Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rolling south without the coach

As you know from Tuesday's blog, I did get up Wednesday for the sunrise over Lake Griffin which was pretty amazing all by itself, and if that had been the high point of my day, that would have been just fine.......however, our hosts, Jim and Jacque Crehan, had big plans for Wednesday, and we are always game for adventure, and new places.  

But, before any of that could happen TLE needed a trim to her coiff so she drove into Leesburg with Jacque around 9:30 while I puttered around in the trailer getting some of the new bike part acquisitions cleaned up, and sealed in ziploc baggies against the salt air, and humidity.

Sometime between 11 and Noon the gang arrived (Jim, Jacque, Jake and Claudia) in Jim's Buick SUV and we headed south 108 miles to St. Petersburg.....of course that means traversing the Tampa traffic, which seems to be a challenge most the day.......kind of gave me flashbacks to Southern California traffic.   We spent our two hour drive chatting and laughing.

Courtesy Florida Orange Groves & Winery website

Our first destination was a favorite winery of Jim and Jacque's called Florida Orange Groves and Winery......their specialty is making wines out of fruit....oranges, of course, blackberries, blueberries, guavas, limes, etc.  They only make one wine with grapes, and that is the muscadine grape, which is native to Florida, and they have a few acres of them growing on the property.   We did a wine tasting, and frankly I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wines.  I ended up buying a bottle of Orange Sunshine (a premium dry orange wine), and TLE bought a bottle of Florida Grapefruit.  We rarely buy a bottle of wine at the places we taste wine, so that we did this time should tell you something about the quality.  Jim and Jacque apparently first visited them just after they opened for business back in the late 90's.

By the time we finished transferring money to Florida Orange Groves & Winery it was going on 2 pm, and we were all getting hungry.  I pulled up my Yelp app on my Droid and zeroed in on a place called Dockside Dave's Grill which was rated by over 20 reviewers at 4.5 stars on a scale of 1-5.....that's pretty good.  According to several reviews their Blackened Grouper Sandwhich was the best in Pinellas County....well, that's quite a claim, so we decided to check it out.

Jacque, Claudia and Jake....that's the best pic I could take while still sitting down!

 TLE had the Shrimp Tacos.....very good...she let me have a bite

 My Blackened Grouper Sandwich...enormous

Our waitress kept us in stitches, which made our meal even more sandwich was almost enough for two meals......this was some of the best blackened fish I have had in a long, long time....the seasoning was spectacular.  I gave this establishment 5 stars in my Yelp review.

Afterwards, in order to work off some of the caloric intake at Dockside Dave's we headed over the St. Petersburg beach and spent close to an hour walking up and down the beautiful white sand beach.  When we started our trip it was overcast and cool, but by the time we arrived at the beach the sun had burst out, and it was pleasant walking barefoot in the water strolling slowly down the beach.

A passing strange snapped this picture using Jacque's phone camera....came out great!

By the time we finished our walk it was after 5 pm, and we still had a 2 hour drive home....well, it would have been 2 hours except for rush hour in Tampa.  It took about an hour just to get past the bad traffic and back on I-75 for our drive worries, we're retired, and who is in a hurry anymore?

As we drove up I-75 Jim shared that he had a hankering for some ice cream, so we all began a search on our smart phones for a DQ, but there appeared to be none between us and Fruitland Park.  Someone in the car found one a few miles off exit 339, which was our exit anyway, however, when we arrived at the address there was none to be found....:(  This is where serendipity comes in.....if we had not deviated from the road we were supposed to take over to Fruitland in search of the DQ (that didn't exisit) we would never have passed Mystic Ices and Creams about 1 mile from "home".....we were driving along having accepted the "death" of our ice cream dream when out of the corner of my eye I see a subtly lit sign in a small strip mall "Mystic Ices and Creams".....I nudged Jim saying "I just saw an ice cream place on the right, back about 1/2 a block", so he turns around and we head first we can't tell if it is open, or not, but sure enough they were open.  They make their own homemade ice creams right on the premises, and are they amazingly smooth and creamy!

Jim Markow, the proprietor

Their offerings

I chose the Cherry Cream.....the ice cream, by the way, is served in waffle bowls, so when you are done with the ice cream you get to eat the the waffle bowl!  We all sat there eating great ice cream and listening to 50's Doo Wop music for about 30 minutes.....what a great ending to a day of was great to be chauffeured around by Jim....thank you Jim for driving!

Thursday we head southward again about 60 miles to Zephyrhills, FL to visit the McBee's and Franscone's......more of our friends.  It will be great to spend a couple of days visiting with them outside the context of

Thanks for stopping by!

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