Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boston

A couple of weeks ago I decided to visit my friend, Ana, in Boston.
I was getting a bit tired of Gainesville and wanted to see an old friend, eat some good food and experience weather cooler than 90 F.
I saw this on a building as we were walking to the Southend Farmer's Market. I had to take a picture for Jason because he loves the movie, Good Will Hunting. If you can't read the photo, it says "How you like them apples?" which is the main phrase I remember from the movie. there's some weird bowl (?) in the middle of the graffiti with "thee" (again?) thrown in there. Not really sure...

The first night, we ate at an Iranian restaurant in Cambridge. I had rice with barberries, orange peel and something else that sounded awesome with a chicken kabob on top. The barberries were good. I was worried they'd be like cranberries, but they were smaller and sweeter. Ana had lamb with a pomegranate/walnut sauce, which was also very good. The next day we had lunch after our shift at the place she volunteers every week: Community Servings. This organization is so inspiring. They prepare meals for people with AIDS and other diseases who are homebound and can't cook for themselves. That night we had dinner at Ana's friend's house, potluck style, and I met a lot of great people. The next day we had dim sum in Chinatown, which is the photo above. I love dim sum so much, it's ridiculous. That night we went back to Chinatown for a family dinner with Ana's extended family in Boston. I was excited because I've never had a meal like that before. There must have been 9 courses: soup, an entire fish, an entire chicken, a huge plate of lobster, a seafood mix served in a taro bread ring, sauteed greens, snap beans with beef, something that i can't remember and finished up with red bean soup for dessert.
While in Chinatown, we stopped in a grocery store to pick up candies and I was amazed when I saw their seafood section. I grew up in South Florida, I know what lobsters in a tank look like. But I've never seen a fish aquarium with live fish swimming around right underneath the iced dead fish on display!@!!! what the heck? It was cool but when I thought about it too long, it creeped me out a tiny bit.

After that, we headed over to Boston Commons and crossed over into this park, that I don't know the name of. I saw the duck statue and had to get a picture of me on it. This is when my quest to take pictures on top of bronze animals became official.
The ducks reminded me too much of this photo taken two (three?) years ago on my last trip to Boston. I took it because my friend and I were on a historic tour following a red line around the city and I got distracted when I saw this donkey. I knew i needed a photo on it! It was much easier to sit on than the duck, but I guess that should be obvious. It's funny b/c my hair now is the same length as it was back then, but I've had it much shorter in the meantime.
These are some plants that were in the same park as the ducks. I don't know what they are, but they were gigantic! While in Boston, we also hit up the Cambridge River Festival and some shopping along Newbury Street and downtown. The temperature never really went above 70 and it was awesome!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manatee Springs



This past weekend Jason and I went to Manatee Springs, in Chiefland. Between spending parts of my work days in the recent heat index of 110 F and hearing my coworker talk about her plans for Silver Glen Springs in the Ocala National Forest, I decided a spring was the perfect way to spend our Saturday.
One side of the spring is filled with cypress trees and the other is a retaining wall with sets of stairs leading into the water. The spring flows into the spring run and eventually into the Suwannee River.
So yes, it was ridiculously hot outside and yes I've been in springs before, but lets face it...there's a reason these scuba divers are wearing wet suits. When I jumped in the water (slowly going down the steps turned out to be too painful) I think my body temporarily shut down from the freezing cold water. We also didn't realize until after that, that the steps we took into the water were the closest to the spring opening and the other steps were further away and a tiny bit warmer.

When visiting any spring, I think it's a necessity to bring a mask and snorkel. Even though the water is clear, it's usually so deep that you can't see the cave openings, plants and animals from up on the surface. The only downside was that not only my mask but my camera kept fogging up because of the extreme cold water! Although my snorkel masks always fog up no matter where I am. I don't have the right saliva mixture or something.

After eating our Publix subs, cooling ourselves off in the water, warming ourselves up in the water by swimming, we finally dried off and put our stuff in the car. Before leaving, we took a walk on the boardwalk that leads from the spring through a riverine cypress ecosystem and out to the Suwannee River where boaters can dock their boats while they visit the springs. This is a picture of the river. Everytime I see it, I'm always surprised by how wide the river is!
This sign was at the beginning of the boardwalk. I'm the last person to be labeled a squirrel feeder, but felt it was necessary to take a picture anyway. I was in Boston last weekend (post to come soon) and was astonished at two young girls in the park feeding squirrels peanuts while their parents looked on lovingly. I made an angry comment about this to Ana and was probably a little too loud b/c the family looked up at me in surprise. Rabies anyone?

Finally, a picture of the button bush in bloom that was among the cypress trees on the boardwalk.
Overall Manatee Springs was a great park. They had nice grassy areas to lay out the towels and picnic. It was a tiny bit too crowded for me, but I think any spring during the summer will be over popular. I have to say even with the large amount of people, it was all families and we weren't worried about leaving our stuff on the grass unattended while we swam.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wildflowers


For the past two months, my drives through the country have had the best roadside scenery: Wildflowers everywhere!


The purple flowers were out first, along with pink/magenta, yellow and white.

The yellow are some variety of Coreopsis, Florida's state flower. These have stayed the longest out of all the flowers, lasting into our summer and enduring the heat indexes of 100+ that we've been experiencing lately.
This picture was taken a few days ago on the road between Bell and Branford. Middle of the day so the colors were faded. Actually most of my photos taken while working are like this.
This last picture was taken a few months ago in Brooksville. I think someone gave up on their orange grove, letting the oranges stay on the tree and wildflowers take over the ground.