I'll relearn YouTube embeds eventually but wanted to share this great timely piece of muppetry, Kermit has some serious pipes. Being here in the Florida keys makes me realize why I busted my ass peddling down here even tho it was fond of fun. This is a very unique protected environment that is unlike anything else in the world. I'm very blessed to have experienced it twice (on a bike) and fully expect to return here sometime in the future.
My favorite. House from the boat ride
Last edited by HankTheBank; 01-01-2017 at 06:06 AM.
Here in Key West, made the ride from Key Largo yesterday and finished around 9:30pm on account of a late start. We met a really nice guy named Jack from CN who is riding a 20" wheel set on a folding bike but boy o boy is he hauling ass. Jack put in at Fort Myers and will ride the ferry with us at 6pm to finish up his tour.
One thing worth mentioning is there are lots of iguana down here and when one dies they turn black as coal and stink worse than just about any other dead animal out there. I really hate seeing all the death on these trips but it's part of life and traveling most times I look away from the horrific end these critters met because humans are so important they had to travel 60 mph in a giant box of metal.
There were so many roadside memorials to slain motorists on us 1 I started to doubt my own survival of this trip especially on the last 40 miles ridden after dark. I've enjoyed this ride but I'm ready to be home, started drinking pretty heavily and that always casts a darkness over all things particularly when I'm living in squalor camping illegally in these horribly overpriced keys. Jack paid $70 to pitch a tent in marathon , Boyd's campground on Stock Island wanted $80 for me to camp well they can **** themselves. I've settled on a little hideaway meant for birding off the southern section of Key West but it's hard to sleep knowing your not permitted there. Daylights breaking so ill probably head to Mallory square where I can commiserate with other end stage alcoholics on the minutia of our doomed existence.
On a more positive note when this booze wears off and I'm back in the routine of normal life with my buddy cousin Sven all these soul crushing feelings of loneliness and despair will be distant memories but for now all I have is a $40 fifth of titos vodka and 10 hours to kill.
I forgot to mention Jacks bike has a belt driven internally geared cycle and it's fairly badass.
There was at least 60 markers along us 1 from Key Largo, with 4 being the greatest concentration in anyone place just before 7 'mile bridge.
The old bridge being reclaimed by nature.
400 miles or so to go after the 6pm ferry to Fort Myers beach, if I continue at the rate I'm going it will be beyond arduous. My fantasies of a side trip to Immokolee are evaporating faster than a puddle of grain alcohol on a hot roadway.
Key West Camp
Eli camped just after the 7 mile bridge and I had to ride on in order to scratch that alcoholic itch which didn't give me anything other than a shorter life and less money but that's the game we play I'll do my best to make this ferry
Mangrove in the morning
Last edited by HankTheBank; 01-03-2017 at 08:45 AM.
I'm. Not sure this box of Franzia is a good idea
In light of the fact we may have to bike a substantial distance upon landing in Fort Myers beach. The alchis at Mallory square say Monroe county is a breeze so there's that going for me.
Its all fun and games now while the buzz is on but ****s about to get real when we depart this boat into the traffic of Fort Myers beach with loads of senior citizens and causeways, sometimes tying one off seems the only way to cope with my situation but reality is this will hurt massively.
Its 33 miles to Immokolee I have case money to put on table, the only person telling me it's a good idea is my buddy Bacchus the bladder of wine. Eli ditched me on account of drunkenness and I visited a strop club last night which would account for my lower Bank balance.
Me Jack and Eli on the Ferry
Very kind people at this marina in ft Myers beach thankfully the sheriff was not summoned. rained a bit in the predawn hours but we've got clear skies. I'm drunk at 8am and gunning For Immokolee where I punt off my rent money
as I recall from my 2008 tour of Florida and a preview of the map this will be a very tough ride, some how the proposition of playing live poker in the tomato packing capital of the USA justifies this madnesses.
Last edited by HankTheBank; 01-04-2017 at 09:17 AM.
Yeh the boozing has to stop, if this were my last alcoholic drink it would be a step in the right direction. I made a massive navigational error and took SR 41 north after leaving Bonita Springs so if appears I've been spared from financial ruin by my own idiocy, really was looking forward to Immokolee but it won't be on this trip. My feet got wet and smell about as bad as you can get this tent is brutal even without the rain fly.
Haven't seen a set of tits in months
I've stumbled upon a little wooded area that seems safe for camping but I'll have to be up at the ass crack of dawn or face the consequences. I'm cold, afraid, hungry and smelly but a mild beer buzz is creeping in so I might get a few hours of sleep before the 12 hours bike ride That awaits me.
Wrong road 41, I was so drunk looking at gps wondering why I wasn't getting any "closer" to Immokolee guess when your heading north expecting to go east that will happen. At least I'm alive and have a few dollars for my return trip because freegamism ain't no way to sustain a 6000+ caloric output.
In Fort Myers hoping to have a better performance tomorrow, one day at a time stronger faster
Last edited by HankTheBank; 01-05-2017 at 03:42 AM.
Just leaving Wauchula where I spent a little time with those alcoholics who no longer drink which was refreshing it has been several months there was a small Pomeranian there named Daisy which made me feel quite excited to be reunited with my own little mutt.
Going to shoot for Ft Meade or possibly Paynes Creek State park camping somewhere legal might make it easier to sleep.
Been rocking the old Sr 17 which has been under construction/expansion which created some challenges with narrow shoulders and dusty roads. The oranges are being harvested so there are loads of them for the taking all over the shoulder still working on my bounty of tangerines so I've yet to pick any up.
Some protestors in front of a planned parenthood leaving Fort Myers.
SR 17 is kind of a pain in the ass but it switches to SR 98 soon enough probably won't change much I'm unsure of whether or not to rerride the Van Fleet trail via Winter Haven as it will add some mileage and I've got to be back at work on Monday so it will be tight riding the remaining 285-300 miles.
This Walmart distribution center was one of the biggest complexes I've seen on the trip.
Some shots from Arcadia, guy at the gunshop hooked me up with a set of earplugs which was nice.
Love the slogan, artwork and saddle very country.
Zolfo Springs had a monster RV park, been a minute since I've plunked down money to camp with the motorhomes and here they had some real 6 figure doozies.
Doubt I'll catch up with Eli thought about pushing to north of Winter Haven and going for a really big day but am feeling kind of wiped out but those people at the church were so encouraging about things getting better that maybe I'll go for 130+miles tomorrow.
Just hit the travelers lottery, 20 minutes ago I arrived Chiefland with the plan of continuing to the day one campsite near Fanning Springs underneath a train trestle on the banks of the Suwannee. The temperature in this area is just above freezing and during the course of my drunkenness in Key West I managed to lose my bedroll which means my already inadequate sleeping gear would probably make for a night of shivering unrest on the cold earth despite being in a tent.
So as I passed through the north part of Chiefland I saw a Greyhound bus stopped in a gas station where it was on a quick stop and what do you know the driver was nice enough to let me board with my bike sans box on the spot, although the company policy to my knowledge states it must be boxed.
So my trip is basically over the ride from Tallahassee Greyhound to my place is around 3 miles, without this shortcut it would have meant a night of rough camping and 100 mile ride tomorrow which I'm fine not doing.
I'll make a more expansive post tomorrow with a laptop it's much easier but here are the best 3 photos from today which started off with cold light rain for the first 3 - 4 hours featured lots of head/crosswinds and nighttime temps that were quite low for north Fl.
Inverness Fl is such a cool little town, had lunch at this Pharmacy which bills itself as the home of the .88 cent breakfast and had everything from cheap toys and souvenirs to a small shipping/post office.
My campsite from last night near SR 50/Croome on the Withlacootche trail, it kind of sucked despite being under a pavilion because cars were driving by in the service road all night some of them quickly. Also the restrooms 20 ft away were locked, at around 1:30 Am I noticed a car parked in the lot less than 100 yards away which was unsettling because it's out in the middle of nowhere, 20 minutes later there's the distinctive flashing of blue police car lights to check on this automobile. Luckily I had my tent and gear positioned in such a way that they didn't notice me.
Citrus Counties old Courthouse in Inverness
Goethe State Forest
Despite the little decent into degeneracy the trip was really fun and enjoyed relaying what I could.
good read Hank cheers for sharing, impressive distances you were managing each day especially whilst drinking. Any more rides planned?
Thanks Gillingham, most of the impressive mileage days were done under the influence of spliffs only not booze which when consumed improperly really sap one's strength. It probably took the better part of two days to feel really fit after my last drink in North Fort Myers.
Certainly more rides planned, in the short term I'll have about a 10 days off work in mid March and potentially from June to August I'll have another block of time with which to explore the Earth on my bicycle.
I'd like to attempt a shorter 3 night tour sometime before summer where I go for a personal best in total mileage somewhere between 150 mi-200 mi then take two days to ride back. There are quite a few wilderness areas within that distance here in North Fl and South GA many long sections of unpaved roads which make for great cycling if the conditions are right.
Ultimately if time and finances permit a cycle around the planet would be my number one bike tour but I have lot's of things to work out before them not only with my bike and kit but brain.
After leaving North Fort Myers I made it to the amazingly beautiful and historically fascinating Payne's Creek State Campground arriving well after 10 PM that should have been around a 75 mile day. The camp gates were locked requiring me to unload my bike and pass the bags and bike over the fencing, then I proceeded to get lost on the trails which wind around Peace River and Payne's creek until I decided to just camp on the edge of the park near a service road so I could get out early in the morning before Ranger Bob hit me up for the plethora of violations committed.
Payne's creek was the site of a Seminole Indian attack on a trading post operated by two US sutlers, the men were killed and their store looted and burned down.
In response to this the Army constructed Fort Chokonikla (burnt store) but it's location next to a swamp resulted in many dying of malaria. The fort was closed less than 9 months after opening.
misty morning ride into Bowling Green FL just north of Payne's creek.
Downtown Bowling Green, second structure was an abandoned Inn/Hotel
Ride to Fort Meade
Peace River citrus plant in Bartow, would have been nice to take some more photos inside the fence, think this is where many people's OJ starts getting processed.
The Fort Fraser trail was awesome, it ran from Bartow to Lakeland and contained lot's of inspirational messages on utility poles along the way.
Riding into Lakeland I felt rather drained, then suddenly when the traffic starting picking up and the stoplights got more frequent the riding conditions and maybe music gave me a crazy burst of energy that saw me tear through the town at what must have been a 15-17mph average over 10 miles.
Passing cars and keeping up with traffic is part of it, also there is so much more visual stimulation in some ways with all the shops, people turning into and off of the road that your brain starts pumping out adreneline kind of nice actually.
Riding out of Lakeland on Highway 98 was pretty dreadful, long straightaways with heavy truck traffic in both directions so I looked at Google Maps and they suggested a bicycling alternate that added a few miles but reconnected with 98 after 10-12 miles going north on SR 471 then west on the "Florida Trail".
Once again crossing the very fun to pronounce Withlacootche River near Colt Creek St Park.
The Florida trail is primarily a hiking and equestrian trail but you can ride bicycles on certain parts, I was enamored going from the drudgery of highway 98 to unspoiled wilderness complete with a pack of 4 deer who bounded away from me in the first half hour.
After a few miles I dead ended into the swampy banks of the Withlacootche which besides being impassable/unfordable had nothing but wilderness on it's opposite bank.
If I continued any further on the trail it lead me to this locked gate dotted with no tresspassing signage.
