Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
December 15, 2012
A bookstore is always a welcome stop on a weekend road trip.
Yeah, Amazon is efficient, but online browsing is woefully lacking in aesthetic pleasures compared with the experience at O. Brisky Books, a fixture in the cozy business district of Micanopy. The town, about 15 miles south of Gainesville off Interstate 75, is a Norman Rockwell-worthy Southern village that's ground zero for antiques, porch swings and books.
In a shop such as O. Brisky's, with thousands of titles that range from history, philosophy and religion to Willie Mays, surprises are the best part of the experience. I don't know what I'm looking for until I find it.
"Most people don't look at shopping that way," says owner O.J. Brisky, who knows that his store can't match the efficiency of online commerce.
He doesn't take credit cards and the business hours often are limited to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends, although he's open daily during holiday shopping season. It's good to call first at 352-466-3910.
On a recent Friday, there were plenty of shoppers strolling along Cholokka Boulevard, a stretch that includes antique shops with furniture, kitschy collectibles, Gator football memorabilia and beautiful, ancient agatized Florida coral.
One of the collectible shops, Leonardo's, features musical instruments ranging from fiddles to concertinas. I almost came home with a squeezebox, but settled for a hardback copy of Kurt Vonnegut's "Jailbird" (a bargain at less than $7) to replace my long-lost copy.
To make a true literary pilgrimage, take the side trip to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek. It's a short hop south on U.S. Highway 441 and county roads 346 and 325 to the Cracker home where Rawlings wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Yearling."
Home tours are offered several times daily ($3 adults, $2 ages 6-12), but $4 park admission includes a self-guided walking tour of the grove, barn, farmhouse, garden and tenant house as well as access to a lovely park with hiking trails and picnic areas. Visit floridastateparks.org for details.
For dining, there's The Yearling Restaurant (yearlingrestaurant.net), a stone's throw from the park. It's open for lunch and dinner Thursdays-Sundays at 14531 E. County Road 325 in Cross Creek.
Try the catfish and cheese grits.
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