TRIP 2016

Update #24 - November 29th
Destin, Florida
Mission Trip 71: 983.05 miles (1,572.88 km)
Year Total : 8,075.01 miles (12,920.02 km)

Nov 22, 2016 : Crystal River, FL to Chiefland, FL : 47.69 miles (76.30 km)
Trip Total: 682.57 miles (1,092.11 km)
Year Total: 7,774.53 miles (12,439.25 km)

I had a pretty good afternoon and night. The room was okay except for the thin venetian blinds in the windows. They didn't block the light outside and the room didn't get that dark. I was able to get some rest but I woke up around 4 am. I took the time to finish updating the website.

Because of the cold, I opted to stay on till around 8:30 am. I started the ride wearing my jacket along with the long sleeve cycling jersey. The ride North on US 98 went okay. There was a tailwind to push me along. Even with the late start, I was able to get in almost 22 miles by noon. I stopped alongside the highway to take a short lunch break with food from the pannier.

The afternoon ride went okay. With the tailwind, I got up to around 11 mph. The temperature got warm enough that I was able to take my long sleeve cycling jersey off.

I got into Chiefland around 3:30 pm. I wasn't sure if I could find a minister in the office of one of the local churches so I stopped at the police station. I didn't get much help. The suggestion was to go to the Methodist Church close by. The pastor was in. He offered to get me a room at the motel on the Northern edge of town.

Nov 23, 2016 : Chiefland, FL to Shamrock : 25.94 miles (41.50 km)
Trip Total: 708.51 miles (1,133.62 km)
Year Total: 7,800.47 miles (12,480.75 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night. The room was okay except that it smelled of smoke. It hadn't been aired out in a while. I got the first room of the motel and it was the closest to the highway. The walls were cinder block and the room was away from the office so I didn't get a signal from the wifi modem. The non-smoking rooms were closer to the office but they wanted a higher rate for these rooms. At least the room was clean and there was no problem with bugs. Even with the hundreds of channels available on the flat-screen tv through DirectTv, I couldn't keep myself interested beyond 9 pm. Most of the channels were just sales channels. Everything was in a fever pitch because this week is the start of the busy shopping season for Christmas. There was a lot of big hype on the Black Friday sales.

The biggest two things on the news beyond what President-elect Trump is going to do after his election were the weather and the death of school age children in Chattanooga, TN yesterday. With regards to the weather, there have already been some big Winter Storms especially in New England. In New York some parts of the state already have over 20 inches of snow from lake-effect storms. I called up my pastor friend in Chittenango and he said that they had at least 15 inches of snow on the ground. With regards to the school children dying in Chattanooga, five kids were killed on a school bus taking kids home from school Monday afternoon. The black bus driver was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. He was going over the posted 30 mph and slammed into a tree nearly splitting the bus in two. Some of the children were ejected out of the school bus. The guy in his early 20s had gotten his commercial license earlier in the year. There were complaints about his driving and he had already had a minor accident with the school bus back in September.

After trying to start watching a movie on my laptop, I gave up and went to sleep till around 9:30 am. I woke up around 4:30 am and I couldn't fall back asleep.

I left the motel around 7:40 am. There was something strange in front of the motel. There was a small rv in the ditch. The driver was a small elderly lady who had a dog. It looked like she had either swerved off the highway or miscalculated in turning into the motel driveway and missed it by several yards. A tow truck is probably going to be used to pull the rv out of the ditch.

The temperature was at least fifteen degrees warmer than yesterday. I didn't put on my jacket but I did put on my long-sleeve cycling jersey.

I didn't get down the road by a couple of miles when I had to stop and check out the rear tire. It was going soft. I found a small piece of wire sticking up from inside the tire. I put in the new inner tube that I had bought a couple of days ago. I was back on the road in 20 mins.

I had an okay ride to Fanning Springs. I stopped at a Dollar General to get a loaf of bread. The temperature got warm enough that was able to take off the long-sleeve cycling jersey.

Right before I got onto the Nature Coast Rails-to-Trails, I must have hit something hard because the rear tire started to flat. I found a large hole in the tire where something must have punctured it. I glued a reinforced patch inside the tire over the hole. I got to keep an eye on the tire because it has already has over 2,500 miles on it. The closest bike shop on my route other than making a long sidetrip up to Tallahassee would be in the Panama City Beach about 220 miles away. The next bike shop would be in Pensacola about 100 miles further to the West.

Because of the delays, I only got about 17 miles in by noon. I stopped at one of the small shelters on the trail to get some lunch out of the food pannier. From where I started up again after lunch, I had about a seven mile ride into Cross City. Because this was the day before Thanksgiving, I didn't expect to find anybody at one of the local churches. I did check out a couple of churches but their offices were closed. I learned that there wasn't going to be any evening services tonight because there was a community wide evening service at the First Baptist Church last night. I stopped at this Christian Center in the small downtown area. There was nobody in the office that could help me connect with a local minister. I was able to exchange the two paperback books that I've been reading over and over again for two new ones that I haven't read. I was also able to pick up some baked goods. There was a suggestion to check out a Baptist Church about five miles to the North that had a covered outside play area for kids. It was North of the next town of Shamrock.

A couple of miles out of Cross City, I passed a fellow cycle tourist who was traveling South. I just waved to the guy who waived back. There wasn't a way for me to go over to talk to him because this was a divided four lane highway.

I stopped at the Lydia Baptist Church. There was a lady there who came out of the fellowship hall because her dog started barking. The lady was pretty friendly. Her name was Roz and she was originally from Britain. Roz told me that the church had let a lot of cyclists stay under the shelter (covered play area for kids) during the night. There is an electric outlet available and water. Roz opened up the restroom door for me so I can have access to it over the night. Roz has a really great heart for Christian compassion. She really expressed that she is to serve others as a way to serve the Lord.

I'm going to set up my tent tonight and be able to watch movies on my laptop. From where I am, I have a 41 mile ride into Perry. Earlier in the day, I contacted my Baptist minister friend in Perry and he told me to contact him tomorrow afternoon when I get into Perry and he will help me with a place for the night. I should be in Perry by early afternoon.

I'll probably in my tent Friday night somewhere between San Marcos and Medart. Saturday, I'm either going to stop in the Panacea area or try and go on to Carabelle Beach so that I can get to a church Sunday morning. This would have me in Apalachicola Monday. I need to stop at the Methodist Church in Apalachicola to see if they are really going to start financially supporting my ministry like how the pastor told me back in mid October.

Nov 24, 2016 : Shamrock, FL to Plum Orchard, FL : 74.79 miles (119.66 km)
Trip Total: 783.30 miles (1,253.28 km)
Year Total: 7,875.26 miles (12,600.42 km)

I had an okay night at the Lydia Baptist Church north of Shamrock. It was refreshing meeting somebody like Roz who knew so much about compassion and serving the Lord through the service to others. It was nice having a table to sit down and elecricity so that I could use my laptop. There was water and Roz unlocked the outside restroom door so I could have access to it.

Roz and her husband showed up around 6:30 pm and there was another guy on a bicycle who showed up with them. I think that the guy's name was Richard and he was in his early 40s. He had started from the St Petersburg area and was going someplace in NW Colorado to work at a ski resort. The guy was going to try and ride this really old and torn up mountain bike that had rear shocks. The front wheel had a wobble so he had disconnected the canti-lever brakes and the rear brakes didn't work either because of a broken cable. This was the guy's first long-distance bike trip and he was so ill-prepared. He had bought the bike, a small pup tent, and a sleeping bag from flea markets and he was carrying the rest of his belongings in a backpack. The tent from fastened to the bike's frame and he was carrying the large sleeping bag on his handlebars. He wasn't wearing a helmet and there wasn't a mirror. He did have a micro headlight and rear flasher.

While Roz was cooking us some supper, I got out my maps to show Richard a much better route across the Southern Part of the Country to El Paso, TX where he needed to turn North and ride across New Mexico to Colorado. He was going to take a more direct route. Roz cooked us some scrambled eggs and there was some pastries as well for supper. After supper, I talked with Roz and her husband. The guy is a weight coach at the high school and he also is one of the guys who goes up to the top of the forestry look-out towers to spot wild fires.

