Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gainesville our Temporary Home

Before heading out on our journey, Joe and I decided that we don't have enough money to fund our travels and keep our house on a students negative income. So, we decided to see if we could sell our house because we will have little use for it over the next few months and when we do need a place in Salt Lake it won't be for very long since we don't intend to stay for residency which begins in July, 2010. Three days after we put our house on the market we had a buyer! So, in the week before leaving for Gainesville, Joe had to take a national board exam and we had to move out of our house and Henry had a birthday! It was nothing less than exhausting! By the time it was all over we were SOOO excited to get away from it all!

Long road trip ensues.

Joe, Henry and Heidi arrive at their new home in Gainesville, Florida. We are staying in a single student housing complex because it is the only furnished place we could find that would rent to us for only one month. We have two swimming pools in the apartment complex and lots of recreational facilities. We stick out like a sore thumb here because no one else here is married nor do they have children, but what can you do.

Our Apartment for one month.

Turns out there's actually a lot of self segregation in Gainesville. When we first arrived I immediately did not like Gainesville. It's a college town, much like Logan but on a much larger scale. The only people I encountered were approximately 19 years old and had absolutely nothing in common with me! And, if all the residents are 19, what would there be for a family in Gainesville? This is where the self segregation comes in. We assumed that all of the action would be right by the University of Florida. And, it is if you're 19. All of the families, however, live about twenty minutes West of the University in Haile Plantation. An absolutely beautiful development much like Day Break in Utah but way cooler because all of the houses are nearly encased in mature trees. And, it's way more affordable. The giant homes with indoor swimming pools cost $500,000 the three bedroom two bathroom homes cost $180,000!

The view from our car window on our way to Haile Plantation.
"Mommy are we in the jungle," asked Henry.
"Where are the monkeys and the elephants?"

On day four, after learning more about Gainesville, I have changed my mind. I really like Gainesville. I could live here! We are even going to a Gators game on Saturday (because everyone tells us we would be stupid not to).

At the mall down the street from our apartment.
This was one of the first times we encountered children
and where I learned that they do exist in Gainesville!


There's a pretty good chance you will think that we are crazy when you read this post. But before you make any judgments you should know that we had a fabulous time exploring a part of the country that we have never really seen before. I am not a big fan of road trips, or at least I wasn't before our most recent road trip, but this was a seriously good time!!

Joe had an "away rotation" or as I like to call them, extended interview, scheduled in Gainesville, Florida for the month of September. Flying was almost never an option for Joe because he needs a car in order to get to and from work and to rent a car for a whole month is $700+ which might be bearable (gasp!) for one month but he has an away rotation scheduled in Omaha for the month of October and there's no chance that we could afford $1400+ just for a dumpy rental car. So, Joe decided to drive.

Henry and I were on the fence for a while about whether or not it would be smart for us to join Joe on his away rotations because we knew he would be expected to work far more than normal; all this in order to make a good impression. Ultimately, however, we decided that we would rather sleep in the same house than not for two months. When Henry and I decided to join Joe the long road trip became somewhat concerning. What should we do? The solution: take a whole week to drive to Florida and stop frequently. Then somehow this plan morphed into Joe and Heidi wanting to stop in lots of different cities we have never been to and suddenly our semi-straightforward route became something a little more convoluted.

View Larger Map

Our original plan included stopping in Denver but we scratched that because our planned activity was closed. It turned out to be a fabulous idea to scrap Denver because it gave us more time in the South East. Instead we drove straight through (mostly anyway) from Salt Lake to St Louis, MO. Henry did a really good job driving for that long without much stopping to play. It helped that he had a box full of new toys from his birthday celebration the day before.

Stop #1: Kansas City, MO
We were really just driving through but by the time we got to Kansas City we were sick of driving so we stopped at a community pool to play.

Stop #2: St Louis, MO

St. Louis was my favorite stop. We saw the Gateway Arch, took a helicopter ride over the city and went to City Museum. City Museum is the coolest museum I have EVER been to. It's technically a childrens museum but it puts the childrens museum in Salt Lake to serious shame! I used to think that the childrens museum in Salt Lake was cool, now I know that it's just GHETTO!! City Museum is a labyrinth of wire mazes connected to cool structures, slides and climbing structures. It has an indoor train, a ferris wheel on the roof, a giant ball pit, an aquarium and lots of other fabulous activity based areas. I have never been to a place that encourages so much creativity. There are at least three ways to get to every destination within the museum - a wire tube, a windy stair case or through the airplane in the sky. If you have a child and you visit St Louis, do not miss this museum. If you do not have a child and you visit St Louis, do not miss this museum. Joe and I played so hard that we were seriously sweating when the museum staff kicked us out because they were closed. I never play at the childrens museum in Salt Lake because it's not fun for me, this museum was fun for me and more fun for Henry because I was far more interactive.
Gateway Arch
Helicopter Tour

City Museum
City Museum Rooftop slide
Super fun!
Stop #3: Nashville, TN
We went on a riverboat cruise and to Parthenon park. The Riverboat cruise was a good time - it was food and entertainment on a paddle wheel boat. After the boat cruise were kind of at a loss for things to do in Nashville. Joe really resisted the country music hall of fame which we hear is really cool and by the time he agreed to go I didn't want to anymore because Henry was tired and not very pleasant.

Cpt. Henry

Stop #4: Atlanta, GA I have been wanting to go to Atlanta ever since I saw a special on the History Channel about their aquarium. Did you know that the Atlanta Aquarium is the only place in the US you can see a whale shark in captivity? (There are also whale sharks in captivity in Taiwan). The Atlanta aquarium was a serious good time. Again puts Salt Lake to serious shame - but I expected that! We love aquariums!!

Henry, Heidi and a beluga whale.
We lost our camera battery so this is the best we could do!

On a whim, and because I'm a dork, we took a tour of CNN's headquarters. This was more touristy than I had hoped but at least we got to see the studios. I should work for CNN someday I think. :)

Stop #5: Savannah, GA
If you didn't notice while looking at the map, this is the place where our trip diverged from a logical course and into the - oh we should go there, it's not that far - trip. I'm glad we took this divergence. Joe has wanted to go to Savannah ever since he read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Apparently, he's not the only one, this book is a major part of the tourist industry in Savannah. Anyway, Savannah was established in 1733 and has many fabulous homes and businesses that date that far back that are still in great condition. Savannah is also thought to be one of the most haunted places in the US. We took a haunted Savannah tour the night we arrived and didn't see any ghosts but the tour guide did spend a lot of time pointing out "orbs" in photos people took with their digital cameras. Joe and I appreciated the stories behind the ghost stories and the architectural marvels where the ghosts were housed. The next day we mostly walked around the city checking out the cool, beautiful old places before heading to Tybee Island for a bit of ocean fun (which Henry had been begging for since we got in the car in Salt Lake). I bought Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and will be reading it while in Gainesville!
Cemetery. The large thing on the right is a crypt.

Tybee, Island

Stop #6: Orlando, FL
Disneyworld. Need I say more?

Stop #7: Clearwater, FL
Ocean fun!

Stop #7: Gainesville, FL
Home for one month!

I had so much fun on our journey that I'm doing it again. My sister and my Mom are flying to Atlanta to help me drive to Omaha (Joe will be flying because he only has a few hours to get there before starting his next rotation). We will be stopping in Birmingham, Memphis, St Louis, Little Rock, Nauvoo and Omaha (and maybe Chicago???). You know you're jealous!