Our Saturday Ride to Solomon's Castle
Our Saturday ride to Solomon's Castle turned into a 10 hour, almost 280 mile ride.
The day began something like this. Riders meeting at 8:15 AM. Yup, the sun was up, but it was overcast and quite gloomy. Did I mention it was just a twidge less than 80 degrees and very humid? I think the calendar said it was JANUARY ? Fortunately the overcast skies help keep the temperature relatively comfortable.
As we made our way over the Sunshine Skyway the skies began to clear and the humidity seemed to drop. We then headed eastward out through a very rural part of Manatee county. To say that the Castle is in the middle of "nowhere" wouldn't be an exaggeration. I suppose that it why he was able to purchase the land so cheaply. Ah, but it is waterfront properly... actually swampland. I suppose that why beside the castle is his boat in the moat ( which doesn't float).
Buzz our ride director set us up for a 10AM tour, which is one hour earlier than their usual opening time. We were prompt and arrived at the designated time only to find out that - Oops someone forgot to tell the tour guide that we would be arriving early. Fortunately she was good natured and managed to get our tour started with only a slight delay.
The tour was to say quite a unique experience. One must view the castle as part of a group, otherwise you'll not appreciate the unique sense of ingenuity that Howard Solomon possesses. To say, "one man's junk is another man's treasures", comes to mind while touring the castle. Mr. Solomon's imagination and unique art form is quite interesting. He uses a "play on words" to explain much of his art. The first indication of this is when you enter the castle grounds, over to the right is an old bed frame with a wooden planter filled with beautiful flowers. Could this be a "flower bed"? We entered the kitchen area of the castle and there was a wall which was adorned by many tools called wood planes. Could this be the plain wall we were told about ?
(This is Howard's representation of a Gold Wing ?)
Following the tour a few of us headed over to Howard's workshop were we found him working on one of his new art pieces that is centered around a saxophone. There in this large workshop was a thin, bolding man with a gray beard looking through his large eyepieces at the task before him. As we approached he came over to greet us and invited us to look around and ask any questions that we might have. The shop was well equipped with both wood and metal working equipment. It was well organized and very neat. As I looked at some of his storage cabinets couldn't help to chuckle to myself that the latches used to secure the cabinet doors were keys that were fastened to the frames. Howard was a friendly gentleman and proudly escorted us over to the new guest complex that was being built.
Following our brief stay with Howard we headed back over to the "Boat In The Moat" where we ordered our lunch. The service was good, as was the food and was very reasonable for the portions served.
After eating our meals we headed back to the parking lot were we found that it was completely filled up with both cars an other motorcycles.
We then headed back out southward down towards SR 70 and the Peace River. There was mile upon mile of flat land. We noted large herds of cattle grazing in the open pastures. Occasionally a cow would look our way as we passed and give us a quizzical stare.
We traveled eastward through Arcadia, Lake Placid and then northward up US 27 through Sebring, Avon Park, Frostproof and Lake Wales. (Buzz couldn't pass up the chance to inform us of how Avon Park was named). We then turned westward on SR 60 passed through Bartow, Mulberry and then to Brandon. The sun was just setting as we pulled into a local outdoor market. There we joined many of the members of the Lakeland Fireballs, chapter FL2-L, who were just returning from a ride to our area of the coast. The strawberry short cake was quite a hit and there wasn't anyone complaining about being hungry as we left for our last few miles back across the bay and home.
It was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday.
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