A Week In My Hometown With A Non-Floridian
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A Week In My Hometown With A Non-Floridian

Florida isn't always beaches and Disney. I got to show my friend a piece of the real Florida.

A Week In My Hometown With A Non-Floridian
Keilin Moffatt

Last week, I got the privilege to show my friend Michaela around my hometown. Although we went to my hometown to get out of the direct path of Hurricane Matthew, we’d planned to take a trip to Ocala anyway. Hurricane Matthew just hurried that along a little bit. It’s not every day I get to show a friend around my hometown, especially who isn’t from Florida. I was excited to show Michaela the real Florida aside from touristy things like Disney World and the beach.

Day 1: Wednesday

We spent most of our time in St. Augustine on Wednesday. Originally, we weren’t going to head to Ocala until Thursday, but school canceled classes after 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We packed our important things and headed to Ocala. As we got close to the Marion County line, I spotted a billboard for a great little restaurant called The Yearling. I told Michaela they had some of the best gator tail I’d ever had. I kept going on and on about the gator tail at the yearling, not fully aware that Michaela was staring at me surprised as I was driving.

“What?” I asked when I caught a glimpse of the look on her face.

“You eat gator tail?” She asked shocked.

“Yeah… you don’t?” I asked dumbfounded that she’d never heard of it.

“No.” I was amazed that she had never heard of it and She was amazed that Floridians ate gator.

We discussed the details of gator tail and finally made it back to my house. I introduced her to a couple of my friends at the country club we have in Ocala. When I say country club, I don’t mean golf and brunch. I mean country music, line dancing, and the occasional beverage. It’s the least sketchy club we have in Ocala and can be a good time. We both had a great time.

Lesson of the day: Floridians eat gator tail and The Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek has the best.

Day 2: Thursday

I normally work on Fridays in Ocala because I don’t have classes. But because the storm was supposed to hit on Friday. I went in a day early. Michaela stayed at my house. Not a lot of exciting things happened on Thursday. We watched TV and went to bed.

Lesson of the day: Work makes me boring.

Day 3: Friday

Hurricane Matthew hit Florida on Friday. Because we have a few Oak trees around my house that make my mom nervous, Mom, Michaela, the dog Maxx, and I went to my aunt’s house while my dad stayed at home. We were there for a couple of hours before the power went out.

Mom went to blow up the air mattress to take a nap almost immediately after we got there. That’s when I learned how afraid of bugs Michaela is. A roach fell out of the air mattress bag and Michaela moved so fast we didn’t even see her leave the room. In Florida, it’s not uncommon to see a roach, especially when the weather gets crazy. They look for shelter. We had a good laugh relocated the little guy and mom took her nap.

We played cards against humanity for quite a while. I learned my aunt is scary good at it. Soon Mom and my aunt went to take naps so Michaela and I played hangman. In the dark. For four hours. It went from random little phrases to reminiscing about our trip to Ireland through hangman. It was fun and I forgot how gun hangman can be.

We didn’t get much rain from Hurricane Matthew, mostly wind. Unfortunately, we watched as people shared photos and video of our college town of St. Augustine as it flooded with water and many businesses and home were ruined. It was like a train wreck: hard to watch but impossible to look away. We headed home around 5, just after the power came back on.

Lesson of the day: Michaela is scared of roaches and hurricanes don’t always bring a lot of rain.

Day 4: Saturday.

Finally, on Saturday I got to show Michaela around my hometown. It only took two hours. I showed her downtown Ocala, where we got Starbucks and stopped in a boutique. Then I took her to the mall. Mainly to show her how small it is. The town she’s from has the largest mall in the southeast United States which quite the difference from the mall in Ocala. We went searching for the pumpkin patch which wasn’t up and running yet. I showed her the schools I attended and a few little things around town. We got cupcakes at Smallcakes and headed home.

Lesson of the day: Downtown Ocala is cute from the eyes of a Non-0floridian.

Day 5: Sunday.

Sunday, I took Michaela to Silver Springs State Park. She’s never seen real Florida springs in person. We got to see a few fish. I told her about all the films filmed on the river and the legends of the springs. I showed her where the animal habitats were when the park was still a private theme park, self-proclaimed “Nature’s Amusement Park.” She got to see an alligator in the wild and then looked at me like I was crazy when I told her the four-foot alligator she just saw a baby. We then discussed the difference between crocodiles and alligators.

After my papa came for his weekly Sunday visit. We took naps and then headed my mom’s stepmother Trudy’s house. We showed her the cars they build and the wood shop on the property that used to be a farm. We left with two cigar boxes each from Trudy’s nephew to store stuff in.

Lesson of the day: A crocodile’s snout is long and thin while an alligator’s snout is fatter and shorter. Also, alligators are usually pretty chill. Crocodiles are mean.

Day 6: Monday

I went to work again. Nothing exciting happened.

Lesson of the day: Work is tiring and makes me boring.

Day 7: Tuesday

Tuesday, we woke up and packed to head back to St. Augustine. We snuggled with my pup, said bye to Mom at her office and then headed back to St Augustine. We drove back through all the small towns on the drive from Ocala to St. Augustine. There are some pretty cool things on the drive. Like the police station in Interlachen that is the size of a large shed or Florida’s Potato Capital, Hastings.

Lesson of the day: Florida has a potato capital.

It was interesting to see my town through the eyes of an outsider. It made me appreciate my town. I see it all the time. But when I let Michaela into my little world, it gave me a new appreciation for it. I need to stop and appreciate it more often.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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