Posts By Country




June 18th, 2013 | Florida

Key West to Tampa…

Before we left Key West, there was one last thing we still had to do…

The photo that confirms we've got to our third corner.

The photo that confirms we’ve got to our third corner.

Normally, of course, I would have ridden up onto the sidewalk to take the photo, but there were already a small crowd of people gathered there, and a police officer keeping an eye on things. He did not like me parking the bike in the street and jumping off to take a photo… That’s when I switched to Afrikaans and clicked away pretending not to understand a word he was saying…
By the time I got back to the hotel, we were all ready to make the long 700 km ride to Tampa. We checked out, and were soon on the Ocean Highway that would take us all the way back to the mainland, where we planned to skirt Miami and hook up with Highway 41 which would take us through the Everglades.
Crossing 7-Mile Bridge on the way to Marathon from Key West...

Crossing 7-Mile Bridge on the way to Marathon from Key West…

By the time we got going, it was already baking hot, so I decided to take advantage of Florida’s no helmet laws, and ride as far as Marathon wearing neither helmet nor jacket. Although I very seldom do this, I have to admit that I can see the attraction…

The sense of freedom one gets from being on a motorcycle is even further heightened when your ears are also exposed to the elements. Or perhaps it’s more the trepidation of knowing that if you take a tumble, it’s gonna be a hard one, no matter what speed you’re doing… So I kept it down to 100 km/h, just to be safe…
They make 'em big here in the Keys...

They make ’em big here in the Keys… The little red car was in deeper trouble than it realised…

We stopped in Marathon, where I refueled and reluctantly put my helmet and jacket back on. I made sure that Patricia knew the turnoff we’d be looking for so that we avoided as many traffic lights as possible on the western edge of Miami, and then kicked the Big Fella into gear and headed for the Everglades.

The Chief who sat for this carving could not have been in a good mood...

The Chief who sat for this carving could not have been in a good mood…

For miles along the road, through an area known as Homestead, we passed one Garden Nursery after another. I was amazed that they all managed to survive being shoulder to shoulder, and seemingly all offering the same products.

This must be the place for the incorrect ??

This must be the place for the incorrect ??

We turned left onto Highway 41, which would take us around the northern edge of the Everglades National Park, to rejoin the interstate at the city of Naples on the Gulf Coast.

We did not want to use the toll road that is known as Alligator Alley, because of the E-Tag problem, and in the end were happy that we did not.

Alligator alley is one of the straightest roads in the USA, and cuts clean across Florida, from east to west, the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico.

Highway 41 had at least six bends in it…

"Now hold on a cotton-picking minute there...!!", shouted the Big Fella, getting into his southern-talk... "Ain't nobody said nuthing about no Panthers...!! We need to git ourselves into Missy's car, real quick like !!"

“Now hold on a cotton-picking minute there…!!”, shouted the Big Fella, getting into his southern-talk… “Ain’t nobody said nuthin’ about no Panthers…!! We need to git ourselves into Missy’s car, real quick like !!”

We stopped at an Indian Trading Station where Air-boat rides were being advertised, and while we sat drinking water and Gatorade (you know which person drank what) we debated on whether or not to take a 45 minute air-boat ride through the swamps…

We decided that it was too hot to be out on a boat in the midday sun, and agreed that we would look for another opportunity in New Orleans maybe… Turns out the cost of air-boat rides were three times higher in New Orleans, so that one will not be ticked off my list of things to do…

We stopped in Fort Myers to call ahead and let the Borrageior's know that we were running late...

We stopped in Fort Myers to call ahead and let the Borrageior’s know that we were running late…

Patricia soon got used to me slowing down or stopping to turn back to take a photo of a road sign or anything else that might have caught my eye.

She would slow down and wait for me to catch up again before tucking in behind me again and riding at a consistently quick pace…

Just as we were exiting the Everglades, we rode through a thunderstorm which had me soaked to the bone in no time… I could see up ahead that the skies were clear, so just put my head down and barreled along until we were out of it…

Our criminals are also hard at work back in South Africa, in a place called "the Government"...

