Once you leave Florida’s interstates and resort areas, it’s surprising how much rural land there is in the state. Ocala, where we were Sunday and Monday, is “horse country”, as evidenced by the stretches of land devoted to breeding and raising horses. Yesterday we continued our southward journey on our old favorite, Highway 27, and we are now in central Florida, home to acres and acres of orange groves and cattle ranches.
On our way down yesterday we stopped at Lake Louisa State Park and walked on a nature trail.
View along shoreline of Lake Louisa:
This was before we started seeing all the orange groves. And I knew that it is strictly forbidden to pick anything from a tree in the groves, even when they are enticingly close to the road. So I got all excited when the first thing we saw along the nature trail was a couple of stray orange trees.
Unfortunately, the oranges weren’t quite ripe. We had to wait until this morning at Aunt Joyce’s house in Avon Park to enjoy fresh Florida citrus. She has a grapefruit tree in her yard and we split a big, juicy grapefruit to start our breakfast.
Today’s outing was a drive to Lake Placid and a visit to the Archbold Biological Station. We watched an interesting 20 minute video on the history of the park. Our usual activity once again was to walk on the nature trail. This time we learned a lot about the area’s biology by reading the brochure that accompanied the signs on the trail.
On the way home we took a detour to see Lake Okeechobee. We didn’t drive far enough to see any beaches but just stopped at an area that viewed the ring of marshes around the north end.
What our pictures haven’t been able to capture are the long expanses of flat horizons covered by sunny, blue skies; the innumerable small lakes; the extensive cattle ranches; the orange groves and the many trailer trucks on the highways transporting the now-ripe oranges.