This was the second last day of our road trip, but our last day was pretty much a straight drive in Florida from Brooksville (on the west side) to Miami. We definitely didn't take the most efficient route and focused a lot of the trip on the places that were interesting to us or seemed like there were fun places to stay. It was kind of interesting driving through the center of Florida as there were several road-side "attractions" that were pretty hilarious, like Hick Daddy's Barbeque... spent some time reading reviews of that place.
Stops: Gainesville, FL (for food!)
End point: Brooksville, FL
We woke up and got a chance to hang out at our Airbnb for a bit. We were really excited to introduce Bandit to swimming since our place in Charleston had this amazing backyard next to a marsh that was entirely fenced in AND a swimming pool. On their Airbnb page, our hosts posted that dogs weren't allowed in the swimming pool, so I had packed my swimsuit away somewhere in the depths of my luggage, but they ended up inviting us to let Bandit go in the pool. We tried, but he was absolutely not having it. He was like, no drowning for me today, thanks!
So it ended up being him running in circles around the pool a lot and just playing on the deck and in the backyard.
Their yard was a dream yard... gorgeous. And I believe they had a guest house that they also rent out to Airbnb guests, although I may be confusing that with one of the other places I was researching. Bandit ran to the edges of the fence and sprinted around the entire yard. Alex and I were so happy to see him being carefree on a stressful trip. He definitely started out stressed and continued to be stressed throughout, but it decreased a lot as the trip went on. We were lucky in that we never had to do anything that required us to leave him anywhere on his own.
We drove back into Charleston to get some food to eat. We ended up deciding we should just go somewhere quick and be on our way since we were getting in the habit of getting to our destinations later than we were hoping. We went to Persimmon Cafe, which ended up being a cafe in a laundromat. The food was simple, but really good--we got sandwiches. I got a curry one that was awesome. The sandwiches ended up taking much longer than expected, and we were sitting out on the curb waiting with Bandit, whom we were only successful in feeding with lots of wet food mixed into his dry food; however, I remember liking the manager. Bandit got to say hi to fellow curb-dwellers who thought he was cute, which was nice since the there is no general consensus on him and you never know if people are going to think he's totally adorable vs scary and dangerous.
I decided that we would need some caffeine to get us through and we stopped by Black Tap for to-go coffee. I was a big fan of this place's light and airy feel and delicious coffee. Kind of kicking myself for not buying a bag of their beans.
We had an exciting moment of crossing the state line and being in Florida, a feeling of accomplishment that was quickly diminished by the fact that we would have to find somewhere to eat and being unfamiliar with, well, all of Florida north of Miami (maybe Ft. Lauderdale). Looks like some photographer cut off the sign... and some dog got tired posing.
We basically went back and forth deciding where to go and ended up in Gainesville. The food was so meh, and maybe even awful, that I can't even remember the name of the place.
It started storming again on our way to the place in Brooksville, so we were delayed again and got in around 9 or 10, ate dinner, and tried walking around to get Bandit to pee outside. It was super dark with no street lights so it was kind of creepy to be getting in at night (generally not a good practice, and yet something that kept happening to us on this trip). This place ended up seeming to be Bandit's favorite place, for some reason. All three of us had different favorites.
We explored the grounds a little bit. I chose it because it seemed kind of interesting that it was an A-frame building in an olive oil grove.
The Florida heat quickly convinced us it was time to go. We stopped by The Coffee Barn for our caffeination which was actually extremely delicious. I did buy beans this time because it was called Mountaineer Coffee, which is a terrible reason to buy beans. Fortunately the coffee ended up being great. I respect a town that has a good coffeeshop, and find myself being surprised when it's a small town. I need to learn to suspend my small town judgment; I've been proven wrong too many times. Our air conditioning broke for the last 2 hours of our trip home and we stopped by a gas station to buy ice, paranoid Bandit was going to experience a heat stroke when exposed to the Florida heat.
Which is what made everything sweeter to get to our new place to this surprise and Alex's family greeting us: