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Old 05-24-2013, 06:38 PM   #1
Rutabaga OP
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
Oddometer: 733
Family, friends, and felons in Florida.

Left Bluffton, SC this morning(May 6) in bright blue skies with cool
temperatures, in the low 60's, after three days of rain and wind with the intention of seeing some of Florida. Rode US 17 South through the edge of Savannah, Ga and it turns rural fairly quick just Southwest of town then passes through Midway and Riceboro where I connected with 119 to turn Westbound into Walthourville. Got on US 84 South to Jesup, took 301 to Folkston, Ga. Out of Folkston I followed Fl 121 to Gainesville.

Along that path is the town of Raiford, Fl and a few miles away is the
Florida Department of Corrections Starke Unit which houses maximum
security prisoners including the Death Row section. I have a two fold
connection to Starke, one a pleasant memory and the other as far from
the first as possible. In a prior life I was a pilot and in the early
1980's I was at a flight school with a man named Jeff Songer. Jeff and
I did flight training together over a period of probably eighteen months to two
years. We flew together and after training I worked in Tampa, Jeff
flew out of Albert Whited Airport in downtown St. Petersburg. We kept
in touch and occasionally met for lunch or just talked aviation, or
women, or stuff. Jeff was single and possibly the most handsome dude
alive but our jobs did not leave any time for much of a social life
and Jeff was tiring of the pace. He planned to ride his motorcycle
from St. Pete to Connecticut, sell the motorcycle to purchase a
bicycle and ride to the Grand Canyon, then back to St. Pete. He did
all that and along the way met a lady in the Grand Canyon area that
moved to St. Pete to live with Jeff. He went back to flying and drove
a taxi cab in the evenings to supplement his diminished savings. Those
facts establish the second connection to the prison at Starke. More on
Jeff to follow.
My first connection to the maximum security prison at Starke is a
charter flight I piloted into the Florida Department of Corrections
airfield, FL28, on April 8 1983. It was a very nicely manicured grass
strip along the highway that runs in front of the prison. I was
allowed to sit in the administration building lobby while my
passengers conducted whatever business they had come to achieve. After
a while one of the secretaries came into the lobby and told me I
looked a little nervous, " like you are going to piss your pants" and
invited me to come in the area where the trustee prisoners that did
odd jobs in the building were not allowed. Being the very obvious
pilot of an obvious aircraft sitting just outside the fence of a
maximum security prison did make me a little nervous. Really, these
people are not in prison for displaying good judgement and restraint
when an impulse enters their brain. I was grateful to exchange the
eerie silence of the lobby for the clatter of typewriters if it
secured my next breath. On my subsequent two trips I had the refuge of
the secretarial pool office as a place to sit and sweat.

As I rodedown Hwy 16 in front of the prison last week and looked at the guard
towers, the razor wire atop the fences, the architecture of the
buildings, the grass landing strip, it all had a familiar yet strange
and different meaning than my initial visits of thirty years ago.
Inmate # 490606 now lives in those buildings. I rode down to the end
of the prison property and into a small parking lot to turn around. I
parked next to a sign that warned people not to park or stop along the
right of way, pulled off my helmet and peeled my Aero suit to the
waist then got out the camera and tried to capture what I was feeling.
I failed at that attempt. I sighed, got dressed and rode my motorcycle
back up Hwy 16 past the concrete and barbed wire, past the wasted
lives within those buildings, and the neatly manicured airstrip that I
first visited thirty years ago. Before I had heard of Derrick Tyrone
The three days of rain had left the air clear and the swamps full of
the requisite source of life for so many that live there, water. The
smell of the dampness from the slowly meandering water changes with
the seasons it seems. I noticed early in the Spring a rather pleasant
change from the aroma of stagnant water the the recently arrived smell
of new growth in the trees and plants that are so abundant in that
garden of the Low Country where I live. Like natives of extreme Northern climates
who have many differentiations of the word for snow, the aroma of the
swamps is not well served by just the one word stinky. Even the
slightly sulfuric leftovers leaving the stacks at the papermill in
Savannah had a fresher tang today. Being a Southern boy from birth, I
enjoy the different phases of the pine trees that keep the mills busy.
The seedling along the highways that constitute the tree farms,
planted at birth to serve as a crop that is harvested as any other
might be at a later date. They grow steadily over the years to
present the stunning visual patterns that catch the eye as we travel
beside them, the evenly and carefully spaced young trees are planted
far enough apart, about 6 to 10 feet, to allow mechanized care and
harvesting for their twenty to thirty year lifespan. The resultant
cutting and hauling creates a steady stream of pulpwood trucks
carrying logs to sawmills and papermills leaving the roads scented
with fresh pine. Everytime a load of trees, lumber, or sawdust passes
by me I enjoy that gift that they give.
The roads also had some Gardenias and other jewels to sniff, plus the
occasional Bojangles chicken grease or the odd hamburger being readied
for a meal.
I rode on Hwy 121 down through the edge of Gainseville, Fl and picked
up Hwy 24 for the ride to Cedar Key and my camping spot for the night.
Ended the day at Shell Mound Park operated by Levy county and slept on
a tent site for five dollars and some change.

Had decided not to go the few more miles into Cedar Key and get a commercial park site. Glad I did because this morning I drove into Cedar Key and it is not what I
would have wanted as a stopping point. Shell Mound is very isolated
and was empty except for me and the caretaker. He was a bit stand
offish at first, it could my have been the one piece neon yellow
Aerostich on a hot afternoon worn by some stranger that made me look like the
remains of a HazMat team wreck, but he eventually overcame my odd dressing behavior and we had a great conversation
before I left.

The attached boat ramp by the campground was used
by two air boats, one was a pre-sunset departure and a twilight
return hauled by a vintage fishing truck; panels rusted out, muffler long deceased, windows that don't get rolled up and a load of fishing gear in the rear. The second air boat rolled in about 11:45pm towed by new F250 in concours condition, got launched by a rather young two person crew and was back in about 45 minutes. Lights on the rear of the truck ablaze during the launch were off during recovery. I asked the camp attendant next morning what they might be doing that late. He returned my question with another of " did they bother you?". I took that as an advice to not "bother with them". Square grouper? The remainder of the night was quiet and beautiful, full of coastal sounds and blanketed by the crystal clear stars and meteorites that are not readily visible to all areas. Got up early and departed after eating a cold bagel and having some Gatorade. I travel without cooking equipment and subsist on bagels and canned tuna supplemented with a beer or two for dinner. This allows me to travel very light as the only utensils needed to feed myself are a spoon and a bottle opener. I do miss my morning coffee but that is only the first gas station away from breaking camp and I find it provides a nice break after an hour or so of morning journey. A tent, a yoga pad, and a sheet are my accommodations. The total weight of all I carry, including the dry sack and BMW top case, camera, phone, camelback, tuna, bagels and tools is only 35 pounds. Eight cans of tuna and twelve bagels fed me for five days of travel and I had two more days of condo living in Miami. I drove the few miles of hwy 24 into Cedar Key and revisited a town I had last seen thirty years prior.

It is a small village subsisting on a small amount of tourism and a bit of fishing activity by a local flat bottomed fleet.

Drove out to the remains of an airfield that has seen better days back in the early 1980's when I used to fly in from Tampa. The pavement looked a little shorter now than it used to back when I was brave and less experienced, but God or somebody watches over newly licensed aviators and grants them a few do-overs before slapping them down. I rode out of Cedar Key towards Boardman, Fl which was about 60 miles East to visit the gravesite of an old friend and her spouse.

For those friends and family that pass before us I feel a sense of obligation to remember the importance and significance of their contributions to our lives and deliver homage to the gifts of their hearts to us. I sat for a while under the mossy oak trees in the cool shade of the cemetery, recorded a few pictures, took a few deep breaths, did some simple math from the dates on the headstones, left a few tears and departed with a greater appreciation of my 62 years. My destination for an evening camp site was Little Manatee River State Park just Northeast of Bradenton, about 150 miles from Boardman. I rode towards Ocala and passed an area of lush green pastureland and horse farms that seemed to go on forever. The estates were large and well manicured making the difference between them and the not quite so fortunate rest of the population very stark. There are a lot of horses in that area living a hell of a more luxurious life than the staff that tends to their needs. Once past Ocala I followed Hwy 41 to the South towards Tampa, through Citrus Springs, Inverness,Brooksville. Florida is populated with wonderful state and county parks that normally are associated with a lake or spring fed bodies of water that make a visit during the heat of the day a temptation hard to forego. Not surprising that one is asked for an admission fee at most of them but the effort to free up a couple of dollars from underneath my Aero usually resulted in just a glance at the lake and a breath of the fresh cool air before returning to the hot highways.

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Old 05-25-2013, 06:41 PM   #2
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Sounds good, you're just gettin' started, right?
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:17 PM   #3
Rutabaga OP
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Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
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Originally Posted by HPTuner View Post
Sounds good, you're just gettin' started, right?
Yea, we gotta lot of red line to ride yet.
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Old 05-26-2013, 04:12 AM   #4
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great report. I can't get enough of riding around central Florida and the Cedar key area.
If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got. ... A desert rat explores the south.
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:23 AM   #5
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Location: Alameda for now
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Rutabaga, you Sir, are a good soul. I have been around this area (from JAX to Crystal River to St.Pete to Charleston, and back to ST. Pete) since I joined the CG and you are hitting it on the head. The beauty, the people, and the descriptions are completely accurate! Can't wait to hear the rest.

Well done and be safe.
"A straight road never made a skilled rider"
'06 White VFR
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:55 AM   #6
Rutabaga OP
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Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
Oddometer: 733
Florida is wrapped on three sides by salt water, an excellent resource for tourism, spectacular sunrises/sunsets, and a great insulator from bothersome neighboring states. However, that wonderful barrier also restricts the inflow of fresh water that sustains us all through its magic upon our bodies and its myriad of other uses. In the area of Brooksville, Fl is the headquarters of Southwest Florida Water Management District,(SWFWMD) SwifMud as it was known to me. As I continued my trip South towards Wimauma, where Little Manatee River State Park is located and a camping spot awaited me, I passed the headquarters of SWFWMD on the side of the highway. That sighting reminded me of flying trips with them in this area of the state, the staff peering out the windows of the aircraft hunting for a particular stream, sink hole, or lake trying to spot encroachments or restrictions of the fresh water flow that was their responsibility to monitor. Those trips afforded a rather intimate look into the forest, upon the pastures and across the lakes where water is part of life. Those flights also provided me with a respite from the arduous rigors of teaching primary flight lessons to students in trainers where the noise could quickly erode the hair cells that provide us with hearing. That is another aviation fact that becomes readily believable once youth has left the building. As I approached Tampa along Hwy 41 from the North the quite rural was replaced rather quickly by the hard realities of four million people packed into a restricted area. Commerce, congestion and concrete changed my goal quickly from transit to survival. Casual observer became active participant in the race around the city and the consumption of adrenaline. US 41 South, Fowler Ave eastbound, I75 South, Sun City exit; four facts, one mission. Take no prisoners.

My refuge for the evening, Little Manatee River State Park and home for wayward bikers.

As I pulled into the my destination for the day and off the highways that serve to make that goal possible, the tenseness left my body and mind when I crept at the mandated slow speed limit, face mask tilted up and suit zippers pulled down to let the cool air of success bathe my tired frame. The young efficient park employee was an excellent introduction to what was beyond his building and his courteous manner was a welcome relief from the drivers of the past few hours.



A few minutes after After

Work in the middle, comfort to the right, and more comfort to the left. Plus part of mystery impact.

While completing the paperwork in the park office some of the staff started talking about the traps that had been set in the park, if they had been checked and rebaited that day. They were talking about wild boar which is very common now in many areas of the South. I asked what became of the animals once trapped and they stated the boars were so full of disease it rendered them useless for food purposes and so they were euthanized. Sometimes in our efforts to direct Nature where we would want it to go, we lose sight of the fact that Nature is natural and not our notion of what is natural. The park was almost empty, a few spots has tents, campers, or other signs of occupancy. One mega RV rolled in towing a full sized pickup and succumbed finally to the best efforts of the owners to park it in a spot designed for a Hyundai sedan. The pickup got dumped on the sidewalk entrance to the bathrooms since they did not need those facilities for their encounter with nature. I was a little jealous of having a comfortable place to park my hemorrhoid ridden ass but soon decided to park the tender part of me on my newly designed BMW chaise lounge. All it needed was a rolled up towel on the handlebars to rest my weary skull.
This is the view from the kitchen table with my feet up on the BMW ottoman and my ass on the BMW chaise lounge.

I am pretty sure this is the spot where I was taking a leak about three in the morning and very stupidly picked up my foot off the ground, lifted it in front of me because I thought something was in the sand, and proceeded to piss all over my self. The perils of drink are many.

A very interesting elderly lady happened by in the early evening. She was from Stuart, Fl and was in the area trying to reconnect with some carnival people that live in the Ruskin community not far away. As a child in Dallas, she was introduced to two carnival workers that were friends of her aunt. Short Sally and the Tattoo Man left an indelible impression with her and she was trying to locate anyone still in that profession who had knowledge of them. I had no such lofty goals on my travels; just ride and grin. The sand in South Florida seems similarly redundant to that of the sand around Cedar Key from the previous night. It looks loosely packed and ought to be semi-soft but it ain't. I slept soundly with the still cool air that had invaded this far South causing me to wrap myself in the riding suit to stay warm and prevent unnatural shrinkage. The yelping of surrounding dogs was some entertainment but even they ran out of conversation and turned in for the evening. I was blessed with a sect of Vegan mosquitoes that also detested the leftover aroma of warm canned tuna and they let me rest peacefully. I would need my wits for the trip tomorrow as I had planned to rise early, bagel up and be on the road by sunrise. Slipped out of my tent quietly in the dark trying to duplicate the good camping neighbor I appreciate having next to me, ate, collapsed the tent, packed up my bike and was just about to start the engine when I hear this rolling thunder parade making its way through the woods towards me. Holy crap. This has got to be one of the trapped boars dragging his death cage in a flight of survival through the palmettos. Nope. Just a Waste Management garbage truck coming to the dumpster next to the shower room. I fired up the bike and made my escape in the confusion of a few sleepy campers getting a unwanted wake up call. Got to the camp ground office and shoved the desired paperwork into the "I'm leaving early" box then quietly went up to the locked combination gate. Yep, the code to the gate was on the paperwork I just stuffed in the locked box back at the office. Just when I had decided I could totally dismantle the bike and slip it piece by piece under the gate and still be on schedule the rolling thunder machine arrived for his exit. He hit the clicker gizmo in his cab and waved me in front of him to complete my busy important day.
This was my destination. Dexter? Dexter? Dexter? Anyone? It was lost on me.

I was looking forward to the trip to the South and East across the agricultural breadbasket of Florida. Cattle farms, tomato fields, thousands of square miles growing sugar cane, small gardens of plantains. South on 675, East on 70 through Myakka City, slowly through Arcadia to catch 31 South and then soak up 74 to a point about seven miles West of Lake Okeechobee. Only a bit of the eye feast that would await me as I crossed Florida's lower area, this has long been to me one of the most interesting sights that is probably one of the least visited by those that are not truly lost.
I was prepared for this collision and fatalities.

I was not prepared for this impact and the irony.
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Old 05-26-2013, 01:16 PM   #7
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Location: Charleston, South Carolina
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Gotta love lovebug season.
If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got. ... A desert rat explores the south.
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Old 05-26-2013, 02:59 PM   #8
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looks like a heckuva time you're having!
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:08 PM   #9
Rutabaga OP
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Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
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My friend, Jeff Songer, called me in mid March 1983 as he wanted to return an underwater camera case and some scuba gear he had borrowed. He also told me of a robbery he had been the victim of in his taxi a few nights prior. Two fares had gotten into the cab and at some point put a gun into the back of his head and demanded money. Jeff complied with their request, they exited the cab and ran. As I detailed in the first post, Jeff had just completed a bicycle ride from the Grand Canyon to St. Petersburg, Fl recently and was in rather good physical shape. He got out of the cab and chased the slower of the two robbers down, fought with him and discovered the money was with the other robber. Jeff eventually caught the man with the money and a fight ensued. Jeff suffered some damage but got his money and drove to the hospital for some necessary care. It cost him $98 of the total $104 he had in his pocket before the robbery. He was happy with the outcome of the previous hour and his actions. We laughed about the story and made plans to get together for the return of the borrowed items in the near future. On March 21, 1983 I returned to Peter O'Knight airport after a flight and found another friend in the lobby with the news that Jeff Songer had been murdered during the course of a robbery in his taxi.
As I continued my early morning ride across central South Florida towards Miami the farmland continue to get even greener and more lush. The streams crossing under the roads were wide and full of the tannic colored water.

