Friday, April 22, 2016

Last Ride To The Everglades, bittersweet

April 21, 2016

For my last ride of the season here in Florida I decide to revisit the Everglades. We have made this trip plenty of times, and the route to get there is always the same. (The sketchy 82 to the wind tunnel on 29). But something about this ride made it extra special. 

Maybe it was just because it was my last ride and it had me savoring each familiar mile. While at the same time made me a little sad because it also signified the end of my time here. 

From the first time I came here on a two week visit many years ago, I have always felt a special connection here.  And now it has become my home away from home, and a place where I feel like I belong. Or maybe it is just because I love the heat so much. Okay, enough with the sentimental interlude.

Click image to read History of Post Office
I had wanted to revisit the little post office on 41 in Ochopee. (Ochopee is located in the Big Cypress National Preserve that 41 cuts through). 

The last time we were there was back in 2011 when I was riding my little V-star 250. This Post Office has a bit of history behind it and is considered the smallest Post Office in the US. 

Amazingly, it has also been in continuous use since 1953.  Although when we pulled in the post master was on a lunch break and it was closed. But my real reason for wanting to stop here again was for the photo op of the Harley’s in front of it. Just an obsession of mine.

A little further up the road from the post office is one of those kitchy road side attractions. My interest was sparked a while back when I stumbled upon it on the Internet on my never ending quest to find quirky places to visit. 

The SkunkApe Research Headquarters  is run by Dave Shealy. He has spent a life time tracking a creature that lurks in the Everglades within the Big Cypress Swamp known as the Skunkape. 

According to Dave and the locals; there is a large ape-like creature that is covered with hair, stands up right and smells like a skunk. It lives in the Everglades and can be traced back to 1891. You can decide for yourself. If your so inclined you can stay at the convenient Campground adjacent to it or if you are in for a bit of adventure take one of their Adventure Tours into the Everglades. Maybe you might find the Skunkape or at least have fun trying.

Hey! The Skunkape is trying to steal my bike!

Upon entering the gift shop we were welcomed by the Skunkape's cousin. (At least that is what I assumed)

Guarding the yard was a very large panther.

As we geared up to leave, my zipper on my jacket broke. My zipper had been giving me a bit of trouble lately and I was hoping it would last until I had a chance to bring it in to get a new zipper. But as my luck would have it, as I went to zip it up the teeth pulled apart and I was left holding the pull tab. I put the pull tab in my pocket and just buttoned the top and bottom part of my jacket so we could continue on to our next stop. Not a good plan. I realized as I headed down the road that the wind catching in my jacket not only made the perfect sail for a boat it was also like getting punched by a...Skunkape as the wind buffeted on my chest.   

Such a nice guy to fix my zipper
At least we didn’t have far to travel and pulled into the HP Williams Picnic Area on Turner River Rd. 

Before we went exploring the park I wanted to see if I could fix my zipper. I fiddled around with it for awhile and gave up, resigning myself to the fact that I would have to ride all the way home feeling like at any moment I would become air born. 

Then my BF gave it a try and after a bit of work managed to get it back together again, ah my hero. I had a feeling he planned it that way, watch me struggle then step in to save the day *grin*

The last time we were at this park we had seen alligators lounging on the banks of the river, from the safety of the board walk. However the only thing we caught a glimpse of this time was a few fish in the murky water. 

Look real close you will see a bug-eyed fish or click the pic to enlarge :)

It wasn’t until we headed back along 41 that my BF caught sight of this rather large alligator. 
We turned around and stopped at the side of the road to get my ‘money’ shot. 
That was one big gator!
Close up

We thought we might head back on 841, a rural road which would eventually bring us back out onto 29. That was until we turned down it and were faced with loose gravel.

My BF was in the lead and his bike was kicking up quite a dust cloud. I hung back to minimize my dirt intake. 

About a quarter mile in we stopped at a bridge, which was the only paved portion to this road, to access our situation. A couple of cars drove by covered in a thick layer of white dust that obscured what colour the cars actually were. It was then that we decided that we were not up for another adventure ride on the Harley’s.  Well mainly it was me, I wasn’t. I had eaten enough dust in the small stretch to the bridge that I couldn’t image doing that for the next 7 miles and at speeds of less than 10 miles per hour. I am pretty sure that if I said ‘lets go for it’ he would of obliged. So we turned around and headed back the way we came along 29. 

As I rode back a melancholy descended upon me. Anyone who rides knows that of all the emotions one associates with riding, melancholy is not one of them. Exhilarating, uplifting, joy... only positive feelings, you get the idea. Even though on the surface my smile was a mile long and I was still totally in the moment of free spirited bliss that undertone was still festering there, and I couldn’t help but feel it twinge at me.

It has always brought a tear to my eye when I put my bike to bed and close up for the year. It will feel like an eternity before I get to sit in his saddle again. To feel the wind in my face and let my worries of the day get lost in those soothing tropical air currents. To feel the thrill of discovering a new road to travel on or just relish in the pure pleasure of the ride on a familiar one. 

Good-bye my sweet Sporty Blue.
Good-bye my sweet Florida.
Until we meet again...

Map Route to the Smallest Post Office, Skunk Ape Research Headquarters & HP Williams Roadside Park 


  1. A perfect little end of season ride. Love the quirky road side attraction, and the alligator is a bonus!

    When I left Montreal last year knowing that I would't ride my (co-owned) Shadow again for a year or more, I also felt very melancholic. But look at the bright side: at least the weather should have improved up North by the time you get there, eh?

    1. Thanks Sonja! Yes it was a perfect ride. And I hear the weather has gotten a lot better back home, maybe not shorts weather for me there yet but at least the snow has melted!

  2. What a great ride. You did and saw so much. Yer fella did more than you though - he ALSO fixed a zip!

    Some of those photos are a bit surreal ... imagine how much more surreal they'd be if you had become airborne.

    I came over all weepy at the end (well, not really) when you revealed that the bike has to be packed away for the summer. Can't you take it with you? Do you have a bike in Canada? (Silly question ...)

    I enjoyed the dose of sunshine you shared on a miserably wet day here.

    1. Hi Julie, glad you enjoyed the ride and the sunshine :)

      Actually it is not a silly question, yes I could bring it back home with me, there would be additional costs importing it back to Canada (and who knows what other hoops the government would have ya jump through) and then bring it back and forth with us, which is what we did for several years with our "Canadian" bikes. We bought these bikes here so we didn't have to trailer them anymore.

      And no I don't have a bike in Canada anymore :( But I am working on it :)