So let me be clear: I don't have any expectations with this current adventure. The timeline changes day by day, and the only real destination is California by the second week of June. This next phase of the trip has been the most interesting so far...
Heading back through Homestead, I had the opportunity to spend the night with my new friend, Russel. I knew something was up when he answered the door slightly flustered, and quietly apologized. Looking over his shoulder I could see the CouchSurfer sitting on the couch typing away at a laptop. John had long black hair tied back into a ponytail, eight-o-clock shadow that aggressively ravaged his thin face, and a checkered shirt that draped over his pale body. We struck up a "get to know you" conversation - he's a reporter on assignment from St. Louis MO down here to do some writing on a python festival, and he's been down here a week with no luck at the assignment. He asked me about Key West, and if it was worth driving down in his car to see the sights.
"I mean, most definitely, but it's gonna cost money to actually do anything."
That was it. No more conversation. I awkwardly left and took a shower, and when I returned Russel was telling John that if he was going to bed, he should take a shower as well. "I don't want to keep washing my bedclothes." John made an angry face, and trudged to the bathroom to take a shower - that's when I asked Russel about the guy. He was giving me weird vibes.
"Oh yeah, as soon as he got into this house he smelled like a rotting corpse. I've been making him take showers, because I don't want all my sheets to smell like terrible, especially if I have other guests coming over."
Russel took a deep breath, like he was mustering up the courage to pull open the door that held back a raging hurricane.
"He's been having me drive him everywhere, which I'm fine with doing since he doesn't have a car,"
"Wait, he said he had one already."
"What?" Russel looked angry.
I shrugged my shoulders, "We were talking about heading down to Key West and he said he was going to drive down in his car."
Russel was looking at me in disbelief, his hands clenching and unclenching - he is not one to let his emotions take control of him. "Well he doesn't have a mode of transportation besides me hauling him around. I asked him if his company would reimburse him a rental, and he said they were cheap. You don't think that Esquire Magazine would set up a reporter with a rental car?"
Looks like John wasn't who he said he was...
I met Sara as I was heading down to Key West. She offered me a place to stay on my way back up, so I took her up on it when I finally arrived in Delrey Beach again. We spent a day together cycling up to West Palm Beach and exploring.
Mouthfuls of fresh coconut water had left our bladders aching, so we knocked on the door of some mega-mansions to see if we could use a restroom. After two failed attempts, a woman finally opened the door, and when we explained out situation, she sighed. "I'm sorry, I don't live here - I just work here."
There's a lot of money that goes around these parts.
So here is where the story gets interesting.
I had been having some difficulties with my bicycle throughout this trip so far - shifting issues, scary sounding creaks and groans, inconsistent handling, ect. To make a long story short, I ended up having to replace 80% of my bicycle components (chain, cassette, chain rigs, wheels, and cables), and the new parts wouldn't be in until the next day or two.
I was stuck in West Palm Beach.
No sooner had that thought run through my head when I received a text from Sara, asking if I was still in the area.
A brief phone conversation afterwards and I was shredding on my way back down to West Palm Beach. I was waiting for my bike parts, mind you (oh, what a perfectly excusable reason to see her again!) so the next day I cycled back up to the shop. Another part needed to be ordered for the next day, so back down I went.
For three days I literally cycled back and forth across this stretch of highway, to the bicycle shop and to her house, simultaneously waiting for my bicycle to be pieced together and enjoying her company.
I spent a week in Delrey Beach. It was time to continue North, I was itching for the saddle again.
West Palm Beach, seeing Sarah one last time
"If you are going through St Augustine and Jacksonville, I have family up there. You should meet them, they said that you're welcome to spend the night and sleep in a real bed for a hot sec."
Eager to get out of the headwind, I set up with Sara's aunt Dianne for a day in Jacksonville.
Dianne was recently divorced and now spends a large majority of her time taking care of her grandson, Everet. "He's so perfect," she would coo, snuggling him close to her face while her radiant smile beams at him.
Everet, used to the constant stream of compliments, laughed seemingly with an understanding beyond his years.
Whew, that was a doozy! A lot happened, I've ridden over 800 miles so far, and now I'm heading west! I'm ready for some more scenery and southern spirit!
Stay tuned, the posts are going to come a bit quicker this time around!
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