Not everyone can get into this location. It’s private property so it’s probably not fair to blog about it. But it’s my blog so here goes.
The Skinner Woods.
First off, don’t even try to escape, I mean put this in your GPS. You will go in circles until you give up and end up at Dave and Busters. It will be disappointing. You have to get a personal invite with directions to find the place. My in? Church.
I went to a chili cook-off at Skinner property and decided it was one more reason to like Jacksonville. Let’s leave the location as a general off- of-J-Butler-Road-typically-gated-location. Once you wind back deeper and deeper in a dirt road through the woods, you will eventually come across an opening in the trees and a place to leave your vehicle. I arrived around 5 pm the Sunday I visited. There was a cool breeze in the air and the smell of corn, chili, and campfire. Families were sprawled about around picnic tables and on picnic blankets. There was an cabin type room with a screened in porch with tables covered with home-made cornbread. Two hours north of Orlando and the Southern cooking antes up quickly.
The cabin was by a creek with flowing brown water and rocks and sticks cluttering the embankment. By the water was a set-up for corn and the cob. There were piles and piles of cobs – all ready to be grilled with the husk on. There was a pot of melted butter for dunking your cob, and canisters of salt, pepper and other spices. Across from this station was 25 of the most unique tasting chilis you could imagine. Not sure what Jax folk keep in their spice cupboards, but there was a little bit of everything – cinnamon, nutmeg, sweet, cayenne and sour. Maybe even ketchup. It was a smorgasbord. Even though it was still light out, a fire was started. In the crisp air, it was the perfect place for warmth. People sat in lawn chairs and on benches, enjoying the March evening.
I chatted with some of the moms in my bible study. They wrangled toddlers wanting to dunk little fists into chili. We talked about traveling – a funny thought while being surrounded by such beauty. Praise music played in the background – but it was the acoustic guitar kind that sounded like live music. Some moments bring so much peace.
I wore my camo hoodie and took it all. I might not have the best of friends, but I know I am in a good place. It takes time for relationships to grow. Until then I have the beach and the woods to brighten my mood as Spring comes.