Disney Christmas – lite

Why Disney Christmas – lite?  There are so many, many more bloggers that concentrate on Disney exclusively,  I didn’t want to even try to compete with that.  My Disney Christmas highlights the Park that I work inside and (great) photos my sister shared during their recent visit.  Those primarily were at the Magic Kingdom – what everyone thinks of when you say ‘I went to Disney World!’.  🙂 

I’m starting with ‘my’ Park – Epcot and our Christmas trees.  Yes, plural.  We have two:  first one encountered marks the transition between Future World and World Showcase.  At the top is a blue angel – which didn’t photograph well for me. BUT, it is a very colorful tree.

Our second tree is in the American Adventure pavilion, with a patriotic theme.

Most of the pavilions and Merchandise shops have outside and inside holiday decorations, lots of garlands, ribbon and bulbs.  We also use nature to help tell the holiday story.

This hanging basket caught me eye – yes, that is grass growing underneath the plants in the hanging basket.

One morning I couldn’t resist taking photos of these ornaments in the France pavilion when no one was around.

We also have Mickey and Minnie in their blue holiday attire.

Occasionally Kris Kringle can be seen at Epcot.

Going over to Magic Kingdom, the Mickey floral bed greets the guests in holiday colors right in front of the Train Station.

My sister got some f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s. photos at Magic Kingdom of their holiday parade. Mickey and Minnie changed their costumes while in the Kingdom

Santa paid a visit to Magic Kingdom after parading around Epcot.

Can’t forget the reindeer.

She captured a shot of Magic Kingdom’s Christmas tree………………

……….and I really loved this shot with the toy soldier and the castle in the background.

But I totally loved her night-time photos of the Magic Kingdom castle. I haven’t always been a fan of projections on the castle, but these won me over.

Our decorations at home are much more simple. A garland around the front doorway and a small display on the side.

This was Eric’s project last year and they fared well enough for this year’s display.

Our tree we’ve had to cat-proof, either with using non-breakable ornaments or clamp clips for those I dared to put on the tree.

The Grinch has always been my favorite Christmas movie and he’s recently seen a surge in popularity. This is my favorite Christmas quote

A friend shared advice he’s given to his younger leaders. Christmas isn’t about a specific date or a specific time, its those moments that are special to you.

Ginny Merry Christmas

2020 S.G.I. chapter 6

Our last days in the Panhandle had a few repeats from earlier in the week. They may be favorite spots that never fail to deliver or something new we discovered on this trip. Regardless, they deserved one more stop before leaving the panhandle.

My new favorite eating spot was Indian Pass Raw Bar. We were there before it opened at the end of the week and yes we started with the fish dip.

Followed by 2 dozen raw oysters. No fancy serving platter, just oysters on plastic food trays.

I had to ‘decorate’ my oyster with a few toppings – horseradish and cocktail sauce.

And just to prove I was eating them………..

This was also the place that had the honor system for your drinks and you checked off what you drank, then gave the ticket to the cashier when paying your bill before leaving.

I was much better this time at pouring my own beer.

This was also the place with the a.m.a.z.i.n.g key lime pie. We got 2 pieces to share between us (and I could have still licked the plate) when done.

Next up Scipio Creek Half Bar. This time we saw outside in their open-air bar – loved it. It will be my spot of choice for future visits. Doesn’t Adrienne look excited for another photo.

Naturally the meal began with two dozen raw oysters………..

Followed by seafood dinners.

Our last morning was an early stop at Hole In The Wall. Knowing it would be busy on a weekend, we were waiting outside before others arrived. It definitely got crowded before the doors were open and we were glad we arrived 15 minutes early. Yes, Eric, you were right.

Fish dish and oysters always start the meal.

More seafood selections followed.

One last visit to Oyster City Brewing Company.

We didn’t let Eric totally off the hook for meals at our rental. One night we had peel & eat shrimp and shrimp cocktail, with oysters – of course.

Another evening we had grilled grouper and shrimp. But sometime, you get a craving for meat – steak.

One fabulous meal was shrimp bisque, great for a cool evening.

My all-time favorite Eric recipe is gumbo.

Our last home-cooked meal on the island was the remaining grouper filets, fresh tomatoes and broccolini – who knew you could find that in Apalachicola.

So this post was waaaaaay late, but I wanted to finish it since it was sitting in my ‘drafts’. Believe it or not, one last post from St. George Island. What better way to end, than at the beach. Coming soon – I promise.


2020 S.G.I. chapter 5

A day on St. George Island……………………..

The beach calls most people and over the years, the beaches of St. George Island have been on several lists as a top beach to visit. Full disclosure……..this post will be lots of photos.

Thanks to Adrienne for capturing these sunrise photos. She timed her daily morning run to see these views.

The SGI lighthouse has quite a history with the (hopefully) last spot being it’s current location, easily seen driving onto the island. Google its history.

We saw the beach this week in her many moods.

Our feathered friends were more prevalent than humans.

This guy wasn’t so lucky.

Shells (and pieces) collect along the tide line (or have a little help).

You didn’t have to look very hard to see storm damage.

Or sometimes you just find ‘things’.

Stepping away from the beach.

A random chair on my daily jaunt.

One of many boats that had seen better days.

I found this sign that states “Beach to Bay Access”. I don’t think so. You would need a machete to cut your path and hopefully scare the snakes as you’re chopping the bushes back.

Ultimately, everyone ends up at the beach, even Eric.

I didn’t see the sunrise during my daily runs (I use that turn loosely) but was able to capture a few interesting beach photos.

We found a cool spot to watch the sun set and end a day on SGI.


2020 S.G.I. chapter 4

A day in Apalachicola……………….

Approaching the city is impactful due to the bridge crossing the water, then there’s a curve in the bridge, dropping you down onto main street. Stores come and go through the years but there’s a few favorites (mine) that have hung on.


This is a shop for your ‘senses’. Husbands probably say it smells. Their store scent is part of their schtick and it definitely hits you in the face once you open the door. The store has been around 20+ years and their owners are known for their unique jewelry and greeting cards. I found this photo on-line. It doesn’t begin to speak to the multitude of interesting items in their store, but it’s a start. They can pack a LOT of things in a small space.

The story goes…………..a couple moved here and she couldn’t find any greeting cards, so she opened up her own store with cards favoring her style. They carry eclectic clothing, soaps & scents. I’ve found such unique items as Christmas ornaments and a line of bags/purses handmade in CO. There’s one of those in my closet. Last year’s purchase. 🙂

Grady Market:

View facing the Apalachicola River.

This has upscale and casual clothing within a dozen+ shops located on the first floor of the building. The second floor has rooms available for visitors, called The Consulate. Maybe some day we’ll stay there.

Back-side of Grady Market with a garden and fountains.

Jewelry, decorative kitchenware and specialized food items have been past purchases. Oh yeah, they carry an interesting assortment of Life is Good merchandise and many purchases have come from that section.

Piggy Wiggly:

While not exactly downtown, it is easily walkable – for most of us. 🙂 For 30+ years it has been locally owned and operated with a Piggy Wiggly Express on SGI (a godsend – just saying). Their website says “Small town service meets big city selection.” Definitely a solid statement. You can find some amazing things in this grocery. Have you ever seen this many options for mayo or hotsauce in a small town?

Look at all of those tomatoes.

While they’ve had a good selection of cheeses, now you can have a chacuterie plate. Who would have guessed?

And as you would expect, a good selection of Oyster City beer.

There are a number of State Parks within the city. We always bring new visitors to the……….

Gorrie Museum:

Yep, a (really) bad photo.

Alas, it is closed due to Covid-19. This was posted on their entry door. Inside you can see a replica of his invention: a machine designed to convert water into ice. Yep, that’s right, the precursor to Air Conditioning! Sorry Adrienne, next trip we will get you inside.

You could walk the grounds, which are not extensive but his grave is located on the grounds (3rd and final resting spot), along with historic markers telling his story.

Which brings us to another State Park…….

The Orman House:

It is a stately antebellum home built in 1838 overlooking Apalachicola River. It was occupied for 165 years by a member of the Orman family until 1994. New owners made this into a Bed & Breakfast before the state purchased the property in 2001 and it became a state park. This is one of the few museums that have re-opened and had not seen many visitors. The ranger reminded me of the old commercials for the lonely ‘Maytag’ repairman. He was very chatty – but nice.

I was a little chagrined when I saw a holiday wreath on the front door – until I saw one of the components, oyster shells. 🙂 Hhhhmmmm, interesting idea.

No visit to Apachicola is complete without a stop at this establishment.

Oyster City Brewing Company:

It opened in 2014 and has won numerous awards. Loved their thoughts shared on their website.

Water. The town’s rich history is built upon the Apalachicola River and the nearby bay. Everyone stops at the Riverfront Park for a few photos and I was no exception.

A shrimp fleet is nearby, but a few shrimp trawlers are always parked along the riverfront.

With some wildlife wanting to take advantage of a few stray shrimp that might possibly escape.

It’s a sleepy little town in the winter which expands to a bustling summer spot when the temps are warm and the beach beckons. One day, we’ll arrive, put down roots and see all the seasons as a local.


2020 S.G.I. chapter 3

Oysters, Oysters and more Oysters. Eric is keeping an oyster tally, but as of this writing we’ve eaten 15 dozen of the bi-valves. OMG!

Most (but not all) of that was within a 25 hour window. It started one afternoon………

Indian Pass Raw Bar:

I had driven past this place a number of years, never stopping. Eric and friends had stopped when it was much more of a dive and biker bar. Hurricane Michael 2019 saw 8′ water surge and the staff told us all that was left was four walls. Their rebuild was fantastic.

Menu is fairly simple.

LOVE this place. You’re given two tickets, one for food. Check the boxes for each order of an item, drop it off at the bar and that’s your order. Drinks – honor system, even the beer with your second ticket. Guess it was obvious I was a novice, even after reading the posted directions. One of the staff came over to help me.

Fish dip, gumbo and oysters were ordered. Oysters came all the way from Apalachicola, FL – just down the road!

But then came the dessert I ordered. OMG! This was the B.E.S.T key lime pie. Three forks polished this off in record time – I wanted to lick the plate – just saying.

Hole in the Wall:

While Miss Barbara (co-owner) was not in attendance, her husband and daughter still provided a (subdued) level of entertainment.

Two dozen oysters were ordered. These were from Louisiana, not Apalachicola as their outside sign states.

I had to ‘dress’ mine up a little bit: a tiny bit of fresh grated horseradish and a few dots of cocktail sauce, with an occaisional squeeze of lemon.

Bright and early one morning we drove to Carrabelle for our oysters. Home of the world’s smallest police station. I had heard about this for a number of years and passed it multiple times. Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce has a nice flyer detailing its history. Google it – you’ll enjoy the tale. 🙂

Fathoms Steam Room & Raw Bar:

It’s a little run down………………there’s Adrienne and Eric’s hand waving in the photo on the right.

We had more fish dip and saltines.

While the oysters were from two different states, Apalachicola FL and Texas. It was a tie concerning flavor. These were probably the least liked over the week and some of my worst shots. Nope – can’t tell you which one was from either state.

They had a number of cool signs on the walls – maybe to patch holes and keep the place together? Just kidding, kind of. I couldn’t resist this one.

Or this sign……………their marketing budget was small.

Getting there required driving on Highway 98 and we hit some construction. This road is forever being patched up due to running along the coast and hurricane winds/surge/rain (take your pick) that hit this area.

