Monday, May 12, 2014

Gainesville, Florida

Because I would be spending more time in Florida than my sisters, prior to my trip I began to search around for things to do. I came across a link for the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. They have a permanent Butterfly Rainforest display.  It would be a long drive from Panama City, about four hours, but I decided it would be worth it.  I do enjoy seeing some of the beautiful and delicate end results of evolution, and not just the rugged and blood-thirsty (raptors). In my continued search I also discovered that Gainesville has the Kanapaha Botanical Gardena.  Well, put that on my list of things to do as well.  In fact, I went to the garden first, to enjoy it in the early morning light, and would go to the butterfly display in the afternoon, after it was warm and the butterflies were all up and moving around.  However, I'm presenting my pictures here in reverse order. The link above for the Butterfly Rainforest also has live webcams, if anyone is interested to see those.

After dropping my sisters off at the airport on Sunday afternoon, I drove late into the night to arrive in Gainesville.  I stayed at an inexpensive hotel, which wasn't much more than a clean bed and a shower, but that was all I needed.  In the morning I found a Paneras (I found several in Florida, much to my delight).  After breakfast, my day was spent with flowers and butterflies.

The Butterfly Rainforest is open air, with a stream running through it.  At any given time there are about 1000 butterflies in the enclosure, representing about 75 species.  The enclosure also has butterfly-friendly birds, finches and quail that won't eat the butterflies, and some turtles in the water.

Rather than display picture after picture of the many I took of the butterflies, I searched out and created a slide show for my blog.  Enjoy!  I may go back sometime and try to identify some of them from the info I picked up at the museum, but for now, it was rather time consuming just loading up these images.  These are exotics, coming from all over the world.  The museum receives them as pupae, then incubates them and hatches them out.  They explained that they only release the males into the enclosure, which is tightly sealed to prevent escapes, and they do not have the kinds of plants that the caterpillars would want to eat.  This is to prevent any accidental introduction of an invasive species.  The butterflies live out there lives in the enclosure, about two to three weeks, then die, but are replaced daily with new ones that hatched.  I was present for a release, which happens every day at 2 pm.
My morning was spent at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.  I don't know a whole lot about plants, but I do enjoy flowers.  However, much of the garden was well past the Spring bloom.  After all, it is in Florida!  Spring probably happened in February.  As I put together this blog it is just getting going here in Minnesota.
Again, I put together a slideshow of some of the closeups of flowers.  Enjoy!
Some pictures need to be enjoyed more than a few seconds.  The sign on the tree below said it is a Coral Tree.  The hummingbirds loved it.
It is very GREEN in Florida!

There is Spanish Moss on a lot of the older trees.
I really like the effect of the reflected image off the water.
The water that flows through the multiple springs and creeks and ponds is reclaimed from the city, so the brochure tells me!
There were Dragons in the garden as well.  A couple stone ones . . . 

And countless REAL ones . . . although I think they might have been babies!

One of them even threatened me!

It was a magical morning in a beautiful Florida garden.

The last thing I did prior to leaving Gainesville was to enjoy a little local cuisine.  I had researched to find someplace that I could taste some Cuban food, but my Tom Tom just did not want to recognize the address I gave it.  Then, quite by accident, I drove by the very place I wanted to find.  Mi Apa Latin Cafe delivered me a fabulous roast pork (Lechon Asado) with yellow rice (Arroz Amarillo), black beans (Frijoles Negros), and stuffed potato (Papa Rellena), complete with a Passion Fruit smoothie.  Tasty!  Wish we had something like this here local.

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