Monday, June 29, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Time in Saddle: 8:08
Distance for the Day: 67.08 miles From White Plains To Danielsville, GA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5384.94 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 614’/744’, Highest: 824’ Accumulated: 3402’
Speeds: Avg: 8.2 mph, Max: 35.0 mph
Weather: 74° humid warming to the mid 90s
I got up at 5:40am, broke down camp, and ready to roll at 6:27am. The sky was high overcast, and the air was fairly humid. There were mosquitoes, but they weren’t too aggressive. Still, I got a few bites. I stopped at 8am in Siloam and got breakfast and a lot more liquids ($12.50). I etered Ocogee Nat’l Forest at 8:20am, and noted the terrain was becoming even more and more hilly, and my average speed had dropped. I also noticed for the first time that my chest gets *very* sweaty. Whenever I drink any liquid, it comes out almost immediately as sweat out of my chest, and gets my shirt sopping wet. I began to keep my hand towel with me, to soak up all that sweat! Arrgh! I missed a turn in Siloam and took a tangent that added unnecessary miles to my route, taking me through Athens – I hate it when that happens. I got back on course at Colbert, and stopped to eat lunch on side of road, and of course, read my book. The wind had picked up quite a bit (10-12mph) and it was hot, so I hung out my clothes and sleeping bag to dry. By around 12:35pm I was ready to pack up and move on. I replenished my liquids a few more times ($8) (hot!)
Time in Saddle: 8:58
Distance for the Day: 80.63 miles From Blackville To White Plains, GA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5317.86
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 205’/614’, Highest: 622’ Accumulated: 2746’
Speeds: Avg: 8.9 mph, Max: 31.2 mph
Weather: 74° getting to over 100 with occasional light breezes
Woke up while it was still dark at 5:45am and was ready to go by 6:24, just before sunrise. My shirt was still soaked from yesterday, and there was lots of dew in the morning so it didn’t dry overnight (yuk). The sky was a high, thin partial overcast with no thunderstorm activity visible (yay!) The countryside continued to become slightly more hilly, with planty of ups and downs, and getting steeper (yeehaw!) I stopped at a mini mart for breakfast and to replenish fluids ($8). Temperatures today were also supposed to get into the 100s, but there was a slight breeze, which was helpful. The classic stable air conditions: hot, humid, low wind, no thunderstorms. At 1:51pm I went through Sandersville and got a $6 Blimpie sandwich (similar to Subway). I just passed 400’ altitude and kept hoping to climb higher as I continued on to Sparta; I knew the air would get drier and cooler with altitude, but I still had a ways to go before I’d begin to notice any difference. I got $12 worth of drinks during the day (hot!). Some of the locals I chatted with in Tennille said Sparta was a rough neighborhood, but I should be well past it before needing to camp, so I wasn’t too worried. When I passed through it, it didn’t seem too bad to me, but there was a bit more decay of abandoned businesses and homes than I’d seen in other parts of Georgia. A bit after passing through Sparta, I took a break from the heat on the side of the road, reading my book, and drinking Gatorade, when a cop passed by, turned around, put on his flashers, and stopped behind me. I thought he was going to push me on, but he just wanted to find out about my trike and trip, and wished me well before taking off. Gee, he didn’t even run an ID check – I must be losing my touch. Georgia has some very pretty countryside, but I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked due to the cyclist-unfriendly roads. I was constantly checking my rearview mirror and traffic around me to adjust my position or be ready to run off the road, blaugh! The good news was: drivers were by and large quite tolerant of my presence, and would slow down, sometimes even wait, before passing me with way more than enough space. I appreciate that, but wish they would pass a little closer (two feet at less than 45mph is fine), and not play chicken with oncoming traffic quite so much.
This being Saturday evening, I didn’t think any church would want me to camp on their grounds before their big day of the week, so I found an empty lot right off Hwy 15 to do my stealth camping in (N33 27.581’ W83 2.154’). At first, I tried hanging hammock in some trees by the lot, but noticed plants with three leaves on them (poison ivy?), so I abandoned the hammock idea and set up the tent away from all that. I had to set up while hiding from traffic, because it was still daylight, and I was visible from the road. I didn’t want anyone observing me and maybe reporting me to the local constabulary. I put the green and white fly on the tent, to help keep it hidden amongst the trees and bushes in the lot. Inside, I was dripping with sweat, but would have to wait for it to get dark before I could take the tent fly off, and get some more ventilation. In the meantime, I washed my hair, did a sponge bath, and read my book in the tent. I didn’t put my shirt back on because it was still wringing wet with sweat (ugh). After a while I stopped sweating, but when it got dark enough, I still took off the tent fly and let the cooler air in, and let the darkness be my camouflage. The sky was clear enough to see the stars through my tent’s netting, but unfortunately, the moisture of the air came through the netting, and got my sleeping bag wet. I’d have to try drying it out, sometime the next day. Oh, in the distance, I could hear the occasional crack of a rifle and the baying of hounds. Somebody was doing some night hunting, but they were at least a half-mile away, and were getting further away. I read my book by guarded flashlight until about 10pm, before going to sleep.
