Saturday, May 31, 2008

Spending Memorial Day in El Jobean and Lemon Bay Park

Last Monday (Memorial Day) I spent a little time exploring my new 'hood. I had heard about historic El Jobean, the post office and the Bean Depot. Apparently, the Bean Depot is THE place in the area to hear good ole' bluegrass music.

I stopped by around noon, hoping to grab a burger, but, discovered it opens at 3 p.m. The lingering odor of hamburgers hung in the air so I know I'll be returning when it's open.

I wandered through Lemon Bay Park and found a gopher tortoise racing me on the two-mile trail. Ain't he sweet? I also saw one in its den.

I then headed to Manasota Key for lunch at the Lock-n- Key Restaurant & Pub. Started with the spicy seafood chowder (yum!) and a blackened grouper sandwich. (Double yum!) Washed it down with sweet lemonade. Ah!

This weekend was Stump Pass Beach State Park (I'm really getting use out of my state park pass) where I picked up a dozen fossilized sharks teeth. I'm taking them to a show with me this week. Plus, I picked up a bit of color. I hate going to trade shows all pasty white, no one believes I'm from Florida!

Where am I heading this week? Vegas, baby!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Snapshots of Micanopy, Florida

I journeyed to Tallahassee over the weekend to clear out the rest of my "things" and clean (a bit. I hired someone to do a proper cleaning). On my way back, I stopped off at the town of Micanopy by chance. My primary destination was Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

I've passed the signs on I-75 for the park dozens of times and figured I wouldn't be this way in a long while so why not, stop off and see where the road leads me.

It led me to the adorable, old Florida town of Micanopy (don't pronounce it like me, it's NOT - my-can-O-pee; PRONOUNCE it - mih-CAN-o-pee) with large Florida oaks dripping with Spanish moss. White magnolia flowers were at their peak of their bloom on the waxy green leaves and I found bright orange tangerines tangling in a nearby yard.

The main street looks like a town from the wild West with brick buildings, sagging and pitted glass and porches with overhangs. I was waiting for cowboys (or Florida Crackers) to come waltzing out of the shops but all I saw were happy antiquers. Some guy was sitting on a wooden bench outside one of the antique shops strumming his guitar.

Ah, this is how life should be on a Sunday afternoon.

Lunch-goers sat on outdoor patios watching the world go by. Some poor soul was hosting a book signing about traveling with his dog. I should have purchased the book from him, his big, sad eyes told me to but I resisted.

But, I did do my patriotic duty and spent some money in Micanopy. I visited the Chamber of Commerce, which doubles as Gallery Under the Oaks, an artists co-op gallery. The art was fabulous. I have a soft spot for folk art and there funky paintings with folksy cows. I resisted. I also resisted the pottery, especially the cute leaf shaped dishes.

I've just spent my savings relocating and should be working on building my savings, but, it's good to support the local economy so I justified my spending by purchasing something I could use. A hand woven throw rug. I know, it doesn't sound exciting, but look at it! (closeup is to the left.) The colors just called my name.

Not sure if I'll ever be able to return, there are so many places to see in the world but this town is absolutely adorable.

There are two fall festivals that look interesting:

35th Annual McIntosh 1890 Festival
- Oct. 18, 2008 (rain or shine)

34th Annual Micanopy Fall Festival - Nov. 1 & 2, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yup, It's Over $4 Per Gallon in Florida

Ouch! Filling my gas tank hurt. It cost me more than 40 bucks to do so yesterday. Florida has joined the $4.00+ club. $4.05 per gallon (of regular fuel) in Lake City. Granted, it was right off I-75 and gas stations are a little more pricier, but this is ridiculous!

My car is paid off in August. I was going to hold out on buying another car as long as I could but with the way things are going, I may trade it in for a hybrid of some kind pretty soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Puerto Ricans Can Vote in the Presidential Primary But My Florida Vote Still Doesn't Count

I drove up to Tallahassee today and on the radio learned Puerto Rico's presidential primary is June 1. As we know, Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory and as citizens, we don't need passports to visit there. It's part of the U.S., sort of...

I was floored to hear that while the Puerto Ricans get to vote in the U.S. Presidential Primary - which means they get a say in who can run for president, they aren't able to vote in November's Presidential Election.

But what made me more confuzeled was while my vote I cast in the January Florida primary won't count towards selecting a 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate, a territory will be able to have a say in who runs but not a final say in who wins.

Granted, I live in Florida and we don't know how to vote so who says my vote will count in November anyway?

Something just doesn't seem right. Why doesn't my vote count to pick a candidate? Why can someone who can't vote in the 2008 Presidential Election be able to select a candidate in the presidential primary? Why can't Puerto Rico vote in the Presidential Election? If I were a Florida Republican, at least half of my vote would have counted in the primary.

Is Rush Limbaugh reading? Sean Hannity? (Yes, I admit to listening to these men's shows.) Howard Dean? Anyone care to share and enlighten me?

Peace River Seafood: Authentic Florida Seafood in Punta Gorda

Non-seafood foodies can stop reading because what I have to say won't interest you. Last night, I had the BEST seafood dinner in a long time, if not ever. My mouth is still watering from the scrumptious feast.

