Yeah, I talked out of school!


A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician


Read on, my man!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx





A Plate of Alligator, a Glass of Beer and Daytona Beach


The mercury lamps  cast an other-worldly glow down on the truck and trailer.   Shadows ran back from the vehicles, pools of jet on the snow which crackled and  squeaked as I walked across the yard.  Ten PM on a friday night is one hell of a time to start a long road trip.   That is what I was thinking.  Our breath trailed large clouds of vapor as we gave all the tie-downs one last tug, then went into the house for a cup of coffee and to say our goodbyes.

Christmas day 1992  was when the plan had been formed.  Dan, Chris and I had finished our Christmas dinner and were standing about in the kitchen barefoot,  getting in the way of the women-folk and discussing how far in the future riding season was.  I canÕt remember which one of we three desperados came up with the scheme of heading south, way south, to Daytona, but  as I walked back from the truck and trailer to the house for that coffee, I didn't know whether to thank him or do him bodily harm.

I had been up since six o'clock that morning and had had a tumultuous day.  Two weeks before the intended departure date I had found another job and was taking Bike Week as my vacation before starting the new job.  This day was my last day  on the old job and, as such, was a bit trying.  I was tired.  As we sat in the kitchen, I thought to myself that I would get some sleep in the truck before taking my turn at the wheel.  When we got up from the table, Dan pulled me aside and told me that Chris had hurt his back at work two days before and was taking some powerful muscle relaxers.  On no account was he going to let Chris drive.  Well, that was that, it would be Dan and I, non-stop, from Amsterdam, New York to Daytona Beach, Florida.  With a tail wind, we figured on twenty four hours.

The truck we were using was a Chevy Silverado 1500 with the stretch cab and extended bed.  In the best of conditions we aren't talking a tight turning radius here, folks.  Up in the bed were Dan's Softail and Chris' Lowrider.  Behind the truck was a two-bike trailer with my Ninja, swaddled in a very tight and  heavily strapped bike cover.  I hoped my bike would make it in one piece, all by itself way back there, so vulnerable.

I got in the back seat, in among the blankets and duffel bags, ostensibly to sleep. The excitement level was high and physically tangible as we turned out of the driveway, on our way at last.  It seemed incredible to me.  I couldn't believe we were actually going to Daytona.  Daytona, the Mecca of Motorcycling.

If half the stories I had heard were true, this was going to be something beyond the ordinary, that's for sure -- the  first race of the Superbike season, Motocross, the vintage bike auctions, the swap-meet, and Main Street -- MAIN STREET!

We took the New York State Thruway south from Schenectady, passing through the Catskill and Mid-Hudson regions. A little over two hours into the trip, we turned south-west on Route 17 and headed into New Jersey on an intercept course with I-95.  I was beginning to wish for sleep.  I was too tired to stay awake and too hyper to close my eyes.  Snow still blanketed the sides of the road as we sped through the night.  At one point, we saw the Manhattan Skyline to our left. I was  surprised that the lights of the World Trade Center were all lit.  A terrorist bomb had done severe damage there earlier that day.

We passed the turn-offs for the tunnels to Manhattan and the ramps leading to the Meadowlands Sports Complex.  From here on  we were passing my southernmost cruising boundaries.  I got a good idea of how an ancient seafarer crossing into the blank area on the map emblazoned with the words 'There Be Dragons' might have felt.  A rest area in South Jersey was our first coffee stop.  It was about three in the morning.  Coming in from the cold  darkness into the brightly lit Food Court lent an air of surrealism to the mood.  Here we were in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, with a squadron of pimply high-schoolers peddling coffee, donuts and prefabricated burgers in a fake brick, neon and chromium monstrosity by the wayside.  I guess it was fatigue, but it sure seemed weird!  There was a machine there in which I pressed a penny into a valentine.   My wife still carries that penny in her purse.  It was at this point in the trip that we saw the first of the many other trucks pulling trailers of bikes.   I realized that we really were  going to Daytona.  Here were other folks doing it too!  The sheer anticipatory excitement did more for me than all the caffeine on the planet could have

At about four, Dan pulled over and we switched seats.  He was feeling the strain, and I was more familiar with the roads around Washington D.C.  Chris stayed awake with me.  Snow was falling lightly as we crossed from Maryland into D.C.  After paying a toll, I stopped just to give our load a quick check.  As I was tugging tie-downs, another truck loaded with bikes swung onto the shoulder in front of us.  "You guys OK? Need a hand or anything?"   I thanked them telling them we were just taking preventative maintenance steps.   This was the first of many positive things that were to happen on this trip.   A few miles down the road, the same truck was stopped at the side of the road.  Someone was putting gas from a jerry can into a another truck which had apparently run dry, our Samaritans had stopped for some other bikers.  I came home with a much more positive feeling about the future of motorcycling and a deeper respect for the people involved.

As we drove around and through, over and under D.C., Chris and I both began to take notice of a white Mustang which kept zipping past us every few minutes.  Our mirth increased each time it flew by.  We were joking  to ourselves that the driver was probably a drug courier  stopping just off the various exit ramps to do business then rushing to his next appointment.  Just before we crossed into Virginia proper, we saw the white Mustang  pinned  in a ring of search lights, surrounded by police cars.  He must have been up to something pretty major.  Either that or those Virginia boys take a very dim view of speeders.

"Severe Winter Storm Warnings in Virginia."  Not the kind of statement you want to here on the radio.  The sun was beginning to turn the eastern skies gray  while a  spattering of fat snowflakes melted on the windshield.  Wipers were barely required.  Dan was awake again and behind the wheel.  I had barely done three hours.  Dan can sleep anywhere fork even the shortest amounts of time and awake refreshed.  I guess that comes with working third shift for the better part of twenty years.  Anyway, we kept waiting for this severe winter storm to materialize and impede our progress.  By eight thirty we were about a third of the way through Virginia.

Dan had told us that Virginia always seemed to last for most of the trip when you drive to Florida -- and it did.  The snow covered the roadside but the pavement was merely wet. The air outside felt warmer than it had in Jersey.   We stopped at a McDonald's somewhere about midway through the state.  The girl behind the counter was amazed that we had come so far in the blizzard!  We were amazed at what they call a blizzard in those parts.  Nothing ever really came of it, and our travel time was not affected.

It's amazing how everyone can eat at the same time, but the inevitable results are never similarly synchronized.   The trip through the southernmost portion of Virginia will always be remembered as The Quest for a Clean Restroom.

