All posts by Ridin' Rick

Day 60

Only 55 miles miles today, so after our big dinner last night down in the student section of town at, MoJo Barbeque, we decided to sleep in until 7:00am this morning. Guess what . . . at 7:05am we were all hungry again!!! Lots of night spots around, but not many breakfast places. We really had to hunt for one . . .

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. . . after breakfast and packing it was time to hit the road at 9:00am. But . . . not before our groups biggest tipper, Gina, left her customary tip for those cleaning the rooms. Oh yeah . . . we are that messy!!!!!

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This morning we would ride out of town, for the first 15 miles, on a paved trail, provided by the Florida parks Department  . . . nice

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. . . and they are trying to do the right thing in preserving the local eco-systems . . .

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One of the great little scenes we passed by on the trail . . . can you spot the fisherman?

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After a quick 15 miles, we exited the trail at Hawthorne and onto the open road .. .

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. . . this one was not sleeping. Had a chunk taken out of his side, maybe by a turkey vulture . . .

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Here is something I haven’t seen in WI, local municipalities posting hearing notices on the piece of land being consider for a Conservation Easement . . .

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. . . half mile down the road there was this sign . . . might be a land development fight a brewing !!!

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Soon we arrived in Florahome, our half way point today, and it was time for lunch. We had already chowed down when we passed this restaurant on the way out of town. Too bad we were full . . . looked like a fun place!!!

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Good point . . .

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On the trail, I came across this turtle crossing the trail to the upland side. Unlike my old turtle buddy, Blinky, this guy didn’t look to happy to see me. I named him Crabby . .

Click above to see Crabby fleeing the scene!!!

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Just out of Florahome, we came to this cute little store and stopped for an ice cream sandwich. We met Jim and Sandy who were out for a days ride on the trail. A couple of love birds enjoying life!!!!

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Paul showed up with some fresh blueberries he had picked at a ’U Pick Them’ type farm  Deliciousssssss!!!

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We were told the trail ran all the way from Melrose to Palatka . . . so we were surprised when we came, literally, to the ‘End of the Trail’, with 8 miles yet to go . . . we hopped on the highway and soon were in town.

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New plantings on the highway boulevard. Just dig a hole, stick the stem of the tree in the ground and provide support. They will root themselves!!!

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Unlike the TransAm I rode in 2007, where we stopped for something like this every night, we have not done that on this Southern Tier crossing. Since, in my mind, today is the last official day of full riding, with tomorrow being just a quick 45 mile run out to St Augustine, today was the last day to have one. YUMMMM (only got a medium size) . . . OK . . .may get another tomorrow!!!!

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Nice mural across form the DQ . . .

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On the way in to Palatka I had chatted with Nan, on the right, and as I finished my malted milk, I saw her and Laurie roll into the bike shop across the road. I had to go over and finish the conversation. They are 2 of 25 riders who started riding in San Diego, March 5, 4 days behind us. We had heard about their group, Woman Tours, along the way and finally got to meet a couple of their group, one  day before finishing. Their tour is moteling too, but have their own professional chef along!!!!! A company owned by women and for only women riders. Read about it here  . . . Woman Tours.

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So ends another tough day on the road . . . Gina and TommyH, the first two in the pool! But hey . . . tomorrow we leave the hotel, turn left and have to climb over that bridge on the way to St Augustine!!!!

Day 5 – Shafer Campground to White Crack Campground

Day 2 campsite

Packed up and ready to go. Once we left, Merrick did the dishes, packed all the luggage and loaded all his cooking gear. He usually caught up to us about an hour into our ride. He always had a smile and water for us and followed our group until the last hour of the day when he would shoot ahead to set up camp.

Today started out with a good climb to stretch the legs as we headed up the canyon wall.

One thing that is hard to get used to in the open west is the scale of BIG – EVRYTHING seems larger than life and goes on forever! See circle to get a view of TommyH against the wall of a canyon.

Soon we arrived at Musselman Arch, which you can see behind these Musselman wanna be’s . . . .

. . . Gaylord, who is afraid of heights, surprised us all as he dismounted  his bike and walked to the 6 foot wide arch, as if the 300 foot drop off over the side of the arch was an illusion! Greg arrived and, having had no intention of walking over it, proceeded right behind Gaylord. The rest of us quivered in our cycling shoes!

gregGreg decides to take a walk on the wild side too!

vmusselman Click here to see the movie. Be sure you are seated!

Every time you think it can’t be outdone, check with Merrick. I asked him if other clients had been ‘brave’ enough to cross the arch. Several did handstands and walked across the arch on their hands and he himself rode across the arch doing a wheelie the whole way on his bike! Ahhh . . . to be young again. Of course, he does have several hundred thousand dollars of past medical bills and many broken bones to tell the story!

