Onward to the Gulf

Posted by on 25, Apr 2019 in 2019 - Orlando Northwards, North America, Tilly the Tandem, USA

Onward to the Gulf

Having returned the car hire in Gainesville and got a lift back to Tilly we cycled on to an Airbnb in a Fifth Wheel trailer – a very big caravan that hitches into the back of a pickup, rather than being towed by a car. It had the obligatory multiple slideouts and was huge on the inside. Very comfortable, but a bit old fashioned in the decor stakes – dark wood, leather chairs and a sofa bolted to the floor. European vans are tiny by comparison but use every inch of space, with lots of bling, hidden lights and glitz, whereas these always have tonnes of unused spaces, doors that you have to wiggle around and seem more thrown together. All of the RV’s and trailers we’ve stayed in are like this, so it must be Americans and Europeans have different tastes.

We eventually found a campsite we could get on to – all so far having been full because of Spring Break – at Itchetuknee Springs and we were the only people on the site. We camped in the trees in isolation somewhat nervously listening to the noises of the forest all night wondering what noise bears made….

The springs themselves were gorgeous, such a magical blue and we sat for ages paddling in the water watching it bubbling out of a vast cavern underground into the lake being far too cowardly to swim!

Our Airbnb odd accommodation list grew for our next stop when we stayed in someone’s garden shed! Obviously being the US it was a huge shed, had a nice shower and toilet, kitchen and air con, but still, it was a shed. It was lovely though, despite the free nibbles on offer being 5 years past their sell by date.

Ask any cycle tourer and they’ll probably tell you the worst thing for cyclists is not hills, but the wind. With hills there’s always a down. With the wind there’s often no respite! Every evening and morning we watch the wind directions on our phone to see how the day will pan out and for some reason the wind since we left Gainesville has decided to align to the way we were cycling everyday. There is a catch though. Each day it has changed direction so if we don’t cycle that day then we will be against the wind for every day thereafter – hope you follow all that! So, instead of rest days we cycled daily passing through the lovely countryside to Monticello, another rather quaint American town with an old centre.

Our hosts that night were quite concerned about the windy weather and told us we should stay another night with them to avoid the Tornados due the following day. Far too dangerous to cycle. So, in true Reed fashion we got up at the crack of dawn and left early before we could get locked in for the day for our own safety!

We actually had to cycle into the wind all day and up ever increasing hills. Talahasse, which despite claims that Florida is flat has plenty of steep long hills. 15% being the steepest we found. As we arrived in Talahasse cars opened their windows to warn us about the approaching apocalypse and telling us to take cover and get off the road.

We arrived at our B&B, had a shower during a heavy shower and then went into town for meal in bright sunshine. To be fair the tornado was devasting only it was in Texas 1000 miles away.

We like Talahasse and had a very pleasant evening there though the centre is tiny for a state capital and we left the city the next morning on the St Marks trail, an old railway line. The wind kindly returned to being behind us even to the extent of turning at right angles to keep behind us when we finished the trail and turned right onto the Florida Trail. Very nice!

Our second campsite was right on the gulf coast and the most expensive campsite we’ve ever stayed at in a long time. $50 for camping without water and power is a bit steep in our book. But it was lovely to sit by the water and think we’d cycled from Atlantic to The Gulf of Mexico…. Again!

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