The Oyster Tours

#One Oyster Tour 2017

This years rides are in memory of Al Fragola. Al created the Vespa Club del Mediterraneo and staged a scooter tour in Europe every year and in so doing brought together great people from around the world. Al and his wife Ardy and I had many attachments beyond scooters. Al retired from the Army as a helicopter pilot and Ardy retired from American Airlines. Al passed away late in December during surgery in his adopted country of Greece. His legacy in the scooter world will not soon be forgotten.

January 9-13

Day 1   I made my way by car to Dothan, Alabama to pick up Fred. Gary met me at the airport where I turned in the rental car and we went out to the country to meet the owner of Fred.  A very nice man named Bob. I handed over a check and he handed over the title.  Gary had already moved the scooter to his house, so we said our goodbyes and headed back into Dothan. Fred was standing tall under Gary’s pole barn and I can say it was very shiny and proud to be there. We spent the evening doing some tinkering and putting on the therma-scud, a blanket for cold weather.  Not really an accessory I would need except for tomorrow when temperatures where predicted to start in the 30’s when we start the day. A pleasant dinner with Gary and Evelyn and we called it a day.

Day 2 We killed some time waiting for it to warm up a little but were on the road by 9 with the temperature just making 40. Gary led us down the back roads to Marianna, Florida where we picked up US90 to Tallahassee. A lunch of a “meat and two sides”, Gary’s favorite was had in Chattahoochee at the buffet. Our destination in Tallahassee is the Vespa dealer. It is a “motorsports” place and sells many lines of motorcycles and though they only sell 7 or 8 Vespa’s a year, they have been a dealer for eighteen years. Some nice conversation and a look at the facility and we were back on the road. We arrived at the Stephen Foster State Park at 5 and were glad to see we were expected.  We settled into our usual cabin #5, the handicap cabin. We get it for mental not physical challenge. Jim, who volunteers at the park as a blacksmith, came over and shortly after him Bill arrived from Jacksonville.  Dinner in Live Oak and we called it a day.

That is Bob in the truck. He is veteran and a racist, but was friendly enough to us white people. Even the boy from Alabama was a little taken aback by Bob's comments.

Nice to be welcome somewhere

Day 3   After coffee in the cabin and the temperature had come up we hit the road for Douglas, GA. In Jasper, FL Gary decided he needed some coffee. He does not like mine or Bill’s coffee because it is to “strong”. Gary likes colored water you can see through. That ain’t coffee to me.
I circled a few blocks in search of coffee with no success until I found a police officer. He said just a few blocks down main street is “Gucci coffee shop” (my words). We thanked him and roared off down the road to fine a great little coffee shop. We had coffee and visited with some of the locals. One was a young police officer and Gary, a retired police officer, began to give him pointers and career path suggestions.
Back on the road again we had a nice ride up CL135 through rural Georgia and arrived in Douglas in time to have lunch at the local airport restaurant. Our first attempt to find the XP-82 was unsuccessful. It was not in any of Dalton’s hangers, but there were other interesting airplanes there including a B-17 they are creating from scratch. So off we go to the small terminal building to inquire about the airplanes whereabouts when we saw it in the hanger of the Kentucky Fried Chicken king of Georgia’s hanger.
One of the nice things about Tom and his crew is they always welcome you with open arms and take as much time as you want to explain everything they are doing. We got the full tour including sheet metal lessons.
Back on the road again the weather was perfect for riding. Other than several pee stops for Jim who is always “hydrating” and a coke break for Gary we motored right along back to the cabin.

Coffee in Jasper

MLK monument

Only Bill and I had interest

Getting sheet metal lessons.

Odd not to have Walt in my rearview mirror

It is very odd having Bill behind instead of in front.

A nice evening by the fire after a great ride.

Day 4   Bill and Gary packed up and headed home after a breakfast at Fat Belly in White Springs. Though some had panned it we found it to be “our kind of restaurant” and enjoyed the meal and the people there. Bill, being a go-fast guy, hit the interstate with me right behind him. Speeds on Fred had been a little slow and I wanted to see if it was because of the skirt that Fred had to keep us warm.  It had been removed and returned to Capt. Gary as it was on loan. Speeds were good, but not as good as I would like.  It maintained a respectable 74-75, but I want more.  After 30 miles of that I waved goodbye to Bill and turned off to wander the back roads. I met some interesting buys on vintage BMW’s.  One with a crazy sidecar pulling a camper. He has ridden this rig all over America.

One Jim's products. He took a railroad spike and turned into that shinny knife.

Day 5    Packed and loaded and drove off about 9, but not before christening Fred.  Actually, I dropped a full bottle of wine and said “what the heck, I will call it a christening”. I hope it brings us both good luck. The day started foggy but it quickly burnt off and turned into a very nice day to ride.  This that last two hours of the trip.  Since Fred still had the old owner tag on I could not take the expressway as he would get the bill for the tolls. So….I had to slog down US19. North, it is a great four lane rural road with little traffic, but as you get further south it turns into a 6 lane over crowed urban pain with a way to many stop lights which no two seem to be timed. I arrived home around 1 no worse for the wear and added Fred to fleet of Red Vespa’s in the garage.

#Two Oyster Tour 

Day 1

Feb 8 to 10
The first day of the Oyster Tour just started with me picking up our international participant at the Tampa airport. David Masse, now of Toronto, is a retired corporate attorney and is new to this retirement gig. He has a blog covering soup to nuts but the main part used to be about scooter commuting to work. Retirement has given him more free time to fill so he has just started “vlogging,” which is video blogging, so it was easy to spot him at the curb of the airport with his Iphone and a selfie stick.

Day 2
I gave David Fred to ride and we hit the road around 8 and headed north. Rush hour traffic was not bad and we were on the Suncoast Expressway pretty quick. As usual, we stopped at the Crystal River Airport to meet up with Jim Mandle from Homosassa. We talked with a few of the local pilots and then hit the road. First stop was the Bo Diddle grave site and then on to the next usual met up place, the McDonald's in Perry where we always pick up Bill Leuthold from Jacksonville. Lunch was at Pounceys, a local diner, dinner. Bill, thanks to Shirley our waitress, had the best BLT ever in his life. After lunch we made the turn west, with a chance of rain, on US98 and headed for Lynn's Oysters in Eastpoint. We made a stop or two and one of those was in Carrabelle. I introduced them to the worlds smallest police station. We rolled into Lynns around 3:30 along with some other eaters that we would later meet again in Apalachicola. The oyster beds had just opened up. The east beds usually open in February, but had been closed because the Apalachicola River had been to high meaning to much fresh water was in the bay. Wade brought us dozen with me getting mine about five minutes before anybody else. Nice to be known. Bill and I felt these were the best oysters we had had in a long time. From there we crossed the bridge to Apalachicola and checked into the Gibson Inn. Kimberly was working the front desk of this old wooden hotel. We like to tell people we were one of her clients when she worked in the prison system. For the first time ever I was able to eat dinner at Up the Stairs, a great first class restaurant. I like it because at the bottom of the stairs is a sign that says “No one under 21 allowed”, meaning that no whining children allowed or drunk college students. It lived up to it's name as a first class restaurant.

David on Fred

Sync up their chatty boxes

 lunch at Pounceys with Bill's famous BLT

I had promised the Boys a mystery guest. Sadly at lunch I got word he would not make it. So, I just recruited someone else.

New friends from Ohio....or some place cold

Day 3

First order of business, after a cup of coffee, was to change the a exhaust gasket on Fred. Now I know why Capt. Gary, who brokered my purchase, did not come on this trip as he did not want to do the warranty work. The job was about twenty minutes and went well. Then Jim and I went for a walk around town and found a open gucci coffee shop and we had a couple of latte's. Jim, being 67 and a former inventor and traveled internationally, did not know what a latte was, so we had a coffee school.

By 9:30 we were on the road headed back to were we came. Poor 133 pound Jim was almost blown off the bridge crossing the river. I think the winds were in the twenty mph range with gusts.

We stopped at Carrabelle Beach as I felt as though our international rider should have the opportunity to build a sand castle. Jim was talking to a gentleman that he brought over for me to meet. I did not get his name but he was retired from the U.S. Coastguard and his last position was Captain of the Port in New Orleans. He told us some of the local history and we found out that this beach was used for practicing landing for the D-Day and he pointed up the hill on the land where there was a new skeleton of building that will become the local museum. We thanked him and headed on down the highway.

The next stop was the Truck Grave Yard. Pat Harvey, a local farmer, had parked all his farm trucks here over the years. Trucks ran from the early 1900's to the '70's.

I did a U-turn when I saw a traveler and his bike on the side of the road. Mark was a very interesting man and is on a three adventure on his bicycle. Lunch was at Pouncey's for Bill's great BLT and though Shirely was not there her daughter was and served us. It was not as great as yesterday but still a damn good  BLT.

Riding the back roads to Cedar Key, Bill could not help it and took off wide open. His love is speed and I knew he had been pinned up most of the day. He was waiting on the side of the causeway just out of town and we headed to the Dockside Motel. This was our first visit to the hotel and it was nice. Rooms are cheap and large. In fact I got large suite all for the big price of $65. Dinner was at Tony's where we all had Tony's famous chowder and salad's leaving room for desert. A walk around the small town and we all called it a day around 10.

the faulty exhaust gasket

Castle in  the sand

Jim, Bill and David

Mark the traveler

Sampling the goods at the Dakota Winery

David flying Red Fred

Jim on the wrong side of the road

Day 4

Jim headed out as today was his tenth wedding anniversary and he was making a special cake out of toilet paper for his bride. Even though the tenth anniversary is “paper” we suggested he burn the cake when he was done with it. The rest of us walked into town to my favorite coffee shop. After a little caffeine we walked back, layered up, the temperature was in the 40's, and scattered to the wind.

The mandatory stop at the Elvis "Follow that Dream Parkway"

Jim made it home and gave Grace her tenth anniversary "paper" cake

...And the sun has set on another successful Oyster Tour.

Other versions of this tale tail:

In Search of Blinker Fluid leads to an Oyster Tour #3

I have been low on blinker fluid for the scooters for a while and was having trouble finding any. Capt. Gary said he knew the distributor and he could meet me on the Florida Pan Handle and bring me some if I wanted. Sounded like a great idea and there are oysters up there so I planned a trip.

he even brought a coupon

I hit the road on Thursday after a great session with my yoga guru.  It was cool, temperatures in the 50's, but the skies were clear and blue.  The traffic on the Howard Franklin bridge was light as I was running a few hours ahead of rush hour.  The Veterans was a little busier but by the time I hit the Suncoast Parkway the traffic was light as usual. Had to fight my way thru Homassa and Crystal River. The traffic in the “season” can back up the few stop lights and it took two or three greens to get thru. The rest was a piece of cake, but running into the strong headwinds cut down on the fuel mileage and I had to make a extra fuel stop.  Lots of motorcycles headed south headed to Daytona for bike week.

Rolled into Perry FL at almost 6 o'clock. I was changing my normal stay from the Hampton to the Holiday Inn Express as I had some points that were about to expire. The Holiday Inn happy hour was poor compared to the Hampton. I had dinner at Pounceys and then called it a day. Well, first I broke off a big piece of my tooth and then went to bed.

Day 2

Dawn brought temperatures of 36 degree's so I chose not to go for a walk or a ride. Fortunately, Bill will not arrive from Jacksonville until after 10 because he is going to ride in 36 degree's either, so I will just hang out in the hotel right this story. Maybe I will do a little yoga. I did walk over to Tractor Supply and browse the isles. I was glad to see they had ample supply of Monkey Butt lotion. I visited with Ed some on his motorcycle. He was not headed for Daytona. He is more of rider like I am and had no interest in crowds. He is from South Carolina and enjoys history so he is just roaming around looking things of history that interest him.

Bill rolled up about 11 and we hit the road. I have passed the sign many a time to the St. Marks lighthouse but not today.  It is a beautiful ride through the estuary out to the point where the light house is located. We pressed on to Carrabelle where we were spending the night at the Moorings. Our usual place in Apalachicola was full and the prices around town were way to high.  Besides, we have always wanted to check out Carrabelle other than just passing through.  Finding the office was easy as there were large signs everywhere.

We dropped our bags and pressed on to the rendezvous point with Capt. Gary.  Of course, he had a better idea of where to meet, but we ignored him and went to Lynn’s where we know the help and we know the oyster will be good. Once he realized we were not coming to him he rode across the bridge to us. A couple of dozen oysters and we headed back to Carrabelle. We sat on the balcony at the hotel and little cheese, wine and beer and worked on the world’s problems.  Not really, political talk is completely off limits and there is enough other stuff to fill the evening.

Someone decided it was time to eat so we walked across the street to the Fisherman’s Wife and we all had a great meal of shrimp, cold slaw, grits and fries. Our waitress’s name was Laura.  She had “Johnny” tattooed in big letters down her arm. She said fortunately she sobered up, found Jesus and kicked Johnny to curb.  She now saving money to remove Johnny’s name.  First round is $3,200 and that will not erase it totally.  More laser will be required.  Her saving grace is he has “Laura” tattooed in three places on his body.