Not much green in the high desert except along the river banks. BUT, lots of cactus.

A good landscape photo should have something in the foreground of the shot to give a sense of scale. You will notice most of these shots do have a foreground subject. Not so much as a part of the photo but because I was too chicken to get to the edge!

We cycled on and eventually stopped to enjoy the lunch we had packed that morning. BillyB thought it would be a good place to stretch out a bit. A family of cyclists passed us by and the 16 year old daughter cried out, “Are you guy’s OK?”. Fine we said, just old!!!!

Merrick arrives with goodies and water! He carries 220 gallons of water onboard so cooking, doing dishes and a sun shower are always available!

One of the permanent restrooms encountered in every campground and along the trail place at strategic locations. Camping is allowed by permit only in the Canyonland’s and in only certain locations. No open fires really put a damper on our previous trip evening campfire routine. Of course, there is nothing to burn anyway. Merrick used a propane stove to cook and a self contained charcoal set up. He could not put the charcoal  bed of the stove directly on  the desert floor and had to carry all the coal refuse out with the composted food.

Away we go . . . up . . up . . and more up!

One of the few splashes of color on the desert floor.

For those interested, and enough were not, a nightly shower was available. Two gallons of air temp water tempered with two gallons of boiling water allowed for a great HOT shower. Here Gaylord demos an “G rated” version of a shower with a view. Complete with rubber tub liner! He brought is own luffa puff!!!!

Our routine quickly developed to finding our individual camping spots, setting things up, stowing away and getting ready for the evening. Then is was time for beer, lawn chairs and sitting in a semi circle for the magic of our nightly cooking lesson from Merrick and our self generated world problem solving session. The more we drank the easier life seemed .  Ah . . . to be retired, except for Terry, but he is thinking of it.

Here Merrick prepares the noodles for tonight’s lasagna dish. He can accommodate any type of food allergy or eating issue including cooking a veggie lasagna for a Friday Lenten observer. He once had a tour where between vegan, gluten vegetarian and several other requirements basically cooked three dinners every night for a week. The only two rules he has in camp are no religious or political discussions, though I believe he was quite amused by our constant chatter about nothing!

Another night of rooms with a view.

Right next to my tent!

Preparing tonight’s appetizer . . .

. . . onion stuffed, balsamic mushrooms with melted Parmesan cheese!

Merrick used Dutch ovens a lot for cooking and really had the system down to a science. Here is his ‘double oven’.

One meat and one veggie . . . nice guy!

It gets chilly, actually ‘cold’, in the high desert once the sun drops behind the mountains. Dave was definitely our leanest (READ: Least FAT) rider (by a LONGSHOT) and as you can see here stayed bundle up when the temps dropped into the thirties at night. He climbed into his sleeping bag at night with pretty much everything on that he had brought along!

No campfire . . . but Gaylord warms his hand over the Dutch oven lid.

Time for our nightly dessert in the desert! Tonight . . . red velvet cake with butter frosting!

Enough for seconds too.

Greg, our trip leader, served as the perfect host as he made the nightly rounds with his peppermint Schnapps. Went great with hot chocolate!

Ranger Dan stopped by to check our camping permit’s and to inspect the food. He spends several days out in the bush camping at night. Nice work if you can get it!

Day 61

Day 60 continued . . . In my view of things, today was our last day of official riding. Just like the Tour de France, where the last day of the tour is a ’ceremonial’ ride into Paris, our last day tomorrow will be a ceremonial ride into St Augustine . . . so why not have a celebratory dinner tonight!!! We all went to Corky Bell’s Seafood at Gator Landing located in East Palatka. Had to cross the St John’s River!!!

We sat out on the deck, overlooking the St. John’s River, and had no more received our drinks when it started pouring. Grabbed them and ran inside . . .

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. . . where soon our dinners were redirected to us. Beside fresh fish, Corky’s is known for their tasty cole slaw and crispy ‘hush puppies’’. Since my tilapia and shrimp dish included two sides, I chose them both.  YUMYYY!!!!

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. . . still room for dessert. No ice cream, but they dressed it up with a little shipped cream.

then . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Last day of riding today . . . last official day of the trip!!!!!

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We will all be glad to sleep in our own beds again after spending so many nights in motels, where you never know what you are going to find. From bedbugs to Holiday Inn pillows in a Quality Inn room!!!! Marriot soap is a favorite of Mom & Pop motels. They must buy it at auctions.

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Fame can be fleeting. Wolfgang Puck used to be a big deal in the culinary world . . . but I think his stature may have slipped. He now uses his name to endorse the sugar, creamer, napkin, coffee stirring stick condiment packets that come with the in room coffee machine!!!!

I was ready to go by 8:00am. The others were thinking about touring the historic area of Palatka first, so I headed off towards St Augustine. I really wanted to ride alone today. No iPod . . . just me, the road, the sky  . . . and my thoughts. Thoughts of the two months we have been on the road, the best moments, the most challenging, my family, friends, those living and those who have passed on. And of course my life with Smoochie and how precious it is.

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Oh . . . is it? (lost in translation?)

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mmmmmmm . . . another house financing boondoggle bubble starting to swell ???

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A flat, easy 45 mile ride today into St Augustine took us through large areas of agriculture . . . including hilled potato fields

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ahhhhhhhhh . . . this guy might have cut his turn a little too wide . . . teenage driver????

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Kudzu might be the vine that is taking over the south but a close second is the Spanish Moss. It seems to grow on everything that does not move. In two to three hundred years it should cover Florida!!!!

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Now this guy has a BIGGGGGGGGGGG rack!!!!!  Barbed wire fence to keep out visitors!!

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A great old store with lots of farming antiques . . .

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located right next to the Florida Museum, that was . . . SHUT!!!!

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mmmmmmm . . . we have seen these road directional markings, signaling bicycle route turns, the last few days. I wonder if the Woman’s Tour marks the route for their riders???

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Soon the route turned of busy Hwy 207 onto Scenic Hwy 13. MUCH quieter, less traffic and good road surface.

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. . . and lots of hidden glades

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Like  I said, lots of ag fields . . . where

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. . . spuds are king and evidently quite happy!!!! Come to think of it, I never met one that didn’t make me smile!!!!

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Spud fields on the left . . .

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. . . corn on the right . . . I felt like I was biking around Antigo, WI!!!!

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passed this shooting range that was quiet today too . . .

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. . . the targets must not be good enough for some, because right across the road this sign had been ‘decorated’. Nice grouping!!!!

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. . . the countdown continues

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Several funny named towns along the St John’s River route today including , Racy Point . . .

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. . . where living is large . . .

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haven’t seen one of these since TX!!!

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. . . just north of Riverdale there was a 90 degree turn, to the east, and the final run out to St Augustine . . .

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. . . as verified by my gps. Can’t miss that turn!!!!

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. . . right after the turn, the gps screen changed and I saw the ‘end of the ride’ location at the Atlantic Ocean.

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But to get there I had to ride through Molasses Junction . . . where living is, not Racy, but slowwwwwwwwwwww . . .

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. . . and I would pass by one last ‘country store’, so similar to hundreds of others we have passed along our journey and many times stopped at. They usually have a little of everything, but usually no bicycle tubes!!!

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I rolled over Interstate 95 and was shocked to see this Ghost Bike, telling the story of a young college student who was hit and killed on January 12, 2012 at 4:00pm by a hit and run driver.

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The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Molasses Junction area when a motorist who stopped to investigate debris in the road between Interstate 95 and County Road 13A found a man’s body in the ditch. Bryan was a student at the University of St. Augustine and a member of a local bicycle riding club.

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Could the occidental have been caused by a dangerous, curvy road . . .  bad site lines, you be the judge.

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What was worse, another mile down the road I came upon this . . .

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. . . and soon after, this one . . .

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. . . and right out of St Augustine City limits this one!!!! This 5 mile stretch of  Hwy 214 must be the most dangerous section of road in the US.

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One mile out of town I called the others to find out there locations. The plan was to ride in together. We wouldn’t have a police escort, like the Woman’s Tour did this morning, but would feel just as important in accomplishing our ride. Soon we had all met outside Theo’s Greek Restaurant and headed in for the final mile . . . to the Atlantic Ocean.

Connie’s back hooves left the Pacific 60 days ago, and at noon today she soaked her sore front hooves in the Atlantic. My feet got sort of a ‘mud bath. Lots of barnacles!!!!

Why am I holding up ten fingers? Because with the turning of this last mile, we raised over $10,000 in donations for the Cure Alzheimer Fund!!!! Yippee, and thanks to you all for contributing!!!!!!

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Our final group portrait . . . even had the year spelled out in flowers!!!!

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Time to head to Howard Johnson’s, get cleaned up and eat lunch.

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. . .TommyH was worried about the salt water damaging my wheels and used the last of his fresh water to rinse the front wheel. Once we got to HoJo’s, I gave the old girl a compete scrub down. She is now in the ‘back forty’, for a long rest . . .

girls

I had one thing in mind . . . my last DQ malted milk. The one yesterday only whetted my appetite and since today is ‘Officially the Last Day’, time for one more (I wonder if the days driving home count as last days too???) Vi and Andrea did the honors. Vi, on the left is a new employee. She received help from Andrea in making her first malt. Tasted great . . . and less filling, than a large.

