When You HAVE to Go Somewhere Fun

For the past few years, I’ve missed business trips. I’m glad I joined Master Naturalists, so at least I have one conference to attend each year, but I always get so much out of seeing old friends and meeting new people that I miss the old days when I traveled more.

Here’s Edna Kelly, pre-exploring for us!

Thus, I was pretty stoked when I found out that a requirement of being a member of the Friends of La Leche League Board is to attend their organization’s trip to a fun place every other year (the other year, they meet at a conference for one of La Leche League’s local affiliates, usually Texas).

This year, we are going to New Orleans in November. This, of course, assumes the city will still be there after so much bad weather, but at least it’s after hurricane season. I’ve been rather amazed at exactly how much planning these trips take. There is so much to consider! They have to come up with fun things to do and good places to eat, without making the registration too costly. That is not easy. I am very impressed with the hard work and patience the trip planners, Carroll and Evy, have exhibited.

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There’s No Place Like Home?

For some of us, this is really true. I always felt like I should be glued to my hometown, even though I probably will never get to move back to Gainesville. Some folks are more lucky. Lee’s dad was able to buy back a good portion of the farm where he grew up, and got to spend his final days looking out the window at his beloved cattle.

The view Lee’s dad had from his bedroom window.

Lee now owns that farm, but he didn’t grow up there and has sooo many allergies to that part of Texas. But, Lee’s nephew, Chris, inherited the attachment to this land and is now its caretaker, along with his wife and my friend, Kathleen. Chris will never leave this land. For him, there’s no place like home, for certain.

This immense pecan tree is what shaded Lee’s dad’s old trailer (now long gone). Beneath it you see the fig tree that has provided the family with figs for years. I got three cuttings.
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Grumpy? Not Us!

The intrepid travelers are heading back to Texas, so most of yesterday involved driving and looking out the window. And making sure to talk frequently so Lee wouldn’t sigh loudly and turn music on, because we were too silent. There’s not a lot to say about trees and more trees. I guess he thought we were choosing Facebook over him, but we were reading (Anita) or playing Wordscapes (me), something easy to interrupt. Other than that, not too much grumpiness occurred.

Patriotism at the courthouse (through a window)

Speaking of grumpiness, we decided to head off the beaten path and go into the small town of Madison, Florida for lunch. There we found Grumpy’s Restaurant. It was a hit with all of us.

Grumpy’s! Because when you’re hungry, you’re grumpy.

Every menu item was interesting and had a twist. My grilled cheese had a jalapeño sauce and homemade jelly on it. Sound bad? Well, nope, it was fantastic. In fact, Lee ordered one after his own meal!

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What Gives a Person Nightmares (and more Gainesville Stuff)

Here’s more on our adventures in Gainesville, Florida. My hometown!

One more stop

This is 6th St. in Gainesville. The postcard was mailed in 1905.

We had plenty of time, so we visited a small museum that highlighted Gainesville history, the Matheson Museum. There was an exhibit on modern buildings of Gainesville, which featured many places familiar to me from the 1960s.

We drove by Neunan’s Lake, the subject of this post card, but not from this angle. It still looked like that when I was small.

We also found postcards of old Gainesville and some books, one on the plants and animals of Alachua County. That book will take me back to my college days when my boyfriend and I would drive all over the back roads looking for armadillo, turtles, and deer on the side of the road.

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Airboat Adventure

After the shrine and a vitally important coffee stop for Lee, we headed off to, um, somewhere in the middle of Florida, because I’d decided I wanted to go on an airboat ride to see some nature.

Lee and Anita actually having fun

Where we went was actually in Kenansville, Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park. I think Lee was a bit dubious, but Anita and I were up for it. The drive there was beautiful, and the facility was pretty cool. Touristy but clean and organized.

The one-hour ride itself was everything I’d hoped it would be. What fun! We were on a large lake, and could see a prescribed burn off in the distance.

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An Unexpected Religious Treat

Hello from Gainesville, Florida, known throughout the world as the center of the Suna-verse. We’re happy to be here to spend a day or two! But first, what did we do yesterday? We were tourists!

We will miss the hibiscus!

We left our resort place near Orlando, but noticed on the map that there was a Catholic shrine very nearby. Anita is not a Catholic, but has a strong attraction to Mary, so when we saw “Mary Queen of the Universe,” we just had to go check her out. (Also, the website is really cool, so check it out, too).

Serenity st the entrance

I guess we were expecting a statue in a grotto. That is not what we found. Instead, there was a true testimony to the devotion (and money) of people who visited the Disney World area and wanted a place to attend mass. The whole complex was incredibly beautiful and peaceful.

We were greeted by the Archangel Michael, who protects the place. Swampy liked him a lot.

Friends (My Favorite Word)

We’re still in Florida after spending three days in greater Orlando. Monday we endured sales presentations, then stayed at the resort the rest of the day in a stupor. We got out and did a few things yesterday, though (Lee stayed at the condo and worked).

Anita and I did our traditional vacation pedicure at a random local place that seemed to have been there a long time. They had great new massage chairs and nice staff/clientele. A great start to a day!

The woman painted little stripes on my toes.

Then, to continue with girly stuff, we visited the nearby outlet mall, and was struck again at how similar suburban institutions are around the US. We could have been anywhere, except for palm trees and signs in Chinese (that was new!).

It’s nice to have a friend like Anita who will do random relaxation things with you! Glad she’s my travel buddy!

Crazy straws! Now that’s vacation fun!

We had to get in more time at the “quiet pool” having tropical drinks, which we’d also done Monday. We had shade, pool, hot tub, and a nice server. Ahh. Even Lee had fun and swam!

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