Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 23, 2017. Palm Harbor, FL

It was raining this morning when we got up, so I checked the computer first thing. said the rain would be done before 8 AM, so we proceeded with our plans for the day. We loaded the bikes in the car and headed north. We met Tom and Fred (friends from home) at the Hwy 54 trailhead for the Suncoast Trail, as planned. It was a very nice trailhead, with drinking water, a portajohn, and a bike repair station.

We had advice from Bruce (at the bike shop) to go on a new section of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, so we headed south on Suncoast Trail, riding it until it led into the new trail. It meandered through the woods, over a couple of bridges, and ended all too soon at Van Dyke Rd. By next year this trail should be completed and connected to the rest of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. (There is a five mile gap between this new section and the original Upper Tampa Bay Trail).

We turned around and rode back to Suncoast Trail but we were not ready to quit! We continued north on Suncoast trail, against the wind. The entrance of Starkey Park was about 4.5 miles north of the trailhead where we parked our cars.

We found a man to take our photo at Starkey Park, where we took a break. Here we are: me, Fred, Tom and Dianne.

On the way back through Starkey Park we stopped at the solar system placards, placed a relative distance from each other according to their real placement in the sky. You can see that Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are relatively close together.

By the time we got out to the farther planets they were at least a mile apart.

We exited Starkey Park and got back on Suncoast Trail, which runs along the Suncoast Parkway toll road, separated by the tall fence on the left. We had the wind at our backs once we made the turn onto that trail so we really hauled back to the trailhead! Total mileage for  the day: 37, our longest biking day so far this trip.

We decided to eat at Chili's across the highway from the trailhead. Fred and Tom knew just where to go, but Dianne and I did not, so we were in the wrong lane and ended up dumped onto the toll road. We had to pay 50 cents to get on the wrong road, turned around at the next exit and had to pay another 50 cents to go back to where the guys were waiting, laughing at us, knowing exactly what we had done.

After lunch we hugged our friends from Michigan, told them farewell and headed our separate ways. As soon as we were in our vehicles heading home it started to rain. What a great day!

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