MULTICULTURAL DRIVE – DRIVE FROM MIAMI, FLORIDA TO GATLINBURG,TENNESSEE

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THE ROUTE 

Welcome back my wonderful readers, hope you enjoyed my First trip in the USA. You know what people who follow me regularly on social media might know, I traveled a few weeks back to Boston, it was a crazy ass experience which I will write separately. But for the very first time, I wrote my blog in the flight, the silence, the height, flying in the air, the sound of air passing by and a traveler retrieving his memories- Whaaaaattttttaaaa deadly combination. I just loved it😊 I also had an amazing Chinese friend Jess, who was visiting her boyfriend in Boston and sharing her experience of travel within China and elsewhere. A good Conversation Indeed, I love what I do and I am glad I can share it with you all.

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A Co- passenger cum traveler Ms. Jess from China

To start with the actual trip. This is again a nerve wrecking for a guy just moved to a completely new world, Yet beautiful experience. When you go any US university for education, at least most US universities, they have something called Alternative Breaks (AB), which is basically a group of like-minded people who join supporting a single cause, for example, supporting Homeless, Supporting Environment, Supporting education so on and so forth. I was a part of a group where we supported Environment (Guys we all need to start doing something positive towards the environment, that’s the need of an hour). It was six of us, such amazing souls, all were doing their Undergrad and I was the only one doing masters. But the difference is they were born and brought up here in the USA. But I was the only one immigrated from a completely different Place. I as a person, don’t bother with any such differences, however, insecurities start to kick in such as adapting to the situation and what would they be interested in which you can speak but gracefully adapt to the situation and start learning is what I eventually did.

Believe me or not. It was such a learning experience from the second I gave the interview to be a part of this group to the day we all said bye. Still, we all are connected to social networks despite living in different cities having different walks of life.  One mission was to work for the cause, but another mission was to travel and have fun at the same time. Then comes cost cutting as we are all still students and we planned to drive 13 hours(15 to 16 hours with break) instead of flying which was way cheaper. We even did a fundraising for the cost of the fuel. I wish I had pics to show you guys how I use to fundraise (I just used to have those fundraising chocolates with a hanging flyer which says 1 chocolate FOR $1 just like a street vendor next to Library – But it worked, lol) We made enough money as we planned to make, A little more wouldn’t have hurt but yea, that’s all we could manage.

The day came as semester got over the previous day, I was at a party with the Asian Student Union from the evening (Pic’s below) and we were supposed to leave at 4 in the morning. Finally, I managed to leave the party place at 2 Am somehow, came back Shifted my stuff from University dorms to our very own 508 paradises (That’s the house I use to live in Miami).

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One of the Crazy Parties till date – Asian Student Union

And I got off with all the required stuff and the excitement to the core because I was going to cross Florida state line and enter a new state for the very first time. We were renting a van at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Carpooled and reached there. Inside I had the thing I am the only Indian, how are we gonna get coped up with them for the next one week. However, I was confident and ready to take it on but at some corner of the heart, I don’t know whether it was an inferiority complex or not having the sense of belonging.

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The huge vehicle we drove for the 15-hour journey 😛

There were 4 drivers including me because the not everyone could drive the crazy ass vehicle, We hit University of Florida, Gainesville as early as to get breakfast after 5 hours of drive. The deal was to have breakfast come out and I’ll drive. Had an amazing breakfast at Cracker Barrel(Cracker barrel link – if you wanna try ).

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   Ain’t the Skillet Yummy 😛 

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I took the vehicle, and it was the first ever time I am driving such a big vehicle ever. I managed to turn, come outside the building and start driving opposite side of the road (Not kidding – I am like so serious ) everyone shouting Praveen and I press the freaking brake so hard and everyone displaces from their seat and everyone was like let others drive. Felt so shameful and I didn’t literally open my mouth until we reached next stop. I was just feeling weird, just the emotion that they thought I didn’t know to drive. Then smoothly I was calming down and all Finally we crossed the Florida border. It was my first ever time that I crossed Florida.

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Florida – Georgia Borderline 

A drive of few hours we reached Atlanta in the evening. It was completely new to me from the atmosphere, the temperature,  and the aura itself. It was pleasant and chilly. Unlike Miami, there wasn’t a lot of commotion, not a lot of noise, even the downtown was pretty and silent. After a short visit to Mc Donalds,  for lunch, we started driving back and we all started binding with each other pretty well. However, they had issues with my accent but pretty much it went well.

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Atlanta Downtown

As we were entering Tennessee, the sun was set and drive got scary as there were just a GPS and no mobile network for any of us. It was quite adventurous, scary and most important it was freezing cold outside. Finally, we managed to find the place through the woods. It was really steep and we were guessing that should be the place. As expected that was it. It was a wooden house with bunk beds surrounded by mountains and trees (Such a wild and serene experience). Everyone was really tired after a 16-hour journey. Same as you are after a thousand word write up, just kidding.

Hear our funny voices discussing how weird and creepy was the town 😛

Glimpses of Atlanta and surrounding 🙂 

I’ll see you in my next blog with all the adventures we did, the new school Alternative break group we met, and all the fun we had.

Have a great weekend people.

Love,

Praveen

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First ever Travel – Juniper Springs

How is your week going, Fellas ????????? welcome back 🙂

Let me take you on a virtual drive to my ever remembered first trip in the United States, Fun times man.  I could recollect all those moments even today. All my roomies planned to go to that place, really didn’t have a proper understanding of what a spring was?

