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Over A Land Bridge; Lichen These? Stealth Hiker; PDA!

On Friday My Lovely Bride suggested that we go for a hike on the Florida National Scenic Trail. We wanted to see a new area, so we selected a section of the Cross Florida Greenway west of the Santos mountain biking area that we are very familiar with. We parked at the Land Bridge Trailhead and started hiking west. We hiked through beautiful pine and oak groves, with only one short section along a fenceline bordering a horse farm. Otherwise, we were “in the woods”!

Within a mile or so we arrived at Land Bridge itself. You have probably passed beneath this neat overpass, which allows hikers, cyclists and equestrians to cross I-75 safely. It is a very well thought out structure, with guard rails and fencing to prevent any accidental falls into traffic. The path is dirt and rock, the walls have limestone facing, and there are small trees, shrubs and brush to make it seem like a woodsy trail. But in the middle, you look down onto the semis passing just a few feet below. 

We came upon this awesome oak tree, which had nine trunks growing from a central hub; they are big trunks, and dwarfed Suzanne in this photo.  

We also passed some interesting lichens (I think) and a few cacti, which looked like they had been relocated from Arizona. Can anyone ID these?  

I am what My Sweet Wife calls a stealth hiker, someone who treads as silently as possible through the woods, with hardly a word spoken for miles on end. I told her that it was a skill set I learned in my many years of Scouting (Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer Scout); my mentors taught me to hike quietly so that you can better observe wildlife. (It also gives any potential enemies less notice that you’re in the area, allowing you an opportunity to surprise them instead of being ambushed… not that being ambushed is an issue here in Florida, but what if we were in New Guinea with hostile cannibals around!) Suzanne, on the other hand, would like a comment every now and then just to know that I am still alive, and not sleep-hiking. (Yeah, as if…) It’s one of those vive la difference things.  

In the last half mile of our hike, we were still moving stealthily, and I caught a glimpse of two people about 50 yards up the trail. I gave Suzanne the signal for two people ahead with my right hand, and as we got closer, we saw that it was a uniformed officer with his wife on the trail. But they were unaware of our silent approach, and were embracing and kissing (at least, I hope it was his wife!). At a distance of 15 feet, My Lovely Bride coughed and said cheerfully, “Good afternoon, Officer. You know, in the Navy, we call that PDA.” The woman smiled, but the officer blushed as red as I’ve ever seen anyone blush. Suzanne then laughed and said, “Oh, you know what PDA is, huh?” He replied quietly, “Yes, ma’am, I do…” (PDA stands for Public Display of Affection, and can be a big deal, especially at the Naval Academy (Annapolis) and Military Academy (West Point). (As for the Air Force Academy, well, the less said, the better…) I told Suzanne that I was glad that the young woman had the foresight to bring an armed guard with her when she hiked in the woods… after all, she had me, with my trusty Boy Scout pocketknife, just in case we were charged by New Guinean cannibals or a rabid raccoon…

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