Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Gainesville proper has a handful of touristy attractions within walking/biking distance for those who don’t own a car, but who still try to make a point of visiting touristy sites and seeing touristy things; cue us, because apparently it is uncommon for people to bike 35 minutes to visit a shopping mall (hey, that’s totally a legitimate tourist site! There was a JCPenney there and I’d never been to one before).

A little pond, just outside the entrance of the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

A little pond with its dragon protector, just outside the entrance of the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Funky berries! Tasty? Unsure.

Wicked old vines

Wicked old vines

One of these touristy attractions is the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, which is about a 30 minute bike ride from the center of UF campus. The grounds were beautiful, and while well-kept, they weren’t overly fastidious with having everything trimmed and in its place, so it was like a little preserved woodland sanctuary with a whole lot of life.

Giant Elephant Ear plants!

Giant Elephant Ear plants!

Giant Victoria water lilies

Giant Victoria water lilies!

Giant bamboo! The gardens houses the largest public collection of bamboo in the state of Florida

Giant bamboo! The bamboo garden is host to the largest public collection of bamboo in the state of Florida

IMPORTANT NOTE: Take insect repellent with you. The mosquitoes were big and relentless, and they seemed to revel in some weird, twisted joy when it came to buzzing around our ears.

There are both paved and un-paved paths for you to follow

There are both paved and un-paved paths for you to follow, and often you will come across cute little archways like this (beware of giant spiders though)

A MASSIVE (not exaggerating) Golden Orb Spider having lunch; looked like honey bee was on the menu

A MASSIVE (not exaggerating) Golden Orb Spider having lunch. Looked like honey bee was on the menu

You can walk the entire garden grounds in about 2 hours.

This includes time taken to stalk the local wildlife (lizards, fish, turtles, spiders, birds), and also time taken to touch ALL the mimosa pudica plants in sight at the Children’s Garden (the sign at the garden said that it was “for children, or those who are childlike at heart”, obviously we fitted both descriptions so we had every right to be there! Never mind the fact that the gardens are always open to the general public…).

Little gnome and his String of Pearls succulent, at the Children's Garden

Little gnome and his String of Pearls succulent, at the Children’s Garden

Recent flooding, we couldn't get to the far walkway to admire the giant lilies...

Recent flooding; access denied…

In the time that we were at the gardens, we saw only maybe 5 other people wandering around. Maybe because it was the first football game of the season? Or maybe the rain deterred potential visitors, but the gardens were pleasantly quiet on that day.

Our favourite, the rock garden! Filled with cacti and succulents

Our favourite, the rock garden! Filled with cacti and succulents

Bryophyllum daigremontianum (aka Mother of Thousands, Alligator plant, or Mexican hat plant) - curiously propagates by growing babies on the edges of its main leaves. WARNING! TOXIC AND CAN BE FATAL IF INGESTED BY INFANTS OR SMALL PETS.

Bryophyllum daigremontianum aka Mother of thousands, Devil’s backbone, Alligator plant, or Mexican hat plant (…Mexican hat? What?) succulent – curiously propagates by growing babies on the edges of its main leaves. WARNING! TOXIC AND CAN BE FATAL IF INGESTED BY INFANTS OR SMALL PETS.

Brown anole, these little guys are everywhere! This one's shedding its skin

Brown anole, these little guys are everywhere! If you look closely, you can see that this one was in the process of shedding the skin from its head

Pretty pink vine flowers, they almost look like sweet pea flowers?

Pretty pink vine flowers, they almost look like sweet pea flowers?

Much like the botanical gardens in Wellington, Kanapaha holds events all year round, so we will be sure to come back for them, especially for the plant sales. WOOHOO plant sales!

In time, we will have our very own botanical garden on our balcony and in our living area!


Floridian Wildlife 2

Yesterday, for the first time in the history of Apartment number 34 (since we moved in), a squirrel graced us with its presence (WHEEE!!!), and ate the Squirrel Cake offerings on our balcony (WHEEEEEE!!)!

A special visitor

A special visitor

It ate a lot of Squirrel Cake, and left a mess of sunflower seed husks and half-eaten corn kernels, and even a poop present on our balcony railing! How considerate!

