Gainesville Gains in Esteem

It was a good thing it rained like crazy early Wednesday morning.  The rain stopped by late morning and I was wanting a walk so we looked up “Parks in Gainesville Florida” and took off for a walk before the next round of showers.

We could not find the place we were trying to get to.  It’s called Loblolly Nature Center and Google Maps knew how to get us there, however when we arrived all we found was a dead end street and a pedestrian bridge.  No sign about the nature center or anything.  One of these days I’ll try again to find the place but on Wednesday we got sidetracked…

The story of our lives.  Right?

We haven’t really given Gainesville much of a chance to impress us thus far.  We tried to find the Recycled Bicycle place — which was closed and didn’t post hours. But that day we drove up, looked around a little and left. And yet it’s the home of University of Florida and the Gators — most college towns have some nice features about them and this was a chance to give it a second once-over.  🙂  I’m more impressed the second time around.

What we found was the Ficke garden and a beautiful chapel. I was a little surprised when I saw a sign that said Ficke Gardens — and saw the beautiful chapel and public celebration building but we turned on a dime to check it out.

Lake Alice

The Lake Alice Garden when complete

It turns out that the ‘gardens’ are really just along a short pathway near the parking lot but it was nice to stop and see them, the chapel, and Lake Alice behind. It appears that there is more ‘garden’ planned, but not yet completed.  The lake is home to numerous American Alligators and Florida Softshell Turtles.

That made us think about our need for bulk bean coffee, which reminded me of the market one of our friends mentioned to us:  The Fresh Market.  It turns out The Fresh Market has a branch about 2 miles from where the car was … so our search for the nature center went on the back burner and we headed off for a food exploration.


I especially like the last statement in safety rule #4 — to enjoy “the alligator’s impressive appearance at a distance.”

It turns out that The Fresh Market is a pretty nice place.  Not cheap, mind you, but pretty nice.

  • Great selection of fresh fruit.
  • Wonderful deli
  • Butcher shop with actual butchers
  • Reasonable selection of cheeses
  • Nice artisanal bread selection

Our quickly conceived plan was to pick up a salad — in this case it was a cranberry/walnut/orange version,  three different artisanal cheeses, and a Sourdough Baguette with a wonderful crust and hot-foot it back home for a lunch of bread and wine and cheese.

Clearly college kids and university staff drink significant amounts of alcohol.  We saw much larger and better equipped liquor stores here.  that I know because I went into a couple in search of 5 Liter Franzia boxed wine.  For whatever reason, Florida groceries seem to only stock 3 liter boxed wine.  Go figure.  The stores I checked were well stocked with smaller size containers.  And a lot of variety.

Once back at home we scrambled to test out the new bread! I don’t know why we get like this but it was a hastily put together table with nothing but the basics. Open the packages, slice 1/2 a loaf of bread rounds, pour a couple glasses of wine, open up the salad container and chow down.   2016012713521024 It could be a picnic, or it could be on the dining table of the coach.  Just the basics (I sound Joe Friday on Dragnet).  I don’t know what it is about a really good loaf of bread with a chewy, crispy crust, and a nice slice of cheese that makes me feel so good.  I’m sure there are all sorts of memory receptors that I’m triggering but all our married life these simple meals have been like seeing each other for the first time — all over again.

And, with apologies to all the wonderful things to see and do in Floriday… that was MY highlight of our stay in Florida thus far.  I’m sorry. Some people might say the tropical plants were the best part,  or the warm weather, but the road to my heart is found on a crispy slice of sourdough baguette with a slice of cheese and a sip of nice wine to wash it down.  A side salad of any sort is nice, but as long as the bread, cheese and wine are there I’m content.

Back to our Gainesville visit.  The ability to find such delicasies as good bread and great cheeses are among the reasons that we tend to like college towns as fulltime travelers. College towns bring in a diverse student population. College jobs bring in a sophisticated and travelled worker for the jobs and enrichment that academic climates offer.  We can find a more sophisticated community at the expense of not-such-a-large-population as you would need to find these same services because a lot of folks had settled in that area at random (without the university to attract them).

I also think that college / university towns are more likely to offer innovation in their communities.  The proximity of local government and the opportunity to offset expenses as part of a grant program bodes well for creative problem solving.  One of the “problems” that needs solving in the U.S. relates to law enforcement and I think Gainesvill has something goin’ on here…

Police Service Technicians

2016012711432002And now it’s time for a public service announcement.  We’ve seen something here in Florida that I have not noticed in any U.S. city before.  What’s that, you ask?

