Saturday, May 22, 2010
Saint Augustine Florida
Here it is - The final day, the day we ride into St. Augustine. We all got ready to leave Palatka, and start our ride to the finish. We took some pictures of the three of us getting ready to head out, did our final checks and we were off!
Within minutes of starting for the day we had what would be the largest hill of the day - the bridge leaving from East Palatka over the St. John River. We found ourselves traveling along some very scenic roads along the St. John River, in very nice well shaded neighborhoods.
The roads were flat, with very little traffic so we were able to ride as a group and talk. We found ourselves reminicing about the t=last couple of weeks riding together and what we thought life would be like after the ride. We could not help but wonder what we would do and how we would get back to our "normal" lives.
The neighborhoods along the river turned into farm lands as we started heading East towards St. Augustine. As we rode through Hastings we were met by signs proclaiming this to be the potato growing center of Florida. We watched as field after field was being harvested today, and finding many trucks taking the pototo crop from the fields along the roads we were traveling.
We stopped at a local store for a quick break before we started the last few miles into St. Augustine. The store was something out of the past still exsisting, the cash register was an old push button type mashine that would normally be seen in an antique store, and the store was extremely busy ( it was luch time so I guess we should expect this) they were selling buckets of deepfried chicken livers and gizzards, and the locals say that we need to try them - they are good. We did not try them, none of us was quite that brave.
We again set out on the road, and continued to ride together to talk, and occationally drop back and ride alone to reflect opun where we are, where we have been and what we were about to accomplish. It all seems so surreal still. All the talking we were doing made the time pass very quickly, and we were at the St. Augustine city limits in no time at all!
We stopped and just stared at first, no-one saying a word. Then we looked at each other with tears in our eyes and realized we were here and almost finished. We took a few minutes and got some pictures at the sign and then continued on to the center of town for the "official finish". The Adventure Cycling maps have us finishing by Flagler College.
So we left for the king St. finish by the college. We were now on very heavily traveled main roads with no shoulder, this lasted right up to the end at the covered pavillion. When we arrived we were met by my wife Tammy, my son Jeremy, Gerry's Sister and her Husband, and 4 riders from Get Your Guts in Gear. (Gary Beckman, his Mom and Dad, and Susan D'Aulerio). It was an amazing few minutes of gathering our thoughts, taking pictures, and enjoying the beauty of the St. Augustine.
After our pictures, greeting friends and families, it was pointed out that the final launch of the space shuttle Atlatis would be starting in a few minutes. We decided to make our way to the Lions Head Bridge to watch for the launch.(we had to cross the bridge to get to the ocean for the ceremonial dipping of the tires anyway!!)
We sat on the bridge and within minutes were greeted by a long plume of white smoke and a visible trail of fire from the solid rocket boosters of the shuttle. Wha an awesome finish to an amazing ride, who could ask for better fireworks that this??
After the liftoff of the shuttle they lowered the drawbridge (it was left open during the launch so that no one would stop and cause a problem otherwise) and we all went on our way to Anastasia State Park to complete the ride by dipping the tires.
Gary Beckman, his Mom and Dad, and Susan D'Aulerio all rode the last few miles with us to the ocean and cheered us on as we finally got to dip the tires in the Atlantic Ocean - we had done it- pedaled our bikes from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. We all took turns with the photo oportunities that were around us, and enjoyed Gary and his family, Susan, Gerry's Sister and husband all clapping as we dipped our tires. When we looked back from the water we realized that many beachgoers were also standing around and clapping for us too!!
We left the beach for the picnic area where Tammy had set up a party for us. Sandwich platters, soda and a cupcake cake for all to enjoy. Gerry, Ron and I, all toasted the safe finish of our journey with a glass of Asti Spumanti. We were also met there by Joy Hooper and her husband, they drove in from Tifton, Georgia to watch us finish the ride. Joy is an ostomy nurse, that has an awesome passion for her job. She has developed an "Anatomical Ostomy Apron" to explain ostomies,and colon resections.
Here are some websites to check out Joy's aprons:
and if the ride down from Georgia wasn't enough she had brought with her $180.00 in donations that she had raised for our cause!!! She also treated us to a full presentation of her apron, and her knowledge and presentation were fantastic!
I will no doubt write more as I gather my thoughts and some more pictures too!
