Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 56 The Atlantic

What a great day!!! I don't think that any of us slept particularly well. Some told me they awakened at 2:30 and couldn't fall back to sleep, others a little later. As for me I woke up during the night excited about the last day and feeling sad as well, but fell back to good sleep easily. Because of the time frame, we had to be forty miles by 10:30, most everyone was at breakfast when it opened at 6AM. I was too. I actually didn't feel too pressed, and enjoyed talking with others aand seeing folks start out. Sherry, Marci and I headed out a little after 7AM. We missed the first turn, but knew it pretty quickly and turned right around and found our way. Now we really havee had very few wrong turns, funny we did this last day. After that, we had such a nice ride. We didn't rush, and enjoyed the farms and scenery. At the first SAG at twenty miles, most of the others were there, and everyone realized that we had plenty of time. All of us that were there, left together, and rode the next twenty miles to the fire station. It was fun and beautiful. We rode along the river, and through countryside.

We waited at the fire station and the police escort. It was a fun time for us. We took pictures and chatted. We got instructions from our leaders, and rode in two by two the last few miles to the Atlantic. Wow was that amazing. It was our own little parade. We went over the Lions Bridge and several of us teared up. After the bridge there was still about mile to the bridge. As we got to the beach, and there were family and friends with balloons, signs and their smiling faces. My mom and good friends Barbara and Ken were there from the West Coast of FL to welcome me and share in the fun. One of the most fun things for me, was to hear Marci saying...there is Michael (who had said he would not be able to come down)..."was that Michael?" "That was Michael!!!" and indeed it was. What a great surprise for her. We all took off our shoes and picked up our bikes and headed to the ocean. There was the ritual dipping of the tires, and then some of us ran, diving into the waves. Now the most exciting thing is that Michael (C, not my son Michael B) asked for Marci's hand in marriage...and she accepted..what a great day!

After introductions, and excitements, we walked back to the concession area and our lunch. There was lots of talking and smiling and jubilation. As we slowly drifted back down the road to our hotel, and to start with our good-byes and preparations for returning home.

After some preliminary preparation and calls to family and friends, Marci found me and invited me to join her an Michael with a walk to the pedestrian/historic area of St Augustine to get a could I say no? The historic area was cute, but filled with touristy shops, and the gelato was good...we headed back, got ready for our dinner and joined the others to go to dinner. Our dinner was emotional and I know that I will miss the times I have had with these amazing people. It has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 55 we are almost done....

Each day brings things that are unexpected. This day I expected to have a good seventy-three mile ride, and really it was, but...

At this point seventy-three miles is not a particularly long day for me. It is a distance that I look at and think, "OK, I can plug along and still get to my destination by lunch...a little late lunch, but lunch-time." We started out well behind, Marci had had a flat before leaving, and that just throws a kink into the morning routine. After a quick change and breakfast, we headed out...very relaxed "no worries" as Marci would say.

The ride was beautiful after we got about seven miles behind us. At first we had some school starts, no shoulder, and rough road. There were some hills, but nothing too big at all. The countryside really got beautiful...big meadows, wild flowers, horses, goats, sweet smells of honeysuckle and not too much traffic, and the only dogs we saw ran in the opposite direction....those are the dogs I REALLY like.

We had a couple of SAG stops that were nice with lots of camaraderie. We left the second SAG at forty miles on a new road. This one had plenty of traffic, a good shoulder and wind hitting us in our faces. It also had some rolling hills, and junk in the road. For whichever reason you choose, it became an arduous ride. Palatka itself is a larger small town and we had some road construction and then a bridge. I was TIRED climbing over that bridge, and our hotel was at the bottom on the far side of the bridge...thankfully.

After the frustration of the last part of the ride, the shower felt great, and lunch at the restaurant next door was satisfying...

The rest of the afternoon was for just being with my new twenty-two of them.
Dinner was great...Linda once again worked her magic and there was extra time for talking and sharing.

So tomorrow is just the last 47 miles...I may have to continue blogging for a bit. So far I have given everyone an description of the trip, but not much in the way of musings or about the other participants. If time allows I am hoping to do that.

Mileage today:73

Day 54 High Springs

I knew that Florida had some beautiful springs, but didn't realize that there were so many located along this route. Today we got onto nice roads almost immediately. Since we had pushed a little yesterday, we were taking today very easy. Good thing...I was tired and just not feeling great in the morning.

We went through the little town of Mayo, which had some nice buildings. We did have a little aggressive dog chase us and it was really going for Sherry. It later chased another group and it ran into one of the front wheels...thankfully there wasn't a fall...Then a little later we crossed the Suwanee River....(you may now sing a verse of "Way Down Upon the Swanee River") and into the little town of Branford. We got to a convenience store and made a brief stop. An elderly man walking out started talking with us, asking us where we were headed. Now this happens most every day, but this gentleman was just so friendly. He, like most others, saw us as a group of three, not twenty and assumed we were out for a ride just for the day. When we told him we would end up in High Springs, he was wowed, but when we told him how far we had come, he told us how impressed he was. After leaving Branford, we headed to Ichetucknee Springs, where we actually got to swim. The spring was a fantastic turquoise color and perfectly clear. It was SO refreshing!!

The last seventeen miles went quickly and were filled with live oaks and little traffic. When we got to High Springs, we decided to see the town and got ice cream (well I got a chocolate shake) at Pat's. The town was small, but had lots of flowers, was filled with friendly folk and was so pleasant to nose around in.

My bike was not shifting too well....a good clue that it was time for a bath and then I spent a while playing with it and getting it to sparkle. It is no longer the beautiful pristine bike I brought. It has scratches and a few squeaks....but then so do I ...mine will heal though.

