When Amanda picked me up, we took a *long* drive back to Tallahassee to see friends. We laughed, we cried... well, I might have cried. Even on the trail, the IRS is after me. Since my thru-hike is expected to run from January 1st through April 16th, I knew at some point I'd have to square things with the IRS. I wasn't particularly anxious to do so either since I knew I'd be owing them a boatload of money.
So that's what I spent all night working on. And much of the morning as well, I might add, since I didn't finish figuring it all out until about 5:00 in the morning. And I owed thousands. Dreadful thing, taxes.
I paid my dues, though, and submitted my tax stuff electronically.
The next day, I felt extremely tired. Shocking, huh? Amanda and I found a few letterboxes in the Tallahassee area and hung out with more friends. It was my fifth zero day on the trail.
Then it was a long drive back to the trail. Amanda dropped me off at the trailhead near Harold and went off to find us a hotel in nearby Milton.
I crashed into the woods, happy to finally be done with the road walk (for now). Considering the long drive from Tallahassee, I only hiked about 10 miles. This section of trail contains some of the highest points on the Florida Trail, and even I found myself surprised at how far I could see from a couple of the domes. (Calling them mountains or even hills still seems too generous.)
The trail passed through a state park--I forget the name and now that I'm in Alabama, I no longer have my Florida maps and guidebooks to check. I walked past a sign that said it cost $1 for pedestrians to enter and to save the bottom portion of the stub as proof of payment.
Frankly, I thought this was unfair since I didn't plan to stay in the park any longer than it took me to hike through. So.... I didn't pay.
A few miles later on the trail, I was startled by two men in uniform riding bikes in the opposite direction. First, I was surprised to see anyone at all since I rarely see people. Second, I was surprised they were on bikes--it wasn't a bike trail I was hiking on and bikes would have been tough to get through on. And third, they were in uniform.
Damn! All this time, nobody ever verifies all the entrance fees I paid, and the one time I skip it, I'm gonna get busted. Or was I already out of the park? I wasn't sure.
The officers asked where I was going, and I told them about my hike from Key West to Springer Mountain, and that I was slackpacking since Amanda was around to pick me up.
"She driving a maroon colored car?"
I had to think a moment. I would have called the car red, but I guess maroon was close enough. "Yes."
"She's already there waiting for you. It's a ways up, though. Probably about 2 1/2 miles."
Yep, that's about where I expected her to pick me up, but she's definitely there earlier than necessary. Probably had a good book to read or something.
They never asked about any entrance fees, and I never offered them any information about that. =)
We continued on our separate ways, and there was Amanda waiting for me just where we planned.
She took us back to Milton for the night.