Friday, April 24, 2015

Farmers Market, a Vespa Ride

I stick my neck out from time to time and when the sticking involves two wheels and an engine - I'm always in. When I was a kid in a group of youngsters and we were all bored one would say to the other "I'm bored. What should we do?" I was the douche who always chose the furthest possible destination just as a place to go, something to do, the joy of the journey. I'm not in this picture below but those were the kids of the village in Italy where I used to live and we looked like this when we were free to do whatever we wanted:

"No, no!" they'd shout in unison when I suggested a distant destination and unless I filled the tank on my bike and took off by myself, I ended up sitting around getting bored. So here I am forty years later and my wife says, hey on Friday they have this fabulous little Farmer's Market in Tavernier, wanna take a ride? Sure I say. I'm taking the old Vespa, time to make sure I've got the fuel mixture filled in properly. It's been 2500 miles since the first piston seized and the bike has been running nicely since I installed the new piston and fiddled with the carburetor mixture. A little rich perhaps but I like to push the motor so extra fuel and oil in the air mixture suits my style of riding.
On the back I have replaced the crate with a reputedly waterproof tail bag called an Xelement XS689 which my wife got me for free using some weird airline mileage wizardry combined with Amazon Prime. I'm buggered if I know how she does it but she knows all the angles.
I am starting to trust my 1979 Vespa and I am secretly hoping for a long future together quite possibly with some long distance riding involved as well. I know it's weird, not only do I have a perfectly serviceable Triumph Bonneville with 84,000 trouble-free miles but I also have access to my wife's 2004 Vespa 150, just as fast as my old Vespa but smoother, quieter and with no gears to muddle the modern mind.
I like my old girl and I'm having fun confusing car drivers who can't shake me off their tails, who drop their guards and find me passing them because I know all the passing spaces on the Overseas Highway and I am relentless, my Italian upbringing requires me to make the most of every twist of the gas. It really is more fun to make a slow bike go faster than to make a fast bike go slowly. The Vespa encourages stopping to peak at the ocean and check out my favorite surviving trailer park in the Upper Keys where money blusters and everyone else cowes. So far they haven't developed it away. Three cheers.
I also enjoy the 30 mph speed limit on County Road 905 which parallels the Overseas Highway in Plantation Key and Makes for a nice slow winding ride in a county where alternative routes are pretty unusual. Some of it is  shaded and tree lined and some of it is right next to the main highway.

And this is one of the myriad gates that line CR905 and keep,curious eyes from peeking at waterfront mansions. The house number reveals the mile marker: 89225 translates to Mile Marker 89 and almost-a-quarter of a mile. If you need to know where you are check a mailbox. I live at 22932, which means my street is almost 23 miles from Mile Zero in Key West. Now you know, and you never need to be lost in the Florida Keys. Good to know if you have to dial 911!
And then I find scooter parking off County Road 905 and I'm at my destination, around Mile Marker 92.
The Farmer's Market is about where the top "1" is on the map below, just before Tavernier Creek in the top right corner but after San Pedro Lake:
Now I'm sure you have tons of Farmaer's Markets where you live, doubtless in the midst of agricultural abundance. They are a popular way to shop. They have sprouted in Key West too and now this one way up the Keys... adds to the general quality of life in a far off community in the middle of the ocean.

The fact is South Florida is a huge breadbasket on a par with California's Central Valley and there is no drought here (but there is salt water intrusion as the sea level rises even though Republicans can't utter the words 'climate change') and these fruits and vegetables were delicious. I bought a giant cauliflower and a soursop because I like tropical fruit. Oh and a couple of loaves of bread at five bucks apiece.
But this was the real reason for my wife's joy at this market: Indian food. I loaded up with $32 worth of sauces spices breads and samosas, and yes I am now getting used to being presented with a telephone to sign when I use my credit card at portable stands like this. I also had cash thank you because I am old fashioned.
The Vespa is not the ideal flower carrier, at least not over 70 miles in 90 degree heat and strong winds...
Back on county road 905 stuffed with strawberry shortcake and a date with my wife and her work fridge in Marathon where she would preserve the food until she came home in the evening.
Tea Table Key was where I took a break and a couple of pictures of the Vespa by the water, and though I wanted to stop for more I had a nagging desire to get home and rest before the evening's planned activities of dinner and a movie.
For me, a busy day especially as I got up before dawn and took Cheyenne for a long walk along the waterfront in Key West. These days "long" is about an hour and she thoroughly enjoyed it. My plan was that she wouldn't miss me while I was gone and as you can see she didn't:
She didn't even wake up when I came into the house and made myself some tea. My sweet dear old girl. Every day is a gift, even extra busy today.