Neptune Beach to Key Largo: Week 9

bikes gathered

Day 58

Oct. 20: Cyclists Mike and Jim rode from Neptune Beach to Daytona Beach, seeing debris from Hurricane Irma along the way. In Daytona Beach, we met downtown at City Marina and toured the Sweetheart Trail by bike, then repaired to a local bistro to talk more about urban redevelopment and the role that greenways can play.

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Honoring the manatee: Mary Beth Powell, River Relay manager; Paul Haydt, Florida Greenway coordinator; Dennis Markatos-Soriano (with his three children), executive director; Mike Pakula, River Relay cyclist and Greenway volunteer.

Day 59

Oct. 21: We left Daytona Beach in the morning and headed to Titusville, where we gathered in the afternoon at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. We took a short ride to Chain of Lakes Park to talk about manmade parks created to manage storm surge.

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Dennis Markatos-Soriano reaches his destination, Melbourne, FL, on Day 60 of East Coast River Relay.

Day 60

Dennis Markatos-Soriano, our executive director, took a turn as River Relay cyclist today, making his way from Titusville to Melbourne. He enjoyed a day on the bike despite some headwinds and scenes of erosion from rising sea levels along the Greenway.

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Florida Greenway Coordinator Paul Haydt presents honorary East Coast Greenway tiles to Chris Dzadovsky, chair of St. Lucie's Board of County Commissioners, and Mike Middlebrook, Natural Resources Manager for St. Lucie County. The County has five greenway projects in the works totaling almost $3 million.

Day 61

Oct. 23: Niles Barnes returned as our River Relay cyclist! He rode from Melbourne to Fort Pierce today, 50 miles, then joined a celebration at Fort Pierce City Marina. After a tour of Indian River Lagoon habitat restoration projects, we presented honorary Greenway tiles to Chris Dzadovsky, chair of St. Lucie's Board of County Commissioners, and Mike Middlebrook, the county's Natural Resources Manager. We ended the evening with a tour of Sailfish Brewery, including sampling the special brew, Sailfish Greenway Milk Stout.

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Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society, pours a sample of the Loxahatchee River into our bottle of collected river water with Mary Beth Powell, River Relay program manager.

Day 62

Oct. 24: Niles and Greenway volunteer Jerry Page rode from Fort Pierce to Jupiter, Florida, crossing the Indian and Loxahatchee rivers. At a reception at the beautiful Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, we heard from a great group of local and state leaders, including Mark Perry with Florida Oceanographic Society (in photo). Thanks to Treasured Lands Foundation, Pegasus Foundation, and Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum for organizing the reception.

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A mermaid or two greets Greenway users in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Day 63

Oct. 25: Today was our second to last day of #EastCoastRiverRelay riding! 😥  Niles booked it today, 59 miles from Jupiter to Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, enjoying slightly cooler temps and a bit of a tailwind. And a few mermaids watching him in West Palm Beach.

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A scenic stretch of the East Coast Greenway through Hollywood, Florida.

Day 64

Oct. 26: From Lauderdale by the Sea to Miami, Niles loved his 41-mile ride today. He had plenty of company on the Greenway thanks to a sunny but cooler day. Join us tomorrow evening in downtown Miami as we celebrate the East Coast Greenway in southern Florida and the end of our East Coast River Relay odyssey!

Dennis Markatos-Soriano greets guests at the start of a boat tour on Miami's Biscayne Bay with partners Miami Waterkeeper and Florida Sea Grant.

Day 65

Oct. 27: We had a great day celebrating all things coastal and green in Miami. Our friends at Miami Waterkeeper and Florida Sea Grant hosted a boat tour of Biscayne Bay with fellow environmental advocates and community leaders. In the evening, we met in downtown Miami and held one last River Relay tabling event before joining hundreds of costumed cyclists, young and old, for a Critical Mass ride through downtown.

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We loved our open-air yoga class at the Underline in Miami's Brickell City Center

Day 66

Oct. 28: Inhale, exhale. Yoga class outdoors at Brickell City Center with Friends of the Underline was a wonderful way to start our last day, stretching and breathing! Then we headed south to Key Largo for John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where Hurricane Irma flooded the visitor's center, among other damage. We helped with some clean-up to close out the day and two months — a great reminder of how much stronger we are when we pull together as partners.

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Our team got in some heavy lifting as they pulled out wrecked carpeting in the visitor center of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, FL, where Hurricane Irma brought several feet of flooding.
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