Tuesday, May 5, 2009

By far the highlight of the trip was awaiting me as after a 76 mile ride into Palatka, FL., my cousin Barb jumped out from behind a sign sporting a headband  with a Bee on top to surprise me, which she did!!!  Her friend Cindy, whom I had known since junior high school, was there too - I was bolled over to say the least.  I had failed to notice the 'Bee' posters that were on the bridge that I had just rode over and displayed all around the Best Western Courtyard.  Some history here... when I was in 4th grade, Barb founded the Busy Bee Mail Club in an effort to better cousin communications.  She and I were the only members until our spouses were admitted by marriage, then David and Eliza as birthrights (what lucky kids!!!)  Membership is granted only if you take a club name from any of the Winnie the Pooh characters.  Barb, President for life is of course Pooh, I am Kanga, though rumor has it that originally I was Piglet......Anyway, over the years, the club has played prominently in all family gatherings, with Pooh at the helm with elaborate decorations, bee oriented activities, food, etc.  She has even worn a full bee costume, which she was unable to borrow for this occasion.  It was so wonderful to have she and Cindy ( who has been hearing of the club all these years) there.  Also, one of our riders is named Bee, and she knew of the club on day one of the ride.  As of this writing, she is awaiting a presidential decision regarding the first non-Kehew family admission to the Club.....more as this develops.  Note the bee windsock prominently displayed on the hotel sign.  Pooh does not miss a trick!  
Mere moments after the initial surprise of Barb and Cindy showing up, my duct taped riding goggles were exposed, when Barb exclaimed in shock, 'Oh, look at your sunglasses!!"  More background....she has been a sunglass salesperson for years so this faux pas stood out even more to her than to the rest of our group.  These glasses should go down in Southern Tier history as most resilient, having stayed the course after just 2 applications of duct tape!
The President presenting Laurey with her prize for completing the Bee Facts crossword puzzle in the most timely fashion....she did have an edge on the rest of us as she is a beekeeper.  
In keeping with Busy Bee Mail club tradition, Barb brought us a Hive Cake, which she had baked in Michigan and carried on the plane to East Palatka for the festivities.
Little did I know what was awaiting me on the other side of the bridge when I took this picture....and I thought it was just going to be just another motel stay!
We rode through some major agricultural areas as we neared the coast, with sandy soil and irrigation/spraying 'birds' like this one.
We took a 7 mile detour to visit these beautiful springs in a state park, both of whose names are gone from the trip memory bank at the moment.  The water was 72 degrees, considerably cooler than the outside temp, and felt great.  We also rode for a few miles on a bike trail today.  Florida is to be commended for it's attention to bicycling - most of the roads that we travelled either had bike lanes, wide shoulders, good road services or all three.  Our old nemesis 'chip seal' was a rarity and we didn't miss it.
Despite lots of valiant attempts to capture the beauty and brilliance of the Sweet William that we dubbed the Blue Bonnet of Florida, it just is not accurately reflected in these photos.  It was lining the roadsides for at least 2 days, which was good, since they followed a 40 miler which was almost totally devoid of any signs of life save miles and miles and miles of straight road lined by Southern Pines.  Give us hills and funky convenience stores any day over the flat boring routes! 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hey everyone -

The posts have fallen by the by in all the excitement of COMPLETING THE TOUR!!!  The last few days were a bittersweet emotional mix of excitement, anticipatory grieving the loss of having a 23 member family available 24/7 and trying not to project myself into the next day, year, moment.....whew!  I will get it all down when I have Mt Ascutney  to look out at from my dining room table, so dear readers, hang in there!  I'm headed home today from St. Augustine, to Burlington tomorrow for a visit with David and Eliza then I hope to wrap up this chapter of the blog next week - I still have lots to say (no surprise to those of you who know me well...)  What an exhilarating experience it has been!   More soon.....Peggy