You can tell when you've reached the Virginia/North Carolina border.  Those South of the Border  'Pedro' signs start making their presence felt.  For those who have never traveled I-95, South of the Border was at one time a diner/truck-stop.  The owners must have figured that as long as they had people stopping to eat, they could probably sell them other things as well.  Now there are fireworks stands, a leather store, a Mexican fast food cafeteria, gas station, car wash and probably a dozen other small enterprises.  They all do business under the title 'South of the Border' as this entreprenurial hodgepodge lies just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina border.  Just about as soon as you get from Virginia into North Carolina, you begin to see a large billboard 'Only 275 more miles to South of the Border'.   A few miles later there is a slightly more elaborate billboard with something like "Pedro Sez, You have to stop at South of the Border" or some other nonsense of that sort.  These signs must have cost and continue to cost 'Pedro' a small fortune. They cover both Carolinas so you get them coming and going.  They get more and more elaborate  with moving parts and disco lights until you get to South of the Border.   At this point, you're so damn curious you just have to stop

We were really starting to move now.  Traffic on 95 doesnÕt usually travel at much below seventy-five, we stepped out upwards of eighty at times.  We reached South of the Border at about eleven.   I realized I'd been up over twenty four hours.  The boys decided to have foot long hot dogs with chile.  After the Quest in Virginia, I didn't think this was all that spiffy an idea.  I had a plain burger.  My bike had not wanted to start when it was on the trailer in Amsterdam.  After checking the tie-downs for the thousandth time, I got under the cover, stuck the key in and tried to start her.  I figured now that it was fifty degrees, she might at least crank.   No dice.  We resisted the urge to climb the tower topped by a  big sombrero  and instead peeked in one or two of the leather shops and jewelry boutiques.   Our cash supplies intact, we resumed our southern journey.

I drove through much of South Carolina, stopping only when the tooth picks holding my eyes open were in serious need of a break.  About mid-afternoon we stopped at a fast-food place in Georgia.

  I think it was a Bob's Big Boy.  The waitress took one look at us and said "YaÕll must be headed for Daytona.  How many days you been on the road?"   Yeah, I guess we looked that bad.  She was kind enough to supply us with large cups of ice water as well as coffee.  People can be great.

I don't know what it is about Savannah, but you can definitely of smell it before you get there.  They must have some kind of large chemical industry close to I-95.  This is a shame because I've been through Georgia, it's a beautiful state.   Until we passed Savannah, it was windows up, AC on.

After what felt like an eternity in the truck, we saw the sign we'd  anticipated for the past few hours. ÒWelcome to Florida.Ó  We were still over 100 miles from Jacksonville, which is ninety some-odd miles from Daytona Beach, yet another 85 miles to Melbourne, where we were staying with Dan's in-laws Tom and Betty.  We saw the sun set as we passed through the city of Jacksonville.  I couldnÕt get over how metropolitan it looked.   Born and raised in New York City, I have the attitude that everything outside Manhattan is quaint and rural.  Large office buildings and urban sprawl in a tropical paradise, now that was something to see!

From here on the trip became physically painful for me.  IÕm not much good past thirty six hours and my limited was approaching.  My spirits lifted for a few miles when we passed the Daytona Beach exit ramp.  We had made it.   I felt as if we were traveling  through a long, straight black tunnel punctuated by half-reconstructed overpasses whose bone-jarring unevenness threatened to throw my bike from the trailer.  At long last the Melbourne exit sign came into view.  Now for some food and a night's sleep!

We traveled through a maze of local streets that Dan was attempting to navigate from memories of a vacation years before.   After driving through miles of quiet residential streets, we crossed some railroad tracks and found ourselves in a development of one story stone houses with little fat palm trees out front and carports at the side.   We pulled up  in front of a particularly well kept house.  ÒHere we areÓ  Dan said.    When he shut off the motor, it signaled that a great obstacle had been overcome.  The sheer relief of knowing the trip was over gave us a second wind.

The warm, soft breeze that played among the palm fronds made me smile thinking of the changes in climate weÕd experienced.  We had begun our journey wrapped in parkas and wearing thinsulate lined pants.  The heat in the truck had been blasting.  Eight hours in, we had cast off all the layers down to tee shirts but had  kept the heat going.  Soon the heat was off. Then the windows opened.  By the time we hit Jacksonville, the windows were back up and the AC on.  Winter had been left behind and motorcycle season had just officially opened!

The truck was left fully loaded as we headed into Tom and Betty's house.  TheyÕd waited diner for us.  Here it was almost nine thirty.  That is the kind of people they are.  We stuffed ourselves with delicious lasagna and got the road noise out of our ears.   We three bikers were going to camp on the sun porch.  The cots were quickly removed from the bed of the pickup where they had been carefully packed between the Harleys.  With the personal gear removed from the truck, it was time to decant the bikes.  We unhitched the trailer and pushed it, bike and all, up onto the lawn.  From here I would be on my own while Chris and Dan got their rides back onto terra firma.    

When I had my bike on the pavement, I once again turned the key and hit the button.  Not even a click.  I was about to beg for a jump when I noticed the kill switch pushed to the 'STOP' position!  No wonder she wouldn't start.  Needless to say, the machine was sitting on her centerstand idling merrily within the next few moments.  Meanwhile, Chris and Dan had managed to get their bikes down from the truck.  Both those guys have, shall I say, somewhat less than politically acceptable exhaust systems?   The peace of the night was shattered by the sound of two of Milwaukee's finest singing through open pipes.  I, less bucket, screamed up to the corner and back.  Not to be out-done, Dan prepared to go once around the block.   He went tearing up to the corner, pulled a quick U-turn and coasted back, engine off, to where we were standing.  ÒJust as I was getting up to the corner, I saw a lot of reflective stripes through the bushes over there.  I'm sure it's the law.Ó  Chris and I walked up to the corner and saw what Dan saw, one of Melbourne's boys in blue in his RMP.  Someone had obviously called due to the racket and he was sitting there just waiting for an infraction to occur.  The bikes went into the back yard  for the night.  The sleeping bag never felt quite as good as it did to me when I crawled into it a few minutes later.


In the night I drifted close to consciousness  disturbed by  a strange rhythmic sound something like pffft - pffft - pffft - pffft.  It lulled me back to sleep.

I awoke at seven thirty that next morning.  Dan was gone, Chris snored  across from me.  I could hear Dan's voice from somewhere in the house.  I was sore from head to toe and did not want to get up.   ÒHarry, there's coffee in here."Yeah, bro, I'm on my way."   I promptly rolled over and dozed off.  When I awoke, Chris was nowhere to be seen.  I dragged myself in through the sliding doors to the kitchen.  Tom offered us eggs and bacon but our policy for this week was for us to be as little inconvenience as possible.

Dan and Chris informed me that during the night the sprinkler system had come on.  The system is automatic.  Every other day the sprinklers run from three in the morning till about five.  Now this wouldn't have been so bad, our bikes were dirty from the trip down anyway but it seems that, in this part of Florida at least, the water has a high concentration of sulfur.  Dan christened it "Fart Water", our bikes had been baptized.

