We are headed west!
Next stop Biloxi, Mississippi!

We are finally heading in the correct direction, towards Alaska. Read about our journey sofar:

Mount Vernon, Kentucky to Charleston, South Carolina
633 miles in 31 days
August 1, 2009 to August 31, 2009

Charleston, South Carolina to Fort Pierce, Florida
557 miles in 21 days
September 1, 2009 to September 21, 2009

We have 1,190 miles under our belt. New rims are being built as we speak. With our new rims we can continue a safe journey.

We are very grateful for the many generous people we are meeting, as well as our very supporting homebase! This journey could not unfold this way without your support!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today 41 miles, Total 1,231 Florida
Campsite: Marty Gross' place, Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Weather: Sun showers with cloud cover.
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 3

The sun is up and so are we. Wally and Betty Ann are waving us goodbye.

With the sun in our backs we ride off the north island, into Fort Pierce. We are taking a tour through town, saying hello to several friends.

Our first stop is Classic Car Coating. It is Wally's shop, where old cars are totally restored. Bill has worked here often in the many times he's lived in Fort Pierce. Yesterday he put the new Z-torque crank arm on our bicycle. It has been tested to improve performance by about 20%. We are putting it to the test on our journey to Alaska!

We visit with John Hart; a very good old friend of Bill. We stop by Sam and Shirley; where we've spend many afternoons before. Oma and Opa Brollman have chased us down and meet us at Sam and Shirley's home.

We are taking to the road again. This time a beautiful bicycle path is provided. Out of traffic it rides very well. It is a cloudy day with several sun showers. We thank the cloudy day for providing shade and a cooler temperature.

We are on our way to Okeechobee. We are going to the lake. It will be our most southern stop on our journey to Alaska. On our way we are surrounded by orange groves and beautiful fields. It is a very enjoyable ride through the country.

Thunder is rumbling in the distance. Will we stay dry till we get to Okeechobee? We pedal and we look, we pedal and we look. We can always seek cover. The thunder and the rain stays in the distance. We make it to town!

In a McDonalds we take a break and see if we can figure out what to do for the night. As soon as we are inside it starts to pour. Just in time.

We pick up some internet and check into campgrounds. Not for tents. We check into motels. Expensive. Not quite sure what to do with that we decide to go to the lake. Something will come up on the way down there.

The rain has stopped. We are heading south for the last time. On our way to the lake we find a place to camp behind the CML Communications business. They are friendly enough to let us camp behind their business. That puts our minds to ease.

The lake is easy to find. A nice path takes us to the top of the dyke. What a view you have from there.

We walk down to the pier, then to the end of that. The lake is silent. It reflects the clouds like a mirror. It is so clear we can follow the shore for miles in the distance. Very pretty.

With the knowledge of having a place to pitch our tent, we head back to the bicycle. As we turn it around a fellow bicycle rides up the dyke. Of course this leads to a conversation. He wants to know all about our journey. He is practising to ride around the lake in a couple of weeks; 110 miles total. If we can make it this far, he can sure do that.

As we talk he invites us to come and stay with him. We'll cook out together too. We enjoy the thought of this and accept his offer. His place is just two miles east. And we get to ride over the dyke.

As we take our time riding across the dyke, enjoying the scenery, Bill spots a couple of eagles! Our nations bird. Amarins has the chance to walk a little closer and take a picture before the couple flies off into the sunset.

Marty's place is easy to find. It is located near the dyke. He lives in a 40 foot fixer-upper rv on a little peninsula. Plenty of space to share.

We have supper with hotdogs, hamburgers, mashed potatoes and a wide variety of vegetables. It's a feast.

We get to sleep in the master bedroom. It fits just so. Thanks Marty!

Click here to see more pictures of today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Today 61 miles, Total 1,292 Florida
Campsite: Highland Hammocks State Park, Florida
Weather: Surrounded by rain, dry to the bone.
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 3

This morning we wake up with the smell of bacon, coffee and french toast. Marty has cooked us up a 'mean breakfast' as he likes to call it. He has cooked so much, we can take toast and bacon with us too.

It is a little after 7am when we hit the road again. Marty will follow right behind us. Our route takes us past his work, to which he always rides his bicycle; a 8 mile ride one way.

The sun is hiding behind the thick cloud cover. It looks like there is some heavy rain to the north of us. Our general direction is north west. Let's hope we can stay out of the rain.

Our journey takes us through the interior of Florida. Traffic is not too heavy, we have a nice shoulder to ride on. We keep on pedalling. A sprinkle is upon us. It is time to put our rain coats on.

With the rain coats on, the rain takes a leave. We don't mind a bit. We enjoy the clouds for the coolness they provide.

The windmill spins ferociously in the wind.

We take breaks at every opportunity we get. Usually a filling station. Where possible a mom-and-pop store. We enjoy those for the homey feeling they provide, as well as it being nice to have something different than a chain store from time to time.

We leave the rain behind us. The rain coats can be put away again. We cross the Kissimmee River, the Istokpoga River and see Spring Lake off in the distance. It is a beautiful area.

The sun has come out to play. An older couple is exited to see us. Their daughter had called ahead to tell them we were coming. Jack and Joy Spencer build their own trike-recumbent bicycles and ride them through Highland Hammocks State Park a couple of times a week. A 10 mile loop, and they are in their late 80s!

We are having a great time talking with them and would like to hear more stories. They live near the park, so we invite them to come. They'd love to do so and they will bring supper too. What a treat we are in for.

It takes us many stops and goes before we get to the park. One of the stops is at All About Lawns, Inc on Highway 66. We see a beautiful shady spot on their property. While we are there we have a chance to fill up with ice too. Thanks!

It is almost 4pm when we pull into the park. Park rangers Mike and Brenda arrange a campsite for us for two nights; at no cost to us. Thank you rangers!

We just pull into our site when supper and company arrive. We are intrigued with the stories of Jack and Joy. They brought pictures of their bicycles. They are a great invention.

Supper is delicious; chicken, cole slaw, potatoes and a refreshing cold beverage. After supper Bill sets up camp; Amarins and the girls spend that time cleaning up in the bath house. It is still before 8 when we crawl in our tent. It is the first time we are using the tent in Florida.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,286 Florida
Campsite: Highland Hammocks State Park, Florida
Weather: Warm with a breeze.
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 3

The night is full of animal sounds. Sounds we have never heard before. Is there a pig in the tree? What is that hissing sound! What just hit the tent? A restless night full of excitement.

We rise with the sun. A cover of moisture is hanging over the field of palmettos. The sun peers through. It is a beautiful sight to wake up to.

Ranger Mike pulls up with breakfast; milk, bread, cheese, ham, juice and more. A cool bag comes with it so we can keep it cold for the day.

With breakfast behind them, the girls run to the playground. Before they get there they come to a halt. There are deer near the playground. The girls freeze and admire the animals.

Cheyenne and Robin run back to us to tell us all about it. Mommy needs to come with the camera! We walk back and the deer are still there. Jasmine has kept an eye on them and hasn't moved a muscle.

With the breaking of a branch the deer look up and jump away to disappear into the forest. The girls are masters of the playground once again.

