May 4, 2001 - Fort Walton, FL 102m***

I started the day just off this map to the left, and ended at Ft. Walton Beach, about at the 98 above. This map is worthless to understand what follows. If you have a more detailed map of the Alabama and Florida gulf coast, open it.

A day of variety, yet

The weathers the same as it will ever be:

Saturday Daytime: A mix of clouds and sun. High 82. Winds E to SE 10 to 15 mph.

So lets start with 3 southern jokes. 2 from Dave Landgrebe, 1 from the Houma taxi driver.

"Who’s the richest person in LA {MS}? … The tooth fairy."

"If a man and wife divorce, can they still be brother and sister?" – it’s endless

How many Texans does it take to eat an armadillo? Three – One to eat and two to watch for traffic. (road kill)

I left Dauphin Island, AL on the 8AM (first) ferry, 3 miles from my hotel.

Had time to take a shot of the main intersection onto the island. And of course, a couple of the ferry.

Leaving Dauphin Island with 4 passengers. 3 bike riders and the guy passed out in the pickup truck.

We docked at Ft. Morgan. There was a map of the island on the ferry, which had some information. This is the only photo of the day in higher resolution, should you care to enlarge it and read.

Ferry approach and docked at Ft. Morgan are the next two shots.

It was only after we docked that I talked to the other two cyclists. Sarah and Lou (sp?). Sisters. Training for a triathalon next weekend in Panama City Beach, FL. Wonderful people. Great character and legs. They let me draft them into strong headwinds for the next (first) 20 miles of the day at an average 16 mph, to AL59 and the right turn to Gulf Shores, AL. Saved me lots of energy and time, then they said bye and headed back. Good luck to them in their race next week.

The next 10 miles were through more Myrtle Beachish type condos, half developed, half dunes, but with wonderful bike lanes.

Crossed a bridge to Perdido Key, and entered Florida. (bridge and sign)

I almost missed this sign because right before it there was a bar with 100 bikers and this sign (for Claire – most of them we couldnt lift, much less throw.)

Headed east, turned north off the island, across the Intercoastal Waterway yet again. The views looking west, then east.

At this point, 40 miles into the day, around noon, as agreed, I tried to call Bob Lee from a convenience store just past this bridge. No answer, but more mullet stuff.

A real, local paper. Kept riding. Called again. Met Bob at a Hardees at Navy Road and FL182. Bob greets me.

Bob Lee is a business acquaintance who happens to be riding across the country at the same time as me.. but hes doing it for a reason.. We rode 10 more miles into Pensacola, where we were greeted by the local TV station. Bob told them about ALS and hospice in profound terms.

For more details, and a very worthwhile cause, go to ridewithareason.org.

The videoed us riding together as we headed back to a big party we passed a few blocks before.

We had lunch here by the plaque that explains Pensacola.

And then headed across a causeway to Pensacola beach, some hotels, and then a nice 15 mile through a strip of land with sand dunes.

I think they call this Santa Rosa Island. Supposed to have the whitest beaches in the world. Maybe not.

Very pretty nonetheless.

We then crossed a causeway back to US98, and continued heading east for 15 miles, until we crossed another bridge/causeway to whatever island Ft. Walton beach is on. Heres a shot of Bob approaching and leaving the top of that bridge/causeway.

Just past the bottom of this bridge, we checked into the Ramada Inn, where theres a waterfall just outside my room, which also borders the pool.

The 102 miles today was good considering the headwind and distractions. Ill be riding with Bob tomorrow, but after that well go our own ways. He will be on the road for perhaps 2 more weeks going to St Augustine. I want to be in Savannah in 4-5 days.

I feel like Im almost done

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