Saturday, June 29, 2013

Port Canaveral

Summer is here and that means afternoon thunderstorms most days. Today the forecast was for a 60% chance of rain. After sniffing the air early this morning we thought we'd have until about 2 PM to ride and get back home before the rains began.

We made a plan to ride to the Port for an early lunch. Kim and I would ride the Vulcan and the TU250X and good riding buddy Gary and his daughter Margie would ride the Concours and meet up with us enroute.

We were on the road by 0930 and already the clouds were beginning to build. We turned east on Hwy 192 just east of St. Cloud and road a few miles out of town to Nova Rd. Nova is one of those little travelled back roads that cuts through ranch land and swamp as it meanders generally east and north. Nova is about 35 miles from 192 to Hwy 520 where it ends.

We poked along at about 50 MPH and enjoyed the sight of hundreds of cattle egrets along the freshly mowed roadside. There were more egrets along that stretch of road than we'd ever seen at one time. They were rummaging through the cut grass looking for bugs and lizards. The smell of freshly cut grass from a bike is one of the all-time great smells and we breathed it in deeply.

Once at the end of Nova Rd. we turned south east on Hwy 520. After crossing the St. Johns River, we pulled into the Lone Cabbage fish camp to wait hook up with Gary and Marge.

It is possible that herons can't read

Airboat at the Lone Cabbage



And friends

Fish camps are pretty much what the name implies. They are places to put airboats and other shallow draft boats into lake, river, or swamp. Most fish camps catered only to fishermen and hunters in years past, but now they often entice tourist and locals by having a restaurant and sometimes airboat excursions into the swamps. The Lone Cabbage has been around for many years and has great old Florida food. You can try gator, frog legs, turtle, catfish and much more. Today our plan was just to catch up with our friends and head to the port for a quick lunch and try to beat the storms home.

There is a sea breeze that drifts in from the ocean and tends to help the development of thunderstorms inland while keeping the coast clear and sunny. We hit the road east bound and turned our backs to the thickening clouds to the west and rode into sunshine. As we worked our way northeast, the air cooled and took on the salty smell of the ocean. We pulled into the port in time for an early lunch and welcome drink of iced tea.

Port Canaveral has docks for a few cruise lines, but more importantly to us, is it is also home to local fishing vessels. There are a number of restaurants at the port and they all have fresh fish brought on shore at the nearby docks. Like many places in this part of Florida, there is open air dining. Today we enjoyed our lunches while watching sea turtles and porpoises playing just a few yards from our table.

Following our lunch we felt the urge to head for home as the sky was getting dark inland to the west and rain could be seen falling from some of the better developed clouds. Gary and Margie headed northwest toward home and visible rain, while Kim and I rode southwest toward slightly better looking skies.

We threaded our way through the growing showers with little trouble and managed to stay reasonably dry. There was thunder to our south, west, and north as we rolled our bikes into the garage right at 2 PM.

What a nice way to spend a day, good friends, a fun motorcycle ride, and a chance to explore a little bit of central Florida.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Searching for Eagle and Hawk Nests

Took the Suzuki TU250X out today in search of eagle and hawk nests.  Only saw one bald eagle, but saw many hawks and was able to get a nice picture of hawks on the nest.

The summer weather pattern is beginning to set in and that means afternoon thundershowers most days.  The rain starts anywhere from noon to five, and although the rain is isolated (usually) you can plan to get wet sometime during the afternoon or evening.

On one trip a couple years ago, Kim and I had ridden to St. Augustine for the day.  It had been a killer hot day with no rain along the coast but as we headed home in the dark we could see flashes of lightning inland.  We slid south along the coast thinking we'd get around the south end of the rain before we needed to turn inland.  Well, we didn't ever get to the south end of the storm and eventually had to turn west for about fifty miles to get home.  Again, we thought we'd make it home just short of the storm and all would be good, but that didn't happen either.  About 20 miles short of our home, we had to cross over one of those triple decker overpasses.  We made it to the top of the over pass at the same time the storm hit.  There was lightning everywhere and I can tell you that the lightning was intense and very scary.  I may still have the bruises on my ribs where Kim was hanging on...

That was a long way to go to tell you I got out early and returned early, just as the first little rain shower of the day began.

The first nest I have pictures of was off the road a little way. Eagle and many big hawk / falcon nests are very course. They seem to be made of large branches with minimal padding for the chicks. They are nearly always at the very top of tall trees and are added to and reused each year

Eagle Nest


 I can't resist taking pictures of this bike. You do get a very nice idea of what rural Florida looks like in this part of the state, but you have to look around the bike. :)

On one of my stops, was at Lake Marian. I had placed the bike under a nice looking tree and was taking pictures of the bike, great blue herons, and wood storks when a couple alligators started croaking a few yards away. Some say an alligator sounds like a bull frog. They actually make many noises from squeaky sounds to big booming croaks. On this day they were croaking. It is a sound that sends chills up my back. No need for me to trek any deeper into the swamp!

Parked at Lake Marian.  Gators croaking in the swamp just down the bank from the bike.


 I don't know for sure what type bird these fellows are.  If anyone knows, please drop me a note.  I thought they were Peregrin Falcons at first but I couldn't see the tell tale "sideburns" of a Peregrin.  There was a parent in the nest with them and another on a wire just out of view.  The parent on the nest flew off and the youngsters popped their heads up to take a look at me.
As you can see, the sky was beginning to fill in and I had to head for home shortly after taking the photo of the chicks.  I stopped at the Ural/Enfield dealer to slip into my rain suit only to ride back into the sun for the last 20 or so miles.
I did see one bald eagle soaring over an orange grove near the house.  What a sight, I always think they are one of the most beautiful of our birds.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The ride that didn't happen

In the driveway - Where good bikes don't belong

We had planned all spring to take the Suzuki TU250X and the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a long Memorial Day weekend.  Seems life and work, (work mostly), conspired against us.  We have moved it back to mid summer. 

We are both curious to see how our TU250 will do in the mountains.  We know it'll be a hoot on the curves as it is so light and agile.  The plan now is to ride or trailer up to the Little Switzerland area and explore up and down the Blue Ridge from there.

Kim and I have made a number of very short rides, but haven't had the time to put an article together.  Will try to get out for a good trip this weekend.