Trees to Keys Chapter 4

Trees to Keys - Chapter Four

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Days
11
Chapter Miles
725
Total Trees-to-Keys Miles
2,598
Shouters
6
Tandems
1

Day 1    Day 2    Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6   Day 7   Day 8   Day 9   Day 10   Day 11

 

Day 1 - 11/26/17 (63 miles)

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After a delicious Thanksgiving with 30 family members (yep, really) at Andy’s sister and brother-in-law’s house in Redding, and all of us together again for breakfast on Friday, we drove to Sacramento airport. With a late-afternoon flight, and a quick stop in Dallas, we arrived in Atlanta at 12:45 AM Saturday morning.

After a snappy 5 hours of sleep, we started our morning with a yummy breakfast with the expecting Frisbys, then drove to MTB Tandems, a little north of town, to retrieve our bike which the owner, Alex, had repaired and stored for us since the end of Chapter 3. Fortunately, Hertz had provided a much larger vehicle than we expected – a Ford Expedition, instead of a mini-van – so we were able to fold down the seats and fit the tandem in without taking off either of the tires.

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Then we started the 4-hour drive back to Savannah, the “mandatory” stop for Chapter 3, due to hurricane Irma. There was much less traffic this time. We arrived with time to walk around town, about 4 miles of which was required after we unloaded the bike and gear at the hotel, and then dropped off the Expedition. Fortunately, the walk took us past the rolled-ice-cream shop, Below Zero, and through the beautiful parks. We stopped at Mercer House to see if we could be part of the last tour of the day, but it was already full.

With another yummy dinner at the Olde Pink House, we sorted our gear, and got ready for today. At about 9 PM, a fireworks event started, which we could see from our hotel window. Pretty cool view.

This morning, after convincing the guy at the hotel desk to walk with us over to the Olde Pink House to take our picture, we started pedaling. Weaving our way through the beautiful garden squares and past lovely historic mansions we left Savannah and started the journey.

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Beautifully smooth roads, low traffic, mostly paved shoulders, even some bike lanes, and not too may rumble-strips, made it a great start to the journey. One mini mart stop was punctuated by large stacks of dog food, Jake’s Choice ($2.99/50# bag!) which made for a very comfy couch and picnic spot.

The FLAT terrain is a bit monotonous, but we make very good time, so we should be able to hit many more mini-marts than usual. We arrived at our stop for today, Darien, GA after less than 4 hours of pedaling, and were able to check-in to the hotel early. Yippee!!

Day 2 - 11/27/17 (57 miles)

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Today was another beautiful day – no clouds, very light wind, lovely country, friendly drivers! We got an early start, back on Highway 17 South. We pedaled past the Gulfstream Plant, and got to see a couple of new jets they’re working on. After about 15 miles we stopped at, yes, another McDonald’s for mochas and Egg McMuffins.

We pedaled across dozens of bridges with cement railings that had dates molded into them – many, many 1955, some 1956 and 1954, and one 1949. Amazing work across rivers and the beginning of swampy-land. We were surrounded by pine trees – which was totally unexpected, and resulted in us being passed, in both directions, by trucks (with friendly drivers) hauling logs. At one point, we had to stop and photograph this huge paper-plant – finally figuring out where the trucks were headed.

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In Waverly, GA, we stopped at a clean-looking mini-mart for a snack, and got to meet the owner, Jay. He’s lived in the area for decades, and travelled to Africa, with his dad, for hunting trips. He showed us photos of elephants (which he didn’t shoot) that he got to see. He greeted all the customers (except us) by name, and we heard some good stories about moving haybales, with his wife and a couple local kids, that involved Bud Light cans and wild hogs...

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Back on the road – which was amazingly straight and well-paved, although with very small shoulders – we saw many interesting houses, abandoned buildings, and closed mini-marts. We thought we’d stop for BBQ at this “OPEN” place, but decided to skip it since the service seemed a bit slow, and pedaled to the restaurant in Woodbine – Creative Catering – which Jay had recommended. It was excellent – great service, lovely place, and yummy food.

Re-energized, we started pedaling again, and after about 15 miles we arrived at our home for today, Kingsland, which is about 5 miles from Florida. After, once again, being granted early check-in at our hotel, and having a yummy dinner across the street at The Kingsland Millhouse, with super-friendly service, we prepped for tomorrow – a big day of 79-ish miles.

Day 3 - 11/28/17 (79 miles)

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We started our day winding through the quiet neighborhood of Kingsland to Route 17. This was our last day on 17, once again with lots, and lots, of log trucks. At Yulee, we turned left onto A1A towards Amelia Island and the Atlantic Ocean – via six miles of road construction and rough riding conditions. Thus “incentivized”, when we spotted a McDonald’s we pulled in for a couple of mochas and (for Andy) a sausage egg McMuffin. Then, we were back on the road with, yep, more road construction and log trucks. Not our favorite.

Eventually, we crossed a long, and high bridge (most of our “elevation gain” has been via bridge-crossing), and arrived on Amelia Island. We then saw the reason for all the log trucks – another giant paper plant to the north. Luckily, we turned to the South, and into a quiet neighborhood with a pristine, and wide, bike lane. All we could hear was the hum of our tires on the asphalt, rare for these trips and pretty blissful.

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After about 35 miles, we arrived at the ferry dock to take us across the St. John’s River. The timing was, somehow, perfect, as the ferry was pulling into the dock just as we arrived, and the kind car drivers let us pedal on first. Total cost for the ferry ticket, for both of us, was…. $1…. Really! The toll taker laughed as she said “Well, I guess it’s only one bike.” She was also key for local restaurant advice.

The journey across the river was short, about ¼ a mile, but much better, and quicker, than swimming. We disembarked at Mayport, and had lunch at Safe Harbor Restaurant. As we were going in, the Amelia Island bicycle club was wrapping-up their lunch and stopped to talk with us. One even asked about our spAIRtray bike jerseys, and then said she wanted to buy a spAIRtray on Amazon! Woohoo! Lunch paid for.

While we dined, we sat on the outside deck and enjoyed watching several Pelicans busily flying about, but mostly lounging on a couple of boats in the harbor and preening themselves. The Mayport Naval Base was apparently training helicopter pilots. Non-stop helicopters circling overhead.

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After lunch, as we started pedaling out of the parking lot, we had our first “Shouter” of this chapter: “She’s not pedaling!” The guy completely stopped his F-150 (that’s all they drive out here), rolled down the window and made it clear. OK, we’ve heard that before… Back on A1A, for about 30 miles, we pedaled through all the “beaches”: Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach. Traffic was very heavy, but once again, the bike lane was wide and beautifully smooth, just the hum of the tires.

Then, we were out of the cities and started the long, two-lane portion of A1A. Helped by a gentle tailwind, we made great time to the landing site of Ponce de Leon in 1513. He looked very youthful, though a bit stiff.

So far, Florida has been great: perfect weather, impeccable bike lanes, and friendly people. On to Daytona Beach tomorrow!

Day 4 - 11/29/17 (54 miles)

As we pulled out of our hotel this morning, we swung by the excellent restaurant where we had dinner last night – 180 Vilano – yummy food and terrific service. Then we turned back on A1A, and went over the bridge into St. Augustine – possibly the oldest city in the US – and Kim took a quick walk by the Fort Castillo de San Marcos, one of the forts in St. Augustine. Back on the bike we pedaled over an old bridge, with beautiful views of the city, the bay, and the lighthouse, to Anastasia Island. We also achieved our max climbing of the day, almost 200 feet, thanks to the bridges.

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Back to flat-land pedaling we cruised along the smooth and litter free bike lanes, with 10-15 MPH tailwinds helping us average about 21 mph. Yippee! We stopped at Crescent Beach mini-mart for some snacks, and were told that the next “opportunity” for fuel was about 4 miles ahead, then another one about 4 more miles, then nothing for quite a while.

Back to pedaling along the Atlantic Ocean, with beach houses supported by huge “stilts”, sand right up to the road, lots of Pelicans soaring by, and a continuing wide shoulder and tailwind, progress was quickly made. We definitely made the right choice to stop at the Java Joint in Flagler Beach. We decided to stay out of the wind and dine inside. What a wonderful team they have! Excellent service, friendly people, cute décor, and yummy French Toast. It’s owned by an extreme Pittsburg Steelers fan. On game-days all of the staff is required to wear jerseys, and much of the décor is fan merchandise.

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Pedaling again, after checking Adventure Cycling and Google Maps, and then with two bikers we saw at a beach parking area, we left A1A and took John Anderson Road instead. At first a little hesitant, even with the triple-recommendation, we ended up being so glad we listened to the “team”! We were on a great road with little traffic and saw amazing homes – including this little fixer-upper. We also got to view the Intracoastal Waterway, and, yes, really, pedaled faster than a 100-plus foot yacht that was cruising along.

