Thursday, September 24, 2015

Keys-Everglade Loop Report

The Southernmost Point in the United States can be found in Key West marked by this Buoy. This is one of the points necessary to be achieved in doing the Four-Corners (of the U.S.) Tour. Perhaps someday, I'll give the Four-Corners Tour a whack.

Normally, I defer my annual South Florida Keys-Everglades Trip to the last week of the year. It's generally a good slow week for tourist levels and, more important, the bugs aren't as bad in the Glades that time of year! This year though, I thought I'd accelerate the trip to get a nice ride in before the Barber Trip in October. It worked out pretty well from a tourist perspective, as there really were as few tourists this time of year as the last week of the year. The bugs in the Everglades was an entirely different story!

Overall, the loop clocked three-days and about 950 miles. As reflected in the prior post, the loop map looks like this:

The first day of the trip was pretty much a beeline down to Florida City which is just a few miles from the Overland Bridge to the Keys. A fairly uneventful 5 hour, 270 mile ride, that I usually find ways to turn into a full day. One place I check on is an old dilapidated alligator farm attraction that I found many years ago doing minimalist travel on a 250 Super Sherpa. Still standing, although barely.

Here's a shot from back in 2009 on my Super Sherpa.

I booked a room at the Quality Inn in Florida City for $54. It's an okay place with free breakfast in the morning. When I got there I found that I booked the wrong date. I did the Florida City booking online the same time as I booked my room in Birmingham for the Barber Fest ... and booked it the same night as the first night of my Birmingham trip in Octobers. Snap! Fortunately, the hotel was kind enough to give me the special rate. I think they remember me I've been there so many times.

From Florida City, I got up and headed down to the Keys and all the way out to Key West. Not that I needed GPS help. There's only one road U.S. 1.

This guy is located in Islamadora, just past Key Largo. Damn lobsters grow big down there!

Once past Marathon, you'll need to cross the Seven Mile Bridge to get to the lower keys, including Key West. Here's a shot from the lower keys...

 ... here's one from the middle keys.

While in Key West I only dismount the bike to walk a little of famous Duval Street. That's were most of the interesting stuff is going on.

The Famous Sloppy Joe's!

There is another street, Whitehead Street, with some visual attractions also. This is Ernest Hemingway's home. That stone wall is a recent addition. I have photos of the house when the wall wasn't there.

From Key West, I rolled back to Key Largo to spend the night. Interesting but on my way into Key Largo I found that I'd ridden 260.1 miles on one tank of gas, exceeding my record of 247, and only put 5.137 gallons in. My previous fill up was on the mainland, just as I came off US27 on the road to Homestead/Fla City (Krome Road), but that road was slow going from construction, probably averaged only 40 mph. Then once on the Keys, U.S. 1 is mostly 45 mph with a few 55 mph here and there. Anyway, that resulted in 50.63 mpg, which still didn't match my best mpg of 51.6 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Onward...

I left Key Largo the next morning, crossed the Overland Highway Bridge back to the mainland and headed to Flamingo in the Everglades (not to be confused with the other Florida city named Flamingo). Without an airboat, there are a limited number of ways to get into the Everglades. This is the east side entrance using State Highway 9336; it's a toll road from October to April. It's one road down to the Flamingo Marina and one road out; however, there are a number of side roads to go exploring on. Many are dirt and you don't want to mess with them unless you're on a good dual sport.

You're equally limited to access to the Everglades on the west side, but you have a lot of good riding in the Big Cypress Preserve (good solid dirt/gravel roads) and Fakahatchee State Preserve (lots of lime dust) on the northern border of the Park. In addition, if you really want to test yourself and your bike, you can "attempt" Loop Road that bears off the Tamiami Tail (SR41) and reconnects 24 miles later. That's some gnarly riding. I took a pass given how wet it's been but it's worth a shot during the dryer months. Skipping the Loop, I rolled through Everglades City over to Chokoloskee Island shown in the inlay.

Overall, there's a lot of the same thing to see in the Everglades. It's a nice ride, but keep moving ... the bugs are terrible this time of year. In fact, this is the first time I've ever ventured into the Glades this early. Normally, I visit last week of the year. Here are some photos.

You don't need to look too far to find one of these.

There are countless airboat touring places!

Damn Vultures!

Hope you enjoyed.

Until my next adventure.

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