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. . . along with a iron pan griddle club sandwich. What a finish to an end!!!! Warren Buffet would be proud of me. His company owns Dairy Queen. He often uses the purchase of it as an example of investing in what you know. He must have a ‘sweet tooth’, too!!!

Final thoughts . . . coming soon.

Day 6 – White Crack Campground to Potato Bottom

Day3-camp

Merrick was usually up at day break and got the coffee going. he would put out a cold breakfast spread for those up early. Cold cereal, pastries, and fruit. Once the whole gang was up he would make a hot breakfast. While we ate he would put out the lunch deli for us to make our bag lunches to eat along the trail

Terry was an early rider and enjoyed a little shredded wheat. The hat, gloves and down jacket are not for show. It was cold in the morning until the sun peaked over the mountain tops.

Our group liked their sweets. The pastries and chocolate always went first. Followed reluctantly by the fruit.

Even with the rough terrain and all the twisting and stretching of the vehicle chassis the two dozen eggs came through unscathed with not even a cracked shell.

Breakfast burritos this morning.

Once everyone started folding their burritos, Gaylord didn’t realize it was BURRITOS and not just eggs and salsa.

Done with breakfast and packed up . . . let’s hit the trail!

Taking care of 9 old guys and on semi-old guy can be taxing not affording the time for Merrick to even set up a tent. He just sleeps out on the ground. Actually he always sleeps out and go caught in the snow storm we experienced earlier in the week.

We hadn’t even left camp when the ravens arrived to clean up after us. The park policy is, you bring it in you take it out. The ravens insure nothing is left.

Down the trail before another BIG climb.

Rule #1 when riding the White Rim . . . don’t get too close to the edge!

The scale of things is amazing . . . it’s hard to pick out the riders that are in the lead, even when they are just across the valley.

Dave demos why you ALWAYS want to now what is in front of you  . . .  long ways down here if one is day dreaming. Would be your last dream!

Kodak moment around every corner (Merrick was young enough not sure if he even knew what a Kodak is/was)

Another splash of color in the brown, gray dessert.

What goes up . . .

. . . luckily also gets to come down.

Sore hands from power braking!

Merrick on the trail behind us driving SAG.

Greg, making sure the flock sticks together and doesn’t get too spread out.

 

 

Between the rock, loose gravel and the GRADE, some are just too hard to get up. Easy to tell it’s going to be one of those as the first rider ahead dismounts. When we do make it up one and fee puffed up, we think of Merrick who rode the whole White Rim Trail in 13 hours on a single speed fixie. It’s taking us 4 days!

A steep ascent usually involves a discussion about how great we are to have gotten up it . . . even if we had to walk!!

Steep ascents mean fast descents as BillyB heads down at breakneck speed!

Not much wildlife to be seen during the day although if you look close enough it’s there. Lots of critter tracks.

Got to stop long enough to smell the roses . . . and it’s a good time for a rest.

Is that Merrick ahead . . .

Trail lunch today by Chef Merrick . . .

Day 62

Although the official ride is over it doesn’t seem right without saying a few words about St Augustine, our home for two nights before we start driving north. St. Augustine is pretty much everything our trip, was not. Over commercialized, it could very easy switch places with Mackinaw Island, Wisconsin Dells, Branson, etc., etc. Our trip was an escape to the ‘real, raw’ version of Americana. One we chose. These kind of places are also an escape from reality but of a different kind and serve a clientele looking for that kind of experience. Great place for kids!!!!

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There is one natural features, a 650 year old Like Oak that happens to be in our backyard . . . named the Senator!!! I took this shot at 6:30am as I was walking over for breakfast. The orange in the tree is a reflection from the sun coming up.c

It happens to be in the driveway of our Howard Johnsons’ and is a stop on the city trolley ride. A trolley comes through every 15 minutes . . . .

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The colors are fantastic . . . hope there is some of this in WI when we return  . . .

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Our ‘senior’ group was thinking of taking a dip here. No discount for those with wrinkles!!!!

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There is an  ‘old jail’ museum you can tour, for a fee of course. Outside they had a display of the  ‘convict labor’ system where, up until the 1920’s, farmer’s could ‘rent labor’ from the country and state jails to work on their farms . . . interesting that all the statues were white skinned . . .

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. . . while the photos depicted all those who participated as black skinned!!!

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Conditions were terrible and the convicts were often whipped and chained together at night. But it was evidently such a big deal that ‘portable prison’ cells were invented!!!!

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I know several ‘Bob’s’ this might fit!!!!

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A 207 foot stainless steel crucifix marking the placement of the first cross placed in Florida, 400 years ago.

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Folks can donate to help with the upkeep of the grounds  . . . looks like the Gallagher’s, at least the one’s that were M.D.’s pitched in!!!!

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At the original Ripley’s ‘Believe It Or Not’ there was a head sticking above a very manicured hedge . . .