My fairing saved me from total 'Fart Water' inundation.  The Harleys fared worse, especially  Dan's as it was parked right over a sprinkler head.  A good toweling set me to rights.  The boys decided they'd need the pressure hose at the local wash-it-yourself car wash.  Even though I was still feeling stiff and kind of out of it, the ride to the car wash was terrific.  I hadnÕt been on my bike since a very cold and brief outing during the previous November.  Here it was March first and I was out riding!  Dan and Chris seemed to be having  just as good a time, regardless of the aroma emanating from their rides.

The sign at the car wash 'We Use Only Well Water' should have clued us all in, but in an instant the two Harleys received a second massive dose of 'Fart Water'.   You can imagine the reaction the boys  had.  We dragged our tails back to Tom and Betty's place where we were met with much mirth.  The two Harleys were duly cleaned with  potable water from the house.  After we had returned home from Florida, I discovered  signs of very recent corrosion on many aluminum fittings on my bike.  I attribute this to the first-night inundation.

Finally we mounted up for the eighty mile jaunt up to Daytona Beach.  We swung out onto I-95 once again, but this time pointed north.   The sunlight was bright enough to make me glad I'd packed my smoked face shield.  I-95 is arrow-straight through Melbourne up to Daytona.  We passed the exits for  Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral and the junction with the route to Orlando.  From I-95 you can just barely make out the large Vehicle Assembly building out on the Cape.'

Dan was road captain, Chris and I were staggered in the same lane behind.  Now Dan is famous for his on-board hijinx used to relieve long, straight road boredom.  Therefore when Dan started weaving the back end of his bike and making all sorts of interesting hand motions, we figured he was having some fun with us,  although we couldn't quite interpret his intentions.  His right turn flashers came on and he pulled off the exit ramp for New Smyrna Beach.  We stopped at the side of the ramp,  Dan's  rear tire  flapping on the rim.   Finally Chris and I understood the shimmying and gyrations we'd witnessed!

Fortunately there is a combination gas station/truck stop/convenience store at the very end of the exit ramp we found ourselves on.  Dan limped his bike into the parking lot.  I thought maybe a can of puncture sealant and inflator might get us rolling again.  I trotted on into the convenience store and quickly tracked down the necessary purchase.  Between the swing arm, brake, assorted do-dads and jim cracks there was basically no room to put the nozzle from the can squarely on the valve.  We wound up dumping a good quantity of sticky white foam on Dan's rear wheel and the parking lot.

Chris and Dan formulated a plan.  They'd both ride back down to Melbourne on Chris' Lowrider while I babysat the now VERY Softail.  No one wanted to ride back to Melbourne on the back of my bike -- too uncomfortable.  They'd  then come back up with the truck, Chris' bike in the back.  We'd then load up the Softail and proceed up to  Daytona where someone would be bound to be selling tires for Harleys (so we thought) even though it was Sunday.

After about an hour of sitting in the parking lot, I decided a cold one might be appropriate, especially since it would be at least a few more hours before I'd actually be riding again.  I sat propped up against my bike,  soaking up sun and warmth, sucking down a brew.  Now that's living!  I didn't care that I was sitting in a parking lot.  A large self-propelled crane with at least ten wheels rolled in and stopped.  The gentleman driving it was in a hurry -- he was over the limit for driving time for the day.  He had come down from Pittsburgh non-stop!  He had time though, to  make some positive comments about  both bikes and say he wished he were scooting to Daytona.

Before I knew it, the boys returned, switched the bikes around and we were back on the pilgrimage.  At long last the magic moment arrived.  We followed the signs marked 'Daytona Beaches' and found ourselves motoring along Atlantic Avenue, a wide street paralleling the ocean lined with hotels and motels.  The parking lots all were overflowing with bikes.  Bikes of all shapes, sizes and denomination.  Crowds of people, mostly motorcyclists, walked between the machines, stopping to look at a cruiser or a race-replica.  It was obvious that everyone was there with unity of purpose -- to celebrate Spring, motorcycles and riding, and to party!

After passing more than a mile of hotels and thousands of bikes, we came to an intersection jammed with bikes, cars, bikes, trucks, bikes and pedestrians.  I thought this must be where the action was and I was right.  Turning left here would put us on the eastern end of Main Street.  Dan wanted desperately to find a tire for his bike but didn't think we'd have much luck in The Boot Hill Saloon or the Easyriders Outlet store or a tattoo parlor.  We motored straight past  Main Street  and pulled off into a vacant lot where we could sort ourselves out.  The Swap Meet seemed the only likely venue for tires.  Unfortunately, we knew not where it was located

Every once in a while I get a bright idea.  I saddled up and dashed over to the next motel.  In the office was a stack of little black booklets entitled "Biker's Pocket Guide to Daytona Bike Week '93".  Just what the doctor ordered.  It contained a schedule of events, as well as a somewhat informative map.  Well, the Swap Meet was listed as occurring at the Volusia County Fairgrounds.  A quick perusal of the map revealed an arrow pointing west past the Speedway indicating the fairgrounds were over past the page margin somewhere.  Armed with this information, we headed back towards Main Street to head west and out of town.

The first thing you notice when sitting in Bike Week traffic on Main Street is the incredible sound of thousands of open-piped and track-cannistered bikes all revving in close proximity between  the storefronts.  I wonder how the glass survives.  You can feel the sound.  It rattles your fillings, loosens your colon, whatever euphemism you care to use.  As hackneyed as these euphemisms may be, they make sense here.  We sat at and crawled up to one light for just a few seconds less than ten minutes, I know because I kept track.  I could not believe all the factories in the world  had possibly turned out this many motorcycles -- and that was just the Harleys!   When you sit in that jam and know there are still thousands of bikes  trying to get onto Main Street, all the bikes at the surrounding festivities,  and all the rest of the bikers in the United States that didn't come to Daytona, it's almost impossible to believe that we aren't the biggest sociopolitical group in the nation!

Dan was fine in his air conditioned haven.  My temp. gauge climbed almost into the red, the little electric fans fought valiantly keeping things as cool as could be hoped for.  Chris, sitting there blipping his throttle -- I could almost see the pistons swelling in his Hawg.  He changed his oil the next morning!

We finally broke free of the traffic as we left the city limits heading down 92 towards the Speedway.  Chris and I both tore ahead to get some air moving across our engines.  Dan caught up at the next light.  When we got to that spot on Route 92 that corresponded with the arrow in the margin in our booklet, (we didn't see any creases in the pavement though) we pulled into a gas station for directions.  The attendant there informed Dan that the fairgrounds were just a little bit past the Speedway.  Actually the turn-off for Route 4 is just past the Speedway.  From there it's a few miles to Route 44 and at that point you're close to the fairground.  The attendant was from out of town I guess.

