Nancy Cycles!

Nancy Cycles!
"You got to be careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." ... Yogi Berra

Sunday, February 12, 2012


 I am at home, and had a grand time on the trip. There were problems with my blog coming up blank after my last post. I spent a lot of time yesterday and finally got it fixed. But that took up my time from entering a final post for this adventure. So am doing that now.

I was very happy to be given the opportunity to ride some extra miles on my own. Often, when on a tour, they do not allow use of their bikes when you are not riding with the group. Amy let us use the bike whenever we wanted to. I took advantage and rode some before our group day began, and to the meeting place of the van carrying other bikes, and around the area in the other direction before meeting up on our final day.

On a few of these rides I found mailboxes that are representative of Florida.

At this point I will apologize to Uncle Bill Scudder for spelling his name incorrectly ;'-( Sorry uncle Bill.

Florida is VERY, totally FLAT. Not too bad for cycling, but you do not get to coast down anything. Except for crossing that bridge I talked about, I don't know that I shifted gears much at all. I missed our mountains! It is nice to travel, to see new and different places, to meet people and to experience a different environment, but .... there is no place like home, and I was ready to return to the PNW.

 We had 24 on this trip. Some trips stay in one location and do day trips from that hotel. On this one we moved each day, and depending on the day, we had two or three leaders so riders could go at different paces and would meet up at lunch and then at dinner. 

Speaking of eating! We had way too many full meals on this tour. Very full breakfast, full restaurant lunch within a short time of breakfast, and full dinner in the evening. Ours was the very first group to do this trip, and many of us have suggestions for future trips. One is about the food. I came home having gained four pounds!! And I made a few better choices at some of those meals!

I mentioned about Palm "trees" being a cross between tree and grass. Here is an example of what the "roots" are. Not like the roots of a tree.

 This ends my adventure for this time. I met some great people, had great weather, and loved cycling in a new place.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Trolley, boat, bus and a little cycling

 The (private) trolley took us to the Resort restaurant for a most extensive and scrumptious breakfast buffet. How will I ever work off the calories I have eaten on this trip?

Here are some photos of our villa ..
 Exquisite for only one night. A waste really as we had little more than time to go to bed.

We had quite the diverse day. First a boat ride that left from the dock at breakfast that took us to Pine Island with bird viewing (pelicans brown and white, herons, kingfisher, osprey, and a few more) and history telling along the way. If was windy and a little cold dressed in our bike shorts.
 We landed on Pine Island for lunch (didn't we just have breakfast?) and a walk through the Calusa Indian grounds to hear all about the violent Calusa and how they lived, harvested their food, made tools from shells, and how they died.

Finally! We could ride. Amy had shuttled our bikes to Pine Island for our last bit of cycling. I hopped on mine as soon as we were done with the Calusa, and rode a few miles in the opposite direction of our destination (need I say I wanted a few more miles?) then turned around to meet everyone at the Post Office in James City where we turned in our bikes. This was a very short bike ride today. Glad I did a few more miles.

Boarded the bus and had a stop at the Tijuana-type town of Matlacha (mat la shay) for a quick look and an ice cream cone.
 Back on the bus for our dinner stop a mile down the road (didn't we just eat lunch?) before our hour and a half bus ride to our hotel in Naples.

 Our leader Ken has worn nothing on his feet but his pink Crocs. When I had turned around on my ride this morning I rode fairly fast to see if I could catch the last riders in our group (and not miss the shuttle). Up ahead and in the distance I finally saw pink shoes pedaling. I could now slow down and know I would not be left behind.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sanibel and Captiva Islands

 I was the only one who asked to ride the extra miles to the ride start this morning, and afterwards a few of the others said they were kicking themselves for not riding with me. I am so happy that I did the riding because the rest of the day was chopped up with stops and ended up being about 18 miles which would not have been enough for me.

When I got on the main road to Sanibel I found my self on a 55 mph route with no shoulder and barely a white line. The traffic came in spurts, but when it came it was not good, and the drivers were  not happy with me on their road (I could tell by the horn honking). In not too long I saw a cyclist on the other side of the road  who appeared to be on a bike trail. From my angle I could not see the trail, just the cyclist. At the earliest possibility I crossed over to the trail which took me a ways and crossed me back over the road where there was a good wide shoulder for biking. I followed the separate bike land through the toll gate (no toll for bikes) and onto the bridge. Our leader really should have told me about that bike lane and the 55 mph road.

The bridge looks a lot worse that it is -- biking it was simply gradual and not difficult. See that wide shoulder for biking.

As I came down the bridge I stopped to watch a dolphin playing in the water below. Dolphins are my favorite animal and I pretended s/he was putting on a show just for me. I tried hard to get a photo but all I got were a ton of pictures of the water. My eyes were my camera for the show. I took a photo of another pelican instead!

