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End of Year Florida Christmas Ride, 8 Days 2047 Miles

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End of Year Florida Christmas Ride, 8 Days 2047 Miles

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Old 12-31-2018, 08:50 PM
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Default End of Year Florida Christmas Ride, 8 Days 2047 Miles

Christmas Ride NC to FL 2018

Praise God for another wonderful end of year Florida motorcycle ride. I give him all the Praise, Honor and Glory. This year he allowed my wife to make the ride, gave us extra days, great roads and beautiful weather.

This ride was dedicated to Don Tilley who first introduced me to the end of year Florida rides. I made the last one with him before he passed away. It was an experience I will never forget and will always treasure. This year marks my 5th ride and we went back to one of Don’s favorite places. The Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant in Titusville, Florida for “Rock Shrimp”. Don loved them because they taste like Lobster and we did him proud by eating three dozen.

In the past this has been an all guys ride the day after Christmas returning before New Years. Well no one was riding this year so i asked my lovely wife of 29 years if she would like to go. I got an immediate YES and this allowed us to leave before Christmas for a more extended ride.

We left our undisclosed bunker just west of the twin cities that tobacco built on Saturday December 22nd at 8:19 am. It was 47 degrees out and we knew we would see temperatures in the mid-sixties before the end of the first day. Our travels took us west on I-40, South on I-77 through Charlotte and Columbia. We jumped off the interstate and took Hwy 321 and some other backroads to Savannah Harley Davidson. From there we took Hwy 17 South and our next stop was at Golden Isles Harley Davidson. We were very close to our hotel at St. Simons Island. We arrived before dark and were directly across the street from the ocean and the light house. The hotel exceeded our expectations and the covered parking was wonderful. We were only two blocks from downtown and enjoyed all the Christmas decorations and lights as we walked up for dinner. The “Half Shell” restaurant came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. What a wonderful place. The food and service were EXCELLENT and we look forward to going back there one day soon.

https://www.hotelsone.com/st-simons-...4aAtsAEALw_wcB

http://thehalfshellssi.com/

The following morning (Day 2) we rode down to the pier for a few pictures before rolling south. This was going to be a long day with a short distance with all scenic roads primarily A1A down to Daytona. In just a few short miles we crossed the beautiful and tall Sidney Lanier Bridge. I have been over it many times on a motorcycle but never this early in the day. It was calm and sunny out which made it a pleasure to cross. Last year the wind was so strong it felt like we were getting blown off.

https://www.goldenisles.com/listing/...er-bridge/178/

We always enjoy the ride along the coast from Amelia Island down to St. Augustine. We rode the St. Johns Ferry across and made our lunch stop at a favorite in St. Augustine called “Sunset Grill”. They never disappoint and this year had fresh local shrimp that was meaty and plump along with their fantastic homemade Key Lime Pie.

https://www.sunsetgrillea1a.com/

By this time the weather is well into the 60’s and we pulled the liners out of our HD jackets and I popped the shield off my Shoei J-Cruise. It felt GREAT out! Back home my friends were dealing with 30’s and 40’s!

In no time we made a right onto High Bridge Road and rode through the beautiful Bulow Creek State Park. Then on to Destination Daytona which is always the wife’s requested stop. After about an hour there it was time to get on I-95 and book on south to Titusville. This was a low key stop at the Fairfield Inn right off I-95. The key reason for this stop was to get the famous Rock Shrimp at Dixie Crossroads. It did not disappoint!

http://www.dixiecrossroads.com/

The morning of day 3 we needed to book on down to Islamorada where we had reservations for three days over Christmas at the beautiful Pelican Cove Resort. We turned right onto I-95 South, then hit the Florida Turnpike. We stopped along the way at Space Coast HD which is always a good stop. The weather was nice and by the end of the day we were in the high 70’s and had the vents on the jackets zipped open and the vents on the helmets open as well as all vents on the bike blowing our way. We were making excellent time cruising at 3 k rpm which is 80 MPH on the speed-O-Meter. The 114 CI just loves that setting and purred like a kitten. In no time at all we were in Homestead and transitioning onto Hwy 1. We made the turn at Gilberts (a place we would always stop at back in our boating days) and just 28 miles later we arrived at the resort around 3pm. After getting checked in we rode up to the grocery store for a few supplies. It was Christmas eve so we wanted to be prepared with a few snacks and drinks. On the way back, we found Wahoo’s Bar & Grill and stopped in for a nice dinner on the upper outside deck. Nice place right at the marina across the bridge from where we were staying.

https://www.pelicancovehotel.com/?gc...oaAgl8EALw_wcB

http://www.wahoosbarandgrill.com/

We got back to the resort and just kicked back on the balcony and chilled. The weather was perfect and we put on our shorts and watched the sunset. Even though we were on the Atlantic side it was still a nice sunset.

Our main Christmas present to each other was this trip. However, we did buy and bring along a Sony Bluetooth speaker. I turned on my Amazon playlist of Christmas music and it was the perfect evening!

Christmas morning the sunlight came shining through the windows and we made a cup of coffee and poured a glass of OJ and enjoyed the balcony again. It was over cast but still a beautiful day. The main plan was to ride to Key West and back for the afternoon and explore a few of the island keys. We went down for breakfast and met some nice folks, walked along the beach and got over to the water toys. The Kayak was calling my name. The wife was game so we spent about an hour and a half in a two-man kayak. We paddled north along the coast line to some mangroves and explored them for a while before returning. I inquired about the paddle board and signed up for lessons for the next morning. We went back to the room, showered and got ready to ride to Key West. By this time, it was 74 degrees out. We had our matching Harley red Christmas t-shirts on and left the helmets in the room. We both had been dreaming about this part of the ride.

Well the ride down to Key West and back was excellent. You always have to use extreme caution on Hwy 1 as there are always cagers exceeding the speed limits and passing even on the double yellow lines. My wife and I have done a lot of boating in South Florida. We used to be member of the Florida Powerboat Club. We have gone from Miami to Key West several times by boat, once by cruise ship and twice by car. But this as the first for us on the motorcycle. Key West was STUPID crowed on Christmas day. We did not expect the huge crowd. But hey it’s all about the ride and we turned around as soon as we got there and headed back toward home base. After crossing the Seven Mile Bridge we stopped for lunch and fuel in Marathon. We ate at the Mile 7 Grill and then safely arrived back at the resort around 5 pm and it was still 73 degrees after hitting 79 earlier in the day.

Okay I was excited about paddle boarding the next morning and what was going to be our first down day without riding. But those hopes were quickly dashed. We woke to what sounded like heavy rain but it was actually a 22 to 25 mph wind off the ocean blowing thought the palm leaves. I went down for breakfast and walked over to see Virginia Fred the water sports guy and he was shaking his head NO. They have shut down all water sports activities for the day due to weather. Oh well all is good. I went to the bar and started playing “Bimini Ring Toss”. In no time I had it mastered and was getting the ring on the hook six out of twelve tries. The wife came down to challenge me and I schooled her at first and finally got her up to speed. Once you get the technic down it is easy. We went for a walk and checked out the shops in the area, the Starbucks next door and walked on over to the next marina where the Tiki Bar is. We had lunch there and the fish tacos were the absolute BEST we have ever had period! Everything was pretty much brand NEW following the last hurricane. The bar/restaurant and marina were super nice. The wind had remained consistent at 25 MPH. Mid-day while sitting on the balcony we could see a wall of water coming across the ocean quickly. It looked to be on the horizon and I counted to 30 and BAM is was right on us. The good news is the rain only last about 15 minutes and we were back to normal with a steady 25 mph wind.

The following morning was time to leave and we had reservations at Everglades City for two nights. The wife wanted to do an air boat ride, swamp buggy and handle a baby alligator. Well the weather was changing, the wind was here to stay for another day and rain was moving into North Carolina in a big way. So, we made a decision to skip the everglades this trip which cost us $178 for one-night cancellation fee. The plan was to ride hard to Jacksonville, hang out one day while the rain passed through and then have a DRY window of opportunity to get back into NC. I love it when a plan comes together.

Day 6 we wake up early and the wind is howling. We have breakfast, pack up the bike and are rolling north by 8am. Not until we got north of Key Largo where it opens up to Biscayne Bay did the wind really become an issue. Then as we got inland I was surprised that it was still an issue. But for some reason between Miami and Fort Lauderdale it was a bear. There were several butt pucker moments. We stopped off at Alligator Alley HD for a break and arrived at Jacksonville around 5:30 pm. The wind was 15 mph up there and still warm in the upper 60’s. I reserved a king room for two nights at a full-service hotel. It had a restaurant, bar, laundry and room service. We were going to stay put, have a down day and allow the weather to pass.

The wife did all our laundry before bed time which was a good thing. Everything was now dirty and we were wearing our last change of underwear! We had dinner down in the bar and got a great night’s rest.

The next morning the wind was still there at maybe 10 mph and a threat of heavy rain early afternoon. We made a decision to order up an Uber ride and go see a movie! We went to a local theater and saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” which we both enjoyed. Upon return to the hotel we chilled in the lounge, had a steak dinner and packed up everything except what we were wearing the next day so we could get up and roll out at daybreak.

The rain rolled through heavy overnight and I woke up about 5:30 am ready to go. I showered and got the wife up and as the sun was rising we rolled out onto I-295 heading toward home. It was beautiful as we crossed the Butler Bridge, merged onto I-95 and let her roll. We started to see traffic build about 40 miles south of Savannah. About that time, I could smell rain in the air and presto there it was. It actually felt good and was gone as quickly as it came. No rain suite required and we never slowed. As we rolled into South Carolina traffic was building steadily and I already had a plan “B” to get us off the interstate. We had decided the night before that even though it would add 70 miles to the ride we were going to stay off I-26 and I-77 and skip Columbia and Charlotte all together. Before I-26 we jumped off onto Highway 15, then 301 and 52 toward Florence, SC. Our next stop was at the NEW Black Jack HD. What a beautiful dealership with a lot of activity. I was really impressed with the interior layout, and both the inventory of bikes and motor cloths. Well now it is time to get home and getting late in the day. We jumped back on I-95 North for 11 miles to Hwy 38. Then ran to Bennettsville then caught 74/220 back to God’s country. We arrived back home at 6 pm with just a little light left in the sky.

What an amazing vacation end of the year Florida ride. The lowest temperature we dealt with was 47 when we left home. Then we never saw less than 63 degrees and six days. It was a cool 57 when we got home but no complaints from the wife at all. The last day was a LONG 550 mile run and really enjoyed it!

To sum up, 8 days, 6 destinations, beautiful warm weather, Christmas in the Keys, 6 dealerships visited and 2047 total miles round trip.

We ride a 2017 CVO Limited 114 CI. It now has 14 K miles on it. It did not miss a beat and saw a LOT of 3k RPM / 80 MPH super slab runs. I was hoping to get the clutch recall done before we left but no parts. We got back home without any tire issues. Never added any air to either tire and all fluid levels are GOOD!

The Pro-Action shocks, 10 in Monkey Bars, heated seat and grips along with a REAL sheepskin seat cover make for a very comfortable ride.

My new as of this year Shoei J-Cruise with Sena Bluetooth was amazing and we upgraded to Dry Spec D66 luggage system which we LOVE! But the stock straps are not good for a Harley luggage rack. I used ROK Straps and they are FANTASTIC! I also wore a new pair of Rev It Fusion GTX gloves. They are extremely warm, designed to work with heated grips and are waterproof. I only wore them two days and put them away. TOO Warm!

https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/...-drybag-system

https://rokstraps.com/

https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/...ion-gtx-gloves

God Bless all and “Happy New Year”

P.S. We are already working on our next ride. The wife wants an air boat ride. Looks like that will happen in 2019 in the swamps of Louisiana!






 
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:00 PM
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:07 PM
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Dinner out at the Half Shell at the Pier
St. Simons Island, GA







 
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:17 PM
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Very quaint town....






 
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:24 PM
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:32 PM
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Time for lunch in St. Augustine. This is our third year eating at Sunset Grill. AWESOME!






The BEST Key Lime pie in Florida.
 
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:40 PM
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Most all these pictures are off our phones. I have not had a chance to check out the photos and videos off the GoPro yet.






 
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:52 PM
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Destination Daytona is always a nice stop...




Nothing like a Barber Shop in your dealership...


Elvis trades here...


 
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:58 PM
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:09 PM
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As the sun set over Titusville on Day #2 it was time for some Rock Shrimp...



Neil Armstrong asked to join us for dinner....





 

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