It’s been a while since I wrote, my life has changed a lot…unfortunately, I had to get a job…boy that’ll wreck your life! I also got a dog! A whole new dimension to being outside! Anyway, I need to finish this blog because I see that other’s are beginning to link to it. So here we go…
At the end of the Cady Way- Cross Seminole Trail, I ride on the streets to get to another part of the Seminole Trail…up the 426 to Aulin Blvd. then right. You have to be careful here because the road is under construction and Orlando drivers regularly run people over in the street. At the end of Aulin Rd, where there is a very nice tree shaded cemetary, turn left and ride on the east side of Winter Park High School. It’s a short ride past another elementary school to the Seminole Trail. The trail at this point goes into Oviedo on the right or over towards Winter Springs. Since my goal in life is to avoid work and be in the trees, I go left and the first thing I come to is the Howell Creek bridge. A nice stopping place for taking pictures.
It’s very shady on this part of the trip . Further on you want to stay left to keep on the trail or go right to go to the Black Hammock Trail Head. Check out this link for a PDF map:
By this time in my journey, I’m pretty well exhausted and looking for the path back home… I don’t know why but I tend to take long trips in 90 plus degree heat. This is really a training ride for me because it’s about 35 miles door to door. The trail heads west and north until I get to the overpass at SR 434. It’s proobably the highest elevation that bikes regularly can get to in Seminole county.
Just over the overpass, the trail ends, although it’s under construction. I haven’t been there in several months so there’s a good chance that the trail continues from here…
I’ll be blogging soon about some of my other exploits because I recently acquired a kayak and I can’t wait to get outside with that!
I’ve been outside a lot lately. Spring has sprung here in Orlando and with the warm winter we’ve had, the azaleas are already in bloom. The warm weather means I’ve been able to ride a lot lately and keeping in mind the fact that I want to take the dream trip this year, I’ve been increasing mileage per trip.
So I figured out using Google Earth, one of the greatest inventions of mankind, (the others being: the napkin, intermittent windshield wipers, and that dinging sound I get when I leave the headlights on) that even though Seminole County hasn’t built a trail there yet, I can still connect the Cady Way Trail with The Cross Seminole Trail by riding the streets. So here is my interpretation of the Cady Way to Cross Seminole Trail trip that I’m training on. I’ve included approximate distances from my house for my own benefit.
Cady Way trailhead. (2 miles from my house) Found in a parking lot off Herndon Ave. just north of Colonial Blvd near the Fashion Square Mall.
An unassuming start to a very pleasant ride. Just past this point is Baldwin Pub where they have open mics. There is a HUGE new development going in near here where the old Naval Training Center was. Somebody made BIG MONEY doing this. The change in the area has been very dramatic and if I don’t ride here for a few weeks, it seems that whole new buildings go up in my absence.
As I ride the Cady Way, I ride through nice residential neighborhoods in Winter Park. They take good care of the trail and there are waypoints along the way for water and rest. There are also neighborhoods with narrow cross streets and a more rural feeling although I’m still very much in urban Orlando.
Cady Way Park (6 miles from my house)
There’s a YMCA owned pool here and some great ballfields. There are also dog agility trials here on many weekends. Nearby is a great sculpture of dolphins carved from the trunk of an oak tree. I love outdoor art!
Getting up isn’t nearly as much fun as going down, Whee!!!
Cross over Forsyth Rd. and enter a more industrial area with warehouses, etc. Orange County does a great job of managing graffiti. They cover up gang tags regularly and in a timely way. I’m glad some one recognizes this for what it is. I love outdoor art!
There’s more art here. You’ll have to make the trip yourself to see it.
Goldenrod Park. (8 miles from my house) Someone is always in the picnic table where I want to stop so I don’t spend much time here.
As I keep riding, the trail changes names at Goldenrod Park because I cross over into Seminole County. The trail also crosses the Aloma Rd. I travel through residential areas and an area where massive new construction is taking place. They won’t stop building but at least they’re starting to include parks in their planning.
They didn’t make playgrounds like this when I was young. Don’cha wanna play?
This is always a good spot to get into the cool shade and take a drink…also the determination of these plants was a good inspiration for me when I was still developing the stamina to go further.
The trail continues past another light industrial area but it’s still pleasant.
From here, I end up traveling on the sidewalk along 426 (There’s gotta be another name for this road but I don’t know what it is) The road does have a bike lane on either side of the divided highway but I don’t trust Orlando drivers. I’ll leave the description of this part of the trip to the rest of the Cross Seminole trail for another day.
