My family and I just returned from a rare trip to visit family who live in Florida. It’s been 16 years since I saw most of them, including my grandpa. Since he lives in north central Florida, our Air Bnb stay landed us in the middle of beautiful Florida horse country. It isn’t the beach scene or orange grove most people imagine when they think of Florida, but with all the grass-fed cattle and horses roaming, the massive oak trees dotting most fields and the ever-present whisp of Spanish moss, it was incredibly beautiful countryside!
Ahhhh, these trees! I was constantly in aww as they either towered over us on the road, or created a lush shade canopy in an expansive field. I wondered if there is any truth to my realization that these Florida trees have all year to grow while our Minnesota trees (though beautiful) spend half the year in dormancy. These trees were so big and magical!
Of course, the horses prancing all around made the scene only that much more magical. Every person in the area where we stayed had horses! Having spent near zero time with horses, they radiate mystique to me.
I also couldn’t get over the grass-fed cattle out there. Having lived in Wisconsin, the cow capital of the USA, so I thought, I feel I’ve been fooled. All those cows out in Florida looked mighty happy with the wide open space and all the green they could eat. And really, that was one of the most refreshing differences between the midwest and Florida – the apparent lack of feed lot operations, and mono cropping (notably corn and soy).
This picture is from Paynes Praire Preserve State Park where we took a short hike. Ironically, the only four legged animal we spotted was a deer. So prolific in Minnesota they are, we continued on our way, in search of an alligator instead. No alligator crossed our path in that state park, but we saw several at Silver Springs State Park. The Florida springs truly are incredible and worth a paddle on those crystal clear waters! You can see 12 feet down with ease! It’s like paddling on glass.
Lastly, what’s a Florida trip without a visit to either side of the state to see the ocean?