Sunday, February 24, 2019

Swamp Cabbage Festival – LaBelle Florida

(Sat Feb 23)

We decided to take a ride out to the Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle for something to do over the weekend. We have been to this festival a few times over the years and I have written about it before in 2014 if you care to take a look. 

It was already getting toasty out when we left around 10:30 am. Once we were on the road with the wind flowing around us it made the heat bearable. We took the back way into LaBelle via Immokalee Road then onto 29. The parade had started at 10 am and was just ending when we got into LaBelle. The traffic was at a stand-still while the police were directing traffic. We ended up sitting for what seemed like an eternity in the sweltering heat. When we finally began to move, we were re-routed along E. Cowboy Way. Probably not a good idea to have went on a Saturday, especially when the parade was just letting out. Oh well, there is something to be said about hind sight. 

Of course, we easily found a parking spot. Although we didn’t realize that we were still several blocks from Barron Park where the festival was held.  As we trudged along, (well I trudged) I noticed there were plenty of spots we could have squeezed into with the bikes.

I can’t believe I actually walked that far and in motorcycle boots no less! 

We did see a couple of cool looking Bumper Cars motoring down the road as we made the trek. Believe it or not these “cars” were actually plated, so I assume they are legal to drive on the road. Maybe they were in the parade.

I was already drenched in sweat when we finally got to the park where the festivities were already under way. My new jeans were the only thing that was saving me from a total melt down. My jeans have an open zig zag pattern on the pant legs making them have a built-in air ventilation system of sorts. I had bought them the previous weekend at the Thunder by the Bay festival in Sarasota. 

Our first stop was at the famous Armadillo races, unfortunately there were so many people crowded around that we never got to see the Armadillos race. 
This was the closet I got. At least I seen an Armadillo, sort of.

Entering the park

As we shuffled further into the park the crowds got even thicker. It was a wrong move walking through where all the food vendors were. The masses were lined up like vultures.

This is the famous Swamp Cabbage heart. Which happens to be Florida’s state tree, the Sabal Palm. Only the heart of the palm tree is harvested. It is then made into stews, or mixed with salads, it is even fried up as a Swamp Cabbage fritter. I still have not tried it, and never will, but it does seem quite a popular favorite to the locals.

I love the heat, but I really am not fond of humidity, especially when I am all decked out in my motorcycle gear. I should have at least brought my flip flops.  It has been unseasonably hot this February, even by Florida standards. The mercury was tipping near 34C /93F, then add in the humidity and I swear it was hovering around 100F.  With the heat and the crowds that were crammed into Barron park I felt like I was suffocating. I really don’t like being in large crowds to begin with, especially in smaller spaces. Too many people make me feel like I am being crushed. All I could think of was getting the hell out of there. So, suffix to say we didn’t stick around too long. 

We made the long way back to the bikes and were on the road with a nice breeze cooling my overheated body. We took North River Road on the way back home to extend the ride. 

Loved the ride, walking around the crowded festival, not so much.

The moment we got home I stripped off my clothes and jumped in the pool. Strike that, I poured a glass of wine and set it up poolside before I jumped in.  

Route to the Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle

Until next time keep...

Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Monday, February 18, 2019

Thunder by the Bay, Sarasota - new friends, new roads

I always seem to answer all those “Location posts” in the women’s motorcycle groups that I belong to on Facebook. I sometimes get a few “likes” or the odd “Hey, that’s near to me” but nothing ever seems to come from it, until now. This is one of those times…

I just happened to answer a post Elaine put up on the Open Road Girls group stating if anyone was in Southwest Florida. She was on the hunt for people to ride with from her area. Within a few moments of posting that I was in Lehigh Acres, Elaine was messaging me that she was too. We started planning a ride for the following weekend to Thunder by the Bay in Sarasota. (Feb 16)

I admit that I was a little nervous, okay a lot nervous about meeting Elaine and her boyfriend James. Especially since we had only briefly messaged through FB a handful of times.  This was so out of character for me to crawl out from behind my computer.  Since hitting my 50’s I have been trying really hard to break away from my almost hermit like existence. So what the hell, take a chance and meet people, I am not getting any younger.

Elaine also mentioned that two more were going to join us, TJ and Lynn. Our group would consist of a total of six, (myself and BF included) - on 5 bikes. I haven’t been on many group rides in my 10 years of riding, in fact most of my rides consist of myself or going with my BF and on occasion one other. (Hmmm… Does 3 count as a group?) Anyway, my very first group ride was back in 2014. (There were 5 other bikers, with us it made 7). Wow, 5 years since I was riding with more than two other bikers, no wonder I had a few butterflies. But really what is 3 more bikes, especially as it turned out, we all seemed to have the same riding style which naturally made it so much easier.

