MONDAY NOV 19 – I took it all on today, figuring the mileage, just shy of 10 miles, was doable I started early, too, and well ahead of the bulk of the pack – for it sure feels like a race sometimes, when you’re out there hiking with 30 plus people on a broad track – but as I am wont to do, I dawdled enough to take pictures and talk to people and eventually fell to my usual spot near the back of the group, keeping company for most of the hike with Cliff Moody.
I never knew my grandfather, whose name was Cliff, since he died more than a decade before I was born. But I imagined him to be like this Cliff, our sturdy hiker from Ocala, who at the age of 90 looks to be in better physical fitness than the bulk of us.
Swifts skate across the dike at dawn, and we fall into a relaxed pace. At the S-101 water control structure at Nubbin Slough, there is a portalet, but it is bound, gagged, and padlocked behind a barbed-wire-studded chain link fence. What a cruel joke!
The lake has receded far and there are no fishermen, with so little water between the buoys. We come upon Taylor Creek more quickly than expected, soon after Cliff and I walk right up to a family of sandhill cranes browsing along the dike. At the RV park’s picnic bench, we park ourselves and stay awhile to chat. The last push to Parrott Avenue is unexpectedly painful, and I feel heat rising from my soles. With Cliff following, I hobble down the sidewalk along US 441 to the KOA and back to our campsites. When I peel off socks and shoes, I discover blisters have formed nearly the full length of the soles of my feet. Yeow! Time to limp to the pool and cool them down.