Monthly Archives: May 2013

Post-classes: Vacation Day Nine (Tallahassee: Edward Ball Wakulla Springs Park)

I decided to take my parents to Wakulla Springs on their last day here, because it was a sunny day and the last time I had attempted to take it in it had started pouring rain as soon as we got on the trail. It turned out to be a great decision because we saw plenty of turtles, alligators, and even got a chance to see manatees in the wild! This is what I’d been hoping to show my parents all along, so I’m glad we all got a chance to experience it together. If you go to Wakulla Springs, I STRONGLY recommend taking the river boat tour. It’s reasonably priced and without it you most likely will have a very difficult time spotting anything. the glass bottom boat tour wasn’t running when we went, because of “dark water” but we still saw plenty. I highly recommend visiting this park. Also, you will get to see the untouched “real” Florida if you take the tour (from the boat), at the end of the stretch of spring where people are allowed to go, and where they only visit a few times a year. The first and third movies in The Creature of the Black Lagoon series were filmed here, as well as Tarzan. If you’re going to take the trail anytime in the spring/summer, wear bug spray! I got many mosquito bites. We did see some lizards though.

main sign

We even got to see a turtle on our way into the park, crossing the street! The car you see in the sign above contained people that also stopped to admire the turtle.

turtleeeee

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beautiful

so nice

There is also a swimming area, a beach-y place to lay about in the sun, and a lodge with a soda shop (for milkshakes, hot dogs, etc.) and a real restaurant where we chose to eat lunch.

lodge

outside

ceiling

picture

Here’s the menu:

menu one

menu two

We got the Chicken Caesar salad, Po Boy shrimp sandwich, and the grilled shrimp salad.

caesar

shrimp salad

sandwich

Everything was great! My parents agreed the shrimp was very fresh and I thought my salad was great too. The lodge also offers lodging (imagine that) and beer/wine. Anyway, highly recommended, and a great way to end my parent’s visit.

lizard!

Post & photos by: Melissa

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Post-classes: Vacation Day Eight Part Two (Traveling & Tallahassee: Dade Historic Battlefield State Park & Momo’s pizza)

On our way up through central Florida to Tallahassee we came across Dade Historic Battlefield State Park. Not knowing that this had nothing to do with the civil war, an interest of my dad’s, we stopped in. We quickly learned that this park was focused on the history of the battle that started the Second Seminole War. Having just graduated from Florida State University, (for which the mascot is the Seminoles) I figured this was a great opportunity to learn a bit about this event.

greeting sign

first sign

1800

texty

first seminole war

the beginning

florida territory

treaty

settlers

the reservation

another treaty

date of the battle

artifact

micanopy

afterward

survivors

survive

the second war

afterward

face

Seminoles today

locations

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AND! After a long drive back to Tallahassee we ended up at Momo’s pizza, where I got a huge slice with pepperoni, sausage and bacon. Gosh I love pizza.

pizza!

Post & photos by: Melissa


Post-classes: Vacation Day Eight Part One (Tampa: Lettuce Lake park, Bangkok Jazz)

On day eight we headed out early from our hotel and over to Lettuce Lake Park, where I had heard we could possibly see alligators. And we did! We spotted two small alligators over the course of the boardwalk, about 3 feet in length, in different spots. We also saw a large variety of birds and at least one turtle.

lettuce lake park

don't mess with alligators

tree

boardwalk

walk it

 

all the birds!

pretty water

bird

other bird

swampy

Do you see the gators in the next two pictures?

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other gator

plants n stuff

After that we went to lunch at Bangkok Thai. I ordered the fried rice, and we also got a steak salad and a seafood dish. Mine was the best of the bunch. The Thai iced tea was also delicious and very refreshing before we started our drive back north toward Tallahassee. It was located in a cute pink building, called a victorian village.

victorian village

building

thai tea

Our lunch also came with soup.

soup

Bangkok jazz also has live music once a week, check them out online.

stage

steak salad

seafoods

my rice!

Post & photos by: Melissa


Post-classes: Vacation Day Seven Part Two (Tampa: Columbia Restaurant, St. Petersburg Beach & Samurai Blue)

After the zoo, we headed to Ybor City for lunch at Columbia Restaurant. It was delicious! We decided to go with the tapas platter (3 to split) and order 2 desserts (key lime pie and bread pudding.)

here it is!

sign

front

Here’s the menu, it has so many pages! Sorry if they’re a bit hard to read. =/

menu

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First, we were greeted with warm Cuban bread and delicious butter.

warm bread

balcony

Above us was the balcony.

crab

peppers

shrimp

Our three tapas choices (above) were the Devil Crab Croquettes, Stuffed Poquillo Peppers and Shrimp Supreme (I believe? we were between the two shrimp choices.) All were good, but my favorite were the peppers. they were very cheesy and had chorizo inside. We just had water but the sangria pitchers looked great. We followed this with the key lime pie (super refreshing and great) and the bread pudding (which was very large, sweet, and flavorful without tasting too much like rum for my taste.)

pie

bread pudding

Then we went to St. Petersburg Beach. It was quite a drive, but not too far for a nice beach on a warm day. We passed the Don CeSar Beach Hotel and parked a ways away, then walked down to it and back. Such a pretty, big building! It looked like a lovely place to stay.

big!!!

beach

There were lots of shells and some were inhabited.

shells 12

aha

And of course, bread-hungry birds.

birdy

so many

Then we went back into Ybor City for dinner at Samurai Blue, which I would say might’ve been my favorite meal of the whole trip. If this place was around where I lived I would go here often. Everything here was delicious. The prices were also great especially considering the amount and quality of the food.

sign

menu

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It has an industrial, old-warehouse kind of feel with brick walls inside, but the interior is also quite modern and nicely done. They have a sushi bar, separate sushi menu, and full bar inside.

walls

tables

We got the calamari and blue crab rangoon hot starters and they were both great but the sauce on the crab was amazing.

starters

sushi bar

We also split the cucumber, seafood salad. I LOVED this salad and I am not a salad kind of girl.

cucumber salad

miso

For main dishes my parents split two sushi rolls and I had the amazing Tokyo Beef Short Ribs. The hibachi rice underneath was possibly the best fried rice I’ve ever had, and I love fried rice.

roll

roll2

RIBS!

so so good

We walked around the square afterward.

theater

We discovered the Tampa Bay Brewing Company and I thought I’d just mention them and their beers.

brewing

I'd tap it

I hope you enjoyed! If you’re in the area and like Japanese food at all, DEFINITELY stop in Samurai Blue (either location is probably great.) I was very impressed and they were very friendly.

Post & photos by: Melissa


Post-classes: Vacation Day Seven Part One (Tampa: Lowry Park Zoo)

This post was a tad too long, so I’m splitting it into two. I decided to make two posts because when I was looking at the pictures for this day, I had over 100 I wanted to use and that seemed like way too many! This first part will feature the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, and the second part will focus on the Columbia Restaurant (lunch), St. Petersburg Beach and Samurai Blue (dinner.) Enjoy the zoo (I know we did!)

As you first come into the Lowry Park Zoo, make sure to keep your receipt handy as the lady at the desk needs to view it before admitting you. Snag a map, or use their Zoo Map app (I opted for the paper copy.) There was a lady with a green snake standing at the entrance, which was a fun introduction to the zoo. Off to the right, there was an enclosure with many different birds and of course the ever-present wild squirrel which is everywhere in northern and central Florida as far as I’ve experienced. Squirrels love the zoo too. A few things of note about this zoo: Voted #1 zoo for children/families by a parenting magazine (can’t remember which one), has several opportunities for direct animal contact/interaction/feeding, and has rides for the children as well. I think these features make it a very unique and fun zoo. If you go early-ish (we were there before 10) the animals are all fairly active as well, even in the sun.

bird enclosure

Then we saw the warty pigs, which made me happy. I also feel bad for them for having such an unappealing name. They’re more hairy than warty, and pretty cute.

warty pigs

My dad and I agreed these birds look like college professors. Let me take a moment to apologize that this post will mostly be pictures. Hope you don’t mind!

old man birds

hello there little guy

I fed this guy some nectar from a cup.

