That's what Hannah said as she walked, crunching the brittle ground with every step under a palm tree canopy lining the shore of Myakka River. It was perfect the way it hit her, like recognizing an old friend. She couldn't stop smiling, gazing around at the strange landscape. And I felt the same way too when I first visited Myakka River State Park ten years ago. There's something incredibly wild, fabled, and yet, familiar about this place, like we've been told about it before.
As a dedicated member of the sunshine state's PR team, it's my job and great pleasure in life to reconnect people with this fantastical alternative reality that is old Florida. Just a few days ago we were paddling down the Turner River when a visiting friend from California (home of the redwood forest, giant sand dunes, and some of the most dramatic vistas in the country) said, "This reminds me of Lord of the Rings." I was beaming with pride. For all of us lucky folks that call this wonderful state "home," take the reins and share your backyard with your out-of-town families this holiday season. Take them to one of your favorite places. Show them around Florida; where prehistoric reptiles roam the rivers, emerald springs boil from the earth, and fluorescent-pink birds decorate the blue sky. It is, after all, where the wild things are.