Day 542 – USA (FLORIDA): Reluctant departure


Today’s distance / ???????: 9.20 miles / 14.8km
Average speed / ????: 8.6mph / 13.8km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 1h 04m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 1621mi (plus 266mi) / 2609km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: n/a

Tough leaving the warm atmosphere of Pensacola today. Knowing that I have more tough skating ahead. The only thing that keeps me going these days is the excitement of the unknown; a desire to see what is up the road.

Jamey and friend skater/surfer Charlie skated a few blocks to see me off out of Pensacola. I’m sure I’ve never seen so many skateboards in one place before, apart from a skateboard shop. Charlie is a bit of a collector.

Charlie and Jamey in Pensacola, Florida, USA

We left from where I arrived in Pensacola – the public library. The white water tower eased into the distance as I rolled towards the west.

Water tower next to the public library on Spring Street in Pensacola, Florida, USA Cruising along Gulf Beach Highway out of Pensacola, Florida, USA

I was happy to have a cycle path and generous shoulders all the way out of Pensacola and to Pleasant Grove.

Bayou Grande in Pleasant Grove, Florida, USA

It was the following photos that totally ruined my plans for a long day on the board today.

Signs on Trash and Treasures Antique shop in Pleasant Grove, Florida, USA Signs on Trash and Treasures Antique shop in Pleasant Grove, Florida, USA

Trash and Treasures Antique Shop. It kind of reminds me of the antique shop in the British TV comedy series The Old Summer Wine. In the TV series, once someone entered the shop, they didn’t leave without being pressured into buying something they don’t need by the elderly shopkeeper.

In this case, I wasn’t pressured into buying something, but as I was taking photos, the owner of the shop, a spritely 80 year old lady named Verna, along with two of her daughters rolled up beside me in their big old car, wound down the window, and asked what I was doing and where I was going. I did my explaination, and explained that I was also in today’s newspaper. Suitably impressed, they proceeded to abduct me for the rest of the day, taking me to lunch and showing me the local Naval Museum.

Bonnie's birthday brunch bunch at Sonny's BBQ in Pensacola, Florida, USA

Despite the fact that I was gate-crashing Bonnie’s (lady holding the baby) birthday party, no one seemed perturbed by the fact that I was present; it was if this happened all the time. Further investigation into the lives of this lively family of four girls showed that they had done their share of camping in their time, driving near and far across the country for extended vacations. They would ocassionally come across a needy-looking person and take them under their wing. Thanks guys!

Navy museum at navy base in Pensacola, Florida, USA

The navy museum in Pleasant Grove is incredible. It is massive, and jam packed full of very well preserved war planes.

Fighter jet at Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, USA

Now, the culprit behind all the signs on the antique shop was of course Verna. Her husband passed away just over a year ago, and ever since she has been filling her time painting signs that express her feelings on all manner of subjects. The one below I found particularly poignant.

So true... (Pleasant Grove, Florida, USA)

I was honoured when she showed me one she had made while I was away with her daughters Shiela and Donna at the navy museum. Stoked!

Verna the signwriter at home in Pleasant Grove, Florida, USA Signwriter Verna made a sign about me! (Pleasant Grove, Florida, USA)

I ended up staying at Bonnie (the birthday girl) and Al’s place. I went to church with the family in the evening, and crashed at their place afterwards. It was a good thing that it worked out this way, as it seems as though my website was hacked either yesterday or today. I managed to get the issue worked out, and promptly changed my passwords on my server. I apologise if anyone was offended by the images and words that were displayed.


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