A Day of Discovery in the Great Outdoors

One of my new year's resolutions was to spend more time in the great outdoors. Even though I grew up in a place where we hiked, walked almost everywhere, and grew our own food, I have spent the last 20 years as a city girl. Recently when I mentioned my background to a friend, she said "none of us would ever think of you as an outdoor person." I did not realize how far I had strayed from home.

Since we are new to Florida, every weekend, we explore a new town. Today, I decided to take the kids for a date with nature. Our first stop was the Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida. Big Tree is a quaint park with two spectacular trees. The Liberty, which is a 2000 year old Cedar, so named because it resembles Lady Liberty and The Senator, which is a 3500 year old Cedar. We strolled for about 3 minutes into the woods and I started thinking about bears. I held on tightly to the hand of my 6 year and was very happy when we came across a group sitting on a park bench. Clearly, I have a long way to go. 

After a tantrum and a crying spell that nearly made my husband drive off the road, we were happy to arrive at Wekiwa Springs State Park and campgrounds. When we arrived, the campground was full and we almost went home but the baby needed some mommy time so we parked the car and discovered an awesome treasure in Seminole County.  Wekiwa Springs has campgrounds, a huge lake with a clear water spring for swimming, hiking trails, a kids playground, picnic benches and a lake for canoeing.  

I Iove when I stumble upon another great place for the kids! The kids loved the playground. They wanted to jump into the lake but since we stumbled upon it, we were not prepared. Ok, I have to admit that the sign warning about the possibility of alligators made me anxious. We hiked for about 10 minutes, following a bridge that lead deeper into the woods.  It was a little scary walking into the woods with small children so I retreated. I felt a little embarrassed when I saw a woman who was at least 7 months pregnant fearlessly whizzing by me.

It was a cool day of discovery. In addition to the ancient trees and natural spring, I discovered that I could spend every weekend hiking and enjoy it very much. However, if there are bears in the woods and alligators in the lake, I am happy to appreciate it from a safe distance. I look forward to leaving the comforts of the Disney parks and venturing out to more parks where the mouse may not be smiling.