I took my Mom to Peace River Seafood on Hwy. 17 in Punta Gorda for blue crabs and shrimp. It's an absolute Florida cracker crab shack in an old Florida Cracker House. Out back is a petting zoo with goats, bunnies, chickens and ducks and a black pirate flag with the white skull and cross bones reading "Surrender the Booty." The porch has a parrot greeting visitors (maybe it belongs to a pirate?).

Absolutely everything on the menu is seafood brought in daily by 17 fishermen and crabbers. It isn't fancy, it's the exact opposite. Come as you are is the best way to describe the atmosphere.

We opted to sit outside at one of the wooden picnic tables with the live entertainment (a guitar player) who serenaded us with Jimmy Buffet, Eagles and other acoustic/folk music.

The blue crabs (they're blue before being steamed) were the highlight complemented with a half pound of shrimp (they were giant!) and French fries. The seafood was seasoned with a special blend of spices, similar to Old Bay Seasoning.

Being our first time for blue crabs, we had our waiter show us how to peel and eat them. I'm not going to go into that, I don't remember the names of the parts but it's a lot of work and well worth it. The fun part was smashing the claws with the wooden mallet.

Whack!

I'd advise wearing goggles for eye protection, and a bib for clothing protection. Indulging in the crab means you'll get messy. A roll of paper towels are at each table and a sink is conveniently located by the outside tables.

Friday and Saturday nights, all-you-can-eat blue crabs are $20 (except for holiday weekends). Half a dozen steamed blue crabs (called the Peace River Princess Plate) is $17.95 while a dozen (called Pirates Choice) is $32.95. The Boat Run Special (half a dozen mediums) is $10.95.

Half a pound of Dog Leg Shrimp (headless) is $9.95. A Night at Whorehouse Point, which is a pound of shrimp, a dozen clams and a dozen oysters is $24.95 - that's what I'm having next time.

Each day is a soup of the day but get there early, only one pot is made and it's gone when dinner rolls around. Fridays, it's gator gumbo - yum!

Peace River Seafood is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. but if you want crabs, get there before 7 p.m., they don't serve them after that. Reservations not taken. Dress is casual. On site is a seafood market, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Peace River Seafood
5337 Duncan Road
Punta Gorda FL 33982
Tel: (941) 505-8440

Exit 164 off I-75.

Prices subject to change, check with the restaurant.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ladies, I Don't Want to Know if You've Used One...

I received a "tip" today about something really unique and quirky in Port Charlotte, a "she-urinal." So, I stopped off at the Dairy Queen at exit 170 of I-75.

And there it is, in a private bathroom with a standard toilet. How does it work? I don't know from personal experience but from what I understand, ladies are suppose to grab a fresh cup (see the dispenser to the left) and insert it on the hose, then go!

I know what you're thinking, "gross." I'm thinking that, too. In its defense, it looked clean but I just don't see the point, unless someone has issues sitting down or doesn't like sitting on used toilet seats.

Apparently, this isn't the only Dairy Queen with a she-urinal, at least according to Urinal.net.

Why did I stop by to see it? I had to see it to believe it, plus, I have a soft spot for toilets, remember my article on using a Japanese toilet?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Look to the Right. This Blog's Been Nominated for a Blogger's Choice Award (!!!)

Yippee! See the badge over to the right? See what it says? My friend Matt over at Waiguoren Critic of South China nominated this blog for the "Best Blog About Stuff" in the Blogger's Choice Awards. Kinda ironic, after moving this last time, I've realized how much "stuff" I have. I know, that's not what the nomination's about, it's just ironic.

So go ahead and vote for me, as of now, I don't have any votes (wasn't sure if it was Kosher to vote for myself). You'll have to register to play but I'm worth it, right?

My site was nominated for Best Blog About Stuff!

While you're at it, be sure to vote for the Waiguoren Critic. And, I'll have to pay it forward and get off my keister to vote for some of my fave blogs.

Edited: May 21, 2008
Doh! This blog has also been nominated for a Blogitzer :)

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hello Charlotte Harbor, I'm Here!

I'm settling into my new life and my community. I'm debating whether to start a Charlotte Harbor, Florida blog but I think I'm going to move forward with the business plan I wrote while attending the Wakulla Green Guide classes.

Anyway, I spent Sunday in Punta Gorda walking the adorable historic district. The downtown reminded me a bit of Key West, Fla. and Beaufort, SC (outside Hilton Head). It's charming, cute and coastal. It's also unpretentious in a sweet way.

Each home has its own story to tell, some with ceiling fans hanging from porch ceilings, others with hot tin roofs. Adding to the charm are the red bricked side streets and view of Charlotte Harbor.

The hot and steamy temperatures makes it ideal for flowers to bloom and vibrant color was everywhere. My favorite find was a group of purple orchids growing from a palm tree.

I also noticed Punta Gorda's art, like the one pictured here outside the city's chamber of commerce building. After wandering around, I cooled off with some homemade ice cream (raspberry with chocolate chips) at Cubby's (264 W Marion Ave).

