Saturday, August 8, 2009

Holopaw Surprise

Florida's Turnpike is a wonderful thing for anyone who lives in the Keys and wants to get north in a hurry. And we wanted to get north after our messy departure from home when we started our Grand tour of the State of Florida 2009.Our original plans had called for a stop in the Everglades with a chance to see alligators and marshes at the Shark Valley viewing center, but that all had to be scrapped after the highway closure delayed our departure and all the lobster mini season boats on trailers had us crawling up the highway. So we took the turnpike all the way to Exit 193 (193 miles from Homestead) at Yeehaw Junction. It's a cute name but really it's nothing more than an old restaurant with mediocre food and a modern truck stop. the good bit about Yeehaw Junction is that you can parallel the turnpike north toward Orlando on a nearly empty US Highway 441:
It's 33 miles of long straights followed by sweeping curves through pine forests and pastures and a few ranch homes and trailer homes along the way. I love this countryside, completely different from the Keys yet fascinating in it's own right. Not many people know that there are cowboys in Florida in the pastures across the middle of the state, and where there are cowboys there are cattle:
This isn't a place that I would like to live, it's far too rural and lacking in amenity but it reminds me of the ocean, all that emptiness and open space. The roads are frost free and smooth, and though they do tend to be straight......curves are not completely absent:
I've said it before and I'll say it again, and I'll probably repeat myself in the days ahead as I go touring around the Sunshine State, Florida is the land of subtleties. You don't find cliff faces like Yosemite, or vast desert mesas like Utah, or wild physical variations in a state that is composed mostly of sand and nowhere rises above 345 feet (105 meters) above sea level. As the sun goes down, and a protracted dusk is not part of the program at these latitudes, daytime temperatures don't drop much. Florida is flat and open but it's not a desert and heat and humidity stay close to the ground even after dark: For many motorcyclists, people who live and ride in Florida are viewed with a certain amount of pity. This isn't where you go to find winding mountain roads obviously, and for those riders from the frozen north the novelty of year round riding soon wears off after they've taken a few hundred miles under their saddles in a dead straight line. Hence the popularity of big long cruisers, imitators of the impossibly stretched choppers made famous by the Easy Riders movie.I guess I've had enough and varied motorcycle experiences in my life not to worry too much about the shortage of "twisties." I like the heat and if I have to ride straight then I can do that. However when I come across Florida's oldest Ural dealer, then I have to stop the car, and take a look. My wife was quite taken by the elderly Ural sidecar outfit on display moldering away in front of the dealership:
Apparently they do a land sale business in shipping Ural parts from this unlikely spot in the middle of nowhere. uralfla.com is their website and fascinating it is too as apparently they have taken the time to visit the factory in Russia and have also developed a trailer to haul these outfits behind your four wheeler. The old model out front is pretty elderly and beyond help I think. (Our Nissan is doing just fine thanks):Modern Urals are said to be much more reliable and better equipped than Soviet era motorcycles and so they should be as the cheapest of them sells for ten grand. I am not yet convinced but it's all a bit academic for me. This fascinating hole in the wall also advertises itself as a dealership for Volare scooters, Royal Enfield motorcycles and of all things Corvette cars. Too bad the place was closed and we could only see some rather picturesque buildings next to the closed dealership all of which constitutes the community of Holopaw, Florida. After which name I believe a band is named though it has nothing to do with this place:So the total observations along this stretch of US Highway yielded a few cows, a bar, lots of trees and an intriguing motorcycle dealership. And then we reached the end of the countryside and entered the outer reaches of the suburbs of Orlando:We turned left to St Cloud with a final destination in Mount Dora, a town worthy of a photo or two, but that I got to ignore entirely as I was off to rent my Thruxton while my wife went shopping.