All posts by Ridin' Rick

Day 55

With tummies full have ham we all had a good nights sleep . . . not really moving around much until about 7:00. Then . . . more ham for breakfast!!!!

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We crossed the Apalachicola River on the way out of town, whose reservoir we had our nice picnic alongside it possible last night. Oh yeah . . . a 7% hill, one mile after starting out today. I am still amazed at the way the gps works. Although I shouldn’t be, as it has counted down the distance in feet to the center of hundreds of intersections where I have turned. But . . . this river was the dividing line between Central and Eastern time zones . . . sure enough, half way across the bridge my Garmin 800 moved an hour ahead!!!

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The dam that made our picnic possible!!!

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Billy Jo McAlister may have jumped off the Tallahatchie River bridge, but his cousin Bobby Jo never made the news here in Chattahoochee when he probably walked off, rather than jump off, the end of this bridge to nowhere!!!

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Had to get a shot of Connie at the local PO just because I love saying that name . . . Chattahoochee!!!!

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Nice of this bar owner to let his patron’s know when the place is ‘rockin’ and rolling’ . . . no need to waste time coming too early to drink!!!

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Yesterday Gina had met Tim, of Tim’s Fresh Boiled Peanuts, and in fact the peanuts we ate as an appetizer last night came from Tim . . . so we had to stop by, on the way out of town, to say “Hi” this morning.

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Gina I were the first there and Tim had to go home to get the license plate, he had promised Gina but forgot to bring to his ‘store’ this morning. Here is the raw product . . .

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. . .and here is his kitchen where he already had a batch boiling!!!!

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Oh, he sells a little of everything. Gina was trying these on when  I  left. Not sure if they ended up in her panniers or not!!!

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This was an interesting situation . . . I presume they mean the volume of the music . . .

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. . . which may not sit so well with their neighbors across the street. Might be sort of a Hatfield and McCoy situation . . .

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. . . as the neighbors want everybody to know, several times, they are not welcome. Probably tired of people peeing in their yard at bar time!!!

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Not sure what this is all about but I bet who ever it is that is bringing their last pay stub, and getting free transportation, is coming out on the ‘short end of the stick’!!!!

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Clever . . .!

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Lots of great fishing holes along the way today that look to get a lot of use . . .  . .

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. . . how can you tell, by all the litter people leave at EVERY landing! Sad.

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Nice old school, for girls, outside of Gretna. Three rooms on the lower level and one large room, and a stage, on the second!!!

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All across the US we have biked by county deputies homes. How do I know . . . because they have their squads parked outside, in order to leave and return from their shift. Many of the homes were singlewide trailers or dilapidate homes, making me think a law enforcement profession didn’t pay too well in some areas. The Sheriff, or one of the deputies, that lives here is doing  . . . ‘just fine’.

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But so was the rest of Quincy, a nice little town we passed through this morning. Positioned at the interstate’ s ‘Easy o’ Easy Off’,it might be a bedroom community for Tallahassee.

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Oh yeah . . . we have seen our share of car dealerships who ‘guarantee a loan with nothing down’!!!!  Looks like this one made one too many bad loans!!!!

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Here is something unique we have seen the last several weeks, entrepreneurs setting up ‘car washes’ at gas stations. They don’t seem to have auto drive through versions in the smaller towns but instead individuals who set up a tent, bring out the vacuum and garden hose, and for $10 take care of detailing your drive!!!!

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Entering Tallahassee, I came upon this accident. Five cars involved. The two officers in the back were flailing their arms around, I thing trying to recreate who was where when the action happened. The guy in the beige car, talking on his cell phone, seemed to be ‘way out of position’. I think the whole SE part of the country maybe one big ant hill. As I took this shot, I felt stinging sensations on my right foot only to look down and see I was standing on top of another anthill. Slow learner!!!!

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On our route through town we rode through  the Florida State University campus. Very pretty. Here was the Dick Howser Stadium. Doesn’t mean a thing to me but it might to some of you sports fans out there . . .

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. . . nice walkway and path winding through campus . . .

