Since I find myself still near Bushnell instead of Lake Okeechobee this weekend, I decided to get out and explore and possibly spend some time at the Gulf of Mexico. I am still here because my entry steps broke and the new ones that were installed yesterday don't work properly either. The repairman needs to call Kwickee for technical support on Monday. That company is located right behind the Ford dealer in Cottage Grove, Oregon where I spent two weeks waiting for my transmission to be fixed, remember?
Very soon after going west on a back road, I veered off into a portion of Withlacoochee State Park that has a campground, day use area and boat launch. I found the picnic area nad boat launch first. I almost walked a trail, but changed my mind because I had no trail map and therefore no idea how long it was or where I'd end up. The picnic area hasn't been used in a long time and there is green growth in the water where the boat launch is so I didn't want to step in it while putting the kayak in.
Down the road, I passed by hunters complete with orange vests and guns, so I was very glad I didn't go hiking by myself on these trails! I found the campground as well and there were spots that could fit my long rig, but I wouldn't want to drive the sandy road with Daisy to get there!
Further along a country road, I found the Townsen Park and used its facilities. There were people on horseback and I discovered that I was at an access point to the Withlacoochee State Trail that used to be a 46 mile railroad. So, I took a ride on Penelope and helped her break in her new tires. The trail was mostly flat, but my legs still hurt after riding the 8 miles to Floral City and back.
After lunch in the park, I drove to Floral City to get a snapshot of the most photographed avenue in Florida (Floral City's large plaque on the bike trail told me so!). People had planted large oak trees on the street over 150 years ago and they grew nicely.
Off again to the Gulf, but I stopped at a State Park claiming to have manatees and more. It seemed to be a building instead of a park - oh, one has to walk into the building that's like a small aquarium and bird cage area to buy a tram ticket to see the park. I just missed the last tram of the day - oh darn (sarcastically said).
Going west again, I soon came upon a detour that would take me to Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins, so I had to see. Sure enough, there was a small square to walk around the ruins and read the plaques that explained what the ruins are and how sugar is made from the canes. Mr. Yulee was a rich man who grew the sugar canes here and supplied the Confederates with sugar, molasses, and syrup. The Federals found it and destroyed it. I can't explain how sugar was made, except to say it took fire to melt the "sap" from the cane, then many kettles to get it refined before it finally was put into big barrels and shipped out.
One more time to go to the Gulf! I kept going west on small roads and twice ended up at rich homes along waterways where I couldn't see far. But one road ended at a pblic boat launch. However, I did not see the Gulf at all, but waterways, marshes, and small islands, or keys as they're called down here! I sat for a little while waiting for the time for the sun to set, but the gnats and the occasional smell of dog poop forced me to give up the idea and head back home. Got there in time for the ice cream social, so had dessert after my late lunch a few hours ago!