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Monday 18 July 2011

Day 70 - The Finale

Todays mileage: 67
Final mileage: 3,657
End point: Jacksonville Beach, FL

So the last day, and with it a slightly renewed energy knowing that I will not for the forseeable future have to get up everyday and peddle ridiculous mileages. I actually lost the key to my lock in the cabin, but being the wise person I am and not being bothered to search, I pulled out the secret spare key hidden in my panniers.

So I had two choices today, the direct route through Jacksonville or the southern route via Green Cove Springs. The southern route was actually 5 miles longer and that was the route I chose. Now I actually quite like cycling through cities as I have gone through the downtowns of Seattle, Boise, Wichita, Tulsa, Little Rock to name but a few... and I'm not really afraid of traffic (I still remember John G and I having to escort Dinah through the LR traffic who was terrified). The issue with cities is that unless you know them really well they are very stop / start as you have lots of lights and then checks to figure out if you are on the right road - essentially you never get into you rythmn. In addition I heard that Jacksonville had some rough neighbourhoods.

The southern route took me passed an army base, and the road was littered with used bullet casings, a more interesting obsticle to avoid. The route took me to a bridge to cross     the St.John's river, which was the main issue in getting to Jacksonville Beach. The bridge although better than an interstate crossing of doom was narrow and I tried to get over it as quick as possible.

So a few bizarre observations today. Firstly all around Ponte Vedra Beach there were roads which went nowhere, and I mean double figures - see the picture above. Roads which went it to lakes, into forests, into mounds of earth - they had crossings, lights, and then big signs saying 'Road Closed'. Secondly signs everywhere saying don't drink the irrigation ditch water - really? Who is drinking the irrigation ditch water, is this a major problem? I also had the welcome suprise of a round-about (traffic circle) on my way in.

So I will cut to the finale on the beach - I want dinner and I want to party! Pam and Christie had some how managed to convince a load of strangers to line up for me on the beach with a congratulations arch sign at the end of them. They were chanting and clapping :) Only problem is I can't ride in sand so I had to pick the bike up and carry it through. Lots of photos taken, but one unfortunate incident, pam and I went running into the sea together and I took her down for fun not realizing she was holding a camera - So vince I am sorry - but I am opitmistic it will return to life once dried out and if not it does look a bit 2003 (it has a 256mb memory card in it!!!!!), and I'm sure we can support an upgrade. It was great to Finish and see pam!      

I now want to go and party so I am going to cut this short. But one last question for me: is this the end of the blog? Well yes very very nearly, it has been epic writing this every night and fun at times, other times it has been brutal fighting through the tiredness. So I am planning to do 4 more entries:
1. Top 10 Highs and Lows
2. Top Recommendations for anyone else thinking of riding
3. Some Wedding Photos
4. The Credits - thankyous blah blah
I'll also do some sorting and rearranging to make everything look pretty!

Thanks to everyone who has helped me!!

Sunday 17 July 2011

Day 69 - BPTSIIASOBS Award

Todays mileage: 72
Total mileage: 3,590
End point: Starke, FL

I will admit I was quite concerned by these spiders which were lurking around my picnic area down by the river. I'm normally quite happy with spiders, but this one with its scary colours, claw like arms and skull like face didn't look altogether safe. I battered at least two to death, but there were more. I'd be interested in knowing more about it, anyone know what it is? Is it poisonous??!

Spiders bad news, good news is that this campground actually had a little cafe less than a minute from my tent and so I was able to avoid pop tarts this morning and had the mighty sandwich pictured above. Probably as many calories as a mcdonalds breakfast but maybe a few less additives. Out of the campground and a couple of miles back on myself till I reached highway 27 again to Branford.

I felt a little guilty as I refuelled in Branford; a rather large lady bounded towards me and asked me how far I was riding after proudly announcing that she had just done 6 miles. If this was a poker game she went in with jack high and I had the royal straight flush, fortunately it wasn't and I offered some words of support, good for her getting out there. She seemed rather concerned about dogs and I offered her my tactics of ignore, water, foot, mase, murder... no I left out the murder bit, she had no need to know of my dog murder fantasies many moons ago. I also got chatting to a couple of harley riders out for a Sunday cruise. I was wondering about their lack of helmets and they were telling me florida has changed it laws so you can now pay an extra insurance premium not to were a helmet. Not sure about that one, but I'm sure they were safer than crotch rocket riders,  although they claimed they weren't much slower.

