I first became friends with Thea via a Facebook on a group called The Church of the Double Bladed Paddlers. It’s a large group of kayakers from all over the world. Thea began following and supporting my long distance kayak trip and had offered me a place to stay when I eventually reached the Keys. When I decided to end the trip in August on the banks of Cape May New Jersey, Thea again invited me to come to the Keys. Now here we are, four month later and I’m meeting my friend for the first time. The entire reason for me stopping in Winter Park, FL was to have the opportunity to meet Thea and her husband at their primary home before arriving at their vacation home on Long Key.
On the drive from Winter Springs to Bunnell, Thea and I caught up and she filled me in on this region. Thea is heavily invested in this area and not only serves on many government committees and boards, but grew up in the region so I got a history lesson as well as a tour. We stopped at a local restaurant, Big Rig 2, to grab some lunch before arriving home. Big Rig 2 is one of those local secrets that most transients would never think of stopping at, but its exactly the kind of place I love discovering.
Arriving at Thea’s house I got to meet David, her husband. Their house is located on Lake Disston in Bunnell, FL. After a short tour, we headed out to their Junk Yard where I got to see some of David’s toys. This included a Swamp Buggy some Mud Bogging Race trucks and a 1970’s Camaro Eight Mile Dragster. Then they took me into Daytona Beach area for dinner at Houligan’s and then it was back to the house just in time for the show.
Like me, Thea and David live on a lake facing west. This means we’re treated to some spectacular sunsets and tonight would be no different. I could have taken a hundred pictures of that spectacular sunset and still not captured its beauty. Now I understand why Thea is an Amateur Photographer, though I truly believe she could be Pro if she decided to. After Sunset, David treated us to a campfire and they both shared stories of their time living on the lake.
Tomorrow Thea will be taking me on a Art and Wine tour in Flagler Beach.
I awoke the first time when the train had stopped for some reason, funny how the silence causes you to wake up. We were waiting for another train to roll through and sure enough, a few minutes later it came by. As it was black as coal out, I could only detect its type by length of sound. It was a long wait so had to be a freight train. The conductor had explained earlier on the trip that Amtrak leases most of its tracks from the rail freight industry and if the train is running on schedule, it won’t be delayed, but anymore than an hour late and it must cede way to the freight train. Once that happens, it’s tough to make up the time. Various things can cause you to be running behind; Track work, Equipment Problems both on and off track and then weather. For us, I think it was a combination of Weather and Track work as it was pouring very hard all night. It was raining so hard that rain water was pouring in through the areas where the trains connects at times.
Sleeping in the comfy seat wasn’t that bad, though I should have taken a neck pillow. I highly suggest a pillow and a blanket for those traveling overnight on the train. My friend Doug suggested having your sleeping bag handy and I think I will do that when I head west as it will be about 5 days onboard.
I awoke the second time at 6:30 with twilight breaking and decided that was a good time to get up. Most of the other passengers were still wrapped up under blankets signaling to me that they’ve done this before. Since I had a window seat I sat there quietly so as not to disturb my sleeping seatmate. Thankfully, she woke up around 7:15am which gave me the opportunity to hit the Dining Car for breakfast before “the morning rush”. Breakfast is the only time the Dining Car operates on a First Come First Serve basis, all other times, it’s by reservation. Reservations are made on the train for the dining car.
Unlike Dinner, I thought breakfast was a bit light. I ordered scrambled eggs, bacon and in honor of my Savannah Georgia location when ordering, I opted for the Grits too. Everything was perfect aside from the eggs. There weren’t a lot of eggs considering it was the main dish and the Grits were a side, but I still enjoyed it. After all, how can you not when cruising at 70 mph through the countryside while drinking coffee and enjoying a nice meal?
Rather than going back to my seat, I took up residence in the lounge car and caught up on emails and social media. When we stopped in Jacksonville, I took the opportunity to get out and walk around for a few minutes. After returning to the train and taking my seat in the lounge car again, they began asking for Lunch Reservations. Since we were running an hour behind schedule, my 12:30pm arrival in Winter Park was pushed back a bit so I decided to have one last meal on this train. By the time lunch was done and I was returning to my seat, we were pulling into Winter Park.
I had to hurry up and find an attendant as I needed help getting all my bags off the train along with my bike, trailer and checked luggage. Once I got off the train and into the 87 degree temps of Winter Park, the attendant told me to wait right there for my luggage, but after telling him I had the roll on bike, he told me to run up and get to the baggage car. There at the front of the train, I saw the baggage handler trying to wheel my bike back while driving the luggage cart. I met up with him and took possession of the bike as the rest of my luggage was brought back to the station. It was then, as the train bulled out of the station, that I realized I forgot my sunglasses in the seat. Thankfully, I had a second set in my bags, but hopefully they will be waiting for me in Miami.
I hadn’t been there even 15 minutes when my host Andrea arrived to pick me up. I’d be staying with Andrea and Kevin for the new couple of days before visiting another friend, Thea, up here. It’s Thea & Bud’s vacation house that I’ll be staying at in the Keys. We got everything loaded in her car and headed off for some drinks and appetizers before headed to her and Kevin’s home in Winter Springs. Once at the house, I quickly made friends one of her kitties and her 2 yr old pup.
Tomorrow it’s off to explore the beach with Andrea.
I have this habit of waiting till the last minute for things. Not small things, but big things. Things like moving to another state or going on a kayak expedition. I can clearly remember my first cross country motorcycle trip in 1999. I was looking for a tent and sleeping bag the night before I was to leave. When I would set out on other motorcycle tours, it would not be uncommon for me to have the bike torn apart as I added last minute accessories or change the oil or a faulty wire. When I set out on my kayak expedition, I didn’t do a wet test to see if it could hold the weight or if I could paddle it loaded until the night before departing. Long ago, I decided that this was a coping mechanism. If you make yourself so busy before doing something big, you’ll have little time to worry about your decision as you spend all your time running around crazy preparing for it.
This trip was to be no different. While I had decided to head to the Florida Keys since ending my kayak expedition early, I had no idea how I was going to get down there. It wasn’t until I bought a bicycle to get around in Vermont that I started to play with the idea of biking down, but after looking at the cost factor involved in that, it would be as expensive as flying and I was trying to avoid expensive. Then I recalled a train trip I took to Chicago many years ago. Thought I don’t remember why I took the train to get there, I did and I enjoyed it. Years later I took a train from Albany, NY to Rochester, NY where I bought my kayak, the same kayak I have today. I looked at the cost for Amtrak and I knew right away I found my solution. For just $118 US, I could get from NY Penn Station to Miami, FL and by taking the train; I could bring the bike and all my possessions, aside from the kayak and kayak gear.
November would be the third time in my life where I have attempted to de-clutter my life or in other words, sell off everything I own. Many people who talk off to travel the world, tour the country or live small simply put a lot of items in storage. I too had done this, but this time I didn’t want to do that. Aside from Lexie’s ashes and a few legal records I can’t dispose of, I didn’t want to own anything more than I could carry on my bike this time. This meant that everything had to go.
With just two days to go before departing Vermont for good, I held my final garage sale and took to the task of liquidating all my tools. I decided to sell the kayak and the gear since I was finding it too expensive to ship to Florida. By Monday morning, I had been semi successful in the liquidation. I had just a few power tools left and a large box of clothing I’d be donating. While having breakfast Monday, I was contacted by a gentlemen would made me an offer to buy out the rest of my tools.
The only thing that didn’t sell was the kayak and kayak gear.
We left Vermont just after 1pm Monday and arrived in New York in time to have dinner with my parents before departing for the Florida Keys. The kayak came back with us and we decided to store in at their house until I could get it shipped or sell it.
Tuesday was a whirlwind of excitement as I attempted to box up all my possession into the baggage size guidelines for Amtrak. I would also have to be able to carry my possession on the bike trailer once I reached Miami, FL. Just like the kayak trip, I was doing a test run with the trailer around 10pm, or just about 12 hours until departure.
I awoke this morning nervous. My fear wasn’t so much on the move, but the drop off location and my luggage. Penn Station has no drop off location meaning there was no place to calmly unload Arlene’s car and get my luggage down into Penn Station. On top of that, it was pouring. Then there was the concern that they might not accept my luggage.
We departed Yorktown Heights, NY on time and arrived in the city on schedule. Trying to get to Penn Station was as difficult as we figured it would be, but the new bus lanes and no right / no left turn zones complicated things even more, but Arlene got me there and found a spot to get off the road so I could unload. After a few trips in the pouring rain, I got the bike, the trailer and four bags of luggage to the elevator where Arlene was keeping an eye on it for me. Unfortunately, this is where I’d have to say Goodbye to Arlene as she was illegally parked. We said our goodbyes and down the elevator I went.
When the doors opened on the lower level, I ran into two Amtrak Red Caps. They are the ones who assist you with your luggage and one of them told me to wait there for him. A few minutes later he returned with a hand truck. He took all my bags and I followed him with my bike to the Baggage Check In. Once there he left, but the Amtrak employee behind the counter told me to wait there and he’d assist me in getting on the train. Sure enough, about thirty minutes before departure, He took my bags and I followed with my bike. He led me down a private escalator and to the waiting train. There he led me to the baggage car where we secured the bike and then he took the rest of my bags to my seat. I was the first person on the train. All my fears had vanished due to his help and the earlier assistance from the Red Cap and of course, Arlene.
My other fear was access to my luggage and seating, but again, once I arrived on the train, this too subsided. My carry on luggage was right above me and easily accessible while the seats were large and I had plenty of room for my legs. I also got a window seat, which wouldn’t do me much good, since we’d soon be in the dark. This train was going to leave at 3pm and run all through the night. I’ll be arriving in Winter Park Florida just after noon the next day. In Winter Park, I’d be visiting some friends before taking another train to Miami.
