"Panhanding" Ride Report
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It was time for our bi-annual family reunion. With 1 sister and 7 brothers, uhhhh, I guess that would make them Muthuh's Bruthuh's, then wouldn't it?... we take turns organizing the event. This year it was Jeff's turn and he picked a resort south of Tallahassee, Florida called Wakulla Springs. The largest and deepest natural spring in the world, Wakulla Springs has never been measured in depth. Although many divers have died trying, the caverns and depths have never been fully explored. At 400 feet, they still hadn't found the bottom. Dirctly over the deepest part of the springs is the hi-rise diving platform where all the kids and grandkids take turns jumping into the cold water...something every parent thinks about watching their kids jump in.
Kim and I and the kids have loaded up the camper and trailer with 4 bicycles and the Harley and head south. Picking up our 16yr old daughter on the way at the Kiss Concert, where she worked in concessions, we get on the road at 10:30pm planning to drive all night. With the full load in the trailer, I expect I'll be the only driver this trip. I had gotten a set of 13 cassette tapes of a Clive Cussler Book-on-Tape called Shockwave, waited no more than 10 minutes before all were asleep and put in tape number 1...this really is a great way of passing time on a long drive, listening to a book on the radio.
We get to Wakulla Springs about noon the next day - only 7 tapes into the book - and hook up with the family, most of which are already here. Its hot and muggy and I soon realize this is not gonna be fun weather for riding. The Wakulla Spings Lodge, where we're staying for the couple days we're here, is an old historic building, and besides the broken air conditioning in our rooms, was a nice place. We had reserved the Ed Ball Suite - named after the guy who founded the place - as our common meeting room, and promptly spread out the 7 coolers of beer, booze and chips. We also carried down a big box full of "family heirlooms' for passing out to the 9 grandchildren of my Grandparents on my Fathers side. This was all late 1800's, early 1900's stuff, some of which came from Wales. One of the items that bruthuh Jed picked was a set of 6 crystal shot glasses that will come in real handy later that night.
I won't go into too much detail about the family reunion stuff, the REAL purpose of the trip was the ride out to the coast on the bike, right? Kim and I pull out of here at about 9am Sunday Morning and head west down Hwy 98. It was not too bad on the road, with the wind in our faces, but it was clearly getting hot out there already. The coast road towards Appalachicola turned out to be a really nice, but typical Florida coast ride. Was a lot of development going on and every couple hundred feet was a sign for a piece of property for sale. Traffic was pretty light and roadkill few and far between.
We passed by the town of Carrabelle, noted for having the Worlds Smallest Police Station. The cops....hmmm, excuse me, the COP that works this town parkes his car next to this phone booth and waits for his next emergency call... the phone in the booth is a rotary dial type, so you get a good idea how often they get calls! When we pulled up, there was a guy cleaning the booth windows, getting ready to renew the paint on the sign's front glass... turns out he couldn't find an electric outlet, so he told us he was gonna go to the beach instead...typical Florida work ethics!
We kept along the coast road to Appalachicola, and turned around - it was getting steamy as hell and we were eager to join the other brothers in what is known as the Wakulla Waltz. Before driving home, though, we stopped off in Carabelle again and had lunch at Julia Mae's World Famous Seafood Restaurant - owned by Tim and Lisa Baroody, old family friends. The Shrimp Burgers were outstanding. They are providing the Ribs and Shrimp for tomorrow night's dinner, too. If you're out that way, stop in at their place on the west side of the bridge in Carrabelle.
A couple of my brothers live in Tallahassee and one of their friends have a boat moored in St. Marks, on the south side of Wakulla County. After a long day on the boat and heading home, is a vast array of bars and saloons, that when visited in order on the way home, have become known as doing The Wakulla Waltz. On the Family reunion website, the only "activity' listed is directions to all the bars along this path. Jeff is well-acquainted with his brother's interests in doing these reunions, and the Wakulla Waltz is the only thing we can all agree on.
Starting at Posey's Bar on the southern tip of the penninsula where St. Marks is located, the dance begins!...next door to that is Riverside cafe, where I hook up with Hoagie, a friend of my brothers who rides and has written several emails since my Oklahoma Ride in '99. He pulls in with a couple buddies, "Motorcycle Mike" who has a pair of crutches strapped to his handlebars after a bike wreck 18 months ago, and still recovering... and another Mike (who had to become known as "regular ol' Mike) and joins our Waltz. A new guy joins us, too....damned...I think his name was Shawn. The kids and Kim go out on Hoagies boat while we saddle up and head north. Passing by the "98 Bottles", saving it for later tonight, we go to Beeps for a quick draft served up by Sissy, who promptly places the Tip Jar in front of the new customers. Next up was the "County Line" which had a BBQ going in the back and setting up for a band tonight.
Hoagie, Mike, Mike and Shawn split from there and I joined up with my brothers and the rest of the family for dinner in a sleepy little town on the coast called Spring Creek. From here I grab my younger brothers Fiance on the back of the bike for the ride to the 98 Bottles. This place only has about 8 seats, so we all piled in. Met a guy named Barney riding an old 73 rat bike...well, he likely wouldn't call it that, but it was missing a LOT of parts! After the 98 Bottles, I snagged another Brother's wife for the ride back to the Lodge - I think they all were enjoying the cool evening wind on their faces on their first Harley rides. Not to be outdone, yet another brother's wife, Mary, hopped on for a ride around theblock, turned out to be a 30 minute LONG block around here. Had to stop for gason that one. When I got back, those three brothers were sitting up in the common room of the lodge with big shit-eating grins on their faces. Looks like they all now had permission to get bikes! Hope they know those little rides I gave their ladies may have just cost 'em upwards of $18,000!
We spread out the Family 'heirlooms' for distribution, the granddaughters all got their picks of some old jewelry, and we cleared off the long table for the evening Poker Game. One of the younger brothers, Jed, produced a sealed bottle of Crown Royal, bottled in 1957 - snagged his recently acquired crystal shotglass sets that was brought over from Wales, and proceeded to pour successive shots, and interspersed with a couple stray Old Forrester shots, continued until both bottles were empty and it was 2AM.
By then we figured it was time to get to bed before we started up the Waltz again the next day!......
During the morning - everybody kinda went their own way a bit. Lounging at the Springs, Boat rides, historic tours of Tallahassee, or doing nothing all morning. I got the chance to do this stuff and uploaded it, cleared the camera memory and got ready for tonight. It was ungodly hot during the days here - mid nineties and muggy as hell...I set up the Camper awning for the Harley inbetween rides and found myself riding the bike in shorts and sandals.
My brother Jerry and I finished off the last couple of stops on the Waltz, before heading back to the Lodge to get ready for the evening festivities...but then thats all part of the reunion, not the ride...so I'll let it go at that... from here we pack up the bikes and Harley and head south to Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney World. If the weather holds out I'll be making another trip to Cape Canaveral on Friday with maybe a stop up in Daytona on the way back...
Later - Muthuh.
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