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Friday, January 27, 2012

armed with food provisions and inspiration

the open road took us through florida and into alabama for an overnight at florala state park.   a very small campground, the park surrounds a lake and campers set up along the edge.  

the site with the best view happened to be occupied by an interesting couple who have been living at the campground for the past two months.  they were very helpful in getting our fire started and shared their success behind camping for the past two months:  a 12 person tent for 2 with a 32 in screen television, DVD player, microwave and freezer.  outside of the tent was a slender rectangle tent with a shower and toilet.  they were a wealth of knowledge about the area, specifically the campground and the happenings around it.  they informed us that the dollar store sells beer, bringing beer from another state on Sunday would result in a find AND they'll take your beer, and lastly, that often times one could see the planes flying up from "pepsi-cola".  pretty sure she meant pensacola...we were grateful for their help with the fire!

with the fire roaring, it was time to get cooking.  keeping it simple, we made a soup with cauliflower and sorrel, from the audobon community market, and finished off some quinoa casserole leftovers. after enjoying the candlelit meal and cleaning up, it was time to get some rest for a quick stop in new orleans the following day.

who needs a fast food drive-thru or convenient store?  it is so much more efficient and delicious to travel with a few basic ingredients!  utilizing some of the treats tony sent us with, our breakfast on-the-go consisted of tupelo honey peanut butter from the audobon community market and big wheel plant city strawberry preserves on fresh german multi-grain bread.  absolutely delicious, healthy, and mindful of the environment!

here's another one of our  in-car snacks:  crackers, hummus (made from scratch and brought from home), with some womanchego from the ct farmer's market

using an app called "localscope", we were able to find a quaint coffee shop in the outskirts of mobile, al and made a much needed coffee stop.  the latte was's hard being spoiled by amber at the green!

the decision to stop in new orleans for lunch was a last minute one and after some input we decided to start at acme oyster house (another "place to see before you die").  

we started with 1/2 a dozen oysters on the half shell...

and finished with the char-grilled, as recommended by the server.  we washed it down with the local abita amber

after the snack, we took the dog on a walk through louis armstrong park near the french quarter.

the next stop was the napoleon house bar and cafe.  the pims cup was perfections and the muffaletta outstanding!  the waiters are traditionally clad with tuxedo shirts and ties and are pleasantly accommodating.

in search of an internet connection to do some blog posting, we checked in with every cafe we could, only to find that there was no access anywhere!  thoroughly disappointed by the lack of wi-fi in the new orleans cafe scene we walked to cafe du monde in hopes of a beignet.  the line juice bar long and we were itching to hit the road, so we decided to wait until we make another trip back!

with the sun setting, we maneuvered our way out of the city in hopes of making it to texas...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

it's good to be "home" -a pete perspective

"hello everybody, pete here"

it's been a while since we have been to indialantic, fl, which is where my mother and her husband dennis live.  i have to say that it was great to get back to the old stomping grounds.

after a three hour drive south from st. augustine, we got to wayne ave in indialantic.  we were greeted with hugs and kisses as we toted our luggage and escher into the house.  we were glad to be off the road.  mom had a chicken and wild rice soup brewing so our bellies were glad too. as our bellies would be for the remainder of the stay!  mom and dennis were our gourmet hosts... we all enjoyed many great meals. dennis's great pasta casserole, and moms guiness meatballs were among the highlights.

guiness meatballs, cheddar chive mashed potatoes, and sauteed cabbage

tinker, tailer, soldier spy was the first order of business on our first day.  we went to oaks cinema ten where we enjoyed the fantastic film. anything "focus films" puts out is fantastic. Go See It!

 view of the mossy oaks in the cinema parking lot

after the movie, my friends at Optique Unique were very accommodating.  they all stayed a little late to help me get some new specs, along with some great tips for western travel.  thank you dr. thomas for making us stop in new orleans (we'll blog about that stop later).

we were also glad see all our friends back home. urcan, booger, snoop, alex, don, roof, and sarah just a few as the list would be never ending.  we also got to see sarah, dennis's daugter and her husband brett and their little baby graham.

escher loved graham, because graham would let escher lick the food off his face.

the next day i wanted to take a dip in the pool, which is a must every visit home.  i under estimated the temp though and it was so cold it took my breath away.  shortly after the "i was in the pool!" "i was in the pool!" (seinfeld), we went up to the boardwalk and got BIZARRO'S, new york style pizza...

with slices the size of you face.

next we went to wickham park where there is a pretty cool disc golf course.  the course itself is very forgiving with many wide open fairways.

there are twenty-two holes, with last, a par three over water, a favorite.

indialantic is about an hour and a half away from orlando, home of universal studios and islands of adventure.  the wizarding world of harry potter, which was under construction the last time we were there, is now open and operating.  what more would two huge harry potter fans want?!  and then there's icing on the cake...our friend leah is working in orlando for big wheel provisions, the brain child of one of her culinary inspirations, tony adams.   she invited us to the audubon park community market where the bw food truck was serving up some the most flavorful, fresh, and local eats every tasted.  check out the schmorgasboard...literally!

