Day 539 – USA (Florida): From Eglin Air Force Base beach to Pensacola


Today’s distance / ???????: 38 miles / 59.2km
Average speed / ????: 8mph / 12.9km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 34m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 1611mi (plus 266mi) / 2594km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N30.26.01.4, W087.11.26.8

I was out of the campground by daybreak at 6am. I am having to really make the most of the daylight hours now with the shorter days.

The east-bound traffic on highway 98 was bumper-to-bumper today. I was feeling rather self-counsious, knowing that the most exciting thing that most of the poor sods in the cars were going to see on their commute was some randon guy skating in the opposite direction. I could feel people’s eyes on me as I skated. If I were them, and had to do that commute everyday, I would drive half way and cycle the rest. Sitting in a car, driving at 1mph for 20 minutes is the craziest thing in the world.

A surprise came at about 9am when a car pulled into a MacDonald’s carpark next to where I was skating by, and the occupant of the car jumped out and yelled “You need breakfast?!”

With Li-Anh and Lily at a McDonald's in Navarre, Florida, USA

It was Li-Anh, a local who had seen the article about my journey in the local newspaper (Northwest Florida Daily News article here, video footage here) – on the front page no less. LiAnh and her adorable little daughter treated me to a Deluxe McBreakfast (translated as almost as many calories you can fit on to a plate without actually serving sold lard coated in sugar). A wonderful calorific delight, the breakfast powered me to Navarre Beach, quite certainly the most amazing sight I have seen in Florida.

Hurricane distruction on closed Navarre Beach Road, Navarre, Florida, USA

Navarre Beach is like a war-zone. Local residents seem almost non-existant, the streets deserted save for a few contractors working on sparsely distributed houses. A couple of guys are fighting back the sand using high powered petrol engined leaf blowers, clearing sand from the pavements. This is the scene of two consecutive major hurricanes, one in 2004, and one in 2005. In the hurricanes, sand dunes that protected houses and roads from wind-blown sand were flattened, along with many houses. The area is eerily vacant. It is rare to see a house without a For Sale sign in front of it. No one wants to be here, it seems.

Hurricane distruction on closed Navarre Beach Road, Navarre, Florida, USA

A few miles along the Navarre Beach Road, the houses peter out, and a large gate across the road clearly states that noone is to continue along the road. In the distance, large buldozers push sand from the road. I decided to skirt the gate and hike along the beach to the side of the road, to find out what all the fuss is about.

A ton of TNT could not have destoyed the road and parking areas more extensively than the Navarre Beach State Park road is destroyed. Asphalt is twisted and sunken. Nature has taken back with force what once belonged to her.

Hurricane distruction on closed Navarre Beach Road, Navarre, Florida, USA

Giving the buldozers a wide berth, I risk skateboarding on what remains of the road. I come up to more reconstruction work and am told to keep of the road. “We don’t have the proper insurance to have you here, boy! Git off the road!” I am told that 100 feet either side of the road is restricted access. No public allowed. I walk a further mile along the road in the sand, past the major reconstruction works, and start skating on the road again. I didn’t realise how far it was between where the road was closed – I had to skate to avoid having to walk the final 6 miles. There were no more construction officials or workers the rest of the way, and with a strong onshore southerly wind of about 15 knots, I was wishing I had a kite to pull me along the deserted road.

Santa Rosa Island road, Florida, USA

I arrived at the Pensacola beach side of the road unscathed and continued on into Pensacola. Sore feet, sore legs, I am ready for another break. A couple of days here should do wonders.

I met up with Jamey Jones, step-father to a friend of a friend of a friend. Thank you to Eric from Tampa for setting this up, and thank you to Jamey for allowing me to stay a couple of nights to recoup. Jamey has arranged for me to speak to 160 kids at his middle school tomorrow, so that should be good fun.


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18 thoughts on “Day 539 – USA (Florida): From Eglin Air Force Base beach to Pensacola

  • Gabriel

    Hey this is the owner of J's. It was great having you visit your presence brought a lot of smiles on the bakers. Wish we had more time to talk while you were visiting. Have a safe journey.

  • Aunty Jenny

    Hey Rob

    Did you get a chance to read the comments made by people after they read the news paper article? Some Americans sure do get het up about the military! When did you decide that you were doing South America as well? Looks like the best way to get to see you again is come to you rather than the other way around! I do envy the sights you are seeing but not your mode of travel! I would quite like to do an adventure on a motorbike … less physical efffort required! Listening to the video, I was pleased to hear your good strong southland accent coming thru!

  • David

    I keep coming back to your site and I keep leaving it wishing I had taken the time to do something like this before I decided to settle down and do the marriage and kids thing. I live my outdoor fantasy life through your web site. Please keep it up, please be safe, and please, if you ever come to Canada and are in Edmonton contact me. I'd bike along beside you for as long as I had off work.

    Peace, David R. Lambert

  • Aunty Les

    By the way, what did you do with that sail affair you had in Switzerland to help you slow down when going down steep slopes? You could do with it to be a wind-sail to help you skate along faster.

  • mahmoud

    I was going to tell you about the comments your Auntie Jenny made. Fired up americans. Ireland is good, but cold, wet – long nights. and i've got the flu. it's all good though.

  • Kevin J. Shutt

    One of the best things about following your trip is getting the perspective of America that we take for granted through foreign eyes. The language differences at color to the stories. Keep it up Rob. Kevin, Sebring

  • llisa jones

    rob,

    was a pleasure to meet you. thanks for sharing your adventure with us! Aidan and I will keep checking your website and you will be in our prayers. drop a line once and awhile if you have the chance. if and when life's rich pageant finds you back in our bit of the world, you are always welcome in our home. By the way, Aidan loves the little book you left…=)

    happy trails to you until we meet again…

  • Patrick

    Rob,

    glad you are getting some good press, the video & news stories were great. Those pesky hackers must not like travellers, I wish they would get a life. Amazing distances you are racking up some of these days, you will be in California in no time. Thanks for the great posts.

    God Bless,

    The McInnis'

    Spring Hill

  • Nathan

    I think it's cool how you're doing this and it's really neat. My language arts teacher Mr. Jones said it was really cool to have you come and talk to our team. Well i hope you have a safe journey and make it, he also said that you may not go all the way but its your decision I think stopping at Sanfransico

    would be ok but i hope you decide to go all the way 🙂

  • Taylor

    Hey Rob ,

    i am a student Of mr. Jones at feerry pass middle school and i thank you for coming to our school and sharing a presentation with us. you really are an inspiration and right now in mr jones class we are writing a essay about you.

    thank you and good luck , you will be in my prayers.

  • Meagan

    My mom just told me she met you in front of my Granmothers shop this afternoon. She said you were a very interesting guy. I just wanted to wish you good luck, and to say I think it is very awesome what you are doing!

  • jon

    Rob,

    it was a pleasure to meet you, and my wife and I wish you all the best on your epic tiki tour of the Americas. You made my day to talk to another kiwi, especially a really motivated one like yourself.I hope the f&c hit the spot.

  • katie

    Hey Rob,

    i go to ferry pass and Mr. Jones is my teacher and everything. but you came to talk to our students last week and i just want to say that i think all this is really cool.you are an inspiration for people all across the world.thank you for coming and speaking to us and good luck on the rest of your trip. =D

  • raychll

    hi robb,,

    i also go to fpms,and loved wenn u came and talked to us,it was reallly cool to listen about your whole journey so far.yurr videos,and websitee ,and pretty muchh everythingg yurr doingg is reallly awsome.good luckk with everything!

    Raychll:D