When we arrived at Suwannee River State Campground, it was dark and looked like any other state or federal campground. Keith, Champlin, my Mom, and I were in store for something we had never experienced before……the magic of old Florida. No, the true beauty of Florida does not live on the pristine white beaches and crystal blue waters of Fort Lauderdale. Florida’s splendor lies tucked away on seemingly less traveled roads. Those who know this campground visit it regularly, and first-time guests never forget the beauty within this majestic land.
Our first few days after my recovery (the MS monster rarely sleeps) were spent enjoying the fresh air and magnificent surroundings. Champlin, of course, was ready to explore everything. He could not wait to find the river! All we heard from him was, “When can we go?”, “Are you ready yet?”, “Why can’t we go now?”. After an eternity, according to Champlin, our family started the highly anticipated exploration. We ventured on a short walk behind the campground.
The roads and trails were dusted with Florida’s soft sands, and the foliage appeared and felt virtually prehistoric. Longleaf pine trees towered over low growing scrub palmetto that covered the land. Primitive, timeless, astonishing, yet welcoming, the land’s grandeur felt nothing short of remarkable. That was a great day……….
We were so excited when we got back to camp, and we could not wait to discover more. Now for the reality of my life……..every task in my daily routine runs in short bursts. I cannot do too much at any one time and some days are worse than others, but some days are better. Do not let the facts of my life make you feel that I am unhappy in any way. Although I cannot work, I am an incredibly happy and optimistic individual. In fact, Keith has given me the nickname Pollyanna. In many ways, I feel blessed to have Multiple Sclerosis. Why would I? Hmm……. I know; you are probably a in a bit of shock.
You see; it is rather simple for me. My attitude has always been focused on what “I can do” and not what “I cannot do”. The reality is my life and the MS could be so much worse, but they are not. I feel so many people in the world suffer far more than me. Some unlucky people have diseases that will shorten their lives, and some live in excruciating, daily emotional or physical pain. I am lucky I am here and since I “can” still get out and see the world, I am doing it! But for now, it was rest, rest, rest………
The next day Keith, Champlin and I braved a new trail. Actually, we stumbled upon it. Our trio was searching for the river and we meandered down a path that we “thought” would deliver us to it. In true Hobgood form, our group strolled along a suggested route provided by fellow camper and not the neatly laid out campground map delivered to us on our first day at check in. I am not sure why we did not take the map on our venture, but like all things we do, we complete them in our own special way. This always leads to more fun and adventure. Or, is that danger and uncertainty? Never mind that, we were on our way.
After a short walk, we entered a new world. It was a world that I had never experienced before. In that moment, I felt as if I was whisked away into a land of magic pixies or possibly a world never before discovered.
This new realm was undeniably magical, incredibly peaceful, and utterly breathtaking. The river was lined with endless cypress trees so tall you could barely see the treetops. Duckweed coated the still waters protecting all that lie underneath.
At one point, I turned to Keith and said, “THIS is it! This, right here, is why we’re living on the road!” When we chose to sell everything and travel, our goal was to see as much as we could in a 40′ RV and provide Champlin with a uniquely, alternative life. We wanted him outside and not in front of a tv or video game.
We wanted him to expand in-person, real human relationships, and we want an upbringing NOT worrying about the latest trend or coolest new gadget. This new venture was and is ALL about LIVING life to its fullest, appreciating the natural world, and making people not stuff the focus.