Our criminals are also hard at work back in South Africa, in a place called “the Government”…

It was so hot after that, that my kit dried out completely before we got to Naples…

All along Highway 41, small groups of men were slashing the long grass or collecting litter. I noticed that their heads were mostly shaved, and wondered if Florida’s skin-head fraternity were turning over a new leaf…

Finally, Tampa was in sight...

Finally, Tampa was in sight…

Then I saw the sign on the left and it all made sense. I had to grin at the thought of letting our prisoners back home out to cut the grass… They would disappear into thin air faster than you can say, “My Grandmother’s Duck in a Hat Box”…

I had been looking forward to reaching Tampa all morning. I had meant to visit my cousin who lived there, on my ride down from Alaska, but I ran out of time and never got further south than North Carolina…

Andrew Borrageiro had moved to Tampa about six years ago, and was now so firmly established here that he was determined never to go back to South Africa. We turned into the street he lived in, out to the north-west of the city centre, and rode slowly towards a group of people on their bicycles…

As we drew closer they waved at us and directed us into their driveway.

Jade and Simone Borrageiro, meet their namesake and the Gypsy Biker, all rolled into one...

Zane and Simone Borrageiro, meet their namesake and the Gypsy Biker, all rolled into one…

Andrew, who I think I might have met about 40 years ago, his wife Manuela and their two children, Zane and Simone, gathered around to meet us. We had arrived at close to 8.00 pm, much later than we had anticipated, and the family had waited to have dinner with us.

Key West to Tampa

Key West to Tampa

We lugged our gear off the bike and out of the car and got settled into our room. Then sat down to get acquainted. As quiet and reserved a young man as Zane was, his younger sister Simone, was the exact opposite, and her uncanny resemblance to both my sister when she was young, as well as my youngest daughter, had me staring at her for long moments at a time…

Patricia, Simone and Manuela at Safety Harbor.

Patricia, Simone and Manuela at Safety Harbor.

Andrew had made arrangements to get me new set of tyres and had also found a place nearby that repaired computers. The man had been busy !!

The guys at Euro Cycles in Tampa were very helpful and interested in what we had achieved to date...

The guys at Euro Cycles in Tampa were very helpful and interested in what we had achieved to date…

Early the next morning we dropped the Big Fella off at Euro Cycle of Tampa Bay to have a new set of Anakee 2’s fitted. I had last fitted new tyres in Phoenix, Arizona, and the current front tyre had covered almost 25 000 km and the second hand rear tyre that I had fitted in Cochrane, Canada, had given me more than 12 000 km.

I have no idea how much it had done before I got my hands on it, but it had been tossed out by the former owner !!

While we were waiting for the computer shop owner to analyze my computer, I received a call from Jeff at Euro Cycles.

“Your rear brakes are about 99 % worn !!” he advised…

“So when do you think I should change them,” I asked…

There was a long silence on the other end of the line, before he replied.

“About when they got to 75 % !!”, he chuckled…

Andrew puts me to work re-installing a washing machine at one of his laundromats...

Andrew puts me to work re-installing a washing machine at one of his laundromats…

The Vietnamese computer technician and owner of the store said there was nothing he could do with my old Acer. He suggested I drop it in the bin outside and buy a new one !! But just as we were about to leave, he mentioned that he had his daughters second hand laptop that he was trying to sell, and at $ 150.00, that would get me up and running in the mean time.

I walked out with an 10 year old computer that will have to do until I can find another to replace the one I have been carrying for the last three years. And as luck would have it, this one is even bigger than my old one !!

We went around to one of Andrew’s laundromats, where we spent some time repairing a machine, and exchanging a damaged one with one of the spare machines he has in stock.

We took a quick tour of the general area they lived in, strolled around at Safety Harbor for a while, and then went to collect the Big Fella.

Patricia was immediately attracted to a bike that was standing out on the parking area…

Now if you bought us one of these, Honey...

“Now if you bought us one of these, Honey…” her voice trailed off

I heard that !!

“I heard that !!”, said the Big Fella…

I think this one would suit my pocket better, Babe... And in the background, the Big Fella shouted, I heard that too...!!

“I think this one would suit my pocket better, Babe…” I told Patricia. And in the background, the Big Fella shouted, “I heard that too…!!