 Once over the bridge and after the dolphin show I was on the causeway to the island. I stopped where I thought the van might be meeting the group, but it was way too early to wait so I continued on to the island, rode around a little and waited on a bench for them to arrive.

Once the gang was all there we made our way to our lunch stop. I have "connected" with Tom and Marlene and we seem to end up in the same place at the same time quite often. Tom reminds me of Uncle Bill Scutter -- his accent, (they are from North Carolina and have a similar draw to Uncle Bill) his round face, his outgoing nature, his extreme friendliness, and his need to laugh!

 After lunch we rode on more trail for a stop at the Shell Museum, and the on to the J. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Saw tons of birds and and an alligator.

Sorry the alligator photo is sideways but I don't have time this morning to figure out how to change that -- gotta leave for breakfast and luggage pick up soon. That's Dorothy riding on the rough surface road in the Ding Darling (I was pleasantly surprised to find that the road was not dirt and gravel as it sounded like when our leader told us about it), and that is a Little Blue Heron at the water's edge.

We arrived at the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island a little too late to enjoy much of the ammenities that the plush resort has to offer. There are 248 acres that the resort is built on and around. The villas are numerous and our room is more like an apartment than a room. I will post pictures later as I am running out of time this morning. I don't want my luggage to be left behind!!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where's my luggage? (Tuesday 2/7/12)

 I think everybody probably knows me by now.  Some remember that the first day I was the last person to find the just right bike. This night some will remember me as the one who came to dinner in the same clothes she wore cycling (I did take a shower). The remainder will know me as the only one who rode the extra miles to the ride start on Wednesday (more about that in my next post, as I am now playing catch up).

The luggage kerfuffle was basically my fault, more by a misunderstanding than anything else. I went for a little morning ride around our "neighborhood" early in the morning and did not want to leave my luggage outside where it was to be picked up later. I took it to the lobby and the clerk said oh yeah, put it there -- by the check-in desk off to the side. I did not know that that was where those who were not taking all of their luggage with them (we are returnung here on Thursday) were leaving their luggage. Enough said I think. The van did get my luggage to me, just as we were finishing dinner.
Here we are, getting ready to leave Naples and bike to Fort Meyers Beach.
 We had a lot of sun on this day as we made our way to this resort town. Some of us went ahead with verbal  directions of now to get to where we were going, and soon thought we were lost! A townie was about to pass our bewildered little group as we stood and pondered what to do next. We stopped him to ask how to get to restaurant and he told us, but then said we could follow him for a short cut. We rode with Rick through a parking lot of some businesses, avoiding quite a bit of traffic, and arrived directly in front of our place. It felt a little, once again, like being on the Amazing Race and using a local to help us find something.

We had a rest stop along the way, in the shade of a palm tree.
After lunch we continued on to our hotel which was right on the beach, checked in, and collected our luggage. Some of us collected our luggage. Most of us collected our luggage. All but one of us collected our luggage. See above.

This was the perfect day to go to the pool. If I had my swimsuit.

I was of course quite upset, at myself as well as with whoever was available to be upset with. So this is why I am playing a bit of catch up, because I was not in the mood for blogging last night. Now it is late and I am too tired to write about today. So that will come tomorrow.

I will add a photo of Harriet. Remember Harriet?
 Now I must go to sleep for another adventuresome day coming tomorrow.

Monday, February 6, 2012


 I was the last of the 24 of us to get a bike that would work for me. I was not trying to be difficult, but I needed a bike that was right. I tried about seven different bikes before I finally settled on one, then I had the mechanic put on my saddle and pedals. This made me the last one out of the gate! Even then I had to stop twice to get the seat at the correct height. I don't know what it is with bike rental people, but the same thing happened when I was on my tour in France -- they want me too low to the ground so that I think my knees might hit my chin! No matter what I tell them, they try to convince me that they are correct and my seat needs to be low rather than high enough to get a good leg length. So I have to wait until I am out of their sight and raise the seat to my needs. I apologized to Dorothy for taking so long, and she said it was because I know what I am looking for!
Finally on the road, it rained. The weather is warm enough to simply allow ourselves to get wet, and in about six minutes it stopped, we dried, and the sun was soon shining.

 We had three leaders - Ken the Road Scholar main person; Amy, Big Momma of the bike shop; Hung, the bike shop manager and mechanic. Amy has a lot of energy, knows Naples quite well since she lives here, and is very accommodating and patient. BUT! We had a safety meeting before starting our ride, and all the things we were told seem to not apply to our leaders. Neither Amy nor Hung (who gave the safety speech) wore a helmet, Amy spoke on her cell phone many times (without stopping to get off her bike), and rode in the middle of the lane even when there was a car coming from behind. When I, or one other person, would say "car back", Amy would say "they'll go around us". Not only is this unsafe behavior, it is behavior that causes motorists to be annoyed at cyclists. Not only do motorists need to share the road with us, we need to share the road with them.

