We are in training to build stamina and miles, so that we can take little man to see the penguins a 100 miles away. So whenever we have the time and the inclination, we head out the door to explore places more than 5 miles from home. We are working our way up to going to Carrabelle and have two different ways we can go. One is on the Coastal Highway: plus is that it has paved road all the way, minus it loses its apron for a good bit of the way (we would then have to ride in the road). The other is Forest Road 13 which heads through the Apalachicola Forrest. It starts right where Arran Road stops and it goes past Bradwell Bay Wilderness and ends at Highway 67 which runs strait into Carrabelle.
To get to our starting point we have already ridden 3 miles and that lovely sign in the back is telling us that our nice paved road is about to end. That’s right the forrest road is mostly unpaved. In fact about 15 miles of unpaved road to be exact and we decided to see if we could make it to where the unpaved meets the paved (which crosses Smith Creek Highway). Hubby says there are plans to possibly pave this part, so that the ambulance can get to Smith Creek Highway easier. Right now if it is serious enough people living out that way must be life flighted out. Hubby also said that if they do pave this way there will be a nice bicycle lane. Yeah!!! This is where a lot of hunters go to let out their dogs and hunt deer. The hunters are in opposition to the road being paved due to the belief that it will affect their ability to hunt. I am sure that there could be some kind of compromise between the two. We had been wanting to tackle this journey for awhile now, but due to things such as being sick, not having time, and the like we have had to wait.
Here in Florida they do prescribed burnings and the forestry department is slowly working their way down the road doing small patches at a time. You can see here that some smoldering is still going on and we even saw some trees still on fire. The forestry department rides back and forth during this time checking to make sure that any lingering fires or smoldering trees don’t start back up and get out of hand.
Along the way you can see trees marked with a white stripe and the ground around them not burned. Hubby told me that these trees have little critters living in them and brought on a discussion between us about how they decide which trees to mark. Although it is not in the picture this tree actually had a hole that you could tell was an animal’s home. With some of the others you could not tell just by looking at them. Hubby says that the rangers go over the area before they burn it, so they probably know what they are looking for. He actually watched some of the trees get painted while he was out mowing for the county. What we can’t figure out is what they put on the ground around the tree to keep it from burning.
Hubby decided to take little man this time and give me a break. I normally haul little man around, so it is nice break to just ride without the trailer. We can ride about 5 miles, before we need a break.
Here is little man and me. I try so hard to be the one taking the picture, but every once in awhile hubby sneaks one in on me. Breaks generally mean getting off and getting a bite to eat. We take quite a bit of snacks with us. I also bring at least one sweet drink to give us an added boost towards the end. The guys tend to do stretching excercise. It is absolutely cute to watch little man copying his dada. I like to take my helmet and gloves off and just relax. If there is a place to sit, I plop myself down. You would think that I wouldn’t want to sit after all that time in the saddle, but sitting on the ground is completely different than that saddle and feels quite good.
Halfway point and we hit a short segment of pavement and a bridge. Big smiles all around due to the fact that sandy roads can be quite bumpy. It makes us glad for springed saddles. After a few minutes rest, we were off to ride some more. I really enjoy these journeys, because it gives me time to spend with my guys and to get out of the house. We have some really good conversations and there is a lot of different things to teach little man while we are out. There are interesting things in the forest like these:
Bee boxes….They have an electric fence to protect them from the other critters at night. Honey gets it flavor from the plants that the bees pollinate. Hence the many different regional flavors of honey you can find. Different plants grow in different areas. We also passed an empty fence area (about a mile down the road) where it looks like they will be adding some more boxes. We stopped again shortly after the second bee area and hubby was contemplating turning around, but I was able to convince him to go further. I am one that once I am close to finishing…I am going to finish whether it kills me or not. We passed one of hubby’s coworkers who was grading the road. I told hubby that he will go back to work and tell on him. Hubby’s coworkers don’t understand our desire to ride our bikes everywhere. Then it was in sight….
…the end of the unpaved part. Yippee we did it. We were going to do the pavement dance, but a gentleman on a 4-wheeler had stopped to talk to us about our trip. The weather had started out sunny, but storm clouds were coming, so we turned ourselves around and headed back…hoping to beat the rain. We passed the grader going back and little man asked if the grader would pave us over, which we told him no and got a good giggle, too. Going back was a little smoother and we didn’t have a head wind to fight like there was toward the end. It seems to take longer going back, but that is due to us needing to stop more and just being tired. We traveled back and when we hit the paved road again we got off the bikes and did the pavement dance (consists of a lot of wiggling and saying YEAH!), as well as took the picture by the sign (we forgot to do it at the beginning). Which then left us 3 miles until we were home. We finally got sprinkled then rained on at the end, which was fine, because of being hot, sweaty and grimey feeling. On the way home hubby showed me a dirt road that led to Sopchoppy which he believed was about 13 miles away. Little man pipes up and says “Let’s see if we can make it.” Hubby told him that we will try some other time, like when we hadn’t just traveled 30 miles. Home at last meant a shower and a short nap for little man and me. Hubby headed out the door to start the grill up for dinner. 36 miles round trip today, which is about the same amout of miles as our trip to Tallahassee. It was much easier this time due to the fact that we didn’t have any hillzillas to climb. Don’t know if we will take this way when we go to Carrabelle, but at least we were finally able to do it. 😀