Quite a few people have written to ask me why I don’t write more about Gainesville. There are a couple of reasons for this:
First of all, when I have a free day, I like to leave the place. The pull of distant tourist attractions, swamps, and beaches is simply too strong for me to stay put. In any event, I consider writing about the concerts to be writing about Gainesville, and those posts have become a regular feature of this blog and are aimed at the local audience.
Second, I like to spend time outdoors, and while Gainesville has a lot of outstanding parks, these places tend to look much the same across the photographic spectrum. Without my posting a photo of a sign, the reader would be hard-pressed to separate a palm frond at San Felasco Hammock from one at Alfred A. Ring Park.
In an attempt to give the old Hogtown a bit more play, and also to try to capture something interesting for the Second Annual Gainesville Photography Contest, I spent a couple of days circling the city with Mr. B., who was also aiming for a prize photo.
We started up in the Duckpond, a historic residential area on the northeast side of town, and then we worked our way down and through what is to my mind Gainesville’s sterling attraction, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are a great place to practice photography and, because they tend to change from week to week, always have something fresh to capture.
Everybody loves the Gators, and the Gators are the city’s number-one tourist attraction, assuming one can get a ticket to a home game. If not, one can roll in one’s RV to the great public campground that springs up along Archer Road and have a gay old time just the same. Gainesville as a party city is also a main attraction, assuming one is under 25 and makes an attractive appearance in microscopic shorts, belly tops, and skyscraping footwear.
The above are also Gainesville’s sexiest attractions.
For my money, though, you can’t beat that steamy verdancy that is just down the street from my apartment complex. It’s pretty horrendous on a muggy day, when the trees and shrubs and plants seem to burst with an invisible but smothering green fog that also lends a weird itchiness to the skin; forget about that and concentrate instead on the massive stands of bamboo and the little curiosities the management has half-hidden around the place. It seems that each time I visit Kanapaha I discover a new one, like the cherub whose head is half-submerged in a rock (and whose photo I entered into the contest).
We also spent half an hour photographing a fountain at the intersection of West University Avenue and West Newberry Road. This “water feature” (and how I hate that description when plain old “fountain” serves the purpose well) is officially called the “D-Day Memorial,” but unless the sun had caused a temporary blindness, I could have sworn the granite marker was dedicated to all veterans of all wars. Perhaps I didn’t read more than a line, because I quickly realized that the adjoining fountain was damned difficult to photograph with a point-and-shoot. The water ended up in conflict with my white balance; it looked like a ragged ice sculpture made at the hands of an amateur cook more versed in chopping onions. I finally found a decent angle and photographed only a small part of the fountain, minus the heroic shooting plumes that on this sizzling day made one want to do no more than to tear one’s clothes off and cavort naked under its icy-looking cascades.
Finally, we made a return visit to Broken Arrow Bluff, which is surely the park most difficult to find. So tucked away is it that you could stand someone 100 yards away and bet them that they couldn’t find Broken Arrow Bluff before they collapsed from heatstroke. This is because Broken Arrow Bluff is like an unwanted part of Kanapaha and as such it sits adjacent to, but not accessible by, the Botanical Gardens. The first time we went there I balked and retreated; after a leaf-covered flat entrance one takes a small path down a bluff towards a sinkhole. At the southern edge of the sinkhole is a limestone outcropping that proved so slippery that Mr. B. became marooned on it, calling in futility for a helping hand. There is also a small, very nearly invisible trail that winds around the back of the rock and up into somewhere I do not wish to venture. We returned to the park because Mr. B. had heard that there was water in the sinkhole and that the vista was a thing of beauty. I misapprehended this and thought it meant that they’d cleaned up that path and sprinkled it with some nice white sand. Not so. It was just as full of decayed leaves as it had been on the first visit, so I took a photograph or two around the limestone rock and then gingerly tiptoed back the way I had come.
Here is the first of two days of Gainesville pictures, or at least the first day of what I think most interesting about the city from an outdoor photographic perspective. Keep in mind that anything I visit is not for the serious hiker or nature enthusiast. Also remember that I don’t move anything about for the sake of obtaining a better composition. I prefer to let them have their own point of view, which is assuredly much superior to mine.