Next restaurant during these 25 hours was back in Eastpoint.

Red Pirate Grill & Oyster Bar:

No surprise where the pirate is concerned. Add in a glass of Oyster City Brewing Company’s finest – Mill Pond Dirty, a blonde ale.

Another two dozen oysters were ordered, these from Alabama.

No fish dip, but we ordered fried pickles.

Eric got their smoked mullet special of the day with fried okra.

And just because we didn’t have enough fried food – onion straws.

Flounder (my favorite!) with french fries for me. Yes, yes – more fried food.

Last stop for the day – I promise.

The Station Raw Bar:

At one point it was a gas station and has been reincarnated as a restaurant.

One dozen oysters from Apalachicola were ordered.

I was done with oysters for the day. I needed dessert (and coffee). Key lime was my selection this day. It was okay – NOT as good as Indian Pass Raw Bar, but all enjoyed several bites. We left nothing behind.

So ended 25 hours of oyster-eating in the Panhandle.

Oyster tally – 9 dozen or 108 bi-valves.


2020 S.G.I. chapter 2

This was our first day of getting the boat into the water and fishing. This was the day’s forecast. Doesn’t look bad – right.? A little bit chilly, but we brought lots of layering to peel off as the temps rise.

We drove over the bridge to Apalachicola to use their public boat ramp.

I got curious about the town of Apalachicola and found these factoids:

  • Name comes from the Indian word meaning ‘land beyond’ or ‘friendly people over there’.
  • The area was once home to more than 40,000 Indians.
  • The town was first established in 1831 as a major cotton shipping port.
  • In 1851 Dr. John Gorrie invented a form of refrigeration (precursor to air conditioning) to treat yellow fever patients. More on Dr. Gorrie coming.

The boat ramp was not crowded at all – go figure. We headed out to the bay, eventually turning east. What my weather screenshot does not show………………..the winds. We knew it was blowing across the bay, out of the North. The water (and by that I mean the chop) west of the SGI bridge was okay, not the best for riding but tolerable. Going under the SGI bridge, that got bumped up significantly. Dare I call it ‘Hell’? Yes. We had only gone 100 yards and I said ‘This is not enjoyable’ – (WHAT an understatement).

Ultimately, we stayed on the west side of the bay, fishing a few spots that had been productive in the past. The snacks we brought for the boat didn’t hold the hunger pangs at bay, so in we went. Yes, the wind had settled down somewhat and the ride was fine.

Heading back to Apalachicola, here’s a shot of the bridge leading into the city.

In my excitement of getting onto the water earlier, I didn’t pay attention to the channel. They sustained some damage from Hurricane Michael in 2019.

There are always some boats tied up along the sides. Some seem never to leave. Apparently, this spot was occupied by a more permanent resident……….until the storm.

Our late lunch turned into an early supper at Lynn’s Quality Oysters, Inc. Yes, it’s a dive. Initially an outlet for Seafood, they have a small bar (fully occupied when we arrived), small indoor seating area with 5 tables and a really cool outside eating (way too cold today) space with great views of the waterfront.

Let’s get to the food – it was delicious. We quickly put in our order for the fish dip and a dozen raw oysters.

Another dozen of raw oysters, bowls of seafood gumbo, 1/2 dozen of broiled oysters and a slaw dog rounded out our meal this day.

I did a little digging about Lynn’s:

  • Lynn was born and raised in Eastpoint (location of said establishment).
  • Her parents started the business in 1971 under a different name and Lynn started shucking oysters at the tender age of nine.
  • After her own career in banking, she purchased the business from her parents in 1997 when they retired, renaming it.
  • It is considered one of the longest standing packinghouses in the state of Florida and has built a strong reputation for 1st class seafood and satisfied customers.

A short jaunt down the road – really we could have walked – was Eastpoint Beer Company.

Their sign says it all………………

They also have a great view along the backside of their establishment.

Who could resist this shot?

As the sun was lowering on the horizon, one more shot.


2020 S.G.I. Chapter 1

Wow! After numerous attempts this year to head to one of our favorite Florida locales, we finally made it.

Here’s a brief synopsis of our attempts this year:

Trip #1 – Rental company canceled our reservation due to state restrictions for Covid-19 in the Spring. Ugh.

Trip #2 – NY Friends couldn’t make it due to 2-week quarantine upon coming into Florida, followed by a 2-week quarantine going back home. Yikes!

Trip #3 – this is it! It began with a packed truck and boat, followed by a car.

Adrienne is driving her car so Eric was driving solo. This was our view for 280+ miles.

Eating options were slim pickings if you don’t want to stop at a chain restaurant – and we don’t. Then you factor in possible restaurant closures or limited hours due to the state-wide shutdown and options get smaller. Prior to leaving home, we found a favorite – Cypress Inn – with a website that still says they are open AND they had a Yelp review two days prior. We had a plan, timed our departure for lunchtime and (yep you guessed it), closed. A sign on the door said ‘Closed for Cleaning’. Aaarrgghh.

Quick trip into a nearby gas station/food market and their recommendation was Carriage Inn Restaurant & Motel, but it meant back-tracking a few miles – not what we usually prefer. Choices were limited so back we went.

Breakfast was my choice (and served all day) and I had some f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s pancakes. They were literally steaming when the plate was brought to the table. An egg and rasher of bacon rounded out my meal.

Eric chose lunch getting a tuna salad sandwich and fries. I won – just saying.

Not sure this place will be a repeat, but it was filling and open when we passed through.

We finally arrived at St. George Island.

And the rental house Survivor.

It’s older than some of the places we’ve stayed, decorated ’80s style. It still works for us being on the back side of the island along a canal with a dock.

Main living space.

Galley-style kitchen.

Our bathroom had something I’ve only seen on TV, a walk-in tub. Not quite sure how that is going to work. I may be borrowing Adrienne’s bathroom on this trip!

And then there is this………..a baby grand piano. Really? Really.

Something I almost forgot to include…………..the elevator. It’s important to Eric. It gets harder and harder each year to carry things up. Maybe it’s because we bring too much………

Sunday night dinner was a stop Adrienne and I made before getting on the island, picking up fresh seafood, specifically shrimp and oysters. For the record, Eric still had to cook the seafood, it was not prepared.

We always buy head-on shrimp. It’s a good clue the shrimp are super fresh.

Monday morning dawned bright and clear and WINDY. It was expected which was also the reason we didn’t put the boat in the water upon arrival. Not going to be a good day for fishing.

The day turned into a ‘Show Adrienne Around SGI’ day with the first stop being St. George Island State Park.

I mentioned it was windy…………………..

Yellow flag for moderate, windy conditions with the purple for stinging marine life. Ouch! We stopped at the last beach parking and saw this sign. I guess they are serious.

We grabbed a quick photo to prove we were really at the beach. Yep, still really windy and quite chilly

And then……………walking along the surf, we saw this. I think they were trying to get out of the chilly water and grab some sun – not.

Not too many people walking along the beach in November.

Nor could many shells be seen. The wind was blowing grains of sand along the coastline, burying many.

We made another stop inside the park – the Boy Scout Camp – where in years past we put in our kayaks for fishing. Man – look at that low, low, low tide. A full moon + exceptionally low tide + 25+mph winds out of the north = below.

Couldn’t resist a shot of this sign. Yep, the oyster bars definitely have sharp edges which could prove hazardous to the bottom of your kayaks.

Time to head over the bridge towards Apalachicola……….for lunch. Scipio Creek Marina’s restaurant & bar was our choice.

This is a new addition to their entrance – a wall of buoys. You can just see blue sky peeking out near the top.

What else would you drink in Apalachicola, but brews from Oyster City Brewing Company.

A dozen raw oysters and fried pickles started us off. These oysters were different from the ones the day earlier. They are being farm-raised in Alligator Point – east of here. That story could be a post all in itself. Lets just saw they were mighty tasty – better than the ones I picked up, which were harvested out of state. Add a dab of fresh grated horseradish or cocktail sauce – yum.

Eric enjoyed their seafood gumbo and fried okra. I loved my grouper and onion rings. OMG – those were some of the best onion rings ever. Almost forgot to take a photo of my basket. There are several nuggets of fried grouper and a few leftover onion rings (and then I remembered my photo).

There were a few unlucky boats in this part of the river that had seen better days.

Glad to be back in this part of the state, enjoying fresh seafood and good company.


LOTTE market in Orlando!

Man! This is an amazing place. Thanks to one of the Chefs at Epcot for telling me about this market. We added it to our list of errands one Monday and we were glad we did. Eric has since visited several times and it’s definitely worth a stop when in Orlando. Did a bit of digging and found this info about the market:

  • Founded in 1976, their early stores were in Maryland and Virginia. They’ve expanded into Florida.
  • Their goal is to be the premier source of Asian groceries, popular Korean items, Japanese, Vietnamese, Philippine and Thai products to name a few of their focuses.
  • They import product from farmers all over the world to assure fresh, in-season produce.
  • Their guiding principles are to Lead, Listen, Loyalty and Pride.

Upon entering once of the first things you come across is their produce department. WOW! It was nothing short of amazing. I’ve got to share a few of the many photos I took. Literally, right inside the door was a pallet of Jakfruit. I included a few ‘fun’ facts after the strangest fruits.

  • Cultivated widely throughout tropical regions of the world and is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • The jakfruit tree bears the largest fruit from all fruit-producing trees, with a mature tree producing some 200 fruits per year.
  • The ripe fruit is sweet and often used for desserts with an aroma resembling pineapple and banana.
  • In some cultures the jakfruit is boiled and used in curries.

Another interesting item was the Tindora. I had seen something similar – chinese bitter melon – but this was a bit different and smaller than that. Pictured below are the small immature fruits commonly used in India. When I took a closer look at my photos, there is a shot of the chinese bitter melon with the eggplant – further down.

  • It is a tropical vine, which can easily become an invasive species, growing up to 4″ per day.
  • They are best when cooked and commonly eaten in Indian cuisine by deep-frying it along with local spices
  • It has a bitter flavor so the addition of vinegar and sugar can reduce any bitter aftertaste.

I had never heard of this next item. I thought it was a sugarcane stalk until I read the tag – Gobo. Internet search also called it Burdock root.

  • Typically used in Japanese cooking and it can be used boiled & seasoned in Miso soup, salads and other Asian dishes.
  • Said to have a taste similar to a bitter carrot. Several recipes use it for Gobo Sushi.
  • Another source said it has a crispy, earthy sweet taste to it. Seems like the only way to know is to try it yourself.

The last one I’m calling out is the banana flower. While not entirely unknown in Florida, I had never seen it locally available.

  • Can be eaten raw or cooked, common in South-East Asian cuisine.
  • The flower clusters hang at the end of banana clusters.
  • One source said the blossoms are soft with just a bit of crunch, more like an artichoke when it comes to flavor.
  • Typically found in salads, curries or soups.

There was sooooooo many things available, a good deal I knew, other things I did not. I could spend an hour+ in this section. And just because I took so many photos, here are a few more. Look at all of those potatoes!

But then we came across the Seafood section of the market.

This definitely reminded me of the Carrefore that I shopped in Shanghai. Fish were lined up on ice and workers were available to assist once you made your selection.

These crabs were alive, just kept cool to slow their movement and not escape their bin. Use the tongs to pick the ones you want, put them in a paper sack and you’re good to go.

They had lots of pre-packaged seafood items. These two photos do not do this section justice. There was just too many things to take photos of.

