On Friday we had an opportunity to take things a bit more easily than we had the day before, needing to ride only 16 or 17 miles to reach our next overnight destination. We had kind of been forced into a long day yesterday and a shorter day today by the fact that none of the more budget-oriented hotels in between our starting point yesterday and our end point today were accepting guests for one night only.
As a result of our lack of a rush, we didn’t set an alarm, though Henry was up by 6:30 because he was eager to check out the biscuits and gravy that was one of the breakfasts on offer from our hotel. The other was a breakfast burrito. Neither of these were appealing to Angie and I so we got ourselves organized while Henry went to eat.
The woman who was laying on the limited hotel breakfast told Henry about a decent place “a quarter mile” down the road, in the direction we were headed. Of course it was more than a quarter mile, but only by a half mile or so. 😉
Once we were ready, we checked out (a laborious process that consisted of me walking toward the pub with the keys, only to be met by one of the hotel staff who took them from me before I could even get in the door). Then, we carefully got ourselves across the road (a challenge nearly every time we have to do it since traffic lights on the Keys are few and far between, literally) and rode on down to the Island Grill. It turned out to be just below our first bridge of the day, so we would have to ride backwards when we left. It looked like the place was totally empty when we got there, but it filled up quickly while we were eating. Since Henry had already eaten, he just had a glass of orange juice while I ate a yummy plate of corned beef hash and eggs and Angie a tasty vegetarian eggs Benedict.
The lovely location for breakfast:
Adequately nourished, we began our ride proper. We only had two bridges today, although we still had to contend with heavy traffic most of the time. The first, as I said, was right away. We had to manage a nasty little incline from the road by the restaurant, for which I was totally in the wrong gear, and then we had to insert ourselves into a stream of diverted traffic for one of many sections of roadwork we’ve seen up and down the route. For a change, there was a perfect gap at the right time, even though we were going slightly uphill onto the bridge. Angie said it was because the next oncoming vehicle driver was very patient with us. Once we got a little way onto the bridge ramp, the vehicle lane diversion ended and we were able to pull over onto the gravelly shoulder for our ride across. The bridge was pretty short and fortunately, being the only drawbridge we’ve encountered so far, was not open for a boat.
Since we had a lot of time, we stopped a few times along the way, including at a Dunkin’ Donuts (a box of donut holes was purchased and partially eaten), and a CVS (a knee brace was purchased for me at the recommendation of our new road trip buddies Steve and Dodie, see yesterday’s blog). We also stopped at a couple of bike shops for some basic bike maintenance needs but still managed to arrive at our hotel (another lovely Rodeway Inn) three hours before we could check in. We were at least able to leave some of our bags and get changed so that we could organize the clothes we wanted to wash today. Before doing any laundry, we felt that we should eat lunch, so we headed out on our bikes to the Publix grocery store, thinking that we could get a good sandwich there at a good value. I would say we were wrong on both counts, not to mention that the wait at the deli counter was inordinately long, in part due to the fact that another customer was having about 8 sandwiches custom made. The pre-made selection was puny, which was why we had to custom order. I think Henry was relatively satisfied with the flavor of his sandwich, if not the cost, but the sandwich Angie and I ordered was perfectly ordinary. We didn’t even eat all of it despite the cost. On the up side, we had run into Steve and Dodie (Grampies Go to Florida from the day before), outside the store so we had a chance to visit with them again before they headed off toward Florida City. We didn’t envy them the extra 29 miles or so they had to ride yet this day!
Once we had finished at the store and eaten what we could, Angie and her dad ran into K-Mart for a couple of things (including a flag for the second trailer we will be pulling starting from next week). Then we retraced our steps (revolutions) and arrived at the coin-op laundry to get our washing done. There were actually staff on site and Angie felt it was a very clean and well-run facility.
Henry waited outside to watch the bikes and when everything was almost done, he fell into conversation with an older man who was there doing laundry with his wife. The man was a Vietnam veteran who hailed from the mountains of North Carolina. He had received two Purple Hearts for being injured in that war. I listened in on part of the conversation. My main takeaway was that the M-14 is a great gun.
We were finally able to check in to our hotel and get ourselves cleaned up. I was really hungry by this point, but Henry was not, and Angie was somewhere in between but moving toward my end of the continuum. Therefore Henry decided not to come with us, and just asked us to bring him some conch chowder, a local specialty.
We were looking at a few places on Trip Advisor and decided to go for experience over cuisine. You just can’t always know, but our pick of taking the short walk to the Pilot House over a short walk to a more highly-ranked place may have been the wrong call, though we may have hated the other place! You just can’t tell.
So, the reason we picked the Pilot House was because it was supposed to have a cool glass-bottomed bar, but when we got there it was already pretty crowded, and what you could see of the glass sections (what wasn’t covered over by a table or a person) was pretty grimy and hard to see through. So much for that then. A bit of a disappointment. The bar was just too crowded and the wait for a table there too long, so we just opted to go into the main restaurant. This cavernous space seemed more like a mess hall than a restaurant at first. It seemed most of the tables had been put together in rows to accommodate a very large group of school kids. The atmosphere changed markedly when they left and the tables were rearranged into four-tops. We were seated in a booth near the bar entrance but it wasn’t too noisy. Angie really wanted to try the tuna nachos, which had also sounded pretty appealing to me. Since we don’t like to order the same thing, I ordered the seared tuna salad. Angie’s nachos were decent but not earth shattering, and my salad was ok but lacking zing, unless you count the fizzyness of the canned mandarin oranges. Which I’d rather not. Angie tried one too and had the same reaction, the mandarins were bad, which is sucky because that’s one of the high points of such a salad. I called our server over and told him about it. He said he would tell the manager. I don’t know if he did, because no one else came to talk to us about it. Not the way I would have handled a complaint about possibly harmful food, but so it goes. The server did bring me a cut-up orange in lieu of the bad mandarin, and it was good orange, but canned mandarins do have their place and this is one of them. Chalk it up to experience I guess.
Angie and I walked back to the hotel in the dark, using her phone for illumination on the darkest part. We presented Henry with his conch chowder, which remained pretty hot, and I think he enjoyed it.