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Let Go at Alabama Jack’s

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Just where Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties meet, you’ll find Alabama Jack’s. “Docked” off Card Sound Road, before the bridge to Key Largo,  a slice of real Florida still exists. For more insight about the adventures enjoyed by AJ’s eclectic mix of loyal fans, see my latest article in Pinecrest Lifestyle Magazine:

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The Secrets of Pensacola

Bay Bluffs Park, part of the Scenic Bluffs Preserve, protects the highest coastal area of Florida. Right on Florida Scenic Highway 90, along Escambia Bay.

Bay Bluffs Park, part of the Scenic Bluffs Preserve, protects the highest coastal area of Florida. Right on Florida Scenic Highway 90, along Escambia Bay.

View from the bluff.

View from the bluff.

I don’t think too many people really know much about Pensacola.  I know most Floridians don’t.  Even if you look it up, read reviews, ask around, you don’t come up with much.  You might find out that the naval air station is big, people like to fish and it’s in the Central time zone.

I was here in 1976 with the state Bicentennial Commission when they were designating and placing a historic marker.  Maybe they forgot to tell anyone.

What you don’t hear about is the beautiful historic district and the many shady town parks that have been well-preserved, protected and maintained.  (One disconnect is the ultramodern, monolithic city hall, but at least it’s on the other side of town.)

The town is low-profile, views of Pensacola Bay are prominent, and the historic district offers a pleasing mix of both residential and business.  The style is a hybrid, streets with Spanish names and buildings that comprise various stages of Florida Vernacular, Spanish Revival, and Victorian. Larger buildings are Spanish Baroque, Greek revival, Chicago and Gothic Revival styles. It’s a mixed bag that works quite nicely.

The view from dinner.

The view from dinner.

Pensacola is pleasant, walkable and friendly. Since we were here on a Monday, the historic tours weren’t operating, but on the plus side, Monday is 25 cent oyster night at Atlas Oyster/Fish House. So, that’s $3 for a dozen terrific, plump Louisiana Gulf oysters!

At 6:35PM the AA Blue Wahoo’s minor league baseball team (a Reds affiliate) took the field against the Mississippi Braves, in their terrific bayfront stadium. Too bad we only had one night, we would’ve loved to go.

Pensacola is out-of-the-way and hard to get to for most, but it is one of Florida’s treasures and worth a visit.

Next, headed west along the Gulf coast.

I promise not every post will have a train, or will it . . .?

I promise not every post will have a train, or will it . . .?

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Lionfish lunch! Let’s eat’m up – taste great and helps clean up our South Florida coastal waters!

At Castaways Oceanside Restaurant, MM48, Marathon in the Florida Keys

At Castaways Oceanside Restaurant, MM48, Marathon in the Florida Keys

Tarpon Anyone?

Only in the Florida Keys . . .

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The first time I heard about hand feeding Tarpon I was with a Nat Geo crew helping film some crocs in my South Florida neighborhood. Today I found the quaint feeding spot quite by accident.

We were looking for a good lunch stop in the middle Keys and decided to try the Hungry Tarpon. Don’t be put off by the shabby-chic exterior appearance, this is vintage Keys.

They have a great outdoor dining area on the water, but since the weather was a bit chilly for me, we opted to dine inside the small restaurant. The grilled Mahi sandwich and conch fritters were both good.

Outside the restaurant there is a festive variety of colorful, touristy booths selling everything from souvenirs to sunglasses. Next to the outdoor dining and bar is Robbie’s – just the spot if you want to hand feed some Tarpon.

As a girl growing up in the Tarpon capital of Florida (Tampa) this was a new concept and not for me (I remember the aforementioned Nat Geo reporter ending up with a bloody hand).

Today’s human guests seemed quite cheerful hanging over the edge of the deck with their buckets of fish . . . . . although I think the local pelicans were getting the best bargain in town.

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