Friday, June 17, 2016

Big Pine Key to Miami, Fl

March 15th to 21st, 2016

Garmin Info and Maps

Kim's favorite beer
Getting to Key West was an amazing ride. To get so far on my tricycle was a great feeling. Key West was the furthest point on my US tour but not the end. I spent 2 more nights at Kim's house. She is such a sweetie. I got laundry done and mailed out 74 postcards. The ladies at the post office were so cute. The counter lady and another lady waiting in line helped me put stamps on all the postcards. With their help, I was able to get the postcards mailed quickly. We had fun too.
Bike path markers

The next morning I got packed up and said thanks and goodbye to Kim. She was so generous to open her home. It was great having Kim to share this momentous tour achievement. And again, as so many people I've stayed with across this great country, I had never met her before. She followed my ride and offered a place to stay once I made it this far. People in the US really are very nice and more trusting than what I expected. I've met so many people in Florida I didn't have time left in the day to write my blog. This tour has been so social. Every other day I've stayed with people I hadn't met before. These are people who often have seen my posts on Facebook and felt inspired. It's been an amazing feeling.

Sweet birds
Seven Mile Bridge

After leaving Big Pine Key, I started riding back to Miami on the very same road I took to get here. The winds had, finally, died down and weren't an issue for the first time in over a week. The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect. About 15 miles into the ride Kim texted to say she was having lunch at a burrito place. I was only a mile away and pulled in for lunch. It was fun to see Kim again and the burrito was delicious. Then it was back over the Seven Mile Bridge. There were a couple of bikers who were riding toward me over the bridge on the wrong side of the road. The man was furious at having to pass me. The traffic was too loud to stop and tell him he was on the wrong side of the road and there wasn't a way they could get on the right side of the road anyway. The rest of the ride was easy and I pulled into the Long Key State park. I got a real site at the park right on the ocean. I could hardly believe my luck that a site was available. These sites are quite expensive at $33 but I had a beautiful place to stay for the night. It was a lovely site and bugs weren't even an issue.

Drying out my towel

Beautiful end to the day
Letting the tent and fly dry out in the morning

Denny and Nancy

I slept well and started out on Route 1 again. I stopped at the same places including getting Cuban coffee again. Although this time I also got a piece of flan, yummy! After my coffee and flan, I started to ride away when I heard someone yelling at me. It was one of the waitresses, I had forgotten to pay. What a dork! I went back and left them a good tip. Then it was back through a lot of small keys to the Pennekamp State park in Key Largo. Nancy, the camp host who offered to share her site, was waiting for me. This was so nice. This couple was awesome and even made me dinner.  

View from the road.

Local flavor

Returning to camp with hosts

Beautiful boats
Sharing a campsite with camp hosts
In the morning, my camp host site mates had chores to do and got going early. I packed up and rolled over to where they were working to say thanks and goodbye. Another example of the continuing generous hospitality I've experienced throughout my tour. This was a really beautiful day. Most of this tour has been in much colder temperatures then I expected and to ride in warm weather and bright sunshine was a delight. I followed the bike path and found it easier to negotiate going north than south.  I made my way to Homestead where, again, the last 20 miles are on a very busy and loud road. Paradise Farms was expecting me and I retraced my route. Again, lots of cyclists were camped in the grove of palm trees. Some of the cyclists were the same as I met the last time I was here. It was fun to see these guys again. Later in the afternoon, an older woman of 70 showed up. She was doing a tour of Florida on a Brompton. The farm manager had to go find her because she was hopelessly lost.  He escorted her on his bike back to the farm and she couldn't understand where she went wrong but was happy to end her ride for the day. She set up her tent with everyone else in the palm grove. It was as if she had never set up the tent before because she set up inches from other tents and just a half hour later, her tent was sagging badly. There was some rain over night and her tent didn't stay dry. 

