Mile 455 Spirit of America Ride for Hydrocephalus Day 8 Recap

Do you remember the precursor to today’s reality shows, the 1998 movie The Truman Show starring Jim Carry? The filming for the movie took place in Seaside, Fl. This little community is beautiful! To make our quick visit here even better, we were inducted into our first touring cyclist warm showers last night. But it’s not what you may think.


Warmshowers.org is a worldwide touring cyclists hospitality and hosting community with over 25,000 members and over 14,000 hosts around the globe. Jeff and Heidi Ellis, Warm Showers hosts here in Seaside invited us for an evening meal with plenty of great conversation, a comfortable bed for the evening and, of course, a warm shower.

Today was Day 8 and we are still riding along the beautiful coastline of the Florida Panhandle. We had no problems riding through Panama City. Mary had a little trouble on one of the bridges but that soon passed. We missed breakfast this morning but stopped around noon for a power bar and a Celsius. That gave us the energy we needed until we were able to stop for a hotdog and chips later.

When the idea of partnering with Celsius for our Ride for Hydrocephalus was brought to us, the first thing Mary and I did was to research and read all the science clinical studies. I had never tried Celsius before and I liked it the first time I tried it. But drinking it on this 2500 mile ride where I need all the energy I can get has turned me into a raving fan. I think Celsius has made a major difference in our rides. We drink one or two a day and it gets us over the hump. I have never been a big fan of energy drinks but Celsius is different. I never get the jitters. I get a smooth boost to my metabolism and we can just keep riding.

Rog and Dee, the biking travelers from Britain who we met one one of my recent wrong way excursions, told us about Warm Showers and thought we would give it a try.

All along this journey, we have been so honored by the generosity and hospitality of the people that we have met as well as those who have already stepped up to support our efforts by donating to the Hydrocephalus Association. But the grand hospitality we found here in Seaside, may take the cake!

I simply cannot put into words what an incredible experience it was to be  hosted by Jeff and his cat “Provence” (as in the town in France) last night. We are staying at an original 1950’s beach Seaside house just across from the gulf. When we arrived, Jeff secured our bikes and equipment and offered us a killer outdoor shower. His home was dimly lit with welcoming candlelight and relaxing lounge music was softly playing. Incense was burning to give the home a wonderful smell. Jeff is a master host!

While we were getting cleaned up, Jeff prepared a gourmet meal. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other over a bottle of wine (beer for me) and great conversation.  Unfortunately, Jeff’s wife, Heidi, was out of town on business so we didn’t get to meet her. If she is anything like Jeff, I’m sure she is intelligent, beautiful and equally as charming and hospitable. After a couple of drinks we sat for a feast. Jeff started dinner with a fresh mixed green salad with mandarin oranges, cranberry and nuts paired with an imported vinaigrette and a local creamy tomato dressings. Our main course was perfectly grilled, fresh wild salmon with creamed spinach and cubed roasted potatoes.

For the rest of the evening, we chatted and enjoyed the relaxing down-time and fabulous hospitality. Before retiring for the night, we were treated to imported chocolate cookies and ice cream. Jeff’s culinary skills and beautiful presentation were off the charts. Our bed was fantastic and made it difficult to get up this morning. Jeff is an exceptionally grand and gracious host. As I type, I am enjoying coffee while Jeff prepares a breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon and bagels. I am eager to share the update of our wonderful evening with you and I will also be giving Jeff a glowing review for warmshowers.org. and I will encourage other touring cyclists to stop here for a perfect respite from a long cycling journey.  I will post more pictures of Jeff’s beautiful home on the Spirit of America Pinterest board as well.

So we start a new day refreshed, inspired, and so blessed by the warm welcome and hospitality we’ve received from town to town as well as online.  We are so grateful for all of the support. Watch this blog for more updates as we continue our cycling tour and, if you’re not already, be sure to follow the Spirit of America Ride on Twitter @MarkandMaryRide.

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