Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yo Wimauma!

We're down in FL for Christmas. Yesterday was a great family gathering with assorted Aunts, grandparents, etc. There was no shortage of food and good conversation, and the weather down here is, in a word, warm. While Orange County CA has frost on the roof tops, SeaTac has hip deep snow, and airline delays can be found across much of the country due to unusually harsh winter weather, it's warmer than normal down here, and mostly sunny. I puttered a little yesterday in street clothes, just waving to holiday celebrants, both the 2 and 4 footed varieties. I was up way past my bed time, having become hooked on a TV show, "House." I never watched it, but USA had an all day marathon and between 8 and 11 PM I caught several episodes. You figure eventually they will run out of obscure disorders that only House can divine, and then only after lots of drugs. For now though, it's pretty good acting and some oddball plot twists that keep it interesting. Much better than Kingdom Hospital (Steven King's series) that got silly very quickly.

This morning was not rushed. I enjoyed listening to all the critters. Nana & Papa have 7 acres across from Little Manatee River State Park and get all sorts of wildlife on the property. They have had wild hogs, bobcats, a panther, turtles and snakes. Coral snakes lately, and they are very venomous. They have also collected an assortment of strays that they refer to as "pets." The senior member of their pack is Bootsie, a psychotic cat. Bootsie shares the house with Lady, a Chiuaua who thinks she really is a lady. Talk about a pampered, spoiled dog! She adores Papa and he returns the feeling. The feral garage stray cat, Tank, has now transformed into a neck stole, frequently draping herself around Papa's neck. I'd like that in Winter. In July, not as much.
Now there is Ruby, a Rhode Island Red hen who appeared one day and decided to stay. Tank plays with her. She sleeps in an oak tree and in a bit of gender identity problems, advertises the sunrise the way males of her species are prone to do. She lays very nice eggs (free range!!) when they can be found. She also is not a tidy eater, scratching the leaves and planter mulch completely in her search for tender morsels. And she does not use a litter box, of course.

My morning coffee and animal theater time was followed by a cruise on the old Nasbar criterium bike. It's set up as a country bike with fatso 650B tires and it is geared just right. I really am surprised at how much I like it. Here it is again resting in the shade and leaning against some palmettos.

I intended to ride 16 miles to Big Bend and watch Manatees, but the distance turned out to be a lot more, by the more rural route I took. The wider shoulders and fewer cars were definately the way to go, but I knew I had to keep some energy in reserve for the ride home. I checked out Manatee Airport, Gulf City, and Ruskin, and went on down to the canals leading to Tampa Bay. No manatees there, but it's not cold enough to draw them in yet.

Here's the canal at the end of College Pt Rd. Sleepy and relaxed down there today. The gears on the small chainring are low enough that this bike handles well off road. Race bikes get pretty skittish on anything other than smooth paved roads, so I like being able to go anywhere.

These flags at Southside Baptist church will give you some idea
of the wind. It was gusting to around 20 - 22 and pretty steady in the 15 - 17 range. There is nothing to cut it down along much of the route and of course it was
blowing harder coming in than it was going out. Isn't that ALWAYS the way? Ruskin was a neat little town, with bike lanes! I passes strawberry stands, but I think that it's too early in the season for them to be ripe yet.

Plenty of wildlife today too. A hawk was by the side of the road with something that had recently been caught for his lunch. Great Blue Herons, Tri Color Herons, Egrets, Buzzards of course. A little over 40 miles today and that last pull into the wind, Oy what a good work out. Only 50 miles to make my annual goal!

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