Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 3: Ocala

Hello, everyone.

We left Gulf Shores, after a really enjoyable night and morning stroll, and drove down the road.

We encountered signs saying "Stennis Exclusion Zone" but didn't feel excluded by anything...unless you count the endless green tunnel that is Interstate 10. (They planted it with a wall of pines years ago, which has since grown up a very thick understory. Sometimes there will be a tree or shrub that one recognizes--at 80 MPH--as a Native Magnolia or possibly an invasive Chinese Tallow tree. Mostly there is just the endless wall of green, and no view of the landscape at all beyond it.)

We stopped for a small bathroom break at the Mississippi Welcome Center.

The magnolia trees are blooming!

I saw the spare Lunar Module at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum years ago. It looked like an excessively delicate construction of Saran Wrap, tinfoil, and Tinkertoys. This practice model looks sturdier. 

Explanatory sign.

They had free hot dogs, too! One of the state parks had set up a temporary free food stand so people would take their pamphlets and consider playing in the waterfall there.
We made it to Ocala, which, it turned out, was quite close to other places on our list. But we found a La Quinta and settled in for the night. After going out for dinner and to score a bottle of Spanish wine, if we could find it.

En route to finding dinner, we stopped at the local liquor store in hopes of a nice bottle of Spanish wine: ABC Liquors. The name didn't make us optomistic, but once in side we were pleasantly surprised. They had an excellent wine selection, and there were sales guys around the place, too. The wine guy was very helpful, and he introduced us to a wine called Temperamento Bobal, from the Pyrenees I think. It turned out to be a very dark red with lots of grape skin in it, but good flavor. And flavor is what it's about, IMHO.

We ate at a place called Cody's Roadhouse. This was not a cheap hamburger joint, it was a moderately priced steak joint instead. The waitress was proud to tell us that they make all their sauces in-house. (And the dressing and the cinnamon butter were good.) The tossed salad had a pleasant surprise: briny little green peppers, just a little bit piquant, but not so hot to qualify as "picoso." DH opined that their garlic-mash potato dish was overseasoned. As I don't eat much potato any more, I had chosen the steamed vegetables, and they were really good.