The guy was so green that he didn't know how to set up his tent. I helped the guy set up his tent. I had the same kind of tent before. The sleeping bag wasn't really rated for Winter weather. I gave him the piece of tarp that I've been carrying that I had cut off the ground cloth and also the sleep sack that had been made out of a homemade blanket that somebody had given me about five years ago. The guy needed them more than me carrying them.

It was around 8:30 pm when I crawled into my tent. I had a surprise when I moved some of my panniers around. There was a small yellow frog. It must have jumped into the tent because I had left one of the doors down. I carefully scooped the frog into a bag so I could remove it from the tent. I spent about a hour or two watching a couple more movies on my laptop.

I was able to get some rest but it was hard with all of the traffic from busy US 98 close by and there was light from several security lights nearby. It was also a little hard getting used to having somebody close by. The last time that I had camped out with somebody close by was back on the C&O Towpath in Maryland at the hiker/biker campsites along the canal towpath. I had flashbacks from that really crazy guy that I shared a campsite with several years ago.

I woke up early before 6 am so I had breakfast and things packed as quietly as I could because the guy in the other tent hadn't woken up. After going to the restroom and filling up all of my water bottles, I headed out near sunrise around 7:10 am. Traffic was light at that time of hour.

The ride North went really well. The shoulder was sort of smooth and there was a slight tailwind to push me along. Because of this, the miles went by quickly. I had the first 20 miles in my 9:20 am. By noon, I had ridden almost 36 miles and there was just 5 miles left to ride into Parry.

It was around 1 pm when I got into the Southern outskirts of Perry. I stopped to call up my minister friend to tell him that I was in town. He was expecting a call from me because I talked to him the past couple of days and told him that I was going to be passing through Perry. He told me that he would help me find a place to spend the night. I was expecting to talk with him but all I was able to do was leave a message in his cell phone message box. The message told me that he would get by as fast as I could. I stopped at the Forestry Center park and took a break at one of the picnic shelters there. I waited about an hour and attempted to talk with my friend again. The phone call went straight to the cell phone voice mail box. I was mildly upset because it felt that I was getting stiffed. When I talked to my friend yesterday, I should have insisted that he had a plan then instead of waiting till I arrive. I told my friend in the message that I would make one more attempt to try and contact him in a half hour and then I would just shake the dust off my shoes and just start the trip West towards Apalachicola. I stopped at a BK that was open for some onion rings that I had a coupon for and a cup of water. I wanted to at least check my email. I tried the last time around 2:30 pm but still no real conversation with my so-called friend. I figured that he was either stuffing his face with turkey or watching a football game on television and had forgotten about me.

It was about 2:40 pm when I got back on US 98 and started West. I stopped at Rocky's gas station in Hampton Springs for a short break to use the restroom and to fill up a water bottle because there wouldn't the chance to do so until I got to the County park and camgrounds in Newport about 40 miles away. The ride West went okay. There was a tailwind to push me along. I finished up the rest of Madison Country, across the Escoline River bridge, and into the Southern portion of Jefferson County. It was about Dusk when I rode across the Ancilla River Bridge. I wasn't sure how far I was going to get and I wasn't sure where I was going to be able to camp out because I was in a marshy area.

Just as it was starting to get really dark, I came across the entrance to the Ancilla Wildlife Management Area. This was a big area where people go hunting mostly with dogs. There was a dirt and stone road into the wildlife area. Not too far from the highway, there was a picnic shelter on a concrete slab and a concrete parking spot for the handicapped. The shelter wasn't that far from the edge of a pond. I couldn't pitch my tent under the shelter because the picnic table was bolted to the slab. Next to the handicap parking spot were several trees and bushes. I thought that by camping under the tree and locking up Alice onto the handicap sign pole and covering her up with a tarp and then pitching the tent behind Alice I could be sort of hidden from the highway but I was just thirty feet from the dirt and stone road into the wildlfe area. I wasn't expecting anybody to go through the wildlife area. I was less than 150 feet from the highway. I would have liked to be in a more hidden area but beyond the entrance way, the entrance road was sort of on a causeway and on both sides of the road was marsh.

I'm about ten miles out of Newport and about 30 miles away from Medart.

Nov 25, 2016 : Plum Orchard, FL to Carrabelle Beach, FL : 57.32 miles (91.71 km)
Trip Total: 840.62 miles (1,344.90 km)
Year Total: 7,932.58 miles (12,692.13 km)

I had an okay night camping out. It didn't get that cold and traffic died down. Nobody came into the wildlife area. I was expecting somebody like a deputy sheriff roll into the area but nobody came. I was able to get some rest.

I woke up around 6 am. As I was packing up and moving things out of my tent, several pick-up trucks drove passed by me into the wildlife area. Nobody made any comments to me. I had Alice packed up by daybreak. It was a little foggy.

I got on the road about 7:10 am. The ride West went okay. I was able to make some good time. A couple of miles down the road, I came across this really big beach towel. It was too good to not pick up and it smelled like it had recently been washed. About five miles down the highway, I came across this blue reflector on a really long metal pole. It was another thing too good to not pick up and use as a side flag. The pole that I had been using since Oct 31 out of Kingsland, GA was too short and it didn't give me much safety. People were still driving quite close to me. A mile or two down the road, I came upon an orange washcloth. I stopped alongside the highway to sew the washcloth on as a side flag. Now I have something that sticks out from the recumbent a little over 3 feet so people will now have to take the time to drive around me to avoid hitting it.

I stopped at the county park - campground in Newport to use the restroom and to also fill up a water bottle. I got the first 20 miles in by 10:10 am. By 11:20 am, I was in the Medart area and I had ridden 26.6 miles. I was making a good pace that I was thinking that I would be able to get in another 3 or 4 miles in the next half hour so I would pass the thirty mile mark before noon again but it didn't happen.

I spotted somebody that looked like they needed my help. At a picnic table next to a closed sea food shop was this lady who was touring. Her bike was flipped upside down and the rear wheel was off. When I pulled over to stop and find out if she really needed some help she told me that she did because her pump had failed. The o-ring inside the pump had split in two so the pump was out of commisssion. I offered to fix her tire for her. She told me that she had pulled a small piece of wire from the tire. I started to inflate the tire but I couldn't get it up beyond 40 psi. It turns out that the lady hadn't bothered to fix the leak in the tube since she didn't see the hole. It was a really small pinhole leak. My concern was that the tube was really thin and small. It was actually for thin racing tires and not for touring tires. The other tubes that she had were Presta valve but neither I or her had an a fixed adaptor. I fixed the leak and got the tire inflated.

It turns out that the lady has been on the road for a couple of years. She spent the first year or so walking across the country between Delaware and California on the American Discovery Trail. From California, she had hitch-hiked up to Everett, Washington to stay a while with a sister. She started across the country from Everett on another bicycle but it had been stolen at another sister's house in Waco, TX. This was her first cross-country bike trip and she was finishing up in St Augustine in about a week. She said that she used to live in St Augustine and that is where she was going right now. I didn't want her to be stranded without a working pump so I gave her the pump that I've been carrying on Alice as a back-up pump. This was kind of redundant because of good the mini pump that I've been using since March. I also gave her the tire pressure gauge that I've been carrying in my toolkit sack but I didn't need that either because there is a pressure gauge built into the mini-pump. She's the second person who I've given things that I've been carrying and don't really need this month.

It was a little after noon when we parted company. I gave her suggestions on where she could camp out tonight and where she could camp out in Perry. The lady was a Christian and she told me that she stops for worship at churches along the way. I told her to go to the FUMC in Perry.

From Medart, I had a good ride to and through Panacea. I figured that I had enough daylight to make it into Carrabelle before dark. I made it to Lanark Village okay. I stopped at the gas station for a bathroom break. The remaining five miles into Carrabelle was quite hard because I was riding most of the way directly into the setting sun so there was a lot of glare. I got into Carrabelle around 4:45 pm. The sun was setting early because of clouds. I stopped at a Dollar General to get a loaf of bread. I made it across the intercoastal bridge into Carrabelle Beach before it got dark. From the bridge it was just a couple of blocks ride to the Carrabelle Christian Center. I was just hoping to maybe camp out somewhere on the church property but there was a guy there with two teens. The guy called up the pastor who was in New Orleans and I got permission to spend the night in the youth building again. I got let into the building. This is the second time that I stayed here this year. The last time was back on October 20th.