Today has been a bit of a drag. I was looking forward to a shorter mileage but unfotunately I got NOK'ed. NOK is my codeword for heavy winds = Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas. Recently I have been able to get into a flow of about 15mph which averages outs to about 14 mph with stops, turns..etc. Today I was barely pushing 11mph, and for those of you who have been concerned with the state of my bottom, well today it was time for some ibuprofen gel which I have been keeping in reserve.

From Branford I headed to Fort White and then to Lake Butler, from this ride I have a suprise announcement regarding the BPTSIIASOBS award (Brian Peers Transamerica State Investment In and Support of Bicyling Special Award). Myself, the New York Times and USA today all expected that such an award would go to either Oregon or Washington with potential outside bets on Idaho or Wyoming. Bookmakers have refused to accept any more bets after potential inside dealing. Well I am happy to announce that this century's award goes to Florida - no one saw that coming not even a Gator's fan. A last minute 3-point from the halfway line on the buzzer - boom! The award is formally going to Jeb Bush as he never got in the Whitehouse, and I think even Republicans would agree we have had enough Bushes. So how did Florida win this award, well for most of todays roads I have had bike paths wide strips of tarmac running parallel to the road with very little traffic and a smooth surface. I didn't even notice it to start off with! What was more impressive was that the second bike path was next to a pretty old county road.

The roads without seperate bike paths are also now mandated to have bike lanes at least 3 foot wide where possible and at most junctions there are signs saying these are bike lanes with priority. Floridian drivers have also been pretty good, even if they don't think they are. What's more intresting is the big hoohaa around bike lanes. Florida also passed a law saying you must ride in a bike lane if its available, this pissed off a lot off serious road bikers who argue that cycle lanes actually make things less safe because you aren't being treated as a proper vehicle. The debates are long and statistics are thrown around on eitherside, from my point of view things are less stressful in the bike lane, it maybe false psychology but I just feel a bit safer and out of the way. I think the reason is that the think I must scared of is an angry motorist, and a motorist is less likely to be angy if you are in a bike lane ;)

One thing I wanted to mention was a $1 bill I picked up with stamped on it. This is a project to track the movement of $1 bills for educational purposes, sadly I'm the first person to register my $1 bill since it was stamped. I'm going to spend it in Kentucky and I'll get an email if anyone else registers the movement of my bill. Don't worry there won't be a blog tracking its movements!!

So I finally got to the town of Starke where I had planned to stay at the KOA - but you can't camp at this KOA -what!! It turns out the city government banned camping after some wild behaviour at the country fairground. The owners were mighty upset about this as it potentially threatened their KOA franchise and they are one of the only KOA's in the country in this situation. I'm sure the city government could have figured out a less Draconian solution. After some negotiation I managed to get the military rate on a cute little cabin which is opposite the swimming pool which meant I got a quick dip in the pool.

I'd spent quite a bit of the day chatting to Pam and her maid of honour Christie who are were enroute to Jacksonville Beach as well! They should be arriving any minute, I will be arriving tomorrow fingers crossed. The end is nearly here and I can see Jacksonville Beach on my map. For those of you who were waiting for me to finish before sponsoring me, it could be time to get that wallet open!

P.s. I've inlcuded a last car hoarding photo, one of the biggest road side memorials of the many I see everyday and a tubing rental shop for people wanting to float down the river.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Day 68 - Gilbert du Motier

Todays mileage: 87
Total mileage: 3,518
End point: Suwannee River Rendezvous Resort, FL
(About 5 miles east of Mayo)

These endless epic miles are taking their toll and staying in nice places like the lodge do not help me get out of bed. Its so hard not to press snooze - you all know the feeling. I eventually threw myself together but not before bumping into the manager in the corridor. He was a good guy and was telling me it was his 2nd week in charge as florida state parks has just outsourced most of its support activities in the parks, I told him was doing a good job ;) A little flattery after my discounted rate.

I didn't get very far before bumping into a couple of cyclists; Dave and Dale out for a morning ride. Cutting perpendicular to my route they were on a lovely bike trail called St.Marks which runs up to Tallahassee, the state capital. Dave very kindly gave me his gloves are seeing the state of mine. Theese were full finger gloves and so at the next gas station and to the amusement of the attendent I chopped the fingers off. They have made the world of difference and may mean I avoid infected hands - thankyou!

