Day 44(Wednesday, June 1):Pensacola to Destin–56 miles

June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Greetings from Florida’s Emerald Coast!
Today finds us in Destin, “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”. As we rode in, we were surrounded by sparkling turquoise green waters and brilliant snow white sands; it looked like a scene from a postcard.
We are staying in a Motel 6 and using our saved extra pennies for the fine waterfront restaurant dining at Cafe Marina across the street. There are also hotels on that side of the street, but in a “slightly” higher price level than our basic Motel 6, discounted even more for seniors.
How we arrived in Destin is an altogether different saga. Yesterday we found ourselves at a bifurcation in our route. Do we take the tried and true ACA route, Highway 90, which shadows and meanders along I-10 or make our own hopefully straighter, southern route?
I was convinced the southern route was the best, until the iPhone and I googled the Ebro Motel, our only choice for lodging in a 30 mile radius and “Ebro Motel Shooting” pops up; suddenly the northern ACA route looks a lot better. Yes, it looks really good. Too bad I am also a compulsive planner; I decide to reread the ACA riding condition notes and to my horror find the following: “Pensacola Scenic Hwy has no shoulders…4 lane US 90 has moderate, but somewhat deteriorating shoulders, with intermittent sand and gravel….Ride cautiously between Mossy Head and DeFuniak Springs; large trucks and fast traffic can make this part of the route challenging”. I awake Joe from a sound sleep ; what should we do? I google Hwy 20, part of the alternate route, to try and find info on the shoulders there. No luck.
At 5am I am still undecided; the routes are the same for the first 6 miles; if the 5 mile long bridge to Pensacola Beach looks bike friendly–we will take it.
Decision made; we have a bike lane up to and onto the bridge. Fort Walton Beach, here we come. I see a 30 foot tall neon sign proclaiming “Turn Right Pensacola Beach-Scenic Drive Along Gulf of Mexico-World’s Whitest Beaches-Motels-Restaurants”. This sounds promising…..Soon we find ourselves on Santa Rosa Island, a thin strip of the whitest dunes I have ever seen. After we pass the chaotic tourism of Pensacola Beach, we enter the Gulf Islands National Seashore; there are migratory bird nesting areas everywhere. Joe is the unfortunate recipient of two territorial dive-bombing birds. They make screeching craws at me; otherwise I am ignored. We also encounter a minimum of 20 road cyclists– the most we have seen in 2,400 miles.
It is unmercifully hot and humid: the temp reads 95; supposedly it feels like 105 degrees. We are drenched in sweat. We arrive in Fort Walton Beach. We have ridden on 40 miles of bicycle lanes, a gift. Joe asks for a Waffle House, water and AC, but he still wants to ride further.
Thus we are in Destin, home to Britney Spears, Bette Midler, Emeril LaGasse amongst others. Our home is air-conditioned Room #140 in the local Motel 6.
Good Night.

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