to Jacksonville

Submitted by Ben on Thu, 02/24/2005 - 10:08

I stayed up late last night talking with fellow travelers in the hostel: a young woman from Ireland headed west and a young couple from England headed east.  All three have been to the US before but have never been to the midwest; they go back and forth between the coasts through the South via Greyhound because there are more interesting stops that way... I guess they don't think there's much of anything between Minneapolis and Portland.

I had a nice complementary breakfast of pirate pancakes and coffee and was on my way.  As I was loading the trailer, I met a former manager of the hostel who now lives in an apartment in the same building because she likes the stream of travelers.

I should mention that the other bike tourist I met at Rainbow Springs State Park lent me his Adventure Cycling map showing a bike route all they way from Ormond Beach to Savannah, Georgia.  I've resolved to stick to this route and see how I like it.

I've said before that pedaling the BikeE uses different muscles than riding an upright bike or climbing stairs, which was a major selling point when I had to climb three flights after each ride.  The down side is that after climbing the 14-story lighthouse yesterday, my calves are intensely sore!  The up side is that that soreness doesn't interfere at all with my bicycling.

State Highway A1A north of St. Augustine looks a lot like the Gulf coast in the Florida panhandle: lots of vacation homes and condos, and lots of wind-pruned vegetation.  In fact the trees and bushes are so severely pruned by the wind that they grow together into an impenetrable thicket which may look nice in the green season, but right now it's olive drab.  The campground that charges $40 for a tent site is right in the middle of this briar patch!  I don't see the appeal.

Jacksonville Beach is a neat little town.  It's full of the surf shops and sports bars you'd expect to see in a coastal town near a big city, but every business seems to have a bike rack, and every rack I saw had bikes parked at it.  I don't know how many of the tourists bicycle, but the employees sure do!

There were scattered showers all day -- very scattered.  I managed to be under cover every time one passed by, and I was able to restrain myself from going out until the rain had stopped, so I didn't get wet even once.

I had my choice of two city campgrounds, one on either side of a ferry.  (The city of Jacksonville is geographically enormous because it annexed the entire county in 1967, so what used to be county parks are now city parks.)  I chose the farther one and got a great deal on a campsite: $5.75.  Of course it's right across the river from a Navy air base, but I hear they're going to stop flying overhead around 10:00...