Day 2 begins in the wrong direction, heading a mile east to retrace our route to the courthouse. It's amazing what a new coat of paint will do for what had been a serious contender as least attractive courthouse in the state.
The requisite photos taken, we re-pedal our way back along U.S. Highway 90 -- past Marianna's Spanish revival post office -- to the Hinson House and, soon enough, our eggs and bacon, pancakes and coffee for fuel. It makes for a late-ish start. Our rain on Day 1 was dispiriting in the moment but proves a harbinger of this temperate morning left in its wake.
A delightful morning starts straight and flat through Cottondale and soon enough the last of Jackson County rolls beneath our tires. Our first foray into Washington County delivers us swiftly into Chipley, the town FDOT made. The Washington County Courthouse is new and puts a prosperous sheen upon Chipley.
Onward we go, spanning Holmes Creek and, as a consequence, into Holmes County. In Bonifay is an unpresupposing courthouse marked by a flagpole and flag, humble monumentary and steady walk-up business from the angled-in vehicles parked curbside.
We scour our way back to Holiday Restaurant. Friendly lunch-goers chat us up. A waitress prompts us to grab the open end of a long occupied table in the bustling restaurant. Avery has a 10/10 bacon cheeseburger and I have chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas (promoted as lima beans), carrots and gravy-laden rice. Other diners engage us in conversation.
We are in the county seat of Holmes, the Florida jurisdiction with the highest percentage Trump vote, 89 percent of the ballots cast in November. It's only 8,300 actual votes, but that's still an LBJ-in-King-County level split. I stress I do not question for one second the legitimacy of the vote. I am, in fact, surprised it's not higher for Trump.
After lunch we pass back into Washington County for a spell, then again enter Holmes. Next we complete a crossing of the out-of-its-banks and silt-brown Choctawhatchee River, aswirl with eddies downstream of railroad trellis piers. Over Red Slough, Little Reedy Creek, and Big Reedy Creek our ride goes on flat in these bottoms through Westville and into Ponce de Leon proper.
We are now a formidable team of pedalers and we spin from 84 feet above sea level in Ponce De Leon and gear up the 7 miles of winding U.S. 90 to the heights of 267 feet above sea level.
It's not the highest point in Florida, nor even the highest point along our ride. Florida's peak is to the north, at Britton Hill where the land rises to 345 feet. Our ride's highest point is behind us, near Mount Pleasant on mile 22 of Day One when the plateau took us to the dizzying height of 325 feet above sea level.
Now the outskirts of DeFuniak Springs appear and we hit our final courthouse of a four-courthouse day. Avery declares it the best of all.
On this day, 18 years since I purchased it -- an expense I celebrate every moment of this ride -- the Santana tandem carrying us earns a moniker. The two-seated bicycle has never had a name, but it sure does now.
The machine we pedaled 60 miles this day and 96 miles thus far on the Tour de Wahoo does now and shall evermore recall and mimic the name of the first library bookmobile in DeFuniak Springs.
I give you the Choctawhatchee Chariot.