Our dinner was chicken delish...

Miles:80 relaxing lovely miles..

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 53 Perry Fl a very friendly place

We left Wakulla Springs early and the early start gave us about an hour of cooler temperatures. We left the park, and had only two turns to get us to our hotel. The first 10 miles were quiet and there was no significant wind. I pulled and was thinking about many of the cycling exercises I had learned this winter. One leg drills, spinning up, and circles....I kept a good pace and had fun as well.

When we made our second turn, we hit a little head wind. Nothing like many of our days, but still it slowed us down a bit. We got to the SAG stop, which was at 16 miles since it was a short day, and didn't stay long, since it was extremely buggy. After we left Lois S passed us. With the head wind, we had an advantage, and caught her a little bit down the road. She joined us (Marci, Sherry and me) and we worked in our pace line. Now let me tell you all these woman are strong and capable cyclists....which means, I kept falling off the line....catching up, falling off etc. It was a terrific workout for me and pushed me pretty hard. It is interesting, because when you work hard, you use different muscles...something that I will need to to work on once I am home. Our last few miles we took a relaxed pacce...and looked for somewhere to eat. We got into the hotel, and had friendly staff, who explained that because of remodelling the rooms were not available....they thought perhaps they would be ready by 3 PM....This staff was great, they worked as a team and withing a litte over an hour had rooms ready.
After our showers we we to Mama's Italian was great to have a big plate of pasta. They too were SO friendly and helpful and the food hit the spot...I would highly recommend this one!

Day 52 Our last rest day

This day was a continuation of the peaceful time that we had on our arrival at Wakulla Springs. We went to church in the morning and wher so delighted to have a SAG driver take us in the van. When we arrived back at the lodge, we had some lunch and then RELAXED:read, walked a little, did another boat tour, had dinner with the others. It was a quiet simple day. I did give some thought to renting a kayak, but decided that I needed to keep out of the sun.

Some of the other women jumped off the platform...about 30 feet up...Laurey, Carol M and Marci braved this. Others did go in swimming (the temperature was 69), but I was totally lazy and sat and watched.

No miles, lots of rest!

Day 51 To Wakulla Springs

The ride to Wakulla was a good one. We only had a few turns and lots of pine forests. Our route was flat and the best part was arriving at the lodge. There really was not too much to report about the ride...especially after all I have reported before.

The park and lodge however were wonderful. Wakulla Springs park was created by Mr Ball, after he had purchased the land in 1934. There were just paths leading to the Springs, and on the banks he built the lodge. It is in a mediterranean style. The lobby was large with beautiful large fire place. The ceiling was cypress and had been painted by a German artist.

The lodge is about one hundred yards from the spring. There is an swimming area with a diving platform. Adjacent to this is a dock with boats that leave about every thirty minutes and have park rangers giving a river tour. We saw cypress, and many species of birds:osprey, anhinga, morehens, cormorants,wood duck, yellow crested night heron, coots and great egrets with hatchlings, not yet fledged. We also saw a ton of alligators, mullets and gar fish.

Can you tell I liked this?

Dinner was as always great, BBQ (pulled pork). After that we had a talent show. To go into this, would be quite difficult, as there were many insider jokes and skits...but I will tell you that there is truly much talent in this group and that we all entertained one another...what fun!!!

MIleage 39 miles

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 50 Hot and Humid! and Eastern time zone

Now just a little reminder for any of you who have been intending to make a donation to PVA but have not yet done so or are still thinking about it...this trip will soon be over and you won't have my blog to entertain before that happens, please go to and make your enough is the scoop of the day.

Well, if you have traveled to Florida you know why it is called the Sunshine State. There is plenty of sunshine....what that doesn't advertise is that there is plenty of heat and humidity complaints I don't really mind this weather, and biking is far better than running in the it!

This morning we delayed our departure from the hotel because of dense fog. As it lifted we put on our flashing lights and headed out. We retraced our path part way out of town and then headed into the surrounding countryside. Most folks don't think of Florida as rural, but rather beaches, some big cities, the Keys, Disney orange groves, but here there were farms...just like you find further north. One of the women I was riding with kept remarking that it was very much like New Jersey. For me it reminded me of area of North Carolina or Virginia, as you leave the rolling hills and get closer and closer to the coast.

As an aside, there were indeed hills on this ride, some were quick little hills and others bigger.

Our route took us onto country roads for almost all the ride. The towns we passed through were small and the traffic was very very light. There were only a few dogs, but someone riding ahead of us (not in our group) was bitten today. They knew that our group was behind and notified the home office, and we were told as well. Of course after a bite the first thing that happens (beside seeking medical attention for the person bitten) is that the dog is taken and quarantined. Many folk in the country apparently don't immunize their there is always the thought that indeed they could be rabid. Some of these folks also don't neuter or spay the animals....and you can find semi feral dogs......We had no problems as we went by ....

Our ride seemed to take a little longer than yesterday...I felt more fatigued, and was slogging a bit, whether from the long ride yesterday or the heat and humidity....not sure, but it was not a long ride today and before we knew it we were in Quincy, FL. We went to the downtown square and found a wonderful sandwich and coffee shop, Miss Helen's. It not only had good sandwiches, but it had painting and pottery from local artists. They also will have an acoustic jazz night tomorrow night...too bad we won't be around for that!

The last couple of miles to the hotel were hot and on arriving at the hotel, it was nice to see and get into the pool....SO REFRESHING!

Oh yes...we are not in Eastern Time zone!! Yippee

Our dinner was Mexican and delish....
Mileage 55
Only 5 more days to go!