Off to Killarney

No, I didn’t fly to Ireland over Labor Day. Instead we rode the West Orange Trail from Winter Garden to the county line in Killarney on another great, wide, paved rails to trails path.IMG_0830

My only complaint…not enough shade! Of course, it didn’t help that we started our ride at 3:00, the hottest part of the day. Despite the fact that the trail is relatively flat, I found the eleven mile round trip ride to be difficult. Not only did we get a late start, but we ate lunch before our ride, another mistake. A hot August day, in the sun, on a full stomach…not a good idea.

Instead of starting the ride when we arrived in Winter Garden, we took some time to check out the Farmer’s Market and snacked on a bag of caramel corn. Then ate lunch at The Attic since we hadn’t eaten since our early morning breakfast. Riding on an empty stomach seemed like a recipe to bonk. We’ll plan better next time.

A short distance from Winter Garden at the Tildenville Outpost is a Butterfly Garden with picnic tables and benches.

Moss covered oaks, a brick road on main street and unpaved roads through the community, as well as a fruit packing house mark the town of Oakland, a reminder of rural Orange County of yesteryear.

The Oakland Nature Preserve provides another place to stop along the trail for those interested in a one mile hike to Lake Apopka, something we’ll save for another day.

A bridge on the trail crosses the Florida Turnpike. I’ve used that overpass to mark my progress driving to Orlando for years so it was nice to look down on the traffic for a change.

The rocking chairs on the porch at the Bikes and Blades shop at the Killarney station made for a perfect break before our return trip. And for those who don’t enjoy loading and transporting their bikes, renting bikes in Killarney solves this problem.

An earlier start, lunch at the end of the ride, and choosing a cooler day…changes for our next trip on the West Orange Trail.


Follow Bob Costas’ Lead

Two weeks ago, Bob Costas called into question the NFL culture, the gun culture, and the domestic violence culture after the murder suicide of an NFL player and his girlfriend. He took a lot of flak for his comments with some calling for NBC to fire him. They complained he lacked any qualifications to speak about gun control. My question, what qualification do his critics possess? None! In both cases, someone is expressing an opinion. However, if that opinion questions gun laws or gun ownership then it shouldn’t be permitted according to the gun rights bullies in our country.

The NRA and others frequently quote the second amendment in these cases. Apparently, the second amendment is the only one worth quoting or protecting. The first amendment and the right to free speech is squashed by these second amendment intimidators…if you want to discuss gun control, you aren’t qualified to speak. If you support banning assault weapons, you are violating the Constitution. If you favor background checks, you’re invading their privacy. The list goes on and on.

Bob Costas spoke over a week before a gunman opened fire in an Oregon mall and twelve days before dozens of first graders and school personnel were massacred in Connecticut. He started a long overdue conversation. Before this week’s events, a few others spoke up and supported his comments. On Friday, the President finally stopped dancing around the gun control issue in his remarks regarding the school shooting. The words gun control have actually been heard in the news this week…even as some continue to say this is no the time for these discussions.

It’s time. It’s time we stop the bullies. It’s time we who support gun control speak up. Just as those who watch the playground bully without taking action are guilty in their silence, those of us who do not speak out on gun control and equally complaisant.

I will contact my legislators. I will not let other’s speech regarding the need to protect gun rights to go unchallenged. I will sign petitions and research and support organizations such as the Brady Campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, that advocate for gun control. I will follow Bob Costas’s lead. I hope you will too.

Election Results Aren’t the End of the World!

Baseball season, football season, even basketball season is preferable to election season, especially since the turn of the century. Campaigning, debating, polling, and constant phone calling makes the election season unbearable. It’s been nice watching TV the last few days without hearing the words “I approve this message”. But even as the results have just been finalized, I received an email requesting a political contribution in an effort to start building a war chest for the 2014 election! Give me a break!


From a letter to the editor in today’s Ocala Star Banner:

Record examined. Votes cast. Ignorant and uninformed ruled. Incompetence continued. Spending uncurtailed. Debt assured. Young people burdened. U.S. future dimmed. Greece mimicked. Depression abounds. GASP!


Remember, the world will not end if your candidate lost the election nor will all of our nation’s problems magically end if your candidate won. Don’t cry, don’t post angry comments on Facebook, don’t write hateful letters to be published in the newspaper, and don’t  threaten to move out of the country regardless of how disappointing you find the election results. On the other hand, don’t gloat if you find yourself in the winner’s camp. I assure you things won’t be as great as promised. In fact, you’ll probably be disappointed.


Although election season can be frustrating or disappointing, often bringing out the worst in us, elections are also the best thing about living in the United States. Even though we, as Americans, disagree on politics, even though at least 49% of voters are disappointed with the results, even though people are predicting doomsday scenarios and posting inflammatory comments on social media, when you woke up last Wednesday, the day after the election, it was business as usual. Students attended class in school. Businesses opened. People bought groceries, filled their cars with gas, celebrated birthdays, and continued working.


Protesters did not surround governmental buildings. Riots did not ensue. Soldiers did not patrol neighborhoods. Banks did not experience a run on money. Sure, the stock market experienced greater dips than in the preceding weeks, but there have been many similar fluctuations in recent years. Elections are orderly. Voters accept the results. Life continues. This is not the case in much of the world, but in the U.S. elections signify times of orderly change in our government and this is why election season is worthwhile.


It seems every  election is billed the most important decision of our lifetime. How can that be? Victoria Coates says it all in this quote:


Every election cycle someone–often many someones–solemnly informs us that this is the most important election of our lifetime. And so it is, although not for the transitory reasons any one candidate might suggest.


In fact each election is the most important because it means that contrary to basic human instinct, some might even say contrary to logic and reason, we are still having an election.  We are participating in the process. Our grand experiment has not failed us and we have not failed it.


I guess that means that this was the most important election of our lifetime…at least until the next time.


Finally, in two weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving with a large family gathering. That means a wide range of political views. My suggestion: avoid political discussions. No talk of election results. No talk of tax philosophy. No talk of abortion, or rape, or same sex marriage. Focus on what you’re thankful for and let your own family be a reminder that regardless of the gulf that divides us politically, we all love our country and want positive changes.  We just see those changes through different eyes so hold your tongue, change the subject, eat another piece of pie.


And remember, like your family, Americans throughout the country, of both political parties yearn for a country with good jobs, a strong economy, rising home values, cheap gas, and peace. If only we could exercise civil discourse in our efforts to express our opinions (and listen to those of others).


Elections results really aren’t the end of the world – at least not in the U.S.