And the soy sauce(s)…………………..oh my. There were more than my photo indicates. Practically one aisle is just bottles of soy sauce.

Can you have too much sriracha sauce on hand?

On the other side of the store was the bulk items. Wow – rice was from a number of different countries.

This bakery was exactly like where I shopped in Shanghai. Notice the loaves of bread on the top of the display case (right photo)? That’s how my bread came. The pieces of bread were thick and (almost) perfectly square and probably were 8 pieces of bread inside each package.

They also had a small food court in one section of the market with 8 stalls selling different asian foods. We stopped at this one and ordered things to share.

As I said in the beginning, this was an a.m.a.z.i.n.g. market! Eric has since made repeat visits and his purchases have turned into delicious dinners.


Crystal River – Fall 2020

Yes, we do get Fall in Florida! It’s very subtle. You just kind of know when it’s here. It’s a feeling you get when you walk outside. It takes a few years to develop this ‘sense’, but it’s possible.

I had a chance to tag an extra day onto my weekend for 3 day break from work. We headed west to Crystal River. Love the bay, love the blue sky, love the white puffy crowds and love the water. Yep, it felt great to get away.

We have a new process for getting the boat in the water………..

  • >Drive to Pete’s Pier.
  • >Eric backs the trailer & boat down the ramp.
  • >Ginny (me!) backs the boat off the trailer.
  • >Ginny (me again!) motors the boat to King’s Bay Lodge.
  • >Eric parks the trailer at pre-determined storage.
  • >Eric drives the truck to King’s Bay Lodge and I pick him up to go fishing!

After loading up on drinks, shrimp and ice we motor out to the Gulf. But not before running into these……………paddle boards. Seems like they are taking over in popularity here. You know, I tried it once and I just wasn’t very good at it. Granted I wasn’t sitting down…….

Man! Got to keep an eye on the weather. We saw this before heading out. We had some open blue skies for a bit. Looked like we could get in several hours fishing before it got dicey.

And fish we did! We came in with a m.e.s.s. of fish. Look at those beauties! Eric makes fun when I ‘frame’ the fish with greenery. I think it adds something – so there!

Top to Bottom: Black sea bass, mangrove snapper, seatrout (4), mackarel and grunts(2).

I caught this snapper, a mighty tasty fish.

But let’s see what Adrienne did. Yep, she herself got the majority of the fish. She beat the Dardens!

Supper that night was a mix of fish. Eric grilled the mangrove snapper whole, while I got the black seabass and grunt filets, also grilled. Cubic fries were added to the meal. Not truly a ‘balanced’ meal, but hey we were on vacation.

And just to be sure we were full…………ice cream filled in the cracks. 🙂

The second day we got on the water much earlier and first thing we saw was this boat, looking for manatees. I believe I’ve talked about this before, but if not… numerous tour companies advertise ‘Swim with manatee’ trips in the fresh-water springs. Which also means you have to be careful when motoring through the water to ensure no manatees are hit by your boat propeller. Notice how still the water is? There wasn’t a bit of breeze – yet.

Can I say it? We had a great day! Look at these beauties. The cloud cover was a nice bonus, keeping the temps (relatively) cool.

Eric hooked this redfish early in the morning.

We came back with another great catch for a morning/early afternoon of fishing. A little spanish moss helped the edges of the photo. 🙂

Top to Bottom: Seatrout (2), redfish, mackarel, redfish and seatrout (2).

Eric had numerous ‘friends’ waiting for the spoils after filleting our fishing.

He drew quite a crowd.

He got tired of cleaning fish and asked for a break from cooking. After all, it was such hard work catching all of those fish. We always enjoy Peck’s so off we went for an early dinner.

Eric ordered his dozen steamed crabs preceded by clam chowder while I ordered the ‘fish of the day’ (grouper) with cajun seasoning. Got to have the special onion straws or ‘fish net onions’ as they are called on the menu.

