Saturday, May 5, 2012

Road to NoWhere

I was going to write yet another "adventures at Leesburg Bikefest" story like last year, but it turned out to be a non-event for me.  The GF and I were either sick or drug-out from work the week before (or both), but we did manage to get there for Saturday night's concert featuring Seven Mary Three.  I dunno, I didn't think much of them back in the mid-90s, but the GF liked them back in the day so I (begrudgingly) went anyway.  I can't use terms like "awesome" and "rockin'" to describe the band's performance, but they didn't quite register on the suck-o-meter either...."mmehhh" pretty much sums it up.   They must be preparing to release a B-side / come-back album in the near future....I didn't recognize a single one of their songs.  This years three-day Bikefest did see a record attendance (somewhere approaching 300,000), but otherwise it was still a non-event as far as I'm concerned.

The following Monday, having gotten over my sickness / eight-day-work-week, I did something I haven't partaken in since I was a teenager. Some friends of mine and I drove over to the Gulf Coast to do a little blue crab fishing on the "road to nowhere".  Now, if you're thinking in terms of boats and traps, think again.  The red-neck way is with...and I'm not making this up...chicken on a string.  Essentially you tie a twenty-or-so-foot piece of twine onto a raw, store-bought chicken leg or breast, toss it in the water, and wait for the crabs to think they're gettin' an easy meal.  Slowly pull the line back towards the shore where their impending doom awaits in the form of a long handled dip net.  Add beer...and good time is had by all.  Blue Crabs aren't terribly large, it takes quite few dozen of them to make a decent boil, and it's a whole lot of work for a tiny amount of meat....hardly the snow crabs you'd get at the likes of Red Lobster.

As for the "Road to Nowhere", it's actually the southern end of County Road 361 in Dixie County,'s a two-lane lime rock (gravel) road that traverses through the tidal marshes of the Steinhatchee / Coastal Creeks Conservation Area on the southern end of Florida's "big bend"...and literally ends in the middle of nowhere.  The road is rather unremarkable except for one paved, overly wide, and overly long section...long and wide enough to, say, land a plane on.  That stretch of road received a slightly more infamous moniker, the "Drug Dealer Highway".

As the story goes, the (corrupt) county powers-that-be wanted to capitalize on then import of a certain less-than-legal powdery, white substance that was popular throughout the well as the ever-present ganja.  Back then (and up to the present) a common method of delivery was to fly in low over the Gulf waters, toss out a few bails of "product", send out a hired boat to pick it up, and off it went.  Apparently the Colombian cartels weren't too keen on loosing the stuff due to the inability of the boats to find it all.  Back then it was not uncommon for beach combing tourists and locals to happen upon a bail or two that had floated ashore...myself included.  It was such a common occurrence that local fishermen who accidentally netted errant bails began referring to them as "square groupers", whereas bails found ashore were called "sea-weed".

The solution: the cartels pay off a few county bigwigs, bigwigs solicit federal funds to build a "nature trail" (it literally is a "bird watching trail" now), land their product-laden plane ashore, and cut out the middleman.

Everybody was a winner...until the feds started handing out subpoenas.


  1. Funny you should mention Red Lobster: I happen to live in a corner of Michigan so damn far down the economic drain that ours kicked the bucket roughly half a decade ago, and the building in question was reinvented as a Russ'-type breakfast nook...which folded in turn, and is now being re-tooled as yet another Chinese buffet (come for the sugar donuts, stay for the Moctezuma's).

    Honestly, while I love a good volume on marine life, fishing has always been my dad's bag. However, the method described here sounds effort-free enough that I'd say the Southern crowd has the right idea.

    I suppose for a broad definition of "bird," the trail served its lip-service purpose. Good to know your elected officials were lookin' out (though perhaps not *ahead*).

    1. Fishing has always been...everyone else's bag. I have absolutely no, zero patience for fishing with a rod a reel...thirty minutes into it and you'd be lucky if I'm not throwing rocks and whatnot into the water. The chicken on a string method is relatively entertaining, but effort free? No, that would be dynamite fishing...though shellfish don't have a tendency to float after said method is applied.

      Thankfully, I don't live in Dixie County. I'm about 100 miles away...a little closer to the Disney-metroplex. Our swamps, marshes, and out-of-the-way areas are filled with far fewer "smugglers blues" carcasses than say, the Everglades.

    2. Pardon my lack of reading comprehension re: crabbing...out of curiosity, how quick are the little nippers to catch on & bug out if one's too hasty in retracting the bait?

    3. Once the "smell" of chicken (or any bait of your choosing) is in the water I'd say I averaged a crab every ten or fifteen minutes. Once they start feeding they are pretty much oblivious to everything could damned near pull the bait out of the water before the crab realizes anything is afoul. A single piece of chicken will last the entire day, provided something larger (tarpon, alligator, dolphin, etc) doesn't come along.