Up and on the trail before sunrise, but travelling in the dim pre-dawn light was fairly easy since I had been this way before. Crossed Lockwood Boulevard again a short time later was in the community of Oveido, where I saw some crowing roosters walking in the streets. The data book mentions these famous feathered fowls, though I don't know the story behind them. "Who do they belong to?", I wondered. "How do they survive on the streets and avoid being hit by cars? How did they get here to begin with? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Ha. Whatever the answers, it's clear that these are not your run of the mill cock-a -doodle-dooers.
A majority of the day was spent following the Cross Seminole Bike Path, which runs from the southeast to the northwest through the suburbs of Orlando, crossing several creeks en route. Much nicer dealing with squirrels, cyclists, joggers and people out walking their dogs than speeding automobiles.
Plenty of benches are located along the path, so if you feel tired you can sit down, relax and perhaps do some people watching. Drinking fountains can also be found, especially when you pass by any parks. Convenience stores are easily accessible if you want to drop in and grab a snack. Two big Publix supermarkets near the northern end of the trail can be used for resupply before you leave the city.
At Big Tree Park I took a small detour in order to see The General, an impressive 3,500 year old cypress, one of the biggest of its kind in the United States. Its sister tree, the 2,000 year old Lady Liberty stands a mere 30 meters away. The area used to be in the middle of a vast swamp, but now you need only take a short jaunt down a boardwalk to gaze upon these glorious, colossal trees.
Two big bridges allow people to safely avoid the traffic on the U.S. 17-92 and the I-4. Built to accommodate the recreational users of the bicycle path, its much preferred to the alternate means of crossing--- playing a live Florida Trail version of thru-hiker Frogger! Before leaving the Orlando area entirely, I passed through the outlying towns of Heathrow and Lake Mary, where I saw adults and children out playing baseball and soccer. It did my heart good to see so many getting in some activity through friendly competition. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
From the last of the road walk, it was more or less a mile to the Wekiva Shelter. The trek across Orlando was far better than I had expected. At the fee station, I had to pay $12 to camp (newly instituted in December 2010), but I reckon with all the cuts in government spending, state parks can use all the money they can get their hands on. Got my water out of the horse trough. Passed through the gravity filter, it tasted much better than some of the well water I'd had recently. Even though it was the first shelter on the trail, I elected to spend the night in the tent to keep the tiny six-legged vampires at bay. Longest day so far and the poor dawgs are feeling it. Red and Swollen. Nighttime do your wonders!
Big Tree Info