Recumbent Bike for Sale!

Jeffrey here.

Have you seen my Lightning Phantom II?  I rode it from NYC to Nashville in 2012.

It’s not actually for sale.  It was stolen!

Here it is as it was in November 2011; and in the summer of 2013, with me in front of the landmark 1904 McKim Mead and White generating station at 59th Street & 11th Avenue in Manhattan.

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Two Friday afternoons ago, I gave a lift (by car) to a friend.  Then I parked the car, grabbed the Lightning bicycle, and rode to 76th Street & Central Park West just in time for the start of a prayer service.  I locked the Lightning outside the Fourth Unitarian Universalist Church and hurried inside.

When I emerged after 9 PM, one lock had been cut and left behind, the second lock was gone, and so was the Lightning.

The Lightning was my workhorse:  for personal transport, grocery shopping, pickups/deliveries, and visiting incapacitated persons throughout NYC for the Vera Institute of Justice Guardianship Project.

For years, I have locked my bike in even the worst New York City neighborhoods without a problem.  Perhaps potential thieves realized that I was there as a visiting nurse, as a legal guardian’s emissary, or for other constructive purposes.  Evidently a bike locked outside a church, in dim light, in a fancy neighborhood, without context, was irresistible.

Popular prejudice limits the market for recumbent bicycles.  A sensible thief would disassemble my bike and sell the parts – or maybe ship the bike out of the New York area to sell it intact.  In the hope that someone looking online for a used Lightning will stumble across mine, here are the details.

Model:  Lightning Phantom II, 27 speed, large frame, made in Taiwan for Lightning Cycle Dynamics in Lompoc, California.

Color:  The large-frame Phantom comes only in yellow.  If it is for sale in another color, it may have been painted by the thief.

Serial number:  YL9F0010 – stamped on the frame’s left rear dropout.

Distinguishing marks:  A few dings on the frame near the handlebar stem and on the right front fork were touched up with nail polish.  The seat mesh has a red stripe painted on the back and a couple of small holes around which the fabric was reinforced with silicone glue.

Accessories:  Fenders.  Schwinn bike computer.  Crane brass bell.  Ray-O-Vac flashlight in Fenix handlebar bracket.  Small Knog-style flashing lights front and rear.  A rear light/reflector combo.  Reelight no-battery lights on front and rear axles.  Mirrcycle mirror.  Yellow bottle cage under seat; black bottle cage on handlebar stem.  Black rack on back, to which are bolted two 1-foot aluminum bars, atop which is fastened a cargo box fashioned from a green Rubbermaid container.

If you see my bike for sale, please post a comment on this blog.

The theft is not covered by insurance.  Lightning Cycle Dynamics will not have more Phantoms until January 2014.

For now, I’m making do with the 1998 bikeE recumbent that I rode to Iowa in 2011.  It’s a great machine.  But for covering 35 city miles (56 kms) on a typical workday, it’s not the same.

See you on the road!

Alone

(With a nod to Admiral Byrd.)

Jeffrey here. As on previous Rides, I get the last word.

In past years, this blog has gone dormant after a Ride was finished.  This year, with immigration reform on the table, I may continue to post, although not nightly.  We shall see.

Yesterday I drove 1,075 miles from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Bellmawr, New Jersey, stopping there so Nancy would not wait up for me. This morning I drove the last 95 miles to my home overlooking the Hudson River.

The vehicle was a $29/day rented, oxymoronically large, minivan. The trike fit easily in the back.

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In pedaling 1400 miles to St. Petersburg, the only petroleum I consumed was a few drops to lubricate the trike chain after a North Carolina rainstorm.

The return to New York took 45 gallons of gasoline. That fuel bought me speed and comfort. At a price.

It wasn’t just the $155 and the environmental cost.

In that glass and steel living room, rolling through the countryside at the touch of a toe, I saw only cars and trucks, the road, the sky, and a blur of forest and field and development. I heard only engines, tires, the roar of the wind. No birdsong. No interesting plants or animals. No feel for the topography or pavement. No legible historic site signs. No friendly waves, nor even the rare rude gesture. I was isolated from the world, and from others in their own wheeled boxes. The only natural odor was a single quick whiff of skunk.

Alone is an absolute. One can’t be “more alone” any more than one can be “more unique” or “more pregnant” or “more dead”. Either one is or one isn’t.

I was alone.

Yet on a bicycle or tricycle, I am connected to the world and to the people in it.

Connectedness to one’s community is important to well-being. When I arrived home this morning, my family all were out making the world a better place, but Mike and Claude (who saw me off on March 27) were there to greet Joey and me. Community!

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L to R: Mike, Joey, Jeffrey, Claude.

Yet the comfort of community poses a danger. Embed oneself too deeply in a particular community and it’s easy to ignore those who don’t belong.

I’m happy that these Rides generate a bit of money to help Human Rights First do its important work. My own reward is the chance to leave the urban bubble – it is a bubble, notwithstanding NYC’s astonishing diversity – and bridge a bit of the gap between refugees and the good people in the Heartland who would help if only they knew.

Putting aside a handful of rude drivers, I was treated kindly by everyone, everywhere. I took every opportunity to talk about HRF and how asylum applicants are treated. People listened sympathetically and respectfully, and they gave moral and financial support.

No table-pounding. Just facts offered gently and in context. That’s all it takes to inform people about a way to improve America.  Maybe, someday, if those people act on what they now know, things will get better.

I am grateful to you who followed this Ride, and to you who used it, or who will use it (click here) as a vehicle to donate to HRF.

My sincere thanks to the restaurateurs, hoteliers, and other merchants in every state who gave discounts and kind words to help us along; I’ll put in a good word on the Web.  Special thanks to Douglas and Nancy Lowry (VA), Patti Fowler (NC), Peggy Tyler (SC), and Mimi and Rich Rice (FL), friends who went out of their way to welcome, feed and shelter me for hours or for days.

My father’s community, the residents and staff at the Toby Weinman Pavilion in St. Petersburg, welcomed me also. One resident gave me a water bottle to replace one lost en route. Several made donations to HRF despite their limited means. Most have had refugees in the family, and all know what it is to be alone.

Thanks to my friends at HRF – particularly Lauren Trinka and Kathy Jones – for staying in touch from the mother ship.

My children and almost-son-in-law – Benjamin, Rebecca, Deena and David – were there when I needed moral or practical support. They donate to HRF, give advice, find hotels, and look after Nancy in person and by remote control while I’m away.

When people try to sell you something, they say, “You deserve . . .”. Hogwash! People don’t get what they deserve. They get what they get.

I got Nancy, quite undeserved. She thinks I’m nuts to do these Rides, but she stands behind me anyway, working to keep us afloat and pay the Ride’s expenses while I spend weeks away from my professional and domestic duties. She has all of the worry and none of the fun. She helps me, with love, to do what I want to do.

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What more could one want than a friend, a spouse, like that? Nancy, my sweetie-pie, is the reason I come home.

One in the Air is Like One on the Ground

We’ll bid farewell to our friends Mimi and Rich, who generously opened their home to us to help further the Ride and its goals.

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We’re also wrapping up our visit to Jeffrey’s father, who celebrated his 90th birthday.

imageNow … how will we get home?

One hour of flying is like one day of driving is like one week of cycling is like one month of walking.

It took us 3 weeks to cycle from New York City to Florida. It would take us 3 hours to fly back to New York.

But the trike would be a pain to disassemble and expensive to ship. So we’ll put it in the back of a minivan and drive north.

Check back after Monday night to see if we made it, and for reflections on this year’s Ride for Human Rights.

And thanks for following us to Florida!

Sometimes It’s Simple

Did you hear about the student who took a lot of notes? He condensed the notes into 10 pages. He edited the pages into a 5-page outline. He shortened the outline to a paragraph, then a sentence, then a single word. He went into his final exam … and forgot the word.

That word must have been “simplify”.

Jeffrey’s daughter Rebecca, shown here testing the Sprint 26, is earning a master’s degree in social work at Columbia University.

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In her field placement, she helps people try to avoid becoming homeless. A typical client works hard to take home $1300, pays $112 to commute to work, and her rent is $1200 (cheap for NYC). You do the math.