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. . . and here was the FSU HiFyer’s permanent facility. It is an extra-curricular activity under FSU’s Division of Student Affairs. All members of the FSU Circus are required to be a degree-seeking students, registered at Florida State University. Who knew!!!

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‘Connie the Clydesdale’ patiently waits outside the aLoft, our home for two nights in Tallahassee. Concierge parking, of course!!! Rest day tomorrow, so plenty of time to explore the town.

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Paul and I are sharing this room  . . . TommyH, by luck of the draw, has his own version for two nights.

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Nice . . . none of us checked for bedbugs here . . .

Moab, UT – 2014

“Go West Young Man, Go West!

Ride Theme . . . “Beer and Martinis”

Why “Beer and Martinis”? Have you ever heard a great story start with a salad?

10_28_thumb.jpgA LONGGGGGGGGG winter in MSN meant some of the bikers were getting itchy to ride again for more than a day or two here and there (we do have the 8 members of the “At Least Once A Month Club” who rode every month last year and Jan and Feb so far in 2014) so ten of us we decided to head west to the Land of Enchantment and do a little off road biking.

So who are these guys . . . a subset of the premier bicycling group in the Midwest, the Madison Bike and Bowl Team. Mostly retired, lots of grey hair or no hair, enough pill bottles among us to open our own pharmacy, enough aches and pains to have our own wing at the local retirement home, vision . . . not so good, hearing, huh? . . .  but a group with lots of spirit who will try to stay up later than 9:00 MST!

ridersMoab has long been known as the Off Road Biking Capital of the United States . . . but they have never experienced the likes of mbbt members!

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The plan is for ten of us to train or car out to Moab, spend three days on the While Rim trail, accompanied by an outfitter, then luxuriate for four days in a condo while we explore what else Moab has to offer. We will then return to the Land of Tundra where hopefully the permafrost will have begun it’s annual spring thaw!

routes1000The outfitter portion . . .

escapetruck

tentLuxury camping  . . . with SPECTACULAR riding

gulp3We’ll spend three days biking the White Rim Trail . . .

whiterim2Assuming we live to tell about it, we’ll end up at Castillo De Las Rocas . . .

moabcondoIts going to be DRY and water will be an issue. We are planning on two gallons a day per person NOT including water that is fortified with hops! Nights in the 40’s with day temps in the mid 60’s will be a welcome relief for those of us who have spent the last four months enduring one of the worst winters in modern recorded history!

 . . . ohhhhh there have been LOTS of planning sessions for this trip AND many beers consumed in the process to help us think about our options. The more beer we drank . . .  the more options we came up with!! AND a special thanks to Greg who spent WAY MORE time than he should have had to with all the planning for this adventure!

planning.jpgAND, of course a special thanks to my Smoochie who once again this year made my birthday one special day,  which in fact  morphed into a three day celebration, and without whose support and encouragement for some of the crazy things I do wouldn’t happen. Of course, every time I leave she remodels something in the house  . . .”Now let’s see, when are you leaving again?”  We make a great team!

party1We leave on Monday . . . if you are interested, check back once in a while for daily updates!

Day 56

We boys had a GREAT dinner last night at the Front Porch . . . while the girls went somewhere less ‘spendy’ . . .

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TommyH and I had the honey shrimp on a bed of smoky gouda grits . . . and Paul had the seafood linguine . . .

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. . . and of course there was dessert involved. Stacked Key Lime pie, Coconut Cream pie and I had the flourless chocolate cake!!! YUMM . . . it is our ‘day off’ you know.

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Today is Saturday, rest day. Time for napping, shopping, eating, touring, bike mechanic work, laundry . . . all the things one does not get done during our ‘work week’!!! BUT . . there was plenty of time to explore the downtown area, in between the rain showers that is

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. . . the historic state capital. Open for touring on Saturday . . .

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. . . here is a real carpet bag made famous by the ‘carpetbaggers’ who descended on Florida trying to make their first million!!!!

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. . . and of course a pair of ‘Walkin Lawton’s’ shoes from his walk from Pensacola to Miami. Someone making the same trek today would probably be wearing a pair of Nike’s and have them as a corporate sponsor . . . .

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. . . there were still signs like this on up until the mid 1960’s!!!!

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. . . at one point there was a big debate in the Florida legislature regarding smoking during the legislative sessions. Not sure what this jokester’s message was  . . . but it looks funny!!!!

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Here is the ‘new’ capitol  . . . built in the late 1970’s. Only Nebraska, South Dakota and Louisiana have gone with the ‘elevated tower’ look. Glad it never caught on . . . makes our dome in WI look even more majestic!!!!

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. . . all the new parts!!

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Right down the street from us was the 22nd Annual Crawdad festival. Lots of music, beer and ‘dads . . . !!!

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We might head back this evening, when it cools down a little. Once it stopped raining . . . STEAMY!!!

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Too hot and sticky to go back to the Crawdad festival, so TommyH and I headed over to the Backyard Bistro . . . walking distance from the hotel. I had the sirloin steak on smashed baby red potatoes with grilled portabellas on top. TommyH had the Backyard’s version of Shrimp and Grits . . . Saturday night so I had to have a ‘tini first, of course  . . . yumminess all around!!!!

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. . . after all the activity today, we decided on dessert too . . .Ginger Creme Brule for Tom and another flourless cake for me. YUMMM!!!  . . .  the others went out for pizza!!!! Tomorrow we hit the road again . . .

Day 1

The day started with all of us assembling at the Van Galder motor coach pick up points and we were off to Chicago. A smooth transition at Union Station and we were soon rolling out of Chicago headed west.

John, the last in line, didn’t get the memo about casual dress.

Here are our teardrop trailers that will be following us out to Moab for us to use on the White Rim trail!

Bikes for sale on Michigan Ave.

Rick got special treatment from Berna in the loading of his special TREK Fuel mountain bike.

The rest of the guys had to fend for themselves.

The local police use TREK’s. It was fun to watch him go down the steps with it.

BillyB’s stash of goodies he brought out – before lunch snacks.

Greg talks mountain biking with Beth who lives in Schaumburg and mountain bikes in the forest preserve.

Still room for a nice lunch . . . .

BillyB helps out the local economy. Needs munchies for his stop in Grand Junction!

Our kegs finally arrive for storage in Gaylord and TommyHs’ berth.

TommyG goes right to the head of the line for seating assignments, past 200 other train riders waiting in line!

mbbt takes over half the observation car.

Here is the solution to the Badger basketball game dilemma this coming weekend when we will be 90 miles out in the desert – Sirius radio. The boys are thinking of renting one.

The dapper maître de in the club dining car.

Gaylord and TommyH’s spacious, palatial suite. See the movie for the complete tour!

Go here to see the movie: Gaylord’s & Tommy’s

Day 57

Well . . . our rest day is over and we are back on the road again heading to Greenville, FL, 65 miles down the road. We will pass under our  ‘200 miles left to Augustine’ mark and the end of the trip. Beautiful day but going to be hot. Would eventually reach 88 degrees!!!

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Here was a great natural arch . . .

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. . . cool and out of the sun!!!!

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A stop at Boyton store in Wascissa to fuel and water up . . .

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Economizing in Florida . . .

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Linda made a new friend with Boogie, an Australian Shepard. He was sort of apprehensive at first, but really warmed up to her . . .

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. . . and was obviously VERY sad when she left!!!!

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. . . the parking lot was full and I thought with a name like that there would be some loud singin’ and wild music . . . but things were as quiet as a church mouse!!!!

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We rolled into Monticello which, I think, had one of the best looking county courthouses we have seen on this trip. VERY handsome. . .

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and time for a break at the  . . . Electric City

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. . . bikes for rent . . .

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. . . and coffee to drink!!!! Fun place!

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Julie and Mark rolled in, having stayed in Tallahassee last night, too. They are taking a rest day in Monticello . . . but we will see them again down the road

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. . . like old home week, having not seen them since Dauphin Is, it was time to catch up . . .

