I woke in the middle of the night, surrounded by the tall pines and strange sounds of the Ocala National forest. Even though I was only about 2 miles off of the main road, I felt completely isolated -- it was so serene. The cold front was moving through and the tree tops were bristling. The sounds of animals made me question my food storage, so up I got to check things out. All in all it was good, although a wee bit restless sleep that night.
Morning broke with blue skies and chillier air. The day before had been in the upper 70's and now my watch showed 49 degrees. I knew the day would be a bit cooler, which was fine with me because yesterday was just a bit too warm for my liking. The hills of Florida had taken a toll on my legs and I was definitely feeling it as I woke, had coffee and ate breakfast. My plan had been to get on the trail and go north through the forest, bypassing the hustle and bustle of Ocala.
The first kink in my plans came when I discovered that I had snapped the rubber do-dad that holds the cotter pin for the BOB trailer. Yikes, how was I going to hook it up and if I couldn't what would I do. I mean I was back in the forest, off the main trail on a horse trail, it would be a reall pain to deal with if I could not figure this out. So I crawled on the ground for 30 minutes looking for the pin, all to no avail. After another 15 minutes of contemplating, then hand zip ties came out and I was able to use 3 of them to hold the trailer securely on, at least I hoped it would be secure. I was back on these dirt roads that I new were going to bounce the bike and trailer around, so I was definitely concerned.
As I headed out it became clear that while the trailer was going to work fine, I had lousy directions for heading through the forest. I attempted to use my little phone GPS, but the end result was I did a big circle and came back out on the main road. After going 6 miles up and down gravel and sand roads I had probably made no more than 2 miles of good distance and expended a great deal of energy in the process.
From that point on it was smooth going. I was able to find an Ace hardware store and buy some pins that would hold in the short term. Since I was going through Citrus country quite a few places were giving away oranges which made for great snacks throughout the day. My goal was to make it to Gainesville where I had made plans to stay with a host. I rolled through Paines Prairie, right on the outskirts of town, just as the sun was beginning to set. It made for a beautiful end of what was a very long, 76 mile day.
Day Three will be a nice short day to let my body rest and recover from the shock of fully loaded touring.