Williston, Florida is home to some unique adventures! Here's what Brad and I did during our day in this photogenic paradise...
The Devil's Den
Brad and I drove as far as we could after our brief stop in Mobile, Alabama. We made it about two hours North of Williston and crashed at our glamorous Walmart parking lot suite. On January 27th, 2018 we woke up early and drove to the Devil's Den, which is a spring with access via an underground cave. It is a privately owned feature and it is primarily marketed as a place for scuba divers to come and explore and practice their diving techniques. If you are not a scuba diver, then you must have snorkel gear to enter the Den.
You can save some money if you bring your own gear but rental gear is available as well.
The water is a constant 72° F. We asked the employees if we would freeze if we snorkeled in just our swim suits (it was a cloudy, 70 degree day), and they told us that we would be fine. However, we must be wimps because we walked into the Den, immediately started shivering, and decided that it would be a much more enjoyable experience if we put on our wetsuits. So we ran back to the van and geared up.
If you have been to the Devil's Den and loved it, then you definitely need to visit Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah. It is crazy similar-only the Crater is 95°F hot spring and the Den has fish and turtles living in it.
Devil's Den is inarguably beautiful and a must-do for anyone interested in exploring Florida. I am happy that I experienced it, but for us dirt-bags, it was pricey in comparison to the fact that we know we could have done similar experiences for free with our own gear. It's an experience that is great for someone that is not used to doing outdoorsy things on their own because it is a very controlled environment streamlined to keep you safe.
Maybe I'm an outdoors snob for saying this, personally I think these places are cool and all... but they would be even better if it was more of a secret and less crowded. That's why I love having my own gear and my own skills to be able to escape to the hard-to-get places.
Alas, the purpose of these blog posts are to inspire people to get outside and explore, no matter where you are and no matter what experience level you have. So don't be dissuaded by my snobiness-unless you are of the same opinion as I am, then I'm going to be real and tell you that there are other adventures close to Williston that are a better fit for our preferences.
After our fun came to a close at Devil's Den, we headed just down the street to visit some more horse vaulting friends! I met Valerie Carter about three years ago at a vaulting competition in Colorado. I was riding a green horse (a horse that is newly trained), and Valerie stepped in to lunge (control the horse while I vaulted) last minute. It was a crazy experience and it took a lot of trust with the horse and me to go into the competition ring with a new lunger, but Valerie is an amazing horsewoman and did a superb job. I really enjoyed getting to know her and since then we have stayed in touch.
Valerie has influenced and grown vaulting teams in Peru and New Mexico, and now she trains horses and runs her own barn, Oakwood Equestrian, in Williston. Brad and I got the chance to tour her facility that she has been pouring her literal blood, sweat, and tears into for the last two years. Her hard work shows, and her barn is GORGEOUS and an absolute haven for everything horses. She collaborates with a lot of dressage trainers and competitors and plans to provide more amenities for traveling horse-people to come and stay, relax, and train during the winter season.
While we were visiting Valerie, she suggested that we should go to Sylvia Zerbini's ranch and watch her show, "Gallop." It didn't take much convincing-we were excited that we just happened to be in town for it! So we headed off to the Grande Liberté Farm in time to catch the start of the show.
Grande Liberté Farm
I'm going to assume that most people reading my blog do not speak horse, so I'm going to start off with some basics.
Webster Dictionary defines a liberty horse as a circus horse that performs tricks (such as wheeling, circling, running in file) in a group and without a rider.
Sylvia Zerbini is a legend in the horse-world because she is basically a horse-whisperer. Imagine like a real-world example of Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones? Yeah, that's Sylvia, the mother of horses.. kinda. At least that's how I see it. She can do liberty with up to 13 horses at once. It is absolutely astounding.
When Sylvia is not out performing all over the world, she hosts performances at her farm near Williston on Saturdays called, "Gallop." The show consists of aerial acts, vaulting by Mary McCormick (world-champion vaulter), classic circus-style bareback riding acts, dressage, and of course, Liberty.
Williston, Florida is a gem. I could not stop gushing over the beautiful horses and barns out there, plus the fact that it is close to some of the state's prime freshwater springs is an added bonus. I could easily go back and add some more paddle boarding adventures at some of the nearby springs-such as Ginnie Springs or Rainbow River Springs. In fact, I think I will!