I rode the bike, home reminding myself that we would have to do a little “scrubbing” of the tyres when we took off tomorrow, to get the oil residue off, before we went tearing around corners… The bike felt great under me, with far better grip than I had enjoyed for a very long time…

Why Patricia is not traveling with me on the Big Fella...

Why Patricia is not traveling with me on the Big Fella…

That evening, Patricia and I quietly debated whether or not we could stay over another night, but looking ahead to the mileage we still had to do before she flew back to New York, and I rode off into the west, we sadly could not accept Andrew and Manuela’s very kind offer to stay longer…

We went out to dinner at a local steakhouse and then sat chatting and drinking a beer while we discussed our past experiences and future plans.

Manuela’s mom, who had come over to the USA with them, and was quite a character herself, very kindly sewed my two flags back together that had become separated in the corners due to the force of the wind when I rode with the flags “flying”…

I was glad to see how settled they all were here in the States, and considering that they all arrived here with a suitcase each and not much else, Andrew and Manuela had made a real success of their emigration…

We were up earlier than usual, packed and making coffee and planning the day’s ride ahead. I had checked the weather and saw that for the next few days the Florida Panhandle would be experiencing heavy rain…

Before we left, Andrew agreed to allow me to take both Zane and Simone around the block on the Big Fella. They had been asking for his permission for most of the previous day, and he had hesitated a little, but by this morning he had agreed… The kids were delighted !!

Zane was first up, and although he did not show much emotion afterward, I knew that he ahd enjoyed the ride...!!

Zane was first up, and although he did not show much emotion afterward, I knew that he had enjoyed the ride…!!

Simone seems to have enjoyed her little spin on the Big Fella. While we rode there was much whooping and hollering in my ear...

Simone seems to have enjoyed her little spin on the Big Fella. While we rode there was much whooping and hollering in my ear…

Manuela, Andrew, Zane and Simone. The first Borrageiro's that I know of, to establish themselves in the USA.

Manuela, Andrew, Zane and Simone. The first Borrageiro’s that I know of, to establish themselves in the USA.

I envied Andrew the time that allowed him to spend so much time with his children while they were growing up, and each time I looked at Simone, or heard her laugh or make a wise crack, I was reminded again of Robyn and Roxanne, and what I had missed out on when they were Simone’s age…

A final hug from Patricia before we take off for Mexico Beach on the Florida panhandle...

A final hug from Patricia before we take off for Mexico Beach on the Florida panhandle…

The family gathered on the side walk to say goodbye to us. We hugged , shook hands and kissed, promising to stay and touch and visit again as soon as we could. We had enjoyed our very brief stay with them and were sorry to have to leave so soon after having met…

As I hugged and kissed the top of Simone’s head, I sent the silent same to my two daughters, hoping that they were safe and well wherever they were, and somehow knew that I was thinking about them.

We stopped to refuel just north of Tampa, and Patricia could see that I was having a hard time keeping my emotions in check… She knew exactly what turmoil I was in and came over to hug me…

For the first hour or two both girls were in the forefront of my thoughts, and I can’t remember much of that part of our ride…

©GBWT 2013

5 comments to Key West to Tampa…

  • Sean Borrageiro

    Hey Ronnie nice to see you met my two cuzzies in the USA…Andrew is my cousin on my dads side and Wella is my cousin on my moms side…Aunty Zee her mom and my mom sisters…no incest I promise. Andrews dad and my dad were brothers. looks like you and Patricia having a ball…your life looks so interesting…I look forward to meeting you someday… Travel safe Gypsy Rider, may the wind be at your back and the sunshine down on you… KEEP that helmet on.

  • Doug McIllwain

    By the twinkle I see in the lobster’s eye, I hope, for the sake of the little red car, it’s not lobster mating season in Florida.

  • Doug, I couldn’t bring myself to publish the photos of what happened next.. Too terrible for sensitive viewers… R.

  • Hiya Sean, yes, it was wonderful meeting them, but we were away again too soon !! Next time we will “boer” there a bit longer, now that we know we have a place to see family ! R.

  • Seamus

    Hey Ronnie…great to be getting your post’s again…you were missed. Just an observation…why do always fly the SA Flag upside down???…you are not in distress are you Boet???.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>