Today was the only day of the entire ride across the country that the entire group started and ended the route together. I awoke extra early to ride through downtown Palatka and see the sights I missed yesterday. Riding out on my unloaded bike, I looked for all the murals that are part of their downtown restoration project–there were many, but these were my favorites:
The other things that caught my eye, in this historic town, were the individual monuments on the courthouse lawn honoring the Veterans of every war.
Then, at the end of Main Street was a Veterans Park, along the waterfront of the St. John’s River, and next to the park was Memorial Bridge, with 4 life sized bronze statues of World War I Servicemen standing watch on the 4 corners of the bridge. Very patriotic, and you know how I like that.
I got back to the motel by 8:20, and all the guys were already on their bikes, ready to roll. I hurried and loaded up my bike, and pretty quickly we were on the road. It was fun riding together for the first time since we began riding the first day of the tour. Early in today’s route, we cycled along a dedicated bike path for several miles, which made it possible to talk and take photos of each other, without interference from traffic.
With only 33 miles to cover, before we knew it, we were in St. Augustine.
As we pulled into town, Tom R was again surprised, this time by his daughter and son-in-law, who had driven down from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to cheer him on and be here for the finish. Wow! He has loyal family!
St. Augustine was founded in September 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain and is the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the US. As we cycled thru town, we passed historic buildings with Spanish architecture, but there was very little time to stop. We were on a mission.
Continuing on to the Mellow Mushroom, we were met by Chris’s girlfriend Linda, who drove down to Florida, and my college roommate Lez’lie, who drove up from Celebration, Florida. They and Tom R’s kids joined us for a tasty celebratory lunch.
Lots of stories, memories and laughs were shared. And then we mounted our bikes for our ride to the beach and wheel dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
We rode a rubber boardwalk through part of the sand, but after that, we had to use all the strength we had to push our heavy bikes through deep sand and then to the water’s edge. We had 3 people taking photos of 9 stray cat cyclists, with wind and the sound of ocean water thrown into the mix. I’m not saying it was complete mayhem, but it was impossible to get everyone’s attention in any one direction at any one time for a photo with all of us looking at one camera.
But who needs a perfect photo? Nothing about the ride was perfect. This is just a bunch of mostly novice bicycle tourists who supported and encouraged each other as we found our way across the country together. None of us will ever forget the once-in-a-lifetime feelings of accomplishment we felt, as we stood together at the ocean’s edge, having just completed an epic self supported transcontinental bike journey together.
8 thoughts on “11/14/17 – Palatka to St. Augustine, FL – MC (We’re Done!)”
Congratulations! I enjoyed this blog immensely! I also know that all of the time and effort you put in to document this journey (lots of photos) cut in to the much needed rest you required after a long day in the saddle. I am a bit of an endurance athlete myself and this appeals to me as something I may add to my bucket list when I retire. Bravo!! PS I work with your sister Janette. Ken
Thanks, Ken! The blog definitely sucked the energy out of me, one day at a time. Glad you enjoyed it! It was an adventure I will do again some day—on a different route. Maybe the Northern Tier or he Pacific Coast Highway.
Say Hi to my little sister…….Eileen
Wow!!! What an accomplishment! I’m happy that you enjoyed it and that you had wonderful people with you and all along the route. When do you return to Phoenix? Do you have your next adventure planned? You go!!! Love you. Caroline
My next adventure may be a mission or a school year of the China Teachers Program. When I get home, I am going to get on as a Temple worker, if they’ll let me. I’ll look into the other 2 possibilities after that. The temple worker single sister missions definitely appeal to me. I’ll be home late on the 18 th.
What’ new with you?
Awesome Eileen! Fantastic accomplishment and a great adventure.
Definitely was fun. I still wouldn’t have done it without you and the Pac Tour carrot out there to get me going.
Ma’am this was awesome! Congratulations! I pray your Thanksgiving was great. Thanks for sharing your adventure. ~MAJ Jones
It was quite the adventure! I really enjoyed seeing you and MAJ Rivas in El Paso. You two made my day, week and month. You reminded me of the years I could never think about doing something that was just for me. I loved my life, back then, and I love my life now. Life is good!