It has been a great deal of fun for me to ride to bring awareness to Crohn's colitis, colorectal cancer, and ostomies, and blog along the way for all of you to get a sense of what I found on the road.
Thank you all for following, writing and supporting this cause.... and stay tuned for more as time goes on.........
The garmin information for the day is as follows:
Day 56 Palatka to St. Augustine by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Lake City to Palatka
Before I got on the road today I received a call from Ron saying that they had a good day yesterday and were feeling extremely good starting today. They were interested in making a big ride today and rejoining to finish the ride together. That was awesome news, it is far better to ride with others than to ride alone!
I told them I would love to finish the ride with them but the way we had finished yesterday would make it difficult to get back together. We all decided to finish today's ride and meet tomorrow in Palatka for the final ride into Saint Augustine.
With that, I got to where I was supposed to turn yesterday and headed out for Palatka.
Heading out on the road today, I had two distinct features that grabbed my attention, the first was the sighting of what appeared to be Texas Longhorns on a farm, (not only is Florida hilly like Texas but has Longhorns too!), and the second was the constant sound of helicopters flying around, (I later learned that this was due to the close proximity of the National Gaurd's Blanding Traing Center). i again took a wrong road today that put me about 8 miles out of my way(round trip). I got myself back on track and before long found I was again on the rolling hills of Texas - I mean Florida- and the wonderful, heavily cracked chipseal pavement just made for an awesome riding Day!!
I was riding with purpose, I had to finish in Palatka so that tomorrow I could reunite with Ron and Gerry to finish. Not an easy task given the road conditions and Florida weather being hot and humid, but I did make it. At this point I am starting to have mixed emotions about finishing - on the one hand am very exited to be so close to the end, to be able to say I pedaled from Coast to Coast. But on the other hand it was going to be over, the friendships made, the talking about colon health, the views, the kindnesses shown, the hills were all going to be done.(ok so I won't really miss any of the hills!) But, basically all I have had to do for the past 55 days or so was to clean up camp everyday, pedal to my next stop and eat, each and every day.
It is all about to end and I will have to try a resume a "normal life" again. But what am I thinking??? I still have one more day of riding so why worry about such things as the end when I have one more day to enjoy with friends!!! Let's cross that bridge when we get to it - for now I will enjoy more riding!
Today's Garmin information is as follows:
Day 55 Lake City to Palatka by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Spirit of Suwanee Park to Lake City
With a good nights rest and camp picked up it was on to the business of the day - where are we going to stop for the night? While talking to Ron and Gerry, it was decided that they did not want to push on too fast and that they would slow the pace and finish a day later than I would. We talked a bit and I decided to try and make it as close to St. Augustine as possible. We took a few pictures of the three of us, and said our goodbye's and I was off on my own to finish.
I had mapped a route different than the Adventure Cycling route for today mostly on route 41. It was rather hot and sticky already this morning so I wanted a fairly early start. I immediately was met by more Florida rolling hills, (I think we have established and documented quite well by now that Florida is definatly not flat!!)and also some very nice colors from the flowers in bloom along the road. It was hot and humid and quite a pretty ride to start the day - UNTIL - the dreaded chase dog approached from the left, ok so it was 4 dogs... but only one was fast enough to be a threat,(the other three were little dogs mostly barking)and I was going fast enough and had enough of a head start that he did not catch me.
I was back to my relaxed pace and doing well when I was chased by another dog from the right this time - he came out of nowhere quitely and when he was about 10 feet away - started barking. I grabbed for my dog repelant spray and sprayed at him, it seemed to work even though I did not directly hit him, he backed off and I continued.
I passed through White Springs, a nice little town along the Suwannee River, it has some nice old scenic buildings and homes along main street, and not much traffic. I had not eaten breakfast, so I was beginning to feel hungry, I found a gas station just before I-10 and stopped for some snack type breakfast foods. After some food and a juice, I was again on my way. I passed I-10 and before long made it to Lake City, and by this time I was quite hot and sweaty. After I passed my turn for the route I was supposed to take, I decided to call it quits for the day (about 4-5 miles past my turn) I will start tomorrow where I was supposed to turn today! A good starting point to start a new day.
Todays Garmin information is as follows:
Day 54 Spirit of Suwannee Park to Lake City by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Waukeenah to Spirit of Suwannee Park
Today we got to start the day with a waffle breakfast provided by the KOA, with coffee, and orange juice. It was a good start to the day, along with conversation with a couple that is touring the country by car.
