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THE GREAT OUTDOORS In the Woods
There’s no shortage of summer weather in Northeast Florida, which gives us time to enjoy activities like boating, fishing, and skiing. We can pretty much enjoy these water activities with our families almost year around here. Those hot summer days in late September and October get old quickly! That’s when I look forward to the first fresh hint of fall in the air. There is no doubt that fall in Florida is the perfect time to head into the woods and experience Mother Nature’s beauty. The deeper the fall-winter, the better! I look forward to the cooler weather and changing leaves. Fall is the best time for outdoor activities. Cooler temperatures invite some of the most fun outdoor family activities, such as hiking the Appalachian Trail, ATV riding, and camping at Lake Delancy. I enjoyed these recreational activities originally with my brother, but we eventually began riding with our cousins. From there, we started to involve our families and close friends. It’s amazing that Jonathan will be able to go riding by himself in less than three months! There’s nothing quite like the freedom of riding an ATV in the wilderness: Making the turn off Highway 19 onto the Limerock Road system of the U.S. Forest Service brings about one of the most exhilarating off-road adventures. What I have always enjoyed most about being in the woods is the peace and serenity of nature’s mostly unkept beauty, and the comradery I experience in riding with family and friends. Since age 13, when there were only three- wheelers (ATCs), I have enjoyed these adventures. It makes me laugh just to think of all the stories I could tell about these adventures. Thankfully, they all end well!
front of me. Jonathan rides his Yamaha Grizzly 125 and follows far enough behind to avoid the dust. The area is full of wildlife, and we usually see bear, deer, or turkeys. We’ve even come across snakes and alligators on the trails. The memories we make each trip are tough to beat — especially when we camp under the stars. One of our favorite local spots is Lake Delancy in the Ocala National Forest. The trail system connects to several destinations, from Lake Delancy to Salt Springs, to Hog Valley, Florida, to the Rodman Reservoir. A small place named Square Meal offers some of the best country breakfast you can find anywhere in Salt Springs, Florida. Then, several miles west on the other side of County Road 316 is the historic 88 Store, which is a small gas station with a few convenient store items and a dive bar that serves the coldest draft beer I’ve ever had for 75 cents. I think they may charge a dollar these days. Back at camp, Addison enjoys following Jonathan around on her battery-operated RZR. Sometimes Jonathan tows Addison around on his ATV while Alison and I follow. Alison is sure to have all we need to make our camp-fire dinner the most delicious and enjoyable. The cool weather and serenity of the woods beg every trip to be a camping trip. It makes going to the woods easy, and every time, I wish we would have geared up to camp!
Today, Jonathan and Addison look forward to each trip to the woods with utter excitement. This adventure elicits questions like, “Can we camp? How long can we stay? Can we ride? Who’s going?” It’s always fun to pack up the ATV’s with a cooler, a camp grill, a few other necessities, and then we head to the Ocala National Forest for some of the best riding trails Florida has to offer. Alison and I ride a Yamaha Grizzly 660, and Addison usually rides in
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