Day 10. Sunday, April 30 – Key Largo to Cutler Bay, Florida

Sunday 30 April 2017

The wind was still blowing hard when we pushed away an hour later than yesterday; our legs needed every bit of rest we would allow them.  It was only a 45 minute pedal on a tree lined bike path, before we turned away from the Keys and onto the Crocodile Causeway; now the wind was at our back and what an enjoyable difference.

Our first bridge was a high-rise and for the first time since Key West, we were pushed up and flew down without pedaling. Once again, traffic heading south was heavy and light in our direction.  There was really nothing but marsh and fields as we glided past the Southern Glades.  So it was strange to see a canal and boats along the highway.

We were feeling pretty good after the 21 mile wind assist, as we entered the civilization of Florida City. Though the traffic on Highway 1 had been relatively light, we were ready to get away from the noise.   Our course directed us to the South Dade Trail, an ample path a block off the highway and directly beside two dedicated bus lanes, nice and quiet.We traveled past the Homestead City Hall and Circus, which seems rather redundant, yes!?

But this trail had us heading northeast, so the east blow was problematic.  We stopped for an early lunch and long rest while we contemplated going further than our planned stop.  But the last six miles with the 20 mph wind and stronger gusts, convinced us to stop at 45 miles and rest.

Our stroll to dinner was cooled by the still blowing wind, much easier when you are only walking two blocks.  We noticed on our walk back from dinner, the clouds had built and the sky had darkened.  The minute we walked in our door, it poured.  We only hope this will either (or both) cool the temperatures or calm the wind.  Find out tomorrow.

Day 11. Monday, May 1 – Cutler Bay to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Monday 1 May 2017

Last night’s rain had cooled the air and washed away some of the humidity, but the wind was still blowing.  We enjoyed yesterday’s wonderful trail along the bus lanes for another eight miles, thankfully with the wind on our shoulder.  When that trail ended, we still had a dedicated and well marked path that took us through Coral Gables and into Downtown Miami; only encountering rush hour at the intersections.  With this easy bike path through downtown, we missed our turn, but the backtrack was worth it.  Out on the streets we ambled along through the gorgeous waterfront area of Brickell Bay, past the American Airlines Arena, the Port of Miami and to the Venetian Parkway.  A bicycle is definitely the way to travel the six islands of exclusive homes between Miami and South Beach….up close and personal.  Having visited this area several times in the past, our pictures were few.

With our early start, 11:00 seemed like a good time to stop.  Found a great Cuban cafe for a little bite to eat, this breakfast came with a plate full of fries and bread and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Back on Collins Avenue (aka: A1A) the opulence was staggering, even mind-boggling and very difficult to capture on camera.  Taking it all in was exhausting, looking up, right, left while trying to avoid the traffic we rode beside.  Even the few miles of the boardwalk we biked, had the camera going non-stop.Close to Ft. Lauderdale, we had to take an inland turn to navigate around Port Everglades and the airport.  We had not realized how cooling the ocean breeze had been, until we were off the sea.  It was a long, hot few miles before we turned back on to our highway and into our hotel.  Though the 58 mile ride was longer than originally expected it was well worth it.  Jerry’s brother and wife were traveling south (not on bicycles) as we were heading north and we managed to connect here for drinks and dinner.  It was a good day!

Day 12. Tuesday, May 2 – Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach, Florida

Tuesday 2 May 2017

A late breakfast allowed us to share a bit more time and one last hug with brother Bobby!  We promise a photo of the four of us, when we meet again.

It was a warm 80° this morning, when we finally hit the street and that is about as negative as it gets for today’s ride.  It was not long before a southerly breeze made the morning temps bearable and assisted our northerly pedal.  The streets and sidewalks were filled with walkers, runners and bikers enjoying the morning.

Yesterday’s ride was pretty amazing and we thought, could not be topped, but today continued to delight.

Not long after we began, we approached a drawbridge that had just started to open.  Perfectly positioned at the bottom of the bridge was a shady park that gave us a perfect view of the fishing boats heading out to the Gulf.

 The ride through the narrow strip of land of Pompano Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Boca Raton, Highland Beach, etc, etc. is truly incredible.  And every town has either green space or a park, right on the ocean.

Words cannot describe the homes that are nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercostal Waterway.  The camera could not paint any better picture; either the camera could not capture the entire house or they were hidden behind massive gates and/or landscaping or the gate houses obscured the view.  Some of the home’s gate house/garages have more livable square footage than most average homes.

In-between the homes, fabulous condosand tree lined streetscast cool shade on the road and the beach glowed it’s spectacular azure.  In the especially narrow sections of land, a “home” would be on the Atlantic, but their “boat” will be across the street (A1A) on the Intercostal or visa versa.For instance, this is the beach cabana for an Intercostal home.

It was pure sensory overload with many more pictures below to prove it!

