Made it to Florida!
Total Mileage: 2381
I left Dauphin island about 8 am on a ferry over to Ft. Morgan, AL. I rode along the gulf coast and as I said yesterday, this is a really cool, happening kind of place. The little beach towns all down the coast seemed really lively and fun. The super nice women at the AL tourist info center were telling me that this stretch of coast is wonderful and they were trying to convince me to go the annual mullet toss, which the name alone sounds awesome! What it is is a huge party in a place called Floribama (one of Jimmy Buffet's hang outs) where people drink and dance to live music all day and then see how far they can throw a mullet fish into Florida! hah! that sounds like fun! But, I have to get to Miami by the 1st, so i will have to miss it, unfortunately. This is another reason to get out of the state and slow down a bit, so I can go to fish throwing parties!
Also, when i was on Dauphin island, i ran into two other guys who were riding from San Diego to, I think, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I was shocked, i had come all this way and here were two other guys riding the same direction! So I stopped and was all pumped to talk to these guys and they were like, hi. And pretty much blew me off to go get some food. So i was thinking, wow, these guys are pretty nonchalant about meeting another rider. So i get into camp at Dauphin island and i meet another guy who is leading a guided bike ride from Alabama to Minnesota. So he and I start talking and I told him about the guys I had met earlier and he said, well yeah, you got onto the the Southern Tier cross country bike route, which is really popular. He was shocked I hadn't seen anyone else so far. So he explained to me what the outfit was that he worked for, the Adventure Cycle Touring Association, and explained that they make a series of maps that, as he put it, make for a pretty brainless trip. Basically they outline exactly where to go, where to stay, where you can eat, etc. It takes all the thinking out of the tip, you just have to get on your bike and pedal. I had heard of this association before, but i didnt realize how popular it was or how much they held your hand on the trip. Then, the next day, I bumped into another guy who was riding around Alabama. He was the coolest of them though, an older Scottish guy who was riding with some beers in is pack so he could stop and drink a few while watching the sea. Now that is my kind of cyclist!
I have just been winging it and going my own way. And I am glad I did. Strangely, this was the nail in the coffin for me to get out of the states. All of the guys I had met had done 3 to 8 of the Cycle touring association trips but none of them had gone riding out of the country apart from Canada. Now, there is nothing wrong with going that way at all, it just isnt what i want to do. I want an adventure, a physical and mental challenge. I want to have to figure out where I am going, what I need to do and to have some real adventure, not a prepackaged guided tour. The idea of just going along the exact same route that hundreds of other people go on ever year just doesn't get my blood pumping. Bumping into all those guys just sort of diminished riding in the states for me.The best travel experiences I have ever had have been spontaneous and off the beaten track. So I am going to go with my gut and clear out of dodge.
That decision made, i rode into FL with a big smile on my face. I think about things a lot before i make big decisions, but once I do, it feels good to be committed to course of action. I took a stop to jump in the Gulf and swim, the water was just to inviting not too! I made it into Navarre after dark, where I was looking fro a state beach. I had to get a ride the last couple of miles in a truck, as this road has no lights and the guy who gave me a lift told me a kid had just been killed riding on this road at night, so i jumped in and got a lift to the state park...which was closed!! Stupid website needs to be updated! So again, i had to pay $20 to get into a campsite. My budget is getting murdilated! Oh well, not much I can do about it.