Friday, October 31, 2008

Just Hanging Out








Well, I survived the first week in Key West. Mainly just hung around the place I am staying at, lots of walking around the town, watching sunsets and getting to know the locals. As you can tell from the pictures, the sunsets are amazing.

Key West is an interesting place, full of tourists, especially this weekend with the annual Jimmy Buffet Parrothead meeting going on. The locals are very friendly and have as you can imagine a very laid back approach to life. At the same time, they all seem to work multiple jobs to be able to afford to live here. Plenty of local musicans and artists. Then there are the chickens, they seem to be everywhere in certain parts of the city!

The city has a wild past going back to the 1820s when Florida first became part of the U.S. Over the years it has been a haven for pirates and ship wreck crews, sponge harvesting, cigar manufacturing and tourism. It has always had a bit of a wild west feel to it, similar to the rest of Florida as I have discovered from traveling throughout the state.

Continue to summarize my trip--Went through 8 National Parks, 5 National Monuments, 1 National Preserve and 4 National Historical Parks as well as countless state parks, National Battlegrounds, and other recreational areas. We truly have an awesome scenic country and a treasure chest of sites that have been set aside for the enjoyment of all!!!!!

Next week, I have family and friends from Sandpoint visiting. After 6 months of being away it will be good to see some familiar faces and get caught up. Until then, all the best.

Have a great weekend. Off to see the Halloween costumes!!!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Adjusting







At the request of many, I will continue to update my blog from time to time during my stay in Key West, including posting pictures of the city.

The first several days have been one of adjusting to not riding everyday, getting a feel for Key West, getting basic essentials for the next month and learning what the "locals" do. A lot of just walking around getting familiar with the city.

I picked the busiest weekend of the year to arrive in Key West. Fantasy Festival, a street party and parade attended by over 50,000 people. What a party!!!!!! People everywhere, packed restaurants and bars and plenty of good old-fashioned fun. Even the dogs party hard, note the picture I took Sunday morning after the big parade!!!!!

Today things seem to be back to normal, although this upcoming weekend is the beginning of the World Powerboat Championship races, the 17th annual Parrot Head Meeting of the Minds, a weekend convention of the Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head Clubs and of course Halloween.

This past Saturday, the Panhandle Alliance for Education successfully launched it's early childhood literacy program. 90 families participated (they planned for about 55) and the initial program was very well received. It is still not too late to donate. Simply go to the donation section of the website and make your contribution today. As I have said many times before, this is an investment in the future of our children as well as our own future.

As I begin to summarize and reflect back on the ride I will share various facts and tidbits from time to time as I continue to update my blog. Today's summary--Left Sandpoint, Idaho June 1, 2008 and arrived in Key West, Florida October 23, 2008. Ride took a total of 146 days, with approximately 40 days off to sight see and visit friends and family. Rode a total of 10,033 miles, approximately 95 miles per day at an average of about 12-13 miles per hour. Rode through 26 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Best way to describe the ride--"Like being on a scenic driving trip in a car, only in slow motion".

Until the next update, have a great week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Living the Dream!!!!!




Just a quick update.

After crossing the 10,000 mile mark at about 10:00 am this morning and entering Key West after 10,033 miles I have completed my ride. What a journey. Everything I expected and then some. Great memories, incredible scenery, interesting and colorful people and a renewed faith in our country.

I want to thank everyone who supported me on this trip, without your help I couldn't have done it. I especially want to thank everyone that has donated or made a pledge to the Panhandle Alliance for Education and their early childhood literacy program, Ready. The program starts tomorrow and it is an incredible investment in helping our young children get ready for a life of learning. If you haven't made a contribution, I urge you to do so. 100% of your donation goes to the program. Simply click on the donate section of the web site and make your contribution today.

A special thanks to my family for supporting me and allowing me to live my dream.

I will be spending the next several weeks in Key West before heading back to Sandpoint. I will be updating my blog from time to time as I reflect back on the journey and explore Key West and Southern Florida.

Thanks again and all the best.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Florida Keys
















Currently in Marathon Florida, 9976 miles into the trip. About half way down the Keys and 50+ miles away from Key West and the end of the journey.
Wild weather today. Cloudy, sunny, rainy and 30+ mile and hour winds from the Northeast which made for a tough first 12 miles of riding until I South down the Keys. At one point, I was riding down a bridge and pedaling hard as I was riding directly into the wind. When I turned South, it was like having a sail and my average speed was probably 20+mph. Note the pictures of the sail boarder. He was literally flying across the water!!! Fantastic cloudy sunrise. Got a great close-up of a single flower right after a rain shower with the sun reflecting off the raindrops.
The Keys are as relaxed and laid back as you can imagine, especially now during the "low season". About the only thing going on is a few locals fishing and some people heading to Key West for a big festival this weekend. Everyone is complaining about the lack of business and how bad the real estate market is when it comes to renting vacation homes.
Tomorrow I will arrive in Key West, my final destination. On one hand I am very excited to be near the end, on the other hand, it seems like I have been riding for so long, I'm not sure what I will do Saturday morning when I don't have another day of riding in front of me. More on this tomorrow.
All the best.





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Everglades






























Still in Florida City, Florida. Now 9895 miles into the trip after riding through the Everglades today.
Left early this morning and caught a very cloudy sunrise over the farm fields West of Florida City. Overcast most of the day, with a strong wind again out of the East. Spent most of the day riding through the Everglades National Park.
The Park is the only National Park that was created with the express purpose of trying to save the Everglades, a vast waterway in Southern Florida. Southern Florida's natural water flows, the lifeblood of the Everglades, have changed as a result of development, altering river flows and controlling water flows for agriculture. The Federal and State government have a plan to restore the natural water flow to the extent possible over the next 30 years. Many are skeptical that the plan will work or funding will be available.
Riding through the Park, one gets the sense of the vast waterway system that used to exist. I rode through almost 40 miles of sloughs, grasses and trees most of which were standing in shallow water as a result of the recent summer rains.
Rode over my last "pass" of the trip today, Rock Reef Pass, noted in the picture above. While it was a tough climb, I managed to make it to the top and it is now all down hill!!!!!!!
Tomorrow I will head South down the Keys.






Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Florida City





Currently in Florida City Florida, 9794 miles into the trip. Hot, strong headwinds and an overall tough riding day.

Left Naples this morning and continued to ride through cattle country in Southwestern Florida. After about 35 miles, entered Big Cypress National Preserve, part of the National Park System that borders the Everglades National Park. It is a 720,000 acre preserve that originally was to be part of the Everglades but the Federal government did not acquire the property from private owners in time to be included as part of the Everglades National Park. It is home to the Miccosukee and Seminole Native American Indian tribes.

Florida City was originally a land promotion during the early 1900's and it was known as Detroit. It is the Southernmost city in the U.S. that isn't an island and is the last stop on the mainland before entering the Florida Keys. It is on the Eastern edge of the Everglades and is on the only road that leads into the Everglades. Today, it is a major tourist stopping point before embarking for the Keys and has become a major agriculture center for Southern Florida.

I found the cat referred to in yesterday's photo of a roadside sign!!!!! Saw numerous alligators that had been run over by traffic along the road today as well as countless tourist stops for airboat tours.

Tomorrow, I will take a side trip into the Everglades and on Thursday plan on heading South into the Keys.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Southwestern Florida























Currently in Naples Florida, 9678 miles into the trip.
Spent the better part of the day riding through Southwestern Florida farm and cattle country, past very large citrus groves and through swamp land. Just when I thought I wasn't going to see any more corn fields, one was in the middle of reclaimed swamp land. I have ridden through 24 states and in everyone I have seen cornfields. What happens to all that corn???? Not sure about the road sign pictured above other than I don't think I want to run into the cat it is designed to protect.
Had an opportunity to see a little of the Naples waterfront. Incredible waterfront homes and beaches. Given the economy, one has to wonder if the miles of waterfront high rise condos are sold or occupied? Not much history on Naples other than it was formed in the 1800's and promoted for its sunny days and abundant fishing and wildlife. The promoters of the city likened the bay to the bay in Naples Italy, thus the name Naples. The city boasts it has more golf holes per capita than anywhere else in the country. It is a favorite tourist spot with over 10 miles of pristine beaches and serves as a gateway to the Everglades.
Tomorrow I will begin the first of two days riding through the Everglades. After that it is on to Key West.






Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lake Okeechobee







Add Image




Still in Clewiston Florida. Spent the day riding around Lake Okeechobee. 9553 miles into the trip.

Lake Okeechobee or the "Big O" as it is known is the second largest freshwater lake wholly contained within the U.S., second only to Lake Michigan. It is over 700+ square miles, approximately 110 miles around, can hold over 1 trillion gallons of water and is the headwaters for the Everglades. The lake formed approximately 6000 years ago when the ocean receded. It is from 1 to 13 feet deep and is surrounded by a 20 foot dike that was built after two devastating hurricanes in 1926 and 1928, that killed thousands of people when the storm surge breached the original 6 foot muck dike constructed to prevent flooding in the agriculture areas and communities surrounding the lake.

The current dike, known as the Hubert Hoover Dike (resulting from Hoover's interest in it's construction) has survived several subsequent hurricanes. The Dike and a series of canals are used to control Lake inflows and outflows. Unfortunately, the lake has high levels of pollution resulting from agriculture run-off and recent droughts have seen dangerously low lake levels which in turn have resulted in significant loss of fish populations. The control of outflows has impacted Southern Florida and together with development has resulted in significant losses of the Everglades. The state of Florida has a plan to return agriculture land South of the lake to it's natural environment with hopes of saving the remaining Everglades.

The lake is home to thousands of birds and waterfowl as well as the American alligator. It is especially noted as a Large mouth Bass fishery and is a mecca for fisherman and boaters.

Recent droughts caused the lake to become very low and in 2007 and early 2008 the dried out lake bed started on fire, note the charred stumps in the picture above. A recent Hurricane resulted in the lake raising 4 feet from heavy rains and it is now back to a more normal level.

Much of the 100 foot wide dike has a paved road on its top and is used by hikers and bikers and is part of the Florida Trail, a 1400 mile-long trail that is a National Scenic Trail. Much of my ride today was on the trail.

With no specific route or destination in mind, I will head Southwest toward the Gulf coast before entering the Everglades on my way to Key West.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Southwestern and Central Florida























Currently in Clewiston Florida, 9430 miles into the trip. Clewiston is on the shores of Lake Oceechobee, the second largest freshwater lake contained in the contiguous United States.
Spent yesterday riding through Western Florida, the Fort Meyers area and spent last night at a friend's home on Sanibel Island. Sanibel is a small island near Fort Meyers and is world renowned for its seashell covered beaches. The island, first formed about 6000 years ago from ocean current and storm wave action, is one of the youngest land forms in the U.S. It was initially inhabited by Indains and then became a haven for pirates attacking ships sailing from the Port of New Orleans. Fort Meyers, a city that has developed rapidly during recent times (note picture of the skyline above), was the winter home of a number of America's famous industrialists including the Edison and Ford families.
Today, I headed inland and rode through more cattle and citrus grove country which gave way to sugar cane plantations. Clewiston is known as "America's Sweetest Town" as it is home to United States Sugar. It will likely lose this designation as the Governor of Florida authorized in June of 2008 the purchase of all of United States Sugar's land as part of a massive project to restore the natural Everglades of Southern Florida. More on this tomorrow.
Caught a great sunrise yesterday morning, rode through a small community and got a shot of the local church steeple with the moon in the background and this morning managed to get a shot of some fishermen in the bay near Fort Meyers as they were pulling in a fish. Late this afternoon I rode on the bike path along Lake Oceechobee and watched some interesting clouds begin to form thunderheads.
Have a great weekend.





Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Horn






Currently in Arcadia Florida, 9303 miles into the trip.

