Thursday, November 6, 2008

Raw Power




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Just hanging out in Key West, getting to know the locals, reading about the history of the city, Watching the election coverage, enjoying time with my 8 1/2 month old grandson and other friends and family.

Went to the preliminary World Championship Power Boat races yesterday. Fascinating to see such raw power and speeds in such a low key tranquil place!!!!

The cruise ships come in about every other day and the place is crawling with tourists from around the world for the next 8-24 hours after they arrive.

Historical facts--Key West was the location of the U.S.'s first international airline flight when Pan Am flew from Key West to Cuba in 1927. Key West was also the winter white house retreat of President Truman and his staff. The "Little White House", the name of his vacation home, was also used from time to time by Presidents Cater, Eisenhower and Kennedy. Key West also has a long tradition of being home to many artists and writers including Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Just Hanging Out








Well, I survived the first week in Key West. Mainly just hung around the place I am staying at, lots of walking around the town, watching sunsets and getting to know the locals. As you can tell from the pictures, the sunsets are amazing.

Key West is an interesting place, full of tourists, especially this weekend with the annual Jimmy Buffet Parrothead meeting going on. The locals are very friendly and have as you can imagine a very laid back approach to life. At the same time, they all seem to work multiple jobs to be able to afford to live here. Plenty of local musicans and artists. Then there are the chickens, they seem to be everywhere in certain parts of the city!

The city has a wild past going back to the 1820s when Florida first became part of the U.S. Over the years it has been a haven for pirates and ship wreck crews, sponge harvesting, cigar manufacturing and tourism. It has always had a bit of a wild west feel to it, similar to the rest of Florida as I have discovered from traveling throughout the state.

Continue to summarize my trip--Went through 8 National Parks, 5 National Monuments, 1 National Preserve and 4 National Historical Parks as well as countless state parks, National Battlegrounds, and other recreational areas. We truly have an awesome scenic country and a treasure chest of sites that have been set aside for the enjoyment of all!!!!!

Next week, I have family and friends from Sandpoint visiting. After 6 months of being away it will be good to see some familiar faces and get caught up. Until then, all the best.

Have a great weekend. Off to see the Halloween costumes!!!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Adjusting







At the request of many, I will continue to update my blog from time to time during my stay in Key West, including posting pictures of the city.

The first several days have been one of adjusting to not riding everyday, getting a feel for Key West, getting basic essentials for the next month and learning what the "locals" do. A lot of just walking around getting familiar with the city.

I picked the busiest weekend of the year to arrive in Key West. Fantasy Festival, a street party and parade attended by over 50,000 people. What a party!!!!!! People everywhere, packed restaurants and bars and plenty of good old-fashioned fun. Even the dogs party hard, note the picture I took Sunday morning after the big parade!!!!!

Today things seem to be back to normal, although this upcoming weekend is the beginning of the World Powerboat Championship races, the 17th annual Parrot Head Meeting of the Minds, a weekend convention of the Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head Clubs and of course Halloween.

This past Saturday, the Panhandle Alliance for Education successfully launched it's early childhood literacy program. 90 families participated (they planned for about 55) and the initial program was very well received. It is still not too late to donate. Simply go to the donation section of the website and make your contribution today. As I have said many times before, this is an investment in the future of our children as well as our own future.

As I begin to summarize and reflect back on the ride I will share various facts and tidbits from time to time as I continue to update my blog. Today's summary--Left Sandpoint, Idaho June 1, 2008 and arrived in Key West, Florida October 23, 2008. Ride took a total of 146 days, with approximately 40 days off to sight see and visit friends and family. Rode a total of 10,033 miles, approximately 95 miles per day at an average of about 12-13 miles per hour. Rode through 26 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Best way to describe the ride--"Like being on a scenic driving trip in a car, only in slow motion".

Until the next update, have a great week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Living the Dream!!!!!




Just a quick update.

After crossing the 10,000 mile mark at about 10:00 am this morning and entering Key West after 10,033 miles I have completed my ride. What a journey. Everything I expected and then some. Great memories, incredible scenery, interesting and colorful people and a renewed faith in our country.

I want to thank everyone who supported me on this trip, without your help I couldn't have done it. I especially want to thank everyone that has donated or made a pledge to the Panhandle Alliance for Education and their early childhood literacy program, Ready. The program starts tomorrow and it is an incredible investment in helping our young children get ready for a life of learning. If you haven't made a contribution, I urge you to do so. 100% of your donation goes to the program. Simply click on the donate section of the web site and make your contribution today.

A special thanks to my family for supporting me and allowing me to live my dream.

I will be spending the next several weeks in Key West before heading back to Sandpoint. I will be updating my blog from time to time as I reflect back on the journey and explore Key West and Southern Florida.

Thanks again and all the best.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Florida Keys
















Currently in Marathon Florida, 9976 miles into the trip. About half way down the Keys and 50+ miles away from Key West and the end of the journey.
Wild weather today. Cloudy, sunny, rainy and 30+ mile and hour winds from the Northeast which made for a tough first 12 miles of riding until I South down the Keys. At one point, I was riding down a bridge and pedaling hard as I was riding directly into the wind. When I turned South, it was like having a sail and my average speed was probably 20+mph. Note the pictures of the sail boarder. He was literally flying across the water!!! Fantastic cloudy sunrise. Got a great close-up of a single flower right after a rain shower with the sun reflecting off the raindrops.
The Keys are as relaxed and laid back as you can imagine, especially now during the "low season". About the only thing going on is a few locals fishing and some people heading to Key West for a big festival this weekend. Everyone is complaining about the lack of business and how bad the real estate market is when it comes to renting vacation homes.
Tomorrow I will arrive in Key West, my final destination. On one hand I am very excited to be near the end, on the other hand, it seems like I have been riding for so long, I'm not sure what I will do Saturday morning when I don't have another day of riding in front of me. More on this tomorrow.
All the best.





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Everglades






























Still in Florida City, Florida. Now 9895 miles into the trip after riding through the Everglades today.
Left early this morning and caught a very cloudy sunrise over the farm fields West of Florida City. Overcast most of the day, with a strong wind again out of the East. Spent most of the day riding through the Everglades National Park.
The Park is the only National Park that was created with the express purpose of trying to save the Everglades, a vast waterway in Southern Florida. Southern Florida's natural water flows, the lifeblood of the Everglades, have changed as a result of development, altering river flows and controlling water flows for agriculture. The Federal and State government have a plan to restore the natural water flow to the extent possible over the next 30 years. Many are skeptical that the plan will work or funding will be available.
Riding through the Park, one gets the sense of the vast waterway system that used to exist. I rode through almost 40 miles of sloughs, grasses and trees most of which were standing in shallow water as a result of the recent summer rains.
Rode over my last "pass" of the trip today, Rock Reef Pass, noted in the picture above. While it was a tough climb, I managed to make it to the top and it is now all down hill!!!!!!!
Tomorrow I will head South down the Keys.






Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Florida City





Currently in Florida City Florida, 9794 miles into the trip. Hot, strong headwinds and an overall tough riding day.

Left Naples this morning and continued to ride through cattle country in Southwestern Florida. After about 35 miles, entered Big Cypress National Preserve, part of the National Park System that borders the Everglades National Park. It is a 720,000 acre preserve that originally was to be part of the Everglades but the Federal government did not acquire the property from private owners in time to be included as part of the Everglades National Park. It is home to the Miccosukee and Seminole Native American Indian tribes.

Florida City was originally a land promotion during the early 1900's and it was known as Detroit. It is the Southernmost city in the U.S. that isn't an island and is the last stop on the mainland before entering the Florida Keys. It is on the Eastern edge of the Everglades and is on the only road that leads into the Everglades. Today, it is a major tourist stopping point before embarking for the Keys and has become a major agriculture center for Southern Florida.

I found the cat referred to in yesterday's photo of a roadside sign!!!!! Saw numerous alligators that had been run over by traffic along the road today as well as countless tourist stops for airboat tours.

Tomorrow, I will take a side trip into the Everglades and on Thursday plan on heading South into the Keys.