And so this week it came to pass that your correspondent entered the last new state of his hike: Florida. Still, almost six weeks remain before the final plunge into the Gulf of Mexico in Key West, so there will be plenty of blog entries before then. My pace in Florida will be a good deal more relaxed than in many states farther north, which will allow me to speak to more groups (especially Rotary Clubs and VFW posts), do some more sightseeing, and give my legs a break. Of course, I also just registered for the Miami Marathon later on this month, so I'm not being too easy on myself.
The weather was unseasonably cool this past week, with snow flurries being seen (though not by me) as far south as Daytona. Still, you will know for sure how bad the wind chill made it feel a few days ago, when I apprise you that I even forwent a trip to a Waffle House because I did not feel like hiking into a stiff 30 mile per hour wind with temps of about 30 degrees. Actually, pancakes have been more a part of my diet lately than waffles. Two nights ago I stayed with Heather Barnett (a couch surfee) and her housemates. They all worked at the Jacksonville Zoo, where Heather gave me a backstage tour after having whipped up a great helping of apple pancakes the night before. Then last night, I stayed with the Matthews family of Orange Park, who made me pancakes this morning and donated $400 worth of change (thankfully they didn't make me carry it all!) to the Fisher House Foundation. The Matthewses are friends of Lauren Hoffman, who lives across the street, and to whom I once gave a bike tour along with her friend Risa, when I was living in Berlin. Lauren's husband Karl saw an article (see link below) in the Florida Times Union about me this past week, and subsequently got in touch with me. Hence my spending dinner with them last night and my overnight stay at their friends across the street. Thanks to all and watch for a new post in about four days or so.