St. Mary’s Winter Ride–Day 4 Okefenokee Swamp ride

It’s not all about biking.  Sometimes you have to use a kayak to see the beauty of a place like Okefenokee.  But curiously, Jenny and I had never kayak together much less individually.  And so here we go.  Smiles on our faces and oars in our hands.

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Into the swamp we went.  Jenny in front and me in back of this two person kayak.

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Things were going well until Jenny got “out of sync” with her rowing.  She would lift the oar out of the water and let it dry for a while and I was doing all the rowing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eventually we worked it out so that one or the other of us would row and the other would site see. The swamp was really nice.  Lots of varying vegetation.  Moss was a very popular decoration on the trees

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There were also some beautiful cloud formations overhead and some nicely arranged lily pads in the water.

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Eventually we returned to the main channel and headed back to the dock.  The sky again presented a wonderful view particularly with the multiple contrails that marked the sky.

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In prior years, we have been able to see alligators along the shore line.  But with the colder weather they were apparently curled up in their warm dens.

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After Okefenokee we headed home to Flat Rock.  The BRAG Winter Ride is always fun and full of adventure and its great to spend it with a friendly group of bikers.

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By the way, in my post for the Day 1 events I failed to describe what was in one of the pictures.  If you click on this image it will open it larger in a separate window.  What you will see is a biker on a recumbent bike.  This young lady and her husband had been in a serious car accident a few years back and both lost the full use of their legs.  So she rides in a horizontal position and uses only her arm power to move the bike forward.  She is ahead of me in this picture and that was where she stayed as long as I was riding with her.  She was very strong.  This was a very impressive biker.

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We thank Jerry and Gloria Colley for all their efforts in putting BRAG bike events together.  They are always fun and often adventurous.  The only down side is putting up with Jerry’s humor.  Thanks guys.  We had a great time.

Mike, Georgie and Jenny

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St. Mary’s Winter Ride–Days 3 Fernandina Beach

So after seeing beautiful Cumberland Island, we looked forward to the ferry ride to Fernandina Beach, Florida, on Day 3.  After breakfast at the hotel we took our bikes down to the dock and waited patiently for the arrival of the ferry boat.

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The weather was still a bit cold and there was a wind blowing that added to the chill factor.  But hey, we were going to sunny Florida today.  Curiously, however, the Floridians were experiencing a freeze warning that was not the norm for them.  For us, it was like spring.

The boat ride was relaxing but quite cold.  They had put the canvas sides down to cut the wind but some of the cold air managed to circulate inside the passenger cabin.  Our  friend, Gloria, confiscated most of the available blankets and wrapped herself snugly as a defense against the cold.

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Once we arrived at Fernandina Beach harbor, we off-loaded our bikes and headed out for a tour that included biking around Amelia Island.

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After about an hour we stopped at a very nice cafe in Amelia Island and had a good lunch.  Georgie, who was not riding, had driven her van to this point and met us for lunch.  Jenny had, of course, ridden the distance with me.

After lunch we headed back to the harbor to catch the ferry back to St. Mary’s.  But before we got there I had to stop at this iconic site that has been a landmark for many of my Florida rides.

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The Sandy Bottoms Bar and Grill along with the adjacent beach, have always been quick stop-overs while waiting for the other bikers to group up.  Back at the harbor we were afforded some time to explore the stores  in town.  I, however, found this pod of pelicans gathered at the dock waiting for someone to throw them a fish.  These guys have been grouped up here for the last several years and they have no fear of us tourists seeking their picture.  So naturally with my experience of photographing cows and horses on the road as well as talking to them, I tried to do the same with the pelicans.  And it worked.  When I said “Okay, I want you to gather up for a group shot” sure enough that pelican on the far left got the hint and came over to be in the center of the picture.  Silly pelican.

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Seriously.  They understood what I wanted and did it.  I did miss the best picture, however.  There was a lone pelican standing at the back door of this seafood store as if he were waiting to get a servicing of fish handed to him.

After a relaxing boat ride back to St. Mary’s, we headed to the hotel where Georgie prepared another great happy hour for all of the bikers.

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The next day we headed to the Okefenokee Swamp for a little kayaking adventure.

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See my next post of that event.

 

 

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The St. Mary’s Winter Ride

For the past few years the BRAG biking group has journeyed to St. Mary’s, Georgia, located at the southeastern tip of Georgia across the bay from Fernandina Beach, Florida.

This is a beautiful coastal village that is a great place to bike in February.  This is also the home for a naval base and a harbor from which the ferries depart to Cumberland Island and Fernandina Beach.

Our first day in St. Mary’s we did a ride that took us down to the harbor and around the town and along the marshes.

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We rode to the entrance gate of the Naval Base where there is a replica submarine which gave us a great photo opportunity.

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Day 2 we drove to the harbor and waited to board the ferry to Cumberland Island.  This island is about a 45 minute ferry ride from St. Mary’s and the only way to reach it is by boat.  It is an extremely pristine island as you will see.  2015-02-19 12.07.51   2015-02-19 12.34.05

There are the remains of the Carnegie mansion that was built in 1929 and destroyed by fire in 1959.  Spooky!!  but beautiful.

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After walking a little further we came to the boardwalk that runs along the edge of the marsh area.  It appears that these are clam fields but probably just a plant of some sort.

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Then there is the monumental trees that stand guard in all weather.

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And then we arrived at the most beautiful beach.  There is nothing on this beach except what the waves wash up.  It is clean and incredible.

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Today there were a lot of hermit crabs wash up and some shells.  Here is what we founds.

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On the left is an intact hermit crab with the long tail.  Jenny found the vertebrate of a ???

We took the picture to the range and she said that it must be the bones of the porpoise that washed up on the beach about 3 weeks ago.  Cool.  The team of “Bones and Bras” strike pay dirt again.

After traversing the beach for about a 1.5 miles we headed inland to the forest.  Here we found these really amazing looking oak trees growing in incredible shapes.

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From here we strolled back to the ranger station and the dock to catch the ferry back to St. Mary’s.  The last time I walked down this path 3 wild horses came out of nowhere and were running directly toward me.  I decided that they had the right-away.  There are some 150 horses living on the island and they are fully self-sufficient.

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This island is always a joy to visit.  It’s a wonderful get-away from the complexities of our world.

Day 3 and 4 continued in the next post. Travel to Fernandina Beach and Okefenokee Swamp.

Remember, if you want to see a larger version of any of the pictures, click on it and it will open in another window.  You can then return to the post using the back arrow.

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Let the posting begin

After a long layoff I’m back to making some posts.  The next post is about our ride and trek to St. Mary’s, Georgia.  This is a ride that BRAG has been doing for a number of years now and it’s a great way to start the biking season.  Well, great but cold.  I think the first day we biked it was 39 degress.

Anyway, we’ve had a busy winter and have not had the incentive to post.  But with biking season starting hopefully I will be doing periodic posts of our experiences.

This year I’m doing the following rides and other trips.

February–Winter Ride in Georgia

May—C&O Canal from Washington DC to Pittsburgh

June–BRAG

Late June-Early July–RV trip with Jenny and the three grand kids to Texas, California, Colorado and back.

August–Bike ride with BRAG in Nova Scotia

That is what is currently planned.  We’ll see what else we can add along the way.  Quincy will probably not be accompanying us on these trips but he is doing well.  He has once again been selected the K-9 Ambassador for Kenmure Fights Cancer, our local charity to raise money for area hospitals’ cancer units.

Look forward to connecting with all of you again.  Enjoy the adventure.

Mike

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Technical Problems again

If you are trying to view my posts for the last several days, and you are not seeing any pictures, you have discovered the technical problem.  All of a sudden Word Press is not letting me download my pictures to the library nor do they show the images  of those that have been downloaded.

Stay tuned.  We’ll try and find a fix for this problem.

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Day 8 (Continued): A restful day in Riga.

So after we left St. Christopher at the river’s edge, we ventured back into the city.  We passed several very nice churches along the way.  In Latvia there is more of a variety of religious sects than there was in Lithuania.  Nonetheless the churches were all beautiful.

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But the churches were not the only photo ops in this beautiful city.  This young man had appanently found a subject more interesting to photograph.

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And so did this pretty blonde photographer.  Although I’m not real sure why she chose this subject.

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Not to be outdone by either of them, I found my own unusual subject to focus on.  By the way it was the only one Georgie would let me focus on.

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After all of this we need to have a true religious experience so we went to church and this basilica.  It was very ornate inside.  The priest gave a lovely sermon in Latvian and just in case we didn’t understand all of it, he gave it again.  Longest sermon we had ever heard.

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By this time we were beginning to wear down a bit so we headed back to the hotel.  In fact it was time to gather up and board the bus for our transfer to Estonia.  Here’s the group getting ready to depart.

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After several miles in the bus we crossed the border between Latvia and Estonia.  Once again the cameras came out and we memorizied the moment.

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After crossing the border, we off loaded the bikes and pedaled along the coast of the Baltic Sea for about 20 miles.  Here is Vaida, our guide, showing our route on the map and me looking out over the beautiful ocean.

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At one point along our bike route, we stopped for a break.  We climbed the nearby hill to get a good view of the ocean and a shaded place to rest.  In the meantime, Georgie, Our Lady of the Happy Hour, set up a birthday cake to celebrate Gloria Colley’s birthday.  We all gave her b-day greetings and devoured the cake.  Gloria was elated.

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Once we got back on our bikes and on the trail, our next stop was a beach along the coast which seemed to be a very popular place to enjoy a swim and get some sun.  Naturally we waded out into the waves.

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After our refreshing visit to the beach, we drove to the town of Haapsalu on the coast.

Since I am having trouble uploading pictures to this blog, I may be silent for a few days until we figure out what the problem is.  See ya.

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The first stop there was at the old railroad station that was now a museum with a lot of old locomotives and other memorabilia.

 

 

 

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Technical Advice

I understand from a few of my readers that the pictures I am posting are being shown sideways rather than as they were posted.  Chance are you may have a Mac.  Georgie has been experiencing this problem and I just heard from someone else that they were getting a stiff neck trying to see the pictures.

Here is my technical advice to solve this problem:

1. Get rid of the Mac and get a PC

2. Click on the picture and it will open up in another window in the right position.

And this last recommendation also works if you have been having trouble seeing the detail in some of the pictures.  By clicking on them they open in a new window with a larger view.  You can then go back to the post and see the rest of the narrative.

Let me know if you have any other viewing problem.

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Day 8: A leisurely day of rest touring Riga.

This may have started out to be a leisurely day but as I have gone through the pictures, it seems that we covered a lot of ground and saw a lot of city’s sites.  Some of our group opted to do some bike riding today but G and I thought it best to tour this beautiful city of Riga on our own.

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And most of the city is beautiful.  However, there are some areas left by the Russians that were not so nice.  Fortunately these are few and far between. After touring several streets, Georgie said “Let’s go this way”.

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I didn’t realize that Georgie had done a lot of investigation on Riga and she lead us to….well, YES, an underground bar.  How does she know?

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The bar was quite unusual and interesting. We just did a walk through and did not part-take of any tasty beverages.  Outside on the street, we were reminded of home.  This lovely RV was occupied and was parked in the car lot across from the bar.

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And then we came across this art sculpture in one of the many plazas.

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We then decided to walk down toward the river.  As we approached we saw this encased statue down by the river walk.  It was a statue of Kristaps (Big Christopher), who, according to legend, carried a child across the river one night.  In the morning he found a chest of gold at his door step and these funds were used to build the city of Riga.  Sound familiar.  I think we might call him St. Christopher.

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Here is the story of the legend if you care to read it.  Click on the picture to enlarge and read it.

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Well, we are up to noon on this day of rest.  Stay tuned for the next blog covering the rest of this day.

Continued.

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 7: Tour of Riga Old Town and biking to Jurmala Beach Resort

Today we gathered early outside our hotel for a guided tour of Riga Old Town.  Our local guide is very good but it is clear that he does not like the Russians who have invaded his country in prior years.

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We start off near the hotel where there were some beautiful buildings from some centuries  past.

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And along the way there were musicians randomly playing on the streets.  Music seems to be an important part of life here–and I”m not talking about rock and roll.

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The Baltics apparantly have access to large quantities of AMBER.  Many of the stores as we saw in Vilnius, Lithuania, carry beautiful works of amber jewelry and other creations.  At one store I saw this piece which is a tree with Amber leaves.  Quite amazing.

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After our tour of Old Town Riga, we saddled up for the 30km ride to Jurmala Beach, one of the most popular resorts in Latvia.  Our route started with a crossing of the river and then was generally on a bike trail through a forest of trees.

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Along the way we passed this water park.  Looked like fun.

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After a bus ride back to Riga, we encountered this bridal group making a special offer to those they encountered.  The bride-to-be was offering shots of vodka for 5 euro to help support the cost of her wedding.  Her bride’s maid helped to encourage the tourist to donate to the bride-fund.  So we did.

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We finished this busy day with an Indian food dinner.  Yeah!  I love Indian food and who would have thought that we’d find a good restaurant offering my favorite foods here in Riga.  And you can tell Georgie is happy too.  She doesn’t have to cook tonight.

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Thus ends another adventurous day in the Baltics.  Tomorrow is Sunday and Georgie and I have decided to take the day off and just tour Riga.  Tune in.  I might even get the blog written in the next few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 6: On to Riga, Capital of Latvia

Thanks to my friend, Beth, I was reminded to finish the blogs on my Baltic trip.  So I am once again posting.  Since we returned from the Baltics in mid-August, we have had a steady stream of house guests.  The last couple left yesterday and we have no confirmed reservations for the Farmer B&B for the rest of the year.  But if you come this way, we will welcome you with great joy.

So when we last talked we were at the Hill of Crosses, a most amazing place in Lithuania.  Now we are heading by bike and bus to Riga, the capital of Latvia.  We are all very excited when we cross the border from Lithuania into Latvia.  We have to stop and take everyone’s picture, of course.  This is us as we left the Lithuania Republic.  And us as we crossed into Latvia.

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Once in Riga, we were dropped off by our bus in front of a very old church. We have to walk about two blocks to our hotel.  The architecture in this area is beautiful.

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Once settled in our room we begin to think about dinner.  When we get to the lobby several of our fellow travelers are milling around with the same thought but with questions on their faces–“Where to go?”.  Finally someone says “Lets go this way” and of course we all follow.  We end up at a brightly lite plaza with restaurants and bars and music playing.  We chose one of the open-air restaurants and ordered a “tasty beverage”.

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After a delicious dinner we did a little night walking around the plaza.  One of the cafes was named Rock-a-Billy Cafe and there was rich American country music eminating from the musical group on the inside.  Riga is really a beautiful city at night and except for the architecture you would think that you were in any upscale city in the USA.  We headed for the hotel and looked forward to a good night’s sleep and an exciting Day 7.

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