I haven’t had the opportunity to ride as much as I would have liked to over the summer. Other responsibilities always seem to get in the way. With that said, the first day without any pressing demands and I was off for the long way home from work in the morning. As usual I often don’t have a destination in mind. I just go where the wind blows me.
I was reading a forum on ADVrider.com the other day about giving motorcycles a name. A lot of people do. One guy on there has named his motorcycle “zac”, short for prozac because it is what keeps his mind straight. I may steal that one. Still thinking about that one though.
I have found that riding helps to relieve stress, especially going off road. It is hard to concentrate on your worries and the things that cause stress while avoiding tree roots, rocks, ledges, mud pits, and everything else nature has. It also helps to put things in perspective. Being up close in nature brings home the lesson in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus admonishes not to worry. (Copied from the NASB):
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
There is a cycle to life. It is readily apparent deep in the woods. Things live and they die. Often there is nothing they can do about it. Same with us.
Anyhow, enough with the deep stuff. Time for pictures! Off to Croom tract which is close by for some sand and clay.
I have an old friend from my days as a Tri-County volunteer firefighter who now is stationed at Tucker Hill Fire Tower. I tried to stop in and see him. He wasn’t around so I snapped a few pictures while I was there.
Pulling out I noticed another structure across the street. I have seen it a hundred times if not more, but never really paid attention to it. Now that I pay attention a little more to old things, I stopped to inspect it a little more closely. It is an old water tower that was powered by a windmill. Forestry has long since installed a modern well pump with a pressure tank, but they left the old water tower sitting above it. I would love to know its history. Who built it and for what purpose? Did it supply water for cattle or a homestead?
Just around the bend is Trail 3. Trail 3 cuts across the west end of Croom and dumps out on Daly Road. I have always been curious why the S.W.A.M.P. club hasn’t routed a mountain bike path through the west side of Trail 3. It is full of the refuse from mining. There are a lot of man made hills and valleys. Off limits to my motorcycle, but I still took the time to stop and walk around a little. Almost one hundred years ago there were men working this land extracting phosphate while trying to eek out a living here.
I took Daly Road from there across to the north side of 476. I haven’t been back there in a long time. That route has a lot of 90 degree turns and a generally higher speed limit which makes for some motorcycle fun. I also took time to go back and look at a development off Rooks Road where a friend of ours had once purchased property and we road his dirt bikes. He had a couple of dirt bikes, but not much time. He used to ask me to make the sacrifice to take his son and his dirt bikes out riding so his son could have some fun riding when he couldn’t be there. It was tough, but I managed. There are houses now, but his lot is still vacant.
Out to U.S. 41 and up to Floral City. I have been wanting to get photos of the little shacks there for a long time. I stopped today and snagged a few pictures. I have always been told that they were slave quarters, which I guess is possible. Most people seem to have that consensus… except one man who was out mowing his grass who I stopped to ask. He agreed that is what they could have been, but he felt it was also very possible that they were the quarters for the men who worked the local mines.
A quick stop for fuel and a gatorade at the Circle K and I was running down Gobbler Road. I have posted about Gobbler Road before. It is a mecca for motorcyclists all over West Central Florida. We don’t have the turns and hills that other states like North Carolina have. We do have Gobbler Road though and I am fortunate to live less than 15 minutes away. Gobbler follows the meandering Withlacoochee River. It is also a very old rural Florida community. The sights consist of old farm houses and tractors. If you time it right the run can also be made without encountering any other cars. This time I ran it backwards from my usual south to north run. I wasn’t five minutes in when I saw a little park on the side of the bridge. Coming the other way the entrance is hidden. I stopped to soak in the silence of the canal and lake.
Having my fill of that, I hit some speed through the turns enjoying the thrill of fast hair pins and the lateral forces of wide sweepers. I love the dual sport aspect of motorcycling. I couldn’t imagine riding a heavy cruiser stuck on pavement going slow or a crotch rocket that I would get myself killed on or a dirt bike that I would have to trailer to the few legal places to ride off road. Dual Sport motorcycling lets me experience the woods, the city, and the rural back roads all on the same ride.
I no sooner had the engine off when an old guy walks out telling me I owe him rent on his motorcycle I am riding and to leave the money with the clerk. He continued telling me I had better have taken care of his bike. His joking continued while I took my gear off. Inside was a window shaker air conditioner. I grabbed a couple of sodas and a candy bar and went to pay, but the clerk got a phone call leaving me with nothing to do but stand in front of that old AC. I sure didn’t mind the extra wait.
I like coming out here. The neighborhood in front is dirt poor, literally. The mobile homes and camper trailers are falling apart, the roads are unmaintained dirt, and the cars are nothing to write home about. Having said that, the people here are friendly and the boat ramp and dock bring a nostalgia that lets the imagination wander. I took my soda and candy bar out to the pavillion at the end of the dock and sat for a long time just watching the water and the birds. It is just a nice place to sit and relax.
On the way out I decided to follow the edge of the neighborhood back to the woods. Twenty years ago when I was in Boy Scouts, our scoutmaster had found this place and we camped here the first night of a four day canoe trip. Back then the General Store was a bar and it was definitely a rougher place. I went looking for where we camped. The area is now grown over, but it also lead back to a four wheeler trail. I followed that until it dumped out back on the main road.
A little further down was another park with a water control flood gate. Last year I took my dad out here and we were amazed at how far down the water levels were. We were able to walk quite a ways on the sandy river floor before we found water. Today the water is high. That is the nature of the Withlacoochee River. The word “Withlacoochee” means little big river. It droughts and it floods. It always has.
I finished this section of the run and came back out on 48 and a short distance later took a left on CR 39. Also known as Istachatta Road, this section parallels the Rails to Trails bike path. Originally this railroad was the only way into Brooksville and Hernando County. The rural way of life is still the way things are. The rolling hills of cow pasture run on both sides of the road. The New Hope Methodist church was built in the early part of the 1800’s and still has the false floor that was built to hide the congregation from the Seminoles. The Istachatta General Store was originally the train depot. While some things have changed since those days, there hasn’t been much in the way of development. This area is still very sparsely populated.
When ever I pass through here I always stop at the Opposum honey and jam stand. This time there was a note apologizing for the security camera. This stand has been here for ages without a problem, but apparently someone had to go ruin a good thing and start stealing from the hard work of a local family. I made my purchase and continued on.
On a side street behind the New Hope Methodist Church is a place where the bike path crosses the street. This building still stands from the days that the bike path was the railroad. The sign on the door says “Posted No Trespassing or Hunting Department of Natural Resources Division of Recreation and Parks”. This is another structure that I would love to know its original purpose.
Another few side streets and I called it a day. While these rides can take it out of me in the form of effort and heat I need them. It refreshes me and I always look forward to the next one.