February 26th - March 3rd, 2016
Garmin Info with Maps
|Lots of fun painted bikes in Dunedin|
I had a terrific time with Dyann at her new home in Dunedin. Even though the weather was quite miserable, we made the best of our time together. We drove to a bike shop in the next town to look at their trike selection. Dyann has a 9 year old Greenspeed and is thinking of buying a Catrike. Which was lucky because Catrike are the only tadpole trikes this shop carries. Dyann took me to all her local haunts. She had only lived in this beach community for a short time but already knows a lot of people. Everyone was very friendly. It rained and stormed and we got out to explore the area. It was good to get caught up too. I am very grateful to Dyann for letting me stay for so long. It's a lot to ask to stay for more than 2 nights but the weather kept me there for 3 nights. The wind was just howling and it sure was nice to be inside. Camping would have been tough and motels in this area are very expensive. Your plate is already very full and I wish you all the best in your new home. Thanks girl!
|There are lots of wonderful trails all over Florida|
Finally, I was able to get my trike loaded up and started on down the road. The wind was still stronger than I was hoping and I had a full day's ride ahead. The sky was clear and the temps were warm. My next big destination is Sarasota to meet up with more trikers. There isn't a bridge or ferry across Tampa Bay so I had to ride around it. I found some nice bike trails to ride on. After crossing a short bridge over the Lake Tarpon Canal, took the Oldsmar trail that was very nice. I couldn't find a path connector from the road so I rode down a steep embankment at the end of the bridge. There were lots of birds and the scene was lovely. I stopped for lunch at Oldsmar park where a squirrel joined me and repeatedly attempted to steal food. We played tug-a-war with a plastic bag filled with a large hunk of bread. This squirrel was bold and not easily intimidated. I finally had to throw some rocks to keep it away and eat in peace. Pphhhewww!
|Town and Country trail|
|Where I started the Oldsmar trail|
I used Googlemaps to get through the large city of Tampa. The route was on lots of smaller streets and I had to really concentrate to keep up with all the turns. This route included the Town and Country bike trail which I took to Hwy 580. There was enough room but the road was busy. Eventually I made to the Tamiami Trail which on the map looked like an actual bike path might run next to the road. But no, this is a big hwy that connects Tampa and Miami, Hwy 41. I was so disappointed. Where I picked up the road, it goes through an industrial area with very rough pavement and lots of semis. I had a long way to go on this road and boy was I relieved when the shoulder widened up giving me plenty of room. And, of course, just when I had enough room the traffic died down too. Figures, but I'll take it!
|Nice camp site|
I made it to the other side of Tampa Bay and pulled into EG Simmons County Park. This is a very nice park and it was full. I have a strategy for camping. Sure, I could call campgrounds before I arrive to make sure there is a place for me. But if they tell me the campground is full, I can't show up expecting them to help me. I don't need much and think even if a campground is full the rangers will be able to find a small space. My experience also says that most people will assume I'm disabled and they will help me. Here again, the gatekeeper generously called a camp host and they let me stay in their site with no charge. The gatekeeper could have sent me away but, instead, he helped me enthusiastically. This has been my experience pretty much everywhere. I took a good shower, had a picnic table to cook at and the site had a big grassy area with plenty of room for my trike and tent. The site also had a nice view of a canal. This was a lovely end to a very long day.
|Campsite at EG Simmons where I was invited to stay with RVers|
I slept great and temps in the morning were warm enough that making breakfast was comfortable. A got packed up and thanked my hosts for their generosity before finding my way back to Hwy 41 again. I was on this hwy for quite awhile. Today the road was nicely paved with plenty of room. I took off this hwy to get across the Manatee River. Bikes aren't allowed to cross on the Tamiami Trail so I took 8th ave to cross into Bradenton where I rode a terrific river path. I was on my way to stay with friends I've known on Facebook for many years. Mike has done lots of touring on his trike and met me at a restaurant along the river to escort me to his house. Mike and Nancy moved here from Newport Beach, Calif which is my hometown and old stomping grounds. We have always followed each others adventures and I have been looking forward to this since the beginning of my US tour.
