Miami Beach to West Palm Beach
Avg Speed: 8.9mph
Elevation Gain: 1,893ft
Avg Temp: 80.2°F
With one day of rest after my triumphant win at the 24 Hour Ultraskate, I awoke early. I had just met Spencer the night before. Spencer and I had talked online about doing this ride- an ambitious skate from Miami to Jacksonville in a mere week’s time. He had done the same ride just last year, but it took him 16 days and he had a lot of difficulty reaching his goal. For me, this ride was a bit of a cool down. After skating across the country, I was looking forward to the flat terrain and warm weather on an adventure skate.
Spencer was a peculiar guy. I knew nothing about him, and though our paths crossed in a previous year in a visit to Miami, I did not remember him. I asked around about him to a few people and wasn’t able to gauge what I was getting into. Based on our conversations, I wasn’t positive he would be able to make it, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Nobody thought I’d get across the country without giving up either. When I had risen out of bed, he already awake, staring at his phone and sitting in a chair in a strange yoga pose.
I showered and packed up the last of my belongings. The night before I had left a bag of everything I wasn’t bringing with me, entrusting a friend to mail it back to me in Massachusetts. I always seemed to run into trouble with asking people to ship my things back to me. Though I always offered to put up my end of the bargain by paying for the shipment, they always declined. However, that usually meant I might not ever see my stuff again.
Spencer and I decided a hearty breakfast would be a good start to the day. Tagging along was Ryan, whom I shared the apartment on South Beach with for the previous week. Google Maps told me there was a bagel shop near by, but instead we found a cool little Cubano breakfast spot. The whole menu was in Spanish, and try as I might to say everything in Spanish, the workers looked at me like I was an idiot and didn’t know what I was ordering. Language is so interesting to me- the fact that I never picked up a second language was always disappointing.
I had a plate of ham, egg, cheese, hash browns, and a colada. Colada was a Cuban espresso drink meant to be shared with friends. I, however, being the over-achiever that I was, decided to drink the whole thing myself. This was the same mistake I made the day before Ultraskate that left me rolling around in bed trying to fall asleep with no luck. We took our time eating, not because we wanted to, but because the workers took their time making it.
Spencer went over the plan to get off the island, which was a straight shot up route A1A. It was different to notice the cultural differences in how people described their main routes state by state. In Southern California, you had the 8 or the 5. In Massachusetts, you rode on the Pike. Florida left nothing to the imagination and just called everything “Route _____.” As we departed the restaurant, a guy with a skateboard approached us to ask about our setups. Every time I tried to talk he talked over me. “This is it,” I thought to myself. “He sees me as a woman.”
Though it was only 10am by the time we left, it was hot. Spencer was wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants – I didn’t know how he was surviving. I was forcing myself to make it through each push even though the sun was was literally singeing my previously made burns during the 24 hour race. In addition to that, I had a massive blister that cut directly across my pushing ankle, and my calves were so sore that any step walked felt like I was being whipped against a wall.
Getting out of Miami Beach was a struggle. We had the option to take the Greenway route, which meant dodging pedestrians, or the option of trying our luck with traffic on the shoulder. 9 times out of 10 I chose traffic over pedestrians. People, especially tourists (as they all were) are simply just stupid. We ducked, weaved, and dodged through stop lights and around construction for miles, keeping an amazing pace despite my pains. I’ve learned that if you stop, the desire to start again decreases. Spencer wanted frequent breaks and I wanted not to break whatsoever. I had a lot to learn in terms of sharing an adventure with somebody else. As I went across the USA it was my way or the highway – often times both.
As we went further, we came upon the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. I had trusted Spencer to be my navigator, seeing as he lived in Florida and also completed this adventure once before. However, it was apparent that things became a little difficult for him and we got sidetracked. This slowed our pace and I became angry. I cursed myself for bringing him along. To be fair, I never really gave him a chance. I was so stuck in my head that I was unable to feel any emotions other than hollow complacency and rage. Regardless, we worked together to pull out of the area – I followed my compass while he looked at a map. I took it as a sign that maybe instead of putting that responsibility on him entirely, we should work together.
