|Looking back at the town of Destin|
|Memorial on Okaloosa Island|
Another bridge, and the Fort Walton area, which I expected to be beautiful, was an understated stretch of car dealerships and normal looking homes, with the beach barely visible from US 98( which continued to have great shoulders and smooth pavement). Eventually I came into Navarro, which would expose the Gulf and a neat barrier island with tall dunes that ran parallel to the coast, and looked uninhabited, until a poor man's Miami Beach popped up out of no where. It looked cool, but I didn't go across the causeway to check it out.
Pensacola Bay then loomed on the horizon, a large bay, with a pretty tall bridge . As I was approaching the area, I noticed another biker , who was out ahead of me, and looked to be moving at a good rate. At first I didn't think I could catch him, but he wasn't pulling away either. It's been a while since I had blown the carbon build up off my sprinting muscles, so I leaned into it a little, and started slowly reeling him in. We got on the bridge, had a decent tail wind, and I was hitting about 23 miles per hour for the last five minutes, when the bridge started to go up hill. Well, I figured, being from West by God Virginia, I would track that flat lander down going up hill. I caught him, and just when my quads were burning pretty good, he decided to take off. We ended up rolling down and finishing the bridge at over 32 mph, until a red light stopped us. Thank God! Turns out he was from Nashville, Tennessee, was younger than me (Yesssss!), and he gave me some directions through town, other than following US98. I checked out Pensacola, and it is a pretty neat town. I rode through the southernmost sections, including the cultural district, which had lots of people wandering around, and sidewalk cafes everywhere, with nice little parks and wide streets. I rode around a bit, and when I decided to find US98, I discovered that nothing was where I thought it should be. The water was on the wrong side, the wind was blowing out of the wrong direction, the roads that were supposed to go that way, went this way, and my sense of direction was all cattywumpus. I stopped and asked a few people directions, and nobody was from the area. I finally found a black guy that I could barely understand cause of his accent and Ebonics, but he got me going the right direction. He told me a short cut through the 'hood, and it gave me a great view of some of the city neighborhoods. I finally found Business 98, and headed past some naval hospitals and other navy and Marine facilities, towards Alabama. I turned onto 98 business immediately, but then I somehow ended up in a semi-residential area which is not good in a 37 foot motor home towing a jeep! Road signs were few and far between, but eventually, I realized that I was running parallel to 98, so I got lucky with that! Unlike Mike, I was not impressed with the part of Pensacola that I was in, sorry! I did enjoy the view from all of the bridges. I was also starting to have problems with the motor home again - sometimes it doesn't want to pull out at a traffic light. After Mardi Gras, we will be looking for a Ford dealer to take a look under the hood....
|I told you it was windy here!!!!|
|Ball field where the Pensacola Blue Wahoo's play.|
After another bridge across a bayou, not a bay, ( what's the difference? They looked the same to me), I crossed the state line and rode through a stretch called Floribama! US 98 in Alabama suddenly became very hilly, not steep, just long gradual grades. My elevation changes today were over 1200 feet, between the bridges and the little hills. I went up in elevation a total of 32 feet, so the trip to the Rockies has begun! Alabama is one of those states that decided to put rumble strips in the bike lane, so I had nowhere to go for about 15 miles, but traffic was very good about getting around me. As I finished the trip, the sun was getting low in the sky and I was heading due west, so it was good to get off the road when I did. I got a shower and ate leftovers, just in time to see the Super Bowl, between San Francisco and the Ravens.
|Super bowl Southern style!|
|Mural on Alabama restaurant! Note the 18 wheeler is Alabama and the Auburn fan (cook) is waiting for the roadkill to cook! Look at upper right corner for opossums hanging in the tree! And rabbit and armadillo crossing road!|