Words by Anna Nikstad
I’m living in Valdosta at VWC and everyday I’m doing the same thing, working hard and riding a lot. Nothing to complain about here, but sometimes a change of scenery is needed, even if only for a few hours. So one day I had to get away and just get lost for awhile. No plans, no specific direction, just cruising.
I’m situated right near the Florida-Georgia state line so I decided I’ll follow wherever I felt compelled to go. It’s beautiful around here so I figured I’d find something. Through all of my travel experience there is one thing I have come to realize- vacation is a state of mind, not a destination. So, I knew I didn’t have to go far to feel disconnected. After breakfast, my boyfriend and I packed the dog in the car and decided we were going south for a short bit and then maybe take a right, after eyeing the map. We set out with no expectations, only a few random ingredients incase we encounter some sort of hiking trail or body of water. Hauling down the highway I always find myself scanning the horizon for things of interest, whether it be a scenic route or a thrift shop. Ya never know whats out there until you look. We get maybe 15 miles down the road and BAM. There it is. A small green sign on the side of the highway that read “Blue Springs Next Right”. That was our calling, we didn’t know what we were looking for until we found what we were looking for. I just love when it works out like that.
We promptly exit the motorway and take a sharp curve onto a dusty old farm to market road. It feels like we are back on the prairie as we pass dilapidating barns on fields with big ole live oak trees slumping over every which way. The Spanish moss draped over their branches softly hanging on to the wind. So peaceful out here, quiet and comforting. We still had no idea where we were headed but we start seeing some promising signs.
Springs Next Left
We slow down and turn into this tiny gravel parking lot that’s hidden behind an entry of overgrown trees. Nobody else around in the lot, we thought maybe it was closed. Once we parked our car and hopped out we quickly realized we were at the right spot. Big Jurassic vibes as we started walking down this dirt pathway from the parking lot through the jungle following signs like “look out point” and “no life guard on duty”. After lurking through the woods a bit we stumble upon the most beautiful cold spring. As we walk up to this big opening in the trees we find ourselves standing on the edge of a crystal clear spring perfectly tucked away in the woods, safe and secluded. It was amazing.
“The blue waters meet the murky river but don’t mix. Instead they just give each other space.”
It was perfect; small and deep. A horse shoe shaped spring that narrows into a shallow flow in a mesmerizing snake like pattern through the trees to the nearby river. We couldn’t wait any longer, I put my stuff down, pulled my goggles over my face and dove in. It was freezing, I definitely forgot how cold natural springs can be. But being underwater was refreshing, as if I had died and been reborn. A gentle current tugs at me to follow along. I let it take me away, fully relaxing as I let my hands drag against the water’s floor, touching all the little rocks and drift wood. I surface where the spring meets the river. The blue waters meet the murky river but don’t mix. Instead they just give each other space. As if they divide the river, creating two different worlds. One side lush with white sand and chilly clear water, the other tea-stained and warm. Sort of seemed like something would be lurking just beyond the clear water edge. Welcoming yet spooky. We spend the day jumping in and out of the spring and roaming around the shore line finding little secret beaches and surprise mimosa trees.
Afterwards, we were hungry and tired so we stopped at this little ‘hole in the wall’ Mexican food place that turned out to be a gem, we ate delicious food, and still made it back home in time to catch the sunset. We vacationed for a day without going too far from home. In a crazy world like the present, taking time to seek out the little adventures is definitely a life-win and can leave you feeling grounded and wholesome. You don’t always have to go far to vacation, sometimes you just gotta look a little closer.
Anna Nikstad is a professional wakeboarder from southeast Texas. She noticed there's such a huge potential in the women’s side of the sport, so when she's not on the water, she puts her focus into pioneering women’s wakeboarding and encouraging other women to join and be a bigger part of the extreme sports community.
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