Day 531 – USA (FLORIDA): From just outside Cross City to near Keaton Beach

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 42 miles
Average speed / 平均速度: 6.8mph
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 6h 21m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 1307mi (plus 266mi)
Ascent / 上り: negligible
Descent / 下り: negligible
End-of-day GPS coordinates: n/a

I spent last night in a very chilly campsite in my tent in some woods just outside of Cross City on the north side. Within moments of getting out of my tent, the condensation on the inner walls of the rainfly on the tent was frozen into a layer of ice. This morning is the beginning of the cold snap that was forecast earlier this week. I was quickly wishing I had more layers to wear, and imagined all the nasty things I could possibly write to, concerning the mis-shipping of a down vest that had been ordered on my behalf by Carlos, an avid 14degrees Blog reader. The wrong size has been sent to me (no fault of Carlos), the replacement item wasn’t even a vest, and the correct item has been sent to the wrong place.

Chilly morning near Cross City, Florida, USA

I wrapped up as much as I could, however, and despite my cheeks and nose feeling as though they would freeze off, once the sun came up I was feeling better about life.

The strong north-west wind was brutal all day, and despite the sun, I had trouble staying warm throughout the day. I began battling the headwind front-on along highway 19, but after an hour of that carry-on, came across a smaller road heading west that was just to inviting to pass up. Brand new black-top, sheltered on both sides by thick pine plantations, the road was not even indicated on my map.

The road, County Highway 358, led me to the small settlement of Steinhatchee, on the banks of another brown tannin-stained river. I stopped in at the only grocery store in town, and got a large cup of hot chocolate to warm myself up with. As I was sipping it outside, sheltered from the wind and in the sunlight, Greg, the grocery’s chief meat cutter, struck up a conversation. He was finishing work at 12 noon, and would be back home in Keaton Beach, about 17 miles from Steinhatchee for the rest of the day. He told me to come by his house on my way past and pick up some jerky he had made himself. With the headwind against me, I told him it would take me about three hours to get there. I wasn’t too far wrong – it took me all of three and a half hours, including breaks, to cover that 17 miles.

Halfway to Greg’s place, I found some shelter behind a state park warden’s hut near the highway, where I had lunch – peanut butter sandwiches. Two state park wardens were there, measuring up a very recently dead black bear that had been hit by a car. The black bear is protected in Florida, so any incidents such as this have to be recorded. The occupants of the car were halfway through skinning the bear when the wardens came upon the incident.

Dead black bear near Perry, Florida, USA

By the time I arrived at Greg’s place, it was almost dark. He invited me in, and I met his wife Donna. A semi-retired couple in their late fourties, they live in what is called a mobile home. If they really wanted to, they could put wheels on the house and have it towed to a different location. There are many of these homes in this area, some more ‘homely’ than others, Greg and Donna’s place certainly being one of the more homely ones.

A deck has been added out front, and a screened in patio out the back. Inside a modern kitchen is where Greg spends a lot of his time, doing most of the cooking at home. In the above photo, the warden on the right is Dan, from Perry. He had offered for me to stay at his place tonight, and at the time I was certain I would make it to Perry by nightfall. However, by the time I was going to head out the door at Greg and Donna’s it was already dark, and they offered for me to stay in their trailer outside – a large 23foot behemoth of a camping trailer. This sounded a much saner proposition than having to skate in the dark, so I ended up staying at Greg and Donna’s.

One thing that I have noticed in this area, is that all the houses are on stilts. Even large apartment blocks like the one in the left of the photo below. This, I have learned, is because if the tidal surges that come along with hurricanes in the area. The house has to be up off the ground, or it will be flooded. All new houses must be built this way here. Locals I have spoken to think that it doesn’t really help; the tidal surge washes away the foundations, causing the house to collapse anyway. With houses at only 1 or 2 metres above high tide line, I can see why any extreme weather would threaten real estate here.

Keaton Beach, Florida, USA

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