Growing up, when people would learn I am from Florida, they’d always respond with, “Oh, that must be nice. You have the beaches and Disney.” Yeah, not quite. The nearest beach (in the actual beach on an ocean sense) is several hours away; Disney is three. I’d have to explain that I wasn’t from that part of Florida.
No, I’m from the middle of nowhere, lots of woods and mosquitoes, the nearest real town is a 30 minute drive part of Florida. Branford, FL. Matt and I are heading down for a visit this Labor Day. We plan of doing some serious tubing on the Ichetucknee (see what happened last time I attempted a floating trip). So I figured I’d dedicate this Five for Friday post to my hometown!
Branford is nestled right in the middle of North Florida on the historic Suwannee River. And aside from that river and the University of Florida 45 minutes down the road, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot going on.
Oddly enough, the town’s website actually uses the verbiage “nestled on the banks of the Suwannee River”. See, that river really is the main event.
Branford is a small, friendly town nestled on the banks of the Suwannee River, where pride in family, community and patriotism create a wonderful quality of life. It is a peaceful, rural area of natural beauty balancing the old with the new. Enjoy browsing our website and then make plans to come see what you are missing here in Branford Florida.
I knew from a young age that when I graduated high school, I’d have to leave this town in the dust (actual dust from all of the dirt roads). Now I only get back to visit family a few times a year, and I truly look forward to my trips home. Because while Branford is somewhere that I wouldn’t want to live, it is a fun little place to visit, and it actually was a nice place to grow up. And oddly enough, it’s the lack of much to do (in terms of what a city offers) that yields the:
Five Reasons Branford, FL was a Nice Place to Grow Up
Number 5: The Rivers
As you’ve already learned, Branford enjoys being nestled up next to the Suwannee River. But it also boasts several other great rivers: the Sante Fe and the Ichetucknee. The Ichetucknee is my favorite. The water is crystal clear and the six mile stream of connected springs flows through some truly breathtaking nature.
Number 4: The Springs
As great as the rivers are, they have nothing on the springs. Branford has some really kick ass springs. From Florida Dive Connection:
“This landlocked area of the state has contributed more diving knowledge and innovations to our sport than just about any area of the country. The little town of Branford is known as the “Cave Diving Capital of the World” and many of the pioneers of cave diving hailed from this section of Florida.”
I really miss hopping in the car and heading down for a quick swim “at the springs”. Many a summer was spent in a bathing suit jumping from trees and platforms, catching minnows, and hanging out on the steps. You better believe I visit these spots every trip home and we always make a stop for a huge helping of boiled peanuts from the side of the road.
Number 3: Woods and Dirt Roads
I spent at least 85% of my waking hours each summer outside. My brother and I climbed trees, made forts, and cautiously avoided prickly pears in the woods behind our house. As we got older, we turned to the woods or dead-end dirt roads as a hang out spot with our friends. And boy did we do some “hanging out”. A bonfire, case of Natural Lite or a bottle of Boones Farm, and a car stereo system lent themselves to many a fun night.
Number 2: School Events
Since there wasn’t much else typically going on in town, any event at the school became a town event. I think almost every house in the town was empty on Fridays in the fall, because everyone was in the stands cheering on a then constantly losing football team. And it didn’t matter that we were losing, people had so much Buccaneer pride that it transcended the score. School play or pageant? The auditorium was packed. Fall Festival? People were lined up to shoot the flame out of a jack-o-lantern or bob for apples.
That’s not something you see in sprawling cities like metro Atlanta. Parents are there, but the community isn’t; at least not in the same way Branford is.
Number 1: The School
I went to a K-12 school (now an elementary and high school). That concept is so completely foreign to most people, but it made for some truly unique experiences. My high school track coach was my PE coach when I was in elementary school. I had some AMAZING teachers throughout the years (most notably Mr. Murfee, HS English and Mrs. Wingate, 4th & 6th grade). I was involved in almost every club and sport that was offered; because the school really is the life of that town. And most remarkably, twelve of the kids in my graduating class (of 69) actually started kindergarten with me! That’s wild! I made some of the the best friends of my life and got to crash through every hurdle of my adolescence with them by my side.
So there you have it, a short homage to B-town. I’ll have to make a “5 things that happened when I lived there that would garner a lawsuit anywhere else” list next. Now, that would be a good read!
Stay positive & love your life!
Listening to: Team Sleep – Tomb Of Liegia
Drinking: H2O but I’m about to be on the hunt for something with caffeine.
Random fact: One time my brother kicked a prickly pear and it landed in my leg. Holy ouch! I’m sure I got him back.