|Mike and Nancy at Anna Maria Island for a fabulous brunch on a gorgeous day|
Oh my goodness, what a crazy, world wind stay. Mike and Nancy have a large and beautiful home and I stayed in a swanky guest room with a private bath. They are both avid trikers and love good food. Mike has a blog dedicated to his two passions, www.recumbentgourmet.com. The next day we went to Anna Marie Island for a very nice brunch right on the beach. It was a picture perfect day too. We did a driving tour of the area and then returned back to the house. They decided to invite some cycling friends over for dinner and made an amazingly fancy dinner. Nancy went out and picked up a bunch of lobsters. Lobsters!! Steve and Abby arrived with a mobile margarita station. Oh my were these delicious and highly potent drinks. Mike cooked up an terrific lobster pasta meal with a fabulous bottle of pinot noir (Sea Smoke!!). Holy moly, what a meal and wonderful evening!
The next day Mike had to fly to New York for business and I got packed up to head on down the road. Mike had printed out detailed directions for the safest cycling route to Venice. I found a campground for my destination and Mike gave me a great cue sheet. I got to ride through many quiet neighborhoods. There were lots of turns which slowed me down but I really enjoyed the ride. Mike's directions took me right to the Legacy Trail which I followed to Oscar Scherer State Park. The main entrance to the park is on the Tamiami Hwy but I found a small paved bike path that goes in the back way. While I was riding in, I met a couple on bikes and asked them where to check in. Without hesitation, they invited me to stay in their site. They gave me the site number and said to make myself at home. How nice is that?
|Great visit with Gourmet Recumbents, Nancy and Mike|
|Pat and Howard|
I got myself set up and showered before Pat and Howard returned. They are so nice and invited me to dinner. I had to decline because I was going to meet Nancy for dinner in Venice. The entrance to the park was far enough from the site that I rode my trike and then we put it in the back of Nancy's SUV while we went into Venice. We had a great sushi meal at Fins with a view of the ocean and sunset. Wow, was that a good meal. I love good food but rarely go out by myself while on tour. Thanks Nancy for meeting me, that was really fun!! When Nancy dropped me off we discovered the campground gate was locked and I didn't have the code. Oh my! We didn't have to wait long before a camper showed up. Their suspicions were allayed when I gave them my card while explaining my story. Pphheeww!!
|Camping with Pat and Howard|
|Riding the Legacy Trail|
Pat and Howard were happy to have me stay another day so I could check out Venice. They even made me breakfast. What cuties! On my list of places to visit, I wanted find the Schlitter's recumbent shop. John manufactures highly coveted recumbents and Jacquie is a speed demon famous for taking on some of the toughest races our sport has to offer including RAAM. I got back on the Legacy trail and quickly made my way to Venice. This is very nice town but, once off the bike path, isn't exactly bike friendly. I arrived in the middle of tourist season and the roads were busy. Sometimes I took sidewalks when the road simply didn't have enough room. The Schlitter's shop is in the historic and quaint old town. It was great to finally meet these cycling legends I've only known on Facebook for many years. We yakked and took pictures. Then a cycling groupie came by and invited me out to lunch. It was very nice afternoon and then I made my way back to the campground through hoity toity Casey Key. Pat and Howard were there and busy making dinner. They enthusiastically invited me to join them. This couple was so full of life even though they were close to 80 years old. I sure hope to have their joie de vivre when I'm their age.
|With Legends John and Jacquie Schlitter|
The next morning I broke camp and got packed to head out. First, I let Pat and Howard take the trike for a spin. They, of course, loved it. I really enjoyed staying with this lively couple. I didn't have far to go and took my time letting my tent fully dry. Then I got back on the Legacy trail under beautiful conditions. Bright sunshine and little wind. I took Hwy 776 south to Englewood where I stopped for supplies and then got on Hwy 777 east. My next big destination was Sanibel but this is a 2 day ride around the Gasparilla Sound Charlotte Harbor.
