When I left Key West, I thought I’d head towards Largo, FL where a friend of a friend is located. Once again, I was blessed to have a place to stay, a beach, and sounded like some fun to be had. For some reason, I got only 150 miles and my shoulder was killing me. I’m not sure if I did something carrying that crazy bag down 2 flights of stairs, or if the slow rolling out of the Keys was the culprit. All the same, I had to stop for a long, later afternoon lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, compliments of my son’s roommate Steve and his friend Danny.
While I was stopped my buddy from back home (and brother-in-law to my sponsor Rider’s Claw) called and said that I had an RV waiting for me in Webster with his folks that are retired there. With my shoulder I didn’t think I could make it all the way to either location. I ended up stopping in Sebring for the night at a Budget Inn. $53 well spent for a good bed, hot shower, and much needed break on the body. A lot of riding in the weeks past had caught up to me I guess.
My buddy met me in Sebring to take me back to his folks’ place. On the way from Sebring to Webster we made a pit stop at a place called Peace River. There was a lovely little trail into the woods where I could’ve stayed forever. The trees and river were nothing short of spectacular. The sounds of lizards scurrying under the brush as I walked past, the birds singing, and the breeze made me relax a bit more. Not many words can describe the feeling, but hopefully these few pictures will give you a sense of the peace to be had.
Once I unloaded, Frenchy, Ms. Janice and the retirees in the park lured us into playing cards. I hadn’t played trump since I was younger but they helped me through and I caught back on quickly. These folks are simply hilarious. I felt like I was at home with Dad and Ms. Patty, full of bull and all smiles… I suppose when you’re retired there are fewer pressures than younger years and you must cherish every day you get. Frenchy and Ms. Janice are the most hospitable and kind folks, so I knew I was in good hands.
I spent some time over the days helping a little on a trailer they are rehabbing and will move into soon. I learned a little bit about toilet and sink plumbing, helped move some furniture, helped pick up some sheet rock they needed, and generally asked what else I could do. There wasn’t a great deal in my realm of expertise, but I owed them whatever I could manage.
We visited the local Flea Market and I bought some fresh shrimp, oysters, and zucchini. That evening I made us dinner. The folks enjoyed it and I was glad to do it. Ms. Janice made us a few meals that were great and I have no problem with leftovers, so I used some of them to make another quick meal a different night.
My friend Mike knows that I don’t do a lot of ‘paid’ tourist things due to economics. He mentioned a canoe trip and I must’ve had a twinkle in my eye. He took me to a place where we had a bite to eat and for $20 we could canoe all day, but no pickup; it was all us to get down and back up river. It’s funny because at first I told him I had only gone once before, but I we rowed, my memories returned to 3 other canoe trips I did; one with friends and two by myself (in particular one with my BB Girl in Starved Rock). The water and wind was beautiful, however we might have considered using our muscles to go up river and come back down the easy way… that was a work out.
While in Webster, my buddy took me on a couple of great rides and to a couple of cool little biker bars. I think my favorite is Sleepy Hollow in Floral City. The curves and trees on Gobbler Rd. are by far my favorite ride locally, and from either side you end up at Sleepy Hollow. It’s a cool little place and I got to meet a high school friend of Ken (my Rider’s Claw sponsor).
I did have a plan of touring the Ocala National Forest which I did about 6 years ago with my good friend Terry. We headed out… There are not a lot of twists or turns but the scenery is beautiful and peaceful, the roads are pristine, and you can go for miles and miles without seeing more than a few bikers and cars. I had hoped to spot a Black Bear in the trees but I did not. We stopped at the Store 88, had a beer, and tried to devise a plan. We made it only ½ mile and pulled into a boat launch. That was a little slice of heaven. The view was amazing, the sun warm on my face, and I encountered what I believe is a dragonfly that was molting. I sat on the dock for nearly 10 minutes videotaping the creature trying to come out of his skin.
In some strange way, I couldn’t help but relate myself to that poor creature… Every so often he’d twitch, bringing him a millimeter closer to freedom. He twitched and twitched, and I imagine for a small creature like that, the effort must have been enormous. I stopped the video when some other folks were commenting at what I was doing. I chatted with them briefly, went to the port-a-john and returned. Sadly for my experience, he had escaped by the time I returned. But you see he was not done with his struggle. His wings were not done forming and were still stuck to his body. At this point, he was a sitting target for a bird or if he fell in the water, for a fish. He held on to his old body affixed to the post and I reckon he was wondering what would come next. Yep… couldn’t help but think that sounds like me. I find peace in the simple natural wonders of this world, the things we take granted… oh look at that beautiful dragonfly… do we ever really think what his life has brought him. For those that are familiar, I have two tattoos (one of a dragonfly and one of a butterfly – they symbolize times in my life when I had to shed one skin for my further survival).
My friend was quite patient as I wandered around that lake and watched the dragonfly molt, but clearly we needed food and it was time to get rolling. Well, after waxing philosophical we cruised to another little bar called Cactus Jack’s. It was neat little place but the bar food was not sounding very appetizing. A gentleman sitting next to us suggested a seafood place not a mile down the road; so we were off again. I tell you what; Bass Champions has definitely got two thumbs up from me. I ordered like I hadn’t eaten in years. Every damn thing was amazing on the sampler platter. Way too much food for us, but like I said, I have no problem with leftovers. In fact, they are in the microwave now as I type this.
