• 7 June 2024

Gürkan, be careful of the alligators in Florida.

Gürkan, be careful of the alligators in Florida.

Gürkan, be careful of the alligators in Florida. 768 1024 Gürkan Genç

This time, I couldn’t leave the city not because of traffic or poor city design, but because of visitations. Anyway, I’ll be heading back to Miami, and it will go like this:

I’ll leave my touring bike somewhere and return to my friends. In that city, I should do a presentation on my world tour by bike, and we should laugh and think together. It’s not just about where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. I try to give these presentations whenever I find the time, to open another window on our perspective on life through the eyes of a man who has traveled the world.

What will I talk about? Why are we on this planet, what are we doing, how can we destroy the only planet we can live on like this, the extent of environmental pollution, the jobs of the future, what I saw in the US, which is like Turkey’s size 36 counterpart, and why Turkish citizens are fleeing here. Maybe I’ll do other works as well, I don’t know.

I’m pedaling from Miami to Naples. Ayşim Eserdağ has been waiting for me there for 15 years. Years have passed saying I’ll come and I’ll be there. Continuing to pedal on bike paths both inside Miami and when leaving Miami. There was a bike path application I had never seen in any other country before.

Quite a bold statement, isn’t it?

I saw bicycle life in 28 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America among 70 countries. Only 12 of them had a bicycle life culture, respect for cyclists, and legal regulations. I mean, I used the bike paths of these countries meter by meter, day by day, month by month. I guess I’m one of the few people who can make this statement. The application I saw in the state of Florida was not found anywhere else. There is a bike path on the vehicle road and another bike path right next to it. This application was added to the state highways’ road construction regulation. The history of these bike and vehicle-shared roads in the US starts in California in 1967, but the implementation in the state of Florida, as far as I can see, is incredibly good right now. Let’s see what kind of bike paths I’ll see in other states in the USA?

So why were two bike paths made in this way?

These paths were made for people who have made cycling a certain lifestyle. That is, waking up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning, cycling for 1 hour or 1.5 hours before going to work, then coming home, getting ready, dropping the child to school, and going to work, and sleeping at 21:00 after having dinner at the latest by 17:00 or 18:00. Thanks to these paths, it is possible to ride a bike at an average speed of 30 kilometers per hour and do good training.

In short, up to the point where I wrote this article, I came by using shared bike paths and special paths dedicated only to bicycles, and the quality of the roads was very good, really very good, it is impossible not to be impressed. There are wide irrigation canals on the village roads, and they have also marked the side roads of these irrigation canals as bike paths. Of course, it is possible to see alligators on these canal roads. That’s why especially our citizens warned me a lot about setting up a tent somewhere on my own, and it’s something I take into account. Turkish citizens who are of the same ethnic group but have become US citizens generally say:

– You can’t set up a tent anywhere you want, the areas are specified. Tents cannot be set up outside these areas.

– There are alligators. Don’t set up a tent.

When I ask the local Americans if it is possible to set up a tent on my own:

– As long as you don’t disturb people and you are not in sight, there is no problem. Once the police know who you are, they won’t say anything about staying for a night.

– There are alligators and bears. But someone who has spent a part of their life in nature knows well where and how to set up a tent and what to do. I am not competent enough to tell you how to camp.

Even though I have been writing in Turkish for 14 years, sometimes it is forgotten what I am doing and how I live. New young, old, and experienced followers immediately share their knowledge and experiences. I silently listen, read, and thank them.

I remembered an anecdote. One day I was pedaling in Sweden, it was -35C, I set up a tent right across from a house in the evening. While the homeowner was entering his house at night:

– Hey Dude, do you need anything?

– No thanks, I am going to leave tomorrow morning.

– Ok. Have a nice sleep.

