I had two options today: I could ride east all day and reach Suwannee River State Park around sunset but have lots of camping options (close to Interstate 75) from there on south to Ocala, or I could make a shorter hop southeast to Perry and risk not getting a campsite but be farther from the big highways.
I was leaning toward the shorter route because I slept badly and had trouble getting up. But what cinched it was that, as I was finishing my complimentary Belgian waffle breakfast, rain started falling. By the time I left the KOA I was tempted to turn right around and check into a "kamping kabin," it was raining so hard. But I knew I could get a hotel in Perry, so on I went.
Bruce, my host from Alabama, sent me an e-mail the other day warning me about fire ants. I was all set to write him back and say I'm already acquainted with them, thank you very much... but when the rain let up around noon and I stopped to take off my poncho, I must have put my foot down in another of their hills. They wreaked their fiery vengeance just above my ankle sock, stinging me about 30 times before I got them off. I was able to keep my elastic pant cuff from rubbing against the welts, but even so, by the end of the day my ankle was so swollen it was stiff. Not really painful, just uncomfortable. Thanks for the warning, Bruce... I'll try to be more observant!
Perry is quite the town for cheap motels. Not that I checked their prices... I'm talking about places that feel they have to advertise that their rooms are clean, or that their televisions are capable of color, or that they accept credit cards. I passed at least two dozen such motels on my way through Perry, plus three campgrounds. Two of the three allow tent camping, and I chose the one closer to town so that I could run back in before dark and get groceries.
I asked a clerk why the town has so many motels, and he said, "Tourism. We're close to the beach." Well, OK, if 15 miles is close. I'm not convinced.