The sun was low in the sky when we finally pulled into the near-deserted Volusia County Fairgrounds.  The red dust of the unpaved road swirled around my fairing as we came to a halt by the barricades.   If we had read the schedule, we would have known that the swap meet opened the following thursday!  With no tire and the sun rapidly sinking into the west, the only course of action was to grab dinner and head back down to Melbourne.

As the sun dipped below the line of the horizon, the temperature, which had been in the mid to upper sixties, began to fall.  On Route 44, just east of Pub 44, a famous biker's watering hole, we had spotted a upper-crusty type seafood restaurant.  We were itching to go to Pub 44, having heard many tales but figured we'd have the rest of the week for that.   The three of us figured after a long day with no real meals, it was time to feed ourselves.  Chris and I parked our rides under a huge palm tree, Dan backed the truck's tailboard up against a retaining wall.

We enjoyed a sumptuous dinner washed down with a round of cold beers and felt quite relaxed and ready for bed as we walked out into the parking lot for our ninety mile ride back to Melbourne.  I was wearing full racing leathers with a tee shirt underneath.  The venting which had been barely adequate on warm days now admitted large quantities of the forty degree night air.  I was one unhappy camper.  Chris  was none too happy with the current conditions either.  Dan took a look at the truck and sort of wistfully said "Geez, I wish I didn't have to be driving the truck, I miss riding."  Chris, always ready to help a bro, offered Dan his ride.  Not to be outdone in the magnanimity competition, I  suggested that I'd load my bike in the pickup and keep Chris company.  What a bunch of guys!

Chris' bike was almost out of gas,  so Dan stopped before we got on I-95 to tank up.  I was driving the truck and figured Dan would catch us soon enough  even if I jumped on 95 and didn't wait for him to gas up.  Traffic was moving in the seventy-five to eighty range and we were keeping up.  Some guy with his lady riding pillion passed us like we were standing still.  They were both clothed for the beach -- tee shirts and those loose cotton pants -- rather than the arctic, so I understood their haste.  At one point, Chris and I heard a baritone roar approaching from behind us.  We both looked left as Dan passed us on Chris' bike.  "I never knew the thing was so damn loud!"  "Chris, take it from he who rides behind you all day long, it is."  We heard Dan long after his taillight dwindled down to nothing in the distance.

We stopped at the convenience store and gas station on Route 1 in Melbourne and picked up a twelve-pack for later.  We headed on back to Tom and Betty's place, got my bike down off the truck and devised a plan for the next day.


Monday morning dawned warm and inviting.  My sleeping bag was even more warm and inviting, though I woke more refreshed than I had the day before.  We pounded down some coffee and decided to cruise up A-1-A to a Kawasaki dealer.  Dan had called earlier while I slept and found that they did indeed have a tire that would fit his rear wheel nicely and would install it for a very decent price.  Dan swore us to secrecy that we'Õd never tell a soul he had his Harley fitted with a tire from a Kaw dealer!  At the dealership, Dan sat on a ZX-11 and decided that with Buck horn bars, it might not be that uncomfortable.  He liked the idea of 175 miles-per-hour as well.  The new Bridgestone in place, we began our trek up to Daytona.

It was great having all three of us on bikes again.  The trip was uneventful all the way up to just before a bar called "Squeeze In".  I was enthralled by all the tropical greenery, bikes and all the other tourist things to gawk at and , of course, wasn't paying any attention to where I was going.  At sixty I finally turned my head forward  only to see Dan stopped about three bike-lengths ahead of me with both feet firmly on the ground at a red light.  I grabbed a very big handful of front brake.  My front wheel began to chatter so I let loose a bit and stomped the rear brake,.  This was before I passed the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Experienced RiderCourse, you must understand.  I did a beautiful two-wheel slide right past Dan and  through the intersection.  Thank goodness for delayed green lights in Florida.  None of the vast sea of cross-traffic had begun to move as I did my slide.  I put my kickstand down and sat there for a minute shaking.  The riders coming from the other direction gave me a round of applause and a lame  "yeah" cheer.  I got off and bowed.  Boy did I feel like a loser!

We stopped about a mile up the road at a custom shop where we all bought tee shirts.  Half the fun of going to rallies and tours is gathering tee shirts, pins and patches!  I was particularly flattered when someone wandering among the beautiful chromed and customized Harleys parked out front stopped and checked out my Ninja for a few minutes.  "Does it really go that fast?"  "The speedo's a little optimistic", I answered.  "But, pretty close."  "Hey, your ride's really cool."  It's nice to meet open minded souls.   Just a few hundred yards past the custom shop is the 'Squeeze In'.  More of an open-air bazaar than just a bar, one parks on the grass and saunters onto the property where beer is sold, vendors hawk leather goods, jewelry and tee shirts.  Bands play during the evenings.  There is a central building among the tents that is more of a bar proper.  A large sign over the door warns that Colors and attitudes will not be allowed through.  Attitudes shouldn't be allowed anywhere but I don't like it when clubs are put down or made outcasts.  I can understand the paranoia though, as future events would highlight.  We had a good time at Squeeze In, but as Daytona was still a few miles up the road and we were riding,  didn't party  at the beer tent.

Just outside Daytona Easyriders Magazine had set up their rodeo grounds.  We noticed this as we passed by and had to pull a quick u-turn to further investigate.  None of the festivities had started although quite a few of the pull-trykes were getting a feel for the dirt.  Directly in front of the main building, a chrome framed chopper sat soaking up the Florida sun and the appreciative stares of many a bystander.  Its owner was fiddling with the rear brake lamp actuator switch.  Being above average in the mechanical inclination department, we went over to see if we could be of any assistance.  We were amazed to notice, upon a less chrome dazzled inspection that the bike had left the factory as a Honda 750-4.  The gent messing with the electrics was from Maine.  He'd had his bike trucked down and had flown down himself just the day before.  He was just about controlling his laughter over everyone making a fuss over his Jap chopper!  The switch had corroded beyond hope or help.  As its pedigree was unknown, he decided to just try a NAPA store to see if they'd have anything to fit.  As he pulled away, I thought to myself that his was one of the nicer rides I'd seen down here though even its owner had problems dealing with its oriental roots.  It didn't sound bad either through straight pipes.

About mid-afternoon found us once again crossing over into Daytona.  Chris found parking on Main Street (!) but Dan and I had to pay a couple of bucks to stick our machines in a small lot at the western end of the street, down by the water of the Halifax river.  One of our missions was to get tee shirts from the Boot Hill Saloon.

The sidewalks were packed with people.  Imagine  Christmas Eve at the Mall combined with Memorial Day at the beach, except, of course, with more people, and you can get a very sketchy idea of  the wall-to-wall humanity.  The curbs were lined with bikes parked tighter than I'd want to risk mine.  Can you imagine the  magnitude of the domino effect?  One bike goes over a mile up the street just as youÕre parking.  You stand on line for a tee shirt, grab a beer.  Just as you make it back to the curb a tidal wave of chrome washes over your pride and joy.

