This morning we were all anxious to get an early start because the Weather Channel promised a very hot day, with temperatures near 90 degrees. It was just after daylight as we rode out of the hotel parking lot. I was thinking of calling Barbara Christmas at the KOA Campground down the road, but felt she was probably still asleep. After only 2 miles, we turned onto US 27, and stayed on that highway for 50 miles. While it was a busy highway with log and dump trucks, there was a good shoulder.
The traffic didn’t bother me as much as it used to before this trip. We passed through the small town of Mayo, then Branford, where we crossed the Suwannee River. I remember going there when Matt and I got our PADI certification years ago. Just out of town, I looked to the right and saw a bicycle path. Michelle had told us about it, but I had not remembered. The path was a welcomed relief from the traffic for several miles. At about mile 52, we left the bike path for country roads on the way to Ichetucknee Springs, where a picnic was waiting for us. At one point, we passed a miniature horse farm. Hille and Ramsey put on their Dr. Doolittle hats and talked to the animals. I managed to get pictures of one horse, who looked that she may be a new momma soon, and another who acted like a young colt.
A couple of them attempted to get into Ramsey’s bike bag, leaning on the fence. We weren’t quite sure what they were after in there!
After seeing a couple of places to rent rafts and kayaks, we entered Ichetucknee Springs at the North Entrance (http://www.floridastateparks.org/ichetuckneesprings/). Ellee laid out a spread for us in the shade of some moss-covered oaks at the Springs. Barb Kassel’s friend, Mary Blake met us and supplemented the picnic goodies with some homemade treats. What a special surprise.
Some of the riders who had arrived earlier, were already enjoying the swimming hole as we made out way down.
I found the restrooms and changed into my swimsuit before joining them at the springs. Note the tan line!!
Pasha wanted to jump in as well, but I managed to keep her on the rock, after telling her about a water moccasin that some of the folks had seen earlier.
Because the water was a bit chilly, it took us a while to get used to it.
Finally, Anne and Ellee braved the water to swim out to see a couple of turtles on a log. Can you find them (the turtles) in the picture?
Of course we needed a photo shoot for our trip. What a bunch of babes!
After a couple of hours in the cool of the trees and the springs, we reluctantly tore ourselves away knowing that we still had about 20 miles to ride in the heat. For a short while we were again on country roads, then turned onto 441. The heat reflected from the pavement and humidity made me feel a bit woozy. As I slowed down, the other riders slowly pulled away from me. I felt a bit better after slowing down and knowing I only had about 5 miles to ride before arriving in High Springs.
We stayed at the High Springs Motel, a favorite of Bike Florida folks. It is not 5- star, but I would stay there again.
The other attraction of High Springs is Floyd’s Diner (aka Pink Floyd). We spotted Elvis there, but I didn’t have my camera! You can see him on Anne Cowan’s site (see my links)
But the real highlight of the day was my evening! When I realized how close we would be to Gainesville, I sent Patty (ASC ’66) a
nd Randy Caton a post card earlier in the ride, letting them know I would be in the neighborhood. Well, they invited me to dinner at their home. Patty came out to pick me up and take me back to Gainesville for the evening. While Randy prepared a gourmet meal of crab cakes, fresh asparagus, rice and salad, Patty and I caught up with our lives over a glass of white wine (or two!). She even brought out her wedding album from all those years ago. My, have we all changed! Patty told me of running into my first ASC roommate, Sherry. I now have her phone number and hope to reconnect soon. What a glorious evening. Thank you so much Randy and Patty.