Day Eighty-five, Date Sunday, May 24, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:01
Distance for the Day: 66.52 miles From Chipley To Quincy
Accumulated Trip Distance: 3689.24+
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 0’/149’, Highest: 238’ Accumulated: 1506’
Speeds: Avg: 9.4 mph, Max: 31.8 mph
Weather: 69° mostly cloudy, some sun, turning to thunderstorms, heavy rains by late AM
Got up at 6am (a little late!) and broke down and ready to roll by 6:35am. It wasn’t raining, but the last prediction I saw said 70% chance of thunderstorms for Saturday and Sunday, so I knew I was probably still going to get wet today, too. I started off, and soon enough, it started to rain a bit, but then quit. I stopped at the first mini mart to get a hot cocoa and Danish ($3), and then noticed how sour I was smelling, so at the next mini mart, I took a quickie sponge bath in the bathroom, and changed my clothes. However, the sour smell was coming from my feet, and I wasn’t prepared to handle that, yet. I figured I needed to wash my shoes, somehow, and change my socks and use better plastic bags to keep my socks dry. I stopped in the town of Marianna at 11am to get a Subway sandwich ($7) and a Laundromat to dry my sleeping bag and jacket. While in the laundry, I decided to do some blogging while waiting, and God let the taps open, outside: lightning, thunder, *torrential* downpours, the works. In thinking about it, since I was trapped here for a while, anyway, I thought I would throw my shoes and other laundry into the wash, and then dry everything except the shoes (shoes in the dryer aren’t such a good idea). I would then try the plastic bags in the shoes, again, to keep my socks dry while my shoes would dry out during regular use. The laundry attendant almost put a kibosh on this plan by stating, in a no-nonsense tone, I had to have shoes on while in the room, but I was able to get her to relent on this rule, as I had no other shoes, and this pair were practically to the point of being serious bio-hazards. It worked out fairly well: the laundry machine washed my clothes and shoes, and the spin dry cycle got the shoes to the point of being just “moist,” and the washing made them a lot less stinky. With good plastic bags, my socks stayed dry, so life was good. By the time everything was done and dry, it was about 1pm, and the torrential rains had moved on, and I could continue on without getting soaked, again. In fact, after leaving Marianna, it rained lightly for a while, and then stopped, and then cleared – how nice! I continued plugging away as the roads dried, and for a good long while, it was perfect. Beautifully smooth, level roadway with a decent shoulder, sun halfway down the sky in the afternoon, endless tall stands of trees on either side of the road, with birds chirping away, low traffic, and dodging little baby frogs every now and then. I thought of family and friends, movies I’d seen, and the trip so far. I also noticed a small annoyance: I was a little bit “sideways,” on my trike. I stopped, and tried to correct it, but didn’t get it right, yet. Further down the road, I figured out a possible way to fix it, and would implement the solution as soon as was practical. I stopped for drink and food items in Chattahoochee ($5). I didn’t like Chattahoochee very much: the road went shoulderless (as Hwy 90 seems to do when it passes through towns), but I had to go down a steep grade and then climb up a tough grade to get into town; stopped at the mini-mart, and saw a tattooed young father slapping his baby’s hand while he was changing its diaper in the parking lot, saying, “no!” as if it would understand what he wanted, and even leaving the place, it got tight in places with no shoulders, before I finally got a few miles away. Phew! Glad to be outta there. As I came closer to Tallahassee, I noticed that the last three small towns I’d been through had a *lot* of churches, had mostly black populations. Interesting. I also noticed I must have changed into the next time zone, as the bank clocks were saying it was an hour later than my watch – cool! The terrain began to change, too: there were now fairly large sets of hills to climb and coast, climb and coast. I didn’t mind – by now I can take ‘em with aplomb, but it was starting to get late in the day, and I would need to start looking for some place to camp.
It was getting to be pretty solidly neighborhoods and businesses, so was thinking I might have to pull into a church, when I saw this crumbly track up off the highway into this stand of trees. On a hunch, I turned up onto it, and followed a crumbly little drive that wound a short way to what turned out to be a rather large, single-story brick house on a large lot that was completely blocked from view of everything around it (N30 34.298’ W84 33.087’ – east of Quincy, FL). There were huge trees with Spanish moss draped on the branches, and the house itself seemed to be unoccupied. I walked around to the front door, and saw that it hadn’t been used in quite a while. And, there was an open carport. It had a strong smell of mold, so I didn’t really want to stay there, so I looked for and found an “okay” place to hang my hammock a dozen or so yards from the house. I set it up as the evening began to darken, activated my trike’s cloaking mechanism, and crawled into my hammock, mosquito-free. I brought my iPod with me, and listened to music as the sky darkened, the bats flew around, the stars came out, and the *fireflies* began to flash and streak, occasionally. This was the best firefly viewing since the Hellsite, only this time, I was well-secured, and not likely to be rousted by reluctant cops on the orders of nervous little old ladies. Everything was perfect, but then I saw a lightning flash, and noticed the stars were gone. Wuh-oh. Over the next few hours, the stars would come and go, and the lightning flashes became more frequent. After an hour of hoping the storm would miss me, I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer, and got up, put on my shoes, went to my trike and got my ground tarp and rope, covered my hammock, got back in, shoes off. Then, I noticed my tarp was just a little off, and that my feet were exposed; if it rained, my feet would get wet. After procrastinating a while, I got up, again, put on shoes, got out, and adjusted the tarp, got back in, shoes off, and noticed that the tarp, no matter how well adjusted it was, would still let rain onto the hammock. Maybe if I secured it by its corners, it would cover the whole length of the hammock. Got up, etc. Secured the tarp by its corners, got back in, hmm, still no good. By now, the lightning flashes were happening every few seconds, and I could now hear the thunder associated with the brighter flashes. Knowing what a Floridian thunderstorm looks like, I decided to go to Plan C: take everything down as fast as possible, and run for the carport. So, that’s what I did. I did a quick and dirty breakdown of the hammock, groundcloth, ropes, stakes, and threw it all on the trike, and rolled the trike into the carport. I then methodically began securing the ropes, stakes, and hammock as cleanly as possible (not touching the ground), and was almost done when the rain hit. Good timing! I then laid out the groundcloth on the carport floor, put out my tent, and set it up, including air mattress and sleeping bag. By now, it was past midnight, and the storm raged on outside. I began to think about this house – might it be haunted? That’d be cool, if I suddenly saw a pale young girl looking out the covered veranda in a lightning flash. I gave myself goosebumps thinking of it, but never saw or felt anything, Demitol. The sound of buzzing insects and frogs that whole evening made a semi-loud white noise background, but I had my earplugs, was warm and dry, and went to sleep easily, hoping for disturbing ghost-induced dreams, but, alas, nothing I can remember.