I’ve now been on the train nine hours and I’m really enjoying it. I had a wonderful dinner in the dining car at 6pm and have been working on the blog and Facebooking here in the lounge car after that. One thing I immediately noticed being onboard this train is just how many people travel all over the country on it. Many of the people around me have taken multiple trips up and down the East Coast, Across the US (NY to San Francisco) as well as other shorter destinations such as the ones I had taken before. Unlike a plane, the train allows people to meet and greet. You get to wander the train, sit in multiple areas throughout the trip and its not anywhere near as loud as a plane. The only drawback I can see is the time, but if you look at the time as part of your trip and not a means to get there, its well worth it. I am in love with train travel. Now all I have to figure out is if I take the train in the Spring from Miami to Los Angles or up to Chicago and then to San Francisco. I hear that the Chicago to San Francisco train is absolutely beautiful. Choices Choices.
Soon I will return to my comfy seat and drift off to sleep as the train rocks me to and fro. No, I didn’t get the upgraded sleeper as it was out of my price range, but I would suggest it if its in your price range. For me, the seat is as comfy as any tent site so it works just fine.
Have you take a train somewhere far away? What was your experience like?
At this very moment, homes across the United States are filled with the aroma of Turkeys roasting, desserts baking and soon families gathering. However, not all homes will be filled with this, but as a child you are not privy to the truth. Continue reading Happy. Thanks. Giving.→
I’ve seen my newsfeed full of people stating the protestors should “get a life”, “get a job”, “Stop being cry babies”. I hear these descriptions in every protest. Do you recognize yourself there?
People are mad at the results and fear for the direction we are now headed. It’s OK to be fearful. It’s a natural reaction to change and history has proven that sometimes, radical change is really bad. How many people were in fear that Sharia Law was going to be put in place by our “Muslim President” 8 years ago. How many feared that he was going to take guns away resulting in a surge of gun sales? For the last 8 years people have protested our current President. Some people even strung up effigies of the president hanging by a noose in trees and while that was over the line, protesting is quite normal. Continue reading Protesting – Making America Great since 1773→
The idiom is: Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.
The meaning: Before judging someone, you must understand his experiences, challenges, thought processes, etc.
Earlier this year I struggled to accept the loss of Lexie, my love, my Soul Mate for the last 12 years. Sure, she was a dog, but her spirit was anything but. Since the day we met, we communicated on a level I had not experienced with any other pet prior to her. Lexie was the source of my happiness, my energy and my sunny day through the darkest storm. Even after she was diagnosed with a virtually incurable cancer, she battled it with a playfulness and joy like nothing I had ever witnessed before. Through each surgery, after each round of chemotherapy, her Spirit was never shattered. Aside from a constant large bandage on her right front leg, one would never be able to tell just what she was battling inside. The very day I saw that Spirit go, I let her go. It was Christmas Eve and it was time to say goodbye. Continue reading To walk a mile in my shoes→
In the tiny town of Hampton, NY lies a Bike Shop that is changing the world.
I’d been living in Poultney, a small traditional Vermont town, for four years before leaving on my kayak trip, but it was during the first few months that I had met the wife of Tim Johnson who owns Johnson and Son Bikeworks. She was hard to miss , biking around our little town pulling a huge green trailer behind her bicycle with a little kid sitting on it surrounded by multiple 5 gallon pails. At first I thought they were from Green Mountain College as many of the students and faculty bike, but I had to find out so I followed her. Continue reading A Bike Shop that is changing the world→
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
So let’s assume for the purpose of this story, me, decides to sell everything he owns and kayak from Canada to Key West FL with no plan of returning to where he once lived…stops before completing the journey? In my case and my defense, I had no plans of stopping until I got to Key West. I had planned on picking up a bicycle once I arrived in Key West, FL. My plan was that I’d be Car Free or better yet, Motor Free. Continue reading I want to ride my bicycle…→
A few years ago while living in Vermont, I heard about this group kayaking on the Hudson River and going through the Locks. At that time I had never been through a lock and the thought of it scared me a bit. I was planning to kayak the Erie Canal so I’d need to go through a number of them eventually so I figured this would be a good way to learn about them. As it turned out, I never made it to the event that year or the year after. Instead, I learned about them first hand when I paddled the entire length of the Champlain Canal and Hudson River earlier this year. Continue reading Kayaking 4 Meso – 2016→
Well, a few hours south, but the same state and my old home. I hitched a ride up here with my parents. Yes, I spent 4 hours in a car with my folks. It’s quite funny to be around them, but especially in close quarters. My Mom in the back seat talking to my Dad and I. My Dad, who is driving is partially deaf. His bad ear is the right one or the one facing the rest of the passengers. This is how something like that goes. My Mom starts it with a story about something she saw, read or heard. It doesn’t really matter, but this time it was an article she was reading in the newspaper to me. My Dad knows something is being said, but not sure what. Continue reading Right Back where I started from→
Writer, Poet and Philosopher. Come explore the world of words with me.