October 22nd – 28th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

Date: October 22nd

Time Pedaling: 2 hr. 53 min.
Miles: 31.53
Avg. Speed: 10.9 mph
Max Speed: 24.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 329.30
Weather: sunny and hot, 79 (Ebro, FL) to 80 degrees (Santa Rosa Beach, FL)
Time of Departure: 9:35
Arrival Time our first warmshowers host in Santa Rosa Beach, FL: 4:40
Repairs: One GMC Denali had a front blowout.

We briefly talked to Vernon after eating our oatmeal breakfast. I hope we see him and Tom again sometime. We got our earliest start pedaling to date…9:35am! It may not sound like much, but breaking camp with a family of four can take a bit of time. We enjoy the earlier starts because we end up stopping earlier also. We stopped pedaling today after just over 31 miles at about 3:00. But before the end of our day, we have a few other things to share.

Sand Pond Campground

We hit 300 miles today!!! I am proud of my family. It takes a team effort. Speaking of team efforts, my wife had a tube blowout very close to our 300 milestone. I think we changed the tire and tube in less than 30 minutes. Dakota and Luke were quite helpful in assisting the switching out and filling up while my wife held the bike up for us.

Rob and Dakota working to change a blowout

Luke partially pumped up the inner tube

Enjoying the view from the bridge crossing Saint Andrew Bay

A man fishing directly below usDakota and Luke at the Panama City welcome signRob and Gail happy to be in Panama Beach

We got back on the road and hit the town of Panama City Beach averaging about 11 mph (for the day). We visited their neat Visitor Center and went on our way. We stopped at Publix on the far west side of town for supplies. By the way, if you need more sunscreen, it isn’t cheaper along the gulf.

Once again we were on our way with the gulf coming in and out of view the entire way to Santa Rosa Beach. We are excited to be staying at our first Warmshowers.org host for the night.

We stayed at Jeff and Heidi’s place on the beach front. Heidi was out of town on business, so we were able only to spend time with Jeff.

In a word, amazing.

It’s obvious that they share the fruit of much success between them. You wouldn’t know it. From the moment we met Jeff, he was focused on our comfort. He prepared an appetizer, full meal, and had dessert besides.

This was far above and beyond what our expectations were. We were expecting a safe place for our equipment and to lay our heads, and to enjoy the sun setting over the ocean.

Jeff offered us an experience to treasure. We walked the short distance to the beach to watch the sun set and swim a bit while Jeff finished cooking. There were hundreds of jelly fish along the gulf waters but Dakota and I ventured in (Luke dodged them in the shallows). I was stung three times, Luke and Dakota, once. We weren’t paralyzed, and actually quite content with the story to tell. Jeff had been stung 6 times that day.

One of many jellyfish in the Gulf today

Our great host, Jeff and the family just before sunset

Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

Luke enjoying the Gulf

Getting back to Jeff. He has completed the Iron Man Triathalon 5 times. He is a very successful real estate entrepreneur. Visionary. Giver. Also, he makes a mean plate of spaghetti.

After our wonderful dinner, he played a game with our family. Yes, he won…(some guys).

Dakota and Luke caught up on some Disney, Gail and I read ourselves to sleep.

Date: October 23rd

Time Pedaling: 3 hr. 2 min.
Miles: 34.01
Avg. Speed: 11.2 mph
Max Speed: 20.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 363.31
Weather: sunny and hot, 79 (Santa Rosa Beach, FL) to 78 degrees (Fort Walton Beach, FL)
Time of Departure: 12:00
Arrival Time Fort Walton Beach, FL: 6:30
Repairs: Both Denali’s had a flat rear tire.

We rose early and had another Jeff prepared meal. We spent some time talking and taking pictures and hit the road.

Relaxing for a few minutes with Jeff after a great breakfast

Jeff was encouraging Rob to do an Ironman competition

Not unlike many who were received at another Ellis (Island), we too, were received with warmth at the Jeff and Heidi Ellis Little Seagrove Beach Bungalow. We bid farewell after Jeff revised our route for safety. It was a mixed farewell, similar to others. Wanting to stay, and yet, the road calls. Thanks Jeff.

Saying our goodbyes to Jeff

We hit a little snag today. After pedaling for about 11 miles, we pulled into the Walmart parking lot. After stopping, my wife noticed her rear tire was flat. Dakota’s tire was very low besides.

The good news was at least I could sit in the shade (on the inside) and change the tire. I had one brand new spare to use and began patching the older ones. I checked the tire and the culprit turned out to be a hair-like wire. Our friend Gil shared that possibility with us. He told us it’s from truck tires blowing out.

A hair-like wire from the blowouts of semi truck tires

After finishing Gail’s tire, I looked over Dakota’s. Again, a fine hair-like wire sticking out. I pulled it out and instantly the tire went flat. Oh well, it needed to be fixed anyhow.

When we get to Pensacola, we should have 6 brand new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires waiting for us. They were recommended by Gil, and you can take anything that guys says to the bank. We are still about 60 miles from there and are hoping we don’t get anymore flats before then.

The main problem was leaving Jeff’s house so late. That didn’t allow for fixing flats and getting in many miles before dark. We were still able to get over 30 but some of that was spent getting to Dane’s place.

Who’s Dane?

We just crossed the Okaloosa Bridge and came into Fort Walton when we had to take a potty break. We were sitting there figuring out the mileage when a friendly face approached us. He introduced himself as Dane and told us he was a Warmshowers host. He let us know how far we had to go and invited us to set up our tent in his yard. We accepted.

