If you look from the sky, you'll see a smattering of lakes — large and small, natural and manmade —straddling Pasco and Hillsborough counties north of Tampa.
But, when you drive around that area off Gunn Highway near State Road 54 looking for a lake, there is none to be seen.
Until you enter the Wyndham Lakes subdivision, a single-family home community of about 400 homes, located off Gunn Highway between Lutz-Lake Fern Road and S.R. 54.
You are greeted by moss-laden oak trees as you enter the subdivision. Start peeking between the houses and the trees and you'll see the lakes.
Todd and Kristen Murray were living in Orlando in 2000 when they moved back to the area to be closer to family. They found a place to live in Odessa that they liked, but it wasn't on a lake. Todd's parents lived on a lake in Lutz and he loved the lifestyle. He wanted a house on a lake. So, he started driving around looking for a place.
Kristen wanted to live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids — and in a good school district.
So they did some research to see where they could find all those things. They ended up falling in love with a very large lot on Lake Osceola. Most of the surrounding homes were already built.
The houses in Wyndham Lakes — most stucco of neutral or muted colors, many with three-car garages — were built by one of three builders chosen by the developer — except the houses on its lakes, Todd said. If you own lakefront property, he said, you could choose any builder you wanted.
What they built was a one-story home with a split-floor plan. It's on the Hillsborough side of the lake; Pasco is on the northern side. The master bedroom opens to the pool area and looks out over the lake. Across the family room with two walls of windows are the other three bedrooms and a game room, the kids' area.
"We wanted to have as many windows as possible," Todd said.
"We got lucky with the exposure. The house faces south," Todd said. The sun-exposed east and west sides are protected from the beating sun.
They turned their living room into a second game room, this one with a pool table and a wet bar.
They knew they loved the place but found out just how much right after they moved in.
It was three weeks before Halloween. On Halloween, it was party central for families with kids. They knew they had made the right decision.
And the kids agree.
Kendall, 15, said she likes living on a lake.
"I go tubing, knee boarding and swim," she said. Afraid of alligators? No, they've never seen one in their lake that they said is about 20 feet at its deepest.
Cade, 13, likes living there because he has a lot of friends in the neighborhood, an especially good thing when trying to round up players for a pickup basketball game.
While they all like this land of a dozen or so lakes about 30 minutes from the Tampa airport for different reasons, they agree on this: It's a great place to live — and grow up.
Patti Ewald can be reached at [email protected]