Next was a visit to Fisherman's Village to wander the shops (the Florida wine tasting was tempting at one of the shops but I was good) and grab some lunch at Harpoon Harry's (a pirate is the mascot, how could I not have lunch there?) - a seafood feast with a harbor view. I confessed to the waitress I didn't have room for dessert, since I had dessert first.

Before leaving, I spent a sobering visit at the Military Heritage & Aviation Museum (at Fisherman's Village). The museum captures American military history all the way to the present war in Iraq. The museum has big things planned and it's going to be exciting living in Charlotte Harbor when it all happens.

In the short time I've been here, I'm learning the community is at a cross roads. I'm here during the beginnings of a renaissance and am looking forward to being part of it.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sarasota 5th Annual Firefighter Rib Cook-Off: Firefighters Know Smoky

Saturday was the 5th Annual Firefighter Rib Cook-Off at Phillippi Estate Park so my Mom and I headed out to the festivities. (Mom's in town because my Grandma is having health issues. Anyway...)

We arrived at the rib cook-off shortly after 2 p.m., which is when the event started, which means, we didn't have to wait in line too long.

The way it worked:
15 bucks bought a card valid for four ribs from any of the dozen or so fire stations who prepared the ribs. Yes, only FOUR - it was hard to choose.
Also included was a choice of two sides and a beverage.

Decisions, decisions. Some of the fire stations had samples but for the most part, I just went on looks to determine what to choose. From sweet to smoky and spicy to tangy, I think I tried the best.

And who won? Not sure, we didn't stick around that long, we headed to Jolly Espresso Bar, Gelato-Pastry 's (1296A N Palm Ave., Sarasota) for gelato - yum! A flashback to Italy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

McDonald's Offering Free Southern Style Chicken Biscuit or Sandwich May 15!

I tell ya, McDonald's keeps getting better by the day. Tomorrow, Thursday, May 15, the fast food restaurant is giving away (yes, that means FREE) Southern Style Chicken Biscuits (7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.) and Southern Style Chicken Sandwiches (10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.) with the purchase of a medium or large beverage.

Anything FREE is a friend of the single gal or anyone watching the pocketbook.

I've had both the chicken biscuit and sandwich (they had FREE days in Tallahassee earlier this month) and they are YUM! From what I understand, the chicken products are meant to compete with my beloved Chick-fil-A, who's also a good friend of the single gal with their FREE (and more frequent) promotions.

Yes, I know. I need to find healthier friends. No, I just need to make healthier choices when I visit these friends.

Monday, May 12, 2008

McDonald's: I'm Really Lovin' It

All this moving and traveling lately has made me a patron of McDonald's. I try to stay away from fast food but I have to admit, it's pretty darn convenient.

I've noticed the McDonald's I've been stopping at have been pretty fancy. I suppose the appeal of Micky D's is that the food is consistent and everyone knows where to find the bathrooms (and no purchase necessary to use the restrooms!). Now it's fun to stop by and see what the decor is like. To the left is Bushnell, Florida (off I-75) and to the right is Slidell, LA (off I-10, on my way back from the Tourism Cares cleanup in New Orleans). I was even at one with a cascading waterfall inside and in Asheville, NC across from the Biltmore Estate, the McDonald's has a piano in the lobby.

During a time when the economy is slowing down, McDonald's is getting it right. Have you tried the flavored iced coffee? Yum! And better on the wallet than Starbuck's (sorry). Have you noticed the two for $2.00 (or even $1.00) specials? Have you noticed how upscale and comfortable the interiors are getting?

Change is happening at McDonald's and change is good.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Syesha Mercado's Free Concert at Sarasota's Ringling Museum

Connections. I have them and use them when absolutely necessary, especially when they're going to give me bragging rights, like yesterday. My Sarasota friends granted me a VIP pass to Syesha Mercado's "American Idol" hometown visit at the Ringling Museum and I had a blast. It's not that I'm an "American Idol" fan (these days, I only watch the auditions) but when local talent is involved, my interest is piqued and I get caught up in the energy. How can you not support the local gal?

Read my article here (which is currently being featured on the homepage of Associated Content - pretty cool). Photos from the concert with Syesha Mercado: Sye (upper left), Fox 13 Tampa Bay newsman Charley Belcher (upper right), "Syclones" (bottom left) and "American Idol" gear.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

American Idol Syesha Mercado to Perform Free Concert in Sarasota - Tomorrow!

OK, I should be unpacking boxes and putting my new life in order, but as you know, I'm a reality TV nut, especially when I have a connection with a show. This season's American Idol has Sarasota resident Syesha Mercado in the final three and guess what? She's coming home to Sarasota tomorrow (Friday, May 9th) to perform a free concert at the Ringling Museum.

Read more about Syesha's Sarasota homecoming here.

Oh, I will be at her concert so expect an update from there, too.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sorry I Haven't...

...posted or commented lately. This moving business has really gotten in the way! Plus, I don't have Internet access and won't until Friday when my new digs get it up and running. I hope to be "back to normal" real soon.