MUTHUH's RIDES - rIdes of March
March 5-11, 2005
Julius Ceasar once warned us of the Ides of March - For years now, my rIdes to Florida for Daytona has been marked by some of the worst weather of all my rides, so heed the warning and "Beware the rIdes of March!" This one was no exception. Cold and wet marked another Daytona trip.
I've been on a couple rides with Cuz and Sonya, now... two years ago was Rider's Roost Spring Fling where I met them, although we didn't do any riding, and last year we did Daytona and the Fall Colors Ride together. We planned this year for me to stop by his place in South Carolina on my way south to Florida and get a tour of the metropolis of Laurens - which as luck would have it was being featured that very night on some TV show about remodeling Home Towns... the polulation was a tad nervous about it being a rip-job on their rural ways.
My plan was to make it to Cuz's place by dark so I could enjoy a little workshop poker game with the boys. I've been invited down for over a year now and I'm finally gonna meet Cuz's poker buddies. Laurens was only about 4-5 hours away by Interstate and I had a ton more work to finish up at the last minte - no back roads today - this was gonna be one of those 'point south and close yer eyes' kinda trips for this first leg. I pulled Ol' Huck and Lil'Mutt out of the garage around 11am - headed into scattered thundershowers, which seems to scatter themselves in my direction til I hit the SC state line. I don't mind cold rides too much or wet rides on occasion, but cold and wet rides is a bitch.
I'd stop every now and then those first 100 miles jus to check the trailer tire and axle. I'd just put in new wheel bearings and a new tire, even though it still had plenty of wear tread on it, but the wear pattern was kinda uneven with some scallopping due to the light loads all the time. The axle weight is usually probably around 50-60 pounds and it doesn't wear evenly at that light load. I had recently found out that the UNi-Go trailer that I distribute for that New Zealand manufacturer is selling the company to a US-based company, so this trip will not be a sales-pushy trip. The decals were taken off and the brochures and business cards left at home...
Mid-afternoon, I find Hwy 49 in SC and take the remaining few scenic miles to Laurens in increasing winds. At times the gusts were closing in on 20-25mph. The GPS took me right to their front door, and Sonya drug me out back to his workshop - there among all the tools and jigs and benches, Cuz was putting the final touches on his Turkey Boxes, his donation to the Turkey Federations auction next month. Check out the white bench in Pic #2 - thats our poker table for tonights game. BUt before the festivities - we took a ride into town in his pickup - first to visit Helen at The Hub - a town landmark drinkin and eatin establishment. The Ga. Tech and Clemson game was on TV in the corner and not a soul paying attention to it. COnversation turned more to the evil empire of WallMart taking over the small town retailers.
Thats Helen with me in Pic #3 - she's been around since the 50's and claims thats her in the picture behind me. After a couple Buds, a Birddog (chicken strips on a hot dog bun) and a moonpie, Cuz took me to the other well known place in town - The Redneck Shop. SItting in the old Echo Theater, the "World Famous Redneck Shop" really is world reknowned and has been featured on many magazine-type TV shows. Probably better known for its abundant Nazi, Klan and Confederate consumer goods, I found I could buy an authentic, hardly ever worn (but with a few cinder burn spots) Klan outfits at a reasonable price. I smiled and cajoled with the owner a bit but got the hell outta there before I was asked to join the hangin in the square - he really did show some upset thatthere hadn't been one in years - I'd like to think the act was for the tourists, but Cuz seemed to think he was genuinely pissed.
Back at the house for dinner - Cus and Sonya got into near fistfights over his failure to have enough propane on hand to cook the steaks Sonya prepared. I suggested we just broil 'em in the oven (as I usually do) and they both stopped and looked at me like I was some stupid yankee dropped off the turnip truck. In the end, though, my idea won out, primarily cause we had already started into the fully loaded ice cooler full of lil amber bottles and none of us wanted to wrestle with the tank and get 'er filled. Damned good steak Miss Sonya. This was soon followed by a steady stream of good ol' boys popping into the back shed, plastic cups full of coin and a fair number of them in Laurens County uniform - overalls. Now - don't be lookin for any pictures - it just ain't right to be snappin pictures of the local townsfolk at poker night, but you'd have gotten a kick out of it. Red plastic cups filled with nickels and dimes - the occasional quarter - and various brands of beer around a table populated by the widest range of ages I've ever seen at poker night. Alan, sitting next to me in his twenties, and Curtiss, who musta been in his 70's at the far corner took the extremes, filled in with Jim, Myron, Russell, Steve, Cuz and I. I was told to keep an eye out for Russell, at least before he had a chance to do some drinkin' cause he'd look at yer cards in a heartbeat. After a few drinks, he had a tough time seeing his own.
I noticed after the first couple rounds that a dark black nickel remained in the center of the table at all times. The onc or twice someone did move it, another coin or a playing card was used to move it. I heard ference a couple times to "the Booger Nickel" but decided not to pursue that line of questioning... must be a local legend or something. Something else I noticed, in the pile of small change (fifteen cent limits in Laurens, by the way) sitting in front of me, I don't think there was a coin later than 1978 in it. Seems this pickup game has been going on for some time. They do play some strange games though, and I couldn't play my traditional 7-card game because there were too many people at the table.
I quickly found the bathroom was designated as out the door to the right, and warned that the yard dogs would be very attentive and run up right behind you to re-mark their territory after you were finished. It got so dark out there, that I coulda sworn I pissed all over one of them... there - re-mark THAT! The evening ended on a good note - I was up about six bucks, Cuz was up about ten and no-one threw the first punch or said anything nasty about my wife. This was a fun group - rather diverse in humor and drinkers all. All was well in Laurens that night and we went inside to watch the video tape of that TV show that Sonya taped for us.
The next morning, after a great homecooked breakfast, the sun was up bright, the wind died down but it was still pretty damned cold. #06 shows yours truly wearing my black watch cap and leather bombers 'helmet' that is traditional in helmetless states on a cold day. Look real close - does it look like I give a fuck if it looks silly? 30 miles south we hit a major problem. The gas station we stop at had a malfunction in its gas hose and a half gallon of gas sprayed all over Cuz's bike and their gear. New Corbin Seat, T-Bag, helmets gloves, etc...soaked. Luckily I had extra helmets and gloves for an expected passenger later on in the ride, and they used those while airing out thier own - I rode Sonya on my bike for the rest of the next two days so her ass wouldn't smell like gas, and Cuz, rode on an old blanket I had in the trailer' Pics #07 and 08 are part of the many I took for the insurance claim.
It reamined cold but dry the next two days - we stayed in Waycross this first night, taking only this one picture (#09) at the GA border to don real helmets (hey - I SWEAR its a real helmet - I put the DOT sticker on myself!). Befor egetting to Waycross, somewhere along the way the other emale member of this group, who will remain nameless, lost her personal bag fulla shit - medications, etc - and was bummed out for the next two days thinking this trip was already cursed... dinner at the mexican place was doom and gloomy and I had to threaten to slap her upside the head and snap out of it. Too cold for more pics - or just too loaded to care, dunno.
We hit The griffin Ranch in Fort McCoy mid Day on Monday and visited Julie and Carl - the ranch owners, her dad and kids for the rest of the night. On Tuesday, Cuz rode in the cold rain to Lakeland for a training class while I sat by the Gator pond with my laptop writing in my book - got a chapter and a half done and posted in Blood Bound while sunning myself on the picnic table. Later on, we took a ride on the 4-wheel Gator with Julie and her one-year-old baby out to see more gators and ride the 'back forty'.
Tuesday night was just hangin around at dinner, talking to her dad, who was also down here riding for Bike Week, and sittin on the back porch rockers shooting the shit. Was too windy for a fire, but damned sure coulda used it. If you're ever looking for a place away from the traffic and nonsense, or need a place to haul your shiny new biles to without anyone seeing you offload it, check out The Griffin Ranch - nice people.
On wednesday, with a close eye on the weather front coming in, we bundled up and headed for our only day in Daytona. Got there and went to the Beach Street swap meet vendors, near the dealership - got the requisite pins and t-shirts, and headed to Main Street. With Lil'Mut, there was no chance to find parking on the street so I coughed up $5 at the same place as we parked last year, right on Main. Walked around a bit, found ourselves watching Billy Lane filming a Discovery Channel Special on stage and proceeded to get dumped on with cold rain. Thought it was gonna hold off til later on that day, and the forecast was for continuous rain for hours. We had no place to stay lined up tonight, so figured whatthehell, and suited up for the trip north - ended up in St. Augustine in near bright sunshine. We rode around for a few minutes and found a motel, laundrymat and bikerbar, all within eyesight of each other....home!
Weather Channel still showed it raining in Daytona, so we made the right move - I don't miss the rally stuff anyway. Spent the night in the Bar None Saloon (which Ciz insisted on calling the Barn One Saloon until we made him focus on the bar coaster a little closer. Inbetween beers Cuz and Sonya did their laundry - I opted to have the lil ol lady do the Wash and Fold thing for me while I was across the street, and we ate at some nondecript seafood restaurant next door. All in all a good night except for the cold, which made for very little front porch time at the motel. No Pics in St/ Augustines, either.
Next morning we drove through St. Aug's, and headed up A1A into and past Jacksonville, took the St. Johns RIver/Mayfield Ferry crossing, and///
... rode up through some nice desolate beachfront on our way to Fernandina Beach. Several butt and smoke breaks later we pulled up to Hammerheads Tavern in Fernandina for lunch...
From here it was meandering back to I-95 for some more eyes closed riding to Savannah, where I dropped in on an old friend, (I refer to her as "Sli", if you're reading the book) and all went out to a bar/restaurant and spent the next several hours there. I'm told I said my goodbyes to Cuz and Sonya there - they were heading out first thing in the morning for home, and I went to Sli's place for some more tequilla... she swears I was a good boy and didn't make a pass at her or her teenaged son.
after a late wake-up, I did some more eyes-closed riding home - a 6 hour trip, making it all the way into my own home town before the skys opened up on me - I pulled into the garage dripping wet, tired and still throbbing from the night before... here it is a week later and parts of the bike bags are still packed...I'll get to 'em before the next trip, I promise.
Check out the upcoming TRIPS page for more rides this summer... next big one is Laconia, with a couple smaller ones as well... and any of you adventurous types - there's still openings in the Austira/Italy/Croatia/Slovenia trip planned in 2005 - I'm not going this year, but check out PanAtlanticTours.com for information...
Till next time - Ride Safe...
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