Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Ok, so we had a gorgeous sunset and delightful dinner in St. Augustine after our long and almost soggy day. As has been the routine for nearly 60 days now, the next morning we arose before sunrise and got ready to begin pedalling yet again. All the weather channels have been tracking this tropical depression Nicole, and we feared we were in for it. Before we left this historic city I really wanted to see the Lighthouse up close and personal. It was only 7:30 am and wasn't open to visitors, but we got as close as we could! Our path to Daytona Beach took us right along the ocean, literally, on A1A which was a treat with the dark skies and roiling ocean...just as long as it didn't rain, which it didn't until just south of Ormond Beach. We had to cycle about 5 miles in the rain but then, as it does in Florida, it got sunny again! Mom and Dad met us at the Wyndham Ocean Walk Resort where Elaine has a time share. We couldn't check in right away so we hopped in the car and headed a little further south to Ponce Inlet where there is yet another Lighthouse (a photo of that Lighthouse will be forthcoming!)and some fun waterfront restaurants. It began to rain again so we couldn't climb it...so sad. That is one of my favorites! The treat at the end of the day was a visit from Joel's cousin Judy, her daughter Mandy and her little boy Mason who just turned one and is an absolute doll. They all have lived in Florida for many years and we don't get to see them as frequently as we would like to. It rained again all night and we will just have to see what tomorrow brings. So far we have been extremely lucky. Oh, and Joel's shoulder is fine. We just thought this was a funny road sign!
Another interesting story. Way back in Wilmington, NC Joel came across a couple as he was riding to Mary's house (remember I cheated and rode in the car with my parents!) who had just spoken to a lone female cyclist who was on her way to Key West. They thought her name was Carol. Well, yesterday we took a midmorning coffee break at this funky oceanfront place called the Java Joint. When the proprietor found out where we were headed she told us that a woman named Carol had stopped in yesterday as she followed the Greenway to Key West. Imagine that. We are just a day behind her. Hopefully we will meet up at the tip of Florida!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Well here we are...day 58 of our journey has brought us to the state of Florida, just as planned. It is amazing that we have stayed on schedule, but good weather, the help of Mom and Dad, and the sheer joy of catching up with friends and family along the way have certainly factored in. Good, hard pedal power doesn't hurt either! Boy did we put in aa extreme effort today. We had 83 miles to cover and there was a rainstorm brewing in the distance all morning. As we approached the causeway into the city of St. Augustine the thunder started and the skies opened up, but luckily we were just yards away from the Hampton. Joel took this ominous photo of the dark skies just to show what we dodged! Mom and Dad had scouted out an amazing restaurant by the water for dinner so once again the reward at the end of the day is well worth the effort put in.
Going back to yesterday...day two with the dynamic duo was just as fun as day one! We covered nearly the same amount of miles but saw different topography such as marshes and waterways. We crossed a spectacular causeway onto Jekyll Island. As we stopped to take some photos at the midway point, Joel thought it would be funny to take one of me then another as if I had fallen over the edge while snapping a shot. What is the verdict? One of the most amusing things of the day that kept us occupied on those long stretches is the hand signals that Joel and Stefan came up with to warn the riders in the rear of gravel, ruts, bumps, dead animals, live birds etc. Stefan is a photographer and he had his camera mounted to his front handlebars. He took about 1,000 photos which he plans to make into a video which we can't wait to see. The hand gestures should be especially interesting!
