The Terrific Tami and my first Road Job

State: Florida

I didn’t sleep well in the Devil’s Den Campground because I’m not used to having people around me when I camp anymore.

I got up to break camp and then Tami came by and brought me breakfast.

I thanked her and told her I’d probably stop up and see her. She then had to run to get to work at the Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens.

I didn’t really have a plan for what to do other than to wait around until 4:30pm because Carlie (works at Devil’s Den) had offered me a ride to Gainesville.

After I got my shower, I had an idea. I’d been wanting to volunteer for a while, but I hadn’t had any luck with the workaway volunteer site I use. So I headed back up to Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens and decided to volunteer for the day.

I met with Lori (another lady that works there) and she got me started with a rake and clearing some leafy paths.

Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens is the epitome of beauty and serenity, which is why a lot of guests though it was quite funny to see this wild man raking and rocking out.

After I cleaned a few paths I met up with Tami.

“Ello Love,” I said in the best English accent I could muster causing Tami to laugh.

“What? Hey you might be able to pull of an American accent, but it works both ways gov’na,” I said making her laugh again.

We then tag teamed the main road and got it looking good.

After a while, a steady stream of guests had me watching the Rose Breasted Cockatoos while Tami and Lori gave tours.

Rosey (one of the Cockatoos) fell in love with me and kept trying to make a nest out of my beard.

Rosey and me

While Tami and Lori gave tours and more guests came in and I would stall them with Rosey and tell them about my trip and how I was volunteering there.

One of the guests told me about how her son was a traveler also and then she gave me $20 to help me out on my trip.

About 4:15pm I said goodbye to everyone and rushed back to Devil’s Den to find out that Carlie had already left. I had missed talking to her in the morning because they were swamped with people.

So I headed back to Cedar Lakes and spoke with Tami who had offered me a ride as well in case I missed Carlie.

As we drove, Tami asked if I had an idea of where I was going to stay in Gainesville.

I told her anywhere with woods was fine.

“Seth, it’s a city and you’ve never been there before. Plus it’s going to rain.”

“You can drop me off in the outskirts. It’s ok I’ve got a rainfly with my hammock.”

After trying to find a place on the GPS for a while that would put Tami’s mind at ease, she finally said:

“Let me just check with my roommates and you can probably camp in our backyard.”

We went back to Tami’s and her roommates were cool with it. Then we went to pick up Tami’s son Jordan.

We hit it off and he became my little buddy.

Jordan had this awesome R/C car and was really awesome at driving it…until he ran it full-bore (50mph) into himself.¬†All I remember was seeing this little kid in the air and an explosion of batteries flying.

After we checked and saw he was alright, all three of us busted out laughing.

In the morning, Tami made me this exploding egg sandwich. Over easy eggs cheese and bread. It was awesome!

We then headed out to go to the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Festival to advertise Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens.

Being as that I’ve got nowhere to be and everywhere to go decided to volunteer and help out again.

“Oh no…I forgot to get a table…bollox!” Tami said while driving, putting on makeup, and planning.

We stopped at Walmart which was hilarious because Tami is like me and shops like a little kid.

“No! Put that back!” Jordan said when Tami grabbed some candy and we laughed.

We go the table and made it to the garden only to be told that vendor parking was as far away from setup grounds as possible.

We parked and lugged all the supplies and tent to the entrance only to be stopped by this stuffy old lady.

“You have to have your wristbands on or I can’t let you in.”

“Well we were a little busy lugging all our stuff from way back there,” I said while Tami searched and found out she left them in the car.

Tami and I ran back to get the wristbands and some other supplies while Jordan watched the rest of the stuff, because the old bat wasn’t going to let us in without the wristbands.

We got them and then lugged everything through the parking lot and then into the Gardens.

We set up the tent (good thing to because it rained) and the table with these beautiful photographs of Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens.

Me and Jordan explored the Gardens and all the vendors. There was this guy that had a fire truck that was converted into an ice cream truck. It was awesome.

Ice cream fire truck!

Then there was BBQ galore. I ended up spending more than I should have, but when you see and smell these turkey legs the size of your forearm smothered in BBQ sauce, you get one.

I helped out at the stand also and gave Tami a chance to explore the festival and invite vendors to the spring festival that Cedar Lakes is having on April 30th and May 1st.

About halfway through the day Tami said to me:

“It’s going to drop down to the 30’s tonight. You can stay inside on the daybed.”

I honestly didn’t realize I was going to be staying with Tami again. I mean the other day we were strangers. I was just figuring after the festival finding some nearby woods.

I asked Jordan to help me find something to get his mom and we ended up getting this beautiful tiger’s eye rock.

Later, Tami also asked if I wanted some temporary work at Cedar Lakes because they just had a guy quit and needed some extra help. I told her I could use the work. She talked to Ray (the owner) and I got a four day job just like that at Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens.

After the festival Tami took us to Burgerfi and got us some awesome burgers.

“Thank you,” I said touching the tiger’s eye stone in my pocket glad I got her something.

“No problem. Thanks for helping out today.”

We were joined by Tami’s friend Jim and then we all went out to Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

It was beautiful and we got to see some gators too. I thought about going after this one on a log, but going off the dock and over the fence is frowned upon by the rangers …yet I was still thoroughly tempted.

We got back to Tami’s and planned out the week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I’ll be working at Cedar Lakes.

So I’m realizing one of my superpowers is to go from strangers to friends at incredible speed.

Forever your friend,

~The Outsider

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