After lunch I headed to Virginia and Steve went home in pouring rain. I got the better end of the deal as sun came out and drenched Front Royal where I finally tore off my waterproofs and started to enjoy a Florida style ride albeit with hills and curves. Lovely.
Eric recently bought a splendid 40 year old Vespa P200 and I took it for a spin, filled with nostalgia and admiration for Eric's careful thoughtful refurbishment of the old girl. Great fun but I couldn't imagine riding the ride I just did on this scooter!
The next day looked good for my six hour ride to Florence South Carolina where a lonely hotel bed awaited. We rode together, Eric on his special edition Vespa 946 me on my Suzuki.
I loved the heat and the sun and we rode through canopied roads which made the sunny day even more delightful. Eric says the mountains are 45 minutes away and even better roads lie in wait. I shall return for sure.
He lives the life does Eric and I was glad I got to meet him after exchanging comments on riding forums for years.
After Eric and I parted promising to meet again I took the lonely road to Florence South Carolina's La Quinta and I left there early enough to strike out on a quixotic mission to reach the coast thus lengthening my ride but getting another chance to visit one my favorite small towns, Beaufort South Carolina. It was dawn so I took a few pictures posted them on Instagram and I got going.
Florida thank God saw a return of heat and sunshine. Even a few miles north of the state line Georgia offered Florida-like conditions and I liked them.
I had met Bill previously so it was nice to see a familiar face as I pulled into the Welcome Center on I-95, a personalized welcome home just for me. Once again I was a follower trailing Bill's Vespa 200 to a burger joint in Fernandina Beach. Bill is a hard core long distance scooter rider so we talked and I suggested I was going to do the coast to coast ride known as the Cannonball in 2020. He has done three previous rides, his latest this year ending in a spill and a nasty leg wound so he has decided tor retire from Cannonballs. I started work early to change his mind.
From the farthest north of the state we had to ride south and I got the treatment, winding roads, canopies all on lovely smooth Florida road surfaces.
This scooter would end the week with 3404 miles and no problems other than my dead muffler which my mechanic thinks was pretty heated by the long ride when I hit the pot hole and shook it up West Virginia style enough that the baffles fell apart undress excess pressure. For the rest it ran and continues to run perfectly with a new muffler on order.
Bills venerable approximately 12 year old Rocket with 86,000 miles on the clock.
A final drink goodbye and once again I had met someone reluctant to part with me. This trip was a real ego boost even though I'm sure I'm not everyone's cup of tea I made some stout long lasting friends this trip. Eric and Bill better get with the Cannonball plan! I wish Steve could as well.
I left Jacksonville reluctantly at around 6 and Bill disappeared back into the urban jungle. I headed south watching the sun set as I cleared the southern edge of the Ocala National Forest on Highway 19.
I spent the night in Sebring where the night manager at the hotel was a grumpy old toad but I was buzzing and high on life that he didn't bring me down. I left before dawn the next morning determined to get to see Rusty as soon as possible. Dawn on the levee of Lake Okeechobee:
And then home by noon to a rapturous welcome from one who loves me warts and all. My wife was away in Miami on business with a colleague so Rusty and I immediately went for a walk after the homecoming kisses were spent.