Well, excitement is mounting! This was our last long day of the ride! Tomorrow we will ride into St. Augustine. Once again, the temperature was reported to reach 90 degrees today. So, breakfast was served at 6:30 AM, just barely daylight. We left the motel on US 441, turning onto CR 236, thinking it would be a quiet road. Wrong! First, there was the school just getting started, then there were the trucks and cars all bound for work. We crossed I-75 after about 6 miles, leading to a bit quieter ride. Finally we found some quieter roads. At the first SAG, we celebrated Rhetta and Barb K’s birthdays, by singing to both of them.
We continued on quiet roads, until turning right on SR 100. That will go down as one of my least favorite roads on this ride. For 28 miles we had dump trucks, log trucks and fast cars. The only good thing was a shoulder (but it often was scattered with glass).
For a long time, I rode by myself, wondering where everyone else was? Sometime around noon, I pulled into a convenience store with a Subway inside. Much to my surprise, there were Irv and Don, our friends from Ft. Hancock, TX. Irv was the fraternity brother of Robert Hulsey. While they have been traveling the same route, for most of the trip, it is still amazing to see them again. We invited them to our end-of-the-road party. I hope they can make it.
After lunch, it was back on the road again. With the heat and traffic, the SAG was a welcomed site at mile 60. Even with the sun and less-than-satisfactory rest stop conditions, we can find beauty in such a place.
I arrived in Palatka at about 1:30, after crossing what I hope is the last hill of the trip, the St. John’s River Bridge. Tonight we are staying in the Best Western of Palatka.
As I was sitting in the lobby earlier, a car drove up with a Laurens County tag. I introduced myself to Steve Brown, who is GA and North Florida regional director for Buckmasters American Deer Foundation. He used to be involved with recreational ball and knows Buie Levevrett. I will ask Buie about him when I get home. Once again it is a small world.
We had dinner as usual tonight, celebrating Rhetta and Barb’s birthdays again with a cake.
I gave Ellen Call the How To Speak Southern book that I had bought at Bellingrath Gardens. I need to get more copies of that book for future use. There were lots of questions about logistics tomorrow. Folks have to pedal to the bike shop and leave bikes to be shipped back home. Then they will be picked up by the van and taken to the hotel. Dinner will be closed, only for the riders, no family. Thank goodness Bill is picking me up, so I don’t have to deal with the shipping and getting to the airport complication.
I can’t really describe my feelings tonight, except to say that it seems like the other nights we have spent on the road. When I allow myself to think about tomorrow, it is almost overwhelming. Anne and I agreed at dinner that it would be a very emotional time. So, I am not sure when my next post will be. Stay tuned!