Day 9: Two Ladies on Bridges over Blue Waters

The two ladies nor the waters were troubled riding with me over the bridges in Monroe County – same county name in Indiana I started my trip from.
Sugarloaf Key, the lodge there, the Florida HQ of my favorite author Hunter S. Thompson (HST). That is why I chose to stay there. He wrote great short stories over here – and more later – before shooting himself a couple of years ago when the life he always lived could not be lived anymore ( for example.)
The two ladies sharing the last 150 miles with me to down under here. MS tells me she carried me already 2.200 miles. Clary witnessed the last stretch from Miami Beach to this 60ties hangout; the lodge hasn’t changed a bit since it was built in that era. MS and Clary are getting along very well.
Mind you, dear reader. Clary has never made a trip on a motorcycle before. Still 18 at 61. In Holland we bought a full protective clothing set for her. All air-through for the hot and humid Florida weather, but protection where needed. Helmet, of course. No just shorts, t-shirts and bandanas for us. Too hot? Not when you think about it.
The 150 mile ride was her maiden voyage. Talk about courage! She got rewarded by the gods. About one half hour out of Miami Beach, one dark cloud shows up. Kind of lingers over our heads, dumps plenty of rain on us, then disappears as quickly as it arrived. Must have been sent by Poseidon or Nereus (take your classical Greek of Roman pick), symbolism like crossing the equator for the first time. The winds act as dryer.
Various stops on the way. It wasn’t the simplest of rides. Very strong side winds, lots of opposite traffic with trucks complicating the thrusts of winds. Clary sat firm, relaxed more and more as MS carried the extra load without noticing it. Light we were packed. Just two small saddlebags and each a small backpack. Clary on her back, I in front of me. Cruising along at about 45 miles per hour, MS doing 3.500 RPM and using no more than 1 gallon for every 40 miles. A happy triple.
Rather frequent stops. A Mexican cafe without any English where 4 espressos and a bottle of water went for $3,50. At Craig’s Fish blackened dolphin for lunch. (I bought MS via Craig’s list.) Meeting there with a fellow Yamaha owner, 1981 XS1100. Almost one of us.
US1 over the Keys. The first Keys could have been the outskirts of any US city. Lines and lines of the usual businesses, no way to tell you are traveling over once pristine islands. The mid-section offers what dreams have you believe. Left and right an astonishing pallet of blues and greens in the waters. Saying has it that the Eskimos have many many words for snow; actually that is not true. But the observer here would find no words in English (or any other language for that matter) that would accurately reflect the always changing nuances of water colors that develop with changing winds, sun reflection, water shallowness and the rider’s angle of observation. The horizon is both left and right. Uninterrupted except by small isolated keys where nobody goes. Thunderstorm warnings are out. One storm passes in front of us, lots of rain waters on the streets when we cross the path it took. Another one is on collision course, leaves us alone by taking a left.

Unfamiliar road signs:

* hurricane shelter

* crocodile crossing next 6 miles

* endangered Key deer crossing next 14 miles
Sugarloaf Lodge, would anybody there be aware of its HST history? Overlooking the lagoon from the tiki-bar, I see HST. Boozing up, joints and other uppers galore, old typewriter, deadlines long passed, short on cash as always, waiting for inspiration that normally comes around 01.00 AM when the skies have cleared and the mind is misty.
I am wearing my Woody Creek Tavern cap. Bought it last year in Woody Creek, Colorado, the tavern that was HST’s second home, just a few miles from Owl Farm where he lived, just outside of Aspen. Clary was so clever to bring it with her to Florida. Wearing it just to see if it would trigger any reaction at all from the too-loud men and women not knowing what to do with their lifes but hanging out there. No reaction. Disappointed I was, one more disillusion like the one in Tina Turner’s Nutbush City, Tennessee?

Voice from the other side of the bar, young guy walks up to the bar and asks me a question. “You know where Woody Creek tavern is?” Look up. Wears exactly the same Woody Creek tavern cap as I do. I tell him, a soul mate. “Lived in Aspen, fled for the hurricanes, I am back now” he says. “Hunter wrote great short stories over here”. Our hands and Budweisers meet.
Home on the Keys.

The next week will see me doing here I don’t know what. MS gets to rest. If I find a decent Yamaha (or other motorcycle) dealer, an oil change is coming her way. I forgot to write down how much she likes, though. I may not report for riding writing duty each day, will certainly pick-up again when the trip back north starts on June 4. Old Dixie Highway eastern route. Stay tuned.

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