Thursday, February 4, 2016

Corkscrew Rd onto the Beaches

::Tuesday Feb 2, 2016 ::

This is the kind of ride for those of you who like to pass through the action, get caught up in stop and go traffic and sweat you’re a** off when in full riding gear. Not recommended doing this ride during March when it really becomes congested with us Snowbirds. <grin>

The morning started out quite foggy, but by the time we were heading out the fog had burned off and it was turning out to be a nice day for a ride. Maybe a little too nice... Finally, the long awaited (somewhat) full-day tour since arriving in Florida. 

I was really looking forward more to just the ride than actually having any destination to go to, so I chose this ride simply for that. We left shortly after 11 am and after making a quick stop to fill up my gas tank (a one tank ride) we were on our way heading out onto the dreaded Immokalee Rd. [82] in order to get onto Corkscrew Rd. (Where I started this ride on the map above)

Road Details

[Immokalee Road [82] is a two lane highway, and definitely not the most relaxing road to drive on. I have mentioned before that there are more accidents than there should be on this road. They drive way too fast and  pass recklessly when they shouldn’t.  There is a bit of construction going on now so I think they might be enlarging it, hopefully that will help this dangerous road and not hinder it. At least we didn’t have to stay on it long before hooking onto Corkscrew Road, which is a fairly fun road to travel on, it has some twists and turns, with one in particular which is pretty much a 90 degree corner. The road is paved and for the most part in good condition. There are some rough patches but really nothing to worry about. It is quite a “fast road” as the speed limit is 55 mph (88 km) and depending on the time of day you motor through just be aware that there are some very large trucks that use this road and they have a tendency to pass you like your standing still. (Even if you are going a little over the speed limit yourself. <smile>) You will pass through a lot of farmland and panther habitat on this route before coming to the more populated area where the gated communities take over.]  

As we headed along Corkscrew Rd. we made a stop at the CREW Marsh Trails. 
{FYI: The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed is 60,000 acres of land that collects, stores and cleans water for southwest Florida's drinking water supply. It also is a habitat for many threatened or endangered plants and animals. According to the signs posted the Florida panther, black bear, snail kite, gopher and tortoise along with species of rare ferns and orchids all make this area their home.} 

If you are inclined to be one with nature this place has a fairly extensive trail system to explore. Although today you would probably need hip waders to maneuver through most of the trails because of all the rain we have had over the month of January. Usually January is a fairly dry month in Florida, however this year Florida managed to have a record rainfall that produced 12.98 inches!  Anyway, we weren’t there to hike on this occasion, we were on a mission to ride <smile> so onward we went...

We then turned down Three Oaks Parkway which today had a moderate traffic flow. We have been on this road a few times and I found that sometimes there is very little traffic making this a very pleasant road to travel. (As far as urban riding goes) As you wind your way through this area you pass through perfectly manicured streets with rows of palm trees and bricked walls that fence in the elite neighbourhoods beyond. Further down Three Oaks continues into Imperial Parkway, a nice little curvy road that runs along side of I-75 for a stretch as we headed toward Bonita Springs. We then turned off it and onto Bonita Beach Rd toward the beach.

Road Details
[Bonita Beach Road is a very busy and often congested road. It is a main artery to the beaches and has a collection of shops and restaurants lining both sides of the street. The road itself is smooth and in fairly good condition, so no worries there. In fact all the roads we travelled on this tour I couldn’t complain about.]
Points of interest: Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing & Poker

Bonita Beach Rd [865] continues into Hickory Blvd (Little Hickory Island) where there are about nine public beach access points for Bonita Beach. Barefoot Beach is off to the left, just before Bonita Beach.

[Point of interest: Doc’s Beach House -a beach side restaurant - Looks interesting, but have not had the pleasure to review this place as of yet,].

Hickory Blvd. then continues into Estero Blvd. [865] and onto Bays Island and Big Hickory Island which then passes through Long Key on your way to Estero Island.  

[Point of interest: Lover’s Key State Park] 

Traffic tends to get heavy on these islands so be prepared for lots of clutch work especially the closer you get to Fort Myers beach. There are about 25 public beach access points that stretch along Estero Island. Signs are posted to identify the access spots, however they are all down narrow little lanes with limited parking, also keep in mind they are metered. 

Not really a parking spot <grin>
We pulled off and ventured down one of the access points on Flamingo Street to have a break. This beach stop is less populated than the busy Fort Myers beach area, although every parking spot along the lane way was filled, that was not a problem for us and managed to squeeze into an opening. We were not going to stay long and took a short walk down the path to take a peak at the water. 

By this time the mercury was already pushing 81 F (28 C) and I realized I still had my liner in my jacket. After a quick unzip I finally removed my liner so that I could continue the rest of our journey a little less sticky. (I should of done that miles back) As we were about to head out a very tanned, shirtless gentleman was heading toward the path to the beach and suggested I wear a bikini... hmmm... I know I seemed a little overdressed to be on the beach, but really, he did see I was on a bike....

As we neared Fort Myers Beach the more traffic backed up. I was lucky to even get past 2nd gear! It also didn’t help that there was some construction making the snails pace we were travelling at more of a sloths pace. 
{Fun Fact: The Three-Toed Sloth is the slowest animal in the world and the name sloth is actually a synonym of slow motion. The top speed of a sloth is 0.003 miles per hour. They are so slow algae grow on them.} 
In my experience, this is usually a good time of year to ride this route (Temperature wise and minimal crowds). Who would of figured that it would get so hot and humid since it hadn’t got past the mid 60's lately, so now this sweltering heat turned out the sun seekers in herds.

Staying on Estero Boulevard we kept left before it continued into Sans Carlos Blvd so we could stop at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. I think that this is one of the larger parking areas available that is in close proximity to Fort Myers beach. Cars circle the lot like vultures ready to dive in as soon as an opening appears. Again, we of course didn’t have that problem <grin>. 

Besides the beach, this area offers an interesting walk through Times Square with it’s quirky street performers, shops and beach side restaurants or one can meander down the pier - definitely a great place to people watch.  However, I was melting by this point (on second thought, that bikini would of came in handy right about now) and wanted no part of people watching today, so after the much needed “P” stop, all I wanted to do was head home. I could already hear the ice cubes crackling in the cocktails.

Leaving Fort Myers Beach we headed over San Carlos Island 
[Point of Interest: Key West Express - the ferry from Fort Myers to Key West. There is also a restaurant there called the Parrot Key Caribbean Grill - I must check that out sometime, I just like the name. <smile>]

It was the middle of the afternoon and the traffic was bumper to bumper heading onto the Island, lucky for us we were leaving and our side of the road wasn’t too bad. Soon we were cruising down the road homeward bound. 

It was going on 4 pm (way past my drink time) when we finally pulled in the driveway making this almost a one hundred mile tour. I peeled off my gear as fast as I could and got into more appropriate attire for the temperature and promptly poured a drink.  

Until next time... ride it hard and keep it safe!

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