Arriving in Ormand Beach, which, apparently, was one of John D. Rockefeller’s summer homes (now a museum), we rejoined A1A and cruised along for about 3 more miles and reached our home for today, Daytona Beach. After a dinner that was a quick walk, but wasn’t close to as yummy as yesterday’s, we enjoyed the view of the ocean from our hotel. Another great day!

Day 5 - 11/30/17 (56 miles)

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We started today pedaling along the Daytona Beach coastline, in the shade of giant hotels and condominium buildings, for over six miles, to Port Orange where we crossed another giant bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. With a temperature of 64 degrees, and a dewpoint of 64 also – we were pedaling in 100% humidity. Granted, there was plenty of sun, and few clouds, but, still, pretty soggy!

We made our first mini-mart stop, and found the perfect road-food for each of us: 3 feet of Twix for Kim, and 3 feet of Snickers for Andy!

Our “healthy” stop was back at McDonald’s for mochas and, yes, another sausage egg McMuffin for Andy. A bit further down Highway 1 we spotted another mini-mart with a picnic table out front. It turned out that it was next to a walk-up window where pizza could be purchased. Kim hoped for a root beer, but had to settle for a Mist instead. When we went into the mini-mart, it turned out that it was great (aka cleanest) that we’d been outside, since it was pretty grungy.

We didn’t have as strong a tailwind as yesterday, but there was enough breeze to help us move along briskly. And… it’s still flat, FLAT, FLAT. We also got to enjoy the best bike-lane ever for over five miles – wide, super-smooth, and well-marked – until we arrived in Titusville. We wound our way through town, stopping at McDonald’s for lunch before checking-in to our hotel about a half mile away.

It’s definitely getting warmer as we make our way south. No jackets today and, Andy may go with shorts tomorrow, instead of full leg covers. Another bonus is that we’re starting to see lots, and lots, of water-birds, sometimes flying along the water as we pedal along with them – very cool!

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Day 6 - 12/1/17 (46 miles)

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We started the day with a drier and warmer morning, still on FLAT road, with another nice bike lane along Highway 405 back to Highway 1. Following the Adventure Cycling maps and Google’s bike map, we jumped on Indian River Drive. And, WOW it was a sweet, smooth road along the huge, wide Indian River. We’ve started seeing more and more Irma wreckage – sailboats washed up on the shore, and nearly every pier/dock destroyed.

We worked hard to keep-up with a 70+ woman who was also biking through the neighborhoods, which she told us she does every day. Very speedy! We found our way to Cocoa Village, and quickly found the Ossorio café, with outdoor seating next to the regular five old guys that know everything. We had delicious mochas, fruit tarts, and bacon. A great stop.

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We continued on the Indian River Drive, and our fellow biker joined us again, and we, shamelessly, drafted off of her for a good four miles, nearly back to Highway 1. When we reached our old friend, Highway 1, we cruised into Melbourne, where the road became “bike-lane-less”, very busy, and not so friendly. Fortunately, we found a parallel road, Babcock Ave, and continued South. After a mile or so on the bumpiest road of the trip, and hungry for lunch, we gave in, and asked Spiderman (really… a costumed guy advertising for a local biz with a sign on the corner) for directions to the nearest Bar & Grill. The super-hero was very kind and helpful with directions to Applebee’s, which was also on the way to our lodging for tonight.

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Now we know why people come to Florida in the Winter. The weather is great! Nothing better than an outdoor table at Applebee’s in Melbourne in December. We had a tasty lunch with a friendly server, and, after just 1.5 more miles of pedaling we arrived at the hotel. We had our first dinner at a Chick-fil-A, to ready us for tomorrow's jaunt to Fort Pierce.

Day 7 - 12/2/17 (60 miles)

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We awoke to a perfectly still, and, yes, quite muggy morning. After the usual breakfast, we were on the road just after 7:30. Not bad for a Saturday, right? We wove our way through neighborhoods to get back to Highway 1. It was great to be back on the super-smooth bike lane with good drivers. We pedaled over the St Sebastian River and returned to Indian River Drive – and saw more beautiful, river-front homes, and most boat docks that hadn’t been damaged by Irma. The houses are well-kept and the lawns nicely maintained. Truly like riding through a park.

Six miles after rejoining Highway 1, we stopped for a break at a huge gas station and mini-mart, and re-fueled for our climb over the bridge across the Intra-Coastal Waterway. After climbing 7 feet (yes, total) in our first 20 miles, the bridge turned out to be our max elevation for today (22 feet above sea level), and most of our total “climbing” for today (190 feet).

