DAY 15

March 29, 1999

I woke up with a headache and a bit hungover.  I haven't been much of a drinker since my college days and one or two beers is usually my limit.   I took two Tylenol and had oatmeal for breakfast with Ed.

Bob, the owner of the land, drove up and we all stood outside and talked a bit.   Bob was a nice guy to talk to.  His manner of speaking had a sharp contrast with Smitty's.  His speech reflected a man of clear, concise thinking, as he told me how he came to live in Florida.  He allows Smitty to live there in the trailer in exchange for some labor and allows somebody else to live in a tent "as long as he keeps the property clean."

At 10 AM, after about 45 minutes of conversation, I was on the road.  My knees felt great, my legs were strong, and I felt much better.  My average speed riding into Perry was 18 mph.  I then headed west on Highway 98.   All the trucks on 98 were unbelievable.  I couldn't believe how fast they were driving.  As they passed me from behind, the huge wind gusts would thrust me forward then suck me into the road.   But when they passed going the other way, the incredible amount of wind tried to lift my helmet off, as the wind gust tried to push me backwards.  It was quite a struggle because I would speed up, then slow down... Speed up, then slow down, etc.  Then the shoulder disappeared, but I held my ground, no matter what!  I quit looking in my mirror and just rode.   That was until I heard brakes behind me.  Checking my mirror, I saw a big RV not able to get over because of oncoming traffic and not able to slow down soon enough.   The guy came less than a foot from plowing me over when I ditched the bike into the shoulder.

Stopping at a small convenience store near the border of Jefferson and Taylor counties, I bought a PowerAde and a turkey sub.  The cashier warned me of all the fast moving trucks.  "They think they're all in a race out there."   While eating my turkey sandwich outside I noticed a painting on the outside wall of the store.  It showed a speeding truck driver plowing down a car.   I only wondered if these truck drivers were proud of their reckless, dangerous, driving.

I hopped on 267 at Newport and rode into the Appalachicola National Forest for my first night of "wild camping."  After passing the national forest sign I turned onto a small dirt road and set up camp about 200 yards off 267.  Again I used my camelback as a shower but I didn't have enough water to wash my clothes too.  I decided to wear my alternate pair of bike clothes tomorrow and wash both tomorrow night.

It had been a warm and humid 80-degree afternoon.  After getting clean, I took a nap until dark.  When I woke up I was hungry but didn't feel like getting out and walking far from the tent to cook.  Cooking by the tent would attract critters, I opted to eat dry oatmeal out of the container.  I went to sleep with the sounds of some kind of bird and what sounded like a wolf's howl.

Today  -   73.07 miles   
Total  -  752 miles
Temp - 80 degrees and humid


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