Great riding day. Hot, temperatures in the high 80's, low 90's, sunny, humid and once again windy. Started early while it was cool and the Florida hill country was shrouded in fog, especially the low areas.

Continued riding through cattle country this morning which gradually gave way to a combination of cattle pastures, farm land and citrus groves. Got a picture of a "One Horned Black Bull", these animals are extremely rare in captivity and I could not believe my good fortune to be able to photograph one up close. Generally they are only seen in the wild, in early morning or after sunset. I've also been following the Florida "bird trail" and had an opportunity to capture a picture of a flock of rare Southwestern Florida Black Horn Billed Heron!!!!!

Enjoyed some great Southern BBQ in Arcadia tonight. Arcadia is located about 50 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. It is "cattle country" and has a reputation as a rough and ready place as a result of it's pioneer past. It earned its Wild West reputation from a series of cattle wars in the 1890s, complete with frequent ambushes and shootouts between feuding ranchers and cattle rustlers. It is nestled among a beautiful patchwork of rolling pastures and farm land, wandering waterways, small towns and the meandering Peace River.

Unlike the last two days, I have a specific route and destination in mind for tomorrow. I will be riding to Sanibel Island, on the Gulf Coast.

All the best, stay focused on the road ahead and may the wind be at your back!!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Florida Cattle and Horse Country






Currently in Brooksville Florida, 9102 miles into the trip. Brooksville is approximately 40 miles North of Tampa near the West coast of Florida.

As my ride is coming to an end, I want to thank everyone that has made a contribution or donation to the Panhandle Alliance's early childhood literacy program. The program will start this month and is a great way for our young children to begin the journey of life-long learning. If you haven't already contributed, please consider a donation. Simply go to the donation section of my web site and make a contribution. It will be an investment in our most important asset for the future, our children.

Left Gainesville this morning without a specific destination or route in mind. Headed West and then South and rode through Florida cattle and horse country. To my surprise, much of the day was spent riding through rolling hill country. Hot, humid and very windy. Not much change in scenery and very few tourist stops along the way. Much different than the Eastern coast of Northern Florida.

The pink elephant pictured above was in the middle of a field full of cars. Interestingly, while it didn't appear to have anything to do with politics, a short distance from it were numerous political advertisements for both Republican and Democratic candidates.

Tomorrow I will head South, again with no specific route or destination in mind other than to continue to work my way toward Key West.

All the best.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

St Augustine Sunrise






Crossed a major milestone today going over the 9000 mile mark and am currently in Gainesville Florida, 9002 miles into the trip, but who's counting???

Caught a great sunrise in St. Augustine this morning.

Left St. Augustine this morning with no route or destination in mind other than heading West. Rode through Northern Florida farm country. Great weather, temperatures in the 80's and sunny. Had and opportunity to walk around the downtown area of Gainesville and the campus of the University of Florida tonight. It is clearly football season as everyone was still talking about the Gators win over LSU this past Saturday.

Had an interesting conversation with one of the locals regarding the economy and politics this afternoon while riding along the Hawthorne rail trail. Not sure that many in Washington or on Wall Street really understand how the general public feels about the current state of the country. Should make for interesting elections!!!!!!!

The Spanish originally developed cattle ranches in the area and in the mid 1800's Gainesville became a railroad hub. Gainesville beat out several other Florida cities for the establishment of the University of Florida and today the University is a major factor in the city.

Tomorrow I intend to head South, again with no route or destinatin in mind. Everyone I have meet in Florida has encouraged me to make it to Key West for a festival that is coming up at the end of the month.

Monday, October 13, 2008

St. Augustine







Took the day off to have some work done on my bicycle and to do some sight seeing in historic St. Augustine Florida, America's oldest city settled by the Spainish in 1565.

Toured Castillo de San Marcos, a fort built by the Spanish from 1672 to 1695 to defend St. Augustine against the English and to protect the Florida coast which was vital for Spanish fleets sailing to Spain with riches from its various colonies in the New World. In 1586 the English attacked and burned St. Augustine and in the 1600's English pirates repeatedly attacked Spanish treasure ships. The fort withstood several attacks over the years as a result of it's 15+ foot thick falls built from coquina (pronounced ko-kee-na), a locally quarried soft shellrock which did not become brittle or crumble under cannon fire.

