The Circle Completed

6/4/17. Apologies for the hiatus in posts – but life has been relatively unexciting since OBX – not that that is a bad thing,  just not much to write about. We are now back in Fort Lauderdale and get on the boat back to Blighty in a couple of days time.

Disembarking from the ferry where we left you last time we drove for a couple of hours or so to Charleston where we checked into the primitive camping area of a county park to the south of the city.  It was “primitive” in the sense that it was pretty much a field so there were no individual sites but there was a central toilet area – so very similar to the tent area at a European campsite.

The intention was to get up early (for us) and go for a wander around one of the classic Southern cities. However, Stephen managed to put the mockers on that idea by locking the only car key in the boot – sorry, trunk – of the car! An hour and a half later and $129 lighter (“It’s a high security car so it is expensive”. Yeah! So high security that all that is needed is 2 air bags to prise the door out of its seating to allow a metal rod to be inserted to operate the door handle!) we were ready to go. Because of the enforced wait, Christine was wanting to be on the road (and Stephen was at his most acquiescent!) so Charleston will have to wait for another time.

We headed down the (unexciting) main drag and by midday crossed the state line into Georgia and another of the antebellum cities, Savannah. As we had caught up some of the time spent waiting for the car to be “released” we decided to have a look around.

And we were mighty impressed! There was a real sense of history about the place with many lovely buildings and beautifully shady squares. We followed a walking tour route recommended by the visitors’ centre and enjoyed it immensely. Given that the guidebook said Savannah is slightly “seedy” or “down at heel’ in comparison to Charleston, we had a slight feeling of having missed out. Next time.

Then it was back on the road heading towards Florida down the I95 interstate, a bit of a yawn but enlivened by more episodes of The History Of England podcast. We had listened to the first 140 or so episodes (!) independently but, since the start of the road trip, we were trying to  get “up to date” – by which we mean listening to the next 70 episodes through the end of The Hundred Years War and The War of The Roses to the start of the Tudors! If you like history then we can thoroughly recommend this series (although we will concede that 210+ episodes, increasing by approx one per fortnight, is a bit of a daunting prospect!)

The next couple of days were an unexciting “blast” down the coast of Georgia and Florida, mostly down the interstate but every so often we took the more scenic minor roads nearer the sea, until we reached Fort Lauderdale on Saturday evening to return the car at the airport.

On Sunday morning we reconstructed the bikes and headed off northwards to Boca Raton, mirroring our first day cycling in the States (see http://www.christineandstephen.co.uk/2016/11/howdie-pardners/) to stay with Tommie and Vance as we had done back in November.

The journey to Boca Raton had been difficult for Christine despite being only 40 pan flat km because of the heat. We followed the quieter coastal route up the A1A which was almost entirely through residential areas with little shade and almost nowhere to get a bit of air conditioning. As the temperature was above 90°F (low to mid 30s in real money) it was all a little too much for Christine and spying a small tree she flopped into the miniscule shade offered.

At this point a pickup stopped and a “good samaritan” insisted we take a 10 lb bag of ice out of his cool box. Christine was soon stuffing ice cubes down the front of her bra, under her headscarf and anywhere else that they would stay unaided. After about 10 minutes of this extreme cooling she started to recover and lose some of the red colour that had been overtaking her whole face as a prelude to heatstroke.

The last 10 km to Tommie and Vance’s house were much less traumatic as a result and we made it there before the good work of the ice bag was undone.

They were as delightful and welcoming as previously! We had a lovely time with like-minded souls and took very little persuading to have a day watching movies and stay a second night with them! Especially as the temperature was at least as warm – the thermometer in the garden indicating 90° at 10 am.

With some reluctance we said goodbye to them on Tuesday morning but we hope to spend some time with them in June when they come to the UK on a tour of sites with historical connections to the Wingfield family.

We headed back south to Fort Lauderdale, or more particularly Hollywood, but followed the federal highway US1, inland a little, on the expectation (justified thankfully) that there would be more places to cool down. As a result we took coffee/ ice cream/snack breaks every 10 km or so to keep Christine’s temperature under control until we reached the house of Dave and Leo, WarmShowers hosts where we had spent the first two nights in the country.

They too are a wonderful couple making us feel completely at home and we were delighted to agree that they will stay with us for a few nights in June when they are attending a wedding near Reading.