03-31-13 Easter Sunday – After loading up my bike in Webster, FL; I went down the street with a few of the retirees to Easter service at First Baptist Church of Webster. I attended a southern Baptist service that was full of energy, great song, and wonderful celebration. I shook hands with Pastor Don as service concluded and shared my story briefly with him. (Though this is not in order of activity, he has emailed me with curiosity and has said they will add me to the prayer list.) I’m going to try very hard to return there when I go back for Leesburg Bike Fest. I suppose it was a great shock to the retirees that my friend Mike showed up at church also. Ms. Doris in fact said to me, “I feel like a proud Momma.” And I felt like I had more family out there in the world.
I was headed towards Clearwater which was only an hour or so away, but of course, I had to make some stops. Mike ride a few miles with me and we grabbed lunch before I continued on my way. I was bound for a safe place to stay with Don (a friend that my friend Laurie set me up with). I stopped at a wonderful wildlife refuge but they charge you just to get into the park, so I turned around, took one picture and kept cruising. I knew that Don was having Easter dinner with his mother, so I did a little tour of the general area when I got to town.
My first stop was the Dunedin Causeway; very lovely side of the road stop. I had set my camera on a structure and crossed the drive to stand by my bike for a photo. It snapped and as I was crossing back, a couple in a car stopped. The gentleman offered to take a picture. His picture was much better than the self-photo. He commented on the load on my bike and I told them my story, shared a sticker and thanked them for helping with a photo.
I had seen a bus bench with an ad for Peggy O’Neill’s. I had heard this before so GPS’ed my way there. When I pulled up, it looked fairly dead but across the street was the Thirsty Marlin and outside were two motorcycles. I went inside for one Coors Light. I was entertained watching folks play a game I can’t recall the name… it a thin rope with a ring on the end and you swing it to a hook on the wall. You get one beer per day if you make it. As I watched I realized you’d end up buying a boat load of beers trying to win just one. The bikers were at the bar and I spoke to them briefly when they saw my Rider’s Claw t-shirt and beer coozie. I explained the product and shared my card. It was also funny to watch a guy at the other end of the bar whom had his dog on a bar stool. She was lapping beer out of one of those little black condiment cups. (Guess she’s not the DD.)
I was really getting hungry by this point and had not yet heard from Don. I headed back towards his house and stopped a local gathering place for a beverage and appetizer. I scored big because the 1/2 order of nachos was way more than I can eat and it was only $4.50. I played my games on Hanging with Friends, chatted with a retired Marine, and laughed profusely at a drunk lady that had stopped drinking for lent – clearly she was making up for lost time. She was extremely loud and boisterous when telling me that I was lying about my age and didn’t believe I had a grandchild. Her boyfriend tried unsuccessfully to quiet her so I had to show her a picture of my sweet love Kylee. During that dinner stop, Don said he was home so I finished up and headed out.
04-01-13 Don was very accommodating and setup a big huge air mattress for me. His only rules: don’t steal and don’t smoke in the house. I laughed and told him that we’d get along just fine. Poor Don had a wild weekend and was not quite feeling well – you play, you pay. The next morning I took some time to do some work, review my income and expenses, handle a few personal matters by phone and online, and spoke to my family. As it turned out, my plans were changing quickly. I was just going to be there for the day and was heading out again. Since Don wasn’t feeling well, I ventured out to see what I could see.
A former co-worker from Chicago lives in Clearwater and I sent her a FB message that I had limited time, but if possible I’d like to say hello. I passed through Clearwater in some nasty freakin’ traffic. I did not stop there but continued on to Treasure Island. The drive there was not as lovely as I had hoped. The road full of traffic, 35 mph, and the entire ocean was blocked by resorts, hotels, and shops. Karen was texting me during this time, but I couldn’t answer until I stopped. I got to Treasure Island and found a cool like restaurant on the beach where I saw 5-6 motorcycles. I sat on the back porch of Caddy’s, had a Coors Light. The view was lovely. For some reason though, I wasn’t overly excited to be there. I had forgotten my bikini and sandals so I didn’t get the chance to sit on the beach. When I left Caddy’s there was a real purdy Harley Davidson parked next to me. So… I tagged it with a ‘You’ve Been Spotted’ Rider’s Claw card and my postcard. (Again out of order, but Ken my sponsor did post the picture and maybe one or two days later the man saw his bike on the website and made contact to collect his prize. He indicated that he had seen me in Caddy’s, though we did not speak. He was thankful for his prize and with any luck, he will tell his friends.)
When I checked in on FB, my son’s roommate Steven text me to go to The Hurricane as his big brother works there. I had passed it and I had heard about it from Don also. It didn’t look real happening so that’s why I kept going. So I figured I’d go back and still hoping to connect with Karen. When I got to The Hurricane I learned that the kitchen was closed for some reason, and by this time I was really getting hungry. I had an iced tea and walked to the end of the deck to take a few pictures. Also, a gorgeous view but as I said the place was dead so I moved on.
There was a cute little bar along the way which had a few bikes outside and patio seating (not on the water, but it looked cute). So, I pulled into Screwy Louie’s and ordered a Coors Light. Three gentlemen at the table next to me obviously were the bikers. I said hello and sat down. One of them said, “Illinois huh?” I chatted with them for a while, told them my story, signed stickers, gave my sponsors info to them, and learned that they were 3 friends from Texas that came to Clearwater for a man-cation. Dern I wish I could remember all the names of people I meet; forgive me for not being specific if you are reading this. It was a very pleasant conversation of back and forth regarding riding, accessories, places we had all gone, etc. so on.
During this stop Karen reached me, I told her I was starving and she directed me to meet her and her boyfriend at Palm Pavilion in Clearwater. I was quite thankful that the traffic had died down; I guess the beach-goers were clearing out since the sun was going down and it does get cool in FL at night. Once I saw Karen’s face, I felt a whole lot better. Her boyfriend was exceptionally pleasant and Karen looked very very happy. I finally ate – YAY! We did some catching up and I saw a magnificent sunset with my friend. Karen introduced me to a guy they call Jaeger. When he heard of my journey he produced $20 and said to use it on whatever would make me smile. So, my shrimp cocktail and beer were on Jaeger. It was getting on in the evening and I didn’t want to return to Don’s too late and be rude. We had our hugs and I think they are going to meet me in Leesburg. Karen also gave me $20 and I must say what started out as a sort of boring day, ended up being very blessed.
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