Ocala National Forest and Environs
VT doesn't have a location for Ocala National Forest, so I am posting my brief exploration of the area under the Ocala page. Here I have a few tips on the forest and the nearby town of Palatka.
I decided to take a scenic drive through the area when driving from Tampa to St. Augustine. I took the highway (I-75) to Ocala, then traveled the side roads into the Ocala National Forest (on County Road 314 and Highway 314) then we jumped on SR 19 into Palatka. The scenic route from Ocala to Palatka is about 55 miles but it takes nearly an hour and half due to the narrow roads (and even narrower bridges).
Tire Trouble Resolved In Ocala
I had wanted to go to Weeki Wachee and see the mermaids again, but not only was that way out of the way, but was $13.95 each plus $3 parking and the show was a long one. We have a long trip to Jacksonville today.
I also thought Tarpon Springs might be an interesting place - I remember seeing the sponge divers there. Also it would be impossible to get out of the hotel access road and go east across the bridge to Tampa, and I didn't really want to be going into Tampa during the morning rush.
So we headed up north toward Tarpon Springs. There was a fair amount of construction on the road and the construction people had put semi-permanent signs on the main road to say what businesses was at each exit. (Like a sign would say "Break Time Entrance" for a business called Break Time.) I thought this would be a good idea even if there was no construction.
We got to Tarpon Springs fairly early and I didn't think the aquarium would be open yet, so we looked at the docks (as we drove by) and went through the downtown historic district and out on the secondary roads going east toward I-75. As we drove toward Ocala, the tires started thumping again.
Another place I would have liked to see was Silver Springs right east of Ocala. So we drove past the E-One factory (which makes fire trucks and has a tour - but it is 2 or 3 miles of walking), and out the east side of Ocala. Bob stopped at a tire place, but they were closed.
When we got to Silver Springs, we found that not only were the tickets going to be over $30 each, but we'd have to pay $6 for parking.
We went back into Ocala and got fuel, and I took the phone book and went through to find the Michelin dealers. We drove back toward US 301 (which was the way we were going across to Jacksonville) until we found one of them and stopped. They would take care of us but it would be an hour or more.
I took a picture of this store on the way through town.
Bob didn't want to leave the car, so he had a leftover Taco from Taco Bell yesterday, and I went over to TJ's Sandwich Shop on the other side of the shopping center. I got a chicken salad sub (9" - $4.95), 16 oz. iced tea $1.49, and a double scoop of ice cream (Moose Tracks and choc. mint chip) for $3.19. Then I walked back to the tire place.
They had checked the back tires (new with 7000 and 3000 miles on them) and found them unbalanced so they replaced them free, and the front tires (which needed to be replaced anyway) had 70,000 miles on them had an 80,000 mile warranty. So we got all four tires new for $228.08, and got back on the road again.
We headed up US 301 for Jacksonville - it was a nice road with boiled peanut and orange stands, cows and horses on the farms along the way, and not a lot of traffic.
We did see a mystery truck (top picture) which we could not determine what it was for.