Thursday, November 1, 2007
Bear in Florida
No kidding. On Route 27 there were signs warning of Bear Crossing
and lo and behold we came across another dead bear at the side of the road
that we could not stop to see. It was a sorry sight. Tonight
we arrived in Highlands State Park and there are five Boar about 200 yards
from our site. Also many deer.
A few days ago we rode through the Key
Deer preserve. Key Deer are an endangered species. We did
not see one but they are supposed to be a bit larger than a dog.
Clic on this link for
a brief look at them. They are 24 to 30 inches high at the
shoulder. Rich McKay has seen them and says they are very
tame. Interesting thing is today we rode by a very very large ranch
with a fair amount of cattle and big signs on the perimeter saying
"Tame Deer, Do Not Hurt". I wondered if they were
breeding venison. No time to find out.
At the South Bay County Camp Ground, which was about the nicest we have
stayed at, Cathy saw more Alligators and the signs were all over the place
telling you to stay clear of the water if you are with a pet. The
local manager, who is top draw in my opinion, so much so that Cathy is
sending a letter of commendation to her boss, says a 12 footer will out
run you in the short distance. People say to zig zag should this
happen. This camp culls out any gator over 4 feet. I saw
anther gator in a drainage area for Lake Okeechobee while riding around
the perimeter on a Levee build by Herbert Hoover and his boys. This
was after Okeechobee was blown out of its boundary during a heck of a
hurricane and killed several thousand people. It is the best bike
path I've seen in Florida to date. It is wide, smooth and I rode for
24 miles and did not see another biker.
I did see several walkers, one of whom I could see needed water.
But I had none to spare at that moment. Fortunately I was only 3
miles from Pahokee where, at a Cuban/Mexican convenience store I got three
bottles and brought one back to the walker, who was really ready for a
cold one. We did not chat, but her look was worth a thousand words.
A couple at the campground hail from North Carolina and come down on
October 1 and go back home around April 1. They were both riding Sun
Tricycles, that is, three wheel bikes. Both of them were well over
70 but in apparent fabulous health. They were interested in my bike
of course and we chatted for 15 minutes. They now carry repair kits,
food, and water with them in baskets behind the seat and over the rear
axle when they ride . I'd think about a tricycle at a later date if
it meant more years of riding. I could not do these long distance
rides on highways but I'm sure I could find routes that would work.
Anyhow, they were very nice people with finally a real down home accent,
natives of North Carolina.
I have fallen in love with this state and can not get over that it is
November and I'm biking, walking around in shorts and tee shirts, tanned,
and enjoying fantastic blue sky, short cloud bursts, big humidity, and
sweat. Sweat. Sweat. Which has helped me on the weight
side. I've not gotten on a scale yet but we passed a YMCA on the way
into the camp ground tonight and I may try to impose on them for a quick
weigh in, like Weight Watchers. But I won't have a crowd to clap and
scream and shout and stamp their feet. So if I get good numbers I am
asking all of you classmates and music friends to stamp your feet, clog a
little, clap and sing "You Are My Sunshine" and then Are You
If I don't get a good number I'll probably start peddling back to Key
West and then as Mike Edgerton suggested, off to Texas while I'm at
it. I'd love to go through the Florida Panhandle and then cruise the
shore of Alabama and Louisiana, where there governor is the first
politician to pay the ultimate price of failing to respond appropriately
to the Katrina debacle.
My high school friend and wildly succesful businessman and sailor, Alan
Colletti wrote congratulations to me tonight and I had to mention to him
an article I was reading in Harpers October 2007 edition. The
article is titled "Disaster Capitalism: The new economy of
catastrophe", by Naomi Klein. Rich McKay gave me the magazine
and it sure is not in any way a conservative publication. So
far it is very interesting.
Did you know there are more mercenaries on our payroll in Iraq than
Soldiers? Did you know that a mercenary firm can now respond faster
to a catastrophe than the government or the Red Cross? They own the
trucks, planes, earth movers and other supplies needed to respond.
They also have the tools to supply security in Iraq. The short
version of the story is that Government, whom we elect to protect us, and
to come to our assistance in the event of Katrina sized catastrophe's can
not do it. They simply don't have the resources any more and since
around 2000 have given this 'work' to private companies, who will only go
if they are paid. So God forbid you are a poor black person standing
on your rooftop in New Orleans. The people who pay the most get the
help first. I'm not in any way criticizing the Coast Guard who acted
in what appeared to be a random fashion helping people of all
These private companies are not bound by the same rules as the United
States Government and are being used to fight too the War on Terror.
It is shameful to me that our country has resorted to torture and then
parses the word in every sentence. Like Bill Clinton, who said
"It depends on what you mean by the word is". I
heard that Chaney was in legal trouble in France and had to leave quickly,
but saw no reports of this and so can not vouch for it, but he should be
in my opinion also in legal trouble in this country. So why is he
I suggest you read this Article: Disaster Capitalism, Harpers, October
2007, Naomi Klein. Enough all ready.
We are headed north on the inside route up 27 to Ocala then not sure if
up through Georgia center of back to shore. After riding 24 great
miles around Lake Okeechobee, well not around, but from South Bay to
Pahokee, first into the 30 mph wind from Noel, and then back with the wind
at my tail, but pushing hard for more speed. I had a good workout
after no riding beyond a lazy ride with Rich downtown Key
Rich and I rode downtown to visit with Tina and Phil, owners of the
Sugar Apple Juice Bar and Veggie Deli, and Vegan Supermarket. We had
jammed in their home the previous night and had a great time. Tina
has a broken leg and was not at work, but Phil was. Great store
without coffee! Phil also rides a recumbent, I think one he
made. It is longer than mine and steers with bars under the seat,
which would unnerve me, but he feels is more secure because of the natural
position for the arms. I see his point.
He is a first class guitar flat picker. Tina is guitarist and
singer with great voice. Phil is good singer as well. It was a
good night. Turns out they have family in Philadelphia and in Ocean
City. We had purchased a pizza locally in Key West which we brought
to the jam. We mentioned it tasted like Mac and Manco's, which led
to the mutual history we have in Ocean City. Small world isn't it.
I am a very lucky guy to have had the time and resources and
sponsorship to take this ride, and it will not be the last. I have
in mind, thorough rides to many coffee stores, by State. And more
long rides on different routes with more publicity and more coordination
with local stores to assemble folks to ride on segments of the ride.
Like a day here or a day there.
So there is much to do to spread the word and work of successful coffee
houses, but also to organize more rides and get more publicity for these
hard working folks.
Right now though I'm going to bed.