Time in Saddle: 6:28
Distance for the Day: 61.2 miles From Baxley, GA To Blackville, GA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5237.23 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 137’/205’, Highest: 305’ Accumulated: 1427’
Speeds: Avg: 9.4 mph, Max: 27.7 mph
Weather: 72° and humid, little cooler and hazy, no clouds, warming into the 90s
Time in Saddle: 9:07
Distance for the Day: 96.09 miles From Callahan, GA To Baxley, GA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5176.03 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 0’?/137’ Highest: 185’ Accumulated: 1161’
Speeds: Avg: 10.5 mph, Max: 27.6 mph
Weather: 75-78°, high overcast in the AM warming to 90s, fairly humid
Time in Saddle: 7:40
Distance for the Day: 78.92 miles From Crescent Beach, FL To Callahan, GA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5079.94 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 5’/0’?, Highest: 78’ Accumulated: 328’
Speeds: Avg: 10.2 mph, Max: 58.8 (wrong) mph
Weather: 74° humid turning hot, into the mid-90s
When I woke up in the morning at 5:20, it was still dark with a waning crescent moon and two bright planets on either side (though not quite a conjunction). I heard a splash in the water near the house’s pier, and saw my first manatee! I could see the length of his body, just below the surface of the mostly calm water, right near the shore. He was probably eating the grasses that grew, there – cool! I then went out onto the pier and waited until 6pm – no shuttle that I could see. I figured they must have scrubbed this attempt, too. I went back to break down my stealth camp and was ready to roll by 6:30am. I stopped in at the first mini mart I found at about 6:45am, got food and drink ($6), and went across the street to watch the early morning sun over the Atlantic while I had breakfast. Continuing north, I hit St. Augustine at 8am and spent about 45 minutes wandering around the town, looking at the quaint buildings and shops of the touristy section; nothing was open yet as it was still too early. I went to the historic fort and took some pictures there. I got more drinks along the way to Jacksonville ($3), and contacted Dr. Mike Reynolds (the former Director of Chabot Space & Science Center) at 12:35pm to set up a lunch meeting. I said I’d get to his location by 1:30pm, had to call him back to move that back to 2pm, and got to his office (finally) by 2:30pm. We were casual friends when he was at Chabot, so I wanted to see him and have a chat, since I was in the neighborhood. He drove us to a salad and sandwich place near his office, and we talked about his work at the college (he started a TMW class for 22 students per semester and always fills-up right away, and that gives actual college credits; he’s going to get a 60’ dome planetarium with a real star projector – no video, and is also going to get an observatory; his home took a hit from a tree, and is tussling with the insurance company to get them to cover all the damage; he said the heat at this time of the year was unusually high and not usually seen until August [lucky me]; he missed Chabot and asked about updates on Carter’s house, Conrad, Dave R, Terry G, and Debbie). I told him that Bill helped me attend a few days at the TSP and that it was great; we went back to his office, and he showed me the TMW with its mirror grinding stations, bunches of dobs for viewing, etc. I took lots of pictures of his office and the TMW, and then we said our farewells, and he went back to work (very busy!) and I continued north towards the Florida/Georgia state line; spent another $6 on drinks along the way (hot!). I found a good stealth camp at a Catholic church at 7:51pm (N30 32.9’ W81 49.028’), and set up my hammock under small roof next to service building. It was in narrow view of the street, but it was far enough away to be unnoticeable. There were some mosquitoes, but they weren’t very aggressive, so I was able to avoid getting et. I had to reposition the hammock (when will I ever learn?) to be more directly under the port at about 9:30pm as the lightning flashes started up, again, and there was a light rain happening; I moved my trike under the port as well. Other than that, I had a very nice sleep.
