Barb met me at the Indianapolis Airport, and we flew into Gainesville, grabbed our rental car, and met up with Maria.
After a quick food stop, we headed straight to the University of Florida baseball field...
...to catch the end of a scrimmage and see Wyatt bat and to say hello to our favorite Gator baseball player.
(More baseball photos in another post later this week.)
Just a couple of days before we arrived, a deer had jumped in front of Maria and both the deer and Maria's car suffered damage. The car is fixable, but the deer was not... Very thankful that Maria was not hurt, but Baby Car (so named by Mama) has almost $9,000 worth of boo-boos that need repair.
Maria's daughter Seanna was gone to a horse show, so Maria had to stop by and feed her animals. This is Reese...
...and I don't know the name of this runty little bull, but Maria obviously does not trust him.
Reese actually has a new home now...Maria moved her after we left to stay with a friend who has lots of other horses, and she might end up as a trail horse for group rides. She's a pretty thing...I even painted her portrait once. But she will be happy in her new home!
We spent time "hanging out" at Maria's house...
...until the need for Depends kicked in. Which happens quite often when the three of us are together.
Maria actually uses this contraption as part of her regular workouts, challenging herself to do pull-ups. If she can do one pull-up, she's better than me! Barb used to be able to do all that stuff on our swingset, but it's hard to be strong when you're laughing so hard!
Seanna's dog Spur is a very energetic blue heeler...
...who likes to tear up anything he can sink his teeth into.
And she has a grumpy male cat too, that just tried to avoid us most of the time.
So with Wyatt at college and Seanna at a show in Georgia, it was the 3 sisters and 2 animals staying in Maria's house.
A fun lunch spot on the Suwannee River...great seafood and pretty views!
Gotta love a restaurant with this sign outside...
Who are those cute pirates?
And what a handsome couple! I never looked so good!
There are lots of state parks and nature preserves in the area where Maria lives, so we drove around and checked a few out.
We drove to Cedar Key, a charming little touristy town...
We saw some GORGEOUS mermaids there...
We were there right before the election, which might explain some of this golf cart craziness...
My first photograph of royal terns...and a random anhinga hanging out with them...
I had seen roseate spoonbills in the Cedar Key bay before, and we were thrilled to see a few again. Such weird-but-beautiful birds!
One of Maria's friends who is Reese's farrier invited us to go on a couple of farrier calls with him.
We drove out into the Florida boonies, onto roads that said "Dead End" and "No Outlet" to get to this place which is basically a private nature reserve where two sisters live.
They feed the wild birds, so as we drove up we were greeted by several sandhill cranes...
...and a group of black-bellied whistling ducks.
Their little plot of land is surrounded by canals and inlets which are full of alligators. We watched one climb up a bank across the water as we stood there.
Gallinule in the scummy canal water...
But this miniature horse named Keepsake is the reason we were there.
She only stands about 32" high...and she needed a pedicure.
We watched as the experience farrier (we called him Cowboy) trimmed and filed her hooves.
Not only does Cowboy know horses, he also knows a lot about wildlife...and enjoyed pointing out things to us.
As we were leaving, an ibis stopped by for a mid-day snack. This place was truly a little piece of Florida wildlife paradise!
Our other stop was at a small country home that had 4 horses in need of hoof trims.
I even got in on the action holding one of the horses.
There were plenty of other critters there too, like this handsome fella.
These 2 twin sisters live here with their dad.
A special bond between a girl and her horse!
Cracker's on Crystal River for lunch...
Supposedly there are lots of manatees that hang out in this water...
...but the only wild things we saw (excluding present company!) were a few lizards.
Oh, and a snake bird/anhinga who had something caught around his beak. Cowboy was going to call the area game warden to rescue it.
We had bought matching shirts and of course we had to show them off...
We also have matching pajamas, but I'll spare you the photo of that. We wore them out walking the neighborhood one night about 10 pm. and nearly caused an unwary driver to almost have an accident! She claimed Spur startled her, but we know it was really us...who wouldn't be scared by the three of us walking around in our jammies at night?! I'm sure she thought she'd seen 3 ghosts.
Never know what's going to happen when the three of us are together.
But we can always count on some...