Just under two weeks left to go but we have so much to look forward to such as a stay in Joel's Mom's time share in Daytona, visits with friends Liz and John in New Smyrna Beach, Cathy and Steve in Melbourne, and the Kennedys in Wellington near West Palm. Then Pam and Bruce join us for the ride from Miami to Key West! Finally, can't wait to see Deb Finnegan and Walt and Kelly at the Parrot Key Resort for those final play days!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Cycling with the boys has been a blast! We headed out early on Saturday morning (Ron was kind enough to get up early to see us off and take this photo of us!) Our morning did not start off without a hitch, however. It is rumored that the Inn we are staying at is haunted, and when Joel was prepping our bikes for the day he discovered that his rear tire was extremely loose off the fork. It had been locked inside the building all night so no real person had any opportunity to mess with it...no problem though. A quick fix and off we went. The day delivered up 70 flat miles with 90 plus heat. All four of us handled it with ease, and had fun rotating leaders. We ended up having our fastest ride on the trip so far, averaging almost 15 miles an hour. After a stop at McDonald's and then a roadside stand for fresh Georgia peaches, we met Mom and Dad in Darien at the Hampton. Joel Rhein inadvertently rode over some glass just shy of our destination and got a flat, but other than that our day was perfect! We ended it with a huge family style barbecue dinner across the street from the Hotel.
Backing up a bit...our rest day in Savannah was fun. After a sumptuous breakfast at the Inn and some busy work/planning sessions, Mom and Dad headed out on a city tour and the rest of us piled into Fron's rental car and drove over to Tybee Island where we hung out at the pier by the ocean, visited the Lighthouse, and had lunch at a cool little waterfront restaurant. When we returned to Savannah we just had to stop at the famed Leopold's for homemade ice cream; delish! The entire clan reconvened at the Inn for happy hour then we headed out to a restaurant near the riverfront for dinner in hopes of catching the spectacular fireworks display at 9:45 pm. While we waited for our table we got to be kids again (this is becoming a habit!) and swing in the garden. Our meal took forever, though, and we missed all the action. We heard it however, and Joel and Holly were able to scoot out for a photo opportunity. In reality the meal was probably better than the show; the scallops and swordfish were excellent!
Friday, September 24, 2010
We started our day in Beaufort with a glorious sunrise then proceeded to ride the nearly 50 miles to Savannah. We both had a lot of energy and therefore made very good time into Georgia. Our only setback was a darn train that Joel jokingly cursed! We had good reason to hurry. Joel Rhein was being picked up at the airport at 11 am by Mom and Dad, and Fron's plane was due to land at noon so we wanted to see them all as soon as possible. We all converged at the Foley Inn on Chippewa Square at about the same time. The two Joels got right to work assembling Joel Rhein's bike then we were all able to meet Stefan and walk a few blocks to a nice cafe for lunch. Dad and I are both shutterbugs; sharing pictures has been fun throughout the trip! After lunch our little group split up to do different things. Ron and Fran walked with us down to the riverfront (that is Fran and Holly pretending to be little kids again in a playground) where we snooped though the shops and reminisced about all the places we had visited two years ago on our VBT bike trip down south. Everyone reconvened back at the Inn for happy hour then split up again for the evening. Mom and Dad were planning on catching a light dinner close to the Inn, Stefan had to go to work, and the rest of us wandered down a few blocks to an outdoor Blues festival. After an hour or so of great music we decided we were hungry yet again and enjoyed a very delicious meal at a funky/elegant restaurant called Local 11 Ten. Didn't get to bed until almost midnight which is so out of character for us, but it was well worth it! We still have another day to play in Savannah before heading out on our bikes with Joel and Stef early on Saturday morning. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather as another hurricane is brewing out there and could potentially hit Florida just as we are approaching....
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Our last day in Charleston was informative and fun. After a lowcountry breakfast at our Inn we headed out on a tour of the city in an air conditioned (thank goodness!) bus. We rode through all the different neighborhoods and historic districts and learned of all the "firsts" that Charleston claims as it's own. The highlight of the morning, though, was seeing the Citadel campus and watching all the freshman in uniform march across the green. Some of them were women. Our guide told us all the statistics about graduation rates and drop out rates, and we were quite impressed with the fortitude of these young men and woman. We had a restful afternoon and a delicious dinner complete with red velvet cake for dessert before we called it a day.