The shorter ride today and slight tailwind got us to our hotel just in time for lunch.  The small strand of shops by the sea and directly across from our hotel was the perfect place for a light lunch.The early arrival gave us time to do some laundry and to go through the ridiculous amount of pictures we took, today.

On the way to dinner, we stopped by a fun bar for happy hour; too many great sayings lined the walls, but this we really liked.  A couple doors down the street we found THE Best Pizza we have ever had, seriously,  even better than Reginos.  Started off with a couple slices and a Stromboli and could not finish.  So stuffed, we could not partake of the Chocolate Bar right next door, but that is okay.

Today was an amazing ride, actually the last two days has got to be the most impressive stretch of real estate we have ever seen, anywhere!

Day 13. Wednesday, May 3 – Palm Beach to Stuart, Florida

Thursday 4 May 2017

The morning was delightfully cool (73°), washed clean of humidity from the shower we’d walked back in from dinner last night.

Okay, this is now bordering on obnoxious, correction IS obnoxious.  For five miles we biked through decadence with the rush hour traffic of this very elite neighborhood, counting maybe a handful of commuters.  On the bridge over the Lake Worth Lagoon, the amount of workers coming into this area was bumper to bumper.  We pedaled along the west side of the Intercostal Waterway, not without it’s share of nice homes. until our quiet course was interrupted by construction, forcing us into downtown West Palm Beach.  Would not have been our first choice of course, but it did give us the opportunity to see City Hall, this is just the entrance.

Back on course, we enjoyed ample bike lanes and beautiful parks until crossing the Lagoon (again) into the pretty town of Juno, which sits unusually high above the sea, and then Jupiter Island. Views of the sea and oceanfront parks were abundant.  After two hours of riding into the slight headwind, our legs were beginning to feel the stress.  An hour later, we crossed yet another bridge to find a bike shopto replenish the three flats/tubes we’d had; with shade and a bench, we stopped for lunch, leftover Stromboli.  Not sure if it was the 10 mph headwind or the multiple bridges that were killing our legs, neither were bad, but the accumulation of both was wearing us out.  However the views, homeswith their modest beach cottagesand landscaping continued to delight and amaze.  We could see very little of the homes on Jupiter Island, nestled on acres of lush landscaping that stretched from sea to waterway.It was as if we were biking through a tropical botanical garden.  After 40 miles, we turned away from this surreal area, but not without one last look at the beach, note the color of the sand has darkened.

Still shocked at the miles of waterfront parks and dune protected areas, that still offered access (and free parking) to the beach.

It was another 15 miles and a rest in the shade before reaching our hotel and even at 2:00, no clean rooms.  But their poolside Tiki Bar was open, so we rested and refreshed until we could check-in.

Tired as we were, it was a gorgeous day for riding.  The very low humidity and north breeze easily tempered the 90° temps.  And when the wind did pick up with a few good gusts towards the end of our ride, it turned to our side, so gave us no further issue.  On our walk to dinner, we passed this antique sign.  How many people remember when it looked like this?

A delicious dinner and then rest after our 55 mile day.

Day 14. Thursday, May 4 – Stuart to Vero Beach, Florida

Thursday 4 May 2017

This morning’s southeast wind brought with it an increase in humidity; 74° seemed a little warm. We pedaled through the cute streets of downtown Stuart, over the St. Lucie River and then the Indian River Lagoon.   It was a long (40 minutes) and difficult six and a half mile warm up (albeit pretty)over two high bridges and into the wind.

But once on our northerly course, we cruised along nicely.  The homes we saw today were scaled down slightly and their piece of land was but a slice of previous neighborhoods.  Their backyard was the Atlantic Ocean and the front yard view was across A1A and the wide Lagoon.What is even more remarkable is many of the condos and even the grand homes are not the owners only residence, as evidenced by all the hurricane shuttered windows.  There was a stretch of new development, very reminiscent of beaches back home.

In between the grand homes and condos were miles and miles of marsh, parks, preserves and yet undeveloped land.  Even when there was development, we had the roads mostly to ourselves.At Ft Pierce, we had to navigate around an inlet to the ocean.  Small cottages, not yet torn down for “bigger and better”, held tightly to their little slice of paradise on the inlet.  This causeway and it’s white strip of beach, reminds us of Southern California.  Our roundabout around the inlet took three bridges to navigate, but the views from the top are always impressive.

 Back on the barrier islands new developments were boasting lots (not on the water) “from the $800’s,  two homes already constructed.

Shortly after noon and less than two miles from our hotel, we had to take a break.  We had taken less than a total of 30 minutes rest in the four++ hours since we’d left and we needed a rest.  We had to wind our way through pretty neighborhoods with huge and modest houses side by side.

This street looked a lot like our neighborhood, except for much more colorful houses.Finally found the perfect spot for rest and lunch……apparently, someone was hungry!

