Florida 2022

Howdy Folks! I may have mentioned in a previous post that I neglected to share an entire road trip to Florida that I took last Spring. It’s true. And now that the Winter months are here and there is very little riding going on, I figure it’s time to post that Florida trip.

Last March there was a freak warm spell. I took this weather anomaly as an opportunity to break through to the South where it would stay warm until I returned. This warm weather window would only last a couple days before the cold winter winds brought back normal temperatures, so there was little time to plan. I threw together my gear and over-packed as I usually do. With no real plan in place, I figured I needed everything!

I hopped on I-95 and headed south. The real goal was to escape the cold quickly, so Interstate travel was necessary.

I veered off in Delaware for a short while thinking I might take the Bay Bridge across the Chesapeake but hopped back on 95 before the land masses split on either side of the bay. My brother lives in Maryland but I continued down into Virginia beyond Richmond before shacking up for the night. I pulled into a gas station and whipped out the Bookings app. They had been the go-to business for me when I needed a room for the night. That was about to change. I checked the app with the setting for Hotels ‘near me’. I checked the map and booked the hotel directly across the street from the gas station where I was standing. It was dark now and I had been riding the interstate all day. I was tired. I hit “book it” on the travel app and thought I was all set. I plugged the shown address into Google maps to find out the hotel was over 100 miles away. 100 MILES AWAY! Bookings had the right map but the wrong hotel. I tried to cancel it but it was too late. Couldn’t contact anyone. I had to book a room at the actual hotel across the street in person. I called Bookings for weeks thereafter trying to resolve the matter. I even spoke to the hotel (where I didn’t stay 100 miles away) and they were ready to resolve the issue with Booking.com. Booking.com however never admitted to their fault and said they could never contact the hotel. I hate bitching here on the blog, but Fuck Booking.com! I will never use their service again. And now I can tell you, it’s almost a year later and I still haven’t. Done. Enough venting! On with the show.

The next day, I was through with Interstate travel. It was small highways from now on. I headed west toward Chapel Hill, NC. There were some murals there that I wanted to see. The first one is Greg Mike. I like his work. His murals are usually more cartoony. Some of his work reminds me of old black-and-white cartoons brought back to life with vivid colors and interesting alterations.

This lovely lady below is the recently passed Betty Davis. She was bad ass! Listen to her! She sings her funky tunes with so much passion and sexuality that you can’t help feeling a little dirty just from listening.

This last one above is a Don Rimx mural. I really like his work. A print of his hangs above my TV at home.

I went to college at the University of Maryland when they were still in the ACC. Being here in North Carolina between Duke and UNC was once enemy territory. Now MD no longer competes with them, having switched to the Big Ten, but still…Puke on Duke! I’m outta here!

I continued west to see an ancient Indian Mound site. This is Town Creek Indian Mound, near Mount Gilead, NC. There is a platform mound with a hut atop, rebuilt in the style of the original Pee Dee tribe of the Mississippian Culture. This site would have been occupied from about 1150-1400.

One of the structures is atop a mound.

It was cool to see the exposed insides and understand how they were made with the sticks woven around posts to create the wall.

It was considerably cooler inside these roofed structures.

I thought I would go due south from the mound site but most viable roads ran diagonally east. This direction pointed me right back toward South of the Border. I figured what the heck. I can get a cheap room there.

Here I am again. I stayed here in April 2021 on my way to Florida. It’s a shithole but somehow provides me comfort. The room is large that’s for sure!

This time I arrived early enough to get some decent grub. There is a BBQ joint next to the Motel. Last time I was here it was late and all the food places were closed. Pedro says, No Bueno.

A cropping of the handicapped parking designation harkens to the conflict in Ukraine.

Parked beneath the water tower, Bonnie is ready to go. As the band, Nazareth says, now your messin’ with a…

I would stay to the west of I95. Last year I hugged the coast as I went down to Florida. Now I would take some lonely roads as I made my way through South Carolina and Georgia.

I got to Statesboro, but I have left the blues far behind me.

I ended up at a cheap motel in Georgia with a mock Russian tank outside. It’s a bizarre compliment to my Ukrainian colored parking lot shot at South of the Border the night before.

The first town I approached after crossing the Florida state line had a small school to my right. There was a sign above the arched entrance to the school. It read: CHOOSE AND RETAIN NOBLE IDEALS. I like that.

