Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rv'ing across the south to Mesa....Jan 5-12, 2015

We just discovered this unpublished post from our trip to Mesa!

It was going to be unusual for me, but we have one week to get to Mesa, so I am going to be in the passenger seat, and Pam may even let me drive, which will basically be a first for this RV. 

Day one: we drove about 300 miles and stayed in Punta Gorda, Fla. We got off to a slow start because it took a while too get through all the Keys due to traffic and red lights. We drove across 'Alligator Alley' to just north of Ft. Myers on Interstate 75. This motor home rides nicely! Pam did a great job getting into a camping spot that was way too small for us, in an older campground, where she also found a masseuse across the street in a trailer. Driving makes her shoulders and neck tight, so it was a good thing.

Leaving Sugarloaf Key
Day two: 450 miles of travel got us to a Flying J where we tucked in between the big trucks in ?Marianna Fla. Which in the western panhandle. We negotiated Tampa, Gainsville, and Tallahassee and picked up Interstate 10. Florida is a big state!

Day three: 425 miles seemed like we made more progress, especially across state borders as we continue on I-10 all the way to our ultimate destination. We crossed Alabama, Mississippi, and half of Louisiana, past Baton Rouge, and into a Walmart in Breaux Bridge, LA. We are definitely not in the Keys anymore, as it went down to 20 degrees, and the water from snow and sleet froze our slide toppers, to a point where we couldn't close our slide outs, so we had to wait for a thaw to occur. 

Day four: 400 miles got us to the east side of San Antonio, where we pulled into a very small RV park, which is more for locals than for travelers, and paid $20, I think, to pull onto a piece of dirt. The RV broke an underground water line as we pulled in, so the Cowboys had to fix it before we had water. Another very cold night caused us to get another late start.

Day five: 350 miles to Ft. Stockton, where we stayed in an old KOA, in the middle of no where.  It's still cold, almost like its January. Ha ha. Pam asked me to drive, so I took the wheel for a few hours, and managed to keep it basically on the intended path of travel.

Mike forgot to mention that we had snow in Texas!
Day six: 450 miles through El Paso to a place called Bowie Arizona. We stayed in another campground that has no real reason to exist, it would seem. We had a very memorable occurrence happen when Pam turned into a truck stop for diesel fuel. I had half a canister of bear spray in a closet near the top of the left side of the bedroom. The closet door popped open and the bear spray fell onto the floor, upside down, and basically drained into the bedroom. Of course that caused some distress, and Pam and I choked and coughed and held our breath as we dragged stuff out of the bedroom and the entire RV. We had a major cleanup, and as we pulled stuff out, truckers in the lanes next to us were also coughing. For a while, it seemed as though the RV was toast, but with great perseverance which took months, we finally got things cleaned up for the most part.

Day seven: 160 miles through Tuscon, got us to our designation, Tower Point RV Resort. Pam did a great job of backing into the sight, after being inadvertently verbally harassed by a neighbor who loudly commented something about a woman driver. How do you think that went over. The look that Pam gave the guy was significant enough that he came down later and apologized to her. Needless to say, that guy never was invited for pleasant conversation on our patio!

Eighteen Days in the Keys (Dec. 18 to Jan.5, 2015)

We just discovered this unpublished post from Christmas 2014!

