DAY 44 July 7,2009

I was up with the birds this morning - before the sun rose for the day. I went into Hawthorn looking for The Yearling Restaurant (breakfast?) -no luck, but I did find it just east of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings homestead on CR 325. It is only open for dinner and only on certain days. The homestead is a state park ($3). I looked around a bit and headed back into Gainesville.

On the way back, I stopped briefly in Micanopy. The historic downtown area is beautiful-nothing was open yet. They also have a museum, but that is only open from 1 to 4.

Fueled the car and myself at the Waffle House. I had a sausage biscuit, side of gravy, and hash browns- oh so yummy!

I arrived at the Florida Museum of Natural History just after the skies opened up and started dumping water on the inhabitants of Gainesville. This is a beautifully done museum (for children and adults) and free, unless you want to enjoy the butterfly exhibit. I especially enjoyed the exhibit about the different geological eras in Florida and the skeletons that have been recovered.

At the Crystal River State Park there is an interesting visitor center, but the boats are out of serve right now. The little turtle seemed very happy to see someone there. He made enough noise to get me to come to his enclosure and swam back and forth for me.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park ($13) was fantastic. I parked at the entrance that is right on US 19 and took the boat over to the entrance. It was a nice 20 minute ride and we saw all manner of wildlife (turtles, fish, birds AND an alligator!). I made it to the park just in time for the last manatee program (and subsequent rain storm). I enjoyed the otter display-I love these guys. Just as I made it to the big cats the skies opened up and the kitties headed inside. The foxes were unaffected by the rain, but noticed their caretaker and headed inside (dinner?). The wolves were all worked up-running all over the place! The birds were the ones enjoying the drenching. After taking the tram back to my car, I drove out to historic Homosassa-okay I've seen it-no need to go again.

I checked into the Riverside Inn in New Port Richey. The room was clean enough, but the linens and furniture are very worn. Breakfast the nest morning was not worth the effort to go get.

ROUTE:FL 20 East>CR 325 West>CR 301 South>CR 318 West>CR 441 North> I 75 North>FL 121 West>US 41 South>CR 488 West>US 19 South>US 19 Alt South>US 19 South

Lodging: Riverside Inn in New Port Richey

Meals: Goceries

Attractions: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park, Historic Micanopy, Florida Museum of Natural History, Crystal River State Park, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

$$$: $20 Fuel $16 Entry Fees $33 Motel $6 Food = $75

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