Alexander Springs and the Ocala National Forest

posted in: Explore Florida, Road Trip | 8
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Happy 2016, everybody- I hope you all had a fabulous holiday!

Rudy and I had an amazing time up in the Ocala National Forest where we spent our Christmas weekend in the most adorable little cabin out in the middle of nowhere. And when I say it was in the middle of nowhere, I’m not exaggerating. We had to take some seriously off-the-beaten-path roads to get to it, and when we arrived there Thursday night we were both half expecting Jason to jump out of the woods in the twisty, windy, meandering, dirt road ahead of us…

Ocala National Forest

When we finally found our way back to the cabin, a giant bonfire was burning in the front yard fire pit, and the owners were there on the front porch awaiting our arrival. They spent 15 minutes or so showing us around the property and giving us some dos and don’ts (don’t feed the bears!) and then they took off back towards their home in Orlando and left us to our own devices.

After unloading all of our luggage, groceries, and Christmas gifts from the car, I strung up a strand of my Mom’s favorite pink Christmas lights that I’d brought from home and also lit one of her favorite scented Christmas candles (Yankee Candle’s Balsam and Cedar). My Mom always went big on Christmas, and although I miss her terribly every single day of the year- it’s especially difficult during Christmastime. The lights and the candle made the sting of her absence just a little bit less painful, and made the already cozy cabin even cozier.

I think she would have approved…

Ocala National Forest Cabin

Once we were settled in a bit, we headed outside to the fire pit where marshmallows were toasted, wine was drank, and a good time was had by all. Our original plan was to go to bed relatively early that night, get up the next morning and watch the sunrise at Grasshopper Lake (which was directly across the road from our cabin), and then have breakfast and open gifts. What ended up happening, however, was that we stayed up way past our bedtime drinking wine and taking ridiculous pictures with the Jason mask I’d brought from home, and then also we decided to open “just one gift” that night which ultimately snowballed into us opening “all of the gifts” because, much like five year olds- we just couldn’t bear to wait until Christmas morning.

I blame it on the wine…

Ocala National Forest Cabin

Ocala National Forest Cabin

Ocala National Forest Cabin

Needless to say, we never made it to Grasshopper Lake for sunrise, but it was cloudy out anyway so we didn’t feel too guilty about it. Instead we had a lazy morning in the cabin, and after breakfast, cappuccinos (we brought our espresso maker from home), and some picture-taking, we headed off to spend the day at Alexander Springs.

Our original plan was to go to bed relatively early, get up to watch the sunrise over Lake Grasshopper which was directly across the road from our cabin, and then have breakfast and open gifts.
Photo taken with my bad ass new Go Pole
Ocala National Forest Cabin
Isn’t it the cutest little cabin ever? You can’t tell from this picture, but there’s a giant 5 acre backyard behind it.
Christmas loot. Rudy’s favorite gift was the “Miracle Fold”. Not kidding- he’s very organize-y.
Horsing around in the treehouse
Horsing around in the treehouse

We made it to Alexander at around noonish, and by that time it was 85 degrees and humid as hell which is absolutely perfect weather for swimming in the chilly 72 degree spring water. I came up with the brilliant idea of bringing our Santa hats along and attempting an underwater Santa selfie with my awesome new GoPole, which turned out to be easier said than done. Underwater photography is difficult enough as it is, and then when you attempt to shoot one-handed with your camera extended on a 53 inch pole while simultaneously trying to keep your Santa hat(s) from coming off your head(s) and floating away…well, let’s just say it was a bit challenging.

We had a lot of fun trying, though, and also made a huge spectacle of ourselves in the process, as you do when you’re splashing around in the water laughing your ass off with a soaking wet Santa hat atop your head…

Epic Fail.


Alexander Springs
Great success!

Alexander Springs

We ended up staying there at the spring most of the afternoon goofing around and taking pictures in the gorgeous crystal clear water, and then eventually the sun started getting low in the sky and my fingers started to go numb from being in the cold water so long and so we decided to call it a day. Here’s a shot Rudy took of me playing mermaid shortly before we left…

Alexander Springs

When we arrived back at the cabin, we had just enough time to run inside and change, grab our camera gear, and then haul ass to the dock to watch as the sun slowly dipped beneath the horizon and set the sky ablaze in a beautiful orange glow.

It sure was purty…

Grasshopper Lake Ocalal National Forest Cabin

Grasshopper Lake Ocalal National Forest Cabin

That night we sat around the campfire again sipping wine, toasting marshmallows, and planning our upcoming adventures for 2016. I was going to end this post by writing something about how awesome of a year it’s going to be, but I kinda feel like that would be tempting fate and/or jinxing myself, so I’ll just shut up about it and sign off by wishing you all a wonderful, prosperous, and adventure-filled year!

Cheers to 2016, y’all!

The End.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story which may or may not involve a bear sighting and also a bunch of pictures from an abandoned mansion that I’ve been obsessed with for the last two years and finally had the chance to photograph.

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8 Responses

  1. Melodie
    | Reply

    Looks like you two had an awesome Christmas! Happy 2016 to both you!

    • Steph
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Melodie! Wishing you all the best in 2016! ❤

  2. Mermaid Girl
    | Reply

    Happy New Year Steph!

    I didn’t know they made 53 inch extenders for the GoPro. Did you get it online? I need one in my life.

  3. Ocalex
    | Reply

    Hi Steph,

    Would you mind sharing the info on the cabin you stayed at? We are looking for a place to stay in the Ocala Forest this spring. Also I was wondering if you made it to Salt Springs? I’ve seen some pictures of it on Instangram and it looks very pretty.

    Happy New Year!

    • Steph
      | Reply

      Hi Alex,

      Here’s a link with info about the cabin:

      It’s an adorable little place- I’m sure you’d love it.

      As far as Salt Springs goes- we had planned on checking it out, but ran out of time and only made it to Alexander and Silver Glen. Next time!

      Take care,

  4. Allie
    | Reply

    I loveeeee this post! Your Christmas trip looks like a major success babe, thanks for sharing.

    We spent New Years in Ocala, went camping, it rained, the tent leaked, things could’ve gone smoother, but in reality -it was just what we needed!

    p.s. – thanks for the Santa hat fail pics, they’re adorable!
    Allie recently posted…4 DIY DETOX WATER RECIPES TO STAY HYDRATEDMy Profile

    • Steph
      | Reply

      Hi Allie!

      That’s awesome that you got to spend some time out in the wilderness- it’s so beautiful up there!

      I hope your 2016 is off to a great start so far. Thanks for stopping by!

      Steph 🙂

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