Two days ago we were in Marathon and the hardworking, everyday citizens of that fine community received a show like no other.
We spent the better part of the morning trying to coordinate being at the same campsite as our friends and navigating the worst bike paths this side of Kosovo. The were cracked, worn, built too close to trees so the roots pushed up huge bumps, and would just randomly end with not rhyme or reason.
This bike path gives the Clinton bike path a run for it's money in awfulness.
But despite the poor quality of roads we did have a quality stop. We hit up a tiki bar/diner with a cool open air set up right on the beach next to a small boat tour service. The bar was literally covered in dollar bills. The were the only real decoration outside and all flapped in the wind.
We met some really cool people. An elderly man with an iPhone, slick hair cut, and some cool shoes talked about seeing is and interesting places to see. A couple from Wisconsin told us about a ride up in the UP of MI that we may try.
Midwest people still holding down values of courtesy and openness despite many attempts by locals to stomp it out.
Phil and I cranked out some quality miles to meet up with the rest of the group at a state park in the northeaster portion of Marathon.
Our team's meteorologist, Andrew "Stank" Holland, predicted: Low chance for 2nd amendment incidents. High chance for gators and snakes. 100% chance of awesomeness.
No more accurate prediction could have been made.
After getting to camp setting up camp, cleaning up, and unloading, Phil and I took off to find the rest of our crew.
Nine miles later we were reunited.
As Phil and I got closer to the bar we were Pace Car-ed in my several first responders. Upon arrival at the restaurant where our guys were apparently an older, larger man had been over-served and tried to sit back on his still. Problem was he missed it and had a Joe Theisman-like break (YouTube that at your own risk).
The guy didn't even break stride, yell, or tear up. After the shotgun sounding snap, all he tried to do was get up and when that didn't work, he asked for a cigarette.
The place was in awe.
After the fog of the event cleared our crew, half of which were wearing Rand's team "Davis Family Band" jumpsuits we shoved off.
We landed at the Hurricane and that's when business picked up. Our counter parts had been telling everyone that they were a band traveling to the next gig by bike and the crew has all their gear. People were soaking it up. They asked for pictures with our jumpsuit-ed colleagues. We decided that this night we would play along with it.
People bought it. Hook, line, and sinker.
Tonight happened to be open mic night at the hurricane and the main performer loved us. He took pictures, bought us a round, and named dropped us throughout the set. Phil and Pat brought it up to him that I play guitar and he asked me to join, to which I brushed off with "maybe later."
More and more people filed into the place and more and more we started to entertain them with discussion and stories from the road. We met people from all over. Most were immigrants there from somewhere in the lower 48 or visiting from places like Brooklyn like Ashley. A cool girl with a great acumen on classic rock, whose friends joined us, and a bunch of others in singing, dancing, and tomfoolery.
Finally, after more prodding from our team and the singer and took to the stage. Having never played with the four guys I figured it would be a train wreck, but to my surprise it went over well.
I played guitar with the band on Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" to get the bar earned up. Then for the first time in my life I sang lead and played guitar while we dominated Them's "Gloria." We had a trumpet player with us who played the solo and it sounded weird, but cool. Lastly I sang Marshal Tucker Band's "Can't You See." Which ended with all of our team riding their bikes in the bar and playing along with their bikes and hit as with their lights adding some cool visuals. Randy even donned a mask he found on the ride for added theatricality. The place went nuts.
I was a rock star for about 7 minutes in Marathon, FL- who would have thunk it.
A few patrons were telling us how good our band was, where we were playing next, and what instruments we all play. The answer was the same, we couldn't remember where we were headed, we all play bass (except me now), and we couldn't remember where we played last night. The "band" was then told we could go to the band room and hang out. Hilarious stuff.
We sat in there, hung out, talked, enjoyed libation, and felt like VIPs. A famous actor came back and hung out with us, he said he goes by ET for short.
We met some cool people who thought we should head down the road to another cool place, but they had no ride.
No problem, we do.
Several of us rode double. We would have a person sit on our seat or the rack and we headed down the road.
Once we for there we took over the juke with some deep classic rock cuts, some Moscow Mules, and more banter.
After having enough we headed towards the campsite, but stopped at Dions (gas station). But this gas station was like a gastronomical buffet of fried and greasy delight. The band stocked up and some food and went outside to enjoy the chicken, macaroni and cheese, and whatever else tempted their palate.
I settled for a Reece's egg. Don't be jealous.
The time had come to retire, so we loaded up and pedaled down the ghostly streets. For a highway that was one of the most loud and busy that I have ever seen, it was barren.
We crossed it to the get on the bike path that was on the western side of the highway. We joked around about the and recounted the scene.
There was no one out. The town was ours, but we stayed on the path, had full lights, and took the proper precautions. Then after a few miles, we had an issue. Tudor was making his way down the bike path and into the street to cross it. A car had been approaching, but we figured it had seen the eight of us with all of our lights and the street lamp. Erik yelled at Tudor to keep his name to make sure Josh had his eyes on the car. He didn't hear Erik.
The car went through the bikes lane box and smoked Tudor's front wheel totally bending the wheel like a taco and bending the fork of his bike outward.
He hit the road and got some rash. The lady was a mess. She was so disillusioned to what had happened. She was telling us how she had been taking care if her parents who were injured in an accident and would so anything to help. We tried to calm her down, that it would be fine, and that we were reasonable Iowans.
She gave Tudor a ride to the campsite, left us her card, and told us she would take care of it. We felt bad for her. She was honestly apologetic and cared. She called us the next day to check on him.
Needless to say, Tudor was bummed his trip was over, but he was distraught by his bike being ruined. He was kind of banged up yesterday, but is better today.
Yesterday was pretty slow. Phil and I headed south to the Keys while the others headed north.
We hit a great tailwind that carried is over the seven mile bridge, through the remaining Keys.
It was more of the same: weird bike paths, huge iguanas on the roadside, beautiful water all around.
We had to haul to get to Key West before the ferry we were taking departed. We averaged between 17-19 the whole time.
We met a group of tie-dye laden guys who were riding in from West Palm Beach who would show us where the southern most point of the US is. Their wife's were riding support and were shopping, so they would ride with us. They were nice dudes and helped us from getting lost.
We make a big loop of the island and hit the souther most point, mile marker zero, and found the ferry. While cruising around we stumbled on Ernst Hemmingway's house and saw some of his/the island's cats with an extra claw (is it 5 or 6 per foot due to the Oceanside living). After a quick pic and look we were off.
Key West is tourist city. People from all over, tons of different languages and styles. One thing in common though: crazy traffic. Phil said it was like New York, it didn't matter we weren't in town long.
We grabbed some quick seafood a block away, loaded our bikes, and got on the boat. 300 people on the thing and three hours away was the destination. We walked around, checked on the bikes, got a beverage, found a place to finally charge our phone, and watched some tv at the bar.
We ended up meeting a family from St. Louis who played "Polish Poker" (I have no idea what that means, so apologies to you Polish folks a out there) with us. It was an amusing game to play while we waiting for the NCAA games to come on .
The ride was about 3.5 hours and I have no idea how fast we were going, but it felt fast. No problems with motion or anything just relaxing.
I can now state I have traveled by land, sea, and air. I don't know whatever that is worth, but it sounds cool.
On a side note, I haven't stopped moving in about 27 hours. From the bike, to the boat, to the RV. I'll probably have weak legs when we get back and not moving.
As I type this we are in the middle of traffic in Nashville. It's rainy and slow, but I heard we are bringing warm weather back so be happy about that.
If this made little or no sense I apologize. Eric and I had the 3 am shift so it's been about two days with minimal sleep.
I'll write up a little recap tomorrow and tie up some loose ends. Maybe do a little Q&A if you have any questions. Just comment a question and I'll provide some fabricated response.
Time to help Tudor navigate the last part of Nashville and then maybe grab a nap.
Hope this message finds you well and warm.
Question for you: Where do you think I should tour next? We are talking about riding the Mississippi from north to south, or a big northeastern states tour. Any ideas?
Remember, we are a band and we play bass.
Only 9 more hours to drive.