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Whistling Dixie

If you missed the last couple of weeks of Boyleing Points, I’m on some 500+-mile bike odyssey. You can get up to date at Rockawaytimes.com or on The  Rockaway Times YouTube channel. 

Anyway, you think you had it tough with 24-degree weather? Add nine to that number and that’s how much I paid for the Dixie Motel where Georgia and Florida are the same thing. And I overpaid.

The shower was like the visiting team’s locker room in a public school. If you’ve never seen one, your imagination should do. I thought the bed spread had hair on it but, thankfully, it was only the threads coming apart. I dumped the clothes out of my laundry bag and slid my legs in for extra protection through the night.

A tube TV, the kind you put at the sidewalk that no one picks up, was the entertainment option. Well, it was an option until I turned it on. I got some fuzzy picture like I was watching wrestling on a UHF antenna. The internet was in and out, as were some of the hotel guests.

I slept with one eye open, two legs in a laundry bag, and three baseball bats. Well, the first two are true. I didn’t have baseball bats handy but I did wedge my bike against the door.

No, I did not look around to see if you could a put quarter in to make the bed vibrate. I was too distracted by the guy I could hear through the wall. I think he was trying to cough up a carton of Lucky Strikes.

The night dragged on and we skedaddled at first morning light. We, as in Rick Horan (last seen under a tarp by the side of the road), and me. The next stop, 50 miles ahead, was the Budget Inn in Lawtey, Florida. Lawtey, Lawtey, Lawtey, population 730. The Budget Inn, run by a husband and wife originally from Jackson Heights, was a big step up in class as it should have been. I mean $49 a night got me a working TV and decent internet. Oh, that reminds me. We stayed in Eulonia, Georgia at the Country Inn motel and the owner there was an Indian guy who used to drive a yellow taxi in New York and had lived in South Ozone Park. The guy was 83 and was doing this motel thing “to keep busy.” In Eulonia.

Through Georgia we were able to find quiet backroads full of interesting places, like the Smallest Church in America. Along the way, the bike GPS sent us down long dirt roads which were kind of spooky. We didn’t know if good ol’ boys in pick-up trucks would try and have fun with us. We had to film a couple of basketball courts I found in tucked away places. And there was a great looking building next to an antique shop that was just a façade. The inside of the building was overgrown with weeds. And see the accompanying photo of Rick. He spotted these buried cars on a backroad in Nowhere, Georgia.

In Florida, the only place to get something to eat in Lawtey was a Subway sandwich place which, surprisingly, wasn’t run by a guy from Queens. Our next stop was Gainesville, a mere 45 miles. I think we’d done about 400 miles by this point.

I may butcher the exact wording, but I think it was author Bill Bryson who said about hiking the Appalachian Trail, the first 10  miles are wonderful and how you can see doing this forever. The next 10  miles you start asking yourself, didn’t I see that already? And the next 10 after that, you’re asking yourself if you’re out of your mind, for doing this hellish thing. It’s not that much different on a bike, especially when your butt starts complaining about mile 30 into a 50-mile ride.

The ride to Gainesville was along a highway with trucks and cars whizzing past at 65 and 70. We were biking on a wide shoulder so we felt safe enough. Best thing, though, was a tail wind, which pushed us along so that for the entire ride I was thinking I could do this forever.

Gainesville is home to the University of Florida, a large and pretty campus. The place was buzzing with students and activity and after being in downtown Lawtey, population 730, it was a good change of pace.

Oh, and the Comfort Inn we stayed at: an absolute palace.

By Kevin Boyle

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