Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pine Island and Florida Cracker Kitchen

This morning I was standing in the kitchen when Cady asked what we were doing today. I told her I needed to run to Goodwill and Publix but asked if she wanted to go see where 50 ended at a beach. That was all she needed to hear. She said yes, and jumped up and put on her suit and grabbed a few things and off we went.

What a nice day for a drive and we didn't even set the GPS or consult a map! Truly an Adventure by Jen kind of day. I'm lucky that my kid has this adventurous spirit, too. I can't imagine if she didn't. The horror!!!

So off we went. We picked up 50 in Clermont and just headed west. We traveled through Groveland and it's various speed limits as well as Micanopy. We passed a ton of signs for Withlacoochee related places and went under the I-75 overpass. After that we saw signs for Brooksville and I remembered there was a place I wanted to try out there called the Florida Cracker Kitchen. I pulled up Yelp and it was just 10 miles up the road we were already traveling on. They were set to close at 2:30 so lunch on our way was the only way to fit it into our schedule.

We found it and put our name in and were handed a wooden ruler with a number on it. We opted to walk around and look at the old signs, gas pumps and trucks that are on the property. Looks like these folks have some ideas for expansion next door, perhaps for more wonderful Yeti merchandise.  Their stuff is the bomb even if it doesn't fit in my budget right now. I'd so love a Yeti beer tap like they had in the restaurant, but I digress and I'll dream on for another day.

Anyhow, once seated we looked over the menu and settled on a shrimp po-boy and the corned beef hash to go along with our sweet tea. Delish!!! Seriously, it really was. We loved every bit of it and we will be back. Cady even scored a cool cowboy boot can coozie that she was eyeing as soon as we got in the door. Oh, did I mention it's a cash only joint? Well, it is so be prepared. If not there is an ATM available as well.

Side note: I think there are some Wesley Chapel folks that may have to do a meet-up with us here for breakfast one day. :-)

And time to get back on the road. We weren't too far from the end of 50 now. We did pass up the turn to Pine Island and ended up at the boat dock but that was kind of cool to see as well. The road down to Pine Island is a beautiful drive with marsh on both sides of the road. I wanted to stop for photos but there really isn't even a shoulder to safely do that.

Once we got down to the beach parking lot we weren't sure if we were going to stay. It didn't look like much except for a bit parking lot but we finally parked. It will run you $5 to park for the day and you can get a discount if it's after 5pm I think.

And onto the beach... I will say, it's more of a manmade beach out here and the water is brackish. The sand is almost a mushy consistency out past the barrier where the "real" sand is, presummably brought in to make the upper beach. We did see a lot of snails, a few crabs, some strange yet-to-be identified creatures and lots of birds. Oh, and lots of happy families. The kids all seemed to be enjoying the beautiful day.

We were enjoying ourselves... and then we heard it... drums.... beating drums. Yep, a full on drum circle was beginning with women dancing with scarves, belly dancing and more. People kept arriving carrying their bongos and the circle grew larger as did the sound of the beating drums. Cady even noted how carefree and happy these people seemed. It had to a be a regular gathering. There were all walks of life coming to bang the drums and everyone was grinning from ear to ear.

It was finally time to tear ourselves away from Pine Island and head home. Successful Adventure by Jen day.

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