I saw several more turtles hiding in the water this way, and hoped my tromping from the previous day hadn't gotten any.
The day was beautiful. Partly cloudy, not especially warm, and I wanted to take advantage of it to push on as far as I could. The weather was expected to grow nasty the next day, and I wanted to be within walking distance of Bristol to insure I had a motel and a dry bed to use at the end of the day. At a minimum, I figured, I should at least reach the Camel Lake Campground.
And I did, and what a beautiful campground it was. Several sites overlooked Camel Lake, and they were some of the nicest campsites I ever laid eyes on.
The restrooms had flush toilets, and garbage cans could be found all over the area. It was much nicer and far more elaborate than I expected. I was thinking it would be something like the previous campground I passed the day before with composting toilets and no regular maintenance. This place, though, was NICE.
I went ahead and made use of the facilities, filling up with water, using the restrooms (flush! flush!), and throwing away my trash. I checked to see how much staying at the site would cost--I knew a campground this nice wouldn't be free--and it wasn't. It ran $10/night, so I walked up the trail a quarter mile or so and set up my tarp in the woods. I could actually still see the American flag flying above the campground from my location, but I figured I was far enough away that no authority figures would ask what I was doing there. =)
I hoped the rain would start early, pour all night all while I was under the protection of the tarp, then have stopped by morning. What actually happened, however, was that the night stayed nice and calm and by morning, the rain finally started.
So I ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, and even peed all under the protective cover of the tarp. I packed my gear into the backpack while under the tarp--making use of the super extra large ZipLocks since I still had them--and only when that was done did I finally come out from under the tarp and into the rain.
I took down the tarp, stashed it into a mesh pocket, took out the umbrella,
heaved on the pack, opened the umbrella, and started down the trail singing Spiderpig to myself. (You have to watch The Simpsons movie to understand that reference.)
The trail continued to go through bogs, but my feet were pretty wet from the rain anyhow so the bogs didn't bother me as much this time.
I only had about six or seven miles of trail walking anyhow. Then there was a 10.1 mile road walk up CR 12 into Bristol. Ugh. Road walk. And a long one.
The trail went past the library in Bristol, so I stopped in to check e-mail and Atlas Quest. Originally, I planned to stop for the night at a hotel in Bristol, but the night before, I realized that Blounstown was less than four more miles along the trail. I hadn't realized the two towns were so close since my guidebooks put the two in different regions, splitting the regions right down the time zone. I hadn't looked ahead at the next region--which, if you remember, I tore into pieces back in the Keys and have my mom mail to me on the trail as needed, so the two regions had been physically torn apart.
Only now did I look ahead into the next region and realize that a much larger town, with more motels and food options, lay just another four miles down the trail.
Onward I went, crossing into Central Time Zone over a large, long bridge that crossed the Apalachicola River. The bridge seemed to last for a couple of miles--certainly one of the longer bridges I've crossed since the keys.
And just like that, I went back in time one hour. Alas, sunset now occurred one hour earlier too.
I was rather excited about changing time zones. =) It felt like real progress in my hike, and it hit me that my days in Florida were numbered. Perhaps not *quite* in the single digits, but I had now hiked about 1,000 miles--well past the halfway mark for Springer Mountain, in fact--and had about 200 miles of Florida left. I suddenly felt elated to be rid of Florida so soon.
Don't get me wrong, here. Florida has its nice areas, but it's the state that Never Seemed To End. The Appalachian Trail goes over 500 miles through Virginia, or about 25% of the entire trail, and I was positively elated when I first reached that Welcome to West Virginia sign. Thank God, I was finally done with Virginia!
Now I had done twice that amount in Florida, and I *still* hadn't finished with the state. I could have started on the AT at one end of Virginia, hiked to the other end, turned around and hiked back.... and still be done faster than Florida.
Florida is a freakishly big state, and crossing into another time zone, it finally hit me. I'm almost done with Florida!
Not to mention the fact that I've never hiked to another time zone before.
Completely unrelated to my hike... did you know it's possible to call Oregon from Florida and have it be the EXACT same time in both locations?
It only works one hour each year, but it can be done. The panhandle of Florida, as I've already said, crosses into Central time zone. The southeast corner of Oregon, for some bizare reason unknown to me, was lumped into Mountain time zone. So if call after Central time zone loses an hour due to daylight savings but before Mountain time zone does, you can have two people, one in Florida and one in Oregon, who would both report the exact same time.
It makes a great bar bet. ;o)
Back on topic, however, I continued to walk into Blountstown. The rain finally stopped during my walk through Bristol, and in Blountstown, I actually got to see a pretty nice sunset when most of the sky had cleared.
I checked into the Cherokee Motel (room number 5 for those keeping track) and ran a few errands well into the night. Restocked food supplies at Piggly Wiggly (and who couldn't love a supermarket with a name like that?) I was underwhelmed with options for dinner, however, and settled for Burger King since it was closest to the motel.
That night, I mostly watched--my favorite--the Weather Channel, hoping to glean details about what I should expect to come. The next two days: sun. The night of that second day, rain and thunderstorms, continuing into the third day.