Oh look, we’ve time travelled back into that same day of driving, Day 0, where I’m now stopped and taking a piss alongside my cousin’s open passenger door, Bills game tailgate style. Huguenot Memorial Park, my selected insertion point, is a Jax City Park northeast of the city on the Atlantic Coast. It’s pretty dope to get back to the ocean. Tony G and I stand roadside and chat; it’s nothing nearly as cinematic as some Jules and Vincent or Dale and Brennon. Our most intellectual conversation revolves around how the rest of the world has intellectual conversations, while typical American chatter centers around the sale on at Home Depot or the Bills off season moves the goddamn weather (is foreshadowing time travel?). I ask “What time you got?” “Four eleven in the pm.” “Nah it ain’t quite time yet. C’mon let’s hang back.”
This drop location is calculated. The Mayfield ferry is closed just down the road from this coastal park. This boat that crosses just 2000 feet of St John’s River not far from its Atlantic Ocean delta is closed until May 1, even though it was supposed to reopen April 3. I’m still blaming Obama just because. The closure would mean 30 miles of suburban and then urban riding inland and then back to the coast for anyone approaching from the south. My original plans involves picking right back up where I left off in – about 9 miles south of this ferry in Jacksonville beach; that plan is now poop.
If you’re keeping score at home — and we all know you should be — this is my first mention of poop on this ride. What’s the over/under on doo doo references or discussions by the time I get to DC? Don’t delay, send your picks via carrier pigeon today. Or even just comment if you’re the lazy type.
Anyhoo. That nine miles is gonna have to wait. In true firefighter spirit, I’ve several plans, most of which I expect will fail. Standard issue. Nonetheless planning happens. Just like shit. Pre-planning I’m fact. This park is a good choice, considering I had no idea when the death rockets would get me to the coast. “What time you got?” There’s actually camping here, in case of a late arrival from Orlando. Also, probably toilets, though I’m not using them right now. Also, Little Talbot Island state park campground is 7 miles up, right on the ocean — and with Florida’s no-turn away walk up/bike up camping policy — also a very attractive option.
It’s about that time. I zip up and load up and hug my cuz. It’s 430ish and I’m realizing not only do I have some daylight, I got hella energy. My homegirl Carmen would call this Jimmy Legs. I am read’ to-go. Caffeinated too. My further planeth unfoldeth, like that creepy Mad Magazine foldy thing. Some pricy Oceanside hotels 15 miles up, then crappy motels at 30 and 45 miles. The plan’s big prize: a covered bike campsite 50 miles up in Woodbine. That’s a long shot. But this day kinda represents most of my days pedaling our on the road: lots of contingencies on where and when to stop for the day. My Jimmy Legs push out, the first miles cruise by through the aforementioned parks bike trails. Playlist on point as Jurassic 5 gets my mind right and the journey of a thousand two hundred fifty miles begins with a single pedal. Want more than wisdom?
A few more miles up; Blackalicious and the White Stripes contrast sounds in my ears like the actual contrast their names conjure. Landscape changes always enthrall me. The pristine white sand beachiness gives way to green wet marshy funkiness. James Brown and Open Mike Eagle are hitting hit hard. The air is crisp and the wind is whipping but hell yeah this is that feeling. The good good. It come straight away now. Back in the saddle.
Light rains come as daylight dwindles. After a few beautiful miles on A1A, I’m now on what is US Bike Route 1 and it stinks. We are off the coast people and it is no longer paved in gold. Liquor stores. Churches. Heavy vehicular traffic. I find a quieter side street. Cutting across town, I come upon a T in the road at what will become my close acquaintance over the next few days: Highway 17. Hmmm. The town is just south. My direction is north. That campsite is still 20 miles up and the sun is getting low big guy. I consider going on. I consider heading into town for a cheap motel where I can probably make friends with addicts and truckers and sex workers. I’m not trying to ride in the dark and so it’s not looking good for that bike camp site. I got. I no good options when the rain picks up. I have to make a decision and I really haven’t when I look over my shoulder for traffic and begin to roll out without knowing left or right. Fucking A. A Patel motel is right behind me. I thought I smelled curry and overpriced accommodations. Done-zoe. Take my money I’m good for a first half day — more like a third day — I’m a day which was originally zero.
Tomorrow I push out on 17 toward Savannah. Tonight I shower. Eat. Map. Eat. Hydrate. Sleep. That’s what I do. The Empire Strikes Back is on the motel TV. Big day tomorrow.