SSShhhhhhh! Don’t tell My Knight, but I actually had a great time camping in Harvey this weekend! No, really, I did!
We went over to Cocoa Beach to camp at Jetty Park for My Knight’s birthday weekend. I am always a bit apprehensive about a Harvey weekend and the amount of work that entails. I still (even after this weekend) maintain that camping is too much work to be called a vacation, but it is getting a bit easier the more we do it.
One of my beefs with camping is that you have to pack up everything you will possibly need, load it into the camper, take it to the campground, unpack it and organize it for access, and then at the end of the trip, you get to pack it all back up again, and bring it home to unpack it.
I prefer a hotel or a cruise, where I just pack my suitcase and someone else worries about all the other details.
Luckily, we are getting to a point with Harvey where the packing is not as much of a hassle as before. We have a “camper set” of towels, sheets, dishes, silverware, pots, skillets, etc., that lives in the camper so it doesn’t have to be packed every time.
The meal planning and food packing stresses me to the hilt. I mean, if I can’t stand to figure out what’s for dinner in my own kitchen with a full pantry, how am I supposed to figure it out ahead of time and bring every single thing needed to prepare it?
But my incredible Knight offered for us to walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner Friday night and then bike to a pizza place for lunch on Saturday. Can this man get any more wonderful? So I only had to come up with breakfast (cereal anyone?) and dinner for Saturday night (how about leftover pizza?) and I was all set.
Jetty Park campground was really nice–horseshoe pits, shuffleboard courts, a concession stand, and clean bathhouses (always a plus!). My Knight had booked a site that was right by the bathhouse since he knows I am not a fan of walking over the river and through the woods to take a shower at night! Love that man!
The best part about Jetty Park is the beach. A quick walk across the campground or a quick bike ride down a meandering path leads straight to the Atlantic Ocean. Can I just tell you how awesome it is to head out to the beach in the morning, lounge around in the sand soaking up rays for a couple of hours, and then just leave the towels and blankie to save your spot and head back to the camper for some A/C, lunch, and a nap? Late afternoon/early evening, it’s back out to the beach for relaxing as the sun goes down and the breeze grows cooler.
The weather this weekend was incredible. Beautiful blue skies, highs in the 70s/low 80s, and a constant tropical breeze! It was the kind of weekend that gives you August amnesia and makes you think it’s always this nice to live in Florida.
We took a long walk along the edge of the surf and saw a crowd gathered around an immobile sea turtle. His huge black eyes looked so sad, and my heart hurt to think of how confused and scared he must be, stranded on the beach with some unknown ailment, surrounded by strange-looking humans and uncertain of their intent. A few kind strangers kept drizzling water on him to keep him hydrated, and a sheriff’s deputy stood guard over him until an animal rescue team could get there to help.
With the A/C and nap calling our name in the early afternoon, we made the BRILLIANT decision to have a sandwich in the camper for lunch and then take a bike ride for pizza later for dinner. Oh Boy.
I have to make an embarrassing confession here. I hate riding a bicycle. It’s not that I don’t know how. It’s not that I’ve never done it. It’s not that it’s hard to do, or particularly taxing. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just do not feel comfortable and confident on a bike. I’m always a little unsure of what it’s doing, or what I’m doing, or what’s going to happen next.
I’m fine if we are on an open trail, or the campground loops, or one of those paved-over railroad track projects. But to ride on city streets or on sidewalks with traffic and pedestrians and such FREAKS ME OUT. My Knight had conveyed to me when he was selling, um, planning, the weekend that the pizza place was just a few blocks away and we could easily ride there by bicycle. So, okay, I’m game. After all, there’s pizza involved.
But once we arrived at Jetty Park, he further explained that we would be riding DOWN THE BEACH to get to the pizza place. Like, in the sand. And remember that due to our itinerary alteration, we’d be riding back DOWN THE BEACH after DARK!
Um, no. I have trouble maintaining a bicycle in an upright position on hard pavement. And this man thinks I can balance riding in the sand? Really? It’s not even a beach cruiser. It’s just a plain old bike. I protested mucheth.
Surely there was a way to get there on solid ground. And without being in heavy traffic. Surely there were residential streets or back roads. There had to be. So I snagged a “tourist map” from the gift shop at the campground. You know, the ones that show all the fun places to eat and shop and play, but aren’t really drawn to scale or physically accurate? The ones that don’t show ALL the streets in the town? Only the ones with businesses who paid to advertise around the edges of this silly map?
Well, according to my handy-dandy tourist map, there was indeed a series of back roads that would take us to the pizza place with only a few blocks minimum on the busy main thoroughfare. In fact, it showed this route as a path for those renting scooters, and the little cartoon scooter riders drawn on the map looked like they were really enjoying the ride. I wasn’t thrilled with the part of the journey that would include crowded sidewalks and traffic lights, but it beat falling on my face in the sand.
We set out for pizza around dusk, and I was reminded after a few blocks that I have not been on a bicycle at all since December, and that was only from the camper to the bath house and a few trips around the camping loop at Alafia State Park. No heavy riding and no long rides.
One would think that the combination of a soft bike seat and the ample padding of my derriere would be sufficient cushion for road riding, but after several city blocks, I had started noticing some pain in my rear-end-region. It was nothing unbearable, but it was a bit foreboding considering we were not even to the “residential” portion of our trip, and we still had the whole ride back to sit through.
So I kept adjusting my rumpus on the seat, putting the left cheek more on, then the right cheek. Leaning forward, leaning back. Standing a little when we came off and on the ramps for side streets so the bumps on the pavement didn’t jar too much.
I had started to question my love of pizza and my need for dinner in general when we finally reached “Ridgewood”, the side street that was to lead us out of city traffic and into residential bliss. After a brief discussion between me and My Knight regarding the proper observation of traffic intersection laws for bicycles on sidewalks (I’d just like to point out that the cop agreed with me!), we turned out of the nerve-wracking main street and off into beautifully manicured lawns and gorgeous pastel houses of the beach-livers.
The pizza place was clearly marked on my tourist map between Harding Street and McKinley Street. So once we passed McKinley, we would simply go to Harding and take it back to the main thoroughfare and come back along the right side of the road ready to dine!
It seemed to be only a couple of blocks away based on the cheerful scooter riders on my tourist map, but we were already nearing twenty minutes of biking and McKinley wasn’t anywhere in sight. My butt was burning, and there seemed to be bones in my butt that I never knew I had now protruding through the skin at the bottom and rubbing against the bike seat in an incredibly uncomfortable dance.
Where was Harding? Where was McKinley? Maybe one of the beach residents would just let us come in their house and eat to get me off this damned bike?
It was then that it dawned on me that we had passed Washington Street, Adams Street, Jefferson and then Madison. I realized with great disappointment that the street names were our country’s leaders in chronological order. My tourist map only showed a couple of names before Harding and McKinley. It definitely was not accurate and to scale, and it mentioned nothing about a full-on Tour of Presidents.
I scrambled to remember how many presidents I had before McKinley, but the pain in my butt must have overridden the US History files in my brain. Where was Patti Frier when I needed her? I began to say the full names of each president out loud as we crossed their street, trying to jar my memory…Jackson Street—Andrew Jackson, Old Hickory. Oh, Martin Van Buren. Harrison–William Henry Harrison.
My Knight seemed without a care. He of the triathlons and daily/weekly cycling jaunts of miles upon miles cruised along effortlessly behind me, unaware of my aching buns and building annoyance. Well, not exactly UNAWARE, since I was pretty vocal in my complaining, but still.
By the time Lincoln was shot, I had become convinced that maybe we would be in Jacksonville before we found Harding or McKinley.
But then, on the horizon, in the dim light of the setting sun, I thought I saw a capital M with a little c on the street sign. I got so excited that I forgot to stand up over the raised bumps to cross his street. Ow.
The tourist map showed Harding as the next street! Pizza was close and I could get off this torturous method of transportation!
My excitement faded when Cocoa Beach’s city planners reminded me that Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson all served after McKinley. Isn’t there some stupid little song you can learn to remember the names of the presidents? Or is that just state names?
Finally, out of the darkness, in the pale orange glow of a street light, I saw the name of what will now be my favorite president for all time. Warren G. Harding.
We turned and pedaled with feverish efforts back toward the main road. Only to find that the pizza place had been back at the intersection of McKinley, three presidents ago. I will definitely buy an accurate street map the next time we are at Jetty Park.
I wish I could tell you the pizza was worth every rotation of the tires and every term served by the leaders of our country on the grid of Cocoa Beach’s map. It wasn’t. It was really crappy pizza.
It poured rain for a bit while we ate, but it had cleared by the time we left, leaving behind a beautiful moon.
And who can resist the siren call of a handsome man asking you to cruise along a moonlit beach in the mist of the crashing surf?
Evidently, I can when my butt cheeks have bones protruding through them and I can barely walk. Okay, so maybe barely walk is a bit dramatic, but it did hurt. And as much as I dreaded traveling back through history in the dark with no light on my bike, I was a little more apprehensive of trying to balance in the sand in the dark with unknown critters crawling into our path (either from the sea, the sand, or the two-legged upright variety). I protested again. Mucheth.
But he’s a pretty persuasive guy, and it was his birthday weekend, and I hate saying no to a challenge. So we walked our bikes through the sand and out to the surf to reach the wet, hard-packed sand. (Let me interrupt my bitching and complaining long enough to say that the moon on the water was absolutely breathtaking, and the eerie calm of the beach deserted at night was entrancing.)
I have to admit that being able to see the lights of Jetty Park on the horizon at the end of the beach was a powerful motivator, and it did seem for a moment that this would be much quicker and easier. However, not even my well-seasoned cyclist Knight could pedal in the wet sand at high tide, so he admitted we needed to go back to the Presidents.
It was a long, hard, dark ride back. I have never been so glad to see Harvey as I was that night. My butt ached, and I laughed in pain as I tried to lift it in all its glory off the bike seat and up into the camper as My Knight laughed with (at) me.
Needless to say, we didn’t bike anywhere Sunday. But we had a splendid day. We played shuffleboard, flew a kite in the breeze, and reclined in our camping chairs underneath Harvey’s awning, relishing in the wonder of a gorgeous spring day. It was very relaxing, and I enjoyed having our little camper and our own little spot in paradise.
We took the dogs for a walk, and then we took a stroll to the campground office to book another weekend at Jetty Park in June. And I am actually looking forward to it!
But does anyone know of any butt-cheek exercises I could do to toughen up before then?