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Southeast Odyssey 2024

Florida to Mississippi

Start Date
Number of Days
Total miles

Initially started out with the audacious goal of riding all the way cross country, but a cold laid me low in Tupelo, MS and I decided to end my tour there. 

Scroll down to see my day by day log. Note on pictures: I'm adding pictures to the slide show below as I can. They are displaying in random order. I have not had time to add them to each individual ride. I will do that later.

Some blog posts

The route
1 of 70
Reached the beach

Another selfie at a Gulf beach

Cypress Swamp

The bike path went through some Cypress swamps.

Sopchoppy sign

What a name!

River and cypress
My bike at Elvis' house

Elvis is still the biggest thing in Tupelo

Hiding out from the rain

I camped under a shelter at O'Leno SP to avoid the rain.

Ferry Landing at Dauphin Island

Ferry Landing at Dauphin Island

Great Tree

Lots of big oak trees thought the south. Different than Oregon oaks but still recognizable as oaks.

Suwannee River

Way down upon the Suwannee River

Camping on the Natchez Trace

One of my campsites

Nice campsite in Tennessee

Camping options seemed to get better in Tennessee

Looking back at the Pensacola bridge

Looking back at the Pensacola Bridge I had just crossed

The view from my hammock

For me bike touring must include some quality hang time.

Sign for Historic St. Mark Trail

The St. Mark rail trail heading south from Tallahassee to the Gulf.

Fishing pier

Lots of fishing piers in Florida as there are a lot of people fishing.

Leaving Tallahassee

My Tallahassee WS host was a photographer and got some nice shots of me.

Still seeing patched of crimson clover

The crimson clover followed me all the way from Florida.

Juniper tree

Seeing Junipers in the south makes me think of the moonshiners song “Copper kettle “

White sand beach

A beautiful beach on the Gulf Islands National Seashore

Melrose Community Center

I was really impressed with this community center. There was live music, and a good crowd. Plus coffee and bagels.

Rail trail
Boardwalk along the Sopchoppy River

Boardwalk along the Sopchoppy River at the campground

Bridge off Dauphin Island

Starting out on the three mile bridge off of Dauphin Island

Bon Secur River

The Bon Secur River in Alabama. It means "Safe harbor". There is also the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.

Crimson Clover growing on the side of the road

It was a joy to see crimson clover growing on the side of the road in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Nice view

Beautiful countryside.

Two hawks in the trees

Hawks roosting on my first night out.

Sunrise over my shoulder at the start of the tour

Leaving St. Augustine on day 1 as the sun is rising.

Elvis' bithplace

The house is the smallest part of the Elvis museum.

Welcome to Mississippi

My third state!

Indian burial mounds

These Indian burial mounds are a common sight on the Trace

Gulf Islands National Seashore and nesting sign

The Gulf Islands National Seashore spans many of the sandbar Islands along the Gulf.

Some people I met

The best part of bicycle touring is meeting others doing the same thing

Nice river shot

O'Leno SP is on the Santa Fe River

Crossing the St. John's River
Nice plowed field

I love seeing freshly plowed fields.

Sunset on Dauphin Island

Nice sunset from the Gulf Breeze motel on Dauphin Island

Another muddy river

Rivers are still full of mud from the big storm

A section of the Old Trace

It would be fun to ride the Old Trace on gravel bikes.

View from my motel room

I really enjoyed the Sportsman's Lodge in Eastport, FL. Nice rooms, trees, and peacocks.

I love gardens

My WS hosts treated me to dinner at a restaurant where they grew some of their own vegetables.

Unknown River
State Park sign

I never was able to pronounce this one, and I didn't stay at this park. I stayed at a smaller park in Sopchoppy.

Selfie at the beach

The Gulf coast beaches were indeed beautiful

Halflinger draft horse

This fellow was doing carriage rides with a Halflinger, which is just like a small Belgian.

The Pearl River feeds Barnett Reservoir

The Pearl River feeds Barnett Reservoir

Bayou La Batre Market

This was a modern supermarket giving homage to its deep roots

Campsite at Sopchoppy campground

My campsite at the Sopchoppy campground

It was raining in the morning when I left Gainesville, but then it stopped.

The rain stopped

Mississippi River at Natchez

The mighty Mississippi

View of Barnett Reservoir

Camped around the other side the previous night. Stoked to find out it’s called Barnett Reservoir

Me and my tent

One of the places I camped in Florida

Tree shaded road
Mississippi River at Natchez

Seeing the river boat from up on the bluff reminded me of the song Band's song "Evangeline"

My loaded touring bike inside

Waiting out the morning rain at my WS host's house on day 3

Small town Florida

Local spot in small town Florida where I stopped for a beer.

Nice pine trees

The NTP really is a park.

Destin Fort Walton Beach
Another bridge

I crossed so many bridges in Florida and Alabama. Most had good bike lanes.

Elvis' outhouse

The outhouse, in all it's glory. Elvis' butt once sat here!

Sunset over Hall Lake

Sunset on night one. Not a bad way to start a tour.

Sunrise at St. Joe’s Beach

Sunrise at St. Joe’s Beach

Sunset at St. Joe's Beach

Camping on St. Joe's Beach

Bridge off Dauphin Island

Getting close to the big climb in the middle of the bridge

Dogwood in bloom

There were some nice Dogwood trees blooming in O'Leno SP, but I couldn't get a good picture.

Sunset on Dauphin Island

Nice sunset from the Gulf Breeze motel on Dauphin Island

Flooded forest

This is not a cypress swamp but rather a flooded forest. There was a lot of flooding following the big storm.

Wakulla River

This one is the Wakulla River. Lots of big rivers flowing into the Gulf.

1 of 70


Route Date Miles Bike Buddies Notes
Around Tupelo 20 Soma Saga

Out to see Elvis' birthplace, then through town to Core Bicycle shop to have them box and ship my bike home.

Tupelo 32 Soma Saga

Day 28 - NTP Day 6

Today was a tough one. I got a cold. Stuffy head, dry cough. So I drank a lot of liquids yesterday and then was up all night peeing. Still managed to get out earlier than I wanted to as it was a bit cool. Right away I was struggling. The historic sites and points of interest were more frequent on this section and I had to stop and rest at each one. Eventually I seemed to recover and was able to get to town at a reasonable pace. All I could think about was getting to a motel and lying down.

The country changed a lot today. The forest got thinner and thinner and eventually the road dropped down to open farm land and a river.

Tupelo is a mess. Heavy traffic, no bicycle lanes or sidewalks. I'll probably;y take 2 rest days, do laundry, and go see where Elvis was born.

Witch Dance 41 Soma Saga

Day 27 - NTP day 5

Met some fine folks at the campground last night, and spent some time together this morning. John is riding from Chicago to New Orleans and Kevin and Gema are riding back to Minnesota where they started last October. They are riding long wheelbase, battery powered, recumbent trikes, pulling huge trailers, all of which he fabricated. 
A mostly cloudy morning and very light traffic made for an easy peaceful day. It’s all rolling hills now, but with a long period so nothing steep. Maybe five minutes up at 7-8mph, and then a minute or two down at 15-20. Very nice. 
Witch Dance is not the nicest spot but has water, bathrooms, picnic tables, and some shade, so it’ll be fine. 

Jeff Busby Campground 33 Soma Saga

Day 26 - NTP day 4

I knew I was looking at a shorter day so I lazed around and didn’t get out until 9:30, after walking across the road to a store to get some drinks. 
It was sunny with some high hazy clouds. Definitely more humid. It finally clouded over in the afternoon, but still hot. 
Traffic was very light on a Sunday morning. Riding was quite mellow. Still mostly flat with gradual hills, but I could see they were increasing. 
The big event of the day was rolling over 1,000 miles from St. Augustine. But just as I was getting ready to celebrate here came the biggest hill of the tour so far. A serious hill, worthy of an Oregon ride. I had to drop to my little chainring and suffer. So least I start thinking I must be strong to ride a thousand miles, here comes a hill to smack me back down. 
Got to the campground nice and early. Got my hammock up and had a good hang, and got my tent pitched before the, so far, two minute light shower. 

Kosciusko 63 Soma Saga

Day 25 - NTP day 3

Best day yet on the Trace. Traffic was mellow, the road was flat, and the scenery was gorgeous. 
Said goodbye to Wayne and left Timberlake CG a bit late. Stopped at a grocery store before the 6 mile ride back to the NTP. The next 10 miles was along Barnett Reservoir so a different view from the first two days. It being Saturday morning there were lots of cyclists out including two large packs. One stood out as there was a Black guy in front a nice mix of ethnicity and gender. Wish we had that at home. 
I was unsure how far I wanted to ride today after 2 long days. I knew the next official campground would mean a 60+ mile day, but the other best option was too short. In the end my legs felt great and I had no trouble making the distance. 
The bicycle only campground at Kosciusko is a community thing, not NPS, and it is very nice. Always nice when local communities go out of their way to make things nice for cyclists. 
Tomorrow should be a shorter day and maybe a few clouds. The days are getting up in the low 80s now. 

Timberlake Campground 58 Soma Saga

Day 24 - Day 2 NTP

Wayne rode out from the campground with me. The miles sure go by faster when you’re riding with someone. It was a cloudless day, nice and cool in the morning and not too hot in the afternoon. 
Not much change in the terrain from yesterday. Mostly forested with lots of trees I can’t identify. I did notice some juniper growing in a completely different environment that our Oregon juniper. Occasional very muddy creeks and bayous. Lots of trees down from the big storm two days ago. Still seeing Crimson clover on the sides of the road. It’s been there all the way from Florida. 
The historic sites along the parkway are of little interest to me. Yes so-and-so came here and did something hundreds of years ago, but there’s no trace of it now. 
Once I hit Clinton/Jackson traffic picked up and got pretty bad, but wouldn’t you know it, a nice bike path appeared which took me all the way past Jackson and Ridgeland. I was also getting hot on the road as there wasn’t much shade, but the bike path was completely shaded. 
There is no place to camp on the NTP for many more miles so I found an RV park off route that has tent camping. It’s okay. Wayne joined me and brought some beer so even better. 

Rocky Creek Campground 58 Soma Saga

Day 23 - Day 1 Natchez Trace Parkway 

I had to stay 3 nights in Natchez waiting out a powerful storm front. Today dawned dark and cloudy but gradually cleared all day. The wind was still ripping but it was mostly at my back. 
Finally out on the NTP. It’s as advertised: smooth pavement, light traffic, and very scenic. Completely undeveloped except for some farmland here and there. Historical markers every 5-20 miles or so. Easy riding. 
On the other hand there are no services along the route. It doesn’t go through towns so no coffee stops or second breakfast. In fact water is not available for long distances. Even the campground I stayed at night 1 did not have drinkable water.

Finally started seeing other cyclists on the road. Only one loaded tourist. I rode part of the day with Wayne who is doing out and backs from his RV. He’ll end up doing the whole thing twice. 

Around Natchez 20 Soma Saga

Day 21 - Layover day. Natchez is a very old town, and it shows. Old pavement, old buildings, lots of closed up stores and restaurants. No bike lanes. The bluff along the Mississippi River is spectacular. 

Google said there were two bike shops, but neither of them existed. I did find an audiologist who fixed my hearing aids for free. Also a nice coffee shop, maybe the last one I'll see for a while.

Forecast still showing rain tomorrow stopping in the afternoon. So I guess I'll be starting the Trace Parkway in the rain.

Pascagoula 50 Soma Saga

Day 19 - I got out at about 8:15 after a peaceful night at the Gulf Breeze Motel on Dauphin Island, Alabama. The first challenge of the day was another three mile bridge, with one steep rise in the middle. It had a good shoulder and was not nearly as intimidating as it looked. Once over the bridge I was in rural Alabama bayou country. Nice quiet roads. Eventually I gained a little altitude and was riding though open farm country. For the first time it looked like early spring instead of endless summer. Fields were plowed but not yet planted. Trees where just starting to leaf out.

After a while I was back on US 90, and a few miles after that I crossed into Mississippi. As I approached Pascagoula things got more industrial. Marine industry, ship building, all kinds of stuff. Not very scenic.

Tomorrow I change it up. I'll be driving a u-haul to the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway. I've had my fill of the Gulf and I really don't want to be riding anywhere near New Orleans. Nothing against New Orleans, I'm sure it's a fascinating city to visit, I just don't like cities and I've had my fill of riding with heavy traffic. Really looking forward to the Natchez Trace.

Dauphin Island 38 Soma Saga

Day 18 - Early start from my WS host backtracking 10 miles to get back on route. The wind had shifted and would now be at my back heading west. Back on route it was more lovely bike path. Gotta hand it to Alabama. At least these gulf beach towns have great bike paths. After about 10 miles the path finally ended and I was on a mostly quiet road with an adequate bike lane.

Things have really slowed down since escaping Florida. Just a whole lot mellower. I had to stop at the Beach Bum Coffee shop where I chatted with a couple from Michigan who keep their RV down here and come down a couple of times a year. That and plenty of vacation homes, but not all high end. Plenty of modest looking beach retreats as well.

The tailwind was wonderful and I made good time to the Fort Morgan ferry terminal, where I had about a 45 minute wait for the ride over to Dauphin Island. The ferry ride was about 35 minutes. Mobile Bay is huge and the trip to Dauphin Island is only a small part of it. Tomorrow I cross another long bridge. The bay was dotted with small platforms that looked too small to be oil rigs. Not sure what they are.

There is a WS host here that doesn't live here but let's people camp under his house. Gulf beach houses are all up on the second floor with anything underneath at the mercy of storm surges. It would have worked except there was no access to a toilet, and the Gulf Breeze Motel beckoned. Tomorrow is my birthday so I'm treating myself to a comfortable night. No idea what tomorrow will bring.

Foley, Alabama 36 Soma Saga

Day 17 - Left Big Lagoon State Park early before the wind came up. It  was still another 9 miles to the state line. I was happy to see a nice buffered bike lane along the highway and over the first bridge. Then it got even better and I had about 10 miles on really nice bike trail from Orange Beach to Gulf Shores. There the Southern Tier route splits one fork staying on the coast while the other went inland to Mobile. I took the inland route to get to my WS host in Foley. 

The wind didn't pick up until after noon and got pretty strong again. Tomorrow I will backtrack to the cost.

Big Lagoon State Park 30 Soma Saga

Day 16 - Leaving Pensacola I stopped at a market, and when I left I noticed a rear brake pad missing. No worries, a Trek bike shop a block away got me fixed up in no time. 
The ride out on Gulf Beach Drive was pleasant enough but the wind was picking up and I was still beat from yesterday, so when I saw the state park I knew that was it. Alabama would have to wait until tomorrow. 

Pensacola 54 Soma Saga

Day 15 was a tough one. First Google tried to route me through an Air Force base and I had to backtrack a couple of miles. Then a puncture. The sealant held but I had to pump it up on the side of a busy highway. And then the headwinds just wore me down. 
I finally had to turn off Google and just stay on 98 until 399 over to Navarre Beach. I almost stayed on 98, because of the bridge I would have to cross over and back from the beach, and because I knew the headwinds would be worse at the beach. But I didn’t come all this way just to ride on busy highways. 
The bridge over was terrible. I could have ridden with the traffic but chose the pedestrian path. It got super narrow. My loaded bike would barely fit. I had to walk, but it wasn’t that far. 
Navarre Beach was pretty nice. Not as crazy as the beaches the last two days. It had a nice bike path as well. 
Next the road got smooth, a 6’ wide bike lane appeared, and the speed limit went down to 25, as I entered the Gulf Islands National Seashore. For 10 miles there were no buildings, no parking on the road, just protected dunes. There were about 4 public access parking areas with access to very pristine beaches. And surf! Almost rideable surf. 
Then came Pensacola Beach which was actually pretty nice. Upscale but no high rises and plenty of modest homes. It went on way too long as by now I was really pooped. I was managing 6-8mph into the wind and I still had 20 miles to go. 
Then came the return bridge, which had a decent bike lane, then back on 98 and the big event of the day. The bridge across Pensacola Bay is 3 miles long! But it had a wonderful two lane wide separated bike/pedestrian path. I could relax and enjoy the ride. 
Finally a nice ride through the neighborhoods of Pensacola to my WS host. 
Tomorrow Alabama!

Fort Walton Beach 31 Soma Saga

Got going before my WS hosts got up. Very impressive, focused, young couple. 

Another cloudy day, which is fine with me. Wind still at my back. Again the day was a mix of crowded beachside sidewalks and trails, and super traffic on 98, which here is a 6 lane highway. And of course a big bridge. 
Setup camp behind one of my WS hosts from last nights rental houses. Threatening rain 

Santa Rosa Beach 48 Soma Saga

Interesting day, but now that the ride is over I’m feeling pretty good. Panama City seemed like a really big town, even though it is smaller than Corvallis. Traffic heading west was insane. US-98 which had been a fairly mellow 2 lane road further east, was now more like a 4 lane freeway, with a minimal shoulder. I kept trying to get Google to route me on 30, which went along the beach, but Google insisted on 98. But then came all the construction and I finally said screw it and took the first road I found heading south to the beach. There traffic was just as crazy but going much slower and there was a minimal bike lane. This was Panama City Beach. It was beginning to feel more like South Florida than anywhere else I’ve been. 
Meanwhile Google still wanted me to go back to 98 but I ignored it as 30 was going to merge with 98 further on anyway. When it did it was past the construction, but traffic was just as heavy. 
Then the route went left to Rosemary Beach on what it said was the Timpoochee Trail, but it was just a very congested sidewalk  and the cars were backed up to a standstill. So I headed back to 98, but it was too crazy so I took the next left towards the beach. This was also backed up to a standstill but it had a good bike path next to it. 
When I got back to the beach it was a circus. Evidently it is spring break in Kentucky, and all of the teenagers come here. No joke!  The trail follows the road for about 20 miles west and it was jam packed with teenagers on rental bikes the whole way. High rise hotels, fancy and not so fancy shops. By the names of the towns: Laguna Beach, Sunnyside, Santa Rosa Beach, it seemed like they wanted to emulate So. California beach towns, but the vibe was much more South Florida. There were literally thousands of people either riding on the trail, which was little more than a sidewalk, or hanging out at the shops. I didn’t even see how crowded the beaches were. So I had to navigate a party at 5mph for almost 20 miles. 
But I enjoyed it and it was way more fun than riding on the highway. So I made it to my WS hosts and I’m just waiting for them to get home. 

Panama City 29 Soma Saga

Day 12 - Easter Sunday, last day of March.

Woke up to heavy dew on the beach. Carefully bundled up the wet rainfly and footprint knowing I'd be able to dry it out later. Went up to the adjacent park to make my tea and have breakfast. It was after 9 by the time I rode off but no worries, I crossed back into Central Time and gained an hour.  

Mexico beach was more of the same vacation homes and condos but before long I was back out on the open road. Google had wanted me to take a different route but I chose to stay on 98. Probably a mistake as 98 went through almost 20 miles of mostly empty Air Force Base. It was overcast and felt cooler, but that was deceiving as my arms got a little red.

Eventually there were a couple of more bridges and then I came into Parker. There had been a nice shoulder up until now but now it disappeared in favor of another traffic lane. I took the lane most of the time but some drivers waited far too long to get over.

I came to a nice park, "Under the oaks" park, where I hung out for a couple of hours. First I dried my tent, which didn't take long, then I had lunch. I knew it wasn't very far to my Warm Showers host in Panama City. Once again Google gave me grief navigating to her house, but I got here. So a short day, which is fine as I'll have a 45 mile ride tomorrow.

Mexico Beach 48 Soma Saga

Day 11 - Left Eastport on a 4 mile causeway leading to a high bridge with 8% grades. No mountains in Florida so they build the bridges tall.

Coffee stop in Apalachicola which was a nice change. I don’t know if it was the coffee, the tailwinds, or the fact that I pumped my tires up, but I set a good pace for the next 20 miles or so. There was a long stretch of open road with not much scenery, a good wide shoulder, and light traffic. 
I rode through Port St. Joe on the main road and thought it was kind of blah, but then I rode through it again one street over and there were lots of shops and eateries. I stopped and had baked oysters. After all this is the oyster capital of the world, or so they say. 
Then came an even taller bridge and some more miles of nothing before St. Joe’s Beach where I finally hit the beautiful white sand beaches I’ve been hearing about. I’d been expecting to hit the central time zone and I finally did as I crossed for Gulf to Bay county and Mexico Beach. But no campgrounds and motels were full. I asked if I could camp at an RV park and was told tent camping was not allowed in Bay county, but if I went back to Gulf county I could camp on the beach. It was only a couple of miles back so I did and now I’m snug in my tent on St. Joe’s Beach. 

Eastport 39 Soma Saga

Day 10 - Late start from Slopchoppy campground as it got down to 45 overnight so I was in no hurry to jump out of bed. It warmed up nicely and soon I was shedding layers. After about 10 miles on the county road it meet back up wit US 98. Yesterday this road had both a wide shoulder and a parallel bike path, but today it had neither. There was probably a five mile stretch with no shoulder and moderate traffic, but the drivers were all courteous and gave me plenty of room. 
It was good to get to the gulf. I just like beaches. Once I was heading west the wind was pretty consistent at my back. 
Carrabelle was the biggest town I passed through today. Looked like they probably had some good eateries but I passed them by. 
No campgrounds on today’s route. Some possibilities for stealth camping but I opted instead for the Sportsman’s Lodge in Eastport where I have a nice room overlooking Apalachicola Bay, which I’ll cross in the morning. 

Sopchoppy 43 Soma Saga

Day 9 - My WS host Kevin guided me on a scenic route through Tallahassee to the St. Mark rail trail. After rain all day yesterday today was sunny and clear. Very pleasant ride on the trail south towards the gulf. Then when I turned west and expected to be on the highway I discovered the Big Bend Scenic Coastal Trail parallel to the highway for another 12 miles. I only had to ride on the road for the last 8 miles or so. 
Found a nice city park / campground on the Sopchoppy River to spend the night. 

Around Tallahassee 10 Soma Saga

Day 8 - Around town in the rain. Bike shop, supermarket, and WS hosts. 

Tallahassee 25 Soma Saga

Day 7 - The day started great on a quiet country road and the wind still at my back. Of course traffic got busier as I approached Tallahassee, but what I didn't expect was the hills. There are some serious hills in this town, to rival any town in Oregon. Really glad I put on the triple with the really small chainring! The last stretch into town was in the Historic St. Marks rail trail which I plan to take in the other direction when I leave town. It goes south from Tallahassee to the gulf coast. I will then head west along the gulf coast.

I had planned to stay at the Bicycle House which lists itself as a Warm Showers host, but the facilities were not that inviting so I opted for a motel. I'll probably spend an extra day here waiting out a rain storm.

Monticello 53 Soma Saga

Day 6 - Tailwinds, long downhills, light traffic, and sunshine!

The wind finally died down enough for me to sleep last night. Had to stake my tent well. The Deerwood motel/RV park/Campground is a relic from the '60s, which has fallen to disrepair. Must have been a nice resort at one time. Camping is all the same though. The bathroom was clean enough and the WiFi even reached my campsite. The winds was howling though and the freeway could be heard as well.

It was 6 mile back to the route in Madison on a quiet state highway. At Madison it was back on US 90 a.k.a. USBR 90 , which has a nice wide shoulder and surprisingly light traffic. At Monticello the route leaves 90 and takes a more scenic back road, which I left at Lloyd to navigate to my WS hosts for tonight.

Highlights of the day include seeing crimson clover growing on the side of the road and spotting a couple of cardinals. The terrain is still gentle rolling but its been favoring downhill since mid day yesterday. The pine plantations have given way to more open farm fields, but also a lot of forested area with pine and oak and who knows. Parts of it could look like Oregon except for the Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees.

Passed by lots of places waving flags of several varieties, but no Trump signs today, which was nice. Lots of signs for local candidates. 

My Warm Showers hosts for tonight are a wonderful older couple. I've got a trailer house to myself, and they even took me out for dinner. Warm Showers people are the best.

Madison 41 Soma Saga

Day 5 - Another pleasant day on quiet country roads. As expected the wind was mostly a cross wind, and mostly blocked by trees, except for the few times the route jogged north, directly into it. 
The gentle rolling hills continued today, but predominantly down, so all in all a pretty easy day. Sunshine and blue skies all day. 
I opted to camp off route at an old Florida motel / RV park / campground. Not bad although I can here the freeway. WiFi is good though. 
I hope to make it to a WS host in Monticello. It will be a longer day. 

Wellborn 50 Soma Saga

Day 4 -  Camped out under a shelter at O'Leno SP so stayed nice and dry through the rain. Only problem was the live band at the group site that played until 1 am. Got up at first light and got my tent down before any park workers showed up. Hung out until the rain stopped.

I pleased to find a bike path leading out of the park paralleling the road. I was not pleased when the bike path lead me a mile off route. Oh well. I was feeling pretty sluggish and was ready to head in to the next campground at just 17 miles, but instead I sat down and ate an apple, which completely revived me. Shortly after was a camp store with cold drinks that really picked4 me up.

The rest of the day was on quiet country roads with very little traffic. Some hills though, and then some headwinds. The country changed as well. More upland pine plantations and cattle farms. There were also hills all day. Not steep of course, but consistently up and down. And then came the headwinds.

I realized my goal of reaching Suwanee River State Park was out of the question so the choice came down to stealth camping or a motel. I was really hoping the small town of Wellborn was going to have an old style motel but no luck. I had to ride 6 more miles out to the freeway to find one.

Maybe tomorrow I'll stay at Suwanee River State Park. There is also a Stephen Foster museum or something so maybe I'll go soak up some history.

O’Leno State Park 32 Soma Saga

Day 3 - Rain in the morning leaving Gainesville, but it stopped and I was dry by Alachua. Millhopper was a nice quiet road with trees hanging over it, but before long I was on a busy highway. Then a smaller highway from High Springs to the O’Leno SP. 

A shorter day, which was nice as tomorrow may be another 50 miler. 

Gainesville 48 Soma Saga

Day 2 - Another full day. I had a great camping sit at my WS host Robert last night but it was a bit cold and I did not get up early. I started out on the road I should have taken yesterday and got back to the route in about 5 miles. Then I was back on the same rail trail as yesterday for a while, before traversing a number of highways to connect to another rail trail. The highways were not pleasant. Some had a decent shoulder, some did not. All had heavy traffic, most of which was considerate.

The rail trail from Hawthorn to Gainesville was 17 miles of pure bliss. Even some hills and swoopy curves towards the end. Several side trails and scenic stops.

Once again Google Maps failed at  getting me to my WS destination, at first anyway. Eventually it pulled though but not before some extra miles and grief.

Wonderful Warm Showers host Kathy fed me a great meal and wonderful hospitality.

Keystone Heights 67 Soma Saga

Day one and it was a long one. The route was great, but I messed up following Google Maps to my WS host and added 10 extra miles. 
Woke up early, got breakfast at the hotel, and got on the road just as the sun was coming up. It was cold, 45 degrees. It’s about 10 miles through town to where the bike trail starts. As the trail is through the trees it was shaded and didn’t warm up until about 10:00. Very nice smooth paved, well maintained rail trail. 
The first segment ends a big bridge crossing the St. John’s waterway, which has a nice separated bike lane, into Palatka. Then through town and on a highway for a while before the Palatka  - Lake Butler State Trail. Another gorgeous rail trail which I was enjoying so much I missed the turn off for my WS host. 
I did finally make it to Robert’s and set up camp under the pines by a lake. And now I’m in my hammock enjoying the warm late afternoon sun.