I got up early and had coffee and more conversation with Julie, then loaded the couple bags I had removed from the Bonnie the afternoon before and headed back on to the road, but securing a promise from Julie that she'd come down sometime soon to visit us in Florida.
I hated riding on Interstates and especially I-75, the big highway that cut down the middle fo the Florida peninsula, so I headed east into Valdosta and caught US 41 instead, which ran through the countryside toward Jasper in the extreme northern part of Florida. There 41 intersected US 129, the same road that eventually climbed its way up to the Smokies and would become the Tail of the Dragon as it twisted and turned its way into Tennessee miles north of where I was. In north Florida the highway rolled south, crossed I-75 and transited the quiet countryside where only tiny towns occasionally sat at crossroads and lumber trucks filled with the trunk of southern yellow pine were about he only other traffic. US 129 ended at Chiefland. I got off south of Trenton, and cut diagonally across to US 27 Alt, the same route I had followed the day before in Georgia, and continued southeast to get back on US 41 at Williston.
From Williston to about Citrus Springs there was only one town of any size, Dunellon, and little traffic. I only had to deal with the traffic from Citrus Springs for a little way south, because I turned off at Floral City and headed back into the uncrowded Florida countryside on FL 48.
I was on home turf now, having ridden the area many times before on weekend rides and as I transited the state on my way to other states on long distance trips. 48 took me to Bushnell, where I shot underneath I-75. From Bushnell I rode east on County Road 476, crossed FL 471, continued on CR 567, a tree lined narrow road with several tight turns in it and which deposited me and my Bonnie back on 48 for the run into little Center Hill. There CR 469 carried me to FL 50 which ran east through the twin cities of Mascotte and Groveland at the north edge of the Green Swamp.
Passing Groveland I turned south on FL 33 that ran north to south through the heart of the swamp. Two-thirds of the way toward Polk City, I turned east on Deen Still Road and within a few miles turned south onto Old Grade Road. After Old Grade crossed over I-4, I was really close to home and turned east onto Old Polk City Road, which would its way southeast to Haines City and US 27, the north-south route that passes Lake Wales on its way to Miami.
Turning south on US 27 I only took it south as far as Dundee Road where I turned left and passed through the small town and onto FL 17, also known as US 27 Alt or Scenic Highway. 17 took me all the way in to my neighborhood where I turned down the hill and past Spook Hill Elementary School, where my kids had gone, around the corner onto North Wales Drive, around a couple curves past little dried up North Lake Wales, and into my driveway.
Backing the bike into the garage I took the final mileage. I had ridden 7,635.8 miles altogether on this second “mental health” ride. My route had taken me through some of the most beautiful areas in North America and across seventeen states and four provinces, thirteen of which I had never traveled through by motorcycle. Had visited three national parks in the US and one in Canada and uncounted national forests in both countries. But best of all, and as I had learned before, I got to meet some of the most interesting, friendly, gracious, and generous people I had ever known. Homes were opened wide to me and meals were offered numerous times. And most of all, my stress had disappeared and my faith in people was renewed again. Even my blood pressure responded to the relief the ride had brought and was down to the normal range when I got home.
Time will bring more pressures and stress, I am sure, but more mental health rides are only time and planning away.
Expenses on this ride
$458.84 for fuel
$440.00 in cash spent, usually for food and incidentals
$62.46 on debit card for food
$$118.31 for lodging, including one night's motel stay in Arkansas
TOTAL SPENT $1079.61 (about 14 cents a mile, or $53.98 per day)
And finally, to return the favor to other ADVRider inmates, we offer our fenced back yard as a place to pitch your tent, recharge your stuff, use our WiFi, and share stories. One added addition in July 2017 is the addition of a camper for you to stay in (not shown on our lot).