Well don’t get used to it but here comes the second post in as many days…
I’m sitting in the public library in Marianna, Florida, some 65 miles west of this morning’s starting line in Tallahassee. This is the biggest town I’ve been in since leaving Tally, with a rockin’ population of 6300, give or take fiftyish. The home next door to this building has got to be the most beautiful I’ve seen on this trip so far, expect photos of it at some point in the future. Today’s ride was SO much easier than my previous efforts, with a stops in Quincy, Chattahoochie, and ultimately Marianna. The misty morning and wet afternoon with highs stuck below eighty helped a ton, and allowed the mind to wander instead of dispair and roast. This is also the lowest mileage count I’ve covered so far, so it really is surreal to be sitting in the library just before five (hello Central Time!) done for the day.
The “where are we sleeping tonight?” game hasn’t yet picked up in full earnestness, but I am lobbying for a cheap hotel room as the rain has things good and spongy and doesn’t seem intent on stopping anytime soon. Camping is a blast when you need to get away from the real world, but once you are simply biking through other people’s real world, it is more like an unfortunate necessity for riding on a budget. Cold, sweaty, and wet is not a fun way to go to bed, and I won’t even begin to portend otherwise for machismo‘s sake.
They talk about the ___ year locust hatches, but these things are an annual late-summer occurrance in Northern Florida and other nearby parts of the southeast. They are small and light and, as the name suggests, do nothing but make love. And plaster automobiles and cyclists alike. While I don’t get obnoxious streaks all over my windshield, these things tickle and crawl all up and down the backs of your legs and get all up in my beard. This is not appreciated after the brutal wasp incident in Gainesville. There is a cell-phone-sized bruise/sting zone on my left thigh from that thing.
Not much to say about it that hasn’t already been said, but for all of its unpleasantries come camping time, it is a huge gift for its cooling powers and surprising ability to calm the winds. It leads to come serious contemplation, which I prefer to the blank-mind survival mode that my brain dips into when the days get too hot and humid. The added whoosh of cars as they approach is an extra bonus, and I almost enjoy the rooster tails that emanate from bicycle wheels and soak my frame and legs with gritty road water.
Company helps a lot, and the slower pace has allowed for more proximity, chatting to pass the time, and 20-questions-on-steroids. Plus word unscrambles, which are crazy hard without a pen-and-paper. I might use this to make money when times get tough.
Our rockin’ host for the last night in Tallahassee let me pop in a DVD on her laptop, and I quickly grabbed The Royal Tenenbaums off her roommate’s shelf. Wes is a master of turning the prosiac and melancholy into something whimsical and backhandedly uplifting, which I really appreciate for a number of reasons. I’ve already accumulated several pages of journal reflections on this sort of thing, but that writing is prose and not update related. I might share some of it later…
I mention the movie because it resolves so many conflicts related to being “stuck”, eccentric, excessive, or not enough. Though I’ve seen it many times, this was by far the most poignant watching experience I’ve had. It got my brain whirring in even more directions, but new possibilities seem exciting instead of overwhelming. Lot’s of good rainstorms for brainstorms.
Free things and Fast Food
Another thing I’ve written lots about on paper. Many lessons learned here, but here’s a practical life tip: Subway’s five-dollar egg white omlette footlong is a lifesaver. Chattahoochie’s Subway slipped us a couple of free berry/white chocolate cookies, which REALLY hit the spot.
I have an entire essay about this, but the cliffnotes are thus: I spent ten years bragging about how long it had been since I’d eaten fast food (particularly McDonald’s), which isn’t such a big feat for a vegetarian health Nazi. But their egg McMuffin and berry parfait in White Springs, FL were the closest to my normal home breakfast I’ve had since leaving. It’s been about three days since I’ve eaten at McDonald’s, and I kinda miss it. Who’d’a thunk?
Lastly, a life-changing shoutout to some wonderful family friends who offered up their home in a city that lies about two days ahead on the route. A real home and a real bed for the first time since leaving will be unspeakably nice and have placed a lot of spring back in my step. Appreciation factor for everything is up a lot in a very short amount of time. Wander homelessly through central Florida for a bit and you’ll see what I mean…
I cannot express enough thanks for all of the people who have reached out to me lately. Gives me strength to keep going and (almost) makes me want to hurry home. Go Cowboys!