Day 59: Circling like Vultures

The RTA Gang (minus Mike who was parking Babs) with Earl Mills
The RTA Gang (minus Mike who was parking Babs) with Earl Mills

The ride is winding down and with each day emotions are becoming more and more mixed. Two months is a hell of a long time to be gone from family and friends back home so certainly everyone is anxious to end this thing. But on the other hand, we have just a few days of experiences, adventure and riding left so each mile is becoming more and more precious. We somewhat arbitrarily decided to end on Sunday, November 15th many months ago and as that date approached we’ve stuck to it, knowing it may be more than we need but keeping in mind that those extra days may come in handy for weather days or whatever. But here we are on Wednesday and we are really only one long bike ride away or two moderate rides so we could easily be in St. Augustine Beach by Friday afternoon. But family and friends (and there’s a lot of them coming) have made plans, rented houses and hotels and arranged schedules to meet us on Sunday. So we’re basically riding around in circles in North Florida waiting for Sunday. Everyone is understanding of the situation though so there really is no tension about it. As I’ve been saying all along, this is an exceptional group of people and each is making the best of it.

So on to today. Yes, another exceptional day of riding. The weather was cool, the winds were light and mostly favorable and the scenery was outstanding. And on top of it all, WE WERE IN ANOTHER PARADE!

Brenda found this parade in Live Oak on the internet and we called yesterday and sure enough, they had room for us. Obviously it was a Veteran’s Day Parade and the highlight for me was meeting Earl Mills, the Parade Grand Marshall, a WWII Vet who parachuted into Normandy and Holland with the 101st Airborne AND was at Bastogne, Belgium when they found themselves completely surrounded by the Nazi’s. Ever see “Band of Brothers” on HBO? That’s basically this guy. Amazing. We were told he would be arriving to the gathering point in a red convertible and Rich and I were walking around when we saw this red convertible drive up and the driver got out looking for someone. So there’s old Earl sitting in the passenger seat grinning like he just got a new toy for Christmas so Rich and I came up and introduced ourselves. Right at that time the rest of the RTA gang came along so the timing was perfect… we had a nice little chat and took the group picture before the parade got underway. The parade? Oh that… well now that we’ve been in two of them it was old hat and we rode behind some horses, dodging the obvious, and went out to a nice breakfast afterwards.

Following the parade we had a rather casual ride to our campground in Ichetucknee Springs (say THAT three times fast!), checked out the park, had a wonderful dinner that Brenda and Lynn put together and that was pretty much our day.

Tomorrow we continue our snail’s pace with a stop in Gainesville. We’ll probably hang out there for an extra day and then do two very easy days to St. Augustine. That, or maybe we’ll just circle up to Georgia or down to Orlando. Who knows?

Early morning as we were getting set to leave the Suwannee River.
Early morning as we were getting set to leave the Suwannee River.
The view from Babs during the parade. Dangerously close to the business end of those horses, in my opinion.
The view from Babs during the parade. Dangerously close to the business end of those horses, in my opinion.
Bill at the Springs near our campground
Bill at the Springs near our campground
...and the other half of our fabulous support team, Mike. These two guys have been nothing but wonderful Mike has driven the RV well over 6,000 miles on this trip!
…and the other half of our fabulous support team, Mike. These two guys have been nothing but wonderful! Mike has driven the RV well over 6,000 miles on this trip! For anyone who knows Babs, then they know what an outstanding thing that is to drive her that kind of distance!

6 thoughts on “Day 59: Circling like Vultures”

  1. Glad you have some extra time, not being rushed. The team has done an excellent ride and I enjoyed following along. Your message has gotten out there, job well done!

  2. Ichetucknee Springs? I can’t even pronounce that ONCE! LOL! Glad y’all were able to meet some wonderful vets and be in another parade. Every bit of exposure helps to bring awareness to the plight of those who suffer from mental illness. Have fun on these last few days! Will miss the blogs.

  3. I’m sitting here w/tears welling up at the thought that your adventure is close to being over – at least the physical part of it. The adventure of continuing to bring awareness to mental illness will continue as you return to your normal life. You and the RTA riders and support crew have done a wonderful thing by spreading the word all across the country. I know your mission is not complete and wish you much luck in your continued efforts. Enjoy the remaining few days on the road before joyfully falling into the waiting arms of your loved ones on Sunday.

  4. Thanks for being a part of our Veterans Day Parade. I was on the First Baptist Church float. Really enjoyed the conversation

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