Dan and I made our way up to the Boot Hill Saloon.  People stood packed like sardines from the bar right back to the front door-frame.  Dan has about four inches and forty pounds on me.  He made it inside.  I just couldn't shoe horn my way.  I walked to the curb.  I spotted Chris on line to the little shop adjoining the saloon.  It's their outlet shop!   After about twenty minutes,  Chris disappeared into the shop.   Dan reemerged from the bar.  "Hey, I got to the bar, ordered us both beers, turned around and couldn't find you.  So I finished the beers, bought a shirt, and here I am!"

We continued up Main Street past the Trailer where you could have your bike photographed onto an Easyriders  Magazine cover.  We saw the purple Arlen Ness convertible bike parked there.  I couldn't get over how really low and long it is.   As we paused outside another of the many bars supplying beer to the troops, one  fellow staggered up to me with a broad grin on his face and a beer in his hand.  I was adorned with my  black AGV  racing leathers and black and white Bieffe competition boots.  He continued to sway and chuckle.  Finally noticing the bemused expression on my face, he pointed to me  "Darth Vader."  He laughed and turned back to the bar.

We crossed the street and headed towards the RevTech Dynamometer where someone's bike was singing sweet music to the late afternoon.  I wish a company would make even half as much performance parts and appearance goodies for my bike as they do for Harleys.  I guess that's one of the beauties  of  owning a Harley --there is a solid heritage of evolutionary  product line behind the machine rather than a continuously changing range of models.

On the way back down Main Street we walked into a store that was selling the usual pins, patches, leather goods and general motorcycling odds and ends.  As we browsed, we didn't noticed the small crowd of  men accumulating behind us.

In the Albany/Schenectady/Troy area there are swap meets held during the winter months at various armories.  At these gatherings, the Hell's Angels will usually have a booth selling shirts for their defense fund.  We usually buy one of the "Support the Third Street Crew" shirts while at the swap meets.  Dan had one on under his jacket as we strolled the streets of Daytona Beach.  As the day was warm, he had removed his jacket.  Little did we know when we entered this particular store that it operated under the auspices of The Outlaws.

As we were preparing to leave,  a very tall and powerfully built man stepped between Dan and the exit.  He must have stood six foot four or five.  He looked down on Dan who is six-two.  "Come over here", he said 'I want to have a word with you."  Not seeing any viable alternatives, Dan complied.  I followed.  "Hey, I wasn't talking to you, leave us alone."  I took about ten steps back  until his attention was directed towards Dan.  I looked around for Chris and kept a weather eye on Dan.  The man was talking quietly but intently.  Finally  I heard Dan say "we aren't looking for any trouble."  Chris had arrived and was watching from about the same distance I was.  I was closer to the door, he was further back inside the place.   Before any

At the time I did not know of The Outlaws and the ongoing feud between them and the Hell's Angels.  I later learned we were quite lucky to escape unscathed.  Now I understood why some of the local bars had a "No Colors" policy.  It's a shame that all of us within the motorcycling world can't present a more united front to the world-at-large and together fight the legislation and attitudes that would take away our freedoms.    I am a dreamer, but I'd like to see a perfectly  unified American motorcycling lobby.  Not one per centers, not wannabes, not citizens, just Americans with motorcycles.

A quick stop at the impressive Easyriders  Retail Outlet ended our day's activities.  The sun had set so we had one last beer, walked it off, and put the spectacle of Main Street behind us.

We stopped at a McDonald's outside of Daytona and grabbed a quick couple of Quarter Pounders.  Once again the temperature was dropping fast.  I had packed two sweatshirts in my tailbag which I now managed to get underneath my leathers.  We zipped up and headed back down Route 1.

About an hour or so into the ride, I began to really feel the cold.  My knees were knocking against the gas tank.  Just as my endurance was nearing its end, Dan signaled and pulled into a Seven-Eleven.  The thermometer on the bank across the street read forty two degrees.

Whenever we pull up to a store where there's only one clerk, it's late and we're dressed in black leather, I try to be as unintimidating as possible.  I imagine how the counter person must feel when a crowd of what he or she might perceive as ruffians waltz through the door.  Chris and I waited outside while Dan got us three coffees.

As we stood there warming our hands on the cups, a Titusville Police motorcycle pulled into the lot. The bike was a KZ1000 Kawasaki with all the sirens, lights and  police gear you could possibly fit on it.  It was the ultimate cop dresser. The officer aboard was a young guy and just as cold and uncomfortable as we were.  Having no real desire to get back to his patrol, and being that we all had common interests, we hung out for a good forty-five minutes talking.

Among the things we discussed: the vulnerability of a motorcycle-mounted police officer, how great it must be to get paid to ride, and, my favorite, police duty during Bike Week.  Throughout our entire trip  I saw lots of people doing things that, if I had been a cop, would have warranted at least a warning.  Only once did I see any police intervention with the bikers.  I mentioned this apparent lenience to this motor cop.  His reply as that the bikers only wanted to hang out, check out the bikes, the girls, drink too much beer and have a good time.  The college kids on Spring Break, now that's when the trouble happens!  They throw sofas from tenth floor balconies, break store windows, get into a world of trouble.  Bikers spend money with very little of the spent money going into repairs to businesses.  The college kids create unwanted overhead for these businesses.  I had to admit I saw his point, I had yet to see a motorcyclist busting up the place.

The clock on the bank blinked eleven forty-five and we still had a way to travel.  We reluctantly said goodbye to our new bro and continued our cold ride.  We still had most of a twelve pack waiting at home as well!


Tuesday morning.  When I awoke, I momentarily had that sick feeling that the vacation was slipping by a bit faster than I would care it to.  I broke out of the routine of sleeping past Dan's call for coffee and amazed him by rolling into the kitchen without the second call or the need for any vague threats.  Chris' bike was running a bit rich and had kept fouling her plugs during the junket yesterday.  Dan, our official Harley technician for this trip, started adjusting the carb.  As he squatted beside Chris' ride, a quick glance under his own bike revealed a leaking primary cover gasket.  You must remember, Harleys don't leak oil, they simply mark their spot.  Dan's had pretty much relieved itself completely.

There is a Harley dealer just north of Melbourne on Route 1.  They were sure to have the gasket.  Our plan just about formulated itself.  We would take today as an R & R day, get the bikes in order, and scoot down to Sebastian Inlet for a relaxing afternoon of fishing, shell hunting, whatever.   After twenty three hours of travel and two days running around Daytona, we needed a break.

June 1992, Chris tangled with a car turning right from the left lane.   Injuries resulting: his leg was broken and he developed quite respectable blisters walking through the Lake George Americade on crutches.  His bike had required the usual new handlebars, mirror, brake lever brake pedal -- you know the drill.  What he hadn't noticed was a damaged muffler bracket that chose just this moment to go west.  We found a welder in Melbourne who lightened Chris by fifteen dollars for two minutes of welding.  Who said you couldn't get taken outside the big city?  Onwards to the Harley dealer!

