We are now two days and 137 miles west of Tallahassee heading for Pensacola, the most westerly city on Florida’s panhandle coast. The terrain is hillier now, but many are of the rollercoaster variety; a bit of extra wellie on the down hill and you are half way up the other side before you can say ‘Bob’.
We are mainly on quieter state highways which have a wide shoulder marked by a solid white line, so feel quite safe. We are probably two weeks early to enjoy the full benefit of spring, deciduous trees are just showing signs of life. However gardens are ablaze with camelias, azaleas and magnolias. It is a joy to hear and see many colourful songbirds as we pedal along. We have also caught sight of a few terrapins in the swamps, they are shy creatures and quickly disappear underwater.
Both yesterday and today we passed through a wide swathe of the state which was devestated by Hurricane Michael, a category five hurricane, in October 2018. Hundreds of houses and commercial properties, we witnessed, still have tarpaulins on their roofs, some mobile homes were overturned and damaged beyond repair. A man at a local store told us some people are still living in their cars, four months on. Thousands of trees have been uprooted or snapped off. The cleanup operation is still in full swing. We stayed in the town of Marianna last night, which was particularly badly hit with many businesses and homes destroyed. Poor people it must have been terrifying.
Luckily the tree missed the house, but the roof was blown off