Our motel, The Sea Turtle Inn, was a very pleasant surprise, as we had not been able to find much in the way of pictures.  Plus, we were within walking distance of all the fancy shops, spas and bistros.

For dinner, we managed to find a little Italian cafe for a delicious dinner including wonderful garlic rolls.  Not sure our wind assisted 48 miles deserved this, but it sure was good.

A stroll to the ocean after dinner was a different sight than earlier today. Hoping this squall blows itself out by the morning.

Shortly after getting back to the room. the rain began.

Day 15. Friday, May 5 – Vero Beach to Cocoa Beach, Florida

Saturday 6 May 2017

Thunder rumbled on the way to breakfast, but by the time we rode away from our hotel, 30 minutes later, the thunder had been replaced by a light shower.

Our ride on the quiet A1A continued with miles of parks and small clusters of a variety of homes of all sizeswhat you see above is less than half of the housesqueezed between the highway and Atlantic, many with docks on the river.

Only one bridge, over the Sebastian Inlet, once again affording views of the Atlantic; though our earlier shower did not last long, the dark clouds continued to threaten.  Shortly thereafter, the sky turned ugly, almost tornado; but the worst of it was our southwest tailwind we had been enjoying was swirling and slowing us down.  An hour later, it started to sprinkle again and then quickly turned to into a downpour.  Thankfully, we had just tucked into a park cabana for pictures of the ocean.Under cover, we debated whether to forge on.  By the time we dug out our raincoats, covered up and started to ride, the rain tempered and the sun came out.  A mile later we stopped in a surf cafe for a real breakfast; earlier this morning was coffee and muffin, but this was a 4-egg Greek omelet, yum.

As we were enjoying our rest and refreshment, in walks Dan, a friend that lives in Melbourne.  In spite of the in the water direction our tracker took us today, he found us.  It was a great visit, but we still had 20 miles to our hotel.  By the time we left breakfast, the wind had switched directly out of the west.  Any deviation of direction either hurt or hindered, we were feeling the strain.  This last stretch boasted beautiful condos, more parks this great treehouse and the very long stretch of Patrick Air Force Base.  We concurred that the Air Force must have the best base locations of all the services; this is in the base’s backyard.

We did not realize how close we were to Cape Canaveral, until we checked in to our hotel and the famous Virginia astronauts were everywhere.

 A few hours later, Dan met us at our hoteldrove us back to his beautiful home for dinner, perfectly cooked steak (note to Justin) on a spinach, arugula salad with goat cheese, plus our first Key Lime Pie since arriving in Florida…….Fabulous ending to our tough 56 mile day.

Day 16. Saturday, May 6 – Cocoa Beach to Merritt Island, Florida

Saturday 6 May 2017

Don’t google the distance between the two, until you read on.

The northwest wind was howling, 61° with a windchill in the 50’s was cold; it was going to be a long day.

In our short stretch on A1A, we saw the biggest Ron Jon Surf Shop and more commercialization than we had seen in the previous four days, collectively.

Our turn west to cross to Highway 1 was met with an strong blast of wind.  The seven mile causeway with two high bridges in just under an hour was brutal into the wind, but cooler than our Seven Mile Bridge crossing near Marathon Key.  On the way over, we saw this amazing location of the Cape Canaveral Hospital.

Short of Highway One, our course had us turn right on a beautiful neighborhood street that wound us up and down along the Indian River. Here is yet another example of a “winter home” closed up for the season.

Slightly protected from a direct onslaught of the wind, we were enjoying the homes and views and feeling a little relief.  That is until one of the bike’s gears froze and we came to a screeching halt.  There was no fixing it, but Jerry did manage to engage one gear, so it could be ridden to a bike store.  We could go forward for 10 miles or backtrack to the town we just left for the repair.  The dilemma was solved by Christy who stop to assist anyway she could; she recommended the turnaround.  Five miles later, we were at the Village Cycle Shoppe where Dr. Jason diagnosed our good news/bad news situation.  The bike is definitely fixable, but the part has to come from California from a distributor that does not open until Monday.  Our option was to wait or …..wait!  So we found a hotel, but now we had lots of bike bags and no bicycles to travel with; Michael to the rescue.  He had stopped by the shop and volunteered to load all our gear (and us) and take us back over the bridge to our hotel for the next few days.

Once again Dan tracked us down, though now we are beginning to think he is stalking us.  He was on his way over to Cocoa Beach for lunch and thought to swing by and take us with him.  It was a fun outdoor bar/restaurant with gorgeous views of the beach; a good break from the sulking that had already begun.

We will make the best of this bump in the road, as concluded over Margaritas, and just hope we really can get the bikes fixed at the beginning of the week.  With nothing to post until we ride, we hope to catch you when we begin again.

As always, thanks for all the great comments that we have enjoyed so far.