Dan's gasket was duly procured along with the obligatory tee shirts, he changed it at the side of the road.  I have many pictures of Dan working on the two Harleys on this trip.  Before you get the impression that these machines are unreliable, wear and tear and crash damage isn't exactly the bike's fault.  The lower mileage model of the two is also a veteran of over thirty thousand miles.  I wonder how well my little screamer will be doing when it's aged that far?

Taking A-1-A south from Melbourne led us over a very high and windy causeway spanning the Indian River at Indiatlantic.  The road turns right and continues arrow-straight down to Sebastian.  One travels past posh beachfront condos and villas and through some beautiful dune country.  I can only imagine what this area, only inches above sea-level must look like during a hurricane!  We crossed the causeway over Sebastian Inlet and found ourselves at the main gate of the recreational area.

A sign at the gate-house read "Welcome Bikers, Entrance Free to Motorcycles during Bike Week".  Almost everywhere we went, the Red Carpet had been rolled out for the motorcyclists.   Even four-wheeled motorists seemed to be bike-aware.   I could get used to this really quickly!

Dan went off to fish.  Chris wanted to hunt for shells.  I wanted to swim.  I had brought my bathing suit and went to change.  When I rejoined Chris by the water, I was amazed by the quantity of large Pelicans perched inches from the fishermen.  It seems the fishermen give scraps from their bait fish to the pelicans. The birds even sleep on the sand next to the footpaths.  I got into the water briefly.  It was way too cold to spend any real time swimming.   I was just as glad too, as it seems the fishermen were chumming for shark in the inlet.  We spent quite a while dodging the spray among the rocks of the jetty peering in cracks for interesting shells.  Sure they're all beat to hell but some have been eroded by the sand and water into interesting sculpture.

Under the causeway, there is a walkway.  Due to the fact that the inlet is navigable, the walkway doesn't extend all the way from shore to shore.  There is a break of about twenty five yards or so in the middle.  The waters whistle through the pilings of the causeway and I understand that only the biggest-engined boats can proceed against the tide.  I stood there for quite a while marveling at the variety and quantity of fish being hauled in with long broom handle-like poles and line with simple bobbers and hooks.

The afternoon was coming to a close, so we decided to beat the dropping thermometer back to Melbourne.  It was decided that we would stay local for the evening as well.

The three of us are quite the connoisseurs of fine foods.  On this particular trip we decided to satisfy this vice (gluttony) as often as we could.  I wonÕt bore anyone by listing the menus of our huge breakfasts and lunches.  Most of the dinners were superb, but today would prove to be a culinary stand-out.

After cleaning up, we headed back out to Route 1 and soon found a very promising clam and oyster eatery.  We ordered raw oysters, steamer clams and alligator.  Yes, alligator.   We'd never had it and didn't know if we'd ever have the opportunity again!  The oysters and clams arrived at the table first, along with the omnipresent pitcher of beer, all three delicious.  This only served to heighten our anticipation for the gator.  Finally it appeared looking for all the world like a chunk of fine-grained stew beef  only lighter in color.  It was prepared in a marinated and spiced style.  The actual meat itself was quite tasty, nothing like chicken.  You know how everything tastes like chicken -- rabbit, frog's legs, squirrel, Drano, what-have-you. We were feeling full, contented and very satisfied by this repast as we headed back south on Route 1

Suddenly Chris signaled a left turn and pulled into the parking lot of a small bar.  Through the large front windows he had seen a virtually empty bar and a vacant pool table.  If there is one thing in the world Chris loves almost as much as his bike, it's a game of pool.  If thereÕs one thing in the world that Dan and I love  almost as much as our bikes is a virtually empty bar!

The bartender, who happened to be the owner as well, was a transplanted New Yorker -- from Yonkers, actually.  I had lived for seven years in Yonkers, so felt at home with his tales of the old neighborhood.  The few patrons in the place didn't seem to mind us and we were as quiet and well behaved as could be wanted.  The bartender even stood us a round of beers.  As we were leaving, he called us over.  "Hey guys, I personally don't mind your type around here, but don't come in on mondays.  The girl who tends bar that night won't serve bikers."   First, I couldn't exactly figure out what 'our type' was. Dan was dressed in his jeans, boots and leather vest so I guess he might have looked intimidating by the old Hollywood stereotype.  Chris was wearing  jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers.  Don't see the problem there, do you?  I was wearing my track refugee leathers.  Surely crotch rocket pilots aren't frightening to the general public.  WhatÕs our type?  Motorcyclists, period.  Not bikers, not rebels, not outlaws.  If we'd all clambered out of a station wagon in the parking lot, I guess 'our type' would have been alright.  I might have looked a little weird in racing leathers getting out of a station wagon -- I know THAT sight would have scared me!  We left politely, but insulted none the less.

We got back to Tom and Betty's feeling like a beer.  Dan didn't want to go, didn't want Chris to go by himself, and knew I wanted to put the bike down for the night.  Therefore he dangled a big carrot.  "Hey Harry, why don't you take my bike and go with Chris to get beer?"  I hadn't ridden a Harley since 1975 when I almost bought a 350 Sprint.  I couldn't get used to the gears and brake being reversed during my short test ride, so the bike was passed over.  (I don't think even owning a 350 Sprint would qualify as ever having ridden a Harley!)  After I broke my back in an accident in 1989, I gave up all hope of owning a heavy motorcycle -- didn't think I'd have the strength.

Hell, this was Bike Week, the gods would have to smile upon me.  As I swung the bike up off the kickstand,  I had a revelation.  I hadn't put two and two together.  Harleys carry their weight low.  The low center of gravity makes the whole machine feel much lighter than it really is.  This Softail felt lighter than my  Kaw!   The bike started and almost immediately stalled.  This puppy demands a blip on the throttle once in a while to keep the plugs from loading up.  I pulled the clutch and tried to stab her into gear.  My boot firmly stamped the ground.   Hey, the pegs and pedals are way out front, not back somewhere under my bum.  I didn't have a chest full of gas tank with both hands on the bars either.

We pulled away from the house and on towards the railroad tracks and Route 1.  I got a big kick out of watching the fun house mirror effect of the world going by in all the chrome on the dashboard, clocks and headlamp.  Basically, I felt like the bad-ass king of the world.  I now know why people are so nuts about their Hawgs.  The bottomless quantities of low end power, WOW!  I didn't have to do a tap dance on the gear shift to handily leave all four wheel traffic back a few hundred yards at will.  My bike will take his ultimately in a speed and acceleration contest, but his bike's power is all down low, where you need it for street riding.  The seat, now thatÕs a story in itself.  Soft, wide and grippy on the bum.  No thin, hard foam perch here.

At first I thought I'd like the turn signal buttons, left on the left bar, right on the right bar, hold them to signal, let them go to cease.  Most of the time I forgot to hold them.  I wound up not being fond of them.

We got back to the house without incident and spent the evening cleaning our bikes and quietly bench racing in the yard.

I awoke once again to the sound of muted conversation in the kitchen and the wonderful smell of coffee wafting out through the sliding doors.  I crawled in and had a cup.  Squinting out the window as I looked up through the steam of my coffee, I heard Tom telling Dan that the weather channel was warning of massive thunderstorms and high winds for the evening.  It was being recommended that we stick close to the old ranch for the afternoon and evening hours.

I won't bother describing the adventures of the day, Chris and I headed down to Sebastian Inlet again, stopping on the way back for some bottles of Jack Daniels Green Label to bring home as souvenirs.  All us crazy northerners do this.  The Green is the harsher, less aged and cheaper stuff.  You can't get it up north though,  so it has become a Yankee legend, to be discussed late in the evening with JD aficionados in hushed and reverent voices.

 We decided to treat Tom to dinner as Betty was out for the evening.  He wanted pizza so out we went.  Chris discovered he could carry the pizza boxes wedged between his belly and the twin gas cap[1]ûs on his tank.  The things we'll do for pizza!

Chris took my bike around the block a few times in the early evening commenting that it felt like the world's biggest and most powerful moped.  He delighted in a redline almost seven thousand RPM past his.  Standing six five, I could understand his being perplexed by the riding position.  I don't think he could get an under-the-paint tuck if his life depended upon it.

After we had retired for the evening, the predicted storm arrived.  Our bikes had been  sheltered in the carport since the first night fiasco with the sprinkler system so we didn't mind the hailstones too much.  The wind and rain were amazing.  I never fully comprehended the meaning of the word 'torrential' until now.  This just about embodied the meaning.  We heard the next day how  poorly people had fared at the campgrounds in and around the fairgrounds and Daytona.  I was very glad we and our bikes had had a roof over our heads.

Tomorrow would entail another run to Daytona and out to the fairgrounds for the swap meet.  I pulled the covers around me, sucked in a lungful of the cool night air, listened briefly to the ferocity of the storm and drifted off to sleep.


The day dawned hot and humid.  We saddled up after coffee and headed up Route 1 where we breakfasted at a Perkins.  Suffice it to say, we had a huge breakfast as we fully intended not to eat until dinner time.  As we left the restaurant, Chris spied a nail sticking from between the tread blocks of his rear tire.  We were in better shape than with DanÕs flat as Chris has mag wheels, and therefore tubeless tires.  A gas station up the road had a plug in the tire before I could make the left turn in against traffic.  We took off and did a little sight seeing and mucking about on the beach near Patrick AFB.  By the time we got back on the road, a sign for all the oysters you could eat and twenty five cent drafts in Titusville signaled a stop for an early lunch.

The restaurant stands a bit back from the road.  It looks like a Cuban gangster's villa from the 1930's.  You know the type of construction, pink stucco, red tile roof, wrought iron, lots of potted palms, etc.  Inside, the place looked as if it had been renovated and serviced last when Eisenhower was president.  So did the waitress.  The place was apparently where all the businessmen in Titusville go for lunch though, so we didn't fear for the cuisine.  The food turned out to be excellent as well as inexpensive.  When you consider how many tee shirts, patches, pins and beers we had purchased, this was welcome.

We made a loop down Main Street, just to say we did it, and headed out towards the swap meet at the Volusia County Fairgrounds.  The line of bikes to get into the fairgrounds was truly impressive.  Actually the line was merely to park, the lines for the admission tickets were even longer.  We pulled into some parking spots amidst huge clouds of red dust and roaring machines.  I always feel particularly like a roving vagabond when I arrive at a gathering like this.  The taste of the dust, the smell of hot machinery, the way my boots crunch on the gravel -- these factors all add up to feeling like I was born, have lived and will die on the road.  No address, no phones, no responsibilities.  I love it.  I also get a rush from being among so many people who obviously are feeling the same things.  Ticket sellers walked down the dirt roads leading to the entrance gates selling tickets in order to alleviate some of the crush at the booths by the gates.

We purchased our tickets in this manner and entered the fairgrounds.  No sooner had I entered the grounds when I saw a Henderson four cylinder sitting parked in a booth.  I must explain that my uncle who died in the First World War and father, also deceased, had owned just such a bike.  I have never even seen one in the flesh.  I recognized it instantly from photographs and have to admit that the sight brought tears to my eyes.  I had listened fascinated by stories of this a machine and the adventures  revolving around it as I grew up.  These tales had kindled the road-lust and bike-lust in me.  I wondered if this example contained salvage parts or if it might even have been Their Bike.   I would have given anything to have had my picture taken on this machine, but didn't dare presume to even ask the owner.  The machine had a current New York State plate on it.  It's lucky owner said he'd had it out on the Thruway up to seventy-five.  Those four cylinder Hendersons were the Superbikes of their day.

We picked up the obligatory tee shirts and pins, browsed through the switchblades and brass knuckles department.  Chris  even got a deal on a ceramic casting of a human skull.  I sometimes think we  like and contribute to the 'Bad Boy' mystique.  I know it, actually.

 A band  performed Southern Rock classics  over by the beer trucks and restrooms lending a down-home atmosphere to the afternoon.  I spotted the rusted frame and cases (block?) of an Ariel Square Four.   I learned that the owner wanted nine hundred bucks for it!  No sale.  What surprised me was the quantity of very, very clean XLCR's there were for sale -- and inexpensively offered.  Not one was over forty five hundred.  I lust for one of these cafe racers.  I would just about sell my soul for one.  Don't have the bucks though and some would say the soul either.

We wandered and sweated and figured weÕd leave the indoor vendors until the sun went down.  Much to our chagrin, sunset was when the powers-that-be closed the meet!  We scooted back down Route 44 until we arrived at Gilly's Pub 44.  The Pub is located directly across the road from a very large shopping mall.  The police were directing motorcycle traffic into the mall lot to park.  Pub 44 is much like Squeeze In, only much, much larger.  They have fields surrounding the main bar building devoted to beer tents, vendor tents, stages for bands and many acres for parking.  It was testament to the numbers in attendance that the police were directing bikes into the mall to park.

