THE GREAT OUTDOORS
We did it. We escaped. It's no small feat, you know. To get out of the house to go away. But we did it. We are living in the great outdoors, at least for 3 days.
We love to go camping. We used to camp in a tent, and have a few horror, er, I mean, “bonding” stories to prove it. Like the time we camped in a tent in the Keys in June and a “franken” storm blew in swarms of gigantic mosquitoes from the Everglades. We used three entire cans of bug spray and went home with poisoning from all the Deet our bodies absorbed. That same trip, a small hurricane blew threw the area we were camping in and blew our entire tent down in the middle of the night, soaking us and everything in it with torrential downpour rain. We ended up sitting in our truck for hours in the middle of the night waiting for the storm to pass. Lesson learned: don't camp in Florida in the summer in a tent. I've a few more stories to tell, but maybe some other time.
Now we camp in a pop-up trailer, usually during the winter months when the weather is the absolute best. No more tents for me! We love cool weather camping, when the temps at night dip into the 40's and 50's, and daytime is high 60's to 70's. Perfect camping weather. We like to go north of where we live, about 4-5 hours, which brings us to the Ocala or Gainesville areas. Our pop-up sleeps 5, but it's usually just Bob & I on a quick getaway for a few days out of town.
Like I said earlier, it's no small feat trying to get out of town. First, I need to get Derek taken care of, so I have to confirm that his dad is available to have him during the time we're gone; then I also have to have someone at the house to watch over mom, as she can't be alone any longer. And don't forget about the “crew”, who also needs tending to. This time Brooke & Christian came to stay and take care of the old home front and all who reside there. Then my work begins: I need to leave instructions for how to manage mom and the crew; pack up everything we need for camping; prepare things for mom to have in the house; grocery shop for camping food and a number of other odds & ends that are too numerous to list. It gets a bit overwhelming preparing for just a few days away! But once we were out of the house and on the road, this huge weight gets lifted off my shoulders and I get in my “vacation” mode. FREEDOM!! And let me just say this: without the help of those who stay behind to take care of Derek, mom, the crew, the house....THANK YOU! You are so appreciated!! You make it possible for me to keep my sanity!
Yesterday we took a leisurely bike ride and then we went canoeing down the Silver River. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The campsite wasn't crowded yet, as it was just Thursday and the weekend crowds weren't here yet. As we were canoeing, we saw a small herd of deer in the woods, a few gators swimming lazily down the river, plenty of birds & turtles, lots of huge blue catfish in the crystal clear waters, and then we saw a few monkeys. Yes, monkeys. Apparently back in 1938, the man who started the Silver Springs attraction brought in some monkeys to help lure visitors in. He didn't know the monkeys were going to swim in the river and escape, and they've been living on a little island in the woods in the area ever since. So we even got to see a few of them swinging happily through the trees.
My favorite part of camping has to be the mornings. It's cool, quiet, and with a campfire going while sitting in a chair with my coffee, well, it doesn't get much better than that for me. This is a beautiful park, and the campsites are large and private. Lots of trees & shade. Its so very dark here at night, except for the brilliant stars in the sky. But they don't light up the camping area; as a matter of fact, the first night I was here, I was walking down the road to the bathrooms and I was actually a bit spooked by the blackness of the night. I felt like I was being swallowed up with it! No campsites had any lights on, and there was nothing but pure darkness, blackness, all around me. Spooooky. I could almost hear “Jason, Jason, Jason.....kill, kill, kill...” those whispered words in the horror movie Friday the 13. Which is why I don't watch horror movies any more. And which is why I ran back to my campsite. And why I didn't go alone to the bathroom anymore after dark.
Today is our last full day here. I will be soaking up as much of this atmosphere as I can. If only I could bottle this up for when life gets a bit overwhelming with the all its' craziness, all its' demands. But I'll just have to settle for looking forward to the next time we can escape, and come back to the beauty of nature; God's restorative, beautiful creation.