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Florida 2011

a travel blog by Kugs on the road

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Hitting the road again

Syracuse, United States

I'm off on another "Drive-About" This time I'm heading to Florida. Although I have probably done less planning for this trip than I have for any other trip in the past, I think it will still prove to be a lot of fun with some very interesting stops along the way. Although I don't want to reveal everything that I hope to see, some of the highlights of this trip will be a Shuttle launch, an Airboat ride in the Everglades, and a drive to Key West. Of course there will be many Diners drive-ins and Dives along the way.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 24, 2011 from Syracuse, United States
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Day 1 Problems

New Market, United States

Well, The first day didn't go quite as planned. I got a late start, I had mechanical problems with the rental car and had to spend some time in Scranton getting a new car. Then I hit two traffic jams in Virginia. Originally I had wanted to get to Rescue, Virginia to have dinner at Captain Chuck-a-Mucks, but that's not happening. I did make it as far as New Market, VA, The Home of Johnny Apple seed. This leaves me about 8 hours from Myrtle Beach. I should be able to make it there in time to get an order of steamed oysters at Nance's Restaurant (was a favorite of my parents, and now a favorite of mine). From there It's a quick run down the coast to Jacksonville, then down to Cape Kennedy for the Shuttle Launch.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 25, 2011 from New Market, United States
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Got Oysters

Myrtle Beach, United States

I found the sunshine today. Unfortunately I left it in Virginia. I had a real nice relaxing drive today, I Took a lot of back roads through Virginia and North Carolina. Weather was great in Virginia, Hit a few rain showers in North Carolina, and pulled into Myrtle Beach just after a big storm left. I had some trouble finding a hotel at first, so I went to dinner and filled up on Oysters.

Then found the only hotel in Myrtle Beach that doesn't have Internet access, fortunately the hotel next door has a very strong open connection. On the bright side... It's a big room (That's Nice). The decor is a bit outdated (I don't care about that). It's on the beach ( I like that). It has a window that faces the beach (I really like that). It was $50 a night (I really really like that).

Tomorrow I'm heading south to Jacksonville, FL and then the fun begins...

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 26, 2011 from Myrtle Beach, United States
from the travel blog: Florida 2011
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Welcome to Florida The Seafoods Great

Jacksonville, United States

Woke up this morning and took a short walk down to the beach and took a few photos before I hit the road.

On my way out of town I realized just how devastating the storm was that hit Myrtle Beach before I got there. This House was Uprooted and flipped over onto another building. Well actually it's a tourist attraction built to look like a House that was flipped over. I was planning on getting some photos of one of these near Orlando, but I don't think that one is on top of another building. I'll still check out the one in Orlando if I have the time.

After leaving Myrtle Beach I had about 2 hours of driving on some nice country roads till I hit I95. then it was High Speed cruising all the way to Jacksonville with the tunes crankin (the mp3 player seems to know all my favorite songs).

Once I got to the Jacksonville area I didn't waste time, I headed right to My first DDD stop (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives). Singletons Seafood Shack in Atlantic Beach. And it is a shack. Plywood floors, plywood tables, and chipboard walls. But what they lack in decor they make up for in food. You want to talk about fresh seafood, they dock the fishing boats outside the dinning room. I had the combo platter of Deviled Crab, Shrimp and Oysters with a side of Cole Slaw and Fries.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 27, 2011 from Jacksonville, United States
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a Plane, a Prison, and lots of good food

Orlando, United States

I started the at the Metro Diner in Jacksonville. This is yet another DDD spot. Because I've been going with a seafood theme so far I decided to order the Crab Benedict. Two English muffin halves each topped with a crab cake a pouched egg and smothered with hollandaise sauce along with a healthy portion of hash browns to fill up the plate. Not the best breakfast I ever ate (no.1 is still the Loco Moco in Hawaii) But it was definitely better than my usual Ham and Eggs.

After leaving Jacksonville I stopped at the Old Jail in
St Augustine. This 72 prisoner jail was built in 1891 by the same company that would later build Alcatraz. The guided tour was a bit corny including the animatronic sheriff that conducted the last part of the tour.

