A night on Jupiter!
There’s nothing like a ten hour flight for getting to meet people, not only from across the world, but from a wide variety of backgrounds: from a Croatian cancer surgeon going out to a convention in Miami, to an Indian businessman setting up a new office in Florida; from a retired couple taking a cruise out of Miami, to Mum and Dad off to visit their son who works as a deck hand on a luxury yacht. All absolutely fascinating, and welcome relief from boredom.
After a ten hour flight, however, no-one should ever want to end up in Miami airport, where the queue through immigration seemed to zig-zag for more than a mile. In other words, you walked a mile to move forward by 3 metres! And then later, to ask ten different people how to get to the Tri-Rail station, and get ten different answers, causing me to backtrack, get lost, and then miss the train I wanted to catch…….The very last person was an hispanic from Cuba, who spoke little English. But when he realized I understood him perfectly in his native tongue, he turned out to be the one who knew the correct answer to my question. I have to say, though, that despite all the misinformation I received, everyone I met earnestly wanted to help me.
And that continued for the next 24 hours. When I got to Claus and Cindy’s house in Fort Lauderdale, they welcomed me warmly, gave me a bed for the night, and have stored my bike box until I return in 2 weeks time. My stay in Florida had started with a note of generosity, and it wasn’t to be the last on my first day.
So, when the bike was assembled, with no detectable damage from the baggage handlers, I headed north up the east coast, following the A1A highway which, for most of the way, had a generous shoulder for cyclists. With a tailwind and the sun behind, the pace was brisk….but that was counterbalanced by the excessive heat. My body was struggling to adjust to the climate change……30 Degrees C is warm by any standards. Hydration was to be a key issue throughout the day.
But so was finding the campsite at the end of the day, with only 30 minutes to go before darkness descended. I knew it was somewhere in the Jonathan Dickinson Natural Park, but I could not find my way into the park. I stopped to ask a couple directions, as they were out on an evening walk. They said they would happily go back for their truck and take me there, so I cycled back to a pick-up point….but they had a 25 minute walk to get back to their house.
En route, I picked up a massive puncture (ie. the tyre deflated instantly), and as I was beginning to attend to the bike, a truck pulled up, and I was asked if I was the English guy who needed a lift. They had been phoned by the previous couple, and Steve and Deborah had generously offered to stand in for them. So, I hoisted my bike on the back of their truck and we set off for the campsite (known as ‘campgrounds’ here), saw threatening clouds and lightening in the distance, and decided that a hotel room would be a much wiser choice, so they ferried me around a few places, only to discover that everywhere was fully booked because of President’s weekend. I must have got the very last room, not only at a Best Western, but in all hotels for miles around. But what could have been a $10 tenting night turned into a $140 rooming night…..gulp! (Please don’t tell Jenny….).
Which now, of course, meant that I could mend my puncture in relative luxury….or so I thought. The tube had been wrecked by a shard of glass. But, no worry, I had two spares……. or so I thought…….the spares were ones I had from my old Raleigh, which I had wrecked in NZ. Same tyre size, yes, but but but but…….different width! In fact they turned out to be too chunky and fat to fit in the new thinner tyres I was sporting on the new bike…..for those who don’t know about these things, tyres and tubes come a bewildering array of different sizes. So, unless I can mend the wrecked tube, sufficiently to get me to a bike shop about 5 miles away, I may have a very long walk tomorrow morning!
Go on, I know the depth of your sympathy will know no bounds…….
Oh, and by the way……..a night on Jupiter? Well, not exactly….but the hotel I’m staying in is in the town of Jupiter…..which is just up the road from Juno. Wonder if there’s a Mercury and Venus up the road?