Thursday, July 13, 2017

Motoring Along

Thus far, our new toys have been used mainly to relieve Annie of citified short trips and to relieve our wallets of how much she drinks on such trips compared to long roamings.  However, we do also get out and enjoy rides that are not work or errand oriented. 

Perhaps our readers will remember last year when we were way up in the tip top of Maine and spotted a sign that indicated the northernmost point of a trail we were not aware existed?

2016-05-12a Maine, Calais - Greenway Marker (2)

The East Coast Greenway is an ongoing project that, when completed, will connect 15 states and 450 cities and towns.  It will be 3,000 miles of people-powered trails from the bottom of Florida to the tip of Maine - the country’s longest continuous protected (meaning no cars!) biking and walking route.


There are currently 194 miles of protected greenway riding in Florida.  As it turns out we live just a few miles from the A1A sidewalk portion and have already been on it a few times.  Researching the trail more showed that six miles from us is a 2.8 mile section of this trail that is considered greenway protected.

So, one evening we set out to explore this section of trail that runs through Sea Branch State Park.


It was late and the flying / biting things had come out to feast for the night.  To avoid becoming that evenings buffet we did not dawdle.  Still we caught sight of a few things...

                                                           Cottontail Rabbit

                                       Gordonia lasianthus - a.k.a. Loblolly Bay

                                                          Scat - a.k.a. Poop

But this poop had us perplexed.  It had leaves and bark in it and it was very dry.  We pondered for a bit before Darlene guessed correctly.  Have you guessed correctly?

The scat-tered trailblazer is none other than the Gopher Tortoise.  We caught a late night sight of this one on our ride out.

These representatives of the genus Gopherus spend most of their lives in their burrows.  Each tortoise will dig and use many burrows throughout the active season. The burrows can vary from three to 52 feet long and nine to 23 feet deep.  Similar to the prairie dog, they are considered a keystone species because their burrows also provide refuge for about 360 other commensals (organisms that benefit from another organism without harming it).  Gopher tortoises can live up to 80 years in the wild.

      A Cardisoma guanhumi - Florida Blue Land Crab is coming out for a night of roaming.

Juveniles host a pretty rainbow of colors.  These land crabs are Florida's largest semi-terrestrial crab.  They actually have modified gills and require water to breath (a strange thought considering they are called 'land' crabs).  However, when on land they carry their own supply.  When it is time to lay eggs, the female makes the long journey to the ocean (which in the case of the ones living here is around three miles).

All in all it was a wonderful ride.  We covered a total of 16 miles round trip and got a small taste of riding sans traffic for a few of those miles.

For the mechanical or engineer mind inclined... Nicole has been testing out a new theory on the battery usage of our bicycles under the assumption that they function similar to how the carburetor in Annie drinks fuel.  Heading to and from work is typically full throttle ahead and battery consumption seems to indicate as much; just as if we go pedal to the metal full bore on Annie all of the time our carb sucks more air and drinks more fuel.  So, on these longer rides she has been running a super light throttle and discovering a very extended battery range. 

So, without re-charging and only down one battery bar, Nicole decided to make the same ride (and then some) again the next day using a very conservative throttle.  Success!  Close to 40 miles in and only two and a half battery bars down. 

Here's some shots from the next day at Sea Branch Preserve State Park.

At the entrance to the Greenway Trail, Nicole is greeted by a Loggerhead Shrike and

                                                         a Gopher Tortoise.

Once inside the preserve Sceloporus woodi - a Florida scrub lizard makes an appearance.

                                           Ximenia americana is in full fruiting.

IMG_8458 Ximenia americana Hog Plum
                  It is also called tallow wood or sea lemon among many other names.

It is said that the fruits have a pleasant plum-like flavor. The plant has many medicinal and edible uses though cyanide poisoning from eating too much of certain points can be a problem.  Indigenous people of Florida used the bark to treat sore muscles and gums.

IMG_8464 Smooth Rattlebox Crotalaria Pallida Flower Plant
Smooth Rattlebox - Crotalaria Pallida was blooming everywhere.

The flowers have a unique shape and the plant has some edible and medicinal uses.

This one was getting ready to spread itself around.

Well, time to head out in between rain storms and get some much needed chores done.  Then again, maybe a bike ride is in order.

                                               Sea Branch Preserve State Park