The Sunshine State lives up to its name – at last…

Our third full day in Florida and finally some warmth and sunshine to mark the first 50 miles of our journey. It’s good to be back in touring mode and in T shirts and shorts.

We could not have had an easier start, just 100 metres of ascent in 50 miles demonstrates how flat this part of Florida is. Travelling west; once we left the delightful city of St. Augustine, the urban sprawl rapidly gave way to swampy forests where lichens hang of the trees like old mens’ beards. Further on, Hastings styles itself the potato capital of Florida. It’s not hard to see why, we cycled past enormous acreages planted out to the tubers.

Our billet for the night is the small town of Palatka, situated on the west bank of the huge St. Johns River, which flows north to the Atlantic at Jacksonville.

Mile long bridge spanning the St. Johns River at Palatka

Saturday was a dreary, grey, day as we continued our drive across the Panhandle from Tampa airport. We viewed the launch pads and buildings at Cape Canaveral, stopped for a short walk through conserved swamps in the hope of seeing alligators but failed. However, a little further on we did see a small group of Manatees just loitering in a river – curious mammals with heads like seals and tails like beavers.

Daytona Beach was a disappointment, very tired and shabby, making us very glad to have stayed at St. Augustine Beach with its long sandy shoreline and proximity to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the US.

Sunday, another cold, grey and wet day was spent cycling around the old town with buildings and a fort dating back to the 1600s. Fragler College, originally built as an hotel, was particularly impressive.

Fragler College Courtyard – At. Augustine

Another imperative is the ritual dipping of bikes’ wheels; apparently in ‘the rules’ when riding coast to coast. It would be a bad job if we ever get to California, to find ourselves disqualified!

Dipping the wheels in the Atlantic at St. Augustine Beach

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