Thursday, 31 December 2009

2010: Welcome to the Teenies

What a day yesterday was. It was a tricky route, starting in the beautiful rural area around Ruskin, then cycling a good distance up the main highway (the only road around) to the Port of Tampa. Getting ourselves through Tampa was a complex matter, involving a similar road network to Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham (UK), and then a couple of significant bridges. Needless to say the Gamines did their usual throwing of hands in the air, pretending that the main bridge that we were going over did not exist, and trying to persuade us to go all the way around the bay of Tampa instead (yeah…real sensible girls). Luckily, Anthony had enough recollection of the route that he had set the night before to be able to guide us safely through the twists and turns.

We stopped to eat lunch (bacon and sausage sandwiches courtesy of a good breakfast at the hotel) around St Petersburg, just below Tampa. As we were pulling up to the Starbucks (Kat’s first latte since Savannah) a friendly guy called Chuck stopped us to ask if we were part of an organised group. Getting chatting to him, we found that he used to do a bit of cycling himself, and he had a number of helpful suggestions about bike trails that we might take to get ourselves through our next few stages. We gave Chuck one of our newly printed business cards and sat down to savour our yummy sandwiches. To our surprise, just as we were about to hit the road again, a pick up truck pulled up and Chuck leaned out of the window to hand us a number of printouts that he had downloaded while we were having lunch setting out the biking trails in the area. What a star! We’re using them as we type to plan our route for tomorrow…

So, approaching Clearwater Beach, our destination, we were happy to be out of urban sprawl and back onto the beach roads with cycle paths that we have been spoiled with on our coastal legs. However, on reaching the hotel, we were a little dismayed to find that one of the spokes on Anthony’s back wheel had broken… disaster. It sounds minor, but in fact you cannot ride any distance on a wheel with a broken spoke, especially not carrying over 60lbs. In our usual relaxed fashion, we thought that we would get this fixed tomorrow en route, until it suddenly dawned on us at about 4.30pm today that tomorrow is New Year’s Day, and everywhere will be closed… A number of hurried phone calls later, we managed to identify a bike shop that was still open. Anthony zoomed off the 6 miles to the shop, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Adam was able to fix the problem. Big shout for Adam and Clearwater Cycles (Drew St).

The hotel has been a great find, but we’re not too sure about the local restaurants… We found a fab Italian restaurant near the hotel, however, and have been happily gorging ourselves with pizza take out in our room, washed down with some rather nice plonk (and tonight a little Champers). We had been planning to grace the nightclub at our hotel with our presence when we booked it, as it boasted that it was the best club in the area. However, finding that it was $120 to get in, we opted for the Ant & Kat Club instead…bargain, and very exclusive.

And we even have the opportunity to pop out onto our balcony and check out the Blue Moon whenever we like…yes, the second full moon in December… and on New Year’s Eve.. Who’d have thought it.

Thanks for all the New Year wishes and a Happy New Year to all of you!

Us x

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Dialling in

Just a quick note to let you know that we arrived safely today. Great ride, met some wonderful people, and will post proper blog tomorrow - we are absolutely exhausted tonight, but have rest day tomorrow, so more then...

Us x

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Dancing our own steps at the Pan Pacific!

TODAY’S INTERESTING FACT “…if you're in the ocean and a Tiger shark swims up to you, don’t worry, it’s just being curious. Simply push it away and it won’t attack you”. Such is the advice we received at breakfast this morning from a very nice and extremely adventurous South African family (their daughter, Natasha, who can’t be more that 17, swims in open water with Great White Sharks). And we thought we were being bold with our cycling! Anyway, on to the business of the day...

Much to the disappointment of Margaret and Audrey, we have been cycling ‘Off Piste’ for the past few days and today was no different. No more copying routes from websites and following a path set out for us, but instead spending hours in bed the night before researching, preparing and mapping out routes using Google Earth, Google Maps, MacPro GPS and a variety of other software programs. We are now the masters of our own destinies, making every effort to limit the Gamines’ frustrating recommendations to “make a U–turn” when we’re just 1 mile away from our next waypoint. Anthony in his typical “I will not be led by such idiocy…” manner developed a method for planning routes where it would be near impossible for the Gamines to impose their own interpretation of the ‘best route’ which, if obeyed, would send us an extra 20 miles in a ‘2pr’ direction before agreeing on our final destination. With 64 days watching the Gamines pull their best moves, counter moves and downright irritating nonsensical suggestions, we have finally won the day… not a single “make a U-turn” today: Ding Dong, the Gamines are defeated; we have exorcised the demon!

Cycling secure in the knowledge that last night’s 2 hours of route planning was an investment well spent, we enjoyed every aspect of today’s ride. Avoiding US Hwy 41, the equivalent of the M6 (a 6-lane busy highway in the UK) we meandered through the stunningly gorgeous towns of Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach and Holmes ‘tim’ Beach. Despite the trip distance being increased to 60 miles, we’d happily trade the views, roads and herds of fellow cyclists along the coastal path for the views of Trucks, SUV’s and pickups thundering past at 55mph along US Hwy 41, every time!

Knowing that overdosing on euphoria is not always a good thing, we weren’t too disappointed when the coastal leg ended 40 miles into the trip and we returned to the congested US Hwys. However, the problem with the ‘overdosing on euphoria’ theory is that it’s incorrect. So, 10 minutes later, we pulled into Macky D’s for a spot of lunch and a foody euphoric fix. We met a lovely lady called Teresa in Macky D’s. She was excited for us when we told her about the trip and handed her one of our business cards.

Back on the road and satisfied with our chicken fillet burgers, fries and apple pie (Kat insisted on the pies) we completed the final 20-mile stretch through some pretty residential areas before arriving at our Hotel, which is beautiful. The view from the porch this evening was lovely. We saw the illuminated fairy lights of St Petersburg across the bay whilst the Sun set in the Gulf (see photos)

Us x

Monday, 28 December 2009

My Name is Earl

For those of you who are not familiar with My Name is Earl, it is a US show where the main character, Earl, develops a belief in the concept of karmic retribution and decides he wants to turn his life around. Earl makes a list of every bad thing he's ever done in an attempt to correct them, as he believes that this is the only way he can gain positive karma. He proceeds to cross items off the list, one by one, by doing good deeds in order to atone the items on his list. While not quite the same as that, today was one of those days where there was a good thing in a bad thing in a good thing in a bad thing, etc etc…and so it goes on. We’ll explain…

The day did not start well for Kat. While gathering a 9.28am complimentary breakfast in the hotel lobby to take back up to the room (breakfast ending at 9.30am), she pressed down too hard on the lid of a cup of coffee, which promptly exploded, covering her cycling top and scalding her stomach (don’t panic: after 10-15 minutes of bathing it with a cold face cloth, it was absolutely fine). However, as a result (and to avoid the lingering whiff of coffee as she cycled along), she reluctantly changed from a vest top, which seemed suitable for the bright sunshine outside, and into the only other cycling top she had left, thicker and with longer sleeves. Although not really making up for the scalded belly, Kat was grateful for this later in the day as the sun went in and the weather turned colder…who would have thought it.

Also, before we departed this morning, Kat tried to refill the cell/mobile phone account, since it had run out. After going through various frustrating recorded messages and touch-phone options, she was directed to a real person who then was unable to actually refill the account without directing her somewhere else, which sounded sure to take a very long time indeed. Kat cursed as she wrote down our phone number and various codes on a bit of paper and put it in the wallet to be revisited later in the day. Anthony hid for a short while to let her calm down! Very sensible.

So, we set off in the bright sunshine, with a light breeze, for a day of what we knew would be a straight and busy road up to our next destination. For our UK followers: imagine Purley Way in Croydon. Go on, we know you’ve all been there at some point, to the Ikea if nothing else. Then imagine 20 Purley Ways, one after another, seamlessly joined together by the same store every 2 miles or so. Yes? Well, add a wind tunnel at the end of it (you guessed it, the light breeze turned into a full-on head wind), and you’ve pictured our day down to a tee… the same store in this case being Publix, a grocery and pharmacy.

Anyway, the day gets worse (and better). Accepting our fate, we decided to take advantage of the constant retail opportunities, and stopped for lunch (a luxury these days as we generally try to cycle through and save time and money). It was really quite pleasant and, after filling our stomachs, we decided to buy some more Gatorade in Publix, and be on our way.

Things seemed fine until we reached our hotel, tried to check in, and found that we no longer had our wallet i.e. our cash, credit cards, drivers licence etc. Managing to check in using our emergency card (we’re daft but not that daft), we suddenly realized that there were a couple of missed calls on the phone from a number we did not recognize. Of course we could not find out if any message had been left as the phone was out of money. However, the hotel receptionist kindly let us use her phone.

Hooray! A lovely German man who now lives in Georgia, John, who was on vacation in the area visiting his family said his granddaughter had found our wallet outside Publix and both of them had been waiting 2 hours for our return, back at our lunch place…over 20 miles away. We ordered a taxi and hurried back to the place, meeting him and his granddaughter, and regaining possession of our precious wallet. We rewarded them generously with a healthy sum for their kindness, honesty and patience. The granddaughter at least has hopefully learned, if she didn’t already know, that every good deed is rewarded (at least eventually). Of course, John had found our number from the note that Kat wrote earlier in the day because she could not get the account on the phone re-charged.

The taxi driver who took us on that 40 mile round trip was a lovely lady called Daphne, with whom we had a great chat. On the way back from Publix, we found out that her ancestors/family are called Carey, and her Dad is called James Anthony. At that point, it was all a bit much for Anthony James Carey to take in…coincidences or what?

Anyway…the last story of our day. After rolling back from a nearby dinner, we decided to try to purchase our usual bottles of water from the vending machine near our room. Painstakingly inserting the dollar bills into the machine, we pressed the appropriate button and then sighed in dismay as the machine display said “not available-make another selection”. Rolling our eyes and pressing the reject button, a whole host of quarters rained down into the slot at the foot of the machine and onto the floor.

Picking up the quarters, we couldn’t help but check them (well Anthony couldn't...Kat was ready to put them straight in the washing machine). You see, since early on in our trip, we have been collecting all the different quarters from the various different US states. We had not been aware that there were different quarters for each state until we read about it in a newspaper in Richmond, VA. Since then, it has been bordering on the obsessional for us (think back to football stickers at school … why was it that you could never get Kenny Dalgleish?). Quite soon, we had collected a quarter for every state bar Wisconsin. Literally, for about 5 weeks now, we have been waiting only for Wisconsin; at times believing that it doesn’t really exist. So, when Anthony looked at the quarters that were spread all over the floor by the vending machine that had failed in providing the water that we wanted, he saw those 9 letters that we had been doubting we would ever see…


Us x

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The long straight road with a Fat End

Au revoir Coconut Point, salut Punta Gorda! Mal’heureusement, aujourd’hi we don’t have much to say apart from how long and straight the road is from Coconut Point to Punta Gorda; hence the broken Franglais to pad out a story.

… So here goes; our best attempt to find something newsworthy about today’s 42 mile ride into Punta Gorda, a “Fat End” (Punta Gorda in Spanish) of a town just south of Tampa Bay. Umm….errrr….wweellll….ahh! We know! Kat saw a car; it was black, a Lexus RX 300. “That’s a nice car” she said, “looks just like a Ford Kuga”. Meanwhile 4,850 miles away in the French Alps TMG suffered an unusual and involuntary tumble in the snow. TMG don’t worry Anthony explained to Kat that cars are not the same just because they have 4 wheels and are the same colour. Following our short break from monotonous beauty, we proceeded along the straight road into Punta Gorda, arriving at our hotel with plenty more gas in the tank. We’ve had dinner, now we're relaxing in front of the TV, watching Law & Order again.

Check out our photos!

Us x

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Clever

What to do on Boxing Day? Always a tricky decision with many options on offer. Apparently, 90% of the population of Florida decided to visit the shops at Coconut Point. The car parks were bursting at the seams and the restaurants were buzzing. Yes, despite the exotic sounding name, we have in fact been staying on the edge of a large but perfectly formed shopping mall. A perfect day, we thought, to get away from the crowds by cycling 5 miles to do some laundry. Apparently not… The other 10% were washing their duvets and scrapping over who got to the change machine first. No problem: we’re pros when it comes to laundromats!!

So, with the event of the day completed, we sidled over to one of the nearby restaurants just in time for happy hour, which was a very fortunate coincidence. Fed and watered, we staggered back the hundred yards or so to the hotel, looking forward to an evening of accommodation booking and route planning. Unfortunately, some of the other guests in the hotel had a different idea, and managed to set off the fire alarm; possibly the loudest noise either of us have ever heard. Imagine having to leave our trusty steeds in the room as we filed outside? Painful. Around an hour later we were graciously let back in and given the opportunity for some further exercise for our legs as we climbed the 5 flights back up to our room.

All in all, what a day of excitement…

Back on the bikes tomorrow as we make our way further up the Gulf Coast to a place called Punta Gorda.

Us x

Friday, 25 December 2009

Coconuts roasting on an open fire!

Today has been a day of “… wow we’ve never done that before at Christmas!” This morning there was no delicious smell of the Christmas Ham being boiled with whole cloves, no Christmas tree lights or the sound of our parents cranking up the radio at 5am to the tune of the Christmas Carols sung by the church choir. No freezing weather or the excitement of walking downstairs into the living room with the open fireplace and piles of presents loaded under the Christmas tree. No skiing in the French Alps with our dearest friends and of course no spending time with Anthony’s son Joseph, who is brilliant.

Accepting that the vast majority of familiar Christmas themes we had become accustomed to since the age of 4 years old would not be with us this morning, we embraced what Coconut Point had to offer. Our first voyage into the unknown was sitting in the communal breakfast room eating Bran Flakes with all the other Hotel guests who were for some reason dressed in their pyjamas! Not fazed by our momentary entry into the Twilight Zone, we continued to our next new Christmas experience. Dressed in our shorts and teeny tiny vests we took a stroll in the searing heat to see the sights. Unfortunately all the shops and bars were shut, the only establishment open for business was the cinema. Thinking we needed to do at least one more “… we’ve never done that before at Christmas”, we bought two tickets to see AVATAR at 6:30pm. Yes that’s right folks! We went to the cinema on Christmas day! We liked the film … 6 out of 10.

Fyi our festive food for the day was: chilli bowl and mini pizza for lunch, popcorn, wine, one gallon of coke, Caesar salad and an omelette for dinner.

Not much more to say, apart from MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY, and thanks for all the cards and presents.

Us x

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

We’ve gone 2000 miles

It’s very far

The snow is falling down

Gets colder day by day

We miss you.

We can hear people singing

It must be Christmas time…

Well, the snow is not falling here. In fact it’s quite warm, and today we were treated to a partial tail wind, as well as some lovely sunshine, as we made our way back up from the paradise that was Marco Island to the lovely Estero, just outside Bonita Springs, Florida.

But the rest is true.

No sign of a turkey or mince pie anywhere in the vicinity, but we’ll be very happy just to chill out for a couple of days.

Happy Christmas to you all, and thank you for your love and support.

Us x

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

“Yes We like Pina Coladas”

Strange as it may seem we’re actually missing England! With all this talk about Michael Schumacher starting the 2010 F1 season on March 14th and snow in London, we’re feeling slightly left out. We can’t remember the last time we saw inches of the fluffy white stuff coating the historic streets of London Town or The Germans going head to head with the Brits in the ultimate tarmac terror show down. I suppose we’ll just have to be content with staying here in Florida, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and sipping our Pina Coladas whilst watching the sea glow a dusky shade of candy red and the sky casting its vast cloak of crimson red as the sunset dissolves its colour into everything around us.

The start this morning from Ft Myers Beach to Marco Island was truly surreal. We honestly felt as though our Epic Journey had just started and the 2000+ miles we had completed from New York to Key West was but a distant memory. Excited by all the great and new experiences that lie ahead in the 2,750 miles to San Diego, we set off to Marco Island along some wonderful stretches of road with very little traffic. Despite the wind yet again not helping our course and blowing in every direction apart from behind, we still managed to enjoy the non-stop 48 miles averaging 14.5 mph. The sun was bright and not too hot, the scenery was … well, have any of you been to Naples, Florida? More specifically, 5th Avenue. If not, the best way to describe 5th Avenue Naples, Florida is “Money Money Money Mo…ney, MONEY!” “Holy Egg McMuffin” people! We thought the world was in recession … obviously not here.

Swiftly moving through the capital of money we soon crossed the bridge into Marco Island arriving at our hotel feeling surprisingly fresh and energetic. After checking into our room we couldn’t resist the calling of the white sandy beach and tranquil sea just 60 meters from our room. So, kitted out in our swim gear, we left our room, walked down the corridor, called the elevator and hit *L. Walking through the lobby to the pool area, stopping briefly at the poolside bar to collect the necessary alcoholic beverages we made our way to the beach and jumped into the refreshing sea….ahhh!

Evening dinner was lovely on the deck of the hotel restaurant, an end to a perfect day. No! Actually Kat practicing her Python handling skills in preparation for alligator eating monsters patrolling the Everglades was the end to a perfect day… thanks pdevereux for the heads up!

Us x

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Big Cat Diary

The start of a new phase… and not just the Southern Tier. Today we consumed around 2,000 calories and burned about 80. Yes, fish and chicken burgers for lunch (not to mention the jumbo bag of Cheetos that our hands are dipping into as we type this blog), and we only cycled 1.7 miles from the Ferry Terminal in Fort Myers Beach to our motel for the tonight. Blimey!

Hopefully we’ll put that right tomorrow when we cycle back on ourselves down to Marco Island to make sure that we actually cover as much of the coastline as is humanly possible. There are limited options for getting from the Florida Keys to the first inhabitable part of South West Florida (well, inhabited by humans rather than gators). In fact, the 3 1/2 hour ferry jaunt at night up the Gulf of Mexico was pretty much the only option. But it is fair to say that the ferry ride was our highlight of the day.

We boarded the Big Cat (our ferry) with much excitement, but sadly lacking in motion sickness tablets. We realised our schoolgirl/boy error about 30 minutes into the journey as the Big Cat was leaping over the waves and we were lurching from side to side, fearing that we may be seeing our fish and chicken burgers again rather sooner that we had hoped. The outlook for the following 3 hours was bleak until we managed to purchase some Dramamine from the bar, wash it down with lashings of ginger ale and borrow a blanket and pillow from a kind passenger who had clearly been a girl scout in her early years…very famous five (though no sign of Timmy the dog). Oh, and the Captain decided to divert from the usual route to avoid the worst of the swells, for which we (and many other green-faced passengers) were extremely grateful.

So, with all our brightest gear on, and with bike lights flashing, we disembarked and did our best impression of a couple of Xmas trees as we cycled the short distance in the dark to our motel. Though Anthony might have gone a little bit too far with the tinsel wrapped around his helmet…

Us x

Monday, 21 December 2009

Ground Hog Day (the “Squeakquel”)

Those famed hogs of the ground we were acquainted with in Philly are upon us once again (metaphorically speaking anyway). Crazy as it may seem, we’re at a psychological turning point of our Epic Journey and feeling the same levels of anxiety as we did at the start of the trip in Manhattan (ground hog day). Cycling the Atlantic coast south of New York and reaching the southern most point of continental USA means that stage 1 of 5 is now complete. Stage 2 starts tomorrow and we’re just as anxious at the prospect of cycling the southern tier of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and finally into San Diego, California.

In anticipation of stage 2, yesterday and today have been truly relaxing, recharging, re-evaluating, reviewing, reassessing and reading days… we also took some pictures.

Key West is a wonderful place; a real party town full of bars, restaurants, clubs, loud Irish pubs, big yachts, sex shops, the freshest seafood you’ve ever tasted and best of all 70% of the inhabitants of the downtown area get around on scooters or bicycles. We arrived Saturday 19th keen to execute our new daily budget plan for food and drink, but biting the bullet and getting a taxi the couple of miles into town! The cab driver provided a dinner recommendation for where we could eat well for a reasonable budget and consequently dropped us off at A&B restaurant, a beautiful place perched in a prime position in the marina and comprising of two floors offering very different gastronomic experiences. Making our way up to the 1st floor, with its impeccably laid tables complete with fine stemware and silver cutlery that sparkled like diamonds as it reflected the candle light cast from the modern yet stylish centre piece; we sat down and opened our menus. At this moment two things happened (1) as Kat order her pan-roasted Snapper on a bed of coconut cous cous and mild curried sauce, she had blown (exceeded) her daily budget on the one dish; and (2) clearly the cab driver was referring to the ground floor restaurant… but still the food was divine and well worth it!

Yesterday’s blog was very trim and we apologise for that. It was a very nice pleasant day seeing the sights on our bikes. Not much happened but we did manage to get back on track with the food budget and ordered from Taco Bell…muy agradable

So, on to today! A day of reading, riding and photo-taking. We also paid a return visit to A&B restaurant for lunch staying on the ground floor and ordering Crispy Fried Lobster Tail for Kat and Beer Battered Fish (Red Snapper) and Chips for Anthony. Having not had fried food for the most part whilst in Florida our brief foray back into “fried food” territory (remember South Carolina) has had an undesired effect….going to bed without dinner…just beers, chocolate and the all-new Closer on TNT.

Us x (still no wifi in room…don’t ask where we are right now)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Just checkin in

Just a quick word from us tonight, as we don't have internet access in our room (only in lobby). Cooler weather here today, though the rain has held off (so far). Planning to have a quick spin round the island of Key West tomorrow, and hope to have a few photos to post then.

Us x

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Go West!

Having survived the day from hell, we were very pleased to wake up to a new start on the beautiful Marathon shores, although it did seem as though the alarm went off in the middle of the night. We looked out of the window to see a bright, sunny day…perfect save for the gale force winds battering the palm trees and on the Weather Channel the “wind weather warning” that was in place for our area until 10am. Still, it was just a short jaunt down to Key West. So, after waiting until the end of the curfew, taking in a quick episode of Law & Order as we did our morning stretches (rude not to), we set off into a 20-30 mph side wind.

The “keys” are a whole bunch of islands connected by many many bridges. Today, within a couple of miles of our start we were onto the “it does what it says on the tin” bridge called “Seven Mile Bridge”. Or at least we would have been had we not been fooled by the pedestrian/bicycle bridge to the side of the road bridge. As we happily embarked along the pedestrian bridge, glad that we would be away from the traffic as the wind buffeted us, we squinted into the distance and saw a gap in the bridge further ahead. Thinking it was just for the ships to get through, we pressed on. Unfortunately, about 2 miles into the bridge, we saw the words that no-one enjoys reading: “Dead End”. Say no more. At least we made up a little bit for the bus ride yesterday. So, after an about-turn (the Gamines were beside themselves with joy at us finally “making a U-Turn”) and a return to the start of the bridge at a fair clip (wind behind), we were eventually on the dreaded 7-mile road bridge, wind n’ all; Kat was the most scared she had been for a while…at least since the tattooed drunk yesterday!

Anyway, it was a pleasant, warm, bright, if windy 52 mile trip down to Key West with stunning scenery, though unfortunately mostly from the bridges where it was not permitted to stop and take photos. We were glad to arrive at our hotel and chill out. Kat was particularly pleased to get the foxes off her feet. Despite her efforts at odour neutralisation (bounce sheets under the inner of each shoe), the shoes have been banished to the balcony…probably best since we have a couple of days here. Yay.

Finally, Anthony would like to say how much it cheered him up to read all the online birthday wishes and cards... thanks everyone! We would also like to wish Anthony’s parents “Happy 46th Wedding Anniversary” for tomorrow. They’ll be interested to know that we are now closer to St. Kitts & Nevis than we are to New York. Maybe we’ll purchase some balloon tyres and cycle over to the Caribbean Islands…just a slight detour you understand, nothing may-jah!

Us x

Friday, 18 December 2009

Anthony’s birthday gift from Florida!

The alarm on the cell (aka mobile in the UK) rang at 7am this morning; an irritating ring-tone generally reserved for the appreciation of musical youth usually 25 years our junior. Reaching over to mute this dulcet tone, Anthony refused to allow this rude awakening to fashion the remainder of the day. Eventually rolling out of bed at 8am with a forced smile, stretched limbs and a deep breath we announce, “today is a birthday and it will be glorious.” Little did we know that the man upstairs had already laid out his plans for the birthday boy?

