Friday, March 18, 2005

Greenville, SC to Monticello, FL

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Monticello is named after one of Jefferson's home near Charlottesville, but like many adopted names, it's not pronounced as one would expect. They say mont-i-SELL-o and it took a while to remember to say it that way. It's the county seat, and there's a beautiful court house located in the center of a roundabout on the top of a short climb into town.

There were no motels in the town. There were a couple of B&B's but we decided for the anonymity of a motel room so that we could easily keep our bike inside the room. Most B&B's don't like bikes on the nice carpeting. After dropping the gear and bike off at the motel near the interstate a few miles from town, we returned to register and check out the scene at the event headquarters.

At most of the big tours there are several vendors and mechanics that set up shop and it's fun to look for bargains or strange bike stuff. The headquarters was located at the Monticello High School near the center of town. After a few bad experiences with long lines and warmed over mush on other tours, we chose not to purchase the food plan of breakfasts and dinners. Since the tour stops were mostly located in small towns, this decision appeared to be a mistake. We always managed to eat, but it was often a challenge to find something edible.

For dinner the first night we drove into Tallahassee. It was late, we saw nothing but fast food and chain restaurants and were about to resort to some junk food when we discovered Cafe Cabernet, a very nice restaurant just outside of the downtown area where we enjoyed a good meal (grouper over garlic mashed potatoes with crab and pecans). Everything in Tallahassee seems to be outside of the downtown area. There are many historic houses and buildings there, a few of which contained restaurants and shops, but all but one or two appeared to be closed when we drove through. On a previous trip I was surprised on the lack of activity downtown after around 5 p.m.

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