Check it out, everybody. I am putting forth my best efforts to get this page full of fun info. Any suggestions are welcome!
Check it out, everybody. I am putting forth my best efforts to get this page full of fun info. Any suggestions are welcome!
If you guys get a chance, you should check out The Riyria Revelations series by Michael Sullivan. I’ve read plenty of books and stories, but I am pretty sure this one tops it all for me. If it says anything of the captivating quality of the books, I have been constantly reading in lieu of other bike trip activities. You can check out the books and a whole host of other stuff at http://www.riyria.blogspot.com/
I apparently read a lot! A fair chunk of my free time on this trip has been dedicated to reading one book or another, from collections of Taoist lessons to sprawling fantasy series. Taylor can attest to me frequent stops to Barnes and Noble.
Our story leaves off again just so, with me reading, and Taylor video editing. Our recent return from a tempo run around campus left us ready for some lo-fi activity. We spent our last evening in Gabbi’s room on the 5th floor of a residency building at Jacksonville U. PB+J ingredients remained scattered on surfaces throughout the room (in jars and bags, though). Before going off to bed, we decided the following day would require an early start, as we had 220 miles to do in 2 days.
“6:00 will do it,” we agreed.
The next morning, Taylor and I woke up around the same time. However, this was not a function of our alarm clocks being set at 6. Rather, it seemed that our bodies overrode our decision and woke us instead at 7:20. No worries, but we still rushed a bit out the door.
We said our goodbyes to Gabbi and her friends the previous night, so our path was down the elevator and out into the (surprisingly) cold temp of early morning Jacksonville.
Down University drive and over the bridge we went, eventually finding our way to a Winn Dixie to stop for breakfast, as a banana and apple were not enough for us earlier. As I was entering, I told Taylor I would vie for something small and hot, but leave room so I could eat some of the grocery purchases I had for this purpose.
Now, the food I bought may have been one of the worst buys I have ever made. I went for fried chicken wings (for breakfast, you say? Yeah, I don’t know…). Anyway, I filled a small container and made my way to the register, failing to notice in my morning haze that $4.99/Lb is kind of expensive. The cashier told me I owed her $17. I paid, and soon after, my wallet gave me a pained look and dove off onto the concrete hundreds of centimeters down.
Taylor proceeded to make some great deals, and came out with a full set of cereal gear for 2 dollars less than what I paid for some fried chicken…
We briefly chatted with a hitchhiker from Oregon, and I directed him to I-10. He had enviable dreadlocks.
Once we got on track, our trails left the consumer valley and entered the mansion strewn riverside of north central Florida. House after monstrous house whizzed by on our right, before we eventually crossed a bridge to the other side, and the morning became day.
The temperature started to rise and surpass any we had seen since the summer of 2011. We made a few stops for food and cold drinks. Our arms were evidence that we really were not in New England anymore, as they had some serious lobster-meets-a-puerto-rican color to them. We were on our way well, until my stomach required filling once more. We had just entered the fairly massive Ocala National Park, and we pulled off to a plaza made for the convenience of campers right next door. We got some ice cream and food. I pulled out my book once again (this holds for pretty much every stop we made). We met some nice people there at Salty’s Country Store, and we noted the prescribed forest fires we passed on the way.
Taylor and I made our way back on the road, and headed for a place to camp as the sun went down. We took our headphones out and enjoyed the silence of an empty road in the park. You sometimes don’t realize how loud our lifestyle is, until leaving it for even a small amount of time. One of the serious contributors to the noise on our trip is the unavoidable semi truck. On Route 19, we could hear them coming from 2 miles away, and as we camped, it sounded like we were directly under LAX airport (when in fact, we were over 100 feet from the semi-filled roadway in question).
Tenting became the usual puzzle to solve, as I spoke with Taylor about where we would best fit. We eventually came upon a small maintenance road with an off shooting abandoned path that was overgrown with palmettos and other brush. It should be noted that our campsite was not far at all from Lake George, the 2nd largest lake in Florida, known for it’s remarkably high saline level, allowing myriad salt water creatures, such as blue crabs, to sustain themselves, despite it’s classification as a freshwater lake. We cleared 2 nearly tent sized spaces one next to the other, and crashed at 8:00, weary from a 90 or so mile day.
The alarms on our phones rang out in the dark at 5:00 AM. The two of us rustled and bustled and plowed our bikes through the deep sand to route 19 to start the new day with some serious peddling. We didn’t know for sure, but our prediction was about 120 or so miles to Taylor’s grandparents’ house.
We knocked down 19 before Mcdonald’s for breakfast (I know, I know..) and continued onward at a vigorous pace. Soon again, the big man cranked the thermostat to 82 degrees F, and the two of us melted. our spirits were kept cool, however, as we entered acres upon acres of orange groves! The trees were quite a sight, framed and reflected by all the lakes this area of Florida held.
We just had to stop for a picture with the oranges, and later found out we were not just innocently borrowing the two oranges we took, but we were facing a serious fine: $10,000. That’s right, Taylor and I are some serious street hardened criminals.
So we were well aware of the oranges here, but what we did not count on was the hilliness of central Florida. Our fortitude was tested on the whetstone against the heat and wind, high mileage, AND the hills we did not count on. And it was also tested against something else we did not count on: big rusty nails.
As I headed down a quick hill in search of route 27, listening to some Schubert, I heard a loud screaming noise and turned to find Taylor stopped behind me. I braked, dismounted, and was dismayed to find that Taylor’s bike faced some intense damages. The rear fender was crumpled like a piece of old homework paper, and the tire was as flat as Coastal Carolina. We hastily removed the wheel to find a 4 inch rusted iron nail piercing Taylor’s tire in at the top and right out the side. We set to work, Taylor on the tire and myself on the crumpled fender. I took a screw out, and the whole fender seemingly exploded back into shape, and my hands were thankful to be out of the way, as I am sure contact with that action may have lacerated them seriously. Taylor was thankful to be carrying the spare tire, and it came in handy sooner than we had hoped. not 10 minutes later, everything was fixed up, and we were on our way.
Our bad luck seemed to spare us a few minutes later, and we stumbled upon a bike shop that was able to repair Taylor’s warped front wheel! We picked up some cool socks, too.
The day continued, and I withered. The heat started to really get to me, and I found myself hurting bad as we went up and down the relentless hills. I spotted a sign that told me Golden Corral was 4 miles away, and I told Taylor and we set ourselves for it. It was far, but when there is a buffet, it is worth the money for us. We eat like monsters.
At last! we arrived and pulled off near the doorway to have a waiting couple tell us that we were indeed in the highest and hilliest part of florida (not saying much in relativity, but still), and that the heat was uncommon even here. Did I mention we were only a handful of miles from DIsney World at the time?!
So we ate plate upon plate of stuff, and went on our way filled, cool, and happy. But the day had no intentions of letting us off easy. 10 more miles down the road, as we pulled off from a gas station to fill our bottles with ice, I found my back tire deflated while I was gone. So we set down and I quickly threw in a replacement tube. off we went!
Only to be stopped again. The tire went flat once more! This time, I borrowed a tube from Taylor, and replaced it again. It should be noted that I thoroughly checked the inner wall of the tire and the wheel thoroughly for possible explanations of the flats. I came to finding nothing once again. And the tire went flat once again. I just filled it back up and we got another 10 miles before I became fed up. We were well within shooting range of Taylor’s grandparents, and we vied to have his Grandpa come pick us up where we stood. Funny how we can get 1700 miles with no support for riding, but upon being near some relatives, my bike conveniently becomes unrideable.
Our luck headed in the right direction, though. We saw our care packages waiting on the table in the screen house. Dinner was ready, and we were glad to join Grandma and Grandpa for baked ziti. Yum!
Then we got to open our care packages, and we want to extend our thanks to everyone who helped out and sent some stuff. Taylor particularly appreciated the letters from his immediate family, and I appreciated my mom’s home made chex mix.