bird on arm

These lizards were everywhere in the zoo! Something very unique to this particular zoo, Lowry Park, is the amount of wildlife that is included, including various random wild lizards, squirrels, and birds throughout the zoo and its enclosures. I really liked that it seemed like a very natural setting.

wild lizard

penguin feeding time

They also had a lot of zoo babies. Here are a few: baby elephant and baby pygmy hippo!!

baby elephant!!

hippppppo

what are you looking at

meerkat

wallaby

koala

I do apologize to the lady above for catching her looking at the koala… Oh well. This glass was so reflective.

singing dog

bats!

if you know anything about me by now, you probably know I love goats. And zoos that let you pet/feed them, which I did!

goatses

friendly

And the Florida black bear.

florida black bear

meh

Such big alligators!

gators

The main attraction for me was the manatees. Here’s my very first manatee viewing (in person.)

my first manatee

nom nom lettuce

I also love seahorses.

seahorse

snakes!

eagle

I think there were a couple kinds of rays in the enclosure. You could feed these guys if you wanted to, which was another thing I liked about this zoo. They had plenty of opportunities for you to interact with the animals (my mom fed the giraffe and on some weekends you can feed and touch the rhino.) These guys were so funny to watch. They would sometimes splash you as they swam by and you could reach in and touch them, like in the aquarium.

rays!

rhino

And what zoo is complete without pony rides?

horses

And now, finally, I can’t remember what this guy was exactly… but he basically had a heart on his chest. And I thought that was too cute not to show y’all.

heart bird

Post & photos by: Melissa


Post-classes: Vacation Day Six (Tampa: Oakley’s Grille)

Sorry I’ve been slacking on blog posts! Just been very tired, a little bit under the weather, and busy. But I’m here to finish up the last 4 blog posts from the trip for you now.

On this day we really didn’t accomplish much, as we got up late-ish and had a bit of getting ready to do (and catching up from our previous day of excitement) before we got to driving to Tampa. Today was mostly full of driving, and then having a quick but nice dinner at Oakley’s Grille by our hotel in “New Tampa” and then swimming in the evening, and enjoying the hotel’s promise of free ice cream.

menu title page

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I had the bacon cheeseburger, plain, with pepperjack cheese. Sorry it looks so plain, but it was juicy and delicious.

plain like I like it

All burgers come separately from sides, so we split a basket of sweet potato fries.

mmmmmm

My parents also shared a burger and a fish sandwich (the blackened tilapia)

fishy

This was painted on the wall and I liked it.

nice!

Sorry the post is so short! To make up for it you will get WAY more than enough in the next few, so don’t worry. I’m off to make them now!

Post & photos by: Melissa


Post-classes: Vacation Day Five (Tallahassee: Graduation, El Tapatio & Kool Beanz)

I graduated! PROOF:

class of 2013

ME

I am now a master of science.

None of us really ate breakfast this morning (as we frantically raced toward the civic center instead), but we did have lunch at El Tapatio, which I enjoyed. Both times I’ve been there I got the carne asada and was not disappointed.

asada

I also tried to show my parents around Lake Ella, but it started raining. We got in a look at some food trucks that happened to be there, as well as the rose garden by the church.

pizza

tacoooos

menu

flowers

The main attraction of the day for me was a well-deserved graduation dinner at Kool Beanz, my favorite Tallahassee spot. My hints: get there early and be prepared to wait. Fortunately we spent time at a local boutique, Cole Couture, while we waited for our table. I also forgot that Kool Beanz always gives you delicious bread and butter before your meal. The bread is so crusty and the butter is so creamy, I could eat the whole basket.

menu

My mom and I each also had a glass of wine.

wine1

wine2

We had the clam appetizer, the spring salad, and the two pasta dishes at the bottom (the crawfish and the scallops/shrimp.) It was ALL amazing but we couldn’t pass up dessert.

clams

le salad

cheesy

mine

Lastly, the dessert menu and our chosen dessert (the smoky bacon brownie!)

desserts

Sorry the picture is dark, it was getting late! This was wonderfully unique and smoky and delicious.

ours

Post & photos by: Melissa