Back In North Florida

I remember when I told my mom that Jacksonville was going no where. They were pulling one of the Navy ships. I remember telling her that I would ‘never’ live there. Let that be lesson #1,243 on why you never say never. I’ve finally learned to practically eliminate if from my vocabulary.

About 4 years ago, living in Tampa, I found myself looking to make a change. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but I knew a big part of it would be moving. I had woken up in a life where I did not recognize myself, didn’t know where I was going and most of all I wasn’t happy. The one thing that I can look back on now and know was a light in all of that was my riding and show life. I had found a great trainer and barn where I leased a 3yo OTTB named Peaches. My time at Laurel Oaks was absolutely fundamental in getting my riding ability back up to par. But alas, it was meant for me to go somewhere new. I wasn’t exactly sure where and didn’t really have a draw to any one particular place. So I took some time to venture out and see what was around. There were two important things I was looking for, being close to family and ensuring a job before I moved.

My father’s side of the family lives in Washington DC and the surrounding area, where I have spent a lot of time over the years. We would go for the holidays when I was young, but even as an adult it would be one of my top solo travel choices. I loved the feel of the city, the metro, the history and the young professional scene. I spent days museum hopping and evenings in swanky happy hour hot spots on U street. So after Christmas I decided to go up for a visit and see how I felt about this becoming my new ‘home’. Turns out it does get quite cold there, the cost of living is through the roof and the big question was where to ride? While it did not work out that I would be making a move to the capital, I did enjoy taking in another Redskins game with my aunts, uncles and cousins.

Redskins Game

Deciding that maybe I should stick to a somewhat warmer climate or at least one that doesn’t frequent snow, I was off to Atlanta. I figured even if it’s only the next state up, at least it’s another state. I was able to stay with an aunt who lives outside the city where it was quiet, a reasonable commute to the city and somewhat rural so there were barns close by. Yes! It was even close enough to drive up to Chattanooga and the Blue Ridge mountains. Well, that reasonable commute to the city was only bearable if there were no other cars on the interstate. Have you driven in Atlanta or experienced the Audubon, I mean Perimeter? It’s crazy! Despite a nice trip up to the mountains where I even went on a horseback ride it just didn’t feel like this was the city for me. But the trail ride was cool!

Blue Ridge Trail Ride

During all of this time I had been putting my resume out on the usual sites and was periodically checking the messages and emails that I would receive to see if anything struck my fancy. Then I got a call about a job in Jacksonville. My father still lives in my home town which is only about an hour away so I thought to myself, ‘This could be good’. Three years later and here we are. I moved back up to North Florida where I get to spend more time with my dad, still get to be by the water, enjoy somewhat of a season change and I have found a new barn to ride and show with. I have come to a place I said I would ‘never ‘ go and I couldn’t be happier.

Kiss Dakota



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