Rebecca says: “These working people have no money.” Her solution? “Provide it!” It’s so simple, a kangaroo puppet can see it. Hash out the details, but just do it.

There’s a lesson here.

As House and Senate fight about Comprehensive Immigration Reform, they should keep it simple.

Management and labor argue over limits on worker visas. But why are there limits? How can Congress or a government agency decide on the “right” number of pear pickers or software designers? Bureaucrats should screen visa applicants for honorable intent and enforce wage, hour and safety laws. Let the parties work out the rest among themselves. Let the best worker get the job, regardless of place of birth. We’ll all be better off.

There are quotas on family visas. Why should the spouse of a lawful permanent resident have to wait years to immigrate? It hurts America when our laws break up families.

If an American state says two people are married, they are married for every purpose. Yet federal bureaucrats can choose to call “fraudulent” what is valid under state law. The feds either should issue green cards based on the parties’ personal relationship without regard to paper formalities, or issue them based on civil unions without regard to the details of the relationship. None of this nonsense of whether people are “married enough”.

In other words, get sensible. Get real.

A side benefit would be to improve the asylum system. Jeffrey has represented asylum applicants who should have been welcomed based on their existing ties to our people or their value to our society: doctors, academics, lawyers, nurses, clergy, a geophysicist, a banker, soldiers, engineers, diplomats, entrepreneurs, an economist, artists, etc. – and manual laborers whose willing hands are desperately needed, particularly in agriculture.

Why should good productive people from nasty countries have to ask for refuge? Only because our self-destructive laws bar the door on other grounds.

New workers don’t “steal” jobs. They create jobs, producing for their own and others’ benefit, becoming customers for other businesses. Keeping families intact is valuable for its own sake.

Let in workers because they are workers, family members because they have family here, and asylum can become the sparingly used safety net it was intended to be.

Then we can empty our expensive immigration jails, live up to our country’s reputation for humanity, and HRF can target even more of its resources on efforts to end conditions abroad that create refugees in the first place. For example, if HRF and its allies can disrupt the Syrian atrocity supply chain from Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Angola, Italy, Greece, etc. – even the USA – the Syrians who leave Syria will be pursuing productive opportunities abroad, not fleeing as refugees needing humanitarian aid or asylum.

Then we can deal with real problems – like homelessness – and stop worrying about problems we create by imposing rules that make no sense.

Alligators

We can’t see them. But we know alligators are here.

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You wade in barefoot. Not us!

The U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight” has presented a bill for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”). We won’t go into the details because Jeffrey hasn’t analyzed the bill, and better minds than his are still trying to get a grip on it.

Alligators are here too.  Yet into this pond, we’ll wade – with heavy boots and a harpoon.

Our American immigration “system” is a mess that fails to meet national and human needs. The Gang of Eight’s fix-it attempt is well-intentioned. But to try to please various constituencies, the Gang came up with a proposal that appears likely to enlarge the bureaucracy, clog the courts, distort the economy, and make things harder – crueler! – than they need to be.

Even that is too generous for the immigrant-haters who already are coming out to bray and jeer.

Don’t believe the haters. Many things “everyone knows” about immigrants are not true.

Immigrants, authorized and unauthorized, are healthier than the average American. They participate in the labor force at a higher rate than natives. Their crime rate is lower. Their entrepreneurship rate is higher. Their work creates more jobs than they fill, as they become both producers and customers.  In contrast to Americans who live beyond our means on borrowed money, immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. And without more, unauthorized presence in the U.S. is not a crime.  Don’t believe us? See our post, The Backfire Effect.

Traditional American values – equality, meritocracy, free enterprise, free markets, family primacy, self-sufficiency, and more – favor a generous immigration policy.

We’ll say it again. The Declaration of Independence and the Holy Bible make acceptance of immigrants a truly conservative doctrine.

And when mulling the Gang’s bill, don’t forget the unintended consequences.

Consider the well-intentioned effort to protect people from malaria by providing them with insecticide-treated bed nets.

