What Our After Dinner Walks Look Like

My husband has had the same car for the last 10 years; it’s a 1996 Toyota Corolla. He’s a mechanic so it’s well maintained and the thing just keeps. on. driving. He refuses to sell it (something about gas mileage) and is determined to drive it till it absolutely can’t drive no mo. #frugal

So, when he told me he wanted to get an old Jeep XJ for a “fun” car, I was more than encouraging. “GET IT!”

He saved up and bought an old XJ from his step-brother. He had been using it for hunting and to store corn.

Brian put new tires on it and did all kinds of guy stuff to it.

Brian: “Do you want to take it out?”

Me: “where?”

Him: “In the woods.”

Me: “Uhhh, sure.”

We used to take after-dinner family walks around the neighborhood but lately our “strolls” look a little different. We started exploring our other backyard: The Ocala National Forest.

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We think this low area was once a lake.

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On the main forest roads we wear seatbelts but when we explore the other areas we let the girls take off them off.

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All of these photos are completely unedited and pretty much taken from a moving vehicle.

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It started raining and the sky went crazy with colors and rainbows.

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This place is minutes from my home. Yes, I am blessed.

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Look! I’m a National Geographic photographer! lolz

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We chased rainbows that day.

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The forest is the only place where seeing another car is a little creepy. No one is out there to hear you or see you and there are hardly any passers by. We always bring a gun…as a precaution.

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Feeling it.

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Where does this go? Let’s find out.

This forest stole my heart.

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Golden light.

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Not all is peaceful here, though. There is a bombing range close by.

No matter. It’s still beautiful.

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Dusk.

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On fire. Not literally- just the sun setting. The forestry service does, however, start fires here. They are “prescribed burns” of underbrush to help limit real forest fires.

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Every time we go out we spot at least one form of wildlife: bear, deer, wild turkeys, owls, birds, gators, snakes, and turtles. It’s like a nature walk on steroids.

On this last ride we did see a bear. He or she was big and standing tall looking at us about 200 yards up the dirt road. My camera could not catch it and neither could the GoPro. He was fast and disappeared in the trees.

Needless to say, I adore the excursions we take. The whole family does. Now I’m the one begging to take the Jeep out. In the quite stillness of these woods, I forget about the to-do list and any anxious thoughts I have melt away. When we get home I feel refreshed and a little more…alive.