interim tallies

Greetings from the Siwash*

prevalent conditions:  sun, wind, brush fires

prevalent conditions:  wet, no wind, bad drivers

 

*more on this later

Day 1 – Daytona to Rockledge

11:15 – Daytona

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2:16 PM– Scottsmoor

the old boy in the gas station seemed pretty excited about the forest fire. ‘Outta control’ he said, with blue eyes glittering. ‘That’s why I’m stocking up.’ He had a 24 case of Coor’s Light under one arm and asked for a carton of cigarettes when he got to the till. “Good thing you ain’t riding north! !” He chuckled as he walked out. “Be careful now!”

We had both just finished listening to a rather sizable lady explain to the counter staff that her husband had been complaining that she was getting too thin. ‘He’s told me I look like a crack whore,’ she cackled. The counter staff nodded sympathetically. I couldn’t see her face throughout this exchange, so I held back on passing judgement. ‘an that just ain’t no fair.’ Despite dropping the Southern double negative, she sounded fairly well satisfied with the situation.

This being my first stop, there’s already a few lessons to be learned. 1) I really am going to have to do something about my saddle. After two hours, it has started to feel like I was sawing at my perinium with a loop of barbed wire. That, or I have somehow managed to sit on the bike chain. 2) a quart-sized water bottle is inadequate. Mostly because 3) Florida is fucking huge. No matter how much you think of the place as being wall-to-wall crowded with Publix, Walgreens and the like, there are still these huge empty bits in between, containing just the odd trailer (not even trailer park), fishing hole, Church of the Nazarene or closed down marina. There seem to be a shit load of those, leading me to think that 4) the economy here is still on its ass. I have passed many desolate scenes worthy of Stephen Shore. Beautiful and empty in a sort of post-apocalyptic way.

Perhaps that’s not far off, in one respect. Especially now that the sky is purple and orange from the ‘out of control’ forest fire rolling in from the west, and the sirens have started to wail

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18:40 Garden Court Motel – Rocklege

After a quick stop for endlessly refillable drinks at Burger King in Coca (I know), the GPS led me down a surprisingly nice, riverside street then chucked me back out on US 1 by the Garden Court Motel. Here I was greeted, somewhat suspiciously at first, by Bridgette, a tiny lady with a wandering eye and pinstriped shorts in brightest pink. Checking in seemed to put her in a bit of a tizzy, not least because I asked for a discount on the $45 room rate (it would seem Indian habits are hard to break). Bridgette gave me a long and baleful look then silently shook her head.

‘So that’s a ‘No?’ I asked.

She nodded again, very slowly.

When I asked to see the room she let out a long howl that kind of surprised me. “AAAAALLLLLBERRRRRRT.” I heard a sort of shuffling noise, and then an even smaller man in blue shorts with purple braces appeared.

“Can you show this gentleman number four?”

I dutifully followed on Albert’s heels, careful not to step on him. “Been here long?” I asked.

“Only thirty-seven years.” He kept shuffling along down the row of rooms without looking back.

“Will it be OK if I keep my bike inside?”

That stopped him. Very slowly he turned, giving it some serious consideration. “We’ll have to get something for you to lean it on. Getting paint that matches these days can be murder.”

My kindly hosts originally came to Florida from Kiel in Germany, via Hamilton Ontario and Connecticut. I mentioned that I was from Toronto.

“Ah. Toronto. Very cold there.”

“Yep.”

“Where do you live now.”

“London.”

“And how do you earn your living?”

Albert doesn’t mess around.

“Well. My last job was doing internet stuff, but I haven’t worked for about a year. ”

“We don’t have internet here,” Brigette chimed in.

“That’s ok.”

“So how do you earn your living?” Clearly, once on to a point, Albert could be relentless.

“Well, I got a bit of money when I left work, and we rented our house, and now we’re staying with family in Daytona, and kind of just getting by.”

There was a long silence in which I felt the full and weighty stares of two tiny folk who could easily have been members of the Lollipop Guild.

Then Brigette piped up. “Check out is at ten.” She pushed something black in a plastic bag across the counter to me. “And it’s five dollars deposit for the remote.”


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