Animals

The Trip Back to Where It All Began

Hello and Happy Hump Day everyone! We are half way there. 🙂

Sorry it’s been so long since you last heard from me – it’s been a busy few weeks at work and Bryan and I went away for Memorial Day weekend so I haven’t had a lot of time…

But I haven’t forgotten about you!

We spent the holiday weekend in Gainesville, Florida which is about four hours north of where we live and it also happens to be where I spent my first few years in Florida – remember the whole zoo school thing?  Yeah….

That’s right, I called our Gainesville trip, “the trip back to where it all began…” because I really do feel like a huge part of my life began in this quaint little college town.

We both had to work Saturday morning so we left in the early afternoon and arrived just in time for dinner.  Unfortunately, I was so ravenous and excited to be eating at my favorite pizza place that I forgot to take a picture of the delicious food – my B.  

We split a Satchel’s Salad & a deep dish pizza (that we ended up eating for lunch the next two days…BONUS).

I did manage to snap a quick shot of this piece of artwork they have in the parking lot.

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It’s a “junk pile” composed of pieces of garbage. Creative right?

We stayed at this quaint (I use this word a lot…get used to it) little cottage near downtown – it was called the Love Cottage.  We discovered where it got its name as soon as we walked up to it…

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Hearts. Everywhere.  I felt like I was in a Hallmark movie…

Or at least a commercial…

The next day we woke up and went to the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.  I had so many emotions when I went there – which I wasn’t expecting and have a hard time explaining.

But I’ll try…

When I went to school there a few years ago, I remember feeling like I just wanted it to be over – they were the most challenging years of my life.  At the time, I was 30 years old, back in school and over 3,000 miles away from everything (and everyone) I knew.  I am also not the best student – I have a really hard time taking tests and doing schoolwork. I spent hours and hours studying because unlike a lot of students, I had to.  And, at the time, it was brutal.  I literally counted down the days until I finished.

But walking back through the front gates, seeing the animals I worked with and not seeing any familiar faces really hit me.  It hit me hard.

I realized that the experiences I had there and the friends I made were worth every tear, every drop of sweat and every drop of blood.  The memories, knowledge and friendships I took from that program are some of the best moments of my life and being there made me want to go back.

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Sadly, nobody knew who the f*ck I was.  Instead, the students were doing what I remember doing – making guests happy and just trying to get through the day.  I wanted nothing more than to tell them to “hang in there” and “enjoy every single second,” but I just smiled, said hello and let them talk to me about the animals.

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After my nostalgic visit back to the zoo, Bryan and I went to the Itchituknee Springs for a quick swim.

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We set aside the craziness of the holiday weekend crowd and ended up having a really great time.

After a nice swim and a quick…okay, long nap, we were famished so we went to my favorite restaurant in Gainesville for some burgers (mine was veggie of course).

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The food here is to die for.  Nom nom nom….

The next morning we got up and went to Payne’s Prairie – a local favorite for bird watching.

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And when you’re dating an avid birder…you must hit all the birding sites.

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I’ve been to Payne’s Prairie a handful of times but this was the first time I’d seen wild Bison so close.

Incredible.

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Sadly, after our bird (and bison) outing we had to head home…

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Traffic was a nightmare…

Luckily we had our new little friend to keep us company and watch the roads for us…

Don’t worry, Bryan had his eyes on the road. 🙂

How was everyone else’s holiday weekend? Hope you had a great one and tomorrow I have a great new recipe to share with y’all.

 

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