December, 23 2018
I’m leaving Pensacola today, and having my last coffee and breakfast at Polonza, a bistro that serves some of the best coffee in north Florida (and to my knowledge the only town or city serving great coffee until one gets to Jacksonville (it can be found in Tallahassee but it’s a bit of a secret)) as well as an excellent breakfast and lunch. Spent the morning down at Palafox Pier overlooking Pensacola Bay trying to photograph reflections in the lens of a distance viewer, as well as gulls, pigeons, and the occasional pelican gliding on the sea breeze. Difficult, difficult birds are to catch, most especially if one is trying to place them in a specific area of a landscape, or even just wishing to have a horizontal horizon in the picture.
Like trying to nab a fly with chopsticks.
Just had a long chat with Taylor, the head barista here. Turns out he used to work for Perc in Savannah, Georgia, and we met briefly some years back during my last bike tour. Absolutely crazy that. “It’s a small world” is such a cliche phrase, and some might say it’s overuse, but if it fits it fits, right? The specialty coffee world is even smaller still, and that makes it easy to meet and make lasting friendships and acquaintanceships. Here’s to another.
Being on this bike trip I’ve begun to realize ever more concretely what it is I want out of travel, and mainly that is to find a good place to stay for a while and explore, and to explore from, and NOT to be constantly on the move. Yet bicycle travel is often about being on the move. Too, it may be difficult to stay in one place for long if one’s desire is also to be frugal, particularly in my case as I love cities so much. Yes, there exist Warmshowers hosts, but one can only stay for so long without being a burden. So, find another! Not always as easy as it would seem! Well then what about the natural world that I profess to love so much? As long as one has food and water for days, and doesn’t mind being dirty and smelly for extended periods this is great! Of course if you happen to be near a river cleanliness and drinking water is less of an issue, assuming the water source hasn’t been polluted or fouled in some way. I guess all this is really just to say that I’m happy to spend my Christmas, and perhaps some days more, on Dauphin Island at a host’s while he is away, which, while not allowing access to the inner keep, does have the desirable amenities (latrine, power, wifi, water, shower) out of doors. I’ll likely be in no hurry to hop back on my bike again.
Something else I’ve discovered that I want when I travel is flexibility. What that means to me is the ability to get where I want when I want in a relatively short span of time (within reason of course). The bicycle can be an excellent tool for this, at least in comparison to a slower means of travel such as running or walking, but it’s still rather slow, methodical, and, being human-powered, requires a fair bit of effort and energy, so that even something like a “short” five mile detour (which becomes a ten mile roundtrip) to visit some place or thing of interest can take a lot of daylight, as well as energy. This may be all fine and good for some, especially if planned for, but may prove to be impossible as a spontaneous side quest to one’s main objective for the day. So I’m beginning to think I’d like a motorcycle. And maybe one with a sidecar in which I could securely fit my bicycle because I’d still like to get in miles recreationally. As well, the bicycle could be used as a means of transport for various so-called side quests while leaving the motorcycle at headquarters (campsite, motel, whatever it is). The benefit of traveling by motorcycle is increased flexibility because higher speeds, and being able to pack one’s saddle bags a bit more full without suffering the great inconvenience of pedaling a bicycle with additional weight. Granted, there are drawbacks as well: insurance, cost, repairs, fuel…. But this is all just speculation for now….