April 23 - May 3: Florida

5/2 - St. Augustine (46 miles 2947 total)
46 miles from the best western in palatka to the spanish quarter inn in st. augustine, FL, via anastasia state park beach
since the Good Morning America segment that might've included some bikers was postponed 'til next week, we all left palatka by about 7:30. before leaving, some of us checked on little pete; as you can see in the photo, he's beginning to look like a real puppy (here with michelle).
today was frances' birthday. here's a photo of frances with her decorated wheel spokes. the brightly-colored balls moved up & down her spokes as the bike moved.
as we rode along in the early part of our route this morning--again on some lovely, low-trafficked roads (but with some fog early)--we began to see signs written to us with chalk on the pavement & nearby.
in this photo, for instance, "someone" had written "YOU GO GIRLS" on the bridge. standing from left are becky, roma, rita, sari, patty, & vicky. in front from left are loralee, donna, & karen. we later found out that patty fainer & frances had gone out last evening to add these greetings to the roadway we would travel today. frances & patty have been such great sag drivers....lifting our spirits as well as filling our tummies.
the subaru was parked in the lot outside the little old country store at molasess junction, so many paused there. several found out that a person could get a made-to-order breakfast inside. loralee had eggs, grits & bacon.
in this photo, bev is picking up her hot-off-the griddle breakfast. in the background in his galley kitchen is jim, a local pastor who works with the farmhands in the area. with him is granny, mother of the store's owner.
we needed to keep riding in order to be at the fire station on time. when we got there, everyone lined up for this group BITCH socks photo. you remember from yesterday that the socks were a gift to all of us from loralee's daughter, with generous support from the socks' manufacturer, the sockguy.
it was an exciting moment when our leaders started having us line up, 2 by 2, to get ready for the ride across st. augustine. we were escorted by a couple of police cars. our tour leader, boston mary, wearing her "yellow jersey," rode right behind the police car. in this photo, you can see mary at the head of the line, with the police car on the right about to lead us across town.
we rode thru the streets with the bright lights of the police cars ahead of us swiveling in all directions & the sirens blaring at intersections. people along the sidewalks often waved; when we'd slow down a bit at a busy intersection, one or 2 folks along the way would ask what we were doing, & we'd quickly tell them. it was festive, exciting, & almost surreal. we rode over an old drawbridge in the beautiful historic district of town, then wended our way to the beach at anastasia state park.
there were quite a few family & friends of the bikers at the beach, who cheered as we rode in. even those of us who didn't "belong" to any of them greatly appreciated their warm welcome. most of us pushed our bikes down thru the sand so we could dip our front tires.
here are 2 of the merriest dippers....anne layschock on the left, who finally accomplished an atlantic dipping on her 3rd try in 3 years. on the right is boston mary, our tour leader. (mary didn't know how to switch gears when she began this tour in california.)
in this photo, roma, sari, & i have our front bike tires in the surf's edge. like a few other bikers, roma later spent some time out in the waves (without her bike). sticking out of our helmets are some shiny sprigs of stars & stripes that patty fainer distributed at the fire station. i'm sporting 2 sprigs; patty also gave me a purple one, so i wore both.
behind sari is the photographer from a nearby TV station, who joined us at the fire station & covered our ride to the beach. he took footage that will assumedly be part of the "good morning america" segment sometime next week.
marilyn dehaan is a veteran tire-dipper; she's done more bike tours than all of us put together. she's come up with a way to do the official dipping without getting her bike full of sand, as you can see in this photo. carolyn (on the left) joins her in this much easier tire-dipping method.
after a while, we walked or biked a short distance to a shady spot on the beach, where michelle had spread tables with a wonderful picnic lunch that was enjoyed by us bikers & visitors alike. then we got on our bikes again & rode back into st. augustine---some to bike stores, others to the motel. getting bikes boxed or somehow ready for shipping was the order of the afternoon. i was hugely fortunate to get bryn's help in dismantling my bike & getting it into my hard bike case. then my great good fortune continued when susan anderson, a relative of rita's, picked up me & my cased bike for a trip to a nearby UPS store, where i sent off the bike. this part of a bike trip has never been this easy for me; i'm indebted to bryn & susan.
at 6:15 we all gathered in the motel lobby to walk to a nice restaurant a half block away, where we had a most wonderful good-bye banquet. gloria offered a toast with our glasses of champagne. after dining, michelle & cynthia presented frances a birthday gift & card from all of us.
in this photo, you can see how lovely frances looks in her new blue mohair shawl (from delores' shop way back at camp wood, TX). she also got a balloon, "happy birthday, mom." frances has truly been our mom on this trip....taking care of our every little need along the road as she watched over her flock from little bo peep (the subaru).
then, catherine (in a dress!!) & michelle distributed an award to each of the bikers, the first one going to bev for "the body we'd most like to have when we're 70." (isn't that the truth!) all the rest of their awards were as clever, & highlighted things about each rider that we've noticed & appreciated. as for catherine & michelle----we can't imagine having better tour leaders.
bryn then provided frances a special lesson in how to better express herself, especially when dealing with demanding bikers at sag stops. patty fainer & frances finished up the program by calling each biker up for the official pinning ceremony, which again elicited all sorts of endearing qualities we recall about each of our new friends. we laughed so hard this evening. it reminded us again how much we've loved spending 2 months with these wonderful people.
on a personal note, i can't end this trek without thanking my son mark for making possible this e-diary of our trip. he designed the web site, then every day for 2 months he's received my reports & photos via email at his home in iowa city & posted them to this site. before that, he researched what equipment would be best for me to use, then showed me how to use it (what patience that took!). & along the tour, he & i have had to deal with several problems in getting this to work when phone connections were less than ideal (more patience required!).
in this photo you see mark on the left (wearing his own screaming-orange shirt....& with a cardinal i sent him perched on his ankle); on the right is my younger son, scott. he's an architect at a firm in iowa city, & has overseen & orchestrated renovations at my house while i've been away these 2 months. (how great it is for me to have it all done while i'm away!) i'm so grateful to both of my sons for the monumental support they provide me & my endeavors.
i also want to add an update on luanne. since her surgery, she has returned to chemotherapy & radiation treatments. she & kenny are excited about the new house they're building out on my edge of iowa city. i look forward to biking over to check on their progress when i get home.
the trip i've shared with you all is based on my own experiences, of course; i couldn't begin to portray the experiences of all the women on this tour. my lack of energy, time, & memory cells left these reports incomplete, & i'm sure often lacking in prose & photo quality. but i hope what you've seen on this site gives you an inkling of what a marvelous adventure it's been to cross the southern US on a bicycle.
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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