Paul and I hardly ever win anything, but a year ago while trying to help his brother sell a bike at the Michigan state fair grounds swap meet, Paul decided to put his name in for a drawing to win plane tickets to Daytona Bike Week, March 5 - 11th. You can't imagine the shock when he won the tickets. A few weeks later the conformation for our trip came in the mail. We had almost a year to plan for our trip. We were excited about the trip and a chance to see all of our Guzzi friends and to get out of the cold weather if only for a week.
After getting permission to take vacation time we started looking for motels in a 50-mile area of Daytona. Paul is so good at looking for the best price for everything. We soon had our motel in Orlando and a rental car booked at L&M. As our departure date got closer, I packed and repacked making use of every little bit of space in our luggage. We were to leave at 7:30 in the morning March 5th, which meant we had to be at Metro-Airport at 4:30 A.M.
In Michigan there is a saying about the weather, "Don't blink your eyes the weather will change". The morning we were to leave we looked out the window to see a winter wonderland with four inches of snow on the ground. Paul called the airport before we left to be sure planes were taking off on time and all was well. Our daughter dropped us off at the front door after a 45-minute car ride, which on a good day takes about 20 minutes.
The airport is a very interesting place these days as you can imagine. It is what I call hurry up wait system. Hurry to get there early, wait in a line for 15 minutes to check in your luggage, and be sure your papers are all in order. Hurry to where your carry on luggage is screened, and wait in line to go through the metal detectors. In Paul's case he got the lucky number and had to remove his shoes, belt, and just about strip down to his underwear. I am not complaining because considering what could happen I was glad to see them checking everything so well. After every spot was checked, security told us it was okay to walk down the hall to where we would board the plane. We hurried down the hall and again waited until it was time to board.
Our plane was on time, but after a short taxi to the runway we had to have the plane de-iced, so our take off was delayed about 30 minutes. I have to admit that it was a bit unsettling to me, I am not the best person when it comes to flying. We took off from Metro-Airport in a snowstorm and overcast skies. After we had been flying about an hour the sun began to stream in the window of the plane, how nice that was to see the sun again.
The seats on most airplanes are not all that comfortable, but after about an hour and 40 minutes we landed at Orlando International Airport. When we stepped off the plane the change in weather was apparent; it was 85 degrees and sunny. After picking up our rental car we left the airport and headed for the Quality Inn and some breakfast. The minute we drove onto the highway it was apparent that motorcycles were everywhere. We both knew we were in store for a lot of fun.
We had to kill a little time because our room was not ready for us so Paul decided to go to the Ripley Believe It Or Not Museum, right down the street from the motel. We spent about an hour and a half walking around inside. There was a motorcycle shop just up the street from the motel, and we stopped there to check out what the competition had. At about 3:00 we went back to the motel and checked in.
Paul and I were both worn out, not used to the 4:00 A.M. wake up so we decided to get settled in our room and take a little nap, then go out for a ride and some dinner later in the evening. The next morning we decided to take a ride and see if we could find our good friends Jack and Joan Arnold, and other Guzzi friends who we knew were camping not too far from Daytona. We found their camp sight with ease and sat around visiting with everyone for about an hour. Paul was just itching to get closer to the action so he asked Jack about A.J. Wood Swap Meet and Auction. The guys decided to take a ride down to the swap and walk around. Paul can always find something good that he really needs, and after about two hours we left with some Lucas turn signals.
We dropped Jack back off at the camp sight and visited with Joan and Mary Locke. Greg Locke was out riding. We then headed back to get some dinner, after all that walking we were both starved. Along the way back we stopped at a few army surplus stores and resale shops just to see what they had down in the south. It was about 7:30 when we finished dinner and we spent the rest of the evening walking through souvenir shops near the motel for gifts to take home to family and friends.
You can't go to Orlando and not go to the many attractions that are offered there, so the following day we decided to go to Epcot Center. We had a great time and spent the day walking around the park, riding on the many attractions that they offered there. Around 8:30 it started to rain and we were just about finished, not to mention worn out, so we headed back to the motel room after picking up a bite to eat along the way.
Friday was about the same - a few flea markets, a little sightseeing and dinner. Saturday, we headed back towards Daytona, hoping to spend some time at the track. If there is anything bad I can say about Florida it is the traffic, it was bumper to bumper. Our ride to the track seemed to take forever. Paul wanted to see the setup for Guzzi, but by the time we got there they were packed up and just about to leave, it was very disappointing.
After walking around at the speedway for a while we headed towards Daytona Beach in the late afternoon. It took us two hours to get from the track to Daytona Beach. The traffic was just unbelievable, but the sights along the way were something else. There was every kind of motorcycle you can imagine coming and going from every direction. We parked our rental car on the beach and took a long walk along the ocean, then headed for the main streets to see the sights. I have never seen so many people in my life, a person could not drive a car or bike down the street, and there were so many people. We saw all kinds of people walking - short, tall, old, and young, some with all their clothes and some, well let's just leave it at that. It really was a sight to behold.
Around dusk we had to hurry to get our car off the beach otherwise the local police would give you a nasty ticket. If you were too close to the ocean you might even find your car floating out to sea. We again waited in a traffic jam to get back to our motel room.
The next day we went to Universal Studios and got a taste of the movies first hand.
Tuesday was our last day, our plane was to leave the airport at 7.30 P.M. We decided to go back to Daytona to visit some family, and to take a last walk on the Beach. The plane left the airport on time with no problems, and arrived back in Detroit a little after 10:00. It was a wonderful trip to remember. The only thing that would have made it perfect was having the bike with us, but there is always next year.