I thought I knew our town. I was wrong. Now to be fair there is the town of Venice and then there is Venice Island. Venice Island is part of the town of Venice but the town of Venice isn't part of the Venice Island. Sort of like a Square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. It sounds more confusing than it actually is.
Since we live in the island I am well versed in the ins and outs of it all. I'm pretty sure that I know all of it's streets, parks, shops, beaches, quirks and many charms. I bike it, I walk it and on rare occasions, drive it. I'm fairly confident in my knowledge of Venice Island.
The town of Venice, especially once over the bridge to the mainland I thought I was fairly familiar with. I don't drive any further than absolutely necessary, mainly to the farm market and when absolutely necessary to the UPS store, to Enterprise to pick up or drop Tim off when he rents a car for a trip, or Dairy Queen Emergencies. But I do pay attention, sometimes, when Tim is driving to exciting places like Sonny's Real Pit BBQ, Walmart (of occasional necessity), Planet Fitness or Flapjacks which is our favourite breakfast restaurant. I am aware that there are a zillion or so stores and restaurants along the Tamiami Trail to say nothing of Bowling Alley's, boat related buildings, and hearing aid suppliers but I haven't paid that much attention to details. I feel like I know where the important things that directly relate to my life exist. Once again I was wrong.
I honestly thought that Joy and I have sussed out all of the great hiking places, only a few of which were actually in Venice (usually we end up heading North toward Sarasota for our photo safari's) and then a friend told me about a park or preserve (she wasn't sure which), here in Venice, where she and her husband go bicycling on miles and miles of trails that she couldn't remember the name of. She sort of described where it was and I said, Hmmm. I tucked that information away in the back of my brain and remember to bring it back out to play with on Sunday. I passed it along to Tim and it was his turn to say, "Hmmm."
So yesterday afternoon we set out to find this mysterious place that sounded so intriguing. Tim had already taken the admittedly vague information that I had given him and looked online at some area maps so he had a general idea of where we were going. After a few wrong turns and curious wanders, we found it. It's called the Carlton Reserve and it's HUGE! At one time it was a cattle ranch and now it's a wonderland of trails for horses, bicycles and hikers. More than 24 thousand acres of land dedicated to it's natural pristine glory (save the bicycles, picnic tables, restrooms and hikers). We walked for a short distance, just to get the feel of it. It was late in the day and I was wearing sandals, not recommended for hiking. But I cannot WAIT to get back out there.
There were clearly marked trails and loops off of trails (my favourite is called the Rhindondulous Loop - don't you love a sense of humour?), of various lengths from less than one mile, to 3 miles, to 9 miles and my favourite, the one I cannot WAIT to do, the 12.75 miles Boldlygo Trail. The name alone makes me want to do that hike. Very Star Trekian of them.
Sadly, Ranger Joy, my usual hiking sidekick, will be heading back on the job to Yellowstone again shortly. And in fact, this year, instead of being a regular Ranger (which is cool enough), this year she will be The Wildlife Ranger and it don't get much cooler than that. I do not begrudge her the time a Yellowstone (how could I? We are talking Yellowstone Rangering for heaven's sakes!) But since it's really not wise to hike alone, and I know few other people are as crazy about hiking as I am, it looks like I will be waiting until fall to hike the trails of the Carlton Reserve.
But it's good to have a goal. I have something out there in the distance to shoot for. And I'm shooting high. I cannot wait to hit the BoldlyGo Trail! Woohoo!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.