Whilst we are talking saints I wanted to mention the St.Joe paper company. The lodge I stayed at last night I was actually founded by one of their managers in the 1930s and Patrick had told me they were huge in Florida. So huge they actually moved the highway around their port building so they could have beach front access, and they even had the eastern time zone shifted east so all their offices would be in the same time zone!

The road today has been very bleak. You don't think of Florida as empty but the counties of Taylor and Lafayette have no disneyland or universal studios. My route on highway 98 and 27 was relatively flat, with forest eitherside. I say forest although it looked more like jungle with dense shrubbery and the odd swamp. At least there was a shoulder to keep me out of the traffic but there were few landmarks or other points of interest. I'd like to tell you about bear fights and alligator escapes but I'm too tired for one of my works of fiction.

I have been rained on pretty much all day, but thankfully it has been drizzle rather than the cats and dogs of yesterday. In fact this has been quite nice as the temperature has been in the 80s and I haven't been sweating like a pig; this is just as well given the gaps between gas stations.

The only town of note was Perry, and in even this wasn't a very high note. I have been wanting to talk water towers though, and Perry had a shiny silver one, unlike most of the white ones I see. I was interested to know why the US has so many water towers and we in the UK appear not to. Firstly it turns out we do have water towers in the UK before someone tells me about the one in Tilehurst in Reading, but on the whole most have been decommissioned. Water towers provide water pressure, and if you don't have a tower then you need an electric pump. The issue with this is that if there is a power cut then not only do you lose pressure but there is a risk of infection spreading through the stagnant water system. Now I'm going to put on my utility hat here and guess that the reason the US still has these water towers is because it I much more prone to power cuts. And the reason for this is that most electricity is still carried on overhead lines which due to some of the more violent weather over here can be taken down by storms and hurricanes etc.. Because of the lack of population density and the high costs of retrofitting it is rare for an electric company to actively seek to bury cables underground. Its a simple economic choice: 7 cents /kwh with occassional power cuts or 12 cents with no power cuts... And so the water tower stays :) Some of this is Peers speculation so I welcome some constructive criticism from engineers out there!

So the title of todays blog - what the hell is that about? Well old Gilbert is the Marquis of Lafayette, a french general who supported the americans in the war of independence and has lots of stuff named after him. From the wikipedia article he sounds like a very intereting bloke and turned down the opportunity to be dictator of France. I need to buy Alan a book on him for xmas, so he can read it and then give me the 1 hour synopsis in the pub. It also turns out he is one of only 7 people to receive hnourary american citizenship with the likes of Winston Churchill and Mother Theresa. What's more odd is that this was only granted in 2002. Does someone in congress have time to figure out which general deserves such an accolade 200 years later??

I passed through the town of Mayo and then cut a little north to a campground on the banks of the river. The owner of tha campground cracked me up. Every few minutes, he'd stop, stare and then say: "Seattle, really? Seattle...hmmm". He insisted on taking a photo of me! I managed to negotiate a picnic shelter again so if it does rain I won't have a wet flysheet which will help me getting out of here. Before cooking dinner I went for a wash / swim in the river. I was a bit concerned though because as I approached the river a 4 foot long fish jumped 6 foot out of the river.. and then again.. and then everywhere: jumping sturgeon. I have never seen anything like this, and its times like this I wish I had an SLR to grab a picture. I only know they were Sturgeon because Geoff, the canoeist told me. He had just completed his instructor exams and was about to start a business leading kayak trips. He jumped in for a swim just to prove to me it was safe, although it wasn't helped by the fact he told me there are alligators in this river, apparently upstream!

So I am closing in on the final destination, tomorrow is the penultimate day. These epic miles seem to be killer at the moment, but it will all be worth it, plus it will be getting my average mileage up to somewhere between 60 to 65 miles. I'm sure I had the final week pencilled in at gentle 55 mile days - oh dear me! Pam is currently on her bacherlorette party so the phone is going on silent before I get any drunk calls from her or her friends!