What can you say about the holidays that hasn’t already been said? Family, food, fun, red and green, cold and snow, (hopefully!) Things you wouldn’t do at any other time of the year… my niece and nephew and I made Christmas cookies…
This month my outside activities were about as amazing and fun as it can get. I went to visit my family for Christmas in Chicago. I traveled with my brother and his kids and we stayed at my other brother’s house. He and his wife were very gracious and they made it snow for us on the third day!
Our typical family thing is to get together and eat. I mean, what else is there to do at Christmas time?
We also have a book exchange and I’m so proud of my family that we do this… we’re all readers and there’s too many of us to do a gift exchange so we bring our favorite books and share them with everyone.
My sister and I planned to meet in Madison Wi. for an extra day and we agonized over activities that would satisfy everyone. We were blessed with several heavy snowstorms so we did what anybody would have done…we went sledding! Being 50+ years old with bad knees didn’t stop me…being from Florida with lightweight Florida clothing didn’t stop me…nothing stopped me but fatigue. What great fun!
We watched a movie, ate at a really GREAT Mexican food place called La Meztica and drove around in the snow. On the way back to my brother’s house, it continued to snow. I didn’t want to lose the feeling of the inner reflection caused by the stark landscape. There’s something about a gray day that makes me feel all closed in. We don’t get that sort of thing in Florida.
Our time in Madison was over too soon and the drive back to Illinois was quiet and reflective. The men listened to the Bears game and I watched the snow go by… a rare treat that often brings on melancholy. We ended up at my brothers house by late afternoon.
The snow continued through the night and my brother made plans with his guy to have the driveway shoveled, a job that costs him $50! (Hey…let me do it…I’ll take your money!) I truly wanted to shovel…it’s always been one of my favorite winter activities…I get the same satisfaction from it as I do when I sweep the floor. You KNOW what you’ve accomplished when you’re done…and you can see how well you did it…I know; it’s weird. Anyway, I went out with a shovel and it took only ten minutes for my brothers to come out and grab their own shovels. That was so predictable…no one could watch through the window at someone having as much fun as I was and not get involved. What my brother said would take more than an hour was done in 30 minutes with all of us working. Nobody got any money.
He put on those goggles because we had another sledding trip planned…he thought it was cool…little did he know my brother is a bit of a trickster…
That night was New Year’s Eve, a time for strange people to do strange things. Talk about doing things you wouldn’t normally do…too many people, too much booze, too late at night…not my thing. My brothers went to Chicago’s Navy Pier and watched fireworks in the snow?! How odd! They have some good stories to tell but they have to get their own blogs for that.
It was a really great time in Chicago and I’m so happy to be with my family…it’s hard to come home. I took some other photos of some important people and events:
After Tropical Storm Noel made everyone’s life completely miserable for 10 days with too much rain and humidity, it was a relief to hear from the weatherman that a “cold front” was on it’s way. A cold front in Florida is a relative thing, with temperatures dropping by a few degrees only to warm up in a day or two. But never mind, cold fronts usually dry out the atmosphere and it’s enough to getmeoutside. The Withlacoochee Bluegrass Jamboree was being held this weekend and when you add music, and the fact that the Withlacoochee State Trail (the longest paved rail-trail in the state) is nearby, I just can’t wait. I packed the big tent this time and decided to make myself as comfortable as possible for this trip.
The day before, I rode the West Orange Trail from Oakland to Apopka. It was amazingly windy still from TS Noel so the ride back was a LOT easier than the ride out. My favorite part was riding around the golf course. There are 20 foot fences with two foot overhangs to protect the riders from stray golf balls. This 1/2 mile of fence has been colonized by hundreds of streamers of Spanish moss and they waved merrily in the wind as I passed. I felt like I was flying!
I stopped at The Chapin Station to see what was up. It’s gotta be beautiful in the Spring when the azaleas are in bloom. I just love outdoor art .
On Friday before the Bluegrass festival started, I rode the Withlacoochee Trail. It is a relatively straight path from Dunnellon Fl. to Trilby Fl. about 46 miles. Since it’s a rail-trail, there’s not much change in elevation. I read a review on the web that said it was boring.
I have to disagree because I saw all sorts of stuff I’ve never seen…like there must have been 8 gopher trotoises out sunning themselves…and there was this spot where it looked like the remains of a railroad trestle had fallen down into a sinkhole. I don’t know what that was.
All along the way, there are benches and covered waysides for biker/hikers to rest. I’d ridden about as far as I was gonna and I stopped near a bench to go pee…(yes…right on the side of the trail) I got off my bike, took off the backpack to get out some more water and TP and walked a short distance off the pavement. I dropped my shorts and squatted and it was about this moment that my damaged neurology kicked in. (I had menengitis in 1994…it caused alot of damage and I basically can’t feel temperature or pain signals from my skin from about my boobs down.) I looked down at my legs and I was COVERED in fire ants! They were all the way up my legs and on my shorts. I screamed and began frantically brushing them off. I had to get out onto the pavement cuz who knows where the mound was! The ants had climbed into and all over my shorts and they were biting me everywhere. I had my shorts around my ankles in the middle of the trail, screaming and dancing around trying to shake them off. It must have been hilarious to see this crazy lady in her tidy whities with her butt up in the air, and because they were inside my shorts, anyone around would have had a good long laugh!
The good news about my damaged neurology is that I still can’t feel the bites. There are no whitehead like welts on my skin and it never itches.
My Oh My Oh My, Mosquitoes!
I unpacked the car and piled it all on my bike and stood at the dock waiting for the ferry to take me across the St. John’s River to Hontoon Island State Park. The old guy that I had met before was steering and as the ferry pulled closer, I could see the look of incredulity on his face.
“Ever see anybody do this before?” I asked proudly
“No” he replied “and I’ve seen a lot”
I needed his help getting the bike trailer off the ferry and signed up for a campsite. Another guy, Richard saw me with all my stuff on the bike and said, “You know, we’ll take you back there”
At Hontoon, the campsites are about a mile interior. Since it’s an island, you don’t bring your car to the campsite, but they will give you 2 rides; one there with all your stuff and one back. The rest of the time you’re walking.
There was some discussion about which site I wanted and Richard offered to take me back so I could look. We piled into the van and he kept up this steady, good-natured teasing towards me. I said I wanted to have a place to hang my hammock and he said they didn’t really care what I did so long as I didn’t take a shovel, dig a hole and sink the island. I asked, “Is that possible?” and he looked at me and told me I sure was gullible!
I asked him if the mosquitoes were bad and now that I think about it, the tone of his voice was somewhat evasive when he answered “Not in the daytime. “ He kept asking me if I wanted firewood because he’d bring it to me if I did. I said I usually don’t camp with fires and he said that it helps with the mosquitoes. I set my camp up, including the hammock and a mosquito net over it, just in case, and the day went on. I set up my new backpacker stove for the first time and made dinner. It took about 20 minutes longer than it needed to because I was afraid to turn it up. As dusk fell, I heard Richard in his campsite (he is the campground host) and his stove was raging loud and that was when I turned mine up and finished dinner.
Good thing too because THE MOMENT the sun went below the trees, the mosquitoes came out. I have never experienced mosquitoes like this before and I’ve camped in many places. I scurried into my solo tent for approximately the first time, (I’d set it up in the grass at home to prepare but didn’t practice getting in and out. Not an easy task when the tent is that small.) and heard what can only be described as a cacophony of mosquitoes outside my tent. It was at least as loud as the air conditioner is when you’re standing next to it. I didn’t have time to grab a flashlight on my way into the tent so I never saw how many there were but there must have been clouds of them.
The ranger told me the next day that really the only places on the island that weren’t under standing water most of the year were the campground and the entrance near the ferry. Everywhere else was a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
I remember reading somewhere that there are 27 different mosquito species in Florida and I’m sure they were all represented outside my tent that night. I could hear them whining at different pitches and I think they were talking to each other because one would start on one side of the tent and then go silent and a different one would answer. The one time that I got up to go pee during the night, I was covered in bites before I got back to the tent. It turns out though that it was very easy to sleep to the sound of millions of mosquitoes buzzing.
The next day was clear and hot and I was really looking forward to riding the bike trails on the island. First I went to the front of the island, where all the picnic tables are and I found a very tame flock of turkeys. That was fun!
I can’t imagine how the Native Americans survived this place before the advent of air conditioning and mosquito repellent but they were here.
I did ride the trails and found out that the different trails all go out to nowhere. The was one trail called The Bear Tree Trail. It takes you out to a tree. A nice tree but it’s just a tree. Anyway, that’s what I love to do, ride my bike through the woods so it was fun.
I can imagine doing this again with a group of bikers. Hontoon Island is a great place to start a trip. The people were all very friendly and helpful and I was very grateful they let me keep my car there while I traveled to Alexander Springs the next day.