We made it out of the everglades with no problems. We were hoping for less mosquitoes, but it didn't happen. Must be something about the swamp. I enjoyed the everglades, the vast expanse of sawgrass, water, and wildlife. As we aproached Naples, we stopped at a couple bike shops for some mechanical assistance and some rest. The first one was very helpful in orientating us with the city and how to get to the beaches to wash up. I finally got my pedal fixed at the next bike shop before we headed to the beach. We'd already accumilated quite a few miles when we saw the water. The plan was to try to make it to some public showers at the beach then relax and eat during the mid-day heat before getting in a few more miles in the afternoon. We spent quite a while lounging around by the water. It was SO refreshing to take a swim and a shower after all that riding. We munched on some delivered pizza and chatted with some local folks while our clothes dryed out in the sea air.
Shawn had fallen behind earlier while taking a few more breaks than Carl, Mike, and I. He managed to catch up with us at the beach before we took off for our afternoon ride. Shawn was definately on his own pace. This aspect of touring with others was interesting and sometimes seemed like a challenge. I couldn't help but think Shawn may have been missing out on a few things we were able to enjoy. Like when we first got to Naples, we stopped at the first produce market we saw. The nice lady immediately handed us three Coco Frios, on the house. Coco Frios are coconuts with most of the outside husk cut off and then chilled until 3 thirsty bikers come along to stab it with a straw and suck out the refreshing juice inside. Mmm. It hit the spot, to say the least. After leaving our beachside chill spot, we took a slight detour off US 41 so to stay near the water. We got water alright, from above! It was a late afternoon shower, which wasn't too bad, but I had quite a scare just as it started.
We hit our first big incline, a bridge, and on the way down I pushed the bike too hard. I always like pedaling fast downhill, but this time I had a trailer with extra weight. The Yak started to wobble and I thought for sure I wasn't making this one without a full on wipeout. Fortunately, I managed to stay in control of the bike and remain on the saddle. But the rear break took it hard. One of the break pads got wedged up under the rim and put everything out of wack. So with rain coming down and mosquitoes swarming, I was forced to continue pushing on without rear breaks.
That evening, we made it to Ft. Meyers at nightfall. We searched around for a place to camp, preferably free. We got turned down at one RV "resort" (who I guess don't accept us 'tent folk'). After a legthy discussion over the Atlas at Taco Bell, we decided to try another RV park instead of riding in the dark. We rode through the park without anyone present to turn us away, so we discretely set up our tents amongst the RVs before we became dinner for the bugs. Shawn brought up the idea of splitting a hotel room, but since we'd already set up, we decided to go with the "free" option and save some cash. Shawn didn't seem comfortable with it so he took off to find a motel. It was then that we parted ways with Shawn. A little premature, but maybe it was better that way.
Carl had a little tent trouble that night. He became frustrated with setting it up in the dark amongst the blood suckers, so he was ready to just wrap himself in it without the poles. I couldn't let him sleep like that so I insisted on helping. It was a funny sight, me jumping around in my boxers trying not to get eaten by mosquitoes and Carl fumbling with this ball of nylon and mesh. We know because Mike told us so, as he sat comfortably watching from the safety of my tent. But we finally got it set up and got to bed.
Pic: Making it to the West Coast of Florida on Day 2. Time to wash up and relax!