TRIP 2003

Update #43 - October 28th
Weeki Wachee, Florida - 9512 miles (15,219 KM)

If you would have gone to the TRIP LOG for the year, you would have seen that the "Coin Toss" didn't go well for the trip down to Key West. I'm glad that I went west to Ft. Myers instead since the weather got bad in the Miami area with rain. Maybe some other year, I'll try the trip down to Key West by possibly taking the ferry down to Key West and then riding back north to Miami.

The trip west across the state went okay. It took me three days. I spent one night in my tent camped out on the grounds of a church in Loxahatchie, another night in a motel room courtesy of the First Baptist Church in Belle Glade, and in a cottage of a new friend in Labelle. I had gotten into Labelle around 5 p.m. and I stopped at the sheriff's office to see if I could be referred to a local minister to see if I could stay in the church for the night. They gave me directions to the Methodist church because there was a parsonage next door. The minister didn't live in the parsonage but one of the neighbors offered me the use of their cottage in the backyard and I ate Chinese with the family.

In Fort Myers, I spent the night with the president of the local bicycle club. I spent two nights with a new friend through the Warm Showers (Cyclist Hospitality) List. He had an RV bus in his backyard and I was able to take a day off, which was very much needed since I hadn't had a day off since 505 miles.

I camped out one night in the field behind a church in South Sarasota. My friends were not there. I had some extra money so I was able to get a couple of low-cost motel rooms in Palmetto, Gibsonston, and New Port Richey. Tonight, I am spending the night in a great motel courtesy of one of the local Catholic churches.

The reception that I've gotten from local churches have been mixed. I was able to speak to one of the Sunday school classes at the First United Methodist Church in Palmetto. They were very interested in what I was doing. Four really nice elderly ladies started a basket around the room for an offering for me. When they presented it to me it was almost $100. During the service, one of the ushers slipped me $3 more.

Today, because of some mixed weather with winds and rain, I stopped at several churches to see if maybe I could spend the night on one of the floors in a Sunday school classroom or maybe in the fellowship hall. At the Episcopal church I stopped at, the priest was a classic "pass-off" one. He told me that there was an alarm system and that they couldn't turn it off for the night. He gave me directions to a Catholic church about three miles down the road. The priest at the Catholic church was really helpful. He fed me a meal from the school cafeteria, slipped me $20 so that I could buy some food down the road, and even offered to get me a room at the Comfort Inn in nearby Weeki Wachee.

From here, I'll be heading inland for a while. I'll be riding to Brooksvile and then on to Gainesville. From Gainesville, I might be heading west to the Florida Panhandle. I have a Episcopal priest friend in the Apalachicola area who talked to me about his wanting to start an ecumenical social service center with some of the local churches.

I'll try to post an update as often as I can if there are any changes in my plans.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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