As last week headed toward an end, I found myself more and more short tempered. With the amount of crap from coworkers or stupidity from family members, I knew that I needed a break because if I didn’t, I would snap at the next person who issued a wrong word my way.
I stopped by my general manager’s office and told him that I needed to take a few days off – to get away. After his quizzical look of concern and approval for a few days respite, I researched a VRBO south of Tallahassee for ninety bucks a night. The next morning, I attempted to book the room, but for some reason VRBO wouldn’t let me book that evening, just the next night. After several hours of back and forth with the owner, we made arrangements for me to rent the small converted fishing shack that evening.
The small cabin was secluded on a lake – Lake Ellen – in Crawfordville, Florida. There were a few houses nearby, but the snowbirds weren’t down for the summer, so I had the lake largely to myself. Two of the neighbors were in residence, but I didn’t see anything other than their head occasionally bobbing along over the fence line.
Lake Ellen – Peaceful solitude
One of the selling points for me was that there wasn’t a TV in the building. Even better was that my cell phone didn’t have service out there. Some folks were at one of the houses right on the lake on Saturday evening. I quickly left because I couldn’t deal with the excessive noise of the children and the parents trying to entertain them.
St. Mark’s Lighthouse – July 25, 2020
On Saturday, I went to the local lighthouse – St. Marks – and found the place to be interesting. Two alligators were in close proximity at one point and I was not inclined to visit them up close and personal!
I met up with a friend and we socially distanced at Alligator Point Beach. It was fairly quiet, with a handful of people on the beach, keeping their distance from one another and – more importantly – from us!
After less than two hours, we trekked back to the small house to rinse off the saltwater and made our way to Wakulla Springs. My pal told me this was where they filmed “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” We visited the lodge, which was fascinating with its beautiful paintings on the ceiling. The springs were inundated with too many people, despite the Coronavirus concerns. When the gatekeeper told me we’d have to wait to get in to the swimming area, I told her not to worry about it – considering she just let in about eight teens, none of whom were wearing masks. My friend and I were wearing masks and were evidently not going swimming in our hiking shorts and backpacks. I just wanted to see the grounds, but I wasn’t inclined to put myself in danger with all the children and other non-mask wearing folks around.
After a lunch of shrimp and grits, we parted ways for us both to seek out a nap. Getting older during a pandemic will make you sleepy!
Monday arrived and it was time to check out but not without spending some time with the owner of the cabin. She was a charming former school teacher who shared with me her chocolates that she makes as a side business. After a short visit with her, I packed the car and made a mental note to come back for my birthday in September.
What I learned from this spontaneous trip alone:
- Quiet time is a good thing – seek it more often.
- Walking in the marshes alone isn’t so scary – unless you happen upon an alligator (or two)!
- Naps are an amazing way to energize.
- The adage about stopping and smelling the roses can be applied to:
and tomatoes… even if you don’t really want to smell some of these!
- Early morning walks to the lake are an amazing way to start the day, especially if the fish are jumping and the fog is drifting along the banks.
- Pay attention to the colors and smells. The different colors of the water at the lake versus the sea can be striking. While the smells of the sea and beach are vastly different from the lake.
Finally, just allow yourself to be. You don’t need an agenda. Say hello to strangers. Smile. Keep your notebook handy and use those color pencils to capture the moment – even if your skills aren’t those of Picasso, Dali, or Renoir. Sometimes just a brief scratching of color is all you need to remind you of the day. And keep your ticket stubs, passes or receipts. They make a great reminder of the day.
I did mail postcards to myself each day to recall what I did, even if the events were mundane.
Be good to yourself. Escape and be at peace with yourself. The world will be there when you get back and it will gladly remind you why you took a break to begin with!