Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Clark's Fish Camp - Jacksonville FL

Do you ever just want to go out and get a nice plate of Antelope and don't know where to go? Well I found this great place called Clark's Fish Camp on The Travel Channel and decided to check it out. 

Even though I had seen it on TV, it is way more impressive in person. A little out of the way unless you actually plan to make it a destination on your vacation - which I did. 

I know for a fact I've never seen as many big game critters all in one place. Not taxidermy-ed any way. Of course where was my camera - in the car. Another case of cell phone being the best camera I had with me.  

But I didn't come here for the very quiet and fresh smelling zoo animals. I came to add one more notch to the strange things I will eat. Octopus, Rattle Snake, Alligator, Ostrich, and kangaroo to name a few. 

Of course to my dismay and bad timing, they were fresh out of Antelope. I settled for Yak. Delicious! Then since I was there - Camel. Both had a beef like flavor, not gamey at all, but not a drop of fat. I know when cooking wild boar you need to really watch your temp and time so as not to turn it into jerky or leather. I have to hand it to the chefs. Both dishes were melt in your mouth delicate to chew but with a strong, yet not at overpowering flavor. They both were seasoned just enough to enhance but not disguise the flavor. 

As I often do - I like to get to a place at the crack of open. Taking photos was like shooting big game in Africa at the turn of the last century and no customers to block my view. By the time I was enjoying my coffee, several bus loads of visitors were filling the place up. 

They have plenty of pedestrian selections on the menu. My food timid friend was going for a far less adventurous meal. I convinced her to try the Buffalo.  Yes indeed - another winner. 

If you are passing through it's a must stop. If you can survive I-95 straight through Jacksonville this will be a very pleasant break at the roads end. I am still wanting that Antelope so I will be paying another visit on my next pass by. 

Yak = Yum

OK Travel Channel - I checked out one of your top tens. It's time you stopped ignoring my letters and give back by checking out my greatest fan Red Nomad Oz. She will give you a tour of Australia worth writing home about. Or filming and airing like you do.

(Sorry about the Kangaroo Red but it's Delicious)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Pirates House - Savannah GA

I have only a few outstanding memories of my childhood. As I have gotten older,,, much older,, I have made it a point to visit those moments and places with new eyes. 

When I was 16 or so, Dad took my three younger sisters and I on a trip from Philadelphia to Disney. In the summer, packed into a car with no AC, to Florida. There is a lot I've tried to forget about that trip including my first, third degree sun burn. There was one memorable moment I've wanted to relive a long time. A stop over in Savannah and dinner at The Pirates House


I can't really explain why this place is so vivid to me. Maybe it was the first time I was on a real road trip. The first and best seafood platter I ever ate in my life. The town of Savannah. The riverfront. I don't know. I've had that same feeling about several places from my youth. This was the most vivid and the last one on the list I wanted to revisit. 

I tried to stop by two times in the past but could not quite make the time. I was determined. In fact I picked a hotel within walking distance to ensure success. Imagine my horror to find the place under major renovation......

Luckily upon further inspection of the sign, I discovered they were to re-open on the last day of our visit. 

No lines, no wait, incredible food and service. The entire place to myself. A flood of memories from a much simpler time in my life and a new memory to carry long into the future. I'm sure I can't be the only one who does this. What memories from your childhood have you returned to and what was your experience? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Life is full of Second Chances

Many years ago I took my daughter to Savannah. As much as I wanted to explore the city end to end, she did not.

We took the sight seeing trolley then we pushed on to St Augustine back then. We still had a remarkable vacation but for many years I have dreamed of revisiting and really experiencing the food, the architecture, and the people of this town.


Most of you who know me, know I put a lot of effort into planning my trips. Not this one. It was done last minute and on the fly with a few days open. I had a certain number of goals and they were all met. If I had researched a little more I would have added a few of the many museums I stumbled upon. Maybe a third chance is in the future.


So why you may ask are there so few people in such a vibrant city? Well one of the additional and unexpected goals was to test myself against the elements. I have long dreamed of moving back up north again. But after 35 years in the tropics, I may not be able to.


The verdict on this trip. The people of Savannah are far warmer than the January temperature of 37 degrees in the morning. I spent two full days outside in that cold. I managed to grudgingly enjoy it. I don't think I can make it a part of my life. Savannah on the other hand is a town I could easily see myself living in. It seems everyone walks, half of them have a dog, all of them smile when you pass, and everyone everywhere was polite. Now maybe it was because we were the only tourists they had seen that day but I got the impression it was their normal state.


