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I guess I'll start this off from the very beginning. Excuse my ramblings if you will. :D

So I have been thumping around on a KLR the last few years and was halfheartedly looking for something slightly bigger, nicer and more balanced that 2 of us could ride on. I found a Vstrom for sale on ADV that pretty much fit the bill but it's in Florida and I'm short on cash until I could sell my KLR; which I'm not really trying to do. I have fixed most everything on it so far that was out of whack and added some stuff to it.



About a week later a friend of mine texts me a pic of a KLR he's looking to buy. I tell him he should just buy mine back ( it was his 3 people ago ) and it would allow me to buy another bike. So his reply was "OK". Not really prepared for that answer I was just kinda stumped at what to do next. I mean I wasn't REALLY trying to sell the KLR and never expected him to be serious but here we are. I also would have to figure out how in the world I'm going to get a bike from Florida back to PA in January as it's right before the holidays. We talk a bit and I decide I'll sell the KLR even if it doesn't pan out on the Strom. At the least I'll have money to get what I want later on this summer.

FFWD to December 16, I contact Dave about his beloved Vstrom. This bike has every upgrade on it that you can have I think and for a price I can afford. We send a few messages back and forth and come to an agreement after a few days on price, and some Sweet Lebanon Bologna. ( he’s a Yankee transplant from Pa as well ) Now all I have to do is get the bike and money swapped in some sane fashion that we can both agree upon. I know, I'll just take cash down to him and ride it home !

December 20th I book a one way ticket from Philly to Tampa Fl for a stupid cheap price. It's so cheap, I book a round trip for the SO since she's about ready to beat me within an inch of my life for even planning such a trip in January. Yes, I said January, but what the hell it's been insanely warm in the northeast so how bad could it be ?

Christmas time comes and goes and I am lucky enough to have gotten a complete set of Olympia Motoquest jacket and pants from Santa. I was in shorts Christmas day as it was 75* here with roses blooming for a second time this year. Probably not going to use this stuff much on the way home.

Rather than try to carry everything with me on a plane I box it up and ship it out to some guy I have never met or talked to in my life and pray he's not some flaky serial killer. I'm writing this from home so we know he's not. :D Pants, Jackets, Boots, Gloves, Helmet, liners and whatever else fits in the box, all 42 pounds of it and send it off hesitantly all the while thinking " have you lost your damn mind ".

During this time I have been scouring the tent space thread and planning out my long way home on Furkot without using the interstates ! I want to enjoy the ride and not pavement pound in any way. I pretty much got the route down and finalized and there's 4 poor souls along the way who have happily agreed to allow me to crash at their places for a day and offer to help work on the bike if need be.

January 12th and it is still mildly warm but cooling off a bit but nothing too bad as I am jumping on a plane in Philly. I land in Tampa and grab my bag and give a call to Dave who's waiting for me. Jump in the car with him and the wife and off we go. I spend the night at their place and we finally get to chat face to face and for the first time I get to see the bike in person. It looks just as good as it did in the pics and there’s no hidden issue that I wasn't told about beforehand.




We spend the next day getting things swapped over in my name, going over the bike to prepare it for the ride. We decide to ride a little ways together and grab lunch at a local joint. I find out that the shifter lever is way too low for my big ass feet and boots. While waiting for lunch to cook we adjust it up a bit and it's much better than before.

So now that everything is done and working properly we head out and I split off on my way to Cape Coral where I have friends I am going to visit and pick up the SO from Ft. Myers airport that night. It's at this point when I really start to feel like I'm alone on an adventure and either excited or on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, not sure which yet.

We spend the next 4 days frolicking in the sun and being all touristy. Visit the Lee County Manatee Park where there seems to be a huge increase in them. The weather and water was cool so they were looking for warmer water and I'm betting if it was legal you could have walked across the water on them, they were everywhere.

Really neat to see !




We also went to Whootens Everglades Airboat Tours and well, rode on an airboat. Nothing like ripping around on a light aluminum boat with a propeller strapped to a 502 Chevy. They also have some big ass Gators there as well, and some small ones too.





The friends we were staying with live right on a canal and they have some wild pets there. The giant 3 foot long carp in the canal were neat to feed bread to but the best were these guys who showed almost every night for the hot dogs.



During our stay it is sunny for the most part but the day before our arrival there's a tornado just miles away. Saturday night there is another huge storm and yet again another tornado closer to Ft. Myers. Sunday it is windy as can be and I'm glad I'm not getting on a plane, with her... Did I mention this was her first time ever flying ? :D

We drop her off at the airport and I prepare for my long journey home, via Key West ! I'm this close I might as well go all the way right ? As I head out GPS tells me it's almost a 5 hour ride to Marathon where I am staying. Now, it's windy out. It's REALLY windy out and it's about to be the longest ride I have ever taken. See, up to this point I have never ridden more than 200 miles in a day let alone all at once. This part of the trip itself is 265 miles.

