3442 miles $6,170 in donations

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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.