Finally we moved on to Chiefland and another state park called Manatee springs. We didn’t see any Manatee’s (probably the ugliest sea mammal in the world). Heavy rain was forecast again, so we holed up in a motel. Lucky we did, cos it really rained!
We continued our slow ride, staying in state parks & getting as much peace & quiet as possible before Daytona Bike Week. The last night we camped at Juniper Springs, the temperature plummeted to around freezing & the next morning dawned grey and wet - DO’H! We pulled on the bright red Wall-Mart wets & sploshed on our way to the East coast once again.
At New Orleans we had got organised on the internet & found a group called Daytona 200 MCC who provide camping just outside the town for a very reasonable $30 a night (the motels are charging $200-250 a night). We were the third tent to arrive & spent a wet Thursday in the campsite clubhouse. We got a warm welcome & were interviewed for the club magazine! There was a convenience store about 200 feet away with Amber Bock beer, so that helped pass the evening!
Friday brought warm sunshine, so we rode the 10 miles into Daytona to check out Main St. It is motorcycles only on weekends and they are thick as fleas. You can’t even park unless you’re lucky, or pay the $5-6 for organised parking. We were lucky. It’s around 90% Harleys, with the odd ‘crotch rocket’ dotted about. Ours are, of course, considered ‘crotch rockets’. We worked our way slowly up & down the shops & bars checking out bikes, stalls & some outrageously minimal ladies outfits!
Saturday we found an internet cafe, checked out the flea-market & then, as we couldn’t get a lift into town, we relaxed in the clubhouse with a few more Amber Bocks. We also met our newly arrived ‘neighbours’, Joe & Katie (J&K) from North Carolina, who offered us a lift into town the next day (which we gratefully accepted). As we were to find out they were 2 of the friendliest, most generous people we could hope to meet.
The next day J&K invited us to join them for breakfast, then insisted on buying it for us! Joe then drove us to Main St (an hour to do 10 miles) & dropped us off. We strolled up & down, stopping in many of the bars. One of these was called the “Full Throttle Saloon” in which Exile Motorcycles had a display. We were checking the bikes out when a voice said “ Fuck me! It’s Lew!” I looked up to see a face I had not seen since Torquay Technical College, 23 years ago! Turns out Dave had moved to the US 10 years ago & was now co-owner of Exile! We spent a while on the sun deck of their show trailer, happily reminiscing of old times. It’s a small world!
Monday was my fathers funeral so I spent the day morosely keeping to myself, until J&K arrived at our tent in the evening with 2 enormous pizzas & insisted on feeding us, thanks again!
Tuesday we insisted on taking J&K for something to eat, so they introduced us to Popeye’s chicken & went to the cinema (we saw Be Cool). Next we rode South on the A1A to fail to find Pub 44, one of the famous bars. Instead we got lost & found a beach bar called Down the Hatch & watched the sun set while sat with a beer. Then it was back to Main St. to sample a few more.
Wednesday the rain came back so we chilled out again until evening when we went for a meal with J&K & drove North on the A1A to not find “iron horse saloon” Joe tried to persuade us to go to a Karaoke bar (it might have been worth it to see a large US Marine backpatch biker singing Karaoke!) but I guess our English stuffiness is not quite dead, so we argued him out of it.
Next morning J&K sadly had to leave. We’d formed a close bond over the few days we’d spent with them so there were tears from Katie & Anita (me & Joe, being blokes, shook hands). We wish you both Health & happiness.