Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting to know north central Florida

Our days are busy with our responsibility to preserve records for Family Search. However, we have taken 2 Saturday's to explore and become a little more familiar with our home for the next 17 months.  One Saturday we visited Payne's Prairie Preserve south of  Gainesville. It is a 21,000 acres wildlife preserve/savanna that is home to 270 species of birds, alligators, wild bison, boar (wild pigs), armadillos, Florida Cracker wild horses (1st herded by the Seminole Indians) and countless other wildlife.  While we were visiting we were lucky enough to view a boar, an armadillo, many many exotic birds, and countless very LARGE alligators.  There are no cages, fences to keep people and wildlife separate, or paved trails.  It really was pretty surreal to be so close to those huge alligators, and by that I mean alligators that were 8-10+ feet long and probably 800-900 lbs., - but how does an alligator get weighed?! People tell us stories all the time about how common gators are around this area, and that we should anticipate seeing them-whenever and wherever. For us, this was as close as we ever want to be to an alligator and it was an incredible opportunity to see these fellows in all their glory.

Yesterday, Saturday, March 14th we drove to St. Augustine, the nations oldest city.  The city shows its history and age with the narrow cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages,and coquina bastions of the Spanish fort that guard the bay. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. It is the site of the fabled Fountain of Youth and there are miles of beaches to enjoy along the Atlantic coast. There is more than can be enjoyed in a 1 day visit.  We opted for the fully narrated Old Town Trolley Tour, which highlighted 22 stops in this historic city, and was an on-and-off trolley, which allows you to explore in depth any of the interesting points. Unknown to us, St. Augustine was a hub of activity on this particular day, there was a big Celtic festival, a St. Patrick's Day parade, and a huge motorcycle rally in nearby Daytona, and hundreds of the cyclists had traveled to St. Augustine to enjoy the day. The streets were crowed with the usual share of Florida tourists, as well as all the extra visitors generated by those festivities.  There were many people walking around in their Celtic clothing, kilts and bagpipes galore, hundreds of people wearing green clothing to acknowledge the St. Patrick celebration and hundreds of mostly Harley-Davidson motorcycles-of all colors, shapes and sizes.  It was a city in full celebration mode!  

We enjoyed our visit and will return soon to explore even more of this historic and fascinating city.


  1. Looks like a fun place to visit! How do I get signed up for this "mission thing"? It looks like something I might enjoy :-).

  2. Ohhh, I love seeing the old colonial Spanish homes... And, if they've done it right, the great furnishings inside!