Ordinary Times and Travels: Florida Off Road

I am blessed with an eclectic family, people that are willing to share their lives and experiences with each other. As a result, I have had an entertaining afternoon at River Ranch, Florida. It’s not really a town. It’s a community of people bonded by their attraction to off road vehicles and the camping lifestyle. Think classy redneck, lots of flags, dust, dirt, mud, throw in a few guns and lots of food, trailers and serious off road vehicles. That’s River Ranch.

In my family are men who do work with machines – clearing land, building structures, hauling stuff – and that is how they came upon River Ranch. Having done a lot of work there for others, my nephew now has his own campsite and comes up from the city to relax and have fun with his family. Early in the development of River Ranch people picked their campsites and claimed them much like the old-fashioned land rushes. My cousin had his site fenced off and outfitted with a well, outdoor showers and an upscale outhouse.  The camp section is crisscrossed with sandy lanes and trails and covers a lot of territory. There are a few permanent residents but many are weekend regulars in RV’s and trailers that they park under shelters they have built.

For this outing our families had a sandwich making assembly line, packed a cooler of drinks and loaded up our vehicles. A few weeks ago a wildfire went through much of the camp area and destroyed a lot of property. We started our trek through this burn area. All the roads and paths are dirt and sand, and since there has not been much rain it is very dusty. That is why many of us had dust masks and  head coverings. Our next stop was the “play pen” where our twelve year old guide showed us how to get down and dirty. We toured my nephew’s campsite and then headed out into 8 square miles of Florida wilderness.  We had our picnic in an area called “the oaks” for a very obvious reason. We traveled on to the water hole and then back to our starting point. Come with me on a picture rendition of our 5 hour journey!

These were the multi-person vehicles that we used, along with several single person ATV’s. The small blue one was built by my nephew’s son – it didn’t go with us.
Our caravan starts out through the pine burn area.
Trey, our very own “Evil Kneival”, led the way all afternoon. They call this “sugar sand”. It is possible to get stuck in it, yes.
Sadly, fire travels swiftly through dry palmetto and underbrush. Many buildings and vehicles were destroyed but since it was during the week, few people were present.
We enter the “play pen” with Trey demonstrating how to play. Mud reigns. Some of these puddles are deeper than others.
He’s often on two wheels. His dad says he has never gone over, amazing. Funny thing, none of the rest of us did this.
The stunt man parks his four wheeler on a tree at “the oaks”. Picnic time.
A tasty lunch, a little tree climbing and swinging from ropes while we rested up for the rest of the trip. There were lots of families with kids out here and they all looked to be having fun. A little dirt doesn’t hurt anyone.
Trey, not quite sure of what to do with this bump in the road???
Actually, now we’re sure. We are going around this part of the trail.
Our guide opens the gate at the campsite. Shower stalls and the outhouse are prime features, along with a nice fire pit.

Many thanks to our host and hostess for an interesting afternoon “off the road” in Florida!

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