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It’s a replica of David. One of only two imitations carved out of a solid chunk of marble from the same quarry the original came from in Italy. Believe It, or Not!!!

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The town was too big for me to walk around, so I took Connie, the Clydesdale, out of the pasture for a little gallop around town. I thought she was getting a little antsy around David, with her snorting and prancing, until I noticed this handsome guy in the corner of the parking lot. No wonder she was excited. The horse was sculpted out of chrome fenders from 1950 – 60 vintage vehicles!!!!

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. . . and right next to it was a log home . . . hollowed from a tree 1,900 years old . . .

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. . . sort of a ‘shotgun house’ affair with three ‘rooms’  . . . ‘Believe It, or Not’.

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Finally it was on to the Castillo de San Marco, a National Park Service site. I bought my Senior Pass today. $10 and it lasts FOREVER . . . longer than I will.

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Very interesting ‘walk around’. I spent several hours there . . . long enough to see the cannon firing demo put on by volunteer docents older than I am!!!!

Click above to see the action. I cut the show short . . . it was really a drawn out affair. In a real life battle, the soldiers could load and fire four cannon balls a minute!!!

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The bigger the cannon the further they could hail their payload. Some went 4-5 miles . . . ‘Believe It or Not’!!!

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Live, hand on demos kept all the kids entertained. The docent said the musket balls displayed are made out of pewter because the NPS is nervous about people handling lead, the original material used to form musket balls!!!

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Next was a leisurely ride across the high  bridge to the first barrier island and the lighthouse. It was being painted so closed for tours.

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On the way back I noticed another Ghost Bike on a city street . . . unbelievable!!!!!

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. . . and I saw my first ‘Senior Lineup’ of oldsters waiting for the 5:00pm dinner special. Thing is, it was only 3:10pm. They must have a LOT of time on their hands!!!!

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On the way back across the bridge I saw the point where, yesterday, Connie dipped her hooves in the Atlantic . . .

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I headed down St George St. for some special shopping . . .

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. . . not this place . . . special vacation wear??? . . .

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. . . nor this Coat of Arm’s dealer, with a last name reference book outside the store that was about 5 inches thick. Close . . . but no cigar. There are some interesting spellings though . . .

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I was heading to Kilwin’s for a praline pecan ‘Special Order’ placed by Bikin’ Bob. He said if I picked him up a pound he would up his Alzheimer donation . . . and pay for the pralines!!!!

Wonder how they make those waffle cones? Click above to see Lori in action!!!!

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We went to a great Greek restaurant, first one of the trip, and all had yummy dishes. Gina surprised everyone by getting two community desserts. They didn’t last long!!!!

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St Augustine does come alive at night with lots of restaurant choices and music seems to be everywhere . . . and light. This  “Magic Globe’ boutique is only open at night for the obvious reason.

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One of the many small restaurant options off the St George Street . .

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. . . and on the walk back, the 207 foot crucifix was even lit  . . . looks taller at night!!!

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. . . even HoJo’s looked magical tonight.  Tomorrow we head north . . . and back to our individual lives!

Day 6 cont.’

Pizza right out on the trail . . .

Ready . . . set . . . go

. . . the vultures descend.

. . . lunch on the veranda.

We had such a big lunch that Merrick proposed taking the group on a survival tour . . .

. . . into the abyss.

BillyB, our mbbt mountaineer, was the only one who followed Merrick down the long channel.

Once the water reached chest height and Merrick had to pull out BillyB after he went in over his head, they came out.

Back on the trail to Potato Bottom campground.

The river was a welcoming site on a hot day . . .

. . . but too cold for a bath. Dave takes a birdbath in the hand bath.

BillyB was our mountaineer and George and BillF were our trip scientists and meteorologists. George tuned into the weather each evening and morning to give us the update.

Chips and salsa at 5:30pm . . .

. . . as we watch Merrick add his ‘secret sauce’ to the pork tenderloins.

Ready to eat . . .

Mushroom salad with pine nuts . . .

Happy hour . . . it’s five o’clock somewhere!

As we face west we see our climb for the next day. Several riders pass through the slot as we sipped our vino and beer . . .

. . . we finally figure out the approach. It looked steep.

The call for dinner brought us out of the spell . . . couscous with raisins . . .

Dinner is served.

Seating for five. A little too spicy for BillyB.

A double decker dessert . . . in the desert.

Blueberry and strawberry rhubarb.

Gee . . . I wonder is anyone is interested in dessert?

. . .and maybe seconds, too.

Day 63

Yippee . . . we finished our trip right on schedule!!!!

After our two day stay in St Augustine, we loaded the van and headed north to Madison. Two days later we arrived at TommyH’s house and had a pizza and beer bash to ‘wind down’!!!! That night  . . . I slept in my own bed,  for the first time in two months. But alone . . .

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. . . ends up emJay and I passed in the night, as she headed to Mobile, AL for a meeting, just 40 miles north of Dauphin Island, where we had our 3 day mini-vacation!

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Sheeesh . . . got all my stuff unloaded, but left it in the garage overnight. Still worried about bedbugs.

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The next morning EVERYTHING, including my backpack went into a laundromat commercial dryer set at HIGH temp for 40 minutes. After a 20 minute ride home, in this bag, they were still to hot to handle!!!

So  . . .final thoughts:

 Riding conditions: As far as riding conditions we experienced it all!! From snow, rain, sleet, on the first several days in California, to such strong head and side winds they blew over some of our ‘svelte’ riders (not me!). I don’t remember having thee ungodly hot days we had on the 2007 TransAm trip. No trips across Kansas, ‘the top of the oven’ on this crossing. But . . . it’s all part of the adventure and no matter how grim it seemed at times . . . the wind always eventually dies down, the sun begins to shine and the temps warm up. There is no worst day of riding . . . just some are better than others. I believe the most challenging day and most pleasing were only two days apart. Battling the steep terrain and EXTREMELY strong headwinds for the 82 miles from Camp Wood to Ingram, with over 50 miles of that into the wind, was no picnic. But the weather system blew through overnight and the next day from Ingram to Johnson City was BEAUTIFUL! It was one of the most enjoyable days of the whole trip. The blue sky, no wind, short sleeve type temps and riding the ridges of Texas Hill Country. Nice!!!

Equipment: I definitely made the right decision in taking Connie Cannondale on this cross country trip. Her frame is built to take this kind of riding and the wider tires made a big difference, for me, in riding comfort and the number of flats experienced. Only 4 during the whole trip!! Three were caused by delaminated tire wire fragments ridden over on interstate highways and one from a small rock shaped like an arrowhead.  Some riders with 23 -25mm tires had that many flats in one day!! I think the wider tire, and lower tire pressure, allows one to ride over much of what might cause a flat to the thinner, high pressure tires . . . just waiting to explode!!!

I’m still in awe about how wonderful the Garmin GPS performed on this trip. Took me a few hours at home before the ride to create gpx files for each days riding , but one we were on the ride it was easy spinning. I had paper maps along for the whole ride as a backup in case the battery died or the unit malfunctioned, but never needed them. Just sit back in the saddle, follow the magenta colored line on the unit as you roll along, enjoy the scenery and have peace of mind you will not get lost. If my hearing was good enough I would even be able to hear the audio signal it puts out signaling when there is a turn coming up ahead. My advice: Get on of these if you are going to tour, take some time at home to learn how to use it and head out!!! Only downside is if you are touring self contained, and camping, you need a power source every night to charge it. Even the Garmin Touring 1000 model, made specifically for our kind of riding, has a built in lithium ion battery. Garmin should give the option of using AA or AAA size batteries, like their old units used as a power source. You can get them everywhere!!

Oh . . . and make sure you are comfortable in the saddle you bring. You spend many LONGGGGGGGGG hours sitting on it!!!

Food: I think know I ate too much, and drank too much, on this trip (can’t speak for the others). When you are putting on the miles we were, and burning the calories we were everyday, you need to keep your energy level up. But probably too much Mexican and too much fried food along the way. Many times there were really no other options available. And . . . the vino and beer began to flow as early as 3:00pm some days . . . not a good habit to take back home. One of most enjoyable food related aspects is always dealing with the great staff serving meals across the country. Salt of the earth personalities. Most wait staff were very friendly and interested in hearing about our trip. We only had a couple of times when it was clear the staff had, or were having, a bad day.

Again, as on the TransAm in 2007, it was not so much the biking that is important to me but the lifestyle and the life rhythm one develops on a trip like this, not invovling ones usual day to day life. Every day was a new adventure for the six of us as we floated across the US in our own little ‘bubble’ not aware of what was going on in any particular state, the US or the world!. We rarely watched TV, rarely read a newspaper and never listened to a radio. It was just us six, the open road, the big sky and whatever lay ahead of us that day. Oh we crossed by, and talked to thousands of people, whose most common comment was . . . “I envy you, wish I could do that”

But at the end of the day it was just us six, gathered around the table discussing what we had observed during the day. For most, it’s probably not a sustainable lifestyle, although some people tour for years, but it sure is fun while it lasts.!!!

Which was really brought to light, day in and day out, by the number of roadside memorials we passed by. Sometimes located at bad intersection or sharp turns, but surprisingly, many times, just out in the middle of nowhere. Flat, straight, level road!!!  I’ll bet none of the folks killed in those accidents woke that fateful morning knowing it was going to be their last day . . . one really needs to make everyday count!!!

