States #1, 2 (Florida, Georgia).
The keys had previously captured my heart, and on this journey, I ventured through the entire archipelago, ending up in Key West, where I rode my fat-tire bike all over and jet-skied around the entire island. As I pedaled along the coastline, the rhythmic crashing of waves served as the soundtrack to my adventure. The stunning vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, with its sparkling blue waters stretching out as far as the eye could see, were a constant source of awe and inspiration, especially from the top of the Key West lighthouse. I climbed the 88 steps of the lighthouse (built in 1847), to the balcony, and a spectacular view of the entire island and surrounding waters. Back on my bike, the road and sand beneath my tires provided a smooth and enjoyable ride, making each pedal stroke a pure delight.
After a fun time in Key West and a long day spent snorkeling, I decided it was time to head back north.
With a mix of exhilaration and nostalgia, I marveled at the journey I had completed, all the way down as far as the East Coast could take me. However, as every true adventurer knows, reaching the end of one road only marks the beginning of another. So, I bid farewell to the tropical paradise of Key West and headed back up to Miami, ready to embark on the next leg of my expedition.
Leaving Miami behind, I turned westward, venturing into the untamed wilderness of the Everglades. The unique landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site was a stark contrast to the bustling coastal cities I had left behind. Riding along the scenic Tamiami Trail, I was immersed in a world of expansive sawgrass prairies, mangrove forests, and abundant wildlife. The melodic chirping of birds and the occasional glimpse of an alligator added an element of excitement to my journey.
When it comes to unforgettable biking experiences, sometimes it’s the unexpected detours that leave the deepest impressions. During my adventure from the east coast to Florida’s west coast, I found myself veering off the beaten path and embarking on a self-guided 20-mile ride through the captivating Everglades National Park. This impromptu detour led me to discover a world teeming with fascinating wildlife, including turtles, alligators, birds, and more. With only a jug of water, my phone with no signal, and by bike, I ventured into the wild heart of the Everglades. The air was thick with anticipation as I pedaled deeper into the vast expanse of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It didn’t take long for the Everglades to reveal its rich biodiversity. As I made my way along the trail, a symphony of sounds filled the air, blending the melodies of chirping birds, the rustling of leaves, and the occasional splash in the water. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I spotted an alligator lazily lounging in the water. It was an awe-inspiring sight to witness this ancient reptile in its natural habitat. With caution and respect, I observed from a safe distance, marveling at the prehistoric allure.
As I continued my self-guided bike ride, the Everglades enveloped me in its untamed splendor. The tranquility and solitude of the park allowed me to connect with nature on a deeper level. The landscape unfolded before me, revealing the delicate balance between marshes, sawgrass prairies, and towering cypress trees. The sheer magnitude of the Everglades reminded me of the importance of preserving these natural wonders for generations to come.
As I reached the western edge of the Everglades, I emerged onto Florida’s West Coast, greeted by a whole new set of wonders. The calm and picturesque beaches, such as Naples and Fort Myers, offered a tranquil respite after the rugged wilderness of the Everglades. I spent days exploring these coastal gems, riding along scenic bike paths and stopping to soak in the breathtaking sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. Florida’s West Coast proved to be a paradise for nature lovers.
After spending time in Tampa, and Tampa Bay, including at the legendary Salvadore Dali museum, fate introduced me to Amanda, a fellow veteran and solo traveler who carried the weight of a tragic story. She was from California, and her life had been shattered by the loss of her young son at the hands of a killer amidst the scourge of the Fentanyl crises sweeping the US. Needing to face the perpetrator when the trial began in four months’ time, she was in Florida on a respite, yet had a pressing need to return to California. I explained that I was also on my own journey with no real timeframe and needed to drive to the West Coast before continuing on to Asia. As we connected over our shared experiences as military veterans, we found solace in one another’s company, both on our unique, yet similar solo journeys. Despite the uncertainty of our respective futures, we made an audacious decision: to embark on an epic journey across all 48 continental states before the impending trial date. The following posts detail our journey together across all 48 states in one, long trip!
Eager to get started, Amanda and I wasted no time and set our course northward. Our first stop was a unique tiny house, which was quite an experience! Energized by the prospect of what lay ahead, we ventured towards the enchanting Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. This vast wilderness, with its unique ecosystem and picturesque scenery, served as the perfect introduction to our cross-country adventure. As we navigated the swamp’s waterways and explored its untouched beauty, we were filled with a sense of awe and wonder. It was a reminder of the natural wonders awaiting us as we continued our journey.
With just two states down, we had a very long trip ahead of us, so we kept moving up the East Coast on to new adventures.
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