The "Real" Florida

The "Real" Florida has captured my heart, my soul, my entire being. I already miss the the Spanish moss-draped Live Oak trees that line sandy streets of small town neighborhoods, the shore birds everywhere, watching the tides go in and out, the slow-paced living, riding my bike for miles and miles and miles. I miss the ramshackle cracker houses of Florida's hardy original settlers and the restored Victorians surrounded by cottage gardens. I miss the rivers, lakes, springs, ocean, gulf and beaches. I even miss the little green and brown Anole lizards that are always underfoot.
Our route this trip took us from Jacksonville and St Augustine to Cedar Key, then to Micanopy, Macintosh, Cross Creek, and Orange Lake (a cluster of small towns near Gainesville). I did come back with one regret, that we missed seeing any springs on this trip. We drove 75 miles out of our way to visit our favorite spring at Manatee Springs State Park only to find that the park was closed (as were most of the state parks with springs) due to major flooding of the Suwanee River.

My obsession with documenting every interesting and/or beautiful thing has become a bit overwhelming, evident by the almost 1,000 photographs that I took in just one week. So my first Florida trip post is a little taste of some of the lovely places I went last week. Future Florida posts will chronicle my visits to each area. There is so much I want to show you!

Above, pic #1 "Miss Clarabelle", an old fishing boat now sits outside the Cedar Key State Museum. Yes, that's me in pic #2, showing off my crazy out-of-control Florida hair. Bangs are not my friend in Florida. I just realized that's the first picture of myself I have ever posted, and it's of me minus makeup with frizzy hair in a bathroom. Lovely. Below: The restored Sinclair home on Cedar Key, next to the museum.
St. Francis statue at a tiny park with Live Oaks and Plams, nestled in a grand neighborhood of historic downtown St. Augustine. The scent of Jasmine was in the air.
Cool mod house numbers posted on a Palm tree in St. Augustine. Strangely, the house at #47 sat abondoned and in disrepair, with notices posted on the home and trees. Of course, I was dreaming of restoring this old home on the river to it's former grandeur.
One of dozens (hundreds?) of feral or semi-feral cats on Cedar Key. Surprisingly, most look very healthy. The locals and tourists feed them.
The tiny beach at Cedar Key at low tide. Sailboat anchored off in the distance.
Close-up of a beautiful Egret who was a constant presence by our little rental cottage. I must have taken 50 pictures of her.
The back of an abonded home in charming McIntosh. This one was calling for me to restore it too.
Sunset at Cedar Key.
A taste of Florida's golden years: The Boy outside of The 50's era Orange Hut, which I believe was in Orange Lake (lots of little towns clustered together, so it may have been one town over). The oranges we bought here were the best I have ever tasted. That's just a little taste of "The Sunshine State". I will alternate my Florida posts with other subjects so that you don't start thinking of me as that annoying person who wants to show you slides of their vacation. I just know this is a special place that should be shared with the world.


Hello Lindello said...

I can't wait to hear more! I'm always amazed (being a midwest girl) at how even in the US, cultures change so much between states. The south has always mystified me with its history. When I was visiting Georgia and the Carolina's sometimes it felt like I was in a different country. I would like to spend more time getting to know and traveling the good Ol' USA instead of jetting off to Europe. There is so much to be learned and to see! Your post is inspiring that!

The Cottage Cheese said...

Hello Lindello, I know what you mean. I only get to venture outside the southern U.S. about once a year due to schedule and monetary limitations, but there are so many places in the U.S. that I'd like to see. Even the cultural differences between regions only 75 or so miles apart can be huge. It's quite fascinating. You'll have to let me know if you make another trip to the south. We will party like southern belle rock stars.

cassaundra said...

you know, i never knew florida was like this. i thought that people just went to florida to party and drink as much as possible - clearly i was wrong!

thanks for sharing these pictures. i think i might have wandered into one of those old broken down houses - they look so mysterious! .. and i wonder what sort of awesome old trinkets i could have found in there ...?!

i think i need to take a trip!

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

We lived in Florida for many years and I love...and dearly miss...all of these wonderful sites. You have to get off the main roads to really see the beauty of an area and you seem to have done just that. BTW, I can totally understand Florida, humidity and bangs...LOL. Welcome to naturally curly hair!

Biba said...

Lovely photos! Glad you had an amazing time. I want to see more, it's a life and place i know nothing about :)

BTW you look great in that photo! And even more so with no makeup on a bad hair day ;)

Toni said...

I stumbled to your site for the first time and instantly connected with this post! I have family who live in that area and it really is wonderful there. I've only been a couple times, there is something so grand about it all. love your photos!