Once I crossed that state line there was no stopping. I was going to make it all the way to my dad’s place in Pompano Beach. It was a long day of riding but I made it there. It was strange to be in this tropical place. Usually, I am experiencing the end of a cold Winter in New York. Those freakish 2 days of warmth gave me the window to head South. Now I would have to linger a bit in Florida until things get warmer up north before I can ride home. I don’t think I will have a problem staying for a while.

To wake up in Florida…very interesting. That’s a “Laugh-In” reference to go with the photo below (for all you youngins out there).

My dad had a car I could use for much of my time down in Florida, so a lot of my travel in Southern Florida would be via 4 wheels. My first stop would be the Wakodahatchee Wetlands to see some of Florida’s crazy fauna.

If you enjoy watching wildlife this is a great location. I had never been here this time of year. It’s nesting season. When I got here last Spring most eggs had already hatched.

It’s not just birds that you will find here. I have seen all kinds of creatures.

I thought this was a poisonous Water Moccasin or Cottonmouth. After posting a photo on social media, someone let me know that is a commonly mistaken identification. It is actually a harmless brown water snake

These storks get slapped with the ugly stick from jump street.

The egret chicks are much cuter.

This little guy was fearlessly climbing around. A man passing by said it was an invasive species, common in Cuba. It may even have Cuban in its name.

This red-winged blackbird was holding its ground.

While dad was taking this shot some lady started yelling that we were bothering the bird and we should move. I shooed her away before dad even noticed her.

This heron had beautiful blue eggs.

This was the first time I had seen one of these Roseate Spoonbills. Florida has some freaky animals!

This Red Headed Woodpecker and spider were at a nearby park.

Entering dad’s place, we thought our nature trip was over. Then dad called out from the bathroom. Whoa! This snake was aggressive. My dad grabbed a towel, threw it over him, and brought him out the side door. Impressive! Once outside this snake stood his ground for a while. This is a black racer. They are known to be aggressive and very territorial. I was impressed with dad’s quick reaction dealing with this speedster.

After a solid dose of Florida Fauna, here is a dose of some of Florida’s flora.

Throughout the community where my dad lives are orchids. They are everywhere.

It’s not just orchids. There are many blooming bushes and trees of all kinds, many of which are labeled with their names.

There are many types of fauna and flora down in Florida but now there is a new invasive species here that I only eluded to during my summer travels. I am talking about Carnivorousflora. This is the name of a new body of work I have been focusing on over the past year or so.

Since I retired from teaching I have gotten back into my artwork with vigor unseen since the early 90s. That’s when I began teaching. I really thought teaching would be a temporary job and that I would keep hustling as a NY artist.

I ended up falling in love with teaching. I worked for District 75, a special city-wide district that focuses on students with special needs. Within a short time, I became the permanent art teacher for a school in Manhattan. Teaching became all-consuming. I continued to refine my skills as an artist but focused on creating projects for my students instead of developing my own work.

It was just before the Summer trip of 2021 that an idea popped into my head. It originated as an idea for a character. A walking-talking carnivorous plant. Different than the one you might see in Little Shop of Horrors. On mine, each petal had its own mouth with teeth and tongues. Essentially one source with multiple personalities. I quickly sketched it out before taking off for my Route 66 journey.

That pencil sketch stayed in my head and haunted me throughout the summer. It was a distraction as I rode along. A pleasant distraction as I developed it in my mind’s wanderings.

When I returned from that journey, I got to work. I began sketching it out. My character lost its legs and arms and I focused on the flower itself. I became engrossed in this design reflecting on natural patterns with my original idea of petals as mouths. Since then, I have created an entire body of work focused on these carnivorous species. In these photos, I am showing you some wheat pasting and stickers that I slapped up while in Miami. I have also been painting many canvases and 5 outdoor murals back in New York this year.

I even adopted a name for the body of work and for myself as I pursue this endeavor. Canivorousflora. You can follow me and this body of work on Instagram @carnivorousflora

Another headlamp blew out on my way down to Florida. That is the third one since I got this bike. It’s a simple fix but it doesn’t seem right to burn out so often.

I also decided to take my bike in for servicing while I was down here. It was long overdue and there was a Triumph dealer a couple miles from my dad’s place.

I passed Mickey’s Tiki Bar as I walked back from the Triumph dealer. It always feels a little odd walking down the highway holding my helmet after I drop off my bike.

Not to be mistaken with Mickey’s Tiki Bar (above), Boardroom Bar (below) is an excellent establishment in North Fort Lauderdale.

Here you can always find interesting people, usually a dog or two, and the owner Dave is a super nice guy. This is his ’58 Cadillac below.

Many classic cars visit the parking lot in front of the Boardroom. On Saturdays, it’s a guarantee.

