After getting one of the best night’s sleep in the history of all time (the beds in the tree house have Tempur-Pedic mattresses, and holy crap were they comfortable!) we woke up before sunrise on Tuesday morning to the sound of rain splatting against the tree house and also sprinkling on our faces through our open bedroom windows. The rain was that of the “big ole fat” variety, as Forrest Gump would say, and it quickly became apparent that our plans to hike down to Coldwater Creek to catch the sunrise weren’t gonna happen that morning, which was just fine and dandy with both Rudy and me.
Instead, we had coffee in bed while listening to the pitter-patter of the rain against our bedroom windows and the sound of the breeze rustling through the branches of the majestic Magnolia trees that surrounded the tree house. Hiking down to the creek for sunrise would’ve been nice and all, but spending the early morning hours sipping coffee in the cozy confines of our little bitty tree house bedroom while the rain came pouring down all around us was the cat’s meow.
Eventually the downpour eased up a bit and we decided to take a walk up to the gardens to check out the various greenhouses, see what the chickens were up to, and buy some fresh eggs to fry up for breakfast.
Here are a few pictures I snapped at the tree house that morning before we took off…
On our walk down to the gardens, we passed the glamping tents, the eco-design cottages, and the tiny-house cabana, all of which are available for rental and were just as rustic and cozy-looking as the tree house. If you’re on a tight budget, or want more of a true camping experience, they also offer creekside primitive camping for just $20-$30/night as well as creekside platform camping for $35-$50/night, so there are options to fit almost every budget.
They grow all sorts of plants and produce at Coldwater Gardens using various types of growing methods including aquaponics and hydroponics, which the employees were more than happy to educate us on, and which I found absolutely fascinating. As much as I love all of the conveniences that come with living in a condo in downtown St. Pete, my ultimate goal is to buy some land out in the middle of nowhere, get a few chickens, goats, and cows, grow a ginormous garden and live off the land. Right now I’ve got a little urban garden growing on our patio with tomatoes, jalapeños, and some herbs and spices, and I am absolutely obsessed with watching all of it grow: I find it so satisfying and it just makes my little heart incredibly happy. Needless to say, I was in awe of the setup they have there at Coldwater Gardens and was like a kid in a candy store walking around the greenhouses and checking out the greenery.
After leaving the greenhouse, we strolled over and checked out the Shiitaké mushrooms which are cultivated on oak logs harvested from the property, and then finally we went and said hello to the happy chickens, bought a half dozen of their beautiful colorful eggs, and then headed back to the tree house and whipped up a most delicious breakfast…
We had planned on spending the entire day hiking the many trails of the Coldwater Gardens property and exploring Coldwater Creek, but soon after we ate breakfast it started torrentially downpouring and since we both packed like idiots (no rain boots or rain coats even though I knew rain was in the forecast), we decided we’d just wait out the storm and chill in the tree house until it passed on by.
Since we were on vacation and it was my birthday, Shawty, and also we were rained-in and why the hell not…we commenced drinking red wine around noon and then spent the next few hours horsing around in the tree house, taking pictures, and listening to Spotify on the speaker we borrowed from Nick (the property caretaker) because I forgot to bring my speaker from home because I am a failure at packing.
I think it was around 3pm or so when we finally gave up on the idea of the weather clearing up, and decided to go for a hike down to Coldwater Creek: A little bit of rain never hurt anybody, and we weren’t about to let the day slip by without venturing outside and exploring…and so off into the wilderness we went to see what kind of trouble we could get ourselves into.
The woods and the creek surrounding Coldwater Gardens were absolutely gorgeous, and we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the trails, splashing in the puddles, and having ourselves a good old time in the big ole fat pouring rain…
Time flew by as it always does when Rudy and I are out exploring, and after several hours of hiking we realized we needed to head back to the car ASAP because sundown wasn’t too far off and we didn’t want to get stuck in the woods at night with no flashlight (we didn’t think we’d be out that late, so we didn’t bring one with us). Also we were both soaking wet after splashing around in the rain for three hours and it was starting to get chilly and we had a hot tub set at 104 degrees just ready and waiting for us back at the tree house.
So we took off down the trail that we thought led to where our car was parked and then we walked, and we walked, and we walked, and we walked some more, and when we finally came to the end of the trail…
To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to which trails we took or which turns we made during our hike, and even if I had it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway because my sense of direction is absolutely, positively, horrendous and that is no exaggeration. There’s this girl I follow on Instagram who lives out west and is always going hiking in the mountains by herself and I always think how cool that would be except that I could never do such a thing because I would totally end up dead after getting myself lost somewhere in the mountains and starving to death or getting mauled by a mountain lion.
So anyway, once we realized that our car was in a different spot, we probably had thirty minutes of daylight left and if we didn’t find it by then we’d basically be lost in the pitch black wilderness soaking wet with no flashlight and two dead phones (we both burned through our batteries by posting stories to Instagram). Oh yeah, and we also had a detailed map of the property which was awesome, except for the fact that it was sitting on the front seat of the car where it would be the most helpful to us should we find ourselves, say, lost in the woods.
After about fifteen minutes of scrambling down various paths and not finding anything except for trees and puddles, Rudy and I both started losing our patience (not hard for either of us to do) and then we proceeded to get into a heated argument about which way to go next: Rudy wanted to go back in the direction we had just come from, and I wanted to go in the exact opposite direction. So we stood there and argued about it for I don’t even know how long, wasting precious daylight and still unable to come to an agreement.
Now, Rudy and I have been dating for just under three years, and I think we’ve maybe gotten into ten arguments during that time, most of which are for the most absolutely ridiculous reasons (such as whether or not to order a pizza, for example). We just get along really well, and it’s rare for us to bicker, however that all went straight to hell that evening in the woods.
The highlights of the argument include me screaming “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” at the very tippity top of my lungs and with such force that I actually (and regrettably) peed my pants a little bit, and then Rudy chucking his GoPro into the woods not just once, but two separate times. After he threw it the second time, I stomped off down the path leaving him to search for his camera on his hands and knees in the near-dark.
Good times, man.
After stomping off in an angry huff, I eventually turned around and went back to the scene of our argument and that’s when I saw Rudy hunched over with his hands on his knees laughing uncontrollably.
“What in THE HELL is so funny?” I asked, still angry as all get-out and in no mood for jokes or wasting any more time: At this point it was almost dark and if we didn’t find the car in the next minute or so we were pretty much screwed and would most likely be spending our night in the woods roaming the 352 acres aimlessly in soaking wet clothing with no flashlights, no phones, and no map.
Upon hearing my question, he stood up and pointed to his left, still laughing, and said: “The car is right there.”
Turns out we were both wrong about which way to go and the entire time that we had stood there arguing and throwing things and carrying on like little brats…the car was literally a stone’s throw away from us and just beyond a little footbridge that neither of us recognized or considered crossing.
Well I’ll be damned…
We had a good laugh about it on the way back to the tree house, and ended our evening making dinner on the grill and then sipping wine in the hot tub while the rain continued to fall…
The End. 🙂
Stay tuned for part three of our Coldwater Gardens adventure…coming soon!
For more info on Coldwater Gardens or to make reservations, go here.