I didn’t get a campsite in the Keys for next winter. I finished up some business and went home and prepared for the bike ride. Before I left on the ride, I packed up everything, hooked up the car and Scamp and left the clothesline and electric plug. I did the sewage there since they had the sewage receptor. I was well warmed up and only wore my ISU jersey. I showered and finished what was needed to be done and left. I stopped at the Manatee Springs shop and picked up three baby manatee cuddly toys for my three grandchildren. I drove to Cedar Key for oysters and a beer before heading down the coast to Crystal City where Dodd Brewery was located. On the way, I passed a gas station for sale. It must have been closed for a long time because the price of Regular gas was posted at $3.80. The price of gas when I bought it the other day was $1.77, today it is posted at $1.79. The place was in need of attention. Further down the road one abandoned business after the next, sort of like what 10th Ave in Hells Kitchen looked like a number of years ago. I was on long straight roads for miles and miles. At times it reminded me of Montana, then Michigan, then primeval forests. I was just cruising down the highway when I see an oversized wide vehicle appear in my rear view mirror. I am going 65, the speed limit is 60, and he is catching up on me. We are on a four-lane highway, but still he is going to have trouble getting by me. I switch to the left lane and indicate I am making a left at the next interchange. While I’m in the left turning lane, he blows by me going 75 easy with that wide load and then the trailing wide load support truck. I get back on the highway and watch them disappear in the future. All of a sudden I’m in the middle of civilization with my brewery just down the road. The parking lot is dicey and I have to exit to renter so I can park the Scamp in a place I can leave from and not block all the parking spaces. It is hot and bright outside. When I walk into the winery/brewery, my sunglasses make me blind; it is dark and cool inside. Once my eyes adjust, I find an absolutely delightful and cute establishment with wine lining the walls and hitops and low tables deliberately placed in all the nooks and crannies. I sit at the bar and order a flight of their eight beers. The brewer Fran Copp has just returned the Tampa beer fest and we speak about the experience. He has won a gold medal for his 1821 English ESB, which is very good, and I have already decided to take a growler of it with me. His Centerfield Brown, which is another growler I will take, is delicious and not as sweet as his other brown ale. His Dirty Joe is the best of the three stouts, IMHO. His other beers are sweet and reflect on his winemaking skills. As I leave Crystal River heading east to Lake Griffin, once again I’m on long straight roads through agriculture. Then out of nowhere, I hit The Villages. This is not to be believed. I’m on a two-lane road with golf cart roads on either side filled with old folks in golf carts. Some have clubs others do not. On either side of the road are golf courses and thousands of golfers and houses and condos. It is golfers heaven. There are hundreds of courses stretching as far as I can see and houses and condos all around. I’ve never quite seen anything like this in my life. It is scary. Retire; play golf until you die must be The Villages motto. I arrive at Lake Griffin SP at 4:30 and set camp on a very nice spot surrounded by Florida vegetation and on a cement pad, which isn’t half bad. I set camp and then take a walk around to see the rest of the camp. I discover I have one of the better sites, with privacy, level, and I’m facing a good direction, southeast. The bathhouses are first rate and there is a laundry, which I will use first thing in the morning. It is getting dark as I lay down for a bit of rest and to get some relief from the heat as I have the ceiling fan on and all of the windows open. I decide to forgo making dinner, steak, potatoes and my mushroom concoction for a yogurt with blueberry jam and wheat germ. I’m in bed by 8 and my neighbor makes a fire which dances on the ceiling of the Scamp. This is nice as I lounge and fall in and out of sleep. I have left the door open with the screen closed and it is very delightful inside as I just have a sheet and light blanket covering me. I have not used the AC yet, but sense I may while I’m here. I should, just to see how it works and how good it is. The sun comes through the window by my feet and the birds are doing their thing as I get up and gather the laundry and head to the bathhouse. Someone has already started and has all three washers going with 10 minutes left, so I leave my laundry as in a queue and go back and start breakfast. I let the oatmeal sit until I return, but I make the tea and let it steep. I only need two machines and go back for breakfast. After breakfast I transfer the laundry to the dryer and bring back my bike clothes to hang on the line. Rather than dry the heck out of everything, I bring back the damp stuff and hang them on the line to finish the drying, while the lighter dry stuff is folded and put away. I decided to take a ride into Ocala National Forest. I can’t take a bike ride around here since just outside the park is a six-lane road. In fact as I drive around I don’t see any safe or suitable biking roads since everyone drives so darn fast and there are few bike lanes. Just half a mile down the road is a Camper/RV store so I pull in to get more chocks for the wheels to stop the rocking when I’m in the Scamp, so that I’ll have a chock on each side of each tire. I get a wire basket to put over the exhaust vents of the heater because mud wasps are known to nest in them because they are warm and eventually foul the heater system. I also need to replace the sewage hose since it has sprung a couple of leaks and that isn’t good. With that chore taken care of I set out for the Forest hoping to find relief from all this chaos and traffic. The road I’m on heads to Orlando, but before that, I turn left and head north on Rt 19 into the heart of the forest. I stop at Lake Dora to view the camping there, which looks very nice and on a lake. Further up the road is Alexander Springs, which has manatees. As it turns out there are Springs throughout the Forest with manatees. How did they get here, I wonder. The Forest is not empty. People live here; there are little towns and lots of horse farms, and logging. At Salt Springs I head west on 314 and find a Winn Dixie so I stop to shop and pick up some wood at a produce store across the street. I follow 314 to Silver Springs near Ocala and head south for home. It wasn’t a very relaxing drive since I couldn’t really relax with the amount of traffic and constantly being passed. When I got home it was very hot, so I put on the AC. It was delightful and worked very well. I planned on going to Infinite Ale Works in the evening since they opened at 4. I had a dinner as it cooled outside. While eating I heard water running and went to check out my water source to discover the hose had sprung a leak. I grabbed the magical duct tape and wrapped the hose frantically at the leak to stem the flow. On my way to Infinite, I stopped at a Home Depot to get a new hose and look for a new SportBrella. Got the home but not the umbrella. In no time I was at Infinite. It was a lovely place with outside seating as well as an ample interior decorated with Belgium beer posters. This was a Belgium house. I sampled eight of their beers, which numbers 14. In addition, they had about twenty-five other Belgium beers including Delirium on tap. I took a growler of that as well as their flagship and medal winner Westfloridian; a saison; and the Monk’s Cellar. I had a pleasant drive home as it was late and the roads were relatively clear. I cracked open the saison and made a fire. It was a delightfully cool night with a gentle breeze. I slept with the door open and all the windows and ceiling fans open. The breeze came through and made for a good evening to sleep, which I did until 8:30. I stayed in bed reading for more than an hour. I got out of bed at 10, made tea and then right back to bed and fell asleep until noon. I guess I was exhausted. Rather than go anywhere, I stayed at camp all day. I had a good brunch of bacon, French toast, and an egg with my tea. I took a walk about camp to view the other setups and to just get some exercise. This is a lovely campsite in an otherwise chaotic area of Florida, but then most parts of Florida are chaotic. The folks in this area are also more from the East coast then the Midwest as the license plates reveal. I like the Forgotten Coast and its calm. I’ll be back in that neighborhood next week when I return to Big Lagoon. My son will be a few miles down the road in Orange Beach in a rented house with fifteen of his ATO brothers for the week. We’ll get together when I’m there.
I did leave for as few moments as I went up to the library for the Internet. Upon leaving the Park, I had to go straight across the six lanes to access the road to the library, It was a awhile until I could get across this massive road filled with cars in all lanes going in both directions. I crossed and ascended the hill and drove two blocks to find the library. I did my business and returned. Instead of attempting to cross the six lanes again and because I had two cars come up from behind, I turned right and immediately moved into the left lane to make a U-Turn to return to camp. I had been discouraged by my ride through the Forest. There were no access points to the lakes in the area. The lakes seemed to be surrounded by private gated homes or private clubs. The state parks provided little good access as they occupied land not desired by those who bought around the lakes before they went to the national Forest. Driving slowly as tourists do was not good since everyone seemed in a rush and knew where they were going and there really wasn’t much to look at as a tourist. I was not impress with the area and was just marking time before I would be leaving here Monday morning for Big Lagoon and the beach. Quite obviously, the north central part of Florida is not my cup of tea. I remember that from those days we brought the kids to Orlando to visit grandparents and not being impressed with the various parks and places other than Disney et al. As I have said before this park is fabulous, it is an oasis in an otherwise unremarkable place with the roads and golf courses, and infinite number of cars. In addition to the constant beauty of birds, there is a constant, in that I hear them all day long and all night long, the sound of ambulances, not police, not fire trucks, but ambulances. As I said before, people come here to die and die they do as the number of ambulance sirens I hear in a twenty-four hour period. I like my little spot. Vegetation surrounds me and protects me from the passing cars on the dirt road, so I don’t get the dust. I have a clear path to the bathhouse and laundry, but can’t see them or the lights that are always on. The big activity here is walking the dog or taking garbage to the bin or just walking the loop. The nature trails are limited since the rest of the land is left to nature and not to the people. Boating is big as many campers have powerboats they take to launch on a lake. I can only imagine this is what it must be like in the Midwest. I need my ocean, not lakes, not rivers, the ocean, the salt water and a sandy beach. Water and dirt make mud. And there is never a refreshing breeze. It is Saturday and I have finished To The Lighthouse a second time and found a PD James early novel, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. I will spend the day reading and tonight will go to Mount Dora Brewing Company because they will have live music at 8.
Last night was rather interesting as I was scanning the radio for some talk radio and fell upon FOX radio at about 7 in the evening. They were discussing the Trump rally in Chicago that we were going to switch to when it would begin and I found this intriguing. At about half past, it was announced the rally was postponed or cancelled; they couldn’t quite get that one right. Before the announcement, the commentators were speaking about the violence that has been occurring at Trump rallies and about how it was the Trump supporters and not the protesters who began these altercations. They of course got their marching orders from the Donald himself. He has made too many remarks about how protesters should be treated, using violence as a main weapon. We joined the fray in mid debacle. We were hearing reports from the floor of fistfights, of little order and lots of chaos. Inside a convention center at the University of IL at Chicago, that holds 10,000 people the place was packed with supporters and a couple hundred protesters. Outside there were thousands of protesters. The Trump people cancelled the event to the glee of the protesters. They had done what they set out to do and were peacefully dispersing. Supporters, from reports were going to have none of that. Finally the Donald came on to speak to Don Lemon of CNN of all people. Surprisingly, Lemon did hold Trump’s feet to the fire about his own rhetoric about using violence and does he feel responsible. He asked a number of times and the Donald said No. The Donald went on to explain how he sees that the protesters were to blame because they started the fights, yet, no one had seen that. Reporters are all over the floor in these rallies and they continually speak about how it is the supporters throwing sucker punches. The guy makes shit up all the time and backs down only when confronted or refers to a third party account. He is delusional. One very telling point came out as the Donald was speaking with Lemon, the Donald said he had consulted with the local police before they cancelled the event. Soon after that the police were surprised the event was cancelled and had never spoken to Trump or his campaign about the dangers. They had it covered in their eyes. He was caught in a huge lie and no one seemed to really cash in on it. We’ll see how this unfolds in the coming days and especially on Tuesday. I am constantly reminded of how what we are witnessing now is what I remember seeing in film footage and accounts of how Hitler’s brown Shirts behaved when Hitler had rallies. Lies, nationalism overload, and fear of immigrants; blaming everyone else but self for the misery of the state. For me our hurting times are because people don’t have enough education, Jefferson was adamant that we should have an educated populace and there is a general lack of work ethic in this country and they blame the loss of their jobs on foreign markets, yet they don’t get the fact that we lost that work ethic and now the Trump supporters believe what he says. No one seems to be challenging him on his facts that are bogus and wrong. When I speak to or listen to people speak about Trump, there voices go up, they spew the same wrong facts he is spreading and don’t seem to be smart enough to check out the facts. It is the protesters, many were Mexican, have finally stood up this bully and hopefully the people will finally see the Emperor has no clothes. Listening to the broadcast into the evening was entertaining and informative as I sat by the fire and had a beer. I was reflecting on how this reminded me of 1968 when I was visiting a lady in Lewiston, ME, and we were watching the Democratic convention on TV and how badly that went. 1968 was eventually mentioned as commentators and call ins went back and forth on whether this was Trump’s fault or not. Of course it was Trump’s fault; he orchestrates everything.
I finished the PD James book, had dinner, took a shower, and headed out to Mount Dora Brewing Company. It was a pleasant enough drive at 7. I wanted to get there a little early to get a sample of their beer and a seat for the show. I found it easily and found a set at the end of the bar nearest the band, a trio that was just setting up and doing a sound check as I ordered my flight of their six and took a walk around to view the beer garden and the private rooms and to used the head. By the time I returned to my seat, my flight and a glass of water were waiting for me. The owner, Peg, a very gregarious woman of my age greeted me and we spoke for awhile as her husband the brewer introduced the band. The young man on guitar, Andrew, has just returned to his home after being a year playing at BB King in Orlando. The bass and the drummer were introduced. This was their first gig together. Andrew is nineteen years old and plays a guitar beautifully. He did Hendrix fabulously, Withers even better, and Otis and Eric and the usual suspects of my generation. I am always amazed when I hear young pups in a band, play our music so beautifully, I feel it is an honor, homage to us, to our musical generation. As Peg delivers food to tables, she dances across the floor. Old couples get up and dance or sway together to the music; Peg and her husband dance. Their son is there on spring break from FSU. His high school French teacher siting next to me asks him where his fiancé is. She broke up with me he replies and the teacher gets up and goes over and hugs him and speaks to him in French, perhaps soothing his broken heart as Piaf might do. When she returns I speak to her about how I thought is was so much like Edith Piaf when I heard her speak to him. She laughed and replied that maybe it was, thank you. I suggested to the broken hearted lad he consider a trip to France. The French teacher concurred. She and I shared stories of our own French visits and especially about the cemetery where Edith and Jim and Balzac, and so many others are buried. The band played three hour-long sets with two breaks. During the second break I chatted them up. The atmosphere of the place reminded me of Burley. I loved it and glad I chose this night instead of last night to come down, because I heard the band last night was missing their fabulous female singer. The drive home was perfect, no traffic and I made every light and there were lots of lights, I’d have to take my shoes off to count them all. I was on six-lane highways all the way. Mall after mall with side roads taking us in the suburbs. The place reminded me of the Fort Lauderdale area, especially west of 95. The next town over is Sanford, the town where I have gone to take the Auto Train. Maybe the only spot in Florida I haven’t really been is the NE part, Jacksonville down to West Palm. That’s sort of like the section from Chicago up the Mackinac Bridge along Lake Michigan. Lots of little sections of the US border I still have to drive.
I remembered to spring ahead. I lounged in the sultriness of the day, had breakfast, read, and then followed the Spurs Villa match on text feed. Kane got two and Spurs won two nil. Kane tied Varney for top scorer and Spurs are two points back of LC. LC plays Newcastle tomorrow and they are just one place above Villa. A draw would be nice a loss by LC would be fabulous and outrageous. Let’s hope the pressure gets to this young club. They are home, so not too good for the Magpies. Let’s hope the Foxes have counted their chickens too soon. After the game, I took a shower and started Waves by Virginia Woolf. All of that work I did at Skidmore is coming back. I took a Virginia Woolf class during a January. We read everything she wrote including the biography of her by Quentin Bell, which had just come out. We got into the Bloomsbury Group and the members interactions with her. It was very intense. I loved the January class because we met every day; we spent hours on the subject, and owned what we did. I did a Ingmar Bergman film festival my first year and a book binding class my senior year. The book binding class is what really started me for what would become CyberEnglish. Reading them twice now on this trip has been fun and so revealing. It is of course like reading Shakespeare at different ages of your life. When 22 they do one thing, when 66 they do another. The Ages of Man is an obvious reference point. It rained at 3 PM, as it was predicted it would. The rain and humidity drove me inside after dinner to listen to the Big Broadcast.
I woke at sunrise and packed up after breakfast. I drove out the SP a sweaty mess; the humidity was horrible. I had to drive through the Villages to get to 75 and leave this hell. What an absolutely disgusting place, The Villages. We should send the prisoners of Gitmo to The Villages and they will talk and reveal everything. What a nightmare someone must have had when they created this monstrosity. It could be the subject of any Hieronymus Bosch painting. The Villages is where one goes to die horribly.
It was a long drive as I went back into Central Time when I passed Appalachia River. I arrived at 420 and the first thing I noticed was the absence of the humidity and a lovely breeze and then water, the Gulf. After setting up and a shower, I settled in to enjoy this most magnificent environment. After a time I realized the absence of incessant and continual sirens of ambulances. Also there are no six-lane highways here. And I will be able to ride my bike as well as get to a very beautiful beach. I have resolved not to go past St George SP in the future. I had ill feeling of Panama City, but that has changed since being in the Central Lake area, which sucks; no lake access, humidity, six-lane highways, too many ambulances, and too many OLD people. I’m glad to have escaped Hell and arrived in Paradise.
I wake to learn my daughter, who went into labor at 4:30 AM has gone to the hospital.