Offroading in the GDC, continued
The GDC is where my dad took me to teach
me how to drive a stick shift. When
I was 15 (over 30 years ago) the GDC was already old. There
was mile after mile of streets that were being overgrown by
the vegetation on all sides, but no houses or traffic. Dad
was able to sit back comfortably while I drove around for hours,
stopping at intersections and learning how to use the clutch.
My brothers and sister all learned to drive out there, too.
Years went by and I left home, served in
the military, got married and divorced, and returned to Melbourne
with my young son. The GDC was unchanged, except for the roads
becoming a little more overgrown and run-down. By this time dirt-bikers
and off-roaders had discovered the fun of riding in the wilds
of the GDC.
I had a big green International Scout that
friends and I would take offroading, and we had a lot of fun
exploring the GDC. The streets twist and turn every witch way
and it's easy to get lost out there, so we always made sure we
had a full tank of gas when we started out.
The Scout splashing through a mudhole.
The GDC was so remote we got to see
a lot of wildlife. There
was a huge old oak tree with a large branch that crossed a
hidden trail where a panther or bobcat used to take his catch
to eat it. We never saw the cat itself, just droppings, claw
marks and bits of leftovers on his favorite branch.
There were alligators in the canals, and
sometimes some bones left over from a wild pig one had caught
I saw a lot of panthers in Melbourne when
I was young, but the only BLACK panther I ever saw in the wild
was out at the GDC. We had been parked for a while and were about
to start up and leave because it was beginning to get dark. Suddenly
a huge black panther stepped out of the vegetation about 25 ft.
away from us. We sat quietly and watched it for a moment, but
it noticed us and silently melted back into the trees. It was
one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
We could sit out there and watch hawks
hunting, or hike through some of the open savannahs keeping an
eye out for snakes and scorpions. There were sometimes deer or
wild pigs to be seen.
The canal at the southern end of
We never ran into other people out there,
but could see signs where there had been visitors in the night. Drug
At the southern boundary of the GDC is
a long, straight canal. An equally long, straight road ran on
the GDC side of it. Most any time you went out there you could
see fresh signs of fires built at either end of the roadway and
tire marks in the middle of the road.
My brother was broke down out there one
night with a girl and they saw a guy drive up in a pickup truck.
She wanted to flag him down for help, but my brother convinced
her to stay quiet and they weren't seen. The pickup driver lit
fires in barrels at either end of the road. Almost immediately
a small plane dropped out of the sky and screeched to a halt
in the roadway. Bundles where quickly transferred from the plane
to the truck, the plane took off, the pickup driver kicked over
the barrels to put out the fires and took off himself. The whole
operation took less than 10 minutes.