While we were staying in
Ocala (FL) we took a 30 mile ride up to Gainesville to take a
look at some of the museums they had to offer. Many of the
museums were located on or around the University of Florida
The first one we stopped at was the Florida Museum of Natural History. It is located at Museum Rd and Newell Dr on the campus. Unfortunately at the time we chose to visit (January) a good many exhibits were under renovation and were not accessible to the public. However, as there was no admission we decided to run in and take a look at whatever we could see. The museum (as seems to be the trend these days) was definitely aimed to the younger child but had a lot of things that appealed to the "inquisitive child" in all of us. They had one section that was aimed at teaching the value of recycling. There were cute garbage can puppets that popped up and warned us about the "awful garbage monster". The "garbage monster" was row after row of garbage (non-odoriferous of course) with two large red eyes peering out from behind. There were guns you could shoot at things that could be recycled and if you missed the "garbage monster" chuckled. Other rooms had displays on locals habitats and animals, and there was a room devoted to fossil specimens and skeletons. We were told we were not allowed to take pictures for our website without prior permission which we could not get, at the time, because it was Saturday and administration was not in. This is definitely worth going if you have children.
Our next stop was the Morningside Nature Center. This was located a few miles east of town on Rt 26. Normally there is no charge for admission, but on Saturdays, when they have costumed interpreters, there is a $2 per adult, $1 per child fee. The first building you go into was an old school house/admissions center/gift shop. As we entered that day there was a family ahead of us from England. It was fun watching the children getting their first taste of rock-candy on a stick. It brought back fond memories from my childhood of making rock candy. However, it seemed that today the candy has different flavors to correspond with the colors. We purchased our tickets and went up the path to the main building. As we approached the building a lady in costume was on the porch explaining the history of the house and was very willing to answer any questions about anything in the house. There were two parts to the farm house. The main cabin was from the 1800s and was moved there from another location. Some time later the kitchen room was moved from another location, but it was originally built in the early 1900s. It was interesting to have the two side by side to make a comparison. The people who built the kitchen were probably a little more affluent as they were able to have someone come out to their property with a steam operated sawmill and cut the boards they were use for the construction. Compared to the main house with its hand hewn logs there was quite a difference. I got to grind some corn in what looked like a present-day meat grinder, as Ivy explained the uses that the farm wife of the late 1800s-early 1900s would make of the ground corn. Going outside of the house we were able to view the construction of the chimney which was quite different from anything we had previously seen. There were short logs that were embedded into some type of mud or mortar. It made for a very interesting chimney. As we walked toward the farmyard we passed a windmill that was used for pumping water up from the well and distributing it through pipes onto the crops. We then went on to the barnyard where we got to watch John feeding the animals. They had a nice variety of farm creatures. There were chickens and roosters, sheep, pigs, cows, goats, and horses. A couple that was near us had a young son and daughter who were just fascinated with the goats. One of the nannies stuck her head through the fence and patiently allowed them to pet her. As we started towards the parking lot we passed a vegetable garden that they had put in. A path leading from the garden to the parking lot was lined with variation of split rail fence where they simply lay the rails on top of one another in a zig-zag pattern. Bob was telling me how he remembered fences like that from his childhood summers in Vermont. As we went into the parking lot we saw an area that was set aside for picnickers and our leaflet showed many nature trails into the woods, which unfortunately we were not able to explore because it was close to closing time. This definitely was worth the trip.