“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal”
The last three weeks have gone by quickly, during our time in the Sunshine State.
Following days at Nokomis Beach and Manasota Beach, over Labor Day weekend, we headed across Florida to the Atlantic coast. We spent time at New Smyrna Beach, Mickler’s Landing, and North Beach over a few days. We worked from the bus, playing on the beach with the kids every time we needed a break or wanted to cool down. Most days were hot and humid. The beaches on the Atlantic are hard-packed compared to the Gulf Coast beaches and we were even able to ride our bikes at Mickler’s Landing.
After a few days on the Atlantic, we went back across the state again, to the Gulf. We visited Nokomis where we saw manatees! I've been hoping to see manatees since we arrived in Florida and was thrilled we got to see them at Nokomis Beach. The lifeguard told us they usually don't hang out on the beach there. They tend to be by the jetty most of the time.
Bryon and April raced at Charlotte BMX the night we got back to the Gulf. The track director gave us permission to park the bus there for the night. Florida BMX tracks have been extremely welcoming and we have loved visiting the Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Cape Coral tracks during our time there.
After racing at Charlotte BMX, we headed down to Cape Coral on Saturday. Bryon has a friend named Brian from the midwest who is active in the BMX scene in Cape Coral and owns T-Bone BMX. He is also in the real estate business and offered to let us stay in one of his condos for a couple of nights. The two nights we were at Seatuit were some of the rainiest days we had in Florida. We were thankful to get out of the bus for a couple of nights. It gave us a chance to spread out our work and also to take care of things like defrosting the fridge in the bus. The kids seemed to enjoy having extra space to play on the rainy days we were there.
After we left Cape Coral, we went up to Sarasota to pick up materials from Quest Outfitters. We buy a lot of our fabrics and narrow goods from this supplier. It was awesome to meet Kay and Kim. They invited us to stay in there driveway if we come back to the area. I am sure we will have to take them up on their offer in a few weeks.
From Sarasota, we went back to Nokomis Beach. We swam, Bryon worked on bags, I worked on my work for BikeRide, and the kids played. It was a quiet, fun day at the beach. After dinner, we crossed back to the Atlantic Coast. Driving at night has been preferable lately. The bus stays cooler when we travel after dark.
We got to Jupiter, FL late in the evening September 14th, and were able to park on the road that ran along the beach for the night. I learned of this spot on iOverlander and it worked for a night. We spent the next day working from the overflow parking lot near Jupiter Beach. We took breaks on the beach between our work and time at the bus. We headed south toward the Keys to Florida City, after dinner
We had three nights of reservations at Curry Hammock State Park from September 16th-20th. This state park is close to Marathon on the Overseas Highway. We were surprised to find the Keys were very populated. Neither Bryon nor I had ever been down that way before. We got to the state park early, worked, and checked out the beach until our site was ready. The beach had more kelp on it than we had expected, but it was pleasant to get in the water. Early in the afternoon, the campground hosts came by to let us know our site was ready.
Curry Hammock State Park is the site of Florida’s Raptor Watch. We talked to the birdwatcher on-site and found out that the area is popular for observing peregrine falcons and eagles. April was pretty intrigued when she learned hawks eat meat, as we continued our discussion of raptors back at the bus that evening.
We took the bike path into Marathon to mail bags, on our second day in the Keys. Bryon had been working on some rad bags with a custom print, for a customer in Texas, and they were ready to ship. It was great to get out and ride as a family.
We spent Friday hanging out and working at the campground, before leaving after dinner. We had decided to leave Friday after dinner, instead of spending one more night at Curry Hammock, because the no-see-ums were horrendous. They only came out at night and did not seem bothered by our citronella torches or any repellant. We all were bitten up after two nights and so just as they started to emerge Friday we left and headed northwest.
Bryon raced at the Gold Cup qualifier on the 20th of September in Cape Coral. Bryon took 2nd in his class. We spent the night of the race at the track and then began our journey north to Alabama. Monday, we went to Manasota Beach for the day. It was nice to take a dip in the Gulf one last time before we left the coast. We worked into the evening, had dinner, and headed north to Sarasota for the night, where we slept at a boat launch.
Tuesday, we did laundry, shopped, and stopped to get a few items from Quest Outfitters. We went to the Sarasota BMX track for Bryon to practice before taking off to Gainesville, after dinner.
From Gainesville, we headed to Tallahassee, where we stopped at Tom Brown Park. There is some singletrack at the park and I rode for an hour before we had lunch and got back on the road.
We arrived at Falling Waters State Park Wednesday afternoon. After we got set up, Bryon worked on bags, and I took the girls and Chico for a hike. Falling Waters State Park is home to Florida’s tallest a waterfall that drops into a sinkhole. April was excited to see plants and trees in this part of Florida that we had talked about in the Carolinas on our hike. She was especially interested in the sweetgum trees and spurred butterfly peas. We also discovered magnolia seed pods. The waterfall was amazing. April did not want to leave it. She was so fascinated by it.
From Falling Waters, we went north to Dothan, Alabama. Circle City BMX hosted the Gold Cup Finals this weekend. We arrived Thursday and got set up in the lot where they were allowing camping. We worked until it was time for Bryon to practice. A few others stopped by the bus to chat. After being in Florida for a few weeks and going to BMX races regularly people are starting to recognize us at races.
Friday the events at the track did not start until after lunch, so I biked from the track and did a mountain bike ride at the Forever Wild Trails. The trails were easy to intermediate and a lot of fun.
Bryon raced Friday evening. He took second in his Main. Bryon raced Saturday, but as his class only had four riders it was a tough competition and he did not make the main. Sunday went much better and he made him main taking third. It was a fun weekend overall. Bryon ran into a guy he raced back in Wisconsin in the 80’s, over the weekend. April had fun being around other kids. Daph enjoyed scooting around the parking lot in her walker and standing up next to my seat on the bus and looking out the window, as people passed by.
Daphney is quite the little climber and her standing skills are excellent. We expect she will be walking any day. I loved watching Bryon race, even in the rain this morning. I am excited that we are in the works of putting together a new cruiser for Bryon. I am hoping to use the bike he currently uses to start racing.
After the races wrapped up, Bryon gave me a bus driving lesson in the parking lot. We have had the bus for over a year and a half and today is the first time I drove it. The park where the track is was very open and so once it cleared out it was a good place to practice.
Following my driving lesson, we took off from Dothan. We are headed to Georgia for the week and back to the East Coast time zone that we didn’t even realize we had left until breakfast this morning…