Traffic was sparse, you don't end up out here unless you have farm business, live out here, or are riding a bike for grins. The roads are straight for the most part and wide enough to include the rumble strips with a runoff area. I noticed a farm van closing in pretty rapidly from the rear on my 60 mph pace that I find comfortable for progress and sightseeing. A few cars in the distance were preventing the driver behind me from passing and continuing his rapid advance to the horizon. Geez, looks like I could ride over the rumble strips and move in to the 18 inches of pavement remaining to let this guy run right by me. Seemed doable and courteous if successfully accomplished. I eased over and looked in the mirror but he was still just a few feet behind me and hesitant to pass so I waved him by with my left hand and gradually he pulled alongside and passed. Nice, I thought. Just about that time I see some debris come flying out the window of the van, maybe a coffee cup and cookie wrappers but nothing too serious I thought. I've got my face mask down so I'll just take the hit without any maneuvering to unsettle things. Whap. Something hit me halfway between my chin and chest and it wasn't no damned cookie wrapper. I just did a ballet across the rumble strip for this van to let him go by and now the son of a bitch is showering me with garbage. I look again in the mirror to make sure no one else is on my ass and find a surprise on my collar.
The magnet in my collar tabs had a prisoner.

Well damn, at least one less beer top ends up on the side of the road as litter.
I kept looking at my new badge of road honor and another grin spread across my face. A few miles down the road a see a herd of cattle beneath a tree enjoying life and I am astonished by the size of their headgear. Slowed down, got turned around and went back for a proper stare.

I don't know if you can clearly see the spotted fellow in the center of the picture under the tree but this guy is racked. Not your typical Florida stringy beef boy.
As the sun got higher the love bugs got about their main purpose in life of causing mayhem. When they would hit my face mask and break open to display their essential bodily fluids it would release a tiny odor into my helmet, then a slow slide to either side of the face mask would begin as the remains were pushed by the airflow. I could rotate my head slightly into the wind stream to advance or retard their progress. I was going cross eyed with my entertainment. Occasionally one would hit under my chin piece and ricochet into my facek; only one of the thousands got into my mouth. A quick suck on the Camelback filled with Gatorade would wash it down. Finally I stopped to clean my visor and do a dental rinse and spit to get the remains out of my mouth. Big mistake.

They spotted a nesting spot and soon filled my helmet faster than I could remove them. I had no choice but to put it back on with them inside.
Along side the road where I had stopped I spotted this lonely figure. Even the abandoned have a story to tell: talk to me, I am all ears.

I had removed the beer bottle cap from my collar magnet and set it on top of my gloves resting on top of the bike. Another grin, another mystery.

The cap was from one of the beers I had the previous night and not litter from the passing van. But where the heck had it been until the second before it dislodged and hit me on the collar? Not all the mysteries of life are answered on a bike ride.
I started down the West side of Lake Okeechobee on Hwy 27 and few miles to the South crossed a very high bridge with a canal underneath. It is part of the Intercoastal Water Way that runs from Maine to Brownsville, Texas and crosses Florida from around Stuart through the St. Lucie Canal, Lake Okeechobee and out the western edge of the lake to Fort Meyers.

Some locks control the entrance and exit points water height.

I stopped in Moore Haven to rid of and restock on fluids for me and the bike. I average about 65 mpg for the bike and about 1 liter/hr for me. As I sat under the overhang of the gas station and ate my quite warm tuna with cinnamon bagel I pulled out my map and planned my minimum contact route through Miami to the refuge of some family lodging. In spite of my good intentions it was still going to be a 3pm trip across that fifteen mile wide swath of humanity to my sister's condo. Stayed on Hwy 27 until I was as tangentially aligned as possible. I bore left on the chosen route, got on my game face and started sweating in the very slow pace of urban traffic. Actually, the pace was suited to my style of sightseeing safely. However, it sure does diminish the airflow over the essentials of bike and rider; difference is I do not have a radiator fan connected to a thermocouple.
Progress was good across the city in spite of passing innumerable school zones with diminished speed limits and increased foot traffic that needed to be on the other side of the street to get home. As I got closer to Bay Habor Island the sea breeze became apparent and as I crossed the causeway onto the island it was a different world temperature wise. Cool air. The truly rich do have it better.
This was my spot for thirty six hours. Two professional Chefs included.

