Day 6: Fort Myers to Key West. 282 Miles
After a full day of rest and drying out from the thunderstorms, it was an early morning KSU to Key West. Rolled down the US 41, The Tamiami Trail, also known as Alligator Alley, through the Heart of the Florida Everglades. Amazing, scenic, somewhat scary ride – they don’t call it Alligator Alley for nothing. The gators cross the road!
Something else also darted out in front of me, It was big, fast and black. I don’t know if it was Bigfoot, or a Chupacabra or Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty in a wet suit, but it made for an exciting start to the Ride.
U.S. 1 North passes through Islamorada, Key Largo, Ramrod Key, Annie’s Beach, Marathon, Duck Key – and words don’t do the view justice. Some of the most beautiful green water you will ever see. Photos are posted on my Facebook Page.
Headed down to Duval Street, stopped for a beer at the Hogs Breath Saloon and took in the sights in sounds. No wonder everyone from John Audubon, Ernest Hemingway, footsteps of Thomas Edison, Lou Gehrig, Harry Truman, and Tennessee Williams all spent time here.
Today’s salute goes to the Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen at Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West has perfect flying weather year round and unparalleled aerial ranges that off. The station is equipped with a Tactical Combat Training System similar to the one depicted in the movie “Top Gun.”
Day 6 is dedicated to Bill Copeland and his service to our country in the Air Force. To his sons, Allen and Josh who are both currently serving in the Army, and to his widow, and my friend, Cathy Bullard Copeland.
Day 7: Key West to St. Augustine. 469 Miles
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
Hot! Hot! Hot! Don’t get me wrong, after all the rain I was happy to be dry for a change, but today was blazing. Probably should have known something was up when one of the first streets I came across was named ‘Stickey Way.”
Since today’s route took me close to Daytona Beach, I couldn’t help but remember when my good friend Jason Roberts rolled out of Dallas on a COLD and ICY day back in 2003 for his first trip to Bike Week. He was wrapped head-to-toe in every bit of cold weather gear he owned or could borrow, resembling the Michelin Man on a Motorcycle. Good Times!
Note to Florida. Either make all the toll rolls a pass-through and mail me the toll cost or make them all a stop-and-pay, but figure something out. Your current plan of pass some, pay some is a big pain in the butt.
Arrived in St. Augustine and had a great time walking around the oldest city in the US. My hotel was close to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum which is definitely worth a visit. Later, caught a bit of the Town’s Firework’s Display off The Bridge of Lions. A good day.
Day 7 is dedicated to ALL THOSE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED AND ARE SERVING IN THE U.S. MILITARY. We’re free because of your service. God Bless You!
Day 8: St. Augustine to Charleston. 276 Miles
I have literally run down one side of Florida and back up the other, and I hope to leave the rain behind me as I leave the state today. My first mechanical glitch of the trip occurred today. While wiping down the bike I notice my horn had come loose from its housing. No lock nut to be found, so rigged it best I could and hit the road.
A working horn, however, is no luxury item on the highways and bi-ways of America, and especially important on a holiday weekend. Stopped at Golden Isles Harley-Davidson in Brunswick, Georgia for a quick repair. Friendly and Fast!
Passing through Pooler, Georgia, I cam across the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. I love WWII aircraft so I had to stop. The Eighth Bomber Command (Re-designated 8th AF in February 1944) was activated on January 28, 1942, at Hunter Field in Savannah, Georgia. During World War II, under the leadership of Generals Ira C. Eaker and Jimmy Doolittle, The Mighty Eighth compiled an impressive record, but their success carried a high price. The 8th AF suffered one-half of the U.S. Army Air Forces’ casualties in World War II (47,000-plus casualties with more than 26,000 deaths). The Eighth’s personnel also earned 17 Medals of Honor, 220 Distinguished Service Crosses, 850 Silver Stars, 7,000 Purple Hearts 46,000 Air Medals.
Entering South Carolina, I was just a few miles away from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island (MCRD PI). Since I’m wearing a pair of The Boot Campaign’s signature Marine boots on the FTLR, I’m saluting Brigadier General Lori Reynolds, Commanding General, Eastern Recruiting Region (MCRD PI) and her staff. A little MCRD PI trivia: male recruits living east of the Mississippi and female recruits from all over the United States report here to receive their initial Marine Corps training.
Made it ALMOST all the way to Charleston and still the rains found me. Just a few miles out and I got soaked again. Stayed overnight with my cousin Amy, her husband, Jay; and even got to see my Aunt Judy. Finally, some family to have dinner with!
Day 8 is dedicated to Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton, a retired Air Force four-star general who served as Commander, Air Education and Training Command (COMAETC) from 1997 to 2000. He was also the first African-American pilot in the Air Force’s Thunderbirds. Note: you can learn a lot by paying attention to the dedication signs posted along our highways!
Day 9: Charleston to Norfolk. 440 Miles
Left South Carolina, passing through North Carolina and Virginia. I’m beginning to really notice the number of Purple Heart Highways, US Armed Forces Highways and Blue Star Highways which are dedicated to our military.
It’s a good thing to remember our veterans with memorials. I also think it’s just as important to give back NOW to our nation’s military members, veterans and families who have earned our respect and support. So today, go to The Boot Campaign’s web site – www.bootcampaign.com – and order your own pair of its signature “Give Back” combat boots. Your purchase will help provide assistance in five distinct support initiatives: Housing, Jobs, Wellness, Urgent Assistance and Family Support. There’s even a place to let them know you heard about Boot Campaign from The Full-Throttle Leadership Ride.
Rolled into Norfolk and the Fleet is in Town. Never seen so many aircraft carriers, submarines and other Navy vessels. This is what it’s all about.
And Finally, thanks to Jeff Brady and The Texas Daily on KTXD-TV in Dallas for this Skype segment on The Full-Throttle Leadership Ride. Check it Out!
Tomorrow, back on the bike as the FTLR heads to New York City and a special visit to the 9-11 Memorial.
Day 9 is dedicated to Navy SEAL (retired) Marcus Luttrell, whose story as chronicled in his NY Times #1 Best-Seller, “Lone Survivor inspired five women from Texas to launch the Boot Campaign to show tangible appreciation for our active military, raise awareness of the challenges they face upon return and support their transition home.