Police Service Technicians.

The look like cops.  Wear uniforms, have radios, wear those cute reflective vests and sometimes reflective gloves.

The LACK guns, handcuffs, nightsticks, tazers.

Their purpose is public service, not enforcement.  They drive around (when they are driving) in cars that say Police Service Technician — and their uniform clearly identifies them as pseudo-police but they do jobs like traffic control at accident scenes, and directing traffic at construction sties.  I think this is a geat idea that I’ve never seen before and wonder why it’s not used elsewhere.

These are clearly not the same as “Reserve Police Officers” — We have reserve police in Wisconsin and they have always looked to be retirees and I’ve never seen them DO much of anything.  But clearly the ones here in Florida are paid employees and all of them have been young-ish — meaning in their 20’s or 30’s.  I don’t know if this is a career track to Enforcement or not, but I’m well impressed.


10 thoughts on “Gainesville Gains in Esteem

    1. Bob — I’ll look it up — I’m sure we’ll be back there a few times. It’s a nicer town than we first thought! And next Sat. we are going to a civic theater production there.



  1. Your lunch looks delicious! Since I’m supposed to lighten up on gluten, I have been testing out different gluten free crackers, hoping to find one that doesn’t taste like cardboard. Blue Diamond has a bunch of them. The Hint of Salt wasn’t very good but the one with Flax Seed was quite flavorful and goes very well with cheese, especially Brie. Sourdough is one bread that I can have in small doses. Life without bread is not easy, especially when you are a bread lover.

    I completely agree with your college town assessment. Chico was a small town that was an hour away from Sacrameto but it had wonderful resources (way more than Daytona Beach) and was a great place to live.

    The young people you see in uniform are most likely from the Explorer Program or are cadets. Some are volunteers and some are in career orientation and apprenticeship programs. This link explains the breakdown.
    In Daytona Beach we also have something called the Citizen’s Police Academy which is a six or eight week class explaining (very interactively) what the police and law enforcement communities do for the city. It encompasses everything from their education and breakdown of duties from the DA to the SWAT team. It’s a very very good program, we have both been and I highly recommend it to anyone who can attend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It WAS tasty.
      Buttermilk Blue Cheese, St. Andre, and triple cream Brie.
      I do like the Fresh Market sourdough baguettes too!
      This summer we’ll be near Menomonee WI and there’s a college there — we do quite well there — and only 80 miles from MPLS to boot if we really need something — I know I can get pastis there. Sometimes it’s Ricard, other times it’s Pernod, but still, it’s great on a summer’s afternoon in the shade!!!!!
      I like the idea of police technicians. Seems such a good solution for so many jobs needing doing that don’t involve enforcement!!!


      1. One thing I do like about Daytona is their police department. The chief does a lot to encourage police/citizen relationships, particularly with minorities and getting involved in their community. He rides a bicycle all through town. We have bicycle cops as well as motorcycle and auto patrols. Citizens patrol also is one more presence in the neighborhood. They have monthly meetings which are open to the public where they discuss each zone, crimes in that area and do strategies such as increase patrol, attend homeowner meetings to educate homeowners. He has made the city much safer. When I first came here crime was rampant. It’s much better now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s really too bad…so many problems could be avoided if people just treated each other decently.

        This afternoon I’m heading out to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast. I’ll let you know what I think of it. I’m getting the idea that the word garden is used to represent landscape more than flowers.


      3. Hmmmm…. When I think back on other botanical gardens I think they typically are mixed, landscape and flowers. The Flowers need a backdrop don’chaknow. And actually, I like the landscaping — sometimes more than the flowers. Part of me doesn’t like the idea of expending all that energy for something that lasts one season – I like woody plants!

        > >


  2. When we lived in Brooklyn Park, MN, in the 80s/90s they had Pedal Pigs. Bicycling, young, police assistants hired for the summer that mostly helped kids choose good activities over bad ones but they also did traffic control and crowd control when needed. And, yes, they actually wore patches on their shirts that said Pedal Pigs along with their bike shorts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful idea! and now fun that they would poke fun at themselves with the title! I wish there was anything progressive about the Milwaukee department Oh well. Old ways die hard.


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