Navigating our way out of Charleston the next morning was relatively easy but the day deteriorated as the temperature climbed. My Lord it is hard to function, much less cycle, in 100 degree heat! We again battled Route 17 with no shoulder and lots of traffic but did enjoy our stretches off road like this route with water on both sides...very pretty. We completed the 70 miles to Beaufort taking almost 8 hours to do so. Luckily our hotel had cold lemonade waiting at check in and Mom and Dad whisked us off to a waterfront restaurant for a nice dinner. We wrangled another rest day (2 so far within a week!)in Beaufort which is a picturesque historic city on the Beaufort River. This was actually a summer resort area for the wealthy people who lived on neighboring islands before the civil war. Not all of the families returned to their homes after "the Great Skedaddle," but some of the best examples of antebellum architecture can be seen throughout the city thanks to an active preservation association. We took a horse drawn buggy ride in the morning to get a better feel for the city and it's history then after lunch we drove over several bridges to Hunting Island State Park. There we walked the beach for a bit and came across this loggerhead turtle nest and this spectacular Lighthouse. We didn't climb up to the top due to the heat, but spent a good amount of time just enjoying it's splendor. Most of you know that Holly has an affinity for lighthouses and can't even count all the ones we have visited over the years!
Tomorrow we cross over into Georgia and will be treated to a visit from Joel Rhein who is flying down to Savannah with his bike to ride with us for a few days. His good buddy Stefan, an art student at SCAD, is going to ride as well. In addition, Ron and Fran, Fron as we affectionately refer to them, are meeting us in Savannah for a visit. These next several days are going to be a blast!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
We had a very long ride, 70 miles, from Georgetown to Mt. Pleasant which included a mosquito infested trail and a cycle through a shooting range in the backwoods (a tad disconcerting!), but the prize at the end of the day was an extremely nice hotel near a Barnes and Noble and a great seafood restaurant. The trip from Mt. Pleasant into Charleston was short mileage wise but scenic. The causeway over to The Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island crossed through a marsh where we saw a nest of egrets with little ones learning how to fly. Being back on the island was fun because we had done this same route two years ago with a Vermont Bike Tour. Because it was Sunday the locals were out in force, many of them on bikes. We grabbed a coffee and a muffin at a local bakery then headed to the amazing bridge that would bring us into the city of Charleston. As we approached the daunting structure Holly wasn't so sure she wanted to proceed, but alas there was no other option. Luckily there was a huge pedestrian/bicycle side path with lots of active people on it so the whole two and a half mile experience ended up being fun. The city of Charleston has a nice feel to it. We like the old buildings and the different historic districts and the big trees with Spanish moss growing on them...and the restaurants!! Before dinner we had the pleasure of visiting Sheila Wertimer who grew up in Clinton and in the Hamilton family as her father was a noted Economics professor. Her Mother still lives in upstate and is an acquaintance of Mom and Dad's. Sheila is now a landscape architect and has lived in Charleston with her husband and three grown children for almost 30 years. Her friend Roberta joined us. We so enjoyed meeting both of them. Mom and Dad hopped into a pedicab to get to our dinner destination. What a terrific way to get around town! We still have one more day to explore this wonderful city...more on our adventures in a day or so.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Are we ever enjoying the sights and sounds of the South Carolina coast! Despite the bustle of Myrtle Beach we were able to find a quiet enclave just north of the strip where we could have drinks by the hotel pool, lunch overlooking the ocean, and an elegant dinner just down the boardwalk...also ocean side. Joel especially enjoyed that warm ocean breeze, but all four of us agreed that life in the Carolinas sure is nice!
Time for another funny story; both Paige and Joel have been cycling for a few years, and both know how to change a flat tire in theory. Well, way back when we were in Providence, Paige called her Dad's cell phone because she and a friend were heading out for a ride and she got a flat. He talked her through as best he could but she ended up hitching a ride to a bike shop for the repair. Just a few days ago as we crossed the border into South Carolina, Joel's cell rang again. This time it was Joel Rhein calling from Saratoga...with a flat! The two of them battled the noise of traffic, and in Joel Rhein's case a helicopter flying over him, to share a tutorial on how to change a flat. Success! Now at least Joel won't have that problem anymore. As for Paige...