|Camphost John cooking up bacon|
I made my way to the Myakka State Forest to a primitive campground. I had to take a dirt road to the office where I was told there were no available sites. Hhhhmmm... The ranger lady suggested I go down to the campground and talk to the camp host. Maybe he could help. I continue down the dirt road to find the entrance is locked. I couldn't see anyone or any of the sites and didn't know what to do. Suddenly, 2 people, who were clearly campers, walked up. I explained that I needed to talk to the camp host and asked them for the lock code. They refused. I said they didn't have to tell me the combination and I'll relock it when I get through. They acted like I was very suspicious and again refused saying they didn't know anything about unlocking the gate for anyone. Here I am an older woman obviously traveling alone. More surprising, they didn't seem to think I was disabled as most people do. I couldn't understand what they were suspicious of. They walked off and I couldn't believe their reaction. I said 'Really? I'm obviously traveling alone and need a place to camp and you can't help me? Wow!'. Well, I left my trike outside the gate and walked through the narrow gap and easily found the camp host. John is really nice and immediately offered space in his site. He also gave me the lock code so I could roll my trike in. There wasn't a shower and only a porta potty for a toilet. At least there was running water. The campground was small with only 4 sites. One site was still empty but reserved. I was sitting in my trike taking care of internet/phone stuff for quite some time. After awhile, the ranger boss came by and had a private conversation with the camp host. The boss left and the camp host informed me that I couldn't stay after all. The nasty people I met at the gate had complained about me to the office. I was being kicked out. What? Are you kidding me? It was late in the afternoon and even getting dark. I hadn't unpacked so just turned the trike around and started pedaling.I didn't know where I was going to stay but started down the dirt road to the main road.
I remembered seeing a picnic area and figured I could try setting up in there. I rolled into the picnic area and it had everything I needed. In fact, I think this unused picnic area would be even more comfortable. It had a covered picnic table with water and there was a porta potty that was much more conveniently located than at the camp host's site. No sooner had I picked out a good site than I heard John, the camp host, calling my name. Here I thought I was being stealth and he found me so quickly. Well, he had another chat with the ranger boss who changed his mind. There was another guy camping and John made arrangements for me to camp at his site. I think if I was a guest of a camper allowances could be made to let me stay. Pphheww! Camper Bob was waiting for me back at the entrance and escorted me to his site which was right next to the camp host. John has lived in this campground for a long time and his site had a ton of stuff. It was a tight fit for me to set up my tent. Without all the stuff, there was lots of room. Bob was very nice and acted like I was his guest. He made me dinner and we chatted the night away. Bob is from Michigan and is car camping his way around Florida. He also has a bicycle. I was very grateful that Bob generously shared his site. But, wow, what a strange place!
In the morning, after Bob made us a very nice breakfast with coffee, I said goodbye to the camp host who also invited me to breakfast. He was bbqing 2 full packages of bacon on a large grill. Oh my, that was a lot of bacon! He also reminded me to pay on my way out. I took the dirt road farther on past the campground to a back road. John gave me the code. He never uses that gate and hoped the code was correct. It was. I left money in an envelope and then started out through a neighborhood. It was only a few blocks back to the Tamiami Trail, Hwy 41. The roads through the neighborhood were very quiet. Boy was I surprised when a couple of really old geezers passed me in a pick up. The passenger yelled at me to get off the road. What was really weird is I was riding in a bike lane. What a grumpy old man!
