Day 59 – today would be our last biking day. The goal was St. Augustine Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. 70 in morning rose to 90 by afternoon.
Since it was our last night of the tour we slept at a motel so that we would not have to pack up a damp or wet tent. It also gave us an opportunity to organize our luggage for going home and shipping our bikes.
Our ride began at Crystal Cove Resort on the St. Johns River. To rejoin the route we had to ride three miles to get back on the route. In so doing we rode through the town of Palatka. Back on SR 100/US 17 we crossed the St. Johns River, which had a pedestrian/bike lane separated from traffic by a cement barrier. Only on a bike (or walking) can you stop at the top of the bridge and watch the sun rise over the river. We had two choices for our route today – one was a recently completed bike trail to St. Augustine which was the hypotenuse of the right triangle we would be riding or choosing to ride the legs of the right triangle. Since I wanted to experience the scenery I chose to ride through the rural towns and along St. Johns River instead of riding through a canopy of trees. I could ride bike trails at home. Road through the historic town of Hastings, Spuds, Racy Point and Riverdale (both located on the St. Johns River). Past many agricultural fields -potato, strawberry, melon and corn fields to name a few. In one field saw them harvesting potatoes, from the field potatoes where going up the conveyer belt and then dropping into a truck bed. In another field migrate workers were harvesting what appeared from a distance to be melons. Corn field was definitely knee high and it was not even the Fourth of July.
In every state I saw adopt the road signs. When I saw one of these signs I would say “In loving memory of all the people that had died from cancer listed on my white jersey” or “In honor of all the people fighting or have survived cancer”. Sometimes I just added “In loving memory of my sister, Nancy.” Saw another ghost bike honoring a biker who was killed by an hit and run driver. Also on this route there were road signs honoring people who had been killed in an accident. It really hits home how careful you have to be at all times.
Since I had some extra time I chose to go down the road that led to the bike path which all but two riders had taken. In doing this I road by a vast land fill area for recycling and garbage. I had hoped to reconnect with the bike path but after three miles when I did not see it I turned back and rode to county road 214 which would take me into St. Augustine.
Rode into St. Augustine on King St. and passed several historic buildings in the downtown. St. Augustine is a place I would like to return to. Rode across the Bridge of Lions and then to Mellow Mushroom where we were to meet everyone by noon. We would then ride as a group to the ocean. People said I was beaming as I rode in. Inside me I was so happy that I was able to finish the ride that it must have radiated outward. Jared, our leader, soon joined us and we rode as a group the 3.8 miles to the beach. It was exciting; a much anticipated moment. Dipping our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean was the climax of the trip, but the true experiences and growth were in all the miles we had ridden. You realize what you are capable of doing; desire is very powerful. Many photos were taken at the beach and then people starting dispersing. After being together for 59 days it was hard to say good bye.
Six of us would still be together that night. From the beach we rode our bikes to the bike shop where are bikes would be boxed up and shipped home. One of our leaders drove us passed the Fountain of Youth and then took our picture on the most photographed street in St. Augustine, the road in front of the Fountain of Youth. She then took us to the motel . Motel was right on the Atlantic Ocean and so after showering we all walked the beach. We reminisced about the trip over dinner. It was truly a special day. Went to bed early because tomorrow I would be flying home.
I will be posting my blog with photos, now that I will have access to wifi at my home. Thank you for sharing in my journey.
A dream come true, a promised kept, an incredible journey!