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We rolled into the Grace Mansion  B&B, our home for the night in Greenville . . .

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. . . grand old porch with wide circular corners . . .

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. . . here was the girl’s room, in the main house . . .

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. . .while us boys tried to ‘make do’ in the cottage . . .

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. . . nice living room . . .

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. . . big kitchen . . .

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. . . and since I was first in today . . . my single room with a king (two doubles actually) !!!!!

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. . . plenty of time today to get in the pool!!!! Gina presents her best ‘Ethel Merman’ water ballet impersonation!!!!

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. . . Brenda, our Grace Mansion B&B owner/hostess, was too shy to have her photo taken but had just done her toe nails and agreed to have them photographed. They match her flip/flops . . .

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No restaurant in Greenville so we went shopping . . . OK, know what these are but will pass . . .

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. . . know what these are and will pass again . . .

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. . . don’t know what these are, so I bought some and we will find out what they taste like tonight!!!!

Day 2

Gaylord and TommyH had a great night sleep, the rest of us in coach tossed and turned but before we knew it the sun was coming up. Got to have patience when traveling by rail. We eventually became two hours late on route mainly caused by having to pull over on siding’s to allow freight train, who have the right of way to pass. There were also 35 areas where we had to run at restricted speed because of the poor Burlington Northern track condition.  Maximum speed is 79mph and through many of these 35 areas we were running below 25 mph for some time.

Getting ready for the ride through the mountains during our 30 minutes rest stop in Denver.

Room with a view . . . shaking out his sleeping bag

The schedule set back meant we would arrive late in Grand Junction by at least two hours. The car rental operation closes at 5:00pm and are not willing to accommodate our late arrival. Our two designated drivers Greg and Dave will be renting a truck in Denver and driving to Grand Junction arriving before 5:00pm to get our second truck. Good thing we are retired and not on a time strict schedule

Climbing into the front range if the Rockies.

Snow in Winter park.

The passing trains on the east bound line come REALLY close . . . could reach out and shake hands.

Fraser Canyon, one of four canyons we rode through on our way to Grand Junction. VERY scenic.

Todd, the manager/ restaurateur  of the Lower level lounge. Quite a character! made the trip much more enjoyable.

Gaylord and TommyH had their own stateroom with special service provided by Michael their own butler.

At Glenwood Spring, TommyG made the 3 block RUN (literally) to the local brew pub to buy a growler during the five minute train stop. They DO NOT wait for you if you are late!

We became good friends and had lots of discussions with a family of 8 Amish heading to Montana. QUOTE OF THE DAY: After spending nearly 24 hours with us, on and off, one of the young Amish men asked us, “Are you guys (all) right?”

WE FINALLY got of the train in Grand Junction after about a 27 mile ride. Beer and burgers all around!

Local bike art!

Loading up our two steeds to haul us to Moab.

We arrived in Moab about 8:30.

Home sweet home!

 

 

Nice place!

Day 58

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We had a great meal last night out on the back veranda of the boys cottage . . . fresh garden salad, teriyaki/barbeque chicken, roasted potatoes, steamed butter broccoli,  and grilled yellow squash.

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I had also bought a German Chocolate cake for dessert . . . .IMG_3460

which Gina cut into first four pieces and then eight . . .

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. . . but who was she kidding . . . the four of us ate the whole thing!!!!  We are starting to ‘talk’ about ‘tapering’ our eating and drinking  habits since the ride is coming to  and end . . . just in the talking stage at this point!!!!!

The wifi didn’t reach out to the boys cottage so I sat on the deck of the mansion this morning to work on the journal . . .

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. . . what a great space with views of the yard and gardens!!!!

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Soon it was time for breakfast today . . .

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. . and we all assembled in the grand dining room . . .

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. . . where our hostess, Brenda, presented us with coffee, juice, a yummy quiche, mini-muffins and fresh fruit!!!! Let’s bike . . .

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So many of the Baptist Churches have a huge bus parked alongside. Not sure what the use them for but a BIG investment!!!!

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Amen!!!!

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I think this one was just sunning himself out on the tarmac and had not been hit . . . but it didn’t want to find out!!!!

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Our first stop today  . . . Madison, FL . . . Connie Cannondale felt right at home!!!

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Not sure what this was all about at the local vet’s office but looked fun . . .

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. . . as fate would have it, I was about to find out!!!

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. . . of all the church signs I have photographed on the trip with clever sayings, I finally met someone working on a sign. Bernard or ‘Berne’. AND he told me the signs at the vet’s office represented folks who had donated $25 to the First Baptist Church student contingent that were heading to Mexico to do some missionary work. What a coincidence!!!!

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. . . and here was the Madison County Courthouse located in Madison, FL. Nice . . . almost rivals our state capital in Madison, WI!!!

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. . . they must have run out of money when it came time to design the Annex . . .

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Here is the Garmin signaling my turn right in front of the courthouse. It also beeps when you are approaching a turn . . . but I can hear it!!!!

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So true . . .

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Biking through the Suwannee State Forest today. Looks a lot like WI!!!

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First of these we have seen in . . . real or fake!!!!

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Now this guy REALLY was not friendly and didn’t want ANYONE nosing around . . .

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that silhouette looks like it is from the back . . . Yikes!!!!

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Great flowers along the way today, especially the vast areas of Coreopsis, the state flower, in the ditches and across many fields. Quiet roads, overcast sky, cool temps, no winds, flat . . . perfect riding!!!!

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As I took the photo above I turned to the other side of the road and saw several guys ‘raking’ the forest floor of pine needles . . .

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. . . pushing them over to big piles and covering them!!! Must be using them for some type of animal bedding??? Way to expensive as a fire prevention tool, considering the value of the pine . . .

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The pine/live oak forests look a lot like northern WI . . . but the forest floor shrub layer certainly doesn’t!!!

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Time for lunch and the only option for miles was a ‘mini mart’ . . .

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. . . a couple of happy eaters??!!!

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Got to do some research on this “Spanish Moss’. It’s everywhere, on nearly everything that’s growing. Don’t stop in one place too long!!!!

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WOW!!!! Where did this beauty come from . . .

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Smoochie !!!!!!

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Wonder how they trim the roadside trees in FL? Here, they do it with a hydraulic powered rotary disk saw that will cut anything up to 10 inches!!!! Wicked machine!!!They had the left lane blocked as we rode by . . . using guys from local the jail, in their uniforms who had been vanned out in the van in the upper left, to direct traffic!!!!

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mmmmmmmmmmmm . . . only for the upper crust???

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Oh yeah . . . local boy from White Springs, our home for the night.

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. . . and here is the Suwannee River itself . . .

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. . . great old building in White Springs. Hope they don’t ever tear it down. Lots of character.

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. . .and here is the old sulphur spring where people came, up until into the 1970’s, to bathe in the therapeutic waters . . .

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. . . not me, not today!!!!

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In the past there was a hotel built around the springs . . . today this is all that remains.

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. . . we also toured Stephen Foster’s homestead . . .

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. . . nice place . . .

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. . . and well preserved.

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There are some type of tubes that are played in this tower but they were being refurbished, so no music today.

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Our home for the night in White Springs . . .

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. . . where there is a happy resident pup, KIa . . .

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. . .  and everyone gets their own room!!!!

Day 3

Every one slept great after the rock and roll of the train the night before.

Some people were chomping at the bit to bike and were ready to jump from bed right onto their bike!!

Bill had a rude wakening when he went for ice in the freezer for his juice and found this site! No one would owe up too putting the Diet Pepsi in the freezer, but we noticed Greg was missing one of his Pepsi (and he did agree to clean it up).

 

We heard it was going to get a little chilly overnight but we were surprised when we opened the drapes to see this! SNOW!!!

We thought we had left it behind for the year in WI but it seems to be following us! Our condo is about 4 mile south of town and at a higher elevation. Interestingly as we descended to town for breakfast we quickly ran out of the snow. By the time we returned from our hike in the early afternoon, the snow was gone and they were mowing the grass at the golf course behind our condo.

