November 21 - Ponce de Leon, Florida

The rain has gone away. All my stuff is hanging out to dry in the rafters of the gazebo next to my tent. I am at a nearly abandoned commercial campground just off I-10 in Ponce de Leon.

It's very rural out here. The towns have a gas station or two. Ponce de Leon has that plus a laundromat and a couple restaraunts, and a campground and a motel because it has an exit to I-10. The previous town up the road, DeFuniak Springs, has even more, because it is centered on an oddity of nature. There is a great big round lake in the center of town with no streams flowing into it or out of it. I think it is a sinkhole.

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I think the geology in this area is prone to sinkholes, and the water table is not far below the surface. There are signs advertising another campground that features diving in caves or something, but it's about five miles north of here. This is where Ponce de Leon, the first European to visit Florida, was searching for the fountain of youth. There is a big state forest where I camped last night, which consists of Long-leaf Pines and swamps. I rode through that most of the morning.

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I haven't visited Florida in about 20 years. The last visits were for Spring Break in college. I remember driving all night in a carload of friends, and you wake up and it's light outside. Then you get out of the car and open the door, and the air is warm and moist and soft, and it's a shock because it's so different from the frigid northeast winter air you are used to.

Today was the first sensation of Florida air. The sun came up and the clouds thinned a bit and you could feel it. Before today there was wind and rain and humidity with a little chill, even though it was about 70 degrees out. Today the soft moist Florida air was here. It was great.

The weather forecast says no rain until Thursday. Everything is dry, because I was in to camp by 2:00. I pushed it in the morning, motivated by the hope of watching the national broadcast of Our Glorious Baltimore Ravens, but the towns out here are not big enough to support a bar with a TV set.

Here is today's route. There were some easy hills to add variety.

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