Friday, February 8, 2008

On Your Mark... Get Set... GO!

As usual, I woke up with the sunrise, and started going about my normal morning routines. I ate breakfast, and was brushing my teeth--and why do these things always happen while brushing my teeth?--and I heard a man on what sounded like a bullhorn (though it could have been a microphone attached to speakers) yell out, "Good morning, everybody!" then welcome everyone to a marathon. In the background, I heard what sounded like a hundred people cheer in return.

This came as somewhat of a surprise to me. I thought I was alone, with perhaps a few locals in nearby residential areas just waking up in their beds and going about their day. I just found out that a hundred people now grouped precariously near my camp, and my first thought was, "Oh, I so hope I'm not camped on the race course."

I hastened my brushing, and a couple of minutes later, a long shadow passed over me. It was a runner, running along the top of the dike, and I breathed a sigh of relief. At least I wasn't camped ON the race course, but I was close enough to it that the shadows of each of the runners would pass over my camp.

The porta-potties I noticed the day before suddenly made a lot more sense. They weren't for maintenance folks--it was for the runners this morning! Thank goodness I didn't camp on the dike like I'd been thinking about doing! =)

I finished my camp chores, pulled on my pack, and walked parallel to the runners to the intersection with Wheeler Road. I noticed a small stand on the corner of the dike where runners could stop to get water. In fact, some of the runners were actually walking, and I was walking faster than them. And I had a heavy pack on. Bunch of wimps. =)

After reaching Wheeler Road, the trail followed a long, tedious road walk for several miles, until I reached the town of Chuluota (Chew-lee-oh-tah).

I stopped at Chuluota Grocery for lunch, picking up ice cream, fruits, and a drink while three firefighters attempted to break into a car in the parking lot. They were at it when I arrived, and they were still at it when I purchased my items.

A dog had locked himself in the car when his owner went out, and the fire station was right across the street. So they were trying to rescue the dog, each of the men trying to jimmy the lock open at a different part of the car. It was rather amusing to watch as I ate lunch.

At last, the dog was freed, and the free entertainment came to an end.

One man at the store recognized me as the hiker I am, and he was section hiking the AT as time permitted having recently reached Virginia. There wasn't anything particularly remarkable or interesting about this man, and originally I didn't intend to mention him at all in this blog. He was a nice, friendly man--but there wasn't really anything interesting to report about him.

Skip ahead about 20 hours, however, and my mind changed. I was walking down a bike trail, and I overhead two rollerbladers as they passed me. The man said to the woman, "He said he bumped into a thru-hiker yesterday who hiked in all the way from the Keys...."

And I thought, "Hmmm..... There aren't a lot of people around here who hiked in from the Keys." So I shouted out at them, "Hey! Are you guys talking about ME?!"

Turns out, they were! Their friend was the man I met at the grocery store the day before, and he had told them about bumping into me, and less than a full day later, they did the same thing. =) Small world out there!

But back to Chuluota.... The trail finally left the road walking behind and went onto an old railroad grade to the Econ River. It was a nice, scenic area, and I enjoyed hiking this section. I found several letterboxes left for me along this section as well. =)

Near the end of the day's hike, the trail dipped back into water again. Determined not to end the day with wet feet, I crashed through palmettos and brush doing everything I could to avoid walking in water once again. I jumped over a barbed-wire fence in the process, and scratched myself all over, but I made it through with my feet dry before finally entering the town of Oviedo.

Oveido is not what I would call a hiker-friendly town. At one point, the trail reached a chainlink fence. A gate was supposed to open there, but it was locked with thick chains with no obvious way around.

I took off my pack, and tried squeezing it over the chain and between the fence posts, but it got stuck until I took off my campshoes and the pack finally slipped through.

I squeezed through on the other side of the gate, away from the chain, thinking it would be easier for me to squeeze through without having to go under or over the chain.

I couldn't fit with my fanny pack on, though, so I took it off and finally wriggled through to the other side.

The trail then crosses CR 419 twice near downtown Oviedo, but both crossings require jaywalking across a VERY busy street. Apparently to see junk in a person's backyard, before crossing CR 419 a second time back to its original side.

FTA folks: Do hikers a favor. When the trail reches CR 419, just have hikers cross Division St at the lights, and don't make them cross CR 419 at all. Was that supposed to be funny or something? *shaking head*

I touched the historical marker explaining this history of Oviedo, because it was time to get off the trail for the night.

Lorax and ThreeHearts picked me up at sunset and whisked me away to parts unknown. We all spent the night at Lorax's house, carving stamps, eating pizza, and laughing the night away. We didn't finally go to sleep until after midnight.

7 comments:

Terras4TheHunt said...

Hey! I don't get a mention here!?! lol Thanks for the carve by the way!

Michael Merino said...

Terras4TheHunt, he mentions you in the next posting. Err ... the last posting. Well when you and I are making these posts, this post is out of order with the "The City Life"

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the LB'ers are alive and well. And that you got some finds. Carry on.

DC Stones

silver horde said...

Hello. I'm glad you are enjoying being on the trail again. I've not kept up with all you do since you did the other walk. funny I should happen upon your blog today as I live on an Oveido St in CA!!

Good luck and enjoy the moments.

Jane

wyzarrd said...

oh, okay....now this makes sense. I thought I had missed something somewhere. Good to hear things are still going well, though it appears the Florida Trail has some....um, issues at best.

Keep trekkin' the trek!

Jaxx

Anonymous said...

my ryan posting withdrawl has come to an end. so glad you have dry feet. and that the feet of runners didn't come on top of you, just their shadows. can't wait for the next post.........

condo

ps. did you fill up your bottles at the water stand for runners??

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud when I read what you said about the runners being whimps, You so funny.

And trailtrackers comment yesterday about....duh, well, it was downright funny, another lol moment which you had to be here for, ha. Thanks people for a chuckle or two which I dearly needed.
Okie Dog