The sun came out somewhere in North Carolina. Spitting rain showers through the lower part Virginia. I laughed in the face of those sprinkles. I actually did laugh and listened to a Chesney playlist all the way through the Carolinas.
Country side was lush and green. Lawn mowers where out and running along the farm house lawns as I passed. Traffic was great for an interstate. Cruised along at 75 to 80 miles an hour for 588 miles. Made great progress through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and into Georgia. I decided to overnight in Kingsland which is just north of Jacksonville, Florida. I stayed here last year on my way home. It is a days ride to Key West from here and I was feeling pretty chuffed. Grilled chicken salad for dinner. Threw my stinky riding gear in the laundry. Wet clothing dried on heaters overnight gets a crispy feel. Even more so after doing that for three days.
I had a great night sleep, but was up at 5 am and was not looking for a snooze button. Not that my internal clock has much of a snooze button. I was really looking forward to riding in warm, dry Florida with just my summer jacket and clean riding pants. I was on the road after my ‘complimentary continental breakfast’ by 7:45 and riding past Jacksonville by 8 am. Sun was out and it was a little chilly still because of the storm front that had just left. I was still comfy though and had nothing but gratitude. Sunnies on and iTunes playing. GPS was locked into Harbor Shores, Key West.
I rolled along Interstate 95 at a 80 miles an hour all morning. Tiger has been so much fun and incredibly secure underneath me the whole trip. Wet weather and now dry. I adjusted the suspension before I left Toronto. With the added weight of the new additional luggage I felt that the bike might be a little soft. Definitely a little twitchy, but feels much more responsive. GPS is a blessing as well. It has taken a little getting used to having. Actually, I think it has taken a little more to trust than anything. I have begun to trust and I figured out all the additional features. I am not sure why I didn’t invest in it sooner. Turn by turn, import waypoints from Google Maps and the estimated time of arrival all have taken the constant calculations and memorizing of connectors and changes off my plate. The Southern half of Florida was a breeze with all of the tolls and ramps charted for me. Worry free is something that is not part of my vocabulary most of the time.
Got past Miami between 2:30 and 3:00. Gassed up in Homestead and began the long awaited ride down the Overseas Highway. I have been giddy with excitement. The warm air, salt water smell and slow pace. Nothing over 55 miles an hour. Sun on my face, jacket open and slowly observe. I noticed things this trip down that I did not last time. Everything seems a little smaller and more personal. A real sense of comfort and ease. Last trip I was wandering into the unknown and this trip had more of a homecoming. Felt like the reading a book for the second or third time and finding what seems like new passages written since you last read it. I remember leaving last year and thought that the 150 mile ride out of Key West was much longer and almost daunting. Another 536 miles was coming to an end.
Arrived in Harbor Shores at 4:45 to a warm homecoming. Feels amazing to be back and grateful for everything that has been provided to me.