Terry in his element. Even brought his NaNuuck of the North hat along.

No more of this PLEASE!!!!

So chilly the giant coffee cup at our morning restaurant was steaming!

George and Bill F. are staying at the Lazy Lizard hostel.

Our leader Greg, and the head of our finance department getting together our funds for the grocery bill.

We met up with  Merrick, our 27 year guide and decided on our schedule and menu for the week. He is doing all the grocery shopping and cooking. All we need to do is ride!

Healthy breakfast of tofu, pepper, and curry,

On to the Poison Spider Bike rental shop for the two Tom’s to get their rental bikes.

We decided to do some hiking at Arches national Parked today. Bill F. was coming down with a cold and stayed back. Soon the 9 of us were on the trail.

Truly one of the greatest examples of the beauty of Mother Nature at a VERY large scale.

 

Some great petroglyphs that are very well preserved.

We had a hard time deciding which hike to do and finally decided on Delicate Arch. After a 2 mile hike we were some what disappointed by the arch. and then realized we had made a wrong turn . . . .

Dave was the only one with enough energy to hike down to the Delicate Arch.

A great drive back to Moab . . .

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lead to some final bike assembly . . .

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and then a GREAT dinner at Jesse’s Italian Restaurant.

 

Day 59

Kia was waiting for all of us when we came down in the morning.

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She gets to sleep inside the house. Kia is a rescue pup the prior owners were ready to put down. She was born with only three paws but gets around fine on her stub of a leg!!!! Judith, our hostess, had an Akita that died. She got two others from the Akita Rescue but had to return them because they were too aggressive. Kia is only 1 year old and seems like a keeper!!!

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Judith had all four burners going to feed our hungry group this morning!!!!

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Fresh juice, blueberry crepes with real maple syrup and a cheese omelet, made with eggs from the chickens in the back back yard . . . and lots of coffee, got everyone ready for a big day of riding . . . 82 miles today!!!

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Lots of great little sink/pot holes to check out on the route this morning . . .

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We have been paralleling Interstate Hwy 10 for the last week or so, jumping from the north side to the south, staying in towns located 5-15 miles from it. Today we cross it for the last time as we head south and then east to St Augustine.

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Great, lush foliage along the way . . . things are wet here!!!

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We rolled through Wellborn this morning . . .

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. . . and to this planation outside of town that had been HEAVILY thinned . . .

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. . . the pine that were left almost looked like palm trees!!!!

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. . . with their ‘lollipop crowns’ and thin boles,  I think they would be susceptible to snapping off in high wind storms.

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Here was the first backyard observatory we have seen since the one our host at the Marathon Motel and RV park owned, way back in TX !!!! Wonder if this owner has mood lights lit around his at night!!!

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So . . . does he???

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I stopped to take this photo and noticed a rider coming through me, heading west. He had a blinking headlight and was pulling  ‘Bob’ trailer. As he rolled up on me I asked him where he was going but from his response and expression, I don’t think he understood English. The reason I had stopped was to take a photo of, sadly, the two dead beagles lying in the ditch on the right side of the photo. I took a closer photo . . . but am not posting it. Too sad . . . I hope they were chasing a bunny or something and had a great last memory!!!!

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. . . and I wish I had had an apple for this stunning creature. He kept bobbing his head up and down over the fence, like he was asking for one. I tried to take a movie of him doing it but he wouldn’t cooperate!!!

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This is interesting . . . in several areas of Florida the rural mailboxes’ face away from the road. The rural carrier drives into the ditch to put the mail in the box. Advantages are the carrier doesn’t need to stop on the road and doesn’t need to sit hallway across the car to put the mail in the box. They just lean out the left side of the car. Makes sense . . . but you need to have a wide right of way!!!!

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Probably about the most elaborate memorial I have seen . . . again, on a long straight section of road . . . no bumps, no turns  . . . straight. . .

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We have ridden by many, many examples of this type of housing in rural  FL. Haven’t really seen the great numbers of these since AZ. Some are abandoned but many are still being live in . . . yikes!!!

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Great root systems . . . we are not in WI anymore, Virginia!!!

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Today there was a bike trail, for about  15 miles, that connects two state parks. We  took advantage of it . . . easy and safe pedaling!!!!

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We are staying in downtown Gainesville, near the campus. Not sure if the owner of the Continuum, located down the street from us, appreciates this fellow sleeping on the sidewalk, in the middle of the afternoon, out in front of the building he is trying to rent!!!

Day 4 – Moab to Shafer Campground

 

Day 1 camp

After month’s of planning sessions it was finally time to get on the road to the trail.

Of course the most important provisions were loaded first onto the truck, our four boxes of beer! As Merrick later told us the second most important thing in the desert is water . . . the FIRST is beer!

Nobody felt like cooking breakfast so we headed to the Moab Diner for the “Mountain Biker Special” sure to guarantee a quick downhill due to the large portions!

Moab Cyclery and Escape Adventures would be our provider for the adventure and we met at their headquarters to load our gear.

We met up with Merrick again for a final briefing and soon he and Tim helped us old guys up into the vans and away we went for a 10 mile ride to the trail head.

Like most old guys, some had to take care of a few personal issues before we loaded up. No modesty with this group!

Our official ride start photo. Got to count heads everyday to make sure we didn’t lose someone!

The first four miles were gravel road but as we turned the corner here was our first slot canyon to descend. Probably one of our steepest of the whole trip. The hearty breakfast and steep descent put our brakes to the test. Probably 18-20% down hill.

ppPuck Pass was VERY aptly named . . . As we approached the downhill, I heard George say “Oh Boy!” in a tone somewhere between excitement and horror!!

 

We soon encounter the White Rim, a trail we would be riding the next three days. All jeep trails, we encountered 4 wheel drive vehicles of just about every type and several groups of motorcyclists.

Our first nights camp Shafer Campground. Merrick passed down luggage from the truck and off we went to find our own pieces of heaven . . .

. . . where every room had a million dollar view!

Merrick had a great setup for cooking, one we would have had great difficulty reproducing for ourselves, if we had decided to go totally self supported. It was by far the best decision we made of the whole trip – hiring a company like Escape Adventures to toat our luggage, provision us for our meals, do the cooking AND surprisingly washing the dishes too!!!

First night out . . . fresh grill salmon . . . .

with a feta, tomato salad, boiled baby red Parmesan potatoes – yeah baby, bring it on. Always enough for seconds if you were still hungry!

Who was always first in line . . .

. . . the same person who was last in line. BillyB licks the fudge brownie mixing pan!

TommyH uses the foot pump hand washing station provided by Merrick and company. Very handy!

Believe it or not human waste is a HUGE issue on the park. With the arid desert climate, nothing ever deteriorates and in the last twenty years, as the number of visitors increased, so did the number of slit latrines. So much so that people were continually digging up what someone had left behind not too long ago. The Park Service has installed these outhouses that are first rate! No smell and very clean. I asked Merrick how often they need to be pumped and he said never! The bowels of the pits have a type of beetle that takes care of all the waste. Don’t fall in!

The Canyonlands National Park has some VERY strict culinary safety regulations that all provisioners must follow, such as: no food can be rewarmed and served twice,  so any leftovers are tossed; all food waste must be composted; dishes must be washed in hot water, then rinsed in two clean water baths and air dried. No toweling off of dishes. When the rangers come around for their visits, they use thermometers to test the inside temp of the coolers and the temp of any uncooked meat. Wooden cutting boards can be used for serving only. All food prep must be done on plastic boards that are sanitized. Merrick was very particular in his food prep methods and did an excellent job . . .

. . . which of course gave us more time to be happy. Here TommyH is twice as happy because of his red wine AND Everclear alcohol he mixed with Crystal Light . . .

. . . and George enjoyed his rum STRAIGHT out of the bottle EVERY night!