Sorry for the delay – again! As you can imagine being back at work is not as much fun as relaxing in Florida, and it certainly leaves a lot less time for blogging… But at last, we’re here in our final part five 🙂
We spent the last part of our Florida trip in Gainesville, which is where my parents lived when they were in the US and where I was born! I haven’t been back to Florida since leaving as a tiny bambino, so this was very exciting. Such an event cannot be taken lightly, so we used my hotel vouchers and booked the very fancy Sweetwater Branch Inn for our stay:
This was actually a sight to see all by itself – it’s a renovated Victorian manor complex dating back to 1895 and listed on the National Registry of Historic places.1895 is not a big deal in the UK, but very exciting in the US! We had a lot of fun pretending to be far fancier than we actually are:
For full impact you will want to view all of these images with some classical music playing… there was actually ambient classical music playing at all times in all common areas throughout the house, and we never did manage to figure out where it was coming from. There was also a very delightful wine and cheese hour every night, where all us guests gathered in the covered patio and drank as much free wine and cheese as we could manage. Sadly we were only there one night, but still – such good times!
We managed to sober up enough after wine and cheese hour to spend our evening walking around downtown Gainesville, where we enjoyed a tasty dinner and the terrifying artwork that was inexplicably everywhere:
Gainesville is actually a lot like Fort Collins – they’re both big University towns so it was very beautiful, relatively well built up and quite multicultural. Despite the nightmare art we liked it a lot! We even managed to sneak out the next morning and visit the condo where my parents lived while in Gainesville. Surprisingly it’s still there and basically unchanged! This is in contrast to Fort Collins, where they seem to knock everything down and start over every two years…
It really was very exciting seeing this place that I’ve heard about my whole life. We did a lot of drinking fruit smoothies and wondering around Gainesville, and had a truly fantastic time 🙂
As well as seeing Gainesville itself we decided to check out Cedar Key, which is a little artsy town (population 706!) on the west coast of Florida about an hour out of Gainesville. Like all good artsy towns was a lovely graffiti sign to let us know that we were in the right place 🙂
We got some more fruit smoothies to keep us going in the heat and humidity, and then set off walking to check out the sites!
As you can see above the town itself is quite old, and had the fabulous southern tradition of outside porch seats and ceiling fans! It really was very cute, and like I said after three years in Fort Collins it’s kind a surprise to see buildings that are even 100 years old.
We continued walking through the lovely artsy areas, and outwards towards the beach and the birds!
We walked along the beach above until we got to that yellow sign, which informed us that Horseshoe crabs had been spotted in the area. Horseshoe crabs are interesting creatures (their blood is basically magic) but we weren’t so sure we wanted to step on one without shoes on so we continued on! Soon enough we hit the pretty birds, and were back on familiar ground:
As well as the tradition sites we couldn’t quite resist getting a picture of the Evacuation Route signs, modeled here by the lovely Rob! We also couldn’t help but think that in the event of trouble there was a heck of a long way to run/ drive – it’s about three miles back to the mainland over a very narrow bridge – but I’m sure it’s all fine!
After all this excitement it was about time to head off to our last stop of the trip, so it was back in our rental car and off we went!
Our last stop was Salt Springs, which is in the Ocala National Forest. We only stopped off briefly on the way back for a walk around, but it was so nice to see it. The Salt Springs contain a lot of potassium, magnesium and sodium salts which are the reason for the name, and I believe contribute to the color of the water. It was very pretty, and we of course took a little time to dip our toes into the (surprisingly cold) water!
The USDA website for Salt Springs warns that ‘bear and alligator safety is a must’, so we thought that just dipping our toes in was probably enough!
After that it was sadly time to head back to the airport and fly back to Denver. Needless to say we were very sad to leave Florida after our fabulous trip, but we’re looking forward to coming back again!
Whilst we’re here in the US I have several more states that I want to visit this Spring/ Summer, so hopefully we won’t keep you waiting so long between blogs again. Next up is Austin, Texas – we can’t wait!!
More soon 🙂 xx