I was rubbing the sleep out of my tired eyes looking out at the playground that sat on the back lawn of the church where I had slept on their front stoop the night before.
My plan to ride seventy miles that day was interrupted when I read a comment posted to one of my blog entries before I was able to get out of town. What I read was an extremely kind and generous offer to put Jo and I up at a B&B, complimentary, a gift of a quaint cottage not far from the oceans edge and only a few blocks from where I was sitting. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse and came to me at a time when I desperately needed the restoration of my mind and my body. The person who had presented the love offering, I had never met before. I suspect she’s an angel who was sent to look after us.
Debbie owns the place, handing me a key when I arrived. After getting settled in, scoping out the quarters, pressing on each of the three mattresses like Goldie Locks would have, I had to make a phone call.
Maya and Glen had camped the night before on the mosquito infested peninsula about twenty miles south of here. I couldn’t imagine not sharing this gift that I had received, so I asked them to join me for a night or two, taking a break from swatting the bugs and dodging the ninety degree humid Florida temperatures.
They did arrive that evening which was now two nights ago. I think they were just as mystified as I was when they pushed their bicycles into the most beautiful courtyard of our new temporary dwelling, a place that is fit for the finest of travelers.
Maya said it was the best nights sleep that she has had since departing the Pacific a couple of months ago. Glenn looked well rested too.
She’s keeping a journal as well, but on paper instead of a blog on the web like myself. I asked her to share it with me, a smile she gave as she opened it up to the only page she’s written on since starting her trip.
We sat around the table yesterday morning, Debbie preparing our delicious meal, while we discussed with her a few of the highlights, the journey, sharing our experiences with with our kind and accommodating host.
The two of them decided to pedal on after staying a night, hoping to make it to a lodge ninety miles up the road where they will celebrate their anniversary together in a gorgeous wooded setting.
Jo and I took our time lounging around, enjoying the ice cold air-conditioning, before making our way into downtown.
Seeing as how I haven’t had a hair cut or shaved my beard for more than two months, I went looking for someone with scissors. I met Lena at Salt Air, a salon on the main-strip. She piled all of my whiskers on the floor around my feet, chopping off all my hair too, making me feel like a new man. And wouldn’t charge me a dime, refusing payment, only receiving hugs. Connie was at the front desk and handed me a peanut butter cookie to take with me on my walk.
Down the street, Chris, who owns St Joe Velo was tuning my Land Sleigh, replacing four busted spokes and making all of the adjustments necessary for a wobble-less ride along the beautiful emerald coastline.
Charles, a guy I met in town, told me about a Dockside Cafe where I could look out over the marina, watch the sunset, eat an oyster and drift off into a sublime state of Margaritaville. I passed by the lighthouse and found the safe harbor where fisherman we’re bringing in their catch.
I sat down next to Angela and her husband who are visiting from Georgia, headed from here to an Island to escape and unwind. Jo laid under my chair, soaking up the sea and the sunset while keeping a close eye on the ground for anything that might fall from the neighboring table. The vacationing couple surprised me and picked up my tab, wishing Jo and I well along the rest of our journey. It was quite a surprise and extremely kind of them to treat me.
They call her, Ms Laura, and she stands behind the bar with a smile as warm as Florida and a voice as sweet as the orange juice that this state is famous for. St Joe Bar & Package is the locals favorite watering hole, and is also the only one. I was there long enough for Laura to offer me three slices of homemade key lime pie, and in addition, she spooned me a pasta-shrimp dish that her mother made that was absolutely incredible. And the woman sitting next to me, Mary Del, whose son owns the joint, made sure I wasn’t thirsty and then handed me a twenty dollar bill to take with us. She said it was for Jo, so I reached down and gave it to him, putting it in his RuffWear backpack.
George was three stools over and wanted to have a chat. He told me about how he grew up here, leaving for most of his life, and returning at retirement age to help care for his mother. We talked about love, and doing for others, and also about kids and video games. And we talked about experiences we’ve had that have helped shape us. Before he left, he slid in front of me all of the money in his wallet, sixteen dollars.
I could tell that Jo was not really enjoying the Waylon Jennings songs coming from the jukebox as much as I was. I hugged a half a dozen people and connected with them on Facebook before excusing myself. Ms Laura had two more gifts for me before we departed, putting in my palm a sand dollar she found on the beach, perhaps it carried with it good-luck. She also gave me a bottle of all natural bug juice that she promised would repel the hungriest of blood seekers that might try to drain me.
Meanwhile, online, friends and strangers are providing for us, contributing their hard earned dollars to support Jo and I on our mission, and sending with their gifts to us beautiful messages of love and encouragement, words like, “here’s a gift to carry you home”.
I’m sitting in the corner of the kitchen in this beautifully kept cottage, ruminating, giving thought to the tremendous amount of generosity that we’re receiving from so many people, friends, strangers, all of them angels in my eyes. My heart is wide open and is overflowing with gratitude as I acknowledge in my mind that there’s nothing I can ever do to repay anyone for the love they have offered to Jo and I. These are the days of love and miracles.