On my way to Orlando I stopped in
Daytona Beach to see a full size steel replica of the Wright Brothers plane that was built by students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

I had no real plans for dinner tonight, The people at the Motel weren’t of much help either. So I consulted my GPS and found Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que. I figured with a name like that they better have some awesome Bar-B-Que. It was good, But I don't know about Awesome. I had the 4 meat combo platter with ribs, Sausage, Brisket, and Sliced Pork with sides of Cole Slaw, Potato Salad, & Texas Caviar. The Ribs were pork ribs, the first one was great, tender and juicy. The meat just fell off the bone. The second one... not so much, kind of on the dry side. Then I moved on to the Sausage, Much better. Great flavor, not Texas great, but still good. The Brisket, again, a bit on the dry side but some Bar-B-Que sauce helped it. The Sliced Pork was good, a little fatty but at least it wasn't over cooked. The Sides; The Slaw and Potato Salad were average. The Texas Caviar was a cold black eyed pea salad with onion and celery. I'm not a big Black Eyed pea fan but the salad was ok, the music is better though...

Tomorrow is the shuttle launch. I'm a little worried if I will be able to get within 10 miles of it. There are roumors of 700,000 + people in town for it.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 28, 2011 from Orlando, United States
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Mission Scrubbed

Titusville, United States

I arrived in Titusville around 10am By 10:15 I had found a parking spot for $20 right next to an open Field that was across the bay from where the Shuttle Launch Pad. It is still several Miles away, but a good view. Then at 12:30 the mission was scrubbed. I spent the rest of the day stuck in traffic trying to get out of there. Imagine 750,000 people trying to leave at the same time... Not fun.

For dinner I ended up at Bubbalou's again. This time I went for the fried Catfish dinner with Cole Slaw and Collard Greens. Turned out to be a much better choice than last nights BBQ.
Tomorrow I am heading south and if they get this Shuttle mission rescheduled in the next week I will try to come back to see it.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 29, 2011 from Titusville, United States
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Snails & Dolphin for dinner

Deerfield Beach, United States

For dinner tonight I went back to the DDD List. The Whale's Rib, in Deerfield Beach. As soon as I picked up the menu I saw Escargot listed under appetizers and new I was ordering that. Then I saw Baked Dolphin; I didn't even know you could serve Dolphin. I guess they have to do something with the ones that get caught in the Tuna nets. Actually it's Dolphinfish, otherwise known as Mahi Mahi. Even after my Hawaii incident with Mahi Mahi I ordered it anyway. The snails were prepared in the traditional way, Baked in Garlic & Butter, but they added a twist, A layer of grated Parmesan cheese on top. It was good; I may start doing that when I make them at home.
The Baked Dolphin was also good. This is a restaurant I would defiantly return to. Oh, and when I asked for the check the waitress talked me into a slice of Key Lime Pie. I've never tried Key Lime before because I don't really like Lime at all, but I was feeling adventuress. I now know I don't like Key Lime Pie Either.

But lets rewind a bit. I started the day at the Liberty Bell Memorial Museum in Melbourne. This Museum has two claims to fame. One is the full size replica of the Liberty Bell (minus the crack), and the other is that the museum is in an old cement water tank. Other than that it's kind of Hokey. Displayed along the edge of the round room is a history of the United States. They have a 5 foot paper mache Washington Monument and a Statue of liberty that looks like a mannequin with some green drapes thrown on it. However I did Like the Styrofoam model of the Lincoln Memorial covered with pennies. Fortunately they have the sense not to charge any admission for this.

Next was the National Navy Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, The birthplace of the Navy frogman program. Although it's a small Museum, it is very well done. There are multiple displays that show the tools and weapons the Seals and Underwater Demolition Teams used throughout their history. In the yard outside the museum they have a collection of Boats, Submarines and a helicopter that would have been used as swimmer delivery vehicles.

I swear Burt Reynolds never threw anything away. With all the memorabilia from his career, he had to open a museum. The place is full of photos of every star he ever met. Every award he ever won. Every prop from every movie, except one. Bandit is not here anymore. At one point the Trans Am was on the roof. Then it was in the parking lot. Unfortunately it was getting severely weathered and wasn't looking to good, so Burt took it home to have it restored. Maybe someday it will return. Even though bandit isn't here there are many other things to see, including the canoe and arrows from the movie Deliverance.