We are staying at Highland Hammocks State Park today. There are many trails in the park. We plan on walking a couple of them. We start out while it is still early. There is a boardwalk through a swampy area.

The boardwalk brings us to the road. We cross the road to find another playground. The girls are so full of energy, they love to climb all over it. Robin has no problem climbing the iron bars to the platform.

Jasmine is expanding her climbing skills as she conquers a tall tower.

We walk back to the camp area. On our way we stop at the ranger station to say good morning. A new ranger is at the post; Ranger Judy. She has a great idea for the girls. They can become Junior Rangers by working on the Florida's Junior Rangers program.

The girls are so excited they can hardly wait to start. Before we get back to our camp site, we walk another trail. The trail takes us through a 'new' forest. The new growth is coming up quickly after the controlled burn in the area.

Once at the camp site the girls go right to work. Robin makes sure she colors on every page, while Amarins reads her different parts of the program. Jasmine works on the hidden words puzzle with Bill. She has a very sharp mind and gets the hang of it quickly.

Cheyenne fully submerges in the material. She reads every assignment and with little help figures out the answers to questions. After more then an hour she's still working on it. Luring her to take a play ground break doesn't stop her. We let her follow her path of discovery.

Lessons about nature's litter -leaves that break down into tiny pieces and become soil- and people litter -bottles, cans, paper and other trash that can hurt wildlife- are easily understood and absorbed.

The lesson about native plants and exotic plants takes a little longer. The exotic plants invade the habitat of the native plants as they are competing for the same food, water and space to grow. The native plants and animals must find a different place to live if they want to survive.

We are in for another surprise. Rangers Brenda and Judy are making it possible for us to go on the tram ride through the park. We get to see even more of the park and learn about tree surgery that has saved 500 year old trees.

We see where the exotic plants are invading the space of the native plants. There is a leaning hollow tree which provides several plants to grow on it, creating a small habitat by itself.

We learn about the cypress trees. They grow in water. For the roots to absorb oxygen, they grow knees on them that stick out above the water; once a knee, never a tree. Nature in its finest.

A gopher tortoise shows us how fast he can really walk and hurries back into its burrow, not willing to share his lunch time with us.

The park is located in a rolling area, where low parts take turns with high parts. Where we get to the low parts, it gets swampy. We keep our eyes out for alligators. We are rewarded with several sightings of baby alligators, a couple of turtles and eventually mother alligator herself. We keep our feet in the tram.

What a way to explore the park. It is so beautiful, there is so much to see and explore. There are many trails to take to learn even more about this little part of nature.

The girls spend another hour working towards their Junior Ranger badge. Then we are off to the ranger station for inspection. A little nervous and with high expectations they wait for Ranger Brenda to check their work.

To their delight they are rewarded with the Florida Junior Ranger badge!




What a day! Thank you Highland Hammocks State Park for this wonderful gift of nature. Thank you park rangers for your love of the park that you so willingly share with us.

Click here to see more pictures of today.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Today 36 miles, Total 1,322 Florida
Campsite: GMC grass field, Fort Meade, Florida
Weather: Sunny with many breaks.
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 3

Eventhough it is very tempting to explore the park for another day, we pack up to continue further west and north. The rangers gave us directions to Zolfo Springs. Not the main road, but a beautiful county road.

The county road is packed dirt. We ride slowly but steadily through this amazing nature filled area. Many lessons from yesterday come to mind. We recognize the American Beauty Berry, the Spicebush, the air potato and the knees of the cypress trees.

When we leave the forest behind us, it is still early and somewhat cool. In the distance we see a big group of birds have gathered. What are they doing? They are doing what their instinct has thaught them. What's for breakfast? Beef is for breakfast!

The journey is full of vivid lessons of life. The girls learn so much. And so do we. It is very intense; the way we want it.

We pedal and we enjoy the scenery. The landscape is changing around us. We are leaving the cypress' behind us and are surrounded by farm fields once again. When we roll into Zolfo Springs it is a good time for some good food. We stop at the Pioneer Restaurant.

We spend about three hours in Zolfo Springs. First the Pioneer Restaurant offers us a delicious and sturdy brunch. Next we have a look at the Pioneer Park Cracker Trail Museum across the street. In the museum we meet the most interesting piece: Susan.

Susan's family is from Mount Vernon, Kentucky. Most of her cousins still live there. While we are at the museum she calls a cousin. This cousin has read about us in the Mount Vernon Signal when we left in August! What a coincidence! Or not?!

When we get back on the bicycle, it feels as if we haven't been on it yet today. We are heading due north now. The sun in our backs feels marvelous. It is not as intense this way. We stop a little south of Bowling Green (not Kentucky) in a little bbq/ice-cream/movie place.

Again we take our time. The lady behind the counter puts a movie in for the girls, while we just sit and talk and relax. It is a nice way to do the day. We don't feel rushed. It doesn't feel as if we have pedalled much at all. After another 10 miles we will call it a day. That doesn't sound so far.

Guess what Robin has on her face.

By 4pm we get to Fort Meade. Enough for today, we are going to find a place to camp. A GMC dealer has a big grass field. Bill decides to ask. Within minutes he is back. We have a place to camp. Great. Now we can enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

There is a McDonalds across the road. A good place to hang out and work on our workbooks. Tomorrow we are heading for Tampa. That gives us Sunday morning to maneuver our way through Tampa to Tarpon Springs.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today 40 miles, Total 1,362 Florida
Campsite: La Quinta, West Brandon / Tampa, Florida
Weather: Who turned the dryer on ultrahot?
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 1, Total 4

It is still dark when we all wake up. It is a rhythm we have developed. Even the girls are up. Amarins packs up the inside of the tent. The girls are playing with fallen Spanish moss. Bill packs the trailer and gets the bicycle ready. It is still dark when we are ready to go. Our rule is not to ride in the dark, so we hang out in McDonalds until the sun rises.

An early start is a big help during the day. The sun in our back guides us west. We are getting off the highway and ride on a quiet county road. Not a lot of traffick. A flowery scenery. There are not many places to stop, so we take a break whenever we find some shade.

A day of routines. Pedal, stop, pedal, break. Only once do we stop for a slushy, when we get to the town area of Lithia. Lithia goes into Bloomingdale, Bloomingdale takes us to Brandon. Brandon is our destination for today.

At the local Wendy's we take a break to figure out what to do next. There is no campground. We decide to find a reasonable motel near the interstate.

A couple of miles further we go under the interstate. We are back on the west side of I-75. A LaQuinta catches our eye. Bill, the negotiator, walks in and receives a great deal on a room. He's so excited he forgets the normal hold-the-bike routine; putting the break on and holding the handlebars. While standing backwards, the bicycle slips and once again we have a soft fall.

We recoup quickly in the wonderful motel room. There is a swimming pool as well; always fun. We close the day with a pizza.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Today 40 miles, Total 1,402 Florida
Campsite: Marty and Fran's home, Tarpon Springs, Florida
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

While Amarins takes Cheyenne and Jasmine to eat a continental breakfast, Bill and Robin have a chance to sleep in a little. Eventually they also come for breakfast. After a swim we pack up and are on the road by 10am.

This late start bites. It is already hot and we have 40 miles to go. Eventhough it is Sunday morning, traffic is still intense. We ride mile after mile. We stop at a McDonalds to do a tv interview with channel 10 from Tampa. See the result of the interview.

It is after noon when we put the city of Tampa behind us. We are still 20 miles away from Tarpon Springs where we will stay for a couple of days. We take the road all the way to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We can see the Gulf through some bushes when we ride the bicycle on the Pinellas trail.

We finally make it at 4pm. Same mileage as yesterday, at least twice as tough.

Monday thru Friday, September 28 - October 2, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,362 Florida
Campsite: Marty and Fran's home, Tarpon Springs, Florida
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A week in pictures

Many times the girls play with the bird cage.
Who would have thought it would be such a great toy.

Supper with friends.

Marty takes us down to the Sponge Docks. Sponges used to be the major industry in this area. Now it is a tourist atraction mostly. It is a nice area for a walk and roaming the shops and the little boat park.

Before we go out in a boat on real waater, we do an interview with Fox news. Watch the video!

Fox news anchor Nerissa Prest learns to fly on our bicycle with the girls afer the tv interview. Click here for the tv interview.

The first visit to the Gulf of Mexico. If we look far enough we can see Texas. We are out on the water again. It is a beautiful day.

Who's the Captain?

Looking for shells.

Swimming with Mitch.

Enjoying Mitch's guitar play.

Giving a new meaning to bearhug...

We meet many wonderful people. We enjoy being in Tarpon Springs. It is very relaxing. We take it easy, receive a massage and recharge the batteries.

Saturday we start again. With 1,400 miles or 20% of our journey complete, the next big break will be in Slaton, Texas, after another 1,400 miles. We know we will not make the mountains of New Mexico before November. Our best guess is now December. Let's hope for a light winter.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today 51 miles, Total 1,453 Florida
Campsite: Bella Oasis Hotel, Homosassa Springs, Florida
Weather: The sun on our side
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We are excited to be on the road again. Alarm at 6am, ready by 7.30am. The girls are ready to roll, although we first have to figure out 'who's day it is'... To reduce fighting over who gets on the bike first, we established a pattern. One day Cheyenne gets to be first, next day Jasmine. Robin is not yet in the first, first, first stage. It won't be long though.

We have bikers to travel with us to Highway 19 today. Arnie and Mark, with dog Booger, are part of the send off. It is something we always enjoy.

Where Alternative 19 meets 19, we say good bye. We are heading further up the road. It is time for Arnie and Mark to turn back. We are still in the out skirts of Tampa and St. Petersburg. City after city after city. When we get to Hudson, traffic decreases just a bit. The shoulder is just wide enough for us to ride on.

We spin quite well today. The rest seems to have done us well. By 10am we are ready for a second breakfast. A Cracker Barrel sign catches our eye. That's the goal, it will be our first CB of the journey. Another 10 miles to go. We keep at it and breakfast is served. We take a nice long break. We color, puzzle, play cards and sit in the rocking chairs.

We'd like to make it to Manatee Springs State Park tomorrow. We need to get to the area of Homosassa Springs today to be able to do that. We're calling in a life line to help us with a place to stay in that area: Ranger Brenda from Highland Hammocks State Park. She is going to make some calls and will get back with us. Thanks!

It is a good feeling to be back on the road again. We've enjoyed our extended stay in Tarpon Springs, but it was time to hit the road again. We are in a bit more rural area. A scenery without buildings surrounds us. Pretty.

We are riding through a very interesting area. From Wekki Wachee to Chassahowitzka, near Withlacoochee. Try and say that a couple of times fast. Where did these words originate? What are their meanings?

In Chassahowitzka we receive word of a campground here that will let us stay, or we could go to Homosassa Springs and visit the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. We choose to do the latter. And what a choice it turns out to be!

We arrive at the park where 9,000+ hr volunteer Gail is waiting for us. She's got everything arranged. We can camp on the bird island. We can ride the tram to the wildlife park. And tonight Gail and her husband Bob (11,000+ hr volunteer) would love to take us out for dinner, if we don't have other plans...

It is another beautiful park. We enjoy the animals very much. Most of them are native to Florida. There is also a hippopotamus; we're not quite sure if they are native too. There are many different birds; waterfowl, cadaver birds, predator birds. An abundance of sounds.

See here the great American Eagle.

The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.

The eagle represents freedom. Living as he does on the tops of lofty mountains, amid the solitary grandeur of Nature, he has unlimited freedom, whether with strong pinions he sweeps into the valleys below, or upward into the boundless spaces beyond.

As you can tell in the picture. This eagle has it's wing shot off and will never ever feel the freedom again. Will this be our country's future?

There is an underwater observatory. We go down the stairs and observe the different kinds of fish. We're almost fished out, when a huge animal swims by the window. It is a manatee! What a treat. We follow it all the way around the observatory until it seems to surface. We run up the stairs and there it is, in all it's massive glory.

Thrilled with this experience, we admire our manatee stamps on our way back in the tram.

Bill will set up camp, while Amarins and the girls will freshen up a little before supper. When camp is set up, plans are changed. We can not stay on the island after all. Gail and Bob have arranged a motel room for us at the Bella Oasis Hotel, next to the park. It is an inconvenience, but we are very thankful for this solution.

We pack up and head for the motel. We quickly change and can finally go out for supper. We spend an enjoyable evening with Gail and Bob at a nice Italian restaurant.

Bob is making origami birds and frogs for the girls.

Gail with Cheyenne and Jasmine

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Today 60 miles, Total 1,513 Florida
Campsite: Manatee Springs State Park, Chiefland, Florida
Weather: Somewhat cool, with plenty of sun
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Rise and shine! We have a long way to go to Manatee Springs State Park. That is our destination for today. It is six miles off the road, but looks like a good place to spend an extra day.

We are on our way as the sun climbs the sky. The trees on the side of the road provide a wonderful shady road. Very enjoyable. The air feels somewhat cool still. We can smell the fall in the air.

From time to time we come through a tiny little village. Sometimes there is a filling station, sometimes there isn't. A drink, a snack, a break, and on the road again. The shoulder is nice and wide.

We cross the Withlacoochee river and enter Inglis. The last town before we enter a very long, long straight road to Chiefland. The sun is peering over the trees. It is good we have the sun in our backs.

The long road behind us, near Gulf Hammock.

The long road we still have ahead of us.

There is little traffic. It is peaceful on the road. We pedal and enjoy listening to the sounds of nature. We hear the sound of the pileated woodpecker. It reminds us of a flying chicken somehow.

With the sun right behind us, there are not a lot of shady spots to take a break. When we finally find one, we don't hesitate. A tall tree is providing a nice shady spot in the grass, somewhat off the road.

As we sit there and rest a while, Amarins gets a phone call from the Netherlands, her parents. How wonderful to talk with them! The girls also get a chance to share their stories. And that in the middle of nowhere.

Refreshed and filled with joy, we continue our journey. By the middle of the afternoon we make it to Chiefland. Along the way a motorcyclist offers a slushy. none of the filling stations have them, so the girls have to settle for an ice cream. No problem of course.

Motorcyclist Bill

We visit with Bill for a while. He is Santa's helper during Christmas. He sure looks the part. Thanks for your generosity Bill!

Before heading for the park, we make a Walmart stop. Robin gets to go shopping with Amarins. We need some fresh items while we stay at the park. Cheyenne and Jasmine chase lizards. Cheyenne eventually catches one.

It is supper time when we get to the park. We eat the rotissery chicken and potato salad. For dessert we have a fruit tray. Delicious. As Amarins takes the girls to the bathroom to clean up and get ready for bed, Bill sets up camp.

As the sun sets, we get ready to go to bed. The owls hoot us good night.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,513 Florida
Campsite: Manatee Springs State Park, Chiefland, Florida
Weather: Rain! Lots of it.
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

It is a cool morning. It is cloudy and damp. The girls are up and enjoy a fallen down tree as a climbing tool. Deer are walking through the campsite. They are not fazed at all by our presence.

Amarins fixes breakfast. Hot tea, raisin bread with 'pasta choca', apples, kiwi, bananas and orange juice. It is a feast. It tastes so good to eat fresh food.

Manatee Springs State Park is named after the spring located in the park. It is a first magnitude spring, meaning it discharges about 65 million (!) gallons per day. The spring is a steady 72 degrees Fahrenheit. In winter as well as in summer. During the winter months the manatees come up to enjoy the warmer water.

We walk to the spring. The girls play at the playground. We walk to the end of the boardwalk, which takes us through a cypress forest to the Suwannee river.

As we get back to the picnic tables in the playground area, Amarins has a surprise. New junior ranger workbooks. Lots of coloring pages about the water cycle and about manatees.




The girls work hard. It is enjoyable to see them learn and play. Amarins gets to color too. It is nice working together.

Time passes quickly. The sky begins to darken. It is not because of the setting sun. Rain clouds are rolling in. The wind is picking up. Rain is upon us. We gather our stuff together and head for the pavillion.

We stay nice and dry under the pavillion. It is a heavy steady rain. Bill runs to the tent to add the front addition and put up everything that is laying around. When he gets back to the pavillion, two bikers are rolling in.

We meet Ron and Shirley. We saw each other on the road a couple of times yesterday. They live about a mile outside the park and rode their bicycles over, trying to find us and hear about our journey.

Ron and Shirley are travellers by heart. They have lived in Michigan, California, Florida and many places in between. They have sailed boats across the Gulf (and sunk one...). They have lived simple and very content all their lives. They are kindred spirits.

Tonight they'd like to bring pizza for supper and share more stories. We love it!

When the rain breaks up a little, we run to the tent, have a little lunch and take a nap. One by one we drift away as we listen to the rain falling on our tent.

We wake up to the dripping of the drops from the leaves on our tent. The rain has stopped. The forest smells fresh. Sand has splattered all over the bicycle, the tent and the tarp. It's a nitty gritty mess.

It hasn't really warmed up, but we did come here to swim in the spring. With bathing suits on we head to the water. Amarins stays on one side, to photograph the event. Bill and the girls walk around the spring to the boardwalk that takes them into the the shallow part.

The water feels very cold. It takes a while to get used to. Well, actually, it is too cold to get used to.

Jasmine is the first one to take the dive.

Cheyenne is the next daredevil. She stays in the water, watching Bill. Bill is inching closer and closer, waiting to gather enough will power to dive in.

Bill dives for it.

Brrr. It is cold.

Robin decides that wading is just as much fun.

When we are all done swimming, we decide to walk through the cypress forest to the river. A mist is setting up on the water. We want to see if there is mist on the river too.

Mist across the spring.

The sky is getting dark again. We can see rain in the distance. It doesn't look like it is coming in our direction. But we are very wrong. It starts dripping, it is raining, it is a downpour!

There is a little pavillion at the end of the boardwalk at the river. We stay nice and dry.

As we wait, we see an alligator cross the river. This answers the question of 'can we go swimming in the river' for the girls. As the rain splatters on the river, we see a river turtle stick it's head above the water. Gulf Sturgeon jump through the water. What a treat.

We wait for the rain to stop. It doesn't. We are going to make a dash for it. We speed walk back to the store. We are now half way to our tent and soaking wet. It is a good thing the air is warm. We cover the last part in no-time, dry off and huddle in our sleeping bags to warm up.

Warm and in fresh clothes we get ready for supper. The rain has finally decided to withdraw for a while. Perfect timing, as Ron and Shirley have just arrived with supper. To the pavillion we go.

Filled with stories, experiences and pizza, we call it a night. Thanks for sharing Ron and Shirley!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Today 27 miles, Total 1,540 Florida
Campsite: Shady Oaks Campground, Eugene, Florida
Weather: Great temperature for a bicycle ride
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

It has rained for most of the night. Now the sky is clear again. It is time to pack up our wet camping gear. We clean it as well as we can. This is probably the dirtiest we've ever packed up.

We are in no rush today. We are only going about 30 miles, to a campground near Cross City, off highway 19/98. After that is a long road without campgrounds before we get to Perry.

We stop by Ron and Shirley's home. We have a breakfast date. It is already 9.30 when we finally arrive at their home. The coffee is ready, breakfast is served to order. We have made some great new friends in Ron and Shirley. We feel right at home, and so do the kids.

It is hard to leave good friends behind, but eventually we are back on the road. Ron and Shirley have told us about a bicycle trail that will take us all the way to Cross City. It runs parallel to highway 19/98 and is shielded on both sides with trees. It feels as if we are riding through the forest.

It is a beautiful ride. We don't pedal fast, but we do pedal steadily. It is not yet 1pm when we arrive in Fanning Springs. Here we enter the main street for a little while, as we look for a filling station to fill our water packs. It provides a nice break. We are not hungry at all. Breakfast is still holding.

While we are taking a break, a familiar car pulls up. It's Ron and Shirley. They happen to be in town and saw our bicycle. How nice of them to stop by.

We get back on the bicycle path and ride it until we find the campground. A space is easily arranged. Ron called ahead and made sure of that. We don't put up the tent yet. First we lay everything out to dry.

We have the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the swimming pool. Bill gets to talking with the Michigan and Maine residents of the campground. A nice bunch of people. Tonight they are going to order pizza for us all to share.

Jasmine jumps in the water too now. Jump and swim!

After supper the girls get a ride on a golf cart to the goats. Always a fun sight and a fun thing to do. On their way they meet a girl on her bicycle, Alissa, with her aunt. A good opportunity to see if Cheyenne can still ride a bicycle. Yes she can!

Jasmine wants to try it as well. She has only practised on a bicycle with training wheels. This is a new experience. With the confidence from being on the big yellow bicycle, she climbs on. With a little help she gets started, then off she goes. How to break is a novelty, but falling works just fine. After a couple of tries, she can stop without falling. Great job Jasmine!

What a great way to close the day.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today 48 miles, Total 1,588
Campsite: Gandy Motor Lodge, Perry, Florida
Weather: Dripping hot and muggy
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We are waved goodbye by the Shady Oaks residents. In our panniers is a survival pack; chips, crackers, beef jerky and gum. We have some breakfast in Cross City and then we are off again.

We enjoy the coolness of the morning. As we ride through the country side we enjoy the flowers and the butterflies. We can tell we are heading into fall. There are many leaves on the road. We don't see many fall colors here though.

The road behind us.

The road ahead of us.

We didn't expect to find a rural Florida area. It's desolate, but beautiful. Today we are going to Perry. The beginning of the panhandle. We are so excited to get there. It will be our turning point to go west.

We pass a fellow biker. He came from Clearwater and is on his way to Tallahassee. We share some water and funds with him and wish him well on his journey. When we find a shady spot we take a break from the hot sun. We invite the biker, but he declines.

The temperature has increased tremendously since this morning. So has the humidity. It is very hard to continue in this weather. But we do it. We eventually get to Perry by mid afternoon. We are hungry for vegetables and decide on Golden Corral for supper.

As the evening falls another decision needs to be made. Where are we going to spend the night as well as tomorrow. Our eye falls on a cheap motel.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,588
Campsite: Gandy Motor Lodge, Perry, Florida
Weather: Dripping hot and muggy
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A rest day in Perry. Spend with swimming, playing, tv and of course resting.


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Today 52 miles, Total 1,640
Campsite: Rogue at a Primitive Baptist Church, near Wakulla, Florida
Weather: The morning fog replaced by a warm head wind
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We leave Perry during this foggy morning. We are travelling west on highway 98. A desolate road, but for some traffic. The fog lies low over the fields.

The morning fog accentuates the beauty of the fields.

We enjoy the coolness. We listen to the sounds of nature. From time to time we see a tree that is taking on its fall colors. Auburn, burgundy, dark reds.

To our delight we stumble on a picnic area at the Econfina River. A couple of picnic tables, rocks for the girls to jump on. A nice little get-away from the road.

The road continues, the fog gets burned off by the sun, a little head wind becomes part of the day. We are anticipating our brunch. A friend of a friend is going to arange it.

We are making nice time, mile after mile we keep going. When we meet John, we are already halfway into our day. We are heading for Newport, then perhaps Wakulla Springs.

John has staked out the road and knows exactly the right spot for our brunch; just a mile down the road. A pavillion, off the road at the Wildlife Management Area is the spot.

Turkey sandwiches, ham sandwiches, wheat bread, white bread, fruit, chips, soda, water, juice. What a feast.

As we enjoy our time together, news reporter Tara joins us. She reports for the Tallahassee station. See her report here!

John decides to join us for the rest of the day. He will drive ahead to the park in Newport, and meet us there again. The park is located near the St Marks river and has a boarwalk to it.

The girls enjoy the swing set and slide. Cheyenne enjoys the water spickets; she loves to run water over her hair to cool off.

At the park we meet a forest ranger who is on duty to watch the forest from the watch tower. We can come up if we'd like! Of course we'd like to. We've seen many towers and have wondered what the view would be like.

We learn that we can climb any tower we want, as long as the gate is unlocked. That might come in handy later on our journey. This time John is joining us up the 134 steps to the 100 feet high tower house.

All in the tower.

We enjoy our time and enjoy our experience. The view is far and wide and filled with trees. No fires to report today.

100 feet up in the air. 134 steps.

We say goodbye to John and decide to continue on to Wakulla Springs State Park. We turn on SR-267. Instead of continuing on highway 98, along the Gulf coast, we have decided to go a little further inland and ride in a more straighter shot towards Destin, Florida.

We enter the park and ask the park ranger if there is a possibility for us to camp. 'No problem' he says. 'Plenty of space'. Relieved we continue into the park to find another first magnitude spring. Wakulla Springs is the longest and deepest known submerged freshwater cave system in the world.

As was Manatee Springs, this spring is also very cold at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Amarins get her turn this time to 'swim' with the girls. It is actually quite refreshing, but one dive is enough.

Inching into the cold Wakulla Springs.

After this refreshing dive, the girls start building dams and sand castles. Spring + sand + sun = lots and lots of fun.

Building a sand castle.

We ask another ranger where we can put our tent. 'Nowhere' is the answer. There is no campground here and they don't want to make an exception. We can stay in the $100-a-night lodge. Huh?!

Needless to say, we pack up and leave the park to find a place to camp elsewhere. There is no campground anywhere nearby, but after a couple of mile we find a church with a beautiful back yard.

We pitch the tent, snack on our food and start settling down for the night. It's already after six. Our big yellow bike and our large tent cannot remain unnoticed. It doesn't take long before we have visitors.

The church members that come checking are very friendly and are okay with us staying there for the night. We happen to have put up the tent right next to a driveway that leads to a home in the woods.

We get a chance to meet the residents and their daughter and granddaughters. They are out on an errand. When they get back they share popsicles and juice with us. Thanks!

Deshea and Derisha with mom and grandparents brought popsicles!

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today 61 miles, Total 1,701
Campsite: Tanya, Amber and Autumn's home, Clarksville, Florida
Weather: Scattered rain showers with sun
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We promised to be gone by 7.30. With our team of girls that is an easy promise to keep. They rise and shine as we do and start releasing the air from their mats.

When everything inside the tent is put on and in the trailer, it is time to break down the tent. This is where Robin likes to help most. 'I need to help Daddy' she says.

Heading down the road, we enter the Apalachicola forest. We enjoy being surrounded by the trees. The girl distinguish between coniferous and deciduous very well. They learn about the business of planted forests.

From time to time the forest breaks open and a field appears. In one of them a beautiful fairy tale tree grows.

A fairy tale tree.

Breakfast was a while ago. We are looking forward to brunch with friends. Two days in a row that we have brunch waiting. We could get used to that. The convenience of a follow car is clear. Any volunteers?...

Clouds are on our path. A cold front is coming through and might bring rain today. A dark cloud is hanging right across the road. This one doesn't bring us rain, another one does. We cover under the tarp to stay dry. It only takes a couple of minutes, then it clears up enough to go again.

We stop at an intersection where a picnic table under a pavillion looks very inviting. It is only 10am and we've covered over 20 miles already. Nice.

With excitement we wait for our friends to arrive. We met them for the first time on the Appalachian Trail, two months ago. Anita and Michael have kept track of our journey. Now we are near their home town of Tallahassee it is time to meet again.

We are having a great time catching up. Brunch is filled with fruit, bacon, home made biscuits and cheese grits. We savor the time together. Mamie brought her beading set to share with Cheyenne and Jasmine. We appreciate all of you so much!

At noon we are back on the road again, filled with great company and good food. The land scape is surprising us. Not just lots of trees, but gentle rolling hills too. It feels good to be back in the hills again.

Clouds are filling the sky again. Will we make it to Blountstown today? We keep on going until we can see the rain on the road ahead of us. We pull the bike off the road. Unroll the tarp and squeeze under it together. Just in time. It's a downpour!

