Started the day out right by promptly keeling onto theright side of my body at a stop sign when I didn’t realize both my feet had clipped in. Got right back up, but kept a few bruises as souvenirs.
Stopped at a cafe at what turned out to be the vacation town we stayed in, then set out with Katie H and Katie S.
The morning was uneventful, a straight shot until a fork in the road. Initially we kept going on our path, but Katie S noticed some chalk with a crossed off direction and a left arrow. Our cue sheets said to go on FL 38/US 98 as one line item, so either way seemed right. Katie H said she never looks at chalk anyway, but we turned to follow the instructions.
The new road was faded, bumpier pavement compared to the previous one, but it ran directly on the coast and was nearly car free, probably because all the cars were on the smooth, black, new road. Most of the houses were on a sort of stilts, for hurricane protection slash boat storage, I assume. We passed one home with goats in the yard.
Eventually we realized that we were not on the correct road after all. Phone maps revealed that our road looped back up with the right one anyway, and we had only added about 7 miles, so if you’re going to get lost, this was pretty much the best way you could get lost. Also we got to see a huge dead boar in the shoulder of the road, and I wouldn’t miss that for the world.
We waited for the group we knew was with us on this detour because we had passed them changing a flat, as well as the people responsible for the turn itself, as the bearers of the chalk that had changed our day.
Once Christina, Jenna, and Bridget caught up to us, we rode as a group of 6 to Port St. Joe, where we ate surprisingly delicious Mexican food and ran into a biker gang of a different sort. One member told us that she had taken a photo of members of our group up ahead in exchange for the promise that they would send her their photo from Monterrey. She made the same arrangement with us, and told us to swing by her bar for a donation.
We biked to real B&B lunch just for a pause, set up by the beach so van crew had a pretty perfect day waiting for us. The rest of the afternoon was away from the water, with the surrounding rows of pines doing nothing to stop the wind. But we soon entered Flat City, stopping at Dixie Dandy convenience store, the entrance of an Air Force compound, and a KFC to fix Bridget’s loudly exploded tube and Christina’s TWO flats in a row.
At long last we made it to the Panama City Girls Inc. for hose showers and lasagna. In honor of this, a song: “take me down to Panama City, where the hose is cold and the girls are incorporated… Oh, oh take me home.”