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Florida: Recap

Updated: Jul 23, 2018

Observations Specific to Florida:

1. I expected Florida to be this Northern enclave nested below the Mason Dixon. Quite the opposite. Also, where are all of the retirement villages? Most of the towns through which I rode exuded a very redneck vibe. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—just much different from the more Northern, urbanized culture I expected.

2. Southern accents are cool.

3. Being referred to as “sir” everywhere I go was much appreciated. It was refreshing to be greeted on such a courteous, respectful level.

4. Florida maintains some of the best state parks I’ve ever experienced. St. George Island was like a slice of heaven presented for cyclists to savor.

5. I have a newfound appreciation for fire departments. I stayed at four different fire stations throughout Florida. Each of them blew my expectations away with their hospitality and generosity. The fire department in South Walton, Florida even fed me!

6. Except parts of Pensacola, St. Augustine, and portions of the Gulf coast, Florida was mostly…dumpy. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t raised in the School of Hard Knocks, or maybe it’s because I’m too much of a WASP, or maybe it’s because I’ve become disillusioned by the bubble that is Northern Virginia, but regardless of the reason, I expected much more from Florida. Even the supposedly nicer cities such as Gainesville maintained a much uglier underbelly than I anticipated. It just seemed as if poverty was only one red light away regardless of our location. Perhaps America on the whole is not as affluent as I once thought. I suppose I’ll have a clearer sense as I press farther into the States.

7. The worst inclines to traverse are not hills but rather the steep bridges spanning Florida’s myriad waterways.

8. At best, Floridians have only a tepid interest toward the NFL and MLB. But if you want to see some of the most passionate college football fans in the country, Florida is your kind of place. The Gators, Seminoles, and Canes dominate sports discussions.

9. I’ve seen more armadillos dead as road kill than I’ve ever seen armadillos alive. Although that’s not saying much, it’s safe to say that Floridian motorists do a great job in curbing the armadillo population.

10. Dollar Generals are EVERYWHERE. Gauging from my travels, it appears that it only takes a town of 500 people to support a Dollar General. See e.g. Wellborn, Florida. Basically, this means that a Dollar General is financially sustainable in virtually every town in America. The ubiquity of Dollar Generals is the proof.

11. Further gauging from my travels, it appears that it only takes a town of 350 people to support a convenience store. See e.g. Lee, Florida.

General Observations:

1. Warm showers are divine. Back home, it’s easy to take them for granted.

2. The white line on the side of the road is surprisingly reflective.

3. Rumble strips and built-in roadside reflectors are cyclists’ worst nightmare.

4. Speaking of convenience stores, given that I’ve stopped at 50% of them along the Southern Tier route, I think I’m now self-qualified to serve as a convenience store consultant. Here are two freebees: (1) the premium convenience stores sell hot dogs, (2) the elite sell Naked juice.

5. At the beginning of our trip, Rob told me that headwinds are worse for cycling than hills. I didn’t believe him then. I believe him now.

6. Chocolate milk is the poor man’s protein shake, which obviously makes Elsie the Cow my girl. Here is her bio:

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