Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Long March, Part II

Finally the sign became clear: It was the alternate evacuation route for Monroe County. Turn onto the turnpike two miles ahead.

Two miles to civilization!!!

My step picked up a bit after that.

After reaching the antenna tower, I looked ahead for a new target to mark my progress, and had focused on a small, unusual-looking dot on the distant horizon. After a mile or two, I decided it was an American flag.

The dot seemed to shape shift, like a flag blowing in the wind. That was my sole basis for the determination, and I figured if it was a flag, it was probably an American flag. And if it was an American flag, it had to be in civilation.

And now, I new the civilation was just two miles away.

The shape shifting dot started to show bits of color, and I thought I saw some red and white, and a dark patch where the blue would be.

I liked the idea of hiking to the American flag, and as I got closer, I was disappointed to lose sight of it when trees I got closer to obscured it.

And you know what I kept thinking? Had I stayed on Highway 1, I'D ALREADY BE DONE! Why did I choose the scenic route again?

I finally reached the turnpike turnoff, and pulled out my maps to figure out where to go next.

I wanted food, drink, and an air-conditioned building. I needed to stop at the post office for a mail drop. And I wanted (some people might argue that I needed this one) a cheap hotel.

First, I stopped at Wendy's. I probably could have done better if I waited, but it was the first place I came across, and I love the fact I can get a ceaser side salad instead of fries with the combo meal. =)

Way back in Marathon, I picked up one of those hotel coupon magazines you find in supermarkets and visitors centers everywhere and ripped out two pages of hotels for the Florida City and Homestead areas.

The cheapest option looked like a bit past the turnoff for the post office, so I decided to do the post office next.

From my Google mapping a few days before, I thought it was a couple of blocks off from the trail, but when I went several blocks and saw nothing, I started getting concerned.

I asked a woman at a bus stop where the post office was, and she pointed further up the street. "It's WAAAY up there," she explained. Not at the first light, but the second one. "You aren't walking there, are you?"

"Uhhh.... that's the plan." How far away was this post office anyhow?

"You could take the bus."

I looked down the street, and the second light looked about a half mile away. "Thanks, but I'll walk."

She seemed astounded that I would walk a half mile to the post office. If only she knew how far I actually came already!

At the post office, I picked up my mail drop, happy to see it had already arrived. I really didn't want to come back the next morning again.

Additionally, there was a second package for me from my "Florida Trail Angels." There wasn't any other hint who it was from, but seeing as I posted the address by accident on my blog, it could have come from anyone! Filled with strawberry fruit leather. =)

Walking back to the trail, it started to rain. After coming so far, it finally started to rain on me, mere minutes away from a dry hotel.

The first hotel I tried was booked full, or else they didn't like the way I smelled and gave me that excuse, so I tried another one across the street called the Coral Roc Motel and got a room. First stop, of course, was a shower--my first since starting the trail.

I washed my clothes in the sink, and resupplied food, and am now catching up with the last day and a half of adventures. Certainly plenty to write about!

Some folks have been asking about my blisters. I hadn't added any updates about France or Germany because there was nothing new to report. They are not getting any worse, but they are still there.

Yesterday, after stripping off my socks, I did discover two new blisters on my left foot. One wasn't really a surprise--a small thing at the tip of my 'long toe' (the one next to the big toe). It seemed like one was forming several days ago, but I didn't have proof of it until now and it finally formed enough to recognize it as the blister it is. It's not a problem, though, and finding it was like finding an old freckle I had forgotten about. =)

The second new blister was a genuine surprise for me, located at the end of my big toe. I had no idea it was forming, and was surprised at its size when I finally realized it was there. I'll call this one Brazil, and the blister on the long toe Paraguay. (They are in the western hemisphere of my body, after all.)

Popping the blister on my big toe was hard. I jabbed at it with my safety pin, but it wouldn't pop. I was afraid if I jabbed much harder, I'd end up drawing blood!

I did finally get it popped. I didn't make a determined effort to pop Paraguay. It was so small, it hardly seemed worth the effort.

