Our last. Everything was "our last". Even though I didn't want to think that way, it seemed to creep in. I woke up without the alarm at 5:30 and went to the other room for coffee. The other early coffee drinkers were there. We were all wearing our Coast to Coast jerseys together for the first time. When we left the Pacific Coast we didn't wear them because one jersey had mistakenly not been ordered. One jersey looked different though. Hmm. Rich, (who has an understated sense of humor) only halfway got the message that we were wearing the jerseys. Well, I guess it wasn't spelled out...
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
We have arrived!
We started out into a cloudy day which was a blessed relief from the day before. The route wound around through the countryside. We reached our only SAG stop which was next to a beautiful little church tucked in under some large live oaks. No one seemed in any great hurry to leave the SAG stop.
Just before leaving we looked up and there were three Swallow-Tailed Kites! I stood there with my mouth open and didn't catch any pictures. We had been looking for them all through Florida and to see them on our last day, especially so close, was a blessing!
Just a short while later Dave saw a sign for a Swallowtail Farm. We stopped for a photo. The kites must regularly nest in that area.
Just a little further down the road we got another blessing. A wood stork flew overhead and landed in a tree in front of us. He stayed there while I took pictures of him and when other riders rode by and Alan stopped to get a picture. Alan is a Forest Service person and is always interested in outdoors flora and fauna. He said when he heard me say "endangered species" he wanted to see the bird. I didn't realize until I looked it up online today that the status has recently been upgraded to "threatened". In part this is because their territory has expanded from just being in south Florida in the Everglades.
In very little time we biked into Saint Augustine and arrived at the restaurant overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway. Many Coasters had taken over the upper outside deck of the restaurant.We also found Stephan and Stephen, other self supported riders traveling solo that we had met at different times in Texas.
We finished lunch too soon. I wanted to just bask in the knowledge that we were so close. It seemed like time was moving too fast for me.
We headed over the Stone Lions bridge and headed to a McDonald's on A1A. And then we waited. It turned out that Captain Don, who was going to head up our parade of riders down to the beach had missed the turn....
Staff drove after our leader and brought him back. We gathered for some pictures at the "Welcome to Saint Augustine" sign with our flags from the five countries represented on the tour. Quite an impressive sight.
Then in single file, following Don and Dean, we rode behind the staff truck with Bubba standing in the back hollering that we had just ridden from San Diego to Saint Augustine across the country. Ed honked his horn at every car we passed and people sitting outdoors at the restaurants we passed were cheering. Quite a hoopla, but it was fun.
We reached the hotel and people who had friends and family saw them outside with cameras and signs.
We went through the front door and out the back door and out to the beach. The funniest part of that was an enterprising young man who was renting beach chairs and shouting "aww you don't want to drag your bikes all the way down there. You're tired! You just rode your bikes a long way. You want to rent one of my chairs and sit down!"
And the it was all bedlam as we got to the water and people dipped their front wheels, traded cameras to record triumphant smiles. Friends were bringing flowers, staff was handing out champagne in plastic glasses. Really, really fun.
Everything after that was a bit anticlimactic. We cleaned off the sand from our bike tires using the outdoor shower. We ourselves took showers and headed to a restaurant across the street. The next few hours also went quickly. After dinner we gathered in the breakfast area for some tongue in cheek awards (Cecil, the most flats). We also received plaques with a picture of us on them and said a few words. I think mine were a bleh bleh since words escaped completely out of my head. I was in a sort of keyed up emotional exhaustion as shown in the last picture.
Our camp mascot, Cocoabean, doesn't seem too impressed.
Postscript: the following day both Dave and I were in kind of a let down funk. Dave reacted by sleeping a lot. I felt too keyed up to sleep and felt I couldn't settle the experience enough in my mind to blog about it. I went in and out of the lobby, wanting to talk to some of the folks that were still around, but not wanting to say goodbye either. Dave and I finally got a taxi and went to a movie just to immerse ourselves in something that wasn't too emotionally demanding. Today (Wednesday) I feel a little more together, not so scattered.
Also of note was the fact that on Monday, in the midst of all the celebrating, when Dave picked up the car from where it had been stored, he had a hard time getting the brakes to work and they shuddered violently. It turned out that they had rusted terribly in the warm salt air. The following day we got it to the dealer for a brake job which delayed our return home by a day. Not too terribly sad about that since spring has been very slow in northern Michigan. So we're unwinding in Florida for an extra day.