E438.41 miles on 9 different rides over 18 days.....Sugarloaf Key KOA is about 23 miles from the SĂ´uthernmost Point Buoy in Key West, so my first ride as a Key West 'winter resident' was to the buoy, to officially finish off the journey from North Carolina. My other rides basically consisted of the same loop from the KOA to Key West and back, with a few variations each time. About five miles south of the KOA,  the bike trail becomes continuous, parallel to the highway, but I didn't use it when riding south, because it is on the 'wrong' side of the road. When US1 starts to get rough, a few miles north of Key West, I would jump on, after the trail crosses under a bridge, to the right side of the road. I just like the slipstream of same direction traffic better than I like fighting the headwind caused by opposing traffic, even if it may not be as safe. Go figure. Along those lines, a biker did get killed by a car while we were there, a few miles south of the KOA, about a mile from where the bike trail ends. I saw them doing the investigation, road paint, measuring devices, and all, as I rode home after a loop one day. An elderly man hit a biker that was in the bike lane. I could see the skid mark from the bike tire when the bumper had it locked up, for about ten feet. There were no car tire marks. Bad luck I guess, but that is why I am addicted to my little rear view mirror that I wear on my sunglasses.
The highlight of the stay in the Keys was having Buddy there for over a week, and his friend Lindsay for the New Years Eve weekend. It's always good to see the boy. Pam, Buddy, and I went on a dive charter out of Key West, and scuba dived on a reef six miles off shore. We had a great time, even though the water was pretty choppy and the wind progressed as the day went on. One guy got sea sick and barfed on the stairs leading below deck to the restrooms, and one woman had to be rescued from the water, but the three of us faired just fine. After the trip we ate on a balcony overlooking the marina in Key West, soaking in the scenery. Buddy consumed seafood, as he did every day that he was there. We also rented a boat and 'Captain Buddy' took us out into the ocean about six or seven miles, and we snorkeled, look for sea turtles, and just generally created good memories.
Another highlight of the trip was having friends at the campground that we know from North Beach, in North Carolina. Charlie and Susan Watson, a retired EMS 'extraordinaire', and a retired school teacher respectively, always are there for us, and have taught us the meaning of true friendship. Bird and Gisele also came down for a week or so and camped, and their unique beach personalities make them some of my favorite company. I used their paddleboard one day to try to master that craft, but had a really rough go of it in the current. I'm just not made for it. My balance is terrible. I think it's because my ankles are so weak, but who knows.
The weather was a daily carbon copy the entire time we were there. 70 degrees at night, and 80 degrees during the day. We always knew what we were going to get. Even New Year's Eve was nice. Buddy and I upheld our Keys pyrotechnic tradition, as I smuggled Roman Candles into the RV, and I handed them out, and we all shot them off simultaneously at midnight. By the way, never trust Susan Watson with a Roman candle. After the first ball went off, she panicked and dropped it. The other nine balls proceeded to shoot off randomly, into the water, and into the mangroves, and at several people. Cmon Susan!!!
I became a common sight at Island Cycles, where I ordered a new chain ring, and stopped in to expedite the process every time I rode by. Well, they were nice enough, including the bike tech from Bethel Park, but it just never happened. They were too busy I guess. Fortunately, with the wisdom that comes with being an old man, I ordered the chain ring from another bike shop on Stock Island, just in case an occasion like this occurred, which it often does. I finally went to the other guy, and the chain ring was on, labor free, in less than an hour. I have learned to always have a plan B.

Pap Rose with his Christmas presents from Chase and Carter
What can I say????

Mike and the sponge monster

This iguana just fell off of our MH roof!

Rough life....

Taking Buddy out on a snorkeling trip

Some of the fancy yachts in the harbor in Key West

Key West

Pam snorkeling

Buddy enjoying his Christmas break!

Some of the fish we saw off the side of the dock

Having lunch in Key West after snorkeling

One of the famous Key West chickens

Pelicans feeding

Santa found us!

Mike with his new present!  A shark buff!

Christmas dinner in the Keys!

Buddy is ready to dig in!!!

Cheers!  Merry Christmas!

Showing off the Christmas presents

Captain Buddy takes us out on the ocean

Mike snorkeling

Lindsay and Buddy

The "North Beach Gang" celebrates New Years Eve

The New Years party theme was the 60s

Bicycling from Homestead, Fla to Sugarloaf Key, Fla. Dec 17

118.58 miles in 7:51....(1096.22 total miles from Statesville NC to Sugarloaf KOA)...The Keys owed me a ride like today. Eighty degrees, mild tail wind, not a cloud in the sky. Compare that to last trip, two years ago, with the 20-30 mph head wind and cross wind, and I arrived at the KOA about a half hour after dark. Last time, I had no idea where Sugarloaf Key was in the chain, and I really didn't have a bead on the mileage. Today, I remembered every detail, every Key, every bridge, and I rolled in with a hour daylight to spare. I rode 6 more miles today than last trip, and finished almost one hour faster. I was also intelligent enough this time to be in the pedals by 8 am. I was pumped up and tapered for the challenge, so it was easy to get out of bed. I planned on wearing an outer layer to start, but the 58 degree start felt really good in the sunshine. The first eight miles or so was in the Redlands Agricultural Area, a very interesting ride, with the multitude of topiary nurseries, as well as many other tropical plants, as well as many things that grow in the Pittsburgh area. As I rode along, I couldn't help wonder how many plants from this area that I actually planted in my 22 years of landscaping. Who knows.
From the agricultural area, Fla 997, went into downtown Homestead, an older area that is separate from the massive commercial area that is US1. US 1 has all the Walmarts ( three of them), Targets, Best Buys, and on and on and on. The area I rode through has the smaller, older, mom and pop type places that made up the town of Homestead 20-30 years ago. After about eleven total miles, I merged into US1, the only route through the Keys. It starts off kind of slow, with lots of scrub trees and marshland for about ten miles, until you get into Key Largo.
 One thing that was consistent the entire 118 miles was the traffic. It never stopped. I had a slipstream caused by lines of vehicles to ride in pretty much the entire trip. The few times I had opposing traffic only, stirring the wind, I could tell a difference. From Key Largo, there is a bike lane or trail, in various stages of completion and quality all the way to Key West. I rode on it very seldomly, for all the reasons I don't like trails, and also because it kept changing sides of the road, but 75% was on the northbound side, opposite the way I was going. The slipstream advantage would not have been there had I rode on the same side of the road as opposing traffic. Even when the trail was viable and present, on my right or left, there was usually a bike lane on the road, where I like it. The only place where their was neither a bike lane or a trail, was in the towns, like Largo, Islamorada, and Marathon. There may have been sections, but they came and went with no rhyme or reason, and they were not very well signed. It's just better to stay on the road, even though there were times when I thought it best to ride on the sidewalk, which I did, with great distain. 
Largo is a long, narrow town, not especially appealing, unless you turn right or left, and see the color of the turquoise water, the docks, the nicely landscaped homes and resorts on the water. On US1, not so much. Largo melted into Tavernier, after crossing a bridge to Plantation Key, which becomes Islamorada, after crossing another bridge. The bridges, with the water and the view, are my favorite part of the ride. After Islamorada, another long stretch, the populated area dies down, and the bridges and state park areas increase. The final town, Marathon, is before the world famous Seven Mile Bridge. From there, the keys each seem to get smaller, and the water more frequent. Every bridge is paralleled across the water by the old Flagler Railroad bridges, in various stages of repair. The railroad opened this area as a tourism mecca, and I'm not really sure when it closed down, but the bridges that are still safe are used as fishing and walking piers. Very few are passable end to end, as they are either fenced off in areas, or a piece of the bridge is removed so you can't cross certain areas. 
Today, I could have ridden 150 miles if I needed to. It was just one of those good rides that a cyclist lives for. I'm so grateful that I've had the opportunity to ride some of the epic trips that I've done. There are only a small percentage of people that would want to attempt a ride like today, and there are even less whose circumstances allow them to do it. What a life.

Our home for the Christmas holidays!

This guy (an iguana) lives in the palm tree next to our site.  He has 3 buddies that live up there with him!

Close up of "Iggy"

Ferry ride from Ocracoke Island to Hatteras Sept 23

We haven't been posting anything this summer while we are living on the outer banks of North Carolina, but we had to make this posting!!!  Every summer we take our little tent over to Ocracoke for a few days.  This year we waited until September so we would have cooler evenings.  Unfortunately, we waited until two lows and some tropical-ish weather came to town!  So we went to Ocracoke with 20mph sustained winds and 30mph gusts and really had a great time!  We decided to head home after one night since heavy rains were supposed to arrive the next night.  When we got loaded onto the ferry back to Hatteras, the winds were picking up (which means the waves were picking up) and we were the front vehicle on the ferry.  What a ride home!!  Wait til you see the attached video, needless to say, we couldn't leave the vehicle!  Enjoy!!

April 27...a day off in Kingman Kansas..

I needed a day off, as demonstrated by the fact that I woke at about ten o'clock. I took some time and faced the 50 degree temperatures and 30 mph winds to take a walk to downtown Kingman, which is probably about a half mile west of my motel. It is a typical Kansas small town, with a 'main street' made of brick, coming perpendicular off the main road through town, in this case, US 54. I walked past all the mom and pop shops, and I found the grain elevator on the outskirts of town, near the Ninnescah  River, which I have been following since Pratt. Then after returning, to my room, I watched a depressing movie about growing old on HBO, even though I didn't catch the name of it.  Then I channel surfed until I came to CNN, where there is what I have to call historic coverage of riots in downtown Baltimore. The reporters were right in the middle of the action, there was looting and burning, and there was no police action. I think this is going to be in the news for quite a while.

I spoke to Pam several times about the condition of her dad back in Canonsburg, and concern for him dominated the day. I am also hoping that this day off will bring my legs back, enough to tackle the wind into and through Witchita tomorrow.

Downtown Kingman

My motel

About the Katy Trail

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Pictures in Old Posting!

I just wanted to let all of our followers know that I am FINALLY uploading photos into Mike's postings from his trip from Mesa to Pittsburgh!  The starting posting date is April 12 and I will get pictures in as quickly as possible.  Thanks for being patient!