With the perfect Fall weather finally here, Bruce Hunt and I got together recently for a roadster trip. For those of you who don’t speak old school, a roadster is a lightweight, two door convertible—wind in what’s left of the hair, and all that. Our destination lay just south of Gainesville, reached by the most indirect (all back roads) route possible. Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park is a 21,000 acre natural prairie that periodically fills to form a lake of varying size. In the late 1800’s, what became known as Alachua Lake was so large that steamboats routinely crossed carrying lumber, goods, and passengers. In 1891, the Alachua Sink, the main drain for the basin, cleared its throat and the lake waters drained out virtually overnight into the porous limestone below. It was said that thousands of fish were left flopping in the mud, while somewhere out there the steamer Chakala lay heeled over, abandoned by its crew. The bones of the Chakala now lay trampled underfoot the prairie’s wild horses and yes, the park’s signature Bison herd. Since you can’t have a true prairie without a decent-sized contingent of cud chewers, the Park Service decided to import some from Oklahoma back in the 1970s. Apparently, they’ve done a little too well for themselves. Some of the males have become a might too frisky, intimidating and, well, blowing snot on unsuspecting tourists. So a plan is afoot to cull the herd (not to worry—they are just relocating them). Do try and get there while the Bison are still out in force and you’re more likely to see them. Just keep your distance. When these myopic critters finally figure out you are there, they’re not always the most polite. In the hour or so we were there (sunset is a great time), Bruce and I saw gator, deer, hawk, Sandhill Cranes, and, after careful observation, a group of what turned out to be wild horses. I’ve got to get a bigger zoom lens for the return trip.
Greg Peek has been restoring his 1971 MGB for the better part of a decade. He has written and photographed numerous feature articles for a variety of automotive magazines, including Classic Motorsports and MG Enthusiast. He works for a defense/aerospace contractor (note from Bruce—who, for national security reasons, I cannot name—suffice it to say, I think he’s been to Area 51 but he denies that).