Monday, April 23, 2012

My Royal Enfield takes the old road once again

Old farm house remembers a time before housing busts.
Almost 700 miles in one day on a Royal Enfield motorcycle. That's the road trip Jeff Nordstrom described recently. Reading about it, I'm impressed, but not exactly jealous.

The 41,000-plus miles on the odometer of my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet were racked up 25 at a time as I commuted to and from a job that disappeared in 2008. That's more than 800 round trips to work, night and day, rain or shine and mostly by the same route.

The other day I got back on the Bullet and rode our old route for the first time in four years.

I was headed in to my old place of work to help pack up the photo files there for a move. The newspaper is downsizing to a smaller office space.

The task was sad enough, but my real concern was what I would find on the way there.

My old route was on Orange Drive, possibly the last long stretch of "country road" left in Broward County, Florida. The housing bubble had only just popped in 2008, when I took my last ride. Condos, mansions and apartment developments had encroached on the cattle, fields and horse stables of Orange Drive.

I expected that the Recession might have slowed the pace of "improvements" to the old country road. But they were bound to have continued to take a toll.

Sure enough. Here and there I found earth moving equipment crawling over land that had once peaceably hosted cows.

I had my eye out for one particular landmark, an old farm house.

As the housing boom approached its precipice, one developer had convinced the town fathers to grant him concessions if he would agree to leave two historic farm buildings. Riding my motorcycle to work every morning, I watched as his bulldozers excavated the artificial lakes over which his community of mansions would glower.

But he left the two old buildings standing. One he converted into his sales office, adding new windows, air conditioning and a handicapped ramp, gradually turning it into a modern looking structure. Only someone watching day-by-day — a commuter like me — would have realized that a bit of history was being modernized out of sight.

The other building was too far gone to bring up to code. It seemed to crouch into a hole as the developer raised the level of land around it and then left it, hoping, probably, that termites, vandals or a hurricane would eventually bring it down. The old wooden farmhouse had different ideas.

There it was, I discovered on my recent ride, still standing although draped in vines.

The community of houses that was to have surrounded it is still no where to be seen. The developer had managed to put up one only model home before the crash put on the brakes. The model is still there, a lone mansion on an unlandscaped lot next to a raw hole filled with water that was to be a lake.

The old house, the Bullet and I might be outdated. But, for the moment, we're still standing.


  1. Poetry...we're driving from Panama City to Key West in May...East coast down,West coast back...maybe there will be a little bit of "Old Florida" left for us to see...Matt Law~

  2. Anonymous4/27/2012

    I worked in that area for many years and my motorcycle passed that same property many times. Griffin Road lies 100 yards to the south with 3 lanes each way and is very smooth but I take Orange Dr. every time.


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