The sun peaked over the horizon, awakening Dade City. The environment sizzled, and every creature that naturally swam, slithered, and crawled around the feet of any passerby started to bathe in the sun on the trails.
Inside my Florida cabin, I was fresh with excitement.
“Ocala? You better believe I’ll be there! We haven’t been on the trails in almost a year.” My sister had called to tell me that she was going up to meet their extended family for horse riding on the Ocala trails not to far away near
a place called Cactus Jacks. What had once been a family tradition had tapered off in recent years, but our family is still close and tried to get together as much as we could to enjoy riding horses on the FL trails. This would be one to remember, and I was excited to relive the adventures of years passed as well as create some new memories along the way.
“You remember how mom used to dress us?” my sister said. “How she would pick out our little outfits, and put us on the smaller horses yelling giddy up?”
I laughed, “Yeah. Mom is great! Though, she should have been some kind of country fashion designer, or something. I look back at all those photos and it’s obvious where I got my cool streak from.”
“Okay I’ll see you in a couple days. Love you.”
“I love you, too,” with a quick reply.
As I hung up the phone and walked around the cabin needing to do a quick inventory and see what I would need to take care of before he heading up to Ocala for an enjoyable trip with family on same amazing horse riding trails. But before I could go. I’d have to do a little maintenance to the cabin, and get everything locked up so we could take time away with some peace of mind while traveling around.
As I threw on some work clothes and grabbed a hefty pair of gloves and neared the front door, I opened a little closet behind it to find my old work boots. Front and center sat the regular boots, which were utterly disheveled from so much use. I’m sure I could have very well used them as work boots, nowadays. But decided with travels ahead I’ll reach through to the back of the closet and grab the safer to work in boots so began pulling them out, only to notice that one of the boots had a gaping hole in the toe as if a gator had walked in while I was sleeping and chewed on them just for fun. Oh great, now I’ll never finish in time to take off and travel for a few days without worry of what was left needing attention at home to meet me as I return.
“These are trash,” I thought, shrugging. With that I sighed and grabbed some regular old cowboy boots, “And these aren’t too far away from trash, either.” but they will help me get the job done.
The outdoor work to fix up my home was not too kind on the boots as it had been raining for days. When finally got done working, I relaxed again and started packing for Ocala, but at that time I knew my mother would throw a fit if she saw me show up wearing wet boots like that.
It was at that moment, I decided that this adventure was about to get a little bigger and better. I’d have to go a bit south before shooting up north, but knew it was well worth while and realized I’m officially on vacation and started singing all along the way.
With the foot to the pedal I headed a little less than an hour down I-75 from Dade City to Tampa, where I had not been for several years. Plus I was wearing those same boots which had taken a beating, and always kept up with me even though barely ever cleaned them. But no matter what show, rodeo or event or the great date’s had I’d always counted on those boots every day and night, rain or shine.
When I arrived and walked in the Russell’s Western Wear, an associate immediately saw the boots which I hoped they’d overlook.
“Oh, no! What happened to those?” she said.
“I know” I said. “I’m a little rugged back home and haven’t been keeping them up, but have certainly gotten plenty of use out of them. But I’m going to be spending a few days in a row with boots on in front of my whole family, so I figured it was best to get a new pair.”
“Fantastic,” the associate said. “Follow me, I can show you exactly what you may need in several options and styles.”
The associate led me through every style, shape and size that I could possibly want, from Ariat, to Chippewa, Justin, Justin Work Boots, Nocona, and Tony Lama, “I reckon you’ll like these” the associate said. “A bit classic, a bit western, a bit vintage, and a bit modern to make sure people don’t think you pulled these out of your grandfather’s collection.”
Once I picked up a pair of some new leather cowboy boots with a bold impressive stitch pattern. I quickly realized they were far more affordable than remembered and even more comfortable too. Either I was doing better, or Russell’s boot brands had grown as a company that could provide better prices and styles to their customers. It was probably a bit of both.
“We can ship these free, and expedite real fast,” the associate said.
“No don’t worry bout a thing,” “These bad boys are going on my feet right now.”
As I looked over to the other wall, and saw an equally large spread of women’s boots, “You know what, on second thoughtBefore I head out, I better take a look over there. My mother and sister would love a pair of new cowgirl boots themselves So long as you promise I’ll get the same kind of deal on those, too.”
“Of course,” the associate said. “I’ll show you everything!”
A few minutes later, I was on my way and opened the trunk with 3 bags of new boots it was necessary to rearrange how everything was packed, so 2 went into the trunk while mine went onto the feet. The ride up to Ocala was fueled by excitement, music and natural breezes which was great way to start the trip. The leather of my new boot’s pressed down on the accelerator the whole way up I-75 as I smiled with glee thinking about our great trip ahead.
When he arrived at the stables and horse trails, mother and sister walked over to greet me with a big hug.
“Hold on, close your eyes.” I said. Then opened the trunk and pulled out the extra two pairs of boots in their Russell’s western wear bags with big boxes of boots sticking out in each. “Okay, open up and check them out”
Like clockwork, mother looked down at my new boots first, “DavidThose are some seriously nice boots you got there, glad you aren’t wearing those old ripped and dirty ones still. Wait, did you buy those just because you were coming to see me?”
As I held up the bag, “Guilty as chargedBut that wasn’t all I got.”
When mother and sister opened their boxes of boots and put them on. They were all definitely ready to jump up on their horses and ride the trails of Florida with some fresh leather on their feet too. Everyone in the family looked on with eagerness and big smiles. This adventure was going to be another set of memories to last a lifetime, and they couldn’t wait to get going. Every single photo my sister took of the three of us on our horses that trip was the epitome of country cowboy and cowgirl fashion, they couldn’t help but talk about how amazing they looked and how happy that surprise to begin our trip helped make it a great experience.
And of course, I was able to finally toss out those gator-bitten boots when got back home and strut around in style once again with even better memories of our trip.
Map of Hialeah Florida Photo Gallery