Tuesday, April 27, 2010

24 hour get-away- parto uno

Last Friday started an overnight get-away with the girls.  The purpose was to attend a natural foods festival at Crone's Cradle, a nature preserve/organic farm/feminist retreat, on Saturday.  We all met in Gainsville, and stayed overnight there.  But half of the trip is getting there, and my "getting there" experience was very gratifying! I left earlier than the girls did, took my time, and visited places I had been wanting to visit for some time!  Here's what I did, with a few pictures:

First stop was the ice machine just down the street to ice down the beers in the cooler for later(however the iced beers are still in ice that's now melted 'cause they never got drank...).  Then off to the races!  Traveling up 301/441, it splits just north of Ocala.  My first stop was a local organic farm that has a little market.  I bought some ground pork that was on sale and some sheep's milk cheese that turned out to be very stinky.  I didn't much like it on crackers, but on a tuna salad sandwich, it was pretty good.  The ground pork I seasoned and it was VERY good. 

Second stop was the Windmill Gallery on top of the hill at Orange Lake just south of McIntosh on 441.  It's a little stand-alone gallery operated by the photographer Sean Dowie.  He takes amazing photos with a large format camera, I'm guessing like Clyde Butcher does. He also has other artist's works in his gallery.  I had a wonderful conversation with him, touching on topics from freezing blueberries, to where we used to live and why we moved. He was getting ready to leave for an art show in Cedar Key so many of his works were already loaded up to go.  I hope to visit with him again soon and see more of his work. 

Third stop:  Icehouse Gallery in McIntosh on 441.  A local artisan's gallery filled with the most interesting art!  The owners were very friendly, inquisitive and informative.  Pieces ranged from a quilt to sculptures to paintings and things in between.  Some, quite beautiful and some that make you laugh out loud!  Glad I stopped in and will be going back to view the changing inventory.

The fourth stop was a place that I had planned on visiting and it was cemented in my plans when the two galleries mentioned it. The Plein Air Paint Out in Evinston.  The main site for the Paint Out was Wood and Swink old country store. 
It was built in 1882, and has the oldest working Post Office in Florida and one of the last working general store/post offices in the nation!  16 of the original brass mailboxes are still in use today.
Very cool place!  One that you could spend some time in and forget the other things you had to do.  The postmaster, Wilma Sue Brown Wood, has been postmaster there since January of 1979.  She will be retiring soon and the USPS says they will renew their rental space in the store if renovations are made(mainly heat and air conditioning)  Mrs. Wood has been working there all this time without those ammenities though!  The Conservation Trust for Florida is working to preserve the store as an operational general store and post office.  I certainly hope they succeed with minimal changes! 
The paintings of the artist's were outside the store under canopies.  They were beautiful but unfortunately I didn't have enough money to buy the ones I really liked, oh well. 

Now traveling all these country roads makes a person very hungry!  Just past McIntosh on 441 is Micanopy, site of the Doc Hollywood movie(actually Micanopy is a couple blocks down a little road off of 441).  It is also the site of another country store that is worth a trip for lunch!  Pearl Country Store, gas station, bank, convenience store, BBQ joint, and source of local gossip among other things.
The BBQ is what interested me.  As you enter the store the smell overwhelms you and makes you hungry even if you weren't previously!  I was, and it only served to make me bypass the other areas and head srtaight for the counter.  I ordered the BBQ pork sandwich with fries.  The man gives you a ticket with what you ordered and then you get your drink and pay at the front.  After you pay, the lady stamps your ticket and gives it back to you, and you take a seat. The man calls you when your order is ready and you give him back the ticket.  I had already eaten half of my sandwich when I thought to take a picture of it... it was so hard to stop eating...
It is hard to beat good BBQ!

Continuing on 441 towards Gainsville, now with a full and happy belly, I came to another place I have always wanted to stop.  The Paynes Prarie Overlook.  Every time I cross over Paynes Prarie, I want to take a walk out on the boardwalk, but of course never have the time or lack the inclination at the moment. 
 Today was the day for it!  There was a red-winged blackbird chasing around a mockingbird(I think) and every where that poor mockingbird went the black bird followed and was chirping at him.  I guess they were playing tag...   I think it would be worth the stop at night in the summer with a flash light to see how many gators there are!

I then proceeded to the Florida Museum of Natural History.  This is a fav of mine and the kids.  It is an excellent museum with lots to see and do! 
Large vistas are painted in various rooms with flora and fauna represented in different forms.  My favorite room is the Calusa Indian hut.  The smell when you enter is of the palm fronds the hut is made out of.  It is dark and quiet except for the sounds of a thunder storm and chirping frogs and crickets.  This is the scene lit up by my flash(which kind-of spoils it)
I love to go in there and just sit.  It is so peaceful and lovely there and it smells so good.  Of course, since I didn't have kids with me, I made a bee-line right to my favorite room to sit for a while before the museum closed.  Sigh....and smile.

Now relaxed and recharged, it was time to go to the hotel and meet up with the girls.  After some driving around town(because I went to the wrong place), I finally arrived at my destination for the evening.  The girls had already checked in and were relaxing.  Here is the one that will nine times out of ten be found at the pool promptly after check-in:
My cousin Jodi.  Always checking out the hotel pool...  : )

my girls

The rest of the trip will be posted tomorrow, my fingers are tired...


D'Ache' said...

Isn't it nice when you can enjoy places like those without the kids?!

Amber said...

Oh yeah, even if it was only for a few minutes... still very nice! I actually sat there with my eyes closed...smiling!