We had a great breakfast in Quincy at the new Holiday Inn Express, with warm cinnamon rolls, cereal, eggs, and passion fruit juice. As we pedaled out, it seemed a little strange to leave Quincy with about half the group leaving from Midway. I rode out with Carol, Bobbie and Susan. Carol soon turned back when she realized that she had left her calling card at the hotel. It is not unusual for one of us to forget something at an overnight stay or restaurant. Fortunately, most items have been retrieved.
Bobbie and I were in the lead going up a hill when we looked up to see a car passing another one and headed straight for us. There was a narrow shoulder and no place to go as the car passed within two feet of us! I could feel its draft as it flew by us. It shook both of us so much that we had to stop at the top of the hill to recover. Accidents can happen so quickly. And, it is so easy to forget about oncoming traffic when one is so vigilant about vehicles in the rear.
After that initial scare, our route took us onto a calmer, more scenic road toward Wakulla. We crossed the Ochlockonee (meaning yellow waters) River, near the Corn Reservoir, which forms Lake Talquin. While Ochlockonee is a rather difficult word, the sign and what I found on the Internet disagree on the spelling.
The Ochlockonee actually originates near Sylvester, GA in Worth County.
The dam was actually built in 1929 and operated as a power plant until 1970, at which time it was turned over to the Florida Department of Natural Resources. It did not operate again until the city of Tallahassee rebuilt and reopened it again as one of only two hydroelectric plants in Florida in 1985.
The SAG met us at about mile 15, after which I took off by myself for the next 18 miles. It was a quiet, smooth, flat road, with very little traffic through the Apalachicola National Forest. Even Ellee was able to ride here. (Note her modified handlebars to accommodate her broken arm.)
Being alone on that type road lends itself to time for introspection. Pegi had signed my guestbook with comments about Royce Smith’s dream of crossing the country on a bicycle. During the ride today, I recalled many memories of Royce, especially the year he and I did Bike Florida. He was a special person whose spirit continues to live on in the hearts of many folks, me included. I also found one unknown (to me) plant to photograph.
At mile 35, as we met the SAG again, we had the choice of turning right and heading for the Inn at Wildwood, our home for two nights in Crawfordville, or continuing on down Highway 267 to Wakulla Springs State Park (http://www.wakullacounty.org/wakulla-5.htm). Since it was still early, I chose the park.
I rode in with Rebecca B., Annie, and Lorraine, who invited me to join them for lunch. But, I had already made plans to join Judy, Anne and Barb. We bought $6.00 tickets for the 12:30 PM guided riverboat trip. While waiting I read about several old movies filmed in this location (1941-Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, 1942-Tarzan’s New York Adventure, and 1954-Creature from the Black Lagoon). On the tour we learned that there were air hoses under water to allow “the creature” to breathe while swimming deep in the river. What a treasure this boat tour was! My camera would not do justice to all of the fauna and flora we saw. But here are a few shots.
Among the birds were the Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Tri Color Heron, Anhinga, Wood Duck, Common Moorhen, Mississippi Kite, Double-crested Cormorant, and many others. Of course, there were the usual animals, which included the alligator (estimated at 400 in the park at any given time), Florida Soft-shelled turtle, White-tail Deer, and striped mud turtle, and Florida red-bellied turtle. Some of the trees in the park date back to the 1600s. After the boat trip, Barb and I decided that we would brave the diving tower.
After all, it didn’t look all that high! Someone told us it was about 32 feet. Well, it seemed much higher once we got up there. And, to make it more difficult, there were all these young kids encouraging us.
After standing there for what seemed like forever, I took the plunge! When I surfaced after the jump, I knew I wanted to try it again. Before going back up, I asked some young girls on the lower platform to sing Happy Birthday to Barb after she jumped. I jumped again, and then Barb did it. How special it was to hear the girls singing when she popped out of the water! The tower is at the deepest part of the spring, 185 feet deep. It flows from underground at 400,000 gallons per minute. Despite many attempts to locate it, the source of the spring has yet to be found.
After purchasing some post cards and ice cream, we started back toward our hotel. As Anne started to pedal, she ran off the sidewalk and into some sand, then fell because she could not get her foot out of the clip. She hit her head, but the helmet protected her. The only real damage was a bent gear head, which she was able to fix later in the day.
Dinner on that evening was a celebration. We had never had the “cross the state line” Margaritas when we crossed into Florida. This was the night!
And, it was Barb’s birthday. Her husband Leo sent a cake.
Sunday morning, our day of rest, dawned cool, with a promise of a beautiful day. Anne, Hille, Ramsey and I had decided to ride to St. Marks, a small fishing village about 10 miles away. As we pedaled toward the town, Anne and I spotted an American Swallow-tailed Kite. What a beautiful bird!As we rode through St. Marks, we saw the Tallahassee/St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail (Florida’s first official state trail) and decided that it would be our route back to US 98. On the dock of the St. Mark’s river, one of the locals entertained us with stories of the manatees that swim nearby.
Pasha enjoyed watching boats and fish glide by the dock.
Exploring San Marcos de Apalache, an old fort dating back to 1528, was a real treat. We found out that Andrew Jackson had occupied it in the early 1800s. Very little has been restored here.
After all of this exploration, it was time for lunch. The Riverside Café hit the spot with oyster sandwiches and shrimp on a skewer.
Then it was time to hit the trail, which runs from St. Marks to Tallahassee. After turning west on US 98 we spotted the T n T Hide-a –Way. We stopped to inquire about kayaking tomorrow morning (Monday), since we have only 52 miles to ride tomorrow. There I found another beautiful flower near the water. Can anyone identify this plant. We were told that the roots look like potatoes.
Tonight we ate sandwiches at the Bistro, a restaurant attached to the Inn, before turning in for the night.