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Long time no Palatka

Miami - Okeechobee - Winter Garden - Montverde - Tavares - Miami

Another one of our trips began on November 26 at 6am, as we met at our traditional rendezvous point at Sunny Isles Beach.

This time we left the major highways to take a somewhat longer route via the roads running through small, yet so cosy and unique, Florida towns.

The route went along the famous Okeechobee Lake, which we’ve repeatedly mentioned here before. We admired it then, and still do today. It was formed about 6000 years ago as a result of the ocean run-off. In the language of the Seminole Okeechobee means “the great water”. This is the largest lake in the southern part of the US.

It occupies an area of 1900 sq.m. while it’s merely 3 meter deep in average. Okeechobee is surrounded with swamps rich with vegetation – over 120 species of trees, including virgin’s palm, oaks, and cypresses. The lakesides are sown with over 2000 species of various plants, including cacti, fern, and more than 25 species of orchids. More than 150 fish and about 12 turtle species inhabit the water. Following good old tradition, we took a break on the lakeside to enjoy its beauty and refuel our trusty bikes.

As we said above, the following route went through small Florida towns we never visited before. We kept a moderate pace, to take in and enjoy the landscapes along the way, passing by numerous orange groves and small farms.

Winter Garden has become one of the cosiest and unique towns on our route. Its population is just 34,500. The historical centre features a wide selection of coffee houses and a bunch of small shops to wander about.

Having enjoyed the beauty of Winter Garden we moved on towards Montverde – the village with a population of about 1000, located on the shore of the Apopka Lake. The village’s history dates back to 1865 when originally it was called West Lake Apopka. According to local history, soon after it was founded, the first residents renamed the place Monte Verde, which is “Green Mountain” in Spanish. The reason for this was due to the beautiful view from the lake, of famous hills, which are the highest point in Florida. Having got an eyeful of the landscapes we drove the iron horses further to Tavares – a small town founded in 1880 by a newspaper founder and railroader Alexander St. Clair-Abrams.

As early as 1883 the town set up a post office, followed by a hotel, 3 shops, and a lumber mill. Abrams’ dream was to turn Tavares into the capital of Florida, yet it never materialized.

After visiting this fascinating location, we finally reached our beloved Palatka.

As usual, we relished the paralleled bikers’ feel, took some rest and set off for the way back.

The return course followed highways to save time. We returned to Miami after dark at about 11pm, tired, yet absolutely happy. The total distance amounted to 670 miles (or 1078 kilometres)!!! And this is far from the longest one-day route.

Like all true bikers, we constantly take interest and look for new places. And as usual, time is what it’s all about. See you next time!