Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fort Myers ‘Beach Cruise’ (motorcycle tour)

Monday Feb 23, 2015

We finally went on our annual ‘Beach Cruise’. We like to start this motorcycle tour from Bonita Beach Road and then follow it through to Fort Myers beach. Although from past experience we know better than to do this route during March break. (A couple of years ago we made that mistake, having to waddle along on our bikes sweating profusely waiting for the traffic to move an inch at a time) But it’s a Monday today and still February, surely it would not be too bad to head out there…

Wrong!  It turned into the reminiscent stop and start, getting a cramp in your hand from working your clutch too much, busy. Maybe it had something to with the fact that this month has not been ideal sun bathing or biking weather for that matter. (As you may have noticed by the lack of entries I have)

While the rest of the country has been under mountains of snow and has traded places with the Arctic, we too have had our share of cold resulting in frosty mornings and generally crap weather. In fact it has been such a chilly February this year that today was the first really warm day in weeks. Whatever the reason, obviously, we were not the only ones who wanted to take advantage of it. 

The ride was pleasant enough until we turned onto Estero Blvd. and found ourselves at a complete stand still as the two-lane road merged to a single lane. Then there was that one hair rising moment when Mr. Wisconsin SUV who had waited until the last possible moment to merge into the bumper to bumper traffic, decided that he could fit between two motorcycles! After my ‘honey’ yelled a few choice words as we abruptly stopped to let him get in front of us instead of letting him wear us like a hood ornament and a tail fin. We then continued to crawl along at a snails pace through Bay’s and Big Hickory Island. Finally we were moving again as the traffic thinned out over Lover’s Key on our way to Fort Myers Beach. At least this gave the sweat that had started to pool in the creases of my motorcycle jacket a chance to dry up. (Mr. Wisconsin SUV finally turned off at the Lover’s Key park entrance – I suppose he was in a hurry to get the canoes that were strapped to his roof in the water before it evaporated)

Fort Myers beach was just as congested as we finally pulled into the parking lot that borders along the beach. Cars were circling around the full parking spaces like vultures waiting for their chance to dive bomb into the next opening. Heh, heh, the best thing about site seeing on a motorbike, when you stop you can always find a parking space! Not to mention that Fort Myers has a ‘Motorcycle Only’ space in the parking lot. J  We then headed over to the pier to take in the scenery (as in do a little “people watching” – what else do you do at a beach <grin>).

It sure felt like March break by the sea of beach umbrellas that littered the shoreline as far as the eye could see. However on closer inspection, instead of hordes of tiny bikini clad and shirtless young people sporting sunburns, the majority was a mass of shrivelled bronzed retirees shuffling along the walkways and laying on the beach like dead fish that have been washed ashore. 

I am not one for just lying on a beach for hours letting the sun bake me like a casserole. Instead, I prefer going for a nice walk along the shore letting the foamy water tickle my toes, however there were just too many people crowding the beach for me to even venture out onto the sand.

So we sauntered along the pier and watched a few pelicans trying to steal a free meal from the fishermen who were lazily dangling their hooks from above. 

At last our 4-hour tour (most of which was spent sitting in traffic) had come to an end. We arrived home at 3 pm which was perfect timing for our afternoon cocktail. J 

Believe it or not, I was a sweaty mess. (Even I sweat when temperatures reach 29C /84F ) So as I changed from my sticky bike clothes I happened to glance in the bathroom mirror and to my horror I realized I had gotten totally sizzled! – I am now resigned to look like a red-faced raccoon…  
hmmm, eerie resemblance don’t you think? LOL


Sunday, February 1, 2015

St. James City, Pine Island Florida

Jan 30, 2015

The weather has not been ideal lately to go cruising out on the bikes. Yes, I admit it, I am a fair weather rider and proud of it!  But finally the weather has warmed up a little - it was only going up to 23 C (73 F) today - however once we were on the road I noticed that the wind, which must have been at least around 20 km /12 mi. had a very cold raw edge to it. (In my world, the wind speed should be 10 km /6 mi. tops, even better I would not have any.  J). Anyway, I was just happy to finally be out on my bike again and persevered through the chilling wind. 
(OK, for all you snowbound Canadians, I won’t complain, (too much <grin> ) - compared to Canada, 23 C is the middle of summer)

I decided for our tour today we should go back to Pine Island and in particular, St. James City. It would make for a nice ride, not too far, yet far enough to satisfy the ‘rider urge’ J
(You might remember, last year we had went there to the Ragged Ass Salon with the Rebel Riders).  

Geo Fact:   Pine Island is 17 miles long and 2 miles wide with mostly agricultural land and is surrounded by mangroves, so there are no large beaches to lounge on. Even though it is the largest island in Florida, it still retains much of its natural landscape. The island is made from the same coral rock as the mainland and includes three aquatic preserves. Pine Island consists of five communities; Pine Island Center, St. James City, Bokeelia, and Pineland including Matlacha which is actually a small separate island.

Pine Island Road (County Rd 78) is the only road that connects Pine Island to the mainland with a two-lane bridge that leads over to the two-mile Island of Matlacha,
(FYI: pronounced "MAT-la-shay")

Matlacha is a bustling little town packed with quaint and very colourful, albeit over priced shops for the tourists, along with a few seafood restaurants nodding to its history as a fishing village. The traffic was bumper to bumper as we drove through, but that just gave me a chance to take in all the colour of the town. 

We made a brief stop (so I could at least snap a pic or two) then headed on down the road again. As the traffic thinned out it became a very pleasant cruise over the rest of the island. 

We headed towards St. James City, which is an overstatement by all accounts, at least not one that would first come to mind when you hear the word ‘city’ – you won’t find any skyscrapers here either but rather a sleepy little community with what looked like more restaurants than people. Supposedly it is the most populated part of the Island, however you would never know it. About 5 minutes past the collection of restaurants (Low Key Tiki, Ragged Ass Saloon, Woody's Waterside Island Bar & Grill and Froggy's) the road abruptly ends - surprise – at the water. 

We stopped for a few minutes and took in the view of Sanibel Island and the Sanibel Causeway. I realized that it was in fact actually a busy place after all; in the few minutes we were there, seven cars turned around…

On the way back the traffic was lighter through Matlacha, maybe it was ‘rush hour’ when we first went through. Although at one point we were at a complete stand still for a few minutes while the bridge lifted for a passing boat.

Sometimes it is what I see while I am just cruising along that is just as interesting as the places we visit. I must really invest in a helmet cam, that way I can capture the unusual things I see along the way; like on our way through Fort Myers we passed a woman on a bicycle wearing a housecoat.
(? - I have seen people wearing their PJ bottoms shopping, but this was a new one for me.

Then on our way back there was a car pulled off to the side of the road and a man was getting in the back wearing a Batman costume.   
(It is still January right? – lol - Maybe his Bat-mobile broke down and was hitching a ride…)

As always, just another great day for a cruise in paradise…