Time in Saddle: 4:16
Distance for the Day: 48.54 miles From Daytona Beach To Crescent Beach, FL
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5001.02 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 5’/5’, Highest: 161’ Accumulated: 354’
Speeds: Avg: 11.3 mph, Max: 27.7 mph
Weather: 74° high humidity, thunderstorms and rain in the afternoon/evening
Got up while it was still dark at 5:30am, broke camp and went next door to Dunkin Donuts for bagel and choco drink ($4), and read my book. When the bike shop opened, I purchased two tires to replace the worn-out front ones and installed them ($27); had the shop guy help me with readjusting the tie rod, and I also bought a couple more QuickPatch kits ($8). I met and spoke w/Ken who pulled up because he saw my trike – he also has a Trice trike, so we chatted about options you can install which help you have more gears and greater leverage, etc. I continued north from Daytona Beach, up along the Florida coastline. It was a little warmer than I would have liked, but otherwise, it was a very pleasant ride, going past condos and resorts along a *really* long beach. I stopped several times for more cold drinks ($6), and by the end of day at 6pm, the weather looked pretty bad with lots of thunderstorm activity on the way. I found an unoccupied house for sale with an open carport at about 6:30pm (N29 45.454’ W81 14.988’) – I could have continued on, but this looked good, so I hung out and read until dark, hung up my hammock, and went to sleep. Unfortunately, ever the optimist, I hung it in an exposed side of the carport thinking the weather had gotten better and would stay that way. Of course, around midnight, the lightning flashes started up, again, so I moved my hammock to a more protected area under the carport. The storm hit, and the rain and wind and lightning came and went, but by then I was back in bed, sans a little bit more blood from the mosquitoes. I’d heard that NASA decided to try to launch the shuttle tomorrow morning at around 5:45am. I resolved to at least get up to see if I could see it from where I was. It was a waterfront property, so I could walk out onto its pier and have an unobstructed view of the south.
Time in Saddle: 6:17
Distance for the Day: 72.15 miles From Cape Canaveral, FL To Daytona Beach, FL
Accumulated Trip Distance: 4952.48 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 0’/58’, Highest: 78’ Accumulated:1260’
Speeds: Avg: 11.4 mph, Max: 23.1 mph
Weather: 75°, partly cloudy w/large cumulous forming in the PM but no thunderstorms
8:15am getting ready to leave Kim D’s; thought seriously about waiting to see if the shuttle launch would happen on Wed, but decided the odds didn’t look good, so decided to push on. I thanked Kim for hosting me, she took off for work, and I took off for the road. Before leaving town, I stopped off at PO ($4 for envelope and postage) to send home the touristy pictures they took of me at the Kennedy Space Center ($20). I got food for breakfast and liquids for the road ($10) drink. At 9:10am the temperature was warm and humid, mid-70s w/80% humidity. On the way north, I passed by the KSC again, and further on, came across the Astronaut Hall of Fame which was a few miles away from the main KSC complex, but actually a part of it. My ticket still worked, so I entered and spent from about 11:30pm to 2pm looking at all the many exhibits about the first astronauts, their missions, their lives, ships, spacesuits, foods, etc. I took a ride on their centrifuge and got a little queasy; got a choco bar ($2). By the afternoon, it had gotten quite warm, cloudy, very humid, with lots of large cumulus-nimbus clouds around. I stopped twice to avoid rain – once at 2:30pm and waited 15 minutes, and again at 3:45pm, where I stopped at Subway to eat ($7) in the town of Mims, somewhere north of Titusville, FL. At 5:59pm, mile 4935.6, the starboard front tire got a flat (#16 for the trip, from a somewhat large wire that managed to penetrate Mr. Tuffy), so I stopped for about 20 mins to fix it. At 7:08pm stopped at for drinks ($3.50). I found a bike shop in Daytona Beach at about 8pm, checked out the space behind it, and it seemed suitable for a stealth camp (N29 8.676’ W80 59.273’). I set up behind it, and read my book until it got too dark to read. There was a Dunkin Donuts shop next door, and the people there would sometimes open and slam their dumpster, but that didn’t bug me, and my presence apparently didn’t bother them, either. I would get up early, hang out at Dunkin Donuts next door, and wait until the bike shop opened. I managed to avoid two rainstorms, today, but the third one got me. I rigged my trike for rain; put on my mostly useless raingear (I get wet no matter what), but was able to get mostly dry, again, except my shoes and socks. My trike dealer Steve left me a message because he found out from my blog that the port side tie rod on my trike’s steering system got bent, and he said that that would cause my tires to mis-align and cause them to wear out very fast, and that was why I was at a bike shop, to get a pair of new front tires! I called him up, and he gave me instructions and options on how to fix the situation. I read my book until it got too dark, and then went to sleep.