Enough of that.

The city of Naples is a city of opulence. The homes are huge, often gated, and tremendously expensive. We had very little traffic on the neighborhood roads, and passed Spielberg's home in progress of being built -- on both sides of the road -- before reaching the dead end where boat houses protectively hid the yachts that may cost close to the price of some of the homes.

 We enjoyed stopping at the fishing pier and walking to the end where we spotted dolphins rising as they hunted the same fish as the fisher people. The guy here is filleting pompano, and that is whole pompano on the table.

Harriet is from Michigan. She and her husband did a lot of bike touring before he died twenty years ago. This is her 44th Elderhostel trip and she is always among the five of us in the lead group. She found her way to keep going after she lost her husband and never stops. Harriet is 85 years old. There is hope for me!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Getting ready to roll...

On the way to return our rental car to the airport in Fort Meyers we took a side trip to Casperen Beach in search of sharks teeth that wash up on the beach. The shark tooth hunters are all but "professionals" with their sifters and pails, and some wading out into the deeper water with their gear to get the teeth before they hit shore I suppose. Little have I known what a gold mine I must have in a wine bottle that I have moved around with me for about (a lot of) years! The teeth we college students found back in the day at Chesapeake Beach in Maryland are not black as they are here in south Florida, but they are bigger. And we did not have to sift, or even hunt very hard -- they were just there.

The only photos for the day are of the egret that was at the shark tooth hunting grounds.
 From the airport we had to take a (pricey) taxi ride to Naples and the hotel meeting place for our tour. We 24 folks gathered for our welcome and info meeting before being driven to dinner. We have eleven states and one province (Ontario) represented, and of course Dorothy and I have come the farthest distance.

Amy will lead us on the bike tour, and is the owner of the bike shop that will provide our bikes. We go for bike choosing and fitting tomorrow morning, then a ride around Naples.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yoga on the beach -- and meeting my pen pal Meta

 That is not me in the photo ;'-). How nice that I found this yoga on the beach class that was held right next to our motel. My first time to do yoga on the beach -- or anywhere outdoors. I loved feeling the sand in my toes and seeing the shore birds at the water's edge and flying overhead. It was so good to get in some nice stretching which I have not been doing with all our car sitting. There were at least 20 of us doing yoga poses and enjoying the fresh air.
 While I was at yoga, Dorothy drove to the next town of Venice to look around at a Saturday market. Now she is back and I am about to drive to Bradenton to meet Meta.

What a delight to meet Meta and her family and Tony and his family. I met Meta on a walking forum and we gradually became "cyber friends" with common interests in walking and cycling. She invited me to join her "spreadsheet gang" to track miles walked and biked with it being a competition only unto our own goals that we set each month. And so I met Tony (and  Hank who could not be there today).
 I had spoken with Meta on the phone earlier and told her about my yoga class which she misunderstood. She relayed my conversation to David and Christina that she did not know I was into yodeling, and I was taking a lesson on the beach this morning. We got a lot of laughs from this one.
 At lunch with Meta (across from me), Tony, his wife Juanita, his brother Jim and wife Anna, Chirstina and David (Meta's daughter-in-law and son).

After lunch we drove to Bradenton Beach for a nice walk in the sand and surf.
 A memorable few hours together with warm and caring people -- my friends created via cyber networking. It was a little hard to part so soon but we hugged with thanks that we got to meet and share time together.

Once back at the motel, Dorothy and I sat out on the patio waiting for a possible colorful sunset. We heard drums off to our left and the fellow who stays here every year (for the past sixteen) for six weeks, told us this group of ten or so drummers do this every Saturday evening. We had to get a closer look and listen so we walked down the beach to find free-form dancers in the middle of a big circle formed by beach chaired spectators, gyrating to the beat of the drummers. 
 There was no colorful sunset -- the sun simply went away.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Everglades -- 2/3/12

 There are alligators in the Everglades!
 The airboat took us through some of the waterways and canoe routes that the Seminole Indians used. The Mangrove trees were called "walking trees" by the Indians -- and you can see why.
 Even though our airboat captain called the white birds Great White Herrings, he was able to spell mangrove for us, and was very knowledgeable about the wildlife and environs of the 'Glades.
The Swamp trolley provided a slow moving tour through, well, the swamp. It is quite dry right now. The tree photo shows a "strangler fig" that will eventually kill that tree and become a tree of its own.

 After several hours in the Everglades we headed north to our new hotel on Casey Key. We dodged rain drops for maybe 17 seconds as we exited the glades, and continued on in dry but cloudy weather. We got to our hotel in time for a walk on the beach while it was daylight (our motel is on the beach, poor us), then off to dinner. There is a tiki bar in our courtyard, but I am not sure it actually is used.
 That's it for today folks.