Monday, March 22, 2010

Riding the Gulf

Since pedaling out of New Orleans, I've pretty much been riding along the Gulf of Mexico. In the eastern end of Louisiana and the Mississippi coast, I passed a lot more hurricane ravaged areas. Whole strips of land were obviously stripped of houses, leaving only foundations and some pillars. While many of these were for sale, many had also been rebuilt. The new homes may be higher of have better foundation (hopefully), but if you have to build like that is it really worth it?

A historic church in MS. Spray painted on it is "In this ditch since 2005" and "historic building, do not tear down"
New houses and old lots
This was the scene a lot
What used to be houses.
It was wonderful to make it to the Gulf of Mexico. The water was warm and beautiful! Mississippi's coast had lots of casinos, Alabama and Florida's has resorts. The Alabama coast was where the beaches really got nice, seemingly endless white sand beaches.
Got to keep the beach smooth!
Now that the weather is good and I'm somewhat on the ACA's southern tier route, I'm meeting other cycle tourists again! I'm enjoying talking with others touring, through they're all heading west, so no one to ride along with yet.
Although I only spent about 24 hours in Alabama, it will always stand out to me as a very religious state. I spoke with a number of people, but most were tourists, only two locals. Very early into the conversations, both locals asked "Are you a Christan?" Then they went on to tell me how wonderful Christianity is. In one of the encounters I ended up talking with the Joe Lake for nearly two hours. The conversation started off with him telling me the benefits of raw food-fine, and then he went into religion and pretty much preached to me for 1.5 hrs. Now, I'm a patient person in most instances, but don't do as well when someone tells me I'm going to hell if I don't let Jesus into my heart. Joe really was a very nice man (told me that I'll make a good Christian someday), I just didn't want to be preached to and he was difficult to get away from. Oh well, keeps it interesting I guess. After informing me of about a dozen different vitamins I should be taking I finally pedaled onward.
Lots of these long bridges, luckily there is a good shoulder most of the time.
Taking the ferry across Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay is full of these ExxonMobile natural gas platforms.
Joe Lake
It was never quite warm enough to entice me to swim, but I enjoyed walking the beaches and wading. The beach sure beats many of my usual roadside rest stops!
I was excited to get into Florida and spent my first night outside of my tent in months. It was right on the beach, looking up at the stars, fantastic! For at least two days of riding I felt like the coast was an endless resort town. Some areas were way too perfect looking. A little town of Seaside was one of these, it even had an outdoor art walk and wine tasting with live music.
Nice riding
I've been meeting tons of very friendly people; tourists almost seem friendlier most everywhere I've been-strange. One family rode up alongside me and we talked a little. The father told his maybe 12 year old daughter, "now that's girl power!" I thought it was cool.
Continuing o the coast I made the mistake of riding through Panama City Beach. Back in New Orleans, Bill and Erin had warned me about this but I had no clue what I was in store for. It's spring break time and I learned that PCB is a hot destination. For literally ten miles I rode through barely crawling traffic made up of college students out to cruise the strip. (When I finally made it to the end, cars were just stopped with nothing in front of them.) This was my first experience with a stereotypical spring break and it was ridiculous, totally not me scene. Groups of college students in their swimsuits walked the strip, everyone just honking and checking each other out. There was a bike line, but it was typically full of people and slow navigating through. It was a stressful ride and I was so happy to finally got out of there!
Spring Break! Not the best pic, but gives a little idea.
FL has some strange houses along the beach.
Sunrise on the beach
A sample of the artwork in Seaside
I've been fortunate with some great tail winds along the coast. Yesterday after fighting a head wind in the morning, it finally turned in my favor and I felt unstoppable! I didn't want to stop riding. As I've learned, you've got to take full advantage of a tail wind when you get one. I'd crossed into the eastern time zone, so now it's light past 8pm. This is both good and bad, I've been riding until pat 7pm but able to get in long days and feel better about taking longer mid-day breaks.
Inland FL, swamps

Now I've left the coast and heading across the bulk of Florida. I'll be hitting the Atlantic in a few days!

1 comment:

  1. Girl, I miss the heck out of you! Let's chat soon.
    Happy trails.