This section is not at all what it sounds like. I was expecting 30 miles of walking on sidewalks. More than half of it is still in the woods
Back on Trail
One of the advantages of a hotel are better options for coffee. In this case, Starbucks. Just as I did before, I got a Starbucks coffee and drank very little of it. The rest is going into my coffee bottle for this afternoon.
Another quick Uber trip to Oviedo, and I am back at the pizza shop. Traffic is pretty brisk as people are rushing to work. It is right around 8am.
After only two blocks, the trail heads into a wooded section. There is a 20 to 50 ft buffer of woods between the trail and people’s back yards. You can tell this is an abandoned railroad. These are my favorite kind of urban trails.
Every few miles, there is a creek of some sort to pass, and the original trestles are usually in place or replaced with something more elaborate.
At road crossings, the trail has the right of way. The cars have stop signs. This is an uncommon thing on rail trails, but it is a nice touch.
Where the road crossings are really large, like SR 17-92, the trail has a dedicated pedestrian bridge over the road. I did not count them, but I am guessing there were eight or ten of them today. The most famous of them is the bridge over I-4, which is a very large suspension bridge.
About half way through the day, the railroad bed does run out and sidewalks return. But it is still a designated bike path, the Cross Seminole Trail. The sidewalks are still over twelve feet wide, but they now follow roads instead of back yards.
I was expecting a convenience store on every block, but this is still primarily residential. It never really got very commercial until the last mile before crossing I-4.
But even in this second half, sometimes the trail would leave the roads and enter a remote pathway under power lines, for example. These are not cool and shaded, but they are quiet and more scenic as long as you can ignore the endless string of giant poles.
You would think it is easy to follow a bike path in a city, but sometimes not so much. I got lost twice by missing turns. I went a quarter mile past my turn each time I missed one, so I had about one bonus mile today.
When I got back on track, there was signage indicating the turn, but they are easy to miss when the same sidewalk keeps going. The second time was even when I was expecting for a turn to come up . I think I was just expecting a larger intersection for the turn.
The same thing happens on the wilderness trails, too. You may miss a double blaze telling you to turn, or there may not be a blaze. But usually in the woods it does not take long to realize you are not on the correct path. It just takes a little longer on sidewalks.
Services on the Route
This section is famous for it being among many services so you don’t have to carry any food. But it is hot enough you do need to carry some water.
About half of the services are convenience stores within a block of the trail. Most of these are early on.
The other half are strip malls that have walk in dining options. Most of these are in the second half.
There are also some water fountains, or bottle filling stations near the end. There is a park early on with a public restroom with flush toilets. Fancy.
One of the places I have been looking forward to stopping at is a place called Mama’s Empanadas. My schedule puts me there right at noon. How perfect! But when I get there, the business has closed. A post in the app indicates she retired last month and closed for good. Disaster!
There are two convenience stores within a block, but there is also a new Subway next door, so I go there. It is a far cry from yummy empanadas.
Near the end of the day I stop in a Jason’s Deli for a cookie and a drink. It is getting quite warm today. I had some sort of pomegranate drink that was good, but the mountain of ice made it even better.
Finish the Day
The plan was to reach the Lake Mary Marriott at 3pm. Karen was to leave at 1pm to get there about 3:15 or so. But in typical Karen fashion, she left at 12:30 and got there at 2:40. I think she is some kind of Uber German.
When I get her text, I have just backtracked from the latest missed turn and am about 1 mile away. I have only about 3/4 of a mile across the I-4 bridge connector, then a quarter mile up the road. The day is almost done.
Crossing the pedestrian bridge is very cool. The ramps up and down squiggle all over the place. You get a good view for about a mile all around up there.
It doesn’t take long to get to the hotel and I can see Karen’s FJ Cruiser and Karen inside of it. Home, at last! At least home for the next day.
Emotion of the Day
From the very first steps in Oviedo all the way to the hotel parking lot, it was just an exciting day.
It was exciting to be hiking on a very top notch rail trail in the morning. I was excited to be eating empanadas for lunch, even though I did not end up being able to.
It was exciting to finally hike the Orlando hike I have heard about for decades.
And it was exciting to be able to be with Karen again after only three weeks, but it seems like much longer.