It is rather crowded with the five of us under an 8 by 10 tarp. It sure beats being in the rain though. We play a rhyming game to pass the time. When all is clear we continue on our path.

We ride through Bristol, cross the river and are in a new time zone! Central Time. We have an extra hour in the day today. We take it to have a play date at McDonalds in Blountstown.

With a playground there are always more parents with children. A good place to meet locals and ask for a place to stay. We actually have two options. One here in town, one in the next town.

Eventhough we have made it to our destination today, we decide to go for Clarksville. We can stay all day tomorrow at Tanya's home. It is a little further than we thought, but we make it well before sunset.

The girls dive right into the play room and are having a great time playing with Autumn. We visit with Tanya and enjoy the comfort of her home.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,701
Campsite: Tanya, Amber and Autumn's home, Clarksville, Florida
Weather: Muggy warm
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Ahh. It's like being with family. We feel so welcome here. The girls are playing with Autumn and all her toys. Bill takes an extra morning nap. Amarins sits down and enjoys a book.

In the evening we take a ride (by car) to Panama City, where we have supper at a Chinese buffet.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today 50 miles, Total 1,751
Campsite: Muscogee Tribal Grounds, Bruce, Florida
Weather: Beautiful blue
Flat tires: 0, Total 9
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Now we are on Central Time, we could get up earlier to be on the road by sunrise. But we don't. Six o'clock is early enough to get up. A little after seven is just fine to be on the road.

The main road, stateroad 20, is horrible. The road is rough, there is no shoulder, traffic consists of logging trucks. It is a tense way to start the day. We are relieved when we roll into Bay County where we finally have a shoulder again.

Not a yard into Bay county we feel we have a flat tire. The timing couldn't have been better. A side road to put the tarp on for the girls to sit on. A shoulder and grass to fix the bike on. We have worn another rear tire out.

In Ormond Beach we put Armadillo tires on our wheels. After 686 miles, the rear tire needs to be replaced. We have not had any flat tires at all with these. The flat we had on our first day with the Armadillo tire was a result of an overinflated inner tube.

We carry an extra tire and inner tube with us so the problem is easily fixed. Soon we are on the road again. Having a shoulder to ride on relieves a lot of tension. At the intersection with highway 231 we stop for breakfast.

At the filling station the news catches up with us. Kristina from Channel 7 in Panama City has come out to see us. See her report here!

The road takes us through beautiful scenery once more. There are still an abundance of flowers blooming here. Bill loves the yellow ones in particular. In a couple of weeks the flowers will be to the end of their season most likely so we take a moment to stop and enjoy them.

We are glad to have taken the moment to stop and smell the flowers. We work so hard at getting to our days destination that from time to time we forget to enjoy the journey. Our minds get absorbed with scavenging for food and a place to camp.

In Ebro we don't find a place to camp, but we do find a place to eat. The Ebro Cafe. We savor the rich flavors of the homemade food. We sit and rest a while and listen to the stories of Ebro's golden days; a logging village with tree farms all around.

These ladies are Ebro originals!

On to the next town; Bruce. Bill has a hunch that this is the place we need to go today. A newspaper article about Ann Tucker and her strive for recognition of the Eastern Creek nation has caught his attention.

We arrive in Bruce and follow the signs to the tribal council building. Here we meet Ann's uncle. What a timing. We get a chance to talk with him and look inside the museum. The building was once used as a school. In the back is still the old iron stove that was given by the army.

We can stay on the tribal grounds tonight. Thank you very much for sharing your story and allowing us to stay!

The girls enjoy the playground as we put up the tent and make the beds once more. Ann's husband stops by and visits for a while. We enjoy the visit.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today 27 miles, Total 1,778
Campsite: Rita and Ernest Hillard's home, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Weather: A very cloudy day.
Flat tires: 1, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We've gone the extra miles and are within a short distance of Santa Rosa Beach. This is where we are going to stay for the next few days.

In Freeport we take a moment to have some breakfast. Then we head south again. Just for a little while this time. Highway 331 will take us back to highway 98. The bay is showing up ahead of us. It is a cloudy day so we can't really see across, but way off in the distance is our destination.

A couple of bridges take us across the water. On top of the tallest bridge we stop to look around for a while. A vintage bridge picture and a not so vintage shot of Amarins seal the deal.


We roll off the bridge into roadworks onto highway 98 west. It is still morning and we are almost there. The shoulder provides room for us to ride and before we know it we are at Rita and Ernests home. Here we'll have time to rest and time to update.

The afternoon is spend with being together, naps and looking at the computer. We do some laudry and settle in for a while.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,778
Campsite: Rita and Ernest Hillard's home, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Weather: Sunny with sprinkles and an evening thunderstorm.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A day with pictures.

Jasmine the princess

Robin is decorating the palm trees for Christmas.

Cheyenne, Amarins, Jasmine in Mardi Grass costume.

Sunset over the little inlet at Santa Rosa Beach.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,778
Campsite: Rita and Ernest Hillard's home, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Weather: Sun with a rain storm.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A day with pictures.

The girls on a giant beach chair in Sandestin.

Cheyenne just swam under the waterfall.

Robin is thoroughly enjoying the kiddy pool.

Rita is teaching Jasmine how to swim.

Jasmine can swim without swimmies now!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today 39 miles, Total 1,817
Campsite: Rogue on a vacant lot, Navarre, Florida
Weather: The wind is coming at us.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

It is still raining as we get ready to go. We have a nice long breakfast. When it finally clears up around 9 we head out. There are still chances of rain, but we will deal with that when it arrives.

The girls and Amarins each have a yellow rose to bring with us today. It brightens our way on this grim looking day. The road goes west. The wind comes straight at us. It is rather chilly. When we arrive in Destin we stop at a McDonalds. Not to cool us down this time, but to get out of the wind and the cool weather.

It is not much warmer when we leave a small hour later. The sun is not yet strong enough to peak through the clouds. Still we can feel the temperature rising. The cooler weather makes us aware of what lays ahead of us and of the change of clothing we need to be making soon.

It is a cool morning.

Bright white sand dunes show up on our left. As does a bridge. The bridge will take us into Fort Walton Beach. As we look back on it, it wasn't that long after all. We have not had a more impressive bridge then the one of Jekyll Island yet. In Fort Walton Beach we have a picnic at a play park. The sun has come out to play too.

It is heavy pedaling with a head wind. It is a new experience. Another adjustment. Our speed while riding has dropped to under 10 mph. We keep on at it and enjoy the quiet time we have as we ride. The wind makes it almost impossible to talk. We are alone with our own thoughts. Remembering experiences, calculating distances, looking ahead.

We were hoping to make to just before Pensacola, but that is not going to happen. We are in Navarre, with still 24 miles to Pensacola when we decide it is time to look for a campsite. We already passed the campground, and we do not like backtracking. A local Real Estate agent helps us out. In his subdivision there is an empty lot we can use to camp on.

We travel the extra 4 miles and find the subdivision. The road takes us all the way to the beach. A white sand beach. What an idyllic place to put up the tent. This is Amarins' idea. Had it not been so windy it would have been a great idea. We start putting up the tent, but the wind almost blows it into the bay. Time to relocate!

