Georgia's Jewel

As very good fortune, indeed, would have it, the first cool spell in many months arrived on the same morning that we found ourselves camped out on the Georgia coast in Crooked River State Park. A short drive later and we were ready to launch on one seriously beautiful trails ride around Georgia's Jekyll Island. The causeway approach to the island, carpeted on both sides with fabulous wildflower stands that seemed endless, let you know that you were nearing something very special and the view from atop the last bridge onto the island revealed the magical crowns of very old timber.

The fact that it is an island, inherently eliminates through traffic, but there seemed to be additional factors at play that affected the general feel of what little traffic there was. The entire island moves at a slower pace and vehicle operators of all types exhibit more courtesy toward one another. Riding on trails designed and designated for cycling is nice enough, but add to that formula laws that impose serious, finite limitations on development and the result is purely delightful. This place is quite the jewel!

Even though we had set aside only a few hours for the experience, it was amazing to see how many completely different riding surfaces and settings could be enjoyed in the 20 mile trip around the island. Everything from smooth asphalt to concrete to crushed stone to coquina to dirt, not to mention wooden bridges and gnarley roots could be ridden upon while viewing sea oats, sand dunes, the Atlantic, windblown scrub oaks, palmetto, salt marshes, residential areas, historic structures beneath magnificent live oaks. Birds were everywhere and the Monarch butterfly was approaching pest status. Restaurants, restrooms, shops, hotels, and camping were all easy to find.

Simply put, this one calls for another visit on the schedule, soon!

O\vo~

Nature Coast - beneath the raindrops

OK. So you were right about staying home. Today was not the best choice for riding weather. I braved it anyway and got along fairly well until just before arriving in Fanning Springs. It began to be apparent then that the rest of the trip was going to be damp. Of course, it wasn't cold, but I can assure you it was also not dry. It rained all the way to Chiefland and sprinkled most of the way back. And yet, just when I thought I had the trail all to myself, I actually did overtake another lone rider making his way north out of Chiefland.

The wildflowers, quiet, and comfortable temperature easily made the trip worthwhile, even with the occasional thought of the unavoidable payback... the cleanup. Just like with a horse, getting put up wet is not the best plan of action. So, one of the things to do indoors, when it is not so nice outdoors, is clean, dry, and lube the machine.

I can always count on the staff of the Office of Greenways and Trails. The trail, apart from being quite wet, was in its usual state of excellent repair and the facilities, available at both ends of my trip, were clean, equipped, and accessible.

And so goes another fine day on three wheels.

October - Florida Greenways & Trails Month

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) is promoting October, 2007 as Florida Greenways & Trails month. Now in its eighth year, this program is designed to focus attention on the conservation and recreation resources of Florida’s greenways and trails, involve Floridians in creating and using these great natural resources, and encourage partnerships that support our mission to create a statewide system of greenways and trails.

Their goal (OGT) is to have each county in Florida host at least one Greenways & Trails Month event during October. Festivities may include dedications or openings, educational exhibits or workshops, trail rides or races, trail blazing, clean-ups or any activities connected to greenways and trails. If your community or organization would like to sponsor or coordinate an event, OGT will post the activities on its website where you can find registration forms.

For additional information, contact Kirk.Marhefka@dep.state.fl.us.