When I first made the decision to move out of state this year, a lot of people thought that I just couldn’t take Florida any longer, that I’d never wanted to be there and hated the state completely.
But that’s not the case at all, not even close. On the contrary, I’ve spent my 30 years there exploring every corner from the Panhandle to Jacksonville to the Keys; I’ve been everywhere man, and Florida is a richly beautiful state.
I’ve walked the beaches in Destin, Panama City, Daytona, Sanibel, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, Naples, Venice, Stuart, St. Augustine, Hollywood, and the Keys.
I’ve paddled the Withlacoochee, Hillsborough, Chassahowitska, Weeki Wachee, Homassassa, and Rainbow rivers.
I’ve kayaked off Key West (where it’s easiest to do) from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean and back again.
I’ve slept under the stars in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, and Manatee counties.
I’ve parasailed in Ft. Myers, jumped out of a plane in Zephyrhills and sailed on a pirate ship in Clearwater.
I’ve walked through the Everglades, listening to male alligators call for a mate. I’ve learned about the value of cypress trees and their role in eco-health. I’ve seen countless flowers and vines, and ridden airboats through seas of sawtooth grass.
I’ve driven my Jeep on Daytona’s white sand beaches and dug trucks out of Lecanto’s sugar sand roads. I’ve seen the sun rise in Ft. Lauderdale and set in Miami.
I’ve worked in Merritt Island, Pembroke Pines, and Islamorada; loved in Marco Island and Coco Beach; reunited with long time friends in Naples.
I’ve witnessed the space shuttle’s impossible details at Kennedy Space Center and awed by launches in Titusville.
I’ve run out of gas on Alligator Alley, eaten strawberries in Lakeland, rode the roller coasters in Tampa, championed animal rights in Orlando, toured the capital in Tallahassee, photographed kids in Frostproof, browsed art in Mount Dora, and mingled with carnies in Riverview.
I’ve had my future read in Cassadaga and breathed fresh clean air in Ocala National Forest.
All from my home base in Spring Hill.
And in 30 years of living there I can say I know you well Florida, with all your quirks and charms and beauty. I look forward to sinking my toes in your sand again, getting a kite to catch the wind, and feeling your warm winter breeze on my face.
Thank You Florida, for a chapter I’ll never forget.