Last month my family got a chance to travel through a good part of Florida by SUV. It was a long ride down from Maryland but it was worth the drive. Being able to experience Florida from North to South and then South to North in March over a ten day period gave me a good representation of the differences of the north and southern parts of the states and in our case the East coast along the Atlantic Ocean vs the west coast on the Gulf of Mexico.
We made three stops in Florida and by that I mean we stayed overnight and we experienced the areas where we stayed. The first was Saint Augustine and I wrote about the some of that area here. That place is a winner -the beach area and the city. It is quaint and picturesque. I loved Flagler College which has a dorm that was once a beautiful hotel. There was a great vibe to the town even though the outside of the town feels like anyplace on the coast but cross the bridge into the main city and its like stepping back in time. The beaches are beautiful. We hope to get back there next winter.
After our short stay in Saint Augustine we headed down to Orlando where we stayed in a resort for a conference that Kevin had to attend. I spent time sightseeing with the boys. We also attended the trade show for the IHRSA conference (all fitness related) where Kevin was working. The hotel was huge and beautiful. A place we probably would not have stayed in had it not been a work thing. Orlando is nice but I didn’t see enough of it to get a true feel. I wrote about a night out where we attended a company party – EDM music and open bar. So not my thing but fun actually! We know a few people who live in the Orlando area and really love it.
We headed to South Florida for the third leg of our trip. My father and his wife live on Marco Island and that is a beautiful place. This was the leisure part of our trip where we enjoyed the pool in our rental house and the beach and visited with my dad and his wife. It had been a long time since we had made a trip to see him and it was a great visit. We also had time to drive around the island to see what had changed in the years since we last saw it. There was more building but there were still these pockets on the island that felt like you weren’t in a place that swells to forty thousand people in the busy season. Of course those were my favorite places on the island. This is the part of the trip where we took the airboat ride. You can read about that here.
I love the differences in the Florida climate from the north and the south. The north has more variation of hot an cold and I think that suits me best. The south can be hot. When we were visiting Marco it was hot and humid and I found that I wasn’t used to it yet and it got to me a few times. One thing I learned there was do not underestimate the strength of the sun. I got very sunburned and I thought I had been being careful about applying sunscreen.
I found Florida to be busy and that makes sense bc we were there over a busy time- but I kind of wanted to find that quiet that I have at home. With a whirlwind trip and not a lot of knowledge of different areas I never found that country feel except maybe on that drive in the center of Florida as we drove from one side to the other. I wasn’t over impressed with those areas though. There were those quiet neighborhoods in the out of the way areas of Marco Island but we aren’t talking about big lots -just less traffic. I did enjoy the Everglades – I loved the quiet and the lack of so many people buzzing about. But it is not a place to live really and I guess what I am searching for is a place to live in the future and if Florida might be that place -I need to find the areas that are quiet- they don’t have to be remote- but just away from the fray. I can be around crowds of people but I need my sanctuary to get away from them.
I contacted an old college friend who lives in the Jacksonville corridor. She works in Real Estate now and she is going to help me get a feel for the north east coastal areas of Florida. She knows I am into horses and the country and she says there are lots of equestrian areas there -so I look forward to see what she puts together for us. If we can get back to the St. Augustine area next winter we may rent a house for a week or two. I think that will help us get a better feel for the area. With the help of my real estate friend and a couple other people we know in that area we should learn a lot more about this pretty area.
We have time before we would need to decide where our next home will be. There really isn’t a true deadline. Though I guess I keep thinking that we can do something after my kids finish high school which will be in 2018. By that time we will have lived here on the farm almost 8 years and in the town of Mount Airy for 16 years! I have lived here longer than I have lived in ay place since I was a kid.
When we moved to our little farm now over 5 years ago I always thought we would own it at some point. That point hasn’t happened and it now seems like maybe we were just meant to be the stewards of this little farm and its little rancher that needs work.
The other night Kevin and I took a walk out in our left pasture. We had just let the horses out for the night. It was a beautiful evening – the sky was clear blue and we could feel the air softly blowing across our faces as we stood and watched the horses as we chatted with each other. The next thing I knew we were strolling into the field. We went to see the horses who looked up surprised at our presence there but quickly went back to munching their grass. Then we headed to the back fence where a new bunch of crops – either corn or soybean – will be planted soon by the tenant farmer who rents the land from a neighbor. Then we walked along the treelined boarder along our neighbors property. We stopped where I used to chat with Lou our 90+ year old neighbor who would sometimes chat with me while I was riding my horse -Harley. Lou passed away last fall and our other neighbor June passed last summer. When we moved in we were the younger couple living here and now with a few home sales to some very nice young couples we are now the the older people. We are the older people – wow.
We have gotten rather grounded here on this little farm and I would be lying if I said it will be easy to leave here. There are so many things I love about living here – on the farm and in our small town. But Maryland is an expensive place to live and the winters are cold and I long for warmth – oh and the ocean. If only I could pick this place up and put it a few miles from an ocean and in a place with a better climate. I would take the house warts and all. If only…
One thing writing all this tells me is that I am not ready to leave this place just yet. I do look forward to spending more time in Florida over the next couple winters. There is so much to learn about and to see. And there are other places to see outside of Florida – and to consider.
I know part of all this is comfort. I think Kevin and I will have to develop comfort with a place before we can make a decision of where we want to live in the next phase of life. That means visiting these places and that means vacations and I love vacations! So there is that fun in the discovering.
This vacation was really a good one. The teens did well and we all basically got along. So that is a win. I think I got some good photos of the different areas as well. And we learned about new places and saw some great things. And I learned that being home wherever that may be is the best place of all. Right now my little farm is the best place of all- because it is home.
Saint Augustine Photos:
South Florida Photos: