The ride home from the Florida Keys

-My vacation in FL was pretty good. It was not as warm as I would have liked, since the weather was unusually cool there, but it was not bad. The diving was great, and in fact, about the only thing I really did there was dive.

-Starting the weekend before New Years I started looking for a weather window to get home through. The problem with a motorcycle vacation like this at this time of year is you really never know what will be happening. But generally, you can find a window of OK weather to ride through if you are flexible. There was one window I could have made, and that was if I had left Monday right after diving. It would have been clear sailing. This was just too early for me. Had I seen this window earlier I might have taken it, and just gotten home on Wednesday instead of my planned Sunday.

-There were not a lot of people in the keys, until the Sunday after Christmas, when all these hacking, coughing people came down from the north. They brought their hacking, coughing offspring as well. It's such a pleasant site to see a kid wipe his nose with his bare hands, cough into the air, right at you, THEN cover his mouth. By Tuesday I was starting to get a scratchy throat. By the time I was finished diving Wednesday I felt like POO. It was not a good night. On Thursday (New Years Eve) I was feeling like absolute crap.

-That was when I left. There was weather that was going to be hitting New York and Washington on New Years Eve. I can make 1,000 miles in a day, which would have put me into the storm in that area. I chose to take my time, stop at an air museum, and stop early. The only window I could see in the weather would have me stopping in Southern New Jersey on Friday, with my family in Connecticut on Saturday, then a mad dash home on Sunday. Richmond, VA area seemed like a good place to stop. There are cheap hotels if you take the right exits. The hotel manager recommended the Italian restaurant across the street. Italian food and the south just don't go together well, but it sounded like a good idea. I was feeling like poo. The goal when you are sick should be to keep it to yourself. This exit is one of the exits that people use when going from the frigid north to the warm south. Almost every table had at least one sick person. I was a bit short with the waitress when she screwed up my beer order. It was not bad beer, just not what was ordered. Seemed important at the time. My apology included an explanation that I was sick and not myself. She understood as she was yet another hacker and cougher. This place was like a TB ward. And the food was mediocre at best. That's pretty good for the south.

-New Years day was bright and cool. The traffic was moving at a great pace and I felt pretty good. Looks like the cold has left me. By nightfall I was on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge to New York. The temps were in the 40's and the roads were clear. A quick call home revealed that it was already snowing pretty good there and was not likely to stop for days. A call to my brother in Connecticut showed that it was dry there at the moment. Shortly after crossing the border into CT, the temps dropped to the mid 30's. It was cloudy, so there was no concern about ice, but the roads were wet from condensation, and there was no way to tell if there was salt on them. A quick drop in temps, or a sudden clearing of the sky could make instant ice.

Shortly after the start of the Merritt Parkway the temps dropped again, to just freezing. There is no way to be sure the bike's temp gauge is accurate, and again, there is no way to tell how much salt is on the road. The Merritt Parkway is dark, and curvy, and hilly with car drivers driving at top speed. I was not. It was a scary 15 miles, until it started to snow pretty good. Then it was terrifying. Actually, that is not specifically true. The snow gave me a little better clue as to the surface temps, as it was melting as soon as it hit the surface.

Shortly after I got to my brother's house, it started snowing really hard, although not collecting seriously. It was around 1,000 miles that day. It snowed the next day, and the day after that, and was supposed to snow the day after that, and...... You get the picture. A friend had said that he would come down from New Hampshire and pick me and my bike up with his truck. I hate to take advantage of an offer like this, as it is an imposition no matter how it works out. I looked at all my options. I could have gotten a family member to drive me home, or I could have rented a car one way, but the bike was a different story. It is expensive to rent a U-Haul one way, also kinda hard to do last minute on a holiday weekend. If I got a ride home for me, I would have to borrow a truck or something to get the bike, which would be sitting outside until I came down. I decided to take my friends very kind offer. I was able to make it home on Saturday, so I could be home for when we got my girlfriends family together for their belated Christmas Dinner that they held on Sunday.

All in all a successful trip. Taking the bike rather than getting a flight was risky, but with the absurd price for a last minute holiday flight, it saved me a ton of money and made the trip down and back interesting.

Next time I am going to plan ahead, I promise.