About halfway there I stop to fuel up. When I pull in there's probably 20+ HD's at the pumps and all wearing colors. Not that it bothers me much but these are some rough looking dudes. An RV is in the front pump and pulls away opening up the spot. I pull up into it and start getting my fuel and I hear someone yelling something and look up and there's several bikers looking in my direction. Evidently me being ahead of them at the gas pumps is an issue. I should have waited till they "allowed" me to fuel up. Not that they wanted the pump, just that I should not be ahead of them. I was done anyhow so I hung up the nozzle and got on the bike, looked back and said " It's all yours ". At the same time I see the patch and realize I'm an idiot and should just kick my own ass to save them the trouble. " Outlaws MC " I somewhat hastily leave and never see them again thankfully.

Heading into the keys the wind is horrible ! It's literally gale force winds sustained 20-30mph and gusting much more. This would also be the first time I have had to ride at close to a 45* angle to the roadway and instantly try to keep from smashing into the bridge if the wind stopped. Every hole in what little bit of trees along the road allows the wind to rip across the highway wanting to blow you off the bike or into traffic. By the time I get to the hotel I am about exhausted from the last hour of riding down the keys. I am SO glad I am staying above the 7 mile bridge !

Monday I head out for Key West early and there is already traffic going both north and south on rt 1. Evidently all the snow birds are making their way south for the winter and this place is hectic to say the least. The wind had dropped off quite a bit but was still a steady 15mph wind most of the day but nothing like Sunday. I arrive in Key West and I am not kidding when I say there's not one available parking spot in the whole damn town. They have motorcycle/scooter parking and every one of those is full. Hell there's some with 2 scooters stuffed into one tiny spot and no way is a Vstrom with bags going to fit.

I head over to the Southernmost Point Buoy and there is a line of people up the block and around the corner and it's only 9am ! I park about as illegally as one can, run up and snap a pic as someone is walking away and it's open.



I then make my way over to the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham museum. It was not open so I did not get to go inside and take the tour.



I think I figured out why the town was so packed as well.


After riding around town for a few hours sightseeing but never really able to get off the bike I decided to head back north in search for some food and call it a day. I wanted to visit Hogs breath or Sonnys but it was just not happening this day. Riding the 7 mile bridge can get interesting on a bike in the wind I suppose but it was not too bad today. I could think of much worse places to plummet off a bridge at for sure.





While chilling out at the hotel I look at the weather and there seems to be this large storm out west yet heading for us. Might be a little bit of snow in the forecast so I have somewhat planned an alternate route skipping the ride up the BRP and mountains of Virginia. I decide this night that I am going to just play it safe and head out to the Outer Banks and ride up through Delaware to home. If anything it will just be a little bit of rain and some wind to deal with until I get to Pa. I’ll catch the Ferry at Cedar Island and start from the bottom. I cancel my reservations with 2 inmates in VA and NC regretfully.

Tuesday the 19th I head out early trying to get to my next stop which is inmate Sanjohs’. The ride is about 290 miles from Marathon and the winds have slightly picked up again today. It’s not bad and the trip up to his place is beautiful even if it is flat with some damn straight roads. I pass from the keys, to the everglades running up Rt. 1 to 27 then onto the endless miles and miles of Sugar Cane fields. From at least 20 miles away I can see thick brown smoke rising up from several spots on the horizon. The smoke was from fires set in the cane fields before harvest.





Beyond the cane fields the scenery changes quickly once again to endless rows of Orange groves which go on for miles as well in the slowly rolling hills of Middle Florida. Evidently my mind is a little wasted at this point because I didn’t get any pictures so you’ll have to use your imagination.

I pass through Lake Placid but I don’t see any giant gators swimming in the lake but the first thing you notice from several miles outside of town is a 270’ tower looming above the skyline.



Evidently there are 2 more of these in central FL and are basically just viewing towers with an elevator in the middle to get you up to the top. This one was closed sometime in the early 2000’s but nobody really knows when.

Now Sanjoh gave me warning the road going in to his place was a little rough but not too bad right now. No big deal, how bad could it be ? I’m from Pa where they pave with potholes so this shouldn’t be that hard. What I failed to realize upon arrival is that it’s almost 3 miles of washed out and rutted sugar sand ! At least it has been raining lately and it is slightly compact but being a Yankee I have rarely ridden in sand. I managed to make it safely to his place with only putting the outriggers down a few times and not dumping the bike.

