Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 2, OceAn PoNd to PeTeR K's PlaCe

It was a pretty cold night.
view out of my tent at ocean pond camp site

I made note of it, cause I knew, the further south I went, how much things would change.  I was gonna ride myself out of this chill, and I was curious to know when it would happen.

after a day in the flooded forest GuaJaTaKa wants more
Its hard when your on a schedule to guess if things will work out.
"Can I make my goals Happen"?
"Can I crank out 100 miles a day for 8 days without circumstance kidnapping me of my plans"???

I had made certain Mini challenges with myself during this challenge.  And one of those MINI challenges was to not Pay to stay anywhere.

I was packing up my things, observing the people around.  Taking my time, enjoying where I was, appreciating the moment.  Being mindful, and careful.  Lots of inner dialogue.   When along comes the Camp host wondering who I am.

He was polite enough, I explained I arrived late, in the dark(technically a lie) and wet and didn't know where to pay for camping.  He told me where to go and just like that, one of my MINI challenges died, LOL.

It wasn't long and I was off.  I was looking at the forest.  Now that it was a bright & sunny beautiful day, I could really get a good look at Osceola.  It was flooded still in the woods, but at least I  had better visibility.  And even though I was on pavement, it was just a paved over forest road, not much different from dirt.  The beauty was all the same.

It was interesting to see the houses that were way out here.  And the yard garbage was even better.  Old rusted out VW beetles and school buses.  Abandoned offices.  All of the sights made me want to release my inner shutter bug and snap away a zillion macro fotos.  So much texture.

because those two things go perfect together
I thnk they are out of business???
The battle ground was everything I thought it would be.  Ominous, eerie, weird, strange...full of an indescribable energy.  They had a little museum, so I went in.  There was no one in there.  When I got inside it was so warm compared to the outside temp, that my survivor man skills kicked in and I stripped down to my base layers to avoid feeling cold when I got back outside.

They had all sorts of authentic uniforms and artifacts.  As a trained Anthropologist I cant help but take mental inventory and catalog of the things I see.  I am amazed by old things.  Wondrous about the stories they tell, whose pockets they traveled in, whose flesh they may have torn apart(bullets).

There was a bench in the front room, facing a TV.  So I took the time to enjoy the warm building and learn about what happened at OLUSTEE.

definetely the not how the north won the war at Olustee
Apparently.  After a long battle.  The white soldiers, left the black soldiers to cover their retreat.  Interesting.  I put all my clothes back on and headed over to the cemetery.   I like cemeteries, call me creepy, but I do.  Almost always stop if I see one and I have time.  I sat there for a bit, listening to the wind, looking at the dates on the stones.

I returned to the route, and enjoyed my ride down to Butler for a restock.  I'm always careful when traveling alone.  I am not going to be the one to be taken advantage off.  I walk around with a smile on my face, and I give nothing but thumbs ups, hang looses and hello's, but you never know when there could be trouble so I am careful.

I restocked, wanted food, wanted to visit the dollar store.  It was an interesting little stop at the convenience store, I couldn't help but notice how "mixed" this little southern town was.  In five minutes I saw just as many interracial couples.  Being a person that is normally noticed by folks cause I look different.  I cant help but notice differences of where I am.  AND I couldnt help but take notice how mixed this community was.  Regardless, a local gave me some insight as to where there could be a restaurant.  AND I pedaled off and found nothing, eventually backtracking to a Hungry Howies.

MINI CHALLENGE number 130 was to not eat any grains on this ride and not eat any fast food.  SO, I ate a salad and 20 naked wings at this stop and rolled on south. This particular Hungry Howies was quite unique and had a very one of a kind old 50's style appearance.

thats the parking lot down there
I had a long day ahead so I kept going.  Taking advantage of the pavement sections.  Eventually I came up on Private Property so I had to figure out a re route and used Google maps to take a short cut along a prison.  I kept the speeds high and reached the Santa Fe River.  I took a moment to explore the river side.  Took pictures of the flooding. And then kept going.  After riding a bunch of sweet dirt, I eventually rolled into San Felasco and the fun singletrack traverse began.

Made it!
I saw several people at the lot.  Almost half expecting them to come up and ask me why I had all the luggage.  When I got to the park I paid the pedestrian entry fee and simultaneously watched two people drive right by it.  Shame shame, such a cool trail you should pay the fee????

