6/27 – Just north of Spring Hill is Weeki Wachee, the place that has mermaids! I didn’t stick around to fish for any but there were plenty of statues of mermaids. The park didn’t seem too busy but it was still morning. I rode around the perimeter but there wasn’t much to see other than it could probably use some fresh paint.
I went on to Brooksville about 12 miles down the road. Got delayed a couple of times for rain showers. I stopped long enough in Brooksville to gather the energy to make it to Inverness.
Up until now most of the uphill riding I’ve done has been bridges. This area was starting to get really hilly. I’ve been having to gear down way below the gears I normally use. Those gears that are practically still unused in ten years of owning this bike. The work it takes to climb some of the hills is rewarded on the downside of the hill. At one point I saw 36 mph on the speedometer. I remember thinking how glad I was that I changed that last inner tube. The extra weight of all that gear really picks up the momentum and helps to push you up the next hill. There comes a point where the bike gets so fast I can’t pedal anymore because I’m all outta gears! Time to just sit back and be excited.
Brooksville and the surrounding area reminds me of the Poconos. Lots of pine trees and trees that aren’t palm trees. It was easy to get around by bike and the sights were eye candy.
Leaving Brooksville was putting me back out on the empty road. Not many places to grab a snack or water. Not many places to duck in from the approaching storms either. After about 7 miles of up and down hills I came to a small shelter where I was able to get out of the light shower that was just starting. It was a little picnic table with a roof over it. It also housed BIG Brown Recluse spider! With my spider senses tingling, I thought it best to move on.
The two and a half miles I watched the sky get darker and grayer. There was thunder in the distance and the breeze carried the scent of rain. My eyes scan everywhere for anyplace I may have to come back to if it downpours. Then, an oasis! Withlacoochee Forestry Center. It resembled a state park at first but it was mostly state fire vehicles, offices and a water tower. A very nice, well maintained and quiet setting. I rode in looking for a place where I might park my bike and rest for a bit. There was an empty shelter on the road with a sign that read, Motorcycle Parking.” I figured since there weren’t any motorcycles in it I might as well make good use of it. I parked the bike and sat down on a picnic table across the road waiting for the storm to hit.
The storm seemed to moving very slowly. I walked around the side of the office building and met Tim Fox standing on the porch. He cheerfully greeted me and I explained why I was there. Tim made my stay at the forestry center very educational and very helpful. Right down to a nice cup of coffee! Talk about “above and beyond the call of duty!”
Once inside the center I got to meet the rest of the workforce. Everyone seemed to be sitting in front monitors with weather radar images blinking on the screens. Red, yellow, and orange seemed to be the dominate colors. Tim informed me I might be there a while. He would sometimes whip out his hand held pocket communicator and check the doppler radar for updates.
Then it all let loose. I was glad to be someplace dry and safe. The storm lasted about 45 minutes before it started to clear where we were. The radar showed the storm dissipating but still active in the direction I was going.
Like officers in a command center we stood around talking about options. One of the men offered a ride to Inverness. The bike would go in the back of his pick-up truck. This seemed like my best bet as camping is not allowed at the center.
I felt as though I was cheating. This is the first time the wheels of my bike have been off the ground since I left. I watched the scenery go me as we motored along. The skies seemed to be looking better the further we went.
I asked the driver to pull over and I would try to make it the rest of the way. The ride was about five miles and I felt like I just created a gap in my route. A hole in the fabric of my journey. A void in the continuation of time. OK, enough of the metaphors already.
Many thanks to the professional crew manning the Withlacoochee Forestry Center. It was a good time for me.