So I was faced with the dilemma of backtracking a few miles along scenic but slow and bumpy terrain or lugging my gear over this fence and risking discovery by property owners, it seemed based on looking at the google map that this trail/road would lead back to 98 in less than two miles so I went for it.
After a few hundred yards I came upon an expansive pasture at the opposite side were several parked cars and trucks, luckily the road I was on fronted their fence line so I booked it through before arriving at a very impressive homemade bridge spanning the Withlacootche.
Last leg of road leading to highway 98
I was quite relieved when upon arriving at the locked gate just before 98, heart was pounding as I hefted the bags over the fence and just as I lifted the bike over it a car came speeding of 98 into said driveway. The woman was initial quite agitated and informed me that I had just traversed a hunting ranch full of well armed visitors but calmed down when I explained my circumstances.
The ride to Dade city was uneventful but pretty going through more cattle ranches, I tried to take an alternate again using old Lakeland Highway but it had no shoulder and carried heavy traffic so I shot back over to 98 on this pretty dirt road.
After riding through Dade City I had a nice big meal around 7pm when it started to rain lightly at which point I gunned it for the Withlacootche Trail where I would set up camp under the pavilion at Croome near Highway 50 and that pretty much completes the missing gaps of my bicycle tour.
Bicycle touring to me is an ideal way to really explore the world I'm not a good enough writer to really elaborate on why but it has something to do with the pace and tranquility that allows you to cover reasonable distances but is flexible enough for you to stop and explore the little details of your surroundings. The physicality of riding a fully loaded bicycle for 8-12 hours day after day and logistical challenges of finding campsites, provisioning, navigating are challenging aspects I enjoy. Being able to eat just about whatever you want with little increase in waistline is great too.
The Florida trail seemed like a step back in time, riding my bike along wagon trail where I didn't see a single soul until the lady who discovered me hoping her fence. It makes a strong case for making the great divide trail my next tour which spans the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico primarily along paths free of motor vehichles which traverses unspoiled wilderness.
Until next time,
Last edited by HankTheBank; 01-12-2017 at 01:11 AM.
Meeting interesting people of all walks of life and getting to spend a little time with them is another wonderful part of bicycle touring, sometimes they are curious about where your riding to/from, other times your asking them for directions or advice on where to eat, camp or explore.
Jeremy was in Sitting on a bench in Estero Island just happily crocheting when I plopped my drunken ass down to chat about a wide variety of topics, he had such a peaceful air about him and lots of insight on camping in those coastal environments. That is his beach cruiser bicycle in the background.
I'll camp out at the nearby Pine Log State Park and Forest which looks pretty nice, going with a very lightweight gear setup for this one as I'll probably just ride home all the way on good ole highway 20.
Should be leaving within the hour, when I get set up at Pine Log I'll mosey on over to the Ebro Dog Track and Poker room to participate in the 6:30 PM Friday night $110 MTT should be fun!
Bringing a friends fancy ass garmin which I've never used but should be able to get a nice map and log of my efforts on this one, and of course a few pictures.
Taking a break at Sharon's Cafe in Mexico Beach Fl only 41 miles to Pine Log!
Was hunting the FM dial for some tunes and came across 100.5 Oyster Radio which played a late night classic rock and bluegrass show from 1:00 Am to 5:00 Am that was amazing they played a lot of stuff I've never heard they stream on the WWW so check em out!
Got caught in a torrential downpour rounding the Port St Joe peninsula then going through Port St Joe Beach came across this guy riding his beach cruiser into a squall.
Mexico Beach Fl
Some of the highlights of the marathon night ride were dodging a pair of raccoons on the shoulder of 98, turning off my front light for a moment to look and stars and immediately see a shooting star, crossing the Ockalochnee Bay at midnight, bombing the bridge into Appalachicola, interesting folks at service stations and making a 10 mile navigational error in the first 30 miles.
I'm very tired but the prize is in site and would like to set up by 2pm latest in order to rest for donkament.