Flowering mango trees at the entrance to Paradise Farm
George and Bridget and puppy

There was another fun couple, George and Bridget, who were touring on a 3 wheeled motorcycle Polaris pulling a popup tent with a bike on top. George was sagging Bridget who cycled everyday. They also had a sweet dog along. All of their gear was stored in fascinating fashion. They had rented one of the bungalows on my first night here and now they were camping too. This couple is a lot of fun.

Bridget takes Myrtle for a spin
Cyclists enjoying a nice meal with owner Gabriele in the black top
Micro greens
Entrance to Paradise Farms
One of the reasons I wanted to be here 3 days before my flight home was a college friend who lives in Miami asked if I would give a presentation to her daughters elementary school. Sure, I thought that would be fun. This friend forgot about spring break and the presentation was cancelled. So, I had a few days and decided to spend it at Paradise Farm. Cyclists can stay as long as they want if they are willing to put in a little work. There are lots of palm trees all over the property and removing large palm fronds is a continual battle. I helped Gabriele and another cyclists load up a trailer with fallen fronds. It was hot and humid but I enjoyed dragging the fronds from all over the property. The trailer had fronds stacked high in the air and then we drove to the dump. That was all the work I was asked to do. The next day was a bit rainy and the cyclists sat around drinking beer using the wifi. The older cyclist had taken a ride to the everglades and, again, gotten very lost. The ride to the everglades national park is only 5 miles away and she got very lost putting in over 50 miles for the day and she never said anything about actually finding the everglades. Her stories were very humorous and, even though she is always lost, she doesn't get discouraged. 

Lots of bike path routes around Miami

The following day I would be riding to a hotel close to the airport to prepare for my flight back to Portland. I said goodbye to Paradise Farms and Gabriele. Again, she talked enthusiastically about riding in Cuba this fall. That would be an amazing tour. I rode away from the farm with the older cyclist on her Brompton. Within a few miles she had to return to the farm to retrieve something she forgot. I said goodbye and wished her luck. A few miles further Bridget rolled up on her way to the beaches east of Miami. It was fun meeting up with people I knew from the farm. We were on a bike path and when it ended I continued north on busy roads. I stopped at an office supply store to pick up bubblewrap and tape I would use later to wrap up Myrtle for the flight home. When I got to the area around the airport I pulled into the first hotel I saw even though I knew there would be cheaper ones further on. I got checked into the airport Hilton taking the trike into my room. Once I got settled, I spent the rest of the afternoon getting Myrtle folded and protected with bubblewrap.  I attached the flags, cooler bag and helmet under the seat. Then I connected the 2 panniers and attached them together with a bungy cord to form 1 piece of luggage. I was very happy with this technique.

Last hotel room of this tour
Myrtle chainrings and derailleur wrapped
Myrtle ready for flight

My flight in the morning was very early and I was outside the hotel ready for the shuttle van at 6 am. There was only one other passenger waiting. The driver easily loaded my trike and gear into the back of the van. I gave him a good tip and he made sure I was taken care of once we got to the airport. The whole experience was so easy. I rolled Myrtle to the ticket counter and the agent didn't hesitate to accept the trike. She asked if I 'needed' the trike and I said yes and the trike went on the plane at no extra charge. American charged me $25 for my checked panniers. I took my rack bag as carry on and my handlebar bag as my purse. Even though I rarely have issues with the trike on flights, I still get nervous. There is no way to predict how the check-in procedure will go. This was a very easy check-in and I was happy to be at the airport early enough to get a cup of coffee and relax. I was also ready to get home to Portland.

Panniers weigh 29 lbs - nice!
Myrtle waiting to be weighed

Myrtle on the baggage trailer - last to be loaded on the plane

Wow, has this been a fantastic tour. I want to take a moment to thank everyone who followed along, gave me a safe place to stay, offered advice and for all the encouragement. Being a part of our cycling community is truly a privilege. My tour across this great country was simply put, a blast. I can hardly believe all the people I met and especially all the trikers and recumbent riders. Fantastic and fun! Now I will be spending the summer in Portland recovering and then figuring out where to go next. 

Until next fall, enjoy and adios!

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