Day 3

Gary headed back to Alabama and Bill and I headed east to Newberry.  The stretch to Perry seemed long to both of us, so instead pushing on to our planned lunch stop, we stopped at a nice little bistro “downtown” Perry and had lunch.  Bill ate healthy and I had a grilled pimento and bacon sandwich.  Both were good.

We rolled in to Larry’s “country estate” about 4PM and spent the rest of the day and evening watching NCAA basketball.  Larry and Bill both being graduates of Florida insisted we watch that game.  Since it is Larry’s TV I decided to go with them.

Day 4

After a casual morning, Bill headed to Jacksonville and I turned south to home.  The ride and the weather could not have been better.

Sadly, some of the photos for this trip got erased on the camera so some of these are stolen from Bill

Our last guest, Dave from Torornto, but together a video vlog of the last trip.

Conrad came over from the garage for a visit

Bill and Rocket, with a new engine, arrive

wonder where the office is

from our balcony in Carrabelle

Gary talking trash to Laura

Laura was in love with Johnny until she sobered up and found Jesus

We met this couple as we were leaving.  We almost stayed when they invited us to share their frogmor stew

Bill's beer cooler

hope that works out for you

I have riden by this many times. It is front of someones house on the road to Carrabelle. Today we stop to take a photo.

We road out to alligator point.  Not nearly as nice as the ride out to St. Marks lighthouse.

The dirt road to Larry's home

nice hair bill

a beautiful ride home was had by everyone

#4 Solo Oyster Tour

I had a need for a solo trip. As you know it is my favorite way to travel on the scooter. The need and the shock of the estimate for my new Vespa garage and care taker suite created a urgency to ride. So I blocked some days and made the plan.

Day 1 March 30

I knew the day would not go as planned when I opened the garage door at 6:30 and it was raining. I was expecting rain later in the day so this could be good or bad but after checking the weather I realized this was good. The rain would push through and by my planned departure time of nine it should be nice. I had breakfast at Trip's with Dave and we discussed the new estimate for the “garage”. At first he said there was no way, but after putting a pencil to it, he said that the quote is not to far off.

Back home I was making last minute preparations and Vicki flew by with just a kiss and a “goodbye” as she was on the way to the gym. A few minutes later I got a text asking me if I could delay the departure so we could have a better goodbye. Since I felt the goodbye was rushed, I felt the same way and told her so. She got back from the gym at 10:30 we each got our proper hugs and I was off. The delay had given the roads time to dry off and though I was expecting hot and sticky it was dry, cool and windy. The Howard Franklin was backed up just over the hump which was unusual for this time of day. For me it was lucky as I looked down and saw I was almost out of gas. I always gas the night before, but I had gassed the other two scooters and ran into a time problem for Fred and thought I would just do it in the morning since I would be leaving later and there was no rush. This was a error I hope not to repeat again.

I fueled in Tampa and headed for Dunnelon. where Walt and his son Rocky were competing for the first time in a aerobatic event in their new Pitts biplane. I got off the Suncoast Parkway at the first rural area and road US41 up to Dunnelon and then turned right over to the airport. I called Walt as I walked on the airport ramp to find his location. He said next to the white tent that is on the ground, the wind was howling, but he could not come over as Rocky was just starting is aerobatic routine. I looked up and saw Rocky way up in the sky and told Walt I was not moving until it was over as I did not want to miss Rocky's performance either. From the ground and my uniformed opinion he did a good job. So did the judges as he came in 3rd on that flight, but there were 3 more to go. For first timers Walt and Rocky did great. They would have finished higher at the end of the 3 days but both of them forgot one maneuver in one of their flights. This is not unusual for novice acrobats and I am in sure in the future they will only get better. After visiting with the Drigger's

From there I headed on up to Larry's little place in the country outside of Newberry. He was supposed to be coming but he had a court thing and was going to delay until tomorrow. It is a great get away place.

So, after a little break, Fred and I headed up to Fort White and the Celebrity Chef Soul Food Cafe. It is about a thirty minute ride. I found this place while researching our last trip. Fort White is very small town and does not even have a stop light. The Celebrity Chef Soul Food Cafe is very small with less than fifteen tables. You are greeted by every one of the staff when you enter. You can tell by the actions of all the small staff that they have been trained by a professional. They were all eggar to talk with me and show my their restaurant. The manager, Miranda even called the Lady J, one of the owners, who was at their new Gainsville restaurant. I talked with her for awhile getting the whole story. Most of it is on the website but some is not. Dr. and Lady J returned when his mother feel ill. The present restaurant was his fathers, called Charley,s Rib and they just reinvented it. In Los Angles Dr. J had a catering business, a couple of radio shows, a preaching gig, and some marriage counseling business. Reportedly these are all still running and they commute to keep everything running.
So, how was the food? I can say it is as great a fried chicken I have ever had. Nicely seasoned and cooked absolutely perfect. The side also were great. Service was excellent. If you are there, stop in. Give it a try.