My friend has gone to his Dad’s new place several times to do more work and I sit here in the RV doing client work, handling personal affairs, and updating my blogs (which takes a while to write, load photos, and find the links that I’ve shared with you).
*SQUIRREL: These fried green tomatoes and crab cakes are awesome.*
During my stay here this past week, one of clients that is dedicated to me but sporadic in work, gave me a new project, so I was pleased about that after losing a client last week. And another dedicated but sporadic client also has some new blogging project upcoming. It’s not a lot but I’ll take it. I have also bid on several more virtual assistant jobs on Guru.com but so far have not landed any. Back to one of my clients… Rebecca is a CPA out of Wisconsin, formerly lived in Florida, and a few months back I learned that she was going through some tough health issues. This week she asked me to get her a Harley bandana and have it signed by some bikers. Well, you all know I jumped on that opportunity. I went to Gator Harley in Leesburg and found the perfect scarf/bandana. So far we have four signatures from bikers and once I fill it up, I’ll be sending up to Wisconsin to keep her bald head warm and stylish. (God Bless Ya Bec).
During my trip to Gator Harley for an 1157 bulb and bandana, I posted a picture of my bike and myself on the Gator there. You could see my Nailmaille bracelet very good so I tagged them. Small world (and even smaller when you’re a biker). That evening my sponsor commented that he has a buddy that works there. And then that buddy commented asking if I had any of the Nailmaille jewelry with me. Well of course I did, thankfully I had not sent it back yet. Funny how things work out, or don’t work out and then it’s still all good. I took a solo ride back to Leesburg to hug Keith and show him the jewelry. He was telling me how Mike (the designer) used to have a jacket in high school covered in safety pins. Yep, sounds about right. I wanted to take a ride with Keith and his girlfriend but they obviously have lives to lead and it didn’t quite work out.
He did suggest that I visit Lake Harris Hideaway. I had also text my friend Terry that used to live outside Leesburg to ask where I should go. His reply came in the funniest of timing… I had just stopped at the Hideaway when my phone went off; he suggested the same place. So I took a picture of the sign and said, “This Place? Just arrived.”
It’s a cool little bar / restaurant on Lake Harris with a dock on both side and a large patio for outdoor eating. I had one beer, caught up on some Facebook comments, and had some older folks coming in from a pontoon boat take my picture. I was going to head to the Sleepy Hollow again which was back towards and past Webster where I was staying. My friend called and was near me, so I waited. We had a bite to eat there and then headed back through Gobbler Rd. over to Sleepy Hollow. Oddly, it was dead for a Friday, when we were there Wednesday it was jam packed with live music. However, being as the back yard was empty; I got to climb this big ass tree that made me think of my son (the monkey boy – inside joke). And, I tried to lure the gator we saw to come closer for a picture, but my buddy didn’t take my bet to wrestle him, so the pictures didn’t turn out very good.
The sun was going down and the reflections on the water just masked him. We played a game of pool, which naturally I always lose, but enjoy. Then we headed back through Gobbler Rd. to The Woodshed for a band called The Gator Paw Band.
My friend has been going there some years now and was familiar with the owner Ms. Patty. We had a good time listening to music, talking to the locals, sitting by the fire, and I bee-bopped in my tracks like I always do. Unfortunately (and I hate to whine), I have been sick much of this week, so I was going down-hill fast. There was one point back at the Bass Champions with the awesome meal that I simply could not eat because I could not breathe. Anyway, it was time to go and I really needed some rest. The strange thing is, when I sit still especially in the smoky bars or a room that’s too warm, I can’t breathe, but I get on the bike and within a couple of miles, I’m opened back up. So that just goes to show you that riding is just what the body needs.
3-30-13 It’s now Saturday and as comfortable as it is here, I’ve been itching the past day or two to move on. I’ve almost been in a funk if you will. Sitting still, even if there is some fun to be had, is really not accomplishing my journey (it is in part, but I need to keep moving). I have never been one to sit still very long and further to that, I don’t want to overstay the hospitality that has been extended to me. I realize that these folks are still paying for the electric in this RV, sharing their Wi-Fi, heating the water for my showers and laundry, and feeding me off and on. It has gotten easier for me the past couple years to accept help but I still cannot take advantage. My friend too has helped me with food, gas, beers, and touring me around.
So… I have plans to see Tina in Largo and Don in Oldsmar (both friends of Laurie and Steve from back home). And of course my Dad, Ms. Patty and my beloved BB Girl need some of my love. I’ll be back around here for the 17th Annual Leesburg Bike Fest and Frenchy and Ms. Janice said I can stay in the RV again. I’d love to come back and let them take some more of my laundry change – hehehe. I’m just remembering as I always try to do… I am Blessed and Fortunate to have such great people in my corner.
For now, I think I’m caught up on the journey blogs. I hope you enjoy the pictures, can make notes of some of the cool places for your own adventures, and keep following along to encourage me.
Tomorrow is Easter and I will miss my son and granddaughter; could possibly be riding with a few tears in my eyes. But I think I’ll find me a little Southern Baptist Church where I can not only recall the days of my youth in the south and bible school with my friends, but also remind God that while I don’t visit his buildings much, he is always in my heart and I need him along for the ride.
Peace Be With You All… Now and Forever!
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