pm – I was right, it was at least in the double digits. I would of chosen higher double digits than 11 C degrees, but it is sure better than what we had left with snow covering the ground, holding at a steady 0.

Home Sweet Florida Home J
It is great to be back!

Florida didn’t let me down, the next day I was ready to sit in the sunshine by the pool… - now to get my bike on the road J