Back at Larry's, he came rolling up. Court had been canceled so he was able to make it and we had a great evening telling lies and watching a old movie.

see rocky in his airplane

rocky and walt discuss his flight

brian in the kitchen

miranda taking to go orders

dr J

scott the head chef and miranda's husband

Day 2 March 31

Larry likes to sleep on the couch and this is good and bad. Good is you get his bed which is very comfortable. The bad is the TV is on most of the night. I slept well despite the TV and was up and on the road by 8. I was on my way to Fargo to meet Bill and then ride on up to Douglas to see how the XP-82 was doing.

On the way up I made a few U turns. One to try and see two bald eagles the were on the side of the highway and flew away as I passed. No luck on spotting them again. They were beautiful as they flew away.  A few for photo op's. And one to meet David and Jason who were starting today to walk the Florida trail.

In Fargo I met up with Bill and eight of his fellow riders from Jacksonville. The meet was at the Swanee Cafe. The place is small and packed and out of biscuits. They had cooked fifty biscuits but Bill and his buddies and a group of boy scouts had eaten them all. After a rushed breakfast for me we hit the road. I am on a solo ride so I followed them separately up the road.

We were lucky when we arrived at Douglas as they were not working today, a Saturday, but Tom was there giving a tour to some pilots that flew in to see the plane. I learn more every time Tom gives on of these talks. The kicker is always that they have been building for nine years and one hundred and thirty thousand man hours. They are replicating everything on the plane including riveting errors and the graffiti in the cockpit.

From there we went to the other end of the airport to for the obligatory picture in from of the DC-6 and a tour of Brooks hanger. Fortunately Chuck was there and offered a look and info on the B17 and let us wonder around both hangers. One of Bills guys told us that his father had once owned a 1937 Aeronica Champ and Chuck pointed across the airport and told us that there was in a hanger back over where we had come from. So, we all loaded up and headed back over. The hanger was open and Bill Pitts the owner was there and more than glad to show us around.

From there we went to the small but nicely down museum documenting the WWII history of the training that went on here and then off to lunch. Bill the gang headed back to Jacksonville and I turned west to Albany.

Some U turns to see tornado damage and a few photo op's.

In Albany I called the Merry Acre Inn and was surprised to find it full. Now what. I had really wanted to spend the night in Albany but only at the Merry Acre. So, on to plan two. I would ride another hour and spend the night with my niece in big city of Richland. We had been exchanging messages and they had some commitments on Sunday, but since I had not committed to visiting they had already left and would not be at home. She sent me the code to her door and invited me to stay. I nice comfortable place to stay. The downside was there is no food in the house and only one restaurant in Richland, Red's Pizzia. So Red's it was. I think I will go hungry next time.

the honey hole

welcome to georgia

going the other way

7 bridges scooter  club from JAX

tom riley talking to the pilots

bill pitts owner of the 1946 aericonca

farmer with the right idea

tornado damage

this was a church. maybe their god was not happy with them since he left the trees but took the building

Day 3 April 2

I left a few prizes around the house in Richland and headed south for Apalachicola.  It was a beautiful ride. No traffic, some hills, some curves, wonderful weather. Five hours of great riding and rolled into Lynn's around 3.  Dinner at the Gibson Inn, where I had never eaten, was tasty but lacking in presentation.


judge johns new court?

big momma sent her husband into the swamp to get cypress trees

Day 4 April 4

Today I rode over to Panama City to visit dear friend Gracie.  The visit was shorter than we both would have liked by a severe front was moving in.  I head back east looking over my shoulder the whole way and rolled into the town about one.  A fine, but expensive, fried shrimp lunch and then I waited for the rain. Took a nap and waited for the rain. Went to happy hour and waited for the rain.
Turned dark and I waited for the rain but now I don't care.

Day 5

Wow, I almost forgot the most important person I met so far on this trip. On Sunday when I arrived in Apalachicola I walked to the Piggly Wiggly and bought some "refreshment".   After Mary rang it up I realized I had left my wallet in the hotel.  Mary said "no problem" and pulled $20 out of her purse and put $18.95 in the till and said just stop back by and pay me!!!!!  A real random act of kindness!!
You find what you are looking for in life.

