Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

State: Florida

When I arrived in Saint Augustine I had some business to attend too.

The first stop on my list was Wells Fargo. As most of you know, I started a new account with them because they have the most locations in the US. Which makes it easier for me on the road. I had to adjust my savings plan, because with the bigger banks they look for a way to charge you a monthly fee for having an account with them, but they also give you options to avoid it.

It was the option I needed to switch. Currently, it was set to as long as I had $300 in my savings, I wouldn’t get charged the fee. The problem I had was all the new equipment I am buying for my tactical change when I head up to Maine (New lighter backpack, solar panel, powerful external battery, and tablet with keyboard to type faster and not have to write all my stories on my phone). Needless to say, I will have less than $300.

So I switched to another savings option. Every time I use my debit, a dollar is put into my savings. Helps me save and avoid the monthly fee.

My next order of business was Steak and Shake!!!

Ever since I worked down in Port Saint Lucie and ate at my first Steak and Shake, any time I see one, I usually stop there to eat.

My waitress was instantly curious about my backpack and I told her the usual about my trip.

“That’s super super cool. Well, what can I get you to drink?” Didi asked.

“Large glass of lemonade,” I said.

“Coming right up,” Didi said.

While I looked at the menu, the fellow sitting across from me turned around and asked about me trip. I told him more about what I was doing and then Didi returned.

“Lemonade’s on me. You ready?”

“Thank you and yup, I’ll get the guac burger.”

I talked with Mike (the fellow sitting across from me) for a while longer. I learned that he had lived in Key West for around 20 years and met his wife down there. He gave me some cool suggestions of places to check out in Florida, which I will likely hit up on my 2nd Florida trip.

After I ate, I headed out to my next stop: the library.

I was distraught to find out where it was because it meant I would have to backtrack about 5 miles to find a decent place in the woods to camp, but I needed water and power, plus I wanted to find out what happened in Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.

When I arrived, I spent a few hours of charging my tech and reading. Then I began my backtrack to the state park.

However, I got distracted by the Fountain of Youth. I mean $15 bucks for eternal youth, that’s just a gimme.

The Fountain of Youth park was very cool. It had lots of tame Peacocks roaming around. The guides gave great history lessons about the native tribes that lived there and when the Spanish arrived. They even had a live old school cannon firing.

After the last cannon fired, I looked and saw how late it was getting and how angry the sky looked. I booked it toward the state park, begging the rain to hold off just a little while longer…it didn’t.

Luckily, I’ve got a rain poncho that can cover me and my backpack. I eventually just said screw it and dove into a little patch of woods only a few yards from the road, when I found out I was still 2 miles from the state park.

The following day the weather hadn’t improved much and looked like it wasn’t sure if it wanted to rain or not.

I hiked and checked out the Great Cross and then a few of the older buildings.

After a few hours of hiking, I headed back to the library for one last charge and water refill before my journey to Jacksonville (where I’ll be flying out of on April 19th).

I also finished Mr. Mercedes. Only took my five or six libraries.

After I left the library, I hiked till 4:00pm and then set up camp. However, what I didn’t realize is not only was a fairly close to the road (US 1 no less), but also some train tracks on the other side of the woods I was staying.

I nearly had a heart attack when the train whistle blew at 4:00am.

So didn’t sleep well that night.

In the morning I was slow to get going, but I managed somehow. I threw on some tunes and pretty soon I was feeling good…until I realized that I’d left the awesome carved walking stick a friend gave me back where I’d camped.

I had already walked around 2 miles away. My camp had no immediate entrance or sign I was there…

Yeah, I went back for it. Took me awhile to remember where it was, but I found it.

By the time I reached where I was in the morning, I had already traveled 6 miles. Combined with next to no sleep, I wasn’t feeling great.

But then I stopped at this place called The Spot Cafe.

“That looks heavy,” the waitress said.

“Bout 60 pounds, but I started with 90,” I said and then told her about my trip.

I ordered a large breakfast. Fried Catfish, over easy eggs, toast, grits, a side of bacon, and a large glass of lemonade.

I need to take a second and tell you about the bacon. It was hands down the best I’ve ever had. Not those rubber thin pieces you get at motels and some restaurants, but thick cut and juicy deliciousness. The way bacon is supposed to be made.

The waitresses (Stephanie and Brenda) told me the owner wanted them to get a picture with me for their Facebook page to show that I stopped by, which I happily did.

The Spot Cafe is on US 1 near Saint Augustine. Stop in if you want to try some world-class bacon! And Check out their Facebook page and give them a like too 🙂

I then headed out stuffed and extra sleepy…and got caught in the rain once again, because neither the sky nor the weather app could decide what they wanted to do.

So I just decided to just call it an early day and catch up on some rest.

However, I realized the camp I chose was close to a small airport and the planes were flying  right over me…

Luckily, this was just during the day. I slept pretty decent that night.

Today I got up with a mind-set that I needed to make some miles.

I hiked using my old method of 1 hour on and 30 minutes off and it worked, but I won’t even lie. I’m sick of the weight. It wouldn’t be so bad except at the beginning of the trip when my backpack went through the airport, the hip belt got broken. Since then nearly all the weight has been on my shoulders and they yell at me for it constantly.

I stopped in a dollar general and made the mistake of shopping hungry, which is big no no if you’re already carrying 60+lbs.

After scarfing as much food as I could to reduce the weight I was adding to my already full backpack, I hiked a few more miles and stopped at burger king, not for food but for power, since my phone and external charger were nearly out.

Once they were charged, I headed out and continued to make up some miles.

On one of my breaks as I was crossing a culvert, I noticed about a 3ft gator sunning itself on the bank.

I went to the side it was on and kept out of it’s sight.

“At last,” I thought as I powered on my phone to get a picture of it before I went to catch it.

Then for no reason I could see, it darted back into the water.

“Oh come on!” I said.

I sat there for a good while on my break watching the water hoping for another chance, when from underneath the culvert an 8 foot gator shot out, not after me because I was on the far bank.

He was going after that smaller one I saw earlier. The 8 footer chased the smaller one out of the reeds it had been hiding in and then lost it as it dove into the murky depths. The 8 footer then disappeared as well.

It was a great show while I was eating my lunch.

There is nothing like seeing the animals you grew up watching on tv in person.

“Next time,” I thought as I walked away.

I hiked a few more hours and then bedded down into likely the last set of woods of my Florida trip because the next two days will take me through the heart of Jacksonville.

I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped me on my journey so far. You are what makes this trip special. Thank you and God Bless.

Forever your Friend,

~The Outsider

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