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Black Hills Badlands Medley—Day Twelve, Home

287 miles

I left Tallahassee on I-10 east, but only as far as US 19, twenty or so miles from Uncle Frank’s. Jogging south, I was soon on US 98, which skirts the lonely west coast of the northern Florida peninsula. Sometimes it may be thirty miles between gas stations or even homes. It’s a wide, divided four-lane, sometimes with a narrow forest of trees dividing the northbound from the southbound lanes.

Before getting into the lonely stretches, I stopped for a breakfast of cheese eggs and grits at a Huddle House in Perry, a town where I’d stayed with my brother, Tim, and his friend, Micky, years ago while chasing scallops in the shallows off nearby Keaton Beach.

I turned off 98 to ride through the Goethe State Forest, on a route that connected me to with US 41. I rode south in a bit of traffic on 41 until I could turn off at Floral City; riding through a tunnel of old oaks before emerging in the countryside.

I passed I-75, one of the major north-south corridors through Florida, at Bushnell, continuing on through Center Hill and on to the twin villages of Mascotte and Groveland on quiet country roads, a route I had ridden many times before.

A turn south through the Green Swamp landed me in my home county of Polk, then after a couple turns, I was passing over I-4, the east-west corridor between Tamp and Orlando. From there, I was soon on an old backroad shortcut to Haines City, which was just fifteen miles north of home.

Before I knew it, I could see Bok Tower standing high in the southeast on the brow of the purported highest point in the peninsula, Iron Mountain.

The Good Spot, formerly Fuzzy’s, was open, and I stopped for a beer before rolling the last two miles home and back to bills, business, house work, and stress. But it was home, for all that, and it felt good to step off the Bonnie that last time after almost 5,150 miles

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