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It’s Totally Possible To Bore Yourself In An Awesome State Like Florida. Here’s How.

I, Katie the Domestiphobe, am a true study in contrasts.

It makes my eye twitch to detonate that overused travel writing cliché on my little niche in cyber space, but it’s true. While many writers apply that phrase to the striking juxtaposition of a modern electric vehicle parked in front of centuries-old architecture, I’m forced to apply it to myself.


Because really, I’m two very different people trapped in one highly confused body.


At home, I’m neurotic and scattered. Every decision — from what I’m going to eat for breakfast to where on my incredibly diversified to-do list I’m going to focus my energy — is a huge ordeal. My fuse is short and my attention span shorter, and it’s like the slightest bit of static electricity might send me into spontaneous combustion mode because I can’t get everything done and I don’t know if I’m working on the right things and if you don’t pick dinner tonight Justin, I think I might actually IMPLODE from the pressure of deciding one. more. thing.

But when I travel, it’s different. When I travel, there is no wrong decision because we’re just having fun. It doesn’t matter if we take the road on the right or the road on the left because either way, it’s not going to affect how much I get done in a day or where my career might be headed.

I realize it would be healthy to apply this line of thinking to my day-to-day activities, and trust me. I’m working on it.

But in the meantime, this is one reason I love travel. It allows me to just go. To live in the moment without over-thinking it. I become the spontaneous and carefree Katie of my youth. The girl who wouldn’t hesitate to take a road trip for a month or move to Costa Rica to make hot sauce.

I like that girl. I miss her sometimes.

Often, my travel instincts work out for the better. Like the time I made our group keep driving on Kauai or when I led Justin up into that crooked artists’ loft in Málaga.

But sometimes — sometimes — I’m wrong.

So, so wrong.

See, when we went to Florida last month and stayed in that beautiful resort in Kissimmee, we also drove down to see my sister in Fort Lauderdale. On the drive back to Kissimmee, I told Justin we’d be taking a detour and that I’d wake him when we arrived at our surprise destination. (Justin is a notorious car-sleeper and self-admittedly the worst co-pilot in all the land, but I love him anyway.) I’ve been to Florida many times, but I never had the opportunity to see that giant wet spot in the middle — Lake Okeechobee. I didn’t research it. I just assumed that a ginormous lake with a cool name like Okeechobee would be totally worth seeing. Plus, I’d get to drive through part of the Everglades which, in my mind, would be dank and swampy and filled with pythons and alligators.

So cool.


Except… not.

No matter. We still had the lake to look forward to, right? And, like my map showed, there would be a beautiful shoreline drive.


Except… not.


“Look, honey! Cows!”

There were signs, but where was our scenic shoreline?

Eventually I pulled off into a marina so we could catch a glimpse of this so-called lake. If it even existed.

Turns out it did, and it was really quite beautiful.




But something was still missing. Where were the adorable lakeside villages? The ice cream shops? The tacky souvenirs and jet ski rentals and “I Heart Okeechobee” t-shirts?

Um… where were the people?


We made a friend. It wasn’t hard, since he was pretty much the only person around. When he pointed to a giant alligator out in the water (no telephoto camera lens – sorry.), I finally understood.

Florida is a state surrounded on three sides by beautiful ocean warmed by the Gulf stream, long strands of sandy beaches, and dotted with quaint coastal towns and club-thumping cities offering fresh saltwater seafood and colorful cuban cuisine. Spicy fish tacos and authentic ropa vieja and salsa music blasting through speakers and minty mojitos and boat tours past winter homes of the filthily rich and famous. Tourist shops galore selling sunglasses and sun dresses and sun oils and sun screens. Further inland, there’s this little city called Orlando, which may or may not host one of the biggest — if not the biggest — tourist attraction in the United States: Disney World.

It’s no wonder no one wants to visit a stinkin’ lake.

Especially one swarming with alligators.

Look. I don’t want to insult the good people of Okeechobee. I’m sure there’s plenty to do in the way of recreational activities, like dock fishing.

And… um… boat fishing.

And if you’re into birds, they have those, too.


We walked back to the car, sweat from the swampy lake air trickling down our backs. I directed the vents towards my armpits and blasted the A/C, shooting Justin an apologetic look.

Have I mentioned how much he hates car rides?

Nature did its best to provide some inspiring scenery on our drive back to Kissimmee, but our hearts just weren’t in it.