After meeting him and getting all my crap inside for the night the community pets showed up for their nightly feeding. ( Does all of FL have this problem or what ? ) Otters one place, Cranes the next. Do these taste like chicken or no ?



We run out to a local bar for some really good food and some great company. It could have been total crap but I was starving at this point and I would have eaten a horse. The owners are quite a nice bunch of people and the Scottish college students hanging out in there are quite amusing as well.

Wednesday the 20th , After getting a good night sleep I head out around 8ish to get on the road. Today will be the longest leg of my trip so far with a total of 400+ miles to the next stop near Sylvania Georgia. The morning is cool so I pack the mesh jacket away and don the new 4 seasons coat. I make myself stop and get a pic just up the road since the old mans beard on the trees is about the same color as mine. :D




These will be the only pictures I manage this day as I am pressed for making it to my next stop at SavannahCapt’s before nightfall and at a decent time. I arrive there around 6:30pm and the air on the ride today was slightly colder than most of my trip. It never really warmed up much even though the sun was shining brightly. Again we head out for some much needed dinner at a Waffle House and then head back home to relax for the night.

While there I pull out the lap top and immediately check the weather which has changed dramatically ! No longer is this a medium sized storm to flirt with. They are now calling for a major snow storm of feet, yes FEET of snow from southern Virginia all the way to Maine. Tidal surge, 70mph winds and 20’ seas are being forecast for the Eastern seaboard. CRAP ! The Outer Banks are no place to be during such a storm and I have done it once already so no need to get that badge again as it sucked then too. I was there when the Bonner bridge fell into the inlet on October 26 1990.

This totally blows all my plans out of the water. I had made arrangements with another inmate to stay in DE for a night after the banks but even DE is supposed to get hit by the storm and I don’t want to be stranded in someone’s house for several days uninvited. I check the map and it’s almost 13 hours to home and over 750 miles. The storm is now out in the Gulf gaining strength making its way on shore in the south but moving fast. It is supposed to hit Pa Friday evening so this gives me 2 days to get home. I decide to scrap everything and leave early in the morning and do what I didn’t want to do, run up I-81 as fast as I can and make it home before the weather gets bad. I figure two 6 hours days should put me well ahead of the storm.

Thursday 21st, I am back up early again and pack up my stuff and head out. I’m not panicking at this point as I am fairly confident the storm will stay away and I can beat it home. I leisurely head out for home and am not pushing hard today. I came to enjoy the ride, not pavement pound all day long.

Not long after leaving I covered another state. :D



Somewhere after entering NC I finally, FINALLY see something resembling a mountain ! Up to this point the entire trip has been long, flat and amazingly straight roads. We don’t have that stuff in Pa.



I finally make my way into Virginia towards the end of the day. I rode up till about 7pm trying to get as far north as I could today.



I decide I have had enough for the day as my brain is fried and I am starting to get cold even with all my gear on ! I pull off an exit right outside of Roanoke and grab the first hotel I find. All I want is a hot shower and some good food. The shower was hot but everything for food was 10 miles away and I wasn’t riding anymore so the McDonalds across the street was the weiner. Today I think I rode over 450 miles as it’s slightly over 300 to make it home.

I check the weather one more time and they are calling for it to start snowing in Roanoke about 5 am. I set the alarm and go to sleep, which was not hard to do tonight. I get up around 3am and look outside and nothing yet so I go back to sleep. At 5 am I wake up and look outside and there’s still nothing. I’m trying to decide if I want to go back to sleep for another hour or not and flip on the weather channel. The storm is literally right on top of me and should start any minute.

I toss on 2 pairs of long john pants and shirts, a heavy knit long sleeve shirt, a North Face jacket liner and my 4 seasons riding gear. Run out and toss my stuff on the bike and start it up. Go back in and check out quickly and walk back out the door to giant slow flakes fallen extremely fast. In 5 minutes there was already a white coating on the ground ! I jump on the bike and high tail it out of there as quick as I can without crashing. I ride for over half an hour till I finally get out of the snow, PHEW !

I snapped a pic when I started the bike, damn was it cold out.



The further north I rode the colder it got. The temp dropped to about 18* within the hour of leaving and the only heated gear I have is my grips. I am cold to say the least. I find myself stopping about every 30-45 minutes to warm up. It takes me probably 30 minutes to get stopped, get warm and back on the bike again. If I hang out longer than that it starts to snow, heavily. I dread climbing back on the bike each time as I know before long I will have frozen finger tips which is what’s making me cold overall. My feet are amazingly warm in my Sidi Adventure Rain boots; they are not even remotely cold even with regular socks on. Best money I ever spent.

At several points in VA I rode past 3 Sheriffs’ cars doing 80mph in a 65 zone. I passed one driving on the road itself and zero [email protected]%ks were given by either party about handing out or getting speeding tickets. I think they figured out I was just trying to get the hell away from the storm.

I play this painful cat and mouse game with snow the entire way up I-81 from Roanoke to PA. I’ve never been happier to see the WV sign on I-81 as I know I’m almost home. I stop one last time for fuel in Newville PA and once again it starts snowing like hell. I ride on and finally get to I-78 and head east leaving the snow behind, not long now. Part way down 78 I am freezing but being only 20 miles from home I am NOT stopping now. I twist the throttle a little more, well a lot more and I haul ass to the house. If I get a ticket I’ll be more than happy to sign it in the back of his warm car if need be, I just don’t care at this point.

Finally, after 2 days of hell and freezing to the point of pain I pull in the driveway at 3:30pm Friday afternoon.



I am cold, tired and hungry. I smash the button for the garage door and run inside to the blazing hot wood stove. I peel off my gear which is cold through and through to get some of the heat to soak into my body. I spend almost an hour there trying to warm up. Normally while feeding it wood you can only stay here 10 minutes before breaking out into a sweat but not today ! I can only imagine what my core temp is down to as I gave up shivering hours ago.

Once I warm up a bit I go drag my gear off the bike and out of the saddle bags. Go out back and open up the shop and ride the bike in and park it. It’s at this point it all kinda sinks in that this is going to be the last ride of the season on her. This will be her resting spot till spring time and for the winter ahead. I’ve also just pulled off the longest ride I have ever done in my life. I have travelled more miles in a day than I have ever done before. I luckily beat out the second largest snow storm we’ve ever had, which totals almost 30 inches of snow. To say I am proud of myself is an understatement.

I had zero tools with me except what came on the bike. I had a shop manual of the bike and a phone. If anything happened I was SOL. Could it have gone this way, absolutely. Would I do this ride again if need be, absolutely ! Would I buy heated gear before hand, absolutely ! :D

Saturday morning 16 hours after arriving home.

 

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That was a hell of an adventure! And you literally made it without being stranded by a few hours. Had u spent another day in Florida you'd still be in a hotel or inmates house somewhere in the south. Love the name of the thread as well.


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Nice ride report. Something to consider would have been the auto train from Sanford FL. To DC. Just an idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That was a hell of an adventure! And you literally made it without being stranded by a few hours. Had u spent another day in Florida you'd still be in a hotel or inmates house somewhere in the south. Love the name of the thread as well.


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I told the SO that if anything like this ever happens again, I'm staying in Key West ! What moron goes NORTH in January. :eek:ut:

Nice ride report. Something to consider would have been the auto train from Sanford FL. To DC. Just an idea.
It crossed my mind once in VA but the bike has " Adventure " tattooed on the sides. There's no adventure on a train. :D
 

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I admit, I usually head over to AdvRider for ride reports (sorry) but the title caught my eye and I started reading. What an adventure!! Glad you made it home before the epic storm. How do you like your new ride? I can imagine you bonded quickly.
 

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I admit, I usually head over to AdvRider for ride reports (sorry) but the title caught my eye and I started reading. What an adventure!! Glad you made it home before the epic storm. How do you like your new ride? I can imagine you bonded quickly.
It's on ADV as well. :D

Compared to the KLR the Vee is a Cadillac. I could have never ridden that far at those speeds but then again the KLR wasn't meant to either. The Vee already has the suspension done on it so it rides great.

My only issue is the bike is lowered an inch I believe and has a Sargent seat as well. I'm over 6' tall so I'm slightly cramped on the pegs and the highway pegs are almost at the tops of my boots when I stretch out on them. Previous rider was 5' 10"ish with short legs so it's not a perfect match. Gonna put the stock seat on and see how that works for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Wow, great adventure and report. I see in the pic, it appears you have temp plates, I've always wondered how these fly and ride deals work, state to state. Does Fla., offer private sales, temporary plates?
Yes. I switched my insurance over to the new bike before leaving. Once there went to the DMV and signed the title over to me and got a temp. plate. Now I just have to wait for the title to show up and then I can go to a notary here and have it all transferred to PA. I might be able to do it with my paperwork I have now, not sure as I have yet to call the notary.

One thing FL does is makes you pay sales tax there for some reason. Not sure how that will work for PA since they make you pay upon transfer here. I'm hoping not to be taxed twice but we'll see how that goes.
 

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Matt, you could purchase footpeg lowering kit from AdventureTech. I put it on mine and it was a nice, comfortable difference. I'm not as tall as you but I'm sure anything will help your situation. If you made it all the way up from Florida then your Strom isn't too bad. Good luck and have fun with your new ride. This is a great site. After the thaw, ride safe. Weather has been nice but to much salt and blind snow piles to go venture out just yet.
 
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