What I was wildly appreciative of was the stuff supplied by my cousin, Sarah. She bestowed upon us some serious goods that are bound to keep us healthy and strong. Not only food, she supplied some wise words that I will look fondly upon as we go our way, and even after we are finished, I am sure. Thank you so much, Cuz!
Her creative and empathetic intuition led her to put inspiring words on each nutrition bar so we got our fill in not just our stomachs. Today’s wise words:
If you have great challenges, have greater faith
So once all the christmas-like activities finished, Taylor and I went right back to our reading and video editing.
Once we woke up, Taylor’s grandma had an excellent waffle breakfast ready, complete with strawberries and whipped cream. Needless to say, we were satisfied.
Upon completion of the meal, we took the golf cart down to the lake side to see some wildlife. We had been thinking about gators all day, and thought we might see some. Unfortunately, we had no luck with the gators, but we did see a turtle enjoying the sun. Once Taylor’s grandpa got back from volunteering at the hospital, we headed out to the bike shop. We stopped at Subway and kept talking about Gatorland, the good places to see alligators in Florida, and other fun stuff. Taylor and I also saw signs of cute girls… Proving just as tough a find for us as alligators.
Something else that has been tough to find are Taylor’s sunglasses. He seems to have lost them upon arriving here, and we haven’t found them yet. I even bet him a dollar that I could find them in 5 minutes, and I failed. This is my reminder that I owe him that dollar.
So we saw some more anoles, had some freeze pops, had lots of dinner, and we are enjoying some more time with the grandparents and Jaunita the cat out in the screen house.
Until next time,
Hey ya’ll! (been in the south too long already?)
Just a heads up on our potential destinations. We would love your help. If you know anyone in these areas, please let us know! Ask friends, ask family, ask family friends, ask strangers!
Jan 21-Myrtle Beach SC
Jan 22- Charleston SC
Jan 23- Savannah GA (Covered!)
Jan 24- Between Savannah GA and Jacksonville FL.
Jan 25- Jacksonville FL (THANK GOODNESS!!!)
Thank you for all your uplifting comments and kind words. We appreciate your support in all this. Though we are on our own out here, it sure doesn’t feel like it!
So I truly hope all the parts of my life that have been posted on here are entertaining. I hope that, through my grand adventures, you are inspired to have your own. At the very least, I hope the monotony of my adventures makes you say to yourself, “I don’t want to end up like him- maybe I should go do something great.”
After all, this blog is not about me. It is about you and what captures your interests. The problem for me is that I am off having my own adventures, yet I bring myself to take time out for all of you readers to splash some more color into your canvas lives (…real poetic, huh?). Some might argue that blogging and recording and whatnot may take away from the dignity and true heart of the adventures I am after. Others may challenge that the absence of proper documentation of my life events may lead to a loss of those memories.
I could go ahead and say it is just a balance of those two things, but we already determined that this blog isn’t about me. I personally will have no problem retaining the important memories in some way or another. So on this blog, I am simply putting my entertainment skills to use! I don’t particularly mind if this post is directly about the happenings of this grandiose bike escapade. It still applies in some way.
Now, here is the question:
Are you being entertained?
Our two brave heroes pick up where they left off as the last dregs of the night wear off and sunlight penetrates the frost for what may be the last time in Taylor and Steve’s journey. The two rose early enough for a continental breakfast, complimentary of a comfortable Super 8 motel.
As the comrades hit the road once again, they turned not in the direction of the next night’s stay, but instead toward the historic Edenton town center, a small town enshrined within the northern Inner Banks, full of cypresses and tranquility. Birds are flying, people are waving, and the day has started!
It seems the true legacy of the two riders lies in the generosity they cannot help but run into. Green Acres Campground (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mbk81X6WHA4 – Yes; It is the real Green Acres) housed such generosity and donated the price of the heroes’ stay to the K.I.D.S fund. A small grill in Bear Grass also covered the two’s dinner for the night.
Now, it is rest under the lofty pines by the pondside. Steve plays his guitalele while Taylor edits video and takes in the atmosphere. Though it is 6 pm, the air is still a warm 50 degrees, and there is peace in the air.
