5/12/16. We decided to stay an extra day in Gainesville to get our heads around the route for the next few days and potentially plan a few Warmshowers stays. To a certain extent this was superseded by warnings on the Weather Channel of dire weather coming from Texas way a couple of days out. There was talk of a “Southern Soaker” bringing inches of rain to the Florida Panhandle which cramped Stephen’s more ambitious plans of long distances. (This is not unusual. Christine almost always brings a dose of reality to his dreams!)
After much debate Stephen was beaten into submission (!) and the agreed plan was to head for a campsite at O’Leno State Park for Saturday night and then hole up in a motel in Lake City for two nights for the storm to pass over.
The hotel being on the northwest of Gainesville meant we were soon out of the town/city (not really sure which it is to be perfectly honest) and into pleasant, rolling countryside. Note the word “rolling”. We have hit some ups and downs! Just.
It cannot be said that the “hills” are not hard going – even Christine gets up them without walking! – but they do bring a bit of variation to the cycling.
Also, the vegetation has changed. The ubiquitous palm trees by the coast have been replaced by deciduous trees (and even in Florida it is autumn/fall) and, at times, fir trees.
On the way we met one of the few touring cyclists that we have seen, Stefan from Sweden who set out from San Francisco towards the end of September- so across the country in 2½ months! It was an enjoyable chat with a very pleasant young man.
We covered the 50 km to the State Park at a good speed, arriving there in time for a late lunch. This meant that we could take the afternoon to enjoy the main attraction of the park by walking on a trail around a sinkhole where the Sante Fe river disappears underground through limestone caves before emerging 3.5 miles away at River Rise State Park. It was a lovely walk and the park is well worth a visit if you’re in this neck of the woods.
The campsite in the park was also rather lovely and even had provision for washing up dishes. One campsite where we stayed earlier even had signs in the Ladies forbidding using the hand basins for washing up. Christine slipped into “Bolshie mode” (can you believe that?!!) and went to Reception to ask where we were supposed to clean the dishes. The response was “Everyone does it in their RV” and there was complete bewilderment when she pointed out that tents do not come with basins built in!
In anticipation of the rain coming in from the west we set off not long after dawn heading up US41 (safe shoulder thankfully) pretty much all the way to the motel in Lake City which we had booked for two night. We arrived well before check in time so spent a couple of hours in the nearby Starbucks topping up on wifi and chatting to our oldest.
The rain has come through much slower or more to the north than predicted. There was a heavy shower in the middle of Sunday night/Monday morning but we woke to reasonable skies so Stephen went for his constitutional bike ride while Christine sat quietly ingesting her pill. With those matters of good order out of the way we went to the cinema (conveniently about 100 yards up the road) to see Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter “spin off”.