Our journey inland today brought with it a marked change to the senses, but not new weather patterns. We enjoyed little-traveled roads though rural areas. Gone was the traffic speeding its way to locations too far away. Instead, we were treated to a multitude of orange groves, cattle grazing in the hot weather, a bizarre looking beast of burden (buffalo or ox?),
white-tailed deer bouncing into some brush, and spindly-legged egrets navigating through broad fields. We even saw many trees that weren’t palm trees. Buzzards congregated for a meal dished up on the centerline: a dead armadillo in the roadkill diner. As we cycled, the constant sounds of locusts filled the air. Scratching a green peel of an unripened orange revealed that unforgetable smell.
Debbie and I considered the contrast from yesterday to today. Tourists and second-home owners were left behind. We were struck by how calm and peaceful–in fact nearly abandoned–the beautiful countryside has become. There is value in serenity, despite what our fast-paced society and bustling cities tell us. We thought people might enjoy and benefit from a simpler existence working the land.
A man stopped roadside today and offered up two bottles of cold water and fresh conversation. We learned about his bicycle tours across Florida, “coast to coast” as he called them. He also provided a primer on Florida weather.
An earlier start to the day suggested more mileage, but we ended the day early after enduring wet riding conditions for several miles. These rain clouds come with a silver lining, however, because they cool down the hot weather. Tipping the balance of ending early was the prospect of thundershowers during what would have been a forty-mile ride to the next motel down the road. We thought better of it and chose to rest up for an even earlier start tomorrow.