If you're keeping score at home (and I know you are) you know I mentioned Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Jacksonville this week. "When," you're probably asking yourself, "will John tell us about Gainesville?"
Well, today's the day.
But before I launch into my Gainesville experience, I need to give you a little history.
Because my time in Gainesville was literally a dream come true.
I have no idea why, but I have recurring dreams about two sports-related places: the football field at the University of Florida and Mile High Stadium. (Maybe it's Invesco Field at Mile High - I can't remember if the dreams go back as far as the Broncos' original stadium.)
In the Florida one I walk out from a corner end zone and look up at the sea of seats. In the Broncos dream I'm sitting way up in the stadium - like, second-to-last-row-type seats, and I'm with some family members.
So when I knew I was visiting Gainesville, I knew I'd want to swing by the football stadium. My friend Kevin was way ahead of me - we'd be visiting the stadium, he said, because that's about all there is to do in Gainesville.
We emerged at one of the corners and walked down towards the field. It was kind of surreal because other than a different type of seating it was very, very similar to my dream. It also didn't stretch as high into the sky as my dream. But I certainly felt familiar with the place.
I think two things about this whole weird experience. I would like to think I have some kind of second sight (is that what it is? ESP? Or just being weird?), but I think:
1) Both the University of Florida and the Denver Broncos are orange and blue, just like the New York Mets. So maybe that aspect about them and their respective stadia (plural for stadiums?) stand out to me and work their way into my subconscious.
2) Later that afternoon, reverting back to our college days as we do often when we're together, Kevin and I sat down to play some video games. Our choice was the version of NCAA Football that he had. As soon as the game started loading up, it occurred to me that I probably dreamt about Florida Field so much because I played this game so much years ago and it was drilled into my head. The more I think about it the more sure I am that this is the case.
Beyond the field, Kevin was right. There wasn't a ton in Gainesville. But next to the field were the football offices, and on the ground floor of that building is a great little museum - not even a museum. A display center. In glass cases are Florida's three national championship trophies, displays of national championship teams and award-winning players, and the three Heisman Trophies won by Florida players. (The Heisman Trophy is much, much larger than it looks on TV.) This was very cool.
We also poked our head into the track/swimming/basketball facility, which was neat. And we stopped by the bookstore and I bought some University of Florida souvenirs for my girls.
But none of that quite reached highlight status of the trip for me.
After all, I've never dreamed of stepping foot in those places.