Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fleeing from Florida, good greetings in Georgia

Don't forget to look at the sidebars!  On the left, you can see a map of my location for the last 7 days, my latest videos, and photos from the whole trip.  On the right, you can see statistics about the trip.

Also, here is a map of my actual route from New Orleans to Savannah, with points where I spent each night:


Long days on the bike, followed by fun nights in new cities. Too much beer. So much love. An astounding array of wonderful, inspiring, happy & diverse people! The amount of distance I've covered since my last blogpost is somewhat staggering, though I still have 285 miles to go before I reach my spring destination of Hendersonville, North Carolina.

I am not eating as well as I would like. Last night I had 3 meals after 6 pm: pizza; wings & fried pickles; and a late-night diner breakfast of pancakes, eggs & hashbrowns. I felt full afterward, which was the first time in several days.

Two nights ago, I spent the night at a wonderfully refreshing and peaceful place: The Hostel in the Forest outside of Brunswick, Georgia. A gem in the heart of the true south, this little place has been around since 1975, though it has hardly grown at all since then. It is a collection of tree-houses and geodesic domes in the woods, connected mostly by raised boardwalks. They have a pond, a garden, an art studio an outdoor kitchen including a wood-fired clay oven, outdoor showers and composting toilets. It was definitely a place that I wish I'd known about earlier, so that I could spend a little more time. The community of staff living there is only 6 or 8 people, and they change seasonally, though the place seems to maintain decent working order. $25 gets you a bed in a treehouse and a tasty earth-friendly dinner including veggies from the on-site garden. They encourage and require you to do some work to stay there, including changing your own sheets and washing your own dishes. The staff were all interesting, friendly, comfortable people, as were the guests I mingled with. I sat around a campfire and listened to intellectual banter about all manner of subjects, and then I danced for an hour or so in their brand new, beautiful dome library, which I have posted some pictures of. It is a decent example of a very functional intentional community, and I was very glad to have stumbled upon it.

Eastern Florida is a somewhat discordant mish-mash of giant beach hotels & retirement condos lining a supremely continuous beach coastline. Golf courses, mini-parks and expensive homes make up much of the real-estate as well. Every once in a while, there is a pocket of true beach-style funkiness in a little town tucked into a corner, but the vast majority of my ride was manicured lawns and planted palm trees. My last night in the state was spent in Jacksonville at the home of an architect who is heavy into sustainable design. He told me about his projects involving water filtration systems for rural communities in third world countries, as well as a new LEED Gold certified building for a university which will have enhanced wetlands to filter its waste water, as well as rain-water collection, 100% renewable electricity, and a series of long-term aquatic laboratory spaces.

Georgia has been quite pleasant so far. Big, old oak trees once again line the streets in rural as well as older urban districts, their moss hanging down, asking to be tickled and dancing in the wind. Shrimping boats still fill the harbors and inlets that I pass by. The water is muddy and stinky. Drivers have been fairly courteous so far. Today, I will explore Savannah, and then is is back on the bike for 4 days straight until North Carolina.


7 days straight on the bike. Three 100 mile days, two 80 mile days, a 60 and a 45. My butt is raw, my legs are sore, my skin is dark and my hair is light. I feel surprisingly good!

The east coast of southern Florida is totally developed. Palm-tree lined streets run the length of it, and nice, smooth roads ride the coast and the barrier islands, providing a fairly scenic ride. Big mansions on large estates are so numerous as to be nearly boring. Most of them look like castles or Spanish Haciendas, quite new but designed to look old, with exposed brick and distressed stucco walls. The beaches are beautiful, the water is blue, and the people are old and white.

I have seen many cyclists on this leg of the journey, though only perhaps one other touring cyclist. I have stayed with a different couchsurfer each of the last 4 nights: A single mother with an 11 year old some in Hialeah (Maimi suburb); in the pool-house of a photographer who is also an avid cycle tourist in North Palm Beach; at the laid-back beach house of a young Israeli guy who grew up on a kibbutz in Israel; and now in Port Orange with a Chiropractic intern.

All of these experiences have been excellent. Good people, good places, sharing stories and experiences and positive affirmations.

As I was sitting on a piece of grass in Palm Beach, taking a break, another cyclist sat down next to me, and we chatted for awhile about life. He had just finished 4 years in the Navy, based in San Diego, and was looking to experience all that he could in life. He plans on doing some cycle touring, and asked me a few questions about my trip. The next day, another cyclist rode along side me for 2-3 miles, chatting about cycling in different parts of the nation, skiing in Telluride, climbing in Arizona and other outdoor pursuits. He commended me on my trip, and then headed back in the opposite direction.

My host in north Palm Beach, Mike, told me about a Chinese guy he had run into a few years ago who had been cycle touring for 12 years at that time, and has now been going for 16 years. He was sponsored by the Chinese government, and took pictures of absolutely everything that he saw, ate, and experienced to upload to the internet. He started when he was 20 years old, and was 32 when he passed through Florida. Apparently, there is one other guy who has ridden further than him, for more time, but he is 2nd in the world! At the time he passed through Florida, he had cycled through 94 countries, and was planning 8 more before returning to China. Pretty amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment