Posted by: robinson2000 | August 26, 2012

Our 14th & Final State – Florida

24th – 25th August

I was actually quite relieved to be leaving the creepy RV Park in Folkston. For one thing there was hardly anybody around except a family of loud rednecks in one corner who were constantly arguing and a weird mole like man that I had borrowed a match from the previous night. Our lighter had stopped working as we were about to cook, so I wandered over to the only RV with a light on and knocked on the door. It was a little ramshackle place with lots of kids toys outside, which felt reassuring but the door was answered by a small vest wearing man with a visor. I don’t think he could see very well as he came way to close, making me feel quite uncomfortable and had a strange looking wife peering out from the doorway, yet there were no sounds of kids to be heard. We packed up early the next day and quickly pedalled out of the entrance as we hadn’t seen anyone to pay for the pitch, which meant a FREE night’s accommodation. We dined in Folkston with a fry-up breakfast as our waitress insisted we try their grits. We both declined but Chris got a spoonful dumped on his plate anyway.

The day was shaping to be a good one as the skies were blue for the first time in several days and we were only a few miles from Florida. We cycled out of Folkston on Highway 301 at a great speed as we had a wonderful tailwind pushing us down the smooth tarmac and within 10 minutes we were taking photos of the Stateline. It was a great feeling to have reached out final State and the road just continued to get better as within two hours we had covered 36 miles. We stopped for a quick break at a service station where I downed a litre of chocolate milk with ease and setoff again, this time bearing east onto Highway 1. Chris’s pannier frame was still surviving with just string and tape, but at the 50 mile mark, disaster struck as it became wedged in his rear cassette, taking off a few teeth with it. It was still fixable as we went about re-taping it for the remaining 20 miles. It was shame that Chris had to constantly readjust the pannier frame as the highway gave way to the best road we’d been on. It was a beautiful 20 miles as it took us through leafy woods, over wetlands with loads of birdlife and finally, beside the Atlantic Ocean again. It was brilliant and thoroughly deserved after the miles upon miles of boring farmland in Georgia.

A short ferry ride took us over the last stretch as we pulled into Hannah State Park at the 71 mile mark. It had been a great day and we topped it off a trip to the beach and a splosh in the sea. The only downside was the insect infested campsite and the ridiculously hot tent in which neither of us slept very well. We were also besieged by a couple of racoons who tore open our rubbish bag and riffled through Chris’s front pannier for any scraps of food. In the morning we found rubbish strewn all over the place, along with a friendly cat, which slept outside the tent all night and growled at the racoons.

We left Hannah State Park with the sole purpose of making it to a bike shop several miles down the road. Before this, breakfast had to be consumed and we found an excellent diner a few miles out of the campsite. It also had a good internet connection that allowed me to call my bank and unblock my card for the second time this trip meaning that I was no longer living out of Chris’s wallet. We found a bike shop run by a friendly bunch of lads who were bantering away as they worked on a bunch of bikes. The main guy had Chris’s bike raised up in a jiffy and was quickly going about refitting his pannier frame and fixing his spoke. Within an hour the work was complete and before sending us on our merry way, one of fella’s told us about a neighbourhood in Miami that was so dangerous that not even white policemen could enter safely. Nothing like a bit of scare mongering to send you in your way.

The day was looking like a blinder as we had clear blue skies and a huge tailwind to push us South. We headed onto the coastal road, Highway 1A, and began clicking down the gears as the wind pushed us along at a steady 18 mph. It took us beside huge mansions, posh looking golf courses and plenty of stunning views of the deep blue sea. By 1pm we had completed over 40 miles and reached the tourist town of St Augustine where we stopped and ordered a couple of milkshakes and a cheeseburger to feed our hungry souls. Afterwards, we only had another 30 miles along the same road and it didn’t take us long to roll into Beverley Beach Park at the 70 mile mark.

The campsite was our most expensive yet at $50 for a pitch, but we swallowed the charge and pitched up on a spot overlooking the ocean. The waves were being whipped up into frenzy due to the impending tropical storm as we both threw on the trunks and dived in for a swim. They were so strong that a big wave tore through Chris’s flimsy swim shorts and ripped a huge hole in the side. So as not to cause a scene, and more importantly a trip to the sheriff’s office, we called it a day and headed out for some dinner. Only 5 more days of cycling.

Total Mileage: 2102 miles

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