The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 23 November 2013

Shark Valley

Arriving at Shark Valley (a misleading name - no sharks and flat as far as the eye can see) this morning we had a choice: to take the 2 hour tram tour or rent some bikes and do 15-mile circuit under our own power. In favour of the tram was that it includes a ranger telling us about the history and wildlife, plus the trams have roofs and it was a rainy day. In favour of the bikes was that we wouldn't feel so lazy.

Bikes won the vote, and off we set, me on a single-gear sit-up-and-beg with pedal-back-to-stop and a fetching basket on the front. Mick was on a similar steed, but without the basket or the begging.

The road being entirely flat meant the bikes were perfectly fit for the job and within 45 minutes we had cycled though half an hour of rain and reached the observation tower which lies at the end of the road loop.

The views from the tower were a little curtailed due to the heavy shower that hit whilst we were there - but at least we were under cover for that one. (BTW it was 25 degrees out, so it was warm rain.)

The return leg of the journey was more interesting than the outward one, mainly for the far-reaching views (the outbound leg was mainly bush-lines), the wild-life and the fact the road wiggled (whereas the outward leg was almost dead-straight).

The headwind combined with a quiet protest from my knees during the final three miles, but I suppose the protest was understandable as that's the first time I've ridden 15 miles in my entire life! Mick reckons it's the first time he's ridden that distance in 43 years.

Jolly good fun it was too and undoubtedly more so than we would have had on a tram tour. We even agreed that the grey day and showers were in our favour. There would be no shelter to be had on a sunny day.

Shark Valley was followed by Big Cypress Preserve where there were so many 'gators present that they almost ceased to be interesting. It being the location where we had originally intended to go backpacking, I was interested to go and have a look at the trails. Mick, however, is sporting some insect bites the size of small countries and thus is harbouring a temporary phobia of areas involving both shade and water.

We're now in Everglades City (which isn't a city at all; they seem to like their misleading names in these parts!) where we received the worst welcome at our accommodation that I have ever experienced. A minor mar on another excellent day.

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