Mike and his dog spread the positive message about rescue animals
The first time Mike Minnick crossed the Seven Mile Bridge on his bicycle headed east with his dog three years ago, he was caught in a torrential downpour.
“One second it was beautiful, and the next second it was raining so hard,” said Mike. He was worried that his dog might be blown out of the crate on the back of his bike, so he got off and pushed for about four miles. On the other end, he met some tourists who had witnessed his plight on the bridge. They promptly offered him a room in their vacation rental and dinner. (They’re still friends; Mike recently visited them in Richmond, Virginia.)
His second trip headed east across the bridge earlier this week on his electric bike resulted in a flat tire. At the moment the ominous hissing started, he just happened to be streaming live on Facebook.
“This lady — Holly with the blue hair of Big Pine Key — was watching. She jumped in her car and came and found me on the bridge,” Mike said, smiling. With her help, and a passing deputy, they were able to temporarily transfer Bixby to a car, allowing Mike the space he needed to safely change the tire.
Then, another of Mike’s friends from Miami put him in touch with Shayne and Armand Messina of AM Electric in Marathon. They promptly offered him room and board, plus helped him fix his bicycle.
“This man is a genius,” Mike said of Armand, as Bixby and the Messinas’ dogs Noah and Ceasar cavorted playfully in the shop yard. The fixes allowed Mike to continue on his very important mission — spreading the word about the positive aspects of rescuing a shelter animal.
This is how all of Mike’s stories start and end — with abundant good will, happy coincidences, and a feel-good message everyone can embrace.
Bixby and Mike met in 2009 in Austin, Texas. Mike brought him home and they lived a pretty normal and uneventful life together for a few years. Until a friend offered Mike a ticket to Burning Man, and he chucked all his worldly possessions for a life on the road. He got as far as Terlingua, Texas when the truck broke down. Some cross-country bicyclists convinced him to try the grand tour on two wheels.
And that’s when Mike’s real journey began, crossing the country on a bicycle — himself, Bixby and a rubber chicken safety flag (aka Charlie Chicken). The most recent accessory is a long, curved bamboo rod with a stick dangling in front of the handlebars. (See quote.) The adventure has taken them more than 20,000 miles all over the U.S. on a bike with Bixby’s bed mounted on the back. They’re still pedaling, making new friends everywhere and bringing attention to shelter animal adoption.
In Key West, they visited the Florida Keys SPCA, Key West Wildlife Center, Reef Relief, and Turtle Hospital, among others. In Marathon, Bixby has plans to visit the SNIP (Spay Neuter In Paradise) operation and the Florida Keys SPCA shelter in Marathon. He’s headed to Key Largo to reconnect with old friends at the shelter in Key Largo in the coming days.
— Ben Harrington contributed to this report.