Month: May 2014

Goin’ home


I saw these signs a couple of thousand miles ago and couldn’t imagine the end in St. Augustine, Florida.  Some days I wished we had found the green “easier” trail, but then we wouldn’t have had half the fun we had!

What a glorious day in St. Augustine for the ceremonial dip of the wheels and a celebratory swim in the Atlantic Ocean in delightful 74 degree waters.


IMG_1845 DSCN3774 DSCN3832


Smiles all around, and patience at the drawbridge when the celebration ended.




Bike packing. The definition of a (crazy) friend is one who will help decipher the directions to pack and unpack a bike box!  (Craig, Chuck, Francie – THANK YOU!)



It didn’t seem that long ago when we were camping at this ranch in Texas adjacent to a barn with a new-born calf and out-houses.




Home to funny signs lining my driveway.  How did those get there?!

DSCN3835 DSCN3848 DSCN3843


You never know where you’ll find wisdom!  I will miss those bakery bathrooms.  These capture the spirit…



America the Beautiful

This week we biked through Ray Charles’s home town of Greenville, Florida.  Ray Charles sang a resounding rendition of America the Beautiful, a perfect backdrop to this week’s route through diverse landscapes in the Florida panhandle.



Thankfully, Florida doesn’t permit cyclists on the interstate, so we enjoyed lovely back roads and river crossings, including the beloved Suwannee River.  Scenes from the panhandle…

DSCN3684 DSCN3690 DSCN3677DSCN3553DSCN3670 DSCN3668 DSCN3671


The Spirit of the Suwannee campground, on the other hand, was less tranquil. We happened to land in the middle of a huge electronic music festival right next to our camp site with live and LOUD music through the night!  The crowd seemed straight out of Woodstock.

DSCN3692 DSCN3699 DSCN3702DSCN3703


After the rains of a week ago, the weather has been dry and HOT – with temperatures up into the 90s, calling for multiple ice cream stops, especially on our century ride yesterday.

IMG_1812IMG_1811DSCN3713 DSCN3762

We were treated to the best-of-the-best shipped from Cincinnati to celebrate Lou’s birthday!



The cows (near the Suwannee camp site) and critters (at Wakulla Springs State Park) found other ways to cool off.

DSCN3685 DSCN3630 IMG_1800 DSCN3622 DSCN3643




We wondered about this guy’s business model as the temps climbed!




I jumped off the bike trail along Tallahassee’s outskirts and headed into the city for an “off-route field trip” to visit the beautiful old state Capitol building along with a trip up to the 22nd floor’s viewing platform of the “new” Capitol. Florida boasts that it has the third largest Capitol building in the country after  Austin, TX (with its gorgeous, classic building), and the nation’s Capitol.  In this case, big doesn’t always mean beautiful.  There was a great view over the University of Florida, the Turlington Education Center (named after my fellow cyclist’s father!) and 60 miles in all directions.

DSCN3578 DSCN3585 DSCN3583


The old Capitol was charming and inviting, even if its occupants were slow to embrace change.



Wandering on the side streets of Tallahasee in search of the bike path heading east, I found some great street art, including a nod to today’s girl power.




My favorite street art makes me think.  I first saw this in New Orleans.  It’s fun to imagine how to fill in the blank. Now that I’ve almost finished crossing the southern tier of the U.S., I can’t help but think that there are a lot more states, countries and continents to cover, a lot more time to spend with family and new and old friends, conversations to share, and questions to keep asking…


DSCN3573 DSCN3423DSCN3733 DSCN3742

A Sign of the Times.

DSCN3510 I certainly didn’t start this trip looking for signs.  But they seem to find me.  Great metaphors; mixed metaphors; misspellings; endorsements; cajoling; warnings and inspiration from every corner.  We all have become accustomed to getting our news and advertising electronically, but as long as cars, trucks, motorcycles (and bikes) travel our highways and byways, there’s still an opportunity for signs to sell, amuse, and puzzle.

The best signs make us smile and curious, like this one.  And then if we’re curious…those marketers just might have us.


