After the festival, we hung around Live Oak for a couple more days before hitting the road again. We looked up some destinations online, and became very interested in seeing some of the springs that many people at the festival recommended to us. We decided that we were going to head in the direction of Orlando with some stops along the way.
We headed first to the Ocean Pond campground in the Osceola National Forest. The campground was beautiful, right on the lake, and enclosed in lots of palm trees and bushes that almost resembled a scene from Jurassic Park. We had a huge lot for the boler, and it kind of felt like we had our own backyard, complete with a fence and a picnic table. It was one of the nicer campgrounds we’ve stayed at, and only eight dollars a night! We spent our time there working on our recordings (we’re almost done!) and getting the first hot showers we’d had in a long couple weeks.
Next stop was Gainesville, a place we didn’t know that much about and were pleasantly surprised once we arrived! It’s a university town, much like Halifax actually, with lots of bars and hang-out spots, and lots of young people around. Our first night there, which was Thursday, we were able to locate an open mic night at a bar called Looseys. We showed up early for it to start, but found out that it was pre-sign up only and the list was full. They told us that they could fit us in if we performed first, so right away after arriving we were rushed onto the stage to play three songs. Afterwards we stuck around to relax, listen to the other musicians, and enjoy some cheap beer.
On Friday we awoke to our delight to see the Oscar Meyer Weiner truck parked in the Walmart parking lot we were staying at. We both grew up knowing the Oscar Meyer Weiner song, and so we had to venture over to see what they were doing. We both received an Oscar Meyer Weiner whistle from a kind gentleman, and continued into Walmart where we whistled proudly through the Grocery isles. After that, we took the day to see the town in daylight, and walked around for a couple of hours. The town is very much like Halifax, even during the day, so it gave us a sense of home. We shared a cheesecake gelato (sooo good) at a local café, and explored the shops and sights. As we were driving by the University of Florida, we noticed almost everyone was wearing Florida Gators apparel and there were signs everywhere for the football team. We looked online and saw that they had a game against Jacksonville State University the following day. Neither of us had ever been to a big football game before, and since it’s such a big deal in the states we concluded that we had to check it out for ourselves, and bought some tickets!
That night we were looking to do something different, so we tried to find something unique online that would be happening on a Friday night. Turns out we found something very unique, and found ourselves at a duelling piano bar. What is a duelling piano bar you might ask? It’s exactly as it sounds. They have two pianos onstage, where three different musicians to rotate and play requests from the audience (as long as there’s a dollar bill or more attached). It was such a great time – they were not only great musicians, but hilarious comedians as well. Everyone there was dressed to the nines though, and we were the only ones sitting there in duct-taped cowboy boots and jeans. We didn’t seem to stick out too badly though. They also had a drummer who would come up every few songs or so, and one of them surprised us with his incredible skills on the electric guitar. They involve the audience throughout the whole performance, and bring people onstage to serenade them, or make them do actions for the songs they are singing. If you ever find yourself there on your birthday, do not let them know, or you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. As the night grew late, the football anthem requests started, and we got our first glimpse of just how serious American college football is. Someone in the audience would send up a request with their football team’s name on it with a 50 dollar bill, and then someone else would send up 55 dollars with theirs and so forth. The highest bidder’s theme song would be played repeatedly until someone out bid them. The majority of the bar was for the Florida Gators, of course, and we felt bad for the only guy from Texas there who was getting picked on pretty badly. We couldn’t believe the money that people were tossing up on stage though, and are now seriously considering futures in piano duelling.
After we left the bar, we decided to pay off our expensive night with some busking. We talked to a local who was playing his guitar and harmonica on a side street, and he said we’d have no problem at all with getting in trouble if we wanted to try it for ourselves, so we packed up the guitar and searched for a good spot. The only problem is that at 1:00 in the morning, most people who walked by were pretty belligerent, and the music from the clubs around us drowned us out, so after a while we decided to try again the next night instead.
The university offered free overnight parking for RVs who were going to the football game, so we drove there and spent the night. We got up early the next morning to print out our tickets, share a bottle of wine, and walked to the game. We unfortunately don’t have a lot of blue and orange (the Gators’ colours) and so we had to come up with some last minute football outfits. Despite our best efforts, we still didn’t quite look like we were going to a football game.
When we arrived, we were blown away to see how huge the stadium was and how many people showed up for the game dressed in their football colors. It was a sea of blue and orange, and everyone was on their feet cheering. We soon caught on to the “Gators” clap, which resembles an alligator’s mouth with your arms extended in front of you. We also learned how to sway back and forth to their football anthem. The halftime was as exciting as the game itself – both Jacksonville State University and the University of Florida had their marching bands take the field and they were really, really awesome. Drew also put his Oscar Meyer Weiner whistle to use and used it to cheer throughout the whole game with great talent. The Gators ended up winning! 23-0, so you can imagine the fans were pretty happy.
That night we decided to try our luck at busking again, this time a little earlier in the evening. We played for over an hour, and made a whole $2.00! It was absolutely freezing out, and after awhile Drew couldn’t feel his fingers on the guitar anymore so it was time to give up. We took our two dollars away with pride (and a little disappointment at the lack of people on the streets).
As we are writing this blog post we are now in Ocala. We decided to head this way since we want to visit the springs before we arrive in Orlando this weekend to meet with a fellow rover enthusiast! We heard that you can see manatees at Blue Springs, so that will be probably the next stop on our list.