We did quite a bit of driving around the old small towns south of Gainesville, which really give one a taste for what it was like to live in Florida in the early part of the 20th century. I had read about a "ghost town" called Island Grove. While there are still occupied homes and the town still has a post office, there are quite a few dilapidated cracker homes and old churches that made me downright snap-happy, even though getting the pics meant quickly jumping out of the car in the middle of the road, and being chased by a yippy little dog.
We actually drove quite a ways into the country on a dirt road to find an old cemetery, though when we got there my husband saw newer headstones and thought it wasn't worth getting out in the oppressive heat to look around. When we were 10 miles up the road, I read that writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was buried in that cemetery. She lived one town over, in Cross Creek, and immortalized the area in her books The Yearling and the autobiographical Cross Creek.
On a future trip (when the temperature is not 100 degrees), I'd love to explore this town further. The area actually was an island, before the water changed course, and home to some of Florida's first orange groves. While the groves moved south long ago because the chance of winter frost and freeze was just too great, The Orange Hut still stands in the area, where you can buy citrus fruits in season. This place had the best fresh squeezed grapefruit juice ever - perhaps the best thing I've ever had to drink in my life. It was a happy accident - my husband meant to pick up a quart of orange juice. The pic below is actually from last year (I may have posted it before).
More Florida pics to come...
P.S. Today is my big Sis's birthday, and she's flying in for a visit later this week. Yay!