So I could finish off my hike on the Cross Seminole Trail, Sandy dropped me off on the Florida Trail in Oviedo, on the edge of the Little Big Econ State Forest. After a short walk down a powerline, I was next to a concrete recycling site with mounds and mounds of broken concrete. Call it what you like, but it looked like a dump to me. The trail quickly became no more than a sidewalk. Approaching Oviedo, I could see a “Road Closed” sign in the distance. I began wondering what was going on. If the trail went that way, would I be allowed to continue? As I drew closer, I saw two police cars directing vehicles to a side road.
As usual, I was once again hiking without a map. Yes, I had brought a copy of the Data Book. But it would do me very little good looking for an alternate route.
When I arrived at the intersection, I learned that the road was closed for the MLK Parade and that the trail followed the detour. After a short walk into a community founded in 1923, the trail turned off the sidewalk and into the woods leading to a very nice boardwalk around Round Lake. It then wove in and out of short stretches of woods and through neighborhoods.
Missing the blaze for a turn I walked by small older homes and a little African Methodist Episcopal Church. Years ago, I would have felt uncomfortable walking alone through a neighborhood like this. But today, remembering Dr. King and all the changes that he had inspired, I felt fine, walking along with my daypack, shaggy hair, and a large graying beard. Everyone I saw nodded or waved.
As I entered downtown Oviedo, the parade was over, and the members of the local high school band were walking back to meet their rides. As I walked between two groups of horn players, they provided me with my own personal music on the trail.
The trail through Oviedo is only a stone’s throw away from a Popeyes Fried Chicken and a couple of great little Mom and Pop restaurants, including the Town House Restaurant. There are times when some crispy fried chicken or homemade pie sure would hit the spot! About twenty minutes later, I found myself wishing that I had stopped in Oviedo for lunch. Because even being in the suburban outskirts of Orlando, I couldn’t see any other places to stop along today’s walk.
The Cross Seminole Trail winds along the edge of well-manicured backyards, many of which have cute little walkways connecting to the path. Since it was a holiday, I shared the path with several dozen others enjoying the day. When I walk, I watch what’s going on around me, and pay attention to the bugs and birds. Being new to urban trail walking, I have learned that not everyone shares my love of natural sounds. Many were off in their own little world listening to their iPods.
As my walk grew closer to my pickup point at Soldier Creek Park, I met a fellow out walking his dog. No iPod for him. Like me, he was enjoying the world of nature. As we walked and talked, I learned that he had lived on the Space Coast like me in the 1970s, watching the rocket launches. Both of our fathers worked in the early days of the space program.
Seeing Sandy approaching in the distance, we thanked each other for the great conversation, remarking how nice it was to spend quality time, one-on-one, with someone you just met on the trail. After I introduced him to Sandy, he turned around to head home, thanking me for encouraging him to walk just a little farther down this trail than he had ever been before.