Lake House No. 1 – Lake Walk-N-Water
When I was offered the opportunity to stay at a lake house in central Florida many years ago, I imagined I would take the offer often. That didn’t happen.
When I was offered the opportunity again with a looming employment “end date”, which is a very unfamiliar feeling, I questioned how I could take that offer, but still be productive and get the work done that I needed to. After all, I had NO set plans for work after my “end date” and though I had a lot of ideas to keep me busy- like this website and online courses- I needed WIFI and perhaps some connection to the world. Fortunately, my good sense to not look a gift horse in the mouth or to pass up an amazing opportunity to stay in a beautiful place and gather some peace of mind kicked in, and a plan developed, or rather, started to develop.
My brother, Tim, or as I frequently refer to him, “Bro” came to Miami with a large cargo van, and with the help of some of my wonderful friends to whom I am forever indebted to, helped me load up. We moved across Alligator Alley, a three hour trip to the area in Cape Coral where my brother and parents all reside. My Bro kindly offered to keep an eye on my meager possessions indefinitely, and so began a three day process of packing and unpacking the collection of belongings I would need for this trip. I wasn’t planning to end up in a specific location at this point, but I also wanted to leave that option open. So I would need enough clothing and supplies to travel with so as not to have to buy things I already owned. I also wanted to keep a small collection of things that could help me get by in a new home until I could collect the rest of my belongings. Easy. I was already used to living out of my car and often did this for weeks at a time.
After that was done, I had soaked up the joys of living with my parents and being cared for. But before I began to feel like a teenager hiding in my room again, my bro and I traveled to the cabin in Lake Wales for some R and R, before I began my quest in earnest.
The lakehouse is a somewhat rustic place, but with some of the comforts of modern living, like air conditioning, hot water and more than what I would need to be comfortable forever. During the day I would work and Tim would read or entertain himself otherwise. In the evenings, we played board games, listened to music and did the things that we would normally do when we got together.
Mornings and evenings are beautiful at the cabin. It is always hot in Florida in June and July, but mornings are relatively tolerable. I would get up at my usual 6am (@#$%^) and have a cup of coffee on the dock, observing the birds, fish and gators that might be stirring. One morning, I attempted to get the kayak out but the spiders that had overtaken the shed gave me the chills. I decided that just sitting was perfectly fine.
Sometimes during the day or evening Tim and I would stick a pole in the water to feed the fish. We never got one bite but the fish were full. I also learned that I can no longer put a worm on a hook without jumping up and down and screaming. This is kind of odd considering my outdoor nature but I’m ok with that.
The last few nights I spent alone at the cabin. I still logged in all day during the week but on Saturday I took my first hike; a hike just for me to a chosen destination. During my time in Miami I had gone on quite a few hikes for fun, but usually just stopped along trails or went hiking when I was working nearby and wanted to avoid traffic. Of course, there was that one week that I rationalized the company should pay for my campsite at Jonathan Dickenson State Park rather than my mileage back and forth during one busy program. But this hike was different because I wasn’t doing research and development for a tour, I only went because I wanted to get outside.
Oddly I had to force myself to put away the computer and to-do list. As of the last few years, it seems a challenge for me to do things that have no more than one beneficial outcome. Hiking for fun plus getting experience in an area that we conducted tours in, hell yeah! Hiking for fun in a place I may never come back to and has no real significance? Ehhh….maybe I should just stay home and keep taking that Lynda course? But this is my own backyard so to speak, and my mission in leaving the office and taking time to enjoy the world around me was to be able to relax and get off of a schedule.
So I did it, and will make time outside a priority on this trip.
The cabin was a wonderful place. Aside from its beautifully secluded location, the experience forced me to slow down. The only WIFI I could get was on a hotspot on my phone …which only worked at the end of the dock. When I had to physically log in to a computer at the office – which were MANY that first remote week – I had to sit in the sun at the end of the dock for a strong enough signal just to make sure the connection didn’t drop. To check emails and text messages I had to hold my phone to the window at the far end of the house or go out to the dock. I’m sure the one set of neighbors I had, thought I was crazy.
Evenings at the cabin involved a hammock on the dock, a glass of wine and pure relaxation. I loved my life in Miami, full of happy hours with friends and colleagues and a constant schedule of must-do things and people to see, but there is something to be said for having a regular interval of quiet contemplation and a lack of connectivity with the world that actually creates a greater connection with the life in and around me.