Posted by on 5, May 2019 in 2019 - Orlando Northwards, Tilly the Tandem, USA


Ok, we’re not looking for sympathy – we choose to cycle tour and accept the drawbacks that go with this as well as the great times – but we’ve managed to run out of energy, just as we reached our secret cousins. Which begs the question did we just have enough energy to get there, or is it merely psychological?

It’s not all our fault though! Though thinking about it it probably is. You see, we had planned to stay in Mexico beach for a few nights as last year it was on of our favourite places on the Forgotten Coast. We’d even thought we’d stay at the same hotel we did last year too as it was right on the beach and very nice.

As we progressed along the coast though alarm bells started to ring in our minds. We saw a few houses that looked like a giant had stood on them and the road was being heavily worked on. A quick check of Booking.com and we found all the hotels in Mexico Beach full. Odd.

Then it dawned on us that last year we remembered seeing a hurricane on the news near here and sure enough when we arrived in Mexico beach it was to all intents and purposes gone. Our hotel was a concrete shell with nothing left, doors, windows, walls all had gone. Birds could fly though it unobstructed and the row of terraced brightly coloured houses adjacent to it had simply vanished without a trace.

The road was lined with piles of white goods, some as high as a house and many plots were just empty. Some had builders working on them but mainly it was a a scene from a war. It was heartbreaking. Beds sat in bedrooms with a missing wall exposing them to the air untouched. Trees were snapped like twigs and houses lay crumpled and abandoned.

The devastation continued for miles north of Mexico Beach to Panama City. Last year Tyndall Airbase was surrounded by forest for 10 miles. This year every single tree was snapped half way up. Not one was left. The base itself was clearly visible with crumpled vehicles rounded up in piles and hangars missing walls and roofs. Sometime the US must realise it’s equipped to fight the wrong war and until they do nature will swat them around like toys.

Panama City continued the sad tale. RV’s and Caravans occupied the sites of former homes – where people had them – and others were simply abandoned as the owners had no insurance. The poorer areas were so sad. One house untouched, the next gone. Temporary tents and RV parks for residents like you see on the news for war torn refugee camps.

Within spitting distance of this scene from a disaster movie we were confidently told that climate change was fake. I wonder if the residents of Herculaneam and Pompei ignored the warning signs in the same way some of these people are doing. At least they didn’t have the benefit of the whole worlds scientific community shouting warnings to them.

The absence of hotels in Mexico beach had made our planned cycle for that day our longest ever at 121km and we arrived at Panama City Beaches strip of tower block hotels and fun fairs around tea time. The Beach area is totally unaffected, yet is only a couple of miles away from the city. The difference is in the construction. The Beach is all modern tower blocks, the city wooden homes. And of course most of the hotels were full of builders working all over the coastal area. We did manage to find a nice hotel, right on the beach next to a Pizza bar, where for once we out ate the Americans! We were hungry. Very hungry. The pizzas were 18″ and sold by the slice, which wasn’t going to cut the mustard – we ordered a whole pizza, then seriously considered ordering another! Fantastic Pizza though.

The next day we left all the destruction behind and cycled a lovely part of the coast up to our secret cousins. The 30A is lined with millionaire mansions and Linda got serious neck ache from all the gawping at these fabulous houses. There’s plenty of nice eateries along the way and some of the best ice cream on the coast!

So after 10 days non stop cycling we had covered 641km which for us is ridiculous. We normally like to plan a rest day every 4 days, but wind and the Hurricane damage had conspired to make us cycle far too much for our legs. The next four days at out secret cousins was spent resting, sleeping and eating. A fine old period of R&R and just what we needed with our fabulous hosts Rob and Joy.

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