Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day Two-Hundred-Eighteen, Chattahoochee!

It was another beautiful Florida day.  I am growing ever more fond of this place.  The people are friendly, the weather is fine and the fauna has kept to itself.

I woke in the midst of a billowing fog.  You couldn't see twenty-five feet.  It swirled round the trees and underbrush and left my poor tent sopping wet.  But I packed it up in a cheerful mood.  It was fairly warm outside.  And eerily quiet.  I could hear the birds' feet scraping against the trees.

I had buried myself way back in the shrubs.  It took a while to find my way out.  There were all kinds of stckers and thorns.  I do this to myself all the time.  I go ploughing in and the next morning I can't remember how to get out.  My hobo skills are famous by now but I'm not really much of a woodsman.  If I'm still around, it is only because Nature feels sorry for me.

The fog stuck around for another hour.  It got thicker, if anything.  But I didn't mind.  Traffic was light and 90 is a good road for walking.  I made it to Cypress in under two hours and settled in for a big breakfast.

At a gas station.  It was not very good.  She put too much salt on my grits.  And there was a foreign object in my breakfast biscuit.  I ate it all up anyway.  It was expensive and I needed the calories.  I sat there for almost two hours.  Drinking gallons of icy Coke and recharging my little computer.

The sun was out by the time I left.  I knew it was up there somewhere.  I have faith in Florida.  It was up in the seventies today.  It was if anything a little too warm.  I was chafing just a bit.  It is rather humid, my pants are too big and my poor old pack's missing a strap.  But it all did little to ruin my mood.  Who does not like a summer day?  In Seattle no three days in June are as pretty it was today. 

I hiked on to Grand Ridge.  I didn't stop.  There did not seem to be too much there.  One gas station.  There might be more if you go down to the freeway.  They do seem to be looking forward to greatness though.  They've got the highway all widened.  Beautiful signs welcome visitors to town.  They've even got a traffic light.  If we build it, they will come.  The rest is all vacant lots.

I did stop when I got to Sneads, Florida.  I was not hungry again.  I just liked the name.  It sounds like "thneeds" and reminded me of The Lorax.  It is one of the good doctor's darker books.  It frightened me some as a child.  But it's a good read.  Check it out if you can't find a copy of Horton.

I bought there another big jug of Coke.  It was a very warm day.  And sipped it in front of a gas station, with my computer plugged in next to the ice machine.  I passed a pleasant half hour staring at traffic and chatting with the young woman who works there.  I think her name was Kayla.  She was about as big as a Who.

From there it was down past the ACI, the Apalachee Correctional Institute.  A vast prison complex surrounded by farms.  It was right out of Brubaker.  Every county in Florida has its own prison.  Every town has its own jail.  I've seen dozens of parole offices and orange-suited prison work crews.  It is big business here, a significant part of the state's economy.  They ought to rethink.  It's bad karma to lock so many folks up.

I've had all sorts of warnings about Florida.  They said they would be after me.  But none of the cops have shown much interest.  I guess I'm not hobo enough.  I was for that stupid woman in Mississippi who threatened to shoot me locked me in the back of her car.  I hope karma poops on her head.

All the great walkers have been persecuted.  Except Art Garfunkel.  Find your own meaning in that.

The prison sits next to a vast swampy stretch.  The highway is elevated here.  For a mile or two.  It is still plenty wide but twenty feet off the ground.  I kept an eye out for crocodiles.  I think I might have spotted a nostril.

It got a little hairy where the road crossed the Apalachiola, which is what Floridians call the Chattahoochee River.  It sure was pretty though.  Some few hundred yards upstream is a dam, and beyond that a lake.  Downstream were the remnants of the old highway bridge, all covered with moss and weeds.  I didn't get any pictures.  I was just trying to stay alive.

Bridges are not my favorite part of Walking Across America.

After that it was straight uphill to beautiful Chattahoochee, home of the Florida State Hospital, a loony bin.  It is one of the best looking town I've passed through.  The hospital is in the center of town.  The rest is all trees and old buildings.  I walked right through but would have been glad to stay longer.  I liked the feel of the place.

Florida State Hospital was instrumental in O'Connor v. Donaldson, one of my favorite Supreme Court decisions.  It's the one that says they can't lock you up for being a little weird.

The place goes on for miles and miles.  I'm camped in the woods nearby.  I hear fireworks going off.  Happy New Year, by the way.  I had more to say but I haven't the juice.  Don't mix your liquors.  Peace.

I'M IN A new time zone.  Eastern, I think it's called.  My last on this trip.

GEORGIA sits half a mile north of here.  I may visit it tomorrow.  Then again, I won't have enough power to take a picture, so forget it.  Sorry Georgia.

I DATED a crazy girl once.  There is nothing funny about mental illness.  And it snores.

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