So cute and small with her little baby ears

So cute and small with her little baby ears

We discovered that her favourite ingredient from the Squirrel Cake were peanuts; she would work the peanuts loose first, then the sunflower seeds, and then finally the corn kernels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ohm nom nom nom, making a right mess on our balcony

We think she’s a girl because she had super sticky-out nipples along her tummy – so because of that, and also because she’s a bit rotund, we’ve named her Fatty Nips (what? too crass?).

Our new friend!

Our new friend Fatty Nips πŸ™‚

We hope she comes back soon πŸ™‚ We’ll have a bag of peanuts ready for her next visit!


Patch 1

The hardest thing about moving Patch across the South Pacific Ocean was that we had no idea how she was feeling when she was in transit. Sedation is not practiced because the animal can’t regulate their core temperature properly, so Patch was fully awake, fully aware, and extremely vocal when I put her in her crate.

Patch likes to lie on her back, so that the lounge ceiling fan can cool her belly fur

Patch likes to lie on her back, so that the lounge ceiling fan can cool her belly fur

She did not like the fact that she didn’t get breakfast that day, and as soon as we got into the car to go to the airport, she made the biggest and most foul-smelling poop, and smeared it all over herself and her bedding (which was made up of an old jacket and old t-shirt belonging to James – we tried to fill her crate with familiar smells).

Her front left paw is especially endearing because one of her toes is ginger coloured

Her front left paw is especially endearing because her toes have patches of ginger

So by the time we arrived at the main office of the pet moving people, her toes, her stomach, her tail, all were covered in bits of poop. The pet moving guy was really accommodating, and he wiped her down before he moved her to a cat run. At this point, I looked at Patch, and she looked straight back at me and cried out so loudly that I winced, noticeably, and then I felt like the worst person. The worst.

She had no idea what was going on. Telling her that she was going to go to “our new home, Patch! You’re going to Florida! It’ll be so exciting! You can chase squirrels!”, was only marginally comforting to myself, and zero comfort to her. All she knew was that she was in a cage in a strange room with strange smells.

Her favourite past times are 1) sleeping, 2) putting fur on our clothes, and 3) rubbing her scent all over the apartment

Her favourite past times are 1) sleeping, 2) putting fur on our clothes, and 3) rubbing her scent all over the apartment

I’ll tell you now that if you’re not flying with your pet to their intended destination, the worst thing is the roller-coaster of emotions you’ll experience when you drop your pet off for their flight. Especially if your pet does a stress poop, and wails non-stop while traveling to the airport, like mine did.

Interestingly, if you are planning to take your pet with you to the USA, and you are flying with your pet (domestically, between states), they are allowed to fly with you, like, actually with you, in a crate, under your seat (provided that it is a well-behaved pet). During my 8 hour transit at LAX, I saw many dog owners and a handful of cat owners, waiting to board their domestic flights! Their pets were so good! They didn’t poop, or cry, or make a fuss!

I was super disappointed that the person sitting next to me on my flight from LAX to Orlando did not have a pet under their seat. Super disappointed.

I'm currently germinating some cat grass seeds for her, so she has some greens to nibble on when she lounges on our balcony

I’m currently germinating some cat grass seeds for her, so she has some greens to nibble on when she lounges on our balcony

Patch took a while to adjust to Gainesville. She spent the first few weeks hiding in the bathroom, behind the toilet. Which is fair enough; it was the quietest, darkest, and smallest space she could find, and that made her felt a little bit safer than walking around in an empty lounge.

The insects were bigger (which frightened her), she’d never encountered squirrels in New Zealand (squirrels also frightened her), there were lots of dogs in our apartment complex (again, frightening), people on bikes (so scary), contractors fixing stuff on the sides of the apartment buildings (loud noises, scary stuff) and the apartment probably smelled like a bajillion other pets that used to live here before us (the worst, strange smells, don’t like it, gonna hide behind the toilet).

“your bath towels are not furry enough, I’ll help you fix that”

But we got there in the end.

It’s been almost 3 months since she first set foot in Gainesville, and she’s finally back to her normal old Princess self. Overly dramatic, incredibly chatty, demanding, smelly poops.

And she still doesn’t do the dishes or pay rent.