March 15, 1999

I woke up just before sunrise, showered and washed yesterday's clothes in the shower with me. After gathering everything and packing my tent away, I strapped my wet clothes to my trailer so they could dry while I rode. A guy I met yesterday afternoon while setting up camp stopped to talk about my ride. On my way out, I stopped at the office and met Nancy. I'd spoken with her on the phone the previous week. She was exceptionally nice and was excited about my trip. After finding out about my Web site, she offered to e-mail my friends who maintain the site and let them know I'm on the way.

I rode to the southern most point in the continental U.S. and had someone take my picture by the marker. I reset the odometer on my bike and was on my way! On my way....... wow I still couldn't believe I am waaaaaaaaay down here in Key West, and someday I'll be waaaaaaaay up there in Alaska!!!!!

Travelling north on US1 I stopped at the Harley Davidson dealer and bought a shirt for a friend in Indiana. The owner said he would ship it and then he asked me about what route I'm taking through Florida. He highly recommended 997 and said that there was plenty of shoulder to ride on.

As I continued my ride North, the clouds looked like possible rain. It was a warm morning with plenty of tailwind. Then I encountered a bit of sprinkling rain as I left Key West.  After crossing the 7-mile bridge I began to feel a bit of that dreaded knee pain. Ugh!   When I stopped to photograph a pelican I began singing "a glorified version of a pelican" which is supposed to be "a glorified version of a pellet gun" from Glorified G by Pearl Jam.  hee hee

I stopped at the Eckerd Drug Store in Marathon to buy those post cards I forgot to get in Key West. An older lady that was behind me in line stopped to talk and look at my bike. After finding out what I was doing she called her husband over, since he used to be a cyclist. They both appeared to be about 70 years old. Friends of theirs walked up and began getting into a long detailed conversation with me. They were very nice and had a sincere interest in what I was doing. She looked at my trailer and tucked in the shirt under the bungee cords a little better. It was back there drying after washing it in the shower this am. She was making sure I didn't lose anything. I felt a bit guilty about wanting to get on with my trip. I thought, I might never get anywhere if I engage in long conversations every time I stopped. But that's why I'm doing this trip - to experience bits of other people's lives, the freedom of riding, the wonderful scenery and the view of nature along the way.

They asked to make sure I had enough money and the lady told me to be careful. Then she added, "there will be times when you'll probably regret being on this trip, but when you finish it'll be an experience you'll remember the rest of your life. And you'll meet a lot of wonderful people along the way."

After riding a few miles I saw a Miami Subs restaurant and stopped for a quick lunch. I walked out into a heavy downpour, so I put on my raincoat and rode out into the rain. It stopped raining after about 20 minutes and the sun came out again. The wind continued to push me and I saw the flag on my trailer blowing towards me. I would have to say the wind speed was about 30 mph and gusting up to 40 Mph.

I blew into Long Key State Recreation Area at about 3:30pm. Woooo Hoooo- tailwind all the way baby!! I had ridden 70 miles and was ready to stop. The camping fee was $5.85. I set up my tent on a wooden platform shaded in the trees. The ocean was about 30 feet away, so I head out for a relaxing swim. The water felt good on my now-sunburned face, arms and legs. Later in the evening I met the guys in the next campsite over. Mike, Eric, Ryan, and Lou are college students from Wisconsin. They drove down for Spring Break and were heading to Key West tomorrow.

Mike wanted to take a picture of me with my bike. So, after he took a picture, we all discussed my trip and their plans after college. All these guys were nice and appeared to be just like some guys I hung out with in college - real laid back and enjoying stuff like camping and hiking. Ryan stated that he hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. One of my dreams for the future is to hike the whole trail from Georgia to Maine.  The rest of the evening they played Bob Marley which just happened to be the same one I have, "Legends".  Ahhhhh great music to listen to here on the beach, Bob Marley was such a great musicain!!   The best part is that I don't have to wear down the batteries in my walkman playing the same stuff :)

Another couple set up camp close by. The girl talked on a cell phone and they had a TV! I thought they called these "primitive campsites"! They also had a big inflatable mattress and many other luxuries. Both of them looked like models, she wore a skimpy two piece bikini and looked like she should be on Baywatch, and he looked like a GQ model.

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