Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Florida Trip: Week Three

We are preparing most of our meals here at the rental but have also had a number of unique dining experiences in the area. This Friday we drove the 24 miles to Nell's Country Buffet. It is in a very modest building in the town of Brandford. Nell serves up a buffet each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We were there in time for dinner and the all-you-can-eat buffet included fried chicken, fried fish, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatos, green beans, corn, mustard greens. A salad bar that offered all the fix'ns for a tossed salad plus potato salad, macaroni salad, carrot salad, pasta salad, and fruit salad. Plus a dessert selection of two kinds of cake, peach cobbler, bananna pudding, and icecream. All of the above for the price of $6.95. I think we will make the drive again soon.The first day of spring was warm and sunny as we visited Dudley Farm Historic State Park in Newberry, FL. This is not a re-creation but an authentic 1880's era farm complex. It is a living history farm with animals and crops being raised on the property.

In the afternoon we drove into Gainesville and attended the Spring Garden Festival at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. There were over 200 vendors of plants, crafts, and food in a beautiful setting with live music on two stages. On the drive home we stumbled upon an outdoor concert with a terrific band.

Sunday evening we drove to Ocoee and stayed at a motel so as to get an early start the next day at Disney's Wild Kingdom Park. We enjoyed the park very much. It was a cool day in the 60's, just right for all the walking one must do at these parks. The rides and attractions were fun but we especially enjoyed the two live muxical shows; Nemo's Adventure, and The Lion King celebration. I am always amazed by the broadway caliber type talent that perform in these show. We completed the day with dinner at The Rainforest Cafe.

On Tuesday we came home via Ocala so we could visit with friends, see some of our old haunts, and dance at Spanish Square in The Villages in the evening. We enjoyed a great dinner and conversation with the two Richard's and their wives at a Sam St. John's Seafood Restaurant before going dancing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Florida Trip: Week Two

It has been a quiet week here in North Central Florida. Wednesday was our warmest day and we drove into Gainesville to take in a Florida Gator baseball game. It was a beautiful evening for baseball and the Gators beat the University of Illinois, 8-1.
Before the game we visited the Baughman Meditation Center on the campus of the University of Florida. It is a beautiful building open to students, faculty, and the public for personal contemplation. Here are a couple of pics of this peaceful place.

Richard and Louise and Rich and Zoe all drove up from Ocala for a visit on Thursday. We ate lunch at
Huckleberry's BBQ in Fanning Springs with real southern BBq that is smoked on the premises along with sides of fried okra, fried corn, and mustard greens. Everyone enjoyed the feast. After lunch we took the short drive to the Dakotah Winery for a wine tasting. Everyone left with bottles of wine. This was our second visit and it won't be our last.

Saturday found us driving to Silver Springs Park for a Randy Travis Concert. We sat on the lawn with the two Richard's and Louise and Zoe. The country artist was in fine voice and backed by a terrific band. Temperatures were in the high 60's with a strong breeze. During the concert, John had the opportunity to meet a baby 'gator up close and personal.
Here at the rental, John and I have played a few games of horseshoes, Mary has quilted, I've gone for my daily walks down to the river, Mary and I have played cards, and we've all watched a couple of movies on the tv. It is hard to believe that our time here is half over already.

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.