Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Camping Trip In Which We Find The Lost City Of Palatka

We found a sweet spot of good weather in January where Paul, Steve and I were off and able to take a few days for the woods. It was Princess Place Preserve, that primitive Florida wilderness where you can pretend that you are way back in time. No electricity, no fresh water and the restrooms are port-o-lets. We've learned how to deal with this because there is just about nowhere nicer in Florida than this place if you enjoy nature...this time of year anyhow. 
Steve had his trucktop tent, while Paul and I had our large family tents, which are like mansions compared to what we use backpacking. We had decided that this was to be the year of epic cycling, and had our eyes on the newly opened section of the trail in Palatka, which is about 40 minutes from Princess Place, and we were excited about spending a day going for a record of 65 miles on our recumbent cycles.
Of the 3 of us, Paul is the minimalist, and comes only with what he needs. Most of that will fit in 3 boxes in the back of his truck. Steve comes with a truckload of new toys and backups for each one.
Me? I'm like a rocket capsule loaded with experiments. First job of the day was to stop by the Sunglow pier in Daytona Beach and see what I could do in the small glassy waves on my inflatable paddleboard. It was a very interesting morning. I had on my light wetsuit, which was quite warm in the morning foggy air, but the minute I put my foot in the water, I knew why I had to wear it.  The surf was okay, but I got out there, got wet and proved that my inflatable board could catch waves.
The big score was I found the secret little beach spot in south Daytona that had showers, bathrooms and free parking...near the Sunglow Pier!
Next it was on to Princess Place Preserve and our secluded spot right on the water of the marshlands. Even the drive into the park was awesome as deer bounded around my car, as if to welcome me back. I met up with the boys, got my stuff set up and we took off towards the exotic community of Palm Coast to get a 20 mile warm-up bicycle ride in before the big ride the next day.
I decided a really good lunch was necessary, while Steve and Paul wanted fastfood. I split the difference with Paul and Steve when they spotted a place that had BBQ in large letters on the front. It looked more like a fancy café from the outside, but I figured fancy BBQ worked for me. Little did we know that this was a Portuguese BBQ restaurant and it was packed with the upwardly mobile retirement crowd. Fortunately, the hostess found a small table for us, and we proceeded to pour over the menus, trying to find something that sounded good, and that wasn't as easy as you might think. I basically tried to find something under $15 in the sandwich section and settled on "cheeseburger". My brothers pretty much did the same thing, picking the simplest items they could find on the menu. We placed our orders with a pleasant and patient waitress that didn't seem to mind Paul's interrogation about whether pickle juice would ever get near his plate in the foodmaking process and if she could swear that the cook would not use pepper for anything the rest of the day. Things were relaxed and we had a great time, talking about what we were going to do, until I finally realized that we had been waiting for almost an hour for time I'm going to pay attention when a restaurant is really busy and everybody is drinking and nobody is eating.
Later, Paul had his best I-told-you-so moment when I admitted $4 spent at Wendy's would have beat the Portuguese BBQ place by a mile...It's going to be a long time before I get to pick a restaurant with this group!

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