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a (Still in Cape Canaveral, FL)
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Weather: 75° mostly cloudy all day, temps rising to the low 90s
Not much to report, today. Stayed one extra day at Kim’s, blogging. In the evening, we went to a BBQ place in town for dinner ($23), and took a stroll along the beach after sunset and chatted. Then we went back to her condo, and she showed me her blog entries on http://www.crazyguyonabike.com,/ and we chatted until 11pm, when she had to go to bed for work, tomorrow, and I continued on my blog. I may switch my blog to that ‘crazyguy’ blogsite, or reverse my blog entries on blogspot.com (she referenced me to a site that gives instructions on how to do that). We’ll see. Oh, forgot to mention that coming up to the town of Cape Canaveral, there really is a place called Cocoa Beach, and they even have a road named "I Dream of Jeannie Lane." Yeehaww!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a (Still in Cape Canaveral, FL)
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Weather: 75° in AM, mostly clear, getting to 90’s w/thunderstorm
They closed the Kennedy Space Center at 5am, so I just sat outside with a few handfuls of others still there, and read my book (Atlas Shrugged, which I got from Lynne) until 9am, when they opened up, again. I then spent almost the entire day experiencing and doing practically everything there was to do, before I called Kim at about 4pm to ask for the ride back. I nodded off at few brief times during the two IMAX films I attended (Space Station 3D, and Magnificent Desolation 3D), but held up very well the rest of the time. I would have seen and done *everything*, but I missed a few items in the brochure, and didn’t get to see them, Demitol. Once back at Kim’s, she fixed a dinner of tuna casserole, corn on the cob, and broccoli (mm-mm! – good stuff!) Her son Justin came home, and we recognized each other from a brief encounter we’d had earlier in the day. He was waiting at a bus stop, and we made eye-contact and nodded greetings to each other as I passed. What were the chances? Well, Cape Canaveral *is* a pretty small town, but still: I’d managed to meet the son before meeting the mother – peculiar! After dinner, Justin put on the movie, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” so we watched that while an energetic thunderstorm raged outside for about 45 minutes during the movie. Kim the hay at about 10:30pm; I went to sleep at about 11pm, and Justin was the last one in not long afterwards. It had been a long day for me, filled with fun and interesting activities, but also hugely disappointing. I came *this* close to seeing a shuttle launch up close and in person – probably the best chance I’ll ever have to see one. Oh, well. There are a few more to go before they retire the entire shuttle fleet sometime in 2010 – perhaps I’ll try to make it out to see one of them. NASA is planning to replace the shuttles with a hybrid design that takes some of its design elements from the re-useable shuttle system, and a larger version of the old Apollo ‘space capsule’ designs; they’re calling it the Constellation Program. Cheaper, less complicated, but will get the same job done – sounds like a plan.
Time in Saddle: 3:58
Distance for the Day: 42.8 miles From Vero Beach To Cape Canaveral, FL
Accumulated Trip Distance: 4880.33 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 10’/12’, Highest: 34’ Accumulated: 78’
Speeds: Avg: 10.7 mph, Max: 24.2 mph
Woke up at 7:30am; Terry had already left for work, so I made an entry in his Visitor’s Log Book – wow, that thing is almost full! Terry has hosted a lot of people from all around the globe. Well, he lives in Paradise, and just wants to share it. I went for a short walk on the beach, and saw those sea turtle tracks and nests that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Someone, that morning (probably from Terry’s office) came by on an ATV, found each turtle nest, and marked them with flags. I got my stuff together and took off to go see Terry and Barbara a few miles up the road at their office. We chatted a bit, took pictures of each other, I shook Terry’s hand and thanked him for hosting me, and then headed north towards my next Warmshowers host, Kim D in Cape Canaveral.
Stopped at mini mart for choco drink and Danish ($5). Also stopped in at Ron K’s home; he was going to host me, but since Terry C was able to host me, I didn’t really need to also be hosted by Ron – so we did lunch, instead from about 11:30am to 1:30pm. Made Kim’s at 4:30pm with a little difficulty, but not too much. She called the Kennedy Space Center to make sure I would be able to pick up my Will Call ticket that I’d ordered online. It was a bit of a worry, because it was now after 5pm, and the launch was at 7am the next morning, so, was I too late to pick up my ticket. As it turns out, they were keeping the facility open all night, until 5am (not their usual hours), so it wasn’t a problem at all. We chatted until 7:30pm before I went to sleep for 3 hours. Then I got up at 10:30pm and Kim drove me 25 minutes to reach the KSC at 11pm. I got my online pre-purchased ticket at the ticket booth, and entered the facility; Kim went back home and would pick me up after the event, whenever I called (she’s so nice!). I was just planning to be there all night so I could be first in line for when they opened the doors a few hours before launch, but he entire facility was open until 5am, including all their numerous exhibits – I guess they do that for late night/early morning shuttle launches. So, I took a tour bus to the Saturn V building, where they have the full-sized rocket laid out on its side but in sections, with info plaques and interactive kiosks that tell all about its different parts, interviews with the Apollo astronauts that flew it, and a gift shop, hot dog stands, etc. This was great! It sure beat waiting 8 hours for the launch, getting et up by the mosquitoes and no-see-ums. During my 16-hour stay, there, I paid about $35 for food and drinks (all overpriced, but no more so than at other theme parks or movie theaters). I didn’t know it at the time, but the shuttle launch got scrubbed at about 12:30am. Kim found out just before going to bed, so she called and left a message offering to come pick me up, but I was happily running around the Center looking at all the cool exhibits. By the time I did find out, around 4am, I figured I would just stay there until closing, wait for them to open again, and finish checking everything I could out. So that’s what I did.