The rain came last night around 8 and it rained on and off all night. I kept watching the weather moving away from Apalachicola but it was going to be a while before the rain had cleared Perry down the road, so I walked over to a local coffee shop and got a way to expensive cup of coffee. Walking around I passed Robert Lindsley Studio and the door was open. Bob invited me in and we started visiting.  He rides his motorcycle back and forth to his other home in Colorado Springs. He gave me some great info on the Big Bend area of Texas.  He also has some great art.

I hit the road around 9:30.  When I get to Perry I will decide whether I turn south or continue on east to Newberry.

A very pleasant ride on the straight road to Perry.  I had the famous BLT a Pounceys and then looked at the weather. Going south was not a option so I headed for Larry's in Newberry. The weather was great but I was running just behind the rain.  When I hit the dirt road to Larry's there was a pond in the road. Fred and I slowly made our way through. I put Fred in the barn and I went to the house. Within a couple of hours the front had backed up and poured rain and lightening for hours into the night. I was glad I had made this choice for the overnight.

Bob in his gallery

the "pond" Fred and I swam through

the green marker is where Fred and I are. It got redder during the night.
Day 6

It was a beautiful morning and Fred and I headed home.  The pond on the dirt road was gone and we were shortly headed south.  The Porch restaurant is just south of Dunnellon and I have always wanted to stop there.  Today the timing worked out for breakfast. I was not disappointed. Fred and I arrived home just before high noon and completed a wonderful trip.


May 1                 THE DEMOLITION TOUR        

Ok, so all I wanted was a garage to play in.  Big enough for Vespas and maybe an old car or two.
I searched around and missed a few great deals. The story of my life. But I still wanted a “nice” garage. So, I decided to get my money’s worth, if not the square footage worth, I would tear down my old garage and build a new one with a “care takers suite” on top. I getting old you know. To that end I started talking to contractors. My buddy Dave, who told me I was nuts and wasting money, said he would do it.  I thought this was great as it would save my cheap ass money. In the end though, we decided that our friendship was worth much more than money and he passed. So, next up is Mike and Mike, a father son time that own Sun Bay Builders who came highly recommended. After a few meetings, we signed a letter of intent.  I am now starting to suffer stress. Not from the cost, which is stupid and what do expect when you build at the top of the boom, but from pre-construction scheduling. I have long known that women and men follow different paths to get to the same point. I had several female pilot partners who made this very obvious to me, but I knew that, end the end, we would both end up at the same point.  Not so with my wife. Lots of things were causing me frustration, like moving the plants. “Well, what I think I want…..”, “Well, after we are done I think I want……”.  FOR GOD SAKE, you are just moving plants from the back yard to front yard, just plant the damn things.  For some reason this led to “we need to talk”. You know what that means…..trouble. But, it worked out fine. We decided she would oversee all preconstruction scheduling. In fact, she said “get on the scooter and get out of here” in kind way. So, I recruited Antonio to help her and I began planning this scooter trip. Life is wonderful. She is happy beginning in charge and I am going scootering and canoeing.


May 1

Today did not happen.  Let's call it a "rash day". (more on that later)
Meanwhile, here are some video's of our friend Rosie. She is proof that there is no excuse not to do it.


 Ok, day four and you have not heard from me due to lack of wifi. I hope to catch up.  Things are going great.


Well, we made it. Here we sit in countryside of Newberry Florida once again. The ride was interesting but we have pretty much seen it all. I know what you are thinking, “we have been here before; when are we going someplace new.” Well, though I am having great fun and I hope you are too, I wanted a “big” trip this year also. In fact, I need at “big” trip and have the general routes and plan already laid out on the maps. But, it is not going to happen this spring and surely during the hot summer since it is a ride to the west coast. Maybe in the fall when the construction is well along. Until then this is what you get. We will work harder on finding local characters and things maybe.

The first and only interesting person I met was this very nice member of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Before you start sniping at the officer,  I WAS GUILTY OF THE INFRACTION. The charge was failing to reduce speed by at least 20 mph when passing a emergency vehicle. I have excuses, but not a reason. I did move over to the center line, but the only other car within 20 miles was in the other lane.  The only reason I was pulled may be that I was the one he could catch.  He was very polite and only gave me a warning.


I spent the day riding and laying around the Newberry area.  Read some, road some, cleaned up the property some. About 6:30 Bill rolled in from Jax. We went to Newberry for some fine Mexican dinner. Back the homestead we had some Margaritas that we could not drink will having dinner.
Larry rolled in at 1:30 in the morning.


After coffee we loaded up in Dave's truck and headed for High Springs and the SantaFe river to go kayaking.

lunch at the Celebrity Soul Food


It was a chilly day as Bill and I bid Larry adieu and headed south.  For years I have driven I-75 north and passed Big Daddy Garlis Drag racing Museum  and I was bound and determined to visit it on this  trip.  Bill, being a good guy and autocross racer, was up for the visit. Nice ride on some back roads past horse farms and we arrived at Big Daddy's around 10:30. We were told by Lisa, who we would later learn is Don's new wife after his first passed away after 61 years of marriage, that Don was giving a personal tour and if we wanted we could join in.  After a very short huddle, as we were supposed to be in Avon Park around 3, we said "you bet ya!!!".  This meet up with Vicki was not a big one and she was glad to postpone and take a rain check on the Jacaranda. The museum to me is well worth the visit even without the personal tour.  Lots of drag-racing cars with interesting videos and a whole building of antique cars. Does not do  this often and we knew Don would not be doing another for three months. Don was extremely personable and interesting. Here is one of the founders of the modern Drag Racing.
We made our way on down south to Avon Park arriving after 6. The ride was not great as we had to penetrate the I-4 corridor and the population and traffic that comes with it.

Dinner at the 18 Restaurant was excellent and we called it a early day.

Bill watching a youtube video of the gentleman racing his car in a track in his back yard at 83 yearrs old
Big Daddy

Don rode a 50 mile bicycle race last year at 85

i think this box has been on the shelf awhile

All that gold is REAL gold. But that is not the story.  The story is this team rolled in with the big trailer.  Everyone of them including Don said it was ridiculous to have a trailer with all your stuff in it. Within five years he had one just like it.

Don's new project is working on this electric dragster that they  are aiming to drive at over 200mph
Don was very active in supporting our troops and even made a trip to Vietnam during the war. This plane commemorates the veterans and his devotion to them

I have been behind on the blog due to lack of internet and time.  For all of those that sent esquires I thanked them for their interest and sent  this "proof of life" photo as a text.

The Jacaranda still has  a manual elevator

Dave the owner of 18


A short ride south and we were in Sebring and looking at another old Florida hotel from the 20's t he Kenliworth Lodge. Sadly this one was closed last year by the fire department and now sets derelict.

From there we rode over to the Sebring Airport and Race Track to visit Walt again who was in a aerobatic competition.  He had done all his flying yesterday but it was fun to see him and Rocky and watch some of the other competitors up in the clear dark blue skies.
In keeping with the coincidences that are happening like Big Daddy just happening to give tours yesterday, there is a track day today and racers and novices are running on the race track next to airfield so we wandered over there and watched them for awhile. The good part about this was we could wander anywhere we wanted including in Peblo Perez's pit.

When we tired of that we saddled up and headed for Titusville for the overnight. Again today it was very windy with winds running 14 to 28 mph. On the way we stopped at another old Florida hotel the Desert Inn in Yeehaa Junction. I had thought of staying there some time but I am glad I got to review it before I made that mistake.

In Titusville we had dinner at the famous DixieCrossroads, famous for rock shrimp.  We do not need to do that again.

Walt and his pitts

"You sure he is up there?"

He is changing the tyres and the princess's are supervising


We came to Titusville to meet fellow scooterist and second generation space worker Bob Arnold. Bill and Bob had met before but Bob and I had only exchanged emails over the years but had not met before. He rolled up a little early at our hotel, because his dad had taught him to always be early. He leads us on a back road to see Johnny Wiessmuller/Tarzan's house built in the 70's. When I lived in Merritt Island I had the pleasure of spend time with Johnny. From there we continued to a great local dinning spot I believe was called Thyme.  It is so local that it is not on Google maps though it has been there forever.

