April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017. Gainesville Florida to Saint Augustine Florida 87 miles. 2887 miles from the Pacific. I awake from a deep dreamy sleep and wonder where am I . Dan and I make breakfast and talk about the plan for the day. I will ride to Saint Augustine without my panniers and Dan will meet me at the beach tonight. Losing the cargo of 30 pounds should help my speed. I leave Gainesville with unsure feeling in my gut. I’m still feeling a little ill but I am excited about the possibility of reaching the Atlantic. The morning goes better than expected. It is cool and the road is smooth. I stop for a large breakfast in Melrose. On the way out of town I find a fruit stand selling fresh strawberries and blueberries. I fill my food bag and start munching on the delicious nectar. By late morning I am riding on a beautiful rails to trails bike path all the way to Palatka. It is smooth and well shaded from the hot Florida sun. Horse and I make good time and I am feeling much better then yesterday. In East Palatka I spot a McDonald’s and have my first Mac attack of this journey. I taste and re taste it for the next couple of hours. By mid afternoon the route turns north and east into strong headwind. I struggle to maintain 10 mph. After a couple hours at just over bug speed I sense the smell of salt in the air. It’s the Atlantic. I suddenly get a feeling of excitement and renewed energy. I scream at the top of my lungs “I am going to make it” and pedal onward toward Crescent Beach. Dan arrives a couple miles before the beach. We find the beach access and I dip my tire and then go for a swim in the Atlantic. I celebrate with laughter and tears. Dan, Nate, and Gina are there to share the moment. I feel all smiles inside and out.
Thank you so much for all the love and support that you have given me on this journey from San Diego to Saint Augustine.
Thanks for follow me.
With love
Freebird

Rails to trails bike path

My last bridge crossing.

Ceremonial tire dip in the Atlantic

Celebration dinner with Dan.

April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017. IchetTucknee state park Florida to Gainesville Florida 47 miles. 2800 miles from the Pacific. I unzip my way out of camp happy as the moon is still shining in a dark sky. I start packing up my tent and equipment for what will be the last time. How many times have I taken this tent down in the dark. How many times has it provided me great shelter and a good nights sleep. by the time I’m finished with my camp breakfast dawn has appeared in the eastern sky. I want to get going before the heat of the day. The sunrise is beautiful as I peddled eastward. After about 20 miles I stop for breakfast in the little town of High Springs. I am not feeling well. Maybe it was from the heat yesterday. Maybe i have been pushing it a little too much. I have to stop often and struggle with the small hills as I approach Gainesville. I get to my friend Dan’s son’s house just afternoon. Dan says I don’t look good. I take a quick shower and a nap. Then lunch and another nap. By evening I am feeling better but still worn out. I am hoping to finish tomorrow but it won’t happen feeling like this. It’s great to see Dan, his son Nate and significant other Gina. They feed me and take good care of me.
Cheers
Freebird

Sunrise in the Florida panhandle.

April 12, 2017

April 12, 2017. Madison Florida to Ichetucknee Spring State Park Florida 73 smiling miles. 2753 miles from the Pacific. Sleeping in the big comfortable bed at the B&B was awesome and so was breakfast. I could get used to that lifestyle. I saddle up Horse and we head south east. We soon cross the historic Suwannee River. It is beautiful and I begin to sing “down by the Suwannee River far far away ” – that’s the only part of the song I know. By late morning I find myself in the little hamlet of Live Oak on a park bench taking a little siesta. It’s the hot part of the day so I use it wisely. Another ten miles down the road and my stomach is empty. In Wellborn I stumble upon a great little restaurant that serves up the best pulled pork and salads this side of the Mississippi. I buy an extra sandwich for later tonight and load it into my food bag. It’s another 20 miles to the park so I stop in the shade repeatedly to cool my motor. The traffic is light and the road is smooth. I get lulled into a day dream and miss my turn off. It was a mistake that cost me an additional 8 miles at the end of a long ride. I am angry at myself for the mistake. But all that is forgotten and forgiven when I get to the park and jump into the Big Blue Hole. It’s a natural spring that pumps out a river full of water every minute. I dive into the cold clear spring. It’s source is an underwater cave. It is beautiful and amazing. My day on the bike is quickly forgotten. I get a camp site and set up camp Happy. I am once again reminded of natures beauty and the magical power it has over us.
Cheers
Freebird