When we hit the road we started by following route 90 for a good part of the day, this section was very nice – not much traffic, and good scenery around. We finally went back to the side roads, where we experienced the rolling hills of Florida, every bit as bad as the hill country in Texas (just in case you didn’t read my other posts, Florida IS NOT FLAT!!!!)
As we rolled along the biggest thing I noticed was the moss in the trees, and how much if it there was. Some areas seem worse that others but either way there was a lot of trees covered in it. It was very picturesque, and I found myself stopping more than once for pictures. When the moss seemed to disappear, the fields opened up and we began to see a lot of flowers again. The fields and roadsides were covered in yellow and purple flowers, and they were in full bloom everywhere you looked.
The hills did not change all day except to maybe get a little worse as the day wore on ( I don’t know if they were worse or we were getting beat up by them!). We were heading to Spirit of Suwannee Music Park for the night. We called to make sure they had room, and they did. The bad news – it’s the only night of the week they have no restaurant or music!!! Try to avoid Tuesday nights at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park if you can.
We passed through Lee, Fl. today and I have to say they are quite proud Their motto even proclaimes it - when you enter town there is a sign that reads: "Lee Florida - little but proud" I guess you have to be awfully proud to boast about your size!!
We arrived and went to the convenience store down the road to get provision for cooking this evening, the prices were a little high so we decided to wait and check the camp store. After checking in we were advised the camp store closes at 5:00pm it was now 5:10 – of all the luck – we now had to set up and go back to the convenience store.
We picked our sites and set up, then Ron took his bike (he unhooked his trailer so it was light and fast) and shopped for dinner for us. He returned and we made elbow pasta, marinara sauce, and hotdogs. Good enough for me. Dinner finished and cleanup all set we turned in for the night, we have a 79 mile day again tomorrow.
Today’s Garmin Information is as follows:
Day 53 Waukeenah to Spirit of Suwannee Music Park by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
East Shore Campground Ga. to Waukeenah, Fl.
Getting up this morning was tricky. I had to shake my tent pretty good to get rid of some of the ants before I climbed out. Once I did this and removed my belongings, I moved the tent to the paved area to shake it really good and pack it away. Once finished it was up the 85 ft. or so climb to the park entrance, and back to Chattahoochee for coffee and breakfast at Subway.
Today is a planned 79 mile day and the weather is looking really good, a chill in the air to start and no humidity to speak of. We hit the road and were able to make good time, we passed some logging areas that were getting ready to be closed off, so they were burning the remaining trash they did not want. This filled the area with so much smoke that it was like a fog at times.
The fields have changed to mostly open land and not much to speak of on our route for farming, but we did see something for the first time today – a pig farm – up to this point I think it is the only thing we have not seen being raised.
We arrived on the edge of Tallahassee, and were to get on a bike trail. This did not happen; we ended up at Florida A&M, with no sign of the bike path we were to take. We asked a worker for some directions (Dez) and he was more than able to help us, we followed his truck right to the bike path we were supposed to be on. He explained where we went wrong and said it is not marked well (I think he was trying to make us feel better at this point). We thanked him and said good bye and were again on course.
We still had a good way to go but were able to make good time, and before long(even with all these rolling hills) we arrived at the KOA Tallahassee East. What a nice campground. We again had purchased food on our way so we could cook in camp. Tonight it was macaroni, sausage, diced tomatoes, and chili beans. It was far better than it sounds. It was dark while we were cooking, so the mosquitoes were quite unbearable, we ate quickly and showered for the night, and off to sleep.
Today’s Garmin information is as follows:
Day 52 East Shore campground to Waukeenah, Fl. by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Ponce De Leon to East Shore Campground, Ga.
We got a good early start to the day today and were going to go to Subway for breakfast, but instead decided to go to the next town, so we were farther up the road. This was a mistake, we did not find anything close by and ended up taking two small detours off course to try and find food –unsuccessfully.
The Garmin on my bike said there was a Waffle House about 6 miles away from where we were, so we decided to go there. By the time we stopped for breakfast we already had 22 miles in for the day. Neither Gerry nor Ron had been to a Waffle House before, so they were surprised to see that they had such a good menu and well priced to boot! We ate and back tracked to the route and were again on our way.
During our ride today, we ran across a sign that kind of bewildered us all. It was in Caryville, Fl., and read: "WELCOME TO CARYVILLE,FL.-WORM FIDDLIN' CAPITAL OF THE WORLD" Annual Festival. If anyone out there can enlighten me as to what exactly "worm fiddlin' is -- I would greatly appreciate it! Otherwise it is just one of those things no one would believe - unless they saw it for themselves. You know-- things that make you go HMMMMM?!?!
We had a choice of two campgrounds, but could not get in touch with either of them to be sure we could get a site. Tammy had called and offered her help; she made some calls and got through to East Shore Campground. She looked up the information on East Shore and found it was an Army Corps of Engineers park. It is alongside a manmade lake with a dam and power plant at the end. It is known to have beautiful sunsets, as well!
We finally arrived after a late day hill climb of about 80 – 100 ft. 2 miles before the campground. As we approached the campground we were met by an unexpected surprise - the campground was in Georgia. That is pretty cool, because now we have made a ninth state!!!
The campground was down about 85ft. from the guard house. That was going to be a rough start to tomorrow! When we got our sites and set up camp for the night. Just before we got to Chattahoochee we bought some stuff for a dinner at the campground again. This time we did Penne with olive oil, garlic salt, cheese, string beans, and canned chicken. It was actually way better than it sounds as you read it! We ate dinner and---oh yeah--- I forgot to tell you about the ants – the ants are like sugar ants – but they number in the millions…literally!! There were nests everywhere, and as soon as you put anything down they swarmed it. This was a bit of a pain, but the good news, is they don't bite.
We finished dinner shook off our tents and climbed in for the night – I only hope they don’t find their way in.
The Garmin information for the day is as follows:
Day 51 Ponce De Leon to East Shore Campgrond, Ga. by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Blackwater River State Park to Ponce De Leon
Leaving the park this morning we passed through a lot of forest area, and it was very muggy today. We were camping about 2 miles off the route, so we had to back track a little to get back to the right road out.
If I haven’t mentioned it yet, let me say right now for the record – Florida IS NOT FLAT!!!!! It’s like we are back in the hill country of Texas, with its slow rolling hills, and never ending rolling hills. We have climbed along the shoreline and into forest areas that were higher than I ever expected.
We had a planed day of about 65 miles, which it ended up being very close to, what we did not expect was the extreme humidity we were encountering. It was a short day, but because of the heat and humidity we took our time and ended up riding for 5 ½ hours. Along the road towards the end of our day we came across a father and son who have been on the road for three years, the son was 15 – it seemed a little strange to us, and did not know what to make of it. They said they sleep in the woods along the way and they had just passed the 14,000 mile mark. They were headed for San Diego, then heading up the coast.
The only real town of note today was De Funiak Springs; it is a very cute town that seems to be centered around the historic district at Lake De Funiak. We stopped at the lake to check it out, and it must have been prom night, as there were several kids in formal attire getting their pictures taken. We stayed out of the way and went to see the ducks. There were several large rather ugly ducks in the water, so we focused our attention on a few pictures of ourselves at the lake. That’s when all the ducklings started swimming our way. We instantly got our leftover bread from last night and fed the duckling so we could get some pictures.
A little girl came over to watch and demonstrated just how easily one could grab and hold and duckling, we were a little more cautious, since the mother ducks were in the area and closing fast. We used up our bread and rode around the rest of the lake. The homes in the area are beautiful, and show many different architectural styles, and some nice elements of scroll work on the porches.
It was time to move on as we still had a few miles left to go for the day. We arrived at Ponce De Leon, and headed for the hotel, it would be nice to sleep inside in the air conditioned room for a break. We showered and headed out to do laundry and dinner. The laundry mat was on the way, so we stopped and put our clothes in the washer, and would return after dinner to dry them. We were not too concerned with someone stealing our clothes because -1) there was nobody around, and, 2) who wants somebody’s biking shorts and a few Cycling Semicolons biking shirts?????
It was off to dinner, we walked the mile to the end of the road and we chose the Bar B Q place over Sally’s, because none of us has had too much Bar B Q on this trip. Excellent choice, the food was unbelievably good – I had the 2 meat dinner (brisket and sausage) the brisket was awesome – the best I have had since I was in Texas. The people were extremely friendly and we began talking about how difficult it is to get a good brisket meal home, unless we do it ourselves. The owner came out with his just smoked brisket to show off how it looks, and I think he burned his hands in the process. The place was called 4 c Bar b q and they are on the web too!
