Being Free. Family Trips and Cabin Life.


Part of what I love about visiting our friends cabin they so generously share with us is…freedom.


Every couple of months, sometimes more, sometimes less, we decide to get away for the weekend and hide in the woods. We are usually having a Sunday dinner with my children and my children’s children, (Damn! I love those kids!) when someone says “Hey, when are we going to the cabin again?

We plan.

Everyone gets excited and we all decide it’s time for a beer to celebrate. We plan for the next week or two in a group text where Bob is usually making stupid backwoods jokes and talking about ” I hear banjos” and ” I hope I can find my Billy Bob teeth”

My girls are asking what we are wearing and who’s going to wear makeup. Oh! And who is going to Target to see what kind of really cute rain boots they have and do we really need new boots this time cause we’re all kinda broke. Who is in charge of breakfast but make sure we don’t put Hiya (Alyssa) in charge because we’ll all be eating pop tarts and we all know there’s a law that says you have to eat bacon in the woods. Poor Alyssa.  She will never hear the end of this story.  She was trying to be considerate so no one would have to cook and brought a big box of Pop Tarts for breakfast.

The day we run from our every day life, Lil Momma (that’s me) goes to work while Big Poppa, that’s Bob, goes to Publix and gets most of the food. And almost never forgets my wine. He only did that once…..Yeah.

We always get on the road and get there first while everyone else is busy running around doing last minute stuff. I think they do it on purpose though because by the time they all get there, we’ve already got the cabin opened up, wiped down and the atvs are ready to roll.

Setting Up

I love the Homesteading part.  It’s fun to set everything up and make it homey.  The best part is when it’s all done and you sit down and listen to nature.  It’s so quiet.  No cars or planes or lawn mowers or blowers or garbage trucks.  Usually the service is bad so, no notifications or emails or phone calls.   Yet there is so much going on.  The leaves in the trees rustling, birds chirping. In the evening you may hear frogs and cows in the distance.  Every now and then in the early morning you hear the air boats leaving for a day on Lake Kissimmee. So peaceful.

Sometimes we arrive at night which is nice because my favorite ride is at night when all you can see is what you’re headlights are showing you.  I love riding on the trails into a tunnel of trees with moss hanging almost to the ground.  Then we end up in an open  pasture and turn off the bikes and listen to all the sounds.  Sometimes its pitch black and you can see billions of stars.  Then, sometimes, the moon is shining and revealing the one huge oak tree standing tall and proud and adorned with moss right in the middle of the pasture.

Special Moments

When Alyssa was much younger and we took her for the first time, we went to that same pasture, turned of the motors and just sat quietly.  After a few moments I heard her say “Wow…..Mommy!  This is what life is all about!”  She got it.  I feel the same way.  Proud mama moment.  These are the kind of gifts I love to show my children.  Now,  I get to show the grandchildren as well!

We don’t keep the air on inside the cabin during the day because everything is run on generators so we try to preserve the fuel.  It keeps everyone on the patio together.  It’s nice to have your family sitting around the table or watching the younger ones running free in the front yard, burning off that extra energy.  They try so hard to stay awake at night so they don’t miss a thing but they always give in from exhaustion fairly early in the evening.

The older ones stay up sometimes all night but when we do go to bed, we sleep like the babies and everyone feels free and comfortable to sleep in a little later than usual.


I get up and have my coffee and sit at the table listening to the morning chirps.  I enjoy every second but slowly, one at a time,  the sleepy, bed head crew stumbles out to the porch discussing what we should do for breakfast which is usually sometime around 11.  One of the girls will say,  “Mommy always makes breakfast ” I reply ” I know,  I’m almost done with my coffee.  Give me 5 more minutes and it’s on!”

I start the potatoes because they take the longest to cook.  Then the bacon  because that wakes up the remaining sleepy heads,(and I always make enough to account for bacon thieves) eggs come next as I call someone in to start toasting bread.  All except the toast, cooked on a propane gas stove on cast iron skillets.  Everyone is drooling!  It takes me a good hour to cook and it takes about 2.52 minutes for the whole thing to be devoured.  It’s like a bunch of vultures descending all at once.

It’s a wonderful thing,  a big breakfast in the woods next to a smoldering fire from the night before.  Plus, it’s so much easier to get everyone to sit at the table together when your away from all the interruptions of the world.  This is the way life should be.  THIS is LIVING!


Hard work

Even though this is a vacation,  there’s always work to be done.  Surprisingly everyone jumps in to help and knock it out.  Now,  Bob would tell you a different story because they don’t actually jump.  The family needs a little push but they do help and they end up not complaining and actually enjoy it.  Imagine that!! At home, if I ask someone to do the dishes or sweep the floor, you would think I was performing some sort of torture and there’s a half hour of discussion about who did the last task I asked for help with.  I just end up doing it myself in the end.  But in the woods,  not really a problem.  No one complains.

Keeping it Cool

One thing we have to get used to part of the year is the heat.  We tried for a while to avoid going during the hottest months but we always end up going anyway.

Recently Bob found a nice sized blow up pool at Target on sale. I found it here on Amazon. (As usual, any link I post on this site that leads to Amazon is an Affiliate link and I may make a small commission on anything you purchase by using these links)  OMG!  Best idea he’s ever had!!  We’ve had 6 adults with beer in hand sitting in that pool watching the riders by, watching us and woohooing at the great idea.  Funny.  The best part is the water comes from the well and  like the rest of the springs in that part of Florida, it stays around 72 degrees F year round.  It’s a little yellow sometimes and smells of sulfur but you get used to it and who cares.  Just have another beer and chill!!

The other way we cool off is to jump on the bikes and find mud!  If you’ve never been mudding,  you have no idea what you’re missing!!  I know, I know,  if you’re like most people I ask,  you’re shaking your head and saying “I don’t think so.”  Well, ok.  Just know that the few people we have converted are die-hard mud fans now.  You just can’t get any closer to nature than rolling through it.  I mean, why do you think pigs always look like they are loving life?  It’s because they are!!

The cabin is always changing and evolving.  The greatest addition was the out door shower.  It’s nice for everyone when you come back all muddy and shower right outside in the front yard.  The girls even like to shampoo and rinse.  I love it because it keeps the dirt and mud outside!  I’m thinking about putting one in at home.  Not sure how my neighbors in Fort Lauderdale would feel about watching us shower in the front yard though.  Maybe a backyard shower?

This all happens several times a day as the bikes roll in and out of the front gate and at the end of the day, after a real shower inside the house,  we have a big dinner and clean up, sometimes, and then sit around the fire listening to music with a beer or a glass of wine or the occassional bottle of  Jack. Or that one time, when Josh chased me around camp with the Wild Turkey that I swore I wasn’t going to drink.

Me: Oh no Josh!  Get that away from me.

Next Morning Me: Did I drink that whole thing?

Kids: Pretty much.

Lessons Learned

Thanks Josh!  Good Times!  Just not a good next day.  Lesson’s learned. We’ve all had that kind of trip at some point.  It’s all about letting go and being free but learning how to find balance.

That being said,  I had a hard lesson on finding balance this trip.  Or I guess I should say NOT finding balance.  It was early afternoon and we were enjoying some Bloody Mary’s.  Alyssa was  watching the 4 year olds on the slip n slide.  She even tried it a few times.  Now, if you know Alyssa, you already know she is totally uncoordinated.  So, I’m thinking,  if she can do it, I can do it.  WRONG!!!

Let me start from the beginning.  This slip n slide had a little blow up pillow at the front that you’re supposed to land on and slide down.  Perfect!  It’s the landing that I was worried about because, you know…….OLD.  So excited!  Yep! This looks fun!! I’m going to do it!!!

Kids: Mommy, are you sure?”

ME: Yep!  I’m sure!

Alyssa: Wait! Let me open my camera.  I have to get video.

Now I’m more worried about my muffin at the top of my swim suit bottoms making it’s debut on camera so I hurry to slide before the camera is on.  As I sail through the air towards the little air pillow and then watch it go by, I think, “uh-oh, this is not going to end well”.  And then it happens.  Belly Flop on hard ground.  I heard a pop inside my head which later turns out to have been my ribs on the left side while also hearing the groans from the audience and  a few “damn! that had to hurt”s.  I jump up and declare “I’m ok! I’m good!”  as I walk away feeling pain in my side and neck and thinking I’m not really sure if I’m ok.  I sit and finish my Bloody Mary and try to assess the damage.

I decide that I’m definately going to feel this tomorrow but I think I’m ok and continue on with the day.  Only the pain just gets worse and the next day worse until today, a week later, as I feel the pain in my ribs and now in my back and the occassional, excruciating click that’s happening in my ribs when I move wrong. Yep!  They are broken.  No doubt!  I’ve had bruised ribs before and this is WAY worse!!  I can’t move or lay down or sleep or cough, and remember I was sick the week before so all I want to do is cough.  Top that with missing most of my week of work.  Sorry clients but I appreciate your kindness and patience.  Not a fun lesson.

Moral of the story,  If you are a Grandma,  slip and slides are not for you!!!  Especially if the Bloody Mary tells you they are!!! DON’T DO IT!!!

Finding Happiness

I will tell more camp stories but the whole point is that, for me anyway, this is true happiness.  Broken ribs and all.  Money and things do not give you happiness.

So if you’re feeling disconnected or overwhelmed with work and life in general, try a little back to nature or just some good old fashioned family time without all the technology and things that get in the way these days. Keep it simple.  Spend time with family.  Watch the little ones explore and be amazed by real things like spiders and bugs and bunnies.  Eat around the table.  Listen to good music or just be quiet and listen to nature.  Keep it simple!  Try it!  You won’t regret it.  I promise!!


Here’s to our friends who allow us to use the cabin as if it were our own.  Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts!!  Life would not be nearly as sweet without these memories.  Our children and grandchildren and many of our friends will carry them in their hearts forever.

Want More?

If you’d like to keep up with us and our crazy family trips,  follow me on instagram @darlyssa.