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And... We're Off!

The Tour has launched! We've completed the short, first leg (200 miles) of what will be a journey totaling thousands of miles. After settling into our hotel, we headed over to Gainesville’s Historic Downtown area. This cool neighborhood has the feel of a classic small town. Its quiet brick streets and buildings, some dating back to the 19th century, looked like something out of a movie set. Here are some highlights:

The Historic Federal Courthouse and Post Office, now home to the Hippodrome Theater (on the National Registry of Historic Places) is a real showstopper. It is ornate and stately, and one of the leading regional theaters in the country.

This huge, 13-foot-tall steel sculpture with glowing red eyes is perched outside of the old Gainesville Sun building, the original home of the daily newspaper.

Named after one of rock and roll’s greatest legends and founding fathers, Bo Diddley lived out his last years in Gainesville. The Bo Diddley Plaza now hosts live music and is a neighborhood gathering place in the center of the city’s historic district.

Lillian’s Music Store was once a thriving music store but is now the oldest bar in Gainesville.

Tom Petty wrote about the store in his song “Dreamville”, famous musicians and actors have visited it and movies have been filmed there. As a bar, it’s a local hangout, dark and moody with antique barbershop chairs in the window. Lillian’s is said to be a place “where everybody knows your name”. Sadly, nobody knew who we were when we walked in!

We were starving and found a place that served traditional southern road trip food: Falafel King.

Rorie snuck this shot of Bart after he was done eating. Thankfully, all evidence of his gyro sandwich was removed before the picture was taken.

Our afternoon explorations ended with a quick tour of the sprawling campus of the University of Florida. UF was established in 1854 and named after Edmund Gaines. NEXT STOP: The Gulf Coast town of Fairhope, AL. Stay tuned!

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