We could not resist and also ordered desert, strawberry pie, it too was very good. We had to leave soon so we could dry our clothes, the laundry mat closed at 9:00 pm and it was already 8:15. We walked back a half mile to the laundry mat and dried our clothes and went back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
The Garmin information for today is as follows:
Day 50 Blackwater River State Park to Ponce De Leon by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Big Lagoon State Park to Blackwater River State Park
Today started very overcast and dreary, we did not hold out much hope to stay dry. We left our campsites and headed out for breakfast. The clouds did give way to sunshine, and we were starting to feel the Florida humidity. We went through Pensacola today and passed right in front of the entrance to the base there. We did not get to see the Blue Angels (this is their home base) as they were not flying today. We rode through town and decided to take a break next to a statue, that we found to be “The Sanctuary” by Sam Nettles – it is a beautiful sculpture of a mother, father, and child. It listed as both a shelter and memorial for the families, parents and friends of lost and missing children.
We ran into two Pensacola police Officers there so we stayed and talked for a few minutes with them, one was a female officer who, as she explained to us was the first female officer in Pensacola to be promoted, and the first to be awarded their highest honor. They gave us some advice about riding through town, and wished us well.
We drove along many miles of beautiful white sand beaches and really nice homes along the beach area. As we pressed on we crossed a bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, and got to watch boats of all sizes navigating the waterway. At this point we were not far from our destination – Blackwater River State Park. We found a Wal-Mart and bought some provisions for dinner.
When we arrived we were amazed that the park was full, the ranger was not in so we went to the campground to find the camp host, we found one site open, told the camp host but when we went back someone came in and set up a tent. We were without a site; we went back to the office and awaited the rangers return at 5:30. When he returned he had to do a drive through the campground, and said he would see what he could do and if not then we would have to use the overflow with a cold shower, yuck!
We were fortunate enough that someone booked two sites and only needed one, so we had a site for the night. We set up camp and made dinner for the night- Farfale pasta, with Sausage, and red sauce. It was quite a meal for camping. We all turned in for a well deserved rest!
The Garmin information is as follows:
Day 49 Big Lagoon State Park to Blackwater River State Park by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Dauphin Island, Al. to Big Lagoon State park, Fl.
Got an early start this morning packed up camp with Gerry and Ron, and headed to the fort. The fort is Fort Gaines – site of Battle of Mobile Bay. This is the battle where Admiral Farragut, aboard his Flagship U.S.S. Hartford, uttered the now famous words “Damn the Torpedoes-Full Speed Ahead!” The fort is pretty amazing to walk around, it is completely open and you can explore virtually every inch of the area. It is a $5.00 fee to get in which we were told is barely enough to keep it open. It is well preserved and has many of the big guns still in place at the corners. The museum had some interesting artifacts found on site and a lot of history as well as good examples of daily life in the fort.
It was now 10:30am, we were only riding a short distance today (about 50 miles), and so we were in no great hurry, but the ferry to Fort Morgan had arrived so we needed to go - or wait an hour and a half for the next one. We headed for the ferry and could not help but notice the presence of the news media; they were there to keep track of the impending landfall of the oil spill from the collapsed oil rig in the gulf. They were not interested in us or our rides; they were busy with the “big story”. We boarded the ferry and enjoyed the ride and the awesome views we were afforded on our way.
As we were docking in Fort Morgan, we could not help but notice about a hundred people putting together containment booms, and boat after boat going out with 500 ft. sections to be anchored off shore to help protect the island. We rode down the street a little ways and decided to look for something to eat, we found a place called “Tacky Jack’s”, we decided it sounded just like us so we went in. It was a nice place and were welcomed and told the story of how this building is the only original building left in the area, it had survived all the previous storms that nothing else did.
The food was very good and the service was even better, we were wished well by the staff and were once again on the road. We still had most of our day ahead of us so we picked up the pace a bit to Make it to Big Lagoon State Park. We stopped along the way to check out the beautiful white sand beaches, and see what kind of indigenous life there was in the area (bikini watching).
The weather was warm and very humid, and it was tempting to jump in the water, but it was so far to walk over the sand and we would eventually have to get back on the bike – not fun when you are soaking wet! We continued on and before long found ourselves at a “Welcome to Florida” sigh. We stopped and spent several minutes talking about how we had finally made it our last state, and how it was starting to sink in that we were almost done. After several pictures we started off again, it was only 10 miles or so till we arrived at the state park. As we rode on we passed a fire station, the guys know I like to stop and headed right in. We talked to the firefighters on duty, they would try and send me a patch – but more importantly they told us where to go for dinner. We left and arrived at the Big Lagoon State Park within minutes, and immediately set up camp, showered and were ready to go get dinner.
Dinner tonight was at Trigger’s, a nice family restaurant, a little high priced but very good food. We sat and ordered dinner and toasted ourselves for the accomplishments we have made. After dinner I decided to have dessert, the list was long and the decision difficult – but in the end I went for the fried cheesecake. It was a piece of cheesecake rolled in corn flake, deep-fried, then covered with a hot caramel and pecan sauce. It was amazingly good! If you have the chance, go and try it!
The Garmin information for the day is as follows:
Day 48 Dauphin Island, Al. to Big Lagoon State Park, Fl. by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
Slidell, La. to Dauphin Island, Al
Today as I woke up I decided to change my endpoint for the day. I skipped ahead to the next waypoint of Dauphin Island. It was a 100 mile day, but I was ready to do a century ride. Wit Tammy helping ( I think she makes an awesome logistics coordinator) we decided that the best way would be down Highway 90, the Google map pictures showed a decent highway with shoulders. I set out from Slidell since I arrived late and did not have exact change for the overnight drop.
I went in and paid after I broke down camp for the night. I remembered a Waffle House down the street, so I headed out for breakfast. Hitting the road at 9:30am it was already 82 degrees. I took the necessary roads to get me to highway 90, and was on my way. The roads were nice and not much traffic to speak of; the wins were light and variable, so no problems there either. I was doing very well time wise and had no doubts I would make Dauphin Island by nightfall. I passed several nice communities and crossed many rivers, marshes, and swamps before coming to Bay St. Louis. There is a nice bridge with awesome views looking out to The Gulf of Mexico.
After crossing the bridge I started to ride along the Gulf of Mexico beaches, they are beautiful white sand beaches, and nice parking spots all along the roads for the public. There is a worried air about the people with the threat of the oil spill hitting their beaches. The house along this stretch of road are quite beautiful, and some houses were noticeably absent or in the process of being rebuilt. There were many areas of the beaches that are set aside for nesting Least Terns, so as you walk or drive by, they fly off and then return, and there are hundreds of them.
I rode through Biloxi, Mississippi, and saw the Hard Rock Hotel and casino, and the Beau Rivage casino. After Biloxi I went through Ocean Springs, Ms. and found a firehouse on main street, so I stopped for a patch. The Battalion Chief was not able to find one quickly so he said he would send one off to me when he finds them. I left a patch for their patch collection and was again on my way. Next up Pascagoula, and Grumman ship building, you could see the facilities from the highway, and it looked quite expansive. By now I was hitting rush hour traffic and people were driving much more erratically, so
I was glad to see the highway starting to go back to a little more of a rural highway. The traffic eased as rush hour waned, and before long I came across the welcome to Alabama sign. Wow two states in one day, I felt reenergized as I began to doubt I would make my destination. Now that I was in Alabama I only had two roads to follow – Rt 188 to Rt 193 straight to the campground, but the sun was getting low in the sky. As I rode through the last few towns before Dauphin Island, the sun had started to disappear behind the trees, and then I finally got to the Dauphin Island town limit – it is at the start of a long and tall bridge I must cross to get on the actual Island. As I started to cross the bridge, the sun had almost completely gone down and had left beautiful hues of red, orange, and purple in the sky. I still had another 6-8 miles to go and darkness was upon me, I had my taillight flasher on and my headlight (not a true headlight-but it worked) on and finally crossed onto Dauphin Island, after getting all the way to the East end of the Island, I found the campground just about to close for the night.
I went in and got a spot for the night and some food for dinner. The woman behind the desk put me next to two other sites with bicyclists on them, cool I could exchange stories in the morning. When I walked to my campsite, I could not help but think the tents next to me looked familiar…. I called out “Gerry?-Ron?” and they both answered. I just commented that they could run but they can’t hide! They came out of their tents and helped me set up mine, while we exchanged some stories of the past few days since we parted ways. The mosquitoes were quite bad, so they went back to their tents, after telling me how nice the showers were. I finished setting up and went for a shower and quickly went to bed – it was after all 9:30 at night!! A LONG day, it ended up being 125.69 miles total for the day, and now for some well deserved sleep.
The Garmin information for today is as follows:
Day 47 Slidell, La. to Dauphin Island, Al. by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details
New Orleans to Slidell, La.
I have enjoyed my second night in a hotel. I was buried in pillows with the A/C on high and snuggled comfortably into the bed; I had a nice hot breakfast and a nice tub to soak in. I was desperately trying to enjoy as many conveniences as I could before I start the home stretch to St. Augustine!
I started a little later that I wanted (by about 2 ½ hours), but it was a beautiful day and I had not far to go (Slidell is about 50 miles). By the time I got to the Gretna ferry, I was for the second day in a row -late- I had to go to Algiers to get to Canal St. an extra 6.5 miles. Today it took an unusually long wait until we were able to cross. When we made the crossing over the Mississippi for the final time, I was ready to take a SLOW day and check out New Orleans. Tammy was on the phone with me as I walked the bike off the ferry and through the street of New Orleans, I was thirsty and she found there was an Arby’s just blocks from me (the internet can be so fun), so I decided to eat lunch now then do some exploring.
The Arby’s was two floors of seating and quite different than I am used to seeing, I finished lunch and checked out the little shop next door. It had lots of beads in all assortments from a “G” rating to almost an “X” rating, who knew they made beads like that too! I started to walk around the streets again and was enjoying the street cars driving by and people watching. There are truly many different lifestyles and looks represented on the streets of New Orleans, and was fun to watch!
Tammy called again to see where I was and told me to trust her when I gave my location. She told me to go 3 more blocks and take a right – which I did – and found myself on Bourbon St. What a sight, it was daylight and you could still see all the neon and reflective signs all the way down the street. There were people everywhere and the activity was somewhat frantic with people in and out of shops and bars. I went to Jesters and bought myself a souvenir plastic Jester full of a frozen something-or-other, that was incredibly good, and STRONG!! After drinking this magic concoction I decided I needed to get going, so I found an empty spot in a front bag on the bike a left the very long straw sticking out to finish as I walk.
Drink finished, and time to head towards Slidell, it was nearly 3:30, and I still had 25 or so miles to go. I headed out on the pre-prescribed route, and before long found myself on the side of Lake Ponchatrain , and was trying to closely follow these shores. This did not work, before long I ran right into a construction project and had to divert to a new route – out to Rt. 90 and over the Highway 11 bridge to Slidell. The bridge here is only 5 miles long instead of the 12 mile bridge on I-10, and much less traffic. I was able to make good time over the bridge which was a relief since there is no shoulder on the bridge for bikes to ride in. Before I finally left New Orleans, I came across a fire station, and was able to trade patches, to help add to the growing collection.
Arriving in Slidell, I was looking forward to a nice shower and some rest. I rode right past the campground I was to stay at on the wrong road and ended up in front of Textron, makers of tanks and armored personnel carriers. When I finally figured where I went wrong I headed down the right street and got a spot at the campground. The campground was closed for the evening when I arrived, so I had no codes to use the bath/shower and no internet access. After checking the 3 sites listed at the office for help, and finding no one at all 3, I stopped at a campsite and asked the people there if they knew the codes, they did not. After making some phone calls to no avail, they finally insisted on me showering in their Trailer. After a few moments I reluctantly agreed and finally was able to shower and freshen up.
Pam & Hollis Davis were the names of the people who were so kind to me. We sat and talked about how they lost their home in hurricane Katrina, and have been living in their fifth wheel trailer in the campground (it is a beautiful trailer and the site is very well decorated). They offered me a burger for dinner, and then said they were cooking steak, when all was said and done they did not have the steak they offered, so Pam took it upon herself to order take out at Outback Steakhouse two exits down the highway. She came back with a dinner for me consisting of Filet Mignon (feta cheese encrusted), shrimp, and salad. Pam placed all of this on nice plates and a tray, and had a home-made piece of carrot cake from a friend for dessert.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to both Pam and Hollis for their kindness; it was far above anything they needed to do. They owed me nothing and showed me one of the greatest kindnesses of the trip – for this I am forever grateful. Thank you both and maybe our paths will cross again. Thank you – Thank you – Thank you!
The Garmin information for today is as follows:
Day 46 New Orleans to Slidell, La. by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details