One of my favorite memories of this trip has to do with pups. There were many times the bad ones would come out to say “Hi” and one was not sure if they were going to get under your wheel or take a chunk out of your leg. It was easier to keep an eye on them during this trip, when they were ‘circling the wagon’, than on our TransAm trip. On that journey, with four panniers on the bike, you never knew where exactly they were because you couldn’t see them.

But  . . . the good memories involved poochies who just wanted to run.  Usually Labs, but they could be any breed of breed. They’d run up to the roadside and just run along in the ditch, paralleling you on the road, sometimes for as long as a mile!!! Their hair flowing, ears back, running as hard as they could, and looking like they had a smile on their face. If they would get too far ahead, sometimes they would slow down until you caught up,and then take off again. Pure Bliss. Eventually stopping, and with tail wagging, watch you ride away, probably hoping to see you again tomorrow. It’s hard to believe they were not TOTALLY enjoying themselves. We need to take a lesson from Fido and bring that enthusiasm to each day of our lives  . . .  because unlike the poochies, we know we are not on this earth forever.

What a celebration of life, our trip was!!! It brought us all memories we will never forget.

I got on the scale when I returned home and was surprised to see  only a 7 pound weight loss, after 2 months of biking . . . TOO MUCH MEXICAN FOOD, (maybe vino too)!!!!

Thank you for following along on our ride and ESPECIALLY for contributing to my ride cause, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The research they, and all the others do, is so important and hopefully there will be a break through soon!!!

I’ll post some photos of the after ride party when they are available.

Southern Tier . . . one last post

Unfortunately, all  good things eventually come to an end and so does all the activity surrounding this ‘Ride for Alzheimer’s’. With all of the donation checks received and the celebration party a memory, it’s time to close the journal on this fun adventure.

The last ‘official act’ was to get the checks into the mail to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. I was off to a ‘Boys’ Only’ biking trip in northern Wisconsin and took the checks along!

lastphotoThree days later the online tracking record showed they had been received!!!

Within a month this nice article appeared in the Cure for Alzheimer’s Quarterly report . . .

caf-newsletter

. . .and one last remaining task

hair

. . . on August 5, 2015 I had my remaining auburn/brown/RED hair dye job cut off!!!!

Chapter Closed . . .

But as Bob Hope (for those of you old enough to remember him) said . . . ’Thanks for the the memories’!

The memories of all those miles ridden across the Southern Tier . . . the memories of all the great times with our little band of traveling riders . . . the memories of all the great emails, phone calls and communications I shared with many of you . . . the memories of a great end of ride celebration  . . . and of course the wonderful memories of my precious mother-in-law, Ruth. The first time I met her, the night I asked her for her daughters hand in marriage, the little ’spats’ her and I would have because of our stubbornness and all the great times emJay and I spent with her.

So . . . thanks to all who donated and help me raise the $10,000 for Alzheimer’s research! It actually ended up $10,471.39 because many of you ‘rounded up’ with your final donation! Thank you!!!

For those that were not able to join the 60 of us at the celebration party . . . here is a recap!!!

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First, thanks to Lynne and Roth for this custom made bike chain link bowl they purchased for me on their recent trip to Moab. I really appreciate it and will proudly display in our home. Every time I look at it I’ll think of their kindness and the ‘Big Ride”!

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. . . and I couldn’t have done the ‘Big Ride’ without the support of my Smoochie who was a good sport about my being gone, again, for a multi-month trip. She is a FANTASTIC life partner and the better half of our team when it comes to, hosting a party, and most things in life!!!!!

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. . . now, how much beer is their going to be?????

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. . . perfect weather for a Ricky Nelson ‘garden party’.  Mid 70‘s, no rain, and no bugs yet!!!!

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Roth, girl Teri and boy Terry . . .

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Bobbie, Jeff, Janie and Matt

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. . . Signe, Captain Al and Barb . . .

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. . . Donna, Don, Bob and Nan

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Lynne, Sandy and Jan . . .

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the celebrity chefs had a ‘little problem’ getting things going. I called the Fire Department to assure them everything was OK!

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. . . now they are cooking, one with gas!!!!

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Greg, Tom and Bob . . .thanks so much for your help!

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Paul and Dave . . . .

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Tom and Jerry . . .  !!!

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Cate and Terry . . .

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John, Scott and Cary . . .

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Sue, Bob, Barb and my old, last WNDR supervisor, Lloyd!!!

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Nancy, Lynn, Rob and Dennis . . .

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. . . before we ate, the chef’s gave a grilling lesson . . . perfect!!!

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. . . and they knew what they were doing!

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Let’s eat . . .

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. . .  Coach Sue was first in line . . .

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. . .and got some ‘special attention’ from one of the chef’s!!!