I stopped at the convenience store for some much needed Gatorade in 89 degree Florida-panhandle weather.  I chatted up a local who explained that, “Yes, indeed, those fiddlers can get those worms hopping straight out of the ground.  One guy puts a stick in the ground and starts sawing across the top with another stick and gets vibrations in the ground that cause the worms to start hopping.” While he makes his music, another guy “loads those worms into a sack as fast as he can, barely keeping up with those jumping worms.  And they make good money with those worms for fish bait!”

He then launched into a story about the Rattlesnake Rodeo in Alabama.  Can’t believe I missed that.  My fellow cyclist, Bill, and I had to head east otherwise we’d still be there listening to this fellow.   As we rode off, he told us, “I told my doctor I’m only allergic to one thing: my ex-wife,” and he kept talking!



Some signs need no interpretation. (And we did finally leave Texas!)


Direct from Florida.  (Know your demographics:))

DSCN3511 DSCN3462


Other signs are clear as mud.  This sign was at a school bus stop. (Can you figure out the missing word?  This must be practice for the Florida standardized tests.)


What?? Check out these curious signs.

DSCN3505 DSCN3231

How about this?  Is that a gopher?



I biked by this sign in Alabama and turned around to check for cars passing and noticed that the back side had a different message.

DSCN3186 DSCN3187


Some offer unintentional services (exterminating SUNSHINE and pests?)



Some get the message across but won’t win any spelling bees.



There are some signs that simply encourage good eating and drinking.  I like these…





A sack of crawfish with a tank of gas? – Why not!



Straight from Pensacola, Florida (biking through town after a record 25 inch rainfall).




Some signs tempt, especially with their convenient hours.



Some signs haven’t been updated in 39 years.



Sometimes you don’t need a sign to make you smile: Lou’s 80th birthday!

DSCN3556 DSCN3560


Lou’s secret? He lives by this motto every day!


Rain, rain, go away.

With eyes glued to the tornado warnings on our smart phones, we hovered in the evening rain at our Mississippi campsite at the beginning of the week and braced for the worst.  But our wishes for the rain to go away were granted.

Here’s Richard thanking the Sun God.



As we pedaled into Alabama, we shed our rain coats, rain pants and extra layers for lovely dry pedaling.  We cycled over a graceful, five-mile bridge to Dauphin Island, protected by pelicans and Fort Gaines.DSCN3394 DSCN3250

DSCN3263 DSCN3256


DSCN3286 DSCN3291


We were thrilled that the ferry was running the next morning after two days of closure.  Our alternative was a long swim…



The ride across Mobile Bay was beautiful (and included a close-up of an oil platform).



We were greeted by more pelicans and a wet park adjacent to the ferry landing.



Here’s Cindy winding her way along the flooded road along the peninsula after we got off the ferry, still in Alabama.



There were plenty of lots for sale.



The sections along the beach were lovely.



But the heavy rains left flooded roads and campsites from Mississippi to Florida.


DSCN3183 DSCN3185


We were meant to stay at this aptly named state park last night where the park entry and campsites were under water. Instead, we stayed down the road at the Pensacola Navy Base on higher ground where we also got to see the light house and the Navy Aviation Museum.

DSCN3380 DSCN3379 DSCN3382


This impressive Navy plane was the first to fly across the Atlantic in 1919.  There are times when we wish we had something like this to transport us over the rougher parts of our trip (like the sections of Louisiana with a preponderance of bike-chasing-dogs.)



Our leaders entertained us at the Navy Base campsite with debris they had found along the road that day.



Riding out of Pensacola today required multiple detours due to collapsed and flooded roads and yards.

IMG_1783 DSCN3439 DSCN3437 IMG_1778

We learned from a local bystander that the guy driving this truck was okay despite his destroyed vehicle.  He was, however, served with a DUI infraction which led another local to proclaim, “He must have thought the wrath of God had come down upon him.”  We all agreed he was unlikely to be a repeat offender.



As my fellow cyclist (who was raised southern Baptist said), burning might be preventable, but not flooding…



There ARE still miracles.



And after this week’s storms, it is a miracle it is SUNNY!