Southern Tier, Post 42
Day 47, post 42: I'm sitting in a catfish cafe in Crestview, FL. Good beer and grilled catfish fillets with slaw and okra should restore me after a 71 mile bike ride. I had to make a critical decision this morning once I got to Pensacola: did I return to the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) route on Highway 90 and go northeast (and away from the coast), or did I take the bridge on Highway 98 toward the coast, where I would bike through more beaches toward Panama City? After a lot of thought, I took the inland route. My reasons were twofold: 1) lots of college students and families are celebrating spring break on the Florida coast, and I knew there would be crowds, and 2) the wind was out of the SE at about 20 mph today and forecast to continue from that direction for the next four to five days. Especially given the wind, going north will make for easier riding. At the end of the day I'm not sorry I made the choice. Things are definitely more relaxed inland, and the ACA route is pleasant and easy going, as it largely has been since San Diego. Inland west Florida is a mix of forests, bayous and horse country. The weather continues to be sublime, so it's beautiful - just as the coast would be. And the motels and campgrounds are much less crowded.
I have been thinking about how - in the US - coastal areas may differ from inland areas in political and cultural ways similar to how cities differ from rural areas. If I'm right, I wonder if that's because the coasts are largely populated by tourists from urban areas, or residents who have migrated from urban areas. It's notable to me that the restaurants, even on the Mississippi and Alabama coasts, preferred to broadcast CNN (as well as sports, of course). But as I went north, I found myself in places where Fox was the station on display. Given the rivalry between these stations and their distinct viewerships, is it now that easy to determine the political preferences in a given environment? Have we really become that culturally and politically separated? I suspect so, although I will also say that friendly politeness still rules the day in daily interactions in the south, even if people wear their political preferences on their sleeves.
I just did some research on my progress and I may hit Jacksonville/St Augustine in 7-10 days! After 47 days, it's amazing to contemplate ending this adventure....
Check out my road cycling activity on Garmin Connect.
Pic 1, A boardwalk in Big Lagoon State Park where I camped last night.
Pic 2, One of so many waterways near the western Florida coast.
Pic 3, Pensacola's Escambia Bay. The water was choppy today because of the wind.
Pic 4, While crossing the Escambia River north of Pensacola, I noticed a lot of dead trees in the swamp. Don't know what that's about.
More to come,