A Florida Native Rediscovering Florida

I am one of the rare ones: I was born in Florida and have lived here my entire life. 23 years in Pensacola, 6 years in Tampa, and the last 12 in Jacksonville. In all that time, I've
taken my home state for granted. Summers swimming at Pensacola Beach,
camping at Fort Pickens, fishing in Tampa Bay, enjoying the St. Johns
River in Jacksonville. I remember complaining about beach and camping
trips, only wanting to stay inside to read books, watch TV, or play
video games instead.

Fast forward to adulthood, and my wife and I are traveling all over American and Europe, visiting amazing places and learning about history along the way. The experience has been life
changing in many ways. Three years ago, we decided to give our passports
a rest and had our son Luke. Travel plans changed dramatically: taking
him across the state to see family has finally given way to a
cross-country flight to California. A few trips to Orlando under our
belt, and I begin to realize that while I know the finer points of Roman
history and Icelandic geology, my own birthplace is somewhat of a
confused enigma to me. Is Pensacola really older than St. Augustine? Why
call this city Jacksonville after a president who never visited here?
Did Hernando De Soto really sail his huge ships into extremely shallow
Tampa Bay? I honestly didn't know and I'm ashamed of it.

So I'm beginning a Florida quest. Armed with my ever-curious 3-year-old, overworked yet patient wife, 10-year-old SUV, trusty iPhone, full Macbook, state parks passport, and
cheap digital camera, I plan to visit as many city, county, state, and
national parks in Florida as I can. Pictures, video, random notes,
social media links, and more will be posted from my geeky devices. I
need to learn about my home state and I'd like to share it with all of
you from a native's perspective. I'd like to especially share things you
can do with your kids while you are there.

I've started a group called Parks for Parents and I also have a dedicated Ning too. Come join!

Mark Meyers
Jacksonville, Florida

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