Darren’s Second week recap

Second Week Recap

So this past week was great. A bit of a struggle at times but overall it turned out to be GREAT! Tuesday (Jan, 14th) we pedalled hard from Ponce de Leon where were had to end our riding day early due to inclement weather. We found shelter in a dumpy little motel which reeked of cigarettes and cheap booze. It was however, warm and dry, so I can’t complain too much. Taylor actually soaked in a bath for about 30 minutes that night which seemed rather nice. I too would have liked to soak my achy body in a warm tub but I didn’t really feel like getting Taylor’s sloppy seconds with the bathtub. Besides, I showered before he bathed and I was content enough with being clean.

That same evening I went out around 7:00pm, grabbed us a couple of Subway grinders, stepped in a massive puddle and returned to the room with our dinner and a wet sock/shoe. There is nothing worse than wet socks. I came home, hung up my socks and went to town on my footlong sub. We had an 80 mile day planned the following morning so we intended to leave the motel around 7:15am.

We actually hit our mark, left promptly at 7:15am and began making great time to our next stop on the route; Milton, Florida. We made a stop at one of the fresh produce markets along our route and the owner took interest in our adventure and sent us off with a goodybag of citrus fruits. I’m totally loving the generosity and kindness of all the people we are meeting along the way. We made it our destination in Milton, FL after close to 80-85 miles of pedaling. The last couple of miles consisted of some pretty intense rolling hills but with our destination in sight we were not fazed. It was our longest day but we both surprisingly felt good after finishing the ride.

We stayed w/ Al and Sally. An older married couple who were incredibly sweet. Sally was an educator/Author and Al was a retired Vietnam helicopter pilot who later served with the Division of Forestry in the state of Florida where he continued flying helicopters to help combat wildfires. Interesting enough, Al actually flew the same helicopter (AH-1 Cobra) in Vietnam that he flew with the Division of Forestry. He and I talked about helicopters for what most of been hours on end. I was totally amazed with his stories. He really loved his job and it was easy to see his enthusiasm for flying.  After hours of helicopter talk, I not only wanted to fly a helicopter but I felt as though I could actually fly one. Bedtime came early after hours of good conversation and a delicious warm soup served with what seemed to be an infinite amount of grilled cheese sandwiches.

The following morning I woke up around 6:30am. Taylor slept in because we had an afternoon presentation planned at the local Boys & Girls club where Al volunteers his afternoons. I’ll talk about the presentation in a bit but the point of this story is BACON. I woke up at 6:30am to the smell of bacon and let me tell you, there is no better way to wake up than to the smell of fresh bacon. Everyone loves bacon. I know vegetarians that even like bacon. Al had woken up quite early to prepare Taylor and I a 5-Star breakfast which consisted of cheese grits, eggs, BACON, grapefruit, toast and pumpkin butter. For those of you who have never tried pumpkin butter, TRY IT! It was truly a treat. Anyways, Al had prepared all of the food early because he had a doctors appointment @ 8:00am. Al even left pre-cracked eggs in a bowl, which only needed to be put on the fryer. I had a feeling Taylor would sleep in and I was quite hungry so I decided I’d eat my grits and the grapefruit that Al had already sliced for us. Hey Al, job well done with the cheese grits. They were delicious!! In fact, they were some of the best cheese grits I’ve had!

Let’s talk about the bacon. The bacon smelt soooooooo good. Seriously, it was heavenly. Mouthwatering might better describe the bacon. I kept hoping Taylor would wake up so I could throw the eggs on and make us a few bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. Taylor did eventually roll out of bed around 9:00am. He sipped on his coffee to wake himself up while I was in my room organizing my gear and getting our dirty clothes ready to throw in a load of laundry. I went straight to the laundry room and said to Taylor, “Hey Taylor, you ready to eat breakfast soon?” He responds, “Ya man, whenever you want.” Taylor was in the living room watching sports center at this point and Al had left to go to his doctor’s appointment. I throw the load in the wash, made my way into the kitchen, beat the eggs and throw them on the skillet. I turn around to get the bacon and the plate was empty. I was confused. I rubbed my eyes a bit and took another glance. The plate was still empty. All that remained was a napkin full of bacon grease. I thought maybe Taylor had put the bacon in the microwave since it had been sitting out for a while. I make my way over to the microwave and there was nothing in there. I checked the oven as well but that too was empty. Could it be? Did Taylor eat an entire plate of bacon? How is that possible? Who would just eat an entire plate of bacon without anything to accompany it. Taylor would and did. He honestly ate upwards of 20 pieces of bacon. Our conversation went something like this:

D – Ummmmmmmm Hey Taylor, did you eat the bacon?

T – Wait… What? Did you not eat any bacon yet?”

D – No Taylor, I didn’t eat any bacon. Not a single piece. Dude! There were close to 20 pieces of bacon on the plate. Are you kidding me?  Who the hell eats 20 pieces of bacon?

(I was pissed. I couldn’t believe it. Not only am i doing our laundry and fixing his eggs but I’m also toasting his bread too.)

T- Dude, I thought you ate breakfast already…

D (speaking to myself in my head) – My plate is spotless and it’s right next to your plate, obviously I didn’t eat breakfast you damn Sasquatch. How is that even possible? How could you possibly deduce that I had already eaten breakfast?  I even asked you if scrambled eggs were ok for breakfast right when you woke up.

