Monday, January 27, 2014

A Picnic In Old Florida

We enjoyed a nearly perfect day for a ride on the TU250 and the Vulcan this past weekend.  The day dawned crystal clear and cool.  By the time we rolled the bikes out of the garage at 1000, the temperature had risen to 65 degrees and the sun felt warm on our faces and backs.

Our plan was to ride down to Lake Marian where we would picnic along the shoreline near the southern end of the lake.  We had ridden only a few miles when we stopped to watch a pair of eagles playing in the sky.  If you have watched eagles fly you'll agree that they often seem to fly just for the sheer enjoyment of flight.  One bird flew in large lazy circles while the other would climb above the first then swoop down below and steeply pull up and roll on it's back and reach up with it's feet trying to grab the other.  They repeated this maneuver over and over as they called back and forth to one another.

TU 250 & Vulcan along the lake

Eventually they flew out of our sight, so we hopped on our bikes and thumped and chugged our way south down the Canoe Creek Road toward our next planned stop at Camp Hammock along Lake Kissimmee.  We turned southwest onto a gravel road that leads back to the lake.  The road is only about five miles long, but it cuts through a beautiful mix of wooded and open pasture land.  Because the road dead ends at the lake there is very little traffic on it except for the occasional pickup pulling an airboat.  There is so little traffic that the cattle stop grazing and stare at us as we thread our way through the loose gravel and pot holes.

My riding partner led the way and pointed to an eagle sitting on a fence post.  As we neared, it took flight and flew past an old tree that held another eagle.  Both took to the air and flew a big circle around us before re-landing in the old tree.

At the end of the road, we stepped off the bikes and stood at the edge of the lake listening for gators and watching herons and egrets fish the shallow water along the shore.  Rested and content, we climbed back on our bikes and jittered and bounced our way back up the gravel road and onto Canoe Creek.

We eased south for another fifteen or so miles where we turned onto another gravel road where we had planned a stop at a small park on Lake Marian.  The park is seldom used and most of the time when we visit, we are the only people there.  That was true this trip as well.  The park has a little gazebo at the end of a short pier and this is where we planned to have our picnic.  The park was filled with wading birds and osprey as so many of the inland lakes are.  This time there was a special guest waiting for us.  Sitting on the railing around the gazebo was a pelican.  Pelicans are often seen soaring up and down the ocean coast but only rarely around the inland lakes.  We decided to inch our way out the pier toward the gazebo in the hopes of not spooking the pelican and maybe enjoying our picnic at a table within a few feet of him.  This plan worked and we sat within ten feet of the pelican.  What we hadn't expected was the huge insect hatch that was going on.  The hatch made the picnic impossible as we could hardly breath without inhaling the bugs.  Our picnic would have to wait.

Blue Heron

Inland Pelican


We packed our sandwiches back into the saddle bags on the Vulcan and after taking time for a few pictures, we left the birds and bugs behind as we headed further south.  We stopped at a small retirement community where we sat on the ground near the shore of the lake and enjoyed our picnic in peace.  As we ate, the sun warmed us and we watched hawks and vultures wheeling in the sky.


After lunch, we continued south to Kenansville where we turned north and rode by and through a few ghost towns on our way to Holopaw.  At Holopaw, we turned west, riding through orange groves and pasture land on our way home.

Sandhill Cranes

Although we only rode 100 miles, we were treated to a fine sampling of old Florida.