Again I was born 1983, in Kissimmee, FL. I lived off a dirt road, in a single wide trailer on my grandparents property with my parents. Growing up in Kissimmee, FL has been a adventure to say the least. I lived on the corner of 17-92 ( S.OBT, Or John Young depending on your GPS) and Pleasant Hill Rd.
In our front yard was a trailer park, which had a corner store. At age 8-9 the trailer park was gone and the corner store was sold. 17-92 was getting ripped up and made into a 4 lane road, big 100 year oak trees were being trashed to make way for more people.....whoooo :( Then not to long after 17-92 became a 4 lane road they finally started on Pleasant Hill Rd, it was a deadly 2 lane road that at the age of 7 my dad had me bike with him all the way to Poinciana which was a smaller community with a small store and a few houses.
When Pleasant Hill Rd was becoming 4 lanes lost a lot of locals, they sold out and moved, lost a bunch of orange trees and cattle farms, to again make room for more people. Slowly the corner of Pleasant Hill Rd and 17-92 got built up, first a Eckard, Publix, Chevron, Citgo and McDonalds. Later on the tornado of 99? came through and took out some of the mini mall which had a Video King, VHS tapes were all over 17-92 and down Shingle Creek.
Now in the year 2016 the 4 corners of the intersection of Pleasant Hill Rd and 17-92 have Publix, Ross, Bealls, 2 Banks, 2 drug stores, 4 mini malls and much much more! Its crazy and a very busy intersection to the point you hear about a accident almost weekly.
I remember playing in the dirt of my dirt road and making ditches in the street so the bus would hit it like a speed bump :) and making mud pies, now everything is paved. I remember having all kinds of crazy animals in my yard, we would have ducks, rabbits, chickens, raccoons, opossums, and even emus that would get out from a farmers yard!
I also would go canoeing and swimming, yes! I would swim in shingle creek, which has many alligators, and the water was dark so you would not know if one was around or not, you just hoped that mother nature would protect you and they would leave you alone because they wish to be left alone. I remember swimming at Alexander Springs and a alligator swam right past us, thankfully it was only a 3-4ft little gator but if it wanted it could still do a lot of damage.
Growing up in Kissimmee, FL I had access to everything, oceans, theme parks, parks, lakes, everything! I have loved / hated growing up here. The benefits to growing up in Kissimmee, was we had/have Disney. When you live here you almost always have someone who can hook you up and get you in for free or cheap so you can enjoy a day. I was able to be around when Disney opened the parks MGM (Disney Hollywood Studios) and Animal Kingdom. Because Disney was so close, I would go there often, I even had my first job working there as a cook at Cosmic Rays which I think is called Starlight Cafe now or its the other way around but it was at Magic Kingdom by the race cars.
I would skip school and go to the parks, all of the parks. I had passes to almost everything and it wasn't until I was 18 did I realize how special Disney World was. My theme park was a huge place on lots and lots of land with much to do besides just the parks. The Disney Campground which is still a place I bring my own kids was my playground. They had River Country ( which I never got to go to) but they also had the Lagoon, it was open to the Disney resort guest to swim and they had it roped off in areas which you would stay and relax on the beach of Disney. They had trams that would take you to the beach area, and before my time well my remembering time they used to have a train which would take you to the beach. For sometime they did have a old train car that you could play in that was along a walk way in the Disney Campground.
My parents and I were with friends and my dad had left something in the car and we had rode our bikes in the campground so me and him rode back to the cars, in the campground there are 2 stores which one is by the beach and the other half way, its a mile from the parking lot to the beach. For some reason we made it to the second store and I did not wanna go the rest of the way to the parking lot I was hot and tired so my dad was like well go back on your own, again I was 7 . He ended up going to the car and I proceeded by myself to go back to the beach, my dad knew I was able to do so and I was in no fear of anything because again it was my backyard.
I have had sooooooo many memories of the Disney Campground and my kids as well as some of there friends have also had great memories there. I know that at Disney even though I have lived my whole life in central FL near water were you see alligators daily saw my biggest one at Disney. I heard of the event which just happened on June 14th with the little boy and my heart sunk. My kids and myself have been along that water oh so many times and although there are alligators never once think they will come that close to sore with how busy everything is. I heard and still hear many blaming the parents or Disney and the reality is it is NO ONES FAULT. It was 100% a freak thing that happened. I think honestly because of how the child was found that it was a gator thinking it was a duck. The only ones to blame if any are those who feed the gators which I am part of that group, you see something that is not a normal everyday thing and for some reason we as humans wanna feed it because we wanna see it closer and take in how amazing it is to be this close to this animal.
Gators, snakes, boars are animals which are extremely common in central FL and are becoming more common to see because humans are moving in and moving them to places which sadly end up being in our backyard. My dad has always loved nature and so I was almost every weekend going on some kind of hike in the woods, we would come across rattle snakes and cotton mouths more then I can count on my hands but we would respect them and they would stay away from us. Now when going on hikes with my kids I am always carrying a large knife in case I come across a boar, they are what scare me here. Just in the last week the neighborhood less then 2 miles from me has had black bears in their trash! I never ever have heard of a bear siting close to me most were more north FL.
I also have had a chance to watch millions of space shuttles go off at the Kennedy Space Center, I remember on was a night launch which those were the best because you could really see them but we had traveled over to the beach and I watched a giant ball of light fly over my head! Then I remember the one which blew up with the teacher, what is crazy is I was only 2 but I guess because of how my mom was I remember it because we were watching it and then you saw like a puff of smoke and my mom was like that is not normal I think something has happened and it did it was on the news for some time and many were sad. I also remember the other which fell apart, I was asleep and about 16? when my mom woke me up and was like get up the space shuttle is missing and the parts have to fall some place. So yeah I got to live through those here as well.
Then of course you have the Pulse shooting which was a act of terrorist, and effected many in Orlando, we had just drove down Orange Ave on Saturday a week or so after it had happened and everyone in Orlando and surrounding has its way of tribute to what has happened. I will always hate the heat of Fl but it is home and I am one of very few who are from the beginning and still here.