March 2nd, 2018
ON THE ROAD AGAIN!
Exactly 7 days later I was back on the road, making the almost 6 hour trip to the pan handle. Once again, I didn’t really have a plan which has become a common theme in my life. This time the drive went on FOREVER!! Throw in several random stops, major traffic issues & a lovely 90 minute scenic tour of Alachua County, I thought maybe my trip back to Marianna just wasn’t meant to be & I almost talked myself into just turning around. Almost…BUT fortunately I didn’t…
MY GPS HATES ME!
I felt like I had been driving for days. I kept checking my GPS & although I had been cruising along for awhile, it kept saying I still had almost 3 hours to go…WTF?? I finally noticed that the stupid thing had been offline & was showing absolutely NO signs of coming back to life! I was able to exit it & figure out that I was actually only 15 minutes away! It wasn’t long before I saw the sign for Marianna! I jumped off & drove the familiar road toward the school. I knew I was heading in the right direction when I came over the hill & the tall, red brick smokestack immediately came into view. It was hard NOT to pull into the cover of the woods, like I had so many times before BUT today my focus was on a different side of Dozier…The North Campus!
WHEN IT’S NOT A HOLIDAY OR WEEKEND!
I drove past the campus & it became glaringly apparent that I was NOT alone. Visit on the weekend OR a holiday such as New Year’s & the town is D-E-A-D!! NO traffic, NO people & NO spying eyes to bust you for trespassing! Show up on a random Friday afternoon & it’s a totally different scene. Plenty of traffic, schools letting out & NOT 1, NOT 2 BUT 3 Marianna police officers directing traffic through the school zone…That just so happened to be just a couple of blocks from where I needed to sneak into! I mentally kicked myself for NOT thinking about this & I’m pretty sure that I created some brand new swear words as I drove through the cops & gave them my sweetest “Thank You For Your Service” smile. I then drove up the road & turned around, heading back toward the campus trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.
A few minutes later I was pulling into the unpaved path of what I now know is the North Campus of Dozier. The path forked to the left & right with the old church front & center. Not really knowing which way to go first, I went to the left, drove up a hill & in less than a minute, started seeing things that I’d previously had NO clue had existed. First an old house to my right, then another that apparently housed some type of dog rescue (Later I’d figure out how this one & only occupied house would be my saving grace!). The “road” ended at a small chainlink fence. Behind the fence I could see a bunch of school board work trucks & a couple of brick buildings…The same brick that was on the buildings across the street! I pulled my SUV behind a small brick building & got out…And was immediately attacked by prehistoric sized mosquitos! Swarms of them!! I NEVER thought that this would be an issue as it was in the 50’s so it NEVER crossed my mind to have my bug spray with me! Oooops! Well, nothing I could do about it now…
MORE THAN I EVER IMAGINED!
Trying my best to ignore the kitten sized mosquitos constantly buzzing around my head, I started taking in my surroundings. Buildings scattered around, some in shambles & ALL abandoned. I stood there for a minute staring in disbelief. After close to 3 years, THIS would be the day that I would FINALLY step foot inside of a Dozier building! I needed a plan of attack if I was going to make the most of my time here. First things 1st, I tried the lock on the gate. I figured I’d at least try to make it easy on myself for once…No sense putting myself through scaling the side of a building if I could just walk through an open gate. NOT surprisingly, the gate was locked…Time to get creative.
A SIGN THROUGH THE TREES…AKA A HOLE IN THE FENCE!
The fence that ran along side of the buildings became more & more deteriorated as I walked further back. Eventually it became obscured by a small wooded area (with a ripped up Lazy Boy in front of it!). Pulling back some of the brush I could see that part of a tree trunk had fallen over, pushed down a large section of rusted fence & literally formed a perfect bridge from one side to the other. I only hesitated for a second before testing out the strength of my “bridge” & when it didn’t snap in half, I proceeded to balance while walking across (and swatting those F’ing mosquitos…The damn things were relentless!) & landed on the other side…Right in front of 2 very decrepit looking buildings. My heart was in my throat. NOT only was I completely hidden by the woods, I couldn’t even be quiet because the entire ground was blanketed by a 5 foot layer of dead leaves. EVERY step I took made a loud CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH…And it echoed! If by chance anyone was hiding out in one of these buildings, they’d hear me coming from a mile away! Might as well rip the bandaid off quick! I CRUNCHED, CRUNCHED, CRUNCHED ALL the way to the back building & Stood staring in total shock…
TO BE CONTINUED….
Thanks to the many people who have continually given me words of encouragement & support! Sometimes it only takes a few kind words to give someone the courage to follow their dreams!
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