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Waking up to a headwind I knew I wouldn’t be cycling up to Homestead in a day. I was about 110 miles away and so, as I’m still taking things easily, knew I was either getting somewhere around the Islamorada area or taking the bus. Either way, it meant I could take my time to get up to Marathon to meet up with Jeffrey again.

I knew I only had to get to Marathon for about 12 so the ride up was relaxing. I stopped at a couple of little beaches and worked on finishing the book I’d been reading on and off for the last 6 weeks. It’s been really eye-opening with the way it talks about cadavers and the historical use of them. I’d had it on my to-read list since Halloween when I was up in Salt Lake City as it was the book my friend Jamie was meant to be reading for her book club that week. One small warning, there are parts of it, very large parts in fact, that you might not want to read while eating.

Up in Marathon I met up with Jeffrey at Independence Cay. It’s an organisation to help those who ask for it in the Keys and serves a warm meal every lunch time. They also have shower and laundry facilities which are a great benefit to those in the area. I was given a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce and a cup of Kool Aid and then sat on the balcony talking about life, travel and plans enjoying the sun. It was a glorious way to spend my afternoon and I was glad that I wasn’t making my way up the shoulder of US-1 at the time.

After a couple of odd jobs to help out at the church and waiting at the library, I said my farewells to Jeffrey. He had been a great help during my time in the Keys and made my time there more enjoyable. I then headed a couple of miles down the road to wait for the bus to Florida City.

Rather than being a regular bus with a rack, it was more of a coach like the ones in Korea. The large luggage hold underneath was mainly full of random stuff, but thankfully there was enough space to slide my bike and bags in. Just before getting on, I was confused to see the driver and some other passengers in parkas as big as I’ve seen when people are snowboarding, a few minutes of riding and I realised why as the AC was turned on to subarctic and I wished I was in something more than shorts and t-shirt. AC is glorious, at times, and there are certainly moments where that I love that frigid blast but yeah, ridiculous.

The ride from the bus to Jim & Ju’s place was mainly down the busway which runs parallel to US-1. It’s a great system which means that buses don’t get stuck in traffic and I assume the Homestead area has the most on-time buses in the world. As I was passing one of the stops, a guy waved at me and I pulled over. I met a man in his 60s called Ken who spoke a mile a minute and I had trouble following what he was going on about. He was trying to give me advice about places that I should go, even though I didn’t necessarily ask for any, and I remember 3 separate occasions where he mentioned the nearby Coral Castle. Each time he spoke about it, he mentioned that I should go to the gift shop as it’s free and something about buying a non-fiction book about it and getting a fiction book free and it’s amazing and free and buy a book and go there and go and free gift shop and go there. It took me 20 minutes of him talking for me to find a point where I could excuse myself and even then he nearly dragged me back in.

Getting back to Jim & Ju was wonderful. The warmth they’d shown me on my way down to the Keys was immediately continued as they showed their concern about me arriving later than I’d said I would. I’d texted them just before meeting Ken and they’d been worried that I was riding out in the dark. The light-hearted ribbing also started off as Ju accused me of smelling like a wet bear. It felt like I was at my second home.

7 Mile Bridge

Riding through Marathon

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