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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Getting Used to Driving a Golf Cart

I know it has been over 2 weeks since my last post, but there is always so much to do, I loose track of time.  I also had to deal with a failing computer backup system.  If you don't back up your data yet, please take this as a warning - please do so as soon as possible.  External drives have come way down in price and it is well worth the investment.   My backup strategy consists of multiple drives for redundancy, so when one fails I still have all my data.  One of my drives was over 5 years old and was starting to show signs of stress, so I bought a new one and spent the past week moving data.

But that's not what I want to talk about today.  Last time I told you about the golf cart safety class we took.  Since we have an electric golf cart, one of my fears has been running out of battery power far from home, so I was only willing to take it for short trips.  Well, 2 weeks ago we had a power gauge installed, so I can now see when the battery is starting to run low.  That gave me the courage to take it out on a long run.

I had a craft group meeting on my calendar this afternoon at Lake Miona Recreation center.  This is about 6 miles each way from our house and a 20 minute drive by car.I decided to research the golf cart path and leave early enough to allow for getting lost.  The route starts on my street, which is shared by cars and golf carts.  At the end of my street I turn onto a main connector road that has a dedicated golf cart lant on either side, where most roads have shoulders.   About 2 miles down this road is a 4 lane highway that golf carts cannot go onto.  To cross this I needed to merge with the car traffic and make a left onto a dedicated cart path, leading to a tunnel under the busy road.   This tunnel emerges in a park and sends you on a short cart path to another tunnel to cross to the southbound side of the road again.  From here I turned left onto a 2-lane cart part and bridge over a small lake.  

After the bridge there is a circle at the entrance to Sumter Landing.  Golf carts are not allowed in circles, so there is always a cart path detouring around them.  I took the detour to the right, leading onto the road into Sumter Landing. This is another road shared by cars and carts.  Making a left at the first block/light, I passed the Sweet Bay grocery store and turned left to connect with the dedicated cart trail along Stillwater Trail. There was one minor cart detour around a circle at Canal Street, then the cart path continued until just before the circle joining Stillwater and Buena Vista Blvd.  Here I entered a tunnel to go under Stillwater and join the cart trail along side of the golf course, on the left side of Buena Vista.  Lake Miona Recreation center is on the right side of Buena Vista and the path is on the left, so this required navigation of another tunnel to bring me alongside of the recreation center.  This may sound complicated, but the trip only took about  5 minutes more than it would have by car and saved money on gas. 

This is why you need to understand where you are going and how you will get there every time you take out the golf cart.  The combination of roads, cart paths and tunnels are not represented on any printed map or recognized on a GPS.  The only source I know of is the map on http://cartingthevillages.com/index.php.  This shows all the cart paths, tunnels and detours, as well as warnings for dangerous intersections.   By studying this before you venture out, you can find your way safely.

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