Croom Vroom

While I was obviously a little distracted (did I tell you that I had an agent ask for a sample from my novel this morning? Of course I did!), I still managed to have a great day in one of my favorite outdoor recreation areas–the Croom Tract of Withlacoochee State Forest.

Croom is just about an hour from my home in St. Petersburg, FL, and has more than 40 miles of single-track mountain bike trails and nearly 25 miles of hiking/running trails. It even has hills–which are made all the tougher when we haven’t had any rain and the sugar sand gets to be more than four inches deep. But, sand aside, Croom is a fantastic venue for any type of outdoor activity–but it is especially great for a multisport zany like me!

Of course I sent the writing sample out prior to leaving. I could see my loaded Subaru Baja through my home office window–kayak on top, bike in the back. But, I knew I had my priorities straight. And, when I finally hit “send,” I darted out the door and was on my way.

For some reason, I wanted to start at the Tucker Hill Fire Tower. There were already a couple of cars in the lot, but no one to be seen. So, I unloaded my bike, doffed my jeans and headed out on the trail–riding the Croom Quest course from the mid-point onward.

It was breezy and the air was fresh. I didn’t see a soul on the trails until much later in my ride. Enjoying the solitude, I whipped down the little hills and caught air on a whoop-de-do from time to time. I’m so much better at jumping my bike than I ever was as a kid!

The north side (north of Croom Road) trails seemed to be in worse shape–victims of the dry weather (we are in a draught) and last fall’s enduro motorcycle event. I hate to admit it (hate it!), but there was even one sandy uphill (not Sugar Mountain) that I had to get off the bike and trot (I don’t walk) up. I’m really hoping that we’ll have some heavy rain the week (or the day) before the race to help pack down and firm up some of that sand.

The rain would be nice to help the water levels in the Withlacoochee River as well. It’s looking almost as low as it did in the 2001 draught–there is just a trickle maybe a foot wide in the section downstream of Silver Lake and visible from I-75.

The river was my next destination. So, after loading up the bike and scarfing down a bar, I drove over to the pier that is part of Lake Townsend Regional Park. A bit tired, I was half hoping the water level would be too low to paddle. But, alas, Rick from Nobleton Outpost was correct–there was enough water. So, I paddle upstream to the low water spot I had run into last weekend and figured it was only about a 30 or 40 meter portage to connect the two parts of the river–perfectly do-able in the upcoming race. Then, I turned my kayak with the wind and current and zipped downstream to the race turnaround point. Someplace along that downstream leg I fell into a nice rhythm and managed to let my quest to publish Wendall’s Lullaby drift from my mind. There aren’t too many things I enjoy more than being outdoors, pushing my body hard in a beautiful environment.

It’s an odd feeling when you are trying to move as fast as you can through an environment like that. Most people comment on how you can’t really be seeing all the wonderful things along the way–the flocks of ibis working the shallows, the next craggy, gray cypress ringed with knobby knees. But, I do. I may not stop and examine–but I notice. And, I take it all in. Those things help fuel me–those connections help fuel me.

At the turnaround on the paddle I brought the boat back around into the wind and the current. I could see the gusts ruffling the water’s surface as they barrelled towards me. I must have been slacking on the way downstream–or, I just reveled in the challenge and rallied in the headwind. My speed was faster on the way back to the boat ramp.

Maybe my speed was faster for another reason–thoughts of what I had send to the literary agent in the morning had started to creep back into my mind. My transition–getting out of the boat, getting it loaded and changing my clothes–was quicker than normal. As I got closer to home, all I could think about was parking the car, refreshing the computer and checking my email.

That’s what I did–the first thing I did when I got home–checked my writing email account. Nothing from the agent I’d sent my sample to–just three rejections from other agents I had queried. Not what I was hoping for.

But, if one agent saw enough merit in a simple letter to ask for more–I have to think that there is someone out there who will want to help me sell my book to a publisher. So, I’ll keep at–like I do when I get to the sugar sand or when I turn into a 20 mph headwind–with even more vigor.

PS–here are some helpful links if you are ever interested in enjoying some training or just a great Florida environment:

Withlacoochee State Forest:

Croom Biking Trails

Withlacoochee River Canoe  Trail

~ by kipwkoelsch on March 27, 2009.

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