Right behind King’s Bay Lodge is a crab facility and they had thousands (literally, 15K+) of crab traps ready to be dropped into the Gulf. I had a chance to talk with one of their workers and got a mini education. I couldn’t resist a few extra photos. I’m sure they thought I was crazy for taking photos of old traps and buoys.

Our last day of fishing continued to be a day full of fun. That big redfish at the bottom was caught by Eric.

Definitely needed to measure the redfish to be sure it was ‘in the slot’, using the yardstick fish ruler sticker along the side of the boat, instead of the top of the cooler. Rich?

As you can probably guess, there’s a story there. A friend was using our boat earlier in the summer, got stopped by the FWC officer who measured their fish………..and it was short.

We’re coming home with numerous baggies of fish. Eric used his foodsaver to divide up the filets and freeze them for future dinners. We kept a few fillets out and had trout almondine for dinner later in the week. You caould almost see the fish under the almonds.

I couldn’t resist this last photo. This guy had a ‘bad day’. Probably was the storm that hit the coast a few months ago, high water pushing the boat where it ordinarily shouldn’t go.

Always, always, always enjoy our time spent at Crystal River.


German Food Again…………Yes x 2!

One Monday with nothing specific planned we both had a craving for German food. Where do you go in Central Florida when this hits?

Hollerbach’s! For us, this is not a place you casually head towards – it is a destination being 47 miles and a 52 minute drive. The plan was a leisurely drive that would include a bit of eating and a bit of shopping, with a few errands thrown in.

Let’s start with the eating (and drinking). Covid-19 is still a concern and when possible we like to eat outside when (1) covered and/or protected from the sun (2) air movement or fans keeps the temps enjoyable and (3) safe distances between patrons. All of these conditions were easily met.

Hollerbach’s Willow Tree now has a beer on draft that is being made locally (at least in the states).

Always have to start with the pretzel before our sausages and accompanying sides arrived.

The restaurant has been remodeling for a number of years and (unfortunately) opened the weekend the state was shut down for Covid. With the social distancing required, this extra room has allowed their patrons to still enjoy their food. Here is one of their new areas.

Some of their numerous awards are now able to be displayed.

They have most of the city block and on one corner is their German market. After a few food purchases, we finished our errands and headed home.

The title mentions German food x 2. Our second meal was one that Eric prepared at home. The following week we made good use of our recent purchases. Let’s start with the sides.

One important German side dish is red cabbage. After cutting 1/2 head of red cabbage, throwing in a few spices (cloves, allspice) slipping in a key ingredient (apple slices for sweetness) you get the end result………a nice tasty, colorful red cabbage side dish.

Add a nice refreshing chilled gherkin (cucumber & red onion) salad seasoned with dill in a sour cream & vinegar sauce.

Something new in our household was the potato pancakes. Eric grated potatoes – squeezing out all the water possible – threw in some onion and bound the ingredients together with an egg. A tasty fried potato pancake, topped with apple sauce and sour cream (if desired – and I do!) was a nice accompaniment.

Now, one of the key parts of any German meal………….the sausages. We grilled two types: metwurst (3) and nuremburger (6) sausages. Hard to decide which I liked best. I had leftovers for lunch the coming week – always a plus. Man – I can almost hear the sizzling of the sausages.

What goes best with German food? German beer. One item I could not take to work. Ha!

One more new food item in the Darden household was this German dessert. I picked up this dessert mix at their German deli and prepared it after our meal. It was okay. Full disclosure – mine looked nothing like theirs. 😦 The one that likes dessert best (me) was the least impressed. Both Adrienne and Eric enjoyed it. It was a little better the following day. I probably don’t need to purchase this again.

I love German food, Eric not quite so much. When we visited Germany several years ago, tasting their sausages was a big plus for me. If we can’t fly to Germany (and we can’t right now) at least I can enjoy a taste of German food at home.