Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Motorcycles and Sunsets – A Rider’s View of the Florida Keys

Written by  Karla Duncan June 2, 2022

                Did you know that there are 800 keys that make up the Florida Keys? Some of them are accessible by driving, but most are only accessible by boat. I learned this recently while researching ideas for things to see and do for our long overdue trip to Key West. The word “key” comes from the Spanish word “cayo” which translates to “small island”.

 

            These Florida Keys stretch over 180 miles and there are 42 bridges that connect them all together. The longest bridge, Seven Mile Bridge, is 35,716 feet long and the shortest bridge, Harris Gap Bridge, is only 37 feet in length.

            Our original trip to Key West was supposed to be the first week of May 2021, but we had to cancel it due to Covid19 and the fact that no one from outside of Key West was allowed to travel into that city. We continued planning the trip and we were finally able to begin our journey this year.

            We met our travel buddies, three other couple friends, at 6 am on Saturday, April 30th, to ride one of the top rides on our bucket list. We left around 6:15 am and we rode down Highway 280 and stopped for breakfast at Who’s Diner in Alexander City, AL. After breakfast, we rode through Columbus, GA over to Valdosta, GA where we met our last travel buddy and ate lunch at Smok’n Pig. After lunch, we rode all the way down to just past Ocala, FL and we had dinner at IHOP and stayed the night at the Red Roof Inn- this finished the 1st leg of our trip down to Marathon Key where we had rented a house for the week. We rode about 8 ½ to 9 hours on this day.

            We got up the next morning, ate at IHOP and headed out at about 8:30 am for the last leg of our ride to Marathon Key. We ran into a pretty intense, severe rain/hailstorm that we had to ride through for about 20 minutes or so because there were no places we could get out of the storm. There were cars lining the road on both sides of the highway that had pulled off to sit the storm out, yet, there we were trudging through it anyway! We made it through the storm and we made it to the rental home around 6:30 pm in Marathon, after about 8 ½ to 9 hours of riding for the day. We unloaded our stuff and checked out the house for a bit. It was a beautiful place with 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, a pool and a canal that ran behind the house. The amenities for the house also included 5 bicycles and 6 kayaks to enjoy for our stay.

            After looking around a bit, we jumped back on the motorcycles and headed into town to eat dinner. We dined at The Steak and Lobster House. Seafood was everyone’s choice and the food was excellent. After dinner we stopped into the local Winn Dixie and bought a few groceries for the week to fill in, so that we didn’t have to eat out every mail, and we could have some down time at the house to relax and spend time together. Some of us later met up at the pool and hung out for awhile before heading to bed.

            After another much needed nights rest, we got up, ate breakfast and then headed out for our first adventure through the Florida Keys. We headed north to Islamorada Key, to visit Robbie’s Marina, where we shopped the several different open air shops for souvenirs, and then we ate lunch on the dock at The Hungry Tarpon restaurant. The food was really good, affordable and it was great to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. After lunch, some of the group shopped some more and a few of us decided to feed the tarpon fish off the pier. Some of those fish were up to 100 lbs. and there were plenty of them! There were also just as many pelicans around to try to steal every fish they could! It was a really neat experience. We spent about 3 or 4 hours at the Marina before heading back out on the road again. We rode back down to Marathon and checked out the area to see what we might want to do there. We ended up riding a little further south, where we crossed the Seven Mile Bridge. We stopped at a convenience, store on the other side, to get something to drink and then headed back across the bridge to head back to the house where we had pizza for dinner and spent some time at the pool. Side note: I noticed something as we crossed that long bridge both times- there was a good size tree that was growing out of the old bridge that ran parallel to Seven Mile Bridge. This was the original bridge that used to be traveled many years ago. I looked it up later on the internet and saw that the local folks call the tree “Fred” and that every year, some secret “elves” sneak out onto the old bridge to decorate “Fred” with Christmas decorations. What an interesting story! The locals also do a Seven Mile Bridge run on the old bridge.

            The next day, we headed one hour South to Key West for the first time. We started our day, with breakfast at Morita’s Cuban Coffee in Cudjoe Key, where we tried Cuban coffee. We then traveled on down to Key West where we visited Truman Waterfront and saw the Ingham, a US Coast Guard Ship, that docks there as a floating museum. We didn’t tour the museum due to time, but it was a beautiful ship. Some of the other things we did in Kew West this trip was to walk some of the famous Duval Street for some shopping, visit the Peterson’s Key West Harley Davidson apparel store to get a t-shirt and poker chip. We had our pictures taken at the Buoy- the southernmost point of the US- only 90 miles from Cuba. We then headed back towards Marathon, crossed the Seven Mile Bridge, and stopped into Sunset Grille for food and our first sunset to enjoy The food did not disappoint and the sunset was so beautiful!

            The next morning, some of us chilled at the house to hang out at the pool or to kayak on the canal, and the rest adventured out to find a beach for the view and to explore Marathon further. We all met back up later and headed back down to Key West where we visited Mallory Square. The Square was pleasant with a shopping area, a few street performers were playing music, and there were lots of people who had come to do the same thing we were there for – to witness another sunset. This sunset was not ordinary, it was spectacular! It was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen! There were several boats and ships that were passing across the water in front of the sunset and it was breathtaking. We stayed on the Square until the sun had completely set and then we headed back towards Marathon. We stopped along the way back home and ate at a place called Mangrove Mama’s in Summerland Key. You just can’t beat good food with great friends!

            We woke up the next day and chilled around the house for awhile and then got ready to ride back down to Key West again. We visited a shop or two for souvenirs, had our pictures made at the zero mile marker, made time for a second photo op at the Buoy and ended the evening at The Tipsy Rooster Bar, where we enjoyed a nice little music playset with Jessica Meuse, a former American Idol contestant, that I am friends with on Instagram. She is from Slapout, Alabama and she had mentioned on Instagram that she would be playing in Key West this same week we would be there. I messaged her and she told me where she would be playing and we just had to go. She is such a beautiful lady and she can definitely sing! We left The Tipsy Rooster around 10 or 10:30 pm and headed back home for the night.

            Our last day in the Keys, a couple of us chilled at the house for several hours and the rest of us headed one hour North to Key Largo, where we had lunch at Alabama Jacks. Great food, but greater company, was experienced! After lunch, we stopped at Caribbean Club to have a look. This restaurant/bar was used as inspiration for and is where some exterior scenes were filmed for the movie, Key Largo, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in 1947. It is reported to have opened in 1938 and served as a poor man’s fishing retreat with a small hotel, restaurant and bar. It was later used as a gambling facility and years after, the hotel and restaurant were lost to a fire. The restaurant/bar is the only building left today, but it is acclaimed to be the oldest bar in the Upper Keys. A Humphrey Bogart statue and glossy cardboard, life-size cutouts, of both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall can be found on site for photo ops to all that visit the bar. When we left the Caribbean Club, we traveled a few miles down the road, where we visited and had our picture made with Betsy, the giant lobster in Islamorada. This statue was made by Richard Blaze in the 1980’s and it is 30 feet high and 40 feet long. There was also a small souvenir shop on site.

            We left Islamorada and traveled back down to Marathon Key, where we ate dinner at the Cracked Conch Cafe, before heading back to the house. We spent some time at the pool before bed since it was our last night in the Keys.

            The next day, we left about 7:30 am to start our journey back home to Alabama. We decided to go home a different way, so we rode towards Tallahassee, FL. We stopped in a town called Floral City because we saw a motorcycle shop called Wayne’s Citrus Cycles and we wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, the shop had closed just a few minutes earlier before we arrived. There was a restaurant next door to the motorcycle shop, so we decided to have lunch there. It was called The Shamrock Inn and they had good food. After lunch, we headed out again and we continued to Tallahassee, where we spent the night- we rode about 10 to 11 hours on this day for our halfway trip to Alabama.

            The next morning after breakfast at the hotel, we started the last let of our trip home. We made a stop for a late lunch at Tipico de Mexico in Montgomery, AL before we hit the road again. We all got home about 6:30 to 7 pm to our individual homes and I don’t about everyone else, but we fell into bed because we were so tired! Key West is definitely a once in a lifetime trip and I’m so glad we got to go and experience it with our lifelong friends! Looking forward to our next adventure together!2022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 162022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 172022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 182022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 192022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 202022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 212022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 222022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 232022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 242022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 252022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 262022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 272022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 282022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 292022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 12022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 22022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 32022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 42022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 52022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 62022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 72022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 82022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 92022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 102022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 112022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 122022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 132022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 142022 motorcycles and sunsets a riders view of the Florida Keys Karla Duncan 15