Sunday, March 07, 2010

Florida Trip: Week One

We began our trip south a day later then planned due to a winter storm in the northeast. The delay did not prevent us from driving through rapidly falling snow south of Poughkeepsie and into New Jersey on Friday the 25th. We arrived safely at the home of Karl and Leslie in the early evening. After a tour of the church that Karl serves as Senior Pastor, we had a fantastic dinner at Famous Dave's Barbeque. Our first but certainly not last bbq of the trip. We had a lively discussion and lots of laughs with Karl and Leslie and their daughters, Amanda and Abigail.

Saturday we had an uneventful trip to Florence, SC; then on to Florida and the town of Homossasa to spend the evening with Poker Blugill (Dewey) and his lovely wife, Elizabeth. Sunday morning dawned with bright sunshine and mild temps. Dewey cranked up the pontoon boat and we cruised down the river accompanied by dolphins and manatees. It was very exciting and Dewey and Elizabeth went swimming with the manatees as I spotted for them from the boat. In the afternoon we headed north to our rental here in Old Town, Florida. This house is about 90 miles northeast of where we have stayed the last three years so we have a lot of new territory to explore. Tuesday and Wednesday we began those explorations with trips to the Walmart (the social gathering place for many in this area), pizza at Hungry Howie's, and walks in the neighborhood as well as on the Suncoast Trail.

Dewey and Elizabeth arrived Thursday afternoon and I cooked apricots and chicken for dinner. On Friday we purchased fishing licenses with visions of catching some Suwanee bass but thanks to unusually high water we came up empty. The day was still very enjoyable as we visited two of the local state parks, Manatee and Fanning Springs. Hungry from being outdoors all day, we visited the Black Diamond Restaurant for a great meal. Returning to the house we ended the day with a lively game of Fact or Crap. Dewey won which I think is Crap but it sure was fun.

Saturday morning, Dewey and Elizabeth headed north after sharing a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, over easy eggs, and smoked bacon made by yours truly. An engaging conversation was the perfect accompaniment to the hearty breakfast. Mary, John, and I visited a few flea markets in the afternoon and listened to live bluegrass music in the evening at the Otter River Campground. Five different bands performed old timey gospel and bluegrass.

Today, Sunday, we made the hour drive to Gainesville to attend church. During a hymn I left the sanctuary to find a bathroom and seeing a sign that indicated the restrooms were in the next building, I walked across the court to the indicated building. Upon return I found myself locked out of the church. After about five minutes an usher came into the hallway and I attracted his attention by tapping on the window. I am not quite sure that I would rate this particular congregation as "visitor friendly" but I did enjoy the worship service. We had lunch at the Book Lovers Cafe and the visited the museum at the University of Florida. The highlight of the visit was the butterfly rainforest where we were surround by hundreds of beautiful specimens. I am having trouble downloading pics here but there is a slide show on my facebook page.

The nights have remained quite cool but each day has been warmer then the previous and today we reached 74 degrees.

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