Three days of riding, all of them flat and all of them HOT, have brought us through Historic Georgetown and now to Mount Pleasant just outside of Charleston. A neat thing about Georgetown is that a movie called "The Bay" is being filmed there and we unknowingly stumbled upon a cordoned off area with yellow caution tape and police cars holding back the traffic for blocks. Mom commented that there probably had been a murder:) As we wandered through the shops in town, a young man covered in "blood" careened into the street from one of the stores. It wasn't until we got back to the hotel and picked up the local newspaper with the article about the Director etc. that we put it all together! Maybe we will be stars after all...look for the blue Lincoln Town car cruising through town when the movie comes out next year. Hey, you never know!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Our two riding days from Dunn to the coast continued to be incredibly flat and we made really great time. In fact we were seated at a riverfront restaurant in historic Wilmington enjoying fried oysters and crab cakes before noon! Mom and Dad met us there and gave Holly a lift to Mary's house 7 miles away...Joel, not surprisingly, rode his bike:) Just as we arrived Mary called to say that she was unavoidably detained up in Clinton (she has worked for Hamilton College for 28 years, the last several from her home office in NC). Bummer! Her flight wouldn't get her home until 11 pm so she told us to use her car and head on out to her favorite restaurant without her which we did...a very wonderful French Brasserie. Luckily we had the whole next day to catch up. What a whirlwind! First things first, though...pedicures for the ladies:) We then met Joel at Wrightsville Beach for fish tacos. By mid afternoon we were snacking again downtown with Mary's older son, Artie, who has his own place, attends college and works in Wilmington. We last saw him when he was 6 or 7 so it was quite a treat to spend some time with him. Henry, Mary's youngest, is studying chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill so we didn't see him (but I did keep my eyes out for him last week as we walked around the campus with Julie and Reinhard!) An impromptu dinner party had evolved over the course of the day so we made a quick trip to the grocery store to get ready for guests. Mary has a zest for life (she ran a marathon in Paris for her 50th!!) and a ton of wonderful friends so the evening was bound to be fun. Two of her friends recently completed a portion of the Appalachian Trail and were just as anxious to hear of our adventures as we were to learn of theirs! Only Heather, with her husband Jay, was able to come as Linda was out of town, but her husband Reid attended as well as another Hamilton grad Andy Kennedy '70 and Mary's personal trainer Shawn. Not all could stay for the meal, but Mary knows how to throw a good party and we all had a great time! Hamilton meetings in NYC had Mary back on a plane by 6:30 am so we didn't even get to see her in the morning but thank her heartily for housing and entertaining us!!
The ride out of Wilmington and down the Carolina coast was quite beautiful. We had driven this same route 8 or 9 years ago (only heading the opposite way) when we were looking for our retirement home, and remembered all the colorful beach homes and sweeping ocean vistas. The ferry ride from Ft. Fisher to Southport was relaxing and fun and brought us 4 miles closer to our destination without any work involved! Speaking of destination...we are spending the night at Holden Beach, but not really. Our hotel advertised "just steps from the beach" which ended up being over 10,000 steps over a causeway. Many of you may know that Holly has a slight fear of bridges (getting better, though!) so this causeway thing was giving her a bit of angina. As we attempted to walk (not even bike!) over it, a kindly older man in a car with his dog Lucy offered us a lift. Without hesitation we took it! He drove us all over the island sharing stories and tales then dropped us at a beachfront raw bar where we had a very late lunch. We hit the beach for a bit afterwards (Joel read and Holly ocean gazed) then we just had to face the fact that we had to get back over that causeway. Don't you know that as we made our way across, the very same man came up behind us and said that he had been hoping to find us to give us lift again as he knew how unhappy I was about the whole thing...very sweet. In any event, we had another terrific day; day 45 to be exact, and we look forward to catching up with Mom and Dad again tomorrow in Myrtle Beach SC. Another state down with just 3 more to go!