March 22, 1999
|Sleeping in later than expected, I didn't get to Sally's until
7:30 am for breakfast. I ate a blueberry bagel and then used her internet access to
send another e-mail for yesterdays journal entry.
After finishing on the computer I went to pay and Sally didn't charge me for the bagel or internet access time. She was a pleasant lady to talk to, and we talked about her wanting to ride; but was afraid of these roads and the traffic. I said goodbye and took a picture before I left. Going back outside I noticed my bike had fallen over and my light was in pieces scattered all over the sidewalk. I gathered all the pieces and put them in my handlebar bag and hit the road.
Okeechobee turned out to be a good visit, even though the hotel did set me back $120.00. I really need to stick with cheap camping!
Following 98 north there was a shoulder to ride on until 20 miles into my ride. Ugh... it's déjà vu... the shoulder stopped right at the Highlands County line. Now I find myself riding the white line for the next 25 miles. Many of the big trucks refuse to get over, even without any oncoming traffic. The speed limit is 60 mph and they speed past at 65 -70 mph, less than a foot from me, sometimes just inches to spare. With each pass I grip my handlebars tightly to maintain control of my bike as the huge gust of wind hits me. I pedal hard and fast as my knuckles get white from maintaining the death grip on my handlebars.
I now know that the best route would've been to stay on 1 to 27. Many others said it was a good safe route and I should've listened. And Miami would've been much safer than Belle Glade and Pahokee, those images are still in my head and I can't believe I biked through there without getting robbed or shot.
Highway 27 appears after 45 miles of riding and I now have a shoulder... thank God! I rode through Sebring and went to Highlands Hammocks State Park. It's just a couple of miles off 27, down Hammock Road.
The park ranger was not very
friendly and seemed to have a bit of an attitude. He gave me directions to the
primitive camping area and I rode a mile on a dirt road into the woods. There was no
one else there and I was all alone in this part of the park. My camelback
worked great as a makeshift shower. I cleaned up and then washed the clothes I was
wearing. Then I sat at a picnic table and fixed my broken light.
I never looked at the time for the rest of the afternoon and didn't even think about my
plans for the next day. I was strictly in the here and now with my mind cleared from
thoughts of past or future. While sitting on the ground in front of my trailer, a
slight breeze begins to blow. As this wind begins to get a bit stronger, a small
dust devil forms about ten feet away from me. Then as quickly as it happened,
it was gone. I was feeling in tune with these intrinsic surroundings as time seemed