Now that I’ve made it as far south as I can ride and back north to Georgia, again, it’s finally time to head west and for me that’s the great unknown. Everyday will inch me a little further across the country to the end goal of California. I’ve been waiting for this. Everything on the east coast is loaded with some shade of green. That’s not a bad thing. Green is a wonderful color, but I’ve never seen a desert in my life and I can’t wait to finally experience the remoteness of that parched land. It will still be a few weeks before I get close though. In the mean time I’ll just have to take it one mile at a time until those miles get me there. The sun sets in the west and my little bit of travel experience is showing me that I’ll be blinded by the sun almost every evening as I’ll be heading west for quite some time. My eyes are super sensitive to light and the low sun is killing me already. For the next two months it’s gonna be a battle.
I woke up in Danas back yard to an overwhelmingly musky smell. The thought crossed my mind more than once before I unzipped and climbed out that someone took a leak on my tent while I was asleep. The smell was down right pungent. I felt the floor of the tent looking for extra wetness and found nothing. Relief hit me when I climbed out and realized that something was in the air and my tent was spared from a golden shower. I’ve always been a really early riser, so I took advantages of the apartment complexes laundry room. Waiting for the laundry to finish would allow Dana and Victor time to get up. The night before I stashed a bunch of my gear inside so that it couldn’t be stolen without thinking that I’d have to wait to get it in the morning. The dryer finished its thing about the same time that Victor unlocked the back door. We chatted it up a bit and I was off, heading to the beach to get a shower, I mean go swimming. Staying at Danas was the second time on the trip that I woke up somewhere and couldn’t get clean before I took off. My goal was to at least smell like seawater for the day instead of sweat. I found a public beach access point near the worlds largest night club, Lavele. The beach was almost empty so I decided to bust out two firsts right then and there. One, I would go swimming for the first time since I left home and second, I would unless the extreme white sheen that is my shirtless body on the public. I was seriously concerned that someone would be blinded if they looked my way. The water along this stretch of the gulf is that pretty blue that reminds you of the tropics. Unfortunately it was cold as shite. I ran in there like David Hasselhoff only to lose my breath like I’d just been punched in the gut. So much for enjoying it. I helplessly splashed around for a bit and came out cleaner than I went in. Mission complete. Time to hit the road.
I met a guy named Mike at the Time Out bar the evening before and he highly recommended that I stop by McGuires in Destin Florida on my way to Pensacola. It’s about half way from Panama City to Pensacola and it’s a brew pub, so it made for a nice break from the saddle. McGuires is your typical dark rustic bar/restaurant/brew pub and had character for days. I ordered a irish scotch ale and made small talk with the bartender. When I had to drain the main vain I walked down stairs to the facilities and took a healthy leak in the womens room. Yep, I said womens room. They have these damn signs that are meant to fool the new guys on the scene. They say something like “MEN (in real big letters) don’t go in here because it’s the lady’s room (in really small letters). All I read when I rounded the corner was “men” in the large letters. As I was taking a leak I thought to myself that this is the first public mens room that I’ve seen that didn’t have at least one urinal. Interesting. Upon exit, I almost ran some poor women over as she gave me the evil eye. Honest mistake. I’ll let the pics explain the signs better.
Off to Pensacola and to see some family for the first time of the trip. My younger brothers, wifes, mom Pam and step dad Joe live there and they agreed to shack me up for a couple of days. I spoke with them about the trip a few months before, when they came to West Virginia to visit. I motored into town just before dark and was met by Pam, Joe and their four huge mastif/great dane mixed dogs. Despite the dogs size they are gentle giants and seemed happy to meet me. Pam and Joe let me get a shower and we headed off to Waffle House for some breakfast for dinner. We caught up and shared some laughs. It was good to see them again. After that we went back to their house and I fell asleep on the couch, before eight thirty, I think. I was wiped out from the previous nights sprinkler assault on the tent and lack of rest.