Coming into the city of Ft. Lauderdale was great. It was so vibrant and full of life. People were everywhere, bars were packed, the beach was beautiful, and we had a full bike lane to take advantage of. Spencer and I joyously pumped our boards along, half showing off and half enjoying the scenery. I picked a halfway point in the beach area to stop and take a swim. I couldn’t see why we wouldn’t want to take a well deserved break. I didn’t necessarily need one, but if we were going to work together, we had to play off each other’s strengths. Jumping in that water was a godsend. It was clean and salty, warm, and welcoming. We hated the thought of getting up to continue skating, but we had to. I stretched our break as long as seemed appropriate. We washed up at the provided outside showers and threw our clothes on our wet bodies. Florida’s sun was a natural way to dry anyways.
Further up and many hours into skating, we knew we were entering an area where we not have so much access to services as the roads got longer. I spotted a pizza place in a small plaza that looked nice and local. It was so strange to me how in Souther California, or throughout most of the West, there were no small family pizza places like they had on the east coast. We were the only customers. I looked at my bank account- spending so much time in Miami depleted the money I had saved for the adventure. I was counting on $100 I received in donations to pull through for me, but for one reason or another GoFundMe aptly screwed me over right when I needed it and deemed my account as fraud. The situation went deeper than that, and Chase Bank also deemed my account as fraud, obviously not suspecting that somebody with less than $200 to their name would take a 2 week extended stay in Miami. However, a quick shout on the internet showed me who my biggest supporters were. Within 20 minutes all of my favorite friends had sent me money to help me eat. I was beyond grateful.
After that break, it became time to start thinking about where we were going to sleep for the night. I perused through the Warm Showers network, neglecting to remember that I had already set up a place to stay outside of West Palm Beach. That person never reached out to me to ask where we were, and my absent mind had erased it from my memory. So in an instance of needing a place to stay out of my own neglect, I reached out to strangers. Of course we could have found camping – I picked out a few camping or RV park sites that would have worked. Given my condition of pain and suffering, I wanted desperately to shower. The heat of Florida kept me wet and cool the whole day, which would have been a nightmare at night.
So, half staring at my phone and half skating, we moseyed along on sidewalks towards West Palm Beach. I ran out of water outside of Boca Raton, and really, really had to pee. Out west I was able to stop and pee whenever I wanted. That was one benefit of being a woman with a penis I didn’t take for granted. We found a nice little place called Spanish River Park that had a functioning water fountain and a bathroom for me to use. I refilled my 3L hydropack and sat down on the toilet, scraping away all the sand I accumulated at the beach. My crotch area was so horribly chafed. I was bleeding all over myself. I wiped it down and cleaned up as best I could, adjusted my bag, and we were off.
A man named Rusty had replied in a pinch to my Warm Showers request. He was willing to host the two of us, which relieved a lot of our worries. He said he was coming up at Linton Street and A1A, an intersection we were just about to pass. He offered to drive us to his home, but I told him we were very interested in making sure we didn’t take any rides we didn’t absolutely need. So we pushed forward along the route, planning to go directly to his house, which was in a small community just outside of West Palm Beach.
As we got further north, the road took a turn onto an inlet. Inlets were a new geographical formation for me. I had never heard the word before, even though it was such an obvious land feature I should have been aware about, especially living in two ocean side cities for most of my life. The inlet became dangerous. There was a great deal of traffic at the 17:00 mark on the clock and the sun was going down on us. Also to our dismay, and surprisingly, there were no streetlights. I remembered how I said I wouldn’t mind pushing in the night because as far as Florida went it was very populated with beach cities and would have had plenty of light for us to take advantage of. I was wrong.
