Given a destination, a deadline, and a mostly free day, why take the most direct route? This morning I've been making my way semi-aimlessly through the parts of Florida tourists tend to miss. Once I'd left behind ThemeParkWorld traffic and areas densely populated with garishly colored hotels featuring faux-medieval turrets, I found myself in the part of Florida where you're more likely to see pickup trucks than Porsches.
Heard on the radio that a big rodeo is going on this weekend in Kissimmee, and my travels took me through the part of the state where cattle ranching is still a going concern. I had a great morning hike at Circle B Bar Reserve, a nature preserve on a former cattle ranch, where I saw nesting eagles, herons, ibises, alligators, egrets, and my very first wild limpkins. (Photos to follow eventually.) The call of the limpkin is like something out of a horror flick; you half expect to see Godzilla creeping up behind you, but it's just this lovely brownish bird.
I worked up a pretty good sweat so now I'm taking a break with a smoothie at a MacDonald's in Bartow, where the music loop leans heavily toward Johnny Cash. Next on my meandering route is a visit to Bok Tower, where I'll hike a bit before enjoying a picnic lunch during the hillside carillon concert.
I keep reminding myself that this is a business trip. This evening I'll have to take a good long look at my paper and find some chunks to cut, and maybe I'll even iron my blouse for tomorrow. But who can think about editing or ironing when limpkins and carillons are calling?