Tune in for the next leg of the brave heroes’ adventure, which is bound to start horrifyingly early tomorrow morning.
Until next time,
So I started the morning at 7:20 in a comfortable bed at Kit’s house (our host), picked up a book and read until 9:15. It was great! Taylor and I enjoyed our respective bowls of Fruitful Os and Rice Flakes. What we were not aware of was the tornado of Fredericksburg that was raging outside.
Gusts of wind were probably at least 45998 mph. I got hit by a leaf and it hurt!
So for anyone who has never biked north to south on the atlantic coast during december, Route 1 becomes a big part of your life. Route 1 also doesn’t have a shoulder for most of the way. We saw some haunted houses and vintage gas stations along the way. We also saw a sign advertising the newest development, color TVs!
Taylor and I went quickly today… Taylor popped in his headphones and we got on and put the pedals through the motions straight south. We hit the uphills hard, and we ducked out of the wind on the downhills. The miles were melting away. Soon enough I decided to pop my Ipod in too.
We hit the grocery store today too! Food Lion was the choice. Taylor got bread, strawberry jelly, cinnamon pop tarts, and craisins. Yum! I got coconut juice, a cucumber, bananas, Newman-Os, Snickers (for the calories…they taste good too), and animal crackers. We ate lunch at Captain D’s fast seafood, and, at long last, we arrived in Richmond.
Fun fact: It took me 4 hours and fifteen minutes to write this post because I am too busy having fun at Eve’s place CSing!
You know you are not in Mass anymore when you see 3 White Castle fast food joints within a 3 mile radius
Pictures of the day:
Upon leaving Connecticut, Taylor and I were faced with a different story, a different (progressively urban) landscape, and some new mindsets as well.
Our story continues at 4:15 am. I am awake. I hear Taylor get up and stumble to the bathroom. Shortly after his return to his futon, I leave my mattress and do the same.
7:15 am: Taylor and I are jolted awake by a knock on the door. Another knock. Another knock (this could continue). Taylor and I are hesitant to take the door, but soon enough Sequoia wakes up. In comes Willy, a friend of Sequoia’s who we were informed would be coming over. Breakfast is soon cooked, and we are enjoying a chat over blueberry* pancakes and a savory omelette hash hybrid.
Willy has to be out by 9, but before he departs he graciously invites us to spend a night at his Manhattan office if we have no better luck.
10:00 am: Sequoia, Taylor, and I head out south on route 1, the two of them snapping pictures and videos on the way. We get some at the library where the fateful meeting took place. We are soon bound to part ways, and say our goodbyes across from the Darien YMCA. Sequoia heads to his swim workout, and Taylor and I head for the city so nice, they named it twice.
With 2 exceptions, the next 6 hours are filled with breakneck riding (a relative term; we were averaging around 15 mph, but that is quite a thing on a 100lb bike), endless stoplights (route 1…), and food when we need it.
Exception number 1: Taylor and I attract the attention of a reporter from the city of Stamford. She asks some questions, takes some pictures, and we are back on our way!
Exception number 2: We are notified by Momma Thibodeau that there is a house waiting for us. Her acquaintance from school came to the rescue and her family offered hospitality to us for the night. We are unendingly thankful for them allowing us to stay here.
4:15: We are witnesses to the wonders of a growing family. The Tremblays have 4 children. Ryan is a computer whiz with interests ranging from animating to building computers. Tula got good use out of her new EZ Bake Oven from Christmas. Colin has infinite energy, and Luke is one of the most laid back 10 month olds out there!
We play Minecraft with Ryan and watch Ray on Black Entertainment Television. Sleep is in the near future.
*Could have been huckleberry…
Well, here we are! One day down and 179 to go!
I am currently sitting in a Dunkin Donuts in Columbia Connecticut with numb toes and snarled hair.
We are in a bit of a rush, but we will blog in depth when we get to to our destination: Hans’ house in New Haven CT.
I want to thank everyone for their encouragement and kind words…it’s truly uplifting and motivational. WE NEED IT!
Until tonight, take it easy.
Here are some pictures taken so far: