Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Great Reason to Head Back to Florida

"Wizard's Wild Weekend"...There's not much better reason to turn around two weeks later and head east, back across I-10, to Florida.

I was just in Florida two weeks ago, and now I'm heading back east...again.  But Wizard's Wild Weekend - an event that has become an annual tradition - was being held the first weekend in December.  As always.  Kevin Healey and his wife Deborah put this event on every year and it usually draws an interesting group of riders.  It's held on Cedar Key, a quaint island just off the gulf coast of Florida, up near Chiefland, where the state of FL takes a bend and becomes the part of the state referred to as the panhandle.

In the years that this event has been held, I've only missed one year, and that was two years ago when I was in Hawaii visiting son and family for Thanksgiving...definitely a good reason to miss it.  But not too many other reasons could keep me away.  It's so kicked back and relaxed.

I arrived Friday afternoon, early, and checked into Seaspray, a small apartment building with just a half dozen or so two-story condo units...two bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, full kitchen, living room, dining room, and a nice second story balcony with sunset views.  I was in need of a run, so got changed into running gear and headed out for a 5+ mile run before the others starting to arrive.

Friday night group dinner was again at the Rusty Rim, a neat place on the dock, sitting out over the water.  The group was noticeably smaller than in previous years, but no less enjoyable.  A group were gathered outside at "Richard's Corner" on the dock.  One member of our group is named Richard and it couldn't have been more fitting that this corner be named as such.

Saturday morning I was able to join the group for breakfast at Annie's Cafe for the first time ever.  There was a good reason why I got that run in the afternoon before...normally I get that run in Saturday morning and miss the fun and chatter of the group breakfast. 

While the rest of the group rode over to Horseshoe Beach for lunch, I stayed behind with friend Ray and had lunch at the Pickled Pellican, on their outdoor deck overlooking the Gulf.  I ate here last year and knew it was the place to go for lunch this year, as well.   I wanted fresh oysters, but had to settle for fried oysters, which were a little disappointing...dry and overcooked.   But the red velvet cake ice cream from the ice cream parlor down the street made up for it. 

Saturday night dinner is the main attraction and was again held upstairs at Sea Breeze.  The smaller group allowed us to all eat at the same long L-shaped table.  It was a quieter bunch this year, and Kevin told only a few short stories about some of the attendees.  This is usually the highlight of the evening, since Kevin is such a great storyteller. 

Sunday morning I got another good run in - about 3.5 miles - and passed by Annie's Cafe only by chance to see Ray's bike parked in front, so I went inside and joined him for a cup of coffee before he hit the road and I headed back to the condo to clean up, pack and hit the road myself.

Another great - if a little quieter - Wizard's Wild Weekend is done.

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