After two weeks in hiding, I thankfully had plans to reconnect with friends I've met along the way, and headed northwest toward the Gulf side. There were three folks I was looking forward to seeing again, and I was lucky to find a lovely wilderness park in New Port Richey where I could camp for a week at a really good price. While I was in the middle of civilization (about 10 miles south of Tampa), the park is over 8,000 acres with hundreds of bird species, deer, wild turkeys, armadillos and wild boar. Best of all, there's walking trails and a 7-mile paved bike trail that connects to the 42-mile Suncoast Trail. Heaven!
I was happy to be back in my tent in the woods, and started my first day with a visit from Cathy, a gal I met 3 years ago on Sebastian Inlet. We've been attempting a face-to-face all this time as she's also nomadic, in a camper van. She actually spent a night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in order to connect with me. After a few hours of catching up over coffee & muffins, we talked and trail-walked, then parted ways with the hope of an annual reunion. The next day, I arrived at the RV spot of Judy & Sid from Pennsylvania. We met 2 years ago on Jekyll Island and this is our second reunion. This couple knows how to welcome you into their lives, eat well, tell stories, and laugh often. We did all these things, as well as cycling, swimming, sunbathing, and sitting by the campfire. They will soon be settling into a Florida homestead so I know where to find them!
With just 5 days remaining in March and plans to roll out of Florida on the 1st, I found an affordable Airbnb just west of St. Augustine. What a sweet little surprise this has been -- Green Cove Springs has a population of 7,000 and my stay in the Lake Asbury neighborhood has been peaceful, comfortable, relaxing, and social. I've not only had interesting conversations, found fun local sites, and biked and walked around the lake daily, but also had another unexpected reunion. Emily and I met last year camping in Fort Pierce and have stayed in touch. Much to my surprise, she now lives 1.5 hours away and made the trek so we could catch up in person over an amazing breakfast at the Black Creek Cafe.
My Florida season began happily with long-time friends in South Florida, and is now coming to a close happily thanks to newly-made traveling friends. Next year, I'll avoid the middle!
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover