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Dave Reese

Florida Keys

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Peg and I will be in the Keys, and the Tampa area, for the first week of March. Since we are now in weight loss, low cholesterol mode, we are looking for healthy places to eat. I know that I can eat lots of Salmon, so that will probably cover my first night when we stop in Key Largo, and plan to go to Sundowners. But I will be spending the next few days in Key West, so suggestions are appreciated. We have a number of tours planned through my former employer's Alumni Club (retired old farts who travel together twice a year), but we will be on our own for several meals.

When we leave Key West we are heading to Saratoga so I can revisit the Ringling Circus Museum, one of my fondest memories from being 8 years old a half century ago. I hope it is still as fascinating. We will need at least one place to eat there as well, and then we will drive up to Clearwater so I can attend a Phillies Spring Training Game. We know there is a Mimi's there (which has a pretty healthy menu), and I plan to splurge at a Quaker Steak and Lube (not too healthy, but really good), but we will be there two full days, so suggest away.

 

Thanks!

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Hmmmm... I was just through most of those places a couple of months ago but don't think I've got much useful advice for you. The one dinner place I liked that's on your route happens to be in Key Largo where you've already got your spot picked out. Reading about the Sundowner makes me think I'd like to try it but if you need a backup, I liked Ballyhoo's. I got multiple recommendations on Blue Heaven as THE place for breakfast in Key West but I didn't get a chance to try it. I hadn't actually reviewed things until now but it appears my Key West intake was 100% liquid. Schooner Wharf (and a few hundred other places) is good for that especially in the afternoons when Michael McCloud is performing. On the way to the Keys, I had a good meal in Naples but I can't say it was anything remarkable. It was Christmas Day so my choice was driven more by availability than Mobil Guide ratings.

 

I imagine there's a pretty good chance you're already planning on taking US-41/Tamiami Trail across the state but if not, give it some thought. You can pull over a few times to check out the egrets and other birds and stop by the smallest US Post Office. Maybe check out Everglades City or get touristy at the Indian Village or an airboat joint.

 

It's been years since I've been to a spring training game but I've enjoyed the ones I have seen as much as anything in Florida. I definitely envy you that. Sure beats big-stadium miles-from-the-action regular season games.

 

I saw your mention of Quaker Steak & Lube in the 'burger thread before I saw this one but it never occurred to me that a guy who lives in Pennsylvania (a.k.a., the Quaker State!) would have to go to Florida to find QS&L. What's up with that?

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I saw your mention of Quaker Steak & Lube in the 'burger thread before I saw this one but it never occurred to me that a guy who lives in Pennsylvania (a.k.a., the Quaker State!) would have to go to Florida to find QS&L. What's up with that?

 

The closest ones to the Lehigh Valley are over an hour away. I periodically email the chain to suggest the lot across the street from America On Wheels as we need a fun eating place near by, and that would be a perfect fit. Maybe someday they will listen to me.

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Well,

We are back from a fun vacation. Sunday, March 1, we flew to Tampa Airport and picked up the rental for a drive to Key Largo. I had not really figured out how far that was when booking the flights and then the hotel for for Sunday Night, so I mostly just hightailed it on I-75 to Route 1. We got to the Bayside resort around 8:30 pm, checked in, had a nice dinner at Sundowners, and then crashed. I am not used to eating dinner that late, and not eating well the rest of the day, so it was not a good sleeping night. But Monday morning was cool and sunny, so we explored Islamorado for a bit to see places we might want to vacation for an extended stay in the future. It looks like a potential location for a week of rest in the future. We went just south of Islamorado, and stopped at the recommended place of Robbie's Marina. It was a cool place with some shops, a pay to stay beach, and a place where you can pay to feed the tarpon. We ate at the restaurant at the site on the patio of the Big Tarpon and had a very pleasant lunch, and then a leisurely drive down US-1 to Key West.

 

We were staying with the Lifetouch Alumni Club, my former employers, so we stayed at a hotel that we normally would ignore due to the cost, the Hyatt Key West Resort. It was located on the water near the Pirate Soul Museum, and a block or two from Duval Street. The hotel is known for their live turtle display. While in Key West we rode the touristy Conch Train through the town, stopped at the Hemingway House, Truman's Little White House, Mallory Square at sunset, and Pat Croce's Pirate Soul Museum. We also shopped at several interesting stores, people watched, and had some very good meals at Jack's Seafood Shack at the Crowne Plaza La Concha hotel and Red Fish Blue Fish. On a previous trip we had dined at the Hog's Breath Saloon and had toured the Flagler Museum and the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum, so they were not on this trip's agenda. Our last evening included a sunset champagne cruise on a catamaran. We did enjoy our three days in Key West. Thursday morning we headed north through the Keys and had a very nice breakfast at the Midway Coffee shop that is equidistant to Miami and Key West. From there we headed up through Homestead on their old main street of Krome Avenue on route 997. It was a very cool way to travel to the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades and Big Cypress area. We visited an Indian Village and stopped a few places in the 'glades to see the local nature. That evening we headed up to the Comfort Inn on the Tamiami in Sarasota. It was an okay place to stay, but one night was enough. That night we ate a very good meal at Barnacle Bill's Seafood and had great service from our waiter Billy.

Friday morning was a short 1 block drive to the Ringling Museum. Most people probably go there for the art, but I was there mainly for the Circus exhibits. Since I had last visited in 1958 things had changed again. There is now an amazing miniature circus exhibit in a whole new building. This new Tibbals Learning Center was an amazing 1/16 scale of 8 main tents, 152 wagons, 800 animals, and a 59-car train and occupies 3,800 square feet. A film in the Asolo Theater which was originally built in Asolo Italy in 1798 told the history of the Ringling Brothers, and especially John and Mabel Ringling. We also toured their mansion, Ca d'Zan before driving to Clearwater so I could enjoy a bit of the Phillies Spring Training Camp. We did not get to hit any local restaurants there but enjoyed a return to a Joe's Crab Shack which we had not visited for a few years, and a first time at a Smokey Bones. I have some photos posted at Flickr. . Since the Ringling Museum asks that no photos from the grounds be reproduced without written permission, I have not posted any from there yet, but maybe I can add them later.

 

Denny, we never got to Blue Heaven although friends had a brunch there and were quite pleased with their meal.

Edited by Dave Reese

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Dave,

 

I enjoyed your trip and the photos....and at a much lower cost than going there! Thanks!

 

Where did you see the gator? I kept an eye out in the Everglades and Cypress Swamp areas but saw only tourists when I was there last year on the Hypotenuse.

 

We might head to Florida at the end of the season, so your experience is valauable. We have realtives at Flagler Beach near Daytona Beach, and Sheila wants to see the Keys.

 

Thanks!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Dave,

 

I enjoyed your trip and the photos....and at a much lower cost than going there! Thanks!

 

Where did you see the gator? I kept an eye out in the Everglades and Cypress Swamp areas but saw only tourists when I was there last year on the Hypotenuse.

 

Thanks!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

We saw a few at the Big Cypress Bend as well as the canal in front of the Big Cypress visitor's center.

 

I hope you and Sheila get to take a good trip to Key West. It is a fun place and interesting history as well.

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Dave, maybe we could start a "People Who Have Friends Who Have Eaten At Blue Heaven But Have Never Eaten There Themselves" club. To make it even more exclusive, we could require members to have eaten breakfast at that Midway Cafe. B)

 

Great pictures and it looks like you had a fun time. If only all baseball stadiums were that size and all ball games that much fun.

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