Thursday, July 8, 2010

Graduation Ride - Off to Florida

After 5 years of work, I finally graduated from UNCC with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. The week following the graduation Dad and I loaded up the bikes and headed south to Florida to visit my grandfather who was having neck surgery at the time. Seeing as this might be the last trip I make before I have a job that might limit my time off, Dad and I spent a little time trying to find a few things that we would like to do and see while were traveling to or from Florida. Dad mentioned stopping to see the 8th Air Force Museum in Savanna Georgia along with possibly stopping at the Kennedy Space Center for a tour. After doing a little research we found out how much the entry to the museum was, we decided that the 8th Air Force Museum would be in our best interest. Dad had stopped there once before and wanted to go back to look around again.

Loaded up and ready to go!

Stepping back a bit to last April I believe it was: In order to save the trucks fading transmission and spend less money in gas each week, I had been riding the bike to Boone each time I went to see Alicia. However, one Saturday morning in Boone, I woke up to find the bike sitting on its side under the stairs of the apartment complex where I normally park it. Apparently someone must have tried to climb on it during the night and it fell over. The bar end on the right side caught some concrete that supported the poles that supported the deck around the apartment. This caused the bars to fold inward about 2 inches to the point where it was contacting the fuel tank. Fortunately, the tank was not damaged, but the bars were toast and there was no way I was going to be able to ride the bike home like this.

So I made a few phone calls and long story short I ended up putting a set of ProTaper 7/8" bars on the bike so I could ride it home. These new bars worked ok, they pulled me a bit more forward than I wanted to be, but I got used to it. The worse part was that there wasn't a lot of sweep in the bars which made them extremely wide. This caused clearance issues with the brake hitting the mirror and the J&M not clearing the windshield.

Before the Florida trip I decided to purchase a set of FZ6R bars, a pair of grip puppies and vista cruse throttle lock. After the SS ride in March I realized that I needed something to hold the throttle so I could rest my right hand!

New cockpit layout! Bars, vista cruse, grip puppies and new mount for SPOT tracker.

Not alot happened on the way down, however we did make our way through a few neat little towns. Oddly enough, we some how ended up riding through Norway and Denmark!

I fink da Norvay vide vas closed today!

The roads to Florida are rather long and straight... not the most entertaining, but the scenery was nice from time to time.

We made it to the 8th Air Force Museum a little after noon on the first day. We paid the 5 dollar fee and spent the entire afternoon looking around inside at the various displays and checking out the restoration that was going on inside. Dad and I looked around till closing time and then made our way back outside to take some pictures of the bikes with the Phantom that was "parked" outside.

"Parked" in the gardens next to I-95 was a B-47! This thing was huge! For scale, I accidentally got a car passing along I95 in the photo.

After walking around and under the plane I found an opening. Looked like the tunnel to get to the bomb bay doors from the cockpit. Seeing as how my name is J.B. McCrary... I found out where that tunnel went. I was correct, and it did lead to the cockpit! However once I got up there, I remembered that I am slightly claustrophobic
Totally worth the heat to get a few shots of the cock pit area.

Before pulling out, I asked Dad how far it was to our hotel from where we were. I looked at my trip meter and figured that it would be close, but it looked as through I could make it to the hotel before I needed gas.

Rolling down the interstate, Dad and I find ways to amuse ourselves. This picture was taken by Dad, after I handed the camera off to him while rolling down I95... weeeee!

So I ended up making it to the hotel that night with out stopping for fuel. I actually had to pull the fuel tank that evening to check on the connection of my stator to the ECU. When I lifted the tank up, there was very little sloshing inside...very little.

The FZ has a 5 gallon fuel tank. I think I might of cut that one a bit close...

A new record for me!

Never seen the reserve trip this low.

Off on the second day after a good nights rest, we continued heading south to Fort Lauderdale to visit my grand father in the hospital as he would be just getting out of his surgery. I cant say enough about how flat and straight the roads are in Florida. I mean I knew they were, but dang! I had gotten used to the NC/TN mountains and this was an adjustment. However, the straight roads made it a great time to use the new throttle lock!


I ended up getting very good at riding with no hands. It took some work getting used to the way the bike moved on the road with out any input in the bars. By the time we were leaving Florida I was able to ride for miles with out any input and ended up passing cars and changing lanes, too.

A good example of the roads that are found in Florida.

The state (im assuming) was in the process of burning the under growth in the area.

Nice photo crossing some body of water.

Entering Fort Lauderdale

Dad and I ended up staying in Fort Lauderdale that night after leaving the hospital. On the way to find a place to stay that night we witnessed an amazing sunset over the gulf coast.

We stayed in Cewiston for a couple days with Granddaddy after the surgery. He was getting better, however he could only talk for a while before he need a nap. So in between naps we talked about school, plans for work and little bit about his past work experience. It was nice hearing the stories from his days of working and the way he told them made it even better.

We left mid morning and headed west toward the gulf coast to see the Sunshine Skyway! I was told it was an amazing bridge. I had no clue it was like this...

We rode up the gulf coast for a while heading north. As we did, we saw some amazing houses, hotels and boats!

We pulled over to have a quick look at the map in a drug store parking lot. One of the locals saw us and asked us where we were heading. After telling him the direction we wanted to go, he said we were right on track, we just needed to turn at the big pink hotel. We had no idea...

As we started working out way off the coast we noticed that it looked like we might get wet...

Then it got worse...
And worse...
Eventually we found the rain. We tried to move around it, but we could only do so much. We ended up riding over 150 miles in some of the hardest down pours I have ever seen. Some where north of Gainesville Florida we had enough and pulled over and got a room.

The rain was so hard that it was becoming difficult to see very far ahead. Cars were pulling off the highway and waiting it out. The logical thing to do would have been to pull off and join them, however that would have made way too much since. Besides, it was too much fun riding past them still running at a good pace. The best part was honking the horn when passing a group of H.D.'s sitting under bridge...

I know this sounds nuts, but the bikes were doing great. The tires that we have on the bikes are Pilot Road 2's and they have excellent wet weather grip. I mean these things were throwing the water back away from the bikes! The only time the water was really noticed (tire wise) was when we changed lines and crossed a grove that was holding a substantial amount of water.

Once at the hotel, we unloaded the bags and spread everything out. The hair dryers were working over time on the boots and the heat in the room was set as high as it would go. The maps were put across the beds and we kept the dolly in the room to hang gear and bags on to dry them out! When we came back from dinner our room was a steam room that smelt of wet

I don't know why, but that was the only dry bit of clothing on me!

The next day we loaded up our gear, which was dry and headed home. We ended up just going ahead and taking the highway home due to the weather that was rolling in. The whole way home we were in and out of our rain gear as the clouds would open up on us for a few miles, and then let up. Fortunately we made home with out getting soaked. I can't recall what the total mileage was for the trip, but it was close to 2,000 miles I believe.

It was a good trip, rather long with alot of straight roads, but it was good to get down and see Granddaddy and spend some time on the road with Dad.

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