Day 5: June 27, 2000
Islamorada, FL to Starke, FL
(416 miles)

I woke up early in paradise, but the weather was miserable, and since I had stayed up late the night before, I took my time getting ready to leave. The storms which have been hitting the southeast this week can be pretty violent, and this morning was pretty bad. The thunder and lightning are impressive.

I got rolling at about 9:00, and it rained on and off for the first 50 miles or so. I rode through Homestead, Florida, which was hit extremely hard by a hurricane a few years ago. There are a lot of vacant lots in Homestead which certainly used to have homes and businesses which were destroyed by the hurricane.

My route took me through the Everglades, which I'm sure are interesting if you have time to take one of the many air boat rides available, but I had to get to St. Petersburg, and I was late.

From Naples to St. Petersburg it rained on and off, and occasionally it was pretty heavy. Crossing Tampa Bay on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was pretty exciting, with heavy rain and limited visibility. My rain gear is certainly getting a lot of use on this trip!

In St. Petersburg, I found the church where my cousin works, and after a few words of greeting, we went out for a late lunch/early dinner. My cousin Julanne and I have not seen each other for 33 years, so needless to say we had a lot of catching up to do. It was really interesting to talk to her and find out how our respective families are doing. Julanne, it was great to see you. Let's try not to wait 33 more years to see each other again, OK?

I left St. Petersburg right at rush hour, and there was a huge traffic jam on I275. I took to the shoulder of the road and passed a couple thousand cars and trucks, and soon found myself on I75 headed north. My route took me up US310, which goes through the infamous speed trap in Waldo, Florida. I was well prepared for this, and adhered to the speed limit in all of the little towns I went through, until I got to Starke, Florida, where I had had enough, and found a motel.

After 45 minutes of trying to connect to the Internet from the Red Carpet Inn (sounds a lot nicer than it was), I gave up, and no trip reports were completed today. Maybe tomorrow.

This was a very wet travel day, which was marked by a delightful visit with a long lost relative. And a short trip report.

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Rick Brookes
ST1100, VFR750F, Hawk NT650GT
1998: 50cc Quest
1999: Bun Burner Gold
Summer 2000: BBG 3000, Four Corners Tour

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