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Monday, October 17, 2011

(L) "Bubba" (me) and my "Babes)
(R) The owners of Sandpiper Supply in Savannah
a very nice donation to the scholarship fund.

Miscellaneous Pictures from Maine to Florida Trip

(L) We were waiting for a ferry to cross over the intercoastal waterway when I took a moment to catch the "big" one
(R) This is the group that I rode cross country with in 2009
(L) I've just traded my bike for Harley
(R) Taking a break with the beautiful Atlantic behind me

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Final blog for Days 24-25

Friday, October 14, 2011
Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island) to St. Augustine
61 miles

Now this is what I expected (or at least had hoped) that most of the ride would be like. We followed A1A along the Atlantic Ocean for the whole ride today. The islands that we rode were only about a quarter of a mile wide with the Atlantic on one side and the Intercoastal Waterway on the other side. The weather was fantastic and the wind was at our backs the entire way!

When I pulled into the motel in St. Augustine, our best friends, the Smith's were standing there to greet me. Ron and Nancy live in Beverly Hills, FL and drove the 2.5 hours to Fernandina Beach so Ron could join me on the last day of my ride. More on this in a minute.

I had time to do a little sight seeing which included drinking some water from Juan Ponce de Leon's famous "Fountain of Youth"! (pictured above). I think it must have worked because that night I dreamed of going back to school. We also visited a terrific Fort built in the 1600's by the Spainards .

Six of us went out to dinner at a great seafood restaurant on the intercoastal waterway. We sat outside and watched an incredible sunset.

St. Augustine is billed as the oldest city in the USA. What they don't tell you is that it was established as a city for Spain. I believe the truly 1st American city was Jamestown in Virginia.

Saturday - October 15
St. Augustine to Daytona Beach
53 miles

My good buddy Ron Smith joined "Bubba and his Babes" for this leisurely ride. Once again we followed A1A and the Atlantic Ocean all the way. It was a bit cloudy, but with a favorable wind we breezed along at 17-18 mph.

This is "Bikers Week" (motor cycles) in Daytona Beach. There are over 100,000 motor cycles of every size, shape and configuration. Ninety percent are Harleys and 90% of the folks were NOT wearing helmets??? Thousands of them passed us going both directions on A1A. If you've heard a know the noise level. Compound this by thousands...then you know what a real "herd of hogs" sounds like! What should have been a nice quiet ride turned out to be too darn noisy and once again we had to be careful of traffic.

Happily we all made it to the motel safely. We are right on the beach and have a great view of the mighty Atlantic! This evening we have a closing dinner and I anticipate lots of hugs and probably a few tears.

Please allow me to summarize my view of the ride: It wasn't exactly what I expected it to be. First, the weather was terrible about 70% of the time. Secondly, there was a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated...which meant a whole lot more extra caution. Also, I thought we'd be on more "country" roads where you can hear, see and smell all those out of the way things.

On the very positive side the group of riders was fantastic. I can hardly get my head around the fact that 25 strangers can come together and bond as quickly as firmly as we did. I believe the fact that we all like riding bicycles and the fact that we are all good at it helps! All of us are goal oriented, pretty self disciplined and self motivated. We also had to be able to afford the cost of the trip and be able to take the time to do it. All in all, the people part of the trip was the best part for me.

I can tell you from my experience riding across the country...and now down the East Coast that the drivers in South Carolina are the biggest "jerks" by far...and that the roads and bike lanes in Florida are the best.

The staff of CrossRoads Cycling Adventures was terrific...and I'm not just saying this because Carol worked the tour. They fed us, hydrated us, hugged us, encouraged us and made the trip fun.

This weekend the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association (DPHA) is holding their Annual Conference in San Jose, CA. (Carol and I should be there)! They did a pretty cool thing for me. They had me call in on my cell phone in the middle of their big awards luncheon. They threw a picture of me in my hot spandex riding shorts and shirt up on the big screen and I talked to the audience about the ride and the Scholarship Fund. It was a one way I could have really had some fun. But, using good judgement for once, I stuck to the facts.

Speaking of the Scholarship Fund, you wonderful folks have contributed over $17,000 to the Fund! Unbelievable!! I'm truly overwhelmed and forever grateful. More importantly, at the Awards Luncheon, DPHA awarded 2 $3000 scholarships. This in itself made pedaling those 1650 miles worth it!

Carol and I fly back to Sacramento on Sunday, October 16th and head to our home in MX the following Sunday. I'll be hanging up my bike and getting out my kayak.

Thanks so much for following my blog. It was a little tougher to do than it was on the cross country ride due to both Carol's and my schedule. I'd love to hear from you either via comments on this blog (which I understand is hard to do) or via email at darlingtonconsulting@gmail .com., or telephone 916-852-6855.