Apparently, he saw my bowl which I had eaten my grits out of and I guess equated that i must have already eaten my share of bacon, which would have meant that Al prepared upwards of 40 slices of bacon for two people.

D – No Taylor! I didn’t eat breakfast yet.
T – Well I’m sorry man, why don’t you just make some more bacon?
D – (Speaking to myself in my head) Are you fluffing joking me? I’m not making more bacon. I’m sure Al used his entire months supply of bacon for our breakfast and I’m not going to help myself to his bacon. How dare you tell me to make more bacon. If anything you should have offered to make me bacon. Whatever, I’m totally over it…NOT! This is something I will never forget and Taylor… I’ll never let you forget this either. I just want you to know that I was very disappointed. A bit sad and I would never eat your bacon. I do forgive you but lets just say you don’t forget something like this. There will be no retaliation on my behalf so you can sleep easy. We are still buddies.

D – I can’t believe you ate all of the bacon dude. Seriously, I don’t even know what to say. I’m speechless.

I didn’t say much more that morning. I just got quiet like I generally do when I’m annoyed or upset. I mean, the bacon smelt really good and I didn’t even get to try it. What a bummer. So I just had plain eggs. No breakfast sandwich for this guy.

Anyways, later that afternoon as Taylor already said, we did a cool presentation at the local Boys & Girls club. We spoke to a group of seventy 5-12 year old children. We spoke to them about Team Tobati and our adventure across the country. We also stressed the importance of service work and giving back to your community. It may have been a bit heavy for most of the kids but a few of them seemed to really comprehend what we were saying. It was a good experience for not only the children but for Taylor and I as well.

Gulf Shores, Alabama was our next stop. What a scenic ride! It was a probably the prettiest part of the route. We stayed with a lovely couple right past the border of Florida and left Gulf Shores bright and early to make our way to Fort Morgan, Alabama where we needed to catch the ferry which would bring us to Dauphin Island, Alabama. That day we had a final destination of Grand Bay, Alabama. The first few hours of riding was great. We were making great timing and then I started to experience bike problems after I got of the ferry. My gears started acting up and everytime i pedaled my gears would jump. It was the most frustrating thing in the world. We made it within about 12 miles of our destination when Taylor and I decided to sit down and eat a warm meal. We were so close to our host families house and we had plenty of time to kill. I think it was about 1:00pm by the time we had finished lunch. We had actually been told that the house from Forest Gump was filmed not far from the restaurant where we ate. So we decided to venture out and try to find that big white house from the movie. We rode around for about 45 minutes and found a house that was similar but I don’t think it was the same house from the movie.

After losing about an hour looking for this house. My gears really started to act up. I almost couldn’t pedal at all. I found that if I rode in the lowest gear possible, my chain wouldn’t skip as much but it still skipped around a ton and really started to test my patience. Almost every 10 revolutions my chain would start skipping gears. I was maxing out at about 3 mph and I only had about 12 miles to go. Seriously, it was painful. Painful on the knees and painfully slow. What should have only taken me about an hour, took me close to 4 hours. It got to the point where at one point I actually got off the bike and told Taylor that I was walking the remaining 9 miles. I really couldn’t take it anymore. Going 3 miles an hour on a bicycle is absolutely ridiculous. I could crawl at 3 mph if not faster. After 30 minutes of talking to our bike mechanic in St. Agustine, FL I was still unable to resolve my bike problem. I seriously began walking my bike to the final destination  but Taylor talked some sense into me and convinced me to hop back on the bike and ride it out slow and steady. We ended up getting to our destination around 6:00pm. It honestly took us over 3 hours to finish the last 10-12 miles. It was horrible! Definitely one of the most frustrating parts of the trip thus far. In the end, it all worked out though.

We made it to our destination and our host family actually showed up exactly when we arrived. We enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal and talked for hours on end. It seems like we were gathered around the dinner table for close to 4 or 5 hours. Our host family that night were actually both teachers and taught together at the same school. I remember asking them if there were any local bike shops and they had informed us that the closest bike shop was only 2 miles from where they taught. However, it was about 35 miles away from their home.  They were generous enough to offer to take us to the bike shop early the next morning on their way to work. I needed to get my bike fixed and we had no other options. I gladly took them up on their offer. It worked out perfectly! We left their house bright and early. The bike shop opened at 9:30am and they had dropped us off at a coffee shop a few miles down the road  from their school. We waited at a coffee shop for quite a while until the bike shop opened and Taylor actually ended up staying there even longer while I went to take care of my bike. I returned an hour or so after the bike shop had opened and upon returning back to the coffee shop, I was greeted by the owner who told Taylor and I that she was going to prepare us a lunch to take on the road. She made us two BANGIN roast beef, ham and turkey sandwiches w/ a side of chips, brownies and two powerade drinks. Southern Hospitality at its best! Thanks Deloris! You’re an angel!

Taylor and I checked out the maps and realized that we weren’t all that far from New Orleans which wasn’t on our intended route but we decided to take a detour. Taylor had a few friends in New Orleans and I have quite a bit of family who I haven’t seen in years. I’m actually grateful for my bike mishap because it actually allowed us to get to New Orleans. I had a fantastic time seeing my family and meeting Taylor’s friends. Thanks for taking care of us for the weekend guys! And to my family, though I didn’t get to see everyone I’m so happy I was able to see at least a few of you guys. I promise I’ll make my way back in the near future. Love you guys! It was soooo good to see you. It really brought back a ton of memories being in New Orleans as a child.

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