Our last day on the road dawned with excitement and anticipation. Nancy B., my roommate and I had decided that there was no reason to get up early. However, when I opened the door at about 6:40 to check the weather, there were folks loading the trailer and already headed for breakfast. We quickly dressed, packed and joined the others for breakfast. Our plan for the day was ride to mile 40-the location of a fire station just out of St. Augustine. We were to arrive there by 11:00 AM. From there we would have a police escort to Anastasia Island State Park, where our friends and families would be waiting. So we left the hotel around 7:30 AM. The route led us less than a mile down US 17, before we turned onto a quieter road leading us out of town.
Then the fun began. Someone made the comment that there were 23 turns on today’s cue sheet. In spite of our excitement, most folks managed to find the turns without getting lost. Ellen and I were riding together on one of the quiet roads, when I looked over into a little stream and thought I saw an alligator. We turned around to see this creature, only to find that it was a log. But, it was a pretty scene with the water and spring flowers.
Further down, we found the road that followed the St. John’s River for a while. Once again, we were rewarded with beautiful sites of the river.
The pace of most riders slowed as we realized there were only a few miles to go before reaching the fire station. And, it was nowhere near 11:00. We were delayed a bit at our last store stop of the trip, the Molasses Junction Country Store.
It was definitely a place of local color, with signs, t-shirts, and gourmet health food.
I think that was the most excitement that place had seen in quite some time! When we could delay no longer, we headed out to the station, arriving there around 10:30.
Having some time to kill, we decided to do some photo shoots. Here are the SAG drivers, who supported us throughout the trip with food, drink, and moral support. Thanks so much Kay, Susan, and Nancy.
Then we divided into age groups. Here are our parade marshals, age 70, Ortrun and Donna.
Then there are the sexy 60’s. Several folks turned 60 on the trip. Can you find me in the picture?
How about those fabulous 50’s?
Then there was the fantastic 40’s-Kay!
And, of course, we had to have our wonderful staff folks, Michelle and Ellee.
Finally, it was time for the ultimate photo shoot of everyone. We enlisted the help of the three policemen who were waiting to escort us to the beach. It was quite a site to see them with 27 cameras, trying to keep track of which cameras already had been used and those left to go. Then there was the problem of how to operate them. But, law enforcement folks are trained for all kinds of situations and got the job done.
At 11:15 we lined up in rows of twos and threes, with Ortrun and Donna in the lead. There was one police car in front, one in back, and one to ride ahead to close intersections. What a ride. The only time we stopped briefly was for a train. Somewhere in that ride, I lost my flip-flops and shorts attached to my bike bag. But, with such excitement, I wasn’t about to go back for them
and get behind the parade! Along the way, we waved and shouted to folks. Most waved back, not really sure why they were waving and cheering. As we rode, many emotions went through my mind, as I am sure it did with the others. There was elation at finally reaching our destination, pride at having made it, regret at parting from our new friends, with whom we had shared so much, and excitement at seeing our friends and families. We crossed the “temporary” Bridge of Lions headed toward Anastasia State Park. (The old bridge, built in 1927, was determined to be structurally unsound. After much heated debate, it was decided that the old bridge would be rebuilt and maintain its integrity.) We continued our parade to the park, arriving at the picnic area with police sirens blazing. Looking ahead we could see signs, a crowd of cheering people and a sea of “Go Nancy Go” yellow shirts. We circled around the corner, shed tears and gave hugs to those who had come to meet us.
There was even a spray of champagne from my nephew, Howard. After our greetings, we shed our shoes and headed for the ocean, to dip our front tires in the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed so long ago that we had dipped the rear wheels in the Pacific.
Of course I had my own “bike Porter”, who said if I rode across the US, he could carry my bike across the beach.
The ocean was so inviting that we had to jump in!
Then I had some time to greet friends and family before heading back to the picnic shelter. Being from Georgia, I lived the closest to the end of the ride. So, I was honored to have quite a few folks there to greet me.
My group included Bill, Polly, Mariann, Seage, Howard & Melissa, Railyn, Linda & Paul, Nancy & Charlie Turner, Dale, Gay & Alan, John White, Brenda Bradley, Jim & Dennis (BRAG friends) When we took this picture, Mariann and Seage had already gone to the beach.
We had a nice picnic and yet more visiting among the riders and their families. I was glad to finally meet Leo!
Carol seemed to be enjoying her grandchild.
The Metter Magnolias, well represented by Gay and Dale, presented me with a beautiful trophy that will always be treasured.
After the picnic, we took Ortrun to the bicycle shop, where she was going to ship her bike home.
ening, we walked from the Best Western to Le Pavillon for a final dinner together. I was so glad that we were able to call Elizabeth from the restaurant. Even though she was not physically there, we all felt her determined spirit with us. Pasha and Chickie helped consume my dessert.
Our group presented Michelle and Ellee with a small token of our appreciation, in a water bottle, of course.
After more tears and promises to stay in touch, the group walked back to the motel and went their separate ways. Several folks were staying a few days with family and some were headed for the airport and home early the next morning. I was staying at the Bluegreen Resort several miles away (arranged by Polly for our family), so I bid everyone one more goodbye and drove back to there to spend a couple of days relaxing, before returning to real life!
I plan to have one more post as a reflection and thank you to everyone who supported me on this journey. Stay tuned.
WOW – What an adventure.
Congratulations, quite an accomplishment! Look forward to seeing you on BRAG!