Day 67 - Cats and Dogs in Apalachicola

Todays mileage: 87
Total mileage: 3,431
End Point: Wakulla Spings State Park, FL

I had the smallest lie-in this morning, feeling very tired after a couple of days if epic riding and having stayed up late chatting to Carla and Patrick. I appeared upstairs and Carla kindly offered my an egg sandwich and juice for breakfast.  As I was eating she was telling me that they had only just had the kitchen refitted after their house was hit by lightening. The lightening had destroyed the cooked and melted the granite work surface!! Their house isn't even the tallest in the sub-division so they had been particularly unlucky. I said my goodbyes and told them they were welcome anytime in England. I hope they get to do the transam ride too, they were awesome people and so kind.

First port of call was the town of Apalachicola which the national forest in this area is named after. I would have to take quite a serious bridge over the bay to the town of eastpoint. Now most bridges have a bit of a fear factor because there is nowhere to go to the side of the road, however the shoulder was huge on this bridge - but I suddenly realised I had a completely different threat. Flocks of birds flying right towards me, they were racing along from thermals off the bridge. Now I'm not to scared of the seagull like birds but suddenly there were heron like creatures with beaks that were a 6 inches long and a wingspan that was as wide as my my armspan. One particular one came right at me and although it probably missed by a good few feet I was quite scared. I saw the newspaper now, my parents phone hacked by a tabloid journalist to find out the gruesome details of how the birds beak had driven through my helmet and wedged itself firmly in my skull...

On the otherside, the road ran right next to a very thin line of sandy beach. Various people were out fishing by standing in the sea casting nets, something I woudn't have expected to see in america. A few others were nestled next to a palm tree or a parasol fishing with a line. This area of the coast was less developed and it was nice to escape from the commercialization of other resorts I have seen along the coast. I think Carla called this the 'forgotten coast' or some such, very apt.

After 10 miles or so big drops of rain started appearing and the sky turned grey. It started raining for about 10 minutes and then suddenly it came. Dense, heavy, pounding, torrential, soaking, devastating downpour of cats and dogs from which nothing could escape. I cycled for about 5 minutes but by this point the rain was so hard I actually couldn't see were I was going and the road was a river, I needed shelter. Fortunately I found a house with a couple of people doing some work in their carport area and slowing down, they beckoned me under. I should explain that all the houses here have a ground floor which really has nothing in it - either an open air garage or store area, which is designed to take sea swell during a storm. The idea being not to leave everything valuable in this space. It was great to be in the shelter, and it turned the older gentleman was from Liverpool (which is were my dad's family is from) although he had left England at an early age many moons ago. After 20 minutes or so the storm stopped but I was absolutely drenched including my shoes which is never fun.

I headed onwards to Carabelle which was my halfway point and a lunch stop. I was a bit annoyed that I hadn't got here before the storm as I could have been in side a nice dry restaurant and saved time. I had a good Grouper sandwich as I had been wanting to get involved with someone fish whilst I was on the coast. I also saw what claimd to be the worlds smallest police station although to me It just looked like an empty phone box!

I was determined to keep the pace up north of Carabelle, this is very hard when you are soaked through and to make matters worst my gloves have started to fall apart. They haven't been properly dry in days and the stitching is falling out and the material is torn. They will have to last till the end of the trip but then they are going straight in the bin in Jacksonville Beach. North of Carabelle I had a choice as the road forked - take an inland route on 319 via Sopchoppy or continue on the coastal route 98. I decided to wait at the junction for 10 minutes and take the quietest road, and I would count that cars going either way to work that out: 6 cars went left, 6 went right - statistical decision failure. Both had shoulders and had I been dry and happy I would have taken the coastal road, but 319 looked a mile or so shorter and so I took the Sopchoppy route. Sopchoppy is a horrible town by the way, lots of shacks; its crazy how quick you get to poverty once you leave the coast.

I continued through Medart and rejoined 98 for a little bit before cutting up some back roads to my destination: "Edward Ball Wakulla Spring State Park" - bit of a mouthful that one. Going over the 80 mile mark and it approaching 7pm I was looking forward to stopping and drying out, but unfortunately the western entrance marked on google maps is closed and I had to do a few more miles to get to the northern entrance. As I cycled into the park I saw a sign of horror: "camping prohibited" - oh dear me, what an error on my part. There really was nothing around here but the park. I headed down the road with the plan of pleading my case to a park ranger. Instead I found a beautiful 1930s art-deco / spanish lodge, I walked to the front desk and explained myself to the lady behind the counter. I said I was happy to camp under a picnic area or something, she seemed concerned by this due to bears in the park and asked me to come back in a few minutes. After protracted negotiations with her manager and from what I could overhear a description of my soggyness she called me over. She asked me what I would usually pay and I said if I was motelling it, it would normally by a maximum of $40 to $50 - so she charged me $45. These rooms are gorgeous with period features and furniture and at the weekend normally go for $125, not only that but she gave me half a pizza too! I'm so happy to be dry, especially as I can see lightening out of the window!

I now have less than 200 miles to go. I'll keep my fingers crossed for dryer weather tomorrow - although no doubt the chance of thunderstorms will remain at the constant 30%. Quick note of thankyou for the sponsorship from all the Wycombe Abbey and Wycombe High School staff, I know my mum has been rounding you up for sponsorship and it is much appreciated. 

Thursday 14 July 2011

Day 66 - Canoe's this in Panama?

Todays mileage: 83
Total mileage: 3,344
End point: Indian Pass, FL

American readers may be slightly confused by this title, British readers should not be. Around 10 years ago an Englishman went missing after going canoeing in the north sea. He was declared dead; 5 years later he walks into a police station claiming amnesia. The police were slightly suspicious, but the key evidence would come from a random member of the public who googled 'John Darwin' and found a photo of him with his wife in Panama City, Panama. They were buying a huse with the proceeds from his life insurance. The Daily Mirror then ran the headline which I have used for my blog title.

Today I got up at 7am and managed to leave within the hour after saying my goodbyes. The road leaving Grayson Beach had an awesome bike path and I have to say I haven't seen this many cyclists just out and about riding since Boise. The only problem with these bike paths is that most people are taking quite a gentle pace which means I have to go slow; avoiding them and runners. This part of the coast leading towards Panama City has a lot of cute seaside towns, they are a bit fake and cheesey on the architecture front, but a lot better than North Mobile. As I was closing in on Panama City I was flagged down by a cyclist called Julie who was joined by her husband Marty. She was asking my advice on mirrors and road positioning, and myself now being an expert helped as best I could. Marty had a great retro mountain bike straight out of the 1980s!

Now obviously in my first paragraph I was talking about Panama City, Panama, but Panama City, Florida in the US is famous for different reasons; it is the US equivalent of Magaluf (or as it is affectionately known 'shagaluf'). Panama City is the epicentre of the spring break party scene of college students who get up to inappropriate behaviour. I was glad to hear Pam was banned from going after high school, who knows what she would have turned out like if she had been allowed to go ;) The city had a lot of interesting shops and bars, surrounding by tall blocks of apartments. Lots of activities and silly stuff, a ridiculous crazy golf course on three floors, a ship on land next to an upside down building - you get the picture. Negotiating my way through the city took a bit of time due to the geography of the coast and various bridges which needed to be crossed.

I stopped at a gas station in the middle of the city, and then another car crash - 2 in 2 days after 64 days of safety. A truck pulling out had been t-boned by a truck which then had a nissan go into the back of it, full of college kids. Police, fire, ambulence all on the scene but no serious injuries from what I could see. The southern part of the city had the business district and then a little bit of ghetto before returning to normal. But before it got normal I spotted an interesting car by the side of the road - a batmobile! Not a bad effort, the mechanic said this was his prototype and that he wanted to put it into production for rich sports stars! He is going to have to do a bit more work before he can do that especially if he wants to sell them for $200,000.

I headed south of Panama City through Tyndalls Air Force base and with the exception of a few miles on the city i'd had bike paths or lanes the whole way. The air force base has some interesting research buildings, one of which developed drones, they had lots of drones in front of the building. I was going to take some photos but I didn't want to risk an extended vacation 30 miles west of Santiago de Cuba, although I hear its difficult to get a reservation these days. The airforce was surrounded by forest which gave way once I reached Mexico Beach. This beach is much less developed that where I had been and you could actually see the beach and the sea from the road. Leaving Mexico Beach I entered Gulf County and excitingly entered Eastern Time - wooo! Its been a long timing coming, central time seems to have gone on forever.

After having a quick bite to eat I bumped into a lovely couple called Carla and Patrick, they turned out to be epic cyclists, having toured the far east and New Zealand. They also want to do the transamerica. After a few minutes of chatting I decided to take up their offer of some dinner and a hot shower. Little did I know I would be staying in another great beach house right on the ocean. They actually work in El Paso but their aim is to retire here, I was lucky I caught them whilst they were in Florida. I managed to get another swim in the ocean and they fed me chirizo sausage (that surely has to be bad spelling) and beer and we have spent the evening exchange bike stories. Thankyou so much for your hospitality!

I am now as you may have noticed well over my 3,280 miles which was my initial benchmark. I have another 275 to go, so plan 3 epic days and then a half day into Jacksonville. I will be expecting all my sponsors to adjust my sponsoship upwards by 10% for these extra miles! Only kidding, but if you haven't sponsored me yet and you have been meaning to do it, it would be most appreciated as I am very close to the £3,000 mark.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Day 65 - Gulf Islands Seashore

Todays mileage: 77
Total mileage: 3,261
End point: Grayton Beach, FL

I woke up at 7am looking forward to riding a along the coastline. To do this though I needed to escape Pensacola and get over to the beach. This involved crossing 3 mile bridge over to Gulf Breeze and then another bridge over to the actual beach. The traffic was pretty heavy but they had managed to squeeze in a small bike lane and the tolls ofcourse did not apply to me. On 3 mile bridge they were very keen not to have anyone stopping, there was even a sign saying not to stop for flat tyres and that you be fined for doing so. This seemed a little bit harsh - its not like anyone goes looking for those, trust me I know.

Once I hit the proper coastal road traffic was a bit calmer and I caught up with another biker called Patrick. He was a really great guy, half Canadian, half American - I think he thinks of himself as American now apart from when it comes to ice hockey ;) I noticed a small tattoo on his calf, an 'm' with a dot above it. This is the tattoo someone gets who has completed an iron man - big respect, he was telling me he had to actually walk the marathon because of leg problems, but still completed it! Patrick road with me for a good 10 miles or so to the end of the island, it was nice to have some company and exchange a few stories. The area we were cycling through was protected state park so was completely undeveloped, very beautiful but apparently slightly dangerous due to dive bombing nesting birds!
I had to cut back onto the mainland at this point, the next island on the coast is actually owned by the Air Force - good deal for them. So I was back on main highway 98 but only had 20 miles or so until I would reach my end destination of Gulf Shore Drive. Well or so I thought, once I got to Gulf Shore Drive the house numbers weren't quite working out. I phoned Allie whose family I am now staying with, but it turns out there are two Gulf Shore Drives on the coast! The next one being another 20 miles down the road, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing as I need to keep the mileages up.

For part of this journey I managed to cut off 98 and get back on a quieter costal road which ran next to Miramar beach. As I was cycling a long I got overtaken by a couple of youths on scooters, I was doing about 20mph with the wind at my back and they were probably doing around 30mph. The road had lots of pedestrians and thus had lots of stop signs at every junction. The first scooter kid ploughed nearly full speed into the back of a massive ford truck, he had barely started to brake. It was a nasty crash, the kid had taken a massive blow to the leg, lots of blood and he couldn't walk; the scooter was completely destroyed. The driver of the truck lept out and iwas very sympathetic. The dad was actually following on a scooter behind and soon turned up. I felt pretty sick to be honest and a lesson learnt on the dangers of scooters, especially in the hands of kids.

I pushed on and made good progress heading towards the correct Gulf Shore Drive, which is just after Grayson State Park, somewhere I had looked at camping before I knew Allie was here. Allie is Rick Micks girlfriend, and she is here with her parents, two sisters, uncle's family and another family who are close friends. Everyone has been very kind and hospitable and the house has a great location right on the beach, but down a private road so its quite quiet here. I found everyone apart from Allie who came to the door, sitting out on the beach. I went straight for a dive in the ocean and was accompanied by everyone else! They seem to be a little upset with the seaweed which is everywhere, but its quite harmless. I also went sea canoeing with Kevin, Allie's uncle which I have never done before, great fun apart from the fact we took two massive wipeouts. The waves to my suprise have been fairly big, I was expecting it to be a bit calmer in the gulf of mexico. We have just had a massive meal; a huge buffet of all kinds of things, all very good. I'm now tucking into some ice cream whilst the families play games and have fun. I wish I could stay here longer but the clock is ticking.