Back onto beautiful A1A, we pedaled past many, many, many private golf courses, yachts, and even a few tennis courts. There were also many bikers out for their Saturday morning ride, enjoying the bike-lane on both sides of the road. We also saw the Navy Seal museum, with numerous long-boats on the front yard. We caught-up with one of the bikers and got to draft him for about 20 feet, but he dropped us when he turned onto a different road. Maybe he had to get home to watch a football game?

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We made a spontaneous stop at Sharky’s for lunch, which was great, and, again, had friendly service, from the owner, Cindy. After lunch we got in line to pedal on a drawbridge across another section of the Intra-Coastal Waterway, after that slight bump it was back to flat. Then we cruised through downtown Ft. Pierce, and experienced our “highlight” of the day: getting flipped-off while we waited at a stoplight by an older woman in a white Mercedes wagon. She, clearly, wasn’t happy sharing the lane with us, even for 10 seconds. The last time that happened was a very young kid in a mini-van in Colorado five years ago. Maybe they’re related?

Boats and houses are getting bigger, and cars are getting fancier as we get closer to Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, etc. And, even the birds are getting bigger… we’ve seen numerous Great Blue Herons, Pelicans, and Sandhill Cranes. Progress made!

Day 8 - 12/3/17 (68 miles)

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Another, typical, Florida start today – zero wind and muggy – but only 64 degrees, so we agreed to keep pedaling. We made our way back to the Intra-Coastal Waterway and Indian River Drive. We cruised along the smooth, low-traffic, palm-lined road. The pelicans are getting much larger, and more skillful at fishing… and catching! We saw several of them having more luck than the anglers in the river..

Another interesting part of the road were all the designer mailboxes we spotted – dolphins and sea lions “holding” the boxes; a pirate – sitting on top of the box, in full regalia, holding a pistol; and a mailbox stand, made of bronze with a “kid” leaning against the box as he read a book (yes, I searched for this one online, and you can buy one for only $4,500). And, there were huge Great Blue Herons in many yards.

In Jensen Beach, we found a tasty café and stopped for Breakfast 2.0 – French toast and mochas. Indian River Drive joined back up with A1A, and we crossed another bridge with beautiful views of the Indian River and the Intra-Coastal Waterway. The spectacular weather and very clean air encouraged us to keep going. The bridge took us back into the mainland, and we wove our way through the city of Stuart, and got to ride through a long, Banyan Tree tunnel, which truly made us feel like we were in Hawaii.

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Shortly after the tree tunnel, we were back on A1A, and then… a “blob” appeared in Kim’s rearview mirror. It shortly became evident that it was a 15 to 20 person riding club peloton. After 2 or 3 “she’s not pedaling” comments, one of the riders said, “follow us, we’re going your direction”. We made a quick left, and, next thing we knew, we were in the peloton, which quickly left us behind. One of the riders, John, a retired investment banker, stayed with us, and became our tour guide through the super-snazzy houses on Jupiter Island. We got to pedal by some very large, and unique, homes. John stayed with us for about 15 miles before he peeled off at his house in Juno Beach. He gave us some pointers for lunch and the up-coming route. A great helper!

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We stopped a few miles later at Cathy’s French Connection Café, our second sit-down meal of the day – no mini-marts today! Back on the road, refueled by delicious fruit bowls with yogurt and granola, as well as a tasty tropical smoothie, we came to a fork in the road, and were wondering if we should go out to another island, or stay on the main road. Then… just in time, a Jeep pulled up along side us, and said, “you’ll want to turn here”. It was John! So, we followed his instructions, and went back out to another island, and a couple more bridges with spectacular views.

We returned to the mainland and wove our way through some not-so-nice sections of Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach, and, after 68 scenic miles, with exceptional bird-watching, we arrived at our stop for today.

Tomorrow we go through Palm Beach, and past Mara Lago, on the way to Miami Beach!

Day 9 - 12/4/17 (72 miles)

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We got another early start today, in preparation for a long-ish day of 72 miles. Light winds and a beautiful sunrise greeted us as we made our way over the Indian River again, towards Mara Lago. As impressive as Mara Lago is supposed to be, it was actually the least impressive property we saw for miles. They, definitely, know how to build mansions in Palm Beach. Wow! The cars were impressive, too, with Range Rovers appearing to be the vehicles of choice for the yard-workers. Mercedes, in the 6 series and above, Maseratis, Ferraris, BMWs and Porsche 911s, the likes of which we’ve never seen. And… a Rolls Royce or two, just for good viewing. Back to the mansions…… no words for them, other than WOW!

We stopped for our second breakfast at Del Ray Beach. It was a pretty fancy place for us, since it had tablecloths, and chairs (not sitting on random boxes and bags in a mini-mart), but John, the owner, let us in anyway. It was right on A1A, across from the beach, a very nice place with great French Toast, with delicious (and artful) toy coffee.

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After dining, we returned to the “Hillsboro Mile”, with smaller mansions on the oceanside and across A1A, on the Intra-Coastal Waterway, resides “the boat”. Wow again… so many huge yachts. We spoke with a fuel-truck driver that was there to “top off” one of the boat’s fuel tanks, with 4,400 gallons of diesel. Full fill-up is about 10,000. He didn’t know if the boat could pull a skier...

Shortly after the yacht ogling, we returned to civilization, and saw a sign for Dunkin Donuts in a roadside mall. We pulled into the mall parking lot, and is wasn’t clear where the Dunkin (our first one of this chapter) was located, so Kim, wisely, asked a cop that was strolling by where the donut shop was located. We assured him that we weren’t “profiling” him, and he laughed and said of course he knew where it is. Dunkin was our second sit-down “meal” of the day.

Back on the road, we continued on, and picked our way past the Ft Lauderdale airport, which we hope to revisit on Saturday for our ride home. We rejoined Highway, after the airport, and it was pretty full of traffic, so we headed back to the beach, and our newest friend, A1A.

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Some good, smooth, riding later… it happened. We entered “Miami/Dade County”. Holy moly, we did it! We were in Miami, so we celebrated the only way we know – stopping for food! This time we dined at Miami Juice, and had excellent soup, salad, fruits and vegetables.

Pedaling our final 12 miles to South Beach, we had to coordinate with lots of traffic, and navigate a lot of road construction. No problem for the team – with Andy steering in the front, and Kim screaming in the back. We reached our hotel in great shape. After a yummy dinner at an outdoor Italian restaurant, we’ll be ready to leave the mainland tomorrow, and spend the night in Key Largo!

Day 10 - 12/5/17 (62 miles)

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Today (Kim’s Birthday!) we accomplished the pedal from Miami Beach to Key Largo. The South Beach sunrise was beautiful. We started early, and got to ride by several Art Deco buildings which were very impressive, and especially well maintained. We made our way into downtown Miami over the Venetian Causeway, saw more yachts and watercraft, and had great views of the sunrise on the skyscrapers.

Back into serious, urban, rush-hour traffic, we watched our “step” and picked our way through the central business district. At one point, we were on an overpass, and in a “bowl” – completely surrounded by huge skyscrapers. There was also a surprising number of even more huge buildings being built. Apparently, they’re not too concerned about rising sea levels, or, perhaps, they’re planning to let the first floors flood, and become “Venice”?

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Our reverse commute was going well until we missed a turn, and ended up on the last 100 yards of Highway 95. So, there we were, in three lanes of traffic, and needing to merge through all of that to get to the bike path. With friendly drivers, and patience, we successfully navigated the event, and made it to the bike path, the South Dade Trail, that would take us all the way to Homestead, about 30 miles away.

It was a pretty good path, situated under the light-rail tracks. The only problem was that is was “interrupted” by many, many traffic lights, and it got a bit difficult to follow when it went through the station areas. The going was slow, but we finally did make it to Homestead where we stopped at our first Burger King, preparing for what turned out to be the worst 20 miles of this trip.

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It was a totally straight road, almost directly into the wind, with no civilization, for 20 miles – no shade, no mini-marts – however there was lots of traffic. With a few roadside stops, and lots of water (it’s amazing how much we go through when it’s hot and there’s a headwind). Finally, we reached Key Largo, and were rewarded with a hard right turn that gave us a tailwind. Excellent!

After we checked-in to our home for tonight, we saw huge Iguanas (very cool looking creatures) cruising around the parking lot. We’ll keep our doors closed, and locked, tonight. Key West is about 100 flat miles away. If we have favorable winds, we may try to make it there tomorrow.

Day 11 - 12/6/17 (109 miles)

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OK, we started today 109 miles from Key West, and we can, definitely, feel the gravitational pull. Mountaineers would call this “summit fever” – when the goal is in sight, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, in the same methodical and careful manner that got us this far. So, we left Key Largo and said, “let’s ride for ten miles and see how it goes – one pedal-stroke at a time.

As we got further into the Keys, the debris leftover from Irma became more and more present. Soon, we encountered massive, wide rows of furniture, appliances, mattresses, cars, etc. approaching 6 feet tall on both sides of Highway 1. There were also a lot of tree branches and whole trees, and lots of ocean debris, but the most striking things were the footstool sized chunks of concrete that had been holding up road-signs. There were, obviously, strong wind and waves that moved around these heavy pieces of concrete.

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After about 30 miles, we stopped and Bud and Mary’s Café, in the town of Layton on Long Key. The café was out of commission as they were doing a post-hurricane remodel, but they did have trail mix and Gatorade for our breakfast 2.0. We brushed sawdust off the brand new chairs, and made ourselves at home amongst the boxes of new tables and more chairs. Fortunately, the bathrooms had already been remodeled, and were in great shape. Clean bathrooms are both rare, and treasured, on these trips.

Back on the road, we started pedaling over one of the longer bridges in the Keys. There was lots of traffic, and the shoulder wasn’t great, but as we prepared for the crossing, Kim noticed a “bike route” sign on the other side of the road. We did a U-turn and pedaled on the old railroad bridge that parallels Highway 1. Perfect! Smooth, zero traffic, and no garbage. Two miles of bliss, AND a tailwind – so we had the gravitational pull, plus the push of a tailwind. Things were looking favorable, yet we still had 60 miles to go – typically our full day of riding.

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Our next stop was on Marathon Key, at Marathon Bagels for brunch/lunch. The owner is a retired cop from Northern Jersey. He was a very nice guy and a good talker, and gave us the full run-down of the hurricane. Their house is on twelve-foot stilts, so it was ok. His family was evacuated for 21 days, so they had to pitch both their fridge and freezer because they couldn’t get rid of the stench from rotted food. This further explained why there were so many appliances piled on the side of the road.

The bagel shop also fared well, due to the owner putting plywood over the store front, and “Flex Sealing” (as seen on TV!) all the doors and windows. No water damage in their shop, while the neighbors on both sides had to close for a while to rebuild.

Half-way there! The next obstacle, directly in front of us, was the famed “7-Mile Bridge”, the longest bridge in the Keys. There were no alternative routes for this bridge, but we had a pretty wide shoulder. Despite some busy times with traffic, it was an epic bridge-crossing, with the Atlantic on our left and the Gulf of Mexico on our right. Simply beautiful, and probably the most unusual and unique riding we’ve done. Plus, the “summit fever” was getting warmer – 40 miles to go.

We tried to stop at Big Pine Key, but it was really hit hard by Irma, and most stores, mini-marts, etc. were closed. We settled for some shade under the entrance of an old hotel, that looked to be barely open. Shade was become important for us, as this long day is having us pedaling in the heat and humidity when, on a normal day, we’d already have arrived to our air-conditioned hotel. Ahhhh… “summit fever"...

We reached Ramrod Key, and, after about 2.5 miles, we found a huge Shell Station and Mini Mart that were closed. Yep. Fortunately, there was an open-air bar that was in full operation. A sure sign that we were closing in on Key West, where priorities are a bit different. We filled-up the water bottles, had three Arnold Palmers each, and were set to make the final push to Key West.

About 10 miles out, we were treated to Navy jets doing touch-and-goes. There were three of them in the pattern, basically circling over us, just above the power lines.

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About 10 miles to go, and the elation of finishing the trip (wow, that was a long way!) sets in, at about the same time as the sadness of finishing the trip arrives. The bad news is that tomorrow we don’t get to gear-up in stinky Lycra and “head out on the highway, looking for adventure. And, the good news is that we don’t have to gear-up in stinky Lycra, and head out on the highway.

The other change is that the eating habits need to quickly go from “ride all day mode”: “I’ll take two entrees with some extra fat on the side”, to something less Neanderthal. It’s amazing how the body takes over when it needs fuel.

We reached the hotel on the East side of Key West, dropped-off the panniers, and pedaled the remaining three miles to the end/beginning of Highway 1. So strange to think that, 15 months ago, we started this odyssey at the top of Maine, and now we’ve pedaled the entire 2,598 miles to the Southern tip of the continental United States. We were so glad to meet a local biker guy who gave us directions to the Southern-most point of the US – about 10 blocks away.

We arrived at the marker – 90 miles to Cuba – took the photos, and headed North back to the hotel, which happened to be the Adventure Cycling route to Maine… maybe we’ll just keep pedaling???

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