It had been random turn north on US 19 exploring Ocala National Forest’s 673 square mile area (1,742 km²). The obvious choice was to continue to Salt Springs Recreation Area for canoeing, fishing or people. On a whim, I had pulled onto a gravel road in my garnet Ford explorer on this Sunday afternoon. If you have had not been paying attention, you would have missed the parking area on the right off the curb. There had been no admission cost or park facilities, definitely “the road not taken.” The site map had shown a two mile trek of a loop around and a wooden boardwalk. Informational postings had spoken of bears. After noticing stripped bark a few times, I had started to wonder out loud. Along the trail, downed trees had required care moving around them with a walking stick for spider webs. For a walking stick, I had substituted a water bottle alternating to an oak branch. At this point, I had an epiphany recalling a friend swirling his walking stick in the forest air. That walking stick now had seemed genius versus being some eccentric twit. If you had been allergic to fire ants, as me, be sure to keep moving on. The ants piles had appeared randomly with tenants fat with anger to see human feet. At the end of the trail, I had smelled a strong briny odor accompanying a soft humid breeze. The unkempt foliage had opened up to the payoff, a large body of water. It was cathartic. Then I had thought about doubling back through the insects and greenery. What had made those unrecognizable animal droppings on the side of boardwalk? Watching a running lizard, no otter had been in sight but, how about a deer or just maybe a bear? Guess that had been be a touch of something different, fear.
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Salt Springs Observation Trail