The Ferry is out of Commision: Time For a Detour

Featured

Wednesday January 18, 2017, 58 miles (93 km) – Total so far: 864 miles (1,390 km)

Fernadina Beach to Neptune Beach, Florida
I was looking forward to riding down A1A or side roads off of it, through beautiful neighborhoods of beach cottages and streets canopied with live oaks and the occasional view of the ocean. What I got was four laned roads lined with the usual stores and restaurants and heavy traffic. Oh, and I got to ride through downtown Jacksonville on Main Street.

You see, I have this problem with ferry boat crossings. For some reason when I get to them, they’re not running. At least I knew about it this time and tried to figure a detour so that I could continue down the coast to St. Augustine. There just weren’t many roads to choose from so back A1A to Yulee where all the road work was going on the day before, then a left down 17 to Jacksonville. At least there wasn’t a college football championship game going on.

At one point, while I was taking a break, a man took pity on me. Of course, Clara was the icebreaker. “Nice bike. Where you going?” This was very fortunate in that I was going the wrong way. I was actually detouring myself towards the ferry! When I got there, I would have been 20 miles away from anything and would have had to backtrack. The man, I wish I had gotten his name, set me straight though and told me my route led through the Main Street in town. He clapped me on the back and said, “Be careful out there. You know, Jacksonville is the seventh worse place in the US to ride a bicycle”? Well, I do love a challenge.

Clara goes to the big city.

It actually turned out well as most of the roads had bike lanes. Not the bridge though and the road off of it spit me out onto a series of on ramps for a major four lane road. Interstate 95 I think. Not the usual merge into traffic from the right mind you but from the left. Help! Fortunately, there was an off ramp right there. I just had to cross traffic going 65 mph to get there. On person yelled, “You know that’s illegal”?

Well, it worked out and I was rewarded with a strong tailwind all the way down Hwy 90 to Jacksonville Beach. My, does that fairing act as a sail. When I got there, I was again rewarded with beech access to the Atlantic Ocean. I had been debating doing the traditional rear wheel dipping ceremony but when I saw that, the debate was over. Pushing a fully loaded Clara over the soft sand was hard but the result was worth it. I talked a fellow named John into taking the picture and tradition was served. I decided to stay just north, up the road at Neptune Beach and turn the first corner of my trip tomorrow. Soon, I’m heading west.

Tradition is served.

Oh! You’re That Guy!

Featured

Tuesday January 17, 2017, 7 miles (11 km) – Total so far: 806 miles (1,297 km)

Rest day at Fernadina Beach, Florida
Ok, I love camping and all, but I woke up today needing a hotel. All my gear got foggy wet and then the sand stuck to everything. Oh, and there’s no cell signal. I can’t feed my social media addiction. Not to mention that everything is over six miles away. I love ya Fort Clinch State Park, but I’m sleeping elsewhere tonight. What a crybaby. Haha.

View out the bedroom window this morning.

Site C

As I was packing up, I met a nice couple, Sam and Mary. We stood and talked in the fog about bikes, touring and music. They have been playing out for many years. Of course, I took the opportunity to hand them my card and talk about Fender Music Foundation. Mary read it then said, “Oh! You’re that guy!” She had already read about me on FMF’s web site. Now that is a small world. Only out 17 days and I meet someone who knows and appreciates what I’m doing. I was so honored. I’ve met so many fine folks talking about a cause I believe in. I just know we will help “Give Music Life”.

Off into town for coffee and breakfast and high speed internet. It was catch up time. Of course, I don’t keep my mouth shut and I keep handing out cards. Met Jim who has built his own recumbent bikes. He’s recently retired and may start touring soon. Sorry I couldn’t make it to your house Jim. Life’s chores got in the way but thanks for the invite.

Forgot to mention my German friend I met last night at dinner. His son holds several recumbent bike records. Wow, recumbent riders everywhere.

Clara taking in the sites at Historic Fernadina Beach.

Scored a room at the Hampton Inn and Suites and moved in at 1 pm. Clara likes her new stall. Bath, laundry and all those other chores that you have to do on days off got done. Now I’m resting for tomorrow’s ride which suddenly got much longer due to a ferry being out of commission. I seem to have bad luck with ferry crossings. Oh well, I get to see something else instead.

Had a fine meal and a couple of local brews at Cafe Karibo: cafekaribo.com. I met several nice people there and talked about changing locations, jobs and of course music. Great resturant if you’re in the area.

The end of a good rest day.

Here’s a video, wrapping up last week’s ride.