Historic Suwannee River

I love these Bayou trees

I am ordering one of these for Cheryl’s b-day. It’s a joke

The Blue Hole

More of the Big Blue Hole

April 11

April 11, 2017.  Quincy Florida to Madison Florida 83 miles.  2680 miles from the Pacific.   Another picture perfect day to be cycling through the panhandle of Florida.  I watch the sunrise as I head east toward Tallahassee where I get a large breakfast.  It’s a big city with lots of traffic.  I time it so I miss rush-hour.  I am surprised by all the hills.  Maybe they should rename it Tallahilly.  Part of the morning route is shaded from the hot Florida sun and I enjoy the cool fresh air of the forest.  The smells and sounds from the Bayou are not so creepy to me anymore .  Just before the town of Monticello I cross the Miccosukee River.  Mother nature is alive and well here.  Giant snakes, turtles, lizards, and some weird fish that looks like a hammerhead shark swim under the bridge beneath me.  I don’t see any gators but they are here somewhere.   I stopped for lunch in Monticello and take pictures of the beautifully restored mansions on Main Street.   I load up on food in Greenville expecting to stealth camp somewhere before I get to Madison.  But everywhere I look the roadside is flooded from the recent storms.  I decide not to risk a snake bite or a gator encounter and pedal onward to Madison where I get a room at a beautiful old B&B with southern charm.   I hope you had a chance to sit and watch mother nature today.
Cheers
Freebird

April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017. Chipley Florida to Quincy Florida 66 smooth and sunny miles. 2597 miles from the Pacific. Horse are on the road just before the sun pops over Eastern horizon. I am hoping to get some miles in before the heat of the day. It is cool again this morning in the mid 40s and Horse and I are loving it. By 9 AM the morning fog has lifted and my coat and legwarmers are put away for the day. There are purple flowers along the roadside, pine smell fills the air, and their cows in the fields. When I close my eyes I can easily imagine that I am in Wisconsin. Horse seems to sense that we are getting closer to the Atlantic and wants stay in Go Go gear. I hear a voice from my friend Paul’s spirit telling me “easy does it” and “this is not a race”. His spirit has often been with me on this trip. When things weren’t going well I would think of him and remember how he showed me what courage and commitment was all about. I will miss him on the beach in Saint Augustine. Then again he might already be there waiting for me. I ride 20 miles and then stop for breakfast in Marianna. I order the breakfast for two and finish it off with peach cobbler and ice cream. I roll down the big Valley and across the Chattahoochee River. I am now in the eastern time zone. By the time I climb out of the valley on the other side I’m hungry again and stop for lunch and a nap in the town Chattahoochee. It’s kind of fun to say Chattahoochee. I am so easily entertained these days. Any who – I find a elevated picnic table on a cement slab so I don’t have to worry about a fire ants, gators, or snakes. I sleep peacefully for a half hour and awake with renewed energy for the second half of my day. The afternoon sunshine and heat takes its toll and I stop often to cool off and water up. I heard from my friend Per (rider from Norway) today and it looks like we will be arriving in Saint Augustine about the same time. The last time I saw him was in Del Rio Texas more than a month ago. I am looking forward to the chance to connect with him again.
Cheers
Freebird

Wingman and his wife. Owners of the little restaurant where I ate supper last night.

Florida cows

Chattahoochee River and Chattahoochee dam.

Bridge out?

This one is for for my brother Pat

April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017. Crestview Florida to Chipley Florida 68 wonderful miles. 2531 miles from the Pacific. The Florida weather has been really good to me these past couple days. It was 46° when horse and I hit the road at sun rise this morning. Burrr, I can almost see my breath. But I was not complaining. I had my leg warmers, arm warmers, and jacket to keep me comfortable until the mid morning sun warmed the day. I ride the 30 miles to the town of deFuniak springs for breakfast and then ride around beautiful lake deFuniak which is like a big sinkhole with a spring in the middle. There are beautifully restored Victorian homes lining the streets on the route around the lake. I go through the small bergs of Argyle, Ponce De Leon, Westville and Caryville. I stop for lunch in Bonifay at a diner full of Sunday churchgoers. My day ends trying to find a place to camp. I think about stealth camping for the night but then find a cheap rundown hotel. It has running water and a bed so it meets my tough criteria. This kind of travel helps lower my expectations to the point where I am mostly happy with whatever I get. Cheers
Freebird

Pretty farms everywhere

DeFuniak Lake

Another view of the lake

Beautifully restored Victorian homes in Defuniak Florida

April 8

April 8, 2017.  Pensacola Florida to Crestview Florida 57 miles.  2463 miles from the Pacific.   A perfect day for biking with Cooler temperatures, low humidity, and a pretty smooth road.  I rode with Phil (from Maine) and John (from Vermont) all day.  It was nice to have company.  Phil is a biology teacher and John is a writer and editor.  It’s sure makes for some enjoyable and interesting conversations.  Pensacola is a beautiful town (sorry I mistakenly called at Tallahassee in my last blog – evidently I was a little sleepy and disorientated last night) and I got thinking – I could live here.  The downtown area is beautiful with big green spaces lined with huge oak trees and surrounded by delicious restaurants.   The morning route winds its way around Escambia Bay where the views are spectacular.  The traffic is a little heavy until we get to Milton where we stop for donuts.  This has become a morning tradition with Phil and John.  And who am I to say they are wrong.  I wolfed down two jelly filled rolls and some chocolate milk.    By early afternoon my energy is mostly gone. I haven’t taken a day off since Houston and it is starting take a toll on my body .  Phil and John on the other hand just had two days off at dolphin Island.  So I stop in Crestview and they continue.  I get a hotel room, a massage, and a nap.  We hope to run into each other before we get to Saint Augustine.  I will miss them, but I got a listen to my body or bad things are gonna happen.  I hope you had a chance to listen to your body today too .
Cheers
Freebird

