Thursday, December 04, 2008

Day 3: Back to Civilization!

I got lazy typing up my adventures hiking around the Big-O, mostly because all things considered, it wasn't actually that interesting. It was a nice little hike and all, but not the kind of thing I'd normally write home about.

So... day 3, I woke up early enough to see a line of dots in the distance marching towards me. They looked a good mile or so off, so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and join the hikers closer to the beginning of the pack than the end of it like I did last time. Gave me lots of new people to chat with. =)

There was Mark, from Colorado. Apparently, his mom lives in Florida and he was in the area visiting already. There was Phyllis, who I nearly poked her eye out with my umbrella when a gust of wind came along. (I was using it as shade from the sun, but it was a bit windy to use an umbrella.)

The hike was short this day--only about 7 miles from where I started at--and I trudged into the city of Okeechobee and civilization. At this point, I was familiar with the area since I had hiked out to Okeechobee to pick up a maildrop during my thru-hike. I knew where the KOA was that most people were staying out. I knew where the Dairy Queen was, where I had ordered a large strawberry milkshake. I knew where the Wal-Mart was, where I had resupplied last time I was in town. I knew there was a water spigot next to the dike, where I had filled up with water while leaving town. I was in familiar area now! =)

I wondered over to the KOA to find out the setup there. Each day at 4:00, they held a "happy hour" for people to meet up and chat, drink, eat, and do whatever. And each day at 7:00, they had a "mandatory" meeting to discuss the next day of hiking. Mandatory, I guess, unless you sleep out on the dike like I'd been doing and could not attend. =) So I headed to the KOA to find out where all these events were to take place.

Then I headed off for lunch and resupplies. I walked north a few blocks, stopping at Taco Bell for lunch. I really craved that strawberry milkshake, but the DQ was further up the street and I didn't want to walk that far if I didn't have to--and I didn't have to. =) I'd settle for Taco Bell, though.

Then I crossed the street and resupplied at Publix. I didn't really have a preference for where I'd resupply--any large grocery story would have worked equally well--but Publix and Winn-Dixie were the most convenient being the closest (directly across the street from each other), and I went to Publix.

Then I walked back down towards the KOA, stopping at the Flamingo Motel to get myself a room. They had a computer in the lobby with Internet access that I could use, and camping on the hard-packed ground of the KOA (keep in mind, I don't carry a pad to sleep on) didn't seem too appealing.

I took a shower, changed into somewhat cleaner clothes, used the Internet (yes, wassa, I saw that theme you up!), repacked my supplies from Publix into ziplock bags, and shortly before 4:00, headed back out to the KOA for happy hour.

Where everyone brought out bags of chips, dips, and an assortment of drinks and everyone mingled. It was kind of amusing.... a couple of people I talked to didn't realize that I was sleeping on the dike, and when they found out, they'd say something like, "Hey, I saw someone camped out on the dike this morning!" And I'd laugh and say, "Yeah, that was me." =)

I was invited to join a few others for dinner, and we piled into a car and headed off to a pizza place. Alas, it was closed on Mondays. We then stopped at another restaurant--a bar--but changed our minds due to the smokers smelling up the place. Finally we settled on a Mexican restaurant next to the Publix. "You realize," I said, "I could have walked here faster than it took for us to drive here...." =)

The food was good, then we got ourselves back to the KOA just after 7:00 for the mandatory meeting--my first! =)

They discussed the shuttling. How many people needed to be shuttled, how many cars were necessary, when to get going in the morning, yadda, yadda, yadda. I didn't pay a great deal of attention--I planned to sleep in as late as I wanted then hike out of town and camp on the levy. I didn't need no stinking shuttle. =)

They also discussed what sorts of animals everyone saw on the hike that day, who was planning to attend the Thanksgiving dinner at the Clewiston Inn, and miscelleneous tasks like that.

Then the meeting broke up and everyone split. I headed back to my hotel room and watched TV for the rest of the night. =)

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