Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday Mileage: 80
Saturday Mileage: 107
Friday I continued to ride along the coast all day until I came to a place called Ochonokee Bay (I believe that is what it was called) in Florida. The ride was just beautiful, with more great beaches and i just couldn't resist jumping in the water from time to time. The 98 highway out here does get a little scary in places with no shoulder at times, but the traffic is fairly light, o as long as you are on top of your game, you will be fine riding on it. One nice thing about riding out here are all of the wild blackberries that grow along the road side. If you need a bite to eat, just stop and pick a few. They taste great too. I also saw my first gator! I was hoping too see one out here and as I was riding down the road I spotted one jut hanging out in a little stream. I took his picture (look in the bottom right corner of the pond) but it didn't come out too well so when i moved closer to get a better picture, he bolted into the woods and i lost him. Its crazy how they just hang out like that feet from traffic.
I had a pretty stiff headwind in the morning, but it died down by the late afternoon and I was able to put a decent amount of miles down. I would have gone further but I was offered a place to camp behind a little deli that i had stopped to eat at. It turned out to be a bad move, despite the very kind offer of the nice people there.
I put up my tent and settled in with local animals. One was a little Jack Russel that was a really nice dog. He just came out sniffed me and then decided I was ok and went back into the deli. The other one was a horse that was an attention hog. It would come up and make that horse noise where it blows a raspberry at you, over and over till I would look out my tent at it, then it would run away. As soon as I would lay back down, it would come back and start making that noise again until I would look up and then it would take off. It was like plying peek a boo with some one else's kid. It's fun for a few times then it gets really old, really fast.
That was just a warm up for the real scare though. I was sleeping in the back of the deli out by the dumpsters (classy! and smelly, something was rotting in there) and just dozing off when two deep swamp dwelling guys came charging right past my tent and started digging in the trash. It scarred the bejeezus out of me. When they saw me they were kind of taken aback, but what ever they found must have been pretty awesome because they ran off, got a ramshackle old van (that was blaring music) and came back and started digging stuff out of the trash and throwing it into their van and at each other, along with some of the most colorful swear words I have ever heard, before driving off. It was bizarre. After I finally fell asleep after that strange event, a police officer came by and woke me up again to make sure i belonged there and wasn't some bum. He was very nice though, so it wasn't so bad. Better than the trash divers coming back for a third go.
Speaking of weird people, this area is full of them. Now don't get me wrong, the vast majority of the south is full of the nicest people i have ever met in my life. I met a couple in a little fishing town that were just super friendly and we stayed and chatted for a while and they told me about some good places to go eat and showed some of the local fish they catch out here. But this part of Florida has some really odd birds as soon as you get away from the water. I have ridden through some of the weirdest little communities where people live in just horridly run down mobile homes, with multiple cars in the front yard that are not mobile. Its the kind of people you see on COPS that get caught cooking meth in their basements and then try to run from the police. It baffles me how some people live the way they do. One classic guy was driving his tractor wearing no shirt, his cowboy hat and cut off jean shorts but still wearing cowboy boots! It was awesome, but i didnt have time to take his picture.
It is so beautiful out here too, I could almost be on a tropical island, then a truck with wheels bigger than I am flies by blaring country music with a giant confederate flag sticker on the back window, yelling something at me I would expect a junior high kid to say, and I quickly realize that i am definitely not on a tropical island. I get more lewd yells per mile out here than anywhere else in the country.
The weirdest of all of the weirdos I encountered so far though, was a real doozy. I was getting ready to pull off the road and camp out in the forest when I see a guy walking down the side of the freeway in my direction. He looked really strange, so i decided to ride up and get a better look before pulling over and as I got closer my jaw just dropped.
We were about 10 miles from a town in any direction, so this is way out in the forest, and this guy that looks like a dead ringer for Charlie Manson, with a giant beard and long, crazy hair, comes walking down the side of the highway wearing a brown jump suit and holding both arms out with, get this, animal skins hanging off of them. I kid you not, I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn't seeing things. He was walking down the road with the skins of some forest critters dangling from his outstretched arms.
You can't make this kind of stuff up.
Needless to say, i decided that these particular woods were not for me and I headed into town to find something a little more civilized.
Things like this just make me scratch me head and laugh. How in the blazes do people get to that point in the United States of America? But like i said, for every one weirdo i meet out here, I meet a ton of incredibly friendly people. The weirdos just seem to stick out more!
At any rate, I am going to bed, I have a ton of miles to get down by Wednesday if i am going to get to Miami on time. I think i may have to pull a He-Man and unleash the power of greyskull if i am going to make this hppen. But, my legs feel good so i think i will be fine. Until next time!