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United States, Seattle to Miami

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United States, Seattle to Miami

Greetings, 

I'm a 28y.o male, about to separate from the military. I'm planning a tour from Seattle to Miami beginning in August/Septemeber. I'm not looking to put up crazy miles but i'm game if need be. Relaxed pace. Days off here and there if needed but when it comes time to cycle at the minimum i'd like to hit 80km(50mi) a day, +/-100km average. Most nights are spent camping, but i like to splurge and eat a good meal/hotel every now and then.

Long term: if everything goes according to plan, I'm looking to possibly cross over into South America and head down to Argentina. 

* Found this gem. Seattle- Missoula- break off in MO/IL-Miami.

If you're interested and looking for a challenge let me know. 

Oscar

 

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Things I should have done

Great idea for a tour.  I wish I had thought of it when I was your age.  My tours have all been after retirement, but it's still all good.

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it's not how you start but how you finish

you're living the life, that san fran to nyc trip looks like a good time. 

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Wish I could...

but you wouldn't want this old fart as a (long distance) cycle companion. Actually, I am leaving (Lakewood, WA), flying to Anchorage for a little tour to Fairbanks and then back down to Vancouver (where I'll take a train back here). 

I am not sure what your route is when you head into the southeast, but I've cycled down the Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi) and would highly suggest utilizing it for part of your ride (it travels slightly SW, so may be best for a short distance down through Mississippi). I also spent a winter cycling all the way around Florida, so might have some insight for you (cycling out to the Keys was great, but DON'T use the campground ($100 even though I was on a bike). There are stealth places I can point you towards.  You didn't mention if you've toured before, but feel free to contact me if you have questions (I've been touring since 2012 - USA, Mexico, Canada, Iceland, Europe).

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The Last Frontier

I'm a bit jealous, one day I'll make my way to Alaska to hike Mt. Denali. I googled the parkway, but it looks to run perpendicular to my route. Do you have any experience traveling to the Carribean Islands (ferries)? it seems like it may be more trouble than it's worth. The plan is to cycle down the western side of Florida, any recommendations/areas to avoid? I've done two tours north to south of Baja California and Japan.

Thanks for the info 

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Florida west coast

No experience regarding the Carribean and ferries. People are always leaving from south Florida and sailing the carribeans, so you might be able to find a ride through websites like findacrew.net. I visited a couple marina bars (places boat captains might frequent) near Ft. Lauderdale and almost found a ride to Europe (but timing was bad).

Regarding west coast of Florida, no real places that I would suggest you avoid. Just remember that Florida is the land of the Blue Hairs -- old, blue haired people driving tanks with limited vision -- so you best have mirrors if you have to ride on the main roads (you will).  I had one clip my handlebar mirror while passing at 50+mph (I don't know how they did that?), and had a minor crash in at Key West (although that may have been a tourist--possibly with blue hair). Even so, I would love to do it all over again!

On the west coast, I would highly recommend that you cycle down the outer islands (starting on Anna Maria Island). Before that, you can cycle from Clearwater Beach down to Fort De Soto State Park, but then you have to cycle back up through St. Petersburg & Tampa (both are must do cities with great cycle path options). However, it may still be a bit of a challenge heading south out of Tampa (that was my experience in 2013-14 however). If you can find someone to drive you across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, you would avoid all that but, at least, don't miss out on cycling in St. Petersburg. 

On Longboat Key, near the Mar Vista Dockside Restaraunt (good place to eat), you might bump in to a cycle-touring friendly guy named Bernie. He lives on a sailboat in that cove and let me stay on his boat a few days. When you get to the Tampa/St.Petersburg area contact me here on WS and I'll see if he is available (no promises though). If no response, just ask someone at the restaraunt.

You can continue down the islands until you'll need to turn east and travel through Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, but then you can go back to island hopping (Ft. Myers Beach to Naples). I was traveling in a clockwise direction, so I ferried from Key West to Marco Island then cycled up the west coast. Sounds like you plan on using Alligator Alley to get you from the west coast (Naples) over to Miami. If so, I've heard you have to plan for limited places to stop (food, water, camp) and, of course, there will be alligators on the roadway (but that tends to cause the traffic to slow down and gawk). Some cycle the whole distance, some stop at the halfway point.

There are plenty of reasonably priced campsites, but I was able to camp free in a couple spots (some, probably, because it was the winter season).

  • Fort Pickens Campground near Pensacola:  I could not find anyone to pay? I ended up setting up my camp then, after dark, I walked over to the beach with my sleeping bag and just slept on the beach. Seemed safe to do, and my bike was locked to a tree.
  • Horseshoe Beach community park:  This is a one-way-in one-way-out community, but a quaint little community with a city park that has free, clean campsites. I was glad I diverted off my route to spend the night there.
  • Withlacoochee Bay Trail: Just south of Inglis, FL, you can take this paved canal pathway to the west end where there is a nice pavillion. At dusk they close the gates, but pedestrians (and you) can get around at the side (unless they've changed things). People were still walking/biking around after the gate was closed, so I hung out at the pavillion until everyone left. Then I hung my hammock underneath the pavillion(plenty of space). Never saw anyone until I was cycling out the next morning, so probably could have set up my tent in the pavillion space!
  • Fort De Soto State Park: I just explored the park until the evening time when everyone had left East Beach, then found a spot on the shoreline. The tree line on the east side kept me out of sight, so I wasn't bothered by anyone. (Agian, probably because it was out-of-season and a weekday.)
  • Geiger Key (near Key West): Another off-route, out-of-the-way spot! There are free camping spots at the far end of Hwy 941, past where the road ends. Secluded & far from things, but I felt there was potential for some sketchy people here. Nevertheless, I had no problems here. Jets flying overhead because you are next to the Naval Airbase.
  • Key West: After finding out how costly it would be to use the campgrounds on Key West, I backtracked and found a semi-secluded place to stealth just before(east side) the bridge crossing between Stock Island and Boca Chica Key. It was okay, but I didn't feel I was hidden enough, so I moved under the bridge the next night (I couldn't catch the ferry until the next day).

Despite everything I just listed, I am almost certain it is ILLEGAL to wild camp and/or camp on the beaches in Florida.

I hope this helps! It's more than you probably expected, but I got to revisit the fun time I had cycling around Florida, so glad to provide the information.

ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY!!

 

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Thanks Dak, this is very helpful. I will definitely check out that website.