For the last 15 years or so, we've been going out to my uncle's lakehouse in Melrose, Florida. Growing up, we'd come up and spend a couple weekends a year. Now that I'm grown, I take my family out there and we spend a lot of holidays there. Since leaving for college, we make an annual event of having Thanksgiving with the whole clan. My family (hubby and kids) usually go for Memorial Day. And, this year, we added a week at the Fourth of July. My uncle lives in St. Augustine and his kids are in high school and college now, so they've got a lot of activities to keep them busy and they don't come out as much.
Melrose is a great little town. It sits at the crossroads of three counties - Alachua, Putnam, and Clay. It's one of those original Florida towns and it's surrounded by a lot of pecan groves and muscadine grape fields. My favorite thing about the town is the local businesses. Williamson's Grocery has been there 40 years. And, Bluewater Bay is a special white table cloth restaurant that's known by the locals (including Gainesvillians) as the place to eat on Fridays and Saturdays. My favorite local business has to be Chiappini's. It's a gas station, bar, and bait shop all in one. How often do you find that? And, it's been there forever! The Chiappini's also own a local native nursery in the area.
This is my uncle's lakehouse. He built it in the early 90s to look like an old cracker cottage. From the road, you can't even see it because of all the natural growth. It's looking out over the lake. The porch railing is often used as a clothes line.
Here are a couple pictures of Ashley Lake - the tiny lake where the house is. It used to be a larger lake and now it's two small lakes. The water level's probably dropped 6 feet over the last 15 years due to a number of things - mainly drought and sinkholes.
Here's a picture of the lakehouse in the daylight. It's got a bedroom downstairs and a loft upstairs with a futon and bed. It's also got a galley kitchen and a very small bathroom. We've been known to sleep 20 people there with air mattresses, the pull out couch and sleeping bags. Occasionally, someone opts to camp out front for a little more privacy.
This is what the house looks like coming up from the lake. You can see it's kind of hidden in the trees.
We're really lucky to have some place like this to go. We enter a different time zone when we go there (Melrose time). There is a TV, but it doesn't pick up much of anything so it's mainly used for movies (we watch a LOT of movies while we're there). The other thing about going to Melrose is that you have to cook good food while you're there. Now, mind you, it's a tiny galley style kitchen without a dishwasher, so there's usually 3-4 people in there at once stepping on each others toes. I made an awesome bread pudding with spiced rum sauce while we were there. And, we ate a lot of meat - hamburgers, steaks, etc. We only live about 20 minutes away, but we don't get out there as often as I'd like. I'd like to try to go one more time before school starts even if it's just for the day.
Thanks for having us lakehouse. See you next time.