A spot closer to the shrubs is a better spot. The wind cannot get a hold of it as it can on the wide open beach. We put as much of our stuff in it as possible. No way it is going to blow away now. All said and done, we explore the beach and let the wind blow in our hair.

Catching the breeze on the pier.

As the sun sets, the temperature drops immensly. We snugle together in the tent and munch on the snacks we brought with us. Not a diversified meal, but it will do.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today 33 miles, Total 1,850
Campsite: Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida
Weather: Oh so chilly.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Friends are coming to spend the day with us. Despite the cold weather, we are up when the sun rises. We want to get to Big Lagoon State Park on the west side of Pensacola, so we can enjoy the time together with friends.

The sun is slowly rising over the horizon.

It is cold here!

With the wind in our faces, the sun in our back, we are heading into another day filled with experiences. We munch for breakfast, anticipating a better selection when we get to Gulf Breeze. A Waffle House is the choice of the day. We unwrap ourselves from all the layers of clothing we put on and enjoy the warmth.

Cheyenne is all dressed for winter.

Between Gulf Breeze and Pensacola is the three mile bridge. A three mile road across the water, only a small part is the actual bridge where taller boats can sail under it. At the end of the bridge we turn off highway 98 to the Main street in town. Beatiful old homes and little traffic.

As we get ready to turn onto SR-292 which will lead to the park, a familiar car turns the corner. Our friends have arrived and decided to go look for us. Of all the roads to take, they took exactly the one we were on. The rest of the road they cheer us on and explore the area. They know exactly which roads will work best for us. Handy!

It is a little after noon when we arrive at the park. Not bad for a heavy headwind. As Bill and Hal put up the tent, Mason plays with the girls at the playground. Amarins and Harding are taking the car to get some lunch.

No need to be more descriptive. Friendship is the best gift one can give to one other. We share a wonderful afternoon together.

Hal, Bill, Harding

As evening comes, Hal, Mason and Harding need to head back north. Thanks for coming guys!

Big Lagoon State Park is again a beautiful place to spend time. We sure have enjoyed the Florida State Parks. Boardwalks leed to another play ground and to a small strip of beach. Along the way signs describe about the wildlife and nature of the park.

It has never really warmed up today. When the sun disappears behind the horizon, the girls get ready to go to bed. The wind, the outdoor experiences, play time with friends; all are great sleeping aids. It doesn't take long before they are sound aleep.

For Amarins and Bill it is not time yet. We expect the Magleys from South Carolina to pull into the park anytime soon. They are going to spend the weekend in the park with us. We help them set up camp... peanut gallery style. When their temporary home is set up we enjoy time around the campfire.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,850
Campsite: Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida
Weather: Warmed by friendship.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

The girls are up and immediately head for the Magley's campsite. We are enjoying a great day together. Sharing time, walking to the beach, playing at the playground. We see baby woodpeckers learning to fly and dolphins playing in the bay.

Scott and Katie are whipping up breakfast.

Out for a stroll on the beach.

Enjoying the playground with the Magleys.

How many can go down the slide at once?

Yes, these are dolphins.

Jasmine and Sarah are mesmerized by the dolphins in the bay.

Scott and Katie also brought our new rims! They are finally ready! A delay by the factory to send the hubs to Spin Lite Cycling threw the original schedule out the window. But now they are here!

Our new rims have arrived! Look at the difference!

We are taking a maiden voyage on our new rims around the campground. Scott rides in Cheyenne's place.

At the end of the afternoon we visit the Pensacola Naval Museum. If you like hands-on musea (or museums), this is a great place to spend the day. We enjoyed every hour of our stay. If the museum hadn't closed when it did, we would have stayed even longer.

Sarah, Cheyenne and Martha. Future Blue Angels?

Scott and Katie fix chicken fajitas for supper. Yumlicious! The rest of the evening we spend around the campfire sharing life together.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Today 47 miles, Total 1,897
Oak Hollow Farm, Fairhope, Alabama
Weather: Brisk and sunny.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

It is an exciting new day. We are finally leaving Florida behind us and enter Alabama. We'll be here for just a short spell before we cross into Mississippi.

The racoons must have smelled the chicken fajitas we had for supper. They have been after them all night. Scott and Katie have been up most of the night putting things up, but the racoons got away with the chicken as well as the tortillas after all.

No chicken burritos for breakfast for us, but we still have plenty of sausage and eggs and raisin bread. To warm us up we start with hot chocolate. Ahhh, delightful.

With breakfast behind us and the sun on our tent, it is time to get ready to ride. The Magleys are packing up to head for their home in the mountains of South Carolina. We will continue our journey westward.

It is ten o'clock when we leave the park. We follow SR-182 across a tall bridge onto Perdido Key. White sandy dunes, pretty buildings. We pedal and we pedal. At 11 o'clock we enter Alabama. It has come upon us so suddenly, we have to read the sign a coule of times to make sure.

Alabama the beautiful. Well, this part is certainly beautiful. The buildings are not to overwhelmingly big. The roads are nice and wide, and have a bicycle lane too. So far Alabama is a good experience.

The next big town is Gulf Shores, we plan on being there by lunch. Being on the road it's like we travel from meal to meal. A big town means more meal choices. We enjoy the ride, enjoy the lack of wind, enjoy the sunshine. We can see the tall buildings of Gulf Shores.

Our plan is working fine. It is a little after noon when we stop for a Hardees burger. Eventhough we started late today, we should be able to make it to the ferry that will take us across Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island.

We just turned west on SR-180 when a sign catches our eye:

Now what! We brought the phone number with us, so inquiries are quickly made. The ferry is closed for the entire week and will reopen on Saturday. And it is Monday today. A change of plans! We've run out of map, so it is time to get a new one. A bookstore brings the solution.

There are no other ferries that can take us across the bay. We have to go through Mobile and then head back down to go to Biloxi, Mississippi. Quite the detour. We don't want to hang around at Fort Morgan for the entire week, so we head north on SR-59. We shall see what the new plan brings.

SR-59 takes us to Foley where we pick up highway 98 west. The road takes us over some hills through beautiful scenery. From a Foley resident we get the advice to go to Oak Hollow Farm in Fairhope. They will have a place for us to pitch the tent.

When we where traveling through South Carolina we saw different kinds of crops; peanut, soy and cotton. As we are pedalling through the country side a field full of cotton shows us. As gorgeous as you've ever seen. We have seen the plants with the cotton pods on them, now they have opened and the cotton is ready to pick.

We arrive at Oak Hollow Farm and with one phone call it is a done deal. We can put our tent any where we want to. On top of the hill we find the perfect spot. The girls play at the playground while Amarins and Bill set up camp. Before we go to bed, we have some hot chocolate.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today 16 miles, Total 1,913
Campsite: At a wonderful couple's home, Eastern Mobile Bay, Alabama
Weather: Just plain beautiful.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We are in for a treat. We are going on a hayride to the horse barn. At Oak Hollow Farm you can enjoy horse back riding on the wooded trails, around ponds and through the pastures. We get the chance to see the horses./p>

It is a beautiful set of horses. They graze gently in the pasture. Close to the fence are a couple of them that we can pet. After the horses have enough of the attention, we walk to another one that is eating it's breakfast. It is an exciting experience for the girls. Horses are impressively large from their perspective.

Cheyenne is patting Bucky.

Robin is quite impressed being this close to a horse.

Yeehaw! We are riding in the wild wild west. Giddy up!

We are taking the scenic route north. Scenic 98 takes us along the Eastern side of Mobile Bay. A joyful road, little traffic, nice homes to look at. We go through Point Clear, have a break in Fairhope and get on a bicycle trail to Daphne. The trail is not meant for riding quickly. It swerves around trees. We ride the road down the hills and take the trail when we go uphill.

In the center of Daphne we stop at a playground. We are going to cook out and have lunch here. We feel rather tired. We haven't gotten re-used to the hills yet. Eventhough we have crossed the Appalachian mountains, these hills are new all over after the Floridian flat land.

Not just the center of town, we are the center of attention here. Several bicycle enthusiast stop by. We have some great encouraging conversations. One couple invites us to their home to spend the night. We gladly accept.

The girls play and play. Since it is fall break, there are many children to play with. The merry go round is the bell of the ball. After hours of play fun, we load up and head for our hosts home. To respect their privacy, we can not disclose their names.

We feel very welcome and are treated with true southern hospitality. The girls have many toys to play with. We wash up and do laundry. We spend a good time in great company. Bill gets a ride to the bicycle store. We are in need of new chains. All of them need to be replaced. The drive chain as well.

Bill puts the new chains on. Gone is the slack. We are very curious to feel how it is going to ride tomorrow.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today 43 miles, Total 1,956
Campsite: Escatawpa Campground, Alabama/Mississippi state line, Alabama
Weather: Warming up again.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Today is the day we are going to ride through Mobile. We kind of dread it. Big city, heavy traffic. There is a tunnel we need to go through and we are not quite sure whether we can get an escort for it.

It takes us a while to get ready. We have breakfast together, Bill is fine tuning the bicycle, Amarins takes the girls to the playground at the bay.

Robin loves the dinosaur.

Jasmine is learning upside down tricks.

It is after 11 o'clock when we finally head out. We keep on the bicycle trail, scenic 98 until we get north of interstate 10. Here we pick up highway 90 which leads us to the tunnel. We call to arrange an escort, but to no avail. We need to take the bridge for industrial traffic.

So be it. Further north we go. The more north we are, the more we feel we need to stay north. We are considering not going down to Biloxi, skip New Orleans and head west basically on highways 98 and 84.

We pedal up the bridge. When we look down the side we have a top view to see turtles swim. A great sight. Up and over the bridge we go. With local help we make our way through northern Mobile and arrive in the little town of Semmes.

Today we are looking for a motel to spend the night. There is one right across the Alabama-Mississippi state line. The state line is only 10 miles away. We go for it. Highway 98 is not a very pleasant road to be on, no shoulder and hills.

We push ourselves to the limit and arrive in Mississippi, but no motel. A gentleman stops and tells us the motel is still 7 miles into Mississippi. No way we are going that far, the sun is setting and we need to stop.

The gentleman doesn't just come with correct information, but also with an offer for a campsite on his campground. Escatawpa Campground is located in Alabama, on the state line. We turn the bicycle around and follow him the half mile back. This time we don't mind backtracking. We are back in Alabama.

The campground is located on the Escatawpa river. It is off season, so we can pick any spot we want. Where the most grass is fluffiest, we put our tent. The girls have already discovered the rope swing and the tree house. Bill and Amarins set up camp.

Supper is taken care off. A relative of the campground owner is taking Bill and the girls to church. This church has Wednesday night as pizza night, besides the regular service. They are enjoying making new friends. Amarins starts to get pictures ready for the website.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today 11 miles, Total 1,967
Campsite: Dorsett motel, Lucedale, Mississippi
Weather: Full blue in the morning, rain in the afternoon.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We have gotten so accustomed to getting up as the sun rises, sleeping in is not an option. We are slowly getting ready. We have breakfast with orange juice and raisin bread. After breakfast we go for a walk along the river.

At nine we are ready to roll. A friend has called and a rain storm is upon us. Lucedale is the destination, 11 miles, doable before the rain arrives. Once again we roll into Mississippi. This time for real.

The road widens. It is now a four lane highway and also has a little shoulder. It feels good. The hills are becoming on us. We are enjoying the free miles from riding down them.

After 7 miles we see the motel we were aiming for yesterday. Today we are heading for the cheap dive in town. We take a break at the filling station and meet many cheer ful people. We are making some great contacts.

We check in at the motel. As we unload, the local newspaper reporter gets in touch with us. She was contacted by Sandy from Community Bank, who was contacted by her sister Pat who met us at the filling station.

Across the street from the motel is the Kan Kan Boutique, a womens clothing store where nothing is over $20. We met owner Candice and husband Billy at the filling station. Our wonderfully rambunctious children remind them of their three little girls. A connection is easily made.

Tonight we are going to Candice and Billy's home in the country for supper. The girls will get to play together.

The afternoon is filled with naps for Robin and Jasmine, a walk through town for Bill and Cheyenne, and internet for Amarins.

At supper time Billy arrives to take us to his home. They live beautifully in the woods. We are having a great time together. The girls play and play and play. Wonderful.

Beautyful, Jasmine and Robin dressed up as butterflies.

The girls have a supper picnic in the living room.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 1,967
Campsite: Dorsett motel, Lucedale, Mississippi
Weather: Blue sky.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

The morning we work on our workbooks and the internet. We have lunch with the ladies from the Community Bank. Afterwards we pick satsumas at Ms Melinda's home.

Robin is pulling hard to pick a satsuma off the tree. A satsuma is similar to a tangerine.

Robin takes a nap in the afternoon. Jasmine plays in the office. Cheyenne helps clean Faith, the horse we'll get to ride on this afternoon. Amarins is doing the internet, Bill is doing the laundry.

The time has finally arrived that we are going to ride some horses. Cheyenne and Jasmine have been anticipating this moment to happen and now it has finally arrived. We go to Sandy's home where three horses are waiting for us.

Cheyenne and Jasmine immediately hop on. Robin thinks the toys are much more fun. Horses are nice at a distance. Cheyenne and Jasmine have a wonderful time. Bill and Amarins also get a chance to ride.

Cheyenne and Jasmine enjoy the horses.

Robin is much more interested in the puppies.

Amarins gets the chance to go on a trail ride with Pat and daughter Bridget. What a wonderful ride it was. Unforgetable. Thanks ladies!

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Since the out-of-order Mobile Bay ferry send us on our way north, we conclude the third leg of our journey in Lucedale, Mississippi.

Our fourth part of the journey will take us from Lucedale, Mississippi in a northwest direction to Slaton, Texas. Join us once more:

Lucedale, Mississippi to Slaton, Texas

You can be a part of the journey by cheering us on, offering us a place to stay or with a financial donation:

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The Pedouins
P.O. Box 4072
Mount Vernon, KY, 40456

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