All posts by Allen Giese

Day 58

imageWe had a scheduled day off yesterday in Tallahassee and it was a good thing… it rained all day. So we booked ourselves into a downtown hotel and used the time to dry out our clothes, shoes and tents. When we woke up this morning the front had mostly passed, still a bit misty and much cooler. Definitely the coolest riding we’ve done on the tour was today. Word is tomorrow will be colder. This South Florida boy doesn’t do well in the cold!

We had a beautiful ride though, in spite of the cooler weather. Gorgeous rolling countryside in north Florida. More hills than we’ve seen in a while but short and easy to climb. After 75 miles we came to Suwannee River State Park and pulled in there to camp. Beautiful place… wish I took some pictures but spent most of my photo energies on making the video for Veterans Day that we just posted… hope you like it.

One thing we did, or tried to do, while we were in Tallahassee was see my State Representative or Senator to let her know who we are, what we’re doing and what we’d like them to do. Unfortunately, neither was to be found (or staff) in Tallahassee.  In researching the “what we’d like them to do” part I called on my good friend, Robin Cole, President of NAMI-Miami to ask what she would ask. Robin sent me a fantastic letter that very clearly explains what I hope each of you ask your representative. I’ll copy the letter in it’s entirety below and if you are so inspired, I hope you copy and paste it in your own letterhead and send it off to your representative. It can only help! (note: I slightly changed only the first sentence but otherwise all credit for writing this goes to Robin)

Dear Representative,

I’m a constituent in your district and a person who is deeply interested in seeing positive reforms in our dysfunctional mental health system. Attached are ideas I’ve learned about that presents fresh alternatives to the current system that relies on the criminal justice system, homeless shelters, Baker Act facilities and hospital emergency rooms to serve as the gateway to our mental health system. The proposed programs focus on the typical path people with mental illness now follow from first onset to full blown crisis, and how strategically placed interventions could substantially reduce the need to call on law enforcement to intervene, or to use the Baker Act to get people into treatment. The programs cited below are documented “best practices” used in communities, counties and states throughout the country, including programs already in place in Florida.

We believe that a true transformation of the Mental Health Care system, from a crisis reactive system of care to a RECOVERY oriented system of care is the most beneficial to those affected by a mental illness and their families. This transformation will prove to be cost effective for the state, as it will eliminate the need for many millions of dollars spent on crisis hospitalizations and arrests, incarceration and diversion of people with mental illness.

In determining what the policies and programs of transformation should include, we strongly suggest that consumers and family members are included. Decisions about additions and/or changes to mental health programming must include those with a lived experience of the system as it exists, with a knowledge of what is not working well and what works best. We are NOT interested in “tweaking” the system as is, or only to send more funds to providers to add more beds in CSUs. More beds without strong community outpatient follow up care will not decrease high utilization of those beds. We are interested in recovery programs to treat illnesses that are highly recoverable if the programs were only in place and accessible.

At this pivotal point in attention to our dysfunctional mental health system, we ask that you consider forming a task force or work group charged with exploring the type of progressive, evidence based, positive outcome producing programs included in the attachment. This group would then recommend how programs like these could be implemented throughout the state to meet the varying needs of each region. The group should include active consumer and family representatives, as they have the lived experience of mental illness and the process of recovery. It would be ideal if the Department of Children and Families or State was able to establish a separate fund that would be available to the Managing Entities to support innovative programs focused specifically on interrupting the path to crisis through prevention, early intervention, and effective treatment and supports in their own regions. This fund should NOT replace funds available for current programs and services, as these are already underfunded by the State of Florida.

Now is the time to bring early interventions and preventive practices to the State of Florida. Consumers and family members are demanding it. We ask, why must we wait for hospitalization, homelessness or incarceration before individuals receive the treatment and interventions they need to recover from a mental health crisis? We need transformation now.

Sincerely,

Day 56: Soggy

DSCN2553It started raining about 2am and it’s still raining now as I write this, 15 hours later. A quick look at the radar as I lay in my tent this morning told me there’s no sense in waiting this one out… we’re gonna get wet today.

We gathered our stuff and struck our tents and moved out. The ride was two halves today with the first half being county highway shoulder, which wasn’t bad, and the second half being a beautiful rails to trails route that takes you into Tallahassee from the south. Within a few minutes of the ride we were pretty soaked and by the time we got to Tallahassee we were as soaked and soggy and wet as you could be riding a bicycle on terra firma. Honestly, we couldn’t have been wetter had we just rode right into a surf.

Once in Tallahassee, we secured lodging at a Motel 6, which is Rich’s favorite chain hotel (be sure to ask him about it next time you see him… oh, and he also loves Liver and Onions and Quinoa… ask him about that too), got dried out and went next door to the Olive Garden for a big lunch. The rest of the day was laundry, naps, NFL, and whatever else we do before lights go out tonight.

Not the greatest day of riding but then again, we were riding so it could be worse!

Lynn and Ed on the Tallahassee trail.
Lynn and Ed on the Tallahassee trail.

Day 55: Another Day on the RTA… NOT

DSCN2531One thing that has been consistent on this ride is that no two days are alike and as you might have guessed today was no different. Or was different… now I’m all confused.

So Rich and I started out early to scout out a place for an unreasonably large breakfast. The first place we came to was 20 miles down the road and was the quaint Gulf coastal town of Apalachicola, which was where our day’s adventure began. As we pulled into the outskirts of town we saw a large pirate ship on wheels with many folks dressed as pirates. Now this is approximately 8:30 in the morning so I’m thinking, wow, these people sure do like to party on Saturday morning in these parts! As we got deeper and deeper into town it became apparent that these folks were preparing for a big, and I mean BIG parade!

So Rich and I eventually found a place for breakfast and started talking about it… we should be in that parade! I called Mike and Bill on Babs and found they were only about half an hour away. It was now 9:00 and the parade started at 10:00. Then I called Ed and the girls and found out they were about an hour away. This could work! So Rich and I scouted out the town and found the parade director and VOILA! We’re in a parade! It was a blast! I’ve never been in a parade before and it was soooo much fun!

After that the day was rather anti-climactic. We had another 50 miles to do (70 total for the day) and the views were awesome, as you’ll see in the pictures below, but what could possibly be as cool as being in a parade with your buddies who you’ve just ridden nearly 3,000 miles with?

Nothing.

Rich and the ladies tearing up the asphalt.
Rich and the ladies tearing up the asphalt.
Another Parade Pic... did I mention how awesome it was being in the parade?
Another Parade Pic… did I mention how awesome it was being in the parade?
Belt-buckle Cam. What most of today looked like.
Belt-buckle Cam. What most of today looked like.
Been seeing these signs for the last two days. Finally decided to believe it when I saw a guy hauling a bear trap behind his truck.
Been seeing these signs for the last two days. Finally decided to believe it when I saw a guy hauling a bear trap behind his truck.
The Selfie
The Selfie

Day 54: Panama City Beach to Indian Pass

IMG_4874[1]Nice mileage today with a respectable 63 miles with two extremes… long incredibly straight pine lined roads (that’s bike touring code for “extremely boring”) and beautiful gorgeous Gulf views along the coast (bike touring code for “fun”).

Rich and I left early to stop off at the Waffle House for a big breakfast. Apparently Waffle Houses are critical to the local economy in this part of the country because there’s one every 300 feet. But as an eater of big breakfasts, I’m good with that. So we each downed our two eggs, hashbrowns, sausages, toast, waffle, juice and coffee – just enough food to get us to lunch – and were on our way.

We navigated our way through Panama City and morning rush hour and were spit out on the south side of town at the beginning of Tyndall Air Force Base. Now on the map, Tyndall is only about half an inch long from end to end. But when you bike it, it’s like 15 miles! Highway 98 goes right through it in a perfectly straight line and there are tall straight pines forests on each side of the road so basically you are riding through a 15 mile perfectly straight tunnel. OMG… we almost fell asleep.

Finally we got to light at the end of the tunnel, also known as Mexico Beach, where we pulled over and administered smelling salts to wake back up. A bit further up the road we found ourselves in Port St. Joe where we had lunch and a short 15 miles later we pulled into camp.

Absolutely beautiful campground with our tents right at the mouth of Indian Pass. I had the pleasure of watching a large dolphin do his (or her) feeding while I pitched my tent.

Tomorrow will be our last day on the Gulf Coast as we make our way up to Panacea (where apparently all our problems will be solved), south of Tallahassee. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will be as nice as today, but with a name like that I’m sure it will.

Boring
Boring
Fun
Fun
Rich flashing the "sign." Most people would think this means "peace" but to the hard core cyclist (velominati) it is a reference to "Rule #5" which simply states "Harden the F&%k Up. We live by this rule when things start to hurt.
Rich flashing the “sign.” Most people would think this means “peace” but to the hard core cyclist (Velominati) it is a reference to “Rule #5” which simply states “Harden the F&%k Up.” We live by this rule when things start to hurt.
Following Rich and I see that he looks like the classic extreme minimalist unsupported bike tourer... everything he needs to tour is in his jersey pockets! You may ask why he is riding with Body Wash, a t shirt and a toothbrush, but the answer is far to complex for me to explain.
Following Rich and I see that he looks like the classic extreme minimalist unsupported bike tourer… everything he needs to tour is in his jersey pockets! You may ask why he is riding with Body Wash, a t shirt and a toothbrush, but the answer is far to complex for me to explain.
Had a little time to kick back and do nuth'in today.
Had a little time to kick back and do nuth’in today.
Not sure campsites get better than this.
Not sure campsites get better than this.