I’m a creature of the daytime. It’s when I crave adventure and exploration. At night I’m content watching movies or curling up with a book, but when the sun is shining, I’d rather be spending my time wild, carefree, and active.
The problem with my choice of lifestyle is that I don’t have many friends who share the same desire to breathe fresh air and burn out their bodies on physical activity. What can I say? I’ve never been one to sit still for extended periods of time. My body craves movement. Sure, I have fun just hanging out, watching movies, or going out to eat, but I have even more fun when I’m exploring new places, biking a trail, or paddle boarding. While I’m perfectly willing to do these activities alone, it’s not always wise (or as fun). That’s why when my best friend ventured up to my part of Florida with a bunch of her friends a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to tag along on their excursions.
I’ve always been vocal about my disinterest in Florida living. I’m drawn more to mountain life than the ocean, but I was born and raised under the palm trees. As I grew older, I began to think this state didn’t seem to offer the lifestyle I craved. I wanted to hike mountains, bike down hills, and tube along rivers. When I moved to Massachusetts in 2014, I thought I would finally be able to become one with my earthy self…and then I moved back to the sunshine state where my hopes and dreams were stuffed back into their air conditioned bubble. That is until I explored the Apopka/Mount Dora area of Central Florida with my best friend. It was such a breath of fresh air not being surrounded by tourists, theme parks, or flat land! What made it even more amazing was that I didn’t have to explore this new wilderness alone.
On Saturday morning, I met up with the group who were kayaking on a lake in Tavares. I was a tad late because I had a scheduled fourteen-mile run early that morning and they had already been out on the water for about an hour. I figured I would just wait for them to finish and join them for the next activity. The man working the kayak rental had other ideas. He handed me a life jacket and told me to hop on the Jetski behind him. Normally I’d be content just sitting and waiting, but I figured I was supposed to be “living” so why the hell not. I jumped on the back of the Jetski and off we went in search of the kayakers. We spotted them quickly and I fortunately maneuvered into a kayak without tipping us over.
The next activity that day was a guided boat tour down the canals of the “Redneck Riviera.” I sat with the tour leader and let him drive the boat while I took in the speed and sights. About halfway through the canal, thunder crackled and the sky opened up. We rode out the storm under a bridge and once it passed, we continued on through the waterways until it was time to head back to the dock.
I was most excited for the following day’s activity: tubing! We drove to Kelly Park, a natural spring in Apopka with crystal clear, free flowing water. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to finally be tubing in something other than a manmade lazy river at a water park. This was such a relaxing way to spend a Sunday. I felt entirely whole and at home floating down a river linked together with my new friends, and it made me realize that Florida isn’t such an awful place to live after all. I just had to leap outside of my normal surroundings to find the activities I cherish.
I so much enjoyed being part of this group for the weekend and I’m thankful they let me tag along for the fun.
One thing is absolutely certain. I need to find more people who share the same zest for adventures as I do. While I’m grateful for the friends I have here, I need more people (who live close by and don’t work the weekends) who don’t mind a little dirt, sweat, and outdoor exploration.
I only have one life and I don’t want to waste it being dull. Do you? Life is so much more worthwhile when you live it how you want!
She’s a wild child. Got a rebel soul and whole lot of gypsy – Kenny Chesney