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. . . five kinds of brats along with chicken breasts . . . only one chicken breast left when it was all said and done!!!!

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Becky and Kate . . .

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after the meat station it was on to the salad bar . . . THANKS to all who brought such yummy dishes!!!

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. . . someone jumping the gun!!!!

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Tom and Linda received the rides ‘love bug’ award for how often they call, text and Skyped their loved one’s Barb and Tim

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. . . a quick transition at the outside table and it was time for all the yummy desserts folks brought!!!

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. . . and finally here is a group shot of everyone holding up a donation check. Thanks again to all who made this fundraising event such a BIG success. Alzheimer’s research will probably not help us in our lifetime but hopefully will during your children and grandchildrens life span.

So . . . people ask me what is next . . . you know there is a ride called the Northern Tier that goes from Maine to Washington state . . .

But first, a week long ‘boys only bike trip’ to the Boulder Junction area . . . and no journal. What happens in Boulder Junction stays in Boulder Junction!!! (and yes Gina, I’ll be holding in my tummy the whole ride up there)

Enjoy life . . . .

Day 7 Potato Bottom to Moab

 

Day 4 map

WE ARE OUT OF CHOCOLATE AND PASTIRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merrick gets the blueberry pancakes and sausages ready for the hungry crowd . . . see here movie here!

We go through the coffee by the POT! It takes about 30 minutes to brew another pot so we had to enlist our resident scientist/chemist to dole out the 8oz per drinker until the next pot is brewed!

Dave and I thought the tour was down right civilized due to our request for Half and Half being filled!!!

The “Priest’s Member”, as it is locally called, was our sundial to begin pedaling. When the sun it the top . . . we had to start riding.

. . . but not before one more cup of coffee!

Time for the lunch Deli . . . nice spread!

Greg had maps for everyone and we’d have a morning meeting explaining the route. Key factor . . . stay on the road!!!!!!

As we head out . . . Merrick starts his usual morning wind down and more importantly probably his QUIET ALONE time, because we are on the road!!!

The long and winding road . . . . .

OK, Let’s head up the hill we were talking so smart about last night during happy hour.

The start of the climb with our camp in the background.

Our biking resulted in the same experience as the riders last night had . . . walking the 20% grade

But what a great downhill to the river.

Canoes, kayaks and rafts  along the way . . .

. . . heading towards our biggest climb of the trip, Mineral  Bottom.

. . . it took us an hour to get to the top as we moved up the seven switchback. Several years ago a downpour washed out the climb and thee Fed’s spent over $3 million dollars reconstructing it.

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One BIG climb!!!

. . . here comes Merrick, but everybody made the climb.

Once we got to the top it was another 15 miles of a steady 3 mile uphill. We finally hit the high point for the day. The old half of us took the sweet 25 mile downhill into Moab.

DaveK heads out on the first stretch of an 8% 7 mile downhill. Bonzai!!!!!

A great view of the LaSalle Mountains AND the desert. Quite a combo!

Once we hit Highway 191 we connected to the 15 mile paved trail that led us to Moab.

Smooth as a baby’s but or Gaylord’s head!!!!!!!!!!!

We all tied up back at Moab Cyclery and had a final beer with our host extraordinaire, Merrick. We wished him the best in his life ahead. We moved on with the rest of our trip and he moved back into his van!!!

Terry missed the group photo because, in his usual caring manner, he was at the City Market buying the group more beer. He bought more beer than anyone on the trip and drank the least!!!

Merrick had not ridden the White Rim Trail with a group for three years. Not sure if he actually had to refer to the manual for this ride but we’re sure he added an addendum for his peers on how to deal with 10 old guys from Wisconsin!!!!!

Day 8–Moab

Today was a day of regrouping with many loads of laundry washed, bikes washed and fixed, dust and sand being emptied out of luggage and just resting. The day also included a hike in the Arches National Park.

Started the day with the old man’s shuffle to the Peace Tree restaurant . . .

. . . where Gaylord had the Green Eggs and Ham . . .

. . . and Greg had the burrito that was enough for lunch too!

TommyG gives BillyB a lesson in washing clothes, who has never done a load in his life!!!!!

Then it was a time for a hike out to see Landscape Arch

Hoodoos along the way . . .

Happy group of hikers . . . at Landscape Arch.

On the way out to . . .

. . . recovery time for Terry who took advantage of the hot tub which was right outside his and BillyB’s suite.

Some watched the final March Madness game while those with more sense went out and had a nice steak dinner!

. . . and at least one left their camera at the steak restaurant and hopes it is still there!

tini

Vesper martinis all around . . . .

steak

. . .followed by an aged New York strip steak with caramelized onions, creamed spinach and roasted potatoes. A stop at the Moab Brewery for gelato topped off the evening!