Finally I have decent wifi and a decent amount of time to catch you up on our wanderings. Right now we’re at Huntington Beach State Park in SC. I know, a bit of a jump from FL to SC. So let’s back up with a quick recap.
After the last post of actual activity (2/18) (before the posts catching you up with pictures) Monday, 2/19, Karen and I were going to do some exploring where Xena couldn’t go, so I tied her up in her front yard by the lake, figuring that would be better than staying in the car. The cranes came back into the yard and she took off after them and broke her leash!!! Didn’t go far, a neighbor came walking up the road with her as I was going out to get her. A brief little bit of freedom felt good, she said. Tied her up with a large (and very long) rope of Karens and we were off. I hate to tie her up, but I’m not sure what she’d do if I left her in the camper and I’m sure she’d rather be tied up outside than cooped up in the camper too. Karen has a cat and doesn’t want her in the house.
First we went into Gainesville and she showed me around the old town, Hippadrone theater, etc. This part of town is nice, buildings are no more than 2 stories high, but I understand other parts have smallish skyscrapers.
We had a wonderful lunch in town then went to hike in one of the areas of Paynes Prairie called Sweetwater Branch. This is where dogs weren’t allowed. A lot of trails in FL don’t allow dogs because of the alligators. Very nice hike weaving in and out of different populations of growth, from all palms and palmettos, to pines and oaks and magnolias and not a palm or palmetto in sight. Very noticeable changes in vegetation. The trail crossed a bridge over the Sweetwater Branch and then we continued on to see a sink hole, another very interesting natural phenomenon, before turning back and heading home.
Middle is the sinkhole. Right – Karen took her shoes off and climbed down into the sweet water.
On. Tuesday, 2/20, I went back into Gainesville to visit Holly and Bridgitte, the friends who’s potluck I didn’t go to on Friday. They just moved here from St. Augustine, Jeanne and I stayed at their house there, actually driveway surfing, when we caravanned through FL 4 yrs ago. They had literally a week ago just moved into their new house, still unpacking, and Bridgitte was leaving the next day for France, so our visit (over delicious crepes she made for lunch) was short and sweet. Once again, great visit catching up with all the changes in our lives over the intervening years.
I then ran some errands, shopping, etc. and later in the afternoon went to see Stevie, a delightful young friend who moved to Gainesville from Chatham a few years ago. She was one of the young folks who worked on sustainable farms in the area, and she got me started with kombucha, which I still make and drink. She lived with me for awhile at Full Circle before deciding to move to Gainesville. She’s really moving forward with her life, working in Social Work while doing her MSW. She’s also worked through some serious health issues and is doing and looking great. So good to see you Stevie!
The following day, Wed., 2/21, I went back to Paynes Prairie, to the main entrance which is how you get to the campground and where there is a Visitors Center with informational videos and displays about the Prairie. But on the way I went to a little town called Micanopy, an historically significant town in the area, with connections to Paynes Prairie, and full of artists, galleries, antiques and cafes today. It sounds huge but really is tiny. I stopped at famous Pearls for supposedly the best BBQ ever!! I have to disagree, well, it’s totally different than our BBQ, brisket and a very, very thick and sweet sauce. I didn’t care for it at all. Oh well, to each her own. When I got into the little street of Micanopy and saw the little cafes I was totally disappointed I’d had the BBQ. Anyway a few pictures may tell more about the town.
(I hope you can blow these signs up so you can read them) The last picture is one of the magnificent old homes.
Some of the old buildings, now galleries, antique shops and cafes.
An artist painting one of the old buildings on the street. A funny sign in front of one of the shops – there was a bowl of water under it which Xena was enjoying.
I continued on to Paynes Prairie but because I stayed exploring Micanopy so long the Visitors Center was closed (4:30). Really sorry I missed it, I understand the video and info about the formation and life of the Prairie are very good. I went through the campgrounds, really nice sites tucked into the palms, and hiked the short walk to one of the observation towers for a fantastic view of the prairie.
Left – view of Prairie from tower. Right – turn around, view from back of tower. Amazing difference in habitat. The tower was 50′ high, my ph. said I was 80′ above sea level, so I guess the land level is a whopping 30′ above sea level.
The next day, Thursday the 22nd, Kate and I were planning to get together again. We decided to take another hike, back to Paynes Prairie we went. And guess what? The Visitors Center was just closing up and it was only 12:30. The volunteer there said there just weren’t enough volunteers to keep it open and no money from the state to pay someone. We at least walked around and looked briefly at some of the displays, but weren’t able to get much information about them or see the video. I’m going to see if I can find it on line. It’s really fascinating. So, bummer!! We did do some walking and talking on the trails. Then we just went back to Micanopy and ate lunch at one of the little cafes!
All in all it was a fabulous week visiting with wonderful old friends and exploring around the area, an area well worth exploring. The next day I left for about a week of exploring the Springs of Ocala National Forest.
Enough for tonight. I’ll do some more tomorrow.
Thanks for joining us on our adventures.
Lynn and Xena. (btw – Xena did go up the tower!)