After crossing the street, a risky move considering the sheer quantity of vehicular traffic, we entered the main bar building and bought, you guessed it, tee shirts.  We then wedged ourselves out the double doors into the crowd.  The lead singer of the band on stage addressed the crowd.  "How many of you out there are under thirty five?" he yelled.  When no one answered, he added "That proves it bros, us bikers are a dying breed."   I bought a Pub 44 - New Smyrna Beach helmet decal which I wear with pride.  We had a beer and left

We headed back into Daytona again.  This time we planned on heading up to The Iron Horse Saloon.  From what I understand, this is probably the most famous biker bar in all of Florida.  When we got there, there were thousands of Harleys parked along the side of the road.  Once again, this was one of those open air bars.  I figured IÕd just park outside and walk back.  A bro with a flashlight directed traffic out front and, as I approached, he flagged me on in through the large wooden front gates.  Here I was in Harley heaven on my rice burning Jap crotch rocket.  Talk about feeling like I would become the guest of honor at a Bike Bash!  I parked close to the wooden drum  where old Indians defied death in a stunt show.  There was a large wood fire burning.  When I shut off my engine I could hear the pop of the fire and whoops of revelry in the distance.  I took a deep breath full of the smell of wood smoke and beer.  Above me, the stars stood out from the inky void.  Across the compound a band began to play the blues.

No one looked twice at me or my bike.  I started to loosen up a bit.  I realized I was carrying MY prejudices around with me as badly as the bartender back in Melbourne.  I had a beer, relaxed and bought a you-know-what.  The band that was on stage finished their set.  I wish we had gotten there earlier, they sounded really good, real tight.

We finished out our evening there and headed out before we had had more to drink than we should to ride.  To be perfectly honest, this entire vacation had been spent riding and having beers, something I do not recommend and usually would never do.  We were extremely fortunate not to get into trouble.  I attribute this to the fact that we paced ourselves, one beer with at least an hour of walking around before the next or a ride, and accepted it graciously when one or both of the others cut us off from the bar for the duration.  We were never close to intoxication but I know any drinking is a hindrance to good judgment.  We shouldn't have done it.  You shouldn't do it, enough said.

We were getting used to the cold nights at this point and headed back down to Melbourne after getting lost in a seedy neighborhood outside Daytona Beach with hardly a shiver among the three of us for either reason.


Friday morning.  I couldn't believe the week was almost behind us already.  Chris and I had plans to go out to Orlando.  My fiance's maid of honor lives in Tampa.  We had planned to meet half way between Daytona and Tampa.  This roughly worked out to be Orlando.  The direct line for us is Route 192.  This road connects  Melbourne from Route 1 to Kissimmee and St. Cloud, lines with nothing but Mangrove swamps and alligator wrestling tourist traps.   There is one solitary town in the middle of 192.  This is Holopaw, all one gas station and liquor store of it.  Route 441 connects with 192 at Holopaw.  192  is arrow- straight two-lane blacktop.  People drive during the daylight hours with their lights on because the heat mirages coming up off the road surface are big enough to obscure an eighteen wheeler.  At one point, as I was tearing along at well over the ton, I passed a large rig coming from the other direction.  The wind blast pushed me almost off the shoulder into the mangroves.

We were to meet at the Holiday Inn on Route 4 in Orlando.  There are quite a few Holiday Inns along this stretch of road, it took us a while to locate the correct one.  We raced from one to the next looking vainly for the lady but finally found the right spot four Holiday Inns down the list.

After a brief lunch with Marty, the maid of honor (her name is actually  Martha) she took us to Church Street Station.  This is a large complex built at the old railroad station in Orlando.  It is now a maze of theme bars and stores.  There is Rosy O'Grady's, a "Gay Nineties" type bar.  A huge western saloon, Buffalo Bill's I believe it's called, occupies the opposite side of the street.  Sweeney Todd's is an English pub with the taps flowing with Bass Ale, Killians Red,  Guiness Stout and the like.  Phineas Phogg's was our favorite, the waitresses wear fish net stockings, g-strings and tux jackets.

After what seemed to be much too short a time, we had to leave Orlando and Marty to rendezvous with Dan for dinner.  We rode like the wind back across 192, only stopping once to rid ourselves of excess  accumulated moisture.  As I stood in a swamp off the side of the road, I hoped my racing boots were also snake bite proof!

We arrived too late to dine with Daniel, however he had found a very passable Mexican place where the fajitas were fantastic and didn't mind taking us there and having seconds (what a guy!)  We got there and were promptly escorted to a table way back by the kitchen door where precious few of the other patrons might see us.  This place catered to the 'Yuppy' contingency.  They couldn't hide our bikes parked right out front though!  The food was good and there was lots of it, so I guess I shouldnÕt really complain.

This was our last night in Florida.  I was starting my new job on monday and so could not stick around for the Superbike races as much as I would have loved to.  We headed back to Tom and Betty's where we partied into the night and got our gear sorted and partially packed.

All told, we had all cruised a bit over twelve hundred miles on our bikes during our stay in Florida.  We had witnessed police lenience that would have been unheard of at home.  We had seen every conceivable motorcycle from a Henderson to vintage Ducatis to swarms of perfectly preserved six cylinder CBX's to every year, style and trim-level of Harley and Indian.  We even bit an alligator!  All of us now sported tans.  Duffel bags of tee shirts filled the sun porch.  We even had enough money to eat and get gas (for the truck) on the trip home.

Saturday morning finally came and we loaded up the truck.  I had devised a new method of arranging the tie downs on the trailer.  Suffice it to say, I almost tossed the bike in Maryland.  Chris and Dan laugh about the new 'Harry Method' to this day.  We left Melbourne at ten in the morning and began passing the scenes of our adventures during the week.  At New Smyrna beach we stopped at the gas station where Dan had had the flat to buy some sixes of Harley beer to distribute among our buddies back home.  We all fell silent as we passed the Daytona exit.  Ormond Beach, home of the Iron Horse Saloon came and went with a honk of the horn in its honor.

We passed Jacksonville and prepared to leave Florida and sunshine and riding season behind.  At our dinner stop in South Carolina I had pecan waffles, a favorite with me since a vacation in New Orleans.  We must have listened to every country station on the East Coast on the way down.  Now we reversed the playing order.

Much of the traffic on the road consisted of trucks loaded with bikes, even a number of old school buses converted for Daytona use.  Lots of folks honked and waved.  We all entertained ourselves by checking out the bikes on the other trailers.

It was once again snowing lightly in Virginia and up into southern Jersey,  we saw a truck and trailer flipped in the median.  Help was already on the scene so we proceeded.  As we passed New York City, the sun was just rising.  The dawn rays were sifted by tall buildings dwarfed by the distance  out there across the Hudson river and the Jersey  marshland.

On a bright  winter morning, a salt encrusted truck and trailer rolled to a stop on the snow next to a barn.  The three exhausted occupants dragged themselves back across the snow and into the house for some coffee.

Harry G. Pellegrin

READ THE PRESS RELEASE! Harry Pellegrin performs weddings and gallery openings in the Capital Area!

LOW END is Published by Bedside Books, an imprint of American Book Publishing.

ISBN 1-58982-074-6

LOW ENDCopyright 2003-2007 Harry G. Pellegrin

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