|Not fun rumble strips!|
Today's ride wasn't very interesting. I was on Hwy 41 which had a good shoulder except for a couple of miles that had terrible washboard rumble strips. What a relief when the road became smooth again. I was on my way to a friend's house in Sanibel but it was too far for one day. I saw an RV Park about halfway and my app showed they accept tents. RV Parks can be very sensitive about tents and I'm always unsure when I arrive. This RV Park is amazing and there was nothing to be unsure about. As soon as I rode in I could tell the place had a fun vibe. First of all, everyone rides trikes. Sun delta trikes. A couple of trikers introduced themselves and then escorted me to the office. This is a 55+ community that has a small section for traveling campers. At first, they showed me to a very nice grassy area but then, spontaneously, they decided to upgrade me to a mobile home. At the same price. A storm was forecast over night and I was very grateful. The mobile home had everything. A comfortable double bed, full bathroom, kitchen and wifi. Just as I was getting set up a group of trikers showed up to introduce themselves. They all gave me a hug and then invited me to participate in a lighted trike parade later. How cool is that? I had met my tribe.
|Sunseeker RV Park upgrade|
|Lighted trike parade|
After getting cleaned up and making dinner, the trikers all showed up ringing their bells. It was time for the lighted trike parade. Oh my gosh, this was so fun. We stopped by other mobile homes to pick up more trikers. Everyone rang their bells to announce our arrival. By the time we got going the parade was 20 trikes deep. We rode all over the park and ended the ride at a hoedown. I couldn't believe how good the music was. This RV Park was truly an amazing find. These seniors were probably going to be dancing until the wee hours but I needed to go to bed and said good night to my new friends.
|Myrtle is all wet after a night in the rain|
I woke up to rain and delayed my start. Wow was I happy to be inside and not camping. Once the rain stopped, a couple of campers escorted me to the entrance and out to the road. So sweet! Today I would be riding through Fort Myers to stay with another recumbent riding friend in Sanibel. Chere and I have been in touch since the beginning of my tour and I was really looking forward to this stay. There are 2 bridges next to each other across the Caloosahatchee River. I missed a turn and started to go over the wrong bridge. There is no room on this bridge and bikes are not allowed. I stopped to check the map and saw my mistake. I couldn't turn around and had to flintstone the trike backwards with my feet to where there is more room. I went a couple of blocks over to get on the right bridge.
|Found the right bridge|
|No charge for bikes|
|Lots of room on the Causeway|
|View from the Causeway|
|I never saw one. Too bad!|
Chere's video as I roll up.
|Chere and Don|
Once across the bridge, I was in Ft. Myers. There was a nice path along the river and then I had to ride on the sidewalk through a very beautiful neighborhood. I went passed the tourist estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. There were some very impressive homes on this route. I took Sumerlin to Gladiolus to McGregor. Here I almost got into a collision with a car that crossed over many lanes of traffic pulling right in front of me as if I wasn't there. I was yelling and the woman looked right at me as if to say 'what is your problem?' Oh my! McGregor turns into the Sanibel Causeway and I took the long bridge onto Sanibel Island. This is a tollway with no charge for bikes. The bridge has a very wide shoulder and lots of cyclists were out enjoying the day. The bridge goes quite high and offers a great view. It also has the most climbing I've done in awhile. I made my way to downtown Sanibel where I see Chere waiting on her Bacchetta Giro. She is taking video of my arrival. It is so fun to finally meet Chere. She has made arrangements to meet with the Chamber of Commerce. We stop in and get introduced to lots of people. Pictures are taken and then Chere and I continue down a terrific bike path as we start our way to Chere's house. Sanibel is a long island and I'm surprised how long the ride is. We finally make it and her husband Don is outside waiting. He made space for Myrtle and warmly welcomed me. They have a very beautiful home on a lagoon. It is so peaceful and the view is really lovely.
|Chere escorting me to her lovely home|
The next day I slept in, did laundry and got caught up on internet stuff. Before I arrived, I asked Chere if we could do a girl's spa day. It was time for a massage and she knew the perfect place. Sanibel is a very upscale island and I was happy to indulge. Then we headed back to the house and made a delicious dinner. Chere and Don's house is very comfortable and I had a relaxing time. I left there feeling refreshed and like I had made some good friends.
My time in Florida has been so friendly and surprisingly social. I felt like I was getting passed from one recumbent friend to another. It's been great fun!