Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 69 - Sebring, FL to Bradenton, FL

Brett thinks that he must be developing a certain allure. Yesterday a beautiful, blond German woman stopped at our site while he was sitting outside. She asked him if he could fix her bicycle. I guess he just looks handy! He fixed her bike. She was smiling, he was smiling. Joy to the world.

We only had about 60 miles to drive today so it was a leisurely morning. There was a line at the dump station so we had to wait a bit. Lucky for us that there was plenty of shade.

My favorite place name for today was Troublesome Creek.  I wonder if it floods a lot.  A little research showed:  Troublesome Creek was named after an Indian left behind by his tribe to die, but didn't, and stayed to "trouble" white settlers, hence his name and the name of the creek by which he lived. He further stated he'd also heard another version that it was so called because of the difficulty in constructing a bridge across it.

Our drive took us on the Cracker Trail. I asked myself "what is a cracker". The word comes from the English word cracker which means boastful. The term is used as a proud or jocular self-description. Since the huge influx of new residents into Florida from the northern parts of the United States and from Mexico and Latin America in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term "Florida Cracker" is used informally by some Floridians to indicate that their families have lived in the state for many generations. It is considered a source of pride to be descended from "frontier people who did not just live but flourished in a time before air conditioning, mosquito repellent, and screens."

The Florida Cracker Trail runs from just east of Bradenton, and ends in Fort Pierce. In years past, this route was used for both cattle and horses. We did, in fact, pass many cattle and quarter horse ranches. The area is very agricultural. There are also many large citrus groves along the route. The fruit on these trees looks ripe to me. Oranges are harvested either by hand (workers climb ladders to reach the fruit) or they are shaken from the trees and then picked up off the ground. I didn't see any actual harvesting happening but November to April is when it usually happens.

I happened to notice this gentleman standing by the side of the road in a little town called Zolfo Springs.  What caught my eye was the LL Bean bag on the top of his cart.  "Start here, go anywhere!"

Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton, FL is a 556 acre park located on the shore of 2,400 acre Lake Manatee.  It is made up of pine flatwoods, Sand Pine scrub,  marshes and hard wood forest.

 There are 60 campsites here.  We have a site that is on the corner of the loop facing a path.  It is fairly private with lots of growth in the buffers.  There are neighbors across the road but they are leaving tomorrow.  Brett happened to meet them just before we went for a bike ride.  The lady of the house is quite a talker.  We had to pretty much back away and get on the bicycle to avoid hearing the second half of their life's story.  I'm sure they are charming folks, just a bit too long winded.

We biked over to the lake for a look.  They keep it stocked with fish and there were a few people out fishing from their boats.  This (like many others in Florida) is a very popular campground on the weekends.  I suppose there will be even more fishermen then.

The edge of the lake is full of pickerel weed.  The roots have rhizomes which allow them to rapidly colonize.  These plants have become invasive in many tropical parts of the globe but they are efficient biological filters of polluted water.  I am absolutely certain that nothing could make me go wading here!

It was warm and humid enough today to run the air conditioning.  We had a brief run in with the power pedestal which kept tripping the circuit but got it figured out and got the place cooled down nicely.  After a little nap, Brett decided that he would like to go out for dinner.  I'm hardly ever one to say no to an invitation of that caliber so off we went.  We found a little place called Michelangelo Pizzeria.  The chefs were definitely Italian (Sicilian I think) and the food was excellent.  We had fried mozzarella, chicken Parmesan and penne with chicken with broccoli.  We had enough left over to make lunch for tomorrow.

So now we are fed and happy and settled into our new spot until Friday.  We'll have things to explore and tales to tell.

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