The day after Christmas was hotter than hell in Tampa, Florida. My girlfriend and I had spent the day running last minute errands, but we were nearly finished. All I had to do was load the car and we’d be off. An overnight drive accompanied with multiple Red Bulls is how we started our journey to Keachi Acres. The best part about driving overnight is the lack of traffic. The worst part is the fact that a normal human is meant to sleep overnight. Driving through a massive tunnel, over bridges, and highways that seemed to be endless, we managed to make it unscathed to our first destination.
We pulled off the exit to New Orleans at about 11 in the morning, checked into a hotel, and passed out. After waking up, Mac suggested we venture out for some much needed grubbage. Let me tell you, the french onion soup her and I shared really hit the spot. After eating, we stopped and listened to a street performer who almost burned his fingers off shredding the violin so fast. The city was alive with inspiration, and we were lucky enough to be in the middle of it. The next morning the alarm went off at 8, and we were off to Keachi.
As we left New Orleans, it was about 64 degrees outside and incredibly windy. A nice change of pace to the Tampa heat we’d experienced the day before. It was genuinely wild watching the outside temperature drop 10 degrees within just 3 hours of driving. I’ll never forget the moment I stepped out to get gas in a short sleeve shirt and shorts. If you’re from the North you’re probably thinking, this kid’s a wimp. No joke though, it was the nothing short of stepping into a fully functioning freezer.
Night had fallen by the time we arrived, and the landowner Mary welcomed us with open arms and some tasty Christmas leftovers. She showed us to our cabin which was just across the yard from the main house where she lived. The cabin we stayed in was straight out of a 90’s summer camp movie. Different signatures and drawings from past guests lined the walls, and it even had a built in bathroom and shower. Our things unpacked, we made a decent sized fire and whipped up some nachos, campfire style. We devoured those things, and relaxed to the sound of the burning logs.
The next morning while Mac slept in, I went out exploring. Since it had been pitch black when we’d arrived, I had no idea what the lay of the land was looking like. I visited with Mary’s pony, Lovely, which was pretty awesome. He wasn’t shy at all, especially when I got close and began taking a few photos. After hanging with Lovely, I headed over to the lake behind the main house. I was greeted by two beautiful Border Collies, one named Maggie, the other Junior. Junior was deaf but sharp as a tack. Maggie could literally play fetch with any piece of wood around, which was plenty.
Mackenzie woke up, and Mary took us on a tour of the land. One of my favorite parts was getting to walk the trails with Maggie. She’d run ahead and seem to make sure everything was safe and okay, then once confirmed she’d take off back to me with a stick in her mouth, ready for fetch. Mary would explain the different types of plants and wildlife that were around, which was really interesting. We eventually came to a portion of the land that had been cleared and replanted 16 years ago, which was cool to experience. Later that night we built a nice fire, cooked some burgers, and roasted marshmallows.
Hipcamp Host, Mary
The last morning we woke up pretty early. After signing our names on the walls of the cabin, we walked over to the main house to see Mary and say our goodbyes.
Before we left I mentioned to Mac that I wanted to go out on the lake in a canoe. Mary had lifejackets and a huge canoe for us to use, and she helped us as we got in from the dock. We canoed for about 15-20 minutes, then went back in. It was a very peaceful experience, which was exactly what I had hoped for.
Words by Danny Quinlan
Daniel is a freelance photographer, musician, and lover of Hayao Miyazaki films. Check out his most recent post at quietvictories.tumblr.com!
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