Ponce de Leon, FL

up at dawn
Woke at 5:38. Off to the Waffle House at 6. It was already plenty humid.
Mike and John
This time, I sat at the counter rather than a booth, since that’s where all the morning banter is going on. I met Mike (L), who was between shifts at the hospital in Niceville, a nearby town. John (R) was a Marine, and did boot at Pendleton, where I biked through early on this trip. He was also stationed at Kaneohe Marine Base in the early 80’s. He’s presently restoring a 1963 tandem bike.
school bus stop
This school bus stop was interesting. It had two rows of seats built into the sides.
phone power cord
I see more than a dozen of these on an average day, so thought I should include it in the blog. Both the lightning (Apple) and micro-USB cords are common. Why so many, I wonder. This is the sort of thing I think about a lot on the road. There are too many for them to just have been accidentally dropped by cyclists or walkers. And besides, earphones are rare. Is it that the general public is just throwing these out the window of their cars?
guy going to visit Diane
This cyclist on the left was once behind me. He was without a shirt, and as far as I could see, without water. He caught up with me, but stayed behind. I told him not to let me hold him up. As he passed he asked if I was going to see Diane, but I told him no. Down the road, he seemed to slow, and I closed the gap, just by maintaining my steady pace. He pulled over to the left side of the road to avoid yet another cyclist ahead on the right (hard to see in this picture).
Gary was the cyclist ahead on the right. He does a long tour every 5 years, and was making a loop within Florida. He was the type to camp at the side of the road, and said his goal for today was Marianna. I was dubious about that, because Marianna was my goal for the following day, and he was already walking a gentle hill. But, if he doesn’t have to make it to a motel, he could pretty much stop any time for the night.
Corner Cafe
In Defuniak Springs, I paused at this cafe, and a man struck up a conversation with me. He even invited me in to sit with his family.

The first thing I did when I went inside was order a giant iced tea (unsweet). I sat nearby, but hesitated to join the family until I cooled down and my sweat evaporated. I ordered one of the blue plate specials, which arrived almost instantly. The family’s food took longer to arrive, which gave me a chance to cool down, then join them.

This is Sydney on the left, who is a senior at Western Florida University in exercise science. She is interested in Physical Therapy. Steve in the middle, the man I spoke to outside, was an avid hunter, and had a 300-acre property where they grow pine trees for timber. He showed me pictures of deer trophies, and one time when they got what looked like 6 to 8 wild pigs (considered a pest, as they even eat pine trees). He could have a luau for 1000 people! Steve was retired from chemical engineering with pine resins. His wife Judy on the right was a retired first grade teacher.
blue plate special
Looks at these specials! I got the meat loaf, with mashed potatoes and a trip to the salad bar, and an iced tea included, for $7.69. The trip to the salad bar alone is $5 in many places. And the salad bar had radishes!
Should I stop to buy some socks?

Although it was humid, and the road was wet in places, I didn’t get rained on all day. Relatively easy ride, with perhaps a slight tailwind.

Ponce de Leon Motel
I got to Ponce de Leon at about 1 pm. Short day. A room at the PDL Motel was $65. Nice proprietor, who told me that if the first room smelled smoky, I could switch it.
good size room
The first room did have a trace of smoke, even though the whole motel is non-smoking. I switched to this upstairs room, which was clean and perfect. Well worth the stairs.
subway for dinner
I’m starting to think about end game, now. Soon, I should eat up my freeze-dried meals. But not today. The only food in the area is gas station food, and the Subway in the gas station. I had a foot-long BMT for dinner, and got a half gallon of green tea.

In order to make an Amtrak train, I had to predict precisely how long it would take to get to Jacksonville, which is not on the ACA route. I decided that I could go off-route a few days from now, and follow Hwy 90 directly into Jacksonville. That would put me there exactly a week from now, allowing for a Sunday rest day.

Everything was falling into place. I couldn’t reserve a bike space online, so had to call Amtrak. After a 12-minute wait, an agent picked up. Unfortunately, there was no bike rack space on the day I wanted, or any of the days near it. I could box my bike, and check it as baggage. But that would mean I would have to find a box, rent a car in Jacksonville, and moreover, unbox and reassemble the bike in Emeryville to get onto the train segment that does not take checked baggage. In short, forget it.

I’m told that there used to be an Amtrak that went straight across the southern US, but that it was discontinued after damage from hurricane Katrina, and never reopened.

I’ll have to make arrangements to fly. And rent a car. And find a bike shop. Jacksonville is an expensive city, so I don’t want to stay there too long. Motels are twice the price of what I can get outside the city. Too tired to plan more tonight.

Goal for tomorrow, Marianna. Reasonable distance, but thunderstorms forecast.

Miles today: 43.0 (estimate, cyclometer jarred loose for indeterminate period)

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