My Favorite Memories of the Sunshine State
03/10/2013 70 °F
Florida has been good to me. It's such a beautiful state - so full of life and color. It's a wonderful contrast to the chilly northern climates that I had been visiting. It was good to walk around in shorts again. It was good to swim in a river. It was good to sit around a bonfire under a starry sky. It was good to climb trees again. I ate a lot of amazing food. I did battle in my first paintball war in twenty years. I ate some of the best shrimp of my life in Apalaciacola. None of this would have been nearly as fun if it wasn't for my good friends and hosts, Clayton and Laura Lee.
Florida offered me many new experiences I wouldn't find anywhere else. I saw my first alligator. I ate my first alligator (it was delicious). I pulled an orange right off the tree and ate it for breakfast. I swam with manatees. I took a ride through a Florida swamp on an air boat. I built my first chicken coop. I ate the best strawberry you can get, and I snorkelled down a beautiful crystal clear river (see Soaring Through the Wild Blue). It was great.
Fireside Banjo Jam
This is what it’s all about. I met up with my good friend Clayton on his farm way up in the panhandle of Florida. We spent 15 minutes cutting up a dozen pine logs and set up a good fire. The stars lit up the dark sky, accompanying the hanging crescent moon. We drank some beers. We played our banjos. We talked of life, and how good it is. This was my first night in Florida, and a damn fine one at that.
Clayton and I got back in his truck. He started it up, and stopped for a second. We could go straight across the sand lot, or we could turn around and stick to the parking lot. Clayton asked me, “Do you think we can make it?” I answered without really thinking about it, “Sure, let’s go for it.” Well, we went for it. We didn’t make it. The sand became deep halfway across and we sunk up to the axle. We were stuck.
After a half hour of futile effort, one call to a tow truck, and trying a few more bad ideas, a four pack of guys came to our rescue. The four of them lifted the back of the pick up and Clayton jammed a six by six log under the tire. Then we all pushed while Clayton spun his way to the road beyond. We escaped just before the tow truck arrived. It was a solid afternoon had by all.
Clayton needed to build a chicken coop for his chickens. I became excited about the idea, and drew up some elaborate blueprints of what Clayton wanted it to look like. I love sketching out the finished product almost as much as I like building them.
One afternoon we went out to the hardware store to buy the supplies, and the next day we started the build. It took a lot longer to build than I thought it would, but the end result looked a lot like how I envisioned it.
I thought back to where I was two weeks before when I was wandering around downtown Manhattan. Now here I was building a chicken coop on a farm in rural Florida. I love the diversity of my life.
Florida has the best oranges. Have you ever smelled an orange blossom? It is the most intoxicating perfume I've ever scented. Have you ever eaten an orange right off the tree for breakfast? I did. It was the juiciest most flavorful orange I have ever tasted.
The Florida Wild
The following photos are from various parts of Florida. Florida is beautiful. It is full of birds, wildlife, flowers, gators, and some of the best trees I’ve ever seen. I love Florida’s trees. The white Cyprus and the giant live oaks are my new favorite, especially when covered in Spanish moss.
Evening Tree Reflection
White Cyprus and Spanish Moss
Gulf of Mexico
Female Grackles Walking the Swamp
Shamrock in Good Light
Pitcher Plant Frog
Lily Pads and Reflected Clouds
My favorite part of Florida was spending quality time with my friends. Cheers!