January 24, 2017 – Tomoka State Park – Ormond Beach, Florida
Up with the birds. Dawn is coming in muddy pastel behind the silhouette of oaks and palms. I poke my head out of the safety cocoon and while I certainly don't feel renewed, I'm a heckuva lot better than when I went in.
We were expecting a 50-degree low last night, but even the likelihood of freezing my tuchus off didn't compel me to set up the tent. Around 4am I woke up shivering so I got up and put on every item of clothing I have. Then I squeezed the hammock shut to defend what precious little warm air was trapped inside.
Don't laugh. Sleeping in a hammock in last night's conditions is a big freakin' deal for this extra-warm-blooded South Florida girl. Travel hasn't changed my disdain for cold weather one bit – I still turn into a pumpkin as soon as it drops below 60.
On a positive note, the raccoons of Tomoka have markedly better manners than their Anastasia brethren, so I'm happy to report my campsite was 100% critter-free. That's not to say I slept like a baby; I was up constantly throughout the night. Every rustle and every clatter, every whoosh and every snap sounded the warning bell and started the palpitations. Again, I'm not in a remote place by any stretch of the imagination, but the lizard brain don't care. With only a thin veil of nylon separating warm, vulnerable flesh from the outside world, the lizard perceives every little disturbance as a threat to life.
It's a strange feeling to be afraid when I sleep. Like I said, I camp all the time, but there's something about being alone that dials up the dread. I'm sure, with time, I'll get over it.
Despite being up all night, I feel surprisingly rested.
We have much different weather than yesterday. It's perfect. The sky is clear and there's a light, bike-friendly breeze.
I don't intend for a second to rush to camp tonight. Yesterday I blew through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world on a mad dash to arrive and set up before dark. Today things are going to be different, gosh darnit! I'm going to enjoy, take it slow, and see more.
That's the whole point of this trip.
Only 450 miles to go.