Monday, 2 December 2013

TROPICAL BREEZE

Contrary to what I'd expected, there was some sort of a cold spell at the time when I entered Florida. It was rather windy, and the nights were somewhat chilly. Fortunately, at that stage the wind was mostly in my favour, and there wan't really any rain. Later on I would be well and truly washed out.
While still in Georgia I'd gotten some hand-line fishing tackle, and fished in the evening where I was often camped out close to a river. It was quite easy to catch good-sized catfish, which made a good meal once I'd filleted and fried it in the pan.
The first big city I encountered in Florida was Jacsonville, and I managed to avoid most of the congestion by going along the coastal route across the islands and taking the ferry from Mayport. Along the way I met Doug, a local travel enthusiast. He bought me some lunch, and also called the local newspaper who interviewed me via his phone. At Mayport I camped in the shelter of the pavillion at the ferry dock, where I took the ferry for $1 the following morning. Some rather large ships made their way past my camp up the St Johns river to the harbour. There was also a big naval station across the river, and their helicopters kept flying around the place.
St Augustine, the oldest mainland town in the US, was a bit further down the coast. It was raining the night before, so I camped under a shelter at a beach parking area. The following morning Bill arrived there on his bicycle, chatted a bit, and gave me 2 bananas for breakfast. Later on I figured out that he was homeless and lives on the beach (apparently he regards the shelter where I camped as his “lounge”). St Augustine is very touristy, with all sorts of city tours, and tour guides dressed up in historic garb. I guess the town was founded as a result of the historic Spanish Fort St Marcos.
Next down the road was Cape Canaveral, famed for the Kennedy Space Centre. As I've mentioned, I make good use of McDonalds free wi-fi, so I don't mind seeing those signs along the way.
Close to Cape Canaveral I stayed with Warmshowers host Chris, and his family. By that time I was desparately in need of a good shower and laundry (and a good meal) – thanks Chris and Beth. No surprise, he is an engineer in the space industry (and also an enthusiastic cyclist, going for a ride every morning before dawn).
Then came a spell of stong side-winds (Easterly) and heavy rain. The busy roads were completely flooded at times, and I made good use of McDonalds wi-fi (very little mileage on those days). I camped wherever I could under those conditions, even on the back porch of a real-estate agency, and later when it rained again in Miami, under the overhead metro railway.
Florida, South Carolina, and various other states have laws allowing for safe biking, but many motorists ignore it. At one stage somebody in a car shouted at me to “get off the f## road, when I was in the clearly marked bike lane. Luckily I haven't been knocked down here yet.
Going South, even before West Palm Beach, I cycled through continuous built-up areas for a few days. Through Fort Lauderdale and on to Miami. The coast here is lined with condo's and hotels, with big cruise ships huddled around Fort Lauderdale and Miami harbours.
Now I'm just South of Miami, in the area called Homestead. I've been staying on Paradise Farm, owned by Warmshowers host Gabriele.
They grow organic fruit and veg here, and I don't think I've ever eaten so much avo's and other healthy foods.
I've also done a bit to help out on the farm where I could.
Today they have a Sunday Market outside the farm gate selling farm produce, as well as farm tours. Everybody here including Caryl (chef) and Andy (farmer) are doing their bit to make the event a success. I've already been here on the farm for a week, I'm being spoilt, so I'd better get a move-on South to the Keys tomorrow.
The distance which I've cycled has now clocked over to 120 000 km (75 000 miles). It's time I left America, and I'm looking for a cheap way out (preferably by boat).
Daily distances cycled since entering Florida State have been:- Nassau 56 km; Mayport 54 km; St Augustine 62 km; Ormond Beach 69 km; New Smyrna Beach 47 km; Titusville 75 km; Melbourne 81 km; Gifford 30 km; Fort Pierce 32 km; Jupiter 67 km; Boca Raton 84 km; Miami 89 km; and Homestead 45 km. The distance cycled so far in the USA and Canada is 15 668 km (9 793 ml), and the total distance which I've cycled so far on this journey is 120 294 km (75 184 miles).

6 comments:

Paradise Farms Organic said...

Ernest! Love the update and your experience at the farm - everyone enjoyed having you.

Elizabeth I said...

Great to catch up with you, Ernest! Glad you are doing well. - Elizabeth

Shazah said...

Hi Ernest,

This is Shazah. We met at Paradise Farms on Thursday afternoon when I came by with my siblings. It was an honor to meet you and hear your inspiring story.

I've written a post about you on Facebook and encouraged my friends to read your blog. Everyone thinks you're awesome. We look forward to reading about more of your adventures.

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