“Yeah, I Be Goin’ Down to Florida: Where The Sun Shines Damn Near Every Day”

Featured

Monday January 16, 2017, 83 miles (134 km) – Total so far: 799 miles (1,286 km)

Okefenokee Pastimes RV Park to Fort Clinch State Park on Fernadina Beach, Fl.
Song lyrics above by Muddy Waters, Deep Down in Florida.

Last night was town eve, you know, the night before you get to a town and get a rest day the next day. Adding to the excitement, I will arrive in my third state, Florida but first, I had to ride past a landfill!

Not really a landfill but a land build as it must have been six stories high and acres across. They can’t dig a hole down here. To much water. That wasn’t so bad but the constant barrage of garbage trucks going by both ways really took the fun out of riding close to the Okefenokee. Those things smelled bad!!!

Seventeen miles later though, I made a left hand turn and crossed the St. Mary’s River into Florida. Yippee! State number three.

Best "Welcome to a Florida" sign I could find and I don't even have a seatbelt.

See you later Georgia. I’ll be back in December.

I was so excited, I missed my next turn and who knows how many extra miles I added to today’s ride.

At mile forty, I was tiring so I stoped by a gas station for a Starbucks, Double Shot Energy Drink. Met my new Instagram friend Angel who saw me struggling with a selfie and graciously took my pic. Thanks Angel. Maybe Starbucks will see it. You never know.

From there, it was A1A all the way to Fernadina. Bike lane and everything. Tons of traffic though. All went well till about 15 miles out when the road construction hit. No bike lane for 12 miles. Gotta give the drivers credit though. Not one car horn, inappropriate hand signal or inconsiderate one in the bunch. Great folks.

View coming into town.

Made it to the Park at sunset, checked in. Where’s the nearest resturant I asked? Four miles back in town. How far to my campsite, I ask? Two miles from here. I must have looked discouraged. After all, I’d just ridden 74 miles. Well, nothing to do but put my big boy panties on and do the miles.

Made it to The Salty Pelican due to my sister in law Nan’s reccomendation. Darn good shrimp. Oh, and my first craft beer of the trip. IPA heaven.

I rode back and forth in the dark tonight. Really a lot of fun with all my lights. Kind of a surreal experience as everything is focused on the cone of light you can see. Not to dangerous in this case as there was a bike path as well. Really enjoyed it.

Back to camp. Ever pitched a tarp over a sand pit in the dark as the fog rolled in? Me neither but I have now. As you know, sand gets into everything. I didn’t care though as I was tired, really tired. Fell to sleep listening to the waves crash on the beach. Welcome to Florida.

Back To My Roots: My Job Roots Anyway

Featured

Sunday January 15, 2017, 61 miles (98 km) – Total so far: 716 miles (1,152 km)

Paterson to 7 miles south of Folkston, Ga. at the Okefenokee Pastimes RV Park
Awoke to dense fog so no one could see me cook breakfast and break camp. Problem was, the fog didn’t start to break until 9 am. Also, it was so thick, it condensed on the trees and it rained down on everything with thick dew. Everything is now heavier.

My friend’s directions were spot on and leaving Patterson was much faster than arriving. The day soon cleared and I could see the beautiful live oaks shading the yards.

Later on however, the skyies became ominous as the clouds began to build.

Fortunately, no rain developed and the clouds shaded me from the hot sun. Since I’m heading south and the sun is in the south during the winter, it seems I’m always riding into it. The shade was a relief.

I made it to Folkston, Ga., the self proclaimed Entryway to the Okefenokke Swamp. It’s not really a Swamp but the headwaters of the Suwannee River and has a current of 3-4 mph. I know this because I worked at Stephen Foster State Park back in 1974-75 as a naturalist. Those were good times and taught me a lot. So, in a way, I returned to my youth and roots.

The Atlantic Coast route splits here and you can take the Okefenokee Alternative which I did. There is an RV Park there, Okefenokee Pastimes: http://www.okefenokee.com/ right at the entrance to the Suwannee Canal Recreation Park. I knew of this, as long ago when I was 16, my older brother and I came here prior to a 4 day canoeing expedition though the Swamp. We had a pup tent but no mosquitoes netting. We made it work by wrapping the tent in plastic and had the time of our lives. That was the beginning of some marvelous adventures we’ve had together so I had to call him about it.

The RV Park is under new management and will officially open early next month. The owners graciously allowed me to camp here especially after I’d already set up my tent and took a shower before I found them. I know they will run a fine Park and I encourage those traveling to stay here and visit the Okefenokee Swamp.

Tomorrow, I leave Ga. and enter Florida. I’ll actually see the ocean. Should be fun.

Love the Spanish Moss draping from the trees here.