The time has come for the continuous traveling of the journey to end. But the impacts of voyage will continue to be prevalent in our lives long into the future. On Tuesday morning Kyle and I pedaled 50 miles from Henderson State Park to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, FL. There we spent 3 days relaxing fully and allowing ourselves to prepare for the transition back to Pinellas County. The days were filled with reading, walking, lounging on the beach, and finally disassembling the bike for the car ride home. On Thursday we walked to the beach and were greeted by calm water, still air, blue skies, white sand, and sunshine so bright it caused the water to look green. Walking over to the large boulders that begin on the beach and protrude into the Gulf, creating a break wall for the harbor entrance, we climbed the boulders and found a spot to sit. Quietly we observed our surroundings: fisherman casting off the rocks, a sailboat and some powerboats enjoying the first day of calm weather in weeks, a large offshore vessel coming into port, fish jumping through the water’s clear surface, waves lapping gently on the shore, and birds gliding overhead. A perfect afternoon to sit together and reflect on the last 6 months.
That evening Kyle and disassembled the bike while I organized our gear. We made dinner, read our novels, and retreated into our tent, knowing it was our last night in our small green home. A home that protected us from wind, rain, storms, flooding, scorching sun, relentless mosquitos, and flying sand. A nylon house that kept us close to the earth allowing us to be on the same level as the bugs, plants, and dirt. Sleeping well we awoke and began taking down camp. Around 9am we got the call from my dad that he and my mom were pulling into the state park! How fun they both managed to come 🙂 An hour later we had said our hellos, loaded the bike on the roof, our gear in the trunk, visited the beach, and were on our way back to Pinellas County.
The first few hours of the 6.5hr drive were, of course, filled with stories, laughter, questions, and catching up. Kyle and I both commented on how quickly the vehicle was moving- going 70mph felt very strange when we were used to 15 or under! Out of instinct I found myself checking the size of the shoulder, if there was a bike lane, and the quality of the sidewalks. Around 5pm we arrived at the 7 mile bridge bringing us across Tampa Bay and into Pinellas County. And just like that, we were back where we started 183 days ago when we drove over that bridge, Solvi in tow, on our way to Wisconsin.
After 6.5hrs we were all excited to get out of the car and I was thrilled to see my parent’s dogs, one of which we have had since I was 9! That evening we ordered pizza, talked, listened to Christmas music, wrapped some presents, and just enjoyed all being together again. Quickly after arriving at their house Kyle and I went into the backyard to see Solvi! It was awesome to be re-United with her again and to go through the gear, clothes, books, and journals that had been left behind for the bike adventure.
Currently, it is Christmas afternoon. Kyle is responding to some emails while I’m writing in my journal; the smell of Christmas dinner cooking inside is lingering in the air. We have been enjoying our time at my parent’s house the past couple days. Yesterday I found myself curled up on the couch, a cup of coffee in one hand, my novel in another- Christmas music playing quietly in the background, candles emitting a soft glow, and the dogs on the ground below me snoring happily. I found myself feeling content and grateful to be happy and healthy on Christmas Eve. Kyle and I put the tandem back together and rode it to the grocery store; we had so much fun with no gear!
Tomorrow or the next day we will go check on our house- a 35ft sailboat that has been kept at our good friend’s house at their dock. Kyle and I have been living aboard our sailboat, Sirocco, for a few years now and have missed her greatly while we’ve been gone. A huge thanks to Courtney and Micah for watching after here while we were away!
While the last couple days have definitely been a transition for Kyle and I, we are both feeling good about being back…plus it’s only for a few months before we take off on another adventure anyway 🙂 For the next few weeks we will work as much as possible, switch off staying with my parents, on our boat, and with friends before moving aboard our friend’s sailboat. As of now the plan is to leave around April 1st aboard our friend’s sailboat and take a 4 month journey to help him move to a different part of the U.S. – but I’ll save those details for a later date! This game we call life is so full of opportunities, experiences, and endless places to see and people to meet. Kyle and I are looking forward to living a bit transient and staying open to all opportunities, rather than choosing to settle down somewhere for an extended period of time. We both seem to have caught the travel bug and we can’t imagine stopping exploring when there is still so much to see, to do, to live! Onward 🙂
P.S. We have received a few questions in regard to the blog and if we have any video footage to share- I’m working on a small video, a photo album, and a reflection of our voyage which will all appear here sometime in the next week or so. Thanks for all the support!