Wednesday, May 16, 2012

St. Augustine

Slept in today (Tuesday) until 9:30. What a treat. I wandered over to a Brazilian cafe near the motel looking for breakfast, but they don't open until lunch, bummer.

Jerry , Michele and I took our bikes to the LBS to have the bikes packed and shipped. $50 for packing, the shipping co. Will call later with the shipping cost. The guys at the bike shop couldn't (wouldn't?) say how much the shipping would be. Doesn't seem right, but what option did I have. Hope it's not too much.

After that I went to a Cuban restaurant for a sandwich with black beans and rice, which was very good, then visited the Castillo de San Marcos.

The Castillo I supposedly haunted, but I didn't see any ghosts, not even when I crawled through a small tunnel in to a empty little room deep in the Castillo. I crawled out to a small group that was very curious as to what a saw "nothing" I said, "just an empty room". They seemed relieved that there was little reason for them to crawl through on their hands and knees.

Also visited the oldest house in St Augustine. It dates back to the early 1700s. There was an earlier house on the site, but the British burned it down on 1702.

Finally went to the Brazilian place for dinner with Jerry and Michele. We all had very delicious feijoada and I had a caipirinha. Afterward Jerry and Michele went off to a birding lecture, I meet Lori and Dean for beer.

Very relaxing day. I'm both happy to be done and sad that it's over. It's complicated.

Monday, May 14, 2012


We did it! Yay! Arrived in St. Augustine around noon, but St Augustine is on the Intracoastal Waterway so we pushed on to Vilano Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

Now what do I do?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 57 - Palatka to St. Augustine

Nice, easy, short ride into St. Augustine.

After breakfast I asked Jerry and Michele to take some time in Palatka so I could see some of the murals around town. I couldn't resist taking a picture of Rev. Billy Graham, but my favorite was the mural of USS Columbine.

The Columbine was a Union gunboat that was captured by Confederate Calvary (Yup, Calvary) and returned to service for the south. It was later scuttled and thought lost until 2006 when it was found in the St. Johns River in Palatka.

There are many other murals here, but I didn't want to hold us up too long.

Our route today took us on mostly deserted back roads finishing on route 207 into town. After a while on 207 we noticed a new, parallel bike path so we hopped on that not knowing where it would end up. It peeled away from 207 after a bit, but we figured worst case it would end at a road and we could then find our way into town.

Wrong. The path ended suddenly in the middle of nowhere forcing us to retrace our route back for a mile or so. A "no outlet" sign, or something similar would have been nice. We were in good spirits and cheerfully turned around, cursing our carelessness and rejoined 207.

Once in town we made our way across the intracoastal waterway to Vilano Beach. The only reason we chose this beach was because it was near the UPS Store, but it was perfect. The hard packed sand made it easy for us to push the bikes out to the surf.

We started by touching our wheels to the Pacific and ended by touching wheels to the Atlantic. Just as envisioned eight weeks ago.

The gals at the UPS Store were extremely helpful, they managed to get all of our gear into one box, saving us about $150 ($100, just for me). They looked at us a little warily at first, but they were soon helping us enthusiastically.

We even found a DQ for our traditional end of day root beer float. I think I'll send DQ a note letting them know how much we enjoyed seeing their little redas we entered small towns hot, tired and thirsty.

After that we checked into our motel, cleaned up, had beers with Dean and Lori, did some sight seeing and went out for a celebration dinner. All in all, a busy day. Jerry and Michele even found a Brazilian Cafe, I'll swing by in the morning to see if I can get an acai bowl and some pao de queijo.

We probably could have just tacked today's 30 miles on to yesterday and arrived last night, but it was nice to arrive fresh and to take care of our errands before settling in.

Jerry commented that it's hard to reflect on events until some time has passed, and I think he's right, but we received help from a lot if really nice folks, had some good luck with the weather (except we never really did get a tail wind for any length if time) and had a great time. I was especially surprised by the courteousness of the drivers along the entire route, we never had a single problem.

I'm already thinking about doing the northern tier, but tomorrow I sleep in!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 56 - Gainesville to Palatka

I heard on the news last night that there was a tornado in Pensacola yesterday. Glad we're not there anymore.

Its been very buggy lately. Love bugs are out in Florida, landing on anything that doesn't move and smashing in to those of us that do, Ugh.

Here in Palatka the midges are swarming. They look like mosquitoes, but apparently they don't bite. They are annoying tho. Nothing like walking out of your hotel room in to a swarm of mosquito like bugs. they get in your hair, land one your arms and legs, and get in your eyes (and teeth). Yuck!

I'm not a real bug fan of bugs. They creep me out.

We took a quick ride down to the University of Florida on our way out of Gainesville and ended up at the Plaza of the Americas. Florida had the first Latin-American Studies Department in the U.S. and the Plaza was dedicated shortly thereafter, with an oak tree planted for each country in the America's at the time. One of them must be for Brazil, but they weren't labeled, not that I could see anyway.

There was also a giant sculpture of a couple dancing. The 20-foot sculpture by Artist J. Seward Johnson Jr., called "Whispering Close," is inspired by the painting "Dance in the City" by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

That campus seemed very nice, but we didn't see much.

The Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail took us the first 14 miles out of town. That's a very nice way to travel by bike, we got another couple of miles on a bike trail later in the day, parallel to Route 100.

On the G-H Trail we ran into some students out for a ride. They knew, Rutger, one of the east to west riders we ran into earlier on our trip. Small world.

We made quick work of the remainder of the day and will spend our last night on the road in Palatka. Our hotel is right on St. James River and we'll start tomorrow by climbing up and over the river on Memorial Bridge.

Palatka is famous for the murals painted around town, over 30 of them. Jerry and Michele went out mural hunting, but I stayed in my room re-packing my stuff so I can ship must of it home tomorrow. I'll go mural exploring tomorrow before we leave town.

While they were out, Jerry and Michele tracked down Angel's Diner (oldest in Florida, they say) so we finished off the day with shakes, cherry for me.

Day 55 - Suwannee Valley Conservation Area to Gainesville

I'm really getting lazy about the whole picture taking thing.

One thing you can see, from the few pictures I took today, is that our relative positions on the road don't change much. Jerry takes the lead, followed very closely by Michele and I bring up the rear, wandering around, weaving back and forth, day dreaming, dropping back, speeding up and generally doing my own thing at the end of our little train.

That's not to say I haven't tried to make myself useful and pull at the front, but whenever I do the system seems to fall apart. I end up dropping them, or I try to adjust my speed to what Jerry and Michele are doing behind me and that just slows everybody down. Seems to work best in this configuration. I'll just have to work through my guilt about Jerry doing all the work.

Long stretch between meals today, fifty miles by my reckoning, but we finally arrived in High Springs and got burgers. Heck, the day was almost done by this point. Just 20 more miles and we were in Gainesville. I think these last 20 were the nicest of the day, we spent a lot of it under a canopy of trees. Pretty, and it helped to block the wind.

Looks like headwinds for the next couple if days, all the way to St. Augustine. Figures.

Dinner at Adams Rib Co. Ribs, chopped pork sandwich, collard greens and Mac & cheese. Yum.

Wonder how the Randonneurs are doing. Should be at Dimmick by now.

Day 54 - Monticello to Suwannee Valley Conservation Area

Well we were going to skip Monticello and cut a couple of miles off our route today, but I missed our turn. Oops, I suspect we all wanted to check out Monticello anyway.

From there it was an easy ride down US90 to Greenville where I once again tried the gas station sausage and biscuit. Just okay, hard to beat that one from the other day.

Food was a problem today. We reached Madison to early for lunch, but it looked like there might not be anything down the road for a while. Jerry picked up some dried sausage and bread, just in case, and we set off for Lee with high hopes. Nothing there, good thing Jerry thought ahead, but I was starved by the time we finished.

Not much to see today, except the Suwannee River which popped into view out of the trees. The river was surprisingly black. Very striking. Then we were back into the trees.

We camped, for our last time, at the Lee's Country Campground, which was very nice, and clean, cleaner than some of the motels we've been in recently and located on the edge of the Suwannee Valley Conservation Area.

One note on happenings back home: The San Francisco Randonneurs are running their Fort Bragg 600k this weekend so if you're in Napa or Sonoma County this weekend keep an eye out for sleepy Randonneurs, they'll start at 5:00 AM on Saturday and will be out on the roads until 9:00 PM Sunday. Give them a word if encouragement if you see them and please pass carefully if you're driving. Tom will be among them, ride safe Tom.

Bon Route, Randonneurs et Randonneuses.