Thursday, December 12th, 2019
It was sure nice to dry off! It was also great to feel welcome in the Big Water Convenience Store when we returned in the morning. The two people there must have been the owners, and unlike the terrified lady from last night, they were well aware that we were hikers, not homeless. We ate our delicious breakfast sandwiches and drank our coffee. Out front, there were several fishing boats of all varieties and a large gathering of fishermen. Frisbee commented that they were a little late to be going out fishing. We’d find out why when we overheard that a camera crew was following them around filming a fishing show.
There was more bad weather in the forecast, so we planned our next few days accordingly. We returned to the lodge to check out and grab our gear, then we headed back to the convenience store. The owner hooked us up with the remaining breakfast sandwiches for free since it was nearly lunchtime and he also let us fill our water bottles. We bought a Gatorade to chug down before we left to ensure that we would remain good and hydrated this time around. After all of the great hospitality, we were more than happy to sign their Florida Trail hiker guestbook.
“You’re the first of the season!” the lady informed us.
The second we stepped outside, it began to rain. Luckily it was only a light shower. Much better than the downpour we experienced last night. Our hike continued back on the dike, which was now paved, and once we got to the road, it turned into a bike path. Frisbee waved to a guy passing by in a Nissan Extera. We often wave to cars when we road walk to make the locals feel a little more at ease over our presence. The guy turned his car around and to our surprise, started driving towards us off the road and on the bike path. We weren’t sure what we were in for when we approached the vehicle. The driver told us he turned his car around because he thought we needed a ride.
“Where you guys heading?
“We’re walking to Key West.”
We were surprised again when he sincerely considered driving us all the way there! We informed him that we were hiking the Florida Trail and were continuing there on foot, on purpose. The offer was appreciated, but we weren’t interested. In the passenger seat was a beautiful dog that we thought was a pit pull. He informed us her name was Abby and she was a “Blue Bully”.
“She not what you think she is. She’s a blue bully. It’s a separate breed. You can look it up!”
We talked to him for a while and pet his dog. He was a Vietnam veteran, a Marine, and said he always picks up hitchhikers since it was something he did often when he was younger. After our chat, he was on his way and we were on ours.
“Thank you for your service,” Frisbee said. He and I always make a point to thank veterans when we run into them during our travels.
He responded, “Yeah. No one thanked me in the 60’s,” then he drove away.
Shortly after he pulled off of the bike path and back on the road. We saw Gary and Shannon, the couple who drove us out of Okeechobee, pass by and they were all smiles, waving at us frantically. We gave them the same response.
We were less than thrilled when the bike path ended and hit the dreaded dike construction that had the dike blocked off. We anticipated the road walk, but weren’t looking forward to it, so much so that we walked up to the construction site to confirm that the dike was impassible to pedestrians. The construction workers looked tense when we approached, not certain why two homeless-looking people were wandering where they shouldn’t. We asked a guy in a work truck if the dike was accessible and one of the guys standing nearby would respond before he could get a word out.
“It’s closed all the way through!”
Another truck appeared for backup. Our presence really had them nervous. The driver said, “I was notified that there were two people walking up here without safety helmets on!”
They all relaxed once we got to talking and they found out we weren’t going to be any trouble. I told them I’d post an update on our Florida trail app, and they seemed appreciative of it.
I was miserable once we returned to the road. I hate dodging traffic. One of Glades County’s Finest was kind enough to check on us, giving us an inquiring thumbs up to make sure we were okay. He drove away as soon as we returned the gesture. We took a break in a pull off area and discussed returning to the dike. From what was visible from the road, the construction site was surrounded by a fence, and it looked like we had passed the fenced off section. The guy’s words, “It’s closed all the way through,” kept replaying in my head. I didn’t want to start walking the dike and find out that have to walk all the way back to return to the road. There was always the possibility of more construction up ahead. We even walked up to the dike to take a look. From what we could see, it looked legit, but I still felt uncertain. Frisbee walked across the street where there were a few construction vehicles parked, to see if he could ask someone. As he started walking towards the trailer, a car pulled up and I could see him talking with the driver. Frisbee returned and the car drove off.
“That guy was a police officer and he just told me the dike is clear all the way to Clewiston.”
That was good enough reassurance for me! Back on the dike we walked. This stretch was paved as well and it took us further away from the highway, passed a landfill and sugar cane fields before we reached the town of Moore Haven. This place looked like it was once a bustling town in the 50’s and 60’s, there were even a few retro signs still present from the era, but it appeared mostly desolate.
The no-see-ums attacked my legs as we walked passed the Dollar General towards a little food truck. As we got closer, to it, it appeared like it might be vacant. Three men were drinking their beers on the side of the gas station, so we asked them.
“Is that food truck open?”
They told us it was, and we were excited! The food truck was called Essie Mae’s Old South BBQ and we both ordered the jerk chicken sandwich.
“I have to warn you, it’s spicy,” the guy cautioned us.
“That’s fine, we like spicy!”
And spicy it was! It had heat, but was absolutely delicious! I was still working on my sandwich after Frisbee inhaled his and went inside the Dollar G. After my jerk chicken euphoria, I went inside to locate him. He was in the check out line holding two single servings of Key Lime pie. We were on the same page!
to be continued….
Jump Ahead to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 23
Jump Back to Return to the Florida Trail: Chapter 21
Start from The Beginning