Searching direction – a funeral, then a paddle in The Ocala National Forest, now what?, do I paddle the Silver again? – weather report says rain. So I head out from Ocala on hwy 40 to hwy 27 and then to Williston Fla before driving up alt-27 towards Chiefland. With Manatee Springs nearby and it about six in the evening I find a hotel and settle in – after a couple nights of ‘camping‘ I’m thinking a warm bed should help.
Woke to windy and cool weather, the windy part decreased my desire for paddling but I really didn’t mind because I was a little sore from the two previous days – the choice was easy; ride, ponder and reflect another’s lifetime…
Continental breakfast, oj, and coffee then a ride up alternate-27 where memories remain of once towing a brand-new 71 Z-28 camaro through here years ago behind a truck – the car came loose (not completely) but that’s another story. This morning was nice and listening to 97.9 fm fit well with the day.
I drove North to Perry and then across hwy 98 Westward, light to no traffic – I think everyone (if anyone) were traveling at 60 also, I came up on – and had to pass no-one. I suppose Dad would call what I was doing as ‘lolly-gagging,’ whatever it was it did fit the day perfectly. When I noticed the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse sign, I simply made the turn. What the heck?
It was a pleasant place full of “bird-watchers” – bird watchers with those BIG zoom lenses on their cameras standing, walking, and riding around looking at birds. The birds were plentiful too. I continued at an ez pace to the coast (about 6 miles) and walked around the light house, still pondering – it was peaceful there.
The history of the area is rich and the scenery unique within the surroundings. As remote as it was I figured it wouldn’t do any harm – so I wandered out into the thicket to ‘relieve’ myself on some lonesome ‘birders’ trail – but then, there were those BIG zoom lenses – not that I had much to worry about…….. still, I moved on.
In returning to hwy 98 it felt nice to have the familiar Florida landscape surrounding me once again, even the folks on the radio had/used the same slang as I; as a native to Fl I felt at home, ‘my people’ – I like this area.
I thought about all the storms and hurricanes that came through too, maybe how a welding or scrap-iron business could benefit (their inventory wouldn’t float away), and somewhere in here and after Dad’s funeral I felt the desire to hug my grandchildren, even though they were in Colorado.
Hwy 98 (a heritage trail) is a coastal highway with local seafood businesses around, the ride is a pleasant with a good view of the coastline. It wasn’t long before Apalachicola where I located one of those restaurants and ‘whuffed down a dozen steamed oysters, followed by a cold beverage (or two).
There were some interesting stores nearby too, so wanting some nautical junk for the ‘Crab-shack‘ I wandered through them, neat stuff….
Not long afterward I was back on the road, Port St Joe, and then Mexico Beach where I saw our latest fighters making practice runs over the highway – it was great. The plane above simply represents the military’s proximity and importance to the area.
For me, the music on 95.7 remained great for the ride; it all blended in allowing my mind to freely move about – in there somewhere I wondered too about how far I would make it on this ‘non-schedule.’
Further along the coast I began to hunger for some ‘wings,’ I really wanted some ‘wings’ – I also wanted to catch up with these posts too – another simple exercise of allowing a mind to freely ‘move-about’ – riding helped too and I continued on.
After some ‘junkin stops I continued to ponder about riding to Colorado, so I checked the weather and found that it was 12 degrees! – that thought allowed me other options of simply circling back and riding the roads of central Georgia or traveling further along the Gulf’s coastline. I could always return to my original plans of driving to Colorado in June.
In Destin, Fla the campground was full and as I pulled back out onto the intersection there it was, HOOTER’s! The wings there are not always the best but the scenery and cold beverage helps blur the wing quality. There was a hotel almost next door – so my ‘wing’ problem was solved (and I DID let out a ‘rebel-yell’).
So here I am two hours after stopping and relaxing further, laundry is done, and there’s a warm bed close-by. Tomorrow I will head one way or the other, it may be west – feeling some loose ends out there…..
Today I saw this towboat, reminding me of the many along the Mississippi River.
– its been a long week, one that leaves me to only feel certain about one thing – I really do love, ‘the ride.’……………..