Monday, February 24th, 2014



Victory

It was a bleak morning with overcast skies. No matter. I set out to finish the Florida Trail, at least my portion from Alligator Alley north to Tallahassee. And my hard work of 54 days walking, and 733 miles staying with it, paid off. I finished my journey The Florida Historic Trail is a great place to wander and reflect on life and the world. Yea, and it is tough. Also, I did not finish the entire trail which actually is 1400 miles. No worry. It is there if I ever want to.
Ending



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Sunday, February 23rd, 2014



Getting Closer

FogRain, rain, rain – not a nice day. I endure it thinking it is not too bad because I know too that the end is near .And, I got wet again. Just as I was feeling sorry for myself I noticed the pup tent. It was bright orange positioned on a little rise next to the railroad track alongside the trail. All was silent although the hiker’s walking stick was outside of the tent. I did not want to disturb the persons respite from the rain so I moved on. Later I regretted not asking the person if they needed help. It rained hard, hard all night.



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Saturday, February 22nd, 2014



CR Thomas

HelpulThere is an army of really good folks who live in the small towns and hamlets that dot the areas around the Florida Trail. An advantage of my out and back technique is that every day, and night, I have the opportunity to meet them. Charlie Thomas cam by my table at dinner tonight. He owns the lake City Grill. “Benn in this business since 1984. My son is involved now too.” he related. “I also own the car lot next door”.
We discussed the keys to financial success in America and how hard workers like Charlie and his spouse could put together a nice nest egg for their children. Charlie proudly showed me the family photos behind the register. “Here’s my card. You get a free breakfast if you come by tomorrow”



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Saturday, February 22nd, 2014



Good Weather

The trail west of Interstate 10 wanders through the woods parts of which had been subject to a USDA or state park controlled burn. Without the pine needle and leave cover on the ground the surface was rutty and in parts a pain to walk. Then by late morning the sun came up, strong. The rest of the day was a road walk- heavy packed sand. The rain from the previous day’s downpour had already evaporated. It was nice!

Onward2



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Friday, February 21st, 2014



In the Rain

No_Rain
Most people have the common sense to come in out of the rain. Not me!
Today I got caught four miles away from any shelter, in a deep pine forest east of Suwannee river state park just as the heavy rain complete with thunder and lightning struck. My fault! I thought I could beat the widely predicted storm. When the downpour came I folded my walking stick, donned my Gortex rain jacket and sprinted race walking along the pine needle covered trail. When I reached my support vehicle I stripped down, in the woods of course, and changed to the welcomed dry clothes.
My afternoon walk session was pleasant. The sun was up and the humidity down. Memories of the morning trauma continued to linger.

 




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Thursday, February 20th, 2014



Arty

PosingThe sun came up during my morning walk along the Suwannee River. I had stopped for lunch when I noticed the car with the Purple Heart license plate. Arty, the owner, told me he was a Vietnam War veteran. “Welcome home Brother”, I said. “No one has said that to me in forty years”, Arty replied.” Do your grand kids know you are a hero?” “Don’t have no grandkids” Arty said. “Is your wife still here?” I ventured. “Well, I am on my third one and yes, she knows”
Thinking of that war so long, long, ago pushed me on through the day. But, that lazy river never noticed and just meandered along ever so slowly.



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Thursday, February 20th, 2014



Good Folks

“We’re here surveying the new Florida Trail Bridge. The last one came down in a hurricane, volunteer Liz Clark told me along an almost desolate part of the trail. “We just took away the wreckage of what was most people have the common sense to come in out of the rain. River and then we were gone. But, hey you have to love the Florida Trail volunteers.



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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014



Scenic Tough

Walking along the ridge, just above the Suwannee River has been romantic and scenic. Now they say Florida is flat. Well Ok, but on this section of the trail hills, ten to thirty feet high and made of slippery sand suddenly appear. The surprise of encountering them after a short stroll through flat pine groves is demotivating and yes tiring. No real problem though this is the Florida Trail.



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Tuesday, February 18th, 2014



Roads Less Traveled

Straignt_RoadThey had odd names like cow catcher road. They were mostly constructed of hard packed sand. The maintenance was good. There were no water logged potholes. The walking was easy for eight miles creating mixed emotions. I welcomed the ease but knew I was missing the true difficulty of the Florida Trail. What’s a tired walker to do?



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Tuesday, February 18th, 2014



Hell

FireI headed south east from the Bells Springs Trailhead to make up miles in my out and back method. Hell! A recent fire created the scene of a war zone- burnt out pines, shrubbery decimated to nothing but thin crystal black rods perturbing from the ground, rough footing and scores of acrid smelling water logged potholes. Of course I got lost. Oh well, this is the Florida Trail



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