A Motorcycle Trip in Florida: Day Four
It rained hard all night. We again consulted the Weather Channel and hung out at the motel until 9:30 AM, waiting for the weather to clear. When the rains slack off a little, we don our rain gear and start out. We finally crossed Card Sound Bridge and into the Keys at about 10:00AM.
I recommend taking Card Sound Road to Key Largo instead of US 1. It's calmer, more scenic and passes through upper Key Largo and the largest expanses of tropical hardwoods left in the Keys. It also takes you through the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Soon the sun is out full force and it looks to be a beautiful day. We stop at the Caribbean Club in Key Largo to remove our rain gear.
We made stops at John Pennakamp State Park in Key Largo and the Wild Bird Center in Tavernier. Pennakamp is the premier dive destination in the Keys. The Wild Bird Center is a haven for injured seabirds. It has many beautiful vistas over the water and many wild birds, in addition to the caged birds that were rehabbing there. The smell, however, can get a little overpowering and the management tends to be a little cranky if you don't park your vehicle just right.
In keeping with the theme of this motorcycle ride, we stopped and took pictures of the world's largest lobster; a truly impressive fiberglass Crustacean that sits in front of a group of gift shops in Plantation. By the way, gift shops are the rule throughout the Keys. We passed hundreds of them. They all sell the same things.
We continued down the Overseas Highway to Robbie's Boat Rentals on Lower Matecumbe. The attraction at Robbie's is the giant tarpon that hang out around the dock.
For a dollar you can walk out on the dock and see them. They lurk in large numbers, waiting for the tourists to feed them $2 buckets of dead fish.
The most impressive thing about this place, other than the hand painted sign saying "See the Tarpon", is that there is actually something you can do in the Keys for only a buck.
We ate lunch at the 7-Mile Grill in Marathon. This classic old Florida dinner, located at the foot of the 7-Mile Bridge, is not to be missed - open to the weather, lunch counter facing the parking lot, good food and cold beer. The conch fritters are among the best you'll ever eat. The waitresses are all named Flo and call everybody Honey.
After lunch we got on the 7-Mile Bridge before we noticed the large, ominous black clouds on the other side. The wind was blowing at least 20 miles per hour and for a time it seemed that the storm was going to hit us while we were on the bridge. We managed to race to a park and picnic shelter on Little Duck Key before the storm hit. We waited an hour and a half for the bad weather to blow through. Several other riders pulled in to wait out the storm.
When crossing the 7-Mile bridge, take a moment and check out the remains of the old 7-Mile bridge. It was an extremely narrow, white-knuckle, two lane span built on the old railroad bridge.
We finally started out to Key West in a light rain and rode the rest of the way under cloudy skies. The lower Keys are less crowded and less developed. We ride past lots of places we should have stopped to explore but it's been raining for an hour, the skies are getting ugly and we're both anxious to be dry and comfortable.
We finally arrived in Key West and check into a motel on Truman Avenue. It's a decent little motel but had the smallest rooms I ever saw. It had two single beds because one double would not have fit. When you sat on the toilet, you're knees and face were pressed against the wall. They provided a bathmat but there was no floorspace to put it.
We put the motorcycles to bed for the night and headed towards Duval Street for a pub-crawl. We finally settled at the Bull, a local saloon on Duval Street, and scored a window seat overlooking the sidewalk; a good spot to watch the tourists and the cruise ship passengers. We finished the night at the Lazy Iguana and Rick's Rooftop, making fun of passing tourist, as if we weren't doing the same things they were.
Great trip. I live in Florida and a lot of the places you describe are places I ride quit a lot but I still learned about a few places. Loved it!
Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 9:47 PM
This is the type of adventure, trip down memory lane that I love. Great journaling of the trip. A wonderful trip, and a wonderful read!
Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 5:47 PM
Great story and some good pictures! I moved here in the 70's and have been to most of the places you visited. Brings back memories. There are more spots to be discovered like Solomon's Castle and the Linger Lodge. Thanks for sharing the adventure!
Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 12:55 PM
That was a good adventure story. Nice job. I'll bet you guys enjoyed it. I live up around the Crestview area. I'm looking forward to making that trip soon. Good luck and happy trails. michael
Fri Mar 16, 2007 at 7:56 AM