December 7 - Islamorada, Florida

I am now on the return trip. Today I rode most of the way back along the keys.

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It was harder than riding out. The wind is still blowing from the east, and I had headwinds all day. I made 85 miles in the same time I made 100 miles a couple days ago. I was going to stop and camp at the KOA at 70 miles, but they wanted $47 for a tent site! With no electric to charge the computer and cell phone! Luckily I remembered a motel I saw on the way out advertising $40 rooms Sunday-Thursday. I am there. It's nice.

It was pretty hard to leave Key West. It's really nice there. I dawdled over breakfast. Then this guy rode up to the restaraunt on a recumbent. I am not the only recumbent in town. Check it out, pretty cool, huh?

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Yesterday was a really good hostel experience. Hostels are fun because you often wind up sitting around chatting up the other guests. The theme for this hostel was the War in Iraq. It seems every person you run into has had their life reorganized by the War in Iraq.

First, there was the guy in my dorm. I never got his name. He is about 20. He had just been released on a medical discharge from the army. It seems he blew his knee out during training, and he got a medical discharge. He had originally trained on tanks. He was a tank driver. They decided they had enough tank drivers and what they really needed were soldiers to run around kicking down doors to find insurgents. So he went back to training for a 20 week crash course on marching beside armored personnel carriers through Iraqi slums, where his squad goes and kicks down doors and raids houses.

I think he was really lucky he blew his knee out. I think his one-word job description would have been "target".

But the real fun was talking to this woman I met named K. I had to wait around awhile to register until they opened when I got there, and she was waiting right behind me. She was from Tennesee. She is about 30, cute, with piercings. It seems she had planned to meet a girlfriend in Ft. Lauderdale for a quick vacation in Key West, and she got stood up. She drove to Ft. Lauderdale and then straight through to Key West, to her hotel, and she decided there was no way she's paying $120/night by herself and so she went to the hostel. She said she'd had two hours of sleep in the last 2 days.

I figured she went and crashed, and then headed back to Tennessee. But no, yesterday afternoon, she appears in the courtyard. I asked her what she'd been up to, and she said she was out all night at the gay cabaret watching the drag queens, who bought her drinks all night.

We wound up having this long rambling conversation where I learned the following

  • Her husband is in the Army stationed in Germany.
  • Her husband has already done a tour in Iraq, and got in a firefight where he killed dozens of Iraqis. He sounds like he has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • She has a precocious five year old daughter, who is ambidexterous and naturally does mirror writing with her left hand.
  • She is into computers and is an aficiando of horror movies.
  • She and her husband got married on her favorite day, Halloween.
  • She is a cancer survivor, and has to take tons of meds, some of which have little to do with cancer, e.g. Xanax.
  • So anyway she was annoyed because she forgot to take her meds during her 48 hour driving marathon. Then she went off on how she was thinking about adjusting her vitamin regimen because she is double jointed and she could stand to have her ligaments tightened. She demonstrated this by bending her elbow back at some absurd angle. This led to a discussion about contortionists, and she said she once tried to fit herself through a 10 inch ring because she saw a trapeeze artist do it, which led to a discussion of the hazards of working on a trapeeze and how she knew of a girl who was doing a scarf act on the trapeeze who messed up, fell, and died.

    At this point, the light went on, and I got this hunch. I decided to be tactful, and I asked her if she was in the circus. She said no. I tried again, and asked her if she was out watching the drag queens because of a professional interest.

    "Well, I was a pole dancer for ten years."

    I love hostels.

    Here is the route for today. Wind 10-15 mph from ESE.

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