Tomorrow, I've got about a 21 mile ride into Apalachicola.

Nov 26, 2016 : Carrabelle Beach, FL to Apalachicola, FL : 21.97 miles (35.15 km)
Trip Total: 862.59 miles (1,380.14 km)
Year Total: 7,954.55 miles (12,727.28 km)

I had an okay night in the youth center of the Carrabelle Christian Center. I went to bed around 10 pm. I woke up around 6:20 am.

I got back on the road around 7:50 am. The ride West went okay. The ride to Eastport went okay. It was good having the side flag because some motorists got close. I took a short break before starting the five mile bridge - causeway ride to Apalachicola.

I got into Apalachicola around 12:45 pm. I rode over to the Methodist Church. There was nobody at the parsonage. I tried the pastor's cell phone number but I wasn't able to get in hold of him. I parked myself on one of the park benches in the memorial garden between the church and the fellowship hall.

After about four hours of waiting, I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't know if and when my pastor friend was going to come home. It was getting close to dusk. I opted to see if the lady rector at the Episcopal Church was home. she only lived a block away. I had met her about five years ago. Instead of letting me stay in the fellowship hall of her church for the night, she offered to get me a room at one of the local motels.

Nov 27, 2016 : Apalachicola, FL to Apalachicola, FL : 01.00 miles (01.60 km)
Trip Total: 863.59 miles (1,381.74 km)
Year Total: 7,955.55 miles (12,728.88 km)

The night would have been better if I had gotten a room that had an air conditioner/heater unit that didn't click so loudly when it turned on. The noise kept waking me up. I also couldn't really get comfortable in a bed that was so high off the ground. You nearly needed a foot stool to climb up on it. It was almost 5 am when I finally gave up sleeping and got out of bed.

Around 9:20 am, I left the motel and rode back to the Methodist Church. I didn't know if there was a Sunday school class. It was good that I had made the connect with the Episcopal rector in helping me find a place to stay because my pastor friend and his family weren't in the area yesterday. They had actually gone up to their families homes in Maryland for Thanksgiving. They just arrived back in Apalachicola around 8 am.

They were kind of surprised to see me again this year. People didn't really start showing up for church until around 10:30 am. The church service started kind of late. During the Joys and Concerns part of the service, I was given the chance to share. The pastor told me that the church did approve supporting me as a missionary but it won't start till the first of the next year. After the service, one of the church members slipped me a small GH.

Instead of me going back to the motel to stay, the pastor suggested that I could spend the night in the youth department of the fellowship hall where there are sofas and the money that would have been spent on the room would be donated to me online. The pastor showed me where there was a laundromat in town close by. He also took me out to a Dollar General to get me a recharge card for my cell phone and also some groceries. We also stopped at a Subway and the pastor bought me a foot long sandwich.

I'm not sure how far I'll get tomorrow. There is the possibility of rain. I'll either make it a short day to Port St Joe where I'll try and connect with the minister at the First Baptist Church or ride to Mexico Beach and try to connect with the minister at the Methodist church there. I've camped out behind the Methodist church several times.

Nov 28, 2016 : Apalachicola,, FL to Woodlawn (West Panama City Beach), FL : 71.49 miles (114.38 km)
Trip Total: 935.08 miles (1,496.13 km)
Year Total: 8,027.04 miles (12,843.26 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night at the fellowship hall of the Methodist Church. The first goal that I had was to take my dirty stuff to the local laundromat. It was good having clean clothes again. Back at the church, I packed up all of the clean clothes and the food that my pastor friend had bought for me. I took my laptop upstairs to the jr/sr high youth center. There were several couches that I could use. There was a wifi network that I could connect to but my ethernet cable didn't work well. I was hoping for my pastor friend to come by to visit with me after they got back from the beach but I expected that everybody went to bed early since they had arrived from Maryland only about 90 minutes before the church service started.

I was able to get some rest. I woke up around 5:50 am. The sun woke me up. Around 7 am, I went next door to see if anybody was up but they weren't. Before heading out, I wrote a note to my friend.

