We set out for the Holder Mine campground in the Citrus Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest to meet up with Cosmo and a few others on Friday morning with only a general idea of where the campsite was. We eventually found it, despite the GPS encouraging us to take various shortcuts through the off-road trails the entire way. The forest consists of a maze of off-road trails, and gravel pits; the ideal place for a few eager Land Rovers to meet and romp about. We were greeted by Caz and his jacked up Disco, who had arrived early to save a few campsites for the group. Shortly after us came Spokesman David and his wife Lucy, then Gabe in his LR3 and finally Cosmo, his two children (in their Disco towing a Range Rover Classic) followed by some very special guests from Wales, Pam and Terry, in their custom Defender 110. Pam and Terry have taken their Defender (which has been retrofitted for living) from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic Circle and beyond since they first shipped it from Wales to South America two years ago. Sheer luck made it so that we ended up in the same part of Florida at this time and were able to meet them and hear great stories of their adventures. If nothing else, we’ve been inspired by our new friends.
That night we feasted on chicken tortilla soup which was provided by Cosmo’s wife Paulette, hung out around the fire …and went for a NIGHT RUN!(Danielle’s first time ever). Gabe and Cosmo took their (very capable) trucks and we rode along as passengers. All doubt in the new generation of Land Rovers was lost when we saw what the LR3 was capable of.
In the morning everyone pitched in for a mighty breakfast before a solid morning of trail riding. We have to say, we were impressed with ol’ yeller and its street tires on some of those trails and we managed to make it back without breaking anything! We had some lunch and went back out on the trails, but left our truck to rest and rode with Caz the second time. It was Danielle’s birthday (Jan 12) and we planned for cake after supper (a deliciously chocolate cake we’d bought the day prior) and Drew practiced “Happy Birthday” on the fiddle. Caz was in charge of supper that night and according to him we were having drunken chicken (beer can chicken). He threw the birds on the fire before we left for the trails and they slow cooked all afternoon. Not only did Danielle get to ride in Caz’s truck, but she got a turn to drive for a good part of the afternoon. We were quite surprised when he got out of the truck and said, “You guys drive it now” and refused to take no for an answer. He told us to not only go on the easy trails but in the pits and the hills as well. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun, and a great first experience for Danielle.
The beer can chicken was extraordinary, not to mention the green beans and garlic mashed potatoes on the side. Caz did not disappoint. Actually we have to say, we have been eating abnormally well since we’ve been back. Thanks friends! A meal that good has to be celebrated… and we were especially lucky to walk away with most of the leftovers. Deeeeelicious. After dinner we all hung around the campfire and took turns sharing stories of our adventures on the road, while enjoying cold beer and cider. This group had it all, Caz (or inappropriate Mark) with the jokes, Pam and Terry with the Wisdom and stories from the road, David and Lucy with their inspiring words, Cosmo with the leadership and energy to get us all out, and Gabe with the great conversation and the Camera.
The next day we were sad to have to say goodbye to everyone. We all exchanged emails and blog addresses and promised that we would all stay in touch. We wished good luck to Pam and Terry on the rest of their incredible journey, and then hit the road once more, this time to Cedar Key. We are really looking forward to this next part of our trip; we are hoping to meet Pat and Cindy Bonish, the owners of an incredible vacation spot called the Low-Key Hideaway, who are travellers themselves and also inspirations of ours.
To see links to the blogs of the people we’ve met on the road, click “Our Travelling Friends” on the menu!