Date: October 15th
Time Pedaling: 2 hr. 40 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.02 mph
Max Speed: 18.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 122.88
Weather: overcast then sunny, 88 degrees
Time of Departure: 10:23
Arrival Time Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, FL: 4:40
Headed out of Live Oak, FL just before 10:30 for Suwannee River State Park.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures. The Suwannee River State Park was well worth the stay and a wealth of information for all of us!
Date: October 16th
Time Pedaling: 3 hr. 19 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.6 mph
Max Speed: 23.8 mph
Trip Odometer: 153.77
Weather: sunny, 78 (Greenville, FL) to 79 degrees (Tallahassee, FL)
Time of Departure: 10:20
Arrival Time Greenville, FL: 5:34
Repairs: none; we bought two of our bikes from Walmart (GMC Denali’s), they have held up fairly well so far except for the shifting. They get stuck and are difficult to get into gear at times. This can really be a bad thing going up hill.
Today, we left Suwanee River State Park and pedaled west (young man). We beat our previous record of morning departure by a few minutes. Our bodies are still growing accustomed to the wear and tear. Mornings are usually spent eating something light, maybe chatting with some folks, and checking gear.
We had camped next to a friendly couple and shared a pleasant conversation. Their last name was Madden (like the coach) but he was wearing a Chicago Bears sweatshirt which got our complete approval (go Bears). Mr. Madden said that years ago people would ask if he was related to the football coach (John Madden), in more recent years the response he gets is, “Oh, like the game?”
We had a rough go with the hilly terrain. We stopped a bit and also took the inclines slow. We knew we would be working into shape as mentioned before. Thanks to the Panhandle, that is being guaranteed.
We ran into another touring bicyclist (our first). He was heading east and almost done. We shot a video and had a fun chat with him. His name is Richard and he’s from England touring solo. He began in Vancouver and is ending his journey in Key West, FL. You can check out his site here: www.richardonabike.com
Infamous words by Richard, “Sorry to burst your bubble, but these aren’t hills.” You mean it gets worse?
We ended the day having biked just over 31 miles (ahem…not too shabby for out of shape flatlanders). We met a woman named Linda who took it upon herself to make sure we had lodgings for the evening. That turned out to be her church. Her pastor let us sleep in his churchs’ youth building. Very comfortable. His name is Toney Hill and he is 1 of 17. Yes, 17. I asked how his parents were able to pour into each of their children. His response, “The same way you pour into yours.” His wife was due any moment with their 5th child. They’re hoping for 10.
We slept a stones throw away from the Ray Charles Memorial. He was a native to Greenville.
Date: October 17th
Time Pedaling: 3 hr. 22 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.9 mph
Max Speed: 23.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 188.49
Weather: some clouds, 79 degrees
Time of Departure: 10:15
Arrival Time East Side of Tallahassee, FL: 7:42
Repairs: shifting issues with the Denali’s
Left Greenville, FL with Tallahassee in mind as our destination.
We did make it, but not before dark and only to the east side.
We stopped at a family owned and run fresh produce stand just inside the Monticello, Florida city limits. Grabbed some fresh tomatoes and a fuji persimmon which we all ate right then. The uncle joined us and after a short conversation with Rob gave us some kumquats to try. Delicious stuff and good for you, too. We chatted a little bit with this mom and her two daughters who happened to be manning the stand today. They also sell hot dogs and boiled peanuts. If you’re ever on U.S. 90 just on the east side of Monticello, make sure you stop by the Barnhart roadside stand for some freshly harvested fruit and vegetables.
We ate dinner at the Waffle House at the intersection of Interstate 10 and US-90. Our charming waitress who is a freshman in college and plans to be a doctor, served us a very good meal.
Date: October 18th
Time Pedaling: 1 hr. 16 min.
Avg. Speed: 7.3 mph
Max Speed: 20.4 mph
Trip Odometer: 197.79
Weather: sunny, then overcast and rainy, 84 degrees
Time of Departure: 12:15
Arrival Time Bicycle House, West Side of Tallahassee, FL: 5:00
Repairs: one of GMC Denali’s had a flat tire within a block of starting out. Rob changed it within 45 minutes.
After a good breakfast at the Best Western we headed West.
Well these are the pictures for this day. Scott and Rob stayed up late overhauling the bikes, Dakota and I worked on the website. The shower felt great and we all slept well. In the morning, Scott rode with us until we parted directions and headed to US-20. Thanks Scott and Laura!
Date: October 19th
Time Pedaling: 4 hr. 26 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.6 mph
Max Speed: 21.2 mph
Trip Odometer: 240.67
Weather: sunny & hot, 80 (Tallahassee, FL) to 78 degrees (Bristol, FL)
Time of Departure: 9:40
Arrival Time Bristol, FL: 5:30
We aren’t bicyclists. We are a family that is bicycling across the United States. Bit of a difference. That stated, we reached a new high in miles today. We pedaled out almost 43 miles (42.8). Not a record by any means, but I’m impressed just the same. Dakota is pulling a loaded trailer. My wife is pulling a loaded trailer. Luke and I are pulling a loaded trailer. There are hills. Nobody walked up a hill.
The day before we managed just about 9 miles due to the hills of Tallahassee. There is a reason tall is in the name. Coming off of that day, we hammered the hills that were before us. Thus far, that was the sorest my legs have been. Everyone was tired and anxious to get off our bikes.
In Bristol, we were greeted warmly at the Piggly Wiggly (grocery store chain). We had pleasant conversations with several people. We also picked up their fried chicken…and it was goood! We asked the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bristol if there was any room at the inn. Indeed, there was. If basing my attendance to any church was dependent on the pastor, this church would be near the top. Pastor Roger told us there was a big football game that night and there would be a youth get together afterwards. He invited us to participate. Dakota did after her and I went to the football game.
The game was between Blountstown and Bristol (big rivals). There was a lot of pink being worn to show support for cancer survivors and those not as fortunate. Most everyone we talk to has a story about cancer. Many are about breast cancer.
Gail and I crawled out of bed around 9:00 and started packing up. Dakota was the last one up and unknowingly had a visitor. Gail picked up her sweater that was about a foot away from her head and noticed a visitor, a wolf spider. He seemed friendly enough to me.
But, then again, it was very close to her pillow.
Date: October 20th
Time Pedaling: 2 hr. 52 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.8 mph
Max Speed: 22.6 mph
Trip Odometer: 269.02
Weather: sunny and breezy, 77 (Bristol, FL) to 76 degrees (Youngstown, FL)
Time of Departure: 10:30
Arrival Time Youngstown, FL: 4:00
Today we left Bristol (First Baptist of Bristol) about 10:30. We rode about 40 or so minutes to Blountstown and arrived at 10:15. Isn’t that time zone thing great when it works in your favor?
As we headed west into Blountstown a group of kids were hanging out on the corners of a busy intersection, advertising for a car wash. Some of the girls recognized Dakota and shouted out a friendly greeting.
We grabbed an inexpensive breakfast at McDonald’s and pedaled the few miles that had Blountstown behind us. A note about the McDonald’s in that town: FRIENDLY with great SERVICE. Folks with a smile. Bristol and Blountstown have been my favorite places thus far on our journey. This isn’t to say that we haven’t enjoyed the other parts, but friendliness seemed the rule in these parts.
After our huge ride yesterday, we decided to stop near Youngstown, FL. We were supposed to call to meet a with a man named Gil when we were close to the intersection of 231 and US-20. We were about 6 miles out of town and I was sharing with my family what an encouraging fellow Gil was in our conversations. In the midst of talking about him, Gil passes us in a pickup and pulls off. He was concerned he would miss us, so he set out to make sure he didn’t. A couple of things about this man: Retired Navy pilot, retired teacher.
Side note: He’s biked across the US twice. He’s biked Alaska. He’s got bear stories. He may be the original, ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’.
To Gil, thanks.
We budgeted to stay at hotels about 1 out of 7 days, or so. We have been doing a bit more than that. My number one concern is the safety of my family. If it means hotels at times, so be it, regardless of cost. At the same time, part of the purpose of this journey is the experience of meeting folks where they are. That is done best by meeting them in their everyday life. We want to share that with our children, and even you, as we experience it.
We talked to a county sheriff to see if we could camp at a Ranger Station close by. After a phone call, he gave us the okay. Sweet. We get to sleep under the stars in our tent. Who knows, maybe we will hear another pair of Barred Owls tonight.
Date: October 21st
Time Pedaling: 2 hr. 41 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.6 mph
Max Speed: 21.2 mph
Trip Odometer: 297.77
Weather: sunny and breezy, 80 degrees ( in both Youngstown and Ebro, FL)
Time of Departure: 1:45
Arrival Time Sand Pond State Forest Campground, Ebro, FL: 6:00
We finally left the Hardee’s/Gas Station (231 and 20) we had been holed up in around 1:45 pm. We spent nearly 8 hours in two days there catching up on web work. The employees were extremely friendly. A special, “Hello!” to Billy and Kerri (you guys rock).
A few people donated to the cause of breast cancer while we were there. I must mention a young man that was working at the gas station. He came up and handed me a dollar. He told me about his grandma being a breast cancer survivor. He wanted to do something.
We pedaled hard because we started late. We averaged about 10 mph in getting to Sand Pond State Forest nearly 29 miles away. We were happy to get to a place we could camp for the night as we were racing the sun. We beat it by a short amount. We were within 3 miles of our 300 mile mark with no wipeouts. That changed.
The road into the Campground was red clay and sand. We were making our way through it, when we hit some deeper sand and it was an instant fall on the tandem. Neither of us were really hurt but it was a bit scary. We were fortunate that we were going so slowly.
After collecting ourselves, we biked the remaining couple of blocks. That’s where we met Vernon (watch video) and Tom (the camp host). They generously treated us to the $20.00 camp fee. After setting up camp in a beautiful location, Vernon joined us as we munched on some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After a while Tom joined us, and we spent the better part of three hours being entertained by wonderful stories by Vernon and Tom. Vernon has been to over 100 countries and counting…and, he lives in his van. Tom has a wonderful sense of humor which we enjoyed thoroughly.
Luke made sure the fire was fed (he is a boy). Dakota talked about the reception we are getting with Cricket (not so hot here). We all sipped coffee, enjoyed the stars, and stayed near the campfire (a bit chilly).
Sidenote: We’re all different in some way or another. For all the differences, we are quite similar. We talked with Vernon and Tom as if we had known them for years. In fact, upon hearing that we were biking to San Diego, Tom told us that if we needed a place to stay, he had a friend there. He took our number to make sure. Again, never met Tom before.
We climbed into the tent at about 10:00pm and fell fast asleep under a blanket of stars.
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