Florida Trip 2015

Greetings all,

Before a post about the re-release of "The Newfoundland Vampire" (book 1, April 24th from Distinguished Press), I wanted to give my usual thoughts on our holiday down south. I’ve been home about 2 weeks and have had enough to reflect (and take a break from

watching Daredevil, which is really good!). We were in Florida (I won’t say exactly where, just on the Atlantic side and central) about 3.5 weeks. The weather was excellent (it almost always is) with just two cooler days and two afternoons of rain. For the first 4 days it was a very busy house with 8 of us (my wife and I, my parents, my brother and his wife and their two kids). I love my niece and nephew but boy are they noisy! (They’re 4 and 2) I’m just not using to being in a house with small kids for anymore than 5-6 hours but we had some laughs, went out to dinner one night and had some fun times in the pool.

586  Speaking of the pool there’s me in it. One day my Dad decided to add some more water with a hose, forgot to turn it off and the pool was overflowing. It’s not easy to tell from the picture. It the end it wasn’t a big deal (they are on a well and don’t pay for water) but it was different to swim in it being so full. But enough about pools. I have a routine I try to follow, I like to go for a bike ride in the morning, a swim until lunchtime and then do some reading/writing/watching TV/take my wife shopping or get more exercise in the afternoon (there is a punching bag and weights as well). You’d think with all that exercise I’d lose weight but no, the nonstop supply of cheap beer, chips, nuts, pies, chocolate, popcorn and eating out made it just the opposite but spring is almost here in NL and I’m back in a much healthier routine.

One of the cool things I found was a movie theater nearby that served alcohol! I know in other parts of Canada that’s no big deal but we don’t have a theater with alcohol in NL, so I was please. It was Carmike Cinemas, a very nice chain (though getting the reusable bucket of popcorn was a mistake). You can look back at my blog to see all the movies I watched.

TheMeltingPot Staying with the food theme, we went to a lot of restaurants. One of the most interesting ones was called The Melting Pot. It’s a fondue restaurant where you cook almost every park of the meal yourself and do it right at your booth! Quite a unique idea and the different dipping sauces did make for some delicious choices. It did find they gave a little too much food (that seems to often be the case with a lot of restaurants now) and the service was a little slow at the Melbourne location. Overall though a unique dining experience and one I’d recommend if you want to relax with good food and friendly staff.

My favorite restaurant there in terms of food is The Jungle. It’s an organic restaurant with lots of vegetarian options and is different because it has it’s own supermarket (which often stays open late when people are eating). They have the most unique carrot cake (it’s raw) and the best soup I’ve ever had (Butternut Squash). Of course we ate there (like we do every year). They only two things I would change if offer the Butternut soup consistently and be open more evenings (it’s just Friday and Saturday nights).

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If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know I’m a huge animal lover, as such I love to see different animals from NL (and gently interact with them if possible). In FL this year I was lucky enough to spot a turtle crossing the road (sorry don’t have a joke for it). As you can see he was a little shy so I didn’t try to touch him or move him. The frog was very friendly and had much different colors that the ones we have here. The rooster, well I know they can be almost anywhere but in Key West, FL they literally are everywhere. Which leads to the next part of our trip.

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All of the above pics are taken from the Key West part of our trip. I enjoy going to Key West as it’s the most different part of FL, much more Caribbean with no malls (at least in the part we go to), cobblestone streets, older builders, lots of outdoor bars (lots of bars period!), all sorts of local artwork and buskers and is an interesting combination of a place to relax/party town. We stayed at a great spot called Cayo Hueso Resort. The owner, Joyce, was very friendly and accommodating. She had food and beer in the fridge for us, snacks in the house and let us check out a full hour and half later on the day we left. It was in a good location as we were close to main tourist area, Duval Street. Key West has an amazing mix of people, all the way from families, to spring-breakers, to old hippies, to tourists like us and everything in between. Being outside at a restaurant and just watching people is certainly entertaining, especially as guys are loaded drunk by 6pm at night (two men I saw didn’t even have shoes.)  As much as I enjoy Key West, this year I found some drawbacks (I know some are them are just because I’m getting older). There were so many people! I’m not a fan of crowds and there were a couple of times we had to leave places because of people, Mallory square in particular had an incredible amount the night we were there. Almost everything there is very expensive and finding decent food to cook for yourself was difficult (especially since I’m vegetarian). But I don’t want to just dwell on negative, I met some really nice and interesting people, had some great meals (the selection of vegetarian and gluten-free offerings has grown), hung out in some nice bars and pubs and had an enjoyable night at a pub crawl (drinking is cheap in Key West in case you hadn’t guessed.)

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You can see a selection of the drinks we had and the deal for serious drinkers (I don’t know if I’d bother with it now in my late 30s). I enjoyed the pub crawl but due to be being a larger group I would recommend the off-Duval crawl more (which sadly seems to be gone) if you’re an older more low-key guy like me. Key West is known for live music and almost every bar (all day, all night) and it was very enjoyable to have lunch and be able to make requests. My favorite bars would remain Sloppy Joe’s, Capt Tony’s (which has a tree in the middle of it!)  and World of Beers (a much newer one that is a chain).

This year we got there by Key West Express (a boat) and while it’s certainly easier than driving (unless you don’t mind being in gridlock for 1.5+ don’t do it!) I don’t think I’d do it again. Going down is fine, you get on early (around 7:30 or 8am) and you are in Key West by 12:30pm. Going back though the boat doesn’t leave until 6pm, you’re not back in Fort Meyers Beach until almost 10pm and then (at least for us) we drove for over 3 hours to get back to the house. Extremely long day, I’m at the point now where I’ll just pay whatever it costs to fly, whenever we go back that is.

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I guess this post proves I’m a "foodie", I do love to eat out and I try to find interesting and different places to do so. As such I can’t end my discussion of Key West without talking about Better Than Sex. This is a dessert only restaurant and it was delicious. It was a lovely atmosphere inside, dark and the wall was covered with pictures of naked women (tasteful pics, not porn). Each dessert hand a sexual innuendo in the name and the menu was on an iPad (I like gadgets and I have seen several restaurants do this). The food was delicious, relaxing atmosphere and great staff. It was, however, very expensive ($90 for the two of us with just 2 desserts and 3 drinks total) and I found it to be too much food (since we had already eaten supper). That said, I would go back again, just maybe with less food in beforehand.

The last restaurant of interest was BurgerFi in Key West. It specialized in burgers (obviously) but was not greasy, had delicious fries and onions rings and a good veggie patty. I also liked how you could sit outside and I could even have Gluten-free (in a much different way, a veggie burger wrapped in lettuce!). A lovely place, I’d call it upscale takeout and I would certainly go back (they are a chain).

I didn’t get any new writing done but I did finish almost all of the editing for the re-release of "The Newfoundland Vampire" and I read lots of comics (Afterlife with Archie & Star Wars: Vader ) and relaxed. While I didn’t get to a concert I did get to see Jay Leno. He was really good, not as funny as Seinfeld (the first time I saw him) but worth the trip. It was at the Sunrise Theater (a nice place, though very crowded) in Fort Pierce, about an hour from our FL house.

I like Flea Markets and I went to one twice, aside from cheap food there was a great deal on comics (40 for $20) and played some poker at another place nearby (only broke even after 2 visits). And that sums it up, overall we had a great trip. FL will always be my second home. The next few weeks will focus on Sci-Fi on the Rock and my book re-release but I’m sure I’ll do some movie reviews too. I’m 3/4 of the way through a book as well, so that review will be probably June or July, have a great day everyone and I’ll talk to you soon.

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