We skipped Disney and headed to Central Florida to make our own magic...
Magic we found, and we discovered the 3 "keys to the kingdom" to have the most amazing time on the road.
Every year, over 52 million people flock to central Florida to wear minnie ears and eat Dole Whips at Walt Disney World.
I am totally one of them. I LOOOOVVVEEEE Disney (especially with the right people)...
But when I suggested a trip to the Magic Kingdom, one of my favorite people on the planet suggested we go more backwoods than barnstormer and hit the road for an impromptu road trip... with no real agenda.
Ahhhhhhh.... sold. Not only did we miss the lines, the $2 state park fee cut our expenses manifold.
And the magic?
Omnipresent. Epic. Stunning.
Here's what what we learned... Our newfound Keys to the Magic Kingdom of epic road tripping...
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN MAGIC
+ have the best road trip. Ever.
1. BE OPEN
We set out for Juniper Springs, listed on several sites as a must-see natural springs in Central Florida. On the way, Grant, that brilliant Disney-plan-changer (who happens to be Australian), expressed interest in seeing an American Rodeo. This suggestion was quickly recanted as he recalled my passion for animal welfare. Whomp whomp.
I also happen to have a passion for indigenous culture! I did a quick google search for Pow Wows in the area... Boom, a Native American Flute gathering further west at Withlacoochee River Park! A totally different direction... But we went for it... The extra hour to the trip landed us in a totally unique cultural experience, and, ultimately, an incredibly beautiful moment. We giggled, cuddled on a blanket, under a full moon, in a drum circle, surrounded by laughter, singing, chanting, and amazing music. Total magic. (Not to mention a gorgeous camp site).
Most amazing was a peaceful and vibrant full moon paddle down the jet black Withlacoochee river... surrounded by live cypress trees, hooting owls, darting bats, and mystic buzzing on the river banks.
It was like nature knew it was Halloween time, and offered a free show.
2. TRUST LOCALS (OVER WEB SEARCHES)
After a pretty epic morning dive at a famous spring, Devil's Den (totally cool and worth a visit)...
We cross referenced several lists of amazing and "hidden" springs through out Central and Norther Florida to visit. They all looked awesome, but we ended up asking a local dive instructor for his ideas...
We ended up at Rainbow Springs... which is just out-of-this-world stunning. The water was magestical, cool, crisp, glassy, PERFECTLY aqua-blue. Diving into it and seeing baby turtles, bubbling sand from the aquifer, indigo blue fish, and vivid life cast a spell on us both.
Thank you local dive instructor. It was epic.
3. CRAFT INTENTIONS (+ let go of expectations)
Grant wanted to have a drink at a real country bar, in the thick of it. He put it out there, I thought the idea sounded awesome. We said it out loud and then totally let it go. We didn't search for it, think about it, or make any plans to make it happen. No yelp scavenger hunts... nothin' y'all.
And then, on some stretch of country road. "There it is." We both knew our bar had magically appeared.
It was perfect. Nascar central, decked-out in Halloween decor, country jams blasting out of the juke-box, and the folks inside, just who you might picture.
Jim, a kind, slightly-older gentleman, shook our hands right away and wanted to play pool. He had brilliant manners and few teeth. A younger cowboy with a real drawl poked fun at the intoxicated young bar tender. She scolded Jim for showing off his new knife "Jim!!! No knives at the bar!" Jim told us about his cowboy days. Once his daddy shot a bull square in the eyes after it charged at his younger self. Later that night, they chopped it up with a chainsaw and fed it to the Lions at the Barnum & Bailey Circus in town.
We heard amazing stories, shared beers, played terrible pool. The younger cowboy went on to surprise us with stories of places he's surfed around the world. Grant wondered if it would be rude to get a picture with our new friends. We asked. They seemed into it, and after a few minutes, Jim asked if he could have a copy.
"It really touches my heart to meet folks like you. No one ever stops by, most everyone's just too busy and self-centered to have moments like these. It really touches my heart. Y'all are good people."
We wanted a wild and potentially entertaining "American" scenario. We got it, easy, but the real magic was in a truly beautiful human connection and a totally unexpected shared moment with people full of heart. I was sad to say goodbye to Jim.
Our trip turned out to be made of magic more delicious than a Dole Whip...
It was unexpected, human, unique, stunning, warm, and wild.
Grab someone as amazing as you are (maybe just yourself)... Get in your car...
1. Be open.
2. Trust locals.
3. Craft some cool intentions.
Enjoy as the magic unfolds ;)