The Other Side of the Lake

This morning was all business. PJ flies back in at the end of the month and the campground didn’t have availability for the entire time. I had the site booked until the day she flies in so I’d have to find a place to go then move both vehicles and try to have that set up by the time she lands at JAX. I’ve been trolling the Hanna Campground website daily hoping for cancellations. This morning, I tried searching day by day rather than a block of days and found two open sites for the day she gets in. Cali and I did a quick recon then we sat at an open bench and booked it on the iPad. After that, there were four other sites that would be available through the New Years holiday, an additional four days. I jumped on the bike and sped around the reserve trying to discern which space has the best attributes always fearing some other schmoe might be booking it as I’m pedaling around in circles. I picked the best of the bunch and we are set into 2019. I even booked a few more locales further south for after we leave. Florida’s looking to be a challenge since it is such a popular destination. Not as comfortable just waiting to see where tomorrow brings us. Rather not end up in the Walmart parking lot.

Since the bike was already warmed up, I decided to haul the handful of Christmas cards that I’d written down to the post office in Atlantic Beach, about 5 miles down Mayport Rd. It’s a busy road with zero space for bikes but it has a big wide sidewalk with very few pedestrians so I did the salmon and rode against traffic until I reached the post office and posted my mail. A few blocks up on the way back was Sub Culture, a hip little sandwich shop run by a bunch of wannabe Rasta hipster kids. I ordered up a veggie sub and ate half of it on the benches out front. Super tasty hoagie made with good intentions by the cool kids or maybe just that they were all stoned and made it as if they had the munchies and were going to eat it themselves.

I pushed it hard for the park and had to talk my way back in. They are serious about not letting any non-paying slackers into the park. The guy at the kiosk made me go into the office and get verified. Next time carry the car pass if you go out biking. I checked the surf at the poles. A pair of longboarders were charging the one foot sets. From there, I raced along the entry road checking the various parking lots and beach accesses. I parked it for a while at lot 11 closest to the campground and sat on the rail watching the wind come up and the clouds roll in. Big storm coming tonight. I finished the other half of my sandwich and enjoyed sitting in the salt air.

A few roads further into the park is the dirt lane into the back side of the lake where I walk Cali in the mornings. We always see it from afar, so I pumped the pedals on over there and rode around having a look. There’s a big playground in that section so lots of kids and families were running about having fun. A group of special needs folks, stroke survivors and such, were just returning from a kayaking adventure put on by a group of volunteers. I talked to a couple of the guys for a few minutes about the general area. They told me there are still alligators out and around. In fact, he’d just seen some young ones over by the back ponds.

I went on a full on gator search but failed to spot a single reptile. I checked the front pond, the back pond and anywhere wet in between but no luck. I said “Lord, show me an alligator.” And he said “I’ve got it right here next to your shark tooth.” One thing they do have plenty of here in the wetlands is birds. Hawks, herons, aquatic birds of all kinds and a pack of vultures warning you off from swimming in the lake. “Swim here and you’ll be seeing me later” I think was the message he was trying to send me. A good part of the day had passed and I figured Cali might be wondering where I was at.

I zipped back to camp and we went for a long stroll around the forest. The two groups of noisy tenters that arrived yesterday disappeared as quickly as they’d come. Several other nearby folks pulled out also and one large bus arrived and parked itself up down at the end. Still lots of elbow room. This has been a pretty cool place to hang now that the puddles have dried up. Oh yeah, big rain on the way again tonight, maybe it won’t be as heavy as they say. I put anything we’d set up outside away and covered the bikes. Talked to PJ on the phone and watched the finale of Survivor after a hot shower in the Winnebago. Roughing it in the boondocks.

4 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Lake

  1. Hi, Mike. Well, you had a busy day! I’m glad you’re ahead of the game and got your sites booked into next year. I hope PJ’s mom is ok. I don’t want to call her and take her away from helping Mom, but we’ve been thinking of her and I’m sure God has told her that. Thanks for the great narratives and pics. Vultures are nasty, ugly birds, aren’t they? Hope you missed the rainy weather. We’re expecting it tomorrow. Stay well. Love, Meema

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  2. It’s me again! PJ came to KIS today and it was so great to see her. It’s too bad that her mom got ill but PJ is handling it well. She looks well rested and we’re glad to have her back and will look forward to the day that the two of you come in together. Love, Meema

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  3. Hi Mike, Happy you found sites into New Year! PJ came today and sat next to me, we had nice chat. She looks great! Told her to rest before Mom comes home. Love and miss you! K

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  4. Bird pics are incredible Babe! I am in awe of your photography especially considering the quality of the camera you are using. You are so good at All you do!!!! Guess that is one of the thousands of reasons why I married you 4 years ago today!!! Love you with all my heart ♥️ And more!!!

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