I haven't decided what to do tomorrow, I was going to try to take an Airboat ride, But I may just head to Key West and spend a day or two on the beach. Of course a lot of this depends on how crowded the beaches are there and what NASA decides to do.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on April 30, 2011 from Deerfield Beach, United States
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What's for Breakfast? The Terminator

Key West, United States

I've actually been looking forward to this since I left Syracuse. I first saw the Terminator on The Food Network's "Outrageous Foods" and it was outrageous. The Terminator is a 24" pancake made with 1 gallon of batter. This pancake is so big they don't have a plate big enough to serve it on, so they use a pizza pan. As if that isn't enough, they pile on 4 eggs, 6 sausage patties, a pound of Bacon (yes, 1 lbs.), 2 pounds of home fried Potatoes, and Toast. Then they have the nerve to offer for an additional charge to add bananas or blueberries to the pancake. I skipped the extra fruit. I wanted nothing but carbs and cholesterol in my breakfast. If ordering and eating this isn't embarrassing enough, the waitress yells "clear the way, Terminator coming through" all the way across the dining room. After all was said and done, 437 people have tried to finish the Terminator, and still, no one has.

NASA has announced that the shuttle will not launch before May 8th. I need to be back in Syracuse on the 8th. So no shuttle launch for me.

After my Battle with the terminator I decided to head for Key West. I arrived at 3pm with no reservations, and no clue what to expect. I found a hotel a few blocks from the beach and a few blocks from several bars and restaurants. I'm going to hang out here tomorrow, maybe rent a scooter for the day (seems to be the best way to get around). Then head back up the west coast of Florida on Tuesday.

While I was eating dinner I saw this guy outside the restaurant waiting for the light to change to green, eating a burger with one hand, and talking on the phone with the other. A true multitasker. Speaking of dinner, I found a seafood restaurant in Key West!!! I ordered the Summer Seafood Pasta (Finally, some pasta, as if I needed more carbs today), a mix of shrimp and dolphin over a bed of fettuccini with a garlic, white wine and butter sauce. I'm stuffed... Again.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on May 1, 2011 from Key West, United States
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Fun in the Sun

Key West, United States

I figured today was a good day to visit some old Navy and Coast Guard Ships. Not that I wouldn't have visited them anyway, but today was a good day for that.

First thing this morning I took a walk to the nearest scooter rental store. Best thing I ever did. I had a blast all day ridding all over the island on that thing. One of my first stops was to the Southern Most point in the Continental United States.

Then I made a stop at the Hemingway Estate. It's a beautiful House, the grounds are like a jungle with paths weaving their way around to different sitting areas. Of course there are cats and cat Houses everywhere (or should I say Houses for the cats). One of the funnier stories about the property is the drinking fountain for the cats. Someone was remodeling an old bar in the area and Hemingway was able to obtain one of the old urinals from the men’s room. So he laid it down and used it for a drinking fountain for the cats. Hemingway’s wife hated this; so she purchased an Italian Vase and some tile to spruced it up a bit. (You had to know I would find a way to include a picture of a bathroom fixture somehow)

For Dinner I went Italian, Linguine Pescatore. Basically it’s Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, Muscles, calamari, and fish in a spicy tomato broth and of course, Linguine. It was all excellent except the Calamari was very chewy.

Of course every road has a beginning, this is the beginning of Rout 1. Of course I will be heading back North on that road tomorrow.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on May 2, 2011 from Key West, United States
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Drive, Drive, Drive...

Fort Myers, United States

I had a nice long drive today. I started out heading North on the Overseas Highway and then turned left through the Everglades. It wasn’t a very eventful day, just lots of roads and Sunshine.

I had all kinds of plans for finding another seafood restaurant tonight. When I stopped for the day I discovered my hotel was next to Mel's Diner. I searched no more. Mel is famous for his baby back ribs, and that was good enough for me.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's Winter Estates & Museum Then up to Tampa.

permalink written by  Kugs on the road on May 3, 2011 from Fort Myers, United States
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