Big Bend country?! Did we take a wrong turn and go to Texas?! - Garfield and Tango Travel the Long and Winding Road - CycleBlaze

March 27, 2022

Big Bend country?! Did we take a wrong turn and go to Texas?!

Tallahassee bike day

Another gorgeous day in Tally and perfect for a ride. It still started out a bit chilly so we weren't able to get out on the road until nearly noon. Today's pick was to return to yesterday's parking spot on the St Mark's trail and do a loop that would take us to Wakulla Springs State Park. It would be a mix of trails and roads through Florida's Big Bend country which is a region where the state curves up and around the Gulf.

The first section was south again on the trail until we reached highway 98 where we made our turn, this time onto another trail we discovered that paralleled the road. According to the sign, this was part of the Florida Trail which is a National Scenic Trail that currently spans 1400 miles from the Everglades to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It is designed as a hiking trail similar to the Appalachian Trail. 

I found out later that the path along the highway was also known as the Coastal Trail that traveled west with about 12 miles completed so far. It was nice to be off of the busy road though there was a shoulder available to ride. 

We made several other turns onto more side roads which had no shoulders and a mix of traffic levels. Those took us into the woods and past lots of homes that would appear out of nowhere in the trees. The undergrowth is so thick here that you really can't see very far, so you never know if it's hiding a Walmart or house  or a swamp. Eventually we made our way to Wakulla Springs State Park which was a historic site I had flagged to visit. 

This state park has the world's largest and deepest freshwater spring that's rimmed by a cypress swamp. Several movies were filmed here, from Tarzan's Secret Treasure to Creature from the Black Lagoon to Airport '77. Indian artifacts as well as dinosaur bones have been found in the area.

Today visitors can swim in a shallower section, take a guided boat tour or hike on several trails. You can also stay in the historic Mediterranean Revival lodge that was built in 1935 by Edward Ball.

While Don stayed outside to baby sit the bike and ogle the bathing beauties (most of whom shouldn't have been wearing a bikini!) while I walked around inside to look at the ornate lobby with tiles surrounding one door and decorative paintings on the ceiling. Tennessee marble was used throughout from the floors to the counters. The world's longest known marble bar at 70 ft. was installed in the gift shop where it's still in use at the soda fountain. 

The park was a nice break spot but we had to move on as it was time to get home. Back on the bike we rode several miles before reconnecting with the St. Mark's trail and our parking spot. In the sun it was quite hot so we were happy to have found shade on the trail. By 4 we were back in camp and trying to cool off before cooking dinner.

Tonight we experimented with grilling the octopus we'd purchased yesterday, which had quite a lengthy cooking process starting with pounding the tentacles to tenderize them before cooking them for an hour in boiling water (trying not to let the water boil over), to finally charring them on the grill. 

The end result was good and the meat was tender so we might do it another time. Or maybe just pay the price for them in a restaurant and let the cooks there do all of the work! 

Dang, we always miss the good ones! We'll be leaving Tally April 6.
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Unfortunately this was the only manatee we would see today. It's the wrong time of year for them to be in Wakulla Springs.
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Good to get a warning, but it wasn't needed today.
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The trail we took along Highway 98 was signed as part of the Florida Trail.
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Wakulla Springs State Park was an interesting stop today.
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The inside of the Wakulla Springs lodge was ornate yet very understated with lots of Spanish/Mediterranean influence.
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The lobby of the lodge had a painted ceiling (more pics coming later).
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i had read that the color of Wakulla Springs was sapphire blue but it looked black to me. Maybe that's why they filmed Creature of the Black Lagoon here. The kids were enjoying the water today.
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Today's ride: 27 miles (43 km)
Total: 312 miles (502 km)

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