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.

Continue reading “What Gives a Person Nightmares (and more Gainesville Stuff)”

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!

Continue reading “Friends (My Favorite Word)”

Sunny Florida

They always used to say “sunny Florida,” even though it rained most days. It rained just a little yesterday as we finished driving through Mississippi, zipped through Alabama without buying anything, and then spent a very long time on I-10 looking at trees.

We’d had a nice night in a cheery hotel in Pascagoula, MS the previous night. We knew we were no longer in Austin, because everyone commented on all of our hair.

Muscovy ducks that aren’t ugly.

Further down the road, we got ourselves this little gator, Swampy the Interstator Gator, at an extra-racist Stuckeys we stopped at to get the candy bars of our youth (Chunky Bars and Slo-Poke!). He’s our travel companion.

We all had fun.

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Brain Overload

Today we were in San Marcos, which is south of Austin. Why? Lee and Kathleen are starting a new business, which I’ll go into another time, so we went to a continuing education on how home health care providers can screw up when they are being inspected.

We were in a building so dull I forgot to take a picture. But the class was interesting once I translated some acronyms. Goes to show you all kinds of businesses are fun to study. This one has a LOT of regulations, but that’s good, because it keeps people safe.

Highlight of the state office building’s bathroom. Lots of stinky women must work here.

It seems to be a woman-dominated business. Lee was the only man. We were the only white folks, too. We learned a lot from the more experienced people, and had some fun conversations in breaks (lots about our fingernails). Kathleen has experience, too, so we will have lots of mentors.

Our brains are very, very full.

The funny part

When we were done, Lee and I went outside and saw Kathleen standing by my car. Only, it wasn’t my car. It’s not often that two cars of this model are parked near each other my British Racing Green car looked black in the gloom of the day. Easy mistake!

My key just wouldn’t work in this car.

Also fun

The previous night, we stayed at a nice hotel and ate at the elegant Olive Garden of San Marcos. The food was good, and Kathleen and I enjoyed judging the light fixtures, which I wrote about on the Hermit Haus blog.

They insisted I show my nails, which hid the wine.

We also made a point to get wine to match my new devotion to pink. Perhaps the hotel happy hour wine we had earlier made this seem like such a good idea.

Riparian Knowledge Overload!

Here we are in Bandera looking at a slide show.

Now that I’ve slept, maybe I can share some of the depth and variety of the things I learned at the Bandera County Watersheds Riparian Training I attended on Wednesday, March 6. The event was held in Bandera (one of the most attractive small towns I ever saw and VERY consistent in its cowboy theme), and the weather improved enough that the outdoo parts were not unbearable. There were at least 30 participants, ranging from fellow Master Naturalists to water management professionals to interested landowners.

This young man was full of information. I’d love to hear him again.

Much of the day was spent indoors, however, as a team of water management experts from many different agencies shared their knowledge of managing the areas alongside rivers, creeks, and streams. These are called riparian areas, and they are a very important part of water management, but one that has been misunderstood a lot in the past.

Our scenic location.

Sadly, the beautifully manicured lawns and parkscapes we often see, where people walk up and down to admire the view, are not actually what our waterways need. The need a riparian buffer of plants that love water or theive near it and trees that are of various ages, so that when they die or fall into the water, there are future trees to replace them.

This root system washed up in the last floor. Look at the rocks embedded in there!
Continue reading “Riparian Knowledge Overload!”

Driving Thoughts

Boerne sunrise. I got to drive through the really intriguing city center on my way home. I wanna go back.

I’ll write about my day at the riparian ecosystem workshop I attended when I’m not so tired. But i can tell you why I’m tired.

Traffic jams. Why does anyone live in Austin if they have a commute?

Just one preview of my day. This is a river.

My drive home from Bandera was a lot of fun, or at least two thirds of it was. In addition to enough antelope, gazelles, and other “boingy-boingies” (as I call them) to fill an African safari, I also saw more than one ranch full of little ponies and many show goats. Plus the redbuds were everywhere.

Look. It’s agarita.

Then, boom. I hit Austin. All my relaxation vanished. I did NOT take pictures. Because I was driving. I got home with a pounding head, and I could barely talk to Anita. All I wanted for was to finish my loaf of homemade sourdough bread from my coworker.

So, no trip report. Or report from Sunday. Oops.

I Think They’re Following Me!

I chose to drive to Boerne, Texas today on the back roads. That rarely disappoints me! The hills and valleys to the west of Austin and San Antonio provide new surprises every time you take a corner or reach the top of a hill.

I passed many beautiful ranches, and saw many longhorns and exotic game. I even saw four axis deer NOT in a fenced area. I guess those guys are here to stay.

Axis deer, buck. From Wikipedia.

Yes, I just looked it up, and sure enough there are over 6,000 of them roaming free in Texas: rhttps://www.myewa.org/blog/what-you-may-not-know-about-the-axis-deer/

I also finally got to visit Kendall County, and Kendalia, where I fulfilled a dream of taking my picture by the sign.

Doing my chipmunk imitation. Kendall in Kendalia.

Everything on the back roads went well until I went to find the Hampton Inn. The Maps app didn’t realize it was on the OTHER side of the Interstate. I called for help, and the poor young woman who answered had just moved to Boerne and had to get help of her own. She gave me an extra water bottle, because I was nice about it.

Yep, it’s on THIS side of I-10. Construction confused my navigation app.

She was also impressed that I brought my own dozen roses with me, thanks to my annual gift from Freytag’s Florist.)

Traveling in style with roses and a fancy coffee in a rose cup.

After all that, I needed fresh air. I checked out the really pretty pool area behind the hotel. There’s a fun waterfall, so I sat in a lounge chair behind it (hey, it was over 50 degrees F!).

Whee! I’m behind the fake waterfall!

Suddenly, a familiar blurry shape descended. A Cooper’s hawk landed in a small tree on the other side of the pool. It was a male or juvenile, quite petite. I watched him checking things out around him, paying no attention to me.

Watching the watcher. Hello, hawk.

I guess this is my season to be reminded of the vigilance and protectiveness of hawks.

Great Hen Adventure Time!

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Entry to the farm. We knew we were in the right place.

Previously, I hinted that I was going to add some chickens to our flock. I’d met a woman at the Master Naturalist Christmas party named Cindy Vek, who told me all about her chicken farm, Bird and Bee Farm, between Rockdale and scenic Milano, Texas. I was intrigued.



A welcoming display from the Tom!

So, yesterday, Mandi and I fired up the big, black pickup and headed over there, first stopping at Tractor Supply for the supplies I’d needed earlier.



Welcoming committee.

I’m always grateful for map apps. It sure makes finding places way in the middle of the country easier. After a drive through some really pretty Milam County countryside, we found the place, conveniently labeled, as you can see from the first photo.

Continue reading “Great Hen Adventure Time!”
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