I got on the road around 7:10 am. As soon as I got out of town and I turned Northwards, I started to get pushed my a great tailwind. I got up to 14 mph. About eight miles out of Apalachicola, I met up with a guy with a large backpack on. He told me that he was walking across country and this was his third trip across. In his travels, he told me that he was just missing him eight states. I offered him some food and water but he only accepted a chocolate bar.

It didn't take long to pass the 20 mile mark. I got the miles in by 9:10 am. The ride to Port St Joe went quickly. I rode through town and I headed out to Mexico Beach. Because of the tailwind, my speed went up from an average 9 mph to around 12 mph. I didn't want to try going any faster because of the damaged rear tire. Just before getting into Mexico Beach. I crossed into the Central Time Zone and I gained an hour back. By noon, I was almost out of the Tyndal Air Force Base and I had ridden a whopping 49 miles.

Getting across the high bridge between the air force base and Parker was tricky because there was no shoulder to ride along. Before getting onto Bus US 98, I stopped at a county park to have some lunch. I waited a little bit for a rain shower to go passed.

In Panama City, I stopped at the First United Methodist Church. The pastor who I knew had left around Easter last year. There were no ministers available to talk to today. I rode a couple of blocks to the downtown area. There was nobody at the First Presbyterian Church. I stopped at the First Baptist Church. I couldn't go into the office because the glass door was locked. I had to talk to the receptionist through an intercom. As I was talking, this guy came into the foyer. He wasn't really friendly towards me. He didn't tell me his name or his status with the church. He suggested that I got to the rescue mission a couple of blocks away. This was definitely out of the question. It was kind of disgusting that the guy called me bud as I was leaving.

I got back to riding through town. Before geting back on US 98, I stopped at the Western Baptist Church. There was a call box to talk to. I talked to a secretary and for some reason I got connected to a guy in charge of education. He wasn't that helpful. I was able to ride across the bridge between Panama City and Panama City Beach. Instead of going down to the ocean, I stayed on US 98.

I stopped at the Woodlawn United Methodist Church before it got really dark. I found some ladies in the office. The pastors had left but I got permission to camp out in a mowed area of the church yard behind a fence. There was a community garden and some small fir trees growing. Instead of camping out in the clear, I found a spot to camp out in some woods next to the church property. I set the tent up for rain.

Nov 29, 2016 : Woodlawn (West Panama City Beach), FL to Destin, FL : 47.97 miles (76.75 km)
Trip Total: 983.05 miles (1,572.88 km)
Year Total: 8,075.01 miles (12,920.02 km)

I had an okay night camping out. The trees kept me out of the wind. I did have a hard time staying asleep.

I forgot that the sun rose around 6 am in the CTZ. I got back on the road around 6:40 am. It was warm enough that I didn't have to layer up. There was a slight tailwind to push me along. I found a pretty good water bottle on the side of the road. It was from a bike shop in Jacksonville, FL. I didn't have any real plan to ride along Walton Cnty 30 but there was some road construction on US 98.

The ride along Cnty 30 went okay. There was some road construction. There was one flagger that didn't have a good water supply with him so I stopped to give him the bottle that I had picked up and also an apple for a snack. I had stopped in Seaside and I had rinsed out the water bottle and filled it up. He was appreciative.

I was on track to do 30 miles in by noon but I decided to stop at a oceanside park for an early lunch. I had ridden almost 27 miles.

From the park, it was about a 4 mile ride back to US 98. The ride through the Sandestin area into Destin went okay. By 3 pm, it was already getting dark because there was a lot of clouds. It looked like it was going to rain. There wasn't a way that I was going to make it across Oskaloosa Island before dark. I decided to stop at the First United Methodist Church. I met a nice lady there. The lady told me that the ministers were at a hospital in Fort Walton Beach because a church member was seriously ill. It took some time waiting but an offer came to put me up for the night in a local motel.

I'm not sure how far I'll be able to go tomorrow. There is a good chance for storms tomorrow. I was looking at trying to get into Pensacola but I'm not sure I'll be able to do that. I might try and reconnect with somebody at a social center here in Destin. It's been over ten years since I've stopped at Harvest House. I could also ride across Oskaloosa Island and stop at the First United Methodist Church in Mary Esther, FL. I had stopped there back in late October on my return trip from the flooded area in Louisiana.

The next update should be posted between Dec 06th and Dec 13th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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