See ya later Alligator

Tuesday 20th January 2015:

Well what a few days! So much to tell you all! Firstly, I can report the saloon was indeed very cool! I felt a bit sad I was without a leather jacket and I couldn’t bring myself to take loads of photos so y’all will have to take my word for it… big moustaches, long pony tails, wooden floors and bottles of beer make for a cool saloon. My motel on the other hand wasn’t so cool. It had a lock on the door and a toilet so things could have been worse but I didn’t hesitate to put both my tent footprint and then my sleeping bag on the bed before going to sleep. I considered the floor as an alternative but decided that the cigarette ash scattered all over the carpet was in fact a worse option than the suspiciously off-white sheets. To top it off, the next morning when I came to check-out and get my 5 dollar deposit back there wasn’t a soul in sight and I had to begrudgingly leave without it!

So cycling off minus my 5 dollars I found myself feeling more apprehensive than the previous day… that evening was to be the first where I would not know in advance where I would be sleeping. There were no camping grounds that I knew and no towns big enough to have hotels. I have repeatedly been surprised by the size, or lack thereof, of some of the places that have had misleadingly big text on my map! As far as I’m concerned, a big town has big map-text (think font size 14), medium towns are a reliable font 12 and small villages can only just be read by most adults when held at arms length. So when I arrived at the large-fonted Molasses Junction on my first day I was somewhat startled to find nothing more than a petrol station and a half empty shop at a T-junction! As a result, I learnt quickly that unless accommodation/camping was specifically marked, text size no longer had any meaning! With that in mind, I trusted my map when it told me there would be no accommodation for at least 60 miles.

Luckily I ended up being waved over that afternoon by a passing motorist who wanted to hear about where I was going and who then told me about a very basic wild camp a few miles off course. Although the detour was not ideal I thought I’d go and suss it out – at least it would be free.

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Lots of the day was riding along this lovely cycle path.

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Of course everytime I cycled past water I was convinced I was only seconds away from being eaten by an alligator!

When I reached the turning to the site I bumped into a really friendly couple, Brad and Sherry (and Josie the dog!), who had been out running along the camp trail. We got chatting about where I was heading and my plans for that evening and they ended up inviting me to stay in their barn in the next town. Very thankful to have somewhere with running water and friendly faces next door I jumped at the chance and met up with them later that afternoon at their amazing barn.

What an awesome place!

What an awesome place!

I had my tent set up in minutes and was relaxing on a sun lounger when they arrived for Sherry to ride the horses and Brad to extend his daily run by lapping the paddock! It was such a lovely spot and they were such lovely people I felt incredibly relieved to have bumped into them and not to be at the wild camp on my tod! They actually ended up inviting me in for dinner and then to stay in their spare room. Both into their wildlife, I chuckled as we moved 3 glass cages of snakes out of the room in order for me to go in! Oh and did I mention there was a hawk in the living room too! Terry Gregory, you would have loved it!

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Snakes out, Tori in!

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Their house was in an idyllic setting, right next to a lake and it was a beautiful view to wake up to.

 

The next morning I set off with a bag full of oranges from Brad and Sherry’s trees and headed towards Gainsville. The ride was lovely, nearly all day on bike trails, and the weather beautiful. I also had the added excitement of some pretty awesome wildlife spotting…

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Who can spot the ARMADILLO!!!! How cool!!

 

These guys are a little easier to spot!

These guys are a little easier to spot!

You’ll be pleased to hear this second spotting was in a designated nature reserve but whilst casually wandering along the river trail a particularly large fella happened to be crossing the path right in front of me giving me a near heart attack! I very quickly abandoned my plans to reach the park’s viewing platform and instead power walked my way back to the raised boardwalk hoping to arrive with all limbs attached!

Much safer pictures of trees and birds would have to do from now on!

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This little chap knew I was there obviously. Poser!

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Canadian Moss hangs from near every tree! I think it’s beautiful but apparently some Floriderites aren’t so keen.

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It’s a stunning reserve – in fact the whole of Florida has been stunning so far!

So after my near death alligator experience I was lucky enough to bump into one of the nicest people in Gainsville… the lovely Filipe. Having recently through-hiked the Appalachian Trail Filipe was “passing on” the kindnesses he received during his 6 month epic trip (yeah that’s 6 months of hiking!) and incredibly generously took me out for dinner and local beers. If this trip continues in the way it’s started this first week I’m going to have a lifetime of passing on to do and I shall genuinely look forward to it. A big thanks to you again Filipe should you find yourself reading this! And for everyone else, check out some of his videos… a clever man indeed, both inspiring and slightly depressing when I accept that my handiwork with a camera will never be half as creative let alone accomplished: https://vimeo.com/user9093797

St. Augustine – Gainsville: 18th – 21st Jan 2015

Total so far: 160km

14 thoughts on “See ya later Alligator

    1. Ha sorry Suze! I can’t figure out how to upload the map! I think I need a snazzier blog where I have to do all the technical stuff by myself and I’m totally not up for that! Instead I’ll just start saying where I’m staying at the start of each post?! Oh and San Diego is the end point for the States!!! xxx

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  1. Wow looks awesome Tori keep up the good work. You have already seen more of Florida than we ever did in a car. Love to know where the route is taking you. We thought you were meant to be heading across Europe into China but it seems you got on the wrong plane and ended up on the other side of the world. Have fun!!

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  2. Just posted (with amazement) on your About Me page but I bet you don’t look there. You realise you’re completely bonkers but this is a spectacular adventure and, if I wasn’t such a cissie, I’d come with you. As it is, I’m with you all the way, but from the sofa. The links to Instagram from the blog don’t seem to go anywhere so what’s your Instagram name? Rik x

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  3. Very very impressed Tori. You’re incredibly brave to undertake such a mammoth adventure, we will show Ted and Arthur your route on their globe and we’ll follow your blog! Good luck, hope the saddle sores aren’t too bad! Xx

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  4. Hi Tori, The Curious Crocodiles (Sally’s Y3 class, this is our name because we love alliteration – Miss Clare’s Curious Crocodiles, get it?) would like to tell you that the bird you saw is called a comarad. The Curious Crocodiles know this because the bird is holding out it’s wings (posing) because it has just swam in the water to get some fish. By holding it’s wings out the bird is drying itself. 🙂 We just wanted to share this knowledge with you, as now Miss Clare has once again been taught something new!!
    We like your pictures by the way!
    P.S Please stay safe and look out for alligators in future!

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    1. Hi Curious Crocodiles!
      Thanks for the info about the comarad! I will be sure to get in touch with you guys if I have any bird related questions in the future! It seems Miss Clare is lucky to have such clever crocodiles in her class! All the crocodiles I’ve met before have been a bit silly and not that curious at all (apart from when it comes to food! Yum yum!)!!! 🙂 Thank you for having a look at my blog and I’m pleased you like the photos! Make sure you are all nice to Miss Clare – she’s a very good teacher isn’t she!
      Take care crocodiles! Snap Snap!
      Tori

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