It's called the Lakes Region but Florida will always be defined by one coast or the other for me. Yet, I enjoy the lakes, the rivers, and the clusters of various trees that give this area a true southern feeling. The first stop was a drop in for a few days with friends in Leesburg for big food (still pondering the jalapeno cheese pie), some play time (just learned Rummikub), and a trip to Mount Dora, a quaint 100+ year old town that's been on my radar for a long time (they've been holding a multi-day bike festival for 40+ years).
When I rolled into my next destination just two hours south, my eyes bugged out as I saw not one, but two enormous wild boar in rigor mortis by the side of the road. Oh yes, it's rural here in Plant City -- the "winter strawberry capital of the world" -- that holds a 10-day festival every March in honor of this fruit. You may assume, as I did, that Plant City is named for its ag industry, but over 100 years ago, railroad developer Henry Plant settled here and earned the town's renaming as he boosted commerce by merging with the South Florida Railroad.
My draw to Plant City began with a tiny house on a 4+ acre Airbnb. With produce farms, tropical plant nurseries, and ranches, it seemed like a good spot to cruise around on two wheels, and it is. While I landed in the main house, it's been a great visit as my host hails from Bulgaria and is an interesting, hard-working, 52-year old woman who enjoys people and sharing her home (as well as homemade soup and bread). Yes, I do now know of a sweet place in the mountains of Bulgaria to stay in the future, too.
Tomorrow I point further south for a month of holiday cheer with multiple friends, a look back at the ups and downs of 2021, and deep pondering of what's possible to plan for '22.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover