3442 miles $6,170 in donations

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Friday, April 30, 2010


Scoot, Bob and me flew out of Fairhope about 6:15.  This is a nice town and I will come back to visit some time when I can stay longer.   I was heavily clothed again today.  Better to be too hot than too cold.

Now, before we go any further we have to talk.  Those of you who have read the diaries in the past know that I am not a writer, speller or grammerist.  I write these at the end of long days on the road and do proof read them once.  I do miss things, you bet.  I like to have these delivered to the reader in real time, because in the past, if they weren't on some peoples' computers by morning, I would get emails and phone calls from around the world, saying "why haven't I got an update". However, in order to upgrade the quality of the posts now that anyone can read them, instead of just friends, I have hired an editor.  The post will still be  out as soon as I can get it written and will be edited the following day.  So, if bad writing bothers you, wait until the following day to read.  Not to worry about the cost of the editor, as my friend Vicki Bennett is going to pay big time.

Back on the road.....
We crossed into Mobile and went in to the first tunnel ever on the scooter. The road surface was old lumpy concrete and I was glad to be through it.  If there is a nice part of Mobile we did not see it.  I was in need of a "Gucci" coffee but all I saw were lots of fast food joints.  On one avenue there must have been 5 hospitals and not a single coffee shop. How does the medical staff survive. We followed US-98 into Mississippi where it turned into a nice four lane highway with light traffic.  When you cross into Mississippi the first and only store for the next 15 miles is a guns and bullet store.
             mobile, alabama
I left US-98 at Lucedale and joined MS-26.  I needed coffee so we pulled into Toms Restaurant on Main St. in Lucedale.  Toms is the typical southern restaurant.  It has what I call "the table".  It is where the nobility of the town sit and hold court every morning.  Don't ever sit at that table, even if no one is there.  The conversation was about the oil spill and illegal immigrants.  A young, loud burley guy at the table said "we should shoot a few of them as they come over the border and the word will get out and they will keep coming."  The wiser, older man said "the best way is to establish a national identy check when you hire them and make the fine very high for hiring illegal workers and the word would get out and the people employing them might quit doing it".  "But", he said, "that ain't going to happen."  The loud guy said "they won't even hire a white boy for 8 or 9 dollars, they give them jobs to the Mexicans".  "The problem" he said "is people like Larry", indicating one of the senior members of the table who had just left, "he won't hire nothing but a Mexican."  I could feel the chill come over the room from were I was sitting.  At the table, you can have an opinion, but no young guy ever criticizes a senior member.

the table
Paid up and hit the road again.  I had changed from the orginal route along the coast in hopes of seeing more diverse scenery.  It did not happen.  Just more miles of timber land, like all of north Florida, southern Georgia and Alabama.  The were very few people living along this road.  I know that because a) there were very few houses and b) every intersection did not have a sign that said "First Freewill Holy Pentacostal Life of Jesus Reformed Bapist Church turn right". There were almost none and in the south that is rare.  The most exciting event was when I came upon these fine citizens picking up litter in the middle of nowhere.

I had no true destination today.  The plan was to go until I was done and stop.  About 11:30 a rain shower came up.  I stopped and put on all the rain gear and then the only moisture for the next 2 hours was a fine mist.  The threat of rain was there, so I called it quits at about 2pm in Hammond, La. and pulled into the Michabelle Inn‎ B&B.  This is a proper B&B.  Though not an original plantation home, it was built in 1907 in plantation style.  The building is very large as are the rooms with 12 foot ceilings.  

                                             god i hope the harley boys don't see this picture
Walked down town to get a few beers for the room before the rain starts for real.  Thought about a couple of these for dinner but passed.


I passed the first 600 miles and thus the $600 for one month's food for the students of the Escuela Bilingue los Algarrabos.  Now I will  be raising money to cover the $480 a year for the internet coverage for the next 480 miles.  This has has become a wonderful tool for the students and the teachers.  It goes way beyond the classroom.  These young children go home and tell the parents about the internet and the parents get interested.  One of the families of a young girl was interviewed for a video.  When the mother was asked what she liked best about her child going to school she said "every day when she comes home she teachs me to read and write just like she learned at school today". 

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Scoot, Bob and me advanced out of Apalachicola at sunrise. I had on long underwear, long shirts (plural), riding jacket, leather gloves and heavy socks in hopes of not getting cold. We headed west on US-98 with a full moon in front of us on the horizon and the sun coming up behind. By the time it dawned on me that this would make a great picture, we were into the pine forest tunnel again with no view of the sun or the moon. Close to St. Joe there was some open area but we were in and out of a light fog and the moon was not visible. The fog was interesting as it had a strong aroma of pine but not in the fog less areas.

Rules of the road are no fast food, unless you are dying. The first restaurant was Sharon's in Port St. Joe Beach. Not busy, but there was a construction crew at the table next to me. The boss had just fired 2 guys because they could not make it to work on time. He told me that in these hard times in construction you would think they would show up on time at least some of the time.

Lots of Harleys passed me yesterday on the way to Panama City for a bike weekend. I went through downtown looking for them to show them my logo, "Anyone can ride a Harley across America, but only a real man can ride a Vespa". I guess they heard I was coming and all hid. I saw no sign of any action.

Travelling the panhandle is my least favorite part of Florida. You can run back and forth to the beach from US-98 with all the problems of overbuilt beaches, stay on US-98 and for the most part look at strip malls, or head north and cross in no-mans land. As I was trying to make forward progress, I chose US-98.

Stopped in Ft. Walton Beach at Maas Coffee for a Gucci coffee and to make some phone calls. The big talk was about the oil spill and how the oil companies kept lying about the spill. I have not followed this story, but I guess it went from no leaks to major leaks. I am typing this in a fisherman's bar in Fairhope, Al. and they are very worried. Remember, I believe, that Exxon has never paid a dime in fines from the Valdez incident. They paid to clean up, but no more.

                                              seen lots of crosses but not a bike

The next stop was the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. Pensacola is my favorite town on the panhandle. I had been to the museum many years ago, but this time it did not excite me. Maybe I have had to much aviation in my life. I greatly prefer the Air Force Museum in Dayton. The layout leads you through history and they have big airplanes.

                                                          nice looking red scooter

Watched the IMAX and then headed out following 98 again to Fairhope, Al. This is all new to me from here, so I was pleasantly surprised when we crossed into Alabama. The landscape changed from pine trees and strip malls to hardwoods and agriculture. I love to ride in this type country. 
I was in a hurry to be done with the panhandle of Florida and knew that the interesting person of the day would be waiting in Fairhope, Al. at the Bayside Guesthouse.  That is why there are not many pictures today. I arrived in Fairhope around 3pm.  I had heard nice things about this town and they were all true.  What a pretty spot and super friendly people.  Everyone wanted to be helpful from the people on the main st. to all the staff in various stores I visited.
Back at the Bayside Guesthouse, Sandra was done with her massage customers, and we had a long and friendly chat.  She and I had both worked in South East Asia in the 70's, she for the Peace Corp as a training nurse in Malaysia and me in several countries.  When I talked to her on the phone to make a reservation and told her I was riding across America, she said "I rode a motorcycle from Indonesia to England" and I had to hear this story. In fact she had shipped her bike on some of the legs, like Rangoon to Calcutta, but for the most part rode it all the way.  Even through Afghanistan. We had a great time talking about mutual places we had visited and other things that would be boring unless you had been there.  Michael, her musician boyfriend, was bored right off the bat, but she said it had been a long time since she could share her memories with someone who understood.
After walking down memory lane we talked about Fairhope and why it was so interesting.  It has a long history of being different.  Their cottage was built in 1904 as a rental for those yankees and "even had indoor plumbing" according to the newspaper of the time.  The first librarian here had come from Europe at the turn of the century and was a nudest.  She would read her books on the beach just down the street, naked as a jay bird.


So, what do the children at the Escuela Bilingue los Algorrobos do after we give them breakfast?  Classes start at 8 and go until 12:30.  Half of the day is in Spanish and the other half is in English.  We have two Ecuadorean teachers and two English speaking teachers.  This year they are from the U.S.  One teacher teaches in both English and Spanish.  We have volunteers that come in and assist teachers with the students.  Quite often these are college students that are out of school for the summer.  We have a small library and computer room.  Last year we received 3 computers from the Eco-surf Volunteers and internet service from the Chili Cook off  competition in Quito.  Many of the students do not have running water, but they are now being connected to the world in the 1st grade via the internet.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Well, I kissed the wife and cat goodbye, loaded up, and Scoot, Bob and I sprinted out of St. Pete in the cool morning air. I had taken the liner out of my jacket yesterday, but the temperatures had dropped into the 60's overnight so it was back in this morning. The quickest way out of town, US-19, is the busiest in early morning traffic, so we just paralleled it up to Hudson. The sun was just coming up over the water and the city of Tampa as I crossed the upper part of the bay. It was a beautiful sight with the clear skies. Traffic in our direction was not bad. We joined US-19 and within a half hour we had left the strip malls and "1-800 You can sue..." billboards behind.

On my first day on the road I am always a little apprehensive and all kinds of things float through my mind. Not the least of which is "are you crazy?"; concern about rush hour traffic; what did I forget; will I find anything interesting to put in the diaries.

My first stop to take a picture took care of what I forgot. I always leave the little door on the camera to the battery and memory card open to help remind me I have it out. It was open. At the last minute this morning I had taken the memory card out to store some pictures on the home computer. Oh well.

So I made my first stop at Office Depot in Crystal River to buy a card and met my first interesting person. The cashier asked me where I was going and when I said California she did not even bat an eye. She told me of her trip many, many years ago to San Franisco and Haight Ashbury (only older people understand that part) and a Grateful Dead concert. Of course her parting remark was "what I can remember of it" (that is not an old age statement).

Next stop is Follow Your Dream Rd to Yankeetown. I always stop here and take a picture. It is a great reminder that you should follow your dream and never give up that dream.
Back on 19, on a long lonely stretch, the concern about meeting more interesting people started to pop again. Then I saw a overloaded bicycle coming down the paved shoulder at me. I thought it might be Wandering Willie, a gentleman I met a few years ago on the road, so I pulled over. It was not Willie, but Robert Guesnard (pronounced in French) and just like Willie and me on another level, he is a wanderer.

We had a long and interesting visit. He has been on the road for 5 years and just passed the 12,000 mile mark. He does not ride the bike, but walks pushing it. He told about being out west in the Rockies and how going down hill should be the easy part, but it is just as hard as the going up part. His bike is loaded with 220 lbs of gear and no brakes, so he has to hold it back as he heads down hill. He told many stories and we talked about how cold it was even with the sun out. We had been to some mutual places, including Golfito, Costa Rica when Standard Brands still owned it in the 70's, so we reminisced a little then said our goodbyes and we were off. Me north and him headed for the Keys.

As I had moved away from the built up areas, the temperature kept dropping to the point I finally had to pull over to put on more clothes.  Tomorrow I will start the day with long underwear.  I can not stand the cold; that is more than two hours below 67.

Another first day problem is that I have seen more than two or three times the route that I am traveling on, so I try to get on down the road.  About 10:30 we crossed the Suwanee River and into Cross City.  Spent a anniversary in this one stoplight town many years ago.  I detailed it in the 2007 trip so I will skip it this year.  I was getting a little tired but decided to press on to Perry for lunch.

Rolled into Perry and turned left on 98 headed west to Apalachicola.  But first, lunch at Deal's Famous Oyster House.  A small building outside of town that has been there for many,many years.
They sold it in the 80's and the new owners changed everything.  It did not do well and was closed and opened a few times I believe.  Last year Zodie Horton bought it and reopened.  She had worked for many years for the Deal's and returned everything to way it used to be.  Many places have good food and Deal's have some of the best - but what sets it apart is the people that work there.  They all treat you like family. When you walk in they all shout "the nicest people in the world walk through that door"!  Many of the nicest are already there working. Every now and then they turn on the music and Zodie walks from table to table playing the "pogo stick" and checking on you.  It is a place to see.

I had a fine meal  then cruised on down the two lane 98 headed for Apalachicola

I rolled into Apalachicola about 3:30.  The last hour had been right along the water into 15 to 20 mph winds which sometimes slowed the speed to 40.  I was very happy to see the Bryant House B&B just as the owner Bridget was pulling in. 

After the formalities and a short rest I headed out for oysters. The Boss is probably the most famous oyster spot here, but I prefer Papa Joes.  I order a dozen raw and Bob and I decided to share them and a beer.  Troy and Jake quickly popped the tops and did curbside service.  They were great and the beer went down so quick we got another one.

I am missing one of the best parties in our neighborhood in St. Pete this weekend.  Josh and Peggy put on a great Kentucky Derby Party.  I have not made it yet, but maybe next year.  Back at the B &B, Bridget was just finishing her Derby Party hat.  I think it looks great!

Escuela Bilingue los Algarrobos opened on 12 April this year with grades k-3.  We limit our class sizes for quality of education and space reasons.  This year we have 54 students. We have one meal and one snack each school day.  For some students this is their major food for the day.  First $660 miles will go to support this food program for one month.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OK, we are packed and ready to go.  My wife presented me with champagne and some riding T-Shirts.  The logo is from last year's adventure, but I am going to carry it over another year. 

We received a great write up on my neighbor, crazy artist and good friend's blog.  Check out here!

So, where is this place Canoa, Ecuador and what is it about? It is small fishing village that is transitioning to a tourist location, basically for backpackers and surfers. This new tourist business is why there is such interest in learning English, thus the "bilingue" mission of the school. Click on the map to zoom in and then select "satellite" on the map to get a great picture of the town.

View Larger Map

Monday, April 26, 2010

The weather is good and Scoot is ready, so I see no need to wait till the weekend.  So, I am packing up and gonna be out of here Wednesday I think.

I want to thank the people at St. Pete Scooter for the help getting everything ready to go.  Ron, the owner, and Jason, the mechanic, are fine people.  This past weekend they hosted a big open house and donated a scooter that was raffled off to raise money for our local Ronald McDonald House.

So what is this school Escuela Bilingue los Algarrobos? It started in 2007 when the people of the small fishing and tourist village of  Canoa, Ecuador asked Jim Byrd and others to help build a school that would offer better education for their children  This was the beginning of a growing project.  What was vacant land in 2007 now houses six classrooms and supporting buildings.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


OK, the day has been set. May 2 , weather and scooter permitting, we will be off on the adventure. Of course, I have to figure out how to get all these parts back on the scooter.