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Night-feeding malaria mosquitoes are dying like flies. That sounds good. But this unnatural selection favors day-feeding mosquitoes; they soon may be the prime vector for malaria, and they won’t be stopped by nighttime nets.

Alligators are everywhere!

Let the immigration reform debate begin. But let it be based on facts and real American values. Not on lies and unAmerican bigotry.

We have a duty to control our borders and to ensure (to coin a phrase from Canada’s 1867 Constitution Act) peace, order and good government. That means we must be as open and generous as we can be within the bounds of national security. Let’s sift out only that little bit of truly bad seed, and let the rest of the flowers grow and bloom.

And beware those alligators. (Backyard photos courtesy of Mimi Smith Rice, who with husband Rich is hosting us in St. Petersburg.)

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Passports – Please!

These snapshots were taken when we arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday. The welcoming commitee:

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The chauffeur:

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Jeffrey and some of the gang:

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Jeffrey, his dad, and me:

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Morty belongs to our fan club. He presented Jeffrey with a water bottle.

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Morty was born in 1920. One of Morty’s daughters became deathly ill in cold weather. So Morty, his spouse, and his young children moved from NYC to St. Petersburg in 1953. You might call them health refugees.

They were greeted by a huge KKK sign at the Gandy Bridge, warning members of a particular religious group, and people of a particular racial background, to stay out of town.

Morty had worked for a NYC paper company, and applied for a similar job in St. Petersburg. The manager said Morty was qualified but would not be hired because the company did not employ “Hebrews”. Morty replied that he did not lose both eardrums in the U.S. Army for the manager’s sake, to be told that he would not be hired because of his (particular) religion. The manager said, “Maybe we can work something out. I need someone to sweep the floor.”

That was St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, in 1953.

How things have changed! Today, even the minority who still think as the KKK and the manager did, would hide it. St. Petersburg has bicycle lanes, universally available social services, anti-discrimination laws, the Dali Museum, the Florida Orchestra, the Florida Holocaust Museum. It has been transformed. By immigrants. Some (currently 10% of the local population) from abroad. And some, like Morty, from different “sovereign states” of our Union.

Morty and his family could flee the deathly cold, and victims of Old South bigotry could flee to places like New York (where everyone’s a minority so bigots’ influence is diluted), because they didn’t need passports.

Freedom of movement saved Morty’s daughter, and transformed St. Petersburg.

Millions of refugees don’t have that freedom. Their talents are lost in refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey and Pakistan, in lawless Congo and Somalia, in Bangladesh and Malaysia and Thailand, and more. Their lives are on hold, sometimes forever, because they can’t go back, and the world won’t let them go forward. The right to emigrate is meaningless without a right to immigrate.

One can’t have too many passports. On this Israel Independence Day, think of how things would have been in 1933-45 if Europe’s Jews had had second passports from neutral or distant countries. Or if there had been an Israel to accept them. Or if the world had not sealed its borders to them – as it has sealed its borders to others since, among them the Palestinian Arabs denied resettlement even by countries that desperately need their talents.

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We think George Washington would have extended generous protection to refugees. In 1790, he wrote to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, referring – note well! – to “inherent natural rights” (echoing the Declaration of Independence):

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

When people of good will who can support themselves are able to move as freely as the birds and armadillos – as most people (Caucasians, anyway) were free to move to the U.S. through most of its history – there will be many fewer refugees and much less suffering in the world. Human Rights First might then dissolve, its work done. And that would be a happy day.

Label Lesson

The truck parked outside our motel room displayed an AK-47 window decal and wore some of the sand our trike wallowed in yesterday. Such tires make quite a noise as they whiz by inches from us.

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Good thing almost all drivers respect us on the road.

We get more respect when road signs proclaim our right to be there. We saw all these today.

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Identical roads without the signs – roads with unmarked shoulders, with no reminder to share – feel more dangerous. Aggressive drivers crowd us more closely.

Arbitrary labels make the difference.

Just as vehicle and traffic law gives a bicycle or tricycle the right to be on an ordinary road, regardless of whether a sign says so, our fundamental legal document (the Declaration) and most common moral document (the Bible) give all people the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of whether they hold particular pieces of paper. We applaud the recent decision by the Associated Press to stop using the nonsense term “illegal alien”. (A person can do something illegal, but cannot be “illegal” per se.) We hope dispensing with this misleading label will help unite the American public behind sensible immigration reform.

