Geological Wonders and Small Towns

It’s hard to write when most of your mental processing is taken up by bird song ID. Makes for a nice morning! But, let’s get back to our topic.

Here’s where we stayed. The whole neighborhood looks like this. Beautiful renovation job. Vince, the owner, even got an award.

Today was our day in Gainesville. I wanted to see some natural areas, so after much debate and many suggestions from our friends, we decided to stay close to town and visit Payne’s Prairie and the small town of Micanopy.

Payne’s Prairie

Prairie through the trees.

My whole life I’ve been fascinated by this place. It’s a very large flat area (a sink) that floods and holds water occasionally. What’s weird is that there was a period of around twenty years (1871-1891) that it became Lake Alachua. My grandmother would tell us about steamboats taking people and goods across it. Then, one day the drain unplugged, and poof, it was a Prairie again.

Right now we are in a high water period, so you see lots of blue in the grass. In fact, it was a lake again for a while in 2017 after Hurricane Irma.

You can see all the way across from the observation tower.

Of course, people messed with it and added drainage canals so cattle could use it, but now it’s wild again, populated by birds, a collection of bison, and some wild horses.

The wild horses are out there somewhere.

We did see four horses when we were there, from the most excellent observation tower. I’m glad I brought my binoculars.

We saw so many of these 300-year old oaks, or big-ass trees, as I call them.

Anita and I enjoyed a hike through the woods adjacent to the sink area, and found many things for adding to iNaturalist. I think my favorite is this red lichen, called Christmas lichen.

Isn’t this beautiful?

We heard quail, woodpeckers, and a hawk, along with many songbirds. Other than the mosquitoes it was a perfect visit to an amazing natural feature.

The visitor center blends in with the woods.

Also, the visitor center was beautiful and staffed by extra friendly park volunteers. It’s nowhere near the parking lot, so it’s surrounded by huge oaks and tranquil. Actually the deeply wooded drive into the park is worth the admission price. There are very dense oak forests, swamps, and pine forests.

Lichen and fungus medley.

Well, that satisfied my curiosity, so it was time to eat.


This tiny town has lots of history to it, dating back to when the locals were mean to the Seminole people. But I remember it as where I went to a great art camp as a child.

The little town looks just the same, and is still an artist area, with lots of bed and breakfast places, antiques, and general cuteness.

Our dining spot.

At the recommendation of one of the chatty park volunteers, we had lunch at a place that did, indeed, have a great chicken salad sandwich. The bread was thick and flavorful, and the salad dense and well seasoned. No complaints!

So scenic.

We then enjoyed some shopping and got a few mementos. You just have to get a Micanopy t-shirt if you go there, so I did.

My next blog will have what we did when we got back to Gainesville.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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