the schmorgasboard open-faced sandwich special

the cheesy tots

and the brussel sprouts were among a few of the delicious menu items we were treated to!

the next morning, adrenaline is pumping.  leah joined us at are hotel across the street from the park and we hopped on the shuttle, arriving before the park opens.  we already had our tickets, so we booked it back to harry potter's wizarding world.  walking through the arch welcoming you to hogsmeade took our breath away.  the construction of everything is magical and you really feel like you are inside the books.

with a wait of only 10 minutes, the three of us jumped in line for "the forbidden journey" which has been given a lot of hype.

winding through maze of bars to get to where it starts, the riders get to walk through some memorable areas of hogswart which build up the anticipation.  the ride seats four in a booth style car, with individual seats and harnesses.  once you're in there's no turning back, and POOF, you're sent up the chimney with floo powder!  bits and pieces of the ride were well thought out, however, overall, the simulation was dark and blurry and the effects were under par.  with everyone in agreement, we were happy that we only waited for 10 minutes!  our highlights were the spiderman ride and the rip ride rocket.  emily overcame some fears by going on the jurassic park ride and keeping her eyes open on the spiderman ride.

windblown from a ride, leah and emily rocked some "dallas" hair.

leaving the park, we met up with tony at lee and rick's oyster bar.  this place looks like a total dive yet is an oyster lover's dream on the inside.  belly up to the turquoise bar, place your order, and sit back while your server shucks each oyster right in front of you!

we stayed the evening with leah and tony.  not feeling so great, it was nice to save the drive home for the morning.  tony made us an amazing meal of...

skate wing, farro, corn and tomato salsa, pea shoots, yellow foot mushrooms, and spinach.  

 on top of the amazing hospitality, he sent us home with a huge goodie bag of big wheel treats!

escher was happy to be able to run around in the yard,

rest in the sun, and tease the neighbor's dog, marley, through the fence.

for our last day in indialantic we wanted to take a bike tour of the town.  our friends dan and alex let us borrow their bikes for the trek.

the weather that day was ideal for a cruise. seventy five degrees with a light wind from the north. we rode along the indian river stopping at various points to check out the scenery.

then we rode a quarter mile east to the atlantic ocean.  indialantic is a barrier island sandwiched by   the river to the west with a small stretch of land  to the ocean on the east. not much wave action that day, though it was nice to walk on the warm sand. as the day was coming to an end we returned the bikes and concluded our tour.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"the in between" pt. 1

shortly after crossing the georgia border, the rain subsided.  in need of some major leg stretching, we stopped at the tallulah gorge state park, on the south carolina border.  the visuals were stunning, even through the foggy mist, and the park was well-maintained.  walking through the recreation office offered a good laugh as it reminded us immensely of the show parks and recreation.

imagine using this...


to walk across the gorge 750 ft below

following another recommendation from foodie friend leah, we headed towards atlanta en route to dekalb market.  holy cannoli!  this massive market looks like a warehouse from the outside with meat, seafood, and produce departments, each the size of a convenient store.  the staff represents a rainbow of cultures and are at every corner ready to help.  completely overwhelmed with the possibilities, it was necessary to stick to a small list this time around.  (there are plans to return in the future for a full-fledge shopping spree!)  having success baking with chia flour over the holidays, we grabbed some in bulk along with chia seeds.  (learn more about the health benefits of chia.)  we were able to purchase 31 oz for a fair price.  a great wine selection offered a perfect hostess gift and the market-made, hot, Italian sausage for pete's mom and step-dad inspired a yummy dinner.  stopping there allowed for us to totally maneuver around the city and miss the rush hour traffic!

we cut through the state diagonally, heading southwest on I-23 towards ponte vedra, fla, just south of jacksonville for a last minute visit with one of pete's best friends, kris, and his fiancĂ©, jenny.  arriving on the later side, we were so grateful for the clean, comfy space and were greeted with homemade chili.  escher made a new friend in their dog cash, and we look forward to celebrating with them in november at their wedding!

the next morning offered much better driving conditions!

hearing good things about st. Augustine and interested in something fresh, local, and yummy for lunch, it seemed like a perfect place to stop.  after a little restaurant research, the floridian cafe, a local farm to table joint, looked most appealing.

fried green tomatoes, pickled veggies, house-made pimento cheese spread and buttermilk ranch, served with artisan bread

oh yeah, that bite looks good!

arugula salad with roasted fennel, grapefruit segments, red pepper, goat cheese and a raspberry dijon vinaigrette

local fluke spicy melt

located in the northeast section of florida, st. augustine offers a beautiful blend of history with tourism and is easy to walk.  the city was founded in 1565 by pedro menĂ©ndez de aviles and  just happens to be the oldest continuously occupied european-established city and port in the continental u.s.

onward to pete's stomping grounds!