Millions come to Florida — and never see it. Take the by-ways, drop into quiet little towns where neon does not yet hide the stars, visit the Suwanee and the upper St. Johns, cruise up the St. Lucie. Be able to say, “We saw the real Florida.”
~ Ernest Lyons
Moses Creek – a view from the trail.
Source for quote: The Book of Florida Wisdom by Criswell Freeman
As a native Floridian, fresh seafood was almost an everyday occurrence. We learned how to fish early, were adept at digging clams and found catching blue crabs with a chicken neck, string and dip net much more fun than using a trap. Cleaning fish wasn’t a favorite pastime but it was tolerated so we could enjoy a tasty dinner. Our favorite meals were not fancy. Cooking pan-fried mullet with hush puppies takes a special skill – knowing the exact moment when the mullet is done to the point where the meat is still flaky, tender and easily falls away from the bones. One second too long and it gets tough. My favorite hush puppies are the small crunchy ones fried in the same fat (generally lard) that just cooked the fish. Shrimp and grits, baked flounder, steamed crabs and Minorcan clam chowder all were everyday fare at the beach house. Cold months brought oyster roasts with plenty of homemade cocktail sauce laced with datil peppers and trips to Papy’s or Colley’s restaurants for “St. Augustine fried shrimp”. All of that came to a screeching halt when I landed in Germany with my new husband after the Army assigned him to a facility located between Mannheim and Worms. We arrived in late October in what would be the coldest winter in decades. Dealing with the cold was bad enough, but finding fresh seafood was almost impossible.
Sunset on the North Sea. Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands.
In early April we took off to Holland for our first vacation. The goal was to visit the tulip festival with a stop in Amsterdam and a trip to the beach. In Amsterdam, we found a nice little hotel not far from the city center. My first question as we checked in was where can we find good fresh seafood. The clerk directed us downtown to a tiny place tucked away on a side street. When we walked in it reminded me of Ned’s old Malaga Street Depot with mismatched furniture and the menu posted on a blackboard – only here it was written in three different languages. I didn’t see anything on the board that remotely resembled shrimp. The waiter had to check with the chef but he came back with the news that we could have shrimp broiled in butter and garlic. We ordered the shrimp along with a bouillabaisse-style soup that was delicious. Just as we were finishing our soup, the waiter brought a dish full of large shrimp sizzling in butter with several garlic cloves . We were just digging in when he came back with another large dish for my husband. We took our time enjoying this special treat along with some appropriate local alcoholic libations. There was one more pleasant surprise yet to come. Our dinner bill – with drinks – came to the equivalent of $15.00. I was ready to make regular trips to Amsterdam just to enjoy the seafood. Fortunately we soon found a Spanish restaurant in Mannheim that flew their seafood in from Spain twice a week. And, when the Army finally brought us back to the States, out port of entry was Charleston, South Carolina. The first stop was a waterfront seafood restaurant.
A view across the marshes from Ft. George Island
Take a ride north on A1A to Mayport and cross the St. Johns River on the ferry to visit beautiful Ft. George Island. This is home to Kingsley Plantation and other historical and natural wonders. There are more creeks than roads in this part of Florida and the marshes seem to stretch on forever. Much of this is part of the Timucuan Preserve – part of the National Park System. This view looks west from the road that takes you to Kingsley Plantation.
Deck the Halls has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs and when I stumbled on Richard Frietas’ arrangement in the Vimeo Music Store, I knew I had my choice for this year’s Blog Caroling tradition. It had the perfect “attitude” to match up with the cards I made for the Tour of Blogs some time back so I cleaned them up a bit and took advantage of iPhoto’s improvements to its slideshow feature to create this year’s edition.
For those of you who don’t remember the blog tour, back in 2008, the geneablogging community decided on a Christmas Tour of Blogs to celebrate the holidays. We were a much smaller community then, but we shared a lot of genealogical goodness. You can see the original tour thanks to the wonders of Diigo. I’m very pleasantly surprised at how well it has stood up to time.
Merry Christmas from Moultrie Creek!
Taken at the site of the Bulow Plantation, this stretch of Bulow Creek enjoys the protected beauty of two state parks – Bulow Creek State Park and the Bulow Plantation Ruins. Boats and kayaks can be launched from here to enjoy a 13-mile canoe trail through beautiful Florida scenery.