Friday, March 11, 2016

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. (Hunter S. Thompson)

Chiefland, Florida, is a small town 40 miles east of Gainesville and the University of Florida. Culturally, this is Deep South, Southern in its most concentrated form. Add a bunch of Midwestern snowbirds and, Voila!, you have Not-Miami Florida. In fact, for all practical purposes Chiefland is the epicenter of Not-Miami Florida, in every way Miami's cultural opposite.

We are staying in a pleasant older chain motel. Across the street is one of the cultural touchstones of Not-Miami Florida, the flea market. This flea market has a big tent with a tacky-cruel roadside zoo complete with a tiger, monkeys, a kangaroo, and an assortment of other poor creatures all locked in too small cages. It is surrounded by RVs. The shoppers all are very white and have gray hair. Down the road a half mile is Chiefland's main shopping area, two strip malls, one anchored by Walmart, the other by Winn Dixie and Bealls Outlet.

In the midst of all this, there is the Nature Coast State Trail: 32 miles of beautiful and quiet recreational trail. It connects Cross City, Fanning Springs, Trenton, and Chiefland. The trail crosses the Suwannee River on an old railroad truss bridge. (Yep, the river in that really, really Not-Miami song, "Old Folks at Home.")

We wanted to ride the trail and go out to Cedar Key. There's a guy that runs an annual ride that does just that. Nothing fancy. He drives the SAG vehicle for his small group of riders, his van filled with coolers of drinks, snacks, and gear. The SAG can't go on the trail, but when the trail intersects a road, the SAG is there waiting for the riders. A more relaxed way to explore the area than either a big event ride or just doing it ourselves.

The weather was perfect for the ride today. We did a metric on the trail. It was a very Non-Miami ride complete with a colorful cast of a good old boy, a good old girl, a minister-in-training, and a church choir director pedaling along on bicycles.

Do we know how to have fun or what?
Riding on the Nature Coast Trail to Trenton
Bridge over the Suwannee River