My bad mood turned worse. Spencer pulled out his flashlight and waved it around letting passing cars find us. I thought about asking Rusty if he would meet us, but he was trapped in traffic. We had to make it through a narrow road with no lights of our own beside Spencer’s flashlight. He kept shining it in my eyes and I grew increasingly angry about it. That paired with the fact that I needed him in front because he was now my designated light guy, he kept slowing down and causing me to push him forward. We could sense how tense it got between the two of us. It was the first time I ever did an adventure skate in the last 5 years with another person. I just wished I knew how much I had to learn about working as a team.
The inlet became a city with extremely wide roads for us to play on. We were at 63 miles when Rusty and I chose a meeting point, making our journey finally have an end for the day. I couldn’t skate anymore. The fact that I just did a nearly 70 mile ride 2 days after a 179 mile Ultraskate was quite crazy. My legs were no longer having it, my sunburn made me cold without the sun, my chafing was irritating, and my mentality was poor. It was also difficult to coordinate a host for the night when there were two of us. With one person I almost always received a positive answer, but this time, only Rusty responded.
Stopped, finally at a gas station after a brisk 1 mile walk, I went in and got myself a Mountain Dew. I needed the sodium. I had sweat so much – I was entirely soaked head to toe. Spencer relived the 90s and got a Surge soda. Thinking back to my days of playing hockey and drinking so much Surge in between practices made me sick. Too much sugar, not that Mountain Dew was any better. Rusty greeted us inside. He was a slightly older guy with a clean appearance, quiet in voice, and easy going in temper. He was our savior for the day. We had to figure out what to eat, because I was going through a personal battle with binge eating ever since I returned from my cross country journey. I was ready to eat a human, if necessary.
First he suggested Indian, which sounded pretty good, but then jumped to Thai and my mouth started salivating. We got in Rusty’s Prius drove around looking for parking, and went to the place. I loved Thai food. I especially loved Vietnamese Food, and extra loved Japanese cuisine, but Thai was way up there on my list. Spencer and I definitely didn’t have the funds to afford a big meal out on the town, but I was ready to eat beyond a normal amount. Still soaked, I took an opportunity to swap my shirt for another, revealing my sports bra, which then caused me to get into how I was transgender once we sat down to eat. Rusty was unphased. I felt like that was couch surfing culture- open-mindedness was rampant all across the country.
We sat down to eat and I had a soup, and a huge plate of spicy crazy noodles. The waiter was completely absent-minded and couldn’t get Rusty’s order right. I was simple. The rules of eating for me were that if it filled me up, I would eat it. When the food came, Rusty insisted on sharing our meals. I found that to be a bit peculiar, especially because we hardly knew each other. Spencer was less inclined to share.
After our meal (it was expensive), Rusty drove us to his home. Spencer and him talked the whole time about the Prius, which had every available cluster notification turned on, was out of gas, and frankly worried me a bit. Luckily it was only a short drive- which also meant that we didn’t have to worry too much about losing mileage. We were welcomed to his home, which had an alarming number of couches, and lots of electronics and papers everywhere. There was his dog, a dingo mix named Dunkin. Dunkin was a sweet pup, but a little intrusive and always needing attention. I wasn’t sure what it was, but in all of my experiences staying at people’s homes, I never seemed to like people’s dogs. Watching people kiss their dogs made me uncomfortable and my wool clothing was always covered in dog hair when I left.
Rusty treated us to a shower, and after that, I was toast. I wasn’t much of a conversationalist. I could hardly keep my eyes open and feeling hungry once again made me want to die instantly. Spencer and Rusty talked while a roommate of Rusty’s came home and joined in the conversation. I plugged my devices in, stared at my phone for a short while and passed out. I found it strange there were no pillows or blankets, but I made do. If I absolutely needed either I just had to open my backpack and get them. The smell of dog wafted in through the fabric of the couch, but boy was I happy to be clean, safe, and comfortable. Rusty had a long history of hosting travelers with no bad experiences to speak of. We were in good hands.