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Going To The Florida Gulf Coast With Poppa 
 Looking back to where I was raised, one would say we lived in the wilderness.  I can remember when indoor plumbing was installed in Poppa's home, where I was raised.  It was a glorious day, no more using a metal three bushel wash tub to bathe in and no more running behind the corn crib to do your other business. As I look back in time, I will admit this all took some getting used to.  The thought of using the bath room in the house was horrendous at first. 

  One of my greatest memories as a child, growing up in north Florida, was when Poppa would inform the family (or clan) that we were going to the Florida Gulf Coast.  The early spring was the time when we got the opportunity to take this great adventure.  It was many years and I was grown before I realized that the Florida Gulf Coast was the Gulf of Mexico, in north Florida.  All I knew at that time was we were in for a treat!  The adults would get a good night sleep but us kids would toss and turn all night in anticipation of going to the Florida Gulf Coast.  We knew that the next day would be filled with adventure and fun.  We would wake up before the rooster began to crow, summoning the daylight.  SUV's had not been invented at this time, so every item we needed would be loaded into the trunk of a car or the back of a pick up truck.  Boxes of dishes, pots and pans, and all the cooking supplies that would be needed for the adventure, would all be packed into the vehicles.  It appeared as if we had been evicted from our homes and were moving west, I'm sure.  Then we would all pack into the vehicles, stacked two deep on some occasions, until the tires would bulge under the weight.  Then off we would go en route to the Florida Gulf Coast, no one complaining about the riding conditions, no modern toys to keep the children quiet, we were just happy to be going.

   While en route to our final destination we would pull into the wilderness, to cut cabbage palms or better known to us, swamp cabbage.  Trust me when I say this was truly where civilization ended and the wilderness began.   I remember many times wondering if someone remembered how to get back to civilization, we had pulled so far into the Wilderness.  After driving several miles on roads that appeared to have been abandoned for several years we would stop the vehicle.  Papa would then strike out into the wilderness on foot as we followed along behind him, to assist in the task of retrieving the tasty hearts of the palm.  I am not sure if it was illegal back then to harvest the palm, but it might clarify why Poppa would go so far into the wilderness to cut the tasty plant.  I can still see him walking past several cabbage palms until he found one he liked.  Papa would then take the huge axe and make a couple of cuts around the palm, sinking the axe into the plant.  This would continue until he had harvested enough for the day's meal.  Here again it was confusing to me as a small child why he did not cut more of the tasty trees.  Later in life I came to realize he did not want to waste what God had given us to harvest and enjoy. As I have grown and matured this lesson has stayed with me.

   After the cabbage had been harvested and the clan had again found somewhere to ride in the vehicles, we would continue to venture to our destination.  There would be only one more stop before we reached our final destination, a fish house (store that sold fresh fish), to obtain fresh fish to fry.  Depending on the time of year, we would either have fresh mullet or trout for lunch that day.  Then it was off to what we referred to as the Florida Gulf Coast a cleared area where some broken down concrete tables had been constructed.  It was as if we were on vacation at a luxury resort.  I was grown before I realized that there were beaches that did not have oyster shell every where and fiddler crabs were not scurrying around.  We would run, swim and play until the adults summoned us for the mid day meal.  To this day I can not recall a better meal then the fresh fried fish, swamp cabbage, and all the trimmings.  It was amazing to me that a meal cooked over an open fire, in cast iron pots, could taste so good.  Not sure if grills had been invented at that time, but if they had I am sure Papa did not agree to bring one along.  Money we did not have a lot of, but I would not trade my memories of going to the Florida Gulf Coast with Poppa for a million dollars.  It was as if we were rich, attending a resort and spending time with the family or who ever tagged along.

   In Poppa's own way he demonstrated that a family could enjoy the simpler things in life.  He made us all feel like we were among the rich and famous for a few hours.

   At Wilderness Calls we are attempting to put that back into practice with our nature packages.  Not that we will cook over an open fire unless one wishes us to do so, but we are attempting to create a simpler place to relax.  We hope to create a place where cell phones, computers, blackberries and all the annoying gadgets, are put away for a few days.  A simpler time where one can get back to nature and enjoy what God has created, clear their mind and relax while breathing fresh air and looking at the stars at night, truly a step back in time.

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