The End of Florida

Posted by on 9, May 2018 in 2018 - Florida to Canada, Tilly the Tandem, USA

The End of Florida

One of our final stops in Florida was the lovely seaside town of Pensacola where we made like the locals and headed to church! Actually we were staying at the youth centre for two nights using the warmshowers scheme – a group of cyclists and walkers who offer their homes and gardens as places for you to stay free. The Youth Director at the Methodist Church is a keen cycle tourer and has accommodated more than 500 people over the years here.

After checking in and picking our floor space for our sleeping bags we rolled into this quaint town and settled into a chair on the pavement at a cafe and had lunch. The hillbillys of a few nights ago fading into distant memory.

The town was having various festivals whilst we were there, a food festival which was basically deep fried X where X = burger or Chicken, a Farmers and craft market, an art festival where the streets were closed to traffic with numerous art stalls along the street interspersed with various beer stands – no high faluting wine with your art here! And a British Car rally where we saw a Morris Minor, MGBGT’s and MGF’s all of which we’ve owned, oh how Ben and Charlie loved those Morris Minors… Oh, and the Beetles on a stage right next to the folk museum which had wooden houses from throughout the British, Spanish and American periods of the town, really excellent.

The only draw back to the day was meeting a couple outside our youth centre who had worked there many years ago – they told us it used to be a funeral home, not the type of thing you want to here just before you turn in for the night!

On the Sunday we woke to clouds and a storm warning so moved from our youth centre a little way down the road to The Grand Hotel to hunker down away from the rain, the rain though wasn’t due till after lunch so we took the opportunity of indulging in an American brunch at a local cafe first. The Grand was the old station (Southern Americans seem allergic to trains and there are nearly no passenger trains at all down here) and was a lovely building with a bar and restaurant located in the old ticket offices. We avoided the rain by staying in the bar!

As I may have previously mentioned (!) This area is home to loads of military bases, one of which is the home of the Blue Angels, the US Navy equivalent of the Red Arrows. There is a naval air museum on one of the bases here open to the public which we headed to next but didn’t make it past the base gate – no bicycles allowed! Oh well.

This was our final stretch of coast in Florida before entering Alabama and as our speedo clocked up 1600km we passed the welcome to Alabama sign. We rolled into Gulf State Park Campground after slogging our way into the strong coastal wind, hopefully for the last time. To say farewell to the coast we decided to have two nights and have a day off on the beach and enjoy the Mile Long Pier – which was oddly only about 500m long! Pelicans lined the sides of the pier waiting for fishermen to drop fish and despite the warning not to cut fishing lines we saw two Pelicans with fishing line stuck in their wings. They are wonderful birds to watch and frequently divebomb the water in search of dinner.

We had a lovely walk along the white Sands paddling in the Gulf Of Mexico as we headed to the only cafe on this part of the beach for lunch. On our days off we are permanently hungry. We’re not when we cycle, quite the opposite in fact, but stop and all we want to do is eat. So for lunch a we ordered A Grilled cheese, chips and a beer. Then ordered it all again! There really is so little vegetarian choice sometimes here that that is often the only option, which suits Jon just fine!

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