After setting up our tent, we were treated to Dane showing and playing his homemade didgeridoos.

Getting down on the didgeridoo

Getting down on a didgeridoo

We called it a night rather early because of our big day ahead of us.

Date: October 24th

Time Pedaling: 4 hr. 27 min.
Miles: 53.09
Avg. Speed: 11.8 mph
Max Speed: 25.8 mph
Trip Odometer: 416.40
Weather: sunny and hot, 81 (Fort Walton Beach, FL) to 83 degrees (Pensacola, FL)
Time of Departure: 8:03
Arrival Time Pensacola, FL: 4:10
Repairs: Gail’s GMC Denali rear tire had a flat, then continued to have a slow leak for the rest of the trip to Pensacola.

Earliest starting point yet, 8:03am. This directly led to a new record for miles which is now 53. We left Dane’s early after taking down our tent and loading up. We each had some trail mix to get us started.

We pedaled hard for about an hour and a half, and then hit McDonald’s for some power food. That isn’t our usual choice if we do eat out. In this case, we had been saving some coupons (about 5 days or so) that a man named Mike gave us near Lake Talquin. He also had mentioned the 14 ft alligator they took out of the same lake. Luke loved that and listened closely.

Back to today. We managed to take few pictures because of the fast pace we were trying to keep. However, we did meet some folks along the road. We were flagged to stop as a couple of guys and a gal wanted to make a donation. As it turns out, the couple, Claude and Vipka have logged 43,000 miles on foot. They began walking back in 1994 and have stories to tell. Claude, Vipka and their friend Elliot were very encouraging.

Meeting new friends

In the span of two days, we tented at Dane’s who had ridden his bike over 20,000 miles and met Claude and Vipka who walked twice that. As I was fixing another flat (6 so far) a man in a Jeep Rubicon pulled off the road to offer assistance, but none was needed. So instead, he made a donation. He had toured on a bicycle previously, and makes it a habit to offer help to cyclists on the roadside.

Most folks we meet are encouraging.

We stopped for a break at a Starbucks just before making it to Pensacola Bay. We had loaded a Starbucks card up before we left as a treat for our tired family. It has only been used twice, but both at the right times. This was one, it was hot and we were nearing 40 miles for the day.

Upon exiting Starbucks, I noticed another flat tire on my wife’s bike. Ugh. I aired it up and it seemed to hold, so we kept pedaling.

Milestone! A short distance from the bridge entering Pennsacola, we hit our 400 mile mark. We saved our celebration for the top of the bridge. The four the road family has pedaled nearly out of Florida.

This bridge is 4.2 miles long!

Beautiful Pensacola Bay

After some photo ops at the top, we continued on en route to Ed and Sharon’s (Gail’s sister and brother-in-law) place along the gulf. After cycling 53 miles we had a beautiful haven of rest and the opportunity to visit with some wonderful people.

Their condo overlooks the gulf. A continuous story unfolds as you take the view in. Although, it is an ever-changing one.

The marina at sunset

We are resting and picking up supplies on Thursday. No pedaling.

Almost forgot to mention ‘the tires’.

While sitting on the balcony a UPS truck drove in below. Ed was right, the driver had the tires we had just ordered Sunday night on Amazon. The tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus. We are hoping that our flat tire problem is solved.

Luke opening up the Schwalbe tires

Thanks again Gil for the recommendation.

Enjoy today friends. Smile at someone. Help someone. Be good to yourself.

-Rob

Date: October 25th

No pedaling today! Scroll down and see some of the pictures we took today! Hover your mouse over the picture for some more information.

Early morning from Pensacola

Sunrise from the balcony

A Belted Kingfisher resting atop a mast

I believe these are tiny jellyfish, if anyone knows differently please let us know

Exploring for hermit crabs, sand crabs, and the elusive starfish

View from the shore of the marina

Sitting on the dock at the Bay

The pool where we saw a very tiny hummingbird

Sunset from the balcony, the sun is a little too far right to see

A Great Blue Heron looking for a meal

Brown Pelicans coasting just above the water

We hope you enjoyed the pictures from today. We enjoyed relaxing, exploring the various birds, fish and sea life that is abundant around this Marina.

– Gail

Date: October 26th

We decided to rest our muscles for another day and continue to get caught up on the internet. It’s just so nice here, the view, the relaxing atmosphere, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was on vacation 🙂 ! Thanks Ed and Sharon!

– Gail

Date: October 27th

We awoke reluctantly and prepared to get on the road. As Rob was heading to the garage to start loading up our gear he noticed the temperature had dropped. Dakota called the ferry at Fort Morgan only to discover that it was closed for the rest of the day. Looks like we are spending one more day here. 😉  It will take 15 miles for my legs to stop screaming rather than the usual 10! 🙂

Thank you for bookmarking and shopping through our Amazon link. It helps us pay the light bill. 😉 You can find it on any page of our site. Just look for the Amazon Search box on the right side of the screen.

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2 thoughts on “October 22nd – 28th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

  1. Rob and Family,

    Steph an I are hooked, Martina and Pancho not as much.
    We are watching and reading.

    Jesus be with you guys.
    Say hi to every one.
    Love you guys.

    • Hey Fidel and Family,

      Thanks so much for staying up on what we are doing. We are also!

      Looking forward to getting back and enjoying Martina’s salsa :).

      We love you, thinking of you.

      The Adelphia Family

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