A Cuban in the Florida Keys

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Eddy Alvarez, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Eddy Alvarez

    Eddy Alvarez Motorcycle ADD Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,988
    Location:
    Chester,VA
    So about a week ago my Thanksgiving plans were erased and I had 6 days with nothing to do so of course I went for a ride. I contemplated a fancy ride report but after 2,387 miles since Sunday evening, I am feeling a little lazy and came up with this short review:

    I left Chester Sunday evening and stayed at a ADV members (Carlisja) place near Walterboro SC for the night. I was simply hoping for tent space for a few hours and he very generously offered me a cot inside his shop.
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    Monday I was rolling by 0500, Chester to Homestead is 13.5 hours (959 miles) It's funny how when you cross into Florida you get a sense of "Woo hoo! Give me a glass of orange juice and pass the suntan lotion! I made it!" Only to realize that you are still about six hours and 400 miles away. To put that into perspective, it's the same time and distance from the Virginia Beach oceanfront to Bristol, TN.

    Goofing off at the Florida welcome center. (NOT close to my people 400 miles away!)
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    That afternoon I pulled in into Miami and went to the worlds most famous Cuban restaurant in Little Havana and stuffed myself with Cuban bread toast, a delicious sampler platter, a guava pastry and a cortadito (a shot of Cuban coffee with steamed milk and sugar). After dinner I cruised around Miami, saw some sights then headed to my cousins house in Homestead. Miami rush hour is NO JOKE!
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    Tuesday morning I headed south as one of my bucket list trips has always been to ride from Miami to Key West. Traffic was unexpectedly very light as I headed to Key Largo. My first stop was at Robbie's Marina in Islamorada. There I hand fed huge tarpon! It's quite intimidating the first time you hand feed a fish as big as your entire leg that can leap out of the water to take the fish but I later learned that it was the aggressive asshole pelicans that you had to watch out for! The fish might lightly scratch you but the pelicans were out for blood if you didn't toss them a fish! :lol3

    Robbie's Marina: https://www.robbies.com/tarpon.htm

    YouTube video:


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    I never saw the pelican quietly flanking me from my right side until it was too late! Then he pecked the crap out of me and stole the fish! He's done this before...[​IMG] [​IMG]

    By the bar there were a couple of Harley-Davidsons that the salty breeze in the keys has not been kind to. I imagine that having a shiny bike in the keys is a continuous battle of washing, polishing, waxing and replacing parts.
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    There is a sub-species of the white tailed deer in the keys appropriately called "key deer". They are much smaller than the deer in Virginia. They are endangered and only found in the keys. Because they live so close to people, cars and houses they have become used to all of it and have no fear of humans. Unfortunately this means that they are not uncommonly found along the roads where they are killed. They are really small!

    This is a huge buck in the keys. No fear means dead deer.
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    Continuing along, you pass lots of small to medium sized bridges. One of the best and prettiest parts of the road is crossing seven mile bridge (it's really only 6.67 miles long). It feels like you are flying across the ocean. It's really scenic as you can imagine. I guess I've been spoiled by so many other roads including the 17.6 mile long Chesapeake bay bridge tunnel, the breathtaking views from the Rickenbacker causeway bridge, the MacArthur Causeway heading towards Miami at night and so many other roads. Nonetheless, it's beautiful.

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    As I was arriving into Key West it was pretty cool to see a lot of Cuba on my GPS screen and only a tiny sliver of Florida.
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    I found in Key West to find what I was hoping to avoid, a lot of traffic, traffic lights, way too many pedestrians, noise and tourists. I was not surprised as I have been there from cruise ships before. I took the mandatory buoy picture and headed north. I had to settle for a crappy selfie from far away as there was a tour group of probably 200 people in line to snap a photo by the buoy. I couldn't escape fast enough, the whole place gave me a "Gatlinburg for Parrot Heads in the Islands" feel.

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    Pretty flowers everywhere. It was 84 degrees, back home it was in the 40's and leaves were piling up for me.
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    So I got out of Key West as quickly as possible and headed to Bahia Honda State Park. What a GEM! Not too crowded, a nice grill, a beautiful beach and tranquility. I spent a couple of hours here swimming, napping, and relaxing. The water was several beautiful shades of blue from dark blue to turquoise. It was quite clear as well.
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    I made my way back to Homestead that night and stayed at my cousins house again. My plan was to take three to four days of back roads back to Virginia but my wife called to tell me that her aunt had suddenly passed away. I had to let the Wing stretch her legs and we left the next morning and made it to my sisters house in North Carolina 815 miles later. I was able to stay an extra day and enjoy Thanksgiving with them before heading home today!

    Thanksgiving at my sister's (She's on the far left behind the guy in the blue shirt) She invites EVERYONE over!
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    Some more random photos from the trip:

    Gifts for the family that you can't buy in Virginia.
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    My cousins house in Homestead
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    My cousin's giant 6'5" son (unofficially one of the tallest Cubans on record!) :D
    He is studying to be a PA like me!
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    Random Foodie pictures:
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    Yummy "lechon" and "masitas de puerco" (Slow roasted pork and deep fried chunks pork. Not it's not healthy but I didn't care)

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    Other random cool stuff/observations but no pictures:
    I saw a big alligator sunning itself by the road near the everglades
    I saw several wild pigs in north Florida and southern Georgia
    South Florida has to have one of the highest concentrations of Corvettes on the planet
    Ferrari's, McLarens, Lamborghini's and Porsche's are really common in Dade county.
    If you don't go at least 75-80 mph on Florida highways, you will die.
    Hans was super pissed that I forgot to call him about this trip.