April 7, 2017

April 7, 2017. Dauphin Island Alabama to Tallahassee Florida 60 beautiful miles. 2406 miles from the Pacific. In the early morning light Horse and I head east towards the ferry dock to jump the 8AM boat across Mobile Bay. As i wait to board I get a great surprise as Phil and John whom I rode with from El Paso to Del Rio show up. There are hugs and lots of talk about our travels over the last month. I was getting kind of lonely after not seeing any other riders since leaving Houston. I was starting to wonder if I was the only one out here. The short ferry ride to the other side of the bay puts us along the Emerald Coast of Alabama and Florida. We spent some time at the beach and then ride across the state line and into Florida. It’s a great feeling to have just one state left to cross. We traverse several large bridges over inlets to the Gulf of Mexico. There are spectacular views from the top of these bridges . By late afternoon we pull into Pensacola and are greeted by our warm showers Host at the Methodist Church. It’s an awesome facility that is a hostel for traveling bicyclists. As the sun sets Pensacola Bay I feel grateful to be alive on this wonderful day in which I finish with a slice of Key-lime pie. Cheers
Freebird

L to R Me, Phil (Maine), John (Vermont)

Ferry ride

Da beautiful beach

From the top of the bridge

State line

Yet another bridge crossing

April 6

April 6, 2017.  Vancleave Mississippi to Dauphlin Island Alabama.  70 gorgeous miles, 2346 miles from the Pacific.  Cooler temperatures, low humidity, smooth roads, a beautiful route, and the wind from my back.  This day was biker bliss that I did not want to end.  What a difference a day can make.  Yesterday was sweat city and today I actually had goosebumps in the morning.  I will take the goosebumps.  Before reaching Alabama Horse and I ride through the Pascagoula River wildlife area.  This is a bayou flooded from the recent storms and it is beautiful.  There are floating river homes attached to the shore with a rope tied to a tree.  Gators and snakes are everywhere.  Beautiful big old Oak trees line the road as we approach the town of Grand Bay.  I always make it a point to celebrate entering a new State.   I make up some song about Alabama with a banjo on my knee and sing as loud and proud as possible.  California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are behind me now.  In front of me is a little slice of Alabama and then Florida.  I am feeling healthy and strong until the end of the day when I am mostly just worn out.  I find a local lady in Bayou La  Batre and asked for recommendations for lunch.  Just so happens her friend runs a local seafood restaurant just up the road.  I gorge myself on crab-cakes, sweet potatoes and a slice of Key lime pie for dessert.  The dessert was on the house.   Nearby the Shrimp boats line the docks. It reminds me of Forrest Gump bubblegum shrimp Company.  On my way to the big bridge to the island I spot a large gator in the ditch.  I try to take a picture but he is gone in a second with the flick of a tail.  The 10 mile bridge to the island has incredible views of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond.
The sunsets on this beautiful day and I’m feeling grateful once again.  I am staying with a warm showers host near the Ferry that I will take tomorrow morning on my way to Gulf Shores and then Pensacola.
I hope there was a beautiful sunset in your day.
Cheers
Freebird

April 5

April 5, 2017,  Poplarville Mississippi to Vancleave Mississippi 62 hot humid miles.  2272 miles from the Pacific.   Camp happy got a good soaking last night from a passing thunderstorm but I stay fairly dry.  It’s 7:30 AM and I’m packing up Horse when I noticed that sweat is pouring from me already and I’m not even on the road yet.  The good news is that the road is fairly smooth with light traffic and I have an awesome tail wind most of the day.  And for that I’m grateful.  I was told by someone wiser than I that one cannot be miserable and grateful at the same time.   I stop often to water up and I try to cool myself in the shade of some large oak trees.  Some of the water is dumped over my head to try to cool my body from the intense Mississippi sun and sticky air as the temperature hits 95.  I stop by a fire station and they have an ice machine. I fill my containers and put the rest down my bike shorts and jersey.  I pull into town and see a sign that says “massage” and life is all better again.  I am staying at a campground in a little rickety old cabin.  Tomorrow promises to be lower humidity and temperature. I’m hoping to make it over the Alabama State line.
Sorry about my blog pictures not showing up.  I also heard there’s problems sending comments to me.  These are not just rumors.  The server is old and will be fixed once I return.  Thanks for your patience and support.
Cheers
Freebird