Boardroom also allows customers to order food from other local restaurants and eat at the bar. There is a great taco place on the left and an excellent BBQ joint to its right.

The nearby Pompano Beach Pier is a popular fishing spot. It’s shark on the menu this evening.

After the pier, I hung out with some locals.

Wynwood Walls is a great neighborhood. It is a Mecca for street artists around the world! I came down in December for Art Basel which was a blast. It is rare to see this Ron English mural without parked cars or other obstructions.

The Museum of Graffiti has a tribute to Cornbread now. Cornbread is considered the originator of graffiti. He used to write his name all over Philadelphia when he was a kid. Cornbread was written on walls all over the city. He was getting older and slowing down with his writing pursuits when an article in the paper came out about a gang killing. A gang member named, Cornbread was shot and killed. The local papers ran with the story connecting this gang member with the infamous graffiti writer. When the original Cornbread read about this he had to let everybody know that he was indeed not dead. So Cornbread climbed the wall of the Philadelphia Zoo and stuck into the elephant enclosure. On the side of one of the elephants, in large letters, he sprayed “Cornbread Lives!”

The Dali is painted by Sipros. I watched him paint this back in December 2021.

After some good times with friends and family, it was time to say goodbye to Florida.

It was now getting warmer up north and it was time to hit the road. I picked up the bike from Triumph so she was in tip-top shape. Getting a late start leaving dad’s place, I rode toward the center of Florida, then North until the sun was getting low. I stopped at a Howard Johnson hotel for the night. I didn’t even know they still had Howard Johnson. If you happen to stay here, don’t order the pizza.

I continued to travel up two-lane highways as I crossed into Georgia.

Kite, Georgia had a recent tornado. It wasn’t too bad but there was a truck going from house to house picking up everybody’s debris. These buildings below looked like this before the tornado.

Bartow, Georgia was pretty much a well-kept ghost town.

I passed a few more old service stations as I headed North into the Carolinas.

I took a short pause at the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in South Carolina and continued my cruise north.

If you look inside this car, you may see a familiar gang of people. It’s the folks from Mayberry on the Andy Griffith show. I am in Mt.Airy, North Carolina. It was home to Andy Griffith and the town his show was based on.

Below is (the would-be) Floyd’s Barbershop.

Unfortunately, Snappy Lunch was closed. They are known for their pork chop sandwich.

I was hoping to pitch my tent at a nearby campsite before dark.

I was headed to a place I know well, Willville. It’s a biker-only campground just off the Blue Ridge Parkway across the Virginia border. When I arrived at Willville it seemed strangely quiet. Every time I have been here before there were numerous bikers gathered around telling their stories of the road. This evening… not a peep. I decided to knock on the door of Will’s house. He came to the door. Poor old will just had two teeth pulled. Not only that, the campground didn’t open until the following week. I forgot how early in the season it was. Will was kind and said I could pitch my tent free of charge. I still left my fee in the coffee can before I split the next day.

I have written about Willville before. It is a great stop if you are in the area. Pitching the tent by a babbling brook makes for a great night’s sleep.

On my way out I spoke to a friend of Will’s who was helping him open the place up for the season. He was staying in this trailer. I think his name was John.

Below is the obligatory Mabry Hill photo. I have passed it many times but it is always worth a stop.

It made sense to take the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was now North of the higher mountains where it was colder but still high enough for a pleasant view. I met a nice couple at this pull-off, riding this vintage BMW.

Getting closer to home, the cherry blossoms were beginning to pop.

Dinosaurland seems like a relic of the past but carloads of kids were leaving when I took this shot.

This farmhouse known as Kennedy’s Farm was a headquarters for John Brown before his raid at Harpers Ferry.

Out in front, I was preparing a route north when this guy on an old dirt bike passed by. He ended up making a U-turn to see if I was alright. He told me that his bike had broken down at that exact spot a couple months before and thought I might need help. Very nice, and cool old bike.

The man on the dirt bike recommended a twisty shortcut to Route 17.

On the way, I passed some ruins at Gathland State Park in Maryland.

There are touches of historic relics and architecture scattered along the small roads of Western Maryland.

Before riding back to NYC, I had one more stop to make. I wanted to visit my old college roommate Adam.

I parked Bonnie in Adam’s garage and stayed the night. It was great to see him and his wife Karen.

After a good visit with an old friend, it seemed appropriate to take this old road homeward as the stage coaches once did. And that’s all folks. This was my first and hopefully last “delayed” post. Looking forward to the next journey.

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