I may have come to terms with my temporary pause in plans to move, relocate, or travel long-term, but I still feel the need to justify the change of heart.

So, here are a dozen adventures and other to-dos that I hope to take advantage of from my new subtropical home:

  1. Take the long highway to the Florida Keys – The 113-mile drive is allegedly one of the top drives of all time. Enough time has passed since my cross-country trip to get me adequately revved up for this shorter, scenic route. Sure, there’s an excitement in arriving at a beach from the water, but there is a freedom in road trips. Plus, how can I live so close to paradise and not visit?
  2. Get to the Gulf Coast – I guess this was technically accomplished with my Spring Break shenanigans in Panama City, but the western coast is supposedly a different world than the Panhandle. Bordering the Gulf of Mexico rather than the Atlantic (as my city does), the western coasts boasts some of the highest regarded beaches around.
  3. Get tan – It really is shameful how pale I am, considering where I live. No Floridian should spend as few days at the beach/pool as I have in the last six months.
  4. Buy local – I’m surprised by how awful the grocery store produce has been. Yet, I know fully well that there are excellent farmers’ storefronts within a few miles of my apartment. Florida has a blessedly long growing season and the fresh produce is worth a little time and energy.
  5. Visit St. Augustine – So much for New England’s claim on authenticity and early colonial settlements; the city of St. Augustine on Florida’s Atlantic coast is the first permanent European settlement in the (present-day) continental U.S. With its colonial Spanish quarter and Fountain of Youth, it also gives me an excuse for yet another road trip.
  6. Snorkel – There’s no good reason why I haven’t gone. I have the fins and mask, and the weather is only “moderately uncomfortable” for two months out of the year. The Keys offer the one of the largest living coral barrier reefs in the world and there are numerous shipwrecks, reefs, and diverse marine habitats to explore off mainland Florida, as well.
  7. Explore the Everglades – While I headed into the Glades by accident once, I’d like to intentionally explore the nation’s only subtropical park wilderness. Perhaps I’ll take a glass-bottomed boat into gator territory, finally learn how to fish, or camp on the rich parkland.
  8. Be creativeIn Peace Corps and graduate school, I rarely had time to paint, write, or be otherwise creative simply for the sake of it. I can now, and feel compelled to commit myself to taking advantage of this time. What that will bring, no one yet knows.
  9. Bask in the Bahama sun – Just because. Its not the ideal “traveling to the obscure location” thing, but I think a girl is allowed some leisure in her travel every once in a while, don’t you?
  10. Meditate – It really does help me stay centered. I know I’ll better appreciate activities 1-9 if I’m clear-headed and focused on the “now.”
  11. Learn how to ride a bicycle – Ok, so I know how to ride a bike, but it’s been a while since I’ve ridden one comfortably and without accident. But what better way to take advantage of the Florida sunshine than by traveling sans car?
  12. Vote in a swing state – Enough said.

With my list at hand, this is going to be a year equally as powerful as the last, but hopefully with a little less personal exploration (i.e. drama) and a lot more cultural exploration.

Explore the Everglades, nation’s only subtropical wilderness. Photo courtesy of http://www.florida-everglades.com