July 5, 2016: Bon voyage, Florida.
335 miles and 11-ish hours later: Day 1 is officially in the books. It was a very long, slow and stressful day - but hello from Anderson, SC!
This is gonna be tough.
We watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean from the parking lot of the Amelia Island Inn/Sandy Bottoms beach bar in Fernandina Beach, FL, and jokingly agreed that we probably shouldn't have stayed out as late as we did for the 4th of July celebrations a few hours ago.
At roughly 6:45am we started to say our teary goodbyes to our girlfriends/wives who made the trip to the starting line in Florida, when suddenly... Justin was gone. None of us knew where he unexpectedly ran off to, but he emerged a few minutes later and we all guessed correctly: he puked in the hotel lobby bathroom.
He blamed his nerves, but we all know different.
Finally - it was time to the road. The drone was in the air, the cameras rolling, and eight morons were taking off from Florida with 125ccs of 4-stroke fury between our legs.
WA OR BUST.
We were only on the road for about 15 minutes when Big Daddy came over the SENA headsets with some troubling news: he noticed that his Zuma was leaking oil and we needed to pull over. Only 10 miles into a 3,700+ mile ride and we already had our first mechanical issue. Fortunately for everybody it was nothing major and we were able to continue after a few laughs and oil-soaked rags.
Today's route took us East across the Northern edge of Florida, North through Central Georgia, and finally to Anderson, South Carolina where we will be spending the night. We stopped at least 8 times to stretch, fill up on gas, and make sure that Justin's navigation was correct.
It wasn't without a lot of doubts, some bickering, and a couple gnarly sunburns, but with the help from today's MVP Dane Qualls following closely behind in our Mercedes Sprinter support vehicle; we safely arrived in Anderson, SC. We passed through a town named Santa Claus, navigated around a variety of roadkill (at least a dozen armadillos), swamp-land, and counted a ton of TRUMP signs. We also hit some bad weather with a sudden lightning/rain storm that was scary enough to convince us that we should pull over and wait it out underneath the overhang of a Baptist Church entryway. The air was so incredibly wet all day, but the storm definitely made it worse.
Also - we didn't see a single peach the entire time we were in Georgia. What's up with that?
But we're here now in beautiful Anderson where we continue to argue - this time about who got the first shower before going across the street for tacos & margaritas at Papa's & Beer Mexican Restaurant. We're also realizing that we don't have enough power outlets in our hotel to charge all of our phones, computers, tablets, cameras, and most importantly: our SENA units (which are an absolutely essential piece of equipment for a trip like this) at the same time.
One person who won't have to deal with any of the power outlet problems is Justin. He drew the "Unhappy Camper" challenge and will be sleeping outside tonight on the balcony of the HoJo while the rest of us enjoy some much needed air-conditioning and a comfy mattress.
We've all spent a ton of time & energy in the last year 1/2 planning Highway To Heal: The Slow Ride Home, and riding away from the beach this morning was pretty overwhelming. It's hard to believe that it is finally happening; but it is.
We're riding 3,700 miles in 11 days.
For now it's time to get some rest and prep ourselves for another 345 miles of high humidity through South Carolina, North Carolina, and into Tennessee.
Oh, and apparently there's another storm coming. We'll see how that goes.
Talk to you tomorrow. Hello to our mothers.
--SLOW RIDE HOME