He didn’t ask me to stay in his house or if I needed anything. Why? Because the man across from him had set up one of the best tents in the world, The North Face Mountain 25. Someone who owns such a tent is likely to have the best sleeping bag in the world, The North Face Inferno. Also, if he was in a bad situation, he would come and ask for help, they think about these things, because these people have not yet detached from nature. (I will explain why they have not detached in one of my USA articles). It is not because they are not hospitable, it is because I have already set up my tent, made my food, and will sleep. So the man knows that I know very well what I am doing, it would not be appropriate for him to say pack everything and come to my house. But in the morning, while I was packing inside the tent, he comes to the side of the tent and hands me a thermos. That’s the point.

Continuing to camp in the USA, paying attention to these warnings and the things I wrote above.

It’s only been two weeks since I came to the USA, and I managed to see alligators sunbathing in the area on the way to Naples. Their sunbathing areas are usually far from the roads. Even if I take a few steps to the other side of the road, they immediately get scared and go into the water. According to what I learned from the locals living in Florida, you see the most alligators on the route to Lake Okeechobee between these two cities. Since I also used the field roads in between, I saw many more in the canals. By the way, this lake has no end in sight. It is truly a big lake and there is a nice bike path around it. I pedaled on a small part of it. Don’t mind me saying small, I am talking about 30 km.

The caravan craze is continuing wildly in our country. The year is 1993, a Volkswagen Eurovan caravan is parked in front of our house. It was used as an office on the construction site. It had almost the same features as today’s best caravans. From its small tube TV to its car phone and many more things. For a 14-year-old child, getting into that caravan and sitting in it was extremely exciting. In short, my acquaintance with caravans was quite early. During my bicycle trip from Turkey to Japan, I met international travelers using caravans for the first time. I was examining their vehicles, and then I had the opportunity to meet and chat with those using caravans in Europe, Africa, and South America. I was also following the new models from time to time. I haven’t stayed in a caravan park in the USA yet, but I will definitely stay one day. I tried it once, they asked for a fee of $35 for the caravan park. There was an empty field next to it, so I went and set up there. For now, I don’t think of paying those fees, but I will definitely enter these areas to camp one day.

With the advancement of technology, caravans have also become incredible. In the future, even if I live alone, have a spouse or children, I will definitely make sure to get a caravan. The length of this caravan will be no more than 6 meters and it will be a 4×4 vehicle. Even if there is a child, it will still be like this. I would sleep outside, set up a tent, etc. A bigger one is very unnecessary and the towed caravan event is completely unnecessary for a man like me. Anyway, I saw the king of this caravan business in Germany. In America, the event has gone to even bigger and more spacious levels. I saw a caravan where the man had tied a 4×4 jeep to the back of the caravan with a system like towing with a rope. Our people would say if the car is tied at the back, doesn’t it make miles, the wheels are turning. Yes, the vehicle makes extra miles but here people don’t look at the mileage when buying a vehicle. My bike is more expensive than 2015 BMW models in this country. He also placed a speedboat on another trailer. The caravan he used was just like a bus. They are literally moving the comfort of a 5-star accommodation from one point to another. All the roads in the state of Florida are quite suitable for these vehicles. I can’t comprehend the size and luxury. It seems like retired Americans buy such a vehicle and spend a large part of their remaining life in such luxurious caravanning instead of traveling from hotel to hotel. Or a family with 4 children finds a holiday with this vehicle much more economical. What the future holds is unknown. About having children… Why, brother, are you getting married?

Ayşim works in real estate in Naples and is even considered the queen of real estate in the area. During the time I was injured in Chile, her sister İpek came from Hamburg, and we were together in Santiago. It was wonderful to see Ayşim years later and spend time with her. The city she lives in is basically a retirement town. It’s a place for those who have reached a certain level of income or prosperity and dream of a quiet life. The coastline is beautiful, and the cleanliness and order are superb.

In 2022, the area was hit by a hurricane. Many houses along the coast were destroyed, but the city managed to restore itself to its former state quickly. The sea water reached right in front of Ayşim’s house, which was quite far from the coastline.Many houses on the coast have been destroyed. The number of casualties is also quite high. Although the government advised people to leave their homes, many did not find it suitable to go. When you have the means and the state specifically warns about the situation, why wouldn’t you leave? Is it your attachment to the things you own? Old age? Indifference? You decide.

After the destruction, there were those who came to loot the area. As a result of the shoot-to-kill order, they did not show any mercy to the looters. Look, I always say this in my presentations and I will continue to say it: “If by chance they can’t exploit the resources in South America and Africa, the people in North America and Europe would start stabbing each other.” Laws, security, and so on, the system collapses. I have been saying this for a very long time.

When I arrived at Ayşim’s house, I coincidentally came during a “gold day” gathering. This was quite a remarkable situation. Nobody knows, but I also started my international journey with a golden day. When you embark on a world tour by bicycle, your own resources are insufficient for such a trip, which still holds true. That’s why, for example, there is a support section on this page. “Support Gürkan Genç.”(click) Since 2012, the support that has accumulated drop by drop has saved my life at unexpected moments, and I have written about where and how I used that support. Don’t underestimate it, the amount coming from there has been a significant help in ways I never anticipated.

The www.gurkangenc.com page has survived this way and has been a guide to many people for 14 years. Even though it is not read as much as before, I continue to write because I love writing. Those who start following me now still talk about YouTube and such, but they will learn in time what kind of person I am…

I am very grateful to Ayşim; I rested very well at her place. The day before I was set to leave, Murat, a student from the time I gave a presentation at Istanbul University in March 2012, sent me a message:

–                Gürkan, I’m also in Naples, can I join you?

Normally, I don’t take anyone with me. Even for training purposes, I don’t want anyone to pedal with me during my world tour (except childhood friends and friends I have cycled with before). If someone accompanies me, it’s for a maximum of 20 kilometers. If we find a café, we sit down, catch our breath, and then it’s essential they return. It’s ethically necessary for them to do this themselves; I don’t say stay or go. You must not disrupt the rhythm and order of someone on a world bicycle tour. I said all of this, but Murat accompanied me for the whole day. Was it bad? No, it wasn’t; I got to know a person with a beautiful heart closely. I was already planning a short tour that day. The reason was that I was a guest at Onur and Gözde’s house, who had been following me for years, and their mother Tülin prepared wonderful meals.

Murat and I talked about different topics along the way, especially about those who fled to the USA or came as tourists and then wanted to settle. He was also one of those people. He got a work permit and was waiting for the Green Card process. Sometimes people tell me to make such attempts while I’m here. My endeavors here will be related to extending my visa as in other countries. You extend a tourist visa from 6 months to 1 year or change the visa type to one that allows more entries and exits. There is time for these; right now, I’m enjoying the journey.

Onur and Gözde had been following me since their university years. When I first came to the USA, they stayed quiet for a while, but then they saw I was heading their way, so they immediately sent a message. They had a house in North Port, just above Naples. One might think many people wouldn’t even pass through those parts. We went from Naples to North Port by bike path, but I must say this path was not that enjoyable. I had seen much better ones from Miami to this point. However, the roads after leaving the city were really good.

Our conversation at home in the evening was excellent. We met a wonderful family. Murat was going to return to Naples from there, but they also invited him to stay. We chatted until 1:00 AM. They even gave me one of the phones bought through campaigns.

– we already pay for this line, but no one uses it. Let me be your phone line sponsor in the USA.

Thus, my internet calls became unlimited. Thank you both very much. I also gifted Onur a signed set of the first edition of my “Iron Horseman” books for him to take when he goes to Turkey in May. He also brought my renewed credit cards, which had expired, back to the USA. Thank you for everything, Onur.

I also thank Mehmet Oral Çavuş, who made it possible for these writings to be written. He sent me his Starbucks account and said, “Whenever you feel like having coffee, go ahead, it’s on me.” When I get tired on the road, I go in for a break, have my coffee, and write my posts.

Continuing towards Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, New Orleans.


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