In Hudson Beach, we met Michaelina and Tony, retirees from western Pennsylvania with strong opinions about the economy and medical care. They believe honest hard work should be rewarded and that the rules (on the qualifying age for Social Security, for example) should not change in the middle of the game. They are not directly affected by the issues addressed by HRF, but their sense of justice makes them sympathetic to refugees for whom HRF finds and trains free legal help.

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In Hudson Beach, we saw the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful.

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After 30 hard miles along a 65 mph highway that switched frequently from bike lanes to gravel-covered shoulders to no shoulders at all, we reached Tarpon Springs and the Pinellas Trail. What a relief! The Trail, smoothly paved and free of motor vehicles, led us 30 more miles into St. Petersburg.

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On today’s route, we met trike owners Bill and Bill and Dave, and saw at least half a dozen trikes along the way. We saw a tandem trike at Dave’s cycle shop.  And Dave fortified Jeffrey with a cold drink.

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Another cycling enthusiast, Howard, was on an ICE Vortex, a very fast trike. He rode with us for several miles. Jeffrey didn’t snap his photo, but he enjoyed the company and conversation and perhaps got Howard thinking about taking a long trike tour.

After riding over many overpasses and along the water

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we came to a residential area and arrived at Jeffrey’s father’s place. On our 20th day, after 1400 miles, St. Petersburg!

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This is our final stop, but we’re not done. We will talk to local people about St. Petersburg, refugees, immigrants and America. Stay tuned!

On the West Side

Our third Sunday on the road. Light morning traffic. We stopped at a supermarket for orange juice. The market carries some ethnic foods.

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Casava, OK. But Manischewitz? Jeffrey asked cashier Luz.

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Luz said that Manischewitz is similar to wines popular in her native country, the Dominican Republic, and in other countries also. She and Jeffrey talked from experience about the U.S. immigration system. Jeffrey mentioned an article in this morning’s New York Times about how more evangelical churches are beginning to adopt a Christlike attitude toward strangers, a significant change from the all-too-common harshness we have remarked at before. (See, for example, our post from the Ride to Nashville, Stopped Into A Church …, and from the Ride to Postville, In God We Trust.) Maybe our country is turning a corner. Luz and Jeffrey hope so.

Soon we saw a sign naming St. Petersburg!

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And this. Who commissioned it? What does it mean?

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We took a break at a state forest trailhead. Mervyn “Buck” Lightfoot, one of the park hosts, admired the trike, and he and Jeffrey got to talking.

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Buck grew up about 30 miles from Branson, Missouri. He and his wife came to Florida a few years ago and never left. He told Jeffrey how he got his name (his mother had read a story about triplets named Marvin, Mervyn and Melvin), but all anyone ever called him was Buck. He described a motor home he saw at the trailhead, an enormous vehicle that towed an enormous trailer containing the owner’s business office and “toys” like a golf cart. Jeffrey told Buck about Human Rights First’s work. Buck thinks that’s fine, but is more worried about North Korea just now, and told Jeffrey (who gets little news on the road) about a couple who sailed to Cuba in the hope of retaining custody of their children, only to be returned immediately by Cuba to the U.S.

The morning’s pavement was rough, and the shoulder had sand and gravel. Slow and unpleasant. Then for a while, we had the perfect combination of smooth new blacktop and a rumble strip separating the wide shoulder from the motor vehicle lane. And then it disappeared.

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The sign says, “Dawg House”. It’s a hot-dog emporium.

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What do you think they sell here? Hint: the word appears 6 times on this part of the shop alone; there are 3 additional, similar shopwindow sections not in the photo. Look carefully and you’ll see Jeffrey reflected in the door.

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Suddenly, traffic picked up. Maybe the churches had let out. Or maybe it was the big gun show advertised on roadside signs. Aggressive drivers – still a minority – began to crowd the trike. When the GPS told us to turn off the main road, Jeffrey was happy to comply. But soon we were directed onto a gravel road through the Withlacoochee State Forest.

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It was hard, slow going. A young driver passing by in a pickup truck convinced Jeffrey that braving the gravel was better than sticking with the highway. So we pressed on through the woods.

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After a few miles, the GPS said to turn left onto a sandy track. If we continued straight, we also would hit sand. Jeffrey checked his maps, saw no way out, and waited for the rare passing vehicle so he could consult a local.

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In a few minutes, these gentlemen showed up in a 4×4. The driver told Jeffrey not to attempt the sandy road; it is soft sand, not gravel, for miles. He said we should go out the way the 4×4 had just come in, and we would hit pavement in about a mile. Jeffrey was grateful for the advice and was about to depart when the guys fished out a cold sweet bottle of lemonade and offered it to Jeffrey. (It was nearly 90F, about 32C, today.) Count on the locals to be prepared for all conditions! Jeffrey gratefully accepted the gift and drank it down in seconds.

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Right after we found the pavement, we found Phil (from Newark, NJ) and Chris (from Essex, VT). Both had moved to Florida to look after relatives. Both miss northern weather. They remarked at what the locals call Palmetto bugs: “They’re giant cockroaches!” Phil lamented the lack of mass transit. They had culture shock in the South. Imagine the culture shock of refugees from abroad!

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Back on the highway, several slow, hot miles beyond where we had left it, we encountered the biggest rolling hills of this Ride. For about 10 miles, we had long steep rises and fast drops.

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The land flattened again, we passed a USDA center at Chinsegut Hill (the name is from an Inuit word meaning, a place where lost things are found), and followed a mix of smooth roads (with a bike lane) and bad roads (crumbling, debris-covered, no shoulder, with high speed motor traffic) to within 4 miles of the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve run out of West. Now we go South.

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To the Interior

A blast from the past: This is the photo Jörg took of Jeffrey two days ago, just north of Yulee, FL. Nancy commanded Jeffrey to wear that thing around his neck, bearing Nancy’s contact info, in case the houn’ dawgs drag him off. Eager to please his one true love, Jeffrey hastened to obey.

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Once again, we left before sunup. We crossed a high bridge and rolled through dark countryside.

Daylight found us in Florida’s potato capital. We didn’t know it had one!

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This battered doughboy is at the approach to the bridge to Palatka.

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Palatka is a charming town. Magnificently porched Victorian houses line historic River Street. Florida’s cities and political extremes get a lot of attention. These places, less known by the Disney-bound crowd, are a different world.

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Soon we turned onto a Forest Service road into the Ocala National Forest. The first five miles was gravel in an asphalt matrix. Paved, yes. But look how rough! The rolling resistance was very high. The same effort that kept the trike at 7 mph would propel us at 14-16 mph on smooth pavement.

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We passed the Rodman Reservoir, created by the Kirkpatrick Dam on the Ocklawaha River. Note the tree trunk “driftwood” resembling a dinosaur thigh.

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A bit beyond the dam, which was crowded with anglers, we came to a parking lot where Bret Bush, a Forest Service program manager, approached Jeffrey. Bret told him this was the end of the paved road. Beyond us was sand better suited to all-terrain vehicles, or perhaps (said Bret) mountain bikes. He questioned whether the trike could get through.

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Jeffrey was not willing to retrace our 5-mile, tiring, bone-rattling route over that rough pavement. He and Bret checked a map, and Bret showed him how we could detour a bit and reach pavement after only 2-1/2 miles. Bret told him the next place to find water was a general store 9 miles away. We had 2 quarts (liters) on board, enough for camel Jeffrey to chance it.

Away we went!

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Turns out the trike did well in the sand. It has 1.6″ (4 cm) tires – fairly wide – and its weight is spread among 3 tires, so it didn’t sink as much as a bike would. It’s not prone to tip, so Jeffrey could pedal furiously and remain upright. Much of the road was packed harder than the sand tracks we encountered in South Carolina. We were able to ride for all but the last 200 yards (meters) or so, until we reached pavement.

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We climbed some hills, to a stretch with a few houses and trailers. Then, a cheery call: “Would you like a drink?” Wow! Would we ever!

Sandy and Larry had passed us in their 4×4 while we were negotiating the sand road in our 1×3. They had read our Ride for Human Rights sign and were expecting us.

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Larry is a Coast Guard veteran, originally from Long Island. Sandy is from the South. Both work for the Jacksonville, FL, municipal government, and come to Hog Valley (that’s what it’s called!) on weekends. Their two sons are in the Coast Guard – a family thing, Larry says.

Jeffrey explained HRF’s mission and told them a little about the bewilderment of asylum seekers who have no lawyer, and about the immigration detention system. Sandy and Larry know law enforcement and code enforcement, and they recognize when a system is broken.

Two big icy cups of pink lemonade and some friendly conversation later, we were back on the road.

Hog Valley people display a lot of Confederate flags. After this one, we’ll stop showing them to you.

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We stopped at the general store Forest Serviceman Bret mentioned – it was flying the Confederate flag alongside the U.S. flag – to rehydrate and cool off. (It was in the high 80s today – around 30C – and the sun was intense.)

The people there were lovely. Mary Jane told Jeffrey how much she loves country living, even though it has its risks. She recounted her adventures with a black bear and the freezer chest she kept on her porch, and how she removed a fishhook from an alligator’s thigh using a palm frond and her walking cane. (Don’t try it at home!)

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Several of the men on the porch gave Jeffrey valuable route advice. “Turn at the big oak tree.” (We did. It worked!) The man on the left, whom we’ll call McGill (the name on his cap; he jokingly declined to give his real name, saying he is wanted in 4 states), asked to shake Jeffrey’s hand when he heard we had pedaled from NYC. Jeffrey talked about HRF and asylum seekers. McGill nodded when he heard about free counsel for refugees. He knows a man who sought asylum from Laos and had needed a lawyer’s help. Another honorary member of our team!

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Fortified with water, sugar, advice and warm wishes, we continued south, crossed a narrow-shouldered high bridge, and left the National Forest area. Now we’re closer to the Gulf of Mexico than to the Atlantic.

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The Real Florida

Thunderstorms were forecast. To beat them, we hit the road before dawn. (The storms never materialized.)

Amelia Island has manicured “plantations” and estates. Like the Grand Canyon, they don’t photograph well. You had to be there.

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The estuaries are easier to photograph.

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A quiet state park where we pulled off for a snack.

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An historic house.

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Awaiting the ferry across the St. Johns River, Jeffrey met Jim Rogers, a local man who ran a surf shop, had a kayaking business, and was postmaster.

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Jim talked about the politics, ecology and economy of the area. He said crossing the St. Johns would bring us to what people consider the Real Florida; the area we were leaving, he said, is more like southern Georgia. Jim waxed philosophic about what makes a good life in this part of Florida and in the Caribbean, and shared some ideas from a book he is reading about how America’s First Nations were mistreated by Europeans.

These pelicans hung out near the ferry but didn’t make the trip.

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People on board asked a little about HRF, a lot about the trike! Note the sports car. We saw a lot of convertibles once we were off the ferry.

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Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach have magnificent houses, at least one golf course, and fancy shops, all by the sea.

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These pretty flowers grow wild.

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We passed the site corresponding to the spot offshore where Ponce de Leon first saw the coast of Florida.

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Magnolia Street, St. Augustine. The trees form a canopy over the street.

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St. Augustine is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the continental U.S. It was founded in 1565, over 250 years before Florida became part of the United States. If an American asks, “Why don’t They [whoever They are] speak English?”, a Floridian might reply, “Why don’t you speak a First Nations language – or Spanish? Those languages were here earlier and longer!”

Today it’s a pretty town with charming old buildings and a fort that dates from 1672.

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Jeffrey enjoyed a city tour and a delicious Greek dinner, courtesy of his friends Roxana and George, who by coincidence were visiting from New York. Roxana, a linguist, long ago was granted asylum from an Iron Curtain country. George, a published author and engineer, earned his status through work and family ties. They feel comfortable in this cosmopolitan part of Florida, where the buildings we see and the languages we hear show that America is not only the product of English influence.

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