Over the years the fort has been controlled by the Spanish, English and Americans as Florida bounced between the various countries. In 1763 after the French and Indian War the Spanish ceded control of Florida to the English in exchange for Cuba. Florida remained loyal to the English and did not take part in the American Revolutionary War. In 1783 England transferred Florida back to the Spanish as part of the treaty to end the American Revolutinary War. In 1821 the Spanish transferred control of Florida to the U.S.

Given the long history of Spanish control, St. Augustine's architecture is very unique compared to other historic American cities.

Weather has been cloudy with a very strong breeze off the Atlantic as seen in the photo of the flag above. Rained very hard early this morning and is currently raining.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Florida

















Currently in St. Augustine Florida, 8878 miles into the trip.
Spent the day riding through Southern Georgia and riding along Florida's Northeastern coast. Lonely beaches, windy (note my trailer flag above while I was on a ferry), rainy and rough surf. This afternoon I had a chance to walk around St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine became a Spanish stronghold in Florida.
Juan Ponce de Leon of Spain is credited with discovering Florida in 1513, although many believe the English first sailed along the Florida coast in the late 1400's and the French also were believed to have established settlements prior to the Spanish. Neither the English or the French discoveries were well documented and as a result Spain is credited with Florida's discovery. Native Americans were living in the area for centuries before the Europeans.
Meet the "coolest dog" around on the St. Augustine Square (pictured above). He was part of a one-man blues playing band.
Had another flat on the bike today. One flat in over 8600 miles then three in the next 100 miles!!!!! Tomorrow, I will need to go to a bike shop for new tubes and a new tire.
I am now in the final phase of the journey, with Florida being the last state I will ride through. I am about 600 miles away from Key West, but don't plan on arriving until the end of the month. I also need to ride another 1200+ miles to fulfill my personal committment of riding 10,000+ miles. Iwill likely spend some time criss-crossing the state to visit friends with my route being determined on a daily basis. Not sure where I will head tomorrow other than to a local bike shop. It is raining very hard currently so I may just stay in St. Augustine.
Hope everyone had a great weekend.



Friday, October 10, 2008

Savannah






Add Image

Currently in Kingsland Georgia, 8791 miles into the trip.

Spent yesterday touring Savannah's historic district. Numerous historic sites related to the Revolutionary War and Civil War along with historic homes from the 17th and 18th century. Learned a lot about Savannah's past including the role it played as a major port early in it's founding and continuing today. Lots of "Southern" charm and character and as one strolls through the historic district, one can easily imagine what the South was like before the Civil War.

Did you know that Georgia was originally part of South Carolina and was not colonized by the British until they decided they needed to build a "buffer" between the Spanish in Florida and important plantations of the Carolina's. Early Georgia settlers were Englishmen who were trying to stay out of "debtor prisons" in England.

Found Savannah's oldest watering hole last night, Pinkie Masters, a place the local's refer to as a real "dive" and at the same time they consider it a historic "institution". Pinkie, the legendary owner, was one of the first people in Georgia to help Jimmie Carter win the presidential election and the bar is known for Carter standing on the bar making a speech before he was inaugurated as president. Listened to several interesting conversations regarding politics and the economy. Some interesting comments that both presidential candidates probably need to listen too if they want to be successful as our next president.

Rode along the Georgia coast today through marshland, passing through small communities involved in the fishing and shrimping industry. Had an opportunity to ride across numerous bridges spanning wide meandering rivers leading to the Atlantic ocean.

Stopped at a roadside fruit stand to have a fresh Georgia peach, only to find out that the peaches they were selling were actually from Southern Idaho. Didn't expect to ride almost 8700 miles to get a peach from Idaho!!!! It tasted great.

Weather has become rainy with spotted thunderstorms. After only having one flat tire on my bike (two on the trailer) during the first 8600+ miles, I had two flats today. Fortunately both happened between showers. Temperatures in the low 80's and have had a nice tailwind.

Tomorrow I will enter Florida and begin the final leg of the journey. Should be in St. Augustine Florida tomorrow, the oldest city in the U.S., founded by the Spanish in 1591 during their search for the fountain of youth.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Charleston South Carolina








Currently in Charleston South Carolina, 8545 miles into the trip.

Easy ride today in terms of miles as I spent most of the afternoon touring Charleston. The City is rich in history going back to before the Revolutionary War. Charleston is unique in that it was captured in two wars (the Revolutionary War and the Civil War), attacked by pirates, destroyed by an earthquake, several fires and major hurricanes over the years. It is a walking city with many restored homes and buildings that are 250+ years old. It contains the largest collection of residential pre-Revolutionary War homes, some of which are pictured above. It also has the distinction of being the place where the South fired the first shots during the Civil War. Today, Charleston is one of the top tourist cities in the U.S. given it's historic distict.

Tomorrow I will continue to head South with my next major destination being Savannah.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

North and South Carolina









Currently in Georgetown South Carolina, 8481 miles into the trip.

Thanks to Sean at Kokanee Publishing in Sandpoint, my blog posting problems have been solved and I am back on line.

I have spent the last week riding through Virgina, the Outer Banks of North Carolina and North Eastern South Carolina. Highlights have included:

--Riding through the Richmond National Battlefield;
--Riding along historic Revoluntionary and Civil War routes and battlefields:
--Riding along deserted Atlantic Ocean beaches thrughout the Outer Banks of North Carolina;
--Riding through "cotton country" in the Carolina's;
--Riding past numerous golf courses (regular and miniture) near Myrtle Beach in South Carolina;
--Meeting numerous "locals" and discussing the economy, politics, etc. and
--Catching some incredible sunrises over the Atlantic; and
--Picture perfect weather, no clouds, temps in the high 70's and a tail wind.

Tomorrow I head to Charleston SC and plan on visiting historic downtown Charleston.

Happy to be back on line.

Monday, October 6, 2008

One of those days!!!!!

Currently in Wilmington North Carolina, 8366 miles into the trip.

It has been "one of those days"! The day started with a 15 mile ride to get to Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base where my route had me riding 20 miles through the base. Upon arriving at the entrance I was informed that it is no longer possible to ride through the base. After back-tracking and determining an alternative route, I was able to get to Wilmington at about 1:00 pm.

Yesterday my camera stopped working which is no surprise since it has been dropped numerous times and run over by a car last week(don't ask how or why). Luckily, Wilmington is a larger city and I was able to find a new camera at Best Buy. Since I have been having trouble connecting to the internet, I decided to have the Best Buy Geek Squad check out my PC. They couldn't figure it out so they sent me to another computer company who sent me back to Best Buy. After six hours with computer geeks, I now have a new PC! I guess 8300 miles of potholes, bumps, ruts, construction and accidents finally got to my electronic gear!!!!!!!

So now I have a new camera and computer; however, the outside service that I am using to update my blog doesn't seem to be able to accept posting new pictures so no new photos until I figure out what is going on.

Riding the Outer Banks has been fantastic. I have meet some great people, including two riders yesterday who are riding to Florida. The weather has been great, the seafood outstanding and the beaches all but deserted!!!

Tomorrow I head South and expect to visit Charleston and Savannah before the week is over.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Outer Banks


Currently in Ocracoke North Carolina, 8176 miles into the trip.

Have spent the last several days riding through Virginia and North Carolina following historic Civil War routes and have ridden by many areas where battles took place. Weather has been
fantastic. The last couple of days I have been riding on the Outer Banks. Again, a lot of history as the area is home to the earliest English attempts to colonize the Americas.

I have had trouble accessing the internet and posting pictures so I will be brief.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Riding South

I am currently in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and have had trouble getting good internet connections. I have gone over the 8000 mile mark as of today. Hopefully, I will be back on line early next week.