Trail Day! Wild Horses and Spring Life

Trail Day with Wild Horses Spring Adventures

Yesterday J and I decided to bike the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail (and by “J and I decided” I mean I dragged him along). The trail is about 16 miles and one of the only Florida bike trails I’ve been on with actual hills. It did nothing to help my calf strain, but was still worth it. We entered through the Boulware Springs Park entrance and rode toward Hawthorne (I think). The older gentlemen at the beginning of the trail told us which way we should go to head near the path I wanted.

My real goal yesterday was to see alligators. There’s a section of the trail that’s right next to a large body of water where gators sunbathe and swim just a couple feet from the path. We didn’t realize you couldn’t take your bikes along the path, so we’ll just have to go again with a bike lock next time. Oh, darn! 😉 I’ve seen photos of park visitors getting up-close and personal with boars, bison, and more. The horses we saw were a nice compensation, but next time my goal is at least an alligator.

All that aside, the trail is beautiful! The trees are starting to bloom again and the weather is perfect. We shared the trail with a ton of bikers, walkers and joggers out to capitalize on the nice weather while it lasts.  If you’re near Gainesville, this is a must-visit location. We drove about an hour and a half to get there and it didn’t disappoint! The ride was so nice that it It makes me want to do the MS Cycle to the Shore again this year, so I can see more of Florida from my bike seat. It’s in October, so maybe I’ll be cleared by PT to do it.  Here’s hoping!

Here’s some of the photos we took on the trail. You can click on the photos below to learn more.

The Sweetwater Overlook is a great stop on the trail. The single bench overlooks a large expanse of the Paynes Prairie Preserve.

The Sweetwater Overlook is a great stop on the trail. The single bench overlooks a large expanse of the Paynes Prairie Preserve.

We saw wild horses. They just schmoozed for a while.

We saw wild horses. They just schmoozed for a while.

Another stop on the trail was the Alachua Overlook. The small boardwalk-like overhang looks out across the wetlands. Boars, donkeys, horses, and more can usually be found roaming the area.

Another stop on the trail was the Alachua Overlook. The small boardwalk-like overhang looks out across the wetlands. Boars, donkeys, horses, and more can usually be found roaming the area.

More wetlands.

More wetlands.

It was just too pretty not to take pictures!

It was just too pretty not to take pictures!

The trees on either side of the trail are covered in these caterpillar nests. This nest was "hatching" as we passed by.

The trees on either side of the trail are covered in these caterpillar nests. This nest was “hatching” as we passed by.

There were so many caterpillars that came out.

There were so many caterpillars that came out.

You can see some of the dead area still.

You can see some of the dead area still.

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The entrance to the park had done a controlled burn at some point and new life was starting to come out with the Spring weather.

The entrance to the park had done a controlled burn at some point and new life was starting to come out with the Spring weather.

J was the responsible one and put the bikes back on the car while I took pictures of the burn area. Notice his "why are you taking my picture" face? Yeah, I snuck one of him too!

J was the responsible one and put the bikes back on the car while I took pictures of the burn area. Notice his “why are you taking my picture” face? Yeah, I snuck one of him too!

Here's a better view of that face I was talking about.

Here’s a better view of that face I was talking about.

 What adventures did you take this weekend?

Till next time!

April @ fitandfancylife Signature

The 5 [real] dangers of running in the dark in Florida

 

The 5 dangers of running in Florida in the dark

Personal safety is something every jogger should know. There’s tons of personal protection for joggers out there and articles urging people to be alert at all times. This is not exactly one of those articles.

This article goes out to all the Florida joggers who got together and decided not to talk about the real dangers of running in Florida in the dark. Have you become so used to dealing with these dangers that you didn’t think to warn a girl? Let me take the time to remind you, and enlighten anyone else, about the five most dangerous things I’ve found running in the dark in Florida.

Mosquitoes: Satan’s Flying Monkeys
These evil minions of Hell come into their peak evil between April and October. They are tiny (if you’re lucky), quick, and efficient blood-suckers. Don’t let people lie to you about these tiny pests by saying something like, “If you could run faster than a turtle, they’d leave you alone.” Lies! These pint-sized piranhas travel solo and in swarms because they know they’re capable of attacking you while on the move. Wear bug spray like it’s the sexiest running cologne you’ve ever had the pleasure to sniff. Stuff your bras with marigolds, catnip, and lemon anything to naturally repel mosquitoes and fellow hunky runners. Beware, be prepared.

Living Landmines
Perhaps Floridians don’t find enough pleasure in being surrounded on three sides by water, because there seems to be a need to have man-made ponds on practically every corner. In my apartment complex alone, there are three man-made ponds and one natural pond.

In the light of day, these bodies of water can be serene spots to enjoy with your sweetheart. By night however, these bodies of water are like beacons for a jogger’s stealthiest foes. What are these stealthy foes? Creatures. Little critters of the wetlands that come out at night to sit in the moonlight all over the sidewalks. Frogs, worms, and snakes are nature’s landmines. Jog too fast and you risk stepping on one of these beasties. Jog too slow and you might as well be walking. Should you step on one of the creatures of the night, you will go straight to Jogger Hell. Beware, be prepared.

Recycled Water Lasers
A recycled water sprinkler system sounds like an awesome idea to help with water shortages, right? It’s not. Recycled water turns your morning run into a recreation of the Matrix. Jumping, dodging, and suddenly developing the ability to do the moonwalk away from straying poop lasers are everyday occurrences to sidewalk joggers. Once you’re hit, you will smell like recycled water until you get home and shower. The smell even lingers in the air. If you were lucky enough to miss the actual watering, you can still feel like you were there by the stench it left behind. Yay! Your only hope in surviving these poop-sprays is if your bug spray is strong enough to coat your senses. Beware, be prepared.

Cold-Blooded Dinosaurs: The World’s Oldest Assholes
What’s one of the worst parts of running in the dark in Florida, you might ask? Gators. We’ve all heard horror stories about Florida’s gators. In fact, we’re so famous for gators we named our most beloved college athletic team after them.* When you have so many swamps, ponds, and sunshine you’re bound to attract these cold-blooded dinosaurs. They’re not usually hard to avoid. They tend to be large and hang around bodies of water. It’s  safe to say that if you stay away from their water, they’ll stay away from you.

However, even the world’s oldest assholes need a little love. Mating season, which lasts approximately from mid-April to May, is a dangerous time for running enthusiasts. During this time joggers, drivers, and anyone who likes to step into their own backyard should be wary. These massive A-holes are so desperate for love, and due in part to humans destroying their habitats to build more crap, they tend to pop up just about anywhere. Early mornings and late evenings may be perfect for joggers looking to beat the heat, but the darkness also provides great camouflage for gators snoozing near the sidewalk. Beware, be prepared.

Serenade Of The Sulcatas And Other Noisy Street Neighbors
If you’ve ever been blessed enough to listen to the serenade of a Florida night, you’d know what I’m talking about. Sulcatas, frogs, crickets, and who knows what else are loud as hell. It’s sweet to hear when you’re on your porch with a mug of hot cocoa, but for early morning or late evening runners, this serenade can be deadly.

Most of us like to run with earbuds. Who doesn’t want to listen to their favorite screamer songs at 4AM while jogging along the traffic-free roads? These two special times of the day are also when nature’s serenade turns into a screeching headache. You may be tempted to turn up the tunes in order to catch every scream and righteous lyric, but don’t. I’ll go ahead and repeat that last part, because it’s so damn important. DO NOT LISTEN TO LOUD MUSIC WHILE RUNNING IN THE DARK.

You may feel big and bad in your running shoes, but you are on of the bottom of the food chain out on the road. Cars, critters and creeps are dangerous. How can you hear potential danger if you’re trying to block out nature’s serenade with a loud music? As much as it sucks, don’t tune out the song of the streets. You never know what else you’re tuning out. Beware, be prepared, and be in tune with what’s around you.

 

* “Beloved” is a totally unbiased and accurate statement referring to the University of Florida Gators. Never mind the fact that I too am part of the Gator Nation. It is an unbiased and accurate description. End of story.