Friday turned out be one heck of a day! I was graced with cool temps and a sunny sky. It was perfect fall day in Florida- time to put away the sandals and shorts and trade them in for boots and jeans and sweaters. Ahhhhh…..I love when the cold weather comes a-knockin’. Given the chilly temps I thought I would make myself a nice cup of hot cocoa to take on the road while I drove to work. Last Christmas, a friend and co-worker bought me a box of hot chocolate mixes from Starbucks. It came with 3 flavors- peppermint, double chocolate and salted caramel. I decided to go with the salted caramel. Grabbing a sesame bagel from Panera Bread leftover from the day before,I was set for breakfast on the run.
Carefully and with precision I got into my car, portable mug of hot chocolate in one hand and purse and keys in the other. I had to be extra careful because I was wearing my brand new white sweater I bought from a store called Dots. It was soft, comfortable and cute and I bought before leaving for my Gatlinburg, TN trip. Listening to Elvis Presley Christmas tunes in the car, everything was going fine. During the 30 minute drive I drank my cup of salted caramel hot chocolate without a single spill. Then…. disaster struck. Coming up ahed I spotted what looked like a man on a motorcycle sitting on the side of the highway. As I got closer I realized it was a cop pointing his laser at the cars whizzing. Out of habit I jammed on the breaks and the cup o’ hot chocolate flew forward. I drank most of the liquid so the spill wasn’t too awful. Still driving I pulled some napkins out of my glove compartment to mop up the sticky, hot mess. Then, I looked at my right sleeve and somehow when I managed to get 3 brown stains on my sleeve. HARUMPH! I was livid. Oh well, no need to cry over hot chocolate. I finally pulled up to work and had a grande old-time cleaning up my mess. Let me tell you something, that was one of the worst types of liquids I had to clean up. For one its brown and stains everything. Plus its thick. After a good ten minutes the mess was cleaned up.
My day only got better. After work I planned to meet up with a few Tampa bloggers in Dade City. All of girls were given the opportunity to preview the Pretty Muddy course and then have dinner afterwards. I never made it to the preview. I-75 was clogged with traffic: the 9-5’ers who left work early for date night dinners and cocktail hour, high school kids meeting up with their buddies for a Friday night movie, and everyone else who decided to be on the road on a late Friday afternoon. At one point I could have walked faster- I looked over at my speedmeter, it read “6 mph.” 6 MPH are you freakin’ kidding me? This is just ridiculous I practically shouted to myself. Traffic jams and I don’t get along well. I usually have Joe drive when I know there will be one. He is much calmer. It was practically dark by the time I got to my destination. I traveled down a very bumpy dirt road only to find that the gate was closed. A southern gentlemen who look like he was in his 50’s or 60’s walked up and stood on the other side of the gate.
Ma’am can I help you? The gentlemen said in his southern drawl.
Confused and cold I stammered….Yes. UUhhh I am not sure if I am at the right place. I was supposed to meet up with bloggers?
The who? Now I think he was the confused one.
The bloggers. We are doing a blog post of the Pretty Muddy race.
Oh well I am sorry but that race ain’t until tomorrow.
I know. We were given permission to a preview. Courtney is the one in charge and has access.
Well there is another gate. Maybe they are over there. Go back to 301 and then take a right onto Ashwood. Sorry but I am not allowed to let you.
No problem! I understand. Thanks for your trouble and have a great day. I waved him a goodbye.
Have a nice day ma’am.
I got back into my car, heater blasting and head in the opposite direction. It was twilight time- grays, purples and blues start taking over the sky. It was starting to get dark and lamp poles do not exist on dirt roads. Where was the darn turn off to get back on 301? Before I realized what I was doing I followed a white SUV as he drove past a big ranch/farm gate. Click. beep beep beep. The gate shut and I was locked in and on private property. This was not a safe situation to be in. The SUV kept trucking on the winding dirt road. As this point the road was so small you could only fit one car on it at a time.
There several houses along the path. I looked at my GPS. Nothing registered. It was blank. Saying a prayer and taking a gamble I pulled up the house closest to the road. The lights were on and there was a car outside. Taking a deep breath I hoped the chain saw massacre didn’t live here. I really wanted to stay alive and keep my skin.
KNOCK KNOCK. The porch light comes on.
Can I help you?! A stern voice yells from the other side of the door.
I’m sorry but I am lost and need your help. (I swear this felt eerily familiar. Almost like I was part of a horror movie except I was the killer. Google American Horror Story- Home Invasion or the Movie Strangers.) I understand if you don’t want to answer the door.
Go around to the back of the house. The voice on the other side of the door answers.
Scared, but relieved someone is going to help me out I walk to the back of house, still praying that this isn’t the isn’t Leatherface’s home. As I round the corner a sweet old man is waiting for me. Almost in tears I explained to him how I got lost. The first thing he wanted to know was how in the world I got past the gate. I told him and he chuckles.
Go back up this road and enter the code on the key pad (he gives me the code). Once you get to sharp curve take a right and it will take you back to 301.
Shaking his hand, I said, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Now I can finally get back to Tampa, I tell him.
I got back into my car a second time. This time I made it back to 301. At this point it was too late for the preview. I went ahead and met the girls at the eatery. We decided to dine at a cute and quaint place called Kafe Kopelli.
The building was an original Ford Motor Company’s Model T agencies. The ambiance was that of a hunting lodge- lots of taxidermy. I liked it. It was cozy. According to their website the explain the reason behind the decor:
“Some of our customers are curious as to why all of the animals. We wanted to represent those animals that were important in Indian Culture. Many of the animals you see were used for food and clothing. Trappers from the North brought hides and meat used for trading with the Indians, so we have moose, and other animals found in Canada. The tiger and the jaguar were given to us by Robert Baudy who breeds rare felines in Hernando County. When an animal dies of natural causes, we make a donation to his compound and we have a taxidermist prepare the animal. We feel we are contributing to the animal’s survival, as our donations are used strictly for the care of these rare felines.”
The food and service were fantastic as well as the company with me. This was the first time I met these girls. They were all fantastic: sweet, bubbly and nice. We swapped blog tips, tricks and talked about the mud run that was tomorrow. It was great to hear their stories and the reason behind their blogs. I ended up ordering the white chili nachos. Crunchy, hot, cheesy and spicy you couldn’t go wrong. The fare was divine. At the end of the meal some of the girls shared pumpkin cheesecake. Its handmade in the kitchen. I opted out because I had a Starbucks coffee earlier in the day and I was at my limit for sugary sweets.
It was getting late and the time had come for me to go home. It was 9 pm and it would take me a good hour to drive home. I had to be up by 5 am to make it for my race wave which was 8 am. Bidding a farewell and goodnight I headed back to the car and into the darkness I drove off.PHOTO CREDIT photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidclow/2343403983/”>D.Clow – Maryland</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a> photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthigh/3682339463/”>mlhradio</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>