My sister(younger, very younger) is Chef for a family estate in the area; husband is a Chef and originator of Crackerman Crackers plus a very accomplished world traveller on bikes. You know, RTW type stuff. I was looking forward to eating something besides cinnamon bagels with warm tuna out of a can, drinking beer with some familiar faces, and getting off the bike for a bit. During the next thirty six hours I got all of that and more. I caught up on life with my wonderfully hilarious sister and her observations of the inequities suffered by the medically sculptured and well financed of the area. I browsed through the three ringed binder that hold the accumulated bits of paper and photographs collected in journeys around the world; maps, entry and exit documents, receipt for a confiscated fraudulent Malaysian press credential, press clippings from a German article. My brother in law has in his eyes, in his demeanor, and in his voice the charm and depth of wisdom that reflect experience, he does not have the need to make you aware of that experience.
The Dexter building is visible next door. I don't know the TV series Dexter. Last TV series I watched was Chet Huntley and David Brinkley doing the NBC News.

My well conceived escape plan to the North.

GPS. Graphic Positioning Scribble.
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Old 05-27-2013, 04:57 PM   #10
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Nice report! Love the pics & info.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:51 PM   #11
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The pilot friend that brought the news of Jeff's murder did not have details. I, at that time, did not need details. I could not absorb the one fact that was known: Jeff; son of his parents, brother to his sister, early thirties, Forester, Viet Nam Veteran, pilot, lover of life, friend to many, boyfriend of one lady, was dead. In the past 30 years I have filled in a lot of details. Jeff bled to death in the 3100 block of Fairfield Avenue in the early morning hours of March 21, 1983 because a 38 cal bullet from a gun in the hand of Derrick Tyrone Smith entered Jeff's back and exited his chest destroying the vitals of his body. Jeff was 68 feet from his cab, had $5 in his jeans pocket, $145.62 in his money pouch, was wearing a tee shirt and sweater.
One piece of not funny but ironic information I came across in many, many court documents that I have read is this: At one of the myriad of hearings over the years that resulted from Derrick Tyrone Smith filing appeals with various courts,( at which the taxpayer picks up the bill for his representation) he apparently arrived late due to some difficulties involved with transporting a death row inmate. The court transcript records the judge apologizing to him for the inadequacy of the transportation. Apologizing for the transportation, WTF. He is on Death Row because he shot a previous driver he had transporting him and did not even pay for the ride.!!!
I have unearthed a lot of facts about Jeff's death. I can not resurrect Jeff. Nor will I forget him.

The bottom of my trip was pleasant, too pleasant almost. Leaving this and trading it for my road routine was gonna hurt. I needed to get on the bike, follow the red path Northward and feed my eyes from the image buffet.

Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Fl was the goal for the day.

Wonderful place that flows close to a 100 million gallons of water per day at a temperature of around 70F. Needles to say, it is popular for swimmers, divers, floaters, etc. I had done a lot of scuba diving there in the mid to late 1970's and thought the cool water would be a real treat after the ride from Miami.

I head up A1A along the coast for a few miles enjoying the cool air and architecture of the buildings along the water. Found 595 and rode West til I intersected Hwy 27 headed North. The plan was to go around the Eastern side of Lake Okeechobee as I had done the Western side on the way down. Plan went well till I stopped in South Bay at the most Southern bottom point of the lake. Got fascinated with the immigrant couple operating the gas station, the mini vans full of tourist headed in both directions, them staring at me, me staring at them, my Snickers bar that was melting faster than I could consume the sugary goop, and the love bugs that kept coming out the arms of my tee shirt. They must have been having some incredible sex in order to ignore my arms pits, sans Mitchum, and the odors within. Anyway, my required turn was 17 3/4 inches from my parking spot at the "Patel Mart" and I missed it somehow before the clutch was fully out. After about twenty miles, 18 past where Belle Glade should have appeared, I realized and recomputed then rode on none the less enthralled with the journey towards the city of Okeechobee and lunch.

How many of these Palm Beach Post can you sell in Okeechobee each day?

Probably sell more papers than copies of me!!!

Back on track, fed and fluidized, I began to leave the sugar cane fields and see more corn. And corn. And corn. I stopped in Holopaw at "Patel #2" for gas and suddenly realized the destination of the corn might be for ethanol. Some of the farms were very new, very industrialized, and very well financed on the scale of farm indices.
Just East of Orlando I discovered something interesting about AAA road maps, DeLorme Gazetteer maps of Florida, and the map app on my Iphone. All three have differing names for the same road or street at times.
My meticulous escape plan

I get to ABC intersection looking for XYZ and find nothing but 123 or Spaceman Blvd as the choices.(Due to my inability to scratch my nuts without knocking my Garmin off its mount on the faux tank, I do not travel with it.)Got to find a shady spot out of the traffic, out comes the iPhone, change glasses, find self, scroll map, replot course, reverse above steps and rejoin traffic. Damn I love my hobby.
Finally arrived at Blue Springs State Park and got settled. That includes a trip back out of the park to get beer and Doritos to compliment the tuna and bagel.

I walked through the woods to the headwaters of the spring.

I was so exhausted from the day's ride I did not trust myself in the water.

The park is very nice, facilities are normal but it sure is popular and Friday night was no exception. Decided to make the 350 mile run home by starting early and staying on my rural road plan.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:27 PM   #12
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Location: Murfreesboro, TN
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Old stomping grounds


What a great trip. I grew up in the area of your early trip. My father was a career Game Warden with the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. So we always lived in the boonies. For the last several years of his career he was over Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties. Cedar Key is in Levy County. I've hunted Shell Mound with him many times and eaten smoked mullet and light bread at a little spring there. I flew into Cedar Key airport once and, while manuevering, got stuck in the sand. At that time a lady ran the only taxi in Cedar Key. If you buzzed the town, she would drive out and pick you up.

Many of your other travels involve areas that I'm familiar with as well. If you had taken Hwy 249 at Old Town you would have come to Suwannee, Florida. Ten miles north of Cedar Key by boat, 64.9 miles by car.

Looking forward to the rest of your post.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:02 AM   #13
Rutabaga OP
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Location: Southeast Lower Carolina
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Originally Posted by Liberia View Post

What a great trip. I grew up in the area of your early trip. My father was a career Game Warden with the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. So we always lived in the boonies. For the last several years of his career he was over Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties. Cedar Key is in Levy County. I've hunted Shell Mound with him many times and eaten smoked mullet and light bread at a little spring there. I flew into Cedar Key airport once and, while manuevering, got stuck in the sand. At that time a lady ran the only taxi in Cedar Key. If you buzzed the town, she would drive out and pick you up.

Many of your other travels involve areas that I'm familiar with as well. If you had taken Hwy 249 at Old Town you would have come to Suwannee, Florida. Ten miles north of Cedar Key by boat, 64.9 miles by car.

Looking forward to the rest of your post.
Yea, I would have loved to hit every town along the coast, but as you pointed out, 10 miles as the crow flies is 50 or 60 via tarmac. Seems like the camp attendant told me he was from Suwannee, probably why he stayed overnights at the campground. I could spend a lot of time in that area; may have to go back.
My wife thinks the taxi lady's name was Edna. I leaned towards Bertie. Yea just fly over Cedar Key and wait, she would come get you. Give her an estimate of when you wanted the return trip and it would happen.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:33 AM   #14
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Barely twelve hours after Derrick Tyrone Smith, with his accomplice Derrick Joseph Johnson, had shot and killed Jeff Songer, Smith robbed a Canadian couple in a nearby motel. No shots were fired this time but violence was committed. Smith was tried and convicted of Murder in the First Degree received a sentence of Death for the murder of Jeff Songer. He was convicted of Robbery and received a life sentence for the second event of March 21, 1983. He remains on Death Row, thirty years as of now, and no execution date has been announced. Derrick Joseph Johnson pled guilty to Murder in the Second Degree and was given a Sentence of Life of which he served seven years. He was on parole for twenty years before ending up back in jail.

I found this web page and I respect her views. I also disagree.

I left Blue Springs State Park early in the cool of Saturday morning trying to outrun the inevitable heat ahead of me. I am a slow learner. It was not to be. A short hop to Deland, up Hwy 17 to Palatka, left on 100 to Raiford, right on 121 to Folkston, Ga, then a very familiar route to Bluffton, SC. Deland was just the ticket for a great start. I enjoyed the cool air under the oaks as I rode through town and noticed how very well dressed the sidewalk population seemed and then spotted a young man in a graduation cap and gown. He was exiting a building to my left and was beside me across the road stepping smartly towards freedom. I gave a bleep of the horn, he turned his head and I extended my left hand with thumb up high. He returned the gesture. At the crosswalk as he crossed in front of me I clapped my gloved hands together and produced a soft acclimation of his efforts. A slight tip of the cap and he was off for his last Stetson University assignment. The route ran between Lake George and Crescent Lake which afforded some coolness from the lakes but still there was no denying the rising sun its due. So, I had to stop for a coffee and honey bun.
I found a quiet gas station with shade and sought relief.

Ended up sitting for the better part of an hour by the time I answered a call from family, talked to a couple of guys about the trip and my time on the shifter kart road racing circuit, and they told me about their bikes and installing elevators. Fair swap.
I went into Palatka eager to get the average speed up a bit and managed to catch the train signals. Hey, I like trying to interpret railcar graffiti just as much as anybody so I settled in and watch the cars click by a few yards away.
My daydreaming was interrupted by the safety gates rising in spite of the train still occupying the tracks.

Primary reason I do not trust, ever, rail road signal systems to get me the facts about the future couple of seconds.
The area I was traveling in is rural and populated with easily digested sights, sounds, and scenery. Saturday morning is a time for errands of not so great import, some yard work with the smell of fresh mowed grass, and a pace that stresses no one. Nice riding. Finally I arrived at Starke and the road past Union Correctional Institution. Once more. I had decided I would stop along the road across from the prison and get rid of my coffee in the front yard of Inmate#490606. Yea, that will be just the ticket; pulling your lizard out in front of 1,934 prisoners and pissing. Except it was a stupid, very stupid idea and I did not have any piss available at the time. I am sure the result would not include me being offered refuge in the secretarial pool office this time. Cool Hand Luke I am not.
I rode by the facility at speed and let my eyes and mind loose to roam where they might. The pleasant memory of my flight into there on that grass strip, using the same skills Jeff and I had learned together those long years ago in flight school, is what remained with me as I approached Raiford and the intersection of Hwy 121. Folkston Georgia is where I was headed now with all due haste. A known shady spot, a known restaurant, and just a neat little town to visit. If you are a train enthusiast then you know of the Folkston Funnel. If you are not, then it is not a sugary treat you buy at the fairgrounds. It is a celebration of the fact that many trains run through your town and a lot of people would love a great place to view that activity and support your town's commerce in the process

It is this: The observation platform with wi-fi, live train radio traffic, comfortable chairs and ceiling fans.

BBQ grills to use.

A train museum with everything you ever wanted to know about trains.

Little trains.

Big trains.


With the prospect of a shady structure to eat lunch in, a nap on the bench, a clean restroom and know highways I pushed on to make the dream come true. It was getting hotter and I was getting weary.

None too soon I got lunch down, got a short nap, watched a train ride the rails and was off for the last 150 mile stint of my six day, 1500 mile adventure.
As I got closer to home the roads, the terrain, the coastal Low Country all became the familiar components of my life. I could sense the unfamiliar yet generously welcoming aura of some one else's territory fading behind me; my visit to their lives was enjoyable and memorable. I thank you for the hospitality.

Wedgie freedom at last.
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Old 05-29-2013, 06:54 PM   #15
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Location: Charleston, South Carolina
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Great trip. I enjoyed following along. Next time your in De Land give Mr. Bills Donuts a try.. They are great...
If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got. ... A desert rat explores the south.
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