April 23 - May 3: Florida

4/26 - Tallahassee (73 miles 2659 total)
73 miles from the ramada inn in marianna to the marriott courtyard in tallahassee, FL
this morning's weather was as beautiful as yesterday morning's was surly. being on the east end of the central time zone, it was light by 6, when we went out to the trailer to pack snack stuff for today's ride. a bit later, when i took my duffel out to load it onto the luggage trailer, i must've stepped into an anthill on the curb. at first i thot a mosquito was biting my toe, but when i looked down, both feet were covered with scurrying ants....scurrying & biting. i thot they might be fire ants; michelle got bit by one a couple of weeks ago & ended up with a huge red spot. so i took off running toward our motel room & quickly washed the ants off my feet. after a few minutes, the irritation was gone & my feet were fine. until i stepped into another anthill midday on a curb in the town of quincy.....
early in the morning, the sky was clear & the temps comfy...about 60. later in the day it would get only into the low 80's. & most of the day, any winds were tailwinds. as if that isn't enough good news, the road surfaces today were smooth. seldom did we have shoulders on the roads, but that wasn't usually a problem due to lack of traffic. tho' on some stretches on US 90 & on the parkway in tallahassee leading to our motel, having no shoulder made the biking very stressful.
after leaving the motel, we quickly got off the busy roads & turned onto the county roads on which we would spend most of the day. in this photo you can see the way the sunshine thru the canopy of trees dapples the roadway behind sari & roma.
we passed thru the pretty little town of chattahoochee in the morning, then midday we came to the town of quincy at about 48 miles into the day's route. (we'd already passed into the eastern time zone, so we lost an hour this morning.) there were beautiful homes along some of the the streets we traveled. before long we came to the town square. quincy is evidently the county seat of gadsden county. in this photo, from left, gay, laura, kathy groen, & catherine are standing in front of the court house.
you can see that there was a carnival-type atmosphere there. i got the impression it was some sort of march of dimes fundraising festival & perhaps a walk or run. sari & i were hoping to find some quaint little local restaurant to get a treat, but when both the restaurants recommended to us around the square turned out to be closed, we decided to sit on the court house steps & eat the pnut butter sandwiches we'd packed this morning.
the tall clown who was part of the carnival came loping in our direction. he leaned against the top of his car to adjust his leg extenders. when i asked if i could take his photo, he stood up & hiked up his left pants leg so you can see the mechanism he uses to become a giant.
he asked us to guess how much he makes per hour, & boy did we guess wrong. it turns out it's $70 per hour! he said he used to be an actor, but about 8 months ago he learned how to walk on these stilts (it took him a day to learn) & also how to make animals out of balloons. the company he works for is in tallahassee, but he says he's very busy providing entertainment at events all over the area. as he started to walk back to the groups of kids, he showed us how he can jump & dance wearing his stilts. this was a whole lot of information we didn't expect to learn today!
after leaving quincy, we pedaled toward tallahassee along lovely roadways again, but with more & steeper hills. this photo gives you a view of our terrain.
at 63 miles into the day's ride, we turned onto US 90 & quickly realized we were on the outskirts of tallahassee. soon we were riding through the campus of florida state university. a bit further along, we came to the bike shop that was indicated on today's route sheet. i wanted a mechanic to check my left gear shifters, so we went in. the fellows said 'sure' they had time to check my shifters; they'd devoted their afternoon to taking care of the riders in our group as we came by. they remembered the names of many of the women who had already stopped & left; & they remembered the bikes they were riding! several of our riders were able to find parts & supplies at this shop that they haven't found elsewhere on the trip.
after the mechanic checked over my bike, finding nothing amiss, i took this photo of john the mechanic (left) & tec, owner of tec's bicycle shop. john has worked at the shop for 22 years, & tec for 25. tec gave sari & me each a 25th-anniversary water bottle.
riding on, we were overjoyed to get off a very busy, shoulderless parkway when we arrived at the marriott. the motel rooms surround a courtyard with a swimming pool, & a jacuzzi off to the side. roma was already at the pool. she got in even earlier than usual today because she broke a spoke about 20 miles into today's route & had to be picked up by patty in the subaru. later the fellows at tec's bike shop fixed the bike quickly, so roma is ready to ride on monday.
michelle fixed a delicious dinner of sauteed shrimp & gulf scallops, linguini with sauteed fresh veggies (asparagus, carrots, zuchini, broccoli), green salad, & sliced watermelon & fresh pineapple. there were also some angel food cakes for dessert. a bit later she told us briefly what opportunities are relatively near the motel for activities on our last layover day tomorrow....i think movies, shopping, the state capitol, & of course restaurants. who knows what we'll find.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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