Friday January 20, 2017, 77 miles (124 km) – Total so far: 1,006 miles (1,619 km)
Stealth Campsite just West of Hastings to Red roof Inn in Gainesville, Fl.
As I wrote the above sentence, I thought, what a contrast in campsites. One extreme to the other. Not that my stealth site was bad, it just didn’t have a shower, soft bed, or coffee in the room next to a choice of restaurants. It did have mosquitoes however. In abundance. Maybe that’s why I was sluggish and a bit unmotivated this morning. As my site was really only stealthy under the cover of darkness, I had to leave early as well. I’m sure I was a pint of blood low by then.
So, off I went as the sun rose and the light literally glowed off the cabbage and turnip fields. The soil is very rich here and I could actually smell it during the night. The only traffic with me were farmers riding the tractors to the fields. Those guys get up early also.
All this to see and I still couldn’t get excited about riding. I had a long day ahead of me and the headwinds were fierce. Clouds guickly came up and it even sprinkled a little. Coffee, I need coffee. As I left in such a hurry, breakfast had been skipped. Not to worry, there was coffee to be had 12 miles down the road.
That helped some but riding along the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail was even better. This would be one of two rails to trails that I would ride on today. The trees kept off most of the wind, there was not even the sound of traffic, and the views were beautiful. Florida has a lot of these tucked away here and there and it’s always a pleasure to ride them.
I was enjoying this so much, I almost missed my turnoff. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and stopped to look at the map to make sure. That’s when my day got a whole lot better.
A man drove by, stopped and admired Clara. The usual conversation occurred. I heard his ringtone sound on his phone. It was a blues riff on a harmonica. He said his dad played a lot before he passed. Then he reached into his wallet and gave me my first, on route donation to Fender Music Foundation saying it was from the heart. I was blown away. Excited didn’t begin to describe my feelings. Those five dollars literally made my day.
His name is Robin and he was getting ready for his retirement party later tonight. Thanks from the bottom of my heart my good friend.
Well, after that, nothing could get me down. Not the headwinds, sore legs or relentless miles ahead. I just kept thinking about the generosity of others and how they touch people’s lives they will never know. It’s a good feeling.
Eventually, I made it to lunch where Clara became the topic of conversations again. One man said he would mention me in his church on Sunday hoping to inspire others to help people by doing something they love. It’s really not that hard you know.
The day ended with the last 20 miles or so on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. I was going off route in Gainesville to start my way to Cedar Key and had been wondering how to navigate safely through the large city. This network of trails were just perfect for that purpose. Gainesville, Home of the University of Florida is very bike friendly. It was strange riding through town listening to Sandhill Craines and avoiding flocks of turkeys instead of cars.
So at the end of my 77 mile day, I was once again reminded how good things can turn out if only you let them. I mentioned a contrast in camp sites but the day was really about the contrasts of my moods brought on by the generosity of others and by seeking the positive. Life is good.