20/11/16. We have continued up the east coast and last night (Saturday) stopped at a motel in Vero Beach. Switching on the Weather Channel on the TV to see what we could expect in the coming days, we were presented with the sight of a rocket about to take off from Cape Canaveral which is about 50 miles up the coast.
We waited to see the lift off on TV and then dashed out into the car park to watch the real thing which was a big orange streak in the sky. Crikey, it was hugely exciting for two big kids from the “Apollo generation”!
The last part of Thursday’s ride into North Palm Beach was alongside US1 (“The Federal Highway”) which was a combination of “grim” and “not so bad as it sounds” – a 2 (sometimes 3) lane dual carriageway with strip malls on both sides but with a sidewalk/pavement largely free of pedestrians which we could use in safety. This continued for a short while on Friday first thing before the state highway A1A turned off towards the coast.
There is a partially completed long distance cycle route from New England to Key West called the East Coast Greenway which we have been trying to follow (despite there being no signs at all). It largely follows the A1A on this part of the coast and is predominantly a lane on the road but we have been using the sidewalk a lot or occasionally there is a separate bike lane.
The A1A took us up through Juno Beach and onto Jupiter Island which separates the intracoastal waterway from the sea. This was a very wealthy and exclusive area with large houses, often hidden from the road by trees, which had separately signposted “service entrances”.
Approaching the town of Stuart we turned inland a short way to find the home of Tim Durbin, our Warmshowers host for the night. Tim, an ex cop from the San Francisco area, made us extremely welcome and we loved meeting his ex wife Oneilla from Lima who brought dinner (tamales – a South/Central American dish – which was lovely) and her delightful daughter Andrea.
On Saturday morning Tim joined us for the start of our ride to guide us on the quieter roads to the start of the next of the barrier islands, Hutchinson Island South. We stopped to buy lunch at a supermarket and fell into conversation with another customer who invited us for a quick visit to the museum (the Elliott Museum) across the road which was had many lovely old cars (including a Rolls Royce made in the US in the 1930s), some old bicycles and many other varied exhibits. We would have loved to spend longer there but needed to be on our way.
The ride took us past mangroves which provided some shelter from the wind which again increased in strength as the day went on but the downside of this was that we did not benefit from the cooling effect so Christine started to wilt as we made our way up the long straight road until some clouds gathered towards the end of the day.
Eventually we reached the top of Hutchinson Island South and crossed the Indian River (which forms the intracoastal waterway at this point) back to the mainland. We could have taken another bridge back across the river to Hutchinson Island North almost immediately but opted to follow the main road (US 1) as it was on this that the hotel we were booked into was located. We didn’t want to have to double back once we reached the next bridge.
The last 10 km into Vero Beach became a real slog as the sun was going down (sunset is about 5.30 here at the moment) and the road had the audacity to have a few minor undulations! (But only if you squinted at it right.) So we were glad to arrive at the hotel, grab a quick burger at the drive-in across the street and fall into bed.
Today (Sunday) being pill day and church for Christine, it was time for Stephen to go for his normal fast (comparatively speaking only) ride without luggage. Christine’s church service was a disappointment as people seemed unfriendly and nobody spoke to her. This is in complete contrast to our experience with almost everyone else we have met and was a great surprise.
This afternoon we went to see Arrival at the movie theater (note spelling!) nearby and were mighty impressed. It is a thought provoking film and definitely worth a look.