The Ride
We set out to meet everyone at the 711 gas station on Joel Blvd. Immediately upon meeting Elaine, James, TJ and Lynn it felt like we had already known them for awhile. After the introductions we organized our ride positions. We all agreed we didn’t care much for highway riding and opted to take 31 to Acardia and along 70.  (James held the lead position, then Elaine, TJ & Lynn, Me and my BF in the back. Elaine pointed out that it was us girls sandwiched between the guys LOL. My BF added he would make sure to pick up any pieces along the way, little did I know that he really would be. Then we were off to Sarasota. 

We were about halfway up 31 when I heard something clang onto the road, I wasn’t sure at first what had happened but then looked in my mirror and seen my BF turn around. It was then that I realized something must have fallen off. I pulled over and noticed it was my battery cover and my BF had backtracked to retrieve it. He literally had to “pick up the pieces” LOL. James had noticed we had disappeared and had ridden back to make sure we were okay. We decided to leave my battery cover off for the rest of the ride. We caught up with the others who had stopped and then carried on. BTW, not to fear, my battery cover managed to survive the slide across the highway, only a minor scratch at the bottom of it. Lucky it won’t be noticeable.

My little Sporty needed to be gassed up again just past Arcadia. I am sure that everyone welcomed the pit stop to stretch their legs. All in good fun James insisted that my bike was now too ugly with it's missing battery cover to park near the other bikes. I laughed and said I would try to keep my distance. Every group needs a little Sporty to keep things interesting.  My bike managed to reach Thunder by the Bay without further incident.

We have arrived

This was one of the largest festivals we had ever attended. We all stayed together and wandered around, had a bite to eat and browsed the wares and of course admired the bikes.

Even the dogs got in on the action

Now that is one giant Jenga game!

The sparkle on a pair of jeans caught my eye at one of the vendors tents and I decided to try them on. After making sure the jeans fit, I spent the next five minutes trying to get out the changing room!

In my defense, the guy did warn me that the door might stick a little… umm maybe he should have said, you may need a crowbar to get out! 

BTW, I bought them and they match my Sparkle Rider Bell that Lisa from gave me!

After my narrow escape from the change room we made our way over to watch some BMX bikes doing jumps. With my mediocre picture taking skills I even managed to get a few shots in mid jump. 

The journey home

On the way back we decided to make a stop at a biker bar on 70, The Open Road.

Disclaimer: all those beers on the table are NOT ours! 

The band was cool, but it sure made it hard to have a conversation!
(Age could be a factor, at least for me LOL)

Of course, we made another gas stop for my Sporty on the way back, but hey, those big bikes needed a little drink too! When we got into Lehigh we parted ways and headed home. It was awesome to meet some new people who share a common love of biking. I hope to go on many more road trips with them soon. 

As for me, it was a full day with another 200 miles round trip under my belt. Not to mention all the walking around I did. After a couple of glasses of wine, purely medicinal (wink) and a little bite to eat, by 8 pm I was snug in my bed dreaming of new adventures to come. 

Route to Thunder by the Bay Sarasota
(Aside from 31, which is a boring straight road the rest of the way was awesome)

Until next time...

Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Vintage Motorcycle Show and a new watering hole

We took a ride today (Saturday Feb 9) a nice tour close to the homestead. I found it a little on the windy side at times and have the stiff neck to prove it this morning. But of course, worth it, time to break out the Voltaran! 

Despite the windy day the temperature was perfect, warm and sunny. We headed out towards LaBelle and took the meandering River Road along the Caloosahatchee River.

One of our favorite roads when wanting a ride that is close to home. We stopped at the Bob Mason Park, which has been nicely revamped and is a great spot to rest and stretch the legs. There was a nice little gazebo that has been recently put up and plenty of picnic tables to enjoy the view.

We continued on our way and followed North River Rd to 31. We headed towards Palm Beach Blvd to the Publix Shopping Center where there was a Vintage Motorcycle Show going on. 

It wasn’t a large show, but found it interesting to see some of the old 2-stroke motorcycles of years gone by. There was a bit of everything, from old Harleys to Kawasaki’s. I had never heard of one of the bikes we saw,  Husqvarma. My BF informed me he had a chainsaw made by them LOL.

When we were on 31 heading to the Vintage Motorcycle show we passed by the Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill. The Tiki Bar was still under construction last year and decided to stop in and check it out after we left the show.

Upon pulling in I was already impressed. Any place that caters to motorcyclists can’t be all that bad.

Mind you we just sat at the Tiki Bar for a drink. The atmosphere was awesome, and staff was very friendly. The place was packed for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Checking out the menu there was of course plenty of fish dishes offered, but for people like me who despise fish of any kind it also had burgers and wings. We certainly have plans to go for supper in the near future and test out the food. I will let you know.

On the way home we took a leisurely ride along Buckingham Road. This is always a nice ride with its meandering treed road. You can follow our route below

River Road Route / Buckingham Rd.

I must add a shout out to Lisa from (As you may know, I occasionally write for her Bling blog on her women's motorcycle gear shopping website). 

She recently sent me a beautiful gift, a Sparkle Rider Gremlin Bell . This was my first ride with my sparkly bell. Thank You Lisa, you are so generous and sweet.