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.
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.
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.
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