Moving around the bedroom psyching ourselves up for the perfect day we noticed the floor area around the front door was soaking wet. Confused and thinking what could have caused this Arthur C. Clarkes “Mysterious World” we looked out of the window to see the Sun and Sky had disappeared and had been replaced by a thick curtain of gray wetness. According to the army of hotel staff sweeping pools of water away from the building, it had been raining all night, 14 inches in total and unfortunately the gaps under the doors where unable to keep the flood out. “Never mind”, we said “we’ve cycled in rain before”. So, ignoring the wet weather ahead of us, we set out to face another tough day. “At least it’s warm” said Kat. Indeed, it was warm, but just 10 meters into our south westerly ride into Marathon we soon realised the 20mph north easterly wind was going to be a problem. The road forward was tough but we soldiered on with hope in our hearts, lactic acid in our legs and rain in our face. Thinking the ride could not get any worse, we were 19 miles in when “BANG!” Anthony’s rear tyre exploded. Abruptly coming to a halt and pulling over into the hard shoulder, Anthony changed his inner tube whilst Kat held on to a nearby tree to stop being blown off the road. We were rolling again 20 minutes later. With a slight respite in the rain but continued sky-diving head winds, we managed to get a brief glimpse of the beauty of the keys, when “BANG!”, Anthony’s rear tyre exploded again. Still trying to force a smile, the inner tube was examined and discarded, the previous duff tube was repaired and refitted. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the cause of the rear tyre punctures was indentified… it was bad news ‘side wall tyre failure’, which basically meant we were up shit creek without a paddle. With no spare tyres we conferred for 30 minutes and decided to try and hitch a ride into Marathon! If it wasn’t for PC Plod (aka County Sherriff) seeing our thumbs aloft and pulling over to explain that what we were attempting to do was illegal, then reaffirming that we were indeed up shit creek, before speeding off down the highway, we may have been somewhere else right now. Collecting our thoughts and wishing we had paid more attention at those ‘Contingency Planning’ seminars, we assessed our options. So with bikes shops 28 miles south to Marathon (our final destination) and 4 miles back north to Tavernier and a 60 mph storm fast approaching the very spot were we stood, we decided to call a cab for Anthony to get a new tyre in Tavernier. The cab turn up 25 minutes later and drove Anthony to Tavernier and as luck would have it, he arrived to find the shop had closed down, despite that fact their answering machine clearly said they were open…ahhhhhh! So on the way back and 35 dollars worse off Anthony was driving back in the cab with the cab driver, who then suggested “I tell you what, the best way into Marathon would be by bus, it’ll cost you 3 dollars each, I’d charge you 75 dollars if you’d prefer”, Anthony replied “cool we’ll catch the bus. “oh but wait” announced the driver, “there’s the bus you need, just ahead of us”. “well pass it than an drive faster”, suggested Anthony. Taking Anthony’s advice, the driver drove faster. We reached Kat just in time to pay the man, get our bikes together, stand in the road and miss the bus…Anthony started to laugh hysterically!

In true London fashion a second bus appeared out of the mist and was just about to pass us, if it wasn’t for Anthony kicking at the moving vehicle and shouting STOP!... it stopped. With bikes and bags packed with anger into the under carriage, we boarded the bus with 10 and 20 dollar notes in our pockets, tried communicating with the driver who only spoke Spanish and ended up paying 10 dollars for the 30 minute ride. Anthony sat in his seat rocking back forth reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman sitting next to Tom Cruise in Rain Man. Slightly worse for wear we arrived at the bus terminus, 2 miles away from the hotel. After saying “adios” to the driver, we alighted, threw the bikes and bags off the bus and were immediately confronted by a tattooed street drunk compelled to tell Anthony how he hated dudes of color and that Kat was a …actually we won’t tell you what he said about Kat. Those who have known Anthony a while will know it takes a lot to get him riled and violent. Problem is this guy was pushing all the right “get Anthony riled buttons”, so much so that another guy in the bus station saw the imminent outcome and called the Local Sherriff, who arrived just as the drunk saw the red mist in Anthony’s eyes and made a speedy exit. Kat reported the incident to the Sherriff then we walked the 2 miles in the pissing rain to our hotel….

… I believe the man upstairs felt he had dealt us enough bad luck as things now took a turn for the good. The Hotel room was lovely: we found a totally awesome bike shop in Marathon (thanks Jeremy, Cindy, Mike and Porter the dog of Overseas Outfitters for being brilliant and repairing the bikes): we ate in a lovely restaurant; and walking back to the Hotel we saw the constellation of Orion!

All that said, Anthony is happy to see in another birthday and is thankful of what keeps him going; Joseph, Family, wonderful friends and of course Kat.

Us x

Thursday, 17 December 2009

We’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!

No, we’re not talking about the plastic fantastic that we left behind in Miami today, although there was a bit of that around. Instead this is a reference to the thousands of palm trees that we saw today on our 78 miles to Key Largo, of which more below…

But we should start by mentioning that the title of today’s blog was going to be “Smooth Operator”, in reference to the Sade song of that name that mentions Key Largo, but as MG has stolen our thunder on that one, we have renamed it – thanks MG!!!! Actually, it is very spooky because to the very minute when we were talking about this lyric and shooting the breeze about what we might say in the blog tonight, MG posted her comment. Good to see that telepathy is alive and kicking, and Yuri Geller is still bending spoons, and Elvis is alive and well (if a tad overweight post burgers and pills phase) and living in Wisconsin.

We would also like to point out that Anthony is 39 tomorrow, not 100 (although he feels a bit like it after the ride today).

Yes, what to say about the ride today…. Well, it started out perfectly; like a dream. Warm but not baking, bright and sunny, with good cycle paths/shoulders/road surfaces etc (although a bit heavy on traffic getting out of Miami), and the bikes running brilliantly, chains purring very gently like contented cats. It was so beautiful, in fact, it inspired us to take quite a few photos today (don’t forget to check them out). But all that was to change.

As we hit the main cycle route from the mainland out towards Key Largo, the heavens opened. We do not use the word “heavens” lightly, as this was a storm of biblical proportions. It started with the wind picking up (a head wind of course… what a surprise) and a few spots of rain, and then BOOM, thunder, rain drops so big they were as painful as hailstones, wind whipping up scarily as if a tornado was about to form, and so much rain that it was almost impossible to see. Given that we were in the middle of nowhere with literally NO turnings off the road for at least 20 miles, we just had to plod through it. As we approached the bridge over to Key Largo, the clouds lifted and the sun shone brightly again, and it was as if it had all been an aberration, were it not for the soaking clothes, strong odour of foxy shoes having been stirred up (no MG – no new shoes yet), and of course that the lovely clean, serviced bikes were once more covered in grit and sand. And to top it all off, Anthony’s back wheel started to come loose somehow so that his back brake was jammed against the wheel…

Still, we eventually arrived safely and, after a bit of bike maintenance, laundry, and fox odour prevention techniques, are settling down to some food and perhaps a spot of TV. Well, after all the excitement of Miami, we need to catch up on our favourite programmes…

Us x

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Miami Heat

Dwayne Wade is an awesome basketball player who plays for a team called Miami Heat. In England our sports team names are often composed of two simple and uninteresting parts, one describing where the team is from e.g. Sheffield, Manchester, Wolverhampton and the second often appended in the shape of United, City or Wanderers. In the US it’s much more exciting. Not limited to a handful of choices such as united, city, wanderers etc. they’re much more creative with names like Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Nicks, Mets, Heat, Mavericks, Hornets, Spurs, Rockets, Nuggets… the list goes on. So an Englishman should be forgiven for thinking that this vast array of team name appendages could have been randomly thought up by some sports aficionado. After 10 years of wondering why Miami chose to add the word ‘HEAT’ to their name, we finally have the answer. It was an unbelievably “scorchio” day today. It was so hot even the restaurants along Lincoln Avenue had fans on the sidewalk/pavement circulating cold air; Hotels along Ocean Drive were pumping out fine mists of freezing water to cool passers-by and Anthony could feel his skin cooking after a short 3 block walk…TAXI!

Despite the heat, we managed to have a very productive day purchasing a few essential clothing items, servicing the bikes (thank you Jack Ruiz of Miami Beach Bicycle Center), and designing a batch of business cards to distribute to all the people interested in our trip.

Tomorrow we begin again… 75 miles into Key Largo!

Us x

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Food Glorious Food

Give us an “R”, give us an “E”, give us an “S”, give us a “T”, give us a “D”, give us an “A”, give us a “Y”. What have you got? Laundry time… Well, we didn’t spend all day doing laundry, but we couldn’t resist putting a few things in the machine. We also looked for some odour spray for Kat’s foxy shoes (not the usual foxy shoes she wears), but to no avail… we may have to follow MG’s advice on that.

We also managed to take the bikes in for a little TLC at a local bike shop, and to do a few other bits and pieces. Best of all today, we went for lunch at the Tides hotel/restaurant, Anthony’s long-time favourite place in Miami (he’s been a fan ever since his first visit many years ago). Tides is one of the original art deco hotels in Miami, located on Ocean Drive with its own natural sea breeze, it is a beautiful and classy example of enduring elegance with a modern touch. We had some fantastic food, washed down with a few glasses of quality Prosecco, and had a wonderful time chatting with our servers, Nathan and Tiffany.

To continue the food theme, tonight we dined at the restaurant underneath our hotel, which turned out to be an absolute gem. Food just like Nobu (no kidding) but at a fraction of the price, with professional and attentive service and a lovely chilled atmosphere (not to mention the minimal travel time for us – perfect for Kat with her “other” foxy shoes on).

Us x

Monday, 14 December 2009

Welcome to Miami

A truly seminal moment! 'New York to Miami' has a certain ring to it. All at the same time we feel relieved, euphoric, exhausted and daunted by the 12,000 miles that still lie ahead. Sticking with the theme of euphoria, today was a whisker shy of being the perfect cycling day, even after spending 5hrs and 53 mins in the saddle and completing 80 miles we were still in a higher state of consciousness.

... So we left Palm Beach Shores this morning, slightly concerned that the scorching hot sun, clear blue skies, light fluffy clouds and the cool gentle breeze rolling in from the North, may ruin our cycle down to South Beach in Miami. Not far into the trip, we entered South Palm Beach and realised we need not concern ourselves with the meteorological conditions, as they were perfect. Of much larger concern, bewilderment, astonishment or just plain “… what the @&*%!” was the scenery. We have never seen houses so grandiose you’d think Elton John personally designed each one: gardens so groomed to perfection that Steve Davis would have been comfortable lining up trick shots on the front lawns; moored Yachts so magnificent the QEII would resemble a pedalo in comparison; and private beaches so pristine even the waves had to dampen their enthusiasm before they were allowed on the golden sand. With all or senses overloaded with wow!, OMG!, holy crap!, check that out!, no way! (actual expressions of wonder not included) we made it out of “Candy Cotton and Butterfly Kisses land” feeling privileged to have witnessed the American Dream.

No kidding guys, we can’t fault the ride. The roads, hard shoulders, bike lanes, views and all were perfect. The only thing that tainted this potentially perfect experience was the ride down Collins Ave. Those of you familiar with Miami will know that Collins Ave is not meant for cyclists. After a couple of close shaves with the numerous 90-year old ladies blindly driving their Mercedes S-classes, we decided to get off the Ave. and take Ocean Drive all the way to the Hotel… a much better experience!

Unpacked and settled into the hotel we were keen to replace some of the 6260 calories we burnt off today and so promptly headed back out to Ocean Drive for some Pasta, Seafood, Bloody Marys, Lemon Drop Martinis, all finished off with M&M’s from CVS. We’re now in the hotel and stuffed like pigs!

Good Night.

Us x

P.S. Sorry for the late posting of this blog (not again…) but we only managed to get ourselves online this morning.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Palm Sunday

Sunday in Palm Beach, allowing our legs to recover from the horror that was yesterday, and generally chilling out. That's it really. Another long ride tomorrow to Miami, and then a little more rest for the legs (though perhaps not the liver).

Us x

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Rough as a Badger’s *rse

Who remembers the first bottle of wine they ever bought? Yes, it will have been for a house party, or perhaps to drink before going to some youth club, and almost certainly you will have memorised your fake date of birth before entering the shop (or persuaded someone else to buy it for you). So, to imagine the quality of today’s road surface, look back on the pedigree of that first bottle of wine. Yep, you’ve got it, R.O.U.G.H. Perhaps the roughest stretch of road we have encountered so far on the trip.

And did we mention the headwinds of 15 – 20 mph blowing North as we went consistently South… felt like we were testing out our aerodynamic qualities in a wind tunnel! Oh, and the fact that it rained on and off for pretty much the whole journey. By the end of the 75-mile ride, our joints felt like they had been wrung through a mangle backwards, and we won’t talk about Anthony’s delicate bits…

The rain has not been kind to the gear either. Perhaps worse than the brrrrrr-click, brrrrrr-click of the chain, is the smell of the cycling shoes. It has been tough for both of us, but Kat’s shoes smell like a family of foxes has been using them as their lavatory for the last 2 weeks. Hmmm, fruity. A bit like the wine we mentioned in the first paragraph.

And now we have now made it as far as PALM BEACH. Surely some of you will have heard of that, and think that now we have gone far enough to want to reach into your pockets and donate some money to MS. Or maybe not. We’re realists.

Anyway… absolutely exhausted after having jammed in 473 miles this week (including last Saturday and today), we are ready for a rest day tomorrow. It’s a far cry from Gloria’s crib, where we were last night, but it has a comfortable bed, and a TV…

Us x

Friday, 11 December 2009

The rhythm is gonna get ya…tonight

As mentioned in the previous blog post, yesterday was a bit ‘Hit & Miss!’ The weather was appalling but the road surface and hard shoulder were both outstanding. Today started well with early morning stretching exercises, long hot steaming showers, panniers packed to military standard, sun block applied (pointless exercise for Anthony…see addendum), butt butter massaged into crotches and dressed in tight fitting bike gear; breakfast was soon to be the icing on the cake of a perfect morning. Unfortunately when Cindy the housekeeper presented breakfast (which was very nice) and asked “Would you both like coulrophobia with your eggs?” it was difficult to concentrate on eating when Chucky and all his waxwork friends were inanimately staring at you one minute and the next minute forming human pyramids. No kidding guys, the proprietor had clearly designed the Hotel to be a perfect place for filming “Childs Play 7”.

Finally, we escaped the surreal horror movie set and were on the road by 10am. The ride was fast, flat and fairly windy. We managed to complete the 72 miles in 4h 39mins and enjoyed some wonderful scenery all along the way. In truth Florida is pretty same-y, just mile upon mile of Palm tree lined streets. On one side, immaculate mansion houses nestled in their own ring fenced islands of paradise; and on the other side, the Atlantic Ocean endlessly caressing the shore line just 10 feet away from you… nothing special! You’ll be pleased to know that we survived this scenic torture, arriving at Gloria Estefan’s hotel, ‘Costa d’Este’ where the concierge reminded us that Friday night is party night and the resident DJ plays bangin’ tunes till 1am, he was sure the rhythm was gonna get us tonight. Unfortunately, we weren’t feeling the Miami Sound Machine tonight so retired to our room watching NCIS, House, Law & Order, White Collar and The Closer… good times!

Us x


Melanin: A skin pigment (substance that gives the skin its color). Dark-skinned people have more melanin than light- skinned people. Melanin also acts as a sunscreen and protects the skin from ultraviolet light. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes. It provides some protection again skin damage from the sun, and the melanocytes increase their production of melanin in response to sun exposure.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Shuttle Runs

Remember those shuttle runs that you used to have to do in PE at school (or football/hockey training etc for all those who have suffered through those)? Well, yesterday (Thursday) seemed a bit like that...tedious, and increasingly painful.

As we set off, it was a little overcast. Then literally a few miles in, the heavens opened. The forecast having said something quite different, our wet weather gear guessed it, in the bottom of our panniers, so that everything else in the panniers got wet as we scrambled around desperately pulling out stuff to try to find it. Then, to top it off, with wet brakes and skiddy roads, Kat managed to skid and go for a tumble (luckily with nothing else around on the road). But don't worry - she's fine. Ah, the joys of Florida in December (supposedly the driest month of the year)!

So, last night we stayed in the weirdest place. It was right opposite the Kennedy Space Centre, and its claim to fame is that you can see the shuttle launches from its balcony. Its other claim to fame is that it is cluttered with about 5 houses worth of furniture, all of which is for sale!! Yes, this morning as we left, there were people wandering around looking at price tags. We nervously checked our bikes, which we had left in the bar area, and decided not to linger over breakfast for too long in fear of our foreheads being stuck with a price label.

For more on today, check out today's blog (soon to be posted)... Apologies for the late posting of yesterday's blog, which was due to there being no internet access at the weird place last night...perhaps they had sold that already.

Us x

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Down on the Beach

Not much to report today. A very relaxing rest day in a location where we would quite happily spend a week or two if we had time in the schedule. Went for a stroll along the beach and laughed at the tiny little birds with their even tinier legs that move impossibly quickly as the waves come in and they just manage to stay in front of them by millimetres. Isn’t nature wonderful? Also sat by the pool for a while reading our books, and eating hot dogs from the “cook off” that the resort laid on, before turning to the usual: laundry, route upload, packing etc… and ate at Chez Antoine again ... no chorizo tonight! Managed to avoid a meeting with a lady selling timeshares in the building, though we can’t honestly say that we weren’t tempted.

It was hot and lovely today (see photos)

Us x

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A Room with a View

Leaving St Augustine at 11am (woke up later than usual and spent too long eating breakfast) we decided that today would be a relaxing cruise down to Ormond Beach, a 47-mile stretch of dead straight road. Words cannot describe the beauty to our left (Ocean upon Ocean) , even if we tried you’d be bored reading how great it was.

It is the end of 4 consecutive days of cycling! Feeling very pleased with ourselves completing a total of 269 miles and burning 19,685 calories, we averaged 14 mph and are now ready for our rest day tomorrow. OK, we only cycled 47 miles today, but when all 47 miles were into a constant head wind it’s hard going finding time to enjoy the route, scenery, road surface, cycle-lane, atmospheric conditions … and the two pints of Stella Artois and Chicken cordon bleu’s sandwiches we consumed for lunch in the Golden Lion; a ‘surfer shack’ located right on the beach. Quick bit of advice: don’t drink two pints of Stella when you still have 15 miles of cycling to go!

Arriving at our hotel windswept and tired; and after explaining the Epic Journey to all members of the very nice staff, we grabbed the keys and settled down in our room with a view, took photos and read the comments on the blog….an apology is due! Please forgive us for our momentary lapse in common sense. The chorizo sausage is and always will be by far a superior gastronomic experience than the Steak au Poivre. Many of you out there may not appreciate the versatility of the chorizo, so let us tell you that when in the capable hands of MG, you will not witness a pleasure more satisfying … than her famous chorizo and chicken extravaganza. In light of yesterday’s blasphemous words we decided to make amends and eat at Casa Antonio this evening aka ‘we cooked in tonight’, paying homage to the chorizo. Blended with a fine array of cavatelli, broccoli, garlic, onions, chilli flakes, extra virgin olive oil and some vino, we cooked up a fabulous dinner and ate on the balcony of Casa Antonio with an unbounded view of the Atlantic Ocean (see photos).

Before signing off tonight, we would like to thank everyone who has donated and we hope our daily reports of fun times and positive karma supports the belief that “life can be so nice, a wonderful world, sweet paradise.”

Peace Dudes and Dudettes ...Us x

Monday, 7 December 2009

Quelle est votre histoire?

Today we cycled to St Augustine, apparently the earliest settlement in America. Although, before we left Fernandina Beach this morning, we were told that in fact Fernandina Beach was supposed to have been an even earlier settlement than St Augustine. Who knows what to believe? Anyway, having now read up on the area, we found that the Spanish landed in St Augustine in 1565, only to find that the French were already here…isn’t that just always the way? Anyway, the Spanish fought and defeated the French, and took over St Augustine. But we have to admit that the idea of steak au poivre trumped thoughts of chorizo and tortilla. We ate FRENCH tonight. Yes, we dined at a wonderful little place called Bistro de Leon, where Anthony was www-wowed by the Tarte au Citron (the only dessert he will ever order). A big MERCI to Rachael for securing the last piece…and sorry to the couple of the next table who had their beady little eyes on it as well! Oh yes, and another thank you to Noel and Jessica in the gallery for your excellent restaurant recommendation.

Truth be known, we had a bit of a late start to the day. However, we eventually rolled out of Fernandina and skirted down the outside of Amelia Island. Riding at a good clip over the mile long bridge to the beautiful nature reserves of Big Talbot Island and then Little Talbot Island, we made it to the ferry over St John’s River with just 2 minutes to spare. That’s what you call extremely good planning, or exceedingly lucky…we’ll leave you to judge. After that, life really was a beach. We got a taste today, we think, of what our time in Florida is going to be like. Beach, merging into beach, merging into golf course, then huge mansions, then nature reserve, then beach again. What’s not to love? Shame that it was horribly overcast and showery today, but we guess you can’t have it all. And with an average speed of 15.6 mph, our fastest to date, we were happy with our 63-mile stint today.

So, tomorrow, we set off for…another beach. But this time we only have around 47 miles to go, and then we have a day’s rest. Phew.

Us x

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Apple bottom jeans, Boots with the fur

Leaving our hotel room at 0915hrs, Kat decided to take a quick stroll down to the beach and take a few early morning photos of St Simon pier before we set off on the 73-mile ride to Flo’rida. They call Florida the Sunshine State! We weren’t to know what lay ahead of us but the Sunshine State didn’t disappoint. It was freezing in Georgia when we set off and it continued to chill our bones (particularly when we crossed a scary 20-storey gigantic bridge) all the way to the Florida

The trek through the last stages of Georgia was made all the more interesting when we met Richard! With an authentic “I haven’t had a decent wash for 4 nights” look and an infant-sized carbon footprint that would inspire any wannabe urban surfer dude, you could tell Richard was the eco traveller type. We always felt quite pleased with our efforts to embark upon a cycling challenge facing each day without the luxuries in life we have taken for granted in the past, but meeting Richard redefined our beliefs of ‘giving up luxury!’ With 155lbs of all sorts of paraphernalia skilfully strapped to every inch of his bike, we were sure we had spotted our first UFO. Somehow (don’t ask), Richard even managed to balance a solar panel the size of a billboard to the back of his bike. We couldn’t help but be reminded of our favourite childhood storybook character, ‘Stig of the Dump.’ We would like to pay respect to this Stig who has cycled 10 times across America, circumnavigated its perimeters once and every night camps out in the woods.

After a quick bite to eat at a gas station and loaded with The Stig’s sage advice, we rolled on to the Florida state line; and then as if by magic the temperature increased by 10 degrees Celsius, and the Sun decided to put its hat on. Struggling the last 20 miles against a headwind coming from all directions (how does that work), enjoying the sunshine was becoming more difficult with every mile. Irritated, Anthony decided to vent his annoyance and pick a fight with a “16 Wheeler”. Thankfully, Kat saw this forlorn challenge for what it was worth and saved Anthony from a fate worse than ‘… a smelly thing on a smelly day.’

In one piece we arrived, unpacked, showered and headed out to the nearest Italian for pasta with garlic, garlic bread, garlic chicken, garlic wine… did we mention garlic?

Us x

Saturday, 5 December 2009

St Simons Says…

We’d like to play a game that is so much fun, and it’s not so very hard to do, the name of the game is St Simons says, and we would like for you to play it too…Put your hands in the air; cycle 86 miles; burn 6050 calories and eat your own body weight in fried seafood when you get there.

So, today we cycled the mammoth 86 miles from Savannah to the beautiful South Georgia island resort of St Simons. And what a ride it was. We were without our usual cycling maps, since we decided to give central Georgia a miss and track the coastline instead, but the route that we found turned out to be a gem. And thanks to Anthony’s ingenious new method for planning the routes and uploading them from Google Earth to the SatNavs, even the Gamines behaved like butter wouldn’t melt today (Kat suspects that Anthony has added some subliminal messages hidden in one of the waypoints to leave the Gamines in no doubt about how much trouble they will be in if they misbehave again, still it seems to be working!).

Setting off in the rain as the sun came up, it was a little chilly to say the least. According to the weather today, there is snow all the way from New York to Richmond (thank heavens that we’re heading South), so it is rather hot - or should we say “cold”(!) - on our heels. But, the sight of a real, properly marked, designated bike lane on our route about 5 miles into the ride was enough to warm the cockles. Today was a good day on the Moss scale, with a LeBron James cycle path pretty much all of the way. And the scenery was truly breathtaking. We cycled through Buck Hill Swamp, an area of unspoiled marshland that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see; and a whole host of wildlife reserves, which form part of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. We saw storks, herons and pelicans, we heard woodpeckers, and we also saw a scary looking crowd of pterodactyls blocking the whole width of one of the side roads, picking over a kill… OK, TMG, they were not pterodactyls, but they looked very similar, and no we did not manage to get our cameras out in time… We also saw a group of very serious-looking ornithologists (collective noun “a hush”) carrying enough expensive equipment to fund a small African nation – perhaps we should have asked them to send us some of their photos?

And talking of developing nations, we arrived safe and sound, though very tired, in St Simon. We soon headed out to feed our faces and stumbled across “Go Fish”, a rather nice shop selling clothes and other items sourced from third world countries. Since some of the clothes were really very nice, and Kat’s “capsule” wardrobe has become a little too minuscule recently (Anthony agrees), she was more than happy to purchase a couple of lightweight items, with assistance from the lovely Carolyn, the proprietor. So, all that was left to do was to replace at least half of the 6050 calories with some rather delicious seafood, and a generous glug of Pinot Grigio.

Another long day tomorrow: 70 miles we predict. Still, loyal followers, by the time we post our blog tomorrow, all being well, we will be in FLORIDA!!!

Us x