Day 11: MS Rocket Science but Will She Start Again?

‘Farewell to Clary” (Ernest Hemmingway) and ‘The short goodbye’ (Raymond Chandler) mark the paraphrased beginning of the solo return trip up the Eastern Dixie Highway to Bloomington Indiana; Clary catches taxi and plane as advance party for teaming up again at IU on Sunday.
The Dixie Highway today on the Florida Atlantic is US 1, from Miami, one monotonous mile after mile from beach to beach resort of the same commercial and condo character. So skip it, is the decision. Up Interstate 95 to get to better sections mid-state.
Rush hour is 5-lane high-speed madness. Everybody seems to be doing his or her own Nascar race switching and swinging from lane to lane to pass wherever called for and possible. The big trucks are the most responsible and reliable companions on the road. My survival technique is to follow the example of the small fish that stay close to a bigger one for safety. So, I choose a truck flotilla and stay with them going 65-70 mph.
Rain comes down Niagara-style from the dark clouds hovering overhead. No way I want to or can stop to put on rain gear. Race along. The road surface is shiny. Threat of being pretty slippery after so long a time of draught. The trick is not to tense up, but rather to relax, hold the steer lightly, play with the gas, watch out for the many potholes in the old slabs of concrete that make up I95 there. Make sure I can see the drivers in the mirrors of the surrounding passenger cars – then they see MS lights and me.
MS is showing her class again. With about 4500 RPM she is cruising along fine with the speed limit of 70 mph. Enough power for quick passing at the slight inward movement of my right wrist. Confession. We both enjoy the high speed riding experience. I95 changes from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 lanes and becomes pretty scenic with wilderness and farms on both sides.
Vero Beach is where Dixie Highway gets picked up again, rather its coastal partner A1A up to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. It is like riding over the Keys and the Carolinas’ Outerbanks. Right the ocean, left the inland waterway. Pelicans. Again major contrast in wealth, building styles, commercial zones and pristine state parks.
At the Kennedy Space Center, MS meets rocket science like she is herself. Photo op next to the rocket used for the first manned space flight around the moon.
The destination is Gainesville for the traditional Turkish Hos Geldin, Hos Buldum welcome in the beautiful surroundings of Haile Plantation at the Florida home of Bloomington friends. It means crossing Florida East to West. What a difference one left turn can make. Up the coast the tourist’s America very similar to the popular coastal regions around the Mediterranean. Sideways, through the Occala State Forest, what is for me the America I am looking for. Ramshackle houses, single intersection towns, the messy islands amidst emptiness. A relief compared to the sterile coastal area of about 10 miles wide.
I could have been in jail for what I did. Made a wrong turn, heading back south in Interstate 4 rather than west on Florida 40. ‘For official use only’ are the between-exists thru-ways from one side to the other of the interstate. Patrol cars are often, there, in hiding for speeders etc. The first exit for proper returning is too far away for my taste. I make a run for the illegal turn the first I see, evading the onslaught of busy interstate traffic. Having succeeded I come across a state trooper car waiting for prey less than one mile from where I made the highly illegal move. No reaction. Second safety escape.
At gas stations I hardly dare turn off MS. Have no choice. Brace myself for the starting procedure. Bystanders stop to look at the source of the ominous, cranking, metallic noise that precedes the heavy low-tone roar of the three cylinders springing to life. It was a hard day on the road, 410 miles – many on the Scenic Florida Highways, 10 hours straight riding.
In MS I Trust.

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