DSC_6776We did come across this lion on the last day but I think he was sad because we were leaving. I had some of the best food I've eaten in a long time. Mostly seafood and a little down home Southern at Paula Dean's place Lady and Sons. You will not go hungry in Savannah, that is for sure. Thirsty either. I like a nice hand made beer now and again and it seemed every place we stopped stocked one or two. I could have very easily added a third and forth day to this trip and still spent little time in the hotel. Our accommodations were excellent and affordable at the Staybridge as well as so perfectly situated that we didn't need to move the car. 
DSC_6558I'm glad I was given this second chance and I'm quite pleased I made the most of the opportunity. There are so many places I've been that I would like to revisit with a new enthusiasm. So many I passed by and wished I hadn't. Even more I never had time for and now I want to make the time. I took my daughter to places my father took me when I was her age. This being one of them. I've been doing the second chance thing a long time and I hope she visits those places with her children one day. 

I think most everyone has the same situation in their lives. Not everyone tries to correct it. I have been on a mission to explore for a long time and will continue to do so till I just simply wear out trying. 

Cathedral of St John the Baptist 

For more photos from this trip [click here] 

Forsythe Park

Sweetwater Branch Inn - Gainesville FL

I like to travel - a lot - and most of the time a simple hotel will do. My goal is usually to sleep when I can no longer explore. Every once in a while, I like to make the resting place the destination.

Gainesville is a primarily a college town and my visit was planned around the Hoggestowne Medieval Faire. Since my traveling companion has slightly more than a passing interest in these events, I decided a quaint B&B in the town she went to college would be the perfect days end destination.

Gainesville is positively brimming over with B&B's but the Sweetwater Branch Inn caught my interest. There was a larger selection of rooms across several buildings for one. Two, it was located exactly where I needed to be for a special surprise. Three, I found the perfect room at a price I could afford.


Accessing the parking lot was a bit tricky. I suffer severe parking anxiety so that is probably all me. From the moment we met the person at check in, all fear was gone. Not only is the place beautiful, the staff is extremely welcoming and the room could not have been better. We picked a crazy day with a wedding party in full swing but honestly, we never heard a sound outside the room.


On our visit, it was way too cold to sit on the patio so we had our breakfast in the formal dining room. One of the things about B&B's in my experience is you meet the most interesting people. An author heading out to a lecture, engineer who dropped his daughter off at college, and a retired couple living life to the fullest.


I often say, how did this lifestyle and these homes go out of style. A few electric lights and a little plumbing and it is the perfect way to live. Maybe one day we will all give up the fast cars, cheap construction, and the stressful lives we endure and go back to this age of a slower pace, nicer people, and finer craftsmanship.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hoggetowne Medieval Faire - 2015

To make a great vacation adventure even greater, I decided to wrap two festivals around it. The first being the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville Fl.

Barely Balanced
I was really hoping my daughter would choose to go to college in Gainesville. This would have been an annual event for me. Instead I had to go many miles out of the way. So of course I had to make the best day possible out of it. Which I did.

The first act I ever saw at a Ren Fest nearly 20 years ago was Barely Balanced. A fire breathing, juggling, acrobatic act. It was great to see them and how far their show has come. It was even better that they walked right up to me to say hi. Considering the hundreds of thousands of folks they have entertained over the years it's hard to believe they remember a fan who only can catch up to them every few years.

Topsy Turvy
I have followed their career across the country online, and different faire locations in Florida and Georgia in person. Basically if they are performing at a faire, go to that faire. You wont be disappointed.

The Steele Sisters
Two new acts I've just recently been following in person, Topsy Turvy and The Steele Sisters, were also there to sweeten the pot. That was enough to convince me to change the dates and GPS setting for my trip and pay a visit.

They also remembered me. I think most people who come to these events think they are watching TV. I find everyone at these events extremely approachable. If you don't ask stupid questions and take a true interest in their art, you can have a great conversation, wonderful memories, and friends across the country.


Although the Hoggetowne faire does not have the loud bands and cannon fire I've become accustomed to, it still was too big to see all of in one day. Also a lot of the people I've come to know whether they be Performers, vendors, or patrons were there to great me.


I'm happy to take photos for these events. It's becoming more like a family album to me. For more photos from this event [click here]

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Magic City Comic Con - 2015

Never say Never. I had already been to 4 Comic Cons. I had no intention of visiting this show but right before it opened I saw how many of my friends where going. Some were participating, some where doing photography, and some were working the event. It astounds me at times the number of people I have met in the past year. Also how many of them cross over from the various events I attend.


My goal was to find and shoot a photo of everyone I knew. [click here] to see how I did. Half my photos are people I know either very well or at least from other shows. A few I've communicated with and finally met in person. Some I just met at this show but as I'm very late in writing this, I've already seen and spoken to at later shows.


I don't really take my photography too serious. I think of it more as a family album. A collection of faces and costumes that will later remind my of great conversations and friendships, old, new, or future.