We climb on our bikes, turn right and keep going, going and going.
The day is perfect for a bike ride: partially cloudy, 65 degrees, no wind at all. We vow to experience the area slowly. But just ride and ride and ride. And we sure did.
We are on a paved bike trail alongside Route 30-A, a beachfront road curving slightly around Florida's Emerald Coast. Small eclectic communities dangle off the road like handmade charms on a twisted hemp bracelet. There's Dune Allen, Blue Mountain, Seaside, Seagrove, Watercolor, Alys. Like siblings, they're similar, yet each is unique.
The towns co-mingle with glistening white beaches and small coastal dune lakes.
The first town we reach is Dune Allen, which touts itself as the earliest interracial community in Florida's panhandle. A plank-and-metal bike bridge across Stallworth Lake lures us off our path.
As I cross I hear plink, plop, plop, plink. Little living things I cannot see hop out of my way, into the water. The bridge spills us into long-established neighborhoods hiding behind the glamour of waterfront tourist condos.
We smile. The ride is delightful. It's just what we wanted. We are spinning our wheels casually and enjoying the scenery. And soon, we head up the hill toward home.
A construction worker hollers, "Hey! You've been riding a long time!" "Really?" I respond. "Yea, I passed you going the other way more than an hour ago!"
Wow. I'm proud of my endurance (this is the first long bike ride of the season). Back at the motor home, we trade our bikes for our car to continue our excursion. That's when we see the other towns, each with its own flavor, its own personality.
Much later, I discover the map above and realize our big bike trip, the one I am so puffed-chest proud of, the one the construction worker gave me a verbal pat on the back for, was actually only a few miles of what turns out to be a long-established 20-miles of scenic coastline.
I'm crest fallen. But, I vow silently, I will do those 20 miles ... next time I'm in the area.