After a leisurely breakfast, Bill headed home to catch up on honey do's and work.  Bob and I headed for the Valiant Air Museum.  Coincidence three happened here. We had to have a guide to go into the overhaul hanger and into the DC3. There were three or four, but by coincidence we chose Mike Handrahan. The coincidence is, that I learned later, we had two very dear mutual friends, one that I had lost track of. Charlie Clemens is a legend in the south Florida aviation community. A second-generation airline pilot, he flew for National Airlines, merged into PamAm, merged into Delta, merged with Northwest to become Delta.  Charlie dated our friend Deb for a while and I almost joined in his adventure to buy a DC3 and PBY aircraft. Glad I dodged that bullet because he had them longer than desired. Sadly, Mike reported that Charlie has a severe case of dementia. I was stunned to learn this and when I told Vicki she almost wishes I had not told her.  Charlie is one of those people who never met a stranger, everyone is friend, and a bigger than life good guy living life to its fullest, especially anything to do with flying and boats.

Our other mutual friend was Ron Gunther. Ron and I were helicopter pilots, though not together, but did go to college together and after me roaming the world for years we both met up again in Miami where he was the number two man in the Miami Aviation Authority. After the savings and loan crisis of the late 80's, which the even the airport authority got caught up in, he and his boss Dick Judy were set free. They just packed their bags and moved to Hong Kong to assist in building their new airport. Ron died in the Philippines several years ago.

Mike had flown a lot with Charlie in the PBY and the DC3 and in fact has a picture of the PBY on his business card. He worked for Ron for many years at the airport and only had high praise for him and his management style, i.e. Ron let them do their job without interference.

From the museum, Bob led over to the waterfront in downtown where he had been instrumental in building monuments to the space programs. We visited Apollo 7 and 11 monuments. He explained building them and he volunteered maintaining them for many years until the city started to treat him like an employee instead of the volunteer that he was.
We said goodbyes and I headed north to Daytona Beach.

Bob and Bill

David is from Vermont and is doing the 4 corners and all 48 states. Told his wife he might be home in July. My type of rider as he avoids interstates

Mike and me in front of Tom Riley's, of XP-82 fame, B-25

Bob in front of the Apollo 7 monument that he helped create


Had a enjoyable dinner with my friend Ed and his new wife Brenda last night. I had not seen Ed in a few years and during that time he had acquired a new wife. She was great to meet. Despite their offer of a place to stay I wanted to stay on the beach with a view of the sunrises.....and I got a deal.

Ed picked me up around 9 today and we drove down to New Smyrna airport to see Charlies PBY being restored by American Aero. American Aero is well none for their restoration of old aircraft and had a number in the hangers they are working on. The PBY is not one. It is waiting in line.  It was great to see it again.

Ed dropped me back at the hotel and I just walked the beach, found some oyster at the Oyster Pub to officially make this a Oyster Tour. I rode up to Ed and Brenda's in the evening for a fine steak dinner on their patio. 

Ed in front of the PBY. Deb, Vicki and I actually painted that star on the plane back in the late '80's

Ed and Brenda


After a beautiful sun raise, Fred and I headed west towards the other side of the state and Cedar Key.
I had not given Mr. Garmin enough specific instructions and he kept trying to have his way with me.
I refused to let him lead and I wandered down some great scenic roads. We stopped in to see Don's new garage and have determined there is no way he will get all his cars in there. Out of Palatka, Garmin had his way with me and put me on FL20 a four lane highway. But there was a reason. When I joined 20 on the edge of Palatka I saw a lady with a loaded bicycle on the sidewalk in the middle of nowhere. She seemed to be having a problem so, at the first chance, I made a U turn and went back to assist. Ally, who is 65 and on her way to South Dakota, for Jesus, had a front wheel that had fallen off. We quickly put the wheel back on and I tightened it down. The bicycle is a old regular street bike that someone had bought for her for $9. But this is a first. I felt she was deserving of a Big Red Scooter Foundation act of kindness envelope. She flat refused to accept. She told me she had money and that I should search out someone who needed it more. No matter what I said she refused politely. I said goodbye and as I rode away she told me that she would meet me in heaven with Jesus.

Not wanting to be on a four lane road I looked for an escape. I saw a sign to the Royal Winery and a arrow and I followed that road. There were turns and twists and then a sign pointed down a dirt road. Again I followed but it was a very sandy road and when a I came to another sign pointing down another sandy road I threw in the towel.

I continued to just meander in a westerly direction. Lunch in Williston at Melanie's. Great burger. Surprised to find the Ocala Jai aLia fronton still open. I was also surprised to come across a Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florida.  Stopped in for a visit and though I was allowed to take pictures of the buildings the monks requested I not take pictures of them. They were very friendly and invited me to come back.

Never seen a truck load of beans in Florida before

DAY 10 MAY 10

After a coffee with Terry and Martin we headed home. The usual uneventful 4 lane ride to the house.

Fred and the barista
from their facebook page