Monday, December 07, 2015

First Up: Florida.

I don't mind admitting that Carole and I vacation fairly often in Florida. Now, it's a popular vacation destination for good and bad reasons. We tend to stay away from what a lot of people consider the worst of what makes the state so popular with people from around the country. In fact, I often find myself having to defend the state's offerings as a worthy destination. The main reason for this is that so much of what are considered traditional reasons for visiting the state are pretty lurid and ghastly.

But Carole and I don't hit the places normally associated with Florida. The single exception might be Key West. We like Key West and got a real kick out of spending time in the town and walking around its streets and eating in the restaurants there. But that's an anomaly. We tend to steer well clear of the spots that attract truly vast crowds and which offer busy beaches and artificial amusement parks. No, thanks.

The spots we like to see in Florida are quite different and generally not as crowded as places like Disney World and Daytona Beach and Miami and other such spots. We tend to gravitate to rural and wild areas. And you would be surprised how much of Florida is rural, and how much of it is bonafide wilderness. (Clue: lots and lots and lots of it.)

Generally, we seek out campgrounds in state parks and in National Forests. These are usually not crowded. But even when they are crowded, they remain relatively quiet and well run. We also tend to exert ourselves in outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. You'll most often find us miles away from roads scoping out birds and wild critters, or drifting on crystal clear water on rivers of purest blue.

This is why we like Florida. We've never been menaced by muggers or criminals because such folk aren't generally found out in the wilds. We don't have to worry over traffic and looming accidents because almost nobody visits the springs and rivers and paths that are locked away deep in moss-draped forests.

Yeah, there are the bugs. Go in the cooler months and they're not that bad. Indeed, there are snakes and alligators. Just be careful and they're part of the scenery. As for the heat and humidity...remember what I said about the cooler months. We like to go in the Spring when the sun makes it warm enough to go swimming, but not so hot that we swelter.

So, be like us: enjoy Florida for all the right reasons. And so, in April we'll be headed to northern Florida to kayak the Suwanee River and snorkel in some big freshwater springs. And hopefully see some wild critters and cook some good food!

The sparkling springs of Ecofina Creek.

Moss-draped beauty.

A nice state-sponsored ride across the sound to a deserted island!

Ghost towns!

We like beaches. Especially when we have miles of them to ourselves!

Not just history...Pre-Colombian history!

Dry Tortugas National Park. One of the least visited, but one of the most gorgeous.

Manatee Springs.

Plenty of hiking opportunities in Florida.

Ever gone swimming through an underwater tunnel? I have!

Where's Tarzan?!

Delving into the jungle.

The ever-present Great blue heron!

My pals!

Again, I ask: Where is Tarzan?!

Limestone and pure water.

Carole is the best camp cook in the world!


Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

I can personally attest to the 5-star quality of Carole Smith's campfire eats. The business plan for me is to get ghastly horrible rich with my third book so I can pay my son to housesit while Cynthia and I travel with you and Carole to swim in those springs. God forbid you make them popular with this post.

James Robert Smith said...

Some of those springs are pretty darned popular (Ichetucknee in particular). But there are so many of them in Florida that you can always find many that are deserted of humans.

So: everyone buy Roy's excellent novels and make him rich.