Next time, I’ll take Justin to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.

He may not see any sharks, but if it’s anything like the last time I went, he’ll see one of these, up-close and personal:


Home of the happiest grins on earth.

Have you ever poorly researched a spontaneous side-trip? Been sorely disappointed in a travel destination? Let me know in the comments so I know I’m not alone.




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goodness i love it when blog posts line up wiht my life. This happened to me YESTERDAY. I am in MD for work, but its near Harpers Ferry WV, which is supposed to be an awesome state park. With mountains. I’m obsessed wiht mountains. I drove out after training was over. By the time i got there the park office was closed but i could still walk around. I looked at the info board at the 7 different trails i could take and picked the one that purported scenic views and short enough walking time that i’d be done before the sun went down. It was SO LAME. I walked down a hill to a battlefied. Hint: battlefields, while historically important, are so boring. it was a field that looked like any other field you might see off the highway. The good thing was that the drive there had some awesome views of the potomac, and i only wasted my time by going out there.


Haha, lesson learned, right? Though I’d still rather try and fail than be left wondering. And now we both know. I’m still impressed you just went ahead and did it! Many people wouldn’t bother. :)


I hauled Achebeyo up an insanely steep and long road in St. Thomas, ON FOOT, to reach a bar that wound up being closed because the cruise ships weren’t in town and I didn’t check in advance. I was not welcome within a 15-foot radius of her for the rest of the day. And in Crete, we didn’t research the beaches in advance and went to one that we thought would be gorgeous. It wasn’t. There were numerous large trash bags washing up in the surf, along with assorted free-range trash. Fun times.


The awesome thing about a misadventure is that, at least in retrospect, they are fun times. At least… more fun than sitting at home watching re-runs of Gray’s Anatomy. ;)

Kathy Munch

Love your story Katie! We too love road trips, put the dogs in the back on their pillows and off we go – well a little more packing than that, my partner is a virgo after all. So on one road trip she was determined to see the town of Happy Camp. We pulled into a not very pleasing atmosphere late in the afternoon, it appeared to be home to the recently released on parole village of the week. Bring us your toothless, your beer swilling, your ankle bracelets wearing and we will make them Happy Campers – I think not! We beat cheeks out of that town. Merdé happens, you just need to roll with in, and not in it.


Hahaha, it is SO perfect that the town is called Happy Camp. Those trips sound like a blast, though! Our dogs aren’t quite so low-key. They need car harnesses and they want to take off after anything that moves anytime we stop, but at least they’re pretty chill throughout the ride. I can’t say we would’ve stuck around Happy Camp, either. ;)


When I went to San Francisco, the day I planned to go to the Museum of Modern Art turned out to be the day it was closed. Mostly though, I’m an excellent planner. But I secretly plan, because my husband is obsessed with being spontaneous and not planning. So my agendas are always super stealth and spontaneous-seeming, which adds to his belief that spontaneity is the way to go. Its kind of a vicious cycle, really.


This cracks me up. You secretly plan your spontaneity? That actually sounds like the perfect combo in a relationship. I wish my husband would do that for me. ;)


Nope. He sleeps until we get to the place and then, if it’s a fail, he gives me a withering look before climbing back into the car. The good thing though is that he never speaks of the incident again. So there’s that. ;)


Plenty of times! Part of the nature of being spontaneous!


True dat. ;)


omg. hilarious. i’ve lived here almost fifteen years and never been to lake okeechobee. let me next time you’re down this-a-way.


Let me tell you, Kelly – there is a REASON you haven’t been to Okeechobee! ;) My sister just got a job in Chicago, but if I make it down there one more time before she moves, I will for sure let you know! It would be fantastic to get lunch.


Most of Florida is like that really. :) I lived there most of my life.


Haha, awww… there are some fun parts! I’ve had some good times in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Pensacola, Jacksonville, even Tallahassee, and my husband proposed in St. Augustine. (Wow, I just realized I’ve seen a lot of Florida for never having lived there.) It’s just that middle section that’s kind of meh… ;)


Love reading this post. This reminds me of the drive we made from Atlanta to Tampa, and we would see so many cows. I turned to my husband and asked him, “Are we really in Florida???”


It’s so funny, because when you think of Florida, you always think of the coastline! No one really worries about all that stuff — mostly cows — in the middle. :)

Orlando Villas

OMG that is so so funny!
How can you write like that and make us all want to go to see for ourselves at the same time lol

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