I gotta admit I was a little nervous about traveling to Florida, especially with the political climate and the fact that I had just finished reading When She Woke (a Handmaid’s Tale-esque novel), but the sun, the sea and the palms sang their siren song, and the wind blew us toward the Keys.
So, with a list of banned book titles—which I had planned to read openly—and a resolve not to talk politics with strangers, we ventured into the blood-red territory.
Yes, there were areas of paraphernalia billowing from rooftops and pickup truck beds, but mostly it was just like any other state (except North Carolina—where I refused to leave Tomás while Kevin waded through confederate flags and ammo sales at a swap meet—no thank you).
I noticed right away that, like every place I have ever traveled, people are mostly kind. I’ll never forget the guy who invited us onto the deck of his closed restaurant to drink our morning coffee because, “the view is better back there.”
Or the time we sought shelter from a sudden downpour at the beach with a young couple who were on a weekend getaway, after which they insisted on buying us a beer (I declined—I’m not a beer drinker—but the offer stood).
I will always hold dear the “friend-of-a-friend” who let two old strangers park in his driveway, gave us full hookups, lent us his scooter or bicycles when he needed the scooter, took Kevin fishing on his boat (which he charters) for free, and cooked us some amazing meals, and is no longer a friend-of-a-friend, but simply our friend.
Then there was Annika. Originally from England, living in Florida, Annika stayed at our Airbnb six years ago. After a couple of nights of travel chat and maybe a little too much wine, we parted ways with offers of, “If you’re ever in Florida, stop in.” All these years later we stopped in. Annika’s home, like her spirit, is a beautiful Zen garden. She lights the place with her presence. The energy is calm and beckons to weary souls to land and refresh their spirits. We started our days with meditation in her tiki hut, followed by relaxing with our books poolside and ended with lovely conversation over a glass of wine in the evenings. We will miss Annika and hope she joins us in South America for part of our journey.
I didn’t know what the political and social views of these people were (well, some I did), I didn’t ask. I didn’t care. We were kind to them, and they were kind to us. I came to the state with a trepidation about the us vs. them mentality but walked away with a greater sense of “we.”
One thing that did not surprise me about Florida is the beauty. I mean, come on, does it get more beautiful than palm trees, white sand, and teal blue water? Yes! Yes it does. THEY HAVE SPRINGS! Over nine hundred of them! These crystal-clear pools of fresh spring water pop up everywhere in Northern Florida. The cenote-like pools are often alongside rivers and were the inspiration for us to buy our own floaties—just in case we passed a spring along the way.
We also noticed that Florida has the best radio stations we have had so far. I expected, like we have had in all the other southern states we’ve been in, either country or Christian. Now don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with either of those, but a girl can only take so much twang, and Christian commentary in a red state raises my blood pressure. Florida has classic rock stations that play a variety of music ranging from John Denver to Led Zeppelin, on the same station. We belt out every song—very off key—as we cruise these highways.
Although we spend 85% to 90% of our time Boondocking (dry camping at undesignated camping spots. i.e. dead end roads, beach front land, parks etc.) the State parks in Florida, specifically in the Keys, are some of the best places we have landed.
Speaking of the Keys—Mamma has come home. I love everything about them, the palm trees (I should mention two perfectly placed palm trees are the best places to hang a hammock), the geckos (and other reptiles), the ocean breezes, the lightning storms, even all the sand that gets in the bus, absolutely everything!
My trepidation about traveling to Florida has been quelled by the many wonderful encounters and adventures we have had here. I am so happy I have proven my old adage to be true. I always say, “If you feel you know a place, when you have formed opinions about the people, the culture or the country (in this case the state) then go there, because you’re probably wrong.” Boy, was I wrong about Florida!
If you wanna know where you can find me, I’ll have my toes in the sand and a drink in my hand. Life is good and Florida has (temporarily) acquired two more crocs (Crockfords that is).
If you enjoyed this blog and want more from Andi here is a link to her book, No return Ticket
If you want to travel with these two vagabonds contact us at http://www.kendiworldadvetures.com