Waking up in the dorms (I use to live for a semester on campus – One good and the bad decision I ever made :P), getting ready with a bath and all stuffed packed really didn’t know what to take and what not to be taken back then haha …

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Such an excited post I still remember (Freaking I used to upload every single thing )

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Walked all the way to my Paradise (My previous home :0 ), everyone just waiting for me in a 7 seat minivan wondering where the hell I am. Took off the drive, Sleepy as hell but at the same moment, I didn’t want to miss anything on the way. To all the readers one thing I wanna say don’t expect anything great than an array of trees on both sides and a  luxurious highway where you can’t drive more than 70 miles/hr. Well, it’s kinda scenic in few places, but most parts keep looking and staring at the luxurious cars passing by.

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For people thinking where is this place and where are we traveling – This Map describes it all.

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Drive from Miami to Juniper Springs, FL (Reference: Google Maps)

Its hard to sit idle after four years of driving in India, my heart says “Hey ask them ” but mind says “Dude steering is on the other side of the car “. Constantly debating between mind and heart, I took a nap for a while. Taking a couple of stops for the leak, finally came passed Orlando(If you guys love theme parks, amusement parks, especially marvel, harry potter fans – that’s the goto place for you ) Once we take an exit we entered into a completely different atmosphere, the vibe was fantastic. Felt like entering into a forest driving through the narrow roads and gushing dense trees. We could feel the change in terms of the sound and nature as in how peaceful it turned into.

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The scenic way to Juniper Springs

Stocked up with loads of food, as we are were gonna camp for the night and do some good barbecue chicken and veggies. It was a nice thickly packed forest, and we all were like awwwwwwwwwwww <3, parked the car and walked to the actual spring space. It was way more beautiful than what I expected. Dazzling sun shining on us, calling us to jump straight into the water. Crystal clear and perfect weather – who could resist this combination 😮 Water was coming out through the pores, a beautiful sight to engross with nature and swim in this sight. How does it feel when you even think of it.

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Hard work putting the tent up for the night. 

Heart still pounding when I think of the beautiful image when I saw it the first time. Then we decided to put up the tents so that we wouldn’t have to do it at the end of the day merely searching for light in the forest. One more beautiful thing guys – NO WIFI, NO MOBILE SERVICE PROVIDER (Just felt amazing because nothing to interfere just the mother nature and me with the company of my friends). Decided to walk to the spring, and put my feet looking at the sun. Never have I ever had that feeling in me. “Beauty and happiness lie only within us – But we tend to search for external reasons ” PS: I just made that up – felt while inking. Started swimming in the water, really deep, crystal clear and water’s temperature remains constant at any season. Which put all together into an amazing experience.

 It looks way amazing in real (Courtesy: Google Images) 

Spending an hour in water, decided to walk back to the camping place setting up stuff for Barbeque. With all marinated chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms with all Indian masalas (GUYS that was my first experience and man it was yummmm ). But here comes the twist, these guys ruined my 22 years of virginity towards alcohol. No way I can get outside the jungle, Hungry after swimming, and these guys were so stubborn about me having Beer and they claim that’s the only way I can get food. The beer was tasting awful (Mind says”I knew alcohol is horrible but definitely not this horrible” ). when they gave me the chicken, damn that feel. Didn’t pass a chicken piece came my way (So hungry 🙁 ) It started getting darker, it felt great – no one was on the phone, nature and the vibe. Played cards for a while and backed into tent thinking of bear warnings and slept off.

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Days like these, stay evergreen in our hearts. These are few days when I realized how much I admire nature and I am glad I am sharing this experience. Even a few who reads the blog start liking nature or enjoying nature, that’s the most fulfilling moment for a blogger.Let me provide a section of how much its costs, Do’s and Dont’s in Juniper Springs.

Overview of Juniper Springs:

  • Recreational area – Subtropical forest and oval-shaped pool with limestone caves.
  • Part of Ocala National park- Florida.
  • Constant water temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • $21 per site (If you travel as a bunch, It’s super cheap guys)
  • Has a 1-mile trail (If at all you have energy after swimming :P)
  • Barbeque available
  • A place for some sports like Frisbie, badminton, soccer (Whatever game you can imagine within that space – I leave it to your imagination 😛 ) 
  • Canoeing and Kayaking
  • Stores available for swimming and camping gears.
  • Bathhouses, Camping area, and Picnic Places Available
  • Insects are too much, you would definitely need an insect repellent.
  • Easy weekend trip for Floridians, as it is in the center. It is maximum of 4 to 5-hour drive from anywhere within the state. 

Feel free to ask any questions you have about the place, or this trip either in comments or any of my social media plots.

What should I have in my bag pack? 

  • Towel *
  • Few shorts*
  • Hiking shoes*
  • Slippers*
  • T-shirt.
  • Swimwear and googles.
  • Insect repellant *
  • BBQ skewers, veggies, pre-marinated or required mix, charcoal and fire initiator ( If you wanna do BBQ ).
  • Cutting boards, Knives, spoons, and forks if necessary
  • Essential toiletries and skincare (depending on individuals) *
  • Tent and sleeping bag*
  • Pillows and blankets*
  • Most important always try to carry Trash bags*- Never know when will it come handy.
  • Sunscreen*
  • Umbrella* – you never know when it rains in Florida.
  • Camp reservation confirmation*- If the previous booking is done.
  • Power bank– If you are so much love with the place and click a ton of pictures from your mobile phone.
  • DSLR preferable or a good phone would do.

* – Mandatory

PS: Couple of fun facts – Natural places are cheaper and beautiful plus when you camp there are always chances of getting amazing friendship from people of different ethnicities and culture.

I apologize for the picture quality, my pictures will be better as it progresses I promise. Trying to get these from the archive is such a pain in an ass guy.

All right you guys have a chilling weekend ahead, let’s see how was my next day on the trip goes with a different location 🙂

Love,

Praveen