    I am glad to be home safe.
    The Goldwing rocks! It's as smooth at 85 mph as it is at 35 mph.
    The car tire on the rear makes highway riding smooth as silk and you cannot tell its not a motorcycle tire.
    She likes to drink gas over 80 mph.

    I can't wait go go back to be with my people, my food, my music and the warm sun! :jkam:dukegirl:ricky
    #1
  2. RimBenty

    RimBenty Bender of Rims

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,104
    Location:
    Ashland, VA
    Looks like you had a cool road trip. :thumb

    Sorry to hear about the loss in your family.

    If I’m going to get my wife to ride with me I probably need to get one of those fancy golden wing things.
    #2
  3. DandyDoug

    DandyDoug Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    987
    Location:
    Lewisville, NC
    Great ride report.
    We lived in Fl. ( Tampa) for 13 years, we both miss Cuban food and go to great lengths to find it when we can here in the land of really bad BBQ ( NC.)
    You are sure right about the salt air eating chrome and everything else the sun doesn't destroy.
    Loved that picture of you standing in water so clear you can see your feet in the sand.
    My ultimate goal is to find water warm and clear enough to stand waist deep and see my own feet in the sand.
    #3
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  4. whiskeygut

    whiskeygut Riding in flip-flops

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
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    Location:
    Back in the Hood!
    I really enjoyed your ride report. Safe Journeys!
    #4
  5. Mark712

    Mark712 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2015
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Chesterfield Virginia
    I see you are running on the dark side. What tire is it?
    #5
  6. firedad415

    firedad415 trying to speak dirt

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    491
    Location:
    Richmond Area- in the 'Ville
    "I couldn't escape fast enough, the whole place gave me a "Gatlinburg for Parrot Heads in the Islands" feel."

    Glad you had a great Thanksgiving Eddy !
    This was going by, just outside our cabin all week.
    :rofl

    Attached Files:

    #6
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  7. Ohio Rider

    Ohio Rider n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2019
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Ohio
    There was a group of us single guys that made several trips to Key West back around 1990. (Before we all got wives, kids, mortgages...etc) Absolutely a fantastic time. You could walk up to the "90 miles to Cuba" buoy....no line ever. Most of the time there wasn't anyone around it. This was a time before the over-the-top Parrot-head commercialization had taken over. One of the guys went back this year with his wife. He said there was a 200 person line just to get your picture taken.

    "I couldn't escape fast enough, the whole place gave me a "Gatlinburg for Parrot Heads in the Islands" feel." Funny thing...I just went to Gatlinburg for the first time earlier this year. (not knowing anything about the city) I did not come away with a positive view. Very touristy.
    #7
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  8. ejm4

    ejm4 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Capital of Pa
    Great report !
    #8
  9. Eddy Alvarez

    Eddy Alvarez Motorcycle ADD Supporter

    Joined:
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    #9
  10. Sandspit

    Sandspit Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    Fl
    Good to see I am not the only one who still has hurricane shutters up...I actually like the quiet and darkness it creates, great report and pics, amazing how many native Floridians have never been to the Keys, it has a different look and feel than the rest of FL. It is a trip that everyone should do at least once, the sooner the better as it seems to get more crowded every year.
    #10
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  11. DirtDoctor

    DirtDoctor Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    976
    Location:
    North Chesterfield,VA
    I've always enjoyed the Florida Keys and had many great times scuba diving off Marathon Key. Looking forward to riding down there on a motorcycle too at some point. Fantastic RR Eddy!
    #11
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  12. Wattner

    Wattner Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Oddometer:
    7,091
    Location:
    Key West, Florida
    Man...Late to the party but would have (still will...) extended an invitation for some boating. We spent 5 days boating over the thanksgiving break...Watched sunset on the boat almost every day, then watched one of the best guitarists ever!
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    If you (or anyone) make it back, hit me up and I'll show you around a bit. There's a lot more than the tourist crap to do...
    #12
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  13. Sandspit

    Sandspit Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    Fl
    ^^^^ Love the twin 150's....I'll hit you up if you are around the Xmas time, my wife and I stay in Islamorada @ MM 74. Do you do any fishing? Neighbor has been limiting out every day around Marathon...Freezer full of fish and bugs, would be cool to meet some more ADV folks. As the rule of boating goes, I'll be happy to pay for gas, food, beverages and help clean the boat when returning to port.
    #13
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  14. RoyQ

    RoyQ Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,427
    Location:
    Mississippi
    A group of 4 of us rode down and were there thanksgiving week from Mississippi. We logged 2300 miles on 2 800 Tigers, 1 Speed triple and 1 Africa Twin.

    Enjoyed your post and pictures.

    Attached Files:

    #14
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