Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4, 2009: South Miami to Key Largo

We broke with tradition and left this morning at 9 instead of before 7. I wanted to spend a little more time with my parents and maybe get a little more sleep. I figured that with only 50 miles or so to cover, we could afford to sleep in, for once. Fred was agreeable, so that’s what we did.

Given the simplicity of today’s route, I did not expect much in the way of GPS challenges, but never underestimate Mr. Garmin! He tried to route us on several non-existent and dirt roads, and refused to accept our Card Sound Road route. The latter was my fault for having checked the setting “Avoid toll roads”. Apparently the presence of the toll for the Card Sound Bridge (irrelevant for bicycles anyway) qualified the road to be avoided, so the GPS kept trying to get us to turn around and go back to US1. Once I realized the problem and changed the setting, it was happy.

The view from the top of Card Sound Bridge, looking east during a very brief moment of relief as a cloud passed above us

So, the ride was pretty tough, in spite of the relatively short distance, because we had headwind most of the way. Normal cruising effort generally produced no more than 14 mph, and sometimes only 12. In addition, the clouds and rain, which would have been welcome, stayed either in front of us or behind us, so it was sunny and hot. We were hit by no more than a few dozen drops all day. 

We were therefore pretty bushed by the time we made it to the populated part of Key Largo at around 1 PM. I was hungry and thirsty, so when I noticed an inviting seafood place (Captain Shon’s), I pulled in. The food was good, but pricey. Fred liked it so much that he wants to go back tonight. I’m not that hungry, so I think I’ll just get an appetizer or something.

Fred just loves spotting these gators!
Our waitress suggested lodging at a mom and pop place across the street as a good, budget alternative. It turned out to be just barely acceptable, but we decided to stay anyway. The proprietor is quite a character and he and Fred traded quips while we took care of business. We asked about a bike shop (the last rear wheel fix yesterday left me with a bump-bump-bump on every revolution, and inspection showed the wheel to be most definitely out of round). We were directed to a pawn shop a mile up the road which is run by a man who had a bike shop for 20 years before deciding a pawn shop would be easier. The shop is still at least half bicycles, but almost exclusively cruiser type stuff. The gent was pretty good with a spoke wrench, though, and when he was done, the wheel was considerably better than before. The rim is probably toast, though. I just hope it gets me through the last 100 miles of this trip.

Fred’s Addendum: It was like homecoming staying with my best friend Kevin from high school. As I pulled in yesterday evening, after a 70 mile ride and living through Miami downtown traffic, Kevin had his camera ready in his driveway! His wife Dolores made me arroz con pollo and flan, all from scratch. She said it was her father’s recipe. I had thirds. But before dinner, Kevin and I wandered his backyard, gathering mangoes from his four big trees. He said one tree provided the juiciest and tastiest fruit. I ate a warm one from another tree anyway but Kevin went in the house and got a chilled one from the good tree. Dang! It was like mango sorbet! After I peeled it and cut in into pieces and ate everything but the nut, I sucked every bit of pulp from the center nut. Kevin sat there laughing at me saying he had never seen anyone enjoy and attack a mango like that. 

After dinner, Kevin asked me if I wanted to take a little drive. Sure, I said! Let’s go to Hot Shoppes on US1. That’s what we used to do 43 years ago in high school! He laughed. I asked to go the Matheson Hammock. That was truly one of my fondest memories of early Miami with my family growing up. We’d go outside the lagoon, north, at low tide, when a mile long sand bar would develop. My dad would take me and my brother and we would walk and examine every little tidal pool. As my wife so astutely observed, my parents weren’t wealthy, but they took advantage of all of Miami’s beautiful bounty. 

In the morning, Dolores made me scrambled eggs and hash browns and toast and orange marmalade and orange juice. Kevin had cheerios. He says he is proud to say he takes no medications whatsoever (despite his high cholesterol), and he is trying to control this problem with cheerios. I kiddingly told him, I’d mention it at his funeral (god, I hope not). 

Here’s Kevin: No medications! 

We talked old stuff and new stuff. Old hopes, new hopes and dreams. We walked around the entire lagoon. And we passed the old coral rock building, now housing the Red Fish Grill, where we’d buy Eskimo Pies as kids. This trip has been a thousand memories for me. Street signs even triggered memories: Ludlam, Red Road, Bird Road, Galloway, 64th avenue, 57th avenue. I knew a few years ago, when I conceived of biking back to Miami, that it was somehow appropriate to go back to where I was born and raised. With my mother’s passing in February, eight days short of her 93rd birthday, I never conceived of how meaningful this would all be for me.  I am moved beyond belief. It makes me appreciate how wonderful it was for me growing up in Miami. It makes me appreciate my family, tough times, good times. It really makes me appreciate my friends, old and new. And Seth, a ‘new’ buddy, only going on 34 years now. You are a gift. We’ve now biked 1,800 miles together, 5 broken spokes, a few flats, and some great great times. And it makes me really appreciate my wife Pat, who puts up with me, encourages me, and takes drum lessons. When I get home, Last Dance with Mary Jane! Me on guitar, Patty on drums!

Today’s ride stats
Distance: 57 miles
Time: 4 hours
Avg speed: 14.25 mph
Temperature: low 78; average 91; high 100

1 comment:

  1. What a nice tribute to your parents...I am so glad you were able to spend time with Kevin, too!