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    Six more counties - Two days

    June 22, 2016

     

    Over the past two-days, I covered quite a bit of ground.  

     

    Anita accompanied my exit by driving me to 39-North, so I would not have to GPS my route out of Plant City.  

     

    Between yesterday and today, I have driven through seven counties: Pasco-Hernando-Citrus-Levy-Gilchrist-Dixie.

     

    The ride along 39-North was a scenic one.  

     

    Lush trees and green fields surrounded me while railroad tracks blanketed the right side of my vista.  

     

    I could even smell horse manure -- how can you not love that smell?  

     

    What I loved about Tuesday morning was how brisk it felt:  an early October day had robbed June of its summer glory.    

    Today's goal.  

     

    Reach Crystal River.  

     

    It was a pretty short jaunt -- less than 90 miles; I arrived before noon.  

     

    I fueled up at a local gas station and woofed down some Hostess Sno-balls. A couple of guys laughed at how fast I ate those delicious coconut, chocolate, marshmallow delights.  They wondered where I was headed and offered some advice.  I seem to be running into quite a few gentlemen at gas stations who offer words of wisdom.  One of them asked if I had a 9mm. 

     

    Moments later... the gas attendant directed me to the nearest library.  

     

    Aaron, one of the local librarians and techies, offered some extra time on the computer due to its slow speed.  Computers there used an antiquated Internet Explorer browser.  He whispered that I could download Google Chrome:  I did.  

     

    As I exited the library, I ran into a stranger named Terry.  (His car was parked next to my motorcycle.)  He was shocked that I was the one riding it. He asked me a few questions about my life and what I did for a living,

     

    When I told him I was a teacher (albeit not exactly, now), he was shocked.

     

    "You (pregnant pause) a teacher!"  

     

    I asked him what was so alarming.  He said it just didn't fit my profile.  

     

    I headed back on the road to ride along the winding Ozello Trail.  Jeremy and I took that road on a whim back in the day, and I wanted to experience it on a motorcycle.  

     

    When I reached the trail's end, I parked and took some photos. 

     

    I ran into a biker couple having a lover's quarrel.  Another couple (older, mind you) stopped there to smoke marijuana.  

    Meanwhile, a young family could be seen fishing.  A few others were either hauling boats in or out of the water.  

    Obviously, I played with the saturation, contrast, and hues on ALL of the images you see above.

     

    I recommend Ozello to anyone who has not visited the area.  

     

    It's a taste of salt marshes and of old Florida.  

     

    The real question is the origin of that name?!   

    Around 4:30 p.m. or so, I looked up a local campground and made a reservation at a place called Chassahowitzka River Campground.

     

    Lizzie said my call came just in time because they were closing within the hour!

     

    Talk about a horrible time to put up a tent -- dusk.  

     

    Yikes + curse words!

     

    The mosquitoes were incessant.  

     

    Aggressive little blood suckers. 

     

    I sprayed some insect repellent and put up that tent as fast as I could. I followed some "Andrew" the Boy Scout advice -- the one about zipping up the tent before setting it up -- so insects could not get in.  

     

    I jumped into that tent with only one mosquito.  

     

    After a brief battle -- five swats on my part -- the tent served as residence to one life -- mine.  

     

    Unfortunately, I had a restless night.  

     

    Even with earplugs, I could not get comfortable.  

     

    I had the bare necessities -- a tarp floor and a very thin blanket.  Moreover, owls and strange noises heightened my senses.  I drifted in and out over the course of the evening.  

     

    When I awoke, it was 6:07 a.m.  I decided to get an early start, so I headed to the showers.  On my way to and from, the mosquito battle began once again.  

     

    Do mosquitoes ever sleep?  

     

    Just as before, I moved as quickly as possible and packed up everything as fast as the unpacking.  

     

    On my way out, I ran into the security man named PJ; he was riding around in a golf cart.  He had a beautiful smile on his face and a strong cup of coffee in his hands.  PJ directed my way out of the campground, and off I went.  

    I returned to 19/98 North towards Perry.  

     

    It was a crystal blue day on my drive through Levy, Gilchrist (tiny piece of that county), and Dixie counties.  

     

    The scariest part was driving through a long stretch of nothing in Levy County.  

     

    Very few road signs; very few cars; zero service stations.  

     

    Luckily, I had plenty of gas to get me through the morning.  

     

    In a place called Chiefland I loaded up on more gasoline -- spoke to a woman who thought I was a brave little thing -- and later, I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for a cup of black tea.  

     

    This morning's ride also had me cross over part of the delicate Suwannee River.  

     

    (Should I go back and take some photos?  Probably.  Looks like that may have to take place on my drive back to Florida.)  

     

    While meandering along 19/98, I noticed the Dixie County Library near Cross City in a tiny plaza on the left.  I u-turned it back to upload this post.  

     

    I have a few hours before I need to check in at the Perry KOA.  (I made that reservation during my sleepless tent night.)  

     

    Next stop Panama City.  

    Until we meet again, my friend.   

     

     

     

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