"Remember, don't go through drive-thrus."
And with those words, Escape Adventures owner Jared Fisher bid me and a loaded Honda Odyssey mini-van racked, wrapped and packed to the gills farewell for a 2,500-mile car ride from Jared's driveway to my house in Vero Beach, Fla.
Escape Adventures is pushing the frontier of its impressive inventory of bike tours not West but eastward and I'm working with Jared's can-do, bike-loving, adventure-living staff to launch seven gorgeous bike tours scattered around the state of Florida, Here's a list of the bike tours.
Five bicycles were attached to the roof via a bike roof, with another four sitting on a rack attached to the rear of the car. And another five were wedged inside the vehicle, with boxes of brochures, parts, press releases, tools and Escape Adventures shirts and caps squeezed in, too.
After a day working with staff members on Wednesday, Jared and I packed the Escape Adventures vehicle at his house at 6:30 p.m. I was wired and ready to roll.
No need to spend the night in Las Vegas.
At about 7:15 p.m., I carefully backed out of Jared's driveway and began the long trek to Florida.
# # #
Wide awake, I drove south into Arizona and began the long stretch on Interstate 40 across the Grand Canyon State and New Mexico.
As I drove through the night into Thursday morning, I was mesmerized by a clear sky filled with dazzling lights and the hours rolled along broken up by pit stops to gas up the vehicle and grab a snack.
Eastern New Mexico was fascinating because many people don't realize how high the elevation is there, I was hitting 7,700 feet and the temperatures before Thursday's sunrise had plummeted to 14 degrees. This was a fun stop along I-40 in NM.
Through Albuquerque and then into north Texas we drove, with a harrowing trek through the metro Dallas area -- a sea of highways and fast-moving cars.
By Thursday night, the EA-mobile with its 14 bikes was moving from Texas into Louisiana, with Friday sunrise celebrated with a sunrise in central Mississippi.
By mid-Friday morning, I reached the eastern edge of the Florida panhandle. There were still so many miles to go to reach Vero Beach.
# # #
About 600 miles -- one-fourth of the cross-country journey -- was spent Friday across the top tier of Florida and then down south along its central spine through Lake City and Gainesville and Ocala and Orlando.
By 7:30 p.m. Friday -- two days after I left Jared's driveway -- I pulled into my driveway.
Escape Adventures is open for business in Florida.We will feature bike rides all around the state, offering a premium product. Our comfortable vehicle will pick you up at your hotel and we'll put you on a new road bicycle that has slightly wider tires than the conventional road tire to provide you more stability.
If our ride options don't fit your location or interest, we will customize a bike ride adventure you will enjoy.
I have biked all around Florida and there are some great places to bike that didn't make our Top 7 offerings but are also wonderful bicycle experiences.
I can show you fun local eateries and the tour is your ride, so I look forward to creating a great bike ride that you will remember for a long time.
Can't wait to ride with you and be your personal tour guide.