WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderSouth 8 - Gainesville and Winter Park, Florida
Date: Tue, 05 Mar 2002 11:07:15 -0800

    One more Corky anecdote - when we went out to dinner, before the waitress could say anything, he announced in that same false friendly monotone all service people use, "Good evening, my name is Corky and I will be your customer this evening."

    With the temperatures recovering, the day's ride was going to make up for some of the shorter recent tallies. And for the first time in a couple years the bike would add another new state to its tire-touched total. (I've been to them all, but not all on this bike.). First impression of Florida is to change the name from The Sunshine State to The Stripmall State. How is it possible to ride 30 miles in one continuous strip mall? Then get out of the Pensacola area and see near wilderness for 200 miles, surprisingly sparsely populated. The panhandle is huge and very nearly empty. You could lose Los Angeles here ... hey, not a bad idea.
    Second impression of Florida is no matter what the speed limit, everyone drives 15 over. 45 is 60, 55 is 70, unless you've just had your weekly hair bluing, in which case ignore all signs and drive 35.
    The town of Ebro has an interesting name. I did not stop to ask, but imagine it is pronounced as in a greeting: (h)E(y), bro!

    In the previous segment I voiced some vexation about people not answering a direct question. Today's rant is the sorry state of affairs we have come to with simple mental skills. This is not particular to any one area of the country - it is an outgrowth of the normal human tendency to allow atrophy where machines have provided convenience. I refer to keyboard skills subsuming the mind. Almost every profession requires them, but the average counter person no longer knows what 'magic' goes on when they push the button. They just know what they are supposed to do with the result.
    The bill came to $6.01. I handed her a $20.00 and thinking to make change easier said wait, I have a penny. This did not please her because there is a single button for $20, but $20.01 meant she had to press several ... and it took more than one try. Ok, change due - $14.00. "Oh oh, I'm going to need some ones." She pulled out a $10 and a $5. Wait, I said, I have a $1. "No, I can't do that. I'm supposed to give you $14."
    Did I just hear what I thought I heard? No, that silence was the absence of thought.
    I couldn't let it go.
    I said "Just suppose for a moment you gave me 15 separate one dollar bills. Then suppose you took one of them back. How many would I have?" With some hesitation she gave the correct answer and the exchange was made.

    On the last two stops into Gainesville, the starter clutch failed to engage again. I spent the better part of a day finding an engine cleaning solution (Rislone) then a place that would let me change the engine oil. Most gas stations are no longer service stations, and two "quick lube" places said no for insurance reasons. (All I wanted was a pan to catch the oil.) With new dino juice the starter is working, but now I need to get the oil and filter changed to get back to an appropriate grade of oil. Even the best mineral based 'automobile oil' is no longer safe to use in motorcycles for long distances. So I will terminate the South Florida part of the trip and look for a place to stay near Orlando to wait for the dealer on Tuesday.

358 miles
Perdido Beach US98 FL85 FL20 FL267 US98 US27 US441 I75 Gainesville

    Another day, another rant.
    Being a long time student of human factors, it interests me to notice how we are willing to change our expectations or adjust our standards when we travel. Some of the national chains have made their fortune by providing a consistent product no matter where you find them, and no matter what the quality of their product is relative to what you normally prefer. You know exactly what you will get, which is a convenience in itself. There may be better to be found locally, but finding it is inconvenient. So it is that I was actually looking forward in Gainesville to having a cup of the fourth best specialty coffee one can get in San Francisco. Starbucks has a shop at the edge of the university campus. Why do I declass Starbucks? It was a small coffee distributor that purchased the blends and national distribution rights when the founder of Peet's did not want to expand out of the SF Bay Area. Then Starbucks nominalized the flavors to be suitable for mass consumption. I describe it as "Good Coffee For People Who Don't Know Good Coffee". (And if you are wondering, my hierarchy places Tully's at #3, original Peet's at #2, and Royal Ground #1.)
    But what I most dislike about Starbucks is their attitude of being a 'culture'. I would like a mocha. With Mocha (powder). They make theirs with syrup. (So call it a Syrupa already.) Ok, what size. I would like a medium size. The 'barista' says "We don't have medium. We have Tall, Gran-day, and Ven-tay." To which I responded - There is no relativistic differentialism in that terminology. I want the MIDDLE sized one! He was sufficiently confused to cease educating me.
    Yes, I knew what the sizes were. If this were Rome I would do as the Romans, but Starbucks is NOT a culture.

    WanderWeather luck has held yet again. 4,000 miles cross country and not a drip of rain. After the oil change when I was in the motel, it poured. This day the rain stopped for about an hour as I rode south. An hour after I settled in, it poured again.
    The one section of US27 in central Florida marked scenic traverses the "hill country" and passes many horse farms. It is rather pretty, but as for hills, my GPS showed we got all the way up to about 250 feet altitude. Oh, nosebleed. The beginning of the scenic section is signed Bernardo Gallindo Memorial Parkway, then less than a mile later it is signed Claude Pepper Memorial Parkway. I guess Bernardo's memory was not very long.
    At first I really thought I was seeing things. A glance into the pine forest caught bright orange spots. Then a closer look saw it true. What used to be an old orange orchard had since been planted with pines in rows between. It was an awkward juxtaposition to see them interspersed. Then it occurred to me ... maybe this is where the citrus scented pine-sol comes from :)

    I will be settled in to Winter Park for a few days and will visit Daytona from here. I brought camping gear, but with the horizontal rain and night temperatures destined for 33 degrees, roughing it Motel 6 style is called for. All around me the trailers are arriving, and the "bikers" are offloading their proof of manhood, most of which are in such seemingly poor state of tune they can not be ridden across a 30 foot parking lot without constant blipping of the throttle. Sigh. I want to look for a bumper sticker:
    I Rode My Bike To Trailer Week

122 miles
Gainesville FL121 US27 US27A CR42 CR452 CR44 CR437 FL46 CR435 US441 FL423 Winter Park
Sam Lepore, San Francisco
(offline until Saturday, when return trip begins)

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