Oddly, even though I didn't feel either of the blisters while walking around, I suddenly felt Brazil once it was popped.

I'm not sure if the blisters no longer bother me because the general sorenes of my feet drown out the pain from indiviual blisters, but I was heartened to discover how much more dificult it wa to pop the blisters. My feet are toughening up!

They still hurt--a lot!--but I'm whipping them into shape. =) The individual blisters, though, aren't posing any problem at all.

On another note, I was rather amused in the keys to pass two places labeled as 'foot and ankle specialists.' I don't really need an expert to tell my why my feet hurt--that seems pretty obvious, and there's nothing they can do to stop the pain--but I did find myself curious about what they'd tell me if I walked in. "Good Lord, man! What happened to those.... feet!?"

A lot of long distance hikers live in ibuprofen, a.k.a. Vitamin I, to deal with the constant pain, but I haven't resorted to that. Not yet, at least. I figure it's my body's way of making sure I don't push myself too hard, too fast, so I want to listen to what it's telling me. =)


Anonymous said...

I had just finished reading Part I when Part II popped up. What a wonderful suprise! I'm glad you got to shower and soon you'll be able to rest peacefully. Awesome job Ryan!!

♥ Lady Lilac

Anonymous said...

Some one is saving these for a book? Right?

Anonymous said...

Yay, two posts in one day. I feel like I got a present.


Anonymous said...

Anyone else have the add at the bottom of this post that says: "How to Sleep More"? So appropriate for Ryan after completing The Long March, Parts I & II and his arrival at the obviously 5 star resort: The Coral Roc Motel

Kaaren said...

Is there a website with a map that you/we can put pins on it, to track where you are? That would be cool.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

The link to the Google Map is

Note 1: Ryan has a link to the same map but a previous closer view of the keys on the blog's home page. That link just doesn't show up on individual posts.

Note 2: Ryan, did you post this the same night you hiked? If so, I need the assistance of a hyper-dedicated fan to compare the maps to his blogs. If he hiked Card Sound Road on Tuesday January 8th than I've somehow missed a day somwhere because I have this section as being walked yesterday January 7th. (Ryan, please tell me you hiked Sound Card Road on Monday January 7th and that this post was made the day after).

Anonymous said...

a good night sleep = no crocs, no tree pee, no glowing eyes, on gorp eaten by intruders, ummmmmmmmmm

seems to me once you get used to the sights and sounds it is hard to sleep when all is quiet and safe........just how sound did ryan sleep...........

stay tuned for our next update, maybe he will tell us...........

have a great day ryan, travel safe, keep us posted for as long as we get........:J


midlandtrailblazer said...

poor neglected paraguay -- i guess that's why you never hear of that country. hubby discovered the perfect method for dealing with blisters while in marine corps boot camp, but pretty much only marines can handle it ;) enjoy the hotel! (within reason, you may need to stay again some day...)

Debbie St.Amand said...

Hey, I noticed the Coral Roc as we drove by it on Sunday. Kinda cool to think of you staying there!


Anonymous said...

You shaved your head. And now you're walking in the middle of a bright road in the scorching sun. Sunburn anybody? :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm bummed to hear we won't get daily posts after the keys. I am enjoying reading your adventures. Stay safe and dry! Well, as dry as possible...

Anonymous said...

Brazil, Paraguay, France and Germany. . .sounds like a great little soccer tournament, But on your feet? Maybe 'Payless' is costing a lot more than you bargained for. Investing in a good pair of Fleet Feet hikers would cure many of your ills I'll bet!
ALWAYS enjoy your postings!
~~Doublesaj & Old Blue~~

Unknown said...

I'm curious to hear about this "Priceless" you met on Krome Ave. Or did she mean Krome Detention Center?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan! I was wondering if you have started reading that book, Up
Shit Creek?
Love the updates, & the humor!


Anonymous said...

It's the shoes.

DC Stones

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yay for Trail Angels!

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers