Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day Eighty-seven, 090526 - Old Town, FL

Day Eighty-seven, Date Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Time in Saddle: 9:08
Distance for the Day: 94.19 miles From Hwy 27 Forest To Old Town
Accumulated Trip Distance: 3883.77
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 50’/90’, Highest: 173’ Accumulated: 1188’
Speeds: Avg: 10.2 mph, Max: 25.8 mph
Weather: 67° overcast in the AM with some fog, clearing during the day to partly cloudy
Expenditures: $10

Woke up at 6:15am and broke down camp; I continued to successfully avoid mosquitoes, and was ready to go at 7:30am. I had a very annoying rash on the bottom of my left foot, which I itched to the point of breaking the little itch bumps down there – that hurt a little, but I put some Bactine lotion on it, and it felt much better. Just before getting to Capps, FL, stopped for some drinkables ($3), and had the 2nd half of my Subway sandwich for brunch. Stopped several times: once to fix my right brake cable which had been sticking because it had become fouled with dirt (I dripped water at the top end, and worked it so the dirt would come out the bottom end). I also stopped at a rest stop for a cold soda, and right after that it started to downpour. I hung out at the rest stop for a while, and met a fellow who was trying to walk from Perry to Tallahassee (a good 40 miles!) with nothing but the clothes on his back. I’ve tried doing this kind of thing, before, myself, so I can’t say too much bad about it, but it almost never works. The last I saw, the friendly and sympathetic rest stop attendant there was talking up people for him, to get him a ride. From then to 3:30pm the rain was pretty steady. I stopped once to rinse my shoes and socks out to prevent them from getting stinky, again; by 4pm the rain stopped, and I had my second *live* armadillo sighting, this time in overcast daylight, so I could see him pretty clearly. I passed right by him (he was in the grass right by the side of the road), so I stopped, and he ran and sort of *hopped* into the bushes. Cool!

In the town of Cross City, it was still lightly raining when I stopped at a Dairy Queen for a burger and choco malt ($7 - yum!). By the time I finished, the rain had stopped, and the sky became partly cloudy, with some late afternoon sunlight showing. I thought I’d check some homes in the local neighborhoods for a place to pitch my tent, and ran into a sequence of events that produced the most unpleasant situation of this trip so far. I went to one nice looking place; the lady there said ‘no.’ Okay, I headed for the next door neighbors, and while riding toward it, I saw a man and woman in a truck turn into a driveway across the street from my next intended prospect. He waved at me, and I waved back – all very friendly. I went to the next house and knocked and waited a minute or so – no answer. So, I thought I’d try the house where I saw the guy who waved. I go up to this not-nearly-as-nice place – a mobile home with some junk around it, and knocked on the glass door. I could sort of see into the living room of the house, but it was dark, and I could hear this woman *screaming* to someone else, “Come here – I need help!” in a rather shrewish tone. The voice further said, “Close it and lock it!” A teenage girl came to the door and shut it in my face. Hokay, guess I’ll just keep looking. I turn my trike around, and go out to the road, and a moment later, the guy who I thought lived at the mobile home pulls up in a different colored truck and stops me. He gets out and looks pissed. “What you doing, waiting ‘til I’m gone before going to my house?” I explained I was merely going to ask to pitch my tent on his property, and that I thought he was still home. He asked to see some ID, so I showed him my drivers license, and then he called it in for a check. This guy was wearing a John Deere shirt – how could he be doing an ID check? Of course, he found out I was “clean,” and I told him most of my experience with asking people to let me overnight on their property usually went pretty well. His wife was very upset (I must have looked like Darth Vader to her), and when she pushed the panic button, he got scared, too, but it seemed to be easing off, and he was beginning to understand that I was not even close to a threat, when the backup troops arrived. A police car, and some other government truck stopped. Out of the police car came this guy who I will call Mr. Pecs (on account of his big pectorals – none of these guys gave their names or showed any badges or ID) who looked kind of like Hulk Hogan with a crewcut in black shirt and shorts with fluorescent print – was this a policeman? He came on with pure attitude. The other two were somewhat mild-mannered, and seemed to defer to this buffoon as the pack leader, as he railed against me, threatening me with jail for loitering and vagrancy, saying I was lucky not to be shot and bloody from some of the property owners around these parts – all for knocking on someone’s door! I answered any questions he had in monosyllabic words, but showed no fear or any emotion, which I think may have frustrated him, some. The same trick I use with dogs. I did not refer to any of them as ‘sir.’ The other one, who was dressed in a green forest service kind of uniform, held his Mag-Lite flashlight up, even though it was still quite light, which police do when they want to look like they want shine their light on something, when they’re also in position to bop you one on the head – that was pretty funny. There were all kinds of things I wanted to say to these guys to make fun of the whole situation and their ridiculous manners, but fighting a case of false arrest with the possibility of charges of unnecessary and excessive use of force because I mouthed-off were not in my schedule. So, I answered their questions politely, and when they said “get out of the county or if we even see you, we’ll throw you in jail,” I got. One great thing the forest service guy did for me: he pointed out a miles-long bike path that paralleled the highway that I could take – much nicer than the zoom of cars rushing by on the highway, itself. I got my driver’s license back from Pecs, himself, left, and didn’t look back. I found and took off down the bike path, glad to be away from that bully and his yokels. All this, because some xenophobic woman, who is no doubt paranoid from watching tv all day (all that crime and violence), and had a husband who happened to leave for a minute, who was also a deputy police type person of some sort – wow! Talk about your perfect storm. I thought about reporting the incident to the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce but, since I didn’t get any of their names or ID, it would probably be pretty useless. I went down the bike path for about 5 miles in the increasing darkness, until I found a nice side access road I could hide on (N29 36.697’ W82 56.908’), set up my tent by about 9pm, wore my rain gear to escape the mosquitoes (no bites!), and tried to get to sleep. With that upsetting incident still fresh in my mind, I found sleep hard to come by, so I watched “The DaVinci Code,” instead (in my head, of course). I was looking forward to seeing “Angels and Demons” ASAP, and that helped to clear my brain for sleep.


Sweet101 said...

Yea that seems like them .....Dixie County is filled with ignorant people.....They think they are above the law and the law thinks they are above everyone else....for a county that has no work they should be humble and welcome people better so that kindness may fall on them.....but, nope they do not...all they do is protect thier own unless they turn on them....I am so sorry that you had that experience....not all people are ignorant like those people.....

obi_donkenobi said...

Thank you Sweet101, I appreciate your comment. I'm certain there are TONS of *nice* people in Dixie County - as everywhere. It was just my "luck of the draw," that put me in contact with some bad apples. Say la vee! ;-Don

VinceC said...

Well, just in case you change your mind about informing people about this incident, here are some contacts:

ACLU of Florida:
Complaint form

Florida Civil Rights Association:
Complaint form

Dixie County Advocate: (news) (letters to the editor)

Dixie County Times:
Sue Chewning

Dixie County Chamber of Commerce:

VinceC said...

The URL for the ACLU was chopped off; try this instead:

Julie said...

Hey Don- I told you to be wary of people down that way...glad you got outta dodge safely. Stick with churches please.

obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Vince: Thanks for the resources - perhaps I will report what I know from the incident. It may not lead to any specific actions against the perpetrators, but maybe it would raise awareness that there's a problem.

Hi Poo: Yes you did! Thankfully, I'm almost through the reputedly "worst" parts of the country, and will begin heading into the more enlightened parts, soon. Love ya! ;-Don