I took a minute to eat, and reconfigure my packs.  At this point I had some stuff strapped to my rear bag, and decided to alternate and carry stuff on my back so I could really Gnar Gnar the singletrack.
safety break in San Felasco, Never have I seen the brook so swollen

 And that's pretty much what went down.  Probably the most fun I have ever had in Felasco.  I hammered the crap out of that place and took times to stop and smell the roses.  Enjoy the swollen brooks, drop the roots, rail the corners....etc....etc....

Took the 'dog leg' out and when I got to pavement I let Peter Kraft know I was heading to his place.

the man, the myth, the dork
He found me on the road and then we got food and hung out, and ate, and watched movies, and talked... and man... It was a great way to end my second day on the road.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 1, FArgo To OcEaN PonD

The day started in De Leon Springs Florida.

Edith and I had to get up to Fargo where I would be dropped off to begin my journey south to Flamingo.  The  night before I had loaded up my bike.  The reality is the planning for the trip had been happening for months, so it was pretty easy to get loaded up and get out the door.  

We Stopped in Gainesville to eat food and talk.  I was resolved.  It was raining hard outside.  WE could clearly see that my day was going to be wet.  I had learned from riding days and days on the continental divide, how to keep things dry.  So I was prepared, not overjoyed.  


Edith took this foto of me at breakfast...busy...busy....

 It was a very pretty drive to Fargo.  Not far.  But as I got closer it became OBVIOUS that the area was in a higher stage then usual for water level.  Never having seen this place in person, I was curious about what it would look like.  AND all was perfect.  The spot I started at had a huge tourist center right on the Suwanee river and I Couldn't had done a better job at picking a memorable start for such an adventure.  Pictures don't do it justice.
Mighty Suwanee

It was the perfect place to start.  Fargo GA is the Gateway to the Okeefenokee and the Suwanee river.  Didnt even know that when I picked it.

 Meet GuaJaTakA , I think I made all the right choices with the build and the bike.  I had it all and felt good about it.  GEar list will follow when the story is done.

From the start I rode 17 miles down the road.  Getting a good soaking the entire time.  It took exactly 17 miles to leave the state of Florida.  The forest roads through Osceola were Horribly flooded.  Muddy, slow, covered in puddles.  I Had been looking at this area for months on the satellite images so it was a bit of a bummer to have to deal with the chill and the wet.  But I was geared well, and prepared and put in the work.  Slowly picking my way through the mud, the deep water crossings that often forced me to dismount cause they got too deep for my wheels.  It was pandemonium at its finest.  This was my first trip ever without using a Fred Bar adapter and aero bars, so I was constantly reminded how much I missed my two friends.  
The weather was bad enough that I was contemplating some alternatives.  

"I mean is it the smartest thing in the world to work this hard in an 800 mile trip in the first 50 miles?" ...."should I have just waited it out....", ...."should I just camp right now?"

AND for each thought... I had a response.....
"50 miles 800 miles... miles don't matter, this trip is about time and you have to be in Picayune racing by March 8th!"
"waiting is for you know how bad ass you are right now cause your not caring that its cold and raining......"
i did a lot of riding on this trip in what appeared to be regular clothes.  I think I get treated better when I look like a regular guy.
"camp? there isn't a dry spot on the ground to be had?????? and when have I ever set up that tent in the middle of a rain storm....."
This is typical dialogue... LOL

Before long I am on 17 mile camp road.  I know I have to go over 75.  Once I do that the route turns to singletrack and I have about 3 miles of that before I hit my first mandatory water stop at Ocean Pond Camp Ground.  I expected no available food restocks till Lake Butler, so I packed heavy enough when I left for two days of supply-less travel.  
When I crossed 75 I was happy.  I had been getting some text messages and even a call from Peter Kraft, so all that kept my spirits pretty high.  I wasn't feeling down.  IN fact.  I noticed my demeanor was the calmest I have ever been.  Its like, after years of doing this stuff, I had found my Zen.  
I got into the singletrack, and It was flooded as well... and then the trail, disappeared... It was getting dark... and I wasn't in the mood to solve a riddle after spending 6 hours speed traversing the Osceola forest in arduous conditions.  SO I backtracked to my original track that didn't use singletrack.  Used the Osceola Forest map I had and re navigated to Ocean pond.  

I found the first structure I could.  AND discovered that they had, electric, water, and dryers that ran on credit cards.  Within seconds the decision had been made for me, to stay at Ocean Pond, dry my clothes, set up camp and take a half day.  Lord knows, after driving 270 miles, and riding 7 hours in flood - mud conditions, I think a half day was appropriate.  Tomorrow I would ride faster.

NK 14