I consider myself to be very blessed with the most incredible family in the world, truly great health...and wonderful friends like you. Thank you, thank you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13, 2011

Brunswick, GA to Amelia Island, FL
61 miles
13th and Final State!
This was a pretty non-descript, non-exciting riding day. Another 40 miles on Hwy 17 South making a total of 296.4 miles (but who's counting) on my least favorite road. I do have to admit that we had a lot less traffic and there was a pretty good bike lane most of the way.
Today's main obstacle was about 100 huge trucks flying by us carrying newly cut pine trees. They took up their entire lane...leaving little space between us. The draft they created meant we had to hang on to the bikes and we had to dodge all the small pieces of bark that kept flying off the trucks. We think they were headed to a paper mill, but we're not sure!
Last evening "Bubba" (me) and two of my "Bubbettes" sang a song to the group about Hwy 17. It was a takeoff on the Kingston Trio's MTA song. (Oh, he'll never he'll never return...). This morning before we headed out everyone wanted to take a picture of Bubba and his Broads! (pictured above). In reality I only ride with two of these gals, but the group is making a big deal of the whole thing.
We crossed into FL (our 13th State) at mile 42. We were close enough to the ocean to smell the salt water and the greenery along both sides of the road really felt like Florida.
Our motel is just two blocks from the beach so I'm thinking the sunrise out of the east should be pretty special. We follow A1A along the ocean the rest of the way to Daytona Beach.
Tomorrow it's the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine and hopefully there will be enough time for some touring. This is after a 9:00 a.m. start and a short 58 mile ride. I can't believe we're down to our last two days.
More tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

Day 22 - Day off in Savannah
Day 23 - Savannah to Brunswick, GA
84 Miles

First a little bit about our beautiful day off in Savannah. I had an article due for a trade magazine I write for - so the first three hours were spent knocking that out! Then it was time to play. We had stopped here briefly here years ago, but didn't take in the sights. What a great city. Savannah was settled in 1733 by William Oglethorpe from England. He and 113 others left England for religious reasons ( plus they were cut lose from debtors prison if they agreed to go to America). Oglethorpe layed out the city in 24 squares (parks) with houses on all sides. Twenty two of the original 24 squares survive today. Each is named for an important person from the 18th Century. They all have monuments, fountains, and are surrounded by huge old Spanish moss covered oak trees. The houses are original...all restored and in magnificent shape. In addition to the squares there are several other large parks and the city is on the banks of the Savannah River. Savannah is the second largest port in America...only exceeded by Los Angeles.

One of the original homes that got my attention was the Owen Thomas House completed in 1813. It was the first home in America that had running water and indoor plumbing. Many of the most elaborate homes, including The Thomas House was designed by Wm. Jay a 21 year old architect.

Six of us took a two hour trolley tour . It had 16 stops and you could get on and off at will. We toured the Savannah Historical Museum which had lots of good info on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, "King Cotton" and slavery. Eli Whitney, of the cotton gin fame, was from Savannah. It is also home to the Savannah College of Art and Design. This is a private college with a student population of over 10,000. They have purchased and restored over 60 building around town - and that comprises their campus! All in all, it was a great day off - and I'd encourage everyone who's not been here to come and spend a few days.

Here's a little on today's bike ride. This was our last "longish" ride - 84 miles. We left the hotel in a very thick fog. ..and it didn't lift until about 10:30. Yes, of course we got drizzled on a bit...just so I can say it's rained 16 of our 20 riding days. Tracy, the lady that runs this tour said it's the worst weather she's seen in doing this for over 15 years. The temp hit 80 degrees and it was fairly humid, but all in all not terribly bad.

We spent about 60 miles on my favorite highway: 17 South but with a whole lot less traffic - so it wasn't so bad. IO rode with two ladies again today (pulling them all the way). We've been labeled "Bubba and the Broads". (Said affectionately of course)!

We stopped at the "smallest church in America" - see picture. There were chairs for 12 people, and a little pulpit up front. I don't know if it ever gets used, but it was very cute.

We passed an elderly black couple and their granddaughter fishing off a bridge. I turned around and went back to check out how the fishing was and was advised "not very good because of a full moon and high tide". See the picture of grandpa and Naomi. When I rode away I thought that they weren't very rich monetarily, but I'll bet they were more happy and content than many people in our great country. I gave Naomi a bag of M & M's and got a huge smile and thank you!

There were numerous historical signs...mostly Civil War related. We passed a big, restored plantation, and had hoped to take the tour, but it was closed.

We're in Brunswick, GA (of which I know nothing). Tomorrow we cross into Florida and pedal to Fernandina Beach...a puney little 61 mile ride (I am sounding a little cocky, aren't I)? With only three riding days left - and all pretty short - I am feeling pretty darn good about the whole experience. Only a few more days to get those donations in...please...thank you!

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 10, 2011

Beaufort SC to Savannah, GA
50 miles

We got to sleep in today because of the shorter ride. So the very first thing I did (and do every morning) is turn the TV on to The Weather Channel. What showed up got my attention: "flash flood warning, heavy rain (1-2 inches) strong gusting winds, thunder and lightning. But, not being terribly smart I donned my bike outfit and headed for breakfast. The talk of the group was "to ride or not to ride". Six or eight folks said "no way"! The rest of us headed out at 8:30 into a driving rain and strong winds. A bit nuts, I guess it's a macho thing - or just part of the adventure. Whatever - eighteen of us rode the entire time in a driving rain. The good news is - it was a warm rain so I never even put on a rain jacket.

This is our third attempt at getting this blog done - because of Internet problems here at the hotel.

About 5 minutes into the ride a garbage truck blew by four of us and hit a huge puddle soaking us from head to toe - but what the heck, we were going to be totally soaked in a few minutes anyway. Those of us that wear glasses find it even so much harder in the rain.

So you're thinking "What's wrong with him?" You'd be right to wonder. But with only 5 riding days left and the fact that I've ridden all but 30 miles (due to 3 flat tires) I really want to ride the rest of the way to Daytona Beach.

We rode over another 2.5 mile long beautifully constructed bridge coming into Savannah. This is another very big and important port city. We arrived at the hotel totally drenched and guess what? It stopped raining - of course! After a long hot shower and a quick lunch a limo picked up Carol and me and took us to two different plumbing and hardware showrooms. Mr. Steam, one of our generous contributors to the Scholarship Fund set this up. We met the owners, took a bunch of pictures and received a very nice donation from each of the companies.

Tomorrow's a rest day...our third and final one. We're going to do some serious sight seeing and touring in this marvelous old southern city. When General Sherman arrived here at the end of the Civil War, rather than burning it to the ground (as he did most cities) he gave Savannah to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift!

We'll share some of what we see and do in tomorrow's blog.

Thanks for your interest in my ride. It's been quite an adventure.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Charleston, SC to Beaufort, SC
82 miles
Day 19
Okay, if you read my blog from yesterday you know what a grump I was. It just wasn't a fun day! Well, I'm back where I'm use to being. Up, positive and happy! When I bounced out of bed this a.m. I knew it was going to be a GREAT day! It's amazing what the power of positive thinking can do for you! Hey, this might make the title for a good book! What, Norman Vincent Peale beat me to it? Darn!
After the usual HUGE breakfast I decided to use a new strategy. Instead of leaving the motel with the "Pedigrees" (remember them)? and busting my butt to keep up, I opted to leave a half hour early with a half dozen other folks. What a beautiful thing! I was the lead dog with two of the gals all day. We averaged 15+mph and got to look around and enjoy the sites. We even rode that darn highway - 17S, which I complained about yesterday. It is Sunday, so there was less traffic...there was more to see and that wonderful wind was at our backs most of the time.
After about 30 miles we left Hwy 17 and did 35 miles of "back country" riding - my favorite kind. There was a fair amount of interesting historical stuff to see (mostly roadside markers). Lots of our early American history happened all through this area. Generals Lafayette, Washington and Jackson rode through here and were entertained by the wealthy plantation owners of the day.
We were greeted at mile 18 by Carol and some of the staff - wearing crazy hats (seen above). They were clapping and cheering us on. Very cool!
The old church (ruins) in the picture was built in the early 1700's by William Bull who was from Sheldon, England. He and his wife - and several relatives are buried there. The church was burned down by the British, rebuilt and burned down again during the Civil War. Note the Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees. Typical of the trees here in the South!
The picture of the marshes was taken from a bridge and shows a lot of what we've seen the last several days...since we're traveling so close to the ocean.
We beat the rain by about a minute - but tonight we're supposed to have heavy storms. In fact, a flash flood warning is being posted for this area on the TV.
Suffice it to say, today's 80 mile ride was as good as yesterday's 120 miler was bad! Life is good!
We've done over 400 miles in the last 4 days...but have a wimpy little 46 miler tomorrow - which takes us into Savannah, GA and our last day off. We even get to sleep in an extra hour tomorrow morning. I can't believe we only have five more days of riding...and an even 300 miles of pedaling left! The time sure has flown by...and after a good day, I'm thinking maybe I don't want it to end! More tomorrow.