Sarasota FL to Punta Gorda FL

Trip Start Oct 17, 2012
1
51
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, December 3, 2012

We woke late at 8 am and packed up our clothes, put our panniers back on the bikes and drove into town for breakfast. The only drawbacks to staying at friend's places or B&B's are, the time spent for breakfast really set us back on our start time, and not having access to some or all of our gear. In addition, B&B's normally don't have elevators, and when we stayed at motels we took our bikes inside our room, thus leaving our panniers on the bike. This allowed us to rummage through and retrieve whatever we needed, and abled us to get re-packed for the next day. When we stayed at B&B's we had to take all four panniers off the bike, which slows us down in the morning. Last night we each took only the two front panniers off having parked our bikes in the garage, so reattaching them slowed us down only half way! After breakfast we said our goodbyes and left. It was a late start, almost noon with forty-five mile in front of us.

The Legacy - Sarasota-to-Venice Bike Trail (another, of the Rails-to-Trails System) starts just blocks away, almost out Dave's back door. It was easy to find and we rode about eight of the total twelve-mile length. Near downtown Venice and a mile short of where we turned off the trail was the Venice Historical Railway Station; it was where the Venice Seaboard Air Line Railway Station (Air Line meaning the shortest point between 2 points on a map, or by air!) or for short, Venice Depot, opened in 1927. It ceased service in 1971 after Amtrak took over most passenger travel nation wide.

After leaving the trail we thought that it would be a good idea to ride on Center Road, which Google Maps shows all alongside a bike path and leads to River Road, a smaller county road. We wanted to avoid the traffic of Route 41 and all that goes with it, and have a quiet country ride. WRONG! The bike path on Center was great, but River Road, this was a miserable road and NOT MEANT FOR BIKES. And we would have thought it was rush hour, but it was only 2:00 in the afternoon. To make matters worse the intersection at River Road and 41 was under construction so the equipment haulers and gravel trucks came roaring by us to get to the site. River Road was only three miles long but we were so tense riding it was exhaustive; we thought it would never end. Not soon enough, Route 41 was under our wheels equipped with a wide shoulder, aka a bike lane on the highway, and within a few miles a bike path took us all the way to a nice little Italian Restaurant named La Rocca. We were hesitant at first but reminded ourselves that "you can't judge a book by it's cover". It was a real diamond in the rough; they have a great menu and our lunch attested to that. We could have really lingered here longer but it was just before 3:30 and we still had fifteen miles to go.

The sun was low on the horizon over the Gulf as we were crossing the Peace River, and our view from the bridge going into Punta Gorda was gorgeous. We watched for a moment and then continued across the river to finish watching the sun set from the other side of the bridge. It was dusk when we got to the hotel but no worries as we rode alongside of the river and the hotel/convention center. We rode up and leaned our bikes against the pillars and while Larry was inside checking us in, a woman walked over and said, "Wow, you're really loaded up to go somewhere!" After Larry came out we spent better than a half-hour sharing of our tour and she of her 'kayak tour that she was readying for from here to Miami via the Everglades. By the time we got up to our room where we had to order up a fridge to keep our food, and got cleaned up and settled in, and ready for the next (OUR LAST) day, it was nearly 8:30. So by the time we got to the rooftop restaurant at the historic hotel they had stopped serving, and by the time we found an open eating establishment and got back to our room it was 10:30. This was the night Devon thought she would do some catching up on our log entries. As she neared completion of an entry she fell asleep, wait it gets good,... she had her ring finger resting on the backspace key of the blessed I-pad! Larry awoke to a crying tantrum, hmmm.
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