Tuesday, October 9, 2012

SxSE: Gainesville, Florida

Photo by Kate B flickr.com
Our South by Southeast information highway road trip reaches its southernmost destination in Gainesville, Florida, home of the Gators.

♦ Gainesville is the farthest SEC town from Columbia, 1,099 miles away (858 air miles). That, of course, explains why Florida is in the SEC East division, along with Mizzou.

Fun Facts about Gainesville, FL
  • 2010 Population: 124.354 (257,099).  Oddly, every source I found online for population figures provides a different number for Gainesville's population.  It could have something to do with the next two fun facts:
  • Gainesville was known in the 70's and 80's for a particular green and fluffy cannabis plant known popularly as Gainesville Green.
    • "He estimates there were about 22 to 25 tons confiscated in Alachua County from '70 to '80. That's 3.2 million quarter bags. If Gainesville Green cost the same as today's "kryp," then 25 tons could be worth as much as $320 million on the street."

  • Gainesville has made a park out of a sinkhole, called The Devil's Millhopper.  From this description, it sounds a lot like Taylor Stadium:  "Once you hit the bottom, the temperature seems to drop about 20 degrees"
    ♦ Gainesville sounds a lot like Missouri's Ozarks, based on this article: This region is crawling with cement slices of Old Florida (Ocala.com)
    As far as Catherine Chapman knows, the huge headless dinosaur guarding her neighborhood's gate does not have a name. And she's been here since the 1960s. The thing is just there, a looming curiosity. Part local lore, part long-time landscape. Few people know much about the sun-faded, somewhat skeletal sculpture that stands about two stories high, its tail smashing through a neighboring fence. It has been there for decades. Without a head. Neighbors say the roadside oddity has caused vehicle accidents on the curving County Road 476 between Umatilla and Brooksville. One neighbor, who only identified herself as Virginia, was certain it used to have a head, but Chapman said, no, the man who built it died before he could add the noggin.
    Buddy Ebsen
    Florida alum
    ♦ There are 4 Chik-fil-a locations in Gainesville

    Gainesville is home to the 34th Street Graffiti Wall
    The University of Florida Digital Collections website called the 34th Street Wall “Gainesville’s most public diary.” This 1,120-foot stretch of concrete is the only place to legally draw graffiti. For decades, Gainesville natives and students painted personal messages and chronicled histories on the wall, despite city officials trying to repaint it white. On September 3, 1990, the 34th Street Wall became a memorial to honor the victims of the vicious murders. That one message remains constant, while good news, marriage proposals and commemorations all frequently come and go. (Gainesville Today)
    ♦ Gainesville is home of the Gainesville Raceway, home of the Gatornationals, an annual NHRA drag racing event held each March.

    HolyTurf.com's SEC Bucket List: Gainesville
    # 64 The Swamp Restaurant: I visited The Swamp Restaurant last fall and thoroughly enjoyed my trip. The menu is pared down on game weekends to give the cooks a chance to keep up with all of the patrons. I enjoyed a Gator Club and the Baja Fish Tacos were also a hit. Need a burger…try the Freshman 15 Burger covered in bacon, mushrooms, onions, cheese, and a sunny-side up egg on a pretzel roll. Everyone in our group liked their food. We sat on the patio on a beautiful November day and had a blast. The location is ideal right across the street from the stadium and on the edge of campus.
    The SEC Guide to Florida's Home Turf provides details on the food and fun to be had in Gainesville:
    Gainesville food Pizza -- Satchels (apparently hippies make great pizza) Burgers -- Copper Monkey (Monkey's Uncle is my personal favorite) BBQ -- Ribs -- Terrell's on Waldo Rd. (trailor BBQ at its best) BBQ -- Brisket/Pork/Turkey -- Kay Brothers (new-ish but really good and really close to stadium, varied regional sauces) BBQ -- Pork Chops -- Newberry' Backyard BBQ (best I've ever had.) Steak -- Mark's U.S. Prime (Herbstriet will vouch for them.) Upscale Southern -- Blue Gill (new, just plain good)

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