Wrasslin’ Gators and Joie de Vivre: Reflections on a Trip to Florida

I just spent a week in Central Florida. And though I had high hopes to get reptilian, I did not wrestle any gators. I mean, a blonde alligator gettin’ her wrassle on? C’mon now. I woulda won. I suppose the Florida gators will just have to wait until the Caligater returns.

I had time to do a lot of thinking and writing while I was in Florida. And while I was thinking and writing, several things emerged that I want to work on. Here are some photos & thoughts from my trip.

knuckle & brawl

The Wine Room on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, serves enomatic wine—it’s basically a restaurant-sized vending machine for wine. I vowed to pick wines solely by the silliest labels. This bottle, with a Popeye-esque boxer on the label, was delightful. And it reminded me to keep knucklin’ and brawlin’—to keep fighting the good fight. Even if I didn’t get to wrassle any gators.

float more

In Wekiwa Springs State Park, it was a brisk 50 degrees out, but the spring water was 72 degrees. I swam (okay—I doggy-paddled) in the clear water with minnows, cichlids and catfish nearby. I floated on my back for some time. With my ears underwater, all the noises of the state park were blocked out and my range of vision was only the sky. And I just floated. It reminded me to bring that kind of (figurative) buoyancy and quiet suspension to my day-to-day life.

shine brighter

203 steps lead to the top of Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, the second tallest masonry lighthouse in the United States. The lighthouse is solid brick and the Fresnel lens at the top can throw its light 20 or more miles to the horizon. Wow. 20 miles. And it made me wonder how far my light reaches. I want to shine brighter.

step into the shadows

It’s been about ten years since I’ve seen the Atlantic Ocean. I walked along a frayed and tired Daytona Beach, with piers in disrepair and hotels boarded up. It was late afternoon and my shadow was long. Despite my desire to shine brighter, I know there will be shadows. And I want to keep moving into shadows—because if I’m stepping into a shadow, I know there is light behind me.

manatees are awesome

Sea cows are adorable. I want to adopt a pet manatee, name him Herb and keep him in my bathtub. Hey, I’d settle just to hug a manatee. Can you imagine?

Blue Spring State Park counted 195 manatees the morning that we visited. They usually weigh a ton, eat up to 60 lbs of plants per day and have whiskers on their snouts. WHISKERS! Nothing profound here…manatees are just awesome.

icing on the cake: joie de vivre

Near the end of my trip, a friend and I exchanged some DMs on Twitter, and he gave me one of the brightest—and most humbling—compliments I’ve ever received: “Your joie de vivre is uplifting and inspiring.”

*melts*

I didn’t even know that I manifested a joie de vivre—a joy of life—even though I do have a joyful outlook on life, despite the trials and the shadows. But I realized that a joie de vivre envelops all of the things I’ve listed above. These are the items I want to work on in the coming days and months: knuckling and brawling, floating, shining and moving into shadows.

And maybe I’ll get to wrestle a gator. Or hug a manatee.

  • Liz

    I want to hug a manatee. But you more. <3

    • I’ve just GOT to make a trip out to California this year and visit you and Glenn. GOT to.

  • Liz

    I want to hug a manatee. But you more. <3

    • I’ve just GOT to make a trip out to California this year and visit you and Glenn. GOT to.

  • jen

    sweet and thoughtful. looks like you had a lovely time! :)

    • Hiya you! Thanks, dear. I did have a lovely time…It was great to get a little break before heading into my FINAL class in grad school (…and then the thesis). I can hardly believe it.

      • jen

        So sweet!

  • jen

    sweet and thoughtful. looks like you had a lovely time! :)

    • Hiya you! Thanks, dear. I did have a lovely time…It was great to get a little break before heading into my FINAL class in grad school (…and then the thesis). I can hardly believe it.

      • jen

        So sweet!

  • Les

    Wow, Cali! Beautiful thoughts. Simple but profound. Clear and concise. I hope you get to hug a manatee soon! Peace to you.

    • :) Thanks, Les! I appreciate your kind words.

      And I reeeeeeally want to hug a manatee.

  • Les

    Wow, Cali! Beautiful thoughts. Simple but profound. Clear and concise. I hope you get to hug a manatee soon! Peace to you.

    • :) Thanks, Les! I appreciate your kind words.

      And I reeeeeeally want to hug a manatee.

  • kia

    I am glad you had a good trip despite heading to tourist trap central you escaped and saw some amazing things. I love camping at Blue Springs State Park this time of year because you can wake up super early and sit on the boardwalk and have the manatees and their calves lounge near you around the pilings. It is almost ethereal because they are packed in the water with the early morning fog obscuring the world. They are remarkable creatures.

  • kia

    I am glad you had a good trip despite heading to tourist trap central you escaped and saw some amazing things. I love camping at Blue Springs State Park this time of year because you can wake up super early and sit on the boardwalk and have the manatees and their calves lounge near you around the pilings. It is almost ethereal because they are packed in the water with the early morning fog obscuring the world. They are remarkable creatures.

  • kia

    I also like wine tasting like this. Terry and I went to a place that vended like this near our home and it was great. You had an expert nearby to give recs and guide you but you use your pre-paid card to choose the quantity of your pour and self-serve. I would love to find a wine bar that does this in CO after I have the baby.

    • Thank YOU for the suggestions, Kia! We never would have ended up at Blue Springs if it weren’t for your suggestion. I LOVED it! And I could imagine how amazing it would be to camp there. If I ever make it back to that area, I would LOVE to do some camping and boating.

      And regarding the wine — YES. I looked around and didn’t find any place in Colorado that has enomatic wine…but I’m *hoping* it’s just that I haven’t stumbled on it yet.

  • kia

    I also like wine tasting like this. Terry and I went to a place that vended like this near our home and it was great. You had an expert nearby to give recs and guide you but you use your pre-paid card to choose the quantity of your pour and self-serve. I would love to find a wine bar that does this in CO after I have the baby.

    • Thank YOU for the suggestions, Kia! We never would have ended up at Blue Springs if it weren’t for your suggestion. I LOVED it! And I could imagine how amazing it would be to camp there. If I ever make it back to that area, I would LOVE to do some camping and boating.

      And regarding the wine — YES. I looked around and didn’t find any place in Colorado that has enomatic wine…but I’m *hoping* it’s just that I haven’t stumbled on it yet.

  • You snuck out and got a blog while I was gone! And your friend is right, joie de vivre describes you well.

    • Elaine – I DID get a blog. Finally.

      And thank you. :)

  • You snuck out and got a blog while I was gone! And your friend is right, joie de vivre describes you well.

    • Elaine – I DID get a blog. Finally.

      And thank you. :)