December 20, 2016 – Overcast, 50 degrees
Miles Today: 28
Miles to Date: 20,733
States to Date: 48
I rode into Jacksonville, the United States’ geographically largest city, on a busy Tuesday morning along miles of commercial strip along US 90 west, across a narrow drawbridge into downtown, and through the downtrodden neighborhood around Edward Waters College. The city is sprawling and nondescript as everyone along my Florida route warned. Poetically, I should have completed my journey in St. Augustine, our nations oldest city. But Jacksonville is more appropriate. It is not a city of the past, it is a city of our present, and as such will have greater bearing on what tomorrow portends.
I arrived at the Amtrak station mid-morning, anchored my bike, and spent the day strolling the St. Johns River waterfront, eating Tuesday tacos and sharing a beer with old friends Jan and Mike Golan, who happened to be in the area for a warm weather break. After they dropped me off for my train, ruminations about my year plus experience began to fill my head.
I kept coming back to a quote I leaned at the Harn Art Museum in Gainesville a few days ago. Ron Garon, astronaut, travelled 71 million miles in space. When he returned he said, “Earth is a fragile oasis with many neighborhoods in a very big universe. We must see ourselves as fellow co-laborers on this planet in a war against hunger, poverty, and environmental destruction. The key is ‘we.’”
My journey has been a mere 20,000 miles and change, but I’ve also focused on the illusive ‘we’ that is our nation. ‘We the people’ are an incredible bunch, like no nation that’s ever existed. Yet we have so many challenges: among ourselves and amidst our seven billion neighbors. I’ve learned…
Oops, the conductor just called my train. Time to roll north into the deep dark of this longest night of the year until we reach tomorrow. All aboard!
Congratulations Shorty!!